chapter 31 - an unexpected rival

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Phillips POV

I stood on the side as I watched Victoria haggle with the vegetable vendor as she picked out vegetables that I had never seen before when I felt someone creep up and stand beside me.

‘ So you are the lucky man who married Victoria.” He said, arms crossed as he stared out at Victoria.

Something about this guy made me feel uneasy and I instantly didn’t like him.

‘ Phillip Malhotra.” I said in my most formal voice, holding out my hand for him to shake.

He shook my hand firmly, “ Aman Damordar.” He said but continued to stare at her. I couldn’t help but notice how strong and rough his grease stained hands were, a working man’s hands.

This guy was starting to piss me off.

‘ You’re a lucky man, err ..Phillip...she’s a beautiful woman. if I had know her parents were looking for a husband for her I would have put my hand up.

Her brother and I have been friends for years and I used to hang out with him to get close to her but she never gave me the time of day.
She even friend zoned me Indian style!”

I looked at him not understanding .

‘ Her brother took me to his place one year for raksha bhandan  after I complainted that I didnt have any sisters and when Victoria found out, she tied a rhaki on me that year, making me her brother. I didn’t want to but I couldnt tell her brother why. So i went along with it, regretting that I opened my mouth in the first place.

But I always hoped, that maybe she would one day see me more than just her ‘ bhai’.”

I stood there and said nothing, not wanting to be rude but also wanting to know what this wannabe Romeo wanted from my wife.

‘ Just watch your back and keep her happy.  There are always plenty of people waiting to grab what’s yours if you are not careful. She is a diamond, careful she is not stolen from you.” He said before slipping back into the croud.

‘ Phillip! Victoria cried out as she came running to me, a strange dark purple coloured fruit in her hands and bags of groceries dangling from her arms.

she was something else, on one had I could probaby afford to buy the entire lot of vegetables cash and on the other had, my wife would haggle for them.

“You have to try these, they are as rare as hens teeth, and cost a small fortune!”

She cracked open the frim thick shell to reveal a creamy white segmented fruit inside.

“These are called mangosteen and they are delicious. Here try some.”

She scooped out the flesh of the fruit and I held out my hand but she shook her head.

'Open your mouth, I don’t want you to get sap on your hand because it will stain everything you touch and I only have a few wipes.' she instructed.

So I did as told  and rather enjoyed myself as she fed me the fruit.

It was sweet and perfumed, creamy and firm at the same time, greedily accepting each and every segment she offered me, even as she ate twice as much, hoping that Aman would be watching, and I made a point to lick the sweet juices that ran down her hand, holding her gaze as I did, watching as she turned that cute shade of pink as she did whenever I made physical contact with her.

No one would be stealing my diamond, my Kohinoor.

This girl would be mine, forever.

Victorias POV

Oh hell what was he doing?

My brain turned to jelly as he licked and sucked the palm of my hand and  wrist. Suddenly my mouth was dry, legs were jelly and tingles ran from my hand to my feet and that funny thing deep in my core started again.

And all the while he didn’t take  his eyes off me.

It scared me.

It excited me.

It rattled my very core.

It thrilled me.

I wanted more.

And that scared me.

And like bran stokes vampire he released my  wrist with a hint of a smile on his lips.

‘hmm…that was delicious,  any more?”

But I couldn’t answer.

For the moment it seemed that my  brain had lots its ability to make my mouth  speak and it felt there was fuzz between my ears.
So I shook my head. My mouth finally registering the words were forming.

“ no, I only bought 3. They were like 10 bucks…”

“ you do remember i'm a multimillionaire right?”

“ you may be but I am not. I'm not used to spending money so lavishly. Anyway if you're hungry lets gets some dosa at the dosa food truck."

We sat on the tables outside the food truck. The dosa ladies were busy as always, in their food truck that was painted bright pink , decorated with artifical flowers and pictures of indian gods, and the smell of the freshly cooked dosa filled the air.

The food truck was more of a permanent structure now and was well known to those who visited the bazaar.

As I ate my masala dosa, a butter chicken one for him, he seemed at little strange and distant, lost in a deep thought far away.

‘ ok, what’s wrong? You’ve been acting funny since the mangosteen. You’re not feeling sick I hope?” I asked, his broodiness becomming irritating.

It took him a while to say anything and I was afraid he wasn’t going to say anything at all as he chewed his food thoughfully.

‘ who is Aman to you?”

“ Aman? Aman Damodar? I haven’t seen him in years!”

‘he seems to be very interested in you.”

I laughed. ‘ That’s impossible! He’s like a brother to me!”

‘ theres nothing funny about this, I asked a serious question.”

I took a sip of my hand squeezed lemon juice.

“ And I am being perfectly serious. He and I went to the same high school, he was in my brothers class. He used to hang around our place a lot to play fortnite with my brother."

I smiled fondly at my childhood memories. ‘ I remember one time when I was about 10 I caught them smoking in the garden and I threatened to tell Papa. They promised to take me to the movies if I promised not to tell. I made them watch some awful chick flick, buy me popcorn and ice cream.

Anyway, after my brother moved away from university he never came around.

I tied a rhaki on him once, it was funny, bhaiya kept insisting that I do it, that he had no sisters and all that, but he has heaps of cousins so it wasn’t like he was lacking in getting rhaki, but anyway, bhaiya insisted so I didn’t argue.

I think he owns a mechanic shop around here somewhere, although there are rumors that it’s a front for a chop shop.

Why are you so interested in him?”

‘ so there was nothing going on between you ?” Phillip asked and something occurred to me, he was jealous!

‘ oh god no! Mumma would have freaked. She never liked him but tolerated him coz of bhaiya.”

And with that he sat back, sipping on his juice, and signaled one of the ladies for another serve of dosa, and I was left confused at the strange conversation we had just had.

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