Wow such a lovely chap dear, Loved their convo, just loved it, how two strangers tried to talk and lessen the burden on their hearts but being AdiYa they nvr forgets to argue hahaha, both spent 14 Feb together Yaayyy! hoping to read next part soon dear and loving the element of suspense u put in story :)
awesome update yar
awesome! please make them reach soon!! so we can see a bit of Dublin through your words.
Chapter 7 - Finding Shelter (Feb 14)
A knock on the car window woke Aditya up. A short old man, maybe in his late 60s, waved with a smile on his face. Aditya rubbed his eyes and rolled down the window. The rain had finally subsided and now it was drizzling. There were clouds in the sky and despite of being 9 in the morning, it was grey.
"Good morning!" the man chirped, "You look like you could use some help."
"Yes!" Aditya almost exclaimed in joy. Finally they had found someone or rather someone had found them.
Their conversation woke Zoya up, who had slept off in the sitting positing. She craned her and stretched her arms. Her eyes moved from Aditya to the man outside who gave her a big smile and she returned it in equal fervor.
Once Aditya and Zoya got out of the car, they assessed the wheel-situation with the old man whose name was Frank. It was stuck deep in mud and they would need more help to pull the vehicle out.
"My wife, Ivy and I, run a small b&b, just outside of the town," Frank informed them in his kind voice, "You guys can freshen up."
Aditya and Zoya took their bags from the car trunk and followed the old man down the muddy path.
"This road is not for cars," the man was speaking as he ventured ahead the narrow path, with Aditya and Zoya in tow. "It's used as a walking and cycling track. I was on my way to the farmer's market when I saw you guys."
"Thank you so much for helping us," Zoya offered, "We were lost."
"Lost?" Frank chuckled, "You were just a 15 minute walk to my house. Another hour and you'd have reached the town square."
"Which town is this?" Aditya asked, ducking slightly due to a low hanging tree branch, as they walked ahead.
"My house is just at the periphery of Kanturk," Frank informed them, "Say a couple hours from Limerick."
A couple of hours from Limerick? It meant they had hardly made any progress since Tralee, Aditya reckoned.
They walked some more on the dirt road, which widened after a curve and they saw an old cottage in the clearing.
"To think that we were just 15 minutes from shelter and we slept so uncomfortably in the car," Aditya told Zoya, who was beside him, but had hardly spoken anything to him.
"Hmm," she made a sound in agreement, without looking at him. For some reason, it unnerved him.
He knew he had massively upset her last night. But he had apologized, sincerely. And she had said it was fine but in the light of the morning, his mistake from last night came crawling back. Maybe she had not gotten over it.
It shouldn't bother him, he reflected. She was just a... stranger in passing. Why should it matter if she felt bad, even after him being sorry? Why should it matter if she wasn't responding to him?
Although; she was replying but just not in her usual manner. Each time in the past, she was the one who had started the conversation. The less she spoke, the more it bothered him. And the more it bothered him, the more he tried to talk to her.
"I just need a warm bath to clean up and some good food. I am starving," he continued in hopes of getting her to talk. "You?"
It was a silly question. Who wouldn't want a warm shower and food after the night they spent in the car with only chips and water as food. Yet, he made an effort.
"Hmm," she made the same sound.
Frank was ahead, opening the small wooden gate to his house. Aditya and Zoya were a few steps behind him. There was a small garden around the house with white picket fence along the periphery.
"Zoya," he called her and this time she looked at him, "Is everything fine... With us?"
"Yeah," she replied pointedly. It was anything but fine.
Saying so, she followed Frank in the house, leaving Aditya even more unsettled than before.
The interior of the cottage was cozy. There was a sitting room with a fireplace and an adjoining dining room with a big kitchen. A staircase at the far end of the room ascended up. Aditya assumed that's where the bedrooms must be.
A plump woman, in her sixties, with grey hair and kindly face greeted Frank. It was his wife Ivy. He told her about Aditya and Zoya needing a room for the day.
"Oh you are in luck," Ivy replied cheerily, "We have two rooms, one is already occupied by an Italian couple and the other one is vacant. You can have that." Then she turned to face her husband, Frank. Her tone changed to one of annoyance, "I just had to send away a pair of backpackers from the door. They were not married and admitted it right away! Not even an ounce of shame."
Aditya and Zoya glanced at each other for a moment.
"Tradition is tradition," Ivy was telling Frank who nodded in agreement.
Aditya furrowed his eyebrows. Ivy would never let them stay in the b&b if she found out Aditya and Zoya were not married. He couldn't bear to walk till, who knows where, to get another b&b. They were at the outskirts of the town, it's not like they had any other option.
"So," Ivy now looked at them, "It's Mr and Mrs?"
"Hooda," Aditya replied immediately, taking a sideway step closer to Zoya who was on his right.
"Aditya and Zoya Hooda," he gave a big smile. He saw Zoya put on a fake smile from the corner of his eye. He was grateful that she was playing along. He reckoned she might have reached the same conclusion as him.
