Anandi was fuming. It was Saturday evening and she had couple of guests coming for dinner. Priya, her husband and few other friends had planned a get together. Since Anandi stayed alone she offered to have them over for dinner.
Since Shiv had arrived in Bangalore her mental state had been a roller coaster, she had barely socialized last month. This would have been a good distraction. But her plans were shattered when Priya called and cancelled the dinner at last minute. Her MIL was not well. The other friend also cancelled because of some personal problem.
Anandi knew that sudden problems could crop up with anyone and she was ok with that but right now she was fretting over the fact what to do with all this food!!
She had prepared an elaborate meal for them and she hated wasting food.
Her thoughts were interrupted by phone call….She was surprised to see Shiv’s call. Till now they had barely met during weekends. He used to have conference calls and manage his other works during weekends. Sometimes she wondered why he was still here when everything was settled.
She took his call “Hi Shiv”
“Hi Anandi. Are you busy?”
“No really I had some guests coming over but last minute cancellation”
“Good!! I mean that’s bad. So that means you are free. I was wondering if you could join me for dinner”.
“Not today Shiv. I have a four course meal ready for four people. I guess that will be my dinner lunch and breakfast till Monday!”
“God! You are talking to a starving man about food and not even inviting him to come!”
She laughed “I thought the high flying CEO who is used to Fine dining might not like home cooked food at my humble abode”.
He said “The High flying CEO is sucker for home cooked food. In fact I am dying to eat something simpler. You made it?”
“I am coming over. No questions”
“But Shiv!! I am not sure if you wld like it… I mean I am not a great cook”
“You are an awesome cook Anandi. I still miss breakfast and snacks prepared by you”.
“But Shiv I am feeling terrible I don’t want you to fee that I want you here as a substitute because my guests ditched”.
“Why would I feel that? I am hungry and you have food so wats the problem. Anyways enough talks I am coming over now”.
He cut the call and left Anandi wondering. She got a sudden blast from the past memories. When she stayed over at his apartment. Food used to be the last thing on their mind. She was barely skilled enough to prepare anything elaborate but she did make occasional breakfast and snacks like sandwich or pasta. Shiv used to like whatever she made. Once he had sensuously licked off sauce from her fingers. It still made her shudder,
Her thoughts were broken when a frying pan fell from her hands. Suddenly having him over from dinner didn’t seem like a good idea anymore. But refusing him now would be rude. What could be implication of having him over?
He was being quite decent nowadays.
He was not pushy.
He was entertaining and she did enjoy being around him.
That were the pros the cons were…….
Her heart used to go racing and she had hard time controlling her instinct to run her fingers through his hairs and feel those hard muscles again. His calmness annoyed her. Did he really lose all interest in her? And why the hell was she bothered about that!!!
After a while she had given the final touches to the dining table. Changed into a nice dress which was not revealing. She had cautiously chosen that dress. Tied her hairs into a tight clutcher and was ready.
She checked herself in mirror. Her whole demeanor screamed “STAY AWAY” Satisfied she went into the living area.
After some time Shiv arrived and greeted her with a huge bouquet of flowers. He looked make-her-go-weak n the knees handsome.
She smiled “Thanks but why?”
“I self-invited myself here so it’s a token of thanks for your trouble “.
“Hell no its no trouble at all. In fact I am happy that you came along”.
“Yeah without an invitation.” He said in a miffed tone.
Anandi laughed “Oh dear!! will you come in and stop being a drama queen”.
He came in and looked around meanwhile she arranged his bouquet into a flowerpot” white lilies her favorite….He never forgot anything.
“Nice place you have here Anandi”. He said.
“Yeah and people are quite here too. They mind their own business”.
“You mean no nosy aunties around here??”
She laughed “No people r too busy to think of others”
Soon they were seated and he was busy wolfing down the food.
“Wow Anandi Yakhni Pulaw. May I kiss your hands”
“I would very much mind that” She laughed
“You never made these when we were….you know together”.
“I barely knew cooking then…..Never needed to do that. At home we had a cook and mostly Swati did the cooking. Usually food was the last thing on our minds”. She said then immediately regretted her words,
“You are right we didn’t bother about food or anything else for that matter”.
There was an awkward silence while both of their thoughts wandered in the past.
To change the topic he asked about their old friends the places they used to visit etc. She looked relived and was soon talking to him on various nonsensical topics.
“You know Anandi I have thought about you very often in last four years”. He said
Anandi froze now where was this leading to?
