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Spice and Secrets: Bollywood Confidential

Spice and Secrets: Bollywood Confidential

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Spice and Secrets: Bollywood Confidential

ratings:
4/5 (1 rating)
Length:
166 pages
2 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jun 14, 2017
ISBN:
9781386945840
Format:
Book

Description

When fear writes the past, only love can direct the future.

Priya Roy is back in Bollywood with a rock-hard body, a precious gem of a secret and a heart of ice. Producer/director Rahul Anand won’t waste this second chance at his first love. He’ll melt Priya’s resistance at any cost—even if it means returning to acting and negotiating his way onto her next project. Hell, if she’d give him half a chance, he’d write himself into every scene of her life.

Talk show host Sunita “Sunny” Khanna and her brand-new producer, Davey Shaw, are determined to get Rahul and Priya on her show for a ratings-boosting reunion episode. She and Davey strike instant sparks, but Sunny, burned after her disastrous marriage to a Bollywood bad boy, is determined not to fall into the fire.

Lurking on the edges of the frame is Rahul’s stepmother, trouble-making man-eater Nina Manjrekar. And when she hijacks the script, only honesty can turn a first draft into the romantic superhit it’s meant to be.

Publisher:
Released:
Jun 14, 2017
ISBN:
9781386945840
Format:
Book

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Spice and Secrets - Suleikha Snyder

Bollywood.

Chapter One

Bits of gold dust clung to her skin. She shimmered in the dim lighting of the hotel bathroom, as if she were still in the center of the spotlight, immersed in the dance. But Priya knew all too well that it was not her role in the drama that had mattered. The Raj, a sweeping picture about love and friendship in the time of the British rule, had somehow become a real-life documentary about backstage romance. Her costars had turned into leads in their individual love stories...while she looked on, an audience member.

"Arré, shabbash. She chuckled to herself, wiping glitter from her throat with a wet towel. Congrats. Way to over-intellectualize, Pree." Such a Bengali thing to do: beat a metaphor to death and gaze into one’s navel so intently that you lost sight of everything else.

But she could not deny that being on the set of a film again was strange. Different from the acting studio, the gym, the dance classes—everything Priya had done just to get back to this very place. It was a different world, one that had changed in the six years she’d been away. More competitive, harder, shinier. But she, too, had changed, na? Sometimes Priya barely recognized the girl she saw in the mirror. Gone were the baby-round cheeks, the soft curve of her belly, the generous swell of her breasts. In their place was a lean, almost harsh, physique. A body that the cameras and the unforgiving glass of her aaina both loved. Wow, the cinema magazines all proclaimed, Priya is rough and tough, Priya is a size one-two punch!

If only they knew how hard she’d truly fought. The Rose of Bengal had been forced to grow thorns. In the industry’s poisonous garden, such defenses weren’t unwelcome— but, still, she missed the delicate blossom, the sweet kid who hadn’t known any better than to enjoy the glamour and glitz. The Priya she’d become couldn’t play the heroine any longer. Only the vamp, the vixen, the item girl. The whore.

The word constantly hung at the back of her thoughts, like another mirror that showed only her ma’s shame, her baba’s rules and the part she’d played every single day under their roof of a contrite child desperate to prove herself. I’m sorry, she had told them. Don’t punish me, she had begged them. I won’t disappoint you again, she had promised. All the while, she’d cultivated her sharp edges. Touch her now, and you would come away bleeding.

Govind Joshi had brought her on to The Raj because of her rocking body and the sex it sold. She’d known passion, and it showed. That was her blessing and her curse: No one looked at her and saw a virgin’s role anymore. No one except Rahul Anand...who gazed at her across a room like she was still his naïve leading lady. If she closed her eyes, she could still feel the power of his. The way he’d watched her hips. How he’d followed the path of her hand as it seductively stroked Avinash Kumar’s chest, Harsh Mathur’s shoulder and Sam Khanna’s face. Rahul had catalogued her every move like it was a slight against the memory of the girl he’d known.

