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All the Love: a collection of 5 star romance stories

All the Love: a collection of 5 star romance stories

ML James

Update: 2021-10-20

Chapter 1 Hidden Love

  • Aida was stomping angrily toward home in her very thick and heavy clothes. She missed India so much. Her friends, the language, the parties and most of all, the weather! It was so cold here in America at this time of the year when she had decided to come spend time with her uncle's family and at the same time, further her studies. Thick clothes that still couldn't keep out the cold seemed quite a long way from the traditional Indian clothes she loved wearing, but whether she thought them crazy or not, she wouldn't dare take them off since she had no intention of freezing to death. The clothes may be uncomfortable and the cold still unbearable, but she knew from bitter experience that being stuffed in them was far better than not. It was only a twenty-minute walk from her school to her uncle's home and in this bad weather, every second of it was torture. Walking fast and swinging her arms as she had learnt combined with the knowledge that she was very close to her destination gave her the needed strength and courage to keep trudging on. She was so tired that she wanted to cry, but she just couldn't find the tears, they seemed frozen in her eyes.
  • Sighting her uncle's house brought immense joy to her heart. It seemed a little different since it was now partly covered in snow, but she could still recognize the image of Buddha carved on the outer door. With returned vigor, Aida put in a burst of speed. Very soon, she'll have a warm fire and a steamy cup of something nice, she thought. She was totally concentrated on getting home as fast as possible, so she didn't notice the tall, slim figure coming toward her with shoulders hunched and hands deep inside the pockets of his thick coat. They bumped against each other, causing Aida's purse to fall. Aida swore under her breath.
  • "Oh I'm very sorry," the stranger apologized, his intonation tainted with a faint Indian accent. "I didn't see you coming. Hope you're not hurt? Here."
  • He bent down to pick up Aida's fallen purse, but before he could touch it, she swiftly swept it off from under his fingertips, leaving him half stunned in a touch-your-toe position. She tucked the purse under one arm and glared at him for a few seconds before stomping away angrily. She had found a new reason to be really angry which would provide enough heat to warm her up till she would get to her uncle's house. The young man that had just bumped into her watched as she rushed off. He gave a tired sigh, sending a wisp of cold air through his mouth. For the life of him, he just could not understand why she was so angry since it was just an accident. Turning on his heels, he shrugged and went his way, replaying the incident over in his mind.
  • Entering the house at last felt very much like a record-breaking achievement for Aida and she was not disappointed. The house was as expected, warm and welcoming. Her uncle, Karmjeet always made sure it remained so. Right now, he was out on business and the kids were alone at home. As she shrugged off her thick clothes, they came running to greet her.
  • "Aunty Aida!", they chorused.
  • She hugged them affectionately and quickly made her way to the fireplace. One of the children, in their usual perceptiveness, ran straight to the kitchen to fetch Aida a cup of hot tea. She held the cup with both hands and smiled, relishing the soothing heat on her skin before sipping the content slowly. She relaxed as the heat slowly travelled through her body and smiled when she noticed the kids watching her face intently. They smiled back and smothered her with hugs and kisses. Even though she disliked the weather and a few other things in her strange new environment, the kids were a constant source of joy to her. Somehow, they always knew exactly what she needed and when she needed it and she loved them for it. My uncle is really blessed, she thought. His late wife bore him three smart and beautiful girls: Raja, Diya and Jamuna. He always said his late wife bore him the girls to make him happy and fulfilled for the rest of his life since she knew she wouldn't live very long. As a result, the girls were showered with love and care by their father and relatives. Cousin Aida, even though they always called her 'Aunty Aida' since she was much older, was their favourite after their father and they would do anything to please her.
  • "Girls, where's papa?", she asked of them.
  • "He went out," Diya piped as she bounced about on the sofa.
  • "So have you guys had anything to eat?"
  • Diya simply shook her head and continued her bouncing.
  • "How was school today, Aunty Aida?", Jamuna suddenly asked, looking up at Aida from her position on Aida's right side.
