Don’t you think I forgot about Teaser Tuesday! Cuz I didn’t! I had asked Courtney Milan to provide an excerpt, but she did me one better! She got one from Sonali Dev – so really here’s Courtney (her continuation – I wanted to separate this out because shew – this excerpt!)
Luckily, I asked Sonali if I could give you a teaser, and she was nice enough to send one along. So here it is:
Mili Rathod hasn’t seen her husband in twenty years—not since she was promised to him at the age of four. Yet marriage has allowed Mili a freedom rarely given to girls in her village. Her grandmother has even allowed her to leave India and study in America for eight months, all to make her the perfect modern wife. Which is exactly what Mili longs to be—if her husband would just come and claim her.
Bollywood’s favorite director, Samir Rathod, has come to Michigan to secure a divorce for his older brother. Persuading a naïve village girl to sign the papers should be easy for someone with Samir’s tabloid-famous charm. But Mili is neither a fool nor a gold-digger. Open-hearted yet complex, she’s trying to reconcile her independence with cherished traditions. And before he can stop himself, Samir is immersed in Mili’s life—cooking her dal and rotis, escorting her to her roommate’s elaborate Indian wedding, and wondering where his loyalties and happiness lie.
Heartfelt, witty, and thoroughly engaging, Sonali Dev’s debut is both a vivid exploration of modern India and a deeply honest story of love, in all its diversity.
There was a knock on the door. “Who is it?”
“Room Service.” Mili’s husky voice punched him square in the gut. His heartbeat sped up. The blood rushing through his veins sped up. Even his breathing sped up like some teenybopper coming face-to-face with her crush. All those damned pushups down the toilet.
He pulled the door open a crack. Whatever droll line he was going to throw at her died on his tongue. She was wearing a turquoise sari. Her hair cascaded around her shoulders, spiral ribbons falling all the way to her exposed waist. Someone had outlined her eyes in smoky kohl. Her irises glittered like gemstones. So what? They always glittered.
She pushed the door and squeezed past him into the room.
“Come on in,” he growled, much like the wild beast raging in his chest.
“You’re in a dressing gown.” She was standing too close to him. The passage leading into the room was narrow. Too narrow.
He could smell her once he got past the blast of perfume. “What did Ridhi spray you with, a hose?” Without meaning to, he leaned in to smell her. Great, she’d turned him into a lecher, that’s what she’d done.
She stepped away. “Oh, good, you remember Ridhi. My best friend. The one whose wedding you drove four hours for.”
“I didn’t drive four hours for Ridhi.” He tried to hold her gaze, but she looked away, that damned flush swept up her cheeks, maroon and pink tinting the deepest caramel, like a rose that needed its own name.
She took a breath, raised those glittering onyxes, and met his gaze. A head-on collision. “I’m sorry, Samir. Can’t we put that behind us and go back to being friends?”
“Okay, so don’t be friends. But get dressed. The wedding ceremony is less than an hour away. We have to get back to Ridhi’s house.”
“I’m not going to the wedding.”
“Okay. But I have to be at the wedding. And you have to take me.” Now her eyes went all pleading. If she joined her palms he was throwing her out.
“How did you get here?”
“I made Ranvir drop me off.”
“Then make him pick you up.” It’s the least Pillsbury Doughboy could do for her.
“Samir, can you get dressed, please?” She pressed her hands together and he cursed.
“I already answered that.”
“Listen, you owe me. Come on.”
“I owe you? For what, for lying to me?”
“I did not lie to you.” She looked around the room and found the magazine lying on the bed. “I protected you. From that witch. It wasn’t easy. She’s scary.”
“Right.” But he was stupid enough to smile. She took full advantage and blasted him with all one-twenty watts of her smile. And he wanted to kiss her sneaky lips so bad, he had to step away and push into the mirrored closet behind him. “You should not have come here, Mili. You don’t just walk into some man’s hotel room like this.”
“You’re not just some man. You’re Samir.” She pushed the cascading mass of curls off her face with both hands and he knew it was going to bounce right back.
“Okay, somewhere in there is a compliment.”
“Of course it’s a compliment. I feel safe with you. You’re my friend. I know you will never hurt me. The list is endless.”
Yeah, an endless pile of crap. He didn’t feel safe with her. He didn’t want to be just her friend. And he knew he was going to hurt her shitless. “So this is my married friend come to get me. Nothing more.”
She nodded and her hair slid back around her face. “Nothing more.”
He dropped his robe.
At least five shades of red rushed up her cheeks. “What are you doing?” It was no more than a squeak, but he was impressed she got the words out.
“I’m changing like you asked me to, why?” He had pulled on boxers earlier, but the rest of him was as bare as the day he was born. He turned away and threw open the closet with both arms, no point having those back muscles if he couldn’t put them to good use when he needed to. He took his time pulling pants out of the closet. Then an even longer time bending over and pulling them on. He’d been a model for almost a decade. She had no idea whom she was messing with.
She made an incoherent sound behind him, something between a choke and a groan.
So good! I can’t wait to read this.