~*~CHAPTER VII : Love in an Elevator...or Something Thereabouts~*~

My cell phone beeped for the eighth time in an hour and forty-two minutes.

Shetal Vaanavaraayar, the most recent sperm donor my belligerent Radha Auntie had attempted to fertilize me with, was not what anyone would call a fast texter. Or a proficient speller. Or skilled by way of English grammar. Which was rather surprising to me because with a last name like Vaanavaraayar, you'd think spelling would come easy.

Sighing, I checked Shetal's latest attempt at wooing me.

Ur breests r hi & round like 2 brown coconutz. There g8!

I tittered in spite of myself, imagining Tony the Tiger thrusting his furry finger at my rack.

Shetal's fervent declaration to my bosom had followed the likes of 'Ur skin is shiny & creemy like ghee meltin on nan', 'My heart beatz to the disco of ur sole' and 'im gona einginer a luv shak 4 me & u. we will get R groove on all nite long. PS don't tell ur auntee, shell kill me.'

It was obvious that I was going to have my hands full with this Disco Dude; he was a lot more aggressive, i.e. horny, than Dikshit Patel, given the way he'd spent the night salivating over my 'hi, brown breests'. He was also a sneaky sort; last night he'd borrowed my cell phone after claiming that he couldn't find his…until the bum of his bellbottoms had started to ring. The look of faux surprise coupled with that smug gleam in his beedi brown eyes had told me that I'd been had. Especially when my cell had beeped at midnight with the charming message, 'Ur more beautifu then the godess Durga. Ill b ur tiger & u can ride me.'

Not exactly what you'd call subtle.

I stuffed my cell back into my office desk and turned up the volume on my computer. Old school Duran Duran let me know that they were 'Hungry like the Wolf'. I sang along desperately, searching for anything to drown out the incessant drone of ABBA sung in a nasally South Indian accent that had been stuck inside my brain for past eighteen hours. It was playing on a filter, scavenging through my mind ever since I'd said my relieved good-byes to Shetal last night.

Shetal's voice echoed in my mind, drowning out the musical stylings of Simon Le Bon.

You are the dahncing qween

Young and schweet

Only sebenteen


I turned up the music a notch more. It was Saturday afternoon and since the office was virtually empty, I could blast the music and sing along at the top of my voice. Basically it was nice to be able to listen to something that wasn't disco. And to let my ears breathe in peace. For being such a little guy, Shetal the Disco Dancer made up for it by bellowing everything at the top of his lungs. Including, when I'd been forced to walk him to his car, the fact that he thought my body was 'completely the banging, as the whities say!'

Unfortunately, I was unable to make a similar comparison.

Singing along to my tunes, I was able to work for another twenty-three minutes straight before my cell started up again.

Ur a cool bottel of limca on a hot day. Only ur brown not grey. I wana lick u up to the down

"Oh good Christ above." I was horror-struck. Shetal Vaanavaraayar wanted to lick my Limca!

"You shouldn't be taking the Lord's name in vain, Navleen," a familiar voice drawled out. "Don't you know that's the talk of soulless heathens?"

Propped up against the doorjamb of my office, looking rather like a tall bottle of Limca himself, was my infamous chap-vitch. He was all lean torso, narrow hips and long legs. His jeans had holes in the knees, his dark grey t-shirt had Skeletor on it and he looked delicious. All traces of yesterday's anger were gone from his face.

"What're you doing here? How'd you know I was here?"

He hitched up one shoulder. His grin was lopsided. "Talked to your Mom. She was thrilled. She likes me, you know."

He didn't know the half of it. No doubt I'd be treated to another riveting lecture on the 'vinds of fate' and that 'chap-vitch of my kismet' once I got home. "Uh, sorry about yesterday," I blurted out, turning off my music. "Making bitchy comments about you and Janie was rude and judgemental so I apologize for that. What can I say? I kinda have this problem with my fat mouth."

Lucan shifted his gaze down to my lips. It seemed that he didn't have a problem with my fat mouth afterall. "I apologize too. I shouldn't have sworn at you, no matter how pissed I was." Pushing away from the doorjamb, he strolled into my office, casually bringing his hands out from behind his back. To my delight, I saw that he was holding a squat glass vase choked with vibrant flowers; orange tiger lilies, white orchids, blue hydrangeas, yellow freesias and magenta peonies. In the middle of the arrangement was a single scarlet rose in full bloom. "Forgive me?"

"Shit son, you didn't have to do that!" I flung myself out from behind my desk and eagerly took the vase from him. It was like holding a piece of an Indian wedding in my hands. "They're beautiful, Lucan. I love them! No one ever gave me flowers before." I buried my nose into my Bollywood bouquet, hiding the smile that was plastered all over my face. "Thank you."

Lucan stuffed his hands into his pockets. "Beautiful flowers for a beautiful girl."

"Seems our first fight was a rousing success," I said, arranging the vase on my desk. "How absolutely precious."

"Well you know what they say about fights, don't you Navleen?"

"Hit 'em where no one can see their bruises?"

"That the best part about fighting is the make-up sex."

Jeeze, my office was sweltering. I licked at my dry lips, watching him through my lashes as he watched my mouth. "How would we be able to tell? We don't have anything to compare it to. Except you know, fooling around in your truck one."

"That was a killer night. You were so hot." Lucan shifted closer, forcing me back against the edge of my desk. He moved like liquid. "Are you almost done here? What're you doing after this?"

"I'm waiting for a call from one of our contractors in Germany." I had to lean back a little to look up at him. "Then I have a meeting with my design group in a couple of hours. We could hang out until then. I haven't eaten, have you?"

Lucan brushed some of my hair from my cheek; the feel of his fingers sending my stomach into skitters. "I could eat again," he whispered and kissed me.

It was all hot and open-mouthed with lots of tongue and rough sucking and hands groping my ass.

It was all very 0 to 60 in 3.5, as they say.

But I was in my office and empty or not, this was highly unprofessional behaviour. I forced myself out of his arms and then half-sank, half-fell into my chair. "If this was a Hindi film then that kiss would've definitely been censored."

