“Darling Violet, you know very well that I can’t leave everything and simply fly up to you. You know that, don’t you? I promise you I will be there sometime after my students are done with their exams. And please try to relax; everything will be fine I promise!
Iris hung up the phone after a few more minutes to assurance and saying good bye. She sighed as she left the living room to go into her bedroom. This was bad; this was very, very bad! This was the third time that Violet was getting a divorce in the duration of two years. What was the need to marry someone if you didn’t think they were trustworthy? Why could people simply not hold on to their commitment? Iris shook her head in confusion. She’d never understand why people behaved like that. Best would be to not think of it.
Iris Florence was a girl of twenty-five. Not really petite in appearance, with the height of about five feet nine inches and a non-fashionable UK size 8 body, Iris was of fair complexion that she regarded as her worst enemy since she blushed easily. Big brown eyes and golden brown hair with a determined chin, angled jawline and long aquiline nose completed her appearance. She would consider herself a beauty but she was not stupid either. She knew her full lips and big eyes made her look pretty enough. Plus she had a bonus of being gifted grey cells that ticked. That, in her opinion was what made her a successful in her studies and her business.
Just last week, she’d finished with her M.B.A. exams and now was immersed in her students. Iris run a coaching institute for those who wanted to join management programmes and go abroad for further studies. She lived with two other girls of her age while her parents were settled in another part of the country.
“Iris, you need to install a phone line into your room. There’s another phone call for you!” Her flatmate, Estelle shouted from the living room. Iris blew her a thank you kiss as Estelle went into the kitchen and she took hold of the phone, “Hello?”
A surprised Iris followed Estelle into the kitchen, “Are you sure there was someone on the phone? I picked it up and spoke into it but no one replied back. Who was it, did you know?”
Estelle pursed her lips, “It was Sunny on the phone. He must have hung up before you came in.”
Iris could’ve groaned out loud. Sunny was her ex-boyfriend. She gritted her teeth, closed her eyes to recall the calm side of her nature and opened them again. She had her emotions in control, “What did he say he wanted? Or did he just call up to increase our annoyance?”
She knew how others had seen her break up and she didn’t want to go through the whole lecture again on why they should have never parted. They were done and over with and she was happy the way she was.
“He didn’t say.”
Iris grabbed an apple from the nearby fruit bowl and started munching on it, muttering, “Uh.. just like him, isn’t it? Would call up and then lose courage to talk. That guy is a loser through and through. I must thank his mother for pointing out that we didn’t match in temperament.”
Estelle had been drying dishes. Upon hearing Iris’s mocking voice, she looked up. “Iris, drop the act. You’re still hung up on him so why pretend to be indifferent to him? “
Iris’s eyes went cold as she looked at her friend. She could strangle Estelle for saying that. “Estelle, the reason I ask if he gave his reason for calling and if in fact it was something where he needed my help, I’d help him. After all, we’re still talking and parted amicably. If not, then I won’t really bother. For the last time, the main reason behind the break up was because I realised that I didn’t love him and it was the same for him. Physical attraction is all very well but I need to feel love in my love. No matter what, I’m not going to let go of the hope that one day I will definitely find the man who will love me the way I am.”
Estelle gave her a look that showed her disbelief. Iris grinned inwardly. It was true that most people found it unbelievable that she and Sunny had parted ways. Most of her friends thought her insane to leave a handsome hunk like Sunny who was also rich and smart. What they didn’t understand was, riches and looks don’t matter if there is no attraction of minds and souls along with attraction of physical nature.
Estelle shrugged her shoulders and said, “Fine, if you say so. It was not important from what I could tell. He said he was bored and thought he’d call you.”
“I’ll bet Claire must be out shopping and he must be nervous wondering how much she’ll spend this time.” Iris laughed. Claire was Sunny’s teenage sister.
Estelle stirred the curry she’d been cooking once and switched off the gas. She took off her apron next as Iris stood there polishing an apple. She peeped in to look at what Estelle had been cooking and was pushed back, “Na uh! No peeping until Rajiv comes in. I’ve invited him to dinner tonight so scram. You haven’t forgotten that he’s going to be here in a few minutes, have you?”
