Previous Episode : Episode 1
Well, that was totally unexpected.
I’m still reeling, though I’m trying my damnedest to act like she doesn’t affect me whatsoever. All that “It’s just Swara” talk flew right out the window when I saw the glint of determination in her gaze as she realized she could help me get rid of the clingy woman. How she draped herself all over me and called me baby. Flashing me a s*xy, secretive smile as if she knew exactly what I looked like naked and liked it.
Then she went and nuzzled my neck with her nose, making me so hard I’m still aching with the memory just before she moved away.
Talk about torture. No wonder I avoid her. Within a few minutes of being near her, plotting how I can get her out of here so I can strip her naked and have my way with her. All night long.
“You’re teasing me,” she chastises, her pretty hazel eyes watching me carefully as we dance. There aren’t many couples on the floor but the bride and groom are nearby, the lights are dimmed low, and the atmosphere is scarily romantic. “You so didn’t buy into that act. Come on.”
f**k, she’s the tease. I’m not su
re she gets just how much she affects me. I know she doesn’t. I wonder if she ever thinks of me. Her brother’s best friend, the jerk wad who does nothing but give her a bunch of crap. Knowing her since I was sixteen seems to translate me into my idiot teenage self every time I’m around her. It’s like I can’t help it.
I’m a grown-a*s man worth billions who runs one of the most successful, exclusive resorts in the country and this is what Swara Singhania reduces me to.
“I pretty much did buy into it,” I offer with a shrug. Going for nonchalant. “I’m surprised you didn’t take it to the next level.”
A dark brow rose, her lips quirked to the side. Damn, she’s hot, even when she’s irritated. Especially when she’s irritated. “You are so crude.”
If only she knew the extent of my so-called crudeness. I want her.
Having her in my arms is not helping my plight, but she’s soft and she smells so damn good I can’t resist her. Her dark hair shines beneath the golden lights and the top of her backless blouse appears fairly easy to tug down if I wanted to do such a thing.
Not that I do. Not really.
It’s not just her beauty that does me in though. There’s so much more to Swara. How she listens to me, how proud she seems to be when I tell her what I’m doing in my career. It’s like she really cares.
“You’ve always appreciated my blunt honesty,” I assure her, pulling her in just the slightest bit closer as I twirl her around the dance floor. Her br*asts brush against my chest, her hand slides over my shoulder, and her touch burns me. Through my suit jacket and shirt, like she’s touching bare flesh, branding me.
And I want to be branded by her. Despite my reluctance of ever becoming involved with a woman, Swara’s the only one who I both want to be with and want to run away from.
Yeah. I make no damn sense.
“Really? According to whom? When was the last time we had a scintillating conversation, hmm?” She smiles. It’s faint but there, and the sight of it encourages me.
Plus, she just made the word scintillating sound hot. The woman is either some sort of s*x goddess or I’ve turned into a complete pervert. “Maybe we need to renew our friendship. Get to know each other again,” I suggest, trying my best to sound nonchalant.
“Like you care about getting to know me again.” She rolls her eyes. “We’ve known each other for years. It’s not like you’ve ever shown any sort of interest in me before.”
“I’ve always been interested, you just never noticed.” I pause, taking in the way her eyes widen the slightest bit. I bet my revelation surprises her. “Every time I see you, Swara, I remember what you looked like when you were twelve, the first time I met you. All gangly and skinny with braces.” Look at her now. She’s filled out in all the right places and she’s the s*xiest woman at this stupid reception.
“Great. So you see me as an eternal twelve-year-old,” she mutters, curling her lip.
Shit. I’ve somehow stepped in it with a few choice words. Could I be more of an idiot?
“I definitely don’t see you as a twelve-year-old,” I murmur, tightening my hold on her hand. “You have to realize that, right?”
She meets my gaze, her eyes full of wariness, her pouty lips curved in the tiniest frown. “What do you see me as, Sanskar? Kabir’s pain-in-the-a*s little sister? The girl you made fun of her first year when you were a mighty senior? Remember how you did that?”
