Home / Written Updates / RagLak – You Are The Music In Me (Episode 13)

RagLak – You Are The Music In Me (Episode 13)

Hello there people, again i am very sorry for not responding to your comments on my previous update..will be doing that today.I need to tell you guys one more thing, the previous update and this update would not have been complete if it wasn’t for my friend Anvita. She has written a major chunk of the confessions here. So, this is dedicated to her ?

Anvita baby, i cannot thank you enough for the help. I Love You ?


Link to the previous update : Episode 12

Hope you guys enjoy this update

Lots of Love,

PS : this is going to be a long update ?

My cable won’t be connected until next week. My eyes hurt from reading too much, and maybe also from crying. I finally put a down payment on a second hand car from the remainder of my savings, but until I get a job, I can’t really afford the gas. I’d better find a job soon, because I’m pretty sure I’ve fictionalized how great living alone is. I’m tempted to try to get my job back at the library, even if I have to beg. I just need something to keep me busy.
I’m. Freaking. Bored.
So bored that I’m looking at my hands, counting random things that make absolutely no sense to even be counting.
One: the number of people constantly on my mind. (Lakshya.)
Two: the number of people I wish would contract a s*xually transmitted disease. (Vikrant and Kritika.)
Three: the number of months since I broke up with my lying, cheating bastard of a boyfriend.
Four: the number of times Amit has checked up on me since I moved out of the apartment.
Five: the number of times Amit has knocked on my door in the last thirty seconds.
Six: the number of days since I last saw Lakshya.
Seven: the number of feet from my couch to the front door.
I open the door, and Amit doesn’t even wait for me to invite him in. He smiles and slips past me, holding two white bags in his hands.
“I brought italian,” he says. “I was driving by on my way home from work and thought you might want some.” He sets the bags on my kitchen counter, then walks to the sofa and plops down.
I close the door and face him. “Thanks for the food, but how do I know you aren’t pranking me? What’d you do, switch the alfredo out with tabasco or tomato pickle?”
Amit looks up at me and grins, impressed. “Now, that’s a genius prank idea, Ragini. I think you might finally be getting the hang of it.”
I laugh and take a seat next to him. “Figures, now that I have no roommates to prank.”
He laughs and pats my knee. “Radhika doesn’t get off work until midnight. Want to go catch a movie?”
My head sinks into the back of the couch almost as quickly as my heart sinks into my stomach. I hate feeling as if he’s only here because he feels sorry for me. The last thing I want to be is someone’s worry.
“Amit, you don’t have to keep coming by here to check on me every day. I know you’re trying to be nice, but I’m fine.”
He shifts his weight on the couch so that he’s facing me. “I’m not coming by here because I feel sorry for you, Ragini. You’re my friend. I miss having you around the apartment. And I might be coming by here because I feel a tad bit remorseful for treating you like complete shit the night Ananya was admitted to the hospital.”
I nod. “Yeah. You were quite the a*s**le that night.”
“I know.” He laughs. “Don’t worry, Lakshya hasn’t let me forget it.”

God, even hearing his name hurts.
Amit realizes his slip-up when he sees the change in my expression. “Shit. Sorry.”
I press my palms into the couch and stand up, wanting to escape the awkwardness of our conversation. It’s really not a subject I need to be talking about, anyway.
“Well, are you hungry?” I ask as I head to the kitchen. “I just spent hours slaving over the stove to make this pasta, so you’d better eat some.”
Amit laughs, walks into the kitchen with me, and takes one of the containers. I open another one and lean against the bar, but before I even bring it to my mouth, I become too nauseated to eat. In all honesty, I haven’t slept or eaten very much in the six days since I moved out. I hate knowing that I had a part in causing so much hurt in another person. Ananya didn’t do anything to deserve how we made her feel. It’s also hard as hell not knowing how things have turned out between the two of them. I haven’t asked Amit about it for obvious reasons, because whatever the outcome, it wouldn’t change things. But now it feels as if I have this huge, gaping hole in my chest from the constant curiosity. As much as I’ve wished for the last three months that Lakshya didn’t have a girlfriend, it’s nothing compared to how much I’ve hoped she could forgive him.
“Penny for your thoughts?”

I glance up at Amit, who’s leaning against the counter, watching me think. I shrug my shoulders and set my uneaten food aside, then hug myself and stare down at my feet, afraid that if I look directly at him, he’ll know what I’m thinking.
“Look,” he says, dipping his head to try to get me to look him in the eye. “I know you haven’t asked about him because you know as well as I do how much you need to move on. But if you have questions, I’ll answer them, Ragini. I’ll answer them because you’re my friend, and that’s what friends do.”
My chest rises with my deep intake of breath, and before I can fully release it, the question spills from my mouth. “How is he?”
Amit clenches his jaw, which makes me think he wishes he hadn’t given me the opening to ask about Lakshya. “He’s okay. He’ll be okay.”
I nod but instantly have a million follow-up questions to ask.
Did she take him back?
Has he asked about me?
Does he seem happy?
Do you think he regrets me now?
I decide to take it one question at a time, because I’m not even sure his answers will be good for me at this point. I swallow nervously, then look up at him. “Did she forgive him?”
Amit is the one who can’t hold the eye contact now. He straightens up, turns around with his back to me, and places his palms flat on the counter. His head hangs between his shoulders as he sighs uncomfortably.
“I’m not sure if I should be telling you this.” He pauses for a moment, then turns back around to face me. “She did forgive him. From what he told me, she understood the situation between you and Lakshya. I’m not saying she wasn’t upset about it at all, but she did forgive him.”
His answer completely slays me. I slap my hand over my mouth to muffle my cry, and then I turn away from Amit. I’m confused by my reaction and confused by my heart. I’m immediately consumed with relief to know that she forgave him, but the relief washes away with grief at the realization that she forgave him. I don’t even know how to feel. I’m relieved for Lakshya and grieving for myself.
Amit sighs heavily, and I feel awful for allowing him to see me react this way. I shouldn’t have asked. Dammit, why did I ask?
“I wasn’t finished, Ragini,” he says quietly.
I shake my head and keep facing the opposite direction while he gets out the rest of what he wants to say.
“She forgave him for what happened with you, but what happened with you was also an eye opener about why they were even together in the first place. It turns out she couldn’t find a good enough reason to take him back. Lakshya said she’s got a lot of life left to live, but she can’t live it to the fullest when he’s constantly trying to hold her back.”
I bring both hands to my face, completely perplexed by my heart now. Just seconds ago, I was grieving because she forgave him, and now I’m grieving because she didn’t.
Just three months ago, I was sitting outside on my suitcases in the rain, believing I was experiencing what it felt like to be heartbroken.
God, I was wrong. So damn wrong.
This is heartbroken.
Right now.