"This way dear," Ivy guided Zoya and Aditya up the staircase, to their room.
Zoya stood at the edge of the bed, studying the room. It was small, as she had expected judging by the size of the sitting and dining rooms. There were 2 other bedrooms, one adjacent and one opposite to theirs- Frank and Ivy's and the other guest room, she assumed.
There was a tiny attached-bathroom, which didn't have a door but a shower curtain separating the small space from the bedroom. One wooden closet and the bed somehow took all the space in the room. The room could be called cozy, if she was not sharing it with Aditya.
Out of everything that bothered her, the primary was the bed- a small bed (much smaller than queen sized) and 1 double blanket.
Earlier she had caught on with Aditya's plan of acting as a married couple and gone along with it because she was tired and just needed a warm shower, some real food (that was not chips) and a few hours of comfortable sleep. But this, she eyed the bed, wasn't helping.
"This won't work," she said aloud to Aditya who had laid his trolley bag on the floor and was taking out a change of clothes. "We can't both stay together in this room. It's too small."
Aditya sighed and stood up, with a fresh pair of white shirt and blue jeans, "It's not ideal but it trumps sleeping in the car. There is nothing around this b&b and I am not up for a walk. We'll figure something out. For now, lets just freshen up and eat something."
Zoya agreed, though not fully convinced. She placed her shopping bags on the bed. The bags were now damp due to the constant exposure to drizzle. Aditya had gone in the bathroom, drawn the curtain and turned on the shower.
While choosing from her very limited options of clothes, Zoya's eyes involuntarily went toward the bathroom. Through the translucent shower curtain, she could see Aditya's silhouette. She looked away immediately and focused her attention on her clothes. She chose a blue colored floral- printed knee length dress.
There was a knock on the door and Zoya opened it to find Ivy with a laundry basket rested on her right hip, held tightly with her hand. "Do you have any clothes you'd like to get washed, dear?"
"Yes," Zoya replied and took out her used clothes- a shirt and a pair of pants and put them in Ivy's basket, "Thank you." She muttered.
Ivy didn't leave, "What about your husband's?"
Aditya had turned off the shower, and Ivy, without waiting for Zoya's answer called out to him, "Any clothes for laundry?"
He replied in affirmative from the bathroom. Ivy gestured Zoya toward the bathroom.
"Ummm..." she muttered, confused.
"Your husband's clothes, dear," Ivy responded with her ever-present wide smile, "Could you get them from the bathroom?"
"Oh!" Zoya bit her lower lip. "Yes, of course," she answered and walked to the bathroom. Logically a girl shouldn't have any problem walking in on her spouse in the bathroom. If she acted shady, Ivy could figure out. She had to keep the charade going.
She stopped when she was just in front of the curtain. "Honey? she cringed inwardly as she put on a fake sweet voice to address him. There was no response from him. She turned her head to see Ivy waiting, impatience drawing on her face. Zoya gave a smile and turned her face ahead.
She took a deep breath, parted the curtain slightly and entered the bathroom.
"What the f-!" Aditya began to cuss when Zoya told him to shush. The bathroom was small for one person, with 2 people in it, there was hardly any place to move. Zoya pressed her back on the damp wall to prevent coming in contact with him, yet she was dangerously close.
Thankfully, he had a towel wrapped around his waist though his upper body was bare. Zoya kept her eye contact with his, not letting her gaze drop even slightly.
"Ivy is here," she whispered, "She wants your clothes and sent me to get it."
"You could have said that from outside," he replied in a whisper. Tiny beads of water from his wet hair strolled down his face. He ran his hand through his hair to push them back.
"I did!" she protested, "I called you 'honey'. You didn't respond."
"You called me what now?" he grinned.
"Just give me your stupid clothes!" Zoya grumbled.
Aditya raised his hand and brought it close to her. Zoya pressed her back more on the wall at his gesture but there was no space to move. What was he doing?
His eyes studied her confused face, with a hint of smile playing on his lips. She furrowed her brows, about to speak when his hand moved to the left of her head. She turned her head slightly to see him removing his worn clothes from a hook on the wall.
He handed the pair of clothes to her, the smile on his face growing wider. He had understood her confusion and had found it amusing. She narrowed her eyes at him in what she hoped looked like anger and walked out, parting the curtain slightly.
Once she was out of the cramped bathroom, she inhaled deeply, shaking off the mental image of Aditya in a towel. She had kept her eyes fixed on his, but for a flip second, her eyes had involuntarily traveled in a direction she didn't intend to.
When she handed Ivy the clothes, Ivy's ever huge smile had now become a toothy grin, "Oh young love!" she teased Zoya, "It doesn't take this long to get clothes. Your husband just couldn't keep his hands off you, could he?" Ivy added a wink at the end of her statement.
Zoya tried to put up a smile in reply. Once Ivy left, Zoya plopped on the bed and closed her eyes. If this was how an hour in the house would pass, how long would she be able to continue the charade?
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