Chapter 16 They didn't say a word to each other in the car. Or at the ball. He just took her in his arms and danced with her for hours. Everyone clamored for his or her attention, but other than a brief conversation with the mayor, they ignored everyone else, and no one seemed to care. Those who had seen the movie sighed with pleasure seeing their on-screen dream made into a reality. The photographers, held back from the party, managed to sneak in somehow and most of their photos were of Shahrukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra dancing dance after dance. Regardless of the tempo he held her close and danced slowly, only the slightest of distance between them. Mesmerized by her lips he leaned in to kiss her, but was stopped with a hand on his chest. He looked up into her eyes and saw the questions, all the questions lurking there. "We need to talk, yeah?" he said a bit sheepishly. She nodded and smiled, a kind smile. He took her by the hand and led her out of the party, past the gawking party guests, past friends and co-workers trying not to stare, past the paparazzi throng, out into the night, just the two of them. They headed towards the marina where a kindly old security guard let them in. "Slip 22," he said quietly as they passed by. Either he was a fan or knew when two people needed to be alone, his directions led to a sailboat yacht with a For Sale on it. Deck chairs were on the bow and the cabin looked unlatched. They each took off their shoes and climbed aboard. Shahrukh took off his tie and unbuttoned the first two buttons, his signature style. Priyanka slipped off the dress to reveal a satin slip underneath. He froze. "Dressed like that we won't get a lot of talking in." "Says you," she replied saucily and walked nimbly to the bow of the boat. He followed her and sat opposite, both chairs looking out into the marina and the Mediterranean beyond. The moon was low and big in the sky, hovering just around the horizon, as if threatening to disappear for good. Priyanka tucked her feet under her and simply said, "Explain." Shahrukh didn't need to say 'Explain what?' or employ any kind of defensive mechanisms. He owed her a monumental apology and there was no sugarcoating it. "I'm an *******," he began, his eyes never leaving hers, trying to figure out where to start. "When I met Katrina," he began, and, seeing her tense, put a hand on her knee to reassure her. "When I met her I was the shyest, most naive person you'd ever meet." "But wasn't that right after 'Deewana? That was your breakout." "Yeah, but I was only 21, had only slept with one girl before. I'm serious. I was wet behind the ears. Katrina, when she came along just blew my mind. She was so worldly and sexy, she saw the potential in me, and I suppose if she had really been interested in me we might have really been together, instead of the sham we perpetrated on each other and everyone else all these years." "You mean Aahil? "She was obsessed with both of us, but yes, she's always loved him, even now, after all these years and Aahil's marriage to Zenam. She's a very bitter woman." "So she got back with you to get back at Aahil? She had to realize how ridiculous that was. He didn't want her anymore." "And she couldn't take that. She's a very damaged person, Priyanka. I knew she was obsessive, but I didn't know how much till recently." "What do you mean?" she asked. "What I mean, is that when she decided she wanted me back and you were suddenly in the picture, she kind of went crazy. Bad crazy." He looked away from her, hesitating. Priyanka just looked at him, waiting for him to continue. "She fabricated photos of you to prove to me that you were no better than she was." "What?" Priyanka was momentarily shocked then instantly livid, her face burning bright hot. "She did what?" The words he uttered made no sense to her. "She had all of these very, um," he swallowed hard, "very explicit photos of you having sex with lots of men, including Ronit." Priyanka brought her hand up to her mouth, aghast. "I have never had sex with Ronit Roy," she whispered. Shahrukh tried to hide his sigh of relief, not that she didn't have any right to sleep with whomever she wanted, especially after the way he treated her. "Katrina showed the photos to me, and they just looked so real. But I don't know why I believed her." His head dropped in shame. "She can be very convincing, and I mean, damn, who would do that?" "Someone who loves you very much." "Maybe, in her own twisted way. But Aahil is the smart one in the family, obviously. He was so upset he hired a forensics' specialist to examine the photos. That's how he determined they were faked." "But you believed it. No questions asked." She couldn't hide the hurt in her voice. "I told you he's the smart one. He's also the skeptical one. It occurred to him Katrina might be up to no good whereas I couldn't imagine someone doing such a thing." Priyanka smiled at him sadly. That was true. Shahrukh was a fragile, ultimately trusting person, lacking a guile that was probably a necessity in a business such as show business. Suddenly she knew Shahrukh better than she thought she did. "So then what?" she asked. "Aahil invited us over for dinner and had the detective present. He confronted her and told her if she ever contacted the family again he would ruin her. " "Wow," Priyanka replied breathlessly. "She put up a fight, of course. Told me I was nothing without her, yadda yadda. Once it was clear I'd been had, I threw her out." He rubbed his hands together briskly like he was ridding them of dirt. "So why didn't you tell me right away?" "I wanted to. I wanted to call you right away, but I was so ashamed of myself. How could I believe someone so evil over someone who was obviously so good? I fell into a deep depression. Drank a lot. Smoked even more. Not a great scene." He grimaced. "But then Aahil beat some sense into me." "What did he say?" "He asked me if I loved you." "What did you say?" Priyanka forced herself to not hold her breath and