Amit’s arms wrap around me, and he pulls me to him. I know he doesn’t want to see me upset, and I’m really trying my best not to appear that way. Crying about it won’t help, anyway. It hasn’t helped for the past six days I’ve been doing it.
I pull away from Amit and walk to the counter, where I tear off a paper towel. I wad it up and wipe my eyes with it. “I hate feelings,” I say as I sniffle back more tears.
Amit laughs and nods in agreement. “Why do you think I chose to be with a girl who has none?”
The Radhika diss makes me laugh. I do my best to suck it up and wipe away the rest of my tears, because, as I told myself before, the outcome of Lakshya and Ananya doesn’t matter to my situation. No matter how things turn out between them, it still doesn’t mean anything for Lakshya and me. Things are entirely too complicated between us, and nothing but space and time can change that.
“I’ll go watch a movie with you,” I say to Amit. “But it better not be a p**n .”


“Give me my damn keys, Lakshya,” Amit signs.
I calmly shake my head for the third time in five minutes. “I’ll give you the keys when you tell me where she lives.”
He glares at me hard, still refusing to budge. I’ve had his keys for most of the day now, and I’ll be damned if I’ll give them back before he gives me the information I need. I know it’s only been three weeks since Ananya broke up with me, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how everything I’ve done to Ragini has affected her. I need to know if she’s okay. I’ve gone this long without contacting her simply because I’m not sure what I’ll say when I eventually do see her. All I know is that I need to see her, or I’ll more than likely never sleep again. It’s been more than three weeks since the last time I had a full night’s sleep, and my mind just needs reassurance.
Amit sits across from me at the table, and I return my attention to the computer in front of me. Despite the fact that I want to blame my entire past few weeks on computers, I know it was all my fault, so I sucked it up and bought a new one. I still have to rely on a computer for income, unfortunately.
Amit reaches across the table and slams my laptop shut, forcing me to look up at him.
“Nothing good will come of it,” he signs. “It’s only been three weeks since you and Ananya ended things. I’m not giving you Ragini’s address, because you don’t need to see her. Now, give me my keys, or I’m taking your car.”
I grin smugly. “Good luck finding my keys. They’re in the same spot I hid yours.”
He shakes his head in frustration. “Why are you being such a prick, Lakshya? She’s finally on her own and making a life for herself and doing well, and you want to barge in and confuse her all over again?”
“How do you know she’s doing well? Do you talk to her?” The desperation in my question surprises me, because I didn’t know until this second just how much I need her to be okay.
“Yeah, I’ve seen her a few times. Radhika and I had lunch with her yesterday.”
I fall back against my chair, slightly annoyed that he didn’t tell me this but relieved to know she’s not holed up in her apartment, devastated.
“Has she asked about me? Does she know about Ananya and me?”
He nods. “She knows. She asked how things went with the two of you, so I told her the truth. She hasn’t brought it up since then.”
Jesus Christ. Knowing that she knows the truth should relieve my worry, but it only intensifies it. I can’t imagine what she must think about my lack of communication with her now that she knows about Ananya. The fact that I haven’t contacted her at all probably has her believing I blame her. I lean forward and look pleadingly to Amit.
“Please, Amit. Tell me where she lives.”
He shakes his head. “Give me my keys.”
I shake my head.
He rolls his eyes at our matched stubbornness and pushes himself away from the table, then storms off to his room.
I open my texts to Ragini, and begin scrolling through them as I do every single day, wishing I had the courage to text her. I’m afraid it will be easier for her to shut me out through a text than it would be if I were to show up at her front door, which is why I haven’t texted her. Despite the fact that I don’t want to agree with Amit, I know that nothing good will come from me contacting her. I know we’re not in a place to start a relationship, and seeing her in person would only exacerbate how much I miss her. However, knowing what I should do and abiding by what I should do are two completely different things.
• • •
My light flicks on. Seconds later, my shoulders are being violently shaken. I smile through the grogginess, knowing by Amit’s presence alone that I’ve got him right where I want him. I turn over and look up at him.
“Something wrong?” I sign.
“Where are they?”
“Where are what?”
“My c*nd*ms, Lakshya. Where the hell did you hide my c*nd*ms?”
I knew that if stealing his keys didn’t work, then stealing his c*nd*ms would. I’m just glad he thought to put on shorts before leaving Radhika in his bed and storming into my room.
“You want your c*nd*ms?” I sign. “Tell me where she lives.”
Amit runs his palms over his face, and from the looks of it, I think he’s groaning. “Forget it. I’ll go to the store and buy new ones.”
Before he turns to walk out of my room, I sit up on the bed. “How do you plan on driving to the store? I have your keys, remember?”
He pauses for a second, and then his face relaxes when he’s hit with a new epiphany. “I’ll take Radhika’s car.”
“Good luck finding her keys.”
Amit stares at me hard for several seconds, then finally slumps his shoulders and turns toward my dresser. He grabs a pen and paper and writes something down, wads it up, and throws it at me. “Here’s her address, a*s**le. Now, give me my keys.”
I unfold the paper and double-check to make sure he actually wrote an address down. I reach behind my nightstand, and grab his box of c*nd*ms, and toss it to him.
“That should do you for now. I’ll tell you where your keys are after I confirm that this is really her address.”
Amit pulls one of the c*nd*ms out of the box and tosses it at me.
“Take this with you when you go, because that’s definitely her address.” He turns and leaves the room, and no sooner is he gone than I’m up and dressed and heading out the front door.
I don’t even know what time it is.
I don’t even care.


