This is a short story i wrote for some contest where i had to send some romantic short story, mills and boons style... I didn't win naturally because it was not millsy and boonsy enough but here it is anyway... more of a Romantic Comedy, if you can call it that!
LOVE IN THE TIME OF INTERNET
“Are you sure?” Nita asked for the nth time.
“Yes, I am. And your asking me that after every fifteen minutes will not make me change my mind,” replied Tamanna.
“But, are you really sure you want to go through this?”
“Oh my God Nitz, I’ve told you like a thousand times I am sure. I am 100 percent sure. Heck, I am 200 per cent sure. I want to do this. Now would you please zip me up,” said Tamanna sweetly.
“But why do you need to do this, Tammy? I mean you are a smart, intelligent, gorgeous woman with a successful career. You will find someone without stooping to this act of desperation.” Nitz again tried to knock some sense into Tamanna. Nita or Nitz, as her friends like to call her, had always been the voice of reason. She was also known as The Shoulder, the one whom everyone turned for advice. She was a successful manager with a large PR firm managing some of their biggest brands like L’Oreal, Nokia, Shopper’s Stop, etc. which meant that she was generally in the company of the rich and the famous. Changing men like people change clothes, she was spotted at all page 3 parties with a new arm candy who all were not a day older than 25; but that never bothered Nitz who was celebrating her own 25th birthday for the last 7 years.
“You seem to be confusing me with you. You’re all that, I am just an average 27 year old who is trying to make ends meet.” Replied Tamanna mockingly, “now after we have established that fact, my zipper please.”
Tamanna was working as a copy editor with a publishing house. Her job was boring, uninteresting and required her to, in her own words, ‘sit in front of a computer reading hundreds and thousands of words just strung together that stop making any sense after a point of time.’ She always thought she could be a writer herself and a better writer than all those people whose works she was made to edit. It was her life’s dream too, to get published one day, but she never got to finish anything she started and as result she had many manuscripts just lying around the house waiting to be completed.
“Oh come on. Don’t be so self deprecating. You are so pretty, everyone thinks that. You just have to wait patiently and one day you will find your knight in shining armor.” Nitz said still sitting.
“I am no Cinderella or Snow White. I believe in taking charge.” She said struggling with her zipper.
“I can see that.” Nitz got up to help her.
It was not that Tammy hadn’t had any men in her life but they all seemed to run as fast as they could whenever things got a little serious. Unlike Nitz, Tammy was incapable of emotional detachment. Whenever things started heating up a bit her mind used to get occupied with wedding shehnai and Home Sweet Home and kids. It was not her fault so much as it was her mother’s who had been after her life since she turned 24 to get married.
“I don’t want an arranged match. I want to fall in love with the guy before I get married.”
“You are too young to get married.” Nitz said slopping back on the bed.
“Tell that to my ma. Anyway,” Tammy took a deep breath, “How do I look?”
Nitz looked Tammy up and down. She was wearing a pair of blue jeans with a very formal looking white top. She had worn her hair loose which were falling on her shoulders in small curls. Tammy generally didn’t use make-up except kajal to line her already huge eyes, which according to Nitz was her best feature anyway, and a little nude lip gloss. All in all she looked like the perfect girl-next door.
“I thought you are going on a date?”
“Yes I am,” she said spraying some perfume.
“Then why are you dressed like you are going for an interview? What’s with the crisp white top? Why don't you wear something informal?” she asked innocently.
“Um…” Tammy was in two minds whether to tell Nitz or not. She knew Nitz would make her life miserable if she told her and she also knew that if she didn’t Nitz would make her life miserable anyway. So she decided to tell her.
“We decided to wear a combination of blue and white so we can recognize each other,” Tammy replied sheepishly. “I would kill you if you laugh.” She added threateningly.
Nitz just looked at her for a split second before bursting out laughing.
“OH MY GOD! Do you hear yourself? I hope you know you are not 16 anymore.” Nitz said between wiping her eyes.
“I know. Will you stop? This is really important for me.” Tammy said getting a little upset.
Nitz sobered a little. “Tammy I love you and that is why I am coming with you. You have never met this guy. What if he is dangerous? Don’t you read the papers? What if he turns out to be a criminal? Or a rapist? How can you trust him?”
Nitz. I think he is the one.”
“For God’s sake, you don’t even know what he looks like how can he be the one, and what is that anyway, The One? What if everything he told you was a lie? Huh?? Have you ever thought that?” here was the voice of reason again.
