Devika Fernando: First of all, thanks for having these two lovebirds on your blog, Reet. And if you ever need a wedding organized, don’t forget to hire Cloud 9 Weddings, or Ashley will be heartbroken.
Here’s the gorgeous couple..
Here’s a cutely funny scene which Devika has written especially for you – it doesn’t feature in the book but it tells you something about Ashley and Vivaan’s capers!
Suppressing a grin, Ashley watched her indomitable grandmother fuss over the dessert in her kerchief-sized kitchen. Violet Davies was all of five feet ‘tall’ and nearing her 82nd birthday, but nothing would get in the way of spoiling people she loved. Every time Ashley visited her in the creaking house filled to the brim with gaudy décor and gifts of sentimental value, she got pampered. And now that she’d brought her boyfriend home, Granny was fussing even more than usual.
Her boyfriend. Just thinking of him like this put a huge smile on her face. Tearing her gaze away from the short, bespectacled woman in a flowery frock, Ashley looked towards the balcony where Vivaan was checking out the countless flower pots in all shapes and sizes, holding a variety of surprisingly thriving plants. He looked incongruous in the house’s stuffy, wallpapered rooms and amid crocheted knickknacks, and yet it felt so right to have brought him here. They’d been dating for four months now, out in the open and even in the media because people still hadn’t tired of the Indian royal and his ‘scandalous’ woman from England. While they’d spent as much time as possible getting to know each other in between weddings to plan—for her—and business meetings to attend—for him—they’d also traveled quite a bit. Vivaan had met her parents last month, and now he was at her Granny’s place for the first time, obviously charmed yet also obviously out of his depth.
She indulged herself in another minute of watching her prince, tall and honey-skinned, his dark head currently bent over a pot of petunias. Who’d have thought that someone like him would be her Mr. Right?
“Dessert! Time to get fat!” announced her grandmother in a sing-sang voice and dropped a tray laden with cupcakes, strawberries, clotted cream and scones on the table.
“Sweetie, remind me again what his name is?” she asked, primping her white hair with its purple streak down the middle.
“Right, Ivan. He sure doesn’t look very Russian to me though.” Turning away, she shuffled to the balcony and imperiously held a hand out to Vivaan. “Now, now, Ivan darling. While it warms a lady’s heart to have such a handsome man swooning over her flowers, you absolutely must come inside and have some dessert.”
To Vivaan’s credit, he sent her a dazzling smile and cradled her rheumy, gnarled hand in the crook of his arm to accompany her into the living room—as if she was the one of royal blood. He had to stoop low so he wouldn’t rap his head against the doorframe. Too steeped in Indian customs, he’d removed his shoes at the front door, and his toes sank into three layers of non-matching carpet stacked on top of each other.
Escorting the old woman to her sofa, he waited until she was settled before sinking onto the sagging leopard-print couch next to Ashley. He gave her thigh a rub in one of those small intimate gestures she had come to crave. For someone who was always behaving so formally and was much more used to international board meetings than to family gatherings or dates with his girlfriend, he sure was a natural.
Hiding her grin behind a few sips of over-sweet Earl Grey tea, Ashley braved the next hour in their company. And she fell a little more in love with Vivaan every time he forced another bite of dessert down when her Granny insisted, every time he didn’t correct her when she called him by every name on earth but his own, every time he listened seemingly enraptured to her incessant chatter which jumped from subject to subject.
Two hours later, he’d let her grandmother kiss him goodbye, had even accepted the left-over scones with that inherent grace of his. Only when he was safely on the passenger seat and Ashley steered the car onto the rural road, did his shoulders slump. With a sigh, he rubbed his temples.
“She has more energy than a kindergarten full of children on a sugar high.”
Ashley snort-giggled. “She does. I bet she’ll live to be a hundred and insist on having a hunky stripper jump out of her cake.”
At Vivaan’s choked sound, she laughed outright, then removed a hand from the wheel to brush it over his arm.
“You stole her heart, you know? And I couldn’t love you more for it.”
Carefully, so he wouldn’t distract her from driving, Vivaan leaned over to kiss her cheek. “She’s a firecracker I’m not likely to forget soon but also a lovely lady. And now you owe me. How about I take you back to India for a visit and make you meet my old, almost-blind ayah, the woman who raised me?”
They’d been avoiding India, for various reasons. But maybe it was time…
“All right,” Ashley agreed, wondering how his country—and his people—would welcome her this time, when so much was different from her first visit.
Intrigued? Buy the book here.
Visit Devika Fernando on her blog to learn more about her.