Home > First Comes Like (Modern Love #3)(6)

First Comes Like (Modern Love #3)(6)
Author: Alisha Rai

“Stephen King.”

“At night?” He wouldn’t police age appropriateness in reading either, though he did wonder if scary tales at night were good for her.

“It’s the best time to read it. Did you just get home?”

“Yes.” He came to sit on the edge of the bed. “What did you do tonight?” He kept his tone mild and not accusatory.

A muscle ticked in her jaw. That tick had made Vivek Dixit famous back in the golden screen days. “Uncle’s mad at me, I guess.”

“Why would you think that?”

“Because we had a fight about dinner.”

Dev nodded. “I understand you had a disagreement over something called a Bagel Bites.”

“It’s pizza on a bagel.”

“That does sound . . .” American. “Intriguing. But perhaps not as healthy as a home-cooked meal.”

“I’m tired of Indian food all the time. Junk food’s the best part about coming to America.”

He adjusted the teddy bear next to her. In many ways, Luna was becoming a young woman, but she still slept with this ratty blue bear. “That’s the only reason you grew upset? You were fed up with the same style of food every night?”

She looked away. “Yeah.”

“It wasn’t kind of you to snap at Adil Uncle. He loves you very much and he deserves your respect.”

Her eyes grew wet, but the tears didn’t overflow. “I know. I’m sorry.”

“You’ll have to tell him that tomorrow.” His uncle had the same soft heart as Dev’s mother. The man would immediately forgive Luna.

Her throat moved. “I will.”

Dev hunched his shoulders, trying to make himself smaller. The last thing he wanted to do was make his niece feel cowed or scared. “Where did you get the money for ordering the food you wanted?”

“Aji gave me a credit card to use for emergencies.”

Now it was time for him to control the tic in his cheek. His grandmother. “I don’t want you using that card for anything but emergencies,” he said quietly. “Real emergencies.”

“Okay.”

“Perhaps we could go out to dinner, the three of us, when I get home tomorrow. Try some American cuisine. Get out a little and give your uncle a break from cooking. We can do so weekly.”

Luna shifted. “That might be nice.”

She didn’t look especially enthused, which told him the issue wasn’t really about the food. Or at least, not entirely about the food. “Sometimes when I’m acting and I have to act sad or angry, I have to think about something that made me sad or angry, and transfer my emotions from there to the scene.”

“That’s cool.”

It wasn’t, but he was trying to make a point. “Did something else make you frustrated today? Something other than Bagel Bites?”

She fiddled with her collar. “Maybe.”

She had moved on to speaking Hindi now, and he followed her there. “Tell me.”

“I want to go to school.”

He raised an eyebrow. “You go to school.” Her tutor in India had been one of the best, and Dev had kept the woman on, despite the hefty salary she commanded. She taught Luna virtually, willing to accommodate their new time zone.

He opened his mouth, but Luna held up a finger, her words coming fast, like she’d rehearsed them. “I have no real educational structure right now, except for the one my tutor makes up.”

“You’re two grade levels ahead of your age. Your structure is the four hours you work with your tutor in the mornings, plus any homework she assigns. Is it that you feel as though you don’t have a dedicated workspace? I’ll buy you a desk.” Actually, he quite liked the idea of that, both of them working side by side in his office in the apartment when he wasn’t on set.

“Please hold comments until the end.”

Not for the first time, he wondered if Luna was actually a too-serious forty-five-year-old businessperson in a child’s body. He mimed zipping his lips.

She held up a second finger. “While I do get to participate in many activities, group sports and social events are not possible. I want to join a football team, or play cricket—or baseball, whatever—or be on a fancy dress party committee.”

She had a point there. He had no doubt Luna had gotten to do many things her friends didn’t, by virtue of being a Dixit, but team sports and the like hadn’t been one of them.

He noticed she didn’t say theater. She’d demonstrated no interest in the art, and he wasn’t about to push her into it. There had been enough unnecessary pushing in this family.

A third finger. “Currently, I have no friends except you and Adil Uncle. I am thirteen years old and require more friends my own age in close contact. Studies show this is when our brains develop to learn how to have relationships.”

That, he couldn’t argue with. He forever felt guilty that Luna wasn’t around kids her own age. It was the reason she was even allowed to have social media, so she could keep in contact with her friends.

“What if we leave here in six months?” he asked. Hollywood was fickle.

“I don’t care. I want to go to a real school.” She swiped her hand at a curl over her eye. “I know how to work Uber or whatever other service they have here. I can take a car to school and back. You wouldn’t have to come to any events. It wouldn’t take any more of your time.”

He raised his hand to stop the flood of words that mildly broke his heart. “I am not too busy to drive you to school,” he said gruffly. “My concern is that you’ve never gone to school before.”

She lifted one shoulder. “Only because Baba said tutors were easier for him.”

Rohan.

“I know you think an American school will be like 90210, but it’s not that glamorous,” he warned.

She gave him a blank look. “What’s that?”

“It’s not like the TV shows, I mean.”

“I don’t want to go because we’re in America. I’ve wanted to go forever.”

“Why didn’t you say something?”

“Because I needed time to think of reasons to give to you for me to go.”

“You are a great debater,” he conceded.

“Aji said I could play a great lawyer.”

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