“Yes I have thought that. That’s why I am meeting him at a crowded restaurant for lunch and not dinner. And if I am not back by 7, call the police,” Tammy added mockingly.
“It is not funny Tammy,” Nitz said rolling her eyes.
“I am kidding. Relax. Everything would be fine. Don’t be cynical, let me give love a chance.”
“Oh please don’t make me puke. You can’t find love through the internet”
“Ok. Time to leave. Wish me luck.” Tammy looked at herself in the mirror one last time, took a deep breath, grabbed her purse and marched out the door.
It was not that Tammy wasn’t nervous. She was. Very much. But she wasn’t going to let anyone find that out. She had met Tusshar online. Somehow he had started coming on her chat list. Maybe it was Fate. They started talking while trying to figure out how they ended up in each other’s list. They were never able to find that out but realized that they had a lot in common. They had same interests in books, movies, music etc. Whenever Tamanna said that she liked something, it turned out that he was about to say that too. Tusshar was a 30 year old software engineer. At first, they just talked about general stuff but then slowly the chats turned a little personal with both of them trying to find out more about the other person. Soon, love blossomed. They had mutually decided not to talk or meet each other until both of them were completely sure of their intensions. She liked the fact that their relationship was not based on physical attraction but emotional and mental compatibility. Tamanna didn’t want to get into another time pass relationship and neither did Tushki, as she liked to call him. It was surprising how close they had come without actually talking to each other. They used to meet online every night and chat till wee hours of the morning. Tammy knew people would never understand their relationship that is why she had never told anyone. But then one week before, Tushki said that it is time that they should take the relationship to the next level. He was not getting any younger and he would like to see what his dream girl looked like. Tammy panicked and called Nitz which she now realized was a big mistake. Nitz a.k.a Ms. Reasonable had put so many doubts into her head. What if he turned out to be a creep just having a laugh at her expense? What if he doesn’t turn up? What if he is married?
‘No. he is not like that.’ She tried to calm herself. ‘But you also found this dress code thing strange, right? Admit it.’
That was HER voice of reason. Even though she didn’t like to think about it, there had been times when Tushki had behaved a little strangely. Like when he suggested that they wear something co-ordinated. Tammy had asked for a picture or maybe a phone number through which they would locate each other but Tushki had insisted on wearing something in blue and white. “It’ll be so romantic. Both of us would look like we are made for each other,” he had said. Something which seemed so romantic then now looked a little moronic. It was all Nitz’s fault. Tammy took a deep breath to steady herself and thought of all the nice moments she and Tusshar had shared. She smiled and waited to meet him.
She reached the restaurant first. She saw an empty booth and sat down. She put on her jacket that she had carried just in case. They had decided to meet at Berco’s, Delhi’s favorite Chinese hangout at 2:30 for lunch. Tamanna looked at her watch. 2:15. She still had 15 minutes. She looked at the door after every two minutes. No sign of him or rather no sign of anyone in blue and white. Then another thought stuck her. What if he came, saw her and left!
“Oh God! I have got to stop thinking.” She said and put her head in her hands.
“Aww…don’t say that. You should always keep thinking, it gives your brain to do something,” said a voice near her.
Tammy looked up to see a handsome man sitting opposite her. He was fair, must be 6feet tall, broad shouldered, with a light stubble and sporting stylish glasses. He was grinning and looking at Tammy adoringly.
Tammy’s first instinct was to look at what is he wearing. Nope. Nothing white or blue.
Tammy smiled and said politely, “Hi, I am waiting for someone.”
“Oh me too.” He replied.
He waved at a waiter who appeared at his side in two seconds.
“Uh…I would like a glass of water and a cold beer please,” the he looked at Tammy and asked, “Would you like anything?”
“No, thank you.” she said to the waiter and then glared at the stranger, “I told you I am waiting for someone. So would you mind?”
“I would take that as a no. just beer then. Make it fast.” He said and winked at the waiter.
The waiter disappeared and the man made himself comfortable.
“Well?” she asked again.
“This is getting too much. I have told you I am waiting for someone. Why don’t you move to another booth?”
“Whoa. Relax. I will move. Jeez.”
After five minutes, that man was still sitting there looking at Tamanna which not only irritated her but also, to her surprise, made her blush. Finally she couldn’t stop herself, “What is your problem? There are so many empty booths, why can’t you go and sit at one of those and stop staring at me!”
“Are you always this uptight?”
“What?!” she was really irritated.
