Read an Excerpt from Dawn’s Desire
His home looked exactly as I’d expected it to. Meticulously curated, tastefully furnished and anally maintained.
“You live alone?” I asked, as he handed me fresh towels and herded me towards the guest bedroom.
“Did you think I had a secret wife stashed away in my cupboard or something?”
I shrugged. “Stranger things have happened.”
He came to an abrupt halt in front of me. “Really? Like what?”
I gave him what I hoped was an enigmatic smile but what was, in reality, probably more constipated.
With one last weirded-out look, he pushed the door of a room open and stepped back. “This is the guest bedroom. It has an attached toilet. If you need anything, let me know.”
With that, he was gone before I could thank him or say any of the hundred other things bubbling through me. I dropped the duffel bag I’d carried along on the beautifully made bed and took in my surroundings.
The entire room was done in shades of pastel green and cream and had a soothing effect on my otherwise frazzled nerves. My finger trailed over a summery yellow porcelain bowl on the bedside table with potpourri in it.
Who kept his home so immaculate for him? Jealousy speared through me as I took in the many feminine touches to the room. I shook it off and marched into the bathroom to wash the day’s dirt and grief off of me.
The hot spray of water from the shower boiled my skin and cleansed my soul. I took a deep breath as I wrapped my hair in a towel, changed into a comfortable pair of shorts and a t-shirt and followed my nose to the drawing room.
Rishi held out a bowl of steaming hot deliciousness. “Chicken Pad Thai okay?” he asked.
I nodded, taking the bowl from him. “Thank you.”
He gave me a brief smile before picking up his own bowl and digging in. He had a copy of the latest book by Lee Child beside him.
“How are you enjoying that?” I asked, pointing with my fork to the book.
He moved his hand in a so-so gesture saying, “Not sure if it is the book or my mood though.”
I bit my tongue. I really did. But it wagged anyway.
“Is there something wrong with your mood?” I asked.
His fork froze on the way to his mouth. “Nothing that concerns you,” he answered, quietly.
It stung but I forced myself to look serene as I dug into my dinner.
“You haven’t asked me yet,” I pushed my food around. “Why my parents threw me out of the house? Don’t you want to know?”
“I haven’t asked you about many things, Sehar.” He reached casually for the television remote and turned it on. “Why would I start now?”
This time it hurt to breathe. I sucked in a harsh gasp but it did nothing but burn its way through me.
“I tried to explain my behaviour that night to you in Goa.”
“And I told you I wasn’t interested in your explanation.” He kept his gaze on the television even as he increased the volume to drown me out.
“Rishi, I never meant to-“
The television clicked off, the silence that fell in the room as abrupt as it was complete.
He turned towards me, finally, fury burning in his gaze, his knuckles turning white from his grip on his bowl.
“Is it so hard for you to understand that I am not interested in discussing that night with you? Ever? You lied to me, you slept with me, you used me and you stole from me…whatever your so-called justifications are, Sehar…I don’t care!”
My throat locked, my apology crumbling and dying inside me.
“Are we clear?” he asked, softly.
“Crystal,” I forced out.
“Good.” He turned the television on again, letting the sound wash over us.
Silently, I ate every last bite in my bowl before walking to the kitchen to wash and stack it on the drying tray.
I stopped at the entrance to the living room and watched him eat and stare at the television as if my presence in his home made no difference to him.
We both knew better. We were both experts at pretending differently though.
“I’ll be gone in the morning,” I told the back of his head.
“You always are.” He increased the volume again until I thought the windows would shatter.
Or maybe I would.
About the Author:
Shilpa Suraj wears many hats – corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.
An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.
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