In pursuit of romance

By Zeenat Mahal,
Special to The Post 
I returned home later that day to find The Broad sitting with someone, their backs were towards the entrance. My eyes went straight to Kunwar, who was sitting on the opposite sofa. Those hazel eyes in that darkish complexion just made me all gooey inside. I put on my dazzling, innocent-but-yours smile, and looked into his eyes, which were full of shy amusement and doubt. 
Soon, my love I promised, soon, all the doubts will vanish. 
I was dressed up older, thanks to Zafar’s input. My hair was curled into flirty abandon. I would have worn red lipstick and clinched the deal, but I’d desisted only because I was quite certain The Broad would’ve killed me with the Glare. Good girls wore red lipstick only after they were married.
I gave a pretty little sigh and sat down beside him. Kunwar smiled but wouldn’t look at me. God, how shy could a forty year old millionaire be? The more he procrastinated the more determined I became. I had saris with tiny blouses lined up as my next sensual attack on him. I really couldn’t figure out what else to do. The tiny blouses were my last resort.
Just about then, the compulsion I’d been feeling to look left became too strong and I did…to behold a specimen of alpha male. He was perfect; from his dark, slightly wavy hair cut to perfection to his dark, dark eyes with defined eyebrows, a straight beautiful nose, the sexiest mouth I’d ever seen, and a golden complexion. Even though he was seated, I could tell he was tall.
I hated him on principle. 
First off, he was too perfect to be any good to anyone else. Secondly, he was looking at me with his eyes full of mocking laughter. I could tell he knew what I was about with Kunwar, because he shot a bland stare towards him. Kunwar chortled. Alpha Male narrowed his eyes, looking just a little dangerous. 
My attention was diverted by The Broad’s glare. 
In icy tones she said, ‘Chandni…’
No matter how many times I’d heard it, no matter from whom, it remained sickening and horrifying. It was disgusting. I hated my name. It made me sound like some prostitute from Pakeezah. Apparently my mother had thought sensible names were not for daughters of Nameless abandoners. What was wrong with a good old-fashioned name like Salma? Anything was better than this.
‘Please, Bi Amma. Call me C.’ I choked with embarrassment. 
Alpha Male looked at me with his smoldering eyes and said, ‘It’s such a beautiful name. It suits you. Why would you want to have it mangled?’
I knew he’d be dumb. Something’s got to give. 
I fell even more in love with Kunwar because he snorted at his inane stupidity. Snorting and giggling of any sort were not permissible in the presence of The Broad, especially not by me. I flashed Kunwar a warm, take-me-I’m-yours smile. 
I froze Alpha Male with my coldest look. You side with The Broad once you are never on Team C. 
His eyes held something more than just laughter. It was something I’d never seen so blatantly in any one’s eyes before, but recognized instinctively. Desire. 
I looked away, uncomfortable and bewildered.
‘Chandni, this is Taimur. Ali’s son.’
This was Baba’s son? Surprised, I looked at him again and he smiled as if we were old friends. Bloody hell, his teeth were perfect, too. I sneered. Surprise registered in his eyes and then, caution. 
Read more from "Haveli" at
About the Author: 
Zeenat Mahal was born in Lahore, Pakistan and grew up in this city of gardens, and saints, shrines and Sufis. She is passionate about reading and writing romances and cannot resist paranormal and historical romances. She has been published in online literary magazines like The Missing Slate and Running Out of Ink. ‘Haveli’ is Zeenat’s first of two published novellas. 
This story is a excerpt from Indireads. This fictional series offers a wide wide range of romance novellas written by both men and women, for South Asian readers around the world. Read more at
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