  • "School was fine, Jamuna. Thanks. So w..."
  • "I want to visit your school," Jamuna piped up excitedly, cutting Aida short.
  • "Oh," Aida blurted, clearly surprised. "I would take you one day, but wh..."
  • "Promise?", Jamuna asked eagerly, all smiles.
  • "Yes. Promise."
  • "Yay!", she shouted and hugged Aida.
  • "What about me, Aunty?", Diya suddenly asked, screwing her face into a sad expression.
  • "And me!", Raja shouted, not wanting to be left out.
  • "Okay okay," Aida laughed. "I'll take everyone to visit my school one day and I'll come to visit your schools one day too. Deal?"
  • "Yay," they chorused in unison, pouncing on her and smothering her with kisses.
  • "Okay girls," Aida shouted, struggling to get the girls off her.
  • "I need to fix food for you, so please let me go for a little while, okay?"
  • All at once, the girls jumped off the sofa and raced to the kitchen. Aida couldn't help but smile as she watched them struggle to gain the kitchen ahead of one another.
  • *****
  • Uncle Karmjeet always ensured that his house was well protected from the brutality of the weather, so he was clearly unhappy when he came home one evening to find his niece and children huddled in blankets close to the fireplace, which had lighted up the entire parlour in a bright glow.
  • "Aida, what happened?", he asked, after taking in the situation. "Why are you all huddled up?"
  • "Welcome, uncle," she answered feebly, her teeth almost chattering. "I think there's something wrong with the heater. It just won't work."
  • "But what about the lights?"
  • "They don't work too."
  • "That's bad. Just hold on. I'll make sure to get this fixed immediately."
  • Uncle Karmjeet hurriedly walked toward the kitchen and Aida could hear his loud voice on the phone clearly talking to an electrician. She was so cold that the thought of an electrician coming soon made her feel a little warm at heart. She began a countdown as her uncle told her after the call that the electrician, Arjun would arrive in a few minutes.
  • Twenty minutes later, there was a light knock on the door and everyone expected it to be the electrician. Uncle Karmjeet rushed to the door and ushered him in. Aida straightened up and was very glad to see him, but when she caught sight of his face, her feelings took a sharp turn for the opposite. She could hardly believe her eyes. The electrician, Arjun, was actually the same guy that bumped into her some days ago! He saw her too and was mildly surprised, but finally settled for a smile and a respectful bow. Aida had been looking for a good enough reason to be angry since she could do with some heat from such anger, but she was just too weak to get sufficiently angry at the weather. Arjun's presence was a perfect reason and she seized the opportunity with all her heart. His charming smile and polite courtesy made her anger increase ten-fold. She glared at him with all the venom she could summon into her eyes, but he seemed not to have noticed or was deliberately avoiding it, because with another smile at her, he followed her uncle as he led him to where he would fix the electrical problems.
  • Aida could hear them talking and to her surprise, few minutes later, the lights suddenly came on. The children quickly threw off their blankets and started jumping and thrashing about, playing pillow fights and shrieking at the top of their voices while Aida switched on the heater. As she tried to place order among the children, Arjun and Karmjeet came out into the sitting room. Arjun bowed to Aida and the kids and they thanked him loudly, each trying to outdo the other in intensity, but Aida simply ignored him and turned her back to him. He stepped out of the house amidst goodbyes from everyone except Aida, but before walking away, he flashed her another one of his charming smiles which made her glare back at him angrily. As soon as she saw his back, she marched to the door and shut it with a loud bang. Uncle Karmjeet who had been watching all along seemed to notice the friction between them.
  • “What's going on with you and Arjun?”, he asked casually.
  • "Oh uncle," she sighed. "Don't mind him. He's just a clumsy and careless person, that's all. He almost knocked me down one day."
  • "Oh sorry dear, but he apologized, did he not?"
  • "Well, he did... but he ought not to have bumped into me in the first place."
