Starring: Reyansh, Kriya, Swayum and Sharon...

This is the boat-trip, and I just thought it was so funny and cute and romantic at the same time. All the couples are simply gorgeous and the scenery, the perfect setting of a burning sun yet fresh, cool air is so perfect for them. This is no doubt going to be one of the best chapters I've ever written. I SURE hope so! :)

(Reyansh's point-of-view)

I was glad Neha wasn't rubbing the girls' victory in my face as both of us walked down the marble-floored, beautifully-panelled hall towards the glass-walled elevators. The others were downstairs, relaxing in the living-room, and Neha had just finished showering, getting cleaned and had changed into a simple, orange-and-yellow kurti and black tights that emphasized her silky, flowing, chestnut waves and sparkling, adorable hazel eyes. I stabbed the silvery button for the elevator and both of us waited it patiently. "Reyansh Singhania ki haar," Neha said tauntingly, cutely, tilting her head to the side with an adorable smile that displayed all her shining white teeth against her rosy mouth. I had just assured myself that I wasn't going to be engulfed in the sorrow and mockery of their victory, but here I was. But Neha was such a delicate, small, bird-like creature and she had such a warm, winning smile and enough energy for five people; Swayum had once told me that she was never tired, in fact the last one to give up rehearsing a routine choreography that Kriya taught them and they couldn't get. She was always the last to get exhausted in a rehearsal; there were times when all the slumped down in a heap of weariness, but she went on dancing with contagious, beaming energy. "Shut up," I said playfully. "Won't lift my shirt up," she retorted gaily with her disarming, childlike candour. She smiled at me as we stepped into the glassed elevator and her smile seemed to light up the lift, bounce off the thick glass walls and it was contagious. I found myself smiling back, but it turned out to be a complete mistake. Reyansh Singhania's smile was like kryptonite to girls; it seemed to completely immobilize them. Neha's breathing went deep; her eyes grew wide; the glass-doors closed and we stood inside for an entire moment with Neha staring at my face.

Hello. Awkward. "Press the button, sugar," I said calmly, reprovingly, looking away. Sometimes, I couldn't even control my eyes from smouldering. (Neha's point-of-view) Looking away, I practiced breathing in and out and stabbed the button to the first floor with a trembling finger. Slowly, my thoughts clicked into place and my heart rate returned to normal as the elevator hummed gently and started to descend. I knew Rey had been unintentionally doing it again. It wasn't for nothing that some girls had christened him the God after all. I was thankful to have seen a more real side to him that his maddening good looks and spectacular flirtatiousness, disarming and scrambling the coherency of every girl he happened to look at. Girls scrambled for coherency as he scattered their thoughts and they were known to stare and ogle breathlessly at him for so long they walked straight into walls. He wasn't a player, I knew – but at the same time, when he had to use that power over a girl, he simply went through with it. It wasn't only about his fascinating appearance or the fact that girls practically turned to Jell-O and lost their senses at the slightest twitch of his perfect lips or the suppression of a sigh or any other one of her unbelievably weakening tactics; it wasn't just about that edge of overpowering irresistibility that characterized his every movement, action and word. It was about something more, which made everyone gravitate towards him… something everyone knew they didn't have… something that was essentially, irrevocably… Reyansh Singhania. More often that not, I had felt my heart lash when he strode past me, tossing me a warm wave in the college corridor – but what girl's pulse wouldn't speed up when such a good-looking guy happened to glance her way? There was another quality of Rey, an enigmatical, mysterious edge that showed that he was used to being horded by girls and knew just how to brush them off lightly. He often overcame them with his deep, intense stare and since he had shut me up before with those green-gold, smouldering eyes I knew exactly how it felt, as though the ground had been displaced and someone had sucked every thought out of your mind all of a sudden. The reactions he brought out of girls were transcendental; there was something dangerously superhuman about the strong pull, magnetization and power that he used to keep eyes on him. Yes, altogether… Rey seemed extra-terrestrial. "Alien you are," I said, and then winced at my own dumbness. "Of course I am," Rey said lightly, a smile in his deep, husky voice. I didn't turn around, because I knew the smile would get me hyperventilating. The elevator doors opened and he strode before me with his easy, fluid grace, joining the others on the splendid glass veranda where everyone else was munching on treats. I felt my mouth water as my eyes swept over the light, delicious snacks. But I held back, knowing it would look wild and greedy if I just pounced onto it. "Go for it; don't let this alien hold you back," Rey assured me playfully, with a light nudge that sent a wave of shock down my body. "Okay," I said cheerfully, and walked over to the round glass table. I lifted a white cardboard box and grinned as I saw two dozen double-chocolate cupcakes with fudge frosting inside. I dimly remembered Vicky saying at RDX's party that these were his absolute favourites right after Danish pastries with cream and chocolate. It was haunting how much I knew these Dazzlers after that one, life-changing night. "Hi," Rey said casually to everyone. Immediately, I saw all the girls turn just a little more attentive, their spines snapping, their gazes all shifting to him.

