Happy Valentine's Day!
It's true that most of my stories are an extended VDay celebration. Every page I write, every scene, is an homage to love. And life. But mostly love. Even so, I can't think of a more deserving VDay couple (from my books) than Diya and Krish of Bootie and the Beast. Their story is a modern-day take on the classic fairytale.
“Just what do you have against my possessions, Beast? You’ve developed an obsession with them in a very short time.” She returned his mean look with her hands on her hips.
He’d exchanged his sunglasses for a pair of stylish spectacles. Through the clear glass, his brown eyes seemed huge; his lashes long and dense. He was standing way to close. She shivered. The eyes narrowed a fraction.
“I’m only explaining this because I don’t want to deal with your sarcasm for the next week,” she said hastily before any more shivers came forth. “As the face and body of Scheherazade, I must be seen wearing and using only Scheherazade. I cannot promote any other product or advertise any other label for the two years of my contract—unless my contract with the other brand precedes theirs.”
His sneer vanished into the woods. “Oh.”
“Yes. Oh. Scheherazade is an extremely popular brand retailed throughout Asia and Europe but not so much in the US. That’s why I am travelling with everything and the kitchen sink in those trunks. It’s a necessity, not a choice.” She was surprised when he didn’t make a single snide remark as to her contractual restrictions. She braced for a taunt or two, something along the lines of—If you can’t shop in Dallas, Dee-Dumbs, however will you pass time when I’m off making my gazillions? To which she would reply in breathy sarcasm…
“Want to unpack first or eat or shower?” Krish asked, poking a hole in her fantasy dialogue.
Diya shook her head, as much to clear it as to say no. She was so tired and functioning on sheer force of will, hence the spontaneous daydreaming. It had been a crazy, busy few months and the last two days had sort of bled her energy levels dry. If she was indeed the vampire the tabloid twerp had photo-shopped her as, she’d be snoring inside her coffin after having gorged on a blood-filled vein.
“I’ll get to it tomorrow—the unpacking and showering. I’m hungry. I’m sleepy. And I’m sure you need to get back to your office and resume snarling at figures of the numerical and human variety.” Diya strolled into the bedroom alongside Krish.
“Not really.” He slanted an undecipherable look her way. “I’ve taken the day off.”
“Oh! Don’t be silly. You don’t have to baby-sit me.” She flapped a hand at him. “Go to your office, play with your spreadsheets. Punch some numbers. Whatever. I’ll be fine.”
Krish was a Menon to the hilt—the hardest of taskmaster’s. He hated losing work-hours and became an intolerable grouch when he did. It was a testament to his regard for her father that he’d taken the afternoon off to fetch her from the airport in person and not sent a cab. To be fair, he’d sent a cab only the once to pick up his family during a visit a few years ago, due to some emergency at the office. Lee-sha and Savitri Aunty hadn’t made a big deal about that kind of deficient host behavior. Diya wasn’t so forgiving. Family should always come first. But, she was fair as well. He’d settled her in, now he could go.
“I’m not working today, Diya,” he said, in near exasperation.
Oh-kay. She’d heard what she’d heard, not once but twice. Diya checked Krish’s forehead, cheek and throat with the back of her hand. “Nope, no fever. You could be delirious. Low sugar, possibly. Or,” she paused for dramatic effect. “You were kidnapped by a UFO and are now an alien in Krish form.”
He chucked her under her chin. “Smart-ass. Come along, Elf, let me introduce you to your domain—the kitchen.” With a sly smile, he strode away.
She stuck her tongue out at his chauvinist backside but didn’t take umbrage, not when he clearly teased and when it was patently true. It was no secret she loved to cook. Besides, his previous statement trumped all other concerns for her.
She rushed behind him, heels clattering smartly on the wooden floor of the hallway. “I’m confused. Since when do you take days off?”
The Krish Menon she knew did not take days off. He worked twelve to fourteen hour days on most days, sometimes even on Sunday. Work was his religion, numbers were his mantras and profits, projections and spreadsheets were his portals to nirvana. He thrived as a beast of burden.
And as if that confession of sloth wasn’t shocking enough what he said next made Diya trip on the steps leading down to the kitchen and crash into his back.
“What?” she gasped, clutching his arms for support when he spun around to steady her.Nary a smile or sneer darkened the alien in Krish form. “I have a date. It’s Valentine’s Day, after all.”
Excerpt from Bootie and the Beast © Falguni Kothari