The restaurant Ferdaus was filled with a buzzing crowd.
The smoke around the people twisted and formed curls, illuminated under the bar lights. The atmosphere was a hazy cloud, lingering against their clothes. Several people came in seeking shelter from the pouring rain outside. The customers of the restaurant turned to look at the entrance door- bell jingling. They glanced at the large crowd coming as the glass door was pulled open, and they watched as someone newstepped in behind them.
The woman walked into the bar for the first time in the winter rain.
She didn’t have an umbrella on her; her little sleeveless dress ended at her ankles, fully drenched. Her wet dress clung to her body, showcasing the outlines of her curves. In one hand, she was carrying the skirt of her dress. Suddenly, she let it go, and her long, bare arms moved upwards as she tried to fix her damp hair which had darkened in intensity due to the rain. It fell past her shoulders, the strands sticking to her face. She attempted to comb through the tangles with her fingertips.
The men watched her movements hungrily, their eager faces drawn to her and at the sight of someone new. Their eyes trailed from her face, to her wet body, then back to the movements of her hands entwined in her hair. Under her arm, she carried a book and a trench coat. It appeared strange she wasn’t wearing the coat when it was pouring outside and freezing in the middle of November. Men were left mesmerized by her, and she turned heads as she walked by. Something radiated from within her, drawing the men around her in.
The women who were with some of these men noticed their gaze on the unfamiliar woman. Now they stared at her with jealousy and anger.
Who is she? they wondered.
The bartender placed her drink, in front of her.
She eyed the amber liquid and the golden glow of the glass-like cubes in her cocktail. Sometimes, she ordered whiskey mixed with vodka because she liked the amber color, otherwise she preferred vodka. The bartender called it New York Whisk. She was entranced by the mini icebergs in the glass. She reached for her drink with her slim, long fingers.
The elixir of her life.
The strong tonic was the only cure to her life. She lifted the drink to her lips, and the taste burned her tongue and throat.
“Do you read E.L James?” she asked Kabir one day.
Kabir shook his head as he took a sip of his Red Bull. “I read her books before, but they’re not my type of romance novels.”
“Bondage isn’t your kink?”
He sputtered his drink, astonished at her direct question. He was mortified, as his mouth fell open, before clamping it shut again. He was stunned in silence at her boldness. His cheeks burned hot, and he didn’t know where to hide his face from her sight. His movements were frozen to the spot.
Did she really just say that out loud? he thought.
He noticed she was suppressing a smile, and she was enjoying his reaction. The sight of him blushing egged her on.“You’re very straight forward,” Kabir admitted softly.