Chapter Forty Seven - Pallavi and Manish

Manish rolled over to the side, satiated and tired. Despite having a good night’s sleep on the couch, he fell asleep immediately. Pallavi tried her best not to look at Manish’s naked body. She wrapped the bedsheet around her and climbed out of the bed and tiptoed towards the bathroom. She had just reached the bathroom when she felt the bile rise in her throat; she swallowed hard lest the retching sound would wake Manish up. She closed the bathroom door and slid down to the floor. 

She hated parties, she never accepted party invitations. She should have stuck to her decision of not going to one. Pallavi held her head in her hands and pulled at her hair. She should have gone home after finishing with her first client. She should have not cared a damn about what explanation she would have to give to Mansi. If things were a mess before; now they had become messier. How was she going to confide in Mansi now? How would she tell her that she had just satisfied the sexual hunger of the man Mansi thought was a caring neighbour? How was she going to tell Mansi that the supposedly-caring neighbour had fantasised about Mansi while having sex with her.

How had she allowed this to happen? 

Pallavi held her head in her hands and started crying; unaware of what was happening outside the bathroom door. 

Even though Manish had not woken up when Pallavi had climbed out of the bed or locked the bathroom door behind her; he woke up because of the ringing of a mobile. He got up and looked around. It took a while for him to remember where he was and then a minute more to remember the happenings of the previous night. He smiled. His body responded to his memories of the previous night. The mobile had stopped ringing. He climbed out of the bed and walked towards the couch. He searched Pallavi’s handbag for her mobile phone and checked the display, which said that there was a missed call from Mansi. He was about to keep the mobile back inside the handbag when it beeped again. This time there was a text from Mansi asking Pallavi whether she had reached home safely. He could never understand how people allowed notification on the lock screen. 
An all-knowing smile spread across Manish’s face when he read in between the lines. Pallavi had lied to Mansi about her whereabouts; of course she had. It was also obvious that Mansi was unaware of this part of Pallavi’s life.

When he had recollected the events of the previous night he also remembered calling out Mansi’s name as he had come. Since that moment his mind had started to search for ways to convince Pallavi not to speak about it. He knew they were good friends and there were chances she would talk about it to Mansi. Now, after reading the message he was sure she would not. He kept the mobile back in the handbag and picked up his towel. He wrapped it around his waist and walked towards the bathroom after picking up Pallavi’s undergarments and bathrobe from the floor.

Manish waited and thought for a moment before knocking on the bathroom door. He had heard the sound of crying, which abruptly stopped the moment he knocked on the door. 
“Please open the door” he called out to Pallavi. He did not hear any sound from the bathroom but a moment later Pallavi unlocked the door; she was still wrapped in bedsheet. Manish handed her the undergarments and the bathrobe. He waited till she put on the stuff and walked out of the bathroom. He avoided her gaze, conveying his guilt over what had happened earlier.

“I am sorry” Manish said and Pallavi looked up at him surprised. 
“What happened was not planned. It’s just that I was drunk and then what happened at the party; your presence in my room – everything added up and I could not help but get aroused. I am a man, after all.” Manish tried to explain.
“And – who can possibly resist a beautiful woman like you.” He added, as if it would make things better.

Manish’s explanation made no sense to Pallavi; she did not even care about his explanation. Had she been in the sarcastic mood she would have given him a deserving reply that being a man did not entitle him to take undue advantage of a helpless woman. His comment about her beauty was nothing but his attempt to justify his deeds, she knew it. But, being in the position and state of mind she was in, she did not say anything. When she replayed her dialogue in her mind; she could not stop herself from wondering – was she really a helpless woman. Was it not her own choice to allow him to exploit her?

As if reading her mind, Manish said, “If you would have refused; I would have not forced myself on you. I mean it.” Pallavi closed her eyes. Scenes of the previous night flashed before her eyes. Manish had supported her and taken care of her at the party. He had brought her to the hotel room, undressed her and let her sleep on the bed while he slept on the couch. He had his chance to exploit her but he had not. It was only in the morning; after their conversation and after a glimpse at her exposed thigh had Manish felt aroused and she had seen the erection. Even then he had stood, smiling; it was Pallavi who had interpreted the smile and allowed him to proceed. Would he really have not acted had she refused? Obviously, there was no way of knowing that now.

“By the way, you missed a call when you were in the bathroom” Manish said and Pallavi rushed towards the couch and picked up her handbag. As expected, there was a call and a text message from Mansi.

“If you do not have any plans for today I would like to take you out.” Manish said. Pallavi did not respond. Not that she was even considering going out with him, her mind had become numb and she did not know how to react to what he had said. Before Pallavi could collect herself and reply Manish added, “I will pay you.” That jolted Pallavi out of the numbness and she felt humiliated and angry.

“I am sorry; that came out all wrong.” Manish apologized immediately; not giving Pallavi the chance to refuse.

“Please give me a chance to make up for what I did.” Manish said. Pallavi would have not cared about the words had she not been looking closely at Manish’s face. She could not quite understand what it was; but that something, which she saw in his eyes made her say “Fine”

Chapter Forty Eight - Pallavi and Manish

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