Authors: Suneeti Rekhari
The Lost Souls Dating Agency
A fresh, exciting, funny, fabulous take on New Adult paranormal about an enterprising matchmakerâ¦and her paranormal clientele.
She started out as just an ordinary university student, but the sudden and unexpected inheritance of an unused warehouse on the industrial side of town throws Shalini's life plan askew.
Drawing from her strengths, she decides to set up a matchmaking business, helping the lonely to find a soulmate. But something unusual happens, something unexpected â her first client doesn't fit the regular profile. Victor is dark, handsome, emotionally available...and a vampire.
Suddenly Shalini's already disrupted world becomes a place where rules no longer apply. She must learn to adapt to her new occupation of finding The One for a prospective clientele of vampires, shape-shifters, and other beings more likely to bite first and ask questions later. And there are those out there who are less than happy with her entrepreneurial spirit.
But just as Shalini begins to think she can cope with anything, she discovers that she has bitten off more than she can chew, and played with powerful forces that have the potential to not only destroy the Lost Souls Dating Agency â but Shalini herself.
Suneeti Rekhari is an academic and closet YA romance author. When she is not writing she can be found reading, couch potatoing and experimenting with recipes for unsuspecting family and friends. After completing her PhD in Sydney, she moved to Melbourne where she lectures at a university and lives with her husband and brand new baby girl. Say hi to her on twitter @suneeti or
There are so many people who have paved the way for me to arrive at this moment. The moment when a few alphabets put together in a generally understandable syntax have the enormous task of saying t-h-a-n-k-y-o-u.
To my friends, who provided the inspiration for Lost Souls and have made their debut, one way or another, in its pages. You know who you are. And if you don't, I'm going to enjoy watching you guess!
To my special peeps, who looked at early drafts and gave me encouragement when I needed it most. You have helped me bring to life a world, which for many years, belonged only in my head. I thank you for your friendship, love and patience.
To my mama and sister, whose unfaltering belief in me makes anything seem possible. You are the women responsible for my every success and you radiate so much love that I can feel it across oceans.
To my husband and baby girl, who provide me with so much joy and laughter. You are my home, my safe place and my sanity.
And lastly, but most importantly, to my late father, who never got the chance to read about the adventures of Shalini. I hope that you are smiling serenely at my leaps of imagination in this world and beyond.
For Asha Rae,
For being all my hopes in one little parcel.
Peering into the receding sunlight from the old bay window I wonderedâ¦had I made the right decision? I felt like a silly child with a fairytale plan.
I walked to my laptop and did a recipe search on Google. Keywords: broccoli, peas, cream cheese. That's all I had in my fridge. Depressing.
I looked up when I heard a slight whoosh sound from the little reception room outside my office. âHello, anyone there?' I asked.
If only I had left the lights on out there! For some unknown reason, I felt a little nervous.
Deciding it was nothing I went back to my recipe search.
âAre you Shaleenee Gooptah?' I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard a deep voice so close. I looked up to see a strange man standing over me, nearly six feet tall, and very imposing.
âHow did you get in?' I managed to say. My heart distracted me with its loud thumping.
âAre you Shaleenee Gooptah?' the stranger repeated, watching me with impenetrable violet grey eyes. They complimented his sallow skin. His features were so refined, almost cast out of stone. He was dressed immaculately in an expensive looking grey suit. A single red carnation hung in his jacket pocket. He looked no older than twenty, yet he seemed much older. I sensed a certain kind of coldness about him.
âYup, I'm Shalini Gupta.' I pronounced my name correctly, emphasising it, sounding rather smug, because actually, I was absolutely terrified.
âWell, Shaleenee, I am Victor, and I hear you can help me find a wife.'
I stared at him for a moment. Well holy mother of crap, my plan had worked!
But that means he must be
â¦before I had time to finish my thought, the stranger named Victor opened his mouth and his fangs shot out.
The events that led to my meeting with a “lonely hearts” vampire are not as complicated as you would imagine. But I'm getting ahead of myself. You see, it all began with Uncle Varun's disappearance.