"Rey, have I told you before that–" Simmie began. "Yes, that I look great after a shower," he said, with a heart-melting lopsided twitch of a smile at her. "The break is so long!" Rene moaned. "I'm already refreshed; let's go right back to playing." "Oh no," Rey said, crossing his muscular, toned arms, his eyes lingering on Sharon and Kriya lying on sunbeds at the far end of the glass balcony. "I think we need the break. Anyone up for a boat ride?" "You mean, we'll drive to the beach all over again," Sharon moaned. "Of course not!" "No, he means out onto the private beach here, a little into the ocean and back – now that would be really refreshing," Swayum said, smiling. "Well, it does sound great," Kriya agreed, sighing and climbing to her feet. "Coming, Sharon?" "Yes," Sharon murmured reluctantly. "I'll come too," I found myself saying. "Oh, ME TOO ME TOO!" Vicky suddenly screamed, making us all shriek and jump, in a hoarse voice that could be heard all the way to the mountain peaks of Jammu and Kashmir. I felt my face grow hot. "Ok, we got it," Swayum said calmly. "I'm in." The others lazily blinked at us. "Seriously?" Nilesh demanded. "You've eaten too much to budge an inch, haven't you?" Simmie said knowingly. "Yup," he said, grinning and patting his stomach. "That is what you did the last time we were sitting in this balcony," she grumbled. "I'm a rerun," he cracked. "You once told me you hate reruns," Rene said, dumbly confused. "Yes, but I never said I hate personified reruns," he muttered. "So none of you are coming?" Rey clarified, shooting Vicky and Swayum a look I couldn't comprehend. Sharon slid off her enormous, dark shades and Rey frowned gently, perplexedly at her as he said, "I don't understand why you wear those. They're literally bigger than your face." "I know; they annoy me as well," she murmured, tossing them onto the sunbed. "Are we set?" "For sure," Rey said cheerfully, but his soft, pleasant tone lingered with an undercurrent of something, burning, as his gaze incomprehensibly met Vicky's and Swayum's on the other side of the balcony. "Well then, let's go," I said cheerfully, but as I said, I started to feel flutters of panic in my chest and butterflies invade my stomach. Had Neha just said yes to a… *gulp* boat-ride?

