Ten minutes later, they were sliding open the door of a two berth coupe, hazel eyes clashing triumphantly with amused caramel ones.
The small coupe was lit with a bluish night light with small golden orbs twinkling through the tinted window. There was something surreal about train travel at night, Khushi thought, hanging her purse on a peg on the wall, pools of light and life floating through the unknown nothingness outside.
Arnav turned the main light on and shot a glance at the short, narrow berth, stoically resigning himself to a sleep less night. He’d not been on a night train in India in a long time and there was no way, he thought, he could fit all of his 6 feet 2 inches on that berth.
After pulling in their luggage and stowing it under the berth, Arnav unfolded his tall frame and turned around to face her. Their eyes gravitated toward each other. Their lips curved simultaneously into smiles that crinkles their eyes and dusted all cobwebs of weariness away.
They stood poised on the brink of a new life, a life of togetherness, and the significance of the moment was not lost on either of them. The fact that they’d had to weather dark stormy seas to reach this moment made it breathtakingly sweet. They took a moment to silently appreciate it, their awareness heightened, their eyes moist with gratitude.
Khushi bit her lower lip to stifle back a rush of emotions and Arnav stepped up to take her into a fierce embrace, his arms molding her into him.
“I’m sorry, Khushi”, he said, his voice thick with emotion, “For shouting at you. I know you’re doing this just for me…”.
With her face buried in his chest, her voice was muffled, “Of course, I’m doing this just for you. Anyone has a problem with that? Huh?
His chest rumbling with silent laughter, he loosened his hold and raised her chin with a finger to meet her gaze. Even as smiles played on their lips, their eyes flared jointly in a silent exchange of emotion.
With his lips quirking humorously, he said, “Stealing my lines, are we?
“So what?, she countered with a teasing smile, “You do that all the time these days”.
Arnav smiled a little in response and rested his forehead on hers. After a little while, he said poker faced, his eyes gleaming with suggestion, “Waise, this coupe is kind of cozy. What do you think?
Before Khushi could share her thoughts they were interrupted by a knock on the door. It was a uniformed pantry attendant handing out laminated menu cards and taking orders for dinner.
After they’d skimmed through the menu and ordered, the attendant slid the door shut and retreated with a promise to return within 30 minutes.
Sitting down near the window, he leaned against the backrest, watching Khushi as she gathered her hair in a pony, her gaze fixed on her reflection in a mirror above a wash basin.
Not for the first time Arnav marveled at how graceful her ordinary movements were and how effortlessly she could carry elegance in the simplest of outfits. She wore off white leggings and loose fitted teal kurta today, which he guessed correctly with smiling eyes, was probably chosen strictly for comfort.
As a memory of Lavaya’s wardrobe, bursting to the seams with designer labels, reared it’s nascent head, Arnav warded it away with an inward shake. Somewhere along the dark tunnel he’d traversed to reach where he was today, he’d vowed to keep his mind as uncluttered from past as humanly possible. And he was determined to abide by it. To the best of his ability.
“When is our food going to come?, Khushi complained, flopping down next to him, the ubiquitous Parle G biscuit packet making a reappearance in her hand.
“Stop eating so many of those”, Arnav said, taking the packet away from her, “You’ll over correct as usual. Hope you remembered to bring your glucometer”.
“I did”, she said wearily, resting her head on his shoulder, the cumulative exhaustion of the past few days, mental, physical, emotional, beginning to catch up with her.
Arnav gazed at the packet he held with his eyes faraway and a myriad memories leaving their footprints on his curved lips.
“I remember these. I used to love them as a small kid. And I remember Ma insisting that I looked exactly like this little guy here as a baby”, he added with a chuckle.
“Aww”, Khushi raised her head and looked up at him. Her eyes were amused and a smile danced gently on her lips. “That is so cute”.
“For some reason I always associate these with train rides in India”, she said, joining him on the shaded lanes of childhood memory, “And Enid Blyton books bought from the railway book kiosks”.
“I used to read those too as a kid”, Arnav exclaimed, “In fact, we have a whole collection of my dad’s old Enid Blytons at our library in NJ”.
He smiled at the joy in Khushi’s eyes, laughing when she said with a teasing smile, “Boy, am I glad I’m marrying you?! I love, love those books. They have so many wonderful memories associated with them. I can read them even now and not get bored”.
