Vansh blankly stared as Riddhima bent over to quickly kiss Kabir on the cheek. When she straightened up to finally look his way, he saw how she froze ever-so-slightly.
Schooling his features, Vansh offered his hand to her. “Pleasure to meet you. Riddhi, is it?” he asked with a quirked brow.
Relaxing her shoulders slightly, Riddhima took his hand and gave it a gentle shake. “Riddhima, actually. Kabir just likes to use that nickname so much that I think he’s forgotten my actual name,” she said with a nervous titter.
Kabir blushed slightly and scratched the back of his head. “I didn’t forget, I’m just not used to using it.”
“Well, why don’t we start planning this wedding?” he said with a wide, fake smile. He rounded his desk and sat down, placing his notebook in front of him.
“What date were you thinking?” he asked.
“January seventeenth,” Kabir responded automatically.
“Ah, so a winter wedding,” Vansh commented as he wrote down the information. “Do you have a location in mind for a venue?”
“We were hoping you’d be able to help with that,” Riddhima said, biting her lip and looking at him nervously.
Vansh gave a nod and said, “I have a few places that I like to use in the winter time. I’ll give you both brochures to go over, and we can make arrangements to visit them. It’s a little more than seven months until the date you want, so we’ll need to pick a place soon and start working on your Save-the-Date announcements. Which I have right here,” he pointed to a soft-blue binder, “with samples for you to choose from.”
Nearly an hour later, the couple had picked out their Save-the-Date announcements, wedding invitations, and wedding colors.
When Kabir stepped out to answer his cell phone, Riddhima and Vansh sat in silence while he arranged the binder that he created for them while taking notes on his laptop to send to them.
“Vansh, I-” Riddhima started.
“Does your fiancé know you like to flirt and dance with other men at the park? Or was I just a special case?” he asked, finally looking her in the eye.
Her cheeks reddened, whether from embarrassment or anger, he wasn’t sure. Vansh shook his head and went back to his work.
“For your information-” she said in a harsh whisper.
So anger it was, he thought to himself.
“-I wasn’t flirting with you. I was being friendly. And you’re the one who asked me to dance.”
“You could have said no. Or that you had a fiancé, and it would be inappropriate,” he stated. She went to open her mouth but he waved her off. “It’s fine. I guess I just got my signals crossed. It won’t happen again.”
“Good,” she said with a nod of finality.
Kabir entered the room again, ignorant of the tension that filled the space. “Hey, ‘Riddhi? We need to head out. Aryan needs my assistance at the shop.” He looked up at Vansh and extended his hand. “It was great meeting you.”
Vansh stood and shook the man’s hand. “Same to you. Email me the venues you want to visit and either I or my colleague, Angre, will take you to check them out.”
Riddhima stood and gave Vansh a curt nod. “We’ll be sure to do so. Come on, Kabir, let’s get you to the shop while I look at these brochures.”
Once they were gone, Vansh sat down in his chair with a huff, running both hands through his hair as he hung his head and groaned.
“Tough meeting?” Angre asked.
Vansh looked up and saw his friend leaning against the doorframe. “No, it went well enough. They knew a lot of what they wanted already which is helpful,” he said with a sigh.
“Then what’s got you all worked up?” Angre asked with a concerned frown, moving into the office to sit in one of the seats across from Vansh.
“You remember that woman I met the other day? The doctor?” At his friend’s nod, he continued. “That was her.”
Angre’s eyes widened in shock. “Your new client?”
“Yup,” Vansh said, enunciating the word with a pop.
“Are you going to keep them on as clients?”
“I don’t know mate… I mean, I know I only saw her twice, but both of those times I thought we had a connection. Turns out we do, it’s just work-related,” he grumbled.
“Well, let me know if you want me to take over, but I think you should stick with it,” Angre said as he stood. “Hey, I’m meeting Karthik for drinks at The Cauldron, if you want to come?”
Vansh waved him off absently. “Maybe another time. I have some work to do here.”
With a farewell from his friend, Vansh looked back down at all his notes. He set to work putting the information into a customized database, making sure to send a copy to both Kabir and Riddhima for their confirmation.
As he stood from his desk and stretched his arms above his head, he heard the distinct sound of heels clicking on the tile floor.
Moments later, Ragini appeared in his doorway.
“Knock, knock,” she said quietly, rapping her knuckles softly against his door. “I was in the neighbourhood and was wondering if you wanted to grab some dinner? Perhaps this time without our parents in the same room?” she asked hopefully.
Vansh gave her a soft smile and nodded. “Dinner sounds great. Give me five minutes?”
Ragini nodded and left for the waiting area. Vansh checked his email, hoping that Riddhima had responded. When nothing showed up, he shut his laptop with a snap, berating himself for being hopeful of a taken woman’s response.
Squaring his shoulders, he left his office-and his thoughts of Riddhima-behind as he went to dinner with a willing and single woman.
