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“So where were you last night?”
Melody had been expecting that question from April as she slipped into her own room at the rooming house the next morning. She had had to borrow one of Rohit’s bikini briefs in the absence of any clean underwear of her own, and could only have imagined April’s response if she’d had any idea of what she was wearing underneath the clothes she had worn the previous day. Luckily, April hadn’t seen Melody that day; but, even though Melody hadn’t gone on a single date, or attended a single party, in the first year and a half of her college career, it didn’t take a genius to figure out what Melody had been up to. The only question was who.
Melody’s trembling response—”None of your business!”—wasn’t likely to deter the nosy April.
“Oh, come on!” she said. “Give me a hint! Who’ve you been seeing?” April had not been aware of Melody’s study dates with Rohit.
“It’s no one you know,” Melody let slip out, thereby confirming all April’s suspicions.
“Aha!” she said accusingly. “So you were with someone!”
“Well, of course,” Melody said in a faux casual way. “What do you think—I spent the night on a park bench?”
“So who was it?” April cried, almost crazy with curiosity. “Tell me, tell me, tell me!”
“It’s someone from my history class,” Melody said grudgingly.
“Your history class, eh? Guess you’re making some history of your own!”
“April, be serious! This isn’t just some roll in the hay.”
“Oh, yeah? What’s wrong with rolls in the hay?”
“Obviously nothing, if you’re any guide.”
April suddenly froze, her wide smile erased from her face. “That’s not very nice,” she said moodily.
“I’m sorry,” Melody said, sincerely apologetic. “I just don’t want to go to bed with someone just for the sake of it.”
“And you think I do?”
Melody felt it best not to reply to that.
“Okay, maybe I do,” April admitted. “But there’s different kinds of sex. There’s sex for love, and sex for fun, and all kinds of things in between.”
“Sure there is—I get that. But this isn’t just for fun—at least, I don’t think it is.” She had only dimly heard Rohit’s final words as she was falling asleep, but she was pretty sure of what he had said. What her feelings were, she couldn’t quite say—but this was obviously a lot more than just a fling.
“So when do I get to meet him?” April said excitedly.
“Oh, sometime,” Melody said vaguely.
She wasn’t at all worried that April would try to “steal” Rohit—April wasn’t that sort of girl, and anyway, Melody wasn’t entirely sure April would appeal to Rohit, aside from the crude physical appeal of her body. But in the first flush of this affair—the first time she had “won” a man by herself, rather than as a gift from April—she was a bit inclined to keep Rohit to herself.
But a meeting was inevitable, and it happened a few days later. April had insisted that the three of them go out for some burgers at a place near campus called Burgermaster. As the couple came in, arm in arm, April’s eyes widened, and her expression was a complex mix of emotions.
“Well, hi!” April burst out before either Rohit or Melody had a chance to say anything. She stuck her hand straight out, as if brandishing a spear, and Rohit took it in his own hand rather cautiously, as if it might explode.
“Hello,” he said equally cautiously.
Melody wasn’t so pleased to meet her old friend. April had—quite deliberately, in her view—worn a light-colored tank top that not only revealed a substantial amount of cleavage but also caused her nipples to protrude distinctly under the thin fabric; and Rohit, being a man, couldn’t help ogling April’s chest for at least a few seconds before he flushed and looked away. Melody was on the verge of making a crack of some kind (“Aren’t you a bit cold in that thing?”—a valid comment for this chilly, rainy day in February), but refrained.
Instead she said, “Come on, let’s eat. I’m starving.”
They gave their orders, then headed to a table to wait for someone to bring the food over. That usually only took about ten minutes, and in the meanwhile they got some self-serve soft drinks and sat down at an unoccupied table.
This whole time, April hadn’t taken her eyes off Rohit, so far as she could manage it.
“So . . . you’re from India,” April said in a curious tone of voice, with a quick glance at Melody.
“That’s right,” Rohit said, perking up. “How did you know?”
“I can tell,” April said blandly. God knows I’ve been up-close-and-personal with another Indian—as has your inamorata, but we won’t talk about that. She had no desire to mess up her dear friend’s relationship with this impressive-looking man (really handsome—but too thin for my taste) by mentioning Kumar or anything relating to him.
Melody colored at April’s simple statement but said nothing.