“I mean I often wondered what if I had not been an ass…Can’t we start where we left off?”
Anandi ignored the question “You want more curry?”
“No thanks I am done…Thanks for the lovely dinner Anandi. I really enjoyed it”
She smiled genuinely happy and relieved at the change of topic. “You are welcome”
She got up and started clearing the plates. Shiv was immediately by her side helping her.
“Shiv its ok I will manage”
“No Anandi I insist that you let me help. “
“But you are my guest”
“Is that all you think of me??” he asked
“I….Ok do as you wish” she relented.
He helped her carry the dishes in the kitchen and helped her around in clearing the table. His huge frame looked bulky in her tiny kitchen but it was comforting to have him around. She was surprised at herself by this thought. She asked “Dessert?”
He said “Sure “
She took out the ice cream brick from the freezer and scooped it out in a bowl. She looked at him from the corner of her eye. He was simply standing looked at her. She could always feel a crackling tension between them and now being alone in this small space made it more obvious.
“That should be enough Anandi” He said
She looked down and realized she had been scooping ice-cream in one bowl and now it was overflowing.
“Oh Shit!” she muttered and took a kitchen towel to wipe off the excess ice cream around the bowl while he looked on amused with a smile.
She fumbled around trying not to look like a fool. She cursed herself for being so clumsy. But that always happened around him.
And she slipped again on few drops of ice cream which had fallen on the floor.
Suddenly he was by her side. Holding her He yanked away the kitchen towel and held her waist
She looked up at him…..He was holding her waist and she was staring at him with wide eyes.
“How am I supposed to relax like this” She thought.
She mumbled “Umm chocolate syrup?”
His eyes lingered for a min “Sure I would love that”. Perhaps it was the way he said it her heart started to drum even harder.
He released it and with trembling hands she took the chocolate bottle from the counter.
Her mind had already gone blank all that mattered right now was shiv and herself and the close kitchen space.
She opened the bottle and squirted the syrup……in her nervousness she pressed it too hard as a result there was chocolate everywhere. On the counter….the ice cream her hands n sleeves.
“Oh no!!” She exclaimed.
He gave an amused smile “Lemme help. You”
He took the kitchen towel and wiped her hands and sleeves….”Now this is worse” She thought.
“Sorry don’t know why I’m so clumsy today” She said.
He said “No prob…you are cute this way”.
“Excuse me are you saying that I am clumsy”
“Yes but in a good way…Glad to know that some things are still the same…mmm there’s some syrup on your neck”
“Where?” She asked randomly wiping her neck.
He shook his head and touched the base of her neck with the towel.
She froze. He was busy wiping off the smudge. He caught her eyes and stopped. She had so many questions and in her eyes……he placed his palms on her cheeks holding her face “You are still the same. My sweet innocent Anandi”
Don’t know who made the first move. Later on when she recalled that moment it was not entirely his fault.
She was in a passionate embrace. His lips lingering on hers for a minute as if trying to get the feel. Then he moved his kiss parting her lips and exploring her mouth. She leaned back on the counter to give him better access. His hands went behind her head and he took off her clutcher letting her fall in a cascade. After don’t know how long he left her lips and looked at her, she was looked back at him with glazed eye.
“You have always looked beautiful with your hair down. Don’t tie them up”.
That moment she would have agreed to do anything. It was so easy to forget everything. Ignoring the tiny warning she trailed her figure on his jaws. His stubble slightly scraped her fingers.
“I should not be doing this” She thought “But how to stop”
He bent forward and kissed the pulse throbbing at the base of her neck then nibbled her neckline pushing her further on the counter. He felt so good and familiar. She didn’t want him to stop. He was somewhere near her ears when he whispered “You didn’t answer my question”
“Which question?” She asked
“Can we start off from where we left?”
She turned rigid. Was it possible? And why was she doing this?? She turned away her head from his approaching mouth.” No Shiv”
He released her.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea “She said
“Why not?” He looked confused after the way she had responded to his kiss.
“I don’t know. I need time to think” She wanted to tell him what had happened four years ago. How she was unable to trust him again. But she couldn’t.
“We’ll take it slow. I won’t pressurize you ok?” He said.
She simply closed her eyes and nodded.
After some time he left.
She collapsed on her bed in a quivering mass of nerves. She needed to talk to someone. Someone who could listen to her and understand her turmoil. She took her phone and called up Swati.
To be continued……..