With memories of that night still fresh in her mind it took quite an effort for Rose to come out of her reverie. The dusk had started to engulf the world, and Rose could see the red winter sun going down to the sea. She was sitting on the sill again.

‘The party ended and I came back. I couldn’t sleep that night. I kept thinking of Jack and how his piercing eyes followed me wherever I went. I had never been gazed at the way he did that night.

‘There was unmistakable lust in his eyes, but not the ordinary lust you see in most guys’ eyes. It was like… for him there was nobody else in the entire world. Not even Kate. I could feel that in spite of physically being with Kate he wasn’t with her.’

‘He sounds to me as someone extremely lusty. Someone who would use, abuse and leave innocent girls like y…,’ says Linda.

‘He’s not all that bad, Linda,’ Rose cuts in irritably, ‘you make him out to be this monster that he’s so not. Caroline was telling me he picked up that fight with those goons because they were being mean to some young guy and teasing his girlfriend.’

‘I don’t say there’s no good at all in Jack. I also heard about his patronizing some poor people living near his apartment. So he does help weak and helpless people. But that aside, it all boils down to one thing. Does he treat you good? And do you think Peter is not capable of doing those things? I think Peter is capable of infinitely better deeds than Jack.’

The sound of someone entering the front door interrupts them.

‘Did someone just come in? Jack?’ The anticipation of seeing Jack always stirred something up in Rose.

Peter enters the room, ‘Hey girls.’

‘Oh, Peter,’ says Rose with disappointment so obvious in her voice even a six-year-old couldn’t miss.

‘I forgot to tell you Rose. I was expecting Peter here,’ informs Linda, ‘my car is with the mechanics and Peter, chivalrous that he is, has come to pick me up.’

‘Yes! Always there for damsels in distress,’ says Peter.

‘Rose is in even greater distress, Peter. You should help her out as well.’

‘She only needs to say it once, Linda. Anything for her. Heck, I’ll even let them put needles in me for her. And you know how I hate needles.’ He turns to Rose, ‘what is it, Rose?’

‘I don’t know what she means by that Peter,’ said Rose, obviously annoyed with her bosom friend.

‘You know what!’ Linda looks Rose in the eye.

‘Oh Linda, come off it,’ says Rose irritably.

‘Am I missing something?’ Peter chips in; by this time he’d become curious enough to.

‘Nothing Peter, she’s behaving curious this evening,’ says Rose.

‘Let’s leave, Peter. She’s very touchy on that topic,’ mutters Linda, grabbing Peter’s arm as a mother would her child’s.

‘What topic?’

‘See you, Peter,’ smiles Rose, all too glad to have Linda off her chest finally.

But Peter wanted more… more of Rose. His Rose.

‘Umm…sometimes I get confused, Rose,’ says Peter, gesticulating to excuse his arm off from Linda.

‘What about?’

‘Is it your smile or is it your laugh?’

‘I don’t get it.’

‘Which one of these two is better? You look gorgeous when you smile. And when you laugh, it’s a feast to my eyes and ears. It’s like some musician is playing his best melody by the mountain spring with flowers all around.’

Rose laughs even louder, ‘Thanks for the complement, Peter.’

Peter and Linda leave for the door. Peter stares at Rose lovingly and Rose, like is customary of her, maintains her gaze and then lowers eyes.

‘What is it, Linda? That topic…’

Peter was right. Nature had bestowed Rose with boundless beauty. Her full-bodied rosy lips concealed perfectly lined teeth that were a marvel to watch when she laughed. It was like only a flimsy pink layer was holding the gush of blood. If lips had a life of their own, Rose’s lips would appear scared. As if they were afraid to go out, to try out new things. As if they were trying to hide themselves from the big bad world… so that nobody hurt them. Beholders from Bollywood would liken Rose with Aishwarya Rai, just blonde with added beauty boost.

Many a times Rose’s smile took Peter’s breath away. There was something in that smile that endeared Rose to Peter. Rose was an innocent girl, and her face did absolutely nothing to hide the fact. If anything, it only enforced her innocence and laid bare her vulnerability to the observers. And she was never more innocent looking than when she was smiling.

Her smile made her rosy cheek blush when Peter paid her sincere complements. Her skin wore a perfectly tanned golden hue that was a fit match for her golden blonde hair. It was probably her open blonde hair seen at sundown that prompted Peter to remark her face was ‘like moon shining through dark yellow clouds in the twilight’. And the moon had eyes the color of blue sea.

If her face oozed innocence, her eyes made her look even more vulnerable and helpless; like an unsuspecting baby. It was not so much as that she had big eyes but the fact that they were covered by long eye lashes and had bigger pupils that she elicited unsolicited attention from those looking in her eyes. Her pupils didn’t contract much, due to her long eyelashes foreshadowing them possibly, so that when she looked at people with expectant eyes she gave the impression of a baby looking up at an adult.

Rose didn’t laugh much. She wore a melancholic disposition that wouldn’t go away even if she was paid a billion dollars or was crowned ‘Miss Universe’. This disposition persisted despite the fact that she was the ‘blue-eyed girl’ of her social circle. It had something to do with the way she looked at the world.

She was like Peter in that. It’s curious because their melancholic attitudes made them ‘siblings in disposition’.

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