The girl he’d loved. The girl he’d abandoned without a second thought.

Stop it, she told herself. Just stop it. There was no use in looking back on the past. No point. What was done was done. Khatam. Shesh. Finito. Pick a language, it was all the same: over.

Priya’s breath caught in a sob that she forced back down, and she spun away from the damning mirror, returning to the alien cocoon of the rented bedroom. It had no memory, no judgment. Its pillows had hosted a thousand heads before hers and would host a thousand more after she was gone. There were no ghosts except the ones she’d packed in her bags. And in the pocket of one such bag she found the tiny, airplane-sized bottle of vodka she’d tucked away mid-flight. A vice she never allowed herself in Kolkata and only indulged in sparingly in Mumbai. But who would care in the wilds of Bihar if Priya Roy gave herself a one-two punch, na? She would put in an extra thirty minutes in the gym tomorrow, tack on twenty more sit-ups to her daily one hundred, and allow herself this one excess.

The first swig went down hot instead of cold, burning a path down her throat. The second mouthful was easier and fortified her when a knock sounded at the door.

Opening a door while holding a drink probably wasn’t the wisest course, but Priya was tired after the day’s shor-sharaba and past caring. If reporters were wandering the hotel, they were more likely to stumble upon Sam and Vikram Malhotra still celebrating their reunion than an item girl who wasn’t even drunk yet.

As it turned out, her luck was worse. It wasn’t a gossipmonger who stood in the hall but a judge. A handsome, serious judge in jeans and a silk panjabi shirt, his black hair overdue for a trim. Rahul. Of course. And, of course, he stole her breath. Caught unawares, she hadn’t time to put on her armor, to steel herself against him. So just taking in the sight of him was like being pushed from a cliff and plummeting headfirst into the sea. Her limbs remembered twining around him. Her mouth recalled, with startling clarity, his kisses. With just one glance, every bit of her clamored for a repeat of what her heart was determined to keep buried.

"Priya, yeh kya hain? What the hell is this? Tu kya karahe hu?" he demanded. He met her gaze, took in her nightclothes—stripped her of them—before his dark eyes focused like a laser on the tiny bottle of liquor.

Her laser targeted his words. "‘Tum,’ not ‘tu, she corrected, before scrambling for the safest, most distancing tongue. You lost the right to the most casual address, Rahul. We are strangers now. What do you want?"

What did he want? She didn’t have to ask. She knew. She’d known since she was a silly girl of nineteen, and she’d wanted the same thing just as badly. She often didn’t recognize her reflection in the mirror, but she still recognized the stupidity of her passion—of their passion, which burned far more than any liquor. How could she not, when she had to live with the consequences?

What do you want? she asked again—only this time she was posing the question to herself. Did she want Rahul to go? Did she want him to stay? Did she want a hundred apologies and roses laid at her feet? Or did she simply want his arms wrapped round her in silent reparation? Maybe all she needed was to banish the reality of him as firmly as she’d banished the memories. Khatam. Shesh. Finito.

He’d come for one thing, and here, in this anonymous room, in this remote place, perhaps she could give it to him—while keeping tight hold of everything else that mattered.

* * *

What do you want? she asked him, as if she honestly didn’t know.

Rahul shouldered past her into the room before he answered. Everyone’s partying in the lounge. Trishna asked for you. It was a flimsy excuse in the age of the text message, and they both knew it. But he’d waited for her for weeks. Biding his time. Pretending he cared about the production when all he was truly invested in was her arrival on set. Now that she was here, he didn’t give a damn about anything else.

Her eyes flashed. "So you presented yourself as a volunteer to find me? Ah-ha, ki generous," she dismissed, her tone dripping with sarcasm.

A sudden smile tempered the righteous indignation—and all the other emotions— coursing through his system. Unlike Trish Chaudhury, who’d grown up a Bombay girl and fired off Hindi like a weapon, Bengali was still Priya’s default. During the shooting of their one and only film together as actors, he’d constantly marveled at how she switched between three languages. He’d marveled at everything about her.