Lucan slouched down in the visitor's chair in front of my desk. He smirked at me with lips slightly coloured from my lipstick. "If you didn't have work to do then I'd really give the boards something to censor."

We both looked at my desk. It was a decent size and if you moved my monitor and shoved aside all my papers and my pencil holder, a girl and a guy could really get up to some fun times on it.

I cleared my throat and changed the subject. Best not to walk down the path of temptation, as it were. "So am I still invited to your brother's wedding?"

"Well yeah. Maybe I have some anger issues and whatever but I'm really looking forward to you being my date."

I beamed. It was nice to be wanted by a guy who wouldn't liken your breasts to hairy, tropical fruit. "Water under the bridge my friend. Say, you didn't really go down to the square and pound the hell out of some punks, did you? 'Cause that's what Rafe told me and I'd feel bad for those punks, getting beat 'cause of me."

Lucan rolled his eyes. "Rafe's a little shit. I just went to the gym."

"Oh. I knew that."

"I only get into fights when I'm really pissed."

Jeeze. "Right."

My cell rang. To my immense relief it was Mum, not Shetal calling to compare my chin to a cocktail samosa or something.

"You still at the kaam?" she demanded. "Vhen you coming home, hehn?"

"Not for a while. I'm meeting with my design group after this. Why?"

"Because that Tamil rascal Shetal is here, being highly rascally to me!"

I was surprised at the sheer annoyance in her voice. While she'd never quite liked any of the guys Radha Auntie had tried fobbing off on me, she never straight insulted any of them either. "Oh jeeze, tell me he isn't doing his impression of Mithun Chakraborty in that 'I Am A Disco Dancer' movie again is he?" I had to sneer in revulsion at the memory of Shetal gyrating his hips, pumping his fists and yodeling out that we join him in spelling out D-I-S-C-O. All during the appetizers of dhokras, pathras and mango lassies no less. Couldn't he have at least waited until the uhdhiyo had been served?

Needless to say, it had been an incredibly lengthy sort of night.

"And how rubbish he did anyvay!" One of Mum's favourite Hindi movies was 'I Am A Disco Dancer' and she hadn't thought too highly of Shetal's undulating and caterwauling. Though that hadn't stopped her from belting out D-I-S-C-O with him. "I tell you one thing dikra, he is the most bad boy!"

I was instantly suspicious. He hadn't dared to slime it up to Mum, had he? "Why? What's he doing?"

"He said to me...he vas doing...he is acting...oh hai Ram, is wery bad news!"

Mum was clearly upset and beyond that, I could hear shame in her voice. Immediately I was pissed. If there was one thing that could send me into a towering rage, it was knowing that my Mum was distressed. "Mum?"

"He say to me I had the top-class...front of blouse area and my...my backside of trousers!"

I dropped my phone, pissed and horrified and the tiniest bit amused that Mum couldn't bring herself to say 'breasts' and 'bum' to her twenty-three year old daughter. "He said what?"

"Also this shameless rogue vas making the hee-hee-hah-hah all the times. He say to me he vould like to see me doing one vet sari dance in the Hindi films. I am like a maa him, how he can tell me this naughty thing, I ask!"

I thought Mum being his mother was pushing it; Shetal was twenty-nine meaning that Mum would've had to have been nine to birth him. Ughs. "What's that idiot doing now?"

"He's in the loo. I fed him some chevro; he vill be there for long, long time."

"You beat the brown off him with your champaal if he tries any more hanky-panky with you," I snarled, furious. "Don't worry Mum, I'll handle this."

I disconnected and called up Mr. Khalil. "Do you think you could stay with Mum for a while?" I demanded without preamble. "The latest dipshit Radha Auntie tried to set me up with is over and he's making inappropriate comments. Mum's upset. I'm at work right now or else I'd be there to kick Shetal in the bloody kidneys."

"You need not worry, Navleen," Mr. Khalil told me quietly. A steely edge coated his words and it sent a little shiver racing down my spine. I'd never heard him sound so cold before. "I will take care of him."

I pondered that as I hung up. If Shetal's perverted buffoonery brought out a protective streak in Mr. Khalil, who went on to show Mum how much she meant to him then, I'd have to rethink where I was going to kick Shetal. Lord knew after eight years, Mr. Khalil and Mum could do with showing each other a little affection, even if it did come in the form of a push from a sleazy little dickface.

"Shit, there's never a dull moment at your house. It's like a friggin' Indian soap opera or something."

I blinked at Lucan, having forgotten that he was even in my office. "Dikshit and I parted ways last night and well, it never takes too long for my Aunt to find some other FOB to thrust my way. The latest is a perverted little weasel named Shetal who loves disco and can't spell worth shit." I scowled at my phone. "It's one thing to spend all night sending me stupid texts about my tits but when he talks doo-doo to my Mum, well that's just crossing lines."

"You want me to pound his face in for disrespecting your Mom? I don't mind, I like your Mom. She's awesome."

I smiled at him. My Mum was awesome and it pleased me that Lucan thought so too. "Mr. Khalil's taking care of it."

"Good." Lucan turned his attention to the square-necked, short-sleeved knit sweater I was wearing. "So I gotta know; in a purely detached, knowledge for the sake of knowledge, totally un-perverted sort of way."

I knew where this was heading. "Uh huh."

"What did this disco dick have to say about your tits?"

Chuckling at his use of alliteration, I dug up Shetal's text and showed it to him. "Can you top this bit of poetic genius?"

Lucan snorted with laughter. "I'd have to agree Cookie; your 'breests' are killer!"

I rolled my eyes. "You didn't read what he had to say about my ass."

if flowerz was a bum then urs wood B a champa.

There was simply no hope for it.

My contact called me while I was in the middle of telling Lucan how adorable I thought his grandmother was. I ended up talking longer than I'd expected, mostly because I loved my co-op job and being a creative force on the asbestos team was exciting to me. I got some great information for my next couple of projects from Mr. Lao and was so busy brainstorming, I'd nearly forgotten about Lucan again.

