“Partay!” Di yelled into my ear as I left my sad little family reunion and started towards home. My cab driver seemed to think he was racing in the Formula One so we would probably reach really soon.
“No,” I told her. “Not tonight.”
“Yes tonight. Come on, Termi. Don’t be a bore,” she wheedled. “We can’t party without you.”
“Yes, you can. I’m going home to my book.”
Someone hissed at her in the background and then there was a loud clatter that sounded like the phone falling. I was about to hang up when Manav came on the line.
“Dude, you have to come,” he hissed. “The girls are really drunk and Dev and I need help.”
I groaned and scrubbed my face with both my hands. I knew what my answer would be even before I sighed and said, “It should take me half an hour to reach.”
I gave the driver the new destination and sat back, my mind still on my father and his requirements. Join the family firm, marry the perfect girl, produce two perfect children, win a lot of cases, get some high profile criminals acquitted, die with dignity.
I could feel the noose of his expectations tightening around my neck even after a brief dinner with him. What had my mother lived with every day of her marital life?
The cab pulled up outside the nightclub Manav had mentioned. I paid up and got out taking another deep breath. From the frying pan into the fire.
I shook hands with the bouncer who recognized me and made my way into the crowded venue. It took less than a second to find them.
Avni appeared to be pole dancing with Dev in the middle of the dance floor and by that I meant, Dev was the pole. A very embarrassed pole.
Diana and Manav were doing some version of Patrick Swayze’s Dirty Dancing moves except with a lot more enthusiasm and a lot less finesse. Manav seemed to be spending more time stopping her from falling and less time dancing.
And Sehar…Sehar was on the bar. ON the bar. Her hands in her hair, her eyes closed, she was swaying to a beat only she heard in a burgundy jumpsuit that clung to the mouthwateringly svelte shape of her body. Even from this distance, I could see the crowd of hungry men eyeing her and slowly closing in.
I made it to the bar in record time. For once, I was grateful for my size. By the time I glared at the men with bloodlust in my eyes, they accepted defeat and shuffled away.
Her eyes were still closed and she still hadn’t noticed I’d arrived.
“Sehar, get down.” I wrapped a hand around her ankle and gave it a gentle tug.
Every muscle in her body stilled. She stopped the gentle swaying she was doing but stayed exactly where she was. Hands in her hair, eyes shut, a slightly heightened flush to her cheeks. She made my traitorous heart ache. Did the bloody idiot want to be trampled to dust for the second time?
“Get down,” I said again, my voice dropping to a whisper but she heard me.
She opened her eyes and looked at me and it was six years ago, all over again. She was still the most beautiful woman in the place. She still made my blood hum and my heart thump. She had the power to bring me to my knees.
And she knew it.
She dropped to her knees on the bar counter and looked at me. I knew she was drunk and yet, in that moment, she looked at me with perfect clarity.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered.
And before I could even process the apology, she was kissing me. The world dropped away as her lips met mine for the first time in forever.
It was like the years between had never happened. Her tongue slipped into my mouth as she cradled my head and brought me closer. She licked and nibbled and nuzzled. And God help me, I let her.
Even as the voice inside my head screamed at me to be better, to be smarter, to be wiser. I let her.
Because, Sehar was my weakness. The chink in my armour. The mistake I could never regret. The ‘what if’ I couldn’t forget. The girl who’d stolen my heart and never given it back.