Chapter Forty Eight - Pallavi and Manish

Pallavi hated to admit but she really enjoyed spending time with Manish; wandering around the city not really doing anything specific – that’s what made it special. She had been reluctant and sceptical after she had said yes for spending the day with him. She had assumed that most of the day would be spent in the room doing what people paid her to do. 

In a way, even now she did what people paid her for. She listened as Manish talked about his life. He admitted that he was rich and he had pretended to be an employee only because he wanted to spend more time with Mansi. He had lied because he wanted to know more about Mansi. Pallavi was surprised to see the sentiments behind the words. She remembered how he had called out Mansi’s name while he was ‘with’ her. Hearing his story, she pitied him for the time he spent under the scrutinising eyes of his father. 

As Pallavi sat on the sand at the seashore, waiting for Manish to return with snacks; she thought about the time she had spent with him so far. She could not understand what to make of it. She clearly remembered his carnal desires of morning but at the same time she could not ignore how he treated her after he had apologised and asked her to spend the day with him. He hardly touched her, except for when crossing the road and that, she thought, was kind of sweet. It was not that she was starting to like him but the truth was, she was starting to hate him less.

Yes, he had sex with her. Yes, she had felt manipulated and used by him but how could she hate him for that when people did to her all the time what he had done to her. The difference between him and others was that he had come to her rescue the previous night when his friend had tried to humiliate her in front of everyone. After thinking about that time and the time she was now spending with him; she was ready to forget the part where he had seemed to be unlikeable. She did not even care to ask him how he knew Mansi in first place. It was obvious that he had met her before Mansi had come to stay in her apartment. She considered asking him about it later. For now, she wanted to live in the moment. She wanted the day for herself; she wanted to be pampered the way Manish was pampering her now. She did not want to think about Mansi or Manish’s interest in her; all she wanted to think about was how Manish had looked at her as they walked barefooted on the sand. She wanted to remember how the breeze felt on her face, how beautiful the day was and how happy she felt in a very long time.

She was deep in thoughts when Manish came and sat next to her. He nudged her with his elbow and handed over her plate of snacks. She was taken by surprise when Manish tucked the loose strand of hair behind her ear. This simple gesture, the way he touched her now, meant something to her. No one had ever treated her the way he was treating her now. 
No one had ever made her believe that she was capable to be treated this way; to be respected for being the person she was. 
It was different interacting with colleagues in Uncle’s office; no one knew anything about her. She knew, they’d stay away from her the moment they came to know about her alternate lifestyle. They’d treat her as if she had some incurable and contagious disease. Some might even fantasise about her while hating her. 

“What are you thinking about?” Manish asked, his elbow still resting on her shoulder and his fingers still running through her hair. He was aware of the effect it was having on Pallavi. He did not want to give her any wrong ideas and wanted her to know fully well that his interest was in Mansi and not her. At the same time, he could see how happy Pallavi was. He could feel the happiness vibes since the moment they had stepped out of the hotel and he had held her hand while crossing the street. Good, he thought. It was a good beginning to make her know that he was more than the kind of man she had seen earlier. The man who had been aroused merely after a glimpse at her thigh, the man who had moaned and called out her best friend’s name as he reached orgasm. 
Pallavi had to know that he knew how to treat a woman. He wanted her to know that it was safe to let him in Mansi’s life. Not that he needed Pallavi’s permission to do so; but having her on his side would not hurt.

“I cannot stop thinking about before.” He said looking into her eyes. 
Pallavi felt the heat in her cheeks; she blushed – surprising herself. For a minute she wondered how it would be if they could go back to the hotel and re-live the moments of before; this time, she was sure, the experience would be different. 
“Calling out Mansi’s name, even though involuntary, was really rude. I want you to say that you have forgiven me for it.” Manish said and noticed the change in expression on Pallavi’s face. 
“I want you to know that since the day I saw Mansi; I could not stop thinking about her. I do not know why I am telling you all this even though it will show me in bad light. By choosing to tell you about how I came to know Mansi, it also means that I confess that I have been stalking her. I tried to forget her, think of her as just another face in crowd but I could not sleep at nights, I could not concentrate on my work during the day. I needed to know more about her.” Manish said focusing his attention on Pallavi’s face. 

Pallavi looked away. He had done it. He had ruined the moment for her. All she had wanted was a day for herself, without any worries, without thoughts of anyone – not even Mansi. For a minute, she was angry on Mansi for being there even when she was not there. 
Even though Manish and she were sitting next to each other on the beach; she could feel Mansi’s presence with them. 
“It’s okay.” She said. “I understand, it happens. You cannot really explain these things. How you feel about someone is your business, you need not explain it to anyone not even to the concerned person.” She continued.
Pallavi was not sure whether she was talking about him or herself. To her chaotic mind, each and every word sounded as if she was trying to convince herself that she need not tell anyone, not even Manish, as to why she felt this way; why she was attracted to Manish even though few days ago she had asked Mansi to stay away from him. 

“Say you forgive me.” Manish insisted.
“I forgive you for thinking about Mansi when you came into me.” Pallavi said. To her own ears she sounded jealous. Few hours ago it had not meant anything to her; if anything, she had been worried about Mansi. She was amazed how spending the day with Manish changed the way she thought, the way she felt. 

Manish smiled. 

“Let’s go.” Pallavi said trying to get up.
“Few more minutes please.” Manish said holding her hand and stopping her from getting up.
Only if you promise not to talk about Mansi, she wanted to say. She remained silent. Manish did not let go of her hand and she let it be. She hated to admit that it felt good. Each moment that passed made her hate Manish more. Hate him for making her feel the way she felt. Hate him for making her feel special and then telling her that Mansi was the one for him. She hated the fact that going back to the hotel room and re-living the experience in a slightly different way was not going to happen. She hated the way her body reacted when she thought about it. She hated the way her skin burned where his skin touched hers. She hated that she had accepted spending the day with him. Had she refused she would have been spared of the heartache. She hated herself for being jealous of Mansi and for starting to fall for Manish.


Chapter Forty Nine - Rohan

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