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You and only you
Muskaan sat at her vanity primping herself eagerly. Tonight would be her and Rahul's first date. To say she was excited would be a vast understatement, Rahul just seemed to do that to her.
He was a good influence as well, when he was around she didn't act like high and mighty Muskaan, but or course if you asked her that she'd bitterly deny it. She continued flipping through a magazine, waiting impatiently for her curlers to curl.
She'd already applied all her make-up, painted her finger and toe nails, and painfully plucked her eyebrows. She contemplated wearing something red just to get Rahul's heart aflutter, but decided that she couldn't wear that color every single time he was around, it would look like she was trying to hard. Instead she wore a short sheer black dress with a single embroidered rose over her heart, and a pair of black velvet strappy shoes.
She'd given herself the once over in the mirror earlier and knew that Rahul would go gaga over her attire. She still had know idea would he planned for them tonight. He just kept giving her a mischievous grin and the one word that would drive any girlfriend crazy 'surprise'.
She sighed and went back to her magazine, still counting the seconds until she could take these damn curlers out.
Ridzi and Nikki giggled profusely at the sight of Rahul pacing back and forth nervously across his bedroom floor.
"Do I look okay?" he asked, "I mean I look good right?"
He was dressed in a very subtle black slacks, nice button up shirt ensemble, and topped it all off with stylish Converse All-stars. The sight of them still giggling made Rahul regret enlisting their services to give him the 'girl' perspective on his choice of wear. The only help they seemed to be doing was bruising his already fragile ego.
"You're looking very studly" Nikki stated before breaking into another fit of giggles.
"Thanks you guys" Rahul said sarcastically "Some help you turned out to be."
"Oh come on lighten up a little" Ridzi piped in, "It's just a date."
"Just a date?" Rahul yelped, "Need I remind you two that this isn't just a date, it's a first date, a first date with Muskaan."
Nikki and Ridzi took note on how he emphasized on first and Muskaan; they'd never seen him so freaked out before.
"It's not like you two haven't gone out before," Nikki said.
"Ah, yes" Rahul responded, "But those particular outings were followed distinctly under the safety of the friend rules."
"It's okay Rahul" Ridzi said sympathetically, "I know how you feel"
She did know how he felt. When she was getting ready for her first date with Armaan, whoa. She'd been so nervous she bit all of her fingernails down so far she thought she would eventually have gnawed all her fingers off. She looked up at Rahul to see him nibbling away on his own nails.
"Don't", she grabbed his hand and pulled it from his mouth, "do that."
"Sorry" he mumbled.
"So Mr. Romance" Nikki said jokingly, "What do you have planned?"
"That is for me to know and Muskaan to find out," Alex said with a smirk.
Nikki just shot him a "you better at least tell me later" look.
checked his watch, 6:55 he still had time. He was going to pick up Muskaan
promptly at 7:30, hopefully making it a memorable evening for both of them. He
told Ridzi and Nikki that their fashion expertise was no longer needed and they
left without a word. Once outside his door however, they burst into another
laughing fit. "Girls" he thought.
Muskaan peered up from her magazine to see Armaan standing in her doorway, arms folded. "Great' she thought, "time for the misadventures of big brother."
"So," Armaan said, "Tonight's the big date huh?"
"Spare me Armaan," she said, "I know what your going to say, watch my back, you never know what people are capable of and blah, blah, blah."
"Actually," he began, "I came up here to tell you to have a good time."
"You did?" she said glaring at him curiously.
"Yes I did, and besides it's not like your going out with one of your usual cronies. I know we can trust Rahul, he's a good guy."
"Well I'm so glad you approve" she said, her voice laced with sarcasm.
"You know I mean well Muski," Armaan said.
"I know" she replied.
"Well have fun tonight," he said as he moved away from the door.
"Thanks" she mumbled softly.
Rahul swung his car onto Muskaan's street. He was careful not to exceed the speed limit on the main roads, but once he hit a side street the pedal was on the floor. He checked his watch for about the tenth time in two minutes. 7:22 it read. "Minutes to spare," he thought, as he pulled up to the Maliks' house. He took some deep breaths and gave himself a stern look in the rear view mirror.
