Four

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Four
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Despite having regular classes in college, Lily decided to accompany Daniel home.

"I won't stay long," she told her father inside the car as they headed for her hostel to get her things. "Just for a day or two." But in her head, she knew she'd stay as long as she wanted until her parents would have to literally shoo her out of the house, and her father knew every bit of her plan.

"Lily, why don't you take your studies seriously?" implored her father.

"I'm not giving up on college, Papa. I'm just visiting home for two days at the most. Mocha is finally home after a century. Do you really expect me to continue missing him and cry my eyeballs out when I could've just been home with him? Are you planning to torture me emotionally and psychologically?"

Ronghei groaned and shook his head. "I have no more words. I can never win over this girl."

While the family waited for Lily outside the hostel gate, a silver Chevy rolled past them and made its way through the gate. When the driver made out Lily's parents sitting in the front seats, it stopped to greet them.

A fine-looking young man in a crisp white shirt, with neatly trimmed dark hair, jutted his head out of the window and smiled, "Coming to see Lily, Eepa? Eema!" using the Manipuri connotations for Father and Mother, which was a warm and reverent address.

Shangdar smiled at him while Ronghei answered, "Yes. We're taking her home for a few days. Her brother is home after a long time."

"Oh!" The gentleman shifts his eyes to Daniel and acknowledges him with a nod. "Good to see you."

"You too."

After bidding goodbye to her best friend Shangkim, who stayed in the same hostel, Lily waltzed out of the gate wearing a smile on her lips which dropped right next to her shoes the moment she met the gentleman at the gate. The grip of her fingers tightened on the handle of a rectangular chest she was carrying, and she decided to ignore him. When she turned away and headed for her car, the man asked her if she was going home.

"Yeah," Lily returned rather arrogantly without meeting his eyes and climbed into the backseat to sit beside Daniel.

Lily's parents gave the man the final goodbyes and steered out toward the main road.

"Wasn't that your hostel owner's son?" Shangdar asked Lily. "I forgot his name."

"Nelson," Lily breathed loudly. "How I dislike him."

"Does he like you?" asked Daniel.

"Yeah. It's so annoying," Lily grumbled with an ugly frown on her face. "He knows I don't like him and yet he keeps trying to talk to me. Even when I'm talking to my friends, he'll come and try to chat up with me. He's just sooooo irritating."

Daniel saw that she was close to pulling the roots out of her hair and he chuckled.

"Still, Lily. Try to behave well," said Shangdar, "Don't answer him the way you did before. It wasn't nice."

"I can't help it!" she grunted. "Every time I see his face, I get so angry. You know, one time, me and my friends decided to eat at a nearby restaurant. They have seafood there and it's quite an expensive place. He followed me and I got so mad that I ordered all the expensive dishes for everyone and made him pay for it."

"Sheh!" Shangdar jumped in her seat and turned to gape at her daughter.

Lily fell back into her seat laughing. "It's true!"

"You've been up to all sorts of things, haven't you?"

"Well, he deserved it. Who the hell told him to follow me around?"

"But what if he didn't have money with him?"

"Ah! He has. They're rich people. Besides, the restaurant isn't far from our hostel. He could run back home and grab his wallet. I'm sure all of us would've gladly waited."

"What does he do?"

"I'm not sure. But he's working at the Secretariat... as an Information Officer I guess."

"Hmm. Not bad. At least, I can be assured you won't die with an empty stomach," teased her father.

"Enough. I wouldn't marry him even if he was a millionaire."

"Are you still dating, Mothelshang?" Daniel asked.

She gave him the giddiest smile, saying, "Yeah. I think I'll marry him," and Daniel snorted on her face.

"You think it's not possible? You just wait and watch." She opened her phone and thrust the screen in front of his eyes. He saw a picture of the silly couple in matching hoodies and matching caps and matching shoes. They nearly looked alike as though they were twins.

"Don't we look perfect for each other?" Lily grinned down at the phone screen dreamily. "We even have the couple-charm. We're made for each other. He's so cute."

"Yeah. He's cute. No toddler could compete with him."

Lily glared at him. If looks could kill, Daniel would've been in a nasty place. "At least he's prettier than your girlfriend."

"Right, Daniel. How's Juliana?" Shangdar gasped as she looked back excitedly. "Was she upset that you left?"

"Yes. A little bit. But then, I can't give up on my dreams at the same time. We'll just have to see how things turn out."

"But you're still together, right?"

"Yes. For now," he chuckled sourly, not entirely sure if she'd stay. She was pretty mad he decided to leave the city. She didn't even see him off at the airport.

"Well, you don't have to marry right now. Maybe, later on, you'll find a way to make things work," encouraged his Darcha.

"Yeah. If God wills. What's that you're holding?" he turned to Lily, motioning his chin to the chest on her lap.

"My makeup box." She grinned at him teethily.

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It's a rather short one but thank you so much for reading! ❤❤💕❤💕

Love, Hermyne

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