Chapter Twenty: Collide

He looked back at her sleeping figure, a slight smile touching his lips. Her legs were pulled up near her chest, the sheets crumpled around her bare shoulders as she snored quietly. A pang of nostalgia curled in his heart, combined with a familiar warmth. He reached down, his hand hovering above the loose strands of hair that fell over her cheeks.

 

With a heavy sigh, he drew back. Goosebumps crept up his arms as he realized how cold the room was, and he grabbed his boxers from beside the bed, tugging them on. He roughly buttoned his shirt, not bothering to fix the mismatched holes as he pulled his pants on quickly.

 

He glanced at the clock, muttering a curse under his breath as he saw the time.

 

Amma or Di were probably home by now.

 

With any luck, they would be downstairs, and there would be no need to explain… this. He hesitated, sitting on the edge of the bed as he listened for the telltale sounds of her in the kitchen.

 

Letting out a breath, he stood up, almost amused with the situation.

 

He was almost 30, and he was still terrified of his mother finding him in a room with a girl.

Granted, they had been… well.

 

He felt the heat at the back of his neck as he turned to look at her once again. Even when they had been dating, they had never shared a room together when they were at his place. While his parents were progressive, they weren’t that progressive, and even though he had snuck in – the idea of his parents accidentally walking in on them had effectively killed any idea of sex.

 

It was only 3 PM. If he did run into his mother, he could probably get away with an easy white lie of some sorts.

 

With that thought to comfort him, he quietly opened the door, glancing both ways before stepping out. He let out a sigh of relief when he didn’t see her, murmuring a quick thank you to whatever God was watching.

 

The door clicked gently behind him and he leaned forward, washing his face. He stared at his reflection in the mirror, leaning his head back. Her words rang in his head, a confirmation of what he had been fighting since they had met again.

 

“Do you want me to tell you that I still have feelings for you? Is that what you’re fucking looking for? That three years later, I still haven’t moved on even though I know I don’t deserve you?”

 

It hadn’t just been him. His heart pounded in his chest, a strange combination of anticipation and apprehension settled in his stomach.

 

She still had feelings for him.

 

He couldn’t help the little flip his heart did. He touched his lips, the imprint of hers pressed against his lingering with their touches, speaking louder than anything they had said. He struggled to reconcile his emotions, his brain warring with his heart.

 

It had always been her.

 

But was he stupid to want to trust her after everything?

 

He knew she had meant the words, the break in her voice saying more than any of her words had.

 

He had promised himself that he wouldn’t do this again.

 

He had let his guard down, giving into everything he had resisted since they had found themselves face to face at that wedding.

 

He was kidding himself if he believed he was over her.

 

He swallowed hard, pushing the thought from his mind. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to deal with that right then. He walked back into the room. Ananya was facing him, her head down as she buttoned up her shirt, her lips pursed. Her hair was tied in the messy bun she always wore as soon as she woke up.

 

She looked up, her cheeks warming as she realized he was staring.

 

“Hey.” She said quietly. Her face was devoid of the guarded restraint she so carefully kept around him, a fond smile touching her lips. He sucked in a breath, his heart skipping a beat as his gaze traced over her face. He stepped closer, brushing his lips gently against hers.

 

“Hi.” He murmured, his fingers brushing over her cheek as he pushed a piece of hair away from her face.

 

She leaned into his touch, her dark eyes meeting his. There was a sincerity in them, reminiscent of her brutally honest words from earlier that day. He inhaled sharply, his hand dropping to his side. He saw her frown and turned away, not wanting her to read his expression. His heart protested, urging him to turn around and wrap her in his arms.

 

Was he stupid to want to trust her again?

 

“Do you want something to eat? I was going to go down to make dinner.” He asked, busying himself in folding the sheets. He could almost hear her thinking, her eyes pinned on him. He turned back around with an easy smile, refusing to let her into his thoughts.

 

He couldn’t handle that now.

