Rishi smiled, looking up at her quickly before looking back down again. “Want to know what I thought?”
Dimple leaned forward. “Yes.”
“I thought you were the loveliest bookworm I’d ever seen in my life.”
She laughed and threw a blade of grass at him. “Oh please. You thought nothing of the kind.”
“I did too!” he said, indignant. “Why else do you think I gave you my best flower?”
Dimple didn’t know whether to believe him or not, but she flushed with pleasure anyway. “So, now tell me what you thought of me at the Starbucks. You know, right before I flung my coffee at you.”
Rishi smiled wryly at her before looking back down at his drawing. “I thought you looked peaceful. You were sitting on the edge of that fountain, your face turned up to the sun. You looked like a flower, with that angelic halo of curls around you. Of course, I quickly realized how mistaken I was.”
Dimple reached over and slapped his knee, but she was laughing too. “Shut up. You totally creeped me out with that whole future wife line! You should be glad I didn’t have pepper spray or throwing stars on me.” It was incredible, she thought, that they were laughing about this now. When it first happened, she’d been so sure that Rishi and she would have absolutely nothing to do with each other. But that was Rishi . . . he was like a pop song you thought you couldn’t stand, but found yourself humming in the shower anyway.
“Noted,” he said, sketching away. “In my defense, I thought you were here because you knew about our parents’ nefarious plan too.”
Dimple sighed. “Yeah. My parents are a whole other matter. You’re lucky you get along with yours so well.” But maybe it wasn’t lucky at all, she thought. Rishi agreed with everything his parents said or planned. Dimple didn’t. There was a fundamental difference in how they related to their parents.
“Your mom sounds like she really cares for you.” When Dimple snorted, Rishi hurried to continue. “I mean, she’s calling you. She’s talking to you. She’s trying to be a part of your life.”
Dimple laughed. “Trying to be a part of my life? You know, the same could be said about head lice. Or termites. Or botulism. Those bacteria are just trying to be a part of our lives!”
Rishi smiled and set his pencil down. “Okay. Are you ready to see?”
Dimple sat up in a hurry. “You’re done?”
“Yep.” He handed her the notebook, his finger holding a spot between the pages. “Start there, and move forward. I sort of modeled these sketches after a creative exercise comic artists like to do. It’s called ‘twenty-five expressions.’ Basically, you sketch the same character with twenty-five different expressions, to sort of get to know your character better. That’s one of the first things I noticed about you. You wear your expressions on your face so plainly.”
Dimple took the book, putting her finger in place of his so she didn’t lose the page either. “Really?”
Rishi raised one eyebrow, as if to say, Are you kidding?
Dimple opened the book. The first image was of her looking . . . nervous. Anticipatory. This was right when Rishi had begun to draw her. He’d captured the tentativeness she’d felt, the anxiety of how she might be perceived. She looked . . . beautiful, she realized.
He’d drawn the entire thing sort of smudgy, to reflect how he saw her through the curtain of fog around them. Still, the details were arresting. There was a glow about her cheeks, a soft sparkle in her eyes. Her glasses made her look intelligent and artsy-nerdy, not geeky like she usually thought she looked. Her bun was a mass of wild curls, but not in the unkempt way she usually saw it in the mirror. She looked like she could be the model for some hair product. Was this how he saw her? She turned the page.