He was shaking his head in disbelief. "I never ever thought I'd meet a girl so hard-up for friggin' asbestos."

"Not asbestos my dear, asbestos safety." I logged off and shut down my computer. "Did you know that exposure to asbestos is the leading cause of worker deaths across Canada? Statistics show that four new cases of asbestos-related cancer are discovered every day. It's a huge problem facing workers all over this country and I'm hoping that with all the experience I gain here, I can get a job in the future doing asbestos research and prevention for different companies."

"I'm sure you could, Cookie." Lucan was gazing at me in an intense, assessing sort of way that made me feel uncomfortable. It was, I realized with dawning horror, not unlike how he'd gazed at Janie's picture last night.

I cleared my throat and studiously avoided his gaze. "So where do you feel like going? I Love Sushi is just around the corner and their spider sushi is amazing."

Lucan gagged. "Fuck I hate spiders. They're such hairy, crawly, creepy little motherfuckers. I refuse to eat anything with spiders in the name."

I tried not to bust out chortling but I probably wasn't too successful, given the offended scowl Lucan tossed my way. Biting my lip, I grabbing my bag and scooped up my Bollywood bouquet. "Actually they make the sushi with crab, not spiders. All that spider hair gets stuck in your teeth."

"That's it." Lucan plucked the vase from my hands and strode out of my office. "I'm giving these to my grandma. You, my spider-loving freakshow, are no longer worthy."

"Hey! Get back here punkass!" I chased him down, which wasn't an easy feat in double platform heels. "No backsies!"

Lucan spared me a pitying glance over his shoulder. "That's tag, genius." He stopped and took a deep whiff of the Bollywood bouquet. "Mmmm, these smell sssooooooooo good. Grandma's gonna love them. I wouldn't worry too much though; your Disco dude will probably show up a bag of dried chrysanthemums or something."

Or even worse...champas to resemble my rear end. "Yeah, okay flower snob." I stuck up my nose and sailed past him. "As it turns out Moretti, I'm quite capable for buying flowers for myself. It's the twenty-first century and I'm an independent, intelligent woman. I can buy my own flowers and hairy spider sushi anytime I want."

And then, like the true independent, intelligent woman of the twenty-first century that I was, I waggled my tongue out at him.

"Aww shit." Sighing, he shoved the vase back into my hands. "I'll never get some if I hold onto this and your tongue is making me think dirty things."

"Oi!" I glowered at him as I put on an Indian accent. "I am most chaste Hindu girl. I don't do any hanky-panky business with the bad boy like you."

Lucan snorted. "You almost let me pluck your flower in my truck the other night, remember?"

"Fucking Dikshit," I muttered, scowling. Because hells above, I'd never wanted anyone to pluck my flower and string a garland with it as much as I'd wanted Lucan to. I could tell Mum all the doo-doo lies I wanted but I couldn't lie to myself; I was gone for my Italian chap-vitch.

Trying not to think about things I wasn't ready to confront yet, I focused on my Bollywood bouquet. Up ahead of me, the elevator dinged open. "Oh shit, come on!"


I snagged Lucan's elbow with one hand, clutched my vase with the other and with an extra burst of speed born from years of running for the bus, I managed to shove us into the empty elevator. "It takes fucking years for the other elevators to come up if we miss this one," I said, pressing the ground floor button. "That's one of the downsides of working on the fifteenth floor."

My cell beeped from the depths of my bag. I carefully set my flowers down on the floor, not wanting to risk juggling the bouquet, my bag and cell all at once. "Oh holy Gods, what now?"

Did I dare check it?

i am south u r west. 2gether we will make magik masala & lite the sky up lyke fatakara.

Yep, I dared.

"This idiot is the limit," I complained, suppressing my gag reflex only just barely. I didn't want to make change for the bloody bus with the likes of Shetal Vaanavaraayar, let alone make any 'magik masala', whatever the fuck that was. Probably it was best not to think of it.

"Check out the latest," I demanded, thrusting my cell under Lucan's nose. "I can't believe he's still-" I stopped, surprised to see that Lucan's eyes were clenched shut. He was plastered against the back corner of the elevator, clutching the railing that ran around all three wall with bloodless knuckles.

"Hey. Are you okay?"

No reply.

I repeated the question and touched his shoulder. He was rigid beneath my fingertips. "Are you afraid of elevators, Lucan?"

His head jerked in the tiniest of nods. "Heights too," he whispered, barely audible. His breaths were coming out in rapid, shallow little pants. "Couldn't look out your office window. Looked at you instead."

I gaped at him. "How did you get up to my office then? You didn't take the stairs did you? Up fifteen friggin' floors just to give me flowers? Jeeze Lucan, you could've just met me downstairs once I finished work!"

"Had to apologize. Wasn't that bad."

This my brain couldn't compute. Hell, I wouldn't walk up two flights of stairs if there was an elevator handy. "But you weren't even winded!"

"Watched you for a while." He smiled slightly, his eyes still squeezed shut. "You're pretty."

"But why didn't you say anything?!"

"Didn't see the elevator. Too busy checking out your ass. Then you just shoved me in this death box." His lips twisted wryly. "Spiders and elevators. Fucking lame, eh?"

"It's not lame," I whispered, guilt assuaging me at the tense way he was holding himself. I slid my arm through his and placed my hand over his taut one. "I'm sorry Lucan. I didn't mean to drag you in here."

He turned his hand over to clutch mine...hard. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Not your fault."

"We'll be outta here quick," I told him and kissed his white knuckles. "I promise."

His only response was to tighten his fingers around mine.

I anxiously watched the numbers light up as we went down and then cursed them for being so fucking slow.

And then, before we could continue onto the seventh floor, the elevator screeched to a noisy, jarring halt that sent Lucan and I crashing into the corner. The overhead lights promptly went out.

"Oh fuck!" I cried, reacting purely on instinct. "My flowers!"

Stupid I know but hey, a girl like me doesn't receive Bollywood bouquets from a guy like Lucan every day.

