Now that the spell had been broken... that unexplained hesitation finally conquered... there remained no more restraint. And Monday and Tuesday evenings proved to be a riot of emotion - breathless hours spent in the delectable labour of love... each playing thrillingly sensual games of erotic exploration, going further, and further on the path of enigmatic new discoveries... uncovering fresh erogenous zones, and stumbling upon cherished, yet closely-guarded secrets... soaring higher to reach ecstatic new heights, only to fall back exhausted, to begin afresh...
V. An Old Admirer
Mayank remained in a continuous stupor... a numbing daze, enwrapped in a mesmerising haze, bedazzled. The world suddenly seemed a distant illusion, vacuously meaningless; the past almost forgotten... and the people in it, practically non-existent. Ali and Kajol had looked on with a bemused curiosity; glad in their friend's newfound happiness, leaving him alone to rejoice and celebrate.
"Hi, Sandy..." Mayank said, picking up his mobile on the first buzz.
"What day is it?" Sandeep asked.
"Uh, Wednesday..." Mayank answered, unsure to the meaning of the question.
"And when was the last we met?" came the next question.
"Um, Sunday last... I mean, the previous one, a week and a half," finally getting the drift.
"So, where have you been, dude?"
Mayank laughed in reply.
"Hell, what happened to you, you just kinda vanished!" Sandeep exclaimed, sounding incredulous.
"Nothing like that, ah, Sandy, was um, busy..."
"Bullshit, busy my foot!"
"Serious, had to work on the plans for the upcoming festival, you know..."
But Sandeep cut in, "As it is, you hardly ever call, and it's always me who is calling up. And this week, it was the limit, you didn't even meet! Why don't you leave that silly job, it doesn't even give you time for yourself; and what do they pay you in return, huh?!
"I've said this a million times, and I'll say it again, leave that job and come over here, I need you," and even before Mayank could respond continued, "And this was the first weekend in, let's see, three months, we didn't even get to go surfing," his voice incredulous, "neither Saturday afternoon, nor the whole of Sunday!"
Mayank gave a short, uncomfortable laugh.
"And where were you?" Sandeep questioned, "Just couldn't even get through... 'unreachable', your phone kept repeating."
"Um, ah... kept it switched off, you know... like..." Mayank mumbled racking his brain for a sensible excuse.
"OK, don't need to give me any excuse..." Sandeep said, before adding, "be ready, I'll pick you up around five."
"Yes, today. We're going for..."
"Um, Sandy, not today..." Mayank hurriedly interjected.
"And why not? Another planned day-out with that Ali guy?"
"Nah, not Ali, just have a few things to do... have been delaying it for long..." Mayank said, sounding not too convincing.
"Well, do it some other time, today you're going out with me, period!"
"Mayank, I'm not complaining, but you haven't called me for a whole week, not even for surfing, and was 'unreachable' the whole of Saturday afternoon and Sunday," he paused for a moment and then on a more serious note asked, "Is something wrong? Was it last Sunday? If it was, then I'm really sorry... I know I behaved like a real idiot..."
"No, Sandeep, please, don't apologise," Mayank quickly said. "Honest, it's not that... I was really tied up and then..."
"Fine, if you're not angry about Sunday, then we're meeting this evening, be ready. Five-thirty!" and he rang off.
"God!" Mayank exclaimed, slowly putting down the instrument.
"Calling the Almighty in vain?" asked Kajol, peeking in at the door.
"Don't you guys ever work, huh, always popping in here?" Mayank responded, but with a welcome smile.
"Well, I won't take offence..." she replied, settling down, "So, what was that for?"
"Ah, a triangle in the making?" squealed Kajol.
"You, and your imagination," Mayank exclaimed rolling his eyes, "Kajol, you read too many of those mushy romantic novels I guess!"
"Hmm," she sighed, "So, what was he saying?"
"And rightfully so," observed Kajol as Mayank glowered down at her.
"Want us to go out for dinner and stuff."
"So, where's the problem?"
