Tangles & Ties: Chapter 20: Slow Burn

She had earned that value and power to take that decision. He was going to wait as long as she wanted.

And he was always going to protect her heart and her dreams… like a dream catcher…

Nandini slipped into a rich red gown with gold sequined embroidery at the neckline with a fitted lace bodice, secured by a cinch at the waistline, giving the entire gown a feminine touch with full bell shaped skirt below the waistline, in the spirit of Cinderella silhouette.

She tapped on his shoulder after she changed. Manik turned around casually, not expecting the way the gown highlighted her slender form, setting right at her feminine curves and making her all the more desirable than she already was…

“Ahemm…” He cleared his throat softly and titled his neck in slight nod, with an assuring admiration in his eyes. He didn’t have to search for words. His eyes did it for him.

Her smile accentuated with a coy blush on her cheeks. She raised one shoulder in a slight shrug and chuckled.

Meera knocked, “Nandini, do you need help?”

“Nahi masi…I’ll take one moment. I’m coming out.” Nandini replied when she was about to turn and leave the washroom but Manik held her elbow firmly.

She turned around and whispered, “What?”

“Don’t go!” He sighed.

This was bliss!! 

So candidly he had said that he needed her to be with him, even though he knew that she had to go. She felt the thrill run down her spine. She stepped back, to be near him and raised her hand to touch his right cheek, bringing him down to her level.

Confused about what she had in her mind, he lowered his face. She brought him to her level and tip toed slightly to raise herself and with another blissful, shy blush on her face, she pressed her lips only momentarily before she released her lips and gave him a feather light peck on his left cheek. He was taken by surprise. She whispered, “I’ll have to go…”

He couldn’t stop smiling adoringly and she slipped away to walk out of the washroom, leaving him grinning and touching his left cheek, remembering the touch that promised to keep alive the fire burning inside him.

…………………………

The gown was a perfect fit.

Both Meera and Latika loved her look. They took her to the parlour after that, made her wear gold and diamond accessories matching the gown. Keeping in mind her personality and preferences, they had ordered for sleek and designer jewellery to go with the gown.

Manik wore a stark white shirt with a three piece black tux. He looked as dapper as ever, in whatever he wore.

The venue was a huge banquet hall of a star rated hotel in the central Lucknow. There were hundreds of guests, relatives and friends in the arena but two pairs of eyes stayed focused on each other. The simmering, unbridled passion between them was now making it difficult for them to focus on anything except each other.

Every few minutes, they would seek each other and invariably found their gaze locked to each other. She blushed hard. Thankfully, her makeup did the trick and hid her subtle expressions. He rolled his eyes and turned his face away, only to ensure that no one noticed these subtle exchanges between them.

…………………

The subtle exchanges grew to become troublesome as time passed. And continued when they returned to their room.

It was weird. It was new. It was not something they were used to… and it was not something they knew how to deal with…

Manik shrugged off his blazer and tossed it on his chair, loosened his bow-tie to take it off and untucked his shirt, pulling it out of his trousers before he opened his cupboard to take out something to wear. He realised that he stood facing it for good two minutes, wondering what made him open this box of wood and stare into it cluelessly. His mind had taken a leave, some time back.

Nandini removed her long golden danglers and settled them in a box over the dressor. Next, she removed her watch and bracelet before she found her fingers struggling with the fastener of her necklace. It was so delicate that she feared breaking it.

One part of her wanted to call Manik to help her. But other part was wary of it. They hadn’t talked after the washroom interaction in the evening and throughout the function, both of them had felt the slow burn of the growing need inside them.

