Finding a perfect One Shot is a lot like hunting for a good sushi joint. You know what you want – freshness, delicious flavors, authenticity, but with a unique creative twist. So you bear with the bland, the wannabes, the mundane, all in hope of finding THE ONE.
I’ve read a lot of one shots, some are decent, others …tried, but once in a while I hit upon that gem that makes it all worthwhile. These Arshi one shots have been especially curated for your reading pleasure. (Do note, this is highly subjective) Enjoy the feast!
Excerpt: Her face was covered in a thick layer of soot, only broken by the streaks of tears running down her cheeks. Her thick, dark hair was matted, the plait it had once been in long since gone. She was clutching a thin dupatta that was torn to shreds, the hospital gown sliding slightly down her shoulders. Her arm was wrapped in a scrap of fabric, the blood seeping through the flimsy cloth. He could see the dark purple of bruises denting her skin, reflecting a beating. He shook his head. She was one of hundreds pouring in, innocent victims of radical mobs. Would this senseless violence never stop?
Excerpt: One month…thirty days since, it had been. And when all was said and done, she was no longer in front of him, before he could latch on to the anchor that held him at bay, before he could convince her that there was no Arnav without his Khushi.
Excerpt: ‘Khush! Don’t cry Khush. Please. Everything will be okay. I promise you this. If I cannot do anything else in my entire life, I promise you I will do this. I will make everything fine. I’ll make you happy again.’ A sixteen year old Arnav Singh Raizada promised a fourteen year old Khushi Kumari Gupta.
Excerpt: “If you don’t let go of me, I will call my family. Before you can show me a good time, my Buaji will flatten you with her belan,” the girl threatened the man.
A small smile appeared suddenly on khadoos ASR’s lips. He waited for the scene to play out.
Excerpt: She looked at the large portrait of her sister that hung on one of the walls in the living room…her smiling face, dimpled cheeks and twinkling eyes looking down at Khushi who sat with tears welling in her eyes…she missed her sister…missed her more than anything! And if it wasn’t for her sister’s baby…she probably would not have been sitting here today…in her new life…as Mrs Arnav Singh Raizada…a name that was rightfully her sisters…not hers.
Excerpt: She wished he would stop staring at her lips. He had been doing so intermittently throughout the one hour meeting, and she just didn’t know how to concentrate on the matter at hand when all she could think, all she could feel was that burning gaze that wandered leisurely over the contours of her mouth like a lover’s caress. Which wasn’t surprising, given that he…
Excerpt: What did she feel? Did she still see him as the ruthless gangster for whom violence had been the norm? Or did she now see the man behind the facade?
Excerpt: Girls just didn’t feature in his life plan at the moment. He treated them with polite respect but was indifferent to all the handkerchiefs thrown in his direction. Oh he was aware of them alright, he smirked. He just chose to ignore them. So unless a girl was extraordinarily attractive, he really didn’t look twice at anyone. Except this girl. She’d intruded upon his existence one sunny afternoon in the Fall.
Excerpt: He lifted his eyes to the rear-view mirror, and caught his breath at what he saw there. Between his car and the row of parked vehicles behind him, the flash of red stood out like a beacon. A beacon of hope, one that he hadn’t even known he cherished until that instant. It was her.
Excerpt: Every morning at ten ‘o’ clock sharp, Khushi Gupta would pull the blinds back from the display window exhibiting a variety of treats, turn the sign at the door so that it read ‘OPEN’, and maneuver a large blackboard with the day’s specials written on it, through the door and place it on the footpath right outside her shop. Then she would violently dust her hands and apron to get rid of residual chalk dust, flash him her brightest smile, and wave from across the street, before going back inside. And every morning this friendly gesture would raise his blood pressure a few notches. He had to remind himself to be civil and nod, instead of scowling darkly and shaking his fist at her.
Excerpt: A sailboat, as brightly colored as a butterfly, caught his attention today. He watched as it lazily tacked toward shore, not realizing his gaze held longing. He was so engrossed in watching the boat he was unaware of someone approaching until the vibration of the wooden planks alerted him. His entire body was suddenly coiled, he didn’t want visitors, had made it very clear. He looked up. A woman, she was young and very pretty. His face hardened, too fucking bad he wasn’t in the mood for pretty.
