Maya gave her sister the side eye. “I don’t have a boyfriend.”
Aubrey snorted. “That’s what you think.”
She rolled her eyes. “You’re soo annoying.” She went back to her text and let out a lamented groan. “Noooo, I have so much to do today!”
“My boss…he wants me to go to Uptown and talk to people.”
“Aren’t you, like, too important to do that now?”
“I guess not!” She sighed and fell back into her chair. “Ugh! Why can’t he get someone else?”
Aubrey smiled admirably. “He must think you’re really good.”
“Yeah…I gotta go.”
“Have a good day!”
She went upstairs, showered, dressed, and made her way to Uptown. Usually, opportunities to spread the word about her company’s latest and greatest were met with enthusiasm, but not that day. Her recent promotion came with bigger responsibilities. Her day had been planned for a week, but now she had to rearrange everything to accommodate this silly request from her boss. Going to Uptown so early in the morning probably wasn’t the best plan, but she needed to go so she could get back to the office and do what she needed to do.
Early in the afternoon, she hit the gym for her last stop on the way back to the office. Usually, there were interesting people in there to chat up, and of course, the eye candy was a plus. Her face wasn’t so strange around there anymore, and the trainer waved at her as she passed. She walked slowly down the aisle, eyeing everyone on their machines. It had been a while since she worked out. The only silver lining of this impromptu trip was that she didn’t have to sweat and inflict pain on herself. No one she saw inspired her to strike up a conversation, so she decided to leave. On her way out, she stopped in her tracks when she laid eyes on the shirtless body on the last machine. It was Ranveer! Oh. Em. Goodness. He was a vision for sure, and her mood improved 9000%. As she sashayed toward him, he spotted her and slid off the treadmill like he was on a skateboard.
“Hey friend! What a pleasant surprise!”
Some kind of way she found her voice. “Hi! Don’t stop running because I’m here.”
She loved the way his eyes squinted when he smiled. He looked like a little boy. “Nah, I was almost done anyway. How are you?”
“I’m ok.” I’m going to need an ice bath after this!
“Do you have a minute to hang out?”
For him, she had all the minutes but would try to make it a literal few because she was so busy. “Yeah, of course.” She had never been so short on words. He was just so gorgeous…on the inside too.
They went upstairs and chatted on the roof.
“Are you sure you’re ok? You seem…I don’t know…bothered?”
Heh, he had no idea how bothered she was. Hot and bothered, that is. He was so sweet and caring. Intuitive too! The more she learned these things about him, the more attractive he became…if that was even possible. He wanted her. She could see it. Why hadn’t he made a move yet?
“Yeah…I’m not having the best day. To be honest, I really don’t have a minute, but I didn’t want to–”
“It’s ok, it’s ok. Don’t apologize. I get it. Don’t worry.”
She grinned and breathed a sigh of relief.
“How about I take you out tonight? Unwind a bit, huh?”
That was the best plan anyone had made all day. “That would be great.”
His grin was even bigger than hers. “Cool. I’ll text you later. I hope your day gets better.”
They said goodbye, and she left there happier than a kid with a freezer bunny popsicle.
That night, they met at a restaurant called Fancy Restaurant. How original.
They got seated and ordered their meals. Ranveer kept smiling at her, but not in the usual way. He looked like he wanted to tell her something.
He looked nervous and hesitated a bit. “I’ve been wanting to tell you something for a while, but I wasn’t sure if you’d think it was weird or not.”
Now she was nervous. “Ok?”
“When I walked up to you at the karaoke bar…that wasn’t the first time I saw you.”
Oh no. Of course, he was too good to be true! No one was that gorgeous and had an amazing personality who wasn’t crazy. How did she keep meeting these beautiful creeps? She kept it cool though. “We met before?”
“No.” He blushed. “I feel silly for admitting this… I follow you on Simstagram.”
She felt slightly better but still uneasy about where the conversation was going. “Oh.”
“You know how people perform for the camera? They only show the fabulous part of their lives.”
“You’re not like that. At least I don’t feel like you are.”
Her defenses slowly lowered.
“I always got the impression that you were genuine. Like, you weren’t a ‘party girl,’ but just a girl who truly loved to have fun.” He shrugged. “I enjoyed that.”
His words were like a warm, snuggly blanket. He got her, and she didn’t even have to say anything. How refreshing!
“I never thought I’d actually meet you though. So, imagine my surprise when we ended up in the same place. I had to talk to you.”
“What’s so funny?”
“Your story! I feel like we’re in a movie or something.”