“I was just asking that are you always this stressed out or is this some special occasion?” he smiled making no effort to move.
“I am waiting for someone. He could be here any moment and I don’t want you here when he shows up.”
“He is the jealous kinds huh? Well I would be too if I had a girlfriend as pretty as you.” he said softly.
Tamanna turned red without wanting to.
“Are you flirting with me?”
“Yes, I am. Just trying to make you change your mind.” He grinned.
“You seem to love that word don’t you?”
“OK. Game over. Ha Ha. Now please leave,” She said with a note of finality.
“Fine. I’ll come to the point.”
“Point? What point?” she got suspicious.
“See, I am dating this girl. She was very nice in the beginning but now lately she has got pretty serious. She wants to get married to me!”
“So? And why are you telling me this?”
“I want to break up with her.”
“Again I would have to ask so? What do I care?”
“I want you to pretend that you are my girlfriend so that she thinks I am cheating on her and breaks up with me.” He smiled at his brilliant plan.
Suddenly the faces of all those guys who had dated her in the past flashed before her eyes. All guys are like that. First they woo the girl and when the girl gets serious, they just want out. How disgusting! And this one! He was the limit. Just going up to any random girl and asking her to pose as her girlfriend so that he can break up with someone else.
“Are you out of your mind?! Why would I do that to some poor girl? You guys are just … Forget it. I am not doing that. So stop wasting my time and find some other imposter.”
“Oh come on. You don’t know what she’s like. She’s absolutely crazy. She thinks I am sleeping around with everyone.”
“Maybe you are? And why do you think I even care? Just tell her that you don’t like her anymore or some such shit. Why don’t you use the most popular, it’s-not-you-dear-it’s-me line on her and maybe she would realize how big a loser you are and leave you herself.”
“Someone’s been dumped a lot.” He said under his breath.
“What did you say?”
“Nothing. See, you wouldn’t have to do anything. You just have to sit here and she would do the talking and the breaking up.”
“What is wrong with you? Why would you want to break someone’s heart so mercilessly?”
“You don’t know anything about her. I am the victim here, not her. You think I wouldn’t have told her how I feel. I have. But she doesn’t understand. She wouldn’t let me break up with her. So I have to create circumstances so that she breaks up with me.”
“So what?! You like made a plan that you would come in here, spot some girl and make this proposition.”
“Yeah,” he said taking a sip of the beer that the waiter bought.
“Well, you chose the wrong table pal. I am not like that. And if you wouldn’t leave then I would.” Tamanna said and picked up her bag. But as she turned to leave, she was standing face to face with a pimply guy in his late teens. He was wearing a blue shirt and white trousers. Oh No.
“Tamanna?” he asked looking at her from head to toe.
Tamanna gulped and slid down next to the earlier guy and said, “Uh sorry?”
“Tamanna it’s me? Your Tushki?”
‘This cannot be happening. He was not supposed to be this ugly or this young or this fashionably unstable,’ thought Tamanna.
“I think you have got the wrong table. I am not Tamanna. Right dear?” she looked at the guy sitting next to her who was grinning. He had a twinkle in his eyes which seemed to question her, who’s better now?
“Right dear?” she said tentatively putting her hand on his. He looked down at their hands on top of each other and then at her daring her to do more.
“No I know you are Tamanna. You are also wearing white and blue, just like we decided. And besides, I never told you but I saw a picture of you on Facebook and it was only after seeing you that I decided to hack your account. That’s how I came into your chat list. I wanted it to be surprise.” He said smiling.
“What?! You hacked into my,” she stopped her in time and said instead, “I mean someone’s account to befriend her? You’re pathetic.”
“Oh come on Tamanna. I know it’s you. We have been chatting for six months now. I know that I am a little younger than you but it’s the 21st century. These things don’t matter anymore honey.” He said taking Tammy’s other hand in his hands.
“Look. I am not Tamanna. I am with him, ok.” She jerked her hand away.
“Who’s he anyway?” Tusshar asked.
“His name is … uh…” Tamanna looked at the guy sitting next to her with pleading eyes. The guy took pity on her and jumped in.
“Hey. I don’t think we have been introduced. I am Rajveer.” He said pulling Tammy closer. “I am sure you are mistaken, this isn’t your Tamanna or whoever you are referring to. This is my fiancé, uh, Natasha.” He said squeezing Tammy’s hand.
Fiancé?! Tammy looked at him angrily. The nerve of that guy.
“No, you are lying.” Tusshar said.