Ahem! by Appurs [Akash]
Excerpt: Try as you might, catching a moment of privacy in the rambling mansion was almost impossible. All roads in Shantivan would suddenly decide to lead to him, them, and leading the pack would be either his own mother or the goat. He could deal with the goat, but a simple “Shoo” wasn’t well-received by the others, wasn’t polite enough, apparently. As if a guy could be expected to think logically when his mother pops up when he was making out!
Excerpt: “Love, Lust. . It’s all the same.. .All 4 letter words… What I feel for you, this passion, I’ve never felt for anyone else. Isn’t that worth something we should explore?”
Excerpt: “Untie him” she said, anticipating the stranger to display relief and eventually, cordiality. But she couldn’t have been more wrong. The eyes that were focusing on the restrained hands, now met hers, but there was no geniality in them. She hadn’t exactly expected molten caramel, but also wasn’t prepared for the callous onyx. That, however had no change in the immobility rendered by his piercing stare.
Excerpt: “Where is the necklace I gave you,” Arnav rasped.
“Khushi'”, he whispered lowering his lips to ears, “it was a gift, my love, I want to see you in nothing but that necklace.”
Those words went like lightning through her, causing her heart to pound and ejecting a sudden rush of molten love from her femaleness. Khushi could not believe her ears, did Arnav really sat that! Could she really do this for him? Something in his face told her that he needed her just the way he had explained. It would be his salve, his redemption from years of pain behind those haunted eyes.
Excerpt: Khushi sat staring at the drawer, lips quivering. She looked up and he was peeping in, a secret smile on his face. A radiant one broke on hers. Light hitting thousands of mirrors.
Excerpt: I take pride in the fact that his affection for me hasn’t changed over the years. He and his wife still adore me. Why wouldn’t they? After all, I have played a pivotal role in their love story!
Excerpt: Sometimes she wonders if he’d just played at being in love with her. Because he hasn’t even tried. But then she remembers that she hasn’t tried either. She hasn’t tried to talk to him, she hasn’t tried to explain and she hasn’t even tried to change his mind. She’d accepted it just as easily as he had. But that doesn’t mean she loves him any less. It doesn’t mean he never loved her. Sometimes it’s just easier to give up.
Excerpt: Upon reaching the tip he looped the ends together. With slow deliberate motions he began to wrap the strands around his right palm. Tangled knots, messy weaves, interlocked threads, visible and not. When he’d gathered most of the heavy mass, he gave a light tug, tilting her head back. His left arm slid around her waist. Within an eternity and a heartbeat later, Arnav Singh Raizada crushed his mouth down on hers.
Excerpt: “Because I can meet her only then, Ramu Kaka.” Arnav suddenly whispered, surprising him. “Khushi is very naughty. She doesn’t come to me otherwise.” Arnav suddenly pulled his mouth into a pout. “Why doesn’t she come to me Ramu Kaka?” Arnav asked, his voice dripping in melancholy. “Why doesn’t Khushi come to me? Doesn’t she know how much I love her?”
Excerpt: She stood on the stage, alone. Completely alone. Where was her damn partner and why had she not shown up!!! How could she let Khushi down at her moment of need when victory was truly within her grip. He felt his anger increasing. Nobody did that to Khushi. Nobody had the audacity of treating her that way, apart from him. But it was different with him, he reasoned. He was doing it to protect her. To push her away so that she wouldn’t get burnt by him. He had a reason. Though his inner resolved was no longer convinced.
Excerpt: “You fell into my arms, my life, exactly two years ago, in this very spot. And I know now, right then and there I had subconsciously decided to never let you go.” Arnav tightened his arms ever so slightly, holding her closer to his heart, wanting her to hear everything it wanted to say to her.
Excerpt: A quiet word by Vishwa would set him thinking on rational lines but then Rudra would egg him with a sly innuendo while stroking his ego. ASR never realized that he was being played by not one but two of the most brilliant minds in the history of the universe. One was a destroyer while the other was a fixer.
Excerpt: Four years had passed. I was now 21. And yet even now, I remembered my childhood friend, my other half. Even my teenage heartbreak in the garden was fresh in my mind, as if it had only been last night that he’d left me.
