Tangles & Ties: Chapter 28: Not An Easy Drive

“I was wondering what would be more profitable to count, from now…”

“Like??”

“The number of times you leave me stunned with your spark or the number of dissimilarities between us?”

With a slight tilt of her neck, she observed him, adoringly! He didn’t appear like he was going to leave her eyes for long. She wasn’t going to lose this game, either…

She spoke in a low, loving voice, “Don’t count anything! I don’t want things counted between us…” She said that so easily, without leaving the connect with his eyes and without trying to take back her hand from his grip, their fingers interlaced, their palms snugging, she loved the touch…

He couldn’t stop grinning at that. For a split second, he seemed to look away, trying to get a hold over his overwhelming emotions. His lips under his teeth. His eyes holding the sparkle…

Slowly, he pulled her in his arms and rubbed his nose with hers, “Uncountable, be the deal…you mean?”

Since last 2-3 days, she had been trying to get used to the inevitable blush when she was with him, but no success!! That crimson red glow would sneak in from nowhere and trouble her, even if she wanted to tease him that he didn’t affect her. The goosebumps never left her body. They just seemed to increase. Every fiber in her body responded to his commands and not hers.

Still, she tried!!
“If you have to… then count the number of times, you miss me when you are in your office?!!” She raised her brows teasing him… not going to lose the game, any sooner. He chuckled at the way she tried to catch up with him and equaled the scores. He opened his mouth to sway his jaw visibly as if to dismiss the claim.

She sniggered and slid away from his hold to walked inside the room. He followed.

“Nahhh!!!! I didn’t miss you!” It was a lie spoken, very cutely. Both knew it very well.

She picked up the used plates and glasses left by guests to transfer them to the kitchen and bobbed her head, as if she was humoured at his stance. “Sure??!! Coz, your friends were quite vocal about how you couldn’t stop thinking that I was alone… you ordered food for me… and were worried when I was out of the house…”

He nodded, holding the embarrassed grin on his lips, followed her and helped her pick up the litter, “You don’t forget anything, right?? You have to remember every tiny detail.”

She made a gap between her finger and thumb, “It wasn’t a tiny detail, Mr. Malhotra… it was a BIG one!!”

And when he simply chewed his lower lip, not replying to that, wondering what to say next… She added more to her words, observing him keenly with her neck tilted, “It was really a ‘big’ one for me!”

He was finding it too difficult to deal with.
She found him rolling his eyes, this time. He turned away, but she stopped him and held his forearm by a soft, subtle touch of her palm, before she whispered, “Thank you, Manik!”

Embarrassed, he had no idea how to reply to THIS!!! Anything emotional was so not his cup of tea!!

He carelessly shrugged it off, completely negating it, “Err… no… it’s not a big deal! I was just worried as it was your first day and I took it as… err…  my responsibility … to make sure that you are fine…”

She could see how awkward he felt to accept that he cared for her. And she found it supremely cute and insanely adorable!!!
She didn’t want to make him feel more awkward, so she accepted his version. Casually, she shrugged, “Okay…  Works well with me… Anyway, it still means a lot!”

She didn’t trouble him more and cleared the table. He checked the lock of the door and closed the windows. She ensured that the pup was comfortable by making a small bed for him over a cushion, layered with an old bedsheet.

After making sure that the living room and the kitchen were settled, they entered their bedroom together. He searched for his tee shirt and shorts inside the large cupboard lined along one wall of the spacious bedroom. She opened her luggage and shuffled the contents to find a decent cotton palazzo and tee shirt. It was on the floor. So, she knelt down on the floor to arrange her clothes.

She had noticed in Lucknow, that all the sexy lingerie removed by her while packing was back inside the luggage, thanks to Priyanka masi. Blushing hard, she thrust them under her towels.

She and Manik were getting closer but were they ‘this’ close??? She wondered…
They might have slept together once, but that didn’t mean that she was so comfortable now, that she was going to wear those sheer nothings before him.

Not a chance!!! 

She was worried if she was anywhere near to his expectations in bed… did he expect more from her?? … He might have seen such things in magazines and films… he might have imagined more intimacy… Was he expecting his wife to be more open with him… ??

He didn’t notice her struggle with her clothes and luggage. He turned around after selecting a cotton tee shirt and khaki shorts. He was worried that she might develop expectations from him after his caring act today… he might not be able to do something like that again… It might hurt her later…

On a serious note, he clarified, “I’m not an affectionate person, Nandini. I hope you are not disappointed in me!”

“Huhhh??!!!” She quickly shuffled her clothes inside the trolley bag and turned to him, hoping that he hadn’t noticed her nighties and lingerie. She was still sitting on the floor.

He frowned, quite irked. Was she even listening?? He spoke, gritting his teeth, almost upset, “What are you doing?? I was speaking something so seriously!!!”

