Someone coughed pointedly behind her. Shreya turned to face Ron, who was smiling."Someone doesn't look too happy!" he remarked. "What's going on?"
"Nothing," Shreya lied. "Just a bit nyctophobic in here."
"Do you want to go outside for a few minutes?" Ron suggested. "Fresh air might help.It is very stuffy in here"
"Not claustrophobic! Nyctophobic! Fear of darkness." Ron's ignorance annoyed her.
"Sorry," Ron apologized. "My bad. Outside it will be brighter, trust me."
Shreya hesitated, "Won't Karma mind?"
"I doubt." Ron replied. "She seems to be busy with company". Shreya followed Ron's gaze to see Karma and Ishan chatting at the bar. Clearly, he was waiting for more drinks. Her stomach felt even more revolted.
"Okay, then," she said. "let's go."
Outside, there was a restless silence in the air. The lack of motion was alarming, the front yard appearing even longer, lit up by fancy streetlamps. The old-fashioned lights looked pretty, but their glow was minimal enough to never overlap each others'. The mermaid fountain glowed eerily in the middle. It was a serene feeling, unlike the hot, sticky atmosphere inside that was weighed down with sweat and alcohol. They walked down the lamp-lit path.
"Shreya, you wouldn't mind if I said something, would you?"
"Of course not. What?"
"We are friends, right? Even after everything that happened?"
"Definitely! Why else would I be in your party? This isn't exactly part of my job, is it?"
"But, of course. So, umm..." Ron hesitated for a moment. "You do trust me like before, and are happy to be back as friends?"
"We are friends, Ron! Whatever happened is the past. We have both moved on from that point. You found Karma and me Ishan. Nothing could, or should, complicate this."
"That's great! It's just, you haven't been yourself recently, and I felt as though, you know, you were not comfortable about us being friends..."
Shreya bit her lip. I wish I could tell you how complicated things have got! "Don't be silly! It's just work-pressure, that's all. We are friends, and I am absolutely comfortable being with you."
"Really? Then hug?" was he testing her?
"Hug!" Shreya replied, before hugging her lost pal. Her heart felt lighter than ever before. Like a weight had been lifted. Everything was back to normal. Ron pulled away, but the zip of his hoody tangled with Shreya's 'Angel Wing'. The chain came off.
"I'll fix it." Ron assured. He turned her around, fastening the chain back again, letting the 'Wing' fall between her collar bones, which then slide down inside her black vest top. Ron was about tighten the hook with his teeth, when Karma and Ishan joined them.
"Excuse me, but I am going to snatch my boyfriend away from you!" Karma joked.
"He's all yours!" Shreya assured, smiling.
"Let's go inside." Ron offered. "The party is still on!"
"We are fine," Ishan replied, his voice cold. "We just want to spend some time together, don't we Shreya?" Shreya stared at him quizzically; but Ron replied that it was fine, and he went back in with Karma.