(Reyansh's point-of-view) "Bhagwaan ke waaste, Mr Singhania – Neha asking aakhri baar," she pleaded, her hazel eyes wide, begging and innocent, her silky, jet-straight, chestnut hair blowing back in the strong breeze. She looked excessively adorable as she stood in the bright golden sunlight, the strong, cool, sweet-smelling wind blowing back her hair, the skies a searing, solid blue behind her. "Well, then go ahead… for the millionth time," I said cheerfully, my eyes lingering on the unbuckled light, blue-and-silver life-jacket she had on, strapped to her small, childlike, fragile build loosely. "Neha tensioning – safe boat is, na?" she said cutely, flustered. I smiled at her in a gentle, slightly superior way, but as soon as her expression started to change, I dropped it, because I didn't want to get her breathing hard or palpitating. "Of course it is," I murmured absently, with that casual arrogance that I knew drove her crazy as she knew I wasn't giving her my attention completely. "Reyansh!" she semi-shrieked, whacking me hard. "Ouch," I said playfully with a light, warm, conspiratorial chuckle. "Though I think it would be safer if you had those buckles on," Swayum said, as he hopped aboard and shielded his eyes from the searing sun, his eyes scanning the gentle white clouds in the clear, blue sky. I sent my eyes up his way and then back to Neha, whose face had gone red and flustered as she tried to do the buckles. "Oh God! You really need to learn to do something in life except go around looking adorable, sugar," I said to her lightly, lending my eyes a flirtatious twinkle. "You think Neha is cute?" She looked on the verge of hyperventilating or having a heart seizure as she stared at me, astonished. "You are positively adorable," I said with the same absent-minded, aloof, friendly indifference, reaching down and starting to do her buckles. The reality was that outside the blisteringly handsome, calm, composed, cool façade, Reyansh Singhania was giddy with a warming, dizzying happiness that possessed him like a demon. I was about to embark on a romantic, long journey across a beautiful, blue, rushing ocean with my girl, my best friend and another girl who… well… didn't know how to do her buckles. For another thing, I was really glad that I was feeling more powerful, more poised, more confident – I had now tasted that I had the strength to resist Kriya when I needed. There was still the signature, smoulderingly hot, Casanova Rey in me, and some way or the other, I still had a small part of me that could use his brooding power over girls to get one very special girl to fall for me. "Main aisi type ki ladki nahin hoon jo Reyansh Singhania ke compliment dene par cheek-chillakar zameen aur asmaan ek karde," Neha murmured, trying to sound indifferent. "Really? Because I think, as soon as we get on board, you're going to throw yourself against the sail and hyperventilate and palpitate to glory," I cracked casually, stepping back and looking down sunnily into her adorable, cherubic face. "Oh, that part is sach – Neha just saying she will not scream," she said brightly, and turning away, she reached out her small hand for Swayum to pull her on. As she joined the other two girls chatting near the sail, I shot Swayum a friendly, sporting smile of team spirit. So far, so good, I thought, sending the brain-wave to him. We had got the girls out to this boat-trip at last; I looked forward to spending some quality time with all three of us together. I sent my gaze around and sighed in contentment as I saw everything so shiny and bright and pretty, the blue-green water sparkling in the bright, golden sunlight of the afternoon, the sharp fragrance of salt in the air as the small, polished, wooden dock I was standing on was washed with the shimmering water. On both sides, the farmhouse's private beach was filled with soft, white sand and framed by gentle woods of tall, fragrant, blue-green pines swaying ever so gently in the cool, scented breeze. I was filled with happiness; the entire setting mingled with the presence of Kriya felt like… paradise. Then, I gazed at the white, luxurious, small ship bobbing in the water with its hi-fi build, strong frame, shimmering, white silken sails and the single downstairs cabin that was a grand, splendid suite; my parents sometimes spent a night on this boat and had so activated it by motor. Suddenly, I felt immensely fortunate to have been the kid of such influential, rich parents… I was surfeited with happiness, suffocated with luxury, yet I knew the one thing I had to work hard to achieve. And smiling across at her, I climbed aboard and pulled at the motor; the sweet-ship pushed off powerfully from the dock and sped towards the ocean, Swayum on the wheel. The breeze was refreshing and disconcertingly cool as it fanned our faces; the sun shone bright and pretty; the sensation of holding onto the silver brass poles with my hair flying back was aggravatingly amazing. My heart quickened and throat tightened as I felt Kriya's intoxicating presence by my side; I knew it without turning around as both of us gazed out over the shimmering, turquoise water at the blistering, shining sun high in the blue sky. "It's a beautiful day," she said, her exquisite, silky voice muffled beautifully by the wind. "True," I said absently.

