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A Second Tomorrow





CHAPTER ONE 
“I’m an idiot,” Mayara Redders told herself as she flipped
a page of a travel book rather roughly, which caused a tearing sound. Her eyes widened as she examined the glossy page and then breathed with relief when she saw that the pages had rubbed against her jeweled ring to cause that sound.
“You sure are,” Nikki said, entering the room and turning on the lamp beside the desk. “What are you doing in the dark and in my dad’s office?”
Mayara let out a moan and closed the book. Putting a hand under her chin, she let out a dramatic sigh. “I’m a coward.”
Nikki raised an eyebrow and fluffed her brown curls. “Kind of.” She shrugged and adjusted the strap of her white lacy gown. “You ruined my plans.”
“You shouldn’t be playing cupid for an idiot, anyway,” Mayara groaned. “I can’t do anything right.”
“You’re way too harsh on yourself,” Nikki said and removed her pocket mirror. She ran a finger beneath her mouth and then dabbed her lips. “Low confidence will get you nowhere. Now, will you stop hiding and go and talk to him.”
It was Nikki’s birthday, her best friend of seven years. It had been her ploy to get Mayara and Kanvar in the same room so that they could talk. But things hadn’t gone according to her plan. Mayara had arrived late because of the rain that had caused a major traffic jam. Nikki was called away to talk to her aunt on the phone and Kanvar had begun talking to Siba, the prettiest girl in the class.
Her crush was talking to her for over an hour now and ruthlessly breaking her heart.
Not that Kanvar Handers knew that a girl in his class had had a crush on him for two years now. Mayara couldn’t say for sure he even knew she existed. The dilemma was that school was almost over. In a few months’ time, she would sit for her exams, graduate, go off to college and never see Kanvar again.
Reminding herself that high school crushes never upgraded to proper long-term relationships, didn’t work on her. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t convince herself that what she felt was a fleeting infatuation.
“He’s talking to Siba,” Mayara said dejectedly. “He’s never going to want to talk to anyone else now.”
“Yeah, because Siba is such a charmer?” Nikki rolled her eyes.
“Look at how confident she is. The way her hair is always in place and her clothes...they’re so fashionable. And she has that flirty laugh, ugh. Kanvar hasn’t taken his eyes off her. She’s sweet and smart and funny.”
Nikki relented. “Well, yes she is. But you’re amazing and cool. And you can be funny. Sometimes.”
Mayara put up her thumbs. “Thanks for the pep talk.”
Nikki made a frustrated sound. “Fine. Just forget about Kanvar. Maybe you’ll get a chance some other day. But not every day is my birthday. Now, will you come out of your cocoon? I have to cut the cake.”
“Yes, of course. It’s all about you today,” Mayara said, biting down on her smile.
“As it should be.” Nikki took her hand and walked to the door.
“It’s only just...” Mayara paused and pulled her hand away. “There isn’t much time left. There’s the prom. The exams and before we know it, graduation. I’ll never see him again. I overheard from a teacher that he’s been looking at a college far from here. With his grades, he’ll probably get anywhere. You know he’ll do well in his exams.”
Nikki looked down at her shoes and then gave her a tiny smile. “You really like him, don’t you?”
Mayara could only nod, trying hard not to cry. She couldn’t understand what had come over her, only that the thought of never seeing Kanvar again was breaking her heart. She barely knew him, couldn’t remember a time when she had spoken to him, and still, he had become the most important person in her world. How would she ever get over the way he would smile when he would enter the school gates, even though everyone else would be still groggy, including her. His dark hair, his kind brown eyes, the shadow of his stubble. He was tall, had a lean body, wore clean and ironed clothes.
But his appearance wasn’t what had drawn her to him. It was the way he was always being helpful toward other students if they weren’t doing well in their classes. Or the way he would always be serious in class; a small line would pop up between his eyes as he listened to the lectures. She liked how his hands were always steady and sometimes, during lunch, he would be sketching with a ball pen on his notebook.
“Then what is stopping you from telling him that?” Nikki stroked her arm, rousing her from her thoughts. “Come on, Mayara. Just do it. Don’t overthink it. Just go up to him, tell him you want a word in private and just tell him. It’s not that hard. What are you afraid of? That he’ll reject you?”
“No. I don’t know.” Mayara clenched her fists and turned her head away. “I don’t know why I like him. The same way I don’t know why I can’t tell him. It’s like, something is stopping me.”
“You’re stopping yourself,” Nikki said. “It’s just nerves. If you don’t do it tonight, then you’ll never be able to do it. And you’ll keep thinking forever that you wished you had had the guts.”
Mayara leaned against the desk and let out a sigh. “Sometimes, I think things would have been so much easier if I was born hundreds of years ago. When things were simpler, you know. When everything was decided for you. Your parents would decide who you should be with, the men would woo the women and all our concerns would be about pretty dresses and flowers and our wedding day.”
Nikki made a face. “Things weren’t as simple as you imagine. You’ve just been reading too many classics and romance that glorified a bygone era. Do you know how many diseases there were? How many people died because proper treatment and medication hadn’t been invented yet?”
“That’s the medical student in you talking,” Mayara replied, teasingly.
“And that’s the English literature student in you that’s daydreaming. Now, come on. I’m missing my own party.”

“Fine.” Mayara joined her reluctantly. “But I stand by my statement. Things would have been so much simpler years ago. Love wouldn’t have been so complicated.”

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