Excerpt: If I beg on hands and knees, would you come back? ~ Arnav Singh Raizada
I thought that the Raizada never begged ~ Khushi Kumari Gupta.
Excerpt: His mind tried uselessly to comfort him with echoes of her voice, fragments from their bitter-sweet past and he had to cover his ears because it only made the emptiness inside even louder…
Excerpt: She picked up the phone in her hand & flopped down on the bed with a whirl. As a result of her whimsical movement, her voice sounded breathy & rasped when she finally answered the call with a sternly said, “You’re late!”
Excerpt: Raizada House had seen many days.
Some happy, some sad.
It had seen many occasions too.
Office success parties, engagement dinners, marriage buffets, godiz biza ruai rasams, birthdays.
And it had seen funerals too.
But today, today it remained empty.
Excerpt: He wanted to hear her talk, the same things he previously found insufferable, if one she talks to him now. He was ready all his life for her, if only she returns back to him. A fear of it being too late now started gripping his heart, every time he left her house.
Excerpt: And finally one day, ending weeks of agony, ASR boarded a flight to Mumbai, and the news spread even to flights cruising over the Atlantic. The lucky ladies who got to attend to him, who for the first time, thanked their stars for limiting them to the national airline, noticed and conveyed the worn-down and bruised appearance he sported. It was however, noted with astonishment that he looked happy, and had smiled at his attendant, a first in anyone’s memory!
Excerpt: He should have kissed her!! He should have bloody kissed her!! He should have grabbed her by her arms, pushed her against a wall and kissed her senseless, breathless. He should have kissed her so leaving no doubts about his feelings for her.
Excerpt: A multi-tasking domestic goddess any man would want. But not him. Where was that smiling girl he once knew? Where were the signature things that made her Khushi?
Excerpt: No one who saw the blur of red that exploded from the back of the car and into the waiting arms of Arnav Singh Raizada would have thought that his wife Khushi was returning to him after a journey of only three days.
Excerpt: “But you Khushi. Only you seem to understand me. You always know what to say or what to do. You always deal with me so well. Only you manage to handle me and all my issues.” He ran the back of his fingers up her arm. “It won’t be easy Khushi. We will fight. I will make you cry. I always lash out at those who mean the most to me. But are you up to the challenge? Can you handle being mine for the rest of our lives?”
Excerpt: It hurt that I couldn’t make a place of my own in her hurt. It hurt that I had only imaged myself in those eyes. It hurt to look into her wide innocent eyes and know that I wasn’t the one who held her heart.
Excerpt: On the other side of Delhi, in RM, Arnav is sitting by her poolside smiling like a little boy. He has finally found his perfect plan. He finally knows how he wants to bring her back. He stares at her Maa who is shining brightly and he knows she is happy for him. “Yes maa,” he whispers, “I finally am now ready for her. I finally am now ready to bring her back to where she belongs.” He turns to go back to bed giving one last glance at her mother. He stops for a second and stares at the new star. He wonders where that bright star beside her mother was all these days.
Excerpt: Khushi stood at the gate till the final car disappeared from view, the dust long settled, the sounds gone silent. Arnav stood by her side, looking at her, watching as a myriad of expressions crossed her face. “It’s time, my love”, Arnav whispered.
Khushi looked at him and smiled. She knew that this is where it shall all end. With trembling hands, she held her husband’s strong ones. As she took a step forward, she stumbled. And in the way he had been doing ever since she knew him, Arnav caught her before she could fall.
It Was That Moment by Lyraa [Lavanya]
Excerpt: It was that moment… And ASR was there… looking handsome in black. I watched him sadly almost wistfully. He had eyes only for Chamkili. They followed her every movement, every step. My smile slipped. I felt an ache in my throat. I would have given anything to have him look at me like that. I blinked back tears and smiled. Smiling was better than explaining why it hurt.
Excerpt: “I would like to receive kisses as interest.” When Khushi wore a confused look at this, he continued. “Since you’ve taken a year to repay me the principal amount, I am fixing the interest at 300; mind you I’m being considerate over here there are 365 days in a year but since you are my wife, I’m providing you with a discount hence the number 300. So Mrs. Khushi Kumaari Gupta Singh Raizada, are you ready to dispense the kisses?”
