Lounging on one of the many deck chairs dotted around the pool in a luxury resort in Goa,Maya looked up at the shadow looming above her. The paperback slid from her nerveless fingers and fell down with a soft thump. She closed her eyes and peeked up again. No, she definitely was not hallucinating. She was looking into the stormy golden eyes of Aadith Varma, one of the hottest, rising, young film stars in Bollywood and to say that he was furious was an understatement. Feigning surprised pleasure she remarked "I didn't know you had a shoot planned here.."
"You and I both know why I'm here and a shoot is definitely not it," said Aadith flatly, as he turned around to drag a lounger close to hers.
His luscious mop of black hair was a tad bit overlong and fell sexily across his forehead. Maya unashamedly let her gaze drift across his broad tanned back, lean hips and tightly muscled legs. Every bit of him was bloody droolworthy admitted Maya to herself. Not that he needed her endorsement, she thought wryly. He already had enough and more bimbos around him to boost his ego, she thought savagely. As he turned to face her, Maya sighed and closed her eyes in pain and was grateful she had her sunglasses on. Normally she had a good poker face which was how she had managed to work with him platonically, as his publicist for five long years. But now with her defenses at an all time low she was sure that he would take one look at her and know her deepest and darkest secret.....her unrequited love for him
Aadith pinned her with a stare and asked heatedly," So, why did you get someone else assigned to look after my PR and more importantly why did you run out on me like this?"
Maya shrugged nonchalantly and replied "You have already worked with Sofia on and off whenever I was not available so I thought you wouldn't mind doing it permanently."
His mouth tightened in anger, "Hmmm... Did you really think I wouldn't mind?" " Well I do, so get yourself re-assigned back to me" he bit out curtly.
Maya shook her head mutinously. "I thought we were friends", persisted Aadith.
"Precisely. Which is why I want to get away, before we are not even that. I am sick to death of either confirming or denying you gazillion relationships. I want a life that is not centered around your relationship status. I’m sorry Aadhi, I don’t want to work with you anymore" raged Maya
Aadhi thought back to the time Maya and he had started working together, when he had been just a couple of films old.They had both come a long way since those struggling days. She was painfully forthright and infuriatingly stubborn but she was also incredibly loyal and one of the few people who never expected anything from him. They had hit it off from the beginning and had become firm friends. She was still the only female other than his sister who remained immune to his charm, he thought ruefully. He couldn’t imagine her not being in his life. Aadhi resolved to get her back by any means.
Maya wanted to make her getaway before he could start working his legendary charm on her so she quickly gathered her sun screen and rose to leave, "Don't go, let’s talk about this" reasoned Aadhi.
"No....Don’t talk me into it again" protested Maya. " Is there a chance I could?" queried Aadith with a wicked grin, "over dinner perhaps?"
His smile always did weird things to her but she hardened her resolve and said "Not tonight. I’m meeting someone else for dinner."
Aadith’s face darkened "Are you here with someone?" "Umm.. No, He is someone I met here."replied Maya.
"You should know better than to pick someone up on a holiday" shot Aadhi. "He could be a murderer for all you know."
"Relax Aadhi, its just dinner and it’s not just anybody. I’m meeting Pranav Gupta the famous author."
"Careful you might end up in one of his books," remarked Aadhi tartly. "If I am that interesting a person to be written about then why not?" laughed Maya and made her way back to her room leaving a scowling Aadhi behind.
"Doesn’t she have more sense than that?" thought Aadhi angrily and quickly wondered why he was getting so worked up over it. Oblivious to all the female attention he was garnering, Aadhi walked towards the pool and dived in cleanly.
Watching him from her room window, Maya thought, if only he had been just a pretty face with a fabulous body she could have chalked it up to lust, but he was much more than that. As his publicist she knew how much he gave of himself to so many causes and so many people and not always for publicity. He was extremely loyal, hard working and generous to a fault. He was also maddeningly protective about those he cared about.
