Akhshey had a sleepless night.

He was happy but his mind was restless as he thought of the evening he had just spent with Dipa and Sanjana. Countless thoughts seemed to be crossing at the same time.

Such an emotional turmoil had not occurred to him during the last five years ever since the sad demise of his wife Pooja, after a short mysterious illness.

He had been as devoted to her as she was to him. After being so much in love with Pooja, the thought of another woman in his life had never crossed his mind. He had even ensured that Pooja’s wardrobe in their bedroom was untouched, as he was content to live with her memories.

That was as long as Pallavi, his daughter, was studying in school. Pallavi resembled her mother not only in looks but also in other habits. After finishing her school, she had joined the college hostel during the last two years and it was only then that he felt a sudden vacuum in his life.

It also made him realize that Pallavi would never come home in the same manner because after studies she would probably take up a job somewhere else, then marry, and lead her own life.

Until now, not giving second marriage a consideration was a choice that he had made himself though in his heart he knew Pooja would never mind it because that is how she would want him to be. He was not getting any younger either and started feeling the need a companion to break the loneliness that was setting in.

Then, his mind went back to the day he accidentally dialed a wrong number which had led to chance introduction with Dipa, who he felt, had a similar manner of talking and the general attitude to life as Pooja. Having conversed with her almost every day for the last six months he had started believing this even more as he realized that he and Dipa were turning out to be more than just good friends.

She had been the only woman who he had felt close to in the recent years. He had always wanted to meet this mysterious woman and find out for real if there was chance for anything more than friendship in his feelings so he had volunteered to go for the presentation to Calcutta.

He knew Dipa was staying separated from her husband who was still maintaining her and their daughter but did not know anything more. She had never revealed to him and nor had he asked.

The strange attraction that he felt for her on the telephone had become stronger after meeting her. However, where was it leading, he still could not say.

There were too many unanswered questions. One thing that had bothered him right from the beginning was the gap of 12 years between their ages though apparently she was at ease with it. However, the most important question in his mind that night was what her take on it was. It was clear that she liked him, but was there anything more, he wondered.

By the time his mind jostled with all the questions, it was dawn. Suddenly, he missed her and wanted to hear her voice. He wanted to be near her. Nothing else in this world mattered more than that.

He picked up the telephone and started to dial her number. Then midway he chanced to look at the watch.

6 a.m.

God!

What has come over him? This is no time to call anyone. What will she think? Maybe she was sleeping.

Momentarily, he hesitated.

He HAD to be with her as soon as possible. Making up his mind, started dialing again.

She was awake.

He had never called her this early in the morning and the sound of her voice was a bit different, somewhat more exciting, he thought. The soft tone with the husky timbre of her voice turned him on.

“Hi, it’s me, sorry did I wake you up?” he asked.

“Not at all.” she smiled as she answered “I have been up of some time now. You don’t have to be so formal with me.”

“Your voice is sounding so…sexy”.

She started laughing. “I have just got up and am half asleep, and you find it sexy”.

“Really, I’m not kidding. It is really nice and husky and…sexy. Okay, what I want to say is that I cannot bear to be away from you any more. So could you please come as soon as possible?”

“Ha-ha, what is this now? You don’t have your meeting?”

“It is there. But everything else can wait. I want to be with you.”

“I’m flattered.” she laughed. “You forget I have a daughter who I have to get ready for school.”

Then added, “but frankly, I am missing you too”.

“Tell you what; I will excuse myself from the meeting at around 11. Can you make it by then?”

“Yes, I think that could be possible. I will try to do that but it depends on Sanjana’s school programme.”

“Okay,  do come as soon as possible, I guess I love you even more after meeting you, Dipa.” then in his own jovial style added, ” More than I realized till last night”.

They both laughed heartily.

Then she surprised him. “I love you too, Akhshey. You mean more to me today than yesterday.”

He was quiet for a long time as her words sank in.

“What happened?” she asked. “Why you quiet now? You think only you can make dialogues, Mr. Akhshey Verma?” she laughed.

He was serious.

“You gave me an answer to all the questions that have been muddling up my mind the whole night.”

Having taken at a quick bath, he munched his breakfast while going through the finer points of the presentation he was supposed to give at the meeting. He had made up his mind that he would excuse himself as soon as possible to be able to receive her at the main gate of entry to Fort William.

