If you haven’t seen my review of the book, please go read that for more information about the book.
Note: These quotes are spoiler-free.
What would mom think of a simple civil ceremony with twenty guests? The answer to that was staring me in the face. She wouldn’t have saved and scraped for such fancy jewelry if she hadn’t wanted a proper Punjabi wedding. That’s what she would have liked. Lots of family, food, flowers, music. Vinnie in a gorgeous lehenga. Her groom in a red turban on a white horse, like in one of those Bollywood movies.
“Your mom is not taking care of it?” she asked.
Was there a way to avoid telling her? I wondered, dreading the usual awkwardness that followed when I mentioned what had happened to Mom. If it’d been anyone but Preet, I’d have found a way to avoid answering directly.
“She…” I squared my shoulders. “She passed away. Years ago.”
Suddenly all the chatter around me hushed. Crap. What a dumb idea this was. Great way to identify myself as the clueless, motherless freak show. I wanted their help, not their pity.
“Didn’t want to break up the cozy chat you were having,” Shayla said. “God knows you don’t talk to many guys.”
“I talk to Peter, and David, and Isaac….”
“AP study group is not talking!”
“He found my keys,” I said. “That’s all. He wasn’t, like, chatting me up, or anything.”
“Sure he wasn’t,” Shayla said.
Vir left the console and came over to where I was standing.
He held out a hand. “Would you like to dance?”
“Sure,” I said. I was glad the lights were low because I’m pretty sure I looked horribly self-conscious—is it actually possible to have a whole-body blush? Then both his hands were around my waits, and both mine were on his shoulders. Breathe, Mini, I told myself.
In a bid to shake off the blues (no pun intended), I packed my watercolors, bottle of water, and brushes into my French easel and headed to Fellsway with the dog. Painting en plein air always helped me slay whatever was bothering me. Besides, I had to add to the portfolio that I’d been neglecting for weeks. Now that I wasn’t retaking the SAT and Vinnie’s wedding planning was off to a good start, it was time to focus on college app stuff. My portfolio was exactly where it had been when junior year wound down and I finished submitting everything for AP Studio Art. It would be good to paint something that wasn’t going to be graded and evaluated!
“It’s cooler here,” I said, and held up my hands to frame the scene I was trying to capture. “And the perfect vantage point.”
“Yes, it is,” he said, and pulled off his shirt to reveal an impressively firm and muscled torso—and caused my heart rate to go from highly escalated to practically flatline.
What was he doing?
Mum always said when you can’t buy something because it is very, very expensive, go treat yourself to something happy, and fun, and beautiful that is very, very cheap—a pretty pair of earrings, a bright scarf, or a small cup of Haagen-Dazs ice cream.
“How does it look?” she asked.
“Brilliant!” I said. It was very vintage—like something Madhuri Dixit would have worn—but Vinnie’s fresh young face updated it immediately. There was a lump in my throat. It wasn’t that she looked like Mom exactly, but there were flashes of Mom in the way she moved and smiled and sounded, even. And with that lehenga on, there was no mistaking it.
If I were the praying type, I would have been praying, but what was the use? Miracles had stopped working for the likes of us a long time ago.
All we could do was wait. We’d know by Friday, definitely. Until then, there was nothing to be done except wring our hands, write place cards, and go on as if nothing the size of Texas was barreling down on us at 120 miles an hour.
It was going to be legendary—or a disaster. Either way, no one would ever forget it. Game. On.