Excerpt: “Each lantern represents you Khush, for being my light in the darkness that I was engulfed into.” Arnav admitted innocently.
Excerpt: All that mattered was that he wanted to kiss her. And he could. Because he was the boss, and she was his secretary. And it was all wrong. But that was the least of his concerns.
Excerpt: “Khushi… I wish I could go back ten years ago, and change what happened that day, but let’s just leave that behind us. Today I want to tell you, what I had wanted to say then…yes, I had wanted to be friends with you, Khushi Kumari Gupta… but not anymore.” He saw her scrunching up her face nervously. Suppressing the urge to chuckle, he continued, “I want to tell you that I have fallen head-over-heels in love with you. I want to be bound to you for eternity, Khushi.”
Excerpt: “Khushi?” he said. “Khushi? Look at me. What do YOU want?” he said pulling her into a hug.
“You..me..a simple ceremony. I just want to get married Anrav. I don’t care how.” Khushi said with a smile.
“Let’s go.” Arnav said pulling her up. “Where?” Khushi asked confused.
“You trust me right?” At her nod, he said “Then trust me to do the right this for us.” She smiled and placed her hand in his.
Excerpt: ‘I am yours Khushi, damaged, tainted, Laad Governor, Rakshas, jo bhi hoon, bas tumahara hoon’.
Excerpt: When she had met him again, it was to present him with a reward; from the princess to the warrior; warrior was a terminology she had provided for him for his actual position did not warrant a name.
Excerpt: For some reason, Khushi realized that she didn’t mind him calling her that. She actually liked that he called her ‘wife’.
Excerpt: Khushi stared at the letter numbly. This can’t be happening, not now. Not when I am about to get married to a man that loves me. But not to a man you love, said a tiny voice. The voice of the girl that had once held dreams of marrying the one she loved, the one who had her heart broken, the one she tried to shove to the back of her mind to avoid the pain that came along with it.
Mera Beta by Appurs [Shashi]
And just like that, ‘Aunty’ became ‘Amma’. If Arnav noticed his slip, or whether he saw the beatific smile on both Akash and Garima’s faces, it was anybody’s guess. Knowing how he detested anyone giving him special attention or making a big deal over something he said, everyone proceeded quietly with the conversation. It was only Khushi’s gentle squeeze on his arm and his responding smile that clued Shashi in on the fact that it hadn’t been a slip. Shashi and Garima had become ‘Babuji’ and ‘Amma’ to Arnav Singh Raizada.
Mere Papad ka Tukda by Ruchi [Anjali]
Excerpt: In all of this, firmly by her side, was her partner in crime. Her able helper, her pesky little brother. He who wanted to do everything with her, and he who also wanted to do everything for her. Her real live moving crutch. There, determinedly holding her hand, always.
Excerpt: Somewhere along the well-known journey between the lounge and the bedroom, their lips refused to leave their embrace even as clothes disappeared and flesh desperately met flesh. As they tumbled gracelessly into the promised haven of his crumpled sheets, their bodies shuddered with joy, as every thought and pretence was finally stripped away to leave only the animalistic pleasure of passionate embrace. Their conjoined movements oscillated lusciously between the raging fire in their souls and the sincerity of their hearts tender touches.
Excerpt: Arnav closed his eyes and sent out a prayer again, to the deities he would never believe in. She was here. In this beautiful morning. She had stolen his heart again. All was as it should be. A morning theft.
Excerpt: He closed his eyes to block out the image of the tears in her eyes, when she was in his arms last night. “Khushi! I wish I could love you freely.”
Khushi entered their disheveled room after breakfast, and she went straight to the cupboard to bring out her pre-wedding rituals’ photo album & by her force of habit, her eyes stuck to the picture of Arnav on his knee in front of her, proposing to her on their Sangeet, and she closed her eyes, letting the tears fall unchecked. “Arnavji! I wish I could hate you absolutely.”
Excerpt: But what he did know was this. Whatever shape his heart was in right now- every beat, every pump, every course of life it sent rushing through his body… was only for her.
