Bride By Design 3: Manchala Nights

By: Alicia Roberts

What he'd said made sense. We were adults, we could have fun. But I wasn't sure if I could move on as smoothly as he would - Colin had started to get under my skin, and I might as well admit it to myself. Being with him was tempting, but it was a risk I wasn't sure I could take. Would I fall to pieces every time I saw a photo of him with his latest starlet?

He was right, I should think about it. I lay in bed quietly and tried to sort out my feelings. Images of Colin and I together, and the other guests at Manchala floated before me, till they jumbled together nonsensically and became strange dreams.

Chapter Three

Colin was shaking me awake, and sunlight was streaming through the window. I gazed at him sleepily, smiling happily at the beautiful man in front of me, until I realized with a jolt that this was real, not a dream.

"Lisa, we need to be up and about."

I yawned and was about to stretch when I remembered I was wearing a revealing negligee. I pulled the covers up quickly, and Colin rolled his eyes and covered them dramatically with his hand.

I got up quickly, grabbing a short sundress and some fresh underwear.

I took a while to get ready, taking my time with my makeup in the hopes that I wouldn't look so plain beside Celine, and packing a small purse with my lipstick and cell phone.

When I finally emerged, a flicker of desire lit up in Colin's eyes before he became all business-like again and briefed me about the day ahead of us. We'd take a walk along Manchala's beautiful beach, have a light lunch, enjoy a siesta, have drinks and dinner and then retire for the day.

The big presentation was going to be tomorrow. I didn't have to do anything - even though he'd told Donald I was the interior designer, I wasn't expected to reveal my plans or designs yet. I nodded thankfully - I'd completely forgotten Colin had sprung that information on the group.

We walked out to the breakfast nook, arm in arm like a couple in love. I savored the touch of Colin's smooth skin, his arms strong and muscular. We let go of each other when we joined the others who were already sitting around the table, and piled our plates with tropical fruit and pancakes.

I noticed Roger eying me, and he and Celine seemed to be giving each other the cold shoulder. Now that I thought about it, they hadn't been particularly nice to each other at dinner, either.

Rahul and Rani were in a somber mood - Rahul had just gotten news that his father had suffered a minor aneurism and they'd be flying back to India after breakfast. I was sorry to see them go, but I was sure Rahul knew that Don would be giving the project to Roger anyway.

We hugged goodbye after our meal, and Rani invited us to come visit them in Mumbai.

"I'd love to," I gushed, feeling sorry that I would never be able to.

We split up into two jeeps to go to the beach. It came as no surprise when Celine and Roger rode with Don and Diane, while Keith and John rode with us.

We joked and laughed politely on our ride to the beach. Once we got there, I noticed a pergola had been set up for us to change. Celine had already stripped off her clothes and lay on a towel, sunbathing and wearing a bikini the size of a bandage.

I wondered if Colin found her attractive, and sneaked a glance at him. But he was focusing on trying to charm Sir Donald, joking with him about British politics and his knighthood. Keith and John changed into swimming trunks and waded into the water, and Don, Diane and Colin walked ahead briskly. I decided to walk slowly in the other direction, while I tried to collect my thoughts.

I thought Roger would be keeping his wife company, so I was surprised when he came up to me.

"How do you like the beach, Lisa?"

"It's beautiful. Not as beautiful as Celine, of course." I smiled, pleased at my polite compliment.

Roger laughed cruelly. "There's no need to be nice, I know she's just with me for my money and pedigree. She's probably told you just as much."

I was silent, surprised at his knowledge. I wondered how I'd feel if I knew my wife didn't love me.

I tried to be diplomatic. "Well, I guess some marriages make sense for other reasons."

Roger smiled thinly and nodded. "Like you and Colin, I suppose?"

I froze and looked at him coolly. "Colin and I are very much in love."

"I doubt that."

We looked at each other icily, and Roger finally said, "If I searched for a marriage license, would I find it?"

I ignored him and walked ahead. I was worried I'd blow Colin's story and I sighed when Roger caught up to me.

"Don't run off. If you really are in love with Colin you should know something about him."

Now he had my attention. My curiosity got the better of me and I turned to him inquisitively. "What?"

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