An excerpt from Oleander Girl

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I’m swimming through a long, underwater cavern flecked with blue light, the cavern of love, with Rajat close behind me. We’re in a race, and so far I’m winning because this is my dream. Sometimes when I’m dreaming, I don’t know it, but tonight I do. Sometimes when I’m awake, I wonder if I’m dreaming. That, however, is another story.

I smile and feel my mouth filling with cool, silver bubbles. Rajat’s fingers brush the backs of my knees. Even in my dream I know that if I slow down just a bit, he’ll grab my waist and pull me to him for a mischievous kiss. Imagining that kiss sends a shudder of pleasure through me. But I don’t want it yet. The chase is too much fun. I surge away with a splashy kick. Hey! he calls out in spluttering protest, and I grin wider. Competitive, he slices through the water with his fierce butterfly stroke and lunges for my ankle. I wait for his strong, electric grip to send a current through my veins. My mouth floods with anticipation of our kiss.

Then out of nowhere a wave breaks over me. Salt and sand are on my tongue. I try to spit them out, but they fill my mouth, choking me. Where’s Rajat when I need his help? Gasping, I thrash about and wake in my bed, tangled in my bedsheets.

In my mother’s bed, I should say. The bed I used every year when I came home from boarding school for the holidays. The bed that’s made with the same sheets she covered herself with as a girl.

As my eyes adjust to the darkness, I know at once that someone is in the room. My heart flails around. It’s impossible. I always lock the door before going to sleep, and the window is barred. But there it is, in the armchair in the corner of the night room: a still female form, black against the darkness of the room, looking toward me.

Read the full excerpt here.