 

Her gaze narrowed, but she chose not to call him on his bluff. She returned his smile, nodding. They walked down the stairs together, catching sight of Anjali in the kitchen, one of her hands placed on her back while the other rested on her stomach as she surveyed the refrigerator.

 

Ananya glanced over at Raj, wondering if he had seen what she had. She thought to ask him but then shook her head, realizing that Anjali would tell him when she wanted to.

 

“Hi Didi.” Raj gave his sister a quick kiss on the cheek, squeezing her shoulder. Anjali looked back, a smile lighting up her face.

 

“I was looking for you! Where did you go?” She asked. Raj glanced quickly at Ananya, who pointedly avoided his gaze.

 

“I had just stepped out for a bit. Where’s Ma?”

 

“At the hospital. Papa’s already giving the nurses a hard time by getting out of bed and going where he isn’t supposed to go.” Anjali said, rolling her eyes. “He’s just barely gotten better.” She turned to Ananya, grabbing an eggplant out of the refrigerator. “Did you call your parents?”

 

“I’ll help.” Ananya took the knife from Anjali’s hands without waiting for a response, ignoring her protests. Her face brightened. “Yeah, I called Amma earlier today to let her know that I’m still here. She wanted to say that she’s glad Papa is okay. She also told me to say hi to you and -”

 

She hesitated for a moment, looking over at Raj. “To you and Raj.” She said, her voice quieter. His heart tightened, her words a quiet reminder of the canyon that still stretched between them.

 

Anjali glanced between the couple, who had looked away from each other. She cleared her throat, flashing them a quick smile. “That reminds me of my own little one. Hopefully Javi isn’t too overwhelmed. I should go call him.” She quickly wiped her hands on the towel.

 

Raj watched his sister’s retreating figure, silently cursing her choice underneath his breath. He could feel Ananya’s gaze on him. She offered him a wry smile. “Was it just me or…”

 

He laughed, shaking his head. “Nope, that was exactly what it seemed.” She grinned, the tension that hung between them retreating.

 

“Thank god it was Anjali and not my mother who came home.” Raj muttered underneath his breath, so quietly that she thought she had imagined it. He raised his eyebrows, and she bit her lip, barely restraining laughter.

 

They worked in comfortable silence, the only sound in the kitchen the click of their knives against the cutting boards. He turned towards the stove, the sizzle of the onions in the hot oil breaking the silence.

 

He found himself particularly conscious of her, her presence right behind him almost distracting. He could feel the shadow of her movements, her little movements moving the air around them. She was standing so close to him, her back almost pressed up against his own, the faint scent of her perfume lacing the air. He sucked in a breath, forcing himself to focus.

 

“Can you grab the turmeric for me?” He asked, leaning back. She looked over at him, finding herself surprisingly close to him. Their eyes met for a moment but she quickly looked away, trying to distract herself.

 

“Uh, yeah, It’s on the top shelf, right?” She asked from his right.

 

He made a noise of agreement. “You should probably get the stool – holy shit.” He cursed, taken aback by the sight of her on her knees on the counter, reaching for the bottle. “Anya, come down from there, that isn’t safe.”

 

She waved him away. “I’m fine, I do this all the time.”

 

“Go get the damn stool, An- oh, you’re coming down. Give me the bottle first.” He took the bottle gingerly from her hands, warily watching her as she shuffled backwards on her knees. She slowly extended one leg back, trying to gauge where the ground was.

 

He stepped forward, placing his hand on her lower back. She immediately stiffened, her spine growing rigid under his fingers.

 

“I’ve got you.” He murmured, his voice low. She leaned into his grasp, warmth spreading through her body from his fingers. She took a deep breath, surprised by how intensely his proximity had affected her.

 

She slid down from the counter, turning around. She found herself face to face with him, their noses practically touching. She could feel the heat of his breath against her skin, her heart quickening as they looked at each other. His gaze dropped to her lips, and they leaned in, their lips melding together.

 

The kiss quickly deepened, his hands sliding from either side of her to pull her flush against himself. Her hands sank into his hair, tugging gently on the strands as their mouths opened against each other.