Her enthusiasm for books made his eyes flicker with a sudden thought. Shifting his position, he extricated his wallet from a pocket and unfolded it to fish a small slip of paper out.
“That’s my handwriting”, she said in surprise, her face curious as he unfolded it with a mysterious smile. She began to read it quietly.
‘Spend a night in a house boat’
‘Walnut wood and papier mache souvenirs’
‘Visit the old city’
It was like coming face to face to the person she was a year ago. It was bittersweet. A previous version of her forever frozen in a little packet of time.
With eyes slightly widened in surprise, she looked up from the list to meet his smiling gaze.
“You’ve had that thing in your wallet for a year?
“I found it on the floor in Srinagar”,he answered in a voice kept deliberately matter of fact, “I don’t know what made me save it”, he paused and smiled, “I guess I noticed there were so many things you weren’t able to do..”
Khushi’s heart melted at this sweet gesture and even more at his endeavor to pass off as something supremely insignificant.
Overwhelmed with a desire to hold him close, she slid onto his lap impulsively.Wrapping her arms around his shoulders, she dropped a lingering kiss on his cheek. Her childlike effusiveness lit his face with a tender, half amused smile.
He folded her close, his hands feeling her skin through the thin cotton of her shirt.
“I love you”,she whispered against his lips, her voice throbbing with passion, “I love you so, so much”.
As they kissed, he released her hair from their confinement, his fingers raking through their silkiness. Ensconced in a warm oasis, heady with their new found togetherness, they drew apart when a knock at the door signaled the arrival of their dinner.
Perhaps it was the company which had given an edge to their appetites or just their similar uncomplaining natures but it wasn’t long before they’d finished their simple…almost bland meals…and started working through the routine of settling for the night.
After changing into her nightclothes and utilizing the linen provided by railways to make a neat bed on the bottom berth, Khushi lay on her side, covered by a blanket, head resting on an outstretched hand, fingers furrowed into her loose hair. Staring blankly at a small village station they were whizzing past, she held her phone in her free hand. She’d tried unsuccessfully to call home a little while ago and had been unable to connect. After making a mental note to try calling from Delhi at the earliest possible chance, she added an earnest prayer for her parents’ understanding, successfully thwarted a characteristic response to worry and left it at that. Worrying wasn’t going to make any difference to whatever awaited them anyway, she mused even as their train left behind the small village to pierce through an almost uninterrupted darkness.
With a sigh she shifted and lay back on the pillows, resting a back that was aching from days of incessant tension. She looked at the closed door and her heart picked up speed bringing a smile to her lips.
As if on cue, he walked in, the remnant of her smile bringing an answering glimmer in his eyes even as he moved around the small coupe, shutting and bolting the door, taking off his glasses and turning the night light on.
“I call dibs on the bottom berth”, she teased, watching him take a swig from a water bottle and wipe his mouth with the back of his hand.
“And I call dibs on what’s on the bottom berth”, quipped Arnav with a mischievous smile, his teeth flashing in the blue light.
With a smile, Khushi pressed herself against the dividing wall, setting the blanket aside to make space for him. Placing the bottle on it’s holder on the wall, Arnav slid beside her in a heartbeat, swooping her close against him and taking his time adjusting the blanket around them.
Finding the thin blanket inadequate against the AC running in full blast, and Khushi slipped a hand under his T shirt, spreading it against his chest, toasting it with the warmth of his skin.
Arnav wound his arms around her and absorbed her shivers. He felt his heart dilate by a powerful influx of protectiveness. A protectiveness he never knew he had within him to feel for a woman.
Here’s a woman, he thought, his face mired in intriguing blue shadows, his Adam’s apple bobbing once to dispel a myriad emotions clogging his throat, who’d chosen to travel with him, who’d chosen to travel away from not just a physical place but from all she’d ever held important and sacred in her life. Just to be by his side. Just for him. Someone she hadn’t even known until a year ago.
Wasn’t this exactly what he’d once wanted from her? Wanted it with an almost manic desperation? To be reassured of her love, to soothe his insecurities, to chase his demons away.
Now that he’d gotten what he had once wanted, he was discovering how much he’d changed, how his thoughts now tended to revolve around her inner universe than his own.
“Khushi”, he cleared his throat, “Did you get a chance to talk to your parents yet?
“I couldn’t connect”, she said, “I’ll try again when we reach Delhi”.
