When Anna arrived on the veranda for an alfresco breakfast, the sun was shining brightly. More musicians had joined their merry party, most of them familiar faces to her. She greeted a few, sensing the building energy and speculation and excitement in the atmosphere about another dynamic collaboration between Virat Raawal and AJ.
More than one movie was testament to the soulful, genre-bending music that came out when the childhood friends worked together.
She cast a surreptitious glance at the famous director, who was known for his demanding nature and cutting wit. Sitting by himself at a table, away from any of them, he looked like some kind of feudal lord or a maharaja with an invisible fence around him that kept interfering people away. A bunch of notes were spread out on the table in front of him, his gaze far away. But even in the stillness, there was an energy about him.
Anna tugged her gaze away from him and looked around.
AJ was nowhere to be seen.
When she asked one of the uniformed staff about his whereabouts, she was informed that the master of the house hadn’t been seen since early morning. If the servant thought it curious that Anna, who’d never gotten used to the whole idea of servants waiting on her hand and foot, looked close to being upset, he didn’t betray it.
The sudden excitement she’d felt upon waking, upon remembering their kiss last night, fizzled out of her. She felt like a kid whose balloon had been deflated while she hadn’t been looking. The most ridiculous urge to cry claimed her and she blinked against it. This was just like all the other times they had had a fight.
AJ shut down, disappeared to God knows where and only showed up when Anna’s anger had dissipated, leaving her pliable to his kisses and vulnerable to the man’s dazzling charm.
She lined up at the appetizing buffet just to avoid people seeing her consternation.
Why had she thought this time was different? What had she expected?
That AJ and she would be back together just because they had shared a heady kiss like in one of those early days? That she would walk out of her bedroom and he would declare undying devotion on his knees and beg her to come back to him, and they would dance to a colorful duet song while the world watched them fond? Anna pressed a hand to her chest and let out a laugh.
God, she was even more of a fool than she’d imagined.
Hadn’t she learned that life and love weren’t like one of Vikram Raawal’s commercials, over-the-top, sentimental, overly romanticized dramas where the hero would swoop in and save the day for the heroine?
No, life was more like Virat Raawal’s brilliantly captured human drama, where nothing was absolute and the only thing one could count on was oneself. The gloomy thought depressed the hell out of her.
“If you’re looking for your errant husband, he’s going to be gone for the rest of the day,” a soft voice drawled behind her.
Anna turned around, not in the least surprised that it was Virat who’d noticed that she’d been standing still without touching a thing on her plate. “I just realized your movies could be quite depressing, Mr. Raawal.”
He raised an arrogant eyebrow. “So you aren’t quite the little mouse my friend thought.”
Anna bristled at his interference. “I don’t see how that’s any of your—”
“I don’t like seeing my friends devastated.”
Anna looked down, her throat closing up.
“Did you ever question why I’m determined to have you sing this entire score?”
“No,” Anna said, meeting his intelligent eyes. “But with AJ’s composition, and such a powerful narrative for the leading woman and not just your brother...I will do full justice to it.”
His light brown gaze gleamed with approval. “Then maybe it’s time to bring the same confidence to other areas, my dear. Maybe it’s time to stand and fight instead of running away at the slightest hurt.”
Anna let his words swirl through her and settle deep. “I’m… I don’t know what to do,” she whispered, more than a little ashamed of herself.
“Maybe it’s not about you, Anna. Maybe it’s about AJ.”
She looked up, shocked.
He walked away, then turned back and said, “If you’re expecting rainbows and singing in the rain and false comforts, then my movies are not simply for you, love.”
With that arrogant statement, the man exited. Leaving Anna to stare at his retreating back, realizing the perceptiveness of his words.
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