Beside me, Lucan started to hyperventilate. "Oh Jesus no, oh God not again, please no, oh fuck, oh fuck, ohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuck-"

A buttery dim emergency light flickered to life. Fortunately, my flowers were alright. Unfortunately, my chap-vitch wasn't.

"Oh fuck. Ohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuckofuck-"

He didn't seem to be on the verge of stopping any time soon. His face was bone-white, sweat beading his ashen forehead and upper lip. His chest was heaving with the effort to breathe; his words low and wheezy.

"Uh Lucan?"

"Can't do this again," he choked out, his eyes darting around the elevator. His resemblance to a cornered, frightened animal was high at that moment. "Happened once. Fucked me right up. I stay here I'll die. I'll fucking die. Oh shit, oh Jesus, I'm gonna die in this fucking box!"

"Hey!" I caught hold of his chin and hauled him down to my level. "Nobody's gonna die in here. The lights went off so that means there's just a problem with the power. There's not going to be any snappy cables or any of that Hollywood bullshit, got it?" I bore my eyes into his wide, anxious one and willed him to understand me. "I'm gonna use the emergency phone and get us out of here. We're gonna be fine and nobody's gonna die, understand?"

Lucan twisted free and shoved me aside. "Oh what the fuck do you know?" He slid bonelessly down the wall and buried his face in his knees. "Why God, why, why this fucking bullshit again? Oh Christ, Oh God, Our father who art in heaven-"

I sighed. Men could be such babies; they always thought they knew best. I crouched down in front of the elevator panel, picked up the emergency phone and pressed the little help button. A woman with a heavy Guyanese accent came on and confirmed which building and elevator I was in. Then she explained that trained personnel would be arriving to my office building as soon as possible.

"Him get dere lickety-quick," she assured me, her voice soothing over me like turquoise waves. "Yanno worry, yah hear me gurl?"

Her accent had me smiling. It was so soft and musical-like that really, who could've fretted after hearing it? I should've let Lucan talk to her, I decided. He had moved on to praying fervently in Italian.

I scooted next to him and got comfortable. "Hey Lucan? They're gonna be here really soon. There's a power outage in this grid. The power company's on it so it won't take too long to get things up and running."

He ignored me. Now that I sat closer to him, I could see that his shoulders were shaking. I cupped the back of his neck, wincing as he stiffened. "Did you hear me? They're working on it. We aren't gonna be here long."

"How the hell do you know? Last time I was stuck in an elevator, they took two fucking hours to get me out! I was alone and just did calculus so I wouldn't fucking slit my throat! I couldn't breathe, I couldn't move, I couldn't-"

"Well this time you're not alone, are you?" I kept my tone mild, easy. I rubbed his warm skin. "I'm with you and I'll get you through this. I promise."

Lucan raised his head. It was strange, seeing his normally swarthy skin so wan. "You think I'm a fucking pussy. Jesus, I feel so fucking dizzy."

I brushed damp hair from his eyes. His pupils were dilated. "I think you're awesome," I admitted, quite honestly. "You can't help your fears. How about you take some deep breaths with me? We'll go slow."

"My heart's fucking racing." He started tugging at the neck of his t-shirt. "I can't even breathe. Goddammit, it's even worse than last time, I'll fucking die-"

"You're not going to die." I took both of his clammy hands in mine and squeezed. "Do you think I would let anything happen to you? We haven't even screwed yet."

That got his attention.

I lowered my voice, blazing on. "There's no one here to interrupt us. No Dikshit, no parents, no bogus office rules, nothing. Just me and you and all the sexual tension between us."

"I can't." His voice cracked. "I can't believe I'm saying this but I can't, not here, not like this, not when I-"

"Come on sweetheart, breathe. You're getting all worked up."

His eyes bugged out. He yanked his hands out of mine. "I'm not getting goddamn worked up!"

Okay, that was obviously the wrong thing to say. Heaven forbid if I offend his manly sensibilities. I switched tactics. "So how did your brother and his fiancé meet? Since I'm still your date, I should know a little bit about them. I'm actually really excited; I never went to a white wedding before."

He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He did it a few more times, struggling to waylay his panic. "Guido's a correctional officer at Springhill," he finally muttered. His eyes were closed again. "One of the kids there got knifed in a gang fight and went into cardiac shock. Guido ended up going to the hospital with him and he met Jen there. She's an ICU nurse." He closed his eyes and did some more deep breathing. "Guido freaks a lot of people out. He's 6'4 and built like an army bunker. Jen's from Newfoundland and grew up with four older brothers. She's got no problem handling him. Secretly, I think he likes it."

"How'd he propose to her?"

"They went skiing at night and Guido had the guys operating the chairlift to stop it right when they were near the top. There were fireworks and then he popped the question."

My girlie side had to gush. "That's so romantic!"

"I was shocked. If you knew my brother you'd know that he doesn't do romance."

"And how about you?" Playfully, I skimmed my fingers along his arm. "Do you do romance?"

"If I wasn't so fucking spooked right now I'd show you how I do romance." He glanced up to the elevator panel and started hyperventilating again. "Oh shit Navleen, we're still-"

I was worried he was going to pass out; he was blowing off CO2 like blond cheerleaders blow off nerds. Or at least they do in the world of American movies and TV. In my high school none of the cheerleaders were blond; the majority of them had been either black or Filipino.

So I did the only thing I could think of and swung a leg over him. I straddled his lap as he gaped up at me. His breathing speeded up. "It's just me and you hotstuff," I whispered, sliding my hands into his hair and lowering my face to his. "There's nothing else."

My lips touched his dry, nervous ones. His sharp, shallow breaths painted me with his panic. I breathed against him, lightly rubbing my mouth over his. I licked at the full curve of his lower lip but he still remained unresponsive. Undeterred, I gently nipped. He wrenched his head away, cursing in Italian, but I remained unfazed; I was a stubborn Solanki. I needed to distract him from his anxiety and distract him I would. He wasn't going to pass out on my watch, that was for fucking sure.

I went to work on his neck, licking those swirling twists of heat and flame that bore his name upon his skin. He was salty, fearful. His body shook against mine, out of terror instead of passion. His heart was nearly pounding out of his chest; so hard I could practically feel it.

