“My feet are killing me!” Ruhi moaned, draping herself on a lamppost. “You didn’t say we’d be walking this much!”
He shrugged, unperturbed. “You didn’t ask. Anyways, I’m not too familiar with the layout.”
They had just passed the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and he’d gotten thoroughly riled watching her squander a good half hour hunting for Leonardo Di Caprio’s nonexistent star.
“Why are you not interested in Charlie Chaplin, Albert Einstein, or even Neil Armstrong who happens to be my idol?”
“Yes, I am. But Leo.” She sighed, closing her eyes. “When he froze to death in those icy waters in order to save the love of his life…”
“Gosh you sound like an out-of-work mortician.” He smirked.
“Yes, that would be your opinion because for you love is a gimmick and anyone who gives up his life for it, a moron!” Her eyes bore into him like two very cold steely knives before she whipped around and marched away in a swirl of white.
“I didn’t mean it that way! God how do you make this woman tick?” he mumbled, hurrying after her. He didn’t have to go far. She was doubled over at the corner brooding at her three- inch heels.
“You could always take them off or—”
“Now don’t say you’re offering to give me a ride!” She stepped back in a flurry.
“What…and break my back!” he burst out as though at some fantastic joke. “I meant you could also choose to suffer by keeping them on.”
“Thank you for great advice!”
They stood at the intersection of Hollywood and La Brea, scowling at each other for several minutes.
“I think we are lost.”
“You’re bang on target for once!”
“Don’t you even know how to read maps?”
“I do, but I have no clue where I parked the blasted car!”
“Hey wait!” Why do I always seem to be running behind her?
The strains of MJ’s “Bad.”
Hooking around the corner, they came upon a small group of young black men jiving to the very familiar beat. They had managed to attract a sizeable crowd, and everybody seemed to be having a very good time.
“Let’s move on now. You can see this some other time.” Shaan grabbed her hand.
“No wait, that time may never come,” she retorted with spirit and pushed herself to the front.
I don’t think I’ll ever get her to myself today, he thought miserably when suddenly he heard the song change and a collective gasp from the crowd followed by loud applause. He gaped in disbelief when he saw his wife grooving with a pimply teen to the tune of PYT, and to make matters worse, she appeared to enjoy it.
“How dare you dance with anyone else besides me?” he said as he hauled her angrily into his arms.
You don’t own me!
I think I do…very much so!
She tried to elude his grasp but found him too agile and determined.
“Not too shabby for a guy who spends most of his time in front of the computer. You are a revelation, Mr. Grey. Now you better feed me something really cold or else I’ll melt into the sidewalk!” she said, all flushed and hot.
They had ice cream at a place he knew. She chose raspberry and cream while he requested his float to be spiked with gener- ous dollops of rum, which the proprietor kept hidden under the counter just as Eric had told him. He took all his girlfriends there.
“Did you come here to show me couples necking on the sand?” she asked, giggling.
Blast! She sounds more drunk than me! Shaan thought, feeling stone-cold sober. “No, I brought you here so you could walk barefoot. Sand is good for achy feet.”
“Shut up and stop making excuses Shaan!” She laughed before darting away on the famed boardwalk, deftly avoiding the scores of avid skateboarders.
What does she mean? Does she know how I feel? He cursed himself, following slowly behind, looking toward the horizon for inspiration and not finding any; the sun had set awhile ago.
“Sorry!” he muttered, nearly stumbling over a couple who were indeed “necking on the sand.” What could be going on in their minds?
The girl I’m sure believes herself to be in love while the guy…I bet he doesn’t even know her name. He chuckled.
Gawd! Is that what Ruhi takes me to be? A rake who would dump her soon after he has had his fill? Damnit! I bet that’s it. I need to set her mind right, but how?
His eyes scouted earnestly for her white figure. Where the hell has she disappeared?
“Ruhi! Holy crap! Are you out of your bloody mind!” After a harrowing search for what seemed like an eternity, he came upon her standing waist deep in the warm waters, her arms stretched out in front as though reaching for someone.
“I’m not suicidal if that’s what you’re worried about,” she said, trying to flick away the restricting hand he had placed on her shoulder. “It just feels so good when the sand erodes beneath your feet and the sea slowly pulls you toward her, like a mother calling to her child.”
“It all sounds very cool, but in reality, this is how most imbeciles like you lose their lives! It’s called oceanic current darling, and it’s simply ruthless!” he hollered, roughly dragging her back to safety.
I’m certain I’m marked for premature death, but dying happy is always better than dying lonely, he agonized as she wrenched herself from his grasp.
“You called me an idiot!”
“Of the first order!”
She blundered away in a huff.
“Don’t call me that!”
“Fine then, Bee. Anyhow, it fits you better,” he mumbled. Then, in a barely audible whisper, which the wind carried to her ear, he said, “Please, shall we call it quits now? My heart can’t take it anymore.”
In response, he was bestowed a dazzling smile, and her arms reached out to him. Her eyes sparkled with something he dared not guess. They walked side-by-side, hand in hand on the beach, stealing furtive glances of each other, wondering, hoping, wishing.
“Shaan?” She stopped in her tracks and took a step, bridging the void between them.
“Yes?” He waited holding his breath.
“Let’s perchance imagine for just one moment that the world as we know it was coming to an end tomorrow.” I don’t know why I’m saying this, but I don’t care. Perhaps the sea is affecting me.
“What do you mean, Ruhi? Nothing like that is going to happen.”
“What is the last thing you’d want to do before you die?” she persisted, peering up into his eyes, her face gleaming ethereal in the moonlight.
I’d want to make mad, furious love to you if that’s the last thing I do! He pulled her in to his arms, defying her to read his mind, battling against his instincts.
Yes, that’s what I’d want too. Her hands reached up to clutch at his shirt, finding comfort in the heat that radiated from his skin and closed her eyes wishing the moment would never end. But that’s the only thing he wants from you, Ruhi. A sob escaped her mouth as she pushed him away.
“Don’t you dare run from me!” he yelled, pulling her back. “Stop playing these ridiculous mind games. Say what you wish to say right now and get it over with. Scream, shout, or even hit me! Just let it all out, Ruhi, just do it!”
Damn those lips are begging to be saved, he thought as their faces drifted closer and their breaths mingled…raspberries and cream. Her mouth parted; she felt drawn to him like a magnet.
Almost there, now give it to him, Ruhi, let him have it! She broke away, laughing while her chest ached. “I was just jesting, Shaan. Who really cares about what happens tomorrow? Let’s go home.”
He gazed after her in stunned disbelief. I’ll have you, then I will kill you, if that’s the last thing I do.