– After the Kiss –
Wha—? Ruby and Edward sprang apart at almost superhuman speed and without knowing quite how, Ruby found herself back on her feet.
“RUBY…?” Had Pankaj just said that aloud or was that her own shocked voice reverberating inside her head?
“WHAT?” She raised her voice defensively.
“O M G!” Pankaj gaped: “shouldn’t you guys be getting a room or something?”
“No, because Edward was just leaving…” Ruby turned to look at him, not quite meeting his eyes, and feeling her cheeks grow warm..
“Was I?” Edward looked from one to the other and walking towards her, he put his arm around Ruby’s shoulders, all the while smiling serenely at Pankaj. Oh! The audacity of the man… Ruby tried to pretend she was not quite in the room, inching away, sighing with relief when she thought she had finally pulled away, only to be dragged right back and held by his side.
“Yes you are!” She reiterated firmly, while not quite looking at him.
“Okay then!” Leaning over he reached for the phone, causing Ruby to promptly fling it towards Pankaj, who snapped his hands trying to hold it, only to have it drop. Whether he did it on purpose or not, she would never know: either way the offending piece of equipment hit the edge of the table on which the television was placed and fell to the ground, face down.
With a low growl Edward dropped his hand and rushed towards the phone, picking it up: “the screen’s broken! Bloody hell!”
“Ooops!” Pankaj snickered, “sorry dude!”
Edward turned, closing his free hand over Pankaj’s collar, lifting him so he was suspended almost on tiptoe “I don’t believe you really are… DUDE!”
“Gaaah!” Pankaj gurgled, as his breath choked in his throat, his eyeballs rolling up in alarm showing the whites of his eyes.
“Hey!” In a few quick steps Ruby was there, gripping Edward’s arm with hers and exerting just enough pressure for him to loosen his grip. Pankaj immediately wriggled away, staggering towards the wall for support, all the while holding his throat.
“It’s not his fault Ed!” Ruby burst out.
“Ah! So you do remember my name, I was beginning to wonder!” Edward seethed now, and Ruby realised he was working himself up into a fine rage. The man had strong emotions, interesting…
“Oh! Really after that… that…” she struggled to put a name to what it was that they had exactly shared, just a few moments go.
“K…i…sss? Panky gasped out helpfully and Ruby gave him a scalding look, which had him subsiding quietly.
“Yes… whatever!” Ruby stared at Edward balefully.
“Why is it so difficult for you Indians to accept that men and women can be mutually attracted?” A thread of steel ran through Edward’s words.
“Men and men too…!” Pankaj muttered under this breath.
“What is this?” Ruby looked from one to the other, “you two ganging up on me? Who would have thought you had anything in common?”
“Seems we do—you!” Edward sounded surprised, as if stumbling across a thought, which was absolutely alien. He quickly averted his gaze from the question in Ruby’s eyes, and looked wistfully at his iPhone. “Damn, it was new too… Ah! Well”
He shrugged philosophically, “better find a replacement, eh?”
“Better!” Pankaj had stopped panting and regained his equilibrium. “Weren’t you on your way, then?”
“Ah!” Edward looked from Pankaj to Ruby “guess I had better be on my way then?” Ruby kept quiet, she did not really want him to leave and yet knew it was best probably if he did. Fat lot of good these super-powers were proving to be, if even the mere whiff of a romance still had her quailing in her shoes. Surely she was cool enough to handle the situation?
“Okay then!” She waved airily at Edward, “ cheerio, ciao—bye dear!”
“That is a horribly fake British accent; and by-the-way, just for your information ciao is Italian.” Delivering his words in a sarcastic tone, he opened the door, walking through it, leaving Ruby wincing in his wake.
“Wowzer!” Pankaj looked from the broken sofa to Ruby: “the man has a temper; and by-the-way,” he added imitating Edward’s accent “just for your information, you guys sure were going a few rounds…”
“Shut up Panky!”
“Just saying!” Pankaj chuckled.
Ruby walked to him and collared him in a mock copy of the same grip that Edward had held him earlier.
“Copying your boyfriend lovely?” This time Pankaj positively doubled over with mirth.
“Grrr!” Ruby gnashed her teeth in frustration, and letting him go, walked to the chair and dropping down, held her head in her hands “OMG OMG OMG!”
“It’s okay lovely… really it was just a kiss.” Pankaj went upto Ruby and patted her on her head. “I suppose you will now be saving all the endearments now for the big man eh?”
“Whatever!” Ruby stood up resolutely “lets not talk about Ed—“
“Aha!” Pankaj jumped up and down on his heels fairly dancing with excitement: “since when did he become Ed to you?”
“That is his name okay?” Ruby ground out the sentence slowly.
“Admit it, there is more here than meets the eye!” He ran his fingers through his hair in agitation.
“Yes, okay. Chemistry. Whatever. I don’t want to talk about it now. Next?” She made an impatient lets-get-a-move-on gesture with her hands.
Pankaj held up in palms in surrender: “okay, okay. No need to get all steamed up now. See what I have for you here.” He retrieved a package Ruby had not noticed, propped by the door. “I had it with me earlier: but the shock of seeing you and your boyfriend in a clinch…”
“He is not my boyfriend—” Ruby all but stamped her foot in protest.
“—Not yet!” Panky smirked “anyway, lets not talk about that, here madam lovely, I unveil your super suit!”
—To be continued