“We’ll do it together”, he said soothingly, his hand absently rubbing her back and shoulder, it’s pressure a welcome salve to her aching muscles.
Khushi closed her eyes. “That feels so goood, Arnav. You have magic in your fingers”. It prompted him to smile and snake his hand under her shirt, his fingers kneading her muscles, his smile widening with each one of her rapturous murmur and sigh.
“Khushi?”, he said after a while, his voice laden with burgeoning desire, his fingers questioningly brushing the side of her breast.
Getting no response, he glanced down at her. Her face was half buried in his chest but it was obvious that his magic fingers had lulled her into a deep sleep.
“Damn”, he said, his chest heaving with silent laughter, “Me and my magic fingers”.
He gazed at the shadows her eyelashes cast on her cheeks and listened to the rhythm of her peaceful breathing. Gradually his eyes were swirling with a smiling tenderness. Her hand still rested on his chest, he noticed. For some reason, it spoke of a trust that touched the deepest recesses of his heart.
Shifted his position gingerly, he turned on his side and pulled Khushi against the length of his body. Holding her close, he rested his chin against the top of her head and closed his eyes.
While they slept, the train headed west, thundering through the darkened plains of North India, whizzing past dim lit stations and railway crossings, chugging across bridges and fields and reaching the outskirts of the national capital a little after sun rise.
Khushi woke up first, her consciousness easing into a languid cloud of a quintessential Arnav presence – his warmth, his breaths, his musky smell and something indescribable that was beyond the realms of common perception.
She found herself unable to move a muscle with his arms tightly wound around her and a leg holding her legs in place.
Smiling in contentment, she lay quietly for a while, letting all the sensations slowly seep in.
Morning light slanting from the window was already beginning to gain in intensity and hearing a flurry of activity outside the door spurred her into action.
“We’re almost there, Arnav”, she said, nuzzling against his neck, “Wake up”.
The train was indeed nearing New Delhi station and the next few minutes were spent in morning routine, changing and getting the luggage ready for disembarking.
It was a clear, sunny and predictably hot day in New Delhi and as they stepped out of the station, it took considerable conscious effort to not let their nerves get frayed by the heat, the dust and the chaotic, milling crowds.
To make matters worse were the tasks listed on the itinerary for today. Tasks that neither looked forward to, tasks that were necessary but monotonous in terms of their similar unpleasant natures.
Both Arnav and Khushi couldn’t wait to clear all the hurdles, impatient looking forward to their final destination in Srinagar with an acute longing.
Soon they were on a taxi to the airport, to take care care of several travel issues involving cancellation and rebooking that Khushi’s impromptu decision to accompany Arnav to Srinagar had raised.
As their taxi, a large Honda SUV with tinted windows, crept through the rush hour traffic, Khushi stole a glance at his stubbled profile, not feeling even a little bad at having caused all this trouble.
“I’m sorry”, she said however, her insincere whisper met by a knowing gleam in his eyes.
Arnav was in a rare mellow mood. His features were relaxed and his heart light as the feathery clouds floating in the hot, metallic skies.
“You little minx”, his lips quirked even as he brought his head close and enunciated each syllable with exaggerated clarity, “You are not even a little sorry. But that’s okay”.
Khushi’s lips widened into an impish grin, and shaking his head, Arnav turned his head toward the window again, sighing with relief as their car finally wormed it’s way out of a traffic clog, picking up speed en route to the airport.
Having decided to take care of the booking issues first before calling their parents later in the day, Khushi fished her phone from her handbag and decided to call Anita.
“Anu should be leaving for the airport soon”, she murmured while waiting to be connected to her. She had called her several times already without success. Anita had a late afternoon flight from Allahabad to Delhi, the flight they were both supposed to take before flying out to Amsterdam from Delhi late in the night.
Anita was sitting in the drawing room which was packed with people. Besides her uncle and aunt, there were Vinay, Aman and Isha present as well. They’d come to see her off. Her luggage, all neatly packed, stood in a corner. She was unnaturally quiet which fortunately for her went unnoticed because almost everyone in the room could feel the vague sadness of a goodbye- a culmination to a memorable event of life which had kept them occupied, mentally and physically, for days on end.
Only Aman noticed, Anita was acutely aware of that but but she kept her eyes averted as much as possible , replying only in monosyllables and with the minimal eye contact when addressed.
