Two hours later, Alekhya was at his doorstep. She wasn't alone. A girl with choppy bangs and a guy with freckles on his cheeks flanked her. 'Hey!' Samar said, checking Alekhya's arm. It was dressed in Band-Aid and cotton wool doused in antiseptic. 'How's your arm holding up?'
'A-okay!' she said, looking to her side. 'Meet Aisha, Harsha.'
Aisha's smile electrified her ebony eyes, radiating from her heart-shaped face. Curls of dense night-sky hair fluttered like flag atop a fortress. Harsha's smile was light, as if etched on his squashed face with a blunt pencil. His handshake was flaccid, fingers damp. Dark, coarse hair shadowed his deep-set eyes. Samar waved them in and closed the door after.
'We came to thank you,' Aisha said as they hit the living room. 'You were brave.'
Alekhya pointed at her bandaged arm. 'Oh,' he said. 'It's nothing.'
'It's not,' Alekhya said. 'Where's Roshni Aunty? Didn't see her car.'
'She's gone shopping,' he said.
'Well,' Aisha said cheekily, 'guess there's nobody to offer us something to eat or drink.'
His light eyes widened. 'Uh, shit, so sorry. I just—'
She grinned. 'Dude, I was kidding. I just came to say thanks. Gotta rush or I'll be the boo-boo bitch of my band.' Tsk! 'You wouldn't want to go late to your own concert prep.'
Samar's ears perked up. 'Whoa, wait, you're a singer?'
Aisha's eyes twinkled. 'You should come. We're opening for Hexagon Brothers.'
'I'm their big fan!' Samar fessed. 'I'm actually attending with my friend.'
'Yowza!' They high-fived. 'Good deal, dude. Give me those tickets.'
Samar's grin lingered but his bushy brows crinkled. 'Huh?'
'Of course you're getting VIP seats,' Aisha said casually, a hand outstretched, as if she expected him to have them in his pajama pocket. 'I'll redeem your tickets.'
'For real?' he breathed, heart light as air. 'That's...thank you!' He skipped to his room upstairs and returned with the tickets. 'You could give it someone on the waitlist?'
'That's a great idea,' Alekhya seconded. Aisha stuffed the tickets into her jeans.
'I'll ask Eka to pick you and Allu up.' She paused. 'And your friend?'
'Ramya will be here.' He was probably smiling like an idiot, Aisha looked addled.
'Dinner at Gori Dhaba, right?' Alekhya said.
'Gori Dhaba, you said?' Samar blurted.
Aisha and Alekhya glanced his way, Harsha sat like he didn't belong in this world, eyes on his lap. 'Didn't know it's famous outside of town,' Aisha said, 'but yeah, you guys will love the food.' She got up. 'Hope Ramya isn't a bitch.'
'You got it, and, I won't put it past her!' Aisha winked and showed herself out.
'I'll get going too,' Harsha mumbled, squirming and wringing his hands.
'You're sure, Dum?' Alekhya said, entirely oblivious to his demeanor.
'Oh you know, Dee.' She nodded. He turned to Samar. 'Thanks again for helping her.'
Samar raised his hand for a handshake, but Harsha had already pocketed his hands, sauntering away. The front door closed, he eyed Alekhya. 'What's Dum and Dee?'
'Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Lewis Caroll's though, not the Batman comics.'
'Ah, wow,' Samar said. 'You guys must go way back then?'
YOU ARE READING
The Devil Within: Looking for Beta ReadersMystery / Thriller
Best friends Ramya Chaudhary and Samar Sengupta vividly recall the Incident from four years ago when they'd killed two peers, decapitating one Sunil Desai-the school golden boy who'd secretly plagued the campus with drugs. Having graduated and reloc...