  • To her, it wasn't just an accident. She viewed it as a clear proof of his carelessness and stupidity. Her uncle simply laughed it off and set it down as undecided romantic feelings, but she hurried away to the kitchen to hide her annoyance. The idea of she and Arjun becoming romantically involved sounded so disgusting to her that she couldn't even bear to think of it.
  • *****
  • Sitting quietly and alone with her thick coat tightly wrapped around her, Aida was trying in vain to fend off the cold as best she could. She never expected the weather to change so quickly, so she never bothered to bring along her gloves and boots, but now she was seriously regretting it. She decided to sit in a quiet corner and think up an idea on how to get home as soon as possible, but she found that the longer she sat, the more tired she got and the more she felt the effect of the cold. Being naturally shy and ashamed to speak her Indian-inflected English, she couldn't bring herself to ask for help, but suddenly, she noticed someone taking a seat beside her. Looking at the intruder, she found that it was her uncle's electrician, Arjun. She sharply turned her head away and managed a short hiss. By now, her teeth were beginning to chatter, the cold becoming more unbearable by the minute. To make matters worse, she could feel Arjun staring at her and sporting that smile of his that she hated so much mainly because it disarmed her.
  • "Hello Aida," he called softly in his oh-so-sweet voice that reminded her of the flow of soft springs.
  • She remained mute and stock-still, but that didn't deter him. With his smile still fixed on his face, he shifted closer to her.
  • "I'm sorry for disturbing you, but I couldn't help but notice that you're alone and cold and it seems you need help getting home. I have my car here, please let me give you a lift home."
  • Aida knew she had to accept his offer or she would freeze to death in no time, but her pride needed to be appeased. She glared at him as he offered her his hand with that disarming smile on his face. When she was quite satisfied with her performance, she slowly pulled herself up without his assistance and stonily refused to allow him hold her. In fact, she didn't move an inch until he went ahead of her to lead her to the car. He quickly opened the passenger door and stepped aside as she settled herself into the front passenger seat.
  • After making sure she was settled and comfortable, he got in, started the car and turned on the heater. As he pulled out into the street, Arjun decided to turn up some romantic Indian music. Driving and humming to the song, he was clearly enjoying himself and the welcoming combination of heat and music seemed to be thawing off the physical and attitudinal cold on Aida too. She was already nodding and whispering to the beat. Arjun looked at her and smiled. She quickly looked away and kept utterly quiet for most of the journey.
  • Karmjeet was very happy with Arjun when he brought home his niece. He was preparing to go pick her up when they showed up. He noticed that there was a slight smile on Aida's face which greatly surprised him considering her aversion for Arjun, so after he had thanked Arjun and seen him off, he turned to go in, but found Aida sporting a much larger smile which she quickly extinguished as she saw him.
  • "What's funny, Aida?", he asked, clearly perplexed.
  • "Funny?", she asked in pretense. "I have no idea what you mean."
  • "I saw you smiling."
  • "Me? Smiling? No. You must be mistaken, uncle. It must be the weather confusing you a little."
  • With that, she hurried into the house, trying her best to hide another smile that was threatening to take over her face. She didn't want her uncle to have a clue of the reason for her new found cohesion with Arjun. She was scared of him teasing her with it.
  • Arjun had, instead of taking her straight home, taken her to a big restaurant that was so warm that Aida could hardly be reluctant. While they were seated and waiting for their order, he publicly apologized for bumping into her. Being very shy, Aida quickly forgave him in order to avoid a scene. Afterwards, Arjun treated her to a luxurious and semi-romantic lunch.
  • Aida enjoyed herself so much that she was a little disappointed when it was time to leave. As if he had read her mind, Arjun promised to come take her out for dinner the next day. This was the first time she had received such a nice treatment from someone in her age group of the opposite sex and she wanted more. As they made the second and final journey home, she knew that her perception of Arjun had changed forever. She would never look at him the same way again. She glanced at him with a bright smile on her face and he smiled back at her, making her turn away shyly. Looking back in time, she had to admit that the bumping was just an accident and that she had judged him harshly. One day, perhaps very soon, she would ask for his forgiveness too, but not today. She wanted to sit back and enjoy the exquisite feeling, taking things one at a time.