And whenever she felt his eyes, she had to thwart a desire to throw something at him. What do you want now?, she screamed internally, “You are not interested, fine, I got the hint. What the hell do you want from me now?
It was a few minutes later that Aman cleared his throat and summoned the courage to address her with a direct question.
“Anu”, he said, “Can I talk to you for a second?
Ignoring all interested glances converging on her, she met his eyes. Her first impulse was to refuse him but something stopped her.
“Sure”, she heard herself say in a casual voice.
They stepped out into the verandah, climbing down it’s steps to head towards the lawn. As they fell in step with each other, silence crackled in their intervening space.
They reached a wooden bench swing under a shady mango tree and Anita lowered herself on it, looking up at Aman with an impatient frown.
“What did you want to talk about?
As Aman opened his mouth to begin, Anita interrupted him, “And for God’s sake don’t talk about that fucking kiss again”, she said, feeling a perverse glow of satisfaction at the mild shock she glimpsed in his eyes, “I’m sick of it already”.
Aman sighed and said, “Are you even going to let me speak?
“Anu”, he said softly taking a step forward and picking a hand from her lap.
His eyes softened as he saw her tough demeanor beginning to crumble before being held together with a valiant effort.
Aman hesitated for a second. Did he even know his own mind? Did he even know what he wanted to say to her? All he knew was that he needed to get certain things off his chest, certain things that sat heavily on his conscience to give him sleepless nights.
“Anu…”, he said, his voice fraught with emotions, “I want to apologize for all the hurt, all the pain I’ve knowingly or unknowingly caused you. You are so much younger than me, I should have remembered that. I shouldn’t have disregarded your feelings for me. I shouldn’t have unknowingly encouraged them just to keep in touch with…with your family. Because that’s what I did. That’s the ugly truth…and if you hate me now I totally deserve it”.
Anita’s face turned white as a strong wave of nausea rose from the pit of her stomach. It wasn’t as if what Aman had to say was a surprise but to actually hear him say it was a different matter altogether.
Singlemindedly focused on the easing of his guilt, Aman did not notice the effect his words were having on her.
“And I don’t even know why I kissed you”, he said after a pause, his eyes strangely blank. He appeared to be talking more to himself than to her, “Was it just a momentary madness or did I, somewhere along the way, start feeling something for you without realizing?. I don’t know. I just don’t know”.
“All I know, Anu”, his eyes focused on her again, “All I know is that I need to step away from this whole situation and that this is something I should have probably done a long time back”.
“I agree”, Anita said, her throat aching unbearably, the shards of her broken heart making her breaths painful.
His eyes flickered seeing the pain in hers and they suffused with something else. Something Anita didn’t want to read. Something she was too afraid to read.
His voice had a different cadence as he held her gaze and said, “Maybe it will help me know myself better. Maybe it will help me know what I really want…”.
“I need to go now”, Anita interrupted him rising from the swing. Taking her hand back, she smiled at him, a brittle smile that threatened to crack at the edges.
“Goodbye Aman”, she said before fumbling for something appropriate to add to her goodbye.
Coming up with nothing, she turned abruptly and started walking away from him.
“I will not cry…I will not cry”, Anita repeated to herself over and over again. Her eyes were dry yet felt they had sand in them and her heart was just numb. She knew this was goodbye on more levels than one.
“Anu”, Aman called her from behind and after a moment’s hesitation, she turned to look at him again.
There was something in his eyes again. Steeling her heart she looked away from it. He held a small package in his hand.
“Your birthday present”, he said, “I forgot to give it to you that day”.
His words from that night came to her. They were standing beside the pool table when he’d exclaimed suddenly and said, “I forgot your gift in the glove compartment. But never mind, I’ll be taking you home so I can just give it to you then”.
However, with Aman taking Khushi, who had wanted to leave the party early, to her apartment instead, and Anita steering clear of him after their unfortunate kiss, the gift had remained lain in the glove compartment for months…
It was a little while later when Anita sat on the bed of Isha’s forlorn looking room, silently holding the still unopened package in her hand that her phone rang.
Her eyes lit up seeing Khushi’s name on screen.
“Anu. I’ve been trying to reach you all morning. Aren’t you supposed to be on your way to airport now?
“Yes, I’ll be leaving in 10 minutes. How about you? Did you reach Delhi safely? And did you guys take care of rebooking and stuff?