“You don’t like my story?”
“I love your story.”
There was a brief moment of appropriate silence, and she considered their predicament. She liked him. Like, really liked him. He liked her too. She knew that for certain now. Whatever his reasons were for not escalating their friendship, she respected them and resolved to enjoy what they had until things changed.
“I have another story that won’t make me seem stalkerish, hopefully.”
“I went out the other night…I saw your dad. I was two seats away from him!”
He was so giddy. She never met anyone who “fangirled” over her dad before. It was very cute, but she didn’t understand it.
“Did you ask him for his autograph?”
His eyes lit up. “Would he do that?”
She threw her head back and laughed. “You’re hopeless!”
“What? It’s not every day you’re that close to Jonathan Pruett!”
“Don’t you see him at the restaurant?”
“Yeah, but he’s always running around and stuff.”
She grinned. “I can’t believe you’re in love with my dad.”
“Guess what he ordered?” He was cheesing so hard.
“I told you!”
“He was there with a friend.”
“His cousin, Derek. Did you hear what they were saying at all?”
He grinned devilishly. “Oh yeah…I heard most of it.”
She laughed again. “You’re not gonna, like, start stalking him are you?”
He grinned. “I can’t help that you Pruetts are such fascinating people.”
It had been a while since she learned about her family history and their place in society. Sometimes she forgot people would know about her before they even met. Had her career success come from her own labor or her celebrity? She had 1.25 million followers across all social media outlets. Did they follow her because they liked her or because she was a Pruett? What about Ranveer?
“So…did you hear anything interesting?”
“Of course. Your baby brother is not as innocent as you think.”
She clutched invisible pearls. “He’s a cute little angel!”
“That’s what he wants you to think, apparently.”
It was kind of weird to gossip about her family with him, but she liked it. “What else?”
“Apparently, you weren’t an angel either, but I could have guessed that.”
She punched him in the arm. “Whatever!”
“Whatever. What about Aubrey?” She snorted. “She’s the perfect little angel. They probably had nothing to talk about.”
Ranveer looked uneasy.
She gasped. “They talked about her?”
Her eyes lit up. “Tell me!”
“I don’t think I should.”
She sucked her teeth. “Aww come on!”
“I kinda wish I didn’t hear it.”
“But you did. Spill!”
He sighed. “It wasn’t about her, per say. More about her boyfriend.”
She lowered her eyes. “Oh.”
“That can be a sore spot for our family sometimes.”
“I gathered that.”
The awkward moment was interrupted by the server and their meals, and she was glad. She shouldn’t have made him talk although if he wasn’t going to tell her what he heard, he shouldn’t have brought it up in the first place.
“He’s a good guy though, right? He treats her well?”
“Oh yeah, of course. They’ve been friends for forever.” She chuckled at some memories of their innocence. “Silly kids…they were totally into each other in school but acted like they were just friends.”
He smiled. “That’s cute.”
“Yeah…they’re sweet together.”
“How’s your stew?”
“Tasty! How’s your steak?”
He grinned. “Tasty.”
His eyes shot open. “You don’t like steak?”
“It’s not that I don’t like it. I just don’t see the point of it. It’s just a big ol hunk of thick, dry meat!”
He gasped dramatically. “Come here.”
“Come over here.”
They were sitting close already. What exactly did he want?
“Come over here,” he said slower and quieter.
He didn’t specify how close they should be, but she made sure to get all up in his space. That move probably went against her rules of engagement, but she couldn’t resist toying with him. Be careful what you wish for, my friend. They were so close, she could smell the shampoo from his perfect hair. Or, maybe it was his soap. Whatever it was, he smelled so clean and fresh.
He looked away, briefly, and cut a small piece of steak for her. “Try this.”
He nodded and brought the spoon to her mouth like he was feeding a child. Her heart raced. Who knew eating steak could be such a sensual experience?
She opened her mouth, and he made sure the meat arrived safely. She chewed, and he waited for her response. To her surprise, the meat was not dry at all. It was quite juicy and had lots of flavor.
“So…what do you think?”
“Ha! I knew it. You just never had good steak.”
Who would have thought her dad wasn’t good at everything he made?
Once she finished chewing the bit in her mouth, she nuzzled next to him again. “Can I have some more?”
He snorted. “Get your own steak.”
After dinner, they went for a walk around the art district: the part of town she spent the least amount of time in. It was beautiful, and she wondered why she had never been there before. They stopped at an overlook to take in the sights, and he kissed her hands.