His boss was cooperative about his little request since he was quite used to it and knew that people who come for a short visit to Calcutta on official visits would have many other things to do too.

After the meeting, he rushed to his room to change and then reached the main lounge of visitor’s area near the gate. Thankfully, she had not reached until then. He would not have liked her to be alone in the visitors lounge. He picked up the remote and started switching channels and leafing through a magazine aimlessly.

After a few minutes, the door of the lounge opened and the sentry came inside and saluted smartly. “Sir, Madam’s car is at the gate.”

Akhshey came out and saw her at the parking area trying to make up her mind for the next course of action. He motioned to her to keep sitting as he walked up to the car and sat down by her side.

“No need to get down here,” he said. “The club house is just next building so we go there.”

Then he looked around.

“Where is Princess?” he asked. “You did not get her?”

“No,” she said, concentrating on reversing the car and negotiating it through the barrier. “She has a school picnic and visit to the Nehru Planetarium which her class teacher feels is very important for her. In fact, today she might get delayed even more than her usual time so I have asked the maid to stay over till I get back.”

“Awww…, that’s sad.” Then tried to tease her, “in that case, you will have to bear the brunt of my hugs”.

She smiled and looked at him from the corner of her eyes. Teasing him back, “I won’t mind that.”

They were conversing rapidly, at ease and without any break. They understood each other fully.

Sitting by the poolside at the club, he ordered gin and lime with soda for both. She had never tasted it. She said so to him, but he assured her that she would like it. In fact, he told her it was more of a ladies’ drink.

“You know, Sapna had mentioned this club to me quite often but we could never make it here.”

“That’s because you are destined to have gin and lime with me here.” He laughed.

She liked the drink; it was tangy. After a few sips she felt that it was making her a bit tipsy which was making her talk more. She liked the feeling when he held her with his arm around her waist as she got up in between to see the flower beds and the landscaping. It was exciting.

It was as if both of them had lost 30 years from their ages and were young again.

After the second drink, both of them felt lighter and more uninhibited about holding hands and walking close. The strange forces of attraction were to the fore as he led her to the dining room for buffet.

“Who wants to have lunch?” she asked. “I’m not at all hungry. I would rather be with you in the garden”

“Same here, but then if we don’t have it now we won’t get anything till the evening. They’re very strict about timings”

The spread on the table was limited but sumptuous and very well prepared. More than anything, the togetherness made them forget the world around them.

His room was on the first floor of the same building. He offered to her to come and rest there for some time and also see the room.

It was Victorian architecture at its best, with huge French windows and high ceilings and a spacious balcony, which opened to the view of the front lawn outside.

They sat down for some time on the garden chairs in balcony but it was getting hot so went back inside. Dipa was still feeling light footed after the drinks. When he closed the balcony door and entered the room, she was removing her sandals as he came and stood beside her.

She looked up. “What?”

In response, he just extended both his hands. She looked at him for a moment then placed her hands on his.

Pulling her gently and partially by her own desire, he made her stand and spontaneously took her in his arms. She did not resist. It was something she too had been wanting. For a long time they stood together in each other’s arms, without exchanging a single word. She had her eyes closed as she tried to become the part of a magical world which made her feel so desirable and complete.

She felt his hand on her face as a caressed her slowly from the forehead to the cheeks and lifting her chin gently he bent down and placed his lips all hers. It was like nothing that had happened before in their life as breathing became harder and the desire to melt into each other stronger.

She did not know how or when he picked her up while they were still kissing and led her to the large double bed in the centre of the room.

She opened her eyes momentarily and saw him looking straight at her face as he continued kissing her lips. When her eyes met, he broke away for a faction of a moment to say “I can’t live without you anymore”.

“Nor can I…” was all she could say.

“I want to kiss you all over your lovely face” he said. Than as she Kept her eyes closed in order to completeness of his touch, he continued kissing her gently on her forehead , then the eyebrows, eyes, cheeks and lips.

Subconsciously, she pulled him closer wanting more of his touch, as his lips started lower coming on to her chin, neck and shoulders making her body shiver with ecstasy.

It was with passion of desires and togetherness that they started desperately to struggle with each other’s clothes.

Despite the air conditioner, their bodies were sweating as they clung together. He was gentle, tender, and aware of her desires as they made passionate love ever so naturally.

(To be continued……)

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