"Everything is going to be just fine," he said aloud, "Just be yourself."
Although right now he wished he could be someone else, or at least himself with a little more confidence. He made his way up the walk and to the porch.
Having the distinct feeling he forgot something, he hesitated a second before ringing the bell. "The rose" he thought. He quickly ran back to the car and retrieved it from the front seat. Whistling nervously he went back up to the door and rang the bell. Rahul was a little surprised when Armaan answered the door.
"Consider yourself fortunate," Armaan said.
"Why is that?" Rahul asked.
"Because our parents aren't here to give you the third degree" Armaan responded.
"Lucky me' said Rahul.
"Go wait in the living room," Armaan offered, "I'll go get Muskaan."
"Okay" Rahul replied.
He wandered into the living room and flopped on the sofa. He threw his feet on the coffee table trying to relax a bit. He was hoping a nice sit would keep his heart from exploding out of his chest.
"Hey Muski," Armaan said wandering back into her room, "Rahul is here."
"He is?" she replied quickly ripping the last curler from her hair.
Muskaan checked herself one last time in the mirror making sure there were no smudges, smears, or misplaced hairs of any kind.
"How do I look?" she asked.
"Nice" Armaan said.
"Just nice?" she said jabbing him in the ribs.
"Nice is as far as a brother should go," Armaan replied swatting her hand away.
"Oh I see," said Muskaan, "don't wait up."
She trotted down the stairs and into the living room. Seeing Rahul sprawled out on the couch was just too cute.
"Comfortable?" she asked.
Rahul quickly sprang to his feet and nearly tripped over the table.
"Hi," he said timidly. "Hi," she responded.
"Wow," Rahulbegan, "You look'wow."
"Thank you," she said giving him that slow sexy smile meant only for Rahul.
He kept staring at her slightly awed, she looked absolutely beautiful. Well she always looked beautiful to Rahul no matter what she was wearing, but tonight she was dressed up beautiful. Rahul thought he would melt into a small puddle on the carpet.
"Is that for me?" Muskaan asked pointing to the rose in his hand.
"What? oh yeah, yeah it is," Rahul said. 'Can you say stutter?' he thought.
"You're sweet" she replied giving him a kiss on the cheek.
"Shall we?" he asked gesturing toward to the door.
"We shall," she said looping her arm in his.
Rahul escorted Muskaan to the car and performed his gentlemanly duties by opening the door for her. Once he got in he pulled out a piece of red silk from his pocket.
"I'm going to have to ask that you humor me for awhile," he said.
"What do you mean?" Muskaan asked curiously.
He took the piece of silk and gently wrapped it around her eyes.
"Um, I don't remember signing up for this," she said.
"Come on." Rahul replied, "it'll make the surprise more of a surprise."
"You're going to owe me for this one Whitman," she said in her Princess Muskaan tone. It was bad enough she didn't like surprises, but now she had to go blindfolded?
"I think I can make it up to you" he said.
Rahul sped along the highway deep into the desert; he'd gone out here a few days earlier to find the perfect spot for them. He had lucked out and found a quaint little hill in the middle of nowhere; the view of the stars would be uncanny. He turned off the main road; Muskaan could hear the hard packed sand crunching against the tires. 'Where the heck are we going?' she thought. Rahul slowed the car to a crawl and jolted the steering wheel left to right a couple times. He knew it would throw her off a little, he wanted her to have no idea where they were going. Eventually he stopped the car and opened his door.
"Wait here a minute,"Rahul told her.
"And where exactly is here?" she asked.
"Somewhere," he responded with a bit of a chuckle.
"Are you trying to drive me crazy?" she asked sweetly.
Muskaan then felt Rahul's lips pressed lightly to hers. It was just so sweet she was glad she was already sitting down, otherwise her sudden lightheadedness might have caused her to fall over.
"I'm merely trying to set a magical mysterious romantic evening," Rahul stated.