“Are you feeling better now?”
“A thousand percent. Thank you.”
His eyes, dark like a cup of espresso, gazed longingly at hers with a laser-like focus, sending shivers down her spine. She wasn’t sure how much more tension she could take and wanted to assault his lips.
His body flew to hers like a magnet, and he kissed her passionately like he had been holding those feelings inside for a long time. Perhaps later she would ask why he took so long, but for the moment she enjoyed the feeling of his soft lips on hers. The kiss was hot and deep and awakened a monstrous appetite inside. The moment could have lasted forever for all she cared, but eventually, she’d have to let him go. It proved difficult.
But, finally, she tore herself off him. “Wow.”
He was catching his breath. “Yeah.”
She couldn’t stop smiling.
He rarely called her by her name, and she loved the way it rolled off his tongue.
“I think you’re amazing, and…” He was even cuter when he was nervous. “Well…” He chuckled. “I’d like to extend an offer.”
She laughed and knew whatever would come out of his mouth next would be worthy of it.
“Previously, you were gunning for the Premium Friendship, no?”
“Well, I would like to offer you Premium Friendship+.”
He was so silly, and she loved it. “And what, pray tell, does Premium Friendship+ include?”
“All the benefits of Premium Friendship plus the coveted title of ‘my girlfriend.'”
He always had a way of making her feel special. Being his girlfriend would be a dream, and she wanted to say yes immediately, but fear gripped her tongue as all her past experiences came rushing back to mind. In her heart, she knew he was a gentleman and would never dream of hurting her, but she didn’t know that for sure.
He grinned. “Naturally. All offers have terms and conditions. What are yours?”
“Do you promise not to suddenly get married while we’re together?”
He looked confused but laughed through it. “Only if it’s to you.”
“Do you promise not to sleep with my family members and have babies with them?”
His face turned serious when he realized she wasn’t joking.
She felt the onset of tears. “If you do get married, do you promise not to ask me to be your mistress?”
He looked at her with such pity. “Did all of that really happen to you?”
She wiped some tears and nodded.
He pulled her into his arms and held tight. “Maya…I will never hurt you. I’m only interested in you. No one else. I promise.”
She let out a few more tears as she melted into his arms. Many of those hurt feelings she kept inside, but it was nice to finally let them out. It was good she let them out before she began a new relationship.
“And, if by some unfortunate sequence of events I do end up hurting you, I give you permission to Internet shame me.”
She laughed. “You promise?”
“I promise. So…will you accept the Premium Friendship+?”
“Yes!” She fell back into his arms and felt safe there. She finally had a real boyfriend.
“Hey! We should take a really cheesy picture and post it on your Simstagram.”
“Yes! And we should totally make up our own ship name!”
He threw his head back and laughed. “Oh yes! Let’s see…what should we be? Mayveer? Ranya? Raya?”
She grinned. “Manveer.”
“Awww. Ship names…you know that makes it official official.”
He laughed at their picture. “Oh, that is the worst!”
“We look like an old, married couple!”
She uploaded the picture to her Simstagram page with the caption, “Got me a real man. #MayaAndRanveer #Manveer #nogames #finally #weretoohot.” She also updated her relationship status on Simbook. “Are you gonna change yours too?”
He grinned. “Of course.”
It was getting late, so they said goodnight, got one more hot but slow kiss in and went their separate ways feeling amazing. The next evening, he called just as she arrived at home.
It was so refreshing to be on the receiving end of someone else’s pursuit. “Hark! It’s my boyfriend.”
“How was your day?”
Her stomach churned at the memory. “Ugh. You won’t believe!”
“I was so sick last night.”
“…you caught a cold?”
“Oh my goodness! Seriously?”
“I was throwing up all night.”
“Aww, Maya! Why didn’t you call me? I would have come over and…I don’t know…held your hair?”
They laughed again.
“That’s sweet, but I wouldn’t have been able to even ask you. It was really bad.”
“Are you ok now? You want me to come by?”
She couldn’t get over her luck. It was so wonderful to be in a real relationship. “I’m fine, I promise. I just want to shower, send a few emails, and then crash in front of the tube.”
“You went to work today?”
“I had a meeting. It was too late to cancel.”
He chuckled. “That’s why they pay you the big bucks, Ms. Director of Communications.”
“Ok, well you go and get some rest. I’ll check on you later.”
“Thank you, Ranveer. I really appreciate you…” She got choked up.
“Hey…you’ve got a real boyfriend now. I’ve got you. I’ll always have you.”