“Oh sh*t, I am late.” I thought to myself. Siddharth, my fiance was waiting for me at a coffee shop near Bandra. I tried to drive as fast as possible in the maddening traffic and pothole ridden roads of Mumbai.
As I reached Costa Coffee, I saw Sidharth sitting inside the coffee shop. He was a good looking guy. His hair gelled and neatly combed and had broad shoulders. A look at him and anybody could have guessed he really worked hard on his looks and body. It wasa great thing. My friends were jealous of me, but somehow he reminded me of Ken (Barbie’s boy friend). He was too perfect looks-wise. There was a part of me who wanted to mess his hair up and force a burger down his throat. Okay, I may not be head over heels for him. But he was good-looking and very successful. 2 out of 3 ain’t that bad, I smiled and said to myself.
As I looked closely, I saw him talking to someone.” He never told me he was bringing along a friend.” I thought to myself. I looked at myself in the mirror. I was a complete mess. I combed my hair, retouched my make-up and got out of the car. I straightened my dress and I walked towards the coffee shop. I tried to peek in, to know who he was sitting with. All I could see was that man’s back.
I walked-in the coffee shop; both the men were engrossed in a conversation. As I reached their table, the stranger got up, but Sidharth continued sitting. The stranger was 6 ft tall, dishevelled hair, light stubble, very prominent jaw and he was dressed very casually in a worn-out jeans and a dark grey shirt hanging loosely. In short, he was exactly opposite of Sidharth and was drop dead gorgeous looking.
Sidharth caught hold of my hand and pulled me beside him. “Naman, meet Anvi, my beautiful fiance’. She’s an interior designer by profession.”
The guy looked at me and smiled. Sidharth continued “Anvi, this is Naman, he has done his masters from London Art Academy. He is here to paint a charity mural in KokilabenAmbani Hospital’s paediatric ward."
Naman held out his hand and said in a husky sexy voice “It’s a real pleasure meeting you, I have heard a lot about you.”
I blushed and somehow managed to smile. I wondered,“How come I meet Mr. Oh-So-Right only after I am engaged?”Sidharth continued, “I was just telling him that Art has no takers in India.”
“I am not here for money, I already have enough of it. I just want to do things for my own satisfaction.” Naman said. I couldn’t help thinking,“Rich, good looking and brooding.He's a perfect mills and boon material.”
As the gentlemen went back to their conversation, I couldn’t help noticing Sidharth and Naman were so alike yet so different. Both were good looking, well-placed but Sidharth was pompous and loud. Naman was silent and kept a low profile... smiling very occasionally.
“I have an idea,” Sidharth said excitedly. “How about Naman helping us with our flat’s decoration? Murals would look lovely in the study and also in one of the walls of our drawing room?” He looked at me expectedly.
I agreed. Murals did seem like a really good idea but working with Indian version of Hugh Jackson would be difficult.
Sidharth’s phone rang. He immediately cut the call and looked at us guiltily. “It’s my cue to go. I have a very important meeting in an hour.”
“Naman, How about Anvi dropping you at the hospital. She too, would be leaving for Andheri.” Sidharth said, not even once asking me if I was okay with it. Frankly I hate being bossed around.
Naman looked at me and tried to politely decline the offer but Sidharth wouldn’t listen. As we left, Naman apologized for inconveniencing me. I smiled and muttered “it’s perfectly fine.” Sidharth would have never apologized. For him everybody was present to make his life comfortable.
As we passed byJuhu Beach.Naman said “Would you please stop the car. I want to spend some time here. Will you join me?”
I knew, the last thing I want to do, is to be in this man’s company.
“Are you coming along?’ Naman asked again.
“Yeah” I was shocked listening to what I just said. I should not be in this man’s company. He was bad news.
I got out of the car and started to walk towards the beach. The beach wasn’t crowded and grey clouds and high tide made the beach look beautiful and dangerous just like the man walking beside me.
“It’s so beautiful” I said looking at the beach trying very hard not to get distracted.