Presently April and Rohit were chatting away happily, telling their own life stories while Melody took it all in as güvenilir bahis a kind of silent umpire. When their burgers came, they dived in with gusto, but continued talking as best they could.
Melody was actually pleased that her friend and her lover were hitting it off, and she could sense a genuine fondness for Rohit developing in April as she talked with him. She was happy to be relegated to the sidelines, for she hoped that they would be friends for a long, long time.
After the meal was over, April said to Rohit, “We have some girl things to talk about. May I make off with your sweetheart for a little while?”
That word “sweetheart” made Rohit blush again, and he mumbled a “Sure thing” before giving Melody a hug and a kiss and walking away.
“I’ll see you later!” Melody cried after him, knowing that she’d be spending the night at Rohit’s place. This time she had a spare pair of panties in her purse.
As April dragged Melody away and headed back toward campus, she said, “Oh, Melody, he’s soooooo cute!” Then, impishly: “Can I borrow him sometime?”
“April, you’re terrible!” Melody exclaimed.
“I’m just kidding. Anyway, he’s a little on the skinny side for me. I guess you haven’t told him about Kumar.”
“Of course not! Are you crazy? You know what he’d think if he knew.”
“Yeah—that you’re with him only because he’s Indian, or because he reminds you of Kumar.”
“Exactly—and of course that’s not it at all. He’s nothing like Kumar except in his nationality.”
“He is really cute. Smart, good-looking, kind. A little shy—but I like that.”
“You like shy guys? Since when?” Melody’s comment was laced with sarcasm.
“Oh, come on, I do! I’m not referring to the guys I just have fun with. Kumar’s a little on the shy side.”
“Yes, he is—but Rohit is really shy, and really inexperienced where women are concerned.”
April digested that for a moment. Then she said in wonderment, “Are you telling me he’s a virgin?—or was a virgin before you came along?”
“Yup!” Melody said in triumph.
“Fantastic! I hope you showed him the ropes.”
“He’s learning pretty fast. He’s really good at—” She stopped abruptly, chiding herself for blabbing intimate secrets of her relationship with Rohit, even to her best friend.
“Good at what?” April said, although she had more than a suspicion of what Melody had wanted to say.
“You mean . . .?” And here April made rubbing motions in the direction of her groin.
“April, please! Don’t be so vulgar.”
“I just wanna know! Does he do it with his fingers or his mouth?”
“Both,” April said grudgingly.
“Good for him! I’m sure you’re a wonderful teacher.” Then, after a heavy pause: “What about . . . rear action?”
“Yes, we do that,” Melody said after a weary sigh.
“You do? That’s fabulous! I guess he likes it?”
“Yes, he likes it.”
“What’s not to like, if you’re a man? Tighter fit, and all that.”
“I’m sure there are lots of guys who don’t like it—and a whole lot of girls.”
“Well, it does take some getting used to.”
“April, can we talk about something else? I’m not with him just for the sex, you know.”
“I know,” April said a bit sulkily. “He—he’s a wonderful guy. You’re lucky.”
“I sure am,” Melody said emphatically.
“And he’s lucky too.”
Melody didn’t want her relationship with Rohit to be purely sexual—even though, in the first few weeks of their relationship, they had sex quite a lot, and in all manner of different ways. She sensed that Rohit had been repressed for years, wanting intimacy with a girl but too diffident to approach anyone. He admitted that there were all manner of girls in high school whom he’d had crushes on, but he had not acted on any of them—even though he dimly sensed that his overtures would have been well received by at least a few of them.
Melody just shook her head, saying, “Rohit, we’re not creatures from another planet, you know. There’s no harm in asking a girl out—and no shame if she says no. Plenty of girls have crushes on boys who don’t respond to them.”
“I know,” he said. “But I just was so flustered when I even tried to talk to a girl. My mouth got all dry, and I just couldn’t find the words.”
“Well, I hope that’s all in the past now. We’re a couple, and that’s all there is to it.”
Melody found that Rohit’s pent-up sexual energy allowed him to come three, four, or even five times a night, although usually he required at least a night off to recover. Their lovemaking sessions would go on for hours, involving such things as Melody riding him as he lay flat on his back; copulating standing up (although that usually meant she had to stand on a stepstool that Rohit commandeered from the kitchen, to remedy their difference in height); Melody sitting on Rohit’s lap as he sat in a chair (reminiscent—although she would never have admitted it to him—of that crazy party where türkçe bahis she had lost her virginity); and so on.
