But while her hopes, hung dangerously close to being scattered, she hadn’t given up on hope yet. Chris’ tale though very romantic had sounded too pat, to convince her as being true. But it didn’t ring totally false either. And maybe Chris was not such a good story-teller after all!
One thing she was convinced of, though, was that Lav was, and most probably still is, strongly in love with Shaina. She couldn’t help but envy Shaina. There was the gorgeous, handsome, mouth-watering Lav ready to do absolutely anything for her and there was also Akshay. Though Shaina had never met Akshay, she could only imagine the depth of his love, if all he could think after snapping out of a coma, was to do the right thing by her and marry her.
In the thick romance novels, which kept you awake way beyond sane hours at night, the once heart-broken hero, would begin to believe in the magic of love once again, thanks to the dew-eyed heroine. Could she really be Lav’s dew-eyed heroine? She had also guessed that Lav was as tempted by the thought of marriage as a hydrophobic would be by a swimming pool.
She mentally condemned herself for letting her thoughts run away with her. She had just argued that Chris’ tale was punched with loopholes and she was already piecing those shreds of hope together to repaint her own love story. She strapped her heels firmly in place and appraised herself critically in the full-length mirror. She did not like her soft curls, in a period when straight dead hair seemed to be in trend. She was wearing a dark peacock blue halter, when the rest of the women would be dressed in blacks, reds and maroons. She sighed, but she did love bright colours and she just couldn’t get herself to wear boring blacks.
She heard the blaring of a horn and knew Raina had come to pick her up. She grabbed her purse and rushed downstairs. Raina was looking gorgeous in a black satin mini skirt which was really really short yet long enough to not qualify as indecent and a bold black chiffon top, tied at the back with just a string. She sighed inwardly again. With such illustrious female friends for company, it was no wonder she never guaranteed a second look.
It was Saturday night and by the time they reached, the disc already seemed to be bursting to its seams with a frenzied crowd. She wouldn’t have been here, were they not celebrating Sunil’s, who was incidentally Farah’s boyfriend, promotion party. He was one of the few Indians, she knew who had managed to beat the English intellect in their very own land and achieve managerial positions, they much deserved. The other one was Chris and then of course, there was Lav.
Two Cuba Libras later, she started getting bored of the current conversation, which was about a take on the current political scenario in India and started looking around, drinking in the variety of the crowd. In a sea of white people, she could easily spot one or two Indians. She smiled as she recognized the blackish-brown colours so characteristic of Chris.
She excused herself and threaded her way through the maze of bodies. As she neared Chris, he bent down to pick up something and that’s when she froze in mid-step. Chris’ companion who was making him throw his head back and laugh his famously infectious laugh, was none other than the controversial, Shaina! On an impulse she scanned the crowds once again.
Sure enough, making his way from the bar towards the duo, with a glass of what looked like a cosmopolitan in one hand and scotch with ice in the other. She watched transfixed as he handed Shaina her drink and draped his arm around her bare shoulder. She waited for some time on the sides of the dance floor, her eyes trained on the trio. There was nothing ‘friendly’ in the way Lav’s strong fingers kept caressing Shaina’s shoulder. Chris, who had woven, the now unbelievable love story, didn’t seem the least bit uncomfortable by this shared intimacy.
She was furious. She was mad at herself for giving Lav the benefit of doubt. She was angry with herself for putting so much of faith in Chris, who hadn’t batted an eyelash while spinning her a cock and bull story about Lav. It was almost as if she had ‘gullible’ stamped on her face!
She had been eyeing the three of them for the better half of an hour and so far she had still not spotted the mysterious, and convincingly fictitious, Akshay. Another five minutes and she was sauntering up to them with a simpering rage.
“Hello!” she said, her voice husky from the booze.
“Hey…?” said Shaina, obviously not recognizing her.
“Shikha!” blurted an astounded but totally flummoxed Chris
“Not you again!” muttered Lav on a groan.
Ignoring the two men, she extended an hand to Shaina, “Hi! You must be Shaina! I am Shikha!” Shaina gave a confused smile and shook the proffered hand.
“I attended your wedding!” she said getting straight to the point.
“Shikha…” Chris warned.
“You don’t really have to talk to her,” Lav said physically turning her away.
But Shaina was intrigued now and she smiled at Shaina, “You did? I am so sorry but I don’t remember meeting you!”
“Of course not! I did not meet you, I was there to just hand Chris his invitation.” She said by way of explanation, “But you looked absolutely dazzling in your pink and blue wedding dress!”
“Thank you!” Shaina crooned. “I had to wait for an entire month till the tailor had finished working on it!”
“Really? Was he the same tailor who stitched Lav’s grey suit too?” She asked innocently.
“Don’t answer that!” Lav warned
“Shikha really…” Chris said intervening
“No silly!” Shaina said warming to the topic of fashion, “ He got his suit from Almack’s! They do make the best suits you know!”
“No wonder he made such a handsome groom!” she said watching Shaina from over the rim of her glass.
Shaina, twined an arm through Lav’s and stared at him with blatant adoration as she said, “the best!”