Sound triggers.
They happen a lot, but mostly when I hear certain songs. Especially songs Vikrant and I both loved. If I listen to a song during a particularly depressing period, then hear it later on down the road, it brings back all the old feelings associated with that song. There are songs I used to love that now I absolutely refuse to listen to. They trigger memories and feelings I don’t want to experience again.
My text tone has become one of those sound triggers.
Namely, Lakshya’s text tone. It’s very distinct, a snippet from the demo of our song. I assigned it to him after I heard the song for the first time. I’d like to say that sound trigger is a negative one, but I’m not so sure it is. The kiss I experienced with him during the song certainly led to negative feelings of guilt, but the kiss itself still turns my heart into a hot mess just thinking about it. And I think about it a lot. Way more than I should.
In fact, I’m thinking about it right now as the snippet of our song pours from the speakers of my cell phone, indicating that I’m receiving a text.
From Lakshya.
I honestly never expected to hear this sound again.
I roll over on my bed and stretch my arm to the nightstand, my now-trembling fingers grasping at my phone. Knowing that I’ve received a text from him has once again wreaked havoc with my organs, and they’ve forgotten how to function properly. I pull the phone to my chest and close my eyes, too nervous to read his words.
Beat, beat, pause.
Contract, expand.
Inhale, exhale.
I slowly open my eyes and hold up the phone, then unlock the screen.
Lakshya: Are you home?
Am I home?
Why would he care if I were home? He doesn’t even know where I live. Besides, he made it pretty clear where his heart’s loyalty resided when he told me to move out three weeks ago.
But I am home, and despite my better judgment, I want him to know I’m home. I’m tempted to respond with my address and tell him to come find out for himself whether or not I’m home.
Instead, I go with something safer. Something less telling.
Me: Yes.
I pull the covers off and sit up on the edge of the bed, watching my phone, too afraid even to blink.
Lakshya: You’re not answering the door. Am I at the wrong apartment?
Oh, God.
I hope he’s at the wrong apartment. Or maybe I hope he’s at the right apartment. I can’t really tell, because I’m happy he’s here, but I’m pissed off that he’s here.
These conflicting feelings are exhausting.
I stand and run out of my bedroom, straight to my front door. I peer through the peephole, and sure enough, he’s at my front door.
Me: You’re outside my door, so yeah. Right apartment.
I look out the peephole again after hitting send, and he’s standing with his palm flat against the door, staring at his phone. Seeing the pained expression on his face and knowing it derives from the battle his heart is going through makes me want to swing open the door and throw my arms around him. I close my eyes and press my forehead to the door in order to give myself time to think before making any rash decisions. My heart is being pulled toward him, and I can’t think of anything I want more right now than to open this door.
However, I also know that opening the door won’t do either of us any good. He just broke up with Ananya a matter of weeks ago, so if he’s here for me, he can turn right around and leave. There’s no way anything could work between us when I know he’s still heartbroken over someone else. I deserve more than what he can give me right now. I’ve been through too much this year to let someone screw with my heart like this.
He shouldn’t be here.
Lakshya: Can I come in?
I turn until my back is pressed against the door. I clutch the phone to my chest and squeeze my eyes shut. I don’t want to read his words. I don’t want to see his face. Everything about him makes me lose sight of what’s important, what’s best for me. He isn’t what’s best for my life right now, especially considering what he’s gone through in his own life, and I should walk away from this door and not let him in.
But everything in me wants to let him in.
“Please, Ragini.”
The words are almost an inaudible whisper through the other side of the door, but I definitely heard them. Every single part of me heard them. The desperation in his voice, combined with the simple fact that he spoke, completely slays me. I allow my heart to make my decision for me this time as I slowly face the door. I turn the lock and slide the latch loose, then open the door.
I can’t describe what it feels like to see him standing in front of me again without using the term terrifying.
Everything about the way he makes me feel is absolutely terrifying. The way my heart wants to be held by him is terrifying. The way my knees seem to forget how to hold me up is terrifying. The way my mouth wants to be claimed by his is terrifying.
I do my best to hide what his presence does to me by turning away from him and walking toward the living room.
I don’t know why I’m trying to hide my reaction from him, but isn’t that what people do? We try so hard to hide everything we’re really feeling from those who probably need to know our true feelings the most. People try to bottle up their emotions, as if it’s somehow wrong to have natural reactions to life.
My natural reaction in this moment is to turn and hug him, regardless of the reason he’s here. My arms want to be around him, my face wants to be pressed against his chest, my back wants to be cradled by him—yet I’m standing here trying to pretend that’s the last thing I need from him.
I inhale a calming breath, then turn around when I hear him close the front door behind him. I lift my eyes to meet his, and he’s standing several feet in front of me, watching me. I can tell by the tightness in his expression that he’s doing exactly what I’m doing. He’s holding back everything he’s feeling for the sake of . . . what?
The one thing I’ve always admired about my relationship with Lakshya is that we’re so honest and real with each other. I’ve always been able to say exactly what I was thinking, and so has he. I don’t like this shift we’ve made.
I try to smile at him, but I’m not sure if my smile is working right now. I speak to him and enunciate clearly so he can read my lips. “Are you here because you need a flaw?”
He laughs and exhales at the same time, relieved that I’m not angry.
I’m not angry. I’ve never been mad at him. The decisions he’s made during the time he’s known me aren’t decisions I can hold against him. The only thing I hold against him is the night he kissed me and ruined me for every other kiss I’ll ever experience.
I take a seat on the couch and look up at him. “Are you okay?” I ask.
He sighs, and I quickly look away. It’s hard enough being in the same room as him right now, but even harder to make eye contact with him. He completes the walk into the living room and sits on the couch next to me.
I debated buying more furniture, but one couch was all I could afford. A love seat at that. I’m not so sure I’m sad about my lack of furniture, though, because his leg is touching my thigh, and the simple contact causes heat to roll through me like a riptide. I look down at our knees when they brush together and realize I’m still wearing the T-shirt I threw on right before I went to bed. I guess I was so shocked by the fact that he said he was at my apartment door that I didn’t concern myself with how I looked. I’m in nothing but an oversized cotton T-shirt that falls to my knees, and my hair is more than likely a wreck.
He’s in jeans and a grey Petrichor T-shirt. I would say I feel underdressed, but I’m actually dressed appropriately for what I was doing before he showed up, which was going to bed.
Lakshya: I don’t know if I’m okay. Are you okay?
I forgot I even asked him a question for a second.
I shrug. I’m sure I will be fine, but I’m not going to lie and tell him I am. I think it’s obvious that neither one of us can really be okay with how everything has turned out. I’m not okay with losing Lakshya, and Lakshya isn’t okay with losing Ananya.
Me: I’m sorry about Ananya. I feel awful. She’ll come around, though. Five years is a lot to give up for a misunderstanding.
I hit send and finally look up at him. He reads the text, then eyes me. The concentration in his expression makes the breath catch in my lungs.
Lakshya: It wasn’t a misunderstanding, Ragini. She understood a little too well.
I read his text several times, wishing he would expand on it. What wasn’t a misunderstanding? The reason they broke up? His feelings for me? Rather than ask him what he means, I cut to the question I want the answer to the most.
Me: Why are you here?
He works his jaw back and forth before responding.
Lakshya: Do you want me to leave?
I look at him and slowly shake my head no. Then I pause and shake my head yes. Then I pause again and just shrug. He smiles endearingly, completely understanding my confusion.
Me: I guess whether or not I want you here depends on why you’re here. Are you here because you need me to try to help you win back Ananya? Are you here because you miss me? Are you here because you want to try to work out some sort of friendship?
Lakshya: Would I be wrong if I answered none of the above? I don’t know why I’m here. Part of me misses you so much it hurts, while part of me wishes I never even met you to begin with. I guess today is one of the days I was hurting, so I stole Amit’s keys and forced him to give me your address. I didn’t think this through or come up with any kind of speech. I just did what my heart needed me to do, which was to see you.
His brutally honest reply melts my heart and pisses me off all at the same time.
Me: What about tomorrow? What if tomorrow is one of the days you wished you never met me? What am I supposed to do then?
The intensity in his stare is unnerving. Maybe he’s trying to gauge if that was an angry response. I’m not sure if it was or not. I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that he doesn’t even know why he’s here.
He doesn’t respond to my text, and it proves one thing: he’s having the same internal conflict with himself that I’ve been having.
He wants to be with me, but he doesn’t.
He wants to love me, but he doesn’t know if he should.
He wants to see me, but he knows he shouldn’t.
He wants to kiss me, but it would hurt just as much as it did the first time he kissed me and had to walk away. I suddenly feel uncomfortable staring at him. We’re way too close together on this couch, yet my body is making it very clear to me that it doesn’t think we’re close enough at all. What it’s wishing would happen right now are all the things that aren’t.
Lakshya looks away and slowly scans my apartment for a few moments, then returns his attention to his phone.
Lakshya: I like your place. Good neighbourhood. Seems safe.
I almost laugh at his text and the casual conversation he’s trying to make, because I know we’re no longer in a place for casual conversation. We can’t be friends at this point. We also can’t be together with so much against us. Casual conversation has no place between us right now, yet I can’t bring myself to reply any differently.
Me: I like it here. Thank you for helping me out with the hotel until I could move in.
Lakshya: It was the least I could do. Absolutely the least I could do.
Me: I’ll pay you back as soon as I get my first paycheck. I got my job back at the campus library, so it should only be another week.
Lakshya: Ragini, stop. I don’t even want you to offer.
I have no idea what to say in response. This whole situation is awkward and uncomfortable, because we’re both dancing around all the things we wish we had the courage to do and say.