She had been dreading any face to face encounter with him…anything that brought them to meet eye to eye was dangerous…anything that ignited the first spark was sure to prove deadly and she wasn’t even sure if she was prepared for it… She might have been prepared mentally but it wasn’t that easy to accept the way things were going between them… it was embarrassing at times…and at times, it was alluring…

‘Tch…’ It must have been subtle and very low, as she was sure that she didn’t intend to call him to help her. But he heard it. And when he turned to her, he found her struggling with her necklace hook at the nape of her neck, with her fingers fiddling with the metal. Her back arched with that and the entire silhouette of the gown appeared to enhance her softness when she stood with her hand raised to focus on the nape of her neck.

That the colour of the gown was deep red, the fabric a mix of lace and chiffon, and the curves set just perfect… none of it was helping either… each fact simply fueled his searing desire…

Instinctively, he was pulled towards her. Through the mirror, she could see him walking towards her, taking lazy steps and holding a soft look in his eyes, for her… That very moment, she just knew where it was going to lead them…

“Manik…” She whispered when he came closer to stand right behind her. Nervous and stiffening at that look.

“Hmm?” He made a soft sound, as a sign for her to continue talking. She couldn’t.

In one second, he relieved her the trouble and unfastened the hook to let the necklace slip down at the front so that she could hold it and place it back on the dressor. She could feel his presence right behind her as he didn’t move away after he had helped her. She could see him in the mirror, watching her.

She looked gorgeous. Her red lipstick was the only prominent part of her makeup. Everything else was minimal and subtle. Something that he loved about her. He was always repulsed by heavy makeup. He never understood why girls applied cakes and layers of makeup on their faces. But not her. She had a naturally glowing skin and she needed nothing to make her look more appealing than she already was.

She tried to break the ice and start the conversation again. It was extremely awkward to stand so close and let the tension build up between them. Before she could speak, she shuddered to get rid of the uneasy restlessness creeping through her back, something that he could clearly see and found attractive about her. She nodded her head slightly and turned around to speak to him, only to knock down her box of jewellery from the table. The box that held the expensive diamond rings, bracelets, bangles, ear rings and necklaces.

She immediately gasped and tried to stop it from hitting the ground, with Manik swift enough to sense that movement and hold it in air before it actually crashed on the ground, breaking a few pieces.

“Ooopsss!!” She sighed, extremely worried, taking the box from his hands, “My heart was stuck in my throat. Thank God, it didn’t drop down. I would have been so guilty, had any of the pieces broken or displaced.”

He chewed his bottom lip and nodded, helping her settle the box back on the table, “So… why aren’t you careful about things, precious to you…”

She retorted, “I AM always very careful! But it’s your fault…”

His voice, a low husky, soft sigh followed. “My fault? How?”

 It made her nervous too. She lowered her eyes and almost stammered, “Err… you had to stand there… just behind me… it kinda…made me nervous…”

He stepped closer. Dangerously closer to her. “You don’t want me to stand behind you? So, where do you want me to be??”

She scraped the edge of the dressing table with her fingertip, an act that disturbed him. His eyes turned towards the finger on the dressing table and then to her blushing face and lowered eyes, again to the finger and then to her face. With a frown, he sighed in a request, “Stop doing that!”

She softly pursed her lips but didn’t stop her finger, which was now moving in circles. He huffed, knowing very well that she wasn’t going to stop. With his left hand, he stopped that finger and when she struggled to get it freed from his grip, he grasped her hand in his strong hand, securing it firmly in his hold.

Her eyes raised to meet him. “Leave my hand.”

He was so serious that one look in his eyes made her feel tensed. “Say it again that you mean it and I will leave your hand, I promise!”

She didn’t! She never meant it and she never wanted him to leave her hand…

“You don’t want me to leave your hand?”

“Manik…” She could hardly whisper as he exerted a soft tug at her hand to keep it close to his heart. She was drawn forwards, along with her hand in his hand. He bent towards her and touched his nose at her cheek before he rubbed it down towards her jawline and neck, giving her goosebumps.

“Manik…” She stiffened and held his shoulder with her free hand, her other hand still in his grip.

“Hmm?” He waited for her to say something. But she wasn’t able to utter a word, so tongue tied she was.

