It was no use. He couldn’t stop thinking about Addalyn. She was all he thought about when he was with Mandira. Two weeks had gone by since they last saw each other. He had tried to do the honorable thing by not seeing her anymore but it was sheer torture.
Last night when Mandira was telling him about her interview with Jason Cartwright the former race-car driver who wrote his autobiography entitled, Manual Overdrive, he was only half-listening. His mind was on when Addalyn and he were in the sauna and how dangerously close he had come to making love to her. He dreamt about her. He fantasized about her. It was becoming increasingly difficult to concentrate on his work or to sleep.
Frustration and guilt warred inside him. Frustration because he couldn’t be with Addalyn and guilt because of Mandira. And it was obvious to him that his feelings for Addalyn were more than sexual. He had fallen in love with her. How was it possible to fall in love with a woman you met just four weeks ago and had seen on only three occasions? He had been dating Mandira for about two years now and yet he wasn’t in love with her. Mandira.
He realized with a start that they were having dinner tonight. Glancing at his watch, he left the office and hurried to the underground parking where his car was. He had twenty minutes to get to her flat. Fortunately, she lived fifteen minutes away.
She was waiting outside of her building when he drove up. When he went round to open the door for her, she pulled his head down and kissed him on the lips. “I’m starving,” she said as he climbed in behind the wheel. “I haven’t eaten anything since breakfast. I can eat a horse. Which restaurant are we going to?”
“I’ve heard about them. I’m going to try the Medallones Bodeguita.”
He didn’t answer. In the background he heard the same song which played when Addalyn and he were in the sauna. What was she doing now? he wondered. Was she thinking about him? Was she alone in her flat? Or was she with Don? He closed his eyes briefly at the thought.
“So, I’m doing this story about Toilet Paper Terrorists,” Mandira said when they were seated in the restaurant and had placed their orders.
He looked at her blankly. “Toilet Paper Terrorists?”
She laughed. “I know it sounds weird, doesn’t it? It’s custom toilet paper with your favorite political satire or sarcasm on it. For example there’s one with Osama Bin Laden which says, ‘Wipe Out Terrorism’. Pretty corny, isn’t it? The idea is that you can flush down the enemy with political spoof wipes. I’m going to interview the CEO of the company and a couple of consumers tomorrow.”
“How sanitary are these products?”
“I saw them selling on Amazon and based on the comments, people are using them for display only. One person said that it’s a great gag gift for friends. Another said that he was afraid to use it as someone might actually use it.”
“I personally think it’s in poor taste.”
“Come on, Reyan, where’s your sense of humor. It’s a funny way to speak out against terrorism and any other political issue that matter to people. They might have wipe out systemic racism, gender inequality, sex-trafficking, violence against women, etc.”
As they had dinner, he couldn’t help thinking about when Addalyn and he had dinner and how much he had enjoyed her company.
“You’re very quiet tonight,” Mandira remarked some time later, when she was having her dessert. He opted for a cup of coffee instead. “I feel as if I’ve done most of the talking.”
“It has been a long day.”
His answer seemed to satisfy her. “Now, I was thinking that this year you and I could go to The Royal Opera Christmas Concert or maybe we could sit out under the stars on the grounds of Lambeth Palace and enjoy an evening of festive music from world class performers or…”
Half-hour later, they were in her living-room facing each other. Clearing his throat, he said quietly, “Mandira, there’s something I need to tell you.”