I set my phone facedown on the couch. I want him to know that I need a break. I don’t like that we aren’t being us.
He takes the hint and lays his phone down on the armrest beside him, then sighs heavily as he drops his head against the back of the couch. The silence makes me wish I could experience the world from his perspective for once. I find it almost impossible to put myself in his shoes, though. People with the advantage of hearing take so much for granted, and I’ve never understood that to the extent that I understand it now. There’s nothing being spoken between us, yet I understand by his heavy sigh that he’s frustrated with himself. I understand how much he’s holding back by the way his breaths are being sharply pulled in.
I suppose his expertise in a silent world gives him an ability to read people, just in different ways. Instead of focusing on the sounds of my breaths, he focuses on the rise and fall of my chest. Rather than listening to quiet sighs, he more than likely watches my eyes, my hands, my posture. Maybe that’s why his face is tilted toward mine now, because he wants to see me and get a feel for what’s going through my head.
I feel as if he reads me too well. The way he’s watching me forces me to try to control every facial expression and every breath. I close my eyes and lean my head back, knowing he’s staring, trying to get a sense of where I am.
I also wish I could just turn to him and tell him. I want to tell him how much I’ve missed him. I want to tell him how much he means to me. I want to tell him how horrible I feel, because before I showed up in his life, everything seemed perfect for him. I want to tell him that even though we both regretted it, that minute we spent kissing was the one minute out of my entire life that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
At moments like these, I’m thankful he can’t hear me, or there would have been so many things spoken that I would regret.
Instead, there are so many things left unsaid that I wish I had the courage to say.
Lakshya’s weight shifts on the couch, and my eyes naturally open out of curiosity. He’s leaning across the arm of the couch, reaching for something. When he turns back around, he’s holding a pen in his hand. He smiles softly, then picks up my arm. He turns his body toward mine and presses the pen to my open palm.
I swallow hard and slowly look up at his face, but he’s looking down at my hand as he writes. I could swear I almost see a faint smile flash across his lips. When he’s finished, he brings my palm to his mouth and blows softly to dry the ink. His lips are moist and puckered into a pout, and holy hell, it just got really warm in this apartment. He lowers my hand, and I look down at it.
Just wanted to touch your hand.
I laugh softly. Mostly because his words are so innocent and sweet compared to the things he’s written on me in the past. I’ve been sitting here on this couch with him for ten minutes, wishing he would touch me, and then he goes and admits he was thinking the exact same thing. It’s so juvenile, as if we’re teenagers. I’m almost embarrassed that it pleases me this much that he’s touching me, but I can’t recall a time I’ve ever wanted anything more.
He hasn’t released my hand yet, and I’m still looking down at his writing, smiling. I brush my thumb across the back of his hand, and he gasps quietly. The permission I just gave him with that tiny movement seems to have broken some invisible barrier, because he immediately slides his hand over mine and presses our palms together, then intertwines our fingers. The warmth of his hand doesn’t come close to the warmth that just shot through my entire body.
God, if just holding hands with him feels this intense, I can’t imagine what everything else with him would feel like.
We’re both watching our hands now, feeling every bit of the connection pulsating through our palms. He brushes over my thumb and flips our hands over, then takes the pen and presses it to my wrist. He moves the pen slowly up my wrist, drawing in a straight line all the way up my forearm. I don’t stop him. I simply watch him. When he reaches the crease in my elbow, he begins to write again. I read each word as he writes it.
Just an excuse to touch you here, too.
Without releasing my hand, he lifts my arm and keeps his eyes focused on mine as he bends forward and blows softly up and down my arm. He presses his lips lightly against his words and kisses them without once breaking eye contact. When his lips meet my arm, I feel a soft flick of his tongue tease my arm for a split second before his mouth closes over my skin.
That might have just made me whimper.
Yep. Pretty sure I just whimpered.
God, I’m so glad he couldn’t hear that.
He pulls his lips away from my arm and continues to watch me, gauging my reaction. His eyes are dark and piercing, and they’re focused all over me. On my lips, on my eyes, on my neck, on my hair, on my chest. He can’t seem to take me in fast enough.
He presses the pen against my skin again, starting where he left off. He rolls the pen slowly up my arm, watching it intently the whole time. When he reaches the sleeve of my T-shirt, he pushes it up carefully until my shoulder is exposed. He makes a small mark with the pen, then slowly leans over me. My head falls back against the couch when I feel his lips meet my skin. His breath is close and warm against my shoulder. I’m not even thinking about the fact that he’s drawing all over me. That can be washed off later. Right now, I just want his pen to keep going and going until it’s completely out of ink.
He pulls away and releases my hand, switching the pen to his other hand. He pulls my sleeve back down over my shoulder, then slips his fingers inside the collar of my T-shirt, tugging it to expose more of my collarbone. He puts the tip of the pen on my shoulder and glances up at me while he proceeds with caution, making his way to my neck. His expression is heated, and I can tell he’s proceeding with caution, despite the fact that I know exactly what he wishes were happening right now and where he plans to go with this pen. He doesn’t have to verbalize it when his eyes clearly state it for him.
He moves the pen slowly up my neck. I naturally tilt my head to the side, and as soon as I do, I hear a rush of air hiss quietly through his teeth. He comes to a stop just below my ear. I squeeze my eyes shut and hope my heart doesn’t explode when he leans in, because it definitely feels as if it could. His lips press gently against my skin, and I swear the room flips upside down.
Or maybe that was just my heart.
One of my hands slides up his arm and grasps the back of his head, not wanting him to pull away from this spot. His tongue makes another quick appearance against my neck, but he doesn’t let my desperation stall him. He lifts away and looks back down at me. His eyes are smiling, knowing how crazy he’s driving me.
He rolls the pen from the spot below my ear, back down my neck, and around to the dip in the base of my throat. Before kissing the spot he just marked, he grabs me by the waist and lifts me up, sliding me onto his lap.
I grasp his arms and suck in a rush of air the second he pulls me against him. My T-shirt slides up my thighs, and the fact that I’m not wearing anything under it except underwear pretty much guarantees that I’ve gotten myself into something that’s going to be damn hard to pull away from.
His eyes drop to the base of my throat as he slides a hand up my thigh, over my hip, and all the way up and into my hair. He grasps the back of my head, then pulls my neck against his mouth. This kiss is harder and not at all cautious like the rest of them. I slide my hands into his hair and keep his mouth pressed against my neck.
He works his kisses all the way up my neck until his mouth meets my chin. Our bodies are meshed firmly together, and one of his hands has found my lower back and is keeping me flush against him.
I can’t move. I’m literally panting for breath, wondering where in the hell the strong Ragini went. Where’s the Ragini who knows this shouldn’t be happening?
I’ll look for her later. After he finishes with his pen.
He pulls away when his lips come close to my mouth. Our bodies are as close as they can get without his mouth being on mine. He removes his hand from my lower back and brings the pen back around to my throat. When he touches the tip of it to my skin, I gulp, anticipating which direction he’s about to go with it.
North or south, north or south. I don’t really care.
He begins to scroll upward, but then he stops. He pulls the pen away from my neck and shakes it, then touches it to my neck again. He makes another movement upward with the pen but stops again. He pulls back slightly and frowns at the pen, which I’m assuming has just run out of ink. He looks back at me and tosses the pen over my shoulder. I hear it land on the floor behind me.
His eyes drop to my lips, which I’m assuming would have been the pen’s final destination. We’re both breathing heavily, knowing exactly what’s about to come next. What we’re about to experience again for the second time, knowing how much our first kiss affected us.
I think he’s as terrified as I am right now.
I’m leaning all my weight into him, because I’ve never been this weak. I can’t think, I can’t move, I can’t breathe. I just . . . need.
He brings both hands to my cheeks and looks directly into my eyes.
“Your call,” he whispers.
Jesus Christ, that voice.
I stare at him, not sure if I like that he just put the control in my hands. He wants this to be my decision.
It’s so much easier having someone else to blame when things go where they shouldn’t. I know we shouldn’t be putting ourselves into a situation we’re only going to regret once it’s over. I could put a stop to it right here. I could make it easier by asking him to leave now, rather than when things get even more complicated between us. I could slide off his lap and tell him he shouldn’t be here because he hasn’t even had time to forgive himself for what happened with Ananya. I could tell him to go away and not come back until his heart isn’t confused anymore about who it wants.
If that day ever comes.
There are so many things I could and should and need to do, but none of them is what I want to do.
The pressure picks the worst possible time to break me. The worst possible time.
I squeeze my eyes shut when I feel a tear begin to work its way out. It trickles down my cheek, falling slowly toward my jaw. It’s the absolutely slowest descent a tear has ever made. I open my eyes, and Lakshya is watching it. He’s following the wet trail with his eyes, and I can see his jaw growing more tense with every second that passes. I want to reach up and wipe it away, but the last thing I want to do is hide it from him. My tears say a whole lot more about how I’m feeling right now than I’m willing to say in a text.
Maybe I need him to know that this is hurting me.
Maybe I want it to hurt him, too.
When the tear finally curves and disappears under my jaw, he brings his eyes back to mine. I’m surprised by what I see in them.
His own tears.
Knowing that he’s hurting because I’m hurting shouldn’t make me want to kiss him, but it absolutely does. He’s here because he cares about me. He’s here because he misses me. He’s here because he needs to feel what we felt in our first kiss again, just as I do. I’ve wanted that feeling back since the second his mouth left mine and he walked away.
I remove my hands from his shoulders and grab the back of his head, then lean into him, bringing my mouth so close to his that our lips brush.
He grins. “Good call,” he whispers.