"Ah... um, I'd promised Harsh we'd meet up..."
"Then take him along..."
"I don't know, maybe Sandeep won't like it. He takes time, you know, to open up. Besides, he might..."
"You worry too much. Well, if you have a date with Harsh, why didn't you say so, tell Sandeep you can't come."
"I've not been calling him and this Sunday I didn't go surfing with him..."
"And feeling guilty now?"
"Not that, I like him, and..." he shrugged, "Shit!"
"It's only Harsh now, and nothing else appeals," she smiled at him.
"But that's also wrong, I mean, you were always hanging out with Sandeep and suddenly now you don't call him, don't meet him, and don't even go surfing... Well, Harsh is a surfer, introduce the two and let them work out their own equation, if they click, well for you."
"I don't think that's a bright idea... you know... I mean, I like him and don't want to lose his friendship... and if he catches on..." he shrugged before continuing, "he may have all sorts of negative ideas about... you know..."
"Well, if he is a true friend, he'll accept you the way you are, if not, he's not worth having as a friend!" Kajol replied.
"I don't know..." Mayank mumbled with a sigh and then shook his head, "I'll tell Harsh we can't meet up tonight."
They sped down the highway in Sandeep's gleaming sports convertible... along the rolling fields, lush with crop swaying in the gentle breeze - a sea of green, not unlike the rise and fall of the ocean waves... the cropland fringed by tall coconut palms. "Where are we going?" Mayank asked, watching the distant hills, tiny humps beyond the emerald fields.
"Well," Sandeep replied, his eyes fixed on the road ahead, "since you kept me waiting for a whole week, and never once called," he turned briefly, giving a smile, "I've decided that today we will just drive around... and for dinner go to this way-out little eatery I know, and then visit the beach."
"Bu... but you wanted to take me to the stud farm?" Mayank asked, surprised.
"Of course I do, but that will happen next Sunday," Sandeep responded, "I'll pick you up early and we'll spend the whole day at the farm. In fact, there are two live covers scheduled," Sandeep slowed down a little and turned to look at Mayank, grinning broadly, "you know what that means, huh?" and then answered his own question, "Well, breeding sessions where the stallion mount the mare, as opposed to artificial insemination," he explained, "and I want to show you my skills!"
"Duh, you do horses?" Mayank responded with an evil glint in his eyes, grinning back.
"You never know..." Sandeep laughed, once more speeding up.
They drove on for another half an hour, past small hamlets and various manners of kiosks and eateries catering to the needs of the tourists... Sandeep passionately talking about his farm, his horses, "Dad was here last week," he said, "and he was very pleased with my proposal for converting the old facility into a new business centre. He instantly approved it and this past week I even got a team together."
Sandeep had already mentioned it on numerous occasions, about his plans of converting the abandoned stud farm facility into a theme park... a 'wild-west' horse-land kind of place - with plans to redesign and modify the stables into theme restaurants, convert the old administrative block into a hotel, and the old research facility into a convention centre; add some cottages, and reclaim the pastures and tracks for organising equestrian and horse shows for visiting guests; and conduct regular riding classes for kids and grownups. "We'll have world-class facilities and impeccable food," he was saying, "and visitors can come for a day of lively fun and frolic, or spend a relaxed weekend."
They had entered a wooded area, dark under the huge trees, and swerving the car off the road onto a dirt shoulder, Sandeep cut the engine. "Want to have some beer?" he asked turning to look at Mayank.
"Um, not now," Mayank blinked, looking around, "and where are we exactly?"
"Well," Sandeep said, unhooking the seat belt and getting out of the car, "you've been in Goa for how long, over six months, and you haven't explored the place yet, eh?" And then seeing Mayank still sitting inside the car exclaimed, "What you doing in there, get out and let's walk, there aren't any tigers in these woods!" And as Mayank got out of the car, continued, "This is to the east, and you see that distant hill, further to the south, well, beyond that is the famed Bondla Sanctuary."
"Join me, Mayank!" he suddenly said, his voice earnest.
