The research has been amazing, and I've had some help here and there from Indian friends, and those with a love of India. Of course, I've been watching every documentary I can find on India, listening to the music, and having more than my fair share of curries! And I'd be remiss if I didn't say I was a frequent user of Google Maps. While it doesn't offer the road experience, there are hundreds of images applied to the most popular places.
It's all been a lot of fun.
Getting the story kicked off was a little challenge, but after finding the right path (perhaps via an Indian spirit guide?) I'm on my way.
I'm happy to share a quick extract from my WIP and hope you like it.
Startled, I spun at the sound of my name and stumbled into his arms.
As much as I hadn’t expected to see Sudesh while I was in New Delhi, it hadn’t really occurred to me that if I did, it would be in the museum. It was an illogical thought. He was as much an archaeologist as I was.
My nipples instantly pebbled as I slid against him, and every ounce of familiarity crashed over me in waves. My heart pounded hard just then. I was sure I looked as startled as he did.
The weight of my body in his arms compounded our closeness, as he held me just off the floor. A few inches more, and I’d be supine with him on top of me. The thought made that place between my thighs thrum to life.
I’d always loved the way he pronounced my name. His soft accent made the name I never liked sound sensual and beautiful. Even now, after so long, the one simple word was like a punch in the gut and brought up all the feelings I thought I’d cried out of me.
Even to me, his name sounded like a whisper on my lips. I clung to him, praying he’d opt for the floor, even as he pulled me up to stand before him.
He didn’t release me but embraced me with tender familiarity. He cupped my cheek in one hand and kissed me. His palm seared its imprint on my face and I gasped against his mouth. I felt the dupatta fall from my head and my hair fall loose, and his fingers at my nape.
His kiss was too short to be passionate, but also too long to be casual. It was just long enough to muddle my thoughts, and taste the Masala tea on his lips.
I fisted the fabric across his back and felt the muscle mass there I hadn’t remembered from our time together in Dublin. I knew his body better than I knew my own. His time working dig sites had obviously filled him out, and I was curious to see him as he was now.
I didn’t push him away as he held me. I couldn’t. I had to fight my instincts to pull him closer. He’d left me heartbroken, but dammit, I suddenly didn’t care.
But as quickly as he’d kissed me, it was over. It was Sudesh who finally ended the kiss but didn’t pull away.
He gazed down at me with his rich, dark eyes. They darted over me as if searching for something. I didn’t look away though. Through all of my mixed emotions, I wanted to see all of him too, and compare the man he was now to the man I’d known then.
“I very much enjoyed watching you pose as the Goddess Parvati.” Humor danced in his eyes.
I tried looking away then, instantly shy at his comment. “You know me, always mucking about.” I tried pulling out of his arms, but he held me.
“It seems to me, we both enjoyed your mucking about.” His teeth shone through his gentle smile, highlighted against his rich, mocha colored skin. He seemed a little darker than I remembered, and it occurred to me that all the time he spent outdoors on digs had tanned him. In Ireland, we’re so naïve about other cultures that I hadn’t considered this possibility.
He continued gazing at me for a moment, then said, “I am happy to see you.”
It was obvious by his expression he was. It made my insides ache.
It was all too familiar—his embrace, his scent, his taste. It all washed over me and soaked me with memories. My stomach clench into my chest and stole my breath.
I had loved him back then. It took his leaving to realize it had really never been just a fling for me. God help me now, but I still loved him.
Everything I’d been through over the years instantly vanished, and I wanted him. I felt we could simply fall into each other’s arms again—right here—and I’d let him have his way with me.
If I’d been nervous before about working on this project, it paled in comparison to knowing Sudesh was here too.
Why was he here? All I knew was he’d left me . . . left Dublin, I corrected myself . . . for Kashmir. Beyond that, I knew nothing of where the last five years had taken him.
It was too much to bear, so I forced myself to step back before I collapsed against him in tears. I felt the chill when his palm fell away from my cheek, and my body trembled. A curious feeling in the Indian heat.
I crossed my arms in front of me. I knew was a defense mechanism, but it put a barrier between us and gave me a senses of security, even if it was a false sense.
“I’m glad to see you too, Sudesh. I . . .”
I what? What could I say to him now, after so long being apart? Why did you leave me? Where have you been? Why didn’t you come for me? Did you miss me...?
Did I really need to dredge up the past? I’d moved on, hadn’t I? He certainly had. Hell, he could even be married by now, for all I knew. I flicked a glance at his hands and noticed he wasn’t wearing a ring on his finger, but did Hindus honor that western tradition?
Look away, Hannah, I told myself when my gaze found his again. The longer I looked at him, the more I wanted to rush back into his arms. Instead, I looked around the textiles exhibit area, trying to distract myself. My gaze fell onto the statue of Pavarti and I cursed to myself. Mimicking her pose had gotten me into this position in the first place. I’m sure things would have been different had I seen Sudesh again from across the room and not with me falling into his arms.
One Night in New Dehili - Available 26 October.
* Watch this space for the preorder dates!