(Kriya's point-of-view) I immediately knew he was he doing it again. Sharon slid off away to go and stand beside Swayum near the tall sails gently ruffling in the strong, sweet breeze. Vicky and Neha were preparing lunch downstairs in the underground cabins, so I knew there was only one companion left. I looked around and my heartbeat picked up pace, my stomach and muscles tightening as my eyes rested on Reyansh. I blinked in confusion and sheer fascination as I watched him, his strong hands rested on the brass fencing; I couldn't quite place my finger on what was there about his stillness, his inertia, that magnetized me, captivated me and held me there. There was an overwhelming power to his tranquillity and I gulped gently, before I found myself standing next to his serene, bewildering perfection. "It's a beautiful day," I murmured softly, closing my eyes contentedly to feel the wind on my face, my hands clutching the cool fencing. "True," he said in an offhand tone. I couldn't help but sigh in contentment and pleasure as I heard that exquisite, intoxicating voice with its soft, soothing, husky tone – but I knew he was doing it to me again. He was treating with the almost casual arrogance that drove me crazy. It was strange that so calm and devastatingly attractive a creature could stir me into such furious energy and fierce sentiments. I tried to work on calming down my stuttering heartbeats and to shake up a mind that was slowly getting engulfed into his mesmerizing, hypnotic, compelling voice. "You know, Kriya – you are beautiful," he said, with the same heart-hitting, breathtakingly indifferent attitude. An oppressive spark shot down my spine and I felt my pulses pound in my wrist and neck. "But you have no idea," he added, his silken, irresistible voice low, soft and calm. "So I'm modest?" I asked in a shaky voice, feeling the warmth wash over my skin. His words made my heart glow, and the unintentional seductiveness in his voice left me tongue-tied, my stomach filling with butterflies; suddenly, that one simple compliment had me feverish, faint and my heart raced. I gripped the fence to steady the ground pulsating under my feet and tried to ignore the pleasure and embarrassment. "No, girls who know they are beautiful, and yet do not brag about it, are modest," he said, his beautifully-modulated, liquid-velvet voice playing tricks with my heart. "You don't even know, so you have nothing to be modest about." "You know me better than I think," I stammered lamely. He laughed, a warming, gentle, husky golden laugh that made me feel calm, warm and well-rested all of a sudden; I listened to the fascinating sound, committing it to my memory. "I know everyone better than they think, especially girls," he told me softly. Everything looked red behind my eyelids, and I didn't want to open them, even though the tender, heart-melting tone in his husky voice surprised me more than I showed. "They're a pain in the ass for you, aren't they?" I said, beginning to smile at the turn our conversation was taking. "Not necessarily," he replied genuinely, a smile in his gorgeously husky, deliciously seductive voice. "Some girls aren't. Neha isn't, and neither is Sharon. Simmie and Rene can be pains sometimes, but it doesn't matter. I can stand them, because through it all… there's one very special girl I'm always holding out for." And then, my heart slammed against my chest, my breath caught in my lumped throat and I felt the blood turn icily, fierily electric as his strong hand wrapped in mine, our fingers intertwining. Our hands fitted perfectly together, as if meant to be – and the jolts of burn-and-chill electricity looped up my arm and through my entire body. I could almost feel the same trail of sparks going up Rey's muscular, long arms, but my eyes stayed shut in pure pleasure. I really didn't want to pull away, but a detached part of me gripped, seized and exaggerated on the thought that I should withdraw my hand. Devastatingly mellowed at his intoxicating touch, I knew it was no good to squirm, to try to get myself out of his grasp – plus if a girl was in her senses, who would even want to? Rey's embrace was paradise to her; Rey's voice was music to her; Rey had made the world a better place for her. But then, I reminded myself – I wasn't one of those girls. But still, my hand now seemed detached from the rest out of my body, basking in the lovely glow of tropical suns and breezes from the hearts of glaciers, shimmering with pleasure, weakened. I sighed once again in pure, unadulterated bliss and contentment; the red behind my eyelids grew brighter. Standing beside each other, holding hands, I felt the moment was the most perfect one I could ever have experienced in my life. *Bheegi Si Bhaagi Si Song Sequence:

.com/watch?v=TaGpfV6CyhA The first section of the flute tune without drums shows the entire sweet-ship from a far-off angle, bathed and swept in sunlight, sparkling waters, the breeze surrounding the three couples. As the drums start and the beautiful flute continues, it shows Swayum and Sharon standing near a sail, looking at each other, their eyes shining. All of a sudden, Swayum grabs her bracelet and pulls it off and starts running around. As Antara Mitra's singing starts, Sharon chases Swayum around playfully, both of them smiling widely. As the second verse of the girl's part is playing, the shots shift to Vicky and Neha who are trying to do a titanic pose and laughing uncontrollably and helplessly at each other. As Mohit Chauhan's mesmerizing "aa haan" part comes in, Kriya-Rey's eyes are open this time as they stare out at the ocean, their hands locked and along with the lyrics, "Gulabi Si Subah," and "Sharabi Si Hawa" it shows a matching sequence of clips that depicts them staring out at the shining, blue-green waters and the reflection of the sparkling, golden sunlight in it and then, the breeze blowing back both of their hair, tossing it into their eyes, but showing them unmoved as they are enjoying each other's company. As the chorus starts, all three couples are sitting in a circle, laughing, talking, playfully pinching each other. Kriya and Swayum seem to have a playful thumb-fight; Rey swats Neha's hair playfully, sending it sprawling over her face; Vicky crosses his eyes and sticks his tongue out at Sharon. They are all having the time of their life. Then as the transfixing, gorgeous flute tune starts again on a lower note, the couples all have their legs spread and the camera moves from right-to-left order (Sharon, Swayum, Kriya, Rey, Neha and Vicky), showing everyone's contented expressions, all their shoulders pressed together, resting back on their palms, their legs touching. At the last repetition of the tune, the camera zooms out, capturing the boat from a little distance and then more and more until it ultimately overlooks the beautiful couples, the sun, the sparkling water, the white sweet-ship and then cross-fades into the next scene.* (So please close the tab :P and come back to reading the story.)

(Swayum's point-of-view) I nestled my head comfortably against Kriya's slim, softly rounded knees and sighed as the sun warmed my skin, tingling with the cool of the breeze. It felt amazing to be out after so long, especially on a boat-ride. With my eyes closed, above me, I could hear Kriya humming 'Tujhme Rab Dikhta Hai" from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and it made me smile, because the girls back at St Louise had nicknamed Rey 'the God'. There was no mistaking in who she was singing for, even if it was casual and involuntary. "You have a great voice," I said absently. She didn't say thanks, but I could almost feel the brilliant smile creeping across her face, lighting up those childlike, enormous, green eyes. After a while of relaxation, I opened my eyes and looked up at her. Her rich, chestnut-brown, shiny, silky hair fell down over the side, hiding her lovely face as she concentrated on texting away to glory on her Blackberry. On the other side from us, a cushioned seat curved into the boat, Sharon and Rey were sitting, their shoulders pressed together, probably recovering from the aching stomach that all the laughter and playfulness had given us. I knew that was what I was doing, but even as I basked in the warmth and glow of the lovely sunlight, I could almost feel the tension of cutsey jealousy they both were exuding. It made me smile and provoked me to instil the jealousy in both of them even more. Reaching up, I playfully slapped Kriya's silky, soft, smooth, dark hair, sending it whacking over her face. She shrieked loudly, shrilly, and jumped to her feet, grabbing a cushion and staring menacingly at me. "Now, this calls for a REAL battle," she murmured. *Start playing this .com/watch?v=TaGpfV6CyhA from 1:45 on the time-bar. As the female starts to sing, Kriya is whacking Swayum with the cushion as he smiles and playfully struggles. Sharon and Rey get up, laughing, and join in. As the second verse of the female plays, Vicky and Neha join in as well and it's turn into a full-fledged pillow fight on a moving, motor-boat, feathers flying everywhere, all their faces amused, delighted and laughing. As Mohit Chauhan's "aan haan" part starts to play, Sharon trips over a pile of feathers and topples over Swayum, on top of him. As Mohit's second line is playing, Rey plucks a feather out of Kriya's hair and caresses her face gently with it. She blinks deeply in pure pleasure. As the chorus starts playing, the couples are all having fun again, playing cards on the deck (literally, because they are on the deck of a beautiful, white, luxurious boat). They are all shown to be in a very friendly, playful mood as they whack each other, laugh, high-five, lean on each other and nestle their heads on each other's shoulder. In the second verse of the chorus, Vicky and Neha seem to win the game of cards and shriek with laughter, booing at the others, high-fiving each other. Now as soon as the "sunaye" is over, kindly close the other tab and get back to reading the story :P). It had been amazing fun all this while, but now that I checked my watch, I saw it was close on two and I was starving to the core. "We're late," I murmured, swearing under her my breath. "Shit, but why?" Sharon asked me, her green eyes going wide. "It's almost two," I muttered, carefully avoiding the disconcerting innocence of that gently piercing gaze. "NAHIN!" Neha shrieked, pressing her hands to her ears, making us all jump. Expected. Neha was the total nautanki, Bollywood-queen types – she always liked exaggerating situations. I had to admit, it was pretty cute. I turned and smiled affectionately at her, until she froze and looked around at the sparkling, blue-green water and our lovely, white, sweet-ship bobbing in the middle of it. She narrowed her sweet, hazel orbs and shot Rey, who was at the wheel, a pointed look.