Mayank was taken aback by the abruptness and looked into his friend's eyes.
"Listen, Mayank, you won't be working for me, or for anyone else," Sandeep said, "that resort will be yours, to do what you want, how you want it. I simply don't like it there - the tourism or hospitality thing; besides, I'll be totally occupied with the new project. And as I mentioned, I've already got the core team together, and work should begin next week," Sandeep went on as they walked down the wooded path, "I need to be with them... and that will also keep me close to my horses, I will hardly have time for the resort, and I want someone to look after it, someone I can trust with my eyes closed," he reached out and took Mayank's hand. "I need you, don't make me beg..."
"Sandeep..." Mayank uttered in a hoarse voice, totally overwhelmed, "Sandy, please... please, I know I won't get a better offer, but please, I need time..."
"But that's something I don't have too much of," Sandeep replied impatiently.
"And you want to take such a big risk, appoint a greenhorn to head the operations?"
"I trust you," Sandeep whispered, "I know you can do it!"
"Will... will your dad agree, I mean I'm just out of college, a fresher, just six months of experience," Mayank replied, "and your resort is one of the biggest and the best, a part of one of the most exclusive chain... me, taking over?"
"This is a different company, my company. The Goa operation is my baby; the resort and the proposed park," Sandeep explained, "I'm in charge, and I'm answerable to myself. I'm responsible for all decisions, and so also, all consequences. Besides, I've already told dad about you, and he agreed!"
"Sandy..." Mayank hesitated; this wasn't something he had bargained for when he had accepted Sandeep's friendship. Despite the vast gap in their individual social standing, the love of surfing had made him ignore the difference... and over the months, Sandeep had given no reason for him to rue that decision. He felt honoured by Sandeep's trust and faith... but also extremely nervous, worrying if he could live up to it.
"I want you Mayank; I need you here, with me..." Sandeep said, once more taking Mayank's hand in his own, looking into his eyes, intense.
It was unnerving... it always felt weird when Sandeep spoke that way, in that tone... that funny look in his eyes... like he was... Mayank tried to force his mind away from the line of thought... `Why the hell would Sandeep even bother with someone like him?' he reminded himself. If he was indeed interested in guys, he could get any number of willing young men, just a subtle hint would be enough for them to flock to him... besides, he obviously would prefer someone from a similar background... Shit, Ali and Kajol were putting all sorts of crazy ideas into his head.
"Think, Mayank, you love that job, the hospitality industry, and with me, you can experiment, take your own decisions, develop the resort the way you want it," Sandeep continued, "while my horses keep me busy, and happy... And we can also have all the time in the world with our surfing, travel together along the coast and the Andamans..."
Mayank remained silent.
"Together to all the best spots in the Pacific..." Sandeep pleaded, "and the Caribbeans, please..."
"Sandy... um, thank you so much, but this is all so sudden, I need time to think it over..."
"What's there to think over, Mayank," Sandeep cut in, the tone suddenly irritable, "Don't you trust me?" and lifting his hand to stop Mayank as he was about to reply, added, "I'll give you all that you can ask for, in return I just want you to be with me!"
"Sandy, I really must think this over... This isn't a weekend surfing trip, this is a huge responsibility, not the resort or the job, but the trust that you place in me and I must be ready for the challenge."
"Fine, I'm a reasonable person, I can spare you two weeks, two weeks while I'm busy getting the work started on the new project," Sandeep responded with a smile, "but I want your answer by then. And let me tell you something, I never take a 'no' for anything!" he added with a short laugh.
Mayank nodded in silence... his mind whirling... a million thoughts racing around... and a peculiar sense of discomfort... a strange uncertainness...
"Where are you lost, dude?" laughed Sandeep, bringing Mayank back to the present. "You know, you are too serious, you worry too much," he added, suddenly sounding like Kajol. "Well, let's go, it's getting dark, and I'm starting to feel the pangs of hunger!"
They slowly walked back to the car and as they got in Sandeep turned to face Mayank, "Another thing," he said, his voice serious, "I don't like you hanging out with that Ali guy."
