Hi Guys This is Sowmya Johnson Aka Berdilla
As the boy exclaimed over each gift, Laksh’s gaze kept drifting to the woman perched on the edge of an uncomfortable-looking chair. Ragini. He hadn’t given her much thought, not even on the rare occasions he was home and his family dragged him out to dinner in town. He hardly recognized her without her apron and notepad. She’d grown tall and willowy, her girlhood imperfections polished away by time and maturity.
She was a beauty, with those big gray eyes and soft oval face framed by long locks of tumbling blond hair. It was hard not to admire the gentle slope of her nose, her wide-set eyes and delicate bone structure. Hard to believe she’d once been a wallflower hiding behind black-rimmed glasses, the kind of girl who handed her homework in early and landed on the honor roll every semester. The kind girl who shied away from a boy like him. He figured that was the one thing that hadn’t changed about her.
“Thank you, Laksh.” Her gaze met his like a touch, and the shock bolted through him like lightning, leaving him a bit dazed.
“No problem.” He hoped his grin didn’t falter. He didn’t normally have that reaction to women. In fact, he’d never had anything happen like that before.
“Thanks, Laksh!” Shivansh’s excitement vibrated through the air. He studied one gift after the next with undisguised amazement. Even though he was on oxygen, it didn’t seem to slow down on his enthusiasm. “What’s it like to ride real broncos?”
“I’ll be happy to tell you, but that will be long tale.” Laksh took in the subtle signs to Ragini Sharma was trying to hide—the exhaustion bruising the delicate skin beneath her eyes, the tension furrowing her brow and the tight purse of her mouth as if she were doing her level best to keep all her fears inside.
Something told him she hadn’t been getting a whole lot of sleep and probably wouldn’t get much, if any, tonight with the surgery looming. He took in her long hair falling straight and unadorned without a single pin or barrette or doodad. Her clothes looked rumpled, not wrinkled exactly, but as if they’d spent too much time in a suitcase, and they hung on her. A good size too large, he figured, judging by the hem of her sweater sleeve that hit her mid-palm and the cinch of her belt, the old notch where it used to be worn visible.
“Why don’t you go and take some downtime?” He felt sympathy for her. He couldn’t image his own mother putting any one of her children’s needs above her own. Not that she had been a bad mother. She just hadn’t been a good one, which was why he appreciated the quiet sacrifice of care Ragini made for her son. She sat on the edge of her seat, ready to leap up in case he needed anything. “I can handle things here. You go grab yourself a latte or bite to eat. Maybe even a nap.”
“No, I can’t leave him.” With a man she couldn’t count on. She didn’t say this but he could sense it. Her hands curled into small fists. “He might need me.”
” I’m sure he will, but the truth is Shivansh and me, we need some quality man-time. It’s a guy thing.” He winked, hoping she would mistake his concern for her as something lighthearted. He couldn’t let it get around that fearless Laksh Maheshwari had a soft spot. That would destroy his hard-won tough-as-nails reputation. “No way can i discuss the secrets of my trade in front of a woman.”
“Mom.” Shivansh seamed scandalized, already anticipating that she wasn’t about to step foot outside the door. “You can’t stay. Laksh is going to tell me secrets.”
Why can’t he tell them in front of me? She flicked a lock of hair behind a slender shoulder. Chin up, she didn’t look a thing like the wallflower he remembered She didn’t sound like one either. I can keep a secret.
Sure, but what about code? Laksh let his eyes twinkle at her because he knew the effect it had on the ladies. There wasn’t a single time he didn’t get his way when he turned on the charm.
Not that he wanted to charm Ragini Sharma. She was a divorced mom and that carried a whole lot of these responsibilty. Not that he didn’t respect her for it, but obligation like that made him leery. After watching all that his dad had gone through in life, he’d played it safe and avoided entanglements of any kind. Life was easier without them, but lately he wasn’t
sure it was better.
What code? She squinted at him, and he would have given up half a year’s pay to know what was going on in that head of hers. He couldn’t begin to tell if his charm was working or– shockingly– backfiring.
The cowboy code He winked and pulled up his best smile. He knew the effect his dimples had. Mostly from experience and the fact that he had inherited them from his dad. Half the unmarried ladies in White Horse County back home harbored secret crushes on his father. He sure hoped the dimples worked for him half as well.
Don’t you want me to share it with Shivansh?
Yeah, Mom? Don’t want him to share? Shivansh was no slouch. He caught on quick. Please?
I know when i am now wanted With a ghost of a smile, she rose from her chair and picked up her bag. Two knitting needles stuck out of the outside pocket.
I’ve got some phone calls to make. I wont be long.
Take your time Laksh urged.
Yeah, Mom. Take your time Shivansh parroted his hero. We’re sharin’ secrets.
Secrets, huh all it took was one look into her son’s puppy dog eyes-the look he’d perfected when he’d wanted to try to charm her into having his way and she melted like an ice cube in phoenix. Impossible to say no to him. His eyes sparkled, and he looked better than he had in months. But what about the man standing in front of her with his rugged good looks and come what may attitude?
Can i trust you to stay with him until i get back She gave him her fiercest glare the one Shivansh called her death ray stare. She meant business. That means you don’t leave his side for any reason unless you ask Leela on the other side of the curtain to watch him. Got that?
Sure i will stick to Shivansh like glue.
It was that dazzling smile she didn’t trust and his too good to believe looks. She was only going to the cafeteria surely she could depend on him that much. Leela the mom of Tarun on the other side of the room, would keep an eye out. The nurse were right down the hall and it wasn’t as if he were a stranger. She’d grown up in the same small town rode the same school bus and endured his jokes and class clown antics through her entire adolescence. One thing she knew about the Maheshwari Family, they were decent people and Laksh had never caused anyone harm.
We ll be like glue mom Shivansh clasped his hands together his forehead furrowed as if he was trying to will her to keep on going toward the door.
Like two peas in pod Laksh assured her, his grin contagious.
The surgeon general ought to put a ban on that smile.
Fine u have 30 minutes She ignored Shivansh joy of shout Laksh’s wink When she circled around him she felt a shiver tremble through her soul like a warm wind’s touch something she’d never felt before.
Maybe she needed a smoothing cup of cofee more than she thought. She set her chin wrapped her hand around the strap of her bag and paused at the door. Longing filled her. She didn’t want to leave Shivansh. He might need her.
What secret are u going to tell me first Her son clutched the stuffed animal in one hand and the horse in the other. Is it about riding broncos?
Yes it is little buddy Laksh his back on her seemed focus on the boy. He radiated a strenght and kindness that she didn’t want to believe in although clearly Shivansh did.
Shivansh. Her heart warmed and her soul filled. Her son was all that mattered. She forced her shoes to carry her across the threshold and down hall giving her little boy the time he deseved with his hero.
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