Manik was falling in love with her. And he was very clear about that. Long time back, when they were in school, she was his first crush, his only love, and his only desire. But, pretty soon, he got over that crush, assuming that he was nowhere good enough for her.

This was the reason, why he never wanted to kiss her in the Pembroke pines club on her birthday. He doubted the direction where it would lead them to. He had a vague clue that it could be difficult to control his emotions after that.

Still, he did it. For her. And had decided that he will separate from her after a small peck. But he couldn’t. And, he was surprised when even she didn’t want to step back, breaking their kiss.

Pembroke Pines was a beautiful city in southern America. It had a cool, carefree culture and the club had seen many couples smooching each other even in broad daylight. But their kiss that night went down in the history of kisses that club that ever witnessed. It became the most talked about, most scorching kiss, Pembroke pines club people had ever seen. It became the talk of the town for almost a week.

Thankfully, their parents were not from clubbing and pubbing generation and the word didn’t reach them. But teenagers and youngsters already considered them a couple who gave them goals.

Today, everything else started making sense to Manik. Why she couldn’t step back from the kiss, just like him? Why she allowed him so close to her when she had snubbed off even her previous boyfriends after a few dates? Why she was compulsively addicted to him when they were in Miami, just like he was? Why she became angry and stopped talking to him after they came back?

So, this was the reason, Nandini Murthy?!!

He had been sure of his feelings, till now. But today, her request to him, deep in her sleep, asking him to not leave her and not go to NYC, made him sit back and think deeply. Yes. It was possible that she was in love with him, too.

He had a wide grin on his handsome face when he realized that she might be in love with him.

…………..

The next morning, when Nandini woke up, she remembered the ordeal faced last night by her at the hands of Sahil. Her arm and her wrist. where he had clutched her was almost reddened and bruised by now.

She took a long shower and remembered how Manik was there right in time and had even punched the loser in his face, twice. He had supported her, brought her back to her home, and stayed with her till she was comfortable and drifted to sleep. When she woke up in the morning, he was gone. He must have left in the night when she was deep in sleep.

Her body, her face, her eyes, and her cheeks came alive with a gush of goosebumps when she thought about Manik. He had not only proved to be her guardian angel but also the friend, she had needed in the time of distress. She couldn’t have managed either fighting with Sahil or taking care of herself, later. She had been so nervous and frozen with shock.

Thankfully, she had someone to do that for her. She could close her eyes and relax for she was in safe arms.

She was still thinking about him while brushing her hair before the mirror and then when she was getting ready. She could feel the bliss of his kisses even now.
Just then, a thought struck her mind. She remembered and realized that there was something different and special about the way he had kissed her last night. It surprised her. This was not what they had between them when they were hopelessly and incurably addicted to each other and when they had crossed all boundaries with each other, in Miami.

Last night, his kisses were soft. No lust, no mad passion, no fire in his eyes. Then what was it?

Definitely not friendship. They had crossed way beyond the realms of the term ‘friendship’ these days… Friends don’t kiss like that to console each other.

It was not a ‘concern’ for her. Even if you are concerned for someone, you don’t kiss them. Then what was that?

He was too mature and kind to take advantage of a helpless girl, shocked by an assault. Especially when he had been so close to her, the way no one else could ever come near her.

Then what was that in your eyes, Manik Malhotra? For me?

Why did you say – ‘I don’t want to see you near Sahil’ – when we danced? In fact, why did you even come to dance with me, when I was with Sahil?

You just seem to know when I need you. You just reached the place where Sahil attacked me. How? Were you following me, after I left you on the dance floor? Why?

Since childhood, till now, why does it have to be always ‘you’ when I want to share something, talk about something, when I need someone, when I need to vent my frustrations, when I need distractions from my stupid actions, when I need a shoulder to cry on, when I need a person who I can rely on, with my eyes closed? Why does it always have to be you?

I know, I seek you…because I love you!

I’m so sure of that!!

I just want to know why ‘you’ are always there to fulfill my wishes.

What was there in your eyes, yesterday night?

So… Was it love?

Even the thought of Manik being in love with her made her blush. Her heart could feel a jump in rhythm and she found herself hoping for this to be true.

……

Manik was still in bed when he received a call from Nandini. She asked him to be there at her house for breakfast.

Nandini’s mom made amazing ‘upma’ and Manik loved it. But that was not the only reason to go to her house. She had almost ordered him to be there before her dad left for office. They had to tell them the truth about the boy they had selected for her. And she wanted him to be with her when she told her parents.

Manik was her parents’ favourite among all her friends and they liked him a lot. She felt confident when he was with her when talking to her parents, at other times too.

“What is it?” Her dad, Ram Murthy, asked them at the breakfast table.

“Papa, mom… we want to tell you something about Sahil.”

Her mom, Naina Murthy, stopped her, “Wait…Before you say something about Sahil, we want to tell you what he told us after the party, last night. In fact, we were about to talk to you regarding that, today.”

Nandini and Manik were zapped and waited for her parents to finish the talk.

Her father said, “Sahil told us at the party that you didn’t pay any attention to him. You were constantly glued to Manik. You were talking to him, dancing with him and when Sahil tried to talk to you, you snubbed him. And then, when we were looking for you to talk to you, none of you were there at the party. You had simply disappeared. What is going on between both of you?”

Manik and Nandini looked at each other at this allegation. Speechlessly.

……………..

{Next update – tomorrow}

14 thoughts on “Fire & Ice: Chapter 16: New Developments

    1. I think there are no updates after this chapter… please check my corner post…she has posted there..

  1. Read all 3 chapters in one go🥺 still it feels like the first time I’m reading, the eagerness,the curiosity everything.

  2. I hope they say about sahil rather than saying a lie and its superb that they realise they love each other

  3. So here’s the twist..that stupid sahil..started playing dirty game’s…hope Nandini parents understand them..and just love the feelings of manan what they have for each other.. beautiful and spell bound .

  4. No matter how many times I read it, it never gets old.
    Manita, will you update BEB or LL&E today?

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