"Sandy!" exclaimed Mayank, the words taking him by total surprise, but Sandeep raised his hand, "I know he's your colleague and you can't stop meeting or interacting with him, but please, keep it confined to your work place."
"He's a very nice guy," Mayank said, in a small voice.
"Maybe, but a bit too loud, and kinda weird," Sandeep replied, starting the engine and adding, "Honestly, you should start learning to know who you keep company with," jarring him, sending an odd chill running down his spine.
Nothing had escaped Sandeep's eyes during the two short encounters they had had; and Ali had actually been exceptionally decent on both occasion - nothing theatrical, and none of that sharp tongue either. And yet, Sandeep had seen through it... his words made it amply clear as to what he felt about people like Ali... and himself... Mayank finally knew, and his heart sank.
And to think... just a few moments ago he had been wondering... and blaming Kajol and Ali for putting ideas into his head! God, if Sandeep ever found out... even sensed it... Mayank shuddered at the thought.
Well, that was it; Sandeep would never accept Mayank's sexuality... and that part of his life had to be kept a secret; he had to go on living a double life... keep Harsh hidden from Sandeep. He really didn't want to lose him, or his friendship.
They drove in silence for another fifteen minutes and then reached a small hamlet, a blinking signboard announcing 'Peter's Galley'. The food was as promised by Sandeep - excellent... and later they drove down to Calangute, walking down the beach, the waves washing their bare feet, Sandeep once more talking incessantly about his new project, giving Mayank all the details in an excited voice. And as the great church clock struck midnight in the distant, they got into the car and Sandeep dropped him at his place.
"Sunday," Sandeep reminded as he reversed the car, "I'll pick you up, at eight."
The phone was ringing as Mayank unlocked the door and entered.
"Hello?" he said, picking up the handset.
"Good evening, sir, there's a call for you," said the operator.
"Hi, is that Mayank," said a strange voice after a moment's pause.
"Gosh, where have you been the whole evening?" enquired the voice, "I've been calling your hotel since six!"
"And who might this be?" asked Mayank, wondering.
"Well, guess," said the voice before letting out a giggle.
"Beats me..." Mayank replied, in no mode for silly games, his mind still focussed on Harsh, wanting to talk to him, though he knew it was pretty late and the boy must have gone to bed.
"Ah, bad memory," said the mystery voice, and then added "Ajay."
Mayank wondered for a moment, searching his mind for the name... and then it blinked, "Ajay, you mean Ajay Tripathi?"
"Of course I mean Ajay," replied the voice, imitating Mayank's surprised tone, "Ajay Tripathi!"
"Wow, where have you been, huh?"
"Well, right now, I'm here, in Goa!" Ajay laughed, "And where have you been, Mr. Busybody?"
"Oh, out with a friend..." Mayank replied.
"Anyone I know?"
"I don't think so," Mayank said.
"Someone special?" Ajay asked.
"No, just a very good friend, and a fellow surf freak. By the way, how did you land up here, vacation?"
"Ah-hah," responded Ajay with relish, "that's a very interesting story, totally incredible! How about meeting up for lunch tomorrow and I can tell you the fascinating tale, huh?"
"Well... okay, fine," replied Mayank, surprising himself for agreeing to meet Ajay, so quickly.
"Great, where and when?" Ajay asked.
"Oh, well," Mayank said, suddenly feeling very tired, "give me a call around eleven-thirty and we can decide then..."
"Sure, see you tomorrow," Ajay replied.
Replacing the phone he walked into the bedroom and stared at the empty bed, suddenly feeling terribly lonely. The week had been one unending sequence of delightful companionship and togetherness... and suddenly the very idea of sleeping alone, especially after the previous three nights of unrestrained lovemaking, seemed almost frightening! Pulling off his clothes he debated for a moment, and then decided against calling Harsh... he might already be asleep, and there was no point in waking him up.
To be continued...
a story by outlaw
If you enjoy the story, please do mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org