From Bollywood and the Beast by Suleikha Snyder She wasn’t a virgin. That much was true. But this was hardly in the same category as anything she’d experienced after the prom or a set-striking party. Impulsive, wild, frantic groping under the shelter of exotic trees and hanging vines. Seducing a man over 10 years older than her. Whispering “I love you” and meaning it. Taj made the impossible seem possible. He turned the unthinkable into the spoken and the done. Rocky straddled his lap, her skirt hiked above her knees and the sun-warmed wooden bench marking patterns into her skin. Taj shucked his shirt and tossed it aside with defiance, as if even now he was daring her to cringe, to pull away, to run. Not a chance. She kissed the jagged scars down the side of his throat and every pale burn that ran down his chest. It was just like his face…the combination of pain and perfection. As if the hand of fate had chosen to strike only one side, leaving the other as a reminder of what he used to be. And it didn’t matter. Because she cherished both equally, touched both equally. “You can’t scare me, Taj. Don’t even try.” He rubbed his jaw against her cheek and then turned to catch her earlobe between his teeth and tug. “How can I, sweet Rakhee, when you are scaring me?” He was shivering under her hands. But not from fear. “We should not,” he said, even as his body told her differently. She answered it by stroking the hard length of his cock, by rocking into him, already slick and needy and desperate to be rid of her panties. “We can.” Her voice was thick, almost foreign. Like she’d learned one more new language in the time between waking up this morning and bending close to whisper, “I have an IUD. Mom took me to get it two years ago and didn’t tell Dad.” “Speaking of your father is not…” He gasped as her fingers tightened, but it quickly turned into a scowl and his own grip digging into her hips. “It is not incentive, sweet Rocky. And it is not sexy.” She had to laugh at having her words thrown back at her. Taj was learning to play. Learning to love playing. And she would teach him every game she knew, if only he’d give her the chance to. “You want incentive? Help me take off my clothes.” Retired or not, he still took direction like a pro. He pushed her dress up, making the slide slow and torturous. “Like this, Rakhee?” His hands, so large and capable, nearly spanned her ribcage, and his thumbs stroked up to the border of her bra and pushed beneath. “And this?” They unhooked it together, and she leaned back so he could pull both her bra and her dress over her head and fling them aside. Maybe they landed in a tree. Or on a hedge. She didn’t care. All that mattered was how he looked at her. How he leaned in to taste and to lick. Rocky threaded her fingers through his hair, trying, like he had, not to pull too hard. But when he set his lips to her nipple and his teeth joined in, it was too much. Her blood roared in her veins, slammed against her eardrums. Just like that, she was hotter and wetter than Mumbai in the rainy season, wrapped in smoke and dust and wanting nothing more than to be drenched to the bone. And Taj, the beautiful beast, didn’t let up. His fingers joined in on the storm, diving down the front of her panties and moving in counterpoint to his wicked mouth. She came quickly, too quickly, clawing at him and keening and forgetting speech altogether. She felt his smile against her skin, smug and satisfied, and tasted his victory when he raised his wet fingers for her to suck clean. “Rakhee.” Her name rumbled like thunder as he kissed his way from the slope of her breast to her throat to her jaw and then her lips. “Mere Rakhee. Mine.” Yes. His. His first. His only. She wanted it all to be true. His cock was impossibly hard and already primed for her. She rose up just enough to shimmy out of her underwear and kick it down to her ankles. And then they were fitting together, locking into place, slick and needy and wild. The angle was a little off, their rhythm not quite right, and the bench rocked in discordant bangs and thumps. Taj kissed her like he was starving for it, and she kissed him back like her passion could sustain him for a year. Rocky had never, ever felt so goddamn good, so complete…and so much like she was home. With him. Only with him. It wasn’t a curse at all. It was a blessing.