"Stop," he croaked, catching my wrists in a shivering, damp grasp. "Can't do this, Cookie. I keep staring up at those fucking numbers and seeing-"

Bringing back the power could take hours. We both knew it and the Guyanese woman knew it too, no matter what I told Lucan. So I soldiered on. "Guess I'll have to give you something more exciting to look at."

I squirmed until he released me and then I squirmed down on his lap a little more. Just to keep things exciting; I didn't want him to forget what I was sitting on, afterall.

Slowly, I pulled my teal sweater off. In my mind, I was going for long and sultry. My back would arch, my breasts would be all full and golden and I'd shake my hair so that all those inky waves would ripple around my shoulders and down my spine. Lucan would instantly snap out of his panic attack in the face of my sensual, exotic hotness.

In reality, my elbow caught in my sweater and I had to wriggle a lot before it went on to catch on my necklace. Then my hair went all static-y. Obviously not my finest work but in life, you just had to work with what you had. I attempted to smooth down my hair and ploughed forth. "Like what you see sweetheart?"

I was wearing grey low-rise skinny jeans and my bra was shell pink. It made my honey brown skin darker by contrast. Lucan swallowed hard. Turns out, he wasn't paying much attention to my hair afterall. "Yeah."

His breathing was slowing. Pleased, I seized his hands and slid them down my sides to my waist. "Kiss me," I ordered on a breathy sigh. His artistic, mathematical hands felt delicious on my bare skin. "And I'll let you take my bra off."

He swallowed again. A bit of colour was slowly creeping into his cheeks. "You sure? With me like this? Here?"

"Why not? Remember that Aerosmith song? 'Love in an elevator, lovin' it up when I'm going down'?"

He frowned. "But we're not going down."

Good Ganesh. Having never seduced anyone before, especially someone in the throes of an panic attack, I saw that it was a lot more work than I'd previously anticipated. I shifted closer and pressed myself shamelessly up against his chest. I bit down on his earlobe. "That just means that we have more time to fool around."

"But I don't think I can-"

"Don't think." I slid my hands under his shirt and up the rough contours of his chest. "You know, your tattoos make me so wet. I never, ever would've imagined that I-"

He kissed me...

Oh thank fuck.


He poured all his fear, all his anxiety and frustration into that kiss. I knew I'd be bruised, swollen. He ate me, his hands clutching my hips like I was a lifeline to his sanity. So I took him, stroking his skin and soothing his racing heart. I let him dominate my mouth, let him kiss me like he'd just discovered it. His tongue slashed against mine, covered and coveted, marking me as surely as his hand would by ink. Little noises splashed out of me as I squirmed restlessly on his lap. His lips were a study in rubbing and rough.

My nipples hardened into fragments of glass as his fingers painstakingly crept upwards to caress the edge of my bra. I was so wet with slick heat that I actually throbbed for him to fill me.

Lucan cupped my breasts, his fingertips catching on my tight nipples. He knew exactly how to touch me; how to stroke without squeezing, how to excite without pain.

My name was pressed against my lips like a prayer; fervent and rushed.

I arched into his touch, allowing his control to curl around me like a twisting ribbon. I let him take charge, I let him take him. It was new for me, this letting go. When I was intimate with a guy, I liked to either give as good as I got or be the one setting the pace. I was never a passive spectator; I wasn't the sort of woman who lay back and thought of England while her man slaked his pleasure from me.

I had my own pleasure to slake.

Still, I couldn't deny that allowing myself to become Lucan's distraction was hotter than I ever could've imagined. Even as the feminist inside me protested, I couldn't deny it.

"Don't stop," I muttered as his lips slashed over the line of my jaw, behind the curve of my ear, down the slope of my neck. Ripples squeezed low in my stomach as I writhed. I could feel him lengthening under me, so thick and deliciously hard. He wasn't thinking about the elevator anymore, that much was certain.

Dear Gods above, he felt huge.

"Holy fuck," he gasped, looking up at me with huge, dilated eyes. He cupped my hips and stilled my frantic movement. "Gotta slow down Cookie. Been a few months for me."

It had been more than a few months for me but I didn't care. I wanted him with an intensity that was rapidly becoming mindless. I yanked at his t-shirt, managing to get it off him with a lot more aplomb than I'd managed with my own top. I took in the brilliant colours smudging his skin; handfuls of rainbow fraught with meaning. The equations running down his chest soaked my undies. I studied my fingers as they scribbled over numbers and variables, over Calculus and Biometrics, over concepts I'd long forgotten. The phoenix on his shoulder beckoned to me with jewelled eyes and flamed wings, daring me into its heat. "You're beautiful Lucan."

Surprised tinged my voice as surely as ink tinged his skin. He was truly beautiful, in a way that no other guy had ever been. I understood then, at that heated moment of pure passion, that whatever came tomorrow, I would never, ever forget how beautiful he was in his panicked lust, watching me with such blazing intensity.

His hands caught mine, holding them to the race of his pounding heart. "This tattoo is from that day, so I wouldn't forget. I did Calculus so I wouldn't go fucking insane. I thought I was gonna die."

I leaned in and kissed him, slowly. All parted lips and languid promises "I'll keep you from going insane."

He shook his head, all huge eyes and paling skin. "Can't do this. God it kills me to say but I keep thinking that-"

I got to work on his belt, kissing up his muffled protests like they were handfuls of chocolate. "Didn't I tell you not to think?" I reminded him against the moist flesh of his lower lip. He tasted of my MAC lipstick, of me.

I was too far gone to think about what I was willing to do for him; what I disliked doing for other guys. He was rigid under my fingers; hot and thick and oh so rigid. He was bigger than any guy I'd ever been with but of course I couldn't tell him that; panic attack or not, any guy would be insufferable after hearing that kind of info.

I loosely circled my hand around his cock and started a slow, teasing slide down. The heat of him seeped into my skin like his kisses. I leaned close and nipped at his neck. "Is it good sweetheart?"