Well hell, is she going to list all of my faults or what? I’m not proud of the way I acted when I was younger. I’d been a self-centred jerk. Some say I still am. “I was a jackass back then,” I mutter.
“From what I’ve observed, you’re still holding on to some of those jackass tendencies.” Her hazel eyes flash as she lifts her chin in subtle defiance.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Damn, maybe I avoid her because we tend to argue every time we’re around each other. Yet I want her. I’ve wanted her for what feels like forever. But she acts like she despises me. Like my very presence fills her with disgust. No other woman has reacted to me like this—ever. I don’t get it.
I don’t get her. And I definitely don’t get my attraction to her.
Glutton for punishment maybe?
Yeah. I shove that nagging little voice straight to the back of my brain.
“Forget it.” Her gaze cuts away from mine.
“Tell me what you’re talking about, Swara.”
“Nothing.” She meets my gaze once more. “Drop it, okay?”
I let her drop it and we dance quietly, the sharks still circling. I can spot at least three women who are contemplating me standing on the edge of the dance floor. Ready to jump on me the moment the song is over.
I gotta get out of here.
“Let’s go outside,” I tell Swara, my gaze trained on one woman in particular who’s vaguely familiar. I swear the groom tried to set me up with her once. We went out to some dinner when Sahil and Kiran were first dating.
“Are you serious? No way will I go outside with you. You’ll probably try to maul me.”
That sounds like a fantastic idea but I know she won’t go for it. “Maybe you need a good mauling to get that stick out of your a*s.”
“What did you just say?” She stops dancing so abruptly she nearly trips over my feet, what with those high heels she’s wearing.
Tightening my arm around her waist, I save her from sprawling. “I speak the truth and you know it. You need to loosen up, chicken. No wonder the last guy didn’t stick, what with how uptight you are.” Her eyes widen and her jaw drops open. She looks ready to tear into me and I immediately regret what I said. “Swara, I’m sorry,” I start, but she cuts me off.
“f**k you,” she whispers harshly, shoving at me so I have no choice but to let go of her and watch as she escapes the dance floor.
A woman swoops in within seconds; the same one Sahil tried to hook me up with long ago. I remember she had stalkerish qualities, what with the way she Googled me prior to going out to dinner. I know it’s the norm nowadays but her admission turned me off. “Sanskar. It’s so good to see you again. Want to dance?”
I glance toward the open doors that lead onto the giant terrace. Swara’s headed straight toward them, her hips swaying, her legs looking incredibly long. She’s gorgeous and s*xy and I said she needed to get the stick out of her a*s.
What the hell is wrong with me?
I turn my attention to the woman who’s looking at me expectantly. I don’t even remember her name. Swara’s right. I still have plenty of assholeish tendencies and I just unleashed them all over her. “Sorry, I’m going to have to pass. I need to go apologize to a woman.”
The moment I’m outside, I take a deep, gulping breath, the cold air filling my lungs, kissing my skin, and making me shiver. I’m angry, but thankfully the air cools my heated emotions and I lean against the railing that overlooks the golf course, happy no one else is around. Considering I’m in the farthest corner of the terrace from the open doors of the ballroom, that’s no surprise.
I still can’t believe what Sanskar said to me. He is the biggest jerk on the planet, I swear to God. He actually said I have a stick up my a*s. I mean, what the hell? Could he hurl any more insults at me? Oh wait, I’m sure he can.
No wonder I always avoid him. This is what usually happens between Sanskar and me whenever we spend any time together. I try to be nice. He’s his usual jerky self. I get defensive. He insults me. We argue. We then avoid each other until for whatever reason we’re forced to see each other again.
We’re like a broken record. No matter what, we can’t get along. He is the most frustrating person I’ve ever met. He drives me crazy. And that I’m in his territory tonight, in Goa where his resort is located—not too far, as a matter of fact—also makes me uneasy. Why, I’m not sure.
