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Page 9

“I woke you up? But why you’re not already awake? It’s the first day!”

Dimple squeezed the phone tighter. “Because the seminar doesn’t start at the butt crack of dawn! Besides which, that is not even the point. Can you please focus, Mamma? What the heck is up with Rishi Patel?”

“Up with him . . . ?” Mamma feigned ignorance to slang, which just infuriated Dimple more. Seriously, where did she get this stuff? “I don’t know what you mean, Dimple—”

“Mamma, please! Why did you and Papa do this? Why are you trying to set me up with some dude I’ve never heard of before in my life? You know that’s not why I’m here! You know how important this is to me!” Dimple felt tears rising, pressing hot and furious against her eyelids. For once, why couldn’t her parents just be on the same page as her?

“Dimple, beti, math ro .” Mamma sounded genuinely upset now. “Don’t cry. We just wanted you to meet him. He is a good boy, from a good family. You have a lot in common.”

Dimple swiped at her eyes, ignoring the looks of a couple of early risers probably headed out to coffee. They were all blurry to her anyway, without her glasses on. “Don’t you see? I. Don’t. Care. He could be crafted from unicorn dust and jelly beans, and I still wouldn’t want to have anything to do with him. I’m not interested in a marriage partner, Mamma, now or ten years from now!”

There was a shuffling, like Mamma was holding the phone away from her. She heard her mumble in Hindi, “Vijay, you talk to her.” A pause, and then, “I don’t know. Something about unicorns. I don’t understand.”

Dimple rolled her eyes and sighed, waiting for Papa to come on.

“Dimple beti ?”

His voice, deep and soothing, comforting and familiar as a cotton T-shirt, made the lump rise in her throat again. How could two people who loved her so much simply not get her on such a basic, essential level? “Haan , Papa.” She drew in a shuddering breath. “I don’t understand why you lied to me. Both of you. You pretended you were agreeing to Insomnia Con for me, but this is . . . it’s ridiculous, Papa. I’m not getting married.”

“No one wants you to get married now, Dimple. We just wanted to know if you and the Patel boy would be compatible. Down the road, who knows what might happen? It’s not easy finding a good Indian family here in the States, na .” He paused, and a hard edge had crept into his voice when he spoke again. “Usne kuch kiya?”

Dimple sank down against the wall, the fight going out of her. Papa’s voice, his gentle, calm, reasonable demeanor, often had that effect. “No, he didn’t do anything bad. He was perfectly fine, a gentleman.” The truth was, her parents had done a good job picking someone who wasn’t a total douche nozzle. “But, Papa, I’m just not in that place of thinking of him—or any boy—in that way. Can’t you understand that?”

Papa’s breath crackled down the line. There was no judgment or anger in his voice when he said, finally, “I understand.”

She blinked. Was it going to be that easy? “Really? What about Mamma?”

She heard Papa’s footsteps as he walked somewhere, likely away from Mamma. “She will understand also. We just want your happiness, Dimple. That is the most important thing.”

The lump was back. Dimple had to swallow a few times. “And what about Insomnia Con? Can I still stay even if there’s no chance of me and Rishi becoming a thing?”

She heard the smile in Papa’s voice. “Of course. When I said I think it’s a good career decision, I meant it.”

Dimple hung her head, relief and love and joy overpowering her. “Thank you, Papa.”

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