She chirped, casually, almost dismissing him. “Yeahhh…yeahhh… I heard that you are not an affectionate person and that I shouldn’t get disapppointed!!”

He was left gaping at her!!!! What was this girl made of… 

He spread his hands in air, disappointed himself and asked in a surprised tone, “That’s it???!!!! That’s all you have to say about my serious concern??”

She giggled this time, and stood up. “I’m sorry! What did you expect??!! Tell me, I’ll say that…”

Feeling awkward, he pressed his lips for once, “Forget it…”

She grinned, “Manik Malhotra! I’ve stepped into this relationship with zero expectations… I hope to have zero disappointments… so relax… okay!!!”

He smiled too… Finally, relieved that he won’t be mistaken for being loving and caring… as he firmly believed that he was not!!

He was about to turn and go, but she stopped him. “However…I have a small request…”

He shrugged to ask what she wanted from him. She made a small fist out of her tiny hand and punching him lightly on his arm, she asked, “Can this non-affectionate guy make a small space for me… in his big… really big… cupboard?? I can’t live out of the suitcase, you see!!!” With that she managed a helpless look on her face, with a cute pout.

He felt like hitting himself for that. “Ohhhh shitttt!!! I’m sorry… soooo sorryyy!!!” With that he quickly opened the cupboard, both the doors opened wide enough, as far as possible and signalled her, “All yours!! Make a space and get adjusted!”

“Where??” She shrugged. She had tried to do that in the morning too… his cupboard was stuffed with clothes, basic necessities, shaving basics, files, gadgets… even cash in one corner…

He turned to look inside and shrugged too, with an equally helpless look on his face, “Make a space, as you wish!!! The entire cupboard is yours… do whatever you want with it… throw away what is not needed here… send the files to the spare room… gadgets too…. err… the towels…mm…”

She interrupted him, while he was still scanning the cupboard, thinking of ways to make a space. Keeping a hand on his arm, she asked, “Manik… Manik, listen… I have another request to make…”

Helplessly, he huffed, turning to her, “What??”

She cutely folded her arms across her chest, “Can I please give this cupboard, this room and this apartment, a makeover??? Pleaaaseee… say yes??!!”

He was about to open his mouth, when she continued, “Please don’t say – Don’t interfere!! I can’t live like this… as if we are in a boys hostel…”

He smirked, “Do whatever you want!!! I don’t mind… I toh, treat it like a hotel… I come back from work…eat…sleep… get up… eat again… and go to work… I don’t even know what this house has and what it needs…”

“Leave that to me…” She sighed deeply, quite grateful that he didn’t dismiss her efforts of turning this apathetic house into livable, cozy home. She added, “I am an expert at assessing needs and how to deal with them…”

With that, even she turned to face the cupboard and stared at the opened cupboard for long, almost holding her breath. He observed her, observing the cupboard and turned to his disheveled stuff. Chewing his lower lip, he turned to her again. “It is huge work, eh??! This house is huge work!!”

She grinned, “I know!!! And… I guess… Manik Malhotra is huge work, in his own way!!”

“Whaaaatttt!!!???” He nodded, disbelievingly and laughed with that. Did she actually say that!! “Hello… I’m not a project! Stop thinking of becoming a Repair-Girl… told you before…”

She frowned, teasing him, “I wish, I could tell you how you need to be coached for so many things…”

“Like what?” He placed his arms on his waist.

“You are not supposed to embarrass me in public… You have no idea, how mortified I was when you decided to tease me before your friends…”

He smirked, “About that?? … Sunday night??!!”

“Sunday night was yesterday night!!” She reminded him, glaring at him.

“I… err… happen to remember that…” He let his words linger in a naughty manner, roving his eyes around her neck and downwards to locate the ‘marks’… She nearly shuddered at that..

He raised his hand to touch one of the hickeys on her neck. She whacked on his hand and softly snapped it away, with an irritated taunt, “Typical man!!”

He rolled his eyes and squeezed them, before he lifted just one shoulder in a shrug, and sighed, “Typical woman!!!”

Obviously incensed, she frowned, “What do you mean by that?”

“What did ‘you’ mean by that??”

She fumbled with words to find proper ones and came up with a small, sensible justification. “Typical man… always ignores every other talk and somehow comes to the point which interests him and suits him… mostly sex!”

He smirked. He had always loved the way she talked. Spicy. Straight forward and blunt. Her spark made her a walking, talking piece of firework.

“Now, you tell me why did you call me a typical woman?” She raised her chin and stared straight in his eyes.

He lowered his neck to reach her level, stared straight into her eyes and spoke in a deep, husky baritone, “Typical woman… always plays confusing games and plays hard to get, no matter how desperately she wants what the man wants… mostly sex?!”

It wasn’t easy to live with him… it wasn’t dull either…  

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Tangles & Ties: Chapter 29: Sinking In