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"Can I buy you a ....?"

It was no more than a pleasant evening when Nisha realized her mind was wandering everywhere. Giving no second thought, she quickly dressed and reached the nearest mall. She walked alone, looking at her favorite brands and randomly swiping the salary card to avail of most sales and discounts.

While Nisha was paying at the counter, it occurred to her that someone around the corner noticed her newly bought clothes, shoes, and a much-wanted book.

As she chose to ignore that, she quickly paid the bill and rushed through the exit.

“Excuse me, Miss?” Nisha turned around, her curiosity piqued by the well-dressed man standing before her.

“Yes?” a blend of confidence and intrigue in her voice.

“Can I buy you a book?” he asked generously.

“I beg your pardon,” Nisha was puzzled to hear him.

He added, “I was at the counter next to yours. I couldn't help but notice you bought a book along with other things. You must be an avid reader." Nisha thought about who this guy was, clearly showing her disapproval to continue the conversation.

“I know it would be bad not to introduce myself and torture you while you hear me out." He continued, "I am Sujoy. I work for a company book-a-book. I am a programming analyst and a reader at heart.”

Nisha smiled and introduced herself, just stating her name, unwillingly giving into the conversation. She then humbly asked him if she could help him with anything, to which he just restated the question, “Can I buy you a book?”

Little annoyed this time, Nisha asked, “But why?”

“I want to be your book friend.”

“Excuse me?"

Sujoy replied, “Okay! Please, hold on. I will be back.”

He rushed to the fiction section of the crossword, grabbed a novel, paid in a flash, and made his way to Nisha. Meanwhile, Nisha stood puzzled, questioning why she had entertained him for so long.

“Here you go. Take this. Enjoy the read, and once you've finished, drop me an email to share your thoughts on the book. You'll find my email address written at the back.”, said Sujoy with a broad smile.

Nisha was very annoyed by now. “Hey, I can’t accept anything from a stranger. I am sorry. Please keep it with you. I can’t take it.”, she said while noticing the book's title and quickly added, “I have read this novel, by the way. It’s perfect. I especially liked the last part. I couldn’t stop myself from finishing it in one day. I also enjoyed how intricately the author described each moment. It feels so personal."

Suddenly, Sujoy went from sad to ecstatic, filled with excitement. He added, “Exactly, and initially, I thought it was too predictable, but as I kept reading, I was getting intrigued by every character.”

“Agreed!" said Nisha in acknowledgment.

Without knowing, Nisha and Sujoy indulged in a thoughtful discussion. The conversation flowed effortlessly. After going over different genres they have read, they curiously shared each other's to-read books and suggested a few for each other’s reading list.

When Nisha caught herself laughing at Sujoy's reading journey, It struck her, “Wait, so, ‘can I buy you a book’ is your pickup line?”. Sujoy chuckled, "Guilty as charged! But hey, it worked, didn't it?" Nisha couldn't help but blush at his response.

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