"Boat not moving why?" she asked haltingly, panic in her little-girl voice. Rey froze and abrupt realization filled his handsome features. Sharon, Kriya and Vicky were sprawled on the cushioned deck, munching on delicious tuna sandwiches, and barely seemed to be bothered about the boat not moving. However, I felt a cold trickle of fear sweep over my heart. Neha was right; the white, luxurious boat was bobbing in one place, the tall, white sails shimmering and shifting the cool, salty, breeze. I turned around and gazed at the magnificent, splendid, sprawling figure of the posh farm-house far away, with the jade palms swaying gently in the scented, pleasant breeze. "I guess the anchor dropped?" It was more of a question than an answer, as I stared at the empty corner of the white-boat where the heavy iron anchor was supposed to be kept. "Well, then… pull it back up?" I sensed the same questioning, hesitant tone in Neha's sweet, tight voice. Suddenly, an air of tension you could cut with a knife settled over the ship. Kriya and Sharon sat up among the soft, silk-upholstered cushions, pushing back their big sunglasses, sipping more slowly from their cans of Mountain Dew, while Vicky still looked as if it was as simple as though he'd been called an "idiot" by Rey or Nilesh. Rey pressed a black button in the controls under the wheel and as the boat let out a groan like Vishaka did when there was another routine choreography to be rehearsed, he cleared his throat and muttered, "It's stuck!" "Holy cow!" Sharon leapt fluidly to her feet and stared at Rey, horrified. I dropped back on the cushioned deck and tried to look as unconcerned and positively casual as Vicky was, munching on the tuna sandwich. "How lovely," Kriya said sarcastically, clapping her hands. "This calls for a round of applause!" But Neha looked flustered, as she tried hard to smile her confident, warm, winning smile, shuffling her feet, her hazel eyes filled with franticness and heinous nervousness as she said in a shaky voice, trying her best to sound casual, "So let me get this straight. We're never getting back to shore?" I stared at her, astonished – because her English seemed perfectly good now. Then, I remembered that whenever Neha was panicked, she either started laughing loudly or her English suddenly turned shrewd and perfectly okay. Rey also immediately foresaw the effects of Bollywood panic, because he hurriedly left his position behind the wheel and came down to her, reassuring, confident in the extreme. Such was the power of his calm that the other two girls came back and settled back against the soft, comfortable cushions. But Neha seemed unaffected. "It's going to be alright, sugar," he said in a soft, lulling, soothing voice, reaching out what girls called his "velvet" touch and laying it on her slim, smooth arms. However, Neha was hyperventilating, gasping for breath – but what confirmed for me that she was positively insane was that she was smiling widely as panic filled her eyes and she breathed hard, her white teeth flashing in the bright, golden afternoon sunlight. "How do you know?" she asked him cheerfully, and she seemed perfectly calm, tranquil and untroubled, except that her eyes held an intense madness that I even I sank back in front of (and I was still feeling shock over the suddenly-improved state of English). "Are you the anchor?" she demanded calmly yet insanely. "Are you the anchor? No! No, honey – you're not the anchor!" She smiled up at Rey, an enchantingly adorable smile that would have made me smile back any other moment, affected by its contagiousness – but today, it only horrified me, convinced me even more of her obvious insanity. "Sugar, stay calm," Rey said, reflecting her tranquillity without the undercurrent of madness – but the very fact that he was so very calm made me start doubting him as well. "You know the last time somebody told me to stay calm?" Neha said in perfect English, her smile growing wider, the panic in her eyes growing more and more pronounced with each word she spoke in her casual, cheerful tone. "Yeah, I was six." She let out a light, tinkling laugh, musical and silvery. "My mom took me to Happyland," she went on, between laughs