Rajveer stood up to his full height which was enough to scare Tushki.
“Or maybe you are right. I am sorry for bothering you guys. Maybe she left. I’ll keep looking. Bye.”
And with a small wave he left.
“So, honey. What’s the plan for tonight? Your place or mine?” he said whispering in her ear and snuggling close to her. As much as she hated to admit even to herself she got Goosebumps and a shiver ran up her spine. He smelled great. She wanted to take him to her place or maybe she won’t even mind his place. But, she collected herself and said, “Thank you for jumping in there but I have to go. I have plans.”
“What plans? Chatting.” He said mockingly.
She smiled tightly, “I am sure you are going to have a great laugh over this.”
“Oh, you bet. But why would you do that? Find love on the internet, I mean. You can have any guy you want.” He said looking into her eyes. And she realized her guards melting away. Summoning all her will she got up to leave, “I have to go. Good luck with your girlfriend.”
But Rajveer caught her hand and pulled her towards him. She fell on him. Their faces just inches apart. He leaned in a little closer. She closed her eyes and her lips parted waiting for a kiss. Rajveer looked at her face. He didn’t know why but since the moment he had entered the restaurant and saw her sitting there looking up eagerly after few minutes or so at the door he had wanted exactly this. She in his arms and their lips merely inches apart. It took all his willpower not to stoop down and kiss her. Instead he said, “Well…well…well. Aren’t we a little ungrateful today.”
Tamanna’s eyes flashed open. The words stung her like someone had thrown a bucket of ice cold water at her. She saw his dimpled smile and broke away from him.
“What do you mean?” she said sitting straight.
“It’s a tit-for-tat world darling. I helped you get rid of your boyfriend, it’s your turn to pay back.” he said
Tamanna couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“I told you before that I am not going to help you in that scam of yours.”
“You are such a hypocrite.”
“What did you say?”
“You just broke up with a guy because he was ugly.”
She turned beetroot red. Thank god, people didn’t know about her relationship. They would think how desperate she was, to get all dressed up and come meet a total stranger whom she had met online.
“I did not break up with him because he was ugly.”
He raised his eyebrows.
“Fine, that was a very big reason but it was not the only reason. He lied to me. He hacked into my account. He told me he was 30!”
“What did you expect? You should have guessed a guy you are meeting online was bound to be a teenager.” He said smiling.
“Whatever,” she again tried to get up.
“You are not going anywhere.” He was not ready to let go off her just yet.
“You know what? This has gone way longer than I expected.” With that she wriggled herself loose and got up and found herself face to face with a woman. She was around her age, petite, short black hair, and for some reason she had a fascination with the color red. From her lip color, to her nail paint to her dress to even her highlights…everything was a shocking red.
“This has got to stop happening. Uh…excuse me.” Tamanna said trying to get past her.
“I knew it!” she said in a squeaky voice.
“What?” Tamanna was taken aback, first because of the voice and then the statement.
“Misha! This is a surprise. What are you doing here?” Tamanna heard Rajveer say.
Tamanna looked back incredulously and mouthed, ‘is this her?’
He nodded discreetly. ‘OH MY GOD!’ she controlled her laughter. He could see that she was enjoying this. He raised his eyebrows as if to say, ‘now do you know?’
“Who the hell are you? What are you doing here with my poochie poo?” Misha said and wrapped her arm protectively around Rajveer.
“Poochie poo?!” Tamanna asked Rajveer mockingly.
“Yes. He is mine. I know girls like you. You see a nice handsome rich man and you just can’t wait to put your paws into him. But you know missy this one right here… is all mine. So you just have to find yourself another one,” She said shrilly.
“Oh you are getting it all wrong. I don’t even know…” Tamanna started to say.
“Oh shut up! You save that crap for someone else. I know better than that. And anyway my coo che coo has better taste than you…you white trash!”
“Now Misha, you watch…”
“You don’t know sluts like these. They are interested in you only for your money. I know bitches like her…”
“Ok that’s it. You just get your hands off of my fiancé.” Tamanna said and brushed Misha’s hands off Rajveer.
“Veer is in love with me and not you. And you are the bitch and not me. Listen babe, he doesn’t like you and he is been trying to tell you that for the last, god knows how many months. But you just don’t want to believe it. I have kept quiet for all this time but not anymore. So stop being such a wuss, get your pathetic act together and move on!”
To both of their disbelief, Misha started sobbing, “I am sorry.” She said softly and ran away crying.