He closes the space between our mouths, and everything else falls away. The guilt, the worries, the concern over what happens after this kiss ends. It all melts away the second his mouth claims mine. He gently coaxes my lips apart with his tongue, and all the chaos running through my heart and head is eliminated when I feel his warmth inside my mouth.
Kisses like his should come with a warning label. They can’t be good for the heart. He runs a hand around to my upper thigh, then slips it beneath the hem of my T-shirt. His hand glides across my back, and he grips me tightly, then lifts his hips at the same time as he pulls me harder against him.
I become weaker and weaker with every rhythmic movement he creates with our bodies. I find whatever parts of him I can hold on to, because I feel as if I’m falling. I grab his shirt and his hair while I moan softly into his mouth. When he feels the sound escape my throat, he quickly pulls away from my mouth and squeezes his eyes shut, breathing heavily. When he opens his eyes again, he’s staring at my throat.
He pulls his hand from beneath my shirt, then slowly brings it up to my neck.
Oh, my dear, sweet God.
He wraps his fingers around my neck, gently pressing his palm into the base of my throat while he stares at my mouth. The thought of him wanting to feel what he’s doing to me makes my head swarm and the entire room spin. I’m somehow able to glance into his eyes long enough to see them transform from a calm desire to an almost carnal need.
With his other hand still curved around the back of my head, he pulls me to him with more urgency, covering my mouth with his. The second his tongue finds mine again, I give him more moans than he can possibly keep up with.
This is exactly what I’ve wanted from him. I’ve wanted him to show up and tell me how much he’s missed me. I’ve needed to know that he cares about me, that he wants me. I’ve needed to feel his mouth on mine again so I could know that the way his first kiss made me feel wasn’t just in my head this whole time.
Now that I have it, I’m not sure I’m strong enough for it. I know that the second this ends and he walks out the front door, my heart will die all over again. The more I open up to him, the more I need him. The more I admit to myself that I need him, the more it hurts to know that I still don’t exactly have him.
I’m still not convinced that he’s here for the right reasons. Even if he is here for the right reasons, it’s still wrong timing. Not to mention all the questions still running through my head. I try to push them away, and for brief moments, it works. When his hands graze my cheek or his lips close over mine, I forget all about those questions that I can’t seem to run away from. But then he’ll pause to catch his breath, and he’ll look me in the eye, and all those questions just cram right back into the front of my head, until they’re so heavy that they’re forcing more tears to want to escape.
I clench his arms when the uncertainty begins to take over. I shake my head and try to push against him. He pulls away from my mouth and sees my doubt building, and he shakes his head to get me to stop analyzing this moment between us. His eyes are pleading as he strokes my cheek, pulls me flush against him, and tries to kiss me again, but I struggle out of his arms.
“Lakshya, no,” I say. “I can’t.”
I’m still shaking my head when his hand grips my wrist. I slide off his lap and keep walking until his fingers fall away from me.
I walk straight to the kitchen sink and dispense soap into my hands, then begin scrubbing the ink off my arm. I reach into a drawer and pull out a rag, then wet it and press it to my neck. Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I try to wash away the reminders of what just happened between us. The reminders are going to make him that much harder to overcome.
Lakshya comes up behind me and places his hands on my shoulders. He turns me around to face him. When he sees that I’m crying, his eyes fill with apology, and he pulls the rag from my hand. He brushes the hair off my shoulder and gently rubs my skin, washing away the ink. He looks incredibly guilty for making me cry, but it’s not his fault. It’s never his fault. It’s no one’s fault. It’s both our faults.
When he’s finished rubbing away the ink, he tosses the rag behind me onto the counter, then pulls me against his chest. The comfort that surrounds me makes this even harder. I want this all the time. I want him all the time. I want these tiny snippets of perfection between us to be our constant reality, but that can’t happen right now. I completely understand his earlier comment, when he said that there are times he misses me and times he wishes he never met me, because right now, I’m wishing I never set foot out onto my balcony the first time I heard his guitar.
If I never experienced how he could make me feel, then I wouldn’t miss it after he’s gone.
I wipe my eyes and pull away from him. There’s so much we need to discuss, so I walk to the couch, retrieve our phones, and bring his to him. I move away from him to lean against the other counter while I type, but he grabs my arm and pulls me back. He leans against the bar and pulls my back against his chest, then wraps his arms around me from behind. He kisses the side of my head, then moves his lips to my ear.
“Stay here,” he says, wanting me to remain pressed against him.
It’s crazy how being held by someone for just a few minutes can forever change how it feels not to be held by him. The second he releases his hold on you, it suddenly feels as if a part of you is missing. I guess he feels it, too, which is why he wants me near him.
Does he feel this way about Ananya, too?
Questions like this refuse to leave my mind. Questions like this keep me from believing he could ever be happy with the outcome of his situation, because he lost her in the end. I don’t want to be someone’s second choice.
I lean my head against his shoulder and squeeze my eyes shut, trying my best not to let my mind go there again. However, I know I have to go there if I ever want to find a sense of closure.
Lakshya: I wish I could read your mind.
Me: Believe me, I wish you could, too.
He laughs quietly and squeezes me tightly in his arms. He keeps his cheek pressed against my head as he types out another text.
Lakshya: We’ve always been able to say whatever is on our minds. You still have that with me, you know. You can say whatever you need to say, Ragini. That’s what I’ve always loved about us the most.
Why do all the words he says and writes and texts have to pierce my heart?
I inhale a deep breath, then exhale carefully. I open my eyes and look down at my phone, terrified to ask the one question I don’t really want the answer to. I ask it anyway, because as much as I don’t want to know the answer, I need to know the answer.
Me: If she texted you right now and said she made the wrong choice, would you go? Would you walk out my front door without thinking twice?
My head stills when the rapid rise and fall of his chest comes to a sudden halt.
I can no longer hear his breaths.
His grip around me loosens slightly.
My heart crumbles.
I don’t need to read an answer from him. I don’t even need to hear it. I can feel it in every part of him.
It’s not as if I were expecting his answer to be any different. He spent five years with her. It’s obvious that he loves her. He’s never said otherwise.
I was just hoping he was wrong.
I immediately break away from him and walk swiftly toward my bedroom. I want to lock myself inside until he leaves. I don’t want him to see what this does to me. I don’t want him to see that I love him the same way he loves Ananya.
I reach my bedroom and swing open the door. I rush inside and begin to shut the door behind me, but he pushes the door open. He steps into my bedroom and turns me around to face him.
His eyes are searching mine, desperately trying to get across whatever it is he wishes he could say. He opens his mouth as if he’s going to speak, but then he closes it again. He releases my arms, then turns around and runs his hands through his hair. He grips the back of his neck, then kicks my bedroom door shut with a frustrated groan. He leans his forearm into the door and presses his forehead against it. I do nothing but stand still and watch him try to fight the war within himself. The same war I’ve been fighting.
He remains in the same position while he lifts his phone and responds to my text.
Lakshya: That’s not a fair question.
Me: Yeah, well, you didn’t really put me in a fair situation by showing up here tonight.
He turns until his back is flat against my bedroom door. He brings two frustrated hands to his forehead, then lifts his leg at the knee and kicks the door behind him. Seeing him struggle with who he really wants is more pain than I’m willing to endure. I deserve more than he can give me right now, and his conflict is screwing with my heart. Screwing with my head. Everything with him is just too much.
Me: I want you to leave. I can’t be around you anymore. It terrifies me that you’re wishing I were her.
He hangs his head and stares at the floor for several moments while I continue to stare at him. He isn’t denying that he’d rather be with Ananya right now. He isn’t making excuses or telling me he could love me more than he loves her.
He’s completely quiet . . . because he knows I’m right.
Me: I need you to leave. Please. And if you really care about me, you won’t come back.
He slowly turns and faces me. His eyes lock with mine, and I’ve never seen more emotions flash through them than in this moment.
“No,” he says firmly.
He begins walking toward me, and I begin backing away from him. He’s shaking his head pleadingly. He reaches me just as my legs meet my bed, and then he grabs my face between his hands and presses his lips to mine.
I shake my head and push against his chest. He steps away from me and winces, looking even more frustrated with his inability to communicate with me. His eyes search the room for whatever will help him convince me I’m wrong, but I know nothing can help our situation. He just needs to realize this, too.
He looks down at my bed, then back at me. He grabs my hand and pulls me around to the side of the bed. He places his hands on my shoulders and pushes me down until I’m seated. I have no idea what he’s doing, so I don’t resist.
He continues to lower me until I’m lying with my back flat on the bed. He stands straight up and removes his T-shirt. Before he even has it completely over his head, I’m already attempting to roll off the bed. If he thinks s*x will fix our situation, he’s not as smart as I thought he was.
“No,” he says again when he sees me trying to escape.
The sheer conviction in his voice causes me to freeze, and I fall back against my mattress again. He kneels down on the bed, grabs a pillow, and lays it beside my head. He lies down next to me, and my whole body tenses from his close proximity. He picks up his phone.
Lakshya: Listen to me, Ragini.
I stare at the text in anticipation of what he’ll type next. When I notice that he’s not even texting me a follow-up, I look at him. He shakes his head and pulls my phone from my hands, then tosses it beside him. He takes my hand and places it over his heart.
“Here,” he says, patting my hand. “Listen to me here.”
My chest tightens when I realize what he wants me to do. He pulls me to him, and I willingly allow it. He gently lowers my head to his heart as he adjusts himself beneath me and helps me get comfortable.
I relax against his chest, finding the rhythm of his heartbeat.
Beat, beat, pause.
Beat, beat, pause.
Beat, beat, pause.
It’s absolutely beautiful.
The way it sounds is beautiful.
The way it cares is beautiful.
The way it loves is beautiful.
He presses his lips to the top of my head.
I close my eyes . . . and I cry.