of frightening insanity. "We were on a boat-ride. *laugh* There were these little robot-puppets that kept on singing *laugh* 'it's a happy little land for you and me, it's a happy little land for you and me'." My surprise turned to pure astonishment as beside me, Neha's lover-boy started to hum the tune obviously and smile to himself like a contented little boy. This couldn't get crazier. But yes… It got less crazier, because now, Neha's cheerful tone turned into a loud, shrill scream concentrated with panic and worry. "AND THEN THE BOAT GOT STUCK!" she screamed shrilly, motioning and thrashing with her slim arms wildly and heinously, her eyes wide open, my ears stinging. "AND THE SONG KEPT ON PLAYING AND PLAYING, AND THE ROBOT-PUPPETS KEPT ON SINGING AND SINGING – AND IT WAS JUST THE…" Her voice trailed off in disbelief as she stared at Vicky, humming so casually to himself. "Vicky!" Rey screamed calmly. The casual arrogance of his manner came in perfect use now, because he gently took all of Neha's cares away from her, speaking in a seductive, velvety, silken voice. "Don't freak, my girl," he purred gently, and immediately, she started to fall under the entrancing spell. "There's a manual crank below and I'll get the anchor up. Come and help me find it." "OK," Neha said in a shaky voice, carefully avoiding the blister of his green-gold eyes. "Phir chalo." I was glad the adorable Neha with the broken English was back, because the one I had just seen was more frightening than the possessed girl in the Ring, the movie we'd watched the night before. I was chilled to the bone and now slowly, I felt the blood beginning to flow again. Rey started to stride easily towards the marble staircase twining down to the suite, but Neha grabbed his well-muscled arm and pulled him back, staring at the water. "Is that a shark fin?" she asked, her eyes wide as something sinisterly black lurked in the shining ocean. "No, it's a pair of boxers that Vicky lost here a few months ago," Sharon cried cheerfully, jumping to her feet and casting a long net adjoined to an iron pole in the water. "Aww," and "Yuck" were simultaneously said by Neha and Kriya respectively, and Sharon winced as she pulled it out. I turned away from the disgusting scene and followed Rey and Neha down to the cabin, where I helped them find the manual crank. However, unsuccessful in our attempts, I left the cabin while Rey took a deep breath and walked over to Neha. "Promise you won't freak out," Rey said calmly, knowing well enough what the answer was going to be and what the actual response was going to be. "I promise," Neha said brightly. "Remember that crank I was trying to find?" Rey said, untroubled in the extreme. "Uh-huh?" Neha said expectantly, fingering a wisp of her gentle brown hair out of her hopeful eyes. "Yeah, I can't find it," he said serenely. Once again, her chest rose up and down dramatically, her eyebrows pulling together in a heart-breaking expression, panic filling her countenance. "We're doomed," she said between deep, long breaths. "We are stuck out here! *gasp, gasp* Forever! *gasp, gasp* This is just so… *gasp" *gasp*…" I opened the glass sliding doors and slid into the luxuriously-furnished room set up harmoniously and splendidly to look like a family room. But before I could get past "Listen to me, Neha", she turned around and grabbed my life-jacket, nearly choking me in the process. "DOOMED!" she screamed shrilly, deafeningly, in the loudest voice I'd ever heard from such a little girl. "LOST AT SEA! We're out here FOREVER! And this time tho, it's not even ROMANTIC! NEHA TENSIONING!" I struggled to breathe, grabbing her slim arms and at last freeing myself. Gasping in loudly and deeply, I stumbled to Rey, standing with perfect serenity on the other side of the magnificent, posh living-room. Neha continued hyperventilating. "What's with her?" I said, horrified. "Oh, she'll come back to her senses soon enough," Rey said lightly. "Right now, send Vicky down here – sneak in a moment with your girl, Swayum. Tell Kriya I need her down here to calm Neha." I couldn't help but feel a rush of gratefulness, even though we were in a sinister situation, stuck in the middle of nowhere. Without