 

“Raju! Amma says she’ll be back home for dinner.” Anjali called from the other room, her voice sending Raj and Ananya flying apart, breathing heavily.

 

Raj exhaled slowly, closing his eyes as he struggled to gain control over himself. He swore roundly under his breath, shoving his hands into his back pocket as he took a step back from her.

 

“Raj?” She called again.

 

“Tell her we’ll have dinner ready!” He responded, his eyes not leaving Ananya’s.

 

They stood silently for a moment before the scent of something beginning to burn filled the air. Raj’s eyes widened, and he hastily jumped to the stove, grateful for the distraction as he turned the burner down. Ananya leaned against the counter, her eyes following his movements.

 

“It didn’t burn all the way. We can just say it’s… nicely caramelized.” He laughed awkwardly, trying to fill the heavy silence between them. Ananya cracked a smile, her gaze remaining serious.

 

“We need to talk about this, Raj.” She said quietly, looking at him. He avoided her eyes, his jaw tightening as he stirred the subji. “Raj.” She repeated, this time more insistent. He regarded her for a long moment.

 

“I know.” He finally responded. “But it’s nice to stay in that little bubble, isn’t it?” He commented, chuckling humorlessly. She made a noise of agreement, drawing a deep breath.

 

“Yeah, it is.”

 

He looked over at her, his eyes serious. She tore her gaze away just as Anjali walked in, distracted by her presence.


Song: Collide

Artist: Howie Day


Note: And that’s where I leave you for today! I hope you enjoyed the chapter — please let me know what you think — reading your comments makes studying for my organic chemistry final far less agonizing 😉 As always, follow buttons are on the right, and if you find that you aren’t receiving notifications, please try unfollowing and refollowing.

Love always,

MN.

51 thoughts on “Chapter Twenty: Collide

    1. What I really liked was that there was regret, Not from her or him. Yes they need to talk, but this also shows how far they come. They both recognize it, and are willing to do just that. The intimacy that followed seemed real, proving they are both into each other.

      One step at a time… forward…

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Past relationship, strong attraction, intimacy then trust issues :/
    well…Raj felt it was always Her and then immediately I suppose fear engulfs him… Whats Ananya thinking ! She seems to be ok as her choice of words in the previous chapter kinda gave away where shes coming from….to me it did.

    Raj, buddy while 26 is not almost 30 it was cute him wondering about his mom and sis and fearing to get caught by them with Anya in her room 😛 Typical

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Of course….he will fear of his Mom…as it’s not his apartment but home😝…actually it’s the fear of embarrass I think.

    & But with Ananya….if he thinks she is the one…then he shouldn’t doubt her…but obviously he will….because of the past…so…I can’t judge him..
    May be it will take time…so that eventually they will be….Like as before!!
    But it’s not the case in terms of attraction right…. intensely strong….. So yeah…it’s easy to live in a bubble like he said… BUT they need to talk…before the burst of the bubble!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. He is still not ready to trust her completely i guess..!!
    Or is he scared of the talk they gonna have…
    Cant seem to keep their hand off one another now…!!
    they just need to have the assurance i guess.. that this time it wont break..!
    I think Ananya will lead the talk.. she needs to assure him…!! Raj’s beahviour is justified.. Though he loves her.. it is obvious to be apprehensive…!!
    I loved them.. they have this awesome chemistry between them…
    Raj fearing about getting caught was cute😀😀
    plz continuee soon dear…
    much love 😘😘😘

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah! The morning after!! Or in this case the evening after. The chemistry is still there. The love too. They just need to talk and resolve certain issues. Hope that happens soon. I love the hide and seek they seem to be playing with the family. After the intensity of the earlier chapters, this is fun to watch.
    Can’t wait for the TALK.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. This running away playing hide and seek was expected after the spontaneous submission to the physical attraction

    I’m no judge to condemn and neither do I wish to condemn it they are two mature adults with a functioning head on their shoulders

    But the two needs to understand physical attraction alone can’t sustain a relationship

    That was never a issue it was a lack of communication and understanding each other’s issues that played a role in the separation