Excerpt: He held out a hand. She was going to take it, she knew it. She knew it by the hammering beat of her heart. She knew it by the certainty in his deep, musical voice. She knew it as she felt heat rush through her body, warming around her eyes. She knew it as she felt a smile creep up, unbidden, unexpected.
Excerpt: How could she convince herself to stop feeling the emotions that were overflowing being near him? Could one ask their heart to stop pounding against their chest elated at being the center of a man’s world? Was it selfish to cave into the desire her body was yearning for under the intensity of his gaze? She knew she should pay attention to the voice of reason at the back of her mind. But she didn’t want to. Not tonight…
Oceans by Bingala [Akash]
Excerpt: Just because there had been a lateral streak of perfectionist in him that had come out where Payal was concerned. As if she had been his chance of undoing the past – as if when she hadn’t lived up to his perceived notions of perfection, she had ended up disappointing him instead. He should have gotten his head checked then. Akaash chuckled darkly. His mommy issues had been no reason for him to push his wife away so effectively. Even his volatile, crazy brothers hadn’t done so with their own partners. They were all flawed, Akaash knew. Yet, they are the ones who had been able to admit it freely from the first and having done so, had been able to have normal (or as close to one anyway) relationships. Akaash, so hung up on his notion of perfection – hadn’t been able to see his own.
Excerpt: “Oh, I understand all right. I was good enough to make out in secret, but not good enough to acknowledge in public, right? What was I Miss Gupta? Your one ride on the wild side? Your dirty little secret, the illegitimate half-brother of the prince, that you are unwillingly attracted to?”
Excerpt: He bent backwards and caught hold of a piece of paper. “This, Ms. Khushi Kumari Gupta, is a crossword puzzle. And I’d like you to solve it.” He loosened his grip around her and handed her the paper. She was puzzled and aghast. “Are you out of your mind, Arnav?”
“No, I’m not. And if you want to prove that you have one, you have to solve it, and fast.” He smiled at her. He knew she loved solving these puzzles and if challenged she never backed out.
Excerpt: The gentle tug of sleep pulled at her. She was just about to give in when she landed on a solo photo of him. He was looking at something (or was it someone?)…almost lovingly. His gaze was soft. Like a loving caress. How I wish…
Excerpt: He had been called a wolf by many, the long-suffering Arnav thought, “I must be part-wolf, why else in hell would my sense of smell be this acute?” conveniently forgetting that he wasn’t in the least bothered by un-Khushi-related smells.
Excerpt: Arnav’s hands settled on her waist, as he inhaled deeply. To anyone on the side, it would look like a coupley embrace, with the husband gently hugging his wife. But for Khushi, to feel Arnav’s nose against her skin, to feel his breath every time he exhaled, to feel the warmth of his hands on her waist, she could feel goosebumps appear on her flesh, as the blush in her cheeks intensified.
Excerpt: “Come on Khushi. It will be like a honeymoon.” He winked at her. “And Arush loves Buaji right? He’ll enjoy the change.” He added, kissing her neck, hugging her tightly from behind. But before he could complete, he felt a light smack on his arm and found a furious pair of tiny hazel eyes glaring at him. “This, my Mamma.” Arush protested angrily with his husky tiny baby voice as he desperately tried to free his mother from his father’s grip.
Excerpt: “I need some saris for my…my w..wife. Silk…the best quality…”
“Is there any colour that she prefers, Sir? Or would you like to look around?”
Into his mind flashed the picture of Khushi in a red sari, sitting in the circle of lamps, lighting them, with a smile of happiness on her lips, her eyes shining brighter than the lamps.
“Red”, he said decisively.
Excerpt: Come back to us soon my love… Forever yours, Khushi and Aadya.
The battle worn army truck ambled along the uneven, dust lined streets towards his salvation as Major Arnav Singh Raizada neatly folded away the letter adorning his wife and child’s love, and placed the stolen snapshot of home close to his heart. With a war weary sigh escaping his slightly chapped lips and his men singing relieved songs of freedom behind him, Arnav closed his eyes and rested his head against the dusty pane of the bulletproof window as comforting thoughts of his journey towards his effervescent happiness engulfed his sleep hued senses…
Excerpt: As they swam across the shimmering waters, he could see the excitement on Khushi’s face. He could see the joy and triumph at doing something unknown. He admired her for her courage, her beauty and her intellect. Even though they were in shallow waters.. .Arnav felt he was n deeper waters.. .he could feel himself falling deeply for Khushi… the girl, he had seen on the seashore, collecting seashells.
