Nithya, a vivacious, intelligent and driven college senior has always known what she’s wanted: a successful career in medicine and the love of her family. She’s even come to terms with the idea of an arranged marriage, a tradition her conservative Indian family has held up for thousands of years.
When a night of partying puts her on a collision course with danger, Nithya’s entire life changes. Enter James St. Clair, the smart, challenging and heartbreakingly handsome American. As Nithya and James fall in love, she questions the future she and her parents have always planned. To make matters worse, Nishanth, the son of newly reunited family friends is the perfect match for her in the eyes of her loved ones.
Now, Nithya has a choice to make: become a doctor and a good Indian bride, or step away from her family and centuries of culture to forge her own path. The decision she comes to takes her on a journey that transforms how she sees her future, her relationships with loved ones, and how she learns to put herself back together when even her best-laid plans fall apart.
There it is again. That electric charge. It’s as if the air between us has solidified into a molten mass, white-hot and pulling us together like magnets. My heart pounds so hard, I’m afraid it’ll break the stone we are sitting on. His eyes stare into mine, and I am engulfed by their vibrant green sheen. James crosses his legs and straightens his back from the way he was leaning. He’s closer to me now. I can see the shade of stubble on his chin and exactly where his jaw flexes. There’s a scar on his forehead near his eyebrow, and I wonder distractedly where he got it.
“You can really see the stars out tonight.” He tilts his head. I turn around, taken aback by the change of subject. The shadows of the mountains in the distance are huge waves of dark blue on the horizon. The green grass in the fields behind the pavilion appears teal in the night. There are no lights there, while the other side of the arboretum is lit by campus streetlights. The stars are brilliant, glittering specks against a dark background. Suddenly, one jets across the sky, trailing faint white light behind it. It travels so quickly, my eyes can hardly keep up.
“Hey!” James and I cry out, pointing to the shooting star. The second it disappears into the universe, I close my eyes.
“What’re you doing?” James whispers. I hold up a finger to make a wish, willing it to happen with all of my heart and soul. I wish this night would never end.
“I had to make my wish.” I whisper back. I’m not sure why, but after the fleeting glimpse of the meteor, it feels appropriate.
“What did you wish for?” He has shifted his weight again, his position mirroring mine perfectly.
“I can’t tell or it won’t come true. Did you wish for anything?”
He shakes his head, smiling.
“It’s not too late. You still have time. Give it a shot.”
He closes his eyes, and the vision of him with his eyes serenely closed, cross-legged on the stone floor inches away from me, is seared into my mind. He looks so peaceful, like a child. A wistful smile lingers on his lips—until his eyes flutter open, and his smile turns playful.
“Are you going to tell me what you wished for?” I repeat his question.
“It won’t come true.” He echoes my response.
We are inches from each other. Our faces tilt toward one another, our images reflecting in each other’s eyes.
“I really want to kiss you right now,” he whispers.
“I really want you to,” I reply, breathlessly.
He moves in closer, taking his time. The world has stopped. There are no passing cars, no breezes blowing through the trees, no ties binding us to anyone but each other. When his lips finally touch mine, it is as if a fire bursts to roaring, glorious life inside me—it is flaming, reaching for any way to free itself from my body. Though I’ve never done this before, I have no worries. I am a lost soul, and he is my lifeline.
“You taste like chocolate,” he whispers to me, grinning.
“Is that a racial reference?” I ask him, smiling.
He laughs softly, his forehead pressed against mine, his hand still grazing my cheek, fingers entwined in my hair. “I guess I got what I wished for.”
“You wasted a wish. I would have kissed you anyway.” I tell him, playfully.
“I didn’t want to take any chances,” he murmurs and kisses me again.
I am in heaven, and there is nowhere I would rather be.
Annika Sharma was born in India and moved to the United States (Pennsylvania!) when she was a baby. Annika was a daydreamer from day one, always coming up with stories and games of pretend that seemed real. She was a serious journal-writer from fifth grade to college and wrote dramatic scenes for stories often, inspired by soap operas she watched in summers off from school.
Eventually, when the time for college came around, Annika’s parents encouraged her to pursue journalism. Convinced she couldn’t make a living from writing, Annika disagreed. After five years, two degrees, two minors, working with children, being a dancer teacher, and creating a two-and-a-half page resume in college that had interests so all-over-the-place that even she couldn’t make sense of it, Annika finally decided her parents were right. Writing was where her heart was, all along.
In the month before graduate school, the idea Annika had in my mind for years finally poured out in the form of the novel, The Rearranged Life. Annika began editing in earnest after she finished her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education, landing Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group as an agent. Three months later, she had a book deal with Curiosity Quills.
In her spare time, Annika loves spending time with her family and friends, often indulging in the three S’s: Starbucks, shopping and superhero movies. As a chocolate lover and general all-around vegetarian foodie, Annika also adores cooking.