    So hopefully both will be adult enough to handle this equation sensibly 🙄😒🙂

    Anju is such a darling she’s very much aware of the two and their issues or atleast she’s got a clue about it but unlike mummy she’s giving them the space

    Though I can’t fully blame the mother as mother’s cant help being motherly worried cautious and fiercely suspicious 😁😝

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ananya and Raj have so much in their relationship not just the physical chemistry.. the fact that they both have not moved on is a testament to how important they are to each other. But the past always casts are shadow in their relationship and it would take not just talking but also understanding things from each other’s persceptive to help them to move forward. We all take wrong decisions but we need to forget and move on and trust is the key word

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Loved the update. They still have the passion and chhemistry between them. Why hesitate to take a chance? Raj go for her and you will not regret it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sometimes I feel like I will snap from the tension between these two. My favourite kind of story I am not kidding! I haven’t had the chance to be with your writing before Choti but this one has been one hell of a journey! I see you being your own version of your Ananya (the writer part, I mean :):) ) someday. I hope the universe and you are both listening!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Thank God.. they at least agreed that they need to talk 😛 it takes time to rebuild the trust and hopefully they both will be patient enough to make it happen 🙂

    I don’t know why but when I read this story it’s always a certain Raizada comes into my mind in place of Raj 🙂 too much of FFs I guess .. but again I ONLY read FFs on IPKKND.. no wonder !!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yes, they need to talk, I can’t agree enough on that – but they still like/love each other, trust will have to be built again as it was lost once, it takes time but if they talk and take steps necessary then they will be where they want to.

    Beautifully written chapter, though its very very tiny, can I expect another update very sooooooooon to make it up?

    All the best with your exam, just use your writing magic and you will come out with flying grades – doesn’t matter if its chemistry or physics 🙂 !!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. by the title i was so guessing that his mom would walk in as they were kissing.. damn!!! didn’t happen 🙂

    quicker update than usual.. thank you !!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wonderful update👌😊! Both of them need to take baby steps to a loving and trustful relationship which can last forever. For that, they need to have an honest and heart to heart talk. I love the chemistry between them👌😊!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Though there is some shadows lurking behind, I am so glad they are giving each other a chnace… It will be while before they become what they used to be…but this stepwise progression is all we wanted!!!!
    way to go….

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Lovely update choti
    Good to see u back after a long time
    Beautiful update – yes, they need to talk and Talk, they will.
    Waiting to read more

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Just started reading your story! I love it!

    The way you have written about the emotions that Raj and Ananya are feeling is awesome!

    I am looking forward to more!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I feel the last two updates were the precipice of this story. We’ve been journeying all this while to get here– to get them to admit that they’re still hung up over each other, that they still love each other.
    I am a very strong believer of talking things out. But I also know it’s not always the easiest thing to make oneself vulnerable and tell another how they feel about them ( or in this case, still feel about them)
    I have been waiting for the “talk” that I’m sure is about to happen in the subsequent updates. I feel it’ll decide the direction this story and the lives of these characters will take.
    It’s a turning point.
    And I’m excited.
    Can’t wait.
    Love,
    M.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I like they are moving forward with what they feel for each other! Although they have to be mature and communicate better around this time..but glad they are moving ahead with that knowingly.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Nice story.. very well written

    Mmm.. now these two are more matured and can definitely decide better the second time

    Eagerly waiting for the next one:)

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Hey meera!!
    I just wanna let you know that I’m loving this story and more importantly the way you are writing it immensely! Blessed you are with such an amazing talent.. don’t let it go for anything.
    Much love!

    Like

  20. I have a confusion… the ‘is it just me or ….’ was it meant coz they both noticed that Anju may be preggers or that she gave them a meaningful look that she knew what they were up to.

    I re-read the part and think its the latter, but just thot i’d ask anyways.

    The bubble seems nice, but its the break that hurts… like Ananya said to Uma, may be the broken pieces of their relationship may make for a wonderful stained glass 🙂

    Like

What did you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s