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Stars (Book 1)

Chapter 2


"Are you serious Nandini, tum Manik se takrayi?" Navya repeated the same question for the fifth type, and I rolled my eyes, nodding as I folded my feet more to myself, making myself comfortable.

We were at Mukti's house, and now mine too. Aliya has arranged this meet between the girls to know the story between the giant and the potato. And just when I started telling them, this happened. Mukti asked this question. And then Aliya asked. And now Navya. And she didn't just ask once, she asked five times. Can you believe the drama queens I had got myself stuck with?

I always wondered how would life be in Mumbai? In Mangalore, I was never allowed to hangout so openly with my friends. There were restrictions everywhere, all thanks to small minded people. While in London, no one cared where a person was. And Mumbai was just an inbetween. The perfect life I always craved for.

"Guys, leave her now. Abhi abhi toh aayi hai! Don't bore her today," Mukti showed her eyes to both of them and Aliya threw a pillow on her in return. I envied them above words. Will I ever be able to fit in?

"Nandini, leave Mukti. She's trying to be the good girl here. Tum batao, tumhe kya feel hua? Like when your skin touched his? He spoke for the first time? Tumhe kuch toh feel hua hoga na?" Navya asked excitedly and Aliya sighed dreamily. Why were they thinking I had met a celebrity instead of a normal twenty year old boy? What was so special about him?

"Nothing, kuch nahi feel hua mujhe," I lied. The first, very first thought in my mind when I saw his face was hot. Although I disliked him, he was hot. And it was undeniably true.

"Jhoot," Navya mockingly smiled, her eyes glittering like a detective. "I can see it in your eyes. Tumhare mann mein kuch halchal si hui thi, tunhari dhadkane tez ho gayi aur tumne jab usse dekha, toh tumhari zindagi ko ek naya mod sa mil gaya. Saasein thamb si gayi, aur hawaayein tez ho gayi. Tumne usse zyaadi koi khubsurat cheez apni zindagi mein dekhi hi nahi. Mana math karna, par tumhe kuch kuch hone laga tha," she smiled proudly.

My mouth had fallen open a bit, and eyes wide staring at her as I slowly tried to intercept each word that she spoke, slowly and gradually. What was this girl? A walking and talking Bollywood machine? What movie dialogue had she spoken? And was I the only one who didn't understand anything?

I slowly looked to my side, and found Mukti and Aliya gaping at her just like me while she casually shrugged and just rolled her eyes away. "Don't stare, meine kal hi Kuch Kuch Hota Hai dekhi," she beamed. I sighed.

She wasn't possessed. I was relieved and so were Aliya and Mukti. We all stared at each other before passing goofy smiles. "So, you must have felt something na. Like a small crush or something?" Aliya asked hopefully.

"No, no way!" I shouted back instantly. Me? Crushing? On? Manik? Malhotra? That? Giant?Impossible.

"Look at me, I'm so chotu and cute si. And then look at him. He's huge. And moreover, he looks daravna, as if koi horror movie se nikal bheja ho. I'm never crushing on him," I shrugged away and they all nodded in disappointment.

"He the hottest boy of our grade. Every girl like dies to be talking to him. I mean, we all see him like a brother now. Toh kabhi vaisi wali feeling aayi hi nahi. So we thought, maybe you could tell us how it feels to be around Manik Malhotra. Is it actually how other girls tell it to be? Do you actually feel like fainting when he even looks or smiles like Sonika? Or do you feel like giving him love cards like that Ridhima did? Or do you feel like following him everywhere like Anjali does? Or are you distantly happy looking at him happy like Mahi? Tell us Nandini, we're so desperate!" Aliya said everything in just one breath and I chuckled a bit.

"No. It feels nothing like that. I don't feel anything from the above, stop making him so overrated. Like now I know uska sab attitude kahan se aata hai. But no, I never felt anything like that. Maybe I'm in your category. Maybe I'd be something like a sister to him too," I shrugged casually but something just didn't seem right. Like I And Manik? Brother and sister? It sounded just so gross.

"Or actually no, I'm better off being nothing to him," I changed my statement immediately. Never in seven hells was I having him as a brother. Not for any other reason but the fact I didn't want to give such an important position of my life to him. Never.

"You have a secret crush on him na?" Navya tried one last time and I was almost on my feet to strangle her when we heard some loud thump and the door flew open, And Aryamman walked in.

"Sorry I wasn't eavesdropping, but Nandini, you have a crush on someone already? Like tum abhi aayi And you already crush on someone? I thought I had a chance!" He frowned and from the corner of my eyes, I saw Aliya staring at him blankly before she looked away completely, out of the window.

"Well, even if you had a chance Aryamman, the rule doesn't change. Friendship above love. No dating allowed inside this group," Mukti scolded hugging him from behind and he whole heartedly embraces her and then winked at me playfully.