Iris groaned inwardly. She had indeed forgotten that Rajiv; Estelle’s boyfriend was going to come tonight for the dinner a deux. Smiling brightly and hiding her inner feelings, she said, “Of course I haven’t forgotten. I just thought I’ll change and then head out to Isobelle’s house. I will come back though and keep my eyes closed when I enter the house so that I don’t disturb your naughty doings. Please keep it to your room.”
Estelle blushed with outrage, “Why you–!” Then she laughed, “ Al right, point taken. Will do so.”
Iris smiled brightly and escaped to her room. She would have to dine somewhere and had nothing planned right now. She was not planning on going to Isobelle’s house either. She’d be busy with her own stuff this evening, considering she had a very important work project going on. Iris shrugged and told herself it was no biggie. She was used to going out by herself. Unlike others, she did prefer solitude. She had loads of friends but none that she’d like to share her time with right now. Plus now that she was fancy free, she’d rather stay alone than give any wrong ideas to her guy friends. Sunny was the only exception who had captured her attention and now even he was the past.
The vase she held in her hand slipped and fell as she remembered the feeling of heavy axe falling on her shoulders when she realized she and Sunny didn’t really love each other. Damn! That had been more of a blow to her ego and head than her heart. Nevertheless she had felt quite upset, even thought of herself heartbroken for a couple of days. What had been even more disappointing was that the attraction that they thought was strong hadn’t even existed strongly. The kisses held no magic for each other anymore, didn’t feel good forget going the rest of the way towards making love! So she was still a virgin at twenty-five and heart whole with no prospects whatsoever looming ahead of her dream man.
“Rajiv is on his way up. You’d better get out soon!” Estelle hissed through the shut door. Iris got out of her comfortable clothes and slipped into jeans and a green Tunic top. She also picked up her light jacket just in case it decided to grow cool later. With clear skin, she took care not to use too much make-up. She greeted Rajiv after coming out and was out of the house in the next ten minutes. She drove her car; Ford Figo to the restaurant where she frequented – The Monk.
She preferred coming here when she alone. It was her favourite sushi place that allowed her to sit quietly with her Kindle and read as much as she wanted, as long as she wanted or until they closed for the night.
Once inside, she greeted the host who led her to her regular table, by the window and a little secluded. It gave her the view of the whole room. She ate her Sushi with relish and complimented the chef as her eyes roamed about the room. She was still contemplating in her mind whether to order dessert when her eyes met someone’s and she paled. Oh no! She groaned. Of all the rotten luck, Sunny had to choose this restaurant for his date!
He had been chatting happily with the female sitting opposite him until his eyes met hers. It looked like he abruptly cut whatever he was saying as his partner for the evening looked a little confused. She recognized the girl and was quite shocked that Sunny had chosen her.
Rose was a girl of vast build, almost five feet nine, fair, intelligent yet with a hint of insecurity in her eyes. An inner voice told Iris that maybe she had seen that vulnerability and insecurity because she had recognized back then itself; this attraction that Rose and Sunny may have shared.
Rose was indeed one of the quietest, loveliest creatures that Iris was acquainted with. It would be very bad if Sunny ever hurt her. She sincerely hoped that Rose and Sunny were serious. Iris knew that Rose was still insecure as far as she was concerned so she tried to hide but Rose had already seen her. Iris could see that hint of insecurity come back in her eyes. She decided to end it once and for all.
Iris smiled at them both and gave a little wave. Iris knew Sunny was watching her but she avoided his eyes totally. Rose signaled her to come to their table but Iris held out her hand as if asking her to wait. She asked the waiter to bring her check and waited for a few minutes while he brought it to her and she paid for it. Then she got up serenely and went ahead to their table, knowing they were expecting her.
“Hello guys, fancy seeing you here! Celebrating something?” Iris said with a bright, cheery smile. Rose looked startled and then she smiled hesitantly while her eyes looked at Sunny for a moment and said,
“Actually yes, we are. Sunny –he just proposed to me and I said yes. You’re the first one to know it Iris.“
Iris was quite startled but she knew that to show her astonishment would be horrible at this time. Her ego was hurt but she was genuinely happy for Rose. She clamped a hand to her mouth and then gave a wide smile, “Oh mi gosh! Congratulations to you both! I’m very happy for you.“
Rose looked a little shocked, „Are you really?“
Iris gave her shoulder a light squeeze and tried to explain, “Of course I am! Rose, I want you to understand that whatever happened in the past is exactly where it should be, in the past. I never want you to think that there are any moments lingering from that time. Sunny is a friend now, nothing more; I don’t think he ever was. You are made for each other.”