just breathe normally. Shahrukh looked into Priyanka's eyes and she could see the moon and the water reflected there. "I told him that I loved you more than life itself." Priyanka, lost momentarily in his eyes and his words was mesmerized then she smiled slyly and said, "Loved? As in past tense?" "Loved. Love. Want to be with. Want to spend the rest of my life with." He dropped to his knees in front of her and grabbed her hands, his eyes hopeful but full of pain. "Priyanka, can you ever forgive me for how I've treated you?" "Shahrukh, I -" When she hesitated he looked away, broken. "I guess it's too late," he said quietly. "I blew it. I should have -" She interrupted him with a roll of her eyes and squeezing his hands. "Will you just shut up for a minute?" "Ok," he replied, facing her again. "You talk to much, you know that? And you jump to the worst conclusions about everyone. Not everyone is out to get you Shahrukh, least of all me. If you had taken a moment to listen to anything I've said to you or paid attention to anything I've done with you, you'd know." "Know what?" "That I'm madly in love with you too." "Really?" He said, his voice cracking and tears appearing at the corners of his eyes. "Really. And I think I have from the first moment I met you. Or maybe the second," she joked, remembering their first tense meeting in Ric's office. He took a moment to gaze at her before asking his next question. "Priyanka Chopra, will you do me the honor Of being my wife?" “Yes! She said breathlessly,But now I need you to kiss me." He tangled his hands in her hair and pulled her to him. "That I can do," and pulled her into a searing kiss. Shahrukh took the For Sale sign down before they headed into the cabin. There were no lights, but the low, bright moon provided enough illumination. He tucked a strand of her long brown hair behind her ear and gazed into her eyes. How could one man be so lucky? Especially since that same man had done everything he could to f*ck up the only truly good thing that had ever happened to him. He vowed silently to spend the rest of his life making her happy. He slipped the spaghetti strap of the slip off one shoulder and placed a kiss on the soft spot between her chest and where her shoulder began. He trailed kisses along her collarbone and throat until he reached her chin, where he sucked down, causing her to groan. They kissed deeply, tongues lashed together, hands suddenly all over each other. "Missed you," she whispered hoarsely as her hands trailed over the front of his chest and began to undo his shirt buttons. She slipped it off his shoulders and helped him strip the undershirt. He was like a statue of a Greek God, muscles rippling, tight, lean, built for sex. With only her. She leaned down and took a nipple in her mouth and sucked it to a hard peak. He moaned and pulled her up. "Better find the captains quarters before I take you right here in the galley." "Aye aye cap'n," she said playfully. Shahrukh found a candle and some matches and they found their way to the darkest reaches of the boat. Near the bow was a huge room dominated by an equally huge bed, it took up almost the entire space. "They must have been thinking of us," he smirked, and picked her up and threw her on the bed. "Think we need to change the sheets?" She said, fingering the patterned bedspread. "Nah, looks like they're showing it. More than likely it's been sitting her for a while." He dropped his pants and stood before her in his boxers. "Oh yeah," he said gruffly, tilting his hips towards her. She took him in her hand and began stroking him and licking the head. She took him in her mouth and sucked down hard. He gently pushed her back. "Time for that later. Need to be inside you. Now." He slid the rest of her slip off past her heaving breasts and curvy hips, exposing her to his hands and talented tongue. He sucked one nipple then the other before he lay down on top of her and positioned himself at her entrance. "Ready?" he murmured into the shell of her ear. ""Do I feel ready?" she teased, as he could feel the heat and wetness already. He sunk down into her slowly, savoring every inch until he bottomed out in her. She didn't make a sound before he began moving in and out of her, but each stroke elicited another gasp, a louder moan, until she was shouting his name and God's in rapid succession as a monumental orgasm shook her to her very foundation. It didn't take long before he followed her, wishing he could stay hard for her all night, but helpless to her body wringing him dry. Panting he rolled over, bringing her with him on top, keeping himself sheathed within her. He began moving in her gently, half hard, thinking it may take a few minutes before another go-round, when she sat up on him, grinding into him, her hands coming up to clasp a mountainful of hair on top of her head. She was the most beautiful sight he had ever beheld. Breasts bobbing atop the smooth expanse of her stomach, reflected in the candlelight, it wasn't long before they both achieved release together. Clinging together, their sweat-soaked bodies demanded more and more of each other, that each was deliriously happy to give. They parted, rolling over to their sides to face each other. She placed a palm under her cheek and with the other drew circles on his shoulder and arm. The candle was behind him, but she could see the smoldering look he was giving her and knew it wouldn't be long before another go. He pulled her hair back from her face and smiled into her eyes. The candlelight cast deep shadows, but her face was perfectly illuminated. She brought herself over to him, and laid against his chest, sighing happily. "So is now a good time to call you my fiancé?" She laughed and hit him on the shoulder. "You are the most stubborn man I've ever met." "Yeah, and you love me despite it." "Yes," she said, climbing back on top of him. "Yes, It is." She brought her lips down to capture his, letting her hair cover them in a thick curtain, sealing them off from the rest of the world.