I hold her against me for so long I’m not even sure if she’s awake. I still have so much I want to say to her, but I don’t want to move. I love the way she feels when we’re wrapped together like this. I’m afraid if I move, she’ll come to her senses again and ask me to leave.
It’s barely been three weeks since Ananya and I broke up. When Ragini asked if I’d take Ananya back, I didn’t answer, but only because I know she wouldn’t believe my answer.
I love Ananya, but I honestly don’t think Ananya and I are best for each other anymore. I know exactly where we went wrong. The beginning of our relationship was romantic to the point where it was almost fictionalized. We were nineteen years old. We barely knew each other. The way we waited for an entire year only built up feelings that weren’t based on anything except false hopes and idealized love.
By the time Ananya and I were finally able to be together, I think we were more in love with the idea of us, rather than with the actual us. Of course, I loved her. I still love her. But until I met Ragini, I had no idea how much my love for Ananya was built up from my desire to swoop in and save her.
Ananya was right. I’ve done nothing for the past five years but try to be the hero who protects her. The problem? Heroines don’t need protecting.

When Ragini put me on the spot earlier, I wanted to tell her no, that I wouldn’t take Ananya back. When she said she was terrified that I was wishing she were Ananya, I wanted to grab hold of her and prove to her how I’ve never, not once, wished I were anywhere else when I’m with her. I wanted to tell her the only regret I have is not realizing sooner which one of them I was better for. Which girl I made more sense with. Which girl I grew to love in a realistic, natural way, not in an idealized sense.
I didn’t say anything because I’m terrified she won’t understand. I’ve chosen Ananya over her time and time again, and it’s my own fault that I’ve put doubt into Ragini’s head. And even though I know that the scenario she’s painting could never happen because Ananya and I both accept that it’s over, I’m not so sure I wouldn’t take Ananya back. However, my decision wouldn’t be because I want to be with Ananya more. It wouldn’t even be because I love Ananya more. But how do I possibly convince Ragini of that when it’s hard for me to comprehend?
I don’t want Ragini ever to feel like my second choice, when I know in my heart that she’s the right choice. The only choice.
I keep my arm around her, and I pick up my phone. She lifts her head and rests her chin on my chest, looking up at me. I hand her back her phone, and she takes it, then turns away from me and presses her ear against my heart again.
Me: Do you want to know why I needed you to listen to me?
She doesn’t respond with a text. She just nods her head yes, remaining pressed against my chest. One of her hands is slowly tracing up and down from my waist to my arm. The feel of her hands against my skin is something I never want to become a memory. I lower my left hand to the back of her head and stroke her hair.
Me: It’s kind of a long explanation. Do you have a notebook I can write in?