  • *****
  • At home, Aida was trying hard, but failing miserably to hide her increasing likeness for Arjun. She would try to look indifferent any time his name was mentioned while in fact, her heart was beating loudly and her cheeks increasing in brightness. He kept his promise to come pick her up for dinner the next evening. They had arranged on a particular time and throughout the day, she anticipated and couldn't wait for the time to come. She hurriedly completed her chores at home and never forgot to check the time every few minutes. The clock seemed to be moving too slow, but when the arranged time approached, she was filled with so much anxiety that she was totally restless.
  • Uncle Karmjeet noticed all this, but he thought it wiser to keep quiet and mind his business. Some minutes before the arranged time, Aida quickly asked leave to visit some friends and her uncle assented readily. She dressed up and hurried over to the turn close to her house which she knew Arjun must pass through. At exactly the appointed time, Arjun drove through the turn, but she hailed him to a stop and joined him in the car. He didn't bother asking why she waited for him there. He simply smiled at her and she smiled back, shyly. She was not very conversational and he didn't want to push her, so she would not recede into her silent moods.
  • *****
  • Aida's constant 'visits' to friends were beginning to attract the attention of her uncle and his children, but any time they asked her about it, she always had an evasive answer to provide.
  • "Why don't you bring them home?", Karmjeet asked as she was preparing to step out for another visit.
  • "Who, uncle?", she asked, feigning ignorance.
  • "Your friends of course."
  • "Oh! Them. Um... very soon. I'll bring them home soon. I have to go now, uncle. See you later."
  • She hugged her uncle and the girls too, but she noticed that they were all trying to stifle an amused expression. She didn't bother to find out more since she was already getting late for her date. Arjun had now been accustomed to wait for her at the turn. She hurried off to him and after a quick hug and a sweet compliment on her dress, he opened the door of the passenger side and was rewarded with a shy smile as she settled in. He smiled back, bowed courteously and hurried over to the driver's side and promptly drove off.
  • Aida enjoyed herself that evening. She ate a lot, laughed a lot and drank a lot. Arjun took her to visit a lot of nice places. They sampled a lot of foods and tasted a lot of wines till Aida grew exhausted. She felt it would be rude to ask to be taken home and also, a large part of her wanted to stay a little since she was having a lot of fun. She was still contemplating when Arjun spoke into her ear. "Had enough?", he whispered.
  • "Hmm," she hummed, trying her best to keep her eyes steady. "I surely have had enough drinks for one night, but I can't have enough of the fun."
  • "Then maybe we should head home; there's always tomorrow. Your uncle may be getting worried already."
  • "Yes, it's very late."
  • Without another word, Arjun helped her up and said goodbye to the few friends they had made throughout the evening. Aida was feeling a little more than dizzy, but she managed to walk steadily all the way to the car with as little help from Arjun as possible.
  • They arrived at Aida's home very late at night and she reasoned that her uncle and the kids would be fast asleep since the lights in the house were turned off. Feeling dizzy and exhausted, she asked Arjun to stop at the house instead of the turn. Arjun didn't ask why, he simply drove straight to her uncle's house and parked directly in front of it. Aida was still reclining in her seat when he stepped out of the car. He could see that she was tired, so he helped her out and escorted her to the front door and stopped there.
  • "See you tomorrow?", he asked with a smile.
  • Aida did not respond. To his surprise, she promptly stood on her toes, wrapped her hands around his his neck and kissed him full on the lips. At that moment, as if it was a well rehearsed show, Karmjeet and his daughters suddenly opened the door and shouted at the top of their voices.
  • "Got you!", they all chorused.
  • The kids engulfed the smiling and blushing Aida who was hiding her face in her hands while their smiling father watched, clearly satisfied with the success of their plot.