“Yes it is, you know when I am very down I head to the beach. It has a calming effect.” He replied back.
Well Naman, did look a little sad. I really wanted to know what was eating him up. But I decided to avoid that topic. He hardly knew me and vice-versa.
“So how did you people meet?” Naman asked
“Well… umm.. I was designing his bank’s head office. It was then we met for the first time. We went out for a couple of years and last December he proposed me.” I said. I, think I said it a little too fast, I hope he doesn’t suspect that I am not in love with his friend. I looked at him, but his face was towards the beach.
“I am not surprised why he loves you so much. You are a very pretty looking girl.” Naman said in his signature flat tone. We both looked at each other. His eyes were brown, the most beautiful I have seen and it seemed to be speaking alot and it was really difficult for me to decipher.
“I think I should go now, I am expecting furniture guys to come and take the measurement. I hope we can catch up later.” Not waiting for an answer, I walked off as fast as my feet would take me.
The man did something weird to my senses which I couldn’t really define.
It was Friday, I was brain-storming with the painters, when my phone rang. It was Naman. As I heard his voice , I almost dropped my phone. His thoughts had been haunting me day and night and I couldn’t get him out of my mind.
“Sidharth wanted me to see the place and the work you have done so far...So when can I come? Naman said in his signature flat note. Not giving away anything.
I tried to sound like him... I too said in a very to-the-point tone, desperately trying to hide the excitement “I am cool with any time you chose. I am at the apartment now and the furniture guys are getting things in order.”
“How about 4 pm? I would be done by then. How far is it from the hospital?” Naman said.
“How about I come to pick you up? I could see the mural too.” I said. Let see if he’s as good as what Sidharth boasts. I knew I was lying to myself. I really wanted to meet him.
“Fine. So catch you then.” He said and the line went dead.
No matter how much I denied. I was dying to meet him again. I dressed with particular care, put on make-up and reached the hospital before the stipulated time. Exactly at 4 I went to the paediatric ward. He was packing his stuff.
The mural was beautiful. It was made with very happy and bright colours. It had rainbows, fairy tale characters, Peter Pan, unicorns and fairies all over the wall. Every kid in the ward knew him and he knew everybody…I saw him smiling genuinely for the first time. All of a sudden the realization hit me. “Oh sh*t, I am in love, that too with my fiance’s best friend.”
Naman walked to me, looked closely and said “Is everything all right, it seems as if you’ve just seen a ghost because if you did, you are not the only one?” and he laughed.
“No, I am all right. So should we go now?” I asked desperately wanting to change the subject and trying to take my mind off him.
As we left the hospital all of a sudden it started raining, pretty heavily. I somehow managed to reach the building. I parked my car and we ran to the building’s lobby. While waiting for the lift, I saw Naman from the corner of my eye. He was drenched. His shirt was sticking to his body accentuating his chest and broad shoulders.
Naman caught me ogling at him. I looked away guiltily and turned my back towards him. As we got into the lift, I could feel his warm gaze on me, but I did not dare to look at him again.
As we reached the flat, I showed him all the rooms, our study, kitchen even balconies and kept talking so that there were no awkward silences.
Time flew but the heavy rainfall continued. By 6 pm it was absolutely dark, windy and rain lashed through the windows. As we were about to leave, my phone buzzed. It was a message from Sidharth. The message said “Honey, won’t be able to make it. My advice, you too don’t go out. The entire Mumbai is flooded.”
I repeated the message aloud to Naman. He looked at me and that cute smile flashed again. I picked up the intercom dialed the security to know if it was flooded even near our apartment building. The security guard confirmed my biggest fear that Naman and I would be spending the night in the same flat.
“I hope you are not very hungry. I just have a packet of chips, mineral water and a bottle of wine.”
“It’s okay I’ll just have wine. If that’s okay with you” Naman said. I couldn’t help thinking, “Is he always this good or is it just an act?”
Before I could get up from the sofa, Naman was already up, he went inside the Kitchen and he came with two glasses of wine and a party pack of Lays.