Three days later Vansh was driving both Riddhima and Kabir to one of the venues from their list. Kabir’s parents, Varun and Anupriya, were going to meet them there for the tour which was to be done by horseback, seeing as the venue’s property was expansive. The drive to the venue was a quiet affair, with Kabir in the backseat texting his brother the whole time and Riddhima pointedly ignoring Vansh, choosing instead to stare out the window from the front passenger seat.
Clearing his throat, Vansh finally broke the silence. “So, have you two decided on your song for your first dance as husband and wife?”, he asked.
“Not yet,” Riddhima answered with a sigh, finally turning her head to look at him. “Why? Do you have suggestions?”
“As a matter of fact,” he pulled out a CD case from beneath his seat, “I do. Why don’t you flip through those and maybe you’ll find one that works.”
Riddhima looked through the selection while Kabir peered over her shoulder.
“What about that one?” Kabir asked, pointing to one of the CD’s.
“‘Honestly I Love You’ by Olivia Newton-John,” Riddhima read. She wrinkled her nose and shook her head. “No…. What about ‘At Last’ by Etta James? I know your family would love that song for us,” she said, chuckling as she turned the CD case to the next page.
“My mum used to tell me that she could always tell how long a marriage will last based on their wedding song,” Vansh said. Both Riddhima and Kabir turned to him and stared at him quizzically, so he continued. “For example, if a couple chose ‘All of Me’ by John Legend, she expected a marriage of at least thirty years. With ‘Honestly I Love You,’ she predicted fourteen months, while ‘At Last’ was thirty years.”
“Interesting,” Riddhima mused, glancing back at the selections.
“Were there any songs she deemed to predict a lasting, fulfilling marriage? Or will nothing be good enough to expect a marriage to last?” Riddhima queried. Vansh noted a hint of mocking in her tone.
With a slight grin, he answered, “‘Making Memories of Us’ by Keith Urban. That’s the song she deemed to mean an everlasting marriage,” Vansh said, glancing at Riddhima and raising a brow.
“We should do that one,” Kabir said with a nod. A ping from his phone caught his attention, and he went back to texting.
“Honestly, it’s just silly,” Riddhima huffed.
“What is?” Vansh asked as he pulled into the parking lot.
“That a song will predict how long a marriage will last. Utterly preposterous.” She closed the CD case and zipped it back up, handing it back to him. “Thank you for your suggestions, but we’ll just choose something on our own.”
Vansh took the case and slipped it back under his seat. “Whatever you say, Princess,” he muttered.
Riddhima glared at him and crossed her arms, turning her head to look out her window once more.
Vansh left Riddhima and Kabir outside to wait for the elder Sharmas while he checked them in for their tour. When he made his way back outside, he heard a familiar voice call out to him.
“Vansh! Is that you?” Ragini walked quickly over to him, a wide smile on her face.
“Ragini?” he asked, surprised to see her. “What are you doing here?”
When she reached him, Ragini went on her toes to kiss his cheek. “Mom needed me to talk to the owner about their wine shipment. Apparently they ordered a hundred cases but only received half.”
Vansh had momentarily forgotten that the Mehras were known for their own wine company. “Everything all sorted out then?” he asked.
Ragini looped her arm through his as they walked back to the parking area. “Yes, thankfully. So, what are you doing here?”
Before Vansh had a chance to answer, Riddhima walked up to the pair. “Sorry to interrupt, but Kabir’s parents are here,” she said, looking at Vansh before shifting her gaze to the petite blond next to him. “And who do we have here?”
“I’m Ragini, Vansh’s girlfriend,” Ragini said, beaming up at him before looking at Riddhima. “And you are…?”
“Riddhima Kapoor. Your boyfriend,” she put emphasis on the word while staring at Vansh, “is my wedding planner. We’re here to check out the venue.”
“Oh, you will simply love it here!” Ragini gushed. “Well, I better get back to the office before Mom starts calling and wondering where I am. Vansh, dinner tomorrow?” she asked hopefully.
Vansh cleared his throat. “Um, yeah, sure.”
“Great!” Ragini kissed his cheek again before leaving him with Riddhima, turning to wave once more before getting into her car.
Both Vansh and Riddhima lifted a hand to wave back and Riddhima muttered under her breath. “You have all the nerve…” She turned to face him. “How dare you make me feel bad for, well, whatever it was that happened at the park, when you have a girlfriend.”
“Don’t bother. Now, if you’re done using our time to meet up with your little girlfriend, I think it’s time we check out this lovely venue.”
She stomped back over to where Kabir and his parents waited next to their car, and Vansh sighed as he ran a hand through his hair. He really needed to talk to Ragini, because while she was a nice enough girl, she was most definitely not his girlfriend.
Plastering on a smile, he made his way to the group and got ready for another few hours with the soon-t