Tamanna was stunned; she had never acted like this. She had never made someone cry before.
She looked at Rajveer and both of them started laughing.
“That was great,” he said
“I know,” Tamanna said.
“I thought you were not going to help me,” he said teasingly.
“I was not helping you. She was abusing me. I was helping myself.”
“Oh… in that case you still owe me one. Have dinner with me.”
“That’s very chivalrous of you.”
“So we on for tonight?”
“No. I don’t even know you, how can I go out with you?”
“Let us refresh our memory, shall we? Weren’t you just here to meet some random guy who you met on the internet?” he teased.
“See, whenever I start to think I was wrong about you, you prove me right.”
They both sat in silence for a while. None of them wanted to leave just yet.
“Anyway, where did you meet her? She looked like…” Tamanna started, wanting to know where a guy like her would meet a girl like that.
“A slut?” he completed the sentence for her.
“Yeah,” she said laughing.
They both started laughing again.
“Well, I met her at a costume party.” He started saying but then seeing Tamanna’s reaction added hastily, “It was Halloween. I thought she was wearing a cute devil costume, but then I met her in broad daylight and there it was again. The red everywhere but thankfully she was not sporting her horns and tail. And my God that voice. It drives me crazy! Since then I have been trying to break up with her but she doesn’t want to believe that I may not be interested in her.” He sighs.
“I think today might have done it.” Tammy said. “Why didn’t you ask one of your friends to act as your girlfriend?”
“That was the plan but she ditched me at the last moment and then fortunately I saw you.”
This again brought Tamanna to reality. She was just a back up.
“Where did you meet your guy?” he asked.
“He was not my guy. I met him online. Started chatting and then ended up here.”
“Why do you get so defensive?”
“I am not defensive. I was just thinking that you were giving me so much attitude over “my guy” and look who you were dating?!”
“Well, at least my girl is not underage.”
“You girl looked like a hooker!” she said angrily.
“Your guy was a hacker!”
They both sat in silent for a while again trying to calm down.
“Look I am sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.” Tamanna began, “I am sure she was a nice girl.”
“No, she was not and I am sorry too. Let’s start over,” he said extending his hand, “Hi, I am Rajveer, can I please have the honor of having lunch with a pretty lady as yourself.”
“That is so 18th century.” Tammy said rolling her eyes.
“Ok, then how about this. Hi I am Rajveer, would you like to go for a cup of coffee?”
He said looking hopefully at Tamanna. This time Tamanna smiled, took his hand and got up.
“That’s more like it.”
They drove down to the coffee house and over endless cups of coffee found out almost everything about each other. After sitting at the coffee house for hours, Rajveer asked tentatively, “Would you like to come over?”
Tamanna laughed and asked, “For what? Another cup of coffee? Don’t you think we have had enough?”
“Coffee, dinner, breakfast… whichever you please?” he said in his low husky voice and Tammy again felt her stomach turning but in a good way. And without thinking she said, “Sure.”
‘Let’s make a night to remember…’
At first Tamanna thought it was playing in her mind, ‘Apt song’, she thought.
“January to December…”
Then realization hit her. ‘That’s my phone’.
She ran outside and picked it up before it awoke Rajveer.
“Hello?” she said panting.
“Where the hell have you been? I have been worried sick? Are you all right? If you hadn’t picked up now I was about to call the police! Where are you? Did that guy turned out to be a creep?” came back a volley of questions from Nitz.
“Hi, I am fine.” She replied back breathing heavily.
“Why are you panting?”
“Was just running to grab the phone.” She said steadying herself.
“Really?! How boring. I thought maybe you were with your nerdy internet guy.” Nitz said mischievously.
“Oh you were right. He was a creep…” she began.
And just about then a pair of hands came from behind and wrapped themselves around her waist. Rajveer kissed her neck and said in his early morning sexy voice, “Good morning Tammy. I am glad you are still here. I am not done with you yet.” he said kissing her on the other side as well.
“Who is that?” Nitz asked curiously, “I thought that guy turned out to be a creep?”
“I’ll be right there.” Tammy said giving Rajveer a peck, “Yes he was, so you were right in saying that he would turn out to be one but I was also right that you can always find love through the internet.” Tammy said smiling.
“I see. Details please.” Asked Nits
“I have got to go now. I’ll tell you later.”
“Where are you going?”
“To my knight in shining armor.” Tammy said smiling at Rajveer, “bye”
“Kids.” Said Nitz and hung up smiling to herself.