He laid it on the table. He was so different than all the men. Had it beenSidharth, he would have expected me to lay the table while he sat watching TV.
He gave me my glass of wine and he picked up the other glass for himself and he sat on the sofa beside me. Our shoulders brushed, I was acutely aware of his nearness.
Naman looked at me, his expressions very guarded. “So, how are things with Sidharth?”
I took a big gulp of my wine and I wanted to give a politically correct answer maybe that we were a very happy couple. But instead I said, “He hardly has time for me. He is always so busy. The only thing we talk about this apartment and its decorations.” Suddenly I realized what I was saying. Damn wine.
Naman moved closer. He held my chin and lifted my face and earnestly looked at me. Then he said “Then he is a stupid man, you are a very pretty looking woman. You are very hard to ignore.”
I chose not to reply anything. I knew people thought that we were a happy, high flying couple. But it wasn’t so. Siddharth hardly had time for me. He just liked to talk about himself and his accomplishment. He treated everybody as they were born to serve him. Honestly, I never felt any crackling chemistry between us, nothing even near to what I felt for his friend Naman.
Naman smiled and said "You have very beautiful big eyes."
I don’t know who made the first move but we were kissing. He was everything I thought he would be. He smelled of soap and wine. His kisses were slow but demanding. One thing led to another before I realized we were on the bed making love. The bed that was supposed to be Sidharth’s and mine. I was making love to a man I hardly knew and to my fiance’s best friend. I pushed all negative thoughts out of my head and I started to enjoy the exquisite art of love making.
After a night of extensive love making, I got up tired but at the same time happy. I looked around the house but Naman had already left. “Most probably he must have left for the hospital”, I thought to myself.
First things first I had to break-up with Sidharth. So I went to his place. He was there reading newspaper. I sat beside him and I told him the truth about what happened last night. His face went through a lot of expression changes from shock to anger and finally sadness. He did everything that I expected him to do - from throwing things to calling me and Naman names to sobbing. I felt sorry for him. But there was no use pretending to be happy and moreover I have finally found love. The man I truly loved. I gave his engagement ring back and as well as keys to the flat.
As I walked out of his apartment, I felt a exhilarating sense of freedom wash over me. I proceeded towards my next destination; the hospital. I reached and ran up to the paediatric ward but Naman was not there. One of the nurses informed me that Naman had finished his work yesterday, itself.
“How come he never told me that?”I wondered. I saw a picture of the beach hanging in one of the walls. I immediately remembered what Naman had told me about Juhu beach. He must be tensed because he slept with me, his friend’s fiancé'.
I rushed to Juhu beach and I saw him sitting there. I ran to him and hugged him. He smiled.
“I love you and I have broken up with Siddharth. I am all yours now.” I said looking at him expectantly. But he continued smiling. Something had changed overnight. His smile no longer had that warmth, which was their last night. “What happened?” I asked.
Naman laughed and shook his head. “What makes you think I love you?”
Initially I thought I must have heard it wrong. But he got up and started dusting his pants. “You are joking, right?” I so wanted the answer to be “yes”.
“No, I am not”, Naman said coolly looking me in the eye.
It seemed somebody had puched me in my gut. But still I somehow managed to ask “Why me, why did you do this to me? I never did anything wrong to u?” I could feel warm tears flowing.
“Stop the “holier than thou” act, you are no better. You were already engaged how could you possibly sleep with me? You should have said “NO!” I did not force you. It’s like the pot calling the kettle black” Naman said, hatred dripping with every word he uttered.
My brain stopped working, I just stared at him blankly unable to say or do anything. The only thing kept echoing in my head was, “Why me?”
“Anyways, I slept with you so that I could get back at Siddharth.” Naman laughed. “Stupid girl, your fiance’, Siddharth slept with my girlfriend so I slept with ‘The love of his life’ and now we’re even.”
With that he picked his bag and started walking. I kept staring at him, not even blinking once, tears running down my face as he walked away.