“Yes we did”, Khushi sighed, sitting in the lobby of Hotel Hyatt Regency, which wasn’t too far from the airport. Arnav stood at a little distance from him, talking to the reception desk staff.
“It took us all morning but finally it’s done. I was able to get a seat in Arnav’s return flight to US but the bad news is that his afternoon flight to Srinagar was all booked up and I couldn’t get a seat. Since tomorrow’s flight to Srinagar is all booked up too, we decided to catch an early morning flight to Jammu and then, drive to Srinagar”.
“That’s a bummer”, Anita sympathized, stuffing last minute items into her bag.
“I guess, the eight hour road trip could be a lot of fun”, Khushi replied before adding, “But the best part hands down is getting to meet my chutki in Delhi and spending the rest of the day together. I was missing you already”.
“Me too, Di”, Anita said with her eyes welling, “See you soon”.
Even as Khushi told her that they’d come to pick her from the airport, a sudden thought struck Anita.
“Did you get a chance to talk to Mom and Dad yet? I heard Maasi talking to Mom earlier today”.
“We are going to”, replied Khushi, her eyes flickering with a worry she hadn’t had a chance to indulge in until now, “As soon as Arnav is done checking us in and we reach our room”.
“I booked a suite”, Arnav said after striding across the gleaming Italian tiled floor to join her. Handing her passport back, a smile illumined his travel weary, blood shot eyes, “So Anu can rest too. She has a long flight ahead of her”.
He was taken aback when uncaring of the people around her, Khushi rose and threw her arms around him in a short, silent but effusive hug.
“I love you too”, he said somberly, his eyes twinkling beneath the glasses.
The day would have been perfect, Khushi mused later as their elevator glided up to the ninth floor, if only she didn’t have to have that conversation with her parents.
“But then, the mere thought of perfectness is scary, I don’t know if I’d be able to handle that”.
Glancing at her worried face, Arnav made an attempt to lighten things up.
“Now comes the fun part, huh?, he said teasingly earning an eloquently blank look from Khushi which spoke volumes in all it’s silence.
Their suite was charming with a minimalistic modern decor comprising of white walls, dove gray and silver fabrics and accents and stylish straight lined furniture. They walked into a spacious living room adjoining a bedroom and although her first instinct was to shower and eat, Khushi knew what she needed to do first. It was high time she quit prevaricating the inevitable and took care of the weight on her chest.
Arnav took out his lap top, unfolded and adjusted it on the living room coffee table. It wasn’t long before they sat close together on a couch waiting to be connected.
It seemed like her father had been waiting for her call. His grim face did not augur well for their conversation. Her mom, Khushi noted bitterly, was as usual conspicuous by her absence.
Her father sounded upset with them as well.
“Khushi, after yesterday’s reassuring conversation,this is not making any sense to me. I’d almost succeeded in convincing your mother, and we were looking forward to your return and Arnav’s mother’s visit. But now as far as your mom is concerned, it’s back to square one”.
Even as he spoke, Arnav’s hand went to cover hers as it rested on her knee. He took a deep breath. With difficulty he curbed his pride, his instinctive first reaction of outrage at being treated like school children. Even as he reminded himself that he was doing it just for Khushi, he discovered within himself a genuine liking and respect for her father as well, “Uncle, it wasn’t something we’d preplanned. Khushi believes she has a good reason for making this decision…
With his voice trailing off, he turned to look at Khushi, encouraging her with his eyes,
“I understand where you and Mom are coming from. I really do, Dad. But please try to understand where I am coming from too”, She paused and turned her head to look at Arnav, her eyes asking for his permission to continue. Arnav hesitated for a second, fighting a short battle with his innate sense of privacy.
He blinked slowly in assent.
Reassured, Khushi turned towards her father again. With her eyes faraway, she gathered and organized her thoughts. After a few moments, she began slowly.
“Dad, Arnav is going to Srinagar because Aarav’s fifth birthday is coming up on September 7th and he wanted to spend it in Srinagar. He has to be there now because he is working on converting his company, Saffron Fields, into a non profit geared towards building local primary schools. Their first school might open in September on or before seventh of September. And I want to be with him. Although he didn’t ask me to come, I know he needs me…”
The last sentence trailed off as her voice choked leaving the rest of what she’d planned unsaid.