Rose got up from her chair with tears in her eyes, “Oh Iris. I’m so happy to hear that from you. Aren’t we Sunny?”
Sunny barely looked at Iris as he said, “True. We are happy to know that you’re well over me and as you see, I’m – going to marry the girl I think is the best suited for me. Rose loves me very much.”
Rose blushed prettily, making Iris smile. She hugged Rose and shook hands with Sunny awkwardly. A hug would have been pointless since Sunny didn’t seem too comfortable. She bid them both goodbye and went out of the restaurant. She needed a cup of coffee.
Not very far from there was a café. Iris decided to leave the car at the parking and walk there. It was not too late in the night for a walk. Besides she needed some peace and quiet.
It didn’t look as if Sunny loved Rose as much as she loved him. In fact Iris had a horrible suspicion now that Sunny didn’t love Rose at all and was in some way still stuck to Iris. Iris didn’t want that, not even to pacify her hurt ego. Sure, she had been a bit taken aback when Rose had mentioned the proposal and her acceptance but it had mostly been pride that hurt. He had gotten over so quickly that he could fall in love and propose marriage to another girl? Common sense had then dictated. Of course, he could have fallen in love before and only was waiting for them to break up before he could go to the right girl.
However his words had disturbed her; he had been all about Rose being a suitable person for him, not because he loved her. Did Rose realize that? Why was she agreeing to this proposal if she already was aware of it? Iris reached the café and sat down. She ordered a macchiato and wondered. Did people ever understand each other completely? She was absolutely over Sunny but had never even dreamt that there could be a possibility that when Sunny had offered to remain friends after the break –up, he may have been hoping reconciliation. Had he been hoping that? She sincerely hoped not.
Iris sat looking at her finished macchiato cup and her thoughts flew. She had already finished with her M.B.A and was waiting for the call from any of the companies where she’d given the interviews during placement campus. In many ways, it had been a bright spot in her resume that she was the only female with the possibility of topping in the exams among the legion of male toppers. It was in during her M.B.A. that she’d met Sunny who was one of the smartest students in the class. They’d exchanged notes, participated in various group discussions and together conducted case studies. His ambition had been to pass his M.B.A with specialization and join his father’s booming textile business.
Soon the exams of her students will be over and she’d been free to go home. She’d not been home for more than a year now. She paid for the coffee and went back into the parking lot, her head still in her thoughts. Therefore she didn’t see a tall stranger coming towards her with the speed of the train, talking over the phone. He was also immersed in his talk and didn’t see her. The result was a collision that made Iris gasp. She closed her eyes knowing she would fall and bruise herself but somehow the fall never came. She slowly opened her eyes to find herself staring into grey green eyes of a stranger.
Her stormy eyes met his green-grey ones and it felt as if time had stopped while she lay on his arm. He was tall; Lord knew how tall, fair and bore rugged good looks. In short, her mind noticed that he was dishy and her heart palpitated noisily in her body as his body clasped hers. His eyes looked into hers as if searching for secrets in her soul. His hands had an electrifying effect on her body since it seems alive and vibrating. His hands moved from her back to her tiny waist and engulfed her completely in his embrace.
As if out of the trance, Iris tensed and tried to struggle out of his grip. He caught her to him for a second; Iris felt every nerve and every bone in her body coming to contact with his and burned. Angry she opened her mouth to shout on him but realized he was merely pulling her up. But he needn’t do it like this! Indignation cleared the fog of attraction from her brain. She stood dignified and cold in front of him, her eyes betraying the coolness she felt within now. She smile a polite smile, saying, “Sorry and thank you.”
He nodded as if accepting her apology and thanks, his eyes never leaving hers. She turned and left him standing there before he knees buckled. Quickly she reached the parking spot and got into the car, not looking back.
Iris reached home and found a note waiting for her on the dining table by the kitchen which said, “Gone out with Rajiv. Don’t expect back till morning.. Tonight’s the night I think.”
Iris smiled widely while reading the note. It seemed finally there was progress. Who knows, maybe Rajiv would actually propose today and Estelle may even come back home engaged. Too tired now by the day and its events she went off to her room to sleep. The last thought that she had before she went to sleep was about the stranger who had caught her on the street, the last vision before she closed her eyes was of his green-grey gaze.