Excerpt: She closed her eyes and his eyes closed too and he couldn’t help the whispered word which escaped his lips, ‘Khushi…’
There was no way she could have heard him, he was much further down the street and his windows were up but he opened his eyes to find her turned towards him with one hand still on the railing, looking at him in shocked disbelief. He thought he saw hope flare for a second in her eyes and she took a step forward but then her face lost its colour and her eyes lost that light.
Excerpt: An hour later, Arnav opened his eyes to see Khushi asleep on the recliner, her face inclined towards him. He stared at her ethereal form for several moments, finally reaching out and tucking a wayward bang behind her ear and whispered, I li fix everything, Khushi. I promise. And as his eyes drifted shut after feeling some peace, he promised himself to prove his love, prove himself to her.
Sleeping Patterns by Appurs [Nani]
Devyani Singh Raizada had lived a long life. Her 75 years had taught her a lot, shown her a lot. She knew that change was the biggest constant in life, but one thing that had never changed was the established habit of her grandson. She knew her Chotte well, his “gussa” very well. He could never tolerate any changes in his routine or all hell would break lose. Knowing this, she couldn’t fathom how this was possible – “this” meaning what she had just witnessed in her choti bahu Payal’s bedroom.
Excerpt: About an eon later, he suddenly saw her come into the pool area. She was glowing; there was no other word for it. Khushi, his Khushi glowing coming out of Arnav’s room?
Excerpt: It was dark. Why would she always switch off the poolside light which I would, every night, take an effort to switch on? She was afraid of the dark, for heaven’s sake? But the answer was simple. It was her way of rebelling against this set up, this sham of a marriage!
Excerpt: Khushi tried once more to remove his hand, but he snuggled his face into her hair, inhaling deeply, clutching onto her, refusing to let go.
Excerpt: He took a red velvet box and opened it to reveal a gorgeous set of antique gold encrusted with real rubies. She took a sharp breath, “But Arnavji, this is so precious!” “Wrong, as always Khushi Kumari Gupta, this is expensive, you are precious.”
Excerpt: He was leaving, and she would have to watch him leave. Instead of pushing him away, she engorged herself in his arms, her hands curling around his neck, pulling him closer until the breadth of distance had disappeared between them. Savoring the moment, she held onto him trying to remember his warm scent. How else was she suppose to get through the next four years?
The Other Shoulder by RockBarbie [Lavanya]
Excerpt: And then Lavanya finally knows. She understands the gnawing feeling of fading away that has been creeping up in her bones. Nowhere to grow old, I am always a shadow running from the sun.
Like every other major ground breaking revelation in her life, the magnanimous realization that Arnav and Khushi belong together is dissolved in cacophony of noises in the living room. She belatedly accepts that the alternate eventuality has already taken place and is waiting for cleaning up to take place. It hurts her, of course, but strangely relaxes the tension in her gut after what feels like ages.
Excerpt: “WHOSE Pajamas are you wearing and why?” he thundered.
Excerpt: He straightened the paper which he had been clutching hard and reread those words again, just to make sure… Dear stranger with an injured shoulder
Excerpt: Its ten minutes to descent when Arnav slips a small envelope in front of Khushi. “Open it,” he says gently. A photograph falls out into her hand. A smile spreads across her face when she recognizes it. A tourist had taken a photo of them during their hike in rain forest. In the photograph they are walking on a thin winding road both laughing at something and looking at each other. It is not just a photo of two lovers or two friends or a newly married couple. It’s a photo of all those things put together; they were friends, lovers, husband and wife and future parents.
“Turn it around.” She doesn’t look at him but does what he says anyway. “What does it say?” He whispers. “You don’t complete me. You remind me that I am already whole.”
