The name board read, 'Ruchi's bookshop'. It was a small book store with couple of rows of book racks.
It was manned by a young lady. The store looked empty with no one around.
As Karan approached the attractive-looking assistant at the counter, she looked at him from head to foot with a playful smile.
Puzzled at her strange behaviour, he stood silent for a few seconds, when she asked, "What can I do for you?"
"Do you have a copy of Fairy Tale by Stephen King?'
“Yes, we do have," she lingered with her smile returning on her face and added "If you do not mind, I have a proposition to make."
Karan looked at her quizzically with his eye brows raised.
"It is simple. If you give me a hug and a smooch, I will give you the book free as a complimentary copy.”
Shocked as he was, Karan couldn’t believe his ears.” Did I hear you correctly?” he asked meekly.
“Yes, you will give a peck after a hug and get the desired book free.”
When he stood silent dazed at her audacious reply, she said,” Have no fears. No hidden camera. It is just I am in a crazy mood.”
He looked around unbelievingly at the empty store. The prospect of thrill overcame his natural discretion as he nodded his head slightly.
“Come behind the shelf there. It is safer there,” the assistant said with a mischievous smile,
Excited, he went along with her as she held his hand.
He looked both sides of the aisle and seeing none, he gave her a slight hug and bent down as his hands brought her face close to his.
Unexpectedly, a young lady emerged then from behind the next shelf coughing loudly. Taken aback he withdrew instantly, even as the assistant spoke to her, “Anu, you lost the wager with very little effort on my part. The guy fell hook, line and sinker at the first suggestion of a hug and smooch for a free copy. Thank God for His small mercy before it became too late for you to mend.” Baffled at the sudden appearance of Anusha, his date of about a few months, Karan looked at his furious friend and the cunning assistant of the store.
“Fie on you, Karan, you double timer. When you told me last evening, you were going to this bookshop in the morning, I rushed here much before you came as I wished to surprise you with the book you mentioned yesterday. It was then my best friend Ruchi, who owns the shop, suggested to me 'Let us test him for his loyalty to you," spoke Anusha angrily.,
Continuing her tirade, she said," Even as I said no to her, she laid a wager. She was pretty sure you will fall. But I was damn sure that you will not let me down and yet you fell so cheaply and miserably for a paltry book. Get lost forever from my life” she shouted in anger and started crying.
Karan laughed loudly and said, “Anusha, listen carefully before you let your imagination run wild. It is your best friend Ruchi who had tricked us both. When she spoke yesterday of a plan to play a prank on you, she had only mentioned it is on her best friend without mentioning your name. I swear upon god that I never knew you were the best friend she spoke about. Ruchi is actually my cousin. I agreed when she said, “Let us enact a drama to see how sensitive and rash my friend is in judging her boyfriend. She warned me that her friend would be watching from behind and overhearing us and that I should play my part well. Finally, we both were made to look like fools.”
As Ruchi was laughing uproariously, both Anusha and Karan pounced on her and said in chorus “You wily brat, we never thought you would play your naughty joke on both of us,” with Anusha adding with a contrived anger “You have to give a complimentary copy to each of us as a compensation.”