Chapter 3 - The Meeting

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It was six in the evening when Seema reached Roshni's house. She guessed her friends would be there by the time she reached. She walked up to the door and pressed the bell in anticipation that Sundar would open the door. Roshni opened it in no time.

"Hey! Seema is here," Roshni shouted. Seema heard screams of joy from inside.

"I must be late!" Seema inquired as Roshni nodded. They both smiled and Seema moved past Roshni to meet their friends."Oh my God, you are all here.""Don't worry baby," Mehak grinned and continued as she dragged to take the seat beside her, "The cake is yet to be cut." Seema went ahead and shook hands with the others."Where is Sundar?" Seema asked curiously. "He's not coming," Khushboo whispered."What makes you think so?" Seema asked. "He messaged me." Seema took out her cell phone and dialed his number. It was diverted to voicemail. Seema fired, "I'd rather you messaged me than inform my friends."Seeing her react this way Khushboo gestured her to meet her in the washroom.

"I'll be right back," Khushboo declared, and she went out of the room. Seema watched her but didn't react. She told them about the lady in her neighborhood and that her mom wanted them to get to know her."What have you decided?" Mehak asked."Nothing.""What's nothing?" Roshni joined them after some time. Seema told her the story. Kamal Arora asked her, "What's her name? Is she sexy?""Oh, Kamal!" Seema exclaimed and added, "She's in her thirties. She won't look at you."Roshni added, "You could try Kamal," as they focused on Seema again."I'd let mom decide if I should talk to her. Let them meet. I'm out of it for now.""At least tell us her name," Kamal insisted as the other guys glanced at the girls with their ears open to register the name."She's Priya, my new neighbor. Happy."

"What a wonderful name!" Tejas exclaimed with big eyes. But he soon concealed his curiosity as Bhavika stared at him with skeptically narrow lips. They were dating for the last few months and Bhavika had been the possessive one from the start. Tejas enjoyed that. He respected her for her honesty. She would open her heart up to him every time they met alone. Her voice was so convincing, he would keep listening to her all the time they spent together. And she would never interrupt him whenever he spoke. This quality, he thought, made Bhavika a wonderful person. A special woman, who would listen. Bhavika also admired him just for the same thing. He never poked his nose whenever Bhavika shared her opinions, however strong them might be.At that moment, Seema recalled Khushboo was waiting for her.

"I need to visit the washroom," Seema excused herself and headed for the washroom. The door opened and closed so quietly that Khushboo didn't realize when Seema entered."What happened? Why did you call me here?""Don't worry, I won't propose to you." Khushboo joked."Uh, don't remind me of Rehan. That chapter is over as you know."They shared a laugh."About the message," Khushboo tried to tell her something but Seema interrupted her, "Oh that! Don't mind. I shout at him all the time." Seema laughed and came close to her."I don't like when you are sad. Wash your face and put on a smile.""How can I smile?" Khushboo replied."Why not?" Seema asked."You guys scored high in class, and I am the only one with a mediocre result.""Oh, that's not true. Results are important but I know how good you are." "You're trying to cheer me up." "Of course, I am," Seema replied and stretched her arms to hold her hand, palm to palm."I should have worked hard," Khushboo lamented."You can work hard in college," Seema advised, and she drew her close. Khushboo had let a few drops of tear roll down her cheek when Seema licked those off her cheek."What are you doing?" Khushboo whispered."Trying to cheer up my dear friend. You need a hug.""No, I don't." Khushboo tried to retaliate. Seema went close to her lips, their lips touched. Khushboo stood still for a moment and then Seema bit her lip. It turned her on and Khushboo pushed her tongue in Seema's mouth. As they kissed, Khushboo put her hands on her back and rubbed her palms against her spine. Seema clutched her with all her might and it was a short moment of the intense kiss.They parted in a manner as if it was rehearsed, still breathing heavily. Seema rested her palms on the basin and laughed. Khushboo stood stunned. She kept staring at Seema without saying a word."What?" Seema asked."I've never had such a beautiful feeling in my life."

"What 'beautiful' feeling?" Mehak asked as she opened the door. Seema was taken aback hoping she didn't see them kiss. She swallowed and went out with a serious face as Mehak looked on. Once Seema was out, Mehak turned toward Khushboo who was busy washing her mouth. Mehak's question remained unanswered as Khushboo uttered 'nothing' on her way out.

Seema was standing in front of the cake and taking selfies with Roshni and Vivek. They were done posting photos on Instagram when Mehak entered the scene.

"The cake's ready," Tejas declared and Khushboo jumped on the idea and joined him.

"Come on friends, let's celebrate this evening," Khushboo said.

"Let's make a toast to two most important things in our lives," Vivek was interrupted by Tejas.

"Where's the wine?" everyone joined and laughed.

"Let's use the cola. Bring me some glasses," Vivek said.

Once the glasses were arranged by Roshni, Tejas poured the cola. After everyone had their glasses in hand, Vivek raised his glass and said proudly, "To our bright and successful college life and," he paused to look at every one. Nobody had a clue what he was about to say.

"To some of us who'll vote for the first time this year and contribute in nation-building." Everyone clapped and drank.

Khushboo was standing in between Seema and Tejas. Tejas kissed her on the cheek but her heart was beating as she felt Seema's skin touching hers. Her right arm was Seema's left arm and both of them were wearing sleeveless gowns. She got the goosebumps in the wrong place. Tejas noticed her hands and thought it was his kiss that turned her on.

The cake was about to be cut, and they were all jumping and dancing in front of the table on which the decorated cake was kept. It was chocolate at the bottom and vanilla on top with a few strawberries spread as a topping. Roshni rushed into the kitchen and brought hot chocolate and poured it over the cake in a heart shape. It was the best night they were having. The cake was finally ready and the ambiance electric.

Roshni,  Bhavika, Kamal, Seema, Khushboo, Vivek, Tejas, and Mehak were standing making a circle with the cake at the center of it. It was as if a Wiccan ritual was about to start. The lights were dimmed, and the candles were lit. They blew out the candles, turned up the lights and slid the knife through the cake. Everyone got a slice of it. The strawberries were given to the ladies as a special honor of completing eighteen years of age. Now that they were adults, they could make their own decisions. They had the freedom to choose a lifestyle, a college. Their parents won't force them to do something. Most of all, they could officially date somebody — that's what the men present there celebrated.

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