But it wasn’t all sex. They talked and talked and talked, telling each other everything about their lives, their feelings, and their goals in life. They quickly reached a stage where even the shortest absence from each other’s company was acute agony—something April noticed (and secretly envied) when she accompanied Melody to a class by herself. At those moments Melody would lapse into a brooding silence, and nothing April said could bring her out of it.
And so it was no surprise that, within a month of becoming intimate, they were saying “I love you” over and over again—during and after sex, when they woke up together in the morning, and when they parted to go to different classes or other functions that necessitated a painful separation.
Melody didn’t pause to think about how her love for Rohit compared with her love for Kumar. She was convinced she still loved the older man—but she hadn’t been in his arms, or his bed, for months, and inevitably a certain diminution of her feelings, tinged with wistful melancholy, had come over her.
So it was with trepidation that Melody heard April say breezily one day in mid-March, “My mom wants us to come over for dinner sometime.”
Melody stopped in her tracks as the two women were walking to the library. “She what?” she said shakily.
“She wants us to come over for dinner,” April said with excessive precision.
“Yes—you, me, and Rohit.”
“How—how does your mom know about him?”
“I told her,” April said flatly.
“Why shouldn’t I? You’re not wanting to keep him a secret, are you?”
“No, of course not. So—I guess Kumar knows?”
“Well, if my mom knows, then it’s a pretty strong likelihood she told Kumar! So what’s your problem?”
“I just don’t think it’s a good idea.”
“Why on earth not? Nobody needs to tell Rohit about you and Kumar. We’re all good at keeping our mouths shut.”
“Are you?” Melody said accusingly.
“What are you implying? If I’d wanted to blab about that to Rohit, I would have by now, wouldn’t I? But I’m not that stupid or cruel. If you want to tell him sometime on your own, that’s your choice. But I’m not going to do it, and no one else will either.”
Melody heaved a big sigh. “Oh, all right. But we just gotta be super-careful. It would crush Rohit if he knew.”
“I don’t know why. I mean, it’s not as if you’re cheating on Rohit, is it? You haven’t actually been with Kumar since taking up with Rohit, have you?”
“No, of course not. I wouldn’t do that.”
“So what’s the fuss? Even if he found out, what of it? Maybe he’ll think you have a thing for Indians, but he must know you love him for who he is, not because he reminds you of—”
“Okay, okay, I get you. We’ll go sometime.”
“Good. I’ll set it up.”
The dinner was arranged for the following Saturday, and the three young people all walked together to Carolyn and Kumar’s house. Rohit professed to be rather keen on meeting April’s mother—and when he heard the name of Carolyn’s husband, his interest was only enhanced.
The older couple had sought to make a meal that evoked memories for the two foreign-born men. Kumar was not entirely incompetent at some facets of Indian cooking, and he whipped up a side dish involving the preparation of an entire cauliflower, stir-fried in a wok with oil, mustard seed, curry powder, and turmeric—which turned the vegetable a bright and appetizing yellow. Carolyn, after checking that Rohit wasn’t a vegetarian, roasted a chicken and made homemade biscuits. There was a store-bought cherry pie for dessert.
When the three college students entered the house—April using her key rather than going to the trouble of ringing the doorbell—both of the occupants were in the kitchen, still working on the meal. Carolyn, prettily dressed in a frilly apron, was the first to venture out into the living room, where the young folks were milling around, eyeing the bottles of white wine which they hoped they would be served. As Carolyn came up to Rohit, his eyes expanded in that patented way that signaled his interest—even his fascination—with what he was seeing. Unexpectedly, she took him in his arms and gave him a warm hug, then held him at arms’ length.
“Oh, look at him, Melody!” she said admiringly. “What a handsome guy! And smart too, I bet.”
“Carolyn, please,” Melody said, “you’re embarrassing him.” And sure enough, Rohit looked mightily flustered.
“He’s very shy, Mom,” April added.
“He’d better not be shy around us,” Carolyn said with mock severity. “We’re all friends here.”
Then Kumar stepped into the room.
There wasn’t a great deal of difference in height between the two men—maybe only an inch or two—but Kumar’s overall physique made him look almost twice the size of his younger compatriot. They greeted each other with a friendly güvenilir bahis siteleri but reserved handshake, Kumar adding, “Welcome—good to see you here.”