She was no less marvelous now, with her hair loosed, face clean of makeup and sparkles, dressed in a simple ankle-length nightgown. She didn’t look like the soft, baby-doll nineteen-year-old he remembered, but neither was she the seductive item girl who’d brought nearly every man on the set this morning to instant erection. She was something else. Something new. But his wanting...that hadn’t changed one bit. It still tasted sharp and young and reckless.

It was that recklessness that prompted him to remind her, There was a time you didn’t mind my brand of generosity.

Priya recoiled, shutting the door and pressing up against it. And then she looked to her vodka. "This is my brand tonight."

Oh, really? I can guarantee it doesn’t taste as good as a kiss.

She was well within her rights to strike him for his boldness. Instead, she tipped back the bottle, draining the last of the small measure of booze. She made a show of licking her wet lips. No need, Rahul. This is enough.

The hell it was. He crossed to her, plucking the tiny glass bottle from her fingers and tossing it aside. Liar. It’s not enough for you, and it’s certainly not enough for me.

There had been others in his life over the years. Even a brief engagement arranged by his father. But the prospect of bedding sweet Rashmi on their suhaag raat had turned his stomach. He’d been one girl’s first—God, and his arrogance, willing, her only—how could he be another’s? He’d cried off before the wedding cards could be printed. Every good memory he had of love was wrapped up in the woman before him. So how could he not wrap her in his arms?

Here, too, she should have slapped him, but Priya didn’t move. Pale faced, her beautiful brown eyes huge with surprise...it was as though he’d embraced a statue. A warm, soft, breathing statue. Minutes seemed to tick by before she reacted. And when she did, it was with a single, barely audible, word: Yes.

‘Yes’ what, Pree?

To what you came for. This was louder, but still remote. Almost mechanical. "That is why you’re here, na? To take me to bed?"

Yes. No. Definitely yes. He could lie to her. Lie to the world. But not to himself. Till his dying day, he would want her. Rahul reached out, stroking a wild strand of her hair before tucking it behind her ear. "I don’t want to take, Priya. I want to share."

She wasn’t quite unresponsive when he kissed her. More...unmoved. Holding herself back, away, as if she was only humoring him. "Nahin, Priya, he chided against the curl of her lips. Don’t invite me and also reject me."

I didn’t invite. I accepted the inevitable. Big difference. She showed him the details of such difference then, leaning in and returning his kiss. Here was her emotion: her fury, her resentment, her missing him. It was in the vodka-sharp taste of her mouth and the insistent attack of her equally bladed tongue. She raged, clawing at him, saying all the things with her kisses that she was still too sweet to speak aloud.

Rahul groaned, sweeping her up into his arms. It was a short trip to her bed and an even shorter fall to nirvana. Tugging up her gown, undoing his jeans, remembering to rescue the condom from his wallet. He kissed everything he could reach, committed to memory the altered plains of her body. There were straight lines where once there had been curves, ridges of muscle where there’d once been rolling hills. But he didn’t dare linger. Not when her favor clung as tentatively as her hands to his shoulders.

Thankfully, her body was more forgiving. She was slick and hot and ready, and they joined too fast, too hard...too in tune for a pair who hadn’t said so much as namaste in six years. She panted his name against his ear: harsh, erotic gasps. He cradled the points of her hips, rocking into her as deep as he could go. Not an invite, she’d said, just the inevitable. And, inevitably, it was over when it felt like it had just barely begun. Ten, fifteen, minutes crunched into a haze that seemed like mere seconds.

Baby, I missed you so much, he confessed as he collapsed into her—only to find that the gates were shut once more. She was utterly still, devoid of any passion—passion he knew she’d shared. There was no warmth to be found, no shelter after the storm. Still, he knocked. Thrice gently against the cage of her ribs. "Pree, let me in. Please, jaan."

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