responding, I turned and climbed back to the deck. "Kriya, Rey needs you down there – Neha's, uh, palpitating," I said casually, and then turned to Vicky. "It would be great if you went and calmed down your Deewani, you know." They both immediately, faithfully rushed into the cabin and I turned serenely to Sharon, freezing in place. Sharon was staring out at the shining ocean, her beauty serene yet scorching, calm yet devastating – my pulses quickened as I noticed how her jade-green eyes sparkled with contentment and her perfect plump lips parted, her cascading, curly, silky, brown hair streaked with red blowing back in the strong breeze, flapping gently. "Uh, Sharon?" I said, frozen in agonized indecision of whether to join her near the fencing or stand there. I was tortured as her fierce beauty shone and stood out from the background with an effect of glimmering unreality – suddenly, it was hard to breathe. (Sharon's point-of-view) "Uh, Sharon?" I felt my heart give a sudden lurch and break into a gentle, pleasurable sprint as I recognized the soft, smooth voice. There was only one voice so exquisite and silken that spoke my name like that, with a faint stress on the 'r' that made it a caress, a caress that sent butterflies through my stomach. "Yes?" I said with satisfying indifference, keeping my eyes ahead on the beautiful view. "Doesn't it bother you in the least bit that we're stuck out here?" he asked me gently, sounding slightly amused. "No, not really," I murmured. Striding firmly, fluidly, he came and stood beside me, tall and erect, handsome and serene, his dark eyes assessing the view indifferently. "But you may never be able to see Simmie and Rene again," he cracked. "Hmm," I said absently, letting out a sigh of unadulterated bliss and contentment. "You look lovely in the sunlight that way," he told me. My heart stopped, then picked up with a happy little double-thump, while I felt my skin tingle with warmth and pleasure. "Thank you," I said gently. Then, I froze. Suddenly, I felt a cold trickle sweep up my spine. I couldn't be sweet or friendly to this fellow – he was a Weakling after all. Indecision froze me in place. Kriya was a Weakling too, and we both had built up and shared a bonding of trust and friendship over these two days. Then why not Swayum as well? Suddenly, with a stubborn single-mindedness that I knew was infinitely characteristic of me, I made up my mind to play along with this as long as it went and be nice to our mortal enemies. However, I hoped everything would settle once we were back to school. "So, Swayum, what's your favourite colour?" I asked him cordially.

Next chapter: Downstairs in the cabin, Vicky and Neha propose a game of caroms. Rey says it's impossible, because only four people can play. Vicky-Neha offer not to play. Sharon-Swayum form a team, and Kriya-Rey form another. Sharon returns to come and sit. She trips over the rug and lands in Swayum's lap, his hand relaxed on her back, her hair tossed back violently from the fall. *Pehla Nasha* follows. Cut to next shot where a third sequence of Bheegi Si Bhaagi Si is playing and the couples are having fun.

Next one is just quality time between all of the couples. I think I'll do a part of the couples back at the farmhouse as well, but I'm not so sure. So, I extended this into two chapters, because I earlier thought I could fit into one, but now I'm not so sure.

NEW PROMO: Shirtless Rey… *The girls and boys are face-to-face in a football field covered with grass. The next shot shows the girls rejoicing and the boys gathered up, planning. Rey says, "I know just what to do. If they are human, their brains will stop working." Cut to next shot where Rey is shirtless as he walks across the field, to the girls sitting on the ground. Kriya stares at him, her expression a beautiful mix of disgust, horror, mortification, embarrassment, pleasure, worry, panic and anger. She is thrilled and fascinated as he bends his knees to bring himself in level with her. Rey smiles devilishly as he tucks her hair behind her ears gently, immobilizing her. The other girls are watching slack-jawed, dreamy-eyed, all of them overwhelmed. Swayum smiles and shakes his head knowingly.*