She looked so lovely standing there with that openly stricken expression that AJ wanted to wrap her slender form in his arms and bury his mouth in her neck. He could taste her silky skin, hear the throaty gasp she’d let out so clearly. He looked her up and down, the slow thrum of desire in his veins a welcome respite from the numbness of the past few months.
Tension filled his every muscle as he tried to suppress the overwhelming urge.
The pink kurta highlighted the warm tones of her skin, and her thick, wavy hair was tied away in a braid that pulled at her delicate features. The diamond she wore on her finger—a gift from him—winked at him. She still wore a thin black bead chain—something his family demanded as tradition in a married woman. That fact she kept it when she’d allowed herself to be bought stoked his bitterness.
“Hey, AJ,” she said, trying to look composed.
As if a curtain was being pulled right in front of her eyes. He didn’t know what he hated more—her pretense that he’d hurt her so badly that she looked like a shadow of herself, or this composure that said that whatever happened didn’t matter to her.
The unpalatable truth was that he’d been mourning the death of their relationship for nine long months. He’d been like a grouchy beast, snapping at anyone and everyone if they ventured too close. Even though his wide-eyed, innocent, for all appearances, wife didn’t deserve it.
He’d turned into a bona fide twenty-first-century Devdas. God, he’d always hated the loser hero who’d drunk himself to death after he’d lost the love of his life in a battle of ego and class in that ageless story.
“You look… Have you been unwell?” Anna whispered.
AJ ran a hand over his chin. He’d shaved today, having decided to present a civilized version of himself to his two best friends—the Raawal brothers. Because more than anything, he didn’t want them to know how deep his bitterness ran.
When he didn’t respond, she straightened her shoulders. “Of course, another late-night wild party of yours. How could I forget?”
The pulsing anger in those words shocked AJ, propelling him into jolting wakefulness after another night of little sleep. He let a smile curve his mouth and walked toward her.
As expected, every muscle in her body stiffened.
“You sound angry and—” he noted the tension around her trembling mouth “—upset, sweetheart. But that’s not possible since you decided our marriage wasn’t worth a second thought.”
The sarcasm in his tone made her eyes flash at him. Pink scoured her cheeks. He watched, fascinated, as she fought that rising temper, and within seconds, she had it blanketed away.
Frustration ripped through him at her obvious decision that he wasn’t even worth a fight.
“Please, AJ,” she said in a soft whisper that wrapped around his chest like a damn vise. “Let’s not do this now.”
“Then when?” he asked. Pride had demanded that he not seek her out for nine months. But now, he didn’t want to wait another minute.
“I’m already nervous about meeting the Raawals. After this weekend, we can call official quits on this whole charade.”
His gut tightened. “Call quits?”
“I’ve got divorce papers with me. Sign them and you can officially call me the worst mistake of your life.”
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