For as long as I can remember Uncle Varun had been my entire family. He was not really my uncle, had only asked me to call him that when I was twelve years old. Even as a child I knew my family was unusual. Most families had two parents. I had him and that was all I needed. Anyway, he was much more fun to be around than the other grown-up mums and dads.
Then the day after my twelfth birthday, he sat me down and told me he was not related to me. He thought I was old enough to know. I had been left at an orphanage in New Delhi when I was about a month old. He had been director of the orphanage and taken a shining to me. Apparently I was quite a charming baby. The adoption was easy, in a country where orphans were, more often than not, left on the streets to fend for themselves. I was the lucky one. When Uncle Varun became my legal guardian, we moved away from New Delhi to start afresh in the desert lands of Dubai.
I listened in silence to what he had to say about my early life, and after he had finished I stood up, put my toys away and sat down with a book. From that day on I became a voracious reader.
Despite the change of relation, he continued to be a loving parent. He took me to the school bus stop in the mornings, packed soggy sandwiches for lunch, picked me up from the bus stop in the afternoon, helped with homework and read me a story every night. On the weekends we went for a drive to the nearest mall, ate ice cream and walked around looking in shop windows. The two of us lived contentedly in our large apartment on the tenth floor of a high-rise tower right in the busy centre of Bur Dubai.
Every summer holiday, we went to India, and mostly visited New Delhi. It was Uncle Varun's way of making sure I stayed connected with my roots. From those trips I remember an overwhelming sense of colour and wonder, the smells of spices and cooking and garbage and monsoon soaked earth. I spent the majority of my trips with my ears glued to the headphones on my Discman. I knew my uncle was a little disappointed by my lack of enthusiasm.
He was so proud of me the day I graduated top of my class in high school. I could go anywhere and do anything, he said. I had secretly been looking at a few colleges and universities in Australia, particularly Melbourne. It was a whole world away from Dubai. That was all I wanted.
Uncle Varun only harrumphed when I told him my plans to study in Melbourne.
âWhy do you want to go there?' he had grumbled.
âThink of it as a great big adventure!' I tried to convince him.
âAn adventure in the arse end of the world. Some great big thing that would be â'
âDon't be mean, Uncle! I like the sound of the place. Besides I want to see a kangaroo up close.'
âSo I'll take you to the zoo. Then you can go to a university here,' he said quickly.
He never really understood my decision. A part of me felt apprehensive going so far away, but another part just wanted to run. Dubai was a bubble that I wanted to break out of. It was time to escape into the vast, exciting pool of humanity that awaited me.
And so I left.
Despite my uncle's misgivings, I didn't have too much trouble settling into life in Melbourne. It was cold, it rained constantly, and the city was filled with the aromas of its famous coffee shops. I only drank tea and wore three sweaters my entire first year here.
I made friends easily. On my first day in class, a red-haired girl named Megan walked up to me, pointed to my black hair and said we would soon be friends. I could be the Diana to her Anne Shirley. I understood immediately what she meant. And like her prediction we've been kindred spirits ever since, even though my hair currently has blue highlights in it. But that's another story.
The city pulsed with life and I started feeling at one with it. I joined the Indian Students Association and met Neha, who immediately endeared herself to me with offers of hot and spicy snacks, which I missed so desperately. Megan, Neha and I became a friendly trio, though Neha drove me insane most times. You'll soon find out why.
Every Friday afternoon at four, Uncle Varun rang to check up on me. We chatted about this and that, nothing in particular, but it was always good to hear his voice and answer his oddball questions.
âAre you getting enough vitamin D?' he asked me once.
âDo you mean like in supplements?' I wondered what he was getting at.
âNo, I mean like from the sun. Silly girl. I read in a magazine that the angle of the sun in Melbourne is so bad that people have vitamin D deficiencies. So make sure you go out and stand in the sun for at least two hours in the day, maybe even more, just to be safe.'
âBut everyone here warns me about skin cancer. They don't want you to go out in the sun for too long!'
âHah! Don't listen to them, bunch of uneducated idiots!' he huffed.
That was his stance on the entire Western world. For my uncle, Indian civilisation trumped everyone else's. As far as he was concerned, Indians were a whole new species of