He grunted out something incoherent, something in Italian maybe but it was good enough for me. His head knocked back against the wall, his eyes clenching shut. Sweat dotted his brow but this time it was from me and not his fears.

"You're hot for me, aren't you?" I raked my teeth down the slope of his neck hard, collecting salt and saffron ink. His tattoos were fire on my tongue, liquid in my core. I started an unhurried journey back up his cock, revelling in his gasping curses.

"Fucking shit, fucking hell, fucking d/dxC = 0."

I blinked at that but didn't stop. There were weirder things out there than reciting the derivative of a constant while getting a handjob in an elevator... Shetal Vaanavaraayar for example.

"Harder," he ground out, his hips snapping into my grip. "Jesus fuck Navleen, I swear-"

I rubbed the leaking tip of his penis with my thumb. I kissed up his protests while groping for my bag with my other hand. I managed to get it unzipped and then fumbled around for the emergency condom I always kept handy. I nibbled at Lucan's lips as I traced a thick vein down his cock. "Wanna see a neat trick?"

"...huh?" It was a moan torn from swollen lips.

It didn't look like he could tell me his name let alone answer questions and didn't that give me a fucking rush. I always liked to be in charge during sex and this was no exception. Smirking, I settled on my knees between his legs and held up the condom. "Watch this."

So he might've had something to say if he wasn't half spooked and all horned up but my rule was, unless I saw paper proof, I used a condom for everything, oral included. Better to let the guy bitch and beg than me end up with the clap down my throat.

I carefully opened the wrapped and holding Lucan's gaze, I slipped the cherry-flavoured condom into my mouth and then made a production of licking my pursed lips and showing him what I had inside.

His eyes bugged out of his head.

I moaned deep in my throat to ham it up. Guys got off on that breathy shit. Still keeping eye contact, I dug his dick out of his pants and gave him a few quick jerks.

He bit out something that sounded a lot like, "Erful."

Parting my lips around the condom, I gently pressed the circle of my mouth around his uncut, moist cock. It really was a pretty superior specimen, all things considering. Penises weren't what I'd call attractive. Sure they felt fantastic when they were all boned up and working for you but the rest of the time they weren't much more than ugly, floppy inverted turtle heads. Lucan's was the most attractive one I'd ever seen outside of gay porn and that was saying a lot.

It was also the biggest one I'd ever seen outside of porn and that sent my heart racing.

I pressed the condom to the tip of his penis and started unfurling it with my tongue, careful not to accidentally get my teeth in the way. The sickly sweet cherry flavour made it bearable...pleasurable actually and I found myself gasping and whimpering for real. He was big and my mouth could barely fit around him. I breathed through my nose, working my tongue down the thick length of him. I continued stroking him while I slurped him up, giving him the dual treatment as it were.

I felt Lucan gather my hair up in his fist so that he could watch me pleasure him. Inwardly, I had to roll my eyes. What was it with guys always wanting to watch their dicks getting sucked?

"Holy fuck," Lucan breathed above me. "Holy shit on toast. Mio Dio."

God knew giving blowjobs weren't high on my list of sexual priorities but I'd be lying to myself if I denied that there was something so fucking hot about sucking off a guy that you were totally wet for. Like he was so sexy and sweet and intelligent that even this wasn't a bad thing, not when he was so amazing.

I got the condom in place with a little help from my fingers and then I went to town, swallowing as much of him as I could and bobbing my head in that stupid way that guys love. I groped for his balls, feeling them, caressing them. He didn't shave them but they weren't as hairy as an Indian guys; Indian men made Italian men look like bald cantaloupes.

"Jesus Cookie." Lucan's hand was clenched around my hair. "Don't stop, Christ just like that-"

I didn't have to work too long, thankfully. I licked at the thick vein running along the underside of his cock before mouthing at his tip. His body stiffened, his hand tightening in my hair. "I'm going to, holy fuck, here it comes, Navleen-"

Warmth filled my mouth but without the taste. All in all, I was relieved. He'd said my name and not some Calculus bullshit at the big moment.

Lucan's head thudded loudly against the elevator wall. "Marry me," he demanded, his chest heaving.

"That's what all the guys say after I blow them," I replied, slipping the condom off. I knotted it and stuffed it into a wad of tissues I kept in my bag.

"You were that good through a condom." There was a lot of awe in his voice. "Fuck."

"Show me you're clean and next time the condom goes."

"There'll be a next time?"

"Of course. Golden rule remember?" I poked him in the chest. "You owe me oral, buddy. Don't think I'll forget."

"Come here." He roughly hauled me up by the waist and settled me back on his lap, his mouth tearing at me. He fumbled with my jeans, managing to get in a few grope he undid my button and zipper. Then he was cupping my electric blue undies and stroking that moist, throbbing heat so that I was grinding against him, pleading with my body. He slid that damp material aside and then they were on me, those long, artistic fingers, rubbing my clit so hard and so quickly that my head spun.

I tore my mouth from him and buried my face into his shoulder. I was breathless and unable to even exhale as my orgasm crashed over me like a thousand skies rupturing. I stiffened in his arms, my teeth sinking into his hard skin in a wordless cry. It seemed to go on endlessly as he slid two fingers inside me and yet it happened so fast. My box, still wet and oversensitive and filled with him, tightened around him.

"Aw shit," I wheezed when I finally found my voice. I felt like he'd melted my bones. "I never came so fast in my life."

Lucan froze. His fingers slipped out from me. "You already came?"

"It's a little embarrassing."

"Babe." He kissed the top of my head. "It's hot as hell."

"This doesn't mean I like you," I warned him, shoving handfuls of hair from my sweaty face. "Don't expect that again."

He trained his gaze on me and casually licked his fingers. "Mmm. I love eating Indian."

I had to punch him in the arm for being such a cheese bag.

He dragged me up against his chest and kissed me. "You think I'm amazing. Admit it."

"I admit nothing," I retorted haughtily. I was pleased; he didn't seem to notice that we were still stuck in an elevator between the seventh and eighth floor. "Anyway, you're the one who wants to get hitched after one blowjob."

