She couldn’t stop mulling over the cab drive from yesterday.
He had almost asked her out yesterday and yet he had refused to join her for coffee. What sort of a messed up man was he? What type of person asks you out, then becomes your cab driver, drops you off without so much as even joining you for coffee just out of courtesy?
It was 2 weeks since she got back from her family vacation. Two weeks since she’d last seen, met him or had any contact with him and yet he refused to get out of her head. Even when she was out at 6000 feet climbing up the mountain, surrounded by family and cousins her mind was stuck and thinking about him. The way he moved with an almost feral grace, the way he would tilt his head while talking to her, the way he looked at her – just the thought of it gave her goosebumps. She shivered a bit and started staring at her phone under her desk. It was almost 4:00 and classes were about to get over in another half an hour. She had gotten back just yesterday evening and she already had a text from him:
“I get off from work early on Saturdays. Will you be free later?
Can we meet up tonight? Probably for a beer or two? At High Spirits?
It will be close to your place and I can pick you up and drop you later.
And plus, it’s Sunday tomorrow. So you don’t have to worry about college. 🙂 🙂
Let me know.”
Her classes were about to get over and she still hadn’t replied. Because she still hadn’t decided if she wanted to meet him. She noticed how he didn’t use even one text short-cut. All the words typed out completely. Back in the hills all she could think of was him, and now that she was back here he seemed more dream-like than ever. But she had to reply. The damned blue tick had ruined it all, so there was no other option but to reply.
As discreetly as possible she typed out a small reply:
“Sure. I’d love to meet you. And yes, you can pick me.
I’ll wait for you. High Spirits sounds like a good place.
See you at 9″
And now her mind started wandering and thinking about the evening.
Back in his house he was sitting and thinking the same thing. This would be their first official date and although he didn’t really care much about how he dressed (unless it was shabbily of course), he had to look decent and presentable. Because, of course, whatever she would wear, she would look absolutely divine, and he had to look good next to the divinity.
He was already back from work. Feet up on a chair, he lit a smoke with one hand while turning up the volume of the TV with the other and checked his phone as soon as it made a sound. His heart skipped a beat. She had replied and without waiting he checked. She said yes and now it was all he could think of. He tried diverting his mind with whatever was showing on TV, but his mind was distracted and more importantly he was nervous. He was used to sleeping with women. Just sleeping, no conversations, no smiles exchanged. This, on the other hand, required looking at the person, pleasantries to be exchanged and talking, lots of talking. But he wasn’t going to back down. He stubbed his almost finished cigarette and deposited it into the ash tray by the window sill. Shutting off the TV, he got up from the chair and mentally started to the plan the evening ahead.
It was 8:45 and she was dressed and ready to leave. She checked her reflection in the mirror once again. She looked presentable. Beige dress, brown boots, hair let down and kohl, mascara and lip balm in place. “Don’t overdo it.” was the mantra. What she saw pleased her eyes, so she moved away from the mirror and started pacing her room, constantly checking the fully charged phone. Right at 8:58, her phone started ringing and she looked fast at the screen. “Raghav Sharma,” it said. Two deep breaths later she heard herself answer the phone in a slightly higher pitch and say, “Hi. Are you here already? Yes, I’m coming out.” A last minute recce of her clothes, shoes and bag and she was ready for her date. She went out and saw him stand over the passenger side of the car door, waiting for her with a smile on his face. And as always, he looked perfect. She smiled. They’d look good together on the dance floor tonight. She had been so busy checking him out that she didn’t even realize, there was a slight October rain spraying her hair and clothes. She hurried towards the greyish-blue car and flashed the brightest smile she could muster without showing how nervous she was. She didn’t want to risk an awkward hug, so she went straight for the door, which he now had held open. As soon as she sat, she put on her seatbelt and took two deep breaths. He was looking so marvelous she had almost forgotten to breathe.
When he had seen her walk out of the house his heart skipped a beat. Or probably two, or three.
He didn’t notice. She looked so sharp and pretty that it was beautiful. Everything she wore or carried looked so perfect on her that he thought it was made for her. She had given him the brightest, most beautiful smile. And after a futile search for words he concluded in his head that as always, she looked divine. When she hurried past him to get to the car, he got a whiff of her perfume and he thought his heart almost stopped. It was so amazing. A fragrance he had never smelled before and would never want to smell on anybody ever again.
When they both were inside the car they both looked at each other and understood that they should go without uttering a word. After 5 minutes of driving in silence he realized he could play songs in the car. Scrolling through the playlist he came across a song he liked. As the song played on in the background he listened closely to the lyrics and chuckled. “Somehow in the city it’s summer in the city, Somewhere in the city its summer in the city.” It had been quite hot in the city for October the past few days. He gave a glance towards her and noticed her enjoy the song with a mild expression of amusement on her face.
She was thoroughly enjoying the song and hardly paying any attention to the lyrics, loving every bit of it. She made a mental note to remember to ask him about the song later. Right now she wanted to just listen. It was only after a while that she realized that the song had changed and when she opened her eyes they were close to their destination.
“Wow! That song was beautiful.”
“It’s called Summer in the city. I will send it to you so that you remember.”
“Sure. Yes, please do. I was about to ask you exactly that.”
The valet took over almost as soon as they got down from the car. He realized she wouldn’t be too comfortable about holding his hand considering she had avoided any contact till then. They didn’t have to wait for long to find a secluded corner to themselves. He managed to convince her to stay there while he went to get their drinks.
“Any choice in particular?”
“Beer. With some chicken.”
He couldn’t help but smile as he saw her smile and then turned to get the beers. And chicken of course. Waiting for their food and beer took longer than usual. Especially when all his brain could register that she was waiting for him. In a daze of her thoughts, he didn’t even realize when he got the beers and walked back to their bar stools to be greeted with a bright smile again.
The night went on. The number of empty beer bottles increased too.
The music played on and it couldn’t have been a better evening. The conversation had moved from Douglas Adams to writing to rugby and what not before she realized the time. It was late.
“It’s about to be 12.”
“Being Cinderella, are we?”
“Haha. I’m certainly not but in case you haven’t noticed I live with my parents. I have a curfew. I don’t have the liberties of some mystery Engineer-turned-cab-driver. I have to leave.”
He gave her a quick smile before asking, “Care to join me for a smoke before we leave?”
“Sure. Let’s go upstairs.”
She started walking towards the stairs and saw him follow through the corner of her eyes. She had so much going on in her head. He had complimented her on her dress and her hair so many times this evening. She couldn’t help but smile when she thought about how sweet and chivalrous he had been the entire night. It almost seemed painful for her because she didn’t want the night to end. She wanted to be with him all night. And before she could realize he had walked up beside her and he was holding her hand. It startled her for a minute, but she couldn’t help but think “This is it.”
“Wow. You scared me for a minute.”
“Did I now?”
“Yes. You could have warned me your were about to hold my hand.”
“I’m sorry. I will ask next time.”
“Haha. It’s okay. I’m sure as a psycho serial killer that’s what you do all the time.”
His expression changed for a fraction of a second before he composed himself and started moving up the stairs. Something had changed. “How could she know? She hadn’t seen the body in the trunk of the car. She couldn’t have. He had been very careful. But then how did she know? Maybe she’s joking. Maybe she’s not.” A million thoughts crossed his mind all at once. Maybe it was just a coincidence. Or maybe not. But he didn’t want to take any chances. So while she walked up the stairs smiling softly, he withdrew something out of his dark blue shirt.
She heard him pause and turned around to look at him. She smiled as she turned.
He saw her smile. And then there was a flash of silver.
To be continued soon…