Continued from here
It didn’t take Abhimanyu long to find his love. At the northeast corner of the palace grounds, he saw a chest high hedge of thick green vine, interspersed with pink and blue flowers. Beyond the thicket stood a lonely pavilion, overlooking a lake. He walked through a small entrance towards the canopy. The rotunda was painted red with a white dome. There were no outside posts supporting the pavilion, just a pillar in the center. The center pillar was painted in colors that blended with the background of the hillside, making it seem like the cupola stood suspended from the sky. As he watched in awe at this marvel, from behind the pillar, her beautiful face emerged, looking directly at him. Her eyes teased him, as she smiled, and turned gracefully, walking away from the pillar towards the lake. Walking slowly and deliberately, she lifted her right hand and flipped her full hair over her right shoulder, exposing her full back. His jaw dropped. His heart stopped.
He stepped inside the pavilion and stood inches behind her, drawn by an inexplicable physical desire to be near her, with her. She was dressed in all white, the blouse embracing her back snugly, with two straps plunging precipitously down deep from her sleeveless shoulders, forming a distractingly sexy canyon, her skin shining like a smooth mountain cliff against the rising sun. He took a step closer to her, his heart pounding. His hands spontaneously moved towards the her bare waist, wanting to touch her. Her loose skirt streamed down from her hips all the way down, exposing just her feet. He knew she still had the anklets on. He could hear them.
He drew himself right behind her and slowly put his right arm around her waist, without squeezing, or drawing her any closer. He didn’t want to startle her. His hand felt her navel. She turned around and looked directly at him. He found her deep blouse distracting. He tried in vain to avoid staring down below her neck. He placed his other hand on her waist and gently moved them up to her neck, cradling her head in his hands. They looked into each others eyes, the intense passion in them slowly giving way to fondness and deep affection. A million words were left unsaid in the moments that passed. He then gently pulled her head towards him. He bent down, allowing his lips to brush hers, softly and delicately. He inhaled her breath, feeling the warmth of her skin. They both felt the bolt of lightning hit their bodies. They both wanted more. But better sense prevailed, and they embraced each other, as time melted away.
Abhimanyu was the first to hear the rustle nearby. Alarmed, he let her go and turned around, shielding her with his body, his eyes instantly scrutinizing every inch of his visible field of view. He didn’t see or hear any threat. He was trained to perceive the sound of any approaching weapon, in any situation, under any din. His training told him this was a man made sound. But his intuition told him there was no hazard. His instant action and his natural instinct to protect her made Uttara proud of him. He realized it was time to say goodbye; he had lingered longer than he should have. He turned to her, promising to see her again, but this time with his family in tow. Before she could get a final view of him, he disappeared.
A few yards away, Uttara’s dance teacher, who from behind one of the bushes secretly witnessed every moment of this passionate interaction between his ward and this young stranger, turned around and disappeared into the palace silently, her heart swelling with paternal pride.
Abhimanyu then went to the market and found the old lady from the morning. She recognized him and instantly knew he met Uttara again. He had that dazed in love look about him. Like he had promised, he bought her flowers, all of them, and paid handsomely. He bade her goodbye, promising to see her again. He needed to get back to the inn, pack his belongings and ride back, to his uncle. He needed to tell the all-knowing lord that he found his crown jewel in Virata’s kingdom.