She nods and slides off me. She reaches into her nightstand and takes out a notebook and a pen. I readjust myself against her headboard. She hands me the notebook but doesn’t move closer to me. I grab her wrist and part my legs, then motion for her to lie against me while I write. She crawls toward me and wraps her arms around my waist, pressing her ear to my heart again. I put my arms around her and prop the notebook on my knee, resting my cheek on top of her head.
I wish there was an easier way for us to communicate so all the things I have to say to her could be instant. I wish I could look into her eyes and tell her exactly how I feel and what’s on my mind, but I can’t, and I hate that for us. Instead, I lay my heart out on paper. She remains still against my chest while I take almost fifteen minutes to gather my thoughts and get them all down for her. When I’m finished, I hand her the notebook. She readjusts herself until her back is pressed against my chest. I keep my arms around her and hold her while she reads the letter.


I have no idea what to expect from the words he’s just written, but as soon as he hands me the paper I begin to soak every sentence up as quickly as my eyes can scan them. The fact that a barrier exists in the way we communicate makes every word I receive from him, in whatever form, something I feel the need to consume as quickly as possible.
I don’t know if I’m actually more aware of my own heartbeat than other people are of theirs, but I tend to believe I am. The fact that I can’t hear the world around me leaves me to focus more on the world inside me. Sanskar told me the only time he’s aware of his own heartbeat is when it’s quiet and he’s being still. That’s not the case for me, because it’s always quiet in my world. I’m always aware of my heartbeat. Always. I know its pattern. I know its rhythm. I know what makes it speed up and slow down, and I even know when to expect that. Sometimes I feel my heart react before my brain has the chance to. The reactions of my heart have always been something I was able to predict . . . until a few months ago.
The first night you walked out onto your balcony was the first night I noticed the change. It was subtle, but it was there. Just an extra little skip. I brushed it off because I didn’t want to think it had anything to do with you. I liked how loyal my heart was to Ananya, and I didn’t want my loyalty to her to change.

But then, the first time I saw you singing along to one of my songs, it happened again. Only that time, it was more obvious. It would speed up a little faster every time I saw your lips moving. It would start beating in places I never felt my heart beat before. That first night I saw you singing, I had to get up and go inside to finish playing, because I didn’t like how you made my heart feel. For the first time, I felt as though I had absolutely no control over it, and that made me feel horrible.
The first time I walked out of my bedroom to find you standing in my apartment, soaking wet from the rain—my God, I didn’t know hearts could beat like that. I knew my heart like the back of my hand, and nothing had ever made it react like you did. I put the blankets on the couch for you as quickly as I could, pointed you in the direction of the bathroom, and immediately went back to my bedroom. I’ll spare you the details of what I had to do while you were in my shower in order to calm myself down after seeing you up close for the first time.