Excerpt: The declaration didn’t exactly come like a bolt from out of the blue, she had been expecting it, or rather imagining this talk, but when she heard those words flow out of his mouth, she felt her whole world exploding, leaving her adrift somewhere in between, her feet grazing the stars. One minute she had been the girl enthralled about her sister’s wedding, and the next she felt like a woman in love. His woman.
Excerpt: “Arnav ji?” she whispered, startled at the man’s reflex. He whipped around and before she would say another word, had spun her into his arms, causing her laugh hysterically. Before anybody noticed though, he had slipped her in an adjoining room – Arnav was nothing if not private. “to think you still can’t get enough of me. No need to attack me when I’m eating Khushi, I need to keep my strength up if I’m to live with you,” he waggled his eyebrows. It still fascinated him that a son later, seven years of marriage behind them, she could still blush.
Excerpt: Did she think he would care if she adorned herself with his gifts and looked the way she did? Did she think he would care if she walked in with NK and get him to react? Did she think he would forgive her for cheating him? Did she think he would forgive her for thinking of him as a purse?
Excerpt: I had hoped that the intervening days would bring about some change. I had hoped he would notice.
But notice what?
My silence? He seems grateful for it.
My distance? SHE fills the gap.
My loneliness? How can he notice something I am hiding so well?
Excerpt: His eyes locked on her trembling lips and he was a man undone. Cupping her face in his hands, he moved his face closer to hers. She clutched her saree to control her wanton desires, as a part of her warred with herself to give in, to let go and just feel. Their eyes closed in sync, anticipating what was to come, accepting the inevitable and giving in to their heart’s demands.
Excerpt: “So until you’re ready to finally understand what I’ve been trying to say, you can put your yellow tins of paint away, because there is only one place I’m going to allow you to use it.”
Excerpt: Hazel. Like the colour of moss during autumn. Yet empty. Like mine. She sat down, across from me. Her eyes were downcast. Why was she sad? Moreover, why did I care? I looked away again, trying not to stare. Except I couldn’t. What was she thinking? That was when she finally met my eyes, and I saw the depth. I saw the flecks of gold in her warm eyes. And all I knew was that I had to know her name.
Excerpt: “And secondly, you had no problems mentioning the word “kiss” this time did you?”
“Fine! Fine! Yes! I kissed you on the cheek, as per your stupid dare, and I kept my end of the bet. OK? Now let me go.”
“We’re not done here yet.”
Excerpt: He couldn’t bear to look at her face. – Shyam – NK – Arnav
Excerpt: Taking her small hands in his, he lifted them to his lips. Brushing small kisses along her knuckles, he kept looking at her… waiting for her to snatch them away and turn from him. She didn’t. He was mildly surprised, but very happy to know that Khushi finally trusted him enough to let him be so close to her. She looked at him, with eyes full of trust and honest love. He guided her hands to his coat’s lapels, and helped her part them. Her hand now rested on his white shirt, over his heart.
Excerpt: The throaty chuckle that escaped his lips was unconscious as was the hand that went up to his cheek to touch the place where her soft lips had grazed his rough stubble far too lightly for his liking. He stepped towards her predatorily, her eyes widening in surprise once again but she had nowhere to step back to as she was already against the counter. ‘Hmm, well that was interesting. I wonder, what else can Khushi Kumari Gupta do?’
Excerpt: “… You didn’t think our story would end here, did you.. ?” he whispered huskily in her ears making Khushi blush as his hands slowly went to her waist. “What story.. ?“ she squeaked as his touch sent waves of electricity throughout her body.
“The story of Arnav and Khushi. The story of two people who loved to fight…” he encircled her waist with his arms and pulled her to him and said softy, “…And who fought to love…”
Excerpt: “I haven’t had this much fun is a long time Arnav-ji. Let be happy for a change.” Her words were light and harmless but their impact was harsh and Arnav moved back in slight shock. She hasn’t been happy in a long time and it was entirely his fault. She probably dreaded the day she fell into his arms; the day she had lost all her khushi.
Excerpt: The strumming of guitar, reverberating through the air, right to her heart…. A melodious voice that seemed to be seamlessly traveling across the campus atrium, pulling each and everyone who passed by towards the force, who sat lost in music, singing more to himself than to the gathered crowd.
*stunning banner credit to Palaayan*