"Well mysterious I can live without," replied Muskaan.
"Wait here" he said.
As she sat enveloped in red silk darkness she could hear Rahul rumbling around in the trunk. Muskaan tried to pick up on a few distinct sounds. She thought she heard glasses tinkling against each other and something that sounded like a cooler sloshing back and forth. As Rahul's footsteps disappeared into the night, she found herself growing really impatient. She thought she must have been sitting there a good five minutes. Just as she was about to rip the blindfold off Rahul opened up the door and took her hand.
"This way m'lady," he said.
"Can I take this thing off now?" she asked tugging at the blindfold.
"Another minute," Rahul replied.
He guided her a few feet and up a little hill, she could smell candles burning and hear soft music coming from somewhere. The savory aroma of her favorite foods, pasta, lasagna, and garlic bread filled her nose. "Someone's been doing his homework," she thought. Rahul untied the silk from her eyes, and stood back a little to let her take it in. For a moment all Muskaan could do was stare, the red and white checkered blanket he laid down was immersed in candlelight. A wicker picnic basket rest in the middle of it, and he set up a boom box on a near by rock. Sweet romantic music flowed from it.
"This is wonderful," she said barely above a whisper.
Muskaan turned to face him and saw the utter happiness in his eyes. Rahul had gotten what he wanted, him and Muskaan alone, far from Sanjeevani, far from anything but each other. She was speechless from his efforts and he couldn't help feel a little sting of pride from it. She looked so wondrous under the stars and in the candlelight. He felt all the moisture drain from his mouth, he just couldn't stop staring at her, she was everything he'd always wanted, she was whom he always wanted.
Muskaan held her arms out to him and he eagerly stepped into her embrace. She brushed his cheek lightly with her hand. She gazed lovingly into his eyes, giving him the international sign for kiss me. Rahul inched closer, wetting his lips on the way in. As soon as their mouths made contact, Rahul felt his heart ignite. He kissed her more passionately, feverishly trying to make the kiss match the fire burning deep within him. Muskaan lifted her hands to his head and ran her fingers vigorously through his hair, as if gripping on for dear life. His fingers slowly traced the back of her neck, brushing the tiny hairs and instantly making them stand on end. She let out a little moan of pleasure as Rahul's tongue danced so tenderly with her own. Rahul let the heat of her body, and the smells of her hair overtake his senses. "This is perfect," he thought, "Just perfect."
After what seemed like forever, they finally broke apart. Muskaan knelt down on the blanket as Rahul emptied out the contents of the picnic basket. Bundles of Tupperware filled with pasta, garlic bread, and even her favorite double chocolate fudge pastries were spread out before her.
"Dig in," Rahul said pointing at the vast amounts of food.
Muskaan piled a hearty helping onto her plate, and Rahul did the same. They shared a memorable conversation over dinner. Each of them opened up to each other in way neither had before. Muskaan never told anybody the things they shared that night. Like the time in sixth grade when she had the biggest crush on her favorite movie star Sharukh Khan. She knew she could trust Rahul, she always had. Rahul pulled out her favorite double chocolate fudge pastries form the basket.
"For dessert," he said smiling.
"Rahul, can I ask you something?" Muskaan said seriously.
"Sure," he replied.
"How did you come up with all of this?" she asked.
"Well," Rahul began, "I knew dinner and a movie was a little overdone. And I thought to myself what would best suit our first date. Then I remembered you loved the stars and I and went searched for a perfect spot to be blanketed under them. So here we are."
Muskaan didn't say a word; she just crawled over to him and wrapped his arms around her. Rahul kissed her forehead as they gazed up at the night sky. For the first time in a long time she was happy, she felt no fear or estrangement when Rahul was around. He made her feel special; he made her feel like there was no Valenti, no FBI, no anything wrong with the world. She needed him as much as he wanted her, and for that she was grateful.
"I love you," Rahul said breathlessly.
"Do you really mean that?" she asked.
"Or course I do Muskaan," he said, "I've always loved you."
"You and only you."
----------------------------------------------------------------------------- The End
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