My physical reaction to you didn’t worry me. Physical reactions are normal, and at that point, my heart still belonged to Ananya. My heartbeats were all for Ananya. They always had been, but the more time I spent with you, the more you started to unintentionally infiltrate and steal some of those heartbeats. I did everything I could to prevent it from happening. For a while, I convinced myself that I was stronger than my heart, which is why I allowed you to stay. I thought what I felt for you was nothing but attraction and that if I let myself have you in my fantasies enough, that would suffice in reality. However, I soon realized that the way I fantasized about you wasn’t at all how guys normally fantasize about girls they’re attracted to. I didn’t imagine myself stealing kisses from you when no one was around. I didn’t imagine myself sliding into your bed in the middle of the night and doing to you all the things we both wished I would do. Instead, I was imagining what it would feel like if you fell asleep in my arms. I was imagining what it would feel like to wake up next to you in the morning. I was imagining your smiles and your laughter and even how good it would feel to be able to comfort you when you cried.

how much my heart ached for us in that moment, I knew what was happening was so much more than I could control. My strength was overpowered by my weakness for you. The second my lips touched yours, my heart split completely in two. Half of it belonged to you from that point on. Every other beat of my heart was for you.
I knew I should have asked you to leave that night, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. The thought of saying good-bye to you hurt way too much. I had planned on asking you to move out the next day, but once we talked through everything, the ease with which we dealt with our situation gave me more excuses to ignore it. Knowing we were both fighting it gave me hope that I could give back to Ananya the part of my heart I had lost to you.

The weekend of Amit’s party was when I realized it was too late. I spent the entire night of the party trying not to watch you. Trying not to be obvious. Trying to keep my attention focused on Ananya, where it should have been. However, all the effort and denial in the world couldn’t have saved me from what happened the next day. When I walked into your room and sat down beside you on the bed, I felt it.
I felt you give me a piece of your heart.
And Ragini, I wanted it. I wanted your heart more than I’ve ever wanted anything. The second I reached down and held your hand in mine, it happened. My heart made its choice, and it chose you.

My relationship with Ananya was a great one, and I never want to disrespect what I had with her. When I told you I’ve loved her since the moment I met her and that I’d love her until the moment I die, I was being honest. I have always loved her, I do love her, and I always will love her. She’s an incredible person who deserves so much more than what life has handed her, and it pisses me off to this day when I think about it. I would switch my fate with hers in a second if I had that option. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Fate doesn’t work that way. So even after I knew I had found in you what I would never find in my relationship with Ananya, it still wasn’t enough. No matter how much I cared for you or how deep my feelings for you ran, it would have never been enough to get me to leave Ananya. If I couldn’t change her fate, I was at least going to give her the best damn life I could give her. Even if it meant sacrificing aspects of my own, I would have done it without pause, and I never would have regretted it. Not even for a second.
However, until three weeks ago, I didn’t realize that the best life I could give her was a life without me in it. She needed the opposite of what I could offer her, and I know that now. She knows that now.
And we accept it.

So when you ask if I would choose her over you, you’re presenting a situation that I can’t give you a straight answer to. Because yes, at this point, I probably would walk away from you if she asked me to. The majority of my loyalty still lies with her. But if you’re asking who I need more? Who I want to be with more? Who my heart craves more? My heart decided that for me a long time ago, Ragini.
When I’ve read the last word, I pull the notebook against my chest and cry. He slides me off of him until I’m on my back, and he hovers over me, guiding my eyes up to meet his.
“It’s you,” he says aloud. “My heart . . . wants you.”
A sob breaks free from my chest when I hear his words. I immediately grab his shoulders and lift myself up, pressing my lips to the area directly over his heart. I kiss him over and over, silently thanking him for giving me reassurance that I haven’t been in this alone.
When I lower my head back to the pillow, he lies beside me, then pulls me against him. He touches my cheek with his hand and slowly leans in to kiss me. His mouth caresses mine so carefully it feels as if he’s holding my heart in his hand and is afraid he might drop it.
As much as I’m convinced he would do everything he could to protect my heart, I’m still too scared to hand it over. I don’t want to give it to him until I know it’s the only heart he’s holding.
• • •

I don’t open my eyes, because I don’t want him to know I hear him leaving. I felt him kiss me. I felt him slide his arm out from beneath me. I heard him pull his shirt over his head. I heard him search for a pen. I heard him write me a letter, and I heard him place it on the pillow beside me.
I feel his hand as it presses into the mattress beside my head. His lips meet my forehead before he pulls away and walks out my bedroom door. When I hear the front door shut, I roll onto my side and pull the covers over my head to block out the sunlight. If I didn’t have to work today, I’d stay right here in this position and cry myself dry.
I brush my hand across the mattress in search of his letter. When I find it, I pull it under the covers with me and read it.

A few months ago, we thought we had it all figured out. I was with the one girl I thought I would be with forever, and you were with a guy you thought deserved you way more than he did.
Look at us now.
Wanting more than anything to be free to love each other but cursed by bad timing and loyal hearts. We both know where we want to be; we just don’t know how to get there. Or when we should get there. I wish things were as easy as they seemed when I was nineteen. We’d grab a calendar and pick a date, and we’d start a countdown until I could show up at your front door and start loving you.
However, I’ve learned that the heart can’t be told when and who and how it should love. The heart does whatever the hell it wants to do. The only thing we can control is whether we give our lives and our minds the chance to catch up to our hearts.
I know that’s what you want more than anything. Time to catch up.
As much as I want to stay here and allow this to begin between us, there’s something I want from you even more than that.I want you to be with me in the end, and I know that can’t happen if I keep trying to rush our beginning. I know exactly why you were hesitant to let me in last night: you aren’t ready yet. Maybe I’m not, either. You’ve always said you wanted time to yourself, and the last thing I want is to start a relationship with you when I’ve barely given enough respect to the one that just ended with Ananya.
I don’t know when you’ll be ready for me. It might be next month or next year. Whenever it is, just know that I have absolutely no doubt that we can make this work. I know we can. If there are two people in this world capable of finding a way to love each other, it’s us.
P.S. I spent most of the night watching you sleep, so that’s one fantasy I got to check off the list. I also wrote lyrics to an entire song, which was unfortunate for Sanskar. I didn’t have my guitar, so I forced him to make a rough cut of it at five o’clock this morning so I could leave it with you.
One of these days, I’ll play it for you, along with all the other songs I plan to write for you while we’re apart. Until then, I’ll be waiting patiently.
Just say when.

I fold the letter and pull it against my chest. As much as it hurts to know he’s walking away, I also know that I need to let him. I asked for this. We need this. I need this. I need to get myself to a point where I know that we can finally be together without all the doubt running through my head. He’s right. My mind needs to catch up to my heart.
I run the back of my hand across my eyes, then open my texts.
Me: Can you come over? I need your help.
Amit: If this has to do with the fact that I gave Lakshya your address last night, I’m sorry. He forced it out of me.
Me: This has nothing to do with that. I need to ask you for a huge favor.
Amit: Be there when I get off work tonight. Should I bring c*nd*ms?
Me: Funny guy.
I close out the text to Amit and open up the song Lakshya just sent me. I reach into my drawer for my headphones, then fall back against my pillow and hit play.

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