"But who is the lucky guy Haa?" Cabir smiled walking inside and directly crashed beside his girlfriend on the bed followed by the giant. I thought this was supposed to be a girls meet, I frowned thinking. Or actually, I didn't mind the guys until this giant showed up.

Having no other space, he slumped on the bean bag, opposite me. He smiled at said hi to everyone except me, because when his eyes landed on me, his smile got wider, and the tease came back to him. "Hi potato face!" He mocked and I rolled my eyes.

"Don't feel so special, you giant. I'm just as unhappy to see you as you are to see me," I smiled back sarcastically and he gave me a whatever look which i ignored, ofcourse.

His eyes locked to mine and he fire burning in them was no lesser than mine. We gave each other the look as if we were enemies of world war 3 and I think there would have been an actual fight if Navya wouldn't have interrupted. "Nandini has a crush on Manik Malhotra!" She screamed excitedly and I froze to my place. Froze.

I felt my entire body rooted to the bed, as if my breath was just snatched away from me. I felt cold in my veins, my heart beat fastened while he looked confused for a minute but he hid it immediately, the naughty smirk returning back to his face. I closed my eyes tightly shut, I was going to be teased by him for the rest of my life.

I gulped slowly while he parted his lips to say something but shut it back with an amused expression. "You don't need to panic potato, it's okay," he said calmly and before accusing Navya of lying or denying the fact, I just stared at him. What happened to the giant? Why was he so calm?

"I mean, it's normal. I am too hot for girls, you know. Every other girl has a crush on me. And I really appreciate your choice. Agar mein ladki hota, I would have crushed on myself too. It's very normal to fall in love with me, trust me. I'm hot," he boasted raising one corner of his upper lip and I simply kept blinking my eyes at him till the temperature of my body raised.

"Seriously? You're right. I have a crush on you. Infact, a very big one!" I gritted and everyone stared at me bewildered. "And you know what I believe? Crush ko crush kar dena chahiye. So you, my dear crush, are going to get crushed by me in literal sense in such a way ki yeh saari hotness cold ho jaayegi," I glared before taking a pillow and throwing at him.

This caught him off guard and he flared in anger as the poor pillow was crushed under his arms batting it. He gritted but didn't say a word before composing himself. "Really, Murthy? Bring it on. Let me see yeh potato mujhe kaise crush karti hai!" He teased.

"You know what, I don't have to prove it to you. And about you being the 'oh so hot', I'm sorry to break your bubble, but tum koi hot nahi ho!" I lied conveniently and he gave a dry smile as if I had asked him why do we need to drink water to survive. It was a very wrong lie. He was totally gorgeous, obviously.

"Or you know what, tum gay ho. I am pretty sure you're Gay. Varna as you say, there are so many girls who like you, na? Then why don't you like anyone back? Tumhaari koi girlfriend kyu nahi hai?" I proudly smirked and he looked away.

"Guys, guys, two minutes, stop!" Mukti tried interfering and we both glared at her. "Kyu two minutes mein kya hoga? Teri maggi ban jaayegi?" Manik mocked.

"Oh no Manik, she doesn't eat Maggi. She's a popcorn lover. Act 2 popcorn bana rahi hogi to watch the fight. Even that takes just two minutes!" I supported him and everyone rolled their eyes at us.

"You're right, Nandini.", he agreed. "Mukti, I hadn't expected this from you. Like, how could you, hmm? You were my friend, behen thi tu meri. And you're using me and her for entertainment purposes?" He said in a disgusted tone.

"Why the fuck did I ship them from fighting?" She murmered under her breath looking at Cabir who showed his toothy smile, as they spoke in eyes.

"Tum dono Mukti ke peeche padh gaye? What happened to the gay part? Manik, I think Nandini is right. I wondered how I never thought about this all my life. You've never had a girlfriend. I'm sure you're Gay too. Nandini, you have support," he smirked and Manik faced back to me and he got up, overshadowing me.

"I'm not gay." He argues and I leaned up on the bed too.

"Prove that," I smirked, challenging.

He looked round blankly for a while before smiling. "Seriously?" He took a step forward.

"Seriously," I agreed moving towards him, my eyes locked in his, both of us throwing only anger, fire and dislike towards each other. If wars could have been fought by eyes, then we were already fighting a world war.

He looked around for a while, a few seconds actually, before a smirk took over his face. "Okay then, don't blame me for this," he warmed and I stared at him confused before his one hand clutched my waist, the other hand clutched my cheek and I felt his lips on mine before I could protest.

My eyes widened in shock but I couldn't push him away. He was too strong, or maybe I was too frozen feeling his warm lips on my cold ones and before I realised, he took away my first kiss with such a force, that I was left battling with myself if this was what I wanted or not. Ofcourse I didn't want this, but a part of me was greedy to just get more of him.

He was magic. But that didn't decrease the strong dislike in my heart forming towards him. He stole my first kiss without my permission. And I was going to hold that against him forever.

• He kissed her the magic that she denied all her life. •
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