He opened his mouth slightly to give her a scorching wet kiss on her neck, making the entire burning touch rush through her veins in form of a gush of blood, making her body throb. She curled her fingers at his shoulder, clutching him. He rubbed the hollow of her palm in his hand. The soft skin was as supple as a baby’s skin.

She neither stepped back, nor pushed him away. She simply closed her eyes and touched her forehead at his chest. He ran his free hand through her hair and caressed them, straightening the curls under his palms. After giving another peck on her neck, making her wriggle again, he moved his face away and whispered, “Say something!”

Her words, her saliva, her confidence was stuck in her throat, choking it. She whispered again, but could only take his name, “Manik…”

“One more time, if you say my name… I will take it as a signal from you… asking me to kiss you!” He frowned, peering deep into her eyes. He had spoken it just like that.

She nervously looked at him, heaving a deep sigh before deciding what she was going to speak next. He had an effect on her, so profound and so paralyzing that she found her brain struggling for words and her tongue trying to remember how words formed at it’s tip. At this moment, she could have gathered back her senses from his possession and could have spoken so much… but she realised that she didn’t want to …

Her body was on fire and her hand was in his heated grasp. She could feel him so close to him that it would be a shame to speak anything other than his name.

She sighed and whispered, in almost an inaudible voice, “Manik…”

He had decided that he won’t force her unless she asked for it. He had given her the way to follow, in case she wanted to ask him…and she did it! She needed him as much as he needed her. She wanted him as much as he did. He was overwhelmed and she was under a spell. A spell that he had weaved around her.

She raised her chin and whispered his name again, in case he had missed it the previous time, only to find his lips slammed against hers, crushing them against his soft touch, moving in an urgency that defined the mutual passionate flames burning them in one fire. She kissed him back, fervently and intensely. He left her hand and curled both his hands around her lower back, scooping her in his arms, while she held his collar, clutching it within her fingers and pulled him closer.

When they were both breathless, they separated slightly to gasp for breath. Another deep look into the eyes was followed by another kiss, much deeper and urgent than before. He opened his mouth, taking her mouth in his own. She opened her mouth to let his tongue enter and taste the deepest corners inside her mouth. She shuddered and pulled him closer. He sighed and unzipped her gown at the back, bringing her closer to him.

The sudden unzipping of the gown made her conscious. She had let him do it in the evening but with an assurance that he would turn away after seeing her tattoo. This time, it was different. This time, it clearly meant something else. She was suddenly nervous. Her heart was beating twice it’s speed and her entire body had goosebumps. She pulled her mouth slightly away from him, breaking the kiss, struggling for breath.

Was it finally happening? Was it happening too fast? Or was it about time, the way they had been madly pulled towards each other? 

She was aware that she had been craving for him, like crazy! She also knew that he was impatient too… The way they behaved when they were together, it was soooo natural, so unavoidable… They had been acting under a magnetic pull and their attraction towards each other had been all consuming… It was neither possible to pull away at this time, nor sensible…

She had decided for them that they would let their feels simmer, but it was easier said than done… it was difficult to keep their hands off each other… and now lips too…

Her hands were still on his neck, holding his shirt, with frowns coming and going on her forehead. She pressed her lips, sighing deeply. His hands were still on her back, his arms wrapped around her. He was surprised when she broke the kiss. He was confused too… if he was imposing himself on her or was forcing her. He couldn’t do that to her. She was special to him. This was supposed to be something mutual and if she was not comfortable, he was fine with that.

Immediately, he tried to rectify the mistake, “Listen… if you are not comfortable…you can take your time… I mean, I never wanted you to feel pressurized… it’s completely about you… I’m neither in a hurry, nor I want to … “

Before he could speak more, she leaned slightly, snuggling close to him and kissed him back… urgently….but not before uttering a soft, deep, rushed whisper, right over his mouth.

“Sssssshhhutttt Upppppp!!!!”

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