Navin eyes softened and instinctively, he turned toward Arnav. With his head bowed, Arnav seemed to be warding off a deluge of emotions as well and Navin watched as he succeeded and raised his head to meet his eyes. His trademark half smile, which he’d often thought of as arrogant or flippant in the past, was back on his lips.
“I’ll be fine”, he said addressing Navin even as he squeezed Khushi’s hand, “I told Khushi there was no need to accompany me to Srinagar but she just wouldn’t listen to me. She took me by surprise by hopping onto my train at the last moment…that too without a ticket”.
Khushi watched with her eyes indignant as Navin smiled warmly at Arnav and said, “Yes, she can be quite stubborn at times”.
“And I’m just beginning to realize it”, said Arnav with a teasing glance at Khushi.
Navin sighed and leaned back in his chair. His eyes were serious as he found himself relaxing his grip on values he’d held sacred all his life.
“How long are you two going to be there?”, he asked.
“I am planning on staying there for atleast six months, until harvest time in November. It might be longer. Khushi can return earlier if she wants”.
“I’m not going anywhere without you. Ever “, she said firmly, looking at Arnav. Both men knew she meant every word.
A silence followed, which was broken by Navin shaking his head and saying, “You both might as well marry in Srinagar too”.
He’d meant it sarcastically but much to their absolute surprise, Arnav jumped at the idea. For someone who didn’t accord too much importance to formalities like signatures and vows in relationships, he sure seemed very enthusiastic about it now.
“I think that is a great idea”, said Arnav looking at Khushi, “As soon as Ma and you two are able to get here”.
Navin and Arnav exchanged a long glance and a silence understanding flowed between them.
“I don’t think I’ll be fit enough to travel for atleast 6-7 months, if not more”, sighed Navin, “So you two want to go ahead with a small ceremony, it’s fine with me”.
After hanging up, they spent some time talking about it. As much as Khushi wanted to be wedded in style surrounded with her near and dear ones, she wanted to stay with Arnav more and she instinctively realized that simply living together might not sit well with their parents. And deep inside, she wanted it too.
As for Arnav, she knew he was doing it for her sake and the thought warmed the deepest recesses of her heart.
As expected Astha wasn’t too thrilled with the unexpected turn of events either. As soon as Khushi told her the reason behind her decision, she was completely disarmed.
“I do understand your sentiments, Khushi”, she said with her eyes moist,”And you know me, I would prefer you two to be married too. Ma, my late mother in law, would never have allowed you two living together at Shantivan without vermillion on Khushi’s forehead and a paper full of blue ink signature”.
She paused and directed a significant look at Arnav, “I won’t either”.
Without even looking at Arnav, Khushi could actually feel his hackles rising. With his eyes flaring arrogantly, he opened his mouth to say something biting and without even looking at him, Khushi pinched him sharply on his jean clad thigh.
Wincing, he glared at Khushi, “What the hell was that for?
“I understand, Ma. Arnav wants it too”, she said without looking at Arnav, her lips curving as Astha’s face crumpled into amusement at her son’s expression.
With a long suffering look directed at both women, Arnav got up abruptly to go to the bathroom, while Astha and Khushi continued with their conversation. Astha assured her that although she couldn’t be present at the marriage ceremony, it was just their happiness which mattered to her. And of course, she said, they would have a proper wedding in US when they returned. She also said she’ll call Mr. Bhat to see what he could do to arrange a small marriage ceremony for them.
After a quick shower and change, Arnav flopped down on a swede arm chair in the living room and decided to call his lawyer and Mr. Bhat. in Srinagar. His mother had already reached Mr. Bhat first, he realized with amusement, and he knew exactly what he needed to do. After a long conversation, he rose from the chair and stretched his weary muscles, a part of his brain registering the sound of a hair dryer filtering through the half open bathroom door.
Clad in a white bathrobe, Khushi stood in front of the black granite vanity, drying her hair. She smiled seeing Arnav’s reflection in the mirror and their eyes met. Her smile widened as he took the dryer from her hand with a somber,
“Let me do it”.
She watched amusedly as he dried her hair seriously with utmost concentration, testing periodically by running his fingers through it.
After a while, he turned it off and placed it on the counter. Stepping closer, he folded his arms around her and pulled her flush against him. Gathering her hair on one side, he buried his face in the crook of her neck, nuzzling against her dewy skin.
“When do you want us to marry?, he asked.
“As soon as possible”, she replied with a smile.
“Will tomorrow do?