She smiled at the people in the congregation, at her particular friends, at abhi, but her gaze didn't flicker any further to right.It was clear she did not want to see Armaan.
Or,perhaps, she simply felt no need.
Riddhima's eyes were distinctly misty as she watched aniki and abhi dance the bridal waltz. They looked so happy together and so deeply in love.She was sure everyone watching them felt misty-eyed too.
It had been an utterly perfect wedding.
The beautiful ceremony had been followed by a happy procession across willowbank's main street to the marquee where the reception was held.Champagne flowed and guests were served delectable food.
Abhi's speech had been heartfelt and touching and armaan's toast was appropiately witty, although he went embarrasingly over the top with his praise for the bridesmaid.Riddhima had felt her face flame when curious eyes had swung in her direction and the cutting of the cake had been a welcome distraction.
Everyone had broken into spontaneous cheering for niki and abhi, and riddhima was thrilled. The wedding couldn't have been happier.
She was relieved that she had survived without making a fool of herself.Which mostly meant avoiding armaan--a tall order given that her eyes had developed a habit of sneaking in his direction whenever she thought he wasn't looking.She had tried so hard to ignore him, but she had always thought he was the best-looking guy ever.
She could still remember the day she had first met him as a schoolboy down by willow creek, crouched at the edge of the water.
Even viewing it from behind, he had been beautiful.
He had taken his shirt off and he had been squatting,reaching down,panning for gold in water.Sunlight breaking through overhead trees had lent an extra sheen to his dark brown hair and to the smooth golden-brown skin on his back.
Riddhima hadn't been able to help staring.His shoulders were wide, his hips narrow, his limbs long--the build of a swimmer.
Now,so many years later, he was even more irresistible in his dark formal attire.Riddhima kept finding things she needed to check out--the manly jut of his jaw above the crisp collar, the neat line of his dark hair across the back of his neck, the stunning breadth of his shoulders in the stylish suit jacket........
Despite the wedding's perfection, the evening had been a huge strain and she was worn out.
She had kicked off her high heeled shoes and they were now stowed under the table.She was thinking rather too fondly about the end of the night when she could head for home.It would be so nice to greet her dogs, then curl up in bed with a glass of water and a headache tablet.
Rahul leand towards her."Riddhima, it's our turn to dance."
She winced."Is it really?"
Rahul was already on his feet."Come on.Muskaan and Armaan are already up.You know the wedding party is expected to take a twirl on the dance floor."
Bother,She had forgotten about that.She suppressed a sigh as she fished beneath the table for her shoes.Ouch.They pinched as she squeezed back into them.
She looked over at the dance floor and saw that rahul was right.Muskaan was already dancing with armaan and, for no reason that made sense, her silly silly heart began to trip and stumble.
"Lead the way,"she told Rahul, slipping her arm through his. Thank heavens he was a reliable old friend.At least she could dance with rahul till the cows came home without being attacked by dangerous palpitations.
Unfortunately, Rahul didn't seem to be quite so enamoured with her as his dancing partner. At the end of the bracket, other couples joined them on the dance floor and rahul leaned close to her ear."Would you mind if i asked Muskaan for a dance?"
"Of course i don't mind."She took a step back to prove it."Please, go ahead.You must dance with your wife."
Rahul happily tapped armaan on the back and riddhima retreated to the edge of the timber dance floor.Over her shoulder, she watched the men's brief smiling exchange.She saw armaan's nod and her heart began to race as she guessed what might happen next.
It was logical--a common courtesy for armaan to ask her to dance--but there were times when logic and courtesy flew out of the window.Times like now, when her out of date,unhelpful feelings for armaan made simple things complicated.
On the surface, one quick dance with an old friend should have been a piece of cake.But on a super-romantic night like tonight, riddhima was trembling at the very thought of dancing publicly in Armaan Mallik's arms.
She couldn't help thinking about that kiss all those years ago, when she had made a fool of herself at Armaan's farewell party.She turned, planning to hurry back to her place at the table.
Armaan's voice sounded close behind her and she froze.
"I won't let you escape that easily."His tone held a threat of humour, but there was also a note of command that that was hard to ignore.
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