His fatal flaw.....his unending string of girlfriends, just when a girl thought she had him she found herself at the receiving end of a heart break. The latest had been a voluptuous married starlet, whom Maya herself had seen sneaking out of his apartment in the wee hours. That had been the straw that had broken the camel’s back - rued Maya. When Aadhi had stooped so low as to indulge in an affair with a married woman, to defile the sanctity of marriage, the scales had fallen from her eyes. To know that fidelity meant nothing to him had shook her up badly and made her realize that she had been wasting her time, waiting for him to return her love.
A shriek from the poolside broke her reverie and she glanced up at the clock guiltily. If she did not hurry up she was going to be late for dinner.
As the night drew near, she opened the door to Pranav who was undeniably handsome, suave and most importantly interested in her. He let out a low whistle as soon as he saw her and Maya knew that she looked her best. The blush pink gauzy dress made her slender body look sensuous when she moved. Her silky dark hair cascaded down her back in soft waves and framed a face that was lovely in its serenity. Her dark eyes glowed vividly above soft full lips.
They had opted to eat outdoors beneath a gazebo that afforded a beautiful view of a velvety star studded sky and the lapping of the waves in the vicinity. Soft music played in discreet speakers. When they had dispensed with their dinner orders, Pranav gazed at her lovely face and enquired "So how come a girl as beautiful as you is here alone?"
Startled by his frankness Maya did not have the heart to fob him off with a flippant reply so she stated truthfully "To cut a long story short I fell for a man who doesn't even realize I’m a woman. A friend is all I will ever be to him."
"So how come a man as handsome as you is here alone?" quipped back Maya. Pranav burst into laughter and said "Touché, actually I’m just out of a messy relationship and disappearing somewhere alone seemed a good idea at the time."
Maya felt as if someone was watching her, so she turned her head discreetly and found Aadhi glowering at her. She ignored him and turned to Pranav to ask him about his work. He was pleasant in an uncomplicated way and dinner would have been nice if not for Aadhi glaring broodingly all the time. When she got up to leave the table she saw a beautiful girl hanging onto Aadhi’s arm adoringly. She painfully turned away and took Pranav’s proffered hand.
An hour later Maya flashed her card at the door to let herself into her room. She opened the door to find Aadhi in a thundering rage.
"Where the hell did you disappear after dinner?" barked Aadhi.
"Not that it is any of your concern, but we went for a stroll along the beach" replied Maya coolly. "What are you doing in my room and don’t you think you are taking this protective bit too far?"
"If you hadn’t behaved like a simpering fool hanging onto his arm I wouldn’t need to check up on you," snapped Aadhi.
"Don’t tell me you’ve never got together with someone you just met!" muttered Maya furiously.
"Everybody knows holiday romances don’t last" said Aadhi bitingly.
"Maybe I don’t want a romance, maybe I just want a fling" exclaimed Maya witheringly.
At that Aadhi strode slowly and purposefully towards her, and when she saw the look in his eyes her heart began to hammer uncontrollably.
"If all you want is an affair then try me," he said chillingly before tugging her to him.
His cold voice was in sharp contrast to his warm lips. The touch of their lips electrified them both. His lips moved hungrily over hers as if he could not get enough of her. Maya surrendered herself to the melting intensity of the kiss.
Maya slid her hands under his loose cotton shirt and felt his muscles contract under her touch. Her tentative caress drove him wild with desire and he caught her hand in his and whispered into her ears " If you want me to stop tell me right now or it will be too late."
She lifted her eyes glazed with passion to look into his heart wrenchingly familiar face. She was beset with an agony of indecision,"If all she could have of him was his desire and his affection should she grab it with both hands or would this just make her eventual heartbreak all the more crushing?" she wondered.
Aadhi’s heart began to race madly as he watched her struggle with her emotions. He had never wanted anyone as much as he wanted Maya now and he was afraid she was going to pull away. He tensed involuntarily when he felt her stirring.
When Maya ducked her head down and pressed a kiss shyly at the open v at his throat Aadhi felt a surge of desire and tenderness well up inside him. He raised her face to his and rained soothing kisses on it.
Whatever the future brought, Maya vowed to enjoy what little time she’d have with Aadhi. Will it be forever or just a fortnight?