The One She Was Warned About

The One She Was Warned About by Shoma Narayanan Read Free Book Online

Book: The One She Was Warned About by Shoma Narayanan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Shoma Narayanan
Tags: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
broke.’ She watched Siddhant as he picked up the name-plate and ran his fingers over the letters. Try as she might, she couldn’t summon up a smidgen of feeling for Siddhant. He was intelligent, and successful, and he’d probably make someone an excellent husband some day, but meeting Nikhil had driven the last doubts out of her head. Not that she was in any way serious about Nikhil, she hastened to tell herself. The conversation she’d overheard his team having had only underlined that she didn’t stand a chance with him.
    ‘I’ve hardly seen you since we got to Kerala,’ Siddhant was saying. ‘Let’s walk around the village a bit, shall we? Unless you’ve seen it already? You must have reached it some time before we did.’
    ‘Not seen much of it yet,’ Shweta said.
    She’d have to let him know somehow that it wasn’t going to work out between them—the distinctly proprietorial air he adopted when she was around him was beginning to bother her.

THREE
    They were sitting down to lunch when Nikhil reappeared. Anjalika was nowhere to be seen—either she’d left, or was having lunch separately. Payal had mentioned to Shweta that her contract only included a stage performance, not mingling with the guests. Nikhil didn’t come across to her, however. He spent a few minutes talking to the resort manager, and then the firm’s HR head nabbed him.
    Shweta found herself gazing at him hungrily. His clothes were simple—an olive-green T-shirt over faded jeans—but they fitted perfectly, emphasising the breadth of his shoulders and the lean, muscled strength of his body. At that point he turned and caught her eye—for a few seconds he held her gaze, then Shweta looked away, embarrassed to have been caught staring.
    ‘This traditional meal business is all very well, but I wish they’d served the food on plates rather than on banana leaves,’ Siddhant was saying as he tried to prevent the runny lentils from spilling over on to his lap.
    ‘It wouldn’t be very traditional then, would it?’ one of the senior partners said dryly.
    Remembering that the man was South Indian, Siddhant rushed into damage-control mode. ‘Yes, of course. It’s just that I’m not used to it. The food’s delicious—we should seriously evaluate the option of getting South Indian food made in the office cafeteria at least once a week.’
    One of the other partners said something in response and the conversation became general. Shweta felt pretty firmly excluded from it, however. She was sitting between Siddhant and another colleague who was all too busy trying to impress his boss. Priya and the rest of her friends were sitting across the room, and they appeared to be having a whale of a time. Siddhant himself was making absolutely no effort to bring her into the conversation with the rest of the partners—evidently he felt he had done enough by inviting her to sit with them at the hallowed top table.
    Her phone pinged, and Shweta dug it out of her bag to see a message from Priya. You look bored out of your wits , it said, and Shweta looked across to see Priya miming falling asleep and keeling over into her banana leaf.
    Shweta took a rapid decision. She wasn’t very hungry, she’d finished all the food on her leaf—and the server was still two tables away. ‘Siddhant, I need to go and check on something,’ she said in an undertone during the next break in conversation.
    Siddhant looked a little surprised. ‘Right now?’ he asked, and his tone implied that she was passing up on a golden chance to hang out with the who’s who of the firm.
    ‘Right now,’ Shweta said firmly, and escaped to the corner where Priya was busy demolishing a heap of sweetmeats.
    ‘What happened to your diet?’ Shweta asked in mock-horror. Only the week before, Priya had embarked on an oil-free, sugar-free, practically food-free diet.
    Priya shrugged happily. ‘The diet’s on vacation,’ she said. ‘This stuff is way too good to resist. Where’s

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