"The subject of blowjobs occupies a lot of my time."

"Well that is shocking," I declared, rolling my eyes.

"So what're you doing tomorrow night?" He caressed my waist, stroking his warm hands over the dips and curves of my body. He nuzzled my neck. "I'm playing at the Fresh Mermaid. You should come by. I promise to make it worth your while."

"Sounds like a plan," I murmured, holding him to me. "I like having you in my debt."

He lifted his head. "We're still in here," he whispered, his face draining of colour. "Jesus Navleen, we're still fucking in here!"

Oh hells. Don't tell me he going to need another bj; I had no more condoms left.

"You just, how could you, you're so-"

I pressed my fingertips to his mouth. "Hey, take it easy. Didn't I tell you I'd get you through this?"

To my ever last relief the lights came blaring back on at that precise moment.


But Lucan wasn't in the mood to hear me gloat. He shoved me off him, grabbed his t-shirt and fell on the elevator panel in one whirlwind of a move. "Get me the fuck outta here," he snarled, banging on the seventh floor button a few thousand times.

I tried not to giggle.

"Oh thank fuck," he cried as the elevator halted. He didn't even wait for the doors to open all the way but shoved himself through the narrow opening like a bullet being fired. "Come on!"

"I don't think so." I scrambled up to the panel and pressed the 'close door' button before anyone could catch sight of me. "I'm half-naked and my undies are all twisted up. I'll meet you downstairs."

Lucan's expression was one of incredulous disbelief as the elevator shut in his face.

I straightened my underwear, did up my jeans and pulled on my sweater. I collected my bag and my Bollywood bouquet and then leaned against the wall, a picture of professional composure.

Inside, not so much.

I had just given a guy a blowjob in the hopes of preventing a full-blown panic attack and I had enjoyed it. A guy who wasn't even my boyfriend; a guy I liked so much that I'd rather blow him than watch him freak out.

This was bad news.

I hated giving blowjobs.

Pete the security guard was milling around with the elevator repairmen and a few stray office workers.

"You okay kiddo?" Pete asked me, watching as I made a beeline for the garbage can under his desk. I had some biological waste to dispose of, as it were. "You weren't afraid were you?"

"Course not." I smiled at the repairmen. "You guys do good work."

One of the repairman shrugged. "Power company did most of it. We're just here to check shit out."

I scanned the lobby and saw Lucan standing next to the decorative fountain, watching me. He must've run straight down seven flights of stairs to solid ground. Hiking my chin up, I stalked across the lobby, my heels clicking sharply across the marble floors. He was no longer pale and sweating, I saw with relief. "Just so we're clear, I did that because I was worried about you, not because I actually like doing that, okay? So you better not expect that I'll just drop-"

"Shut up Navleen." He yanked me into his arms, Bollywood bouquet and all and hugged me hard enough to crush ribs. His hand slid into my hair and he cupped the back of my head. "Thank you."

And he held me tight for a long time. He shook in my arms so what could I do? I held him back just as tight.

"Do you think something's wrong with me? I bet something's wrong with me. Something has to be wrong with me. I mean who actually likes giving blowjobs? Most girls only do it to either get some back or to keep their idiot boyfriends from whining about it all day." I made a face. Christ hadn't I hated when Jiten would whine.

The look on Sayeed Siddiq's face was best left to the imagination.

We were sitting in the lab with our beloved wind turbine, waiting for our other design project member to show up. Allie was running late and frankly, I had to discuss my lapse in judgement with someone.

"I mean so what if he's funny and smart and sexy and all Italian badass. Those things shouldn't matter right?"

"Uh..." Sayeed gazed longingly at his cell phone, as though willing it to ring.

"Imagine if you were a girl." I paused. "Or gay. Would you enjoy going down on a guy? Hanging around with some idiot stuffing his meat down your face?"

Sayeed blanched. He choked on nothing and then started tugging on the collar of his shirt. "Uh...I can't say I've given the topic much thought."

"Well you should, the next time your girlfriend decides to get fancy for you." I sulked. "I don't even know why I did it. I mean yeah he was hyperventilating and I thought he was gonna pass out but I shouldn't have been so eager to get into his damn pants. I should've just taken off my own pants. Why did I stop at my top? It's like I lose my ability to think like a rational woman around him!"

"Maybe you like him," Sayeed tentatively suggested.

I snorted. "Of course I don't like him."

He blinked at me. "If you don't like him then why would you...you know."

"I like him but I don't like him. I still have feelings for my ex."

"You mean that guy who left you?" Sayeed asked, as if I needed reminding. "That really preppy white guy? No offence Navleen but he seemed pretty pretentious to me. Like when he tried to give me financial advice. I'm a broke student using a line of credit. How the hell am I supposed to invest in mutual funds when I can barely afford a box of KD?"

I rolled my eyes. "He was christened Spencer Augustus Charles Beauregard the IV. He learned how to sail before he could walk. Of course the guy's pretentious."

"Before you started dating him, would you ever have gone down on him?"

"Oh good Ganesh no," I blurted out, wrinkling my nose. "I mean please. Do I look like a tart?"

Sayeed flicked my forehead.

I got a clue. "Oh. I see what you did there."

"I think you like this Italian guy more then you wanna admit."

I was afraid of that.

I came home to find Mr. Khalil's car parked in the driveway. Thankfully, Shetal's rust-red '93 Toyota Tercel was no where in sight. Inside, the all the lights were off. It was quiet, with the exception of the gentle din coming from the TV. They were watching a Chinese lady give two blond guys a tour of the Great Wall. I stuck my head into the TV room and felt my heart melt. Mr. Khalil and Mum sat next to each other on the loveseat. Mum had fallen asleep on Mr. Khalil's shoulder, one hand resting limply on his knee. Mr. Khalil had his arm curled around her, his other hand resting on top of hers. They were a picture of domestic serenity.

