Preethi calls down to Rohan: "Get the ghetto blaster out! Clare brought some tapes." He thinks this is not such a bad idea. Nil comes to help him.
"Where's Mo tonight?" he asks her. Her brother is one of his good friends, and he is disappointed he didn't come.
"He's gone up to Trafalgar Square with some mates." She seems shy; it is strange, for they have known each other since they were toddlers. Nil is beautiful now, with her long hair and her deep-reddish skin, the high cheekbones like her father, Wesley. Her eyes dance at him.
"You've got a secret," he says. He knows her; he can read her.
"I've got engaged," she says. He didn't expect it. It is a punch in the head.
"No," he says. "Who to?"
"Who do you think? Ian, for goodness' sake."
"And Uncle's going to let you marry a white guy? Like hell!"
"Yes, he is."
"You haven't told them, have you?"
"Yes. They won't stop us. They like him."
"They've met him? Liar. You're making it up."
"I brought him home."
"What, for a curry feed and a quick singsong?"
She slaps his back. "Shut up." She laughs. "I'm hungry. Let's go and eat."
But before they go down, he pulls her back to his parents' bedroom and closes the door, and quite unexpectedly they find they are kissing in the dark, the way they have often kissed before. He feels nothing sexual toward her, his dick nestles limp in its place, but there is comfort in their kiss. When they walk out, he knows there will be no more kissing Nil, and so he prolongs it, keeps her there, against the door, brushing her hair away from her face and smiling at her closed eyes.
Excerpted from Homesick by Roshi Fernando. Copyright © 2012 by Roshi Fernando. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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