I wish I were back home in Mumbai, in my comfort zone. At my little apartment, where I’d watch a movie while contemplating going to bed early on another exciting Saturday night.
Frowning, I sigh heavily and hang my head. I’ve turned into this pitiful, single creature all in a matter of hours. What confuses me more? That despite our arguing and the constant animosity that brews between Sanskar and me, I felt something else between us earlier? Something I would never dare contemplate before?
Tilting my head back, I drink in the night sky. Away from the city lights, I can actually see the stars and there are a bazillion of them stretched across the night’s velvety blackness. They twinkle at me, full of mystery and hope and opportunity.
My life is good. I shouldn’t let guys hang it up and make me miserable. Pawan is a jerk who happened to be a bad kisser. Sanskar is an asshole who could probably kiss the pants off of me, but I won’t go there.
Damn it, I should be happy. I’m working my dream job as an interior designer under one of the best designers in all of Mumbai. I have my own apartment—no more living with my parents. I have great friends and a supportive family. I shouldn’t let this sort of thing bother me.
But what Sanskar said . . . it bothers me. I don’t have a stick up my a*s, do I? I’m not uptight. I swear I’m not uptight.
Maybe I can be a little controlling, but never stick-in-the-a*s uptight . . .
Whipping out my phone, I send my friend Ishita a quick text and wait anxiously for her reply.
She responds in seconds, which impresses me since I know she’s out on a date tonight.
Ishita: No, you’re NOT uptight. Who told you that? Let me guess . . . Pawan. What an asshole.
Laughing, I shake my head. I appreciate her immediate defence of me. That’s what friends are for, right?
Me : Not Pawan. Someone else. Someone I’ve known since high school.
Since I met Ishita in college, I don’t think I’ve mentioned Sanskar to her, have I? God, I don’t know. We talk about all sorts of stuff. She’s my closest friend.
So of course I’ve mentioned Sanskar to her.
Ishita : One of your brother’s friends? She texts back.
Me : Yeah.
Ishita : Which one? Let me guess . . . Sanskar Maheshwari. He’s hot. But he also must be a complete asshole for calling you uptight.
Laughing, I type her a quick reply. “Isn’t that the truth,” I mutter.
“Isn’t what the truth?”
Gasping, I whirl around to see Sanskar standing there, his hands shoved in his pockets and looking absolutely miserable.
Oh, and also absolutely gorgeous, which sucks. Why, oh why, did this man have to be so handsome?
“That you’re an asshole?” I smile as serenely as possible, ignoring the buzz of my phone indicating I have another text. I put my phone on silent. A girl and her phone can never part.
“Listen, I came out here to tell you I’m sorry.” He runs a hand through his hair, messing it up completely. Which of course makes him even s*xier, and that’s so unfair it’s ridiculous. “It’s just . . . every time we’re together, we somehow end up arguing.”
“I can’t help it if you’re rude,” I say with a sniff. I sound like a complete snot but I don’t care.
“You push all my buttons,” he admits, his voice quiet and edged with a mysterious darkness that sends a thrill shooting down my spine. He keeps his eyes trained on me as he slowly draws closer.
“Right back at you.” Why do I sound so breathless? It doesn’t help that he’s stopped directly in front of me, his big, broad body obliterating everything else until he’s all I can see.
“I’m hoping you’ll find it in your heart to forgive me.” He reaches out his hand toward me and I stare at it, not sure what he wants me to do. “Please?”
Did Sanskar Maheshwari just say please? I’m sure this is a rare moment in history. “Why do you care about having my forgiveness?” I keep my gaze trained on his hand for fear he’ll see the confusion and emotion in my eyes.
Shit. What is wrong with me?
“f**k, Swara, why do you always have to be so difficult?” His hand drops.
I chance looking up at him, see the irritation and frustration written all over his face and I’m so overcome with the need to comfort him I take a step forward, ready to grab hold of his hand and . . .
“Sanskar?” A woman’s voice calls from nearby, causing the both of us to look at each other. The slightly panicked look on his face indicates he knows exactly who this woman is.