I watched them until Mr. Khalil eventually glanced up. His eyes grew enormous behind his glasses. Colour suffused his face as he hastily but gently extracted his arm from around Mum. "She fell asleep," he blurted out. "She has been under quite-"

"Mum falls asleep at the drop of a hat," I whispered, a grin tugging at my lips. I looked straight into those gold-rimmed glasses. "You know that I'd give anything to be able to say that you're my step-dad, right?"

If Mr. Khalil had been panicked before, it was nothing compared to now. I'd never spoken so frankly to him before. "Navleen..." He was at an uncharacteristic loss for words. "These things...such things are not possible."

"You love her and she loves you. Why else should anything matter?" I smiled at him. "Thanks for looking out for her today. It means a lot to me."

I left him to think about that. I made myself a sandwich and took it upstairs. I logged onto my computer and found that Spencer had sent me a Facebook message telling me to call him.

"Hey pretty lady."

I swallowed at the sound of that familiar voice. I was reminded forcibly of what I'd done for Lucan this afternoon and what I felt for him. "Hey yourself. How's life in the States?"

"Awesome. Crazy busy. Lonely as hell without you."

"You can't blame me for that."

"No I can't." There was a pause. "So how do you feel about me coming up for your graduation?"

My jaw dropped. "What, for real? Seriously?"

"Seriously." His voice softened. "I really wanted to come up and watch you present your design project but I have finals that week. I can't miss your graduation though. You've worked your cute little ass off. I'm so proud of you Navleen."

I ducked my head, pleased and flattered and slightly embarrassed all at once. "Thanks honey," I said, the old endearment slipping out. "That means a lot to me."

"All my life, all I ever wanted to do was to go to Harvard to study law and now that I'm here, all I can think about is you. I made a mistake giving you up."

I flopped down onto my bed. We'd had this conversation before and it never got any easier. "You gave me up or I let you go. I guess it's the same thing, eh?"

"I so wanted you to come with me."

"And I so wanted you to stay."

He laughed. "I'll see you soon beautiful. Don't forget me."

I bit my lip. It seemed that I was already starting too and that bothered me more than I wanted to admit.


Ghee – clarified butter used in Indian cooking

Beedi – a thin, brown stinky Indian cigarette

Limca – a grey-coloured, Lemon Lime flavoured Pop

Kaam - work

Dhokras – a soft, moist Gujarati speciality the texture of cornbread. Made with a batter of rice and lentils

Pathras – rolls made from colocassia leaves and filled chickpea flour and spices; my favourite food in the whole world

Mango lassies – sweet, thick yogurt drink made with rosewater, ice and mango

Uhdhiyo – a Gujarati curry made mostly during the winter, with seasonal vegetables such as sweet potato and okra

Dikra – daughter in Gujarati

Chevro – a spicy, crunchy fried Indian snack mix

Champa – a flower; specifically a plumeria

Fatakara - fireworks

Author's Notes

Wow, this was a long, racy chapter. When I first toyed with the idea of writing Lucan's story, this elevator scene was the first one that came to my mind. Oral sex to shove him out of his fears; go figure eh. I don't know where or how this scene popped into my head but I've had it planned for so long and here it is. The first straight blowjob scene I ever wrote, hah hah! My poor Indian Mum, she'd just die of shame...if she only knew what a blowjob was.

And because I'm a nurse, please don't forget to use protection when having sex with someone whose sexual history you don't know. Even oral sex...not many people know that you can get STIs in your throat but I've seen it so

don't forget those condoms guys!

Also for everyone who's asked, Janie and Navleen will definitely meet in a future chapter and it will be antics.

And finally, thanks to everyone for nominating me and voting for me in the SKOW awards. 'Marrying the Vitch' is up for two awards and so is my long-suffering story 'The Gravedigger's Daughter'. You guys are so awesome, I can scarcely believe it. Honestly, all the support and love for this story from all my Indian and non-Indian readers has been amazing; I especially love hearing from readers who tell me how similar their parents are to Navleen's Mum or her crazy Auntie...I think we all know annoying people like that who think they know what's best for us.

I heart you guys an awful lot!

Incurable Adoration – Actually, Navleen would very much like to be a Mum one day. She's not purposely hiding that from her Mum; her Mum knows it. She just has a lot on her plate right now, with school and graduation, before she can think of kids

MayorAwesome – There's a seven year age difference between Lucan and Janie and while Janie is 18 and legal...yeah. It's still kinda weird.

star4sk – I don't feel that I'm playing up the Indian aspects of the story too much but of course you're entitled to your opinion. Navleen and her family are a close knit family who place a lot of emphasis on their culture, their values and their religion. Therefore a lot of those elements are conveyed in the story because those elements are part of who they are

Srish –Thanks for such a wonderful and thoughtful review! Just wanted to say that no, I won't be putting up character photos. I prefer that to keep the images I have of my characters in my head.

Chowdizzle– George Strombo...etc. for life! I've loved him since his days on MuchMusic when he was the only decent VJ there. I'm glad he's moved on to better things, Much sucks now.

ryse –Navleen was definitely judgemental in the last chapter but that's one of her flaws; we're all human and we all judge even when we know we ought not to. Unfortunately, I don't have any real-life images of what Janie looks like. She just popped into my head and I haven't seen the like of her since.

AlsofromCanada– Yay for us Indo-Canadians! Actually, I really wanted to create a strong, confident female lead so that's how Navleen came about. Twilight is shit; I can't understand why it's so popular, especially since Bella sends the feminist movement back a hundred years. Barf to her!

starsfinallyxplode –The whole marriage between Lucan and Navleen as opposed to the Mum and Mr. Khalil is a generational thing. It's becoming more accepted for Hindus to marry non-Hindus because we're living in Canada, which is a highly multi-cultural country. Of course there are still those parents who would forbid their children from marrying outside their culture. But second marriages, especially involving the older generation and people who are considered 'pillars of the community', would be frowned upon. There would also be a lot of gossip, most of it negative, and that is something neither Navleen's Mum or Mr. Khalil are willing to deal with. Yet.

eskar – Of course a mad Lucan is a sexy Lucan! And no, there will be no unnecessary hating on South Indians...where I live, it's South Indian galore and I love it!