“You’re avoiding me.”
AJ hadn’t been back for more than an hour. He’d finished his shower and put on his sweatpants, with a plan to get filthy drunk. He was halfway through his noble goal when Anna barged into his room, closed the door behind her and made the sweeping statement.
She hadn’t yet dressed for bed.
The simple white blouse hugged every dip and rise of her rapidly rising and falling breasts, and the black trousers highlighted the elegant line of her long legs. Legs that she had wrapped around his hips while he’d driven them both to heaven more than once. The small top rose with her breath, giving him a peek of her soft belly and the belly-button ring he’d discovered—to his eternal delight—on their first night as a married couple.
AJ wanted those legs around him again. He wanted her fingers digging into his bare back and her moans begging him to go deeper, and he wanted the trust she’d so easily given him in those first days.
But he couldn’t have any of it.
In the slow buzz of alcohol, he couldn’t however quite remember all the reasons why he couldn’t.
“You’re drunk. Again,” she announced in that outrageous way of hers.
He laughed. “The one thing I didn’t miss when you left was this.”
She fought a losing battle with her curiosity. “What?”
“Your middle-class morality. My God, I should be given a prize for staying sane until our wedding night.”
A faint blush scoured her cheeks. “I… That was Granny’s doing. She filled my head constantly with stories of casting couches and perverted monsters who prey on young girls in the industry. I…” She licked her lips and he groaned. “To tell you the truth, I desperately wanted to go to bed with you.”
“Then why did you make us wait?” he growled, dimly aware that this was something she should have told him.
“I—I had no experience, AJ, and you had so much. I was nervous. “She paused and watched him, then added, “AJ, what happened? Why are you…? You never drank when we were together.”
He shrugged. “I didn’t have cause then. Even when you told me what Seema didi was doing to you, and Papa’s derogatory comments every time you saw him, I simply buried myself in work. I was waiting for you to give up on the argument, knowing that when I showed up two days later, you’d just forget it all.”
She glared at him. But there was no real resentment in her eyes.
He braced himself for the impact of her presence on his dulled senses as she walked closer.
She kneeled between his outstretched legs. “AJ…”
“I paid a visit to Kumar Kuteer,” he said, mentioning the ugly skyscraper where his father and sisters dwelled. He’d always laughed it away when Anna had called it that. But now, he realized her resentment of it had come from the actions of the people who lived there, not the concrete walls and the forty floors and the different sphere of life.
“And I discovered that I’ve been fed a consistent diet of lies and assumptions about you. I happily digested it all. Papa and Seema didi never approved of you. I knew that. But I didn’t realize how much they’d let their own poison bleed into me, too. The worst is not that they turned me against you. The worst is that I believed it. Of you. And of myself. That I let them taint it all.”
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