“Thank you for inviting me,” Rohit said a bit formally.
Sure enough, wine was served for everyone, and that seemed to loosen everyone’s tongues. At first the females dominated the conversation, Melody in particular explaining all manner of things about Rohit as if he were incapable of speaking for himself. Sometimes, when Carolyn asked Rohit something about himself, Melody took it upon herself to answer for her man.
But gradually—and especially after the meal was over and the five of them drifted back to the living room—a kind of gender segregation occurred. Rohit and Kumar ended up sitting, rather awkwardly, on a loveseat that could barely accommodate the two of them; but that didn’t seem to bother them, for they instantly began talking in quiet tones about their lives in India and other matters to which the women weren’t privy. Carolyn, April, and Melody tried to talk among themselves, but couldn’t help at times just sitting and watching their men talk intensely and intimately, sometimes even slipping unconsciously into Hindi as they did so.
The women began to feel as if they were spectators watching some quiet debate.
“Am I alone in feeling pretty useless?” April said in a vexed tone of voice.
No,” Melody said.
“Isn’t it nice that our two men are getting along so well?” Carolyn said, beaming like a den mother.
The party broke up soon thereafter, and the three young people moseyed on back to their separate rooming houses—Melody, however, accompanying Rohit back to his place, where she was all but living full-time. For all his volubility when talking with Kumar, Rohit now seemed to have lapsed into a pensive silence, uttering only brief grunts when Melody tried to sound him out about how things had gone at the house.
As they slipped into bed, Melody caught Rohit peering at her intensely. It made her nervous.
“Something the matter?” she said in a shaky voice.
When he failed to respond, she pretended to get a little peeved. “What’s with you? Why are you giving me the silent treatment all of a sudden?”
Rohit’s expression softened, but he still refused to speak. Melody was on the verge of saying something more when he finally came out with:
“He’s the one, isn’t he?”
A fit of trembling came over Melody, and her throat seemed suddenly tight. “Wh-what do you mean?”
“The one who . . .” He paused.
“What?”—although Melody knew full well what Rohit was going to say.
“. . . took your virginity.”
She gasped, and then let out an almost hysterical laugh. “Oh, don’t be silly, Rohit! He’s the husband of April’s mom! I wouldn’t—”
“But you did. I don’t know how or why, but you did.”
“How could you possibly know that?”
“I could tell—by the way he looked at you, and the way you looked at him.”
Melody was so agitated that she leaped up from the bed and seemed to be debating whether to rush out the door or even jump out the window into the crisp night air. Her chest was rising and falling, and her eyes were bright and shiny.
“Rohit,” she said miserably, “it’s not what you think . . .”
Now Rohit stood up and walked slowly over to Melody. As she was on the verge of backing away from him in fear, he smiled and took her gently in his arms, letting her nestle her head against his chest.
“It’s all right,” he said. “I’m not upset, and I’m not jealous. You knew him long before you knew me, so I have nothing to be jealous about. As long as you’re not still seeing him.”
“I’m not!” Melody said, now starting to cry—with tears of relief, not of anger or sadness. “I haven’t been with him for months!”
“Can we get back into bed? I’m a little chilly.” He was dressed only in his underwear, his usual night attire. “And maybe you want to tell me the story.”
Melody allowed herself to be led back to the bed. Reassured as she was that Rohit wasn’t going to dump her because of her prior relationship with Kumar, she knew she had to tread softly—and maybe even lie a little—about how she had gotten involved with the older man.
Rohit lay down on his back and urged Melody to lie on top of him. It was one of their favorite positions, whether making love or just cuddling, and Melody already felt better as her lover massaged her back, shoulders, and bottom to ease the tension out of her.
“Well,” she began, “it started with April. You see, she and her mom—stepmom, really, but April thinks of her as her real mom—met Kumar on a vacation in Mexico about a year and a half ago, and they—” She stopped abruptly.
“They?” Rohit said, realizing the full implications of what Melody had almost said.
“Yes, they. They both got involved with him. It’s too complicated to explain how—it just happened that way.”
“And they were both okay with it?” Rohit said incredulously.
“I guess so. Carolyn is very . . . tolerant. I also think she was kind of lonely, so she was happy to have a companion after her husband—April’s dad—left her. She didn’t seem to mind that her stepdaughter was . . . well, you know.”
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