“Who’s looking for you?” I ask.
I raise an eyebrow. “Clearly someone is, since I can hear her call your name.”
“She’s not important. I went on one dinner date with her, Sahil, and Kiran a long time ago. She had us married and planning for babies by the end of it,” he says irritably, glancing over his shoulder.
“What’s her name?”
He turns to me. “What?”
“Her name? The no one who’s looking for you?”
“I, uh . . . don’t remember.” He runs a hand through that s*xy hair again, strands falling over his forehead, and I’m filled with the sudden urge to push his hair out of his eyes. Comb my fingers through it.
I need to remember he’s a complete jackass. I should run. Right now. In fact, I’m fully preparing to let him know exactly how much of an a*s I think he is when the woman’s voice sounds again, closer this time as she continues to call Sanskar’s name like some worried owner looking for her pet dog.
He practically shoves me against the railing, the rough concrete scratching my back and he immediately slips his arm around my waist, protecting me. Holding me. His chest is against mine, my br*asts pressed flush to him, and I release a skittering breath, my mind hung up on having him too close.
“What are you doing?” I whisper, incredulous.
“Shh.” He rests his hand over my mouth, silencing me. His palm is big and warm, his fingers long, and I swear his skin tastes the slightest bit salty, not that I’m licking him or anything.
Oh God, I think . . . no, I know I want to lick him. Desperately. Slip one of those long fingers in between my lips and suck. And that is just so, so wrong . . .
“Maybe she won’t find us,” he whispers, dipping his head so his gaze meets mine. “Stay still.”
I slowly nod, his hand still over my mouth, his eyes locked with mine. His touch gentles as he takes another step closer and I want to melt at his nearness.
“Sanskar, are you back here?”
I flick my eyes to the left and see the woman. She’s standing about fifty feet away, her head whipping this way and that, almost frantically searching, and I press farther against the ledge at the same time Sanskar steps into me. His arm is still around my waist, protecting me from the rough concrete, and he’s standing so close I can hardly breathe.
There’s a giant tree giving us cover, throwing shadows over the corner we’re standing in, and I don’t think the woman can really see us. She’s oblivious to the fact we’re not that far from her.
Which I’m thankful for. I shouldn’t be. I should be kicking Sanskar in the shins and letting the woman know he’s right here and then throwing him to the she-wolf. Let him deal with the poor soul he rejected God knows how long ago who still harbours a thing for him.
He’s a complete womanizer. I’d be wise to stay away from him.
My head tells me this. But my body is singing a completely different tune.
Our gazes lock, his thumb sweeps back and forth across my cheek so slowly I want to die. It feels so good. This . . . is not right. His nearness confuses me. The way he looks at me, touches me, it makes me want him.
My earlier thoughts come rushing back, when I was being all “woe-is-me” wishing for a random stranger to make out with in a dark corner. Being with Sanskar like this is the next best thing. He’s looking at me like he’s thinking the same thing I am. Which is scary.
As I stare up at him, I see how absolutely perfect his lips are. How come I never noticed this before? And when his tongue darts out to lick them, why are my knees suddenly shaking?
Oh, this is bad. So, so bad.
The woman finally gives up and leaves and I slump against the railing, ready for him to move away from me. Ready for him to grab me by the hips and lift me up onto the concrete ledge so I can wrap my legs around him and beg him to do me.
Wait, what? I so can’t do that. Clearly, I’ve had too much to drink, if two glasses of champagne could be considered excessive drinking. Which it must be, because I am making absolutely no sense.
“Swara . . .” His hand slips from my mouth to cup my cheek, his thumb drifting across the corner of my lips. “I’m sorry.”
His touch distracts me as I try to frown. He’s doing everything I longed for not even an hour ago. Touching my face, nestled against me in a dark corner where anyone could find us. “What are you apologizing for?”
He cradles my face with his big, warm hands and dips his head, his gaze locked on my mouth for a long, breathless moment before he lifts his lids, his dark eyes meeting mine. “This,” he whispers just before he kisses me.
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