This morning I have an excerpt from Susanna Carr’s latest release, Secrets of a Bollywood Marriage. I have a fondness for Bollywood movies, so this book immediately hit my TBR pile.
Tina walked to the center of the large entryway and stared at the sight before her. As she inhaled the stench of alcohol, sweat and cigarette smoke, she recognized a few of the guests. They were celebrities and actors whose faces graced billboards and movie posters. They still looked gorgeous, their damp hair and clothes plastered to their skin, as they moved feverishly to the heavy beat of the drums.
She narrowed her eyes and watched as two guests competed in a drinking game at the bar. So this was how her husband had spent his days while she was away. After reading the weeks-old tabloid, it shouldn’t surprise her.
Tina wondered what the occasion was for the party. It had to be about business. The moment Dev was born he had been destined to reign this world. But it was not enough to take his rightful place at the top. He was driven to succeed, conquer new territories and gain incredible power. Money was secondary to this man yet every moment of Dev’s day was consumed with business.
Well, almost every moment. She had been the exception. Once she thought that the aberration meant he loved her. Now she knew differently.
Tina continued to walk through the house. She wondered if he would claim that it was her welcome-back party. He was bold enough to try. And why not? He could lie and break promises without suffering the consequences. Dev was untouchable.
But her return had been impulsive. She hadn’t known that she was coming back until yesterday. Now she wondered if that had been the wrong decision. Tina bit the inside of her lip as she walked further away from the main entrance. Her goal was to show that she was no longer vulnerable. That she was stronger than her husband could imagine.
Tina hesitated before she moved deeper into the house. Once she had felt safe and comfortable here. She had even considered it her home. Now she knew it had been an illusion. Instead of being protected, she had ultimately been stripped of her power and freedom. Her fingers flexed nervously against her purse strap as she looked around, trying to remember where the closest exit was located.
She heard a group of people clapping and chanting loudly in the direction of the billiards room. Tina pivoted and marched to the back of the house, certain that her husband would be there. With his stunning looks, raw masculinity and star power, Dev was always the center of attention.
Tina rolled her eyes when she recognized the song the men were chanting. It had been from Dev’s first hit movie. She had seen it countless times but she knew her husband was privately critical of his performance in it. He wouldn’t play the song unless it was a special request for someone important.
She suddenly remembered the scene also included an actress. Would he be dancing with a partner? A certain ingénue? Bile burned in her stomach at the thought, but Tina kept moving. She needed to see this herself and not rely on other sources. She needed to know.
Tina entered the billiards room unnoticed. She was invisible in this brand-name crowd. Her crumpled tunic and baggy jeans didn’t cause one head to turn. The only time the Hindi film elite noticed her was when she was on the arm of her husband.
Everyone was facing the center of the room, jumping up and down with their arms outstretched as they sang. She stumbled to a halt when she heard Dev’s bold laughter. The sound pierced her heart.
He sounded…carefree. Happy. Tina staggered back as the realization hit her like a fierce blow. How could he be like this after everything that had happened? Didn’t he feel anything? Or was it just a relief to him?
Tina hunched her shoulders. Perhaps it was a bad idea to return for one final confrontation. She had always suspected that she had been a burden to Dev. She’d thought they had been desperately in love, but now she realized he had felt obligated to marry her. It hadn’t helped that his parents had disapproved of the match. Of her.
Who could blame them? She was not worthy of him. His parents were Bollywood legends and she was from the slums. Dev had given up his parents’ grand plans and eventually he’d given up on her.
Everyone had known it was bound to happen, believing she’d tricked him into marriage. They confused her with the bad-girl roles she had in those low-budget masala films. Perhaps Dev did, too. It had soon become obvious that she wasn’t the brazen and sexy woman of his dreams. Dev had been ready to return to his playboy ways and he wasn’t going to let a wife stop him.
And she wasn’t going to let him have any more power over her. Determined to get this over with, Tina took a shaky breath and plunged into the crowd. She stopped, her heart lurching when she saw Dev standing alone in the center of the circle. He held the guests captive as he performed the intricate dance step with effortless grace.
Tina’s chest squeezed tight. Dev Arjun. Her first love. Her biggest mistake.
She stared breathlessly at her husband, unable to look away. Dev was lean and muscular thanks to years of training for his popular action adventure movies. Tina shivered as she remembered how his strong and athletic build felt under her fingertips. His golden skin had been warm and rough and she had enjoyed watching his rock-hard abdomen clench as she’d teased him.
She flushed, her skin tingling, as she watched Dev finish the iconic dance, encouraging the others to follow along. Yet no one could match his confident swagger or his bold and precise moves.
As he raised his hands up like a conquering hero, Dev appeared taller than she remembered. Larger than life. Tina noticed how his dark shirt couldn’t hide his broad chest and how his jeans encased his powerful thighs.
She wished she wasn’t aware of how good he looked, but this was a man in the prime of his life. His strength and vitality came off him in waves. In the past she had yearned to have those powerful arms encircle her. Now she knew to keep her distance.
As his audience roared with their approval, Tina dragged her gaze to Dev’s face. Only then did she notice the darker shadows and the deeper lines around his eyes. His angular features were harsh and mesmerizing. He looked older. Harder.
Dev bowed before he accepted a drink from one of his friends. He tilted his head back and her gaze locked with his. Dev froze. He held the glass midway as his eyes widened. Tina felt his shock quiver in the air.
His husky question scraped at her taut nerves. She wanted to melt back into the protection of the crowd. She wanted to run. She wasn’t ready for this. She wasn’t ready for him. But it was too late.
The room went silent. She couldn’t speak, couldn’t move, as Dev tossed down his drink and pounced. He moved with a swiftness that stole her breath. Her throat tightened as her heart thumped against her ribs. She suddenly felt cold as her muscles locked violently.
Dev captured her in his arms and gathered her tightly against him. She was trapped. She inhaled his spicy scent and tears sprang in the corner of her eyes as their most intimate memories assailed her.
Tina had imagined how she would act when she was finally in the same room as Dev. This was not part of the plan. She was supposed to be aloof. Icy cold. Untouched. Just like he had been during the last days they were together. This was the moment when she would take back her power and make her demands.
Instead, she remained silent as he slid his large fingers through her short hair. She stared at him as he firmly tilted her head back. Her mouth trembled with anticipation. She knew he was going to claim her with a hard and possessive kiss.
About the book:
After the glitter settles…
Tina Sharma and Dev Arjun’s whirlwind romance made them Bollywood royalty, but beneath the glitz and glamour there’s trouble—Tina is about to demand a divorce!
But Dev won’t give in without a fight, so he proposes a deal: play the dutiful wife for two months, then he’ll let her go. Tina is furious! He clearly regrets their shotgun wedding, so why stay together a day longer? But it isn’t the days she should be worried about….
As Dev turns up the heat, Tina may just find herself wishing for a lifetime of pleasure with her devilishly delicious husband!