New York

The flight boarded as my hands began to twitch. My little sister getting married was definitely not what I had expected. She was just twenty-two. Who gets married at twenty two? I was twenty six, living in New York in a big Manhattan apartment alone. I was happy with the way my life had turned out. Despite that I was a bit displeased when Aisha called me at work on Monday morning telling me that she had found "the one". Being the older sister however I graciously congratulated her. I was beyond happy my little baby sister was in love but I was beyond devastated that she was getting married. For one , I did not want her to get hurt; two, I knew Aisha. She liked the idea of getting married more than she liked getting married. Three, even though I would never admit it, her getting married reminded me that I wasn't.

I looked out of my window seat to see the New York sky scrapers turn into tiny specs. And reminded myself mother had asked me to get to know Kol, my sister's boyfriend and to-be-husband. He worked in a big hot shot company in Manhattan. I would hear all about it a few days any ways. My magazine was doing an article about his company. I groaned morosely as I remembered my mother's sisters are going to be there in Aisha's wedding. I loved them, but they were just too much to handle at times. The wedding was going to be a sort of Bengali-American fusion themed since Aisha was Bengali. I was quite proud of my heritage actually. My caramel toned skin and brown eyes with high cheek bones didn't look so bad although my knees were awfully knobbly and I had a big awkward stature.

The flight from New York to Chicago was short and I emitted a deep sigh as I walked briskly through the airport and immediately spotted my salwar kameez-wearing mother's smiling face. Behind her a short brunette haired girl with an oval shaped face and chocolate brown eyes identical to my own, stood with a jovial smile curling her lips. She was holding hands with a black haired tall boy who looked like he had just dropped out of high school: Aisha and Kol. I dismissed my thoughts and made my way towards them. This was going to be a long day.


The entrance to my parents' house was first and foremost barricaded by my aunts. All of them had been very ecstatic to meet me. It had been four years since I had last come home. Well it wasn't like I didn't meet my mother or my sisters. We always contacted each other. My mother and my sisters knew about my crazy work ethic and they made time to come to New York as much as they could. As I hugged my aunts and uncles, my cousins and everyone else I felt the moisture forming in my eyes. This is why I hated coming home. Home. It felt nice to say that. Nothing had changed much. The same mauve silken curtains hung on the windows. The wooden flooring which I used to fall on a hundred time a day as I memorized economics notes pacing left and right was still the same. It even smelled the same.

Yet, everything had changed.

An hour and a half later I found myself perched on a feathery soft mattress with all my sisters, cousins and aunts. And the interrogations began.

"Where is that boy from New York you said you were coming with?" said my aunt Pakhi. I groaned.

"A boy from New York?" squeaked my cousin.

"Yes, he was her colleague at work, nah beta?" said another aunt.

'Wow! He must have been very rich!'

'You left him? I thought you were in love?'

'She was in love?' asked my elder sister, Chaaya, incredulously.

'Ooooooh, Ava has a boyfriend!' said my sixteen year old cousin.

'How rich was he?'

'Okay, enough. She had a long flight. Let her rest.' Said Chaaya . That's why I love you, Chaaya.

Others agreed and they got up from my bed to leave the room. 'Hey everyone, I forgot to tell you' I said, grinning, 'I got my awesome family some really awesome Armani stuff' There were shrieks of glee and a leap of excitement in the air as everyone, particularly my cousins, scrambled downstairs for the gifts.

Chaaya stood by the door smiling at me. 'Have I ever told you how proud I am of you?'

'Sometimes, although it's never quite enough" I said, grinning like a Cheshire cat. She walked up to me to hug me and my heart had a strange urge to cry. 'Hey I-' Aisha came to the room; she smiled a toothy smile and ran up to join us.

After a long time, I finally felt like I was home.


Two days later Kol and Aisha had gotten married in front of Aisha's huge family and friends and Kol's parents and a few of his close friends. Since Kol lived in New York, most of his friends and colleagues couldn't make it but they had promised to be there by the reception which would take place the day after their marriage. The marriage ceremony was wholly ravishing, tiring and short-lived. At first Kol and Aisha got married in Bengali style with Aisha wearing a Bengali sari and Kol in a lungi. The ceremony was beautiful. They then had a white wedding. The sight of my little sister wearing a white wedding gown carrying a bridal vintage brooch bouquet was one I would never forget. The two weddings of the same couple had exhausted all of us and the reception would take place the day after that.

This is why I was sitting in a lavishing chair, drinking champagne from a glass, in a sour mood. Gosh this musician was horrible. I could not help the sinking feeling I felt in my stomach at the moment as I watched Aisha and Kol, the newly wedded couple, dancing like they were having the time of their lives. They probably were. My eyes lingered on Chaaya and Eric, her husband, as well. They looked so perfect together as Eric held their ten years old daughter, Elena, in his arms. All three of them looked like a perfect little family. Molten panic flooded my stomach as I wondered if I would ever have what both my sisters now have. Was getting married really that important? Was finding 'The one' and living 'happily ever after' what completed a person'? I looked around the ostentatiously decorated reception party and spotted another person sitting, and probably even feeling, just like I was.

Every member in my family newly added or not, knew about my aunt Marge. Aunt Marjorie was the eldest of my mom's sisters. At the age of twenty-two my aunt Marge declared that she was in love with our neighbor's gardener,Richard,to my grand-father. My grand-father was a military officer who had moved to America at eighteen. Everyone was happy enough although at the night of the wedding Aunt Marge's boyfriend, Richard, was caught sneaking out of the country to go to his wife and kid in Armenia. Ever since then aunt Marge believed that marriage was a soul sucking beast that would keep on spanning its deadly wings and spitting out venom to innocent bystanders. She was historical when she first found out Chaaya was getting married. I guess that's why she liked me because she thought I would somehow follow her foot steps and never get married. Somehow, the thought didn't sit right with me.

My eyes lingered on the wedding cake and I found a smile forming on my face; it was beautiful. A strikingly gorgeous fondant drape inspired by the exotic beauty of a Bengali sari adorned it. It was red velvet cake. I could kill a baby bird for a red velvet cake. I got up from my seat and decided that I was far less dramatic to sit and wallow in despair about dying alone in my sister's wedding. If I was going to wallow, I better devour a red velvet cake first. I got up and fixed my coral coloured dress with lace fishtail hem and started to make my way towards my scrumptious red velvet cake when Aisha suddenly held my hand in a vice-like grip and brought me into a group of people I didn't know,. Aisha and Kol introduced me to Kol's friends and colleagues. I smiled graciously and shook hands with them. I met Wyatt, Kol's friend and Brad, Kol's colleague and forgot the others' names instantly. Kol somehow looked nervous as though he was waiting for someone. His forehead dewed with sweat and he kept exploding in laughter for no reason sometimes. So I asked Aisha once we were alone.

'What's up with Kol?' I said

'Oh nothing. He's just waiting for his new boss to show up. Kol's firm had a merger with this really big company and Kol met his boss last week and now he answers to him straight. I think you might know him. I've never heard of him until now, but then again, \ what do I know about businessmen.'

'What's the company's name?' I asked

'Something Chapman or something'

I wrinkled my eyebrows and when Aisha saw the look on my face she said 'I don't know! Anyways, who cares about the big, fancy schmancy guy, come on, I want to stuff my face with red velvet cake!'

'Okay, Bridezilla'


'Ava, I think it's time for you to finally settle down now. And I've been meaning to ask you honey, what happened with the boy from New York, what was his name Archer wasn't it?

I was sitting with my mother in the party. More like she had dragged me away from everyone else until we could be alone and talk. I sighed, knowing that I would have to tell them eventually.

'Mom, we broke up.'

What? But you were both in love! Honey ! Why didn't you tell me before ? What happened?'

Something I don't ever want to talk about.

'We just grew apart. That's all.' When my mom looked at me dubiously I shrugged and concentrated on keeping a poker face although it felt like an iron fist had clenched around my throat when I thought about him. I didn't know if I had grown more from that relationship or if I had lost all the dignity and self respect I had built for myself. I didn't know if I did anything wrong or if I didn't believe in love anymore. All I knew was that Asher was a part of my past. It was an intolerable shameful past in which I had even called my mother from New York and told her that I thought that he was 'the one' , just like Aisha had done with me. But Kol was different. In the few days that I had gotten to know him, he was genuinely a good guy. And I would never want what happened with me to happen with Aisha.

'It's okay. Anyways,mother. It is Aisha's day.I just want her to be happy.' ' Yah but-'

'No mom it's not. Today's not about me. Is about Aisha and Kol..'

My mother smiled and nodded. I got up and told her that I was going to get a when I got up and looked around it was as though everyone was looking in the same direction.

All the ladies in the room were holding their breath and peering at what seemed to be the most gorgeous man I had ever laid my eyes on. The sandy blond hair that fell on his hair was styled on his forehead. Every silky lock seemed to be in place creating a messy but sexy natural look that had every female in the room on edge. I had always liked strong jaws but this man was just so illegally beautiful. However, what had me staring were his eyes. I could spot them from half a mile away, okay not half a mile but maybe a room away. His eyes were a brilliant emerald green that made the baby hairs in my neck stand up. He definitely had a muscular built. The black, probably designer,tuxedo he wore did him justice. He radiated power and importance. This man was the epitome of male perfection.

There was an air of confidence about him, as though he knew the kind of effect he left on people .In fact there was a small smirk gracing his lips. His eyes crinkled slightly, somehow making him even more attractive. My mouth dry, I refrained from the urge to stare at him any longer. I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction to know that I was looking at him. I went toward the bar and found Kol and Aisha there talking to a few people. I feigned a smile and shook hands with. They were people I would never see or meet again.

'Ava, that's the fancy schmancy boss we were talking about.' Aisha pointed to Mr. Adonis-looking-guy. In fact, Kol walked over to him and said something to him nervously as though trying to please him with every fibre of his body.

Distractedly, I watched as Kol walked over to us with two men I didn't know and Adonis.

'Ava, this is Mr. Michelson- I shook hands with him-'Mr. Zack Martinez' –'a pleasure to meet you' i said.

'They are my colleagues' and with a leap of excitement in his face he said 'and this my new boss the Mr. Ezra Cadman'

I knew what the meant. Now that I looked at him up close, I knew who he was. He was the entrepreneur, philanthropist and C.E.O of Cadman Enterprises. I had seen him three years ago in a live conference meeting in L.A. All the high class people were present. I was only the editor's assistant back then. Even then I had hyperventilated. But he would never look at me. Why would he anyways? I had thick-rimmed glasses on which were almost bigger than my face with acne that gave me the impression of an over-sized insect. And I had seen him after that as well in the covers of magazines of Forbes, Fast Company and GQ.

'Nice to meet you', I said kindly.

He looked at me impassively with a glint in his eyes.

'You too'

We shook hands and I was suddenly reminded of those old movies when the hero and heroine shake hands for the first time and a jolt of electricity passes through them and instantly there is a connection.

He withdrew his hand after shaking mine for a second and I felt embarrassed that I had even thought that he felt it too.

'You said you were doing an article for Cadman Enterprises, right?' said Kol feverishly.

'Well, my magazine is.'

'You work for Cole and Hales?' said a thick British accent

I looked up at the emerald green eyes and nodded.

'I'm the editor-in-chief of Cole and Hales' And I was quite proud of that. Most men and women had gone well into their forties to reach my position and I was very young to be where I was. It had been short but a hard road it was. And even though some people still believed that I was too young and inexperienced for an editor-in-chief, I knew I deserved to be where I was.

Mr Cadman gave me a searching look. It seemed that he was interested in to know more about me.

'Well, we'll leave you two alone' said a sheepish voice. I glared at Aisha. She was trying to set me up.

Kol's colleagues along with my idiotic sister, Aisha ,had gone on to meet Kol's parents. I stood a feet from Ezra, I mean, Mr. Cadman! Why am I calling him Ezra? I don't know him!

Ezra's eyes looked at mine. 'You've changed a lot since I last saw you'

I looked up at him. He remembered me?

'Well, sometimes change is for the best'

He gave me a searching look again with his emerald green eyes which made me feel as though I was being X-rayed.

'Spoken like an old-soul.'

'Trust me, you don't want to know.'

'Oh, I hope I do get to though...'

What? I'm sorry, was Adonis flirting with me?

'Dance with me'

It wasn't even a question.

His large palm encircled my smaller one and I shivered slightly at the contact. This man did weird things to me.

He led me to the dance floor and even though I was wearing heels I was at least two heads shorter than him. He put his hand on the small of my back and the other held my hand. A light shade of pink probably tinted my cheeks as I blushed profusely for reasons I could not comprehend.

'So, Cole and Hales is doing an article on my company. If only I would have known that the contract I had signed for my permission to the editor-in-chief was actually you, we would've met sooner.'

'Probably. Although I don't really meet my clients face to face a lot.'

'Afraid of actual contact are you?' he challenged.

'No. I just like keeping business with people in a professional way only.'

'I see.'

Something about him made my heart do somersaults. Even though I knew I was a confident, young woman I had never felt more like an eight year old: silly and helpless.

'Well I hope your article goes well'

'Thank you.'

He dipped me and looked right into my eyes. I felt dizzy. Sparks, you're flying too much.

Yet something bothered me. I wanted to know.

'You barely know Kol, why did you bother coming to his wedding?'

He smirked. 'Well if you must know, I'm quite fond of Mr. And Mrs. Hoffman.'

Kol's parents?

'Yes. Mr. Hoffman was my economics teacher back in Brown.'

Kol's dad used to teach Ezra Cadman in Brown University. Why did I not know this?


'He was very helpful to me. I had just come newly to America some time before and he,well,he helped me when no one else did.'

He didn't go into details. He didn't like revealing things about himself. I wondered what 'helped him' meant. Why was I intrigued by what the man had gone through? I didn't even know him.

So I launched to another topic. 'How did you recognize me?'

He smiled a genuine smile actually for the first time.

'How could I forget? You were scribbling away into a notepad. Such concentration on your face. It was intriguing.' He said it like it was so obvious.

'Hmm. I thought you'd seen me somewhere else. That conference was three years ago. I ...looked really different.'

'You sound as though you didn't like yourself back then.'

'I didn't' I confessed.

'Well Ms. Safdar if it's any consolation, I was finding it very hard to keep my eyes off of you. You looked adorable in those big glasses, chewing your pencil sometimes. I could tell you were very hard working. Wanted to talk to you actually but you were gone by the time I searched for you.'

Why he searched for me I didn't ask. My mouth dry,I nodded like a fool.

'Aunt Ava ,there's a call for you.'

I turned to look at Elena, who was holding a phone in her hand.

Oh crap.

''Umm.. I have to take this.' I said to Ezra,I mean Mr. Cadman ! Damn it!

He nodded understandingly and released his grip on my back and stepped away. I missed his touch instantly.

'Thanks sweetie '

I took the phone and left the dance floor. Finding an empty place where there weren't shrieks of laughter or children running around or my aunts gossiping about how they would 'entice' Ezra Cadman if they were of his age, I said,


' have to be here fast. ' That was Julia, my assistant.

'What happened?' I knew she wouldn't call me unless it an emergency.

'Stocker boy was here. He tried to trash the main office overnight and we came in the morning and found out that h-he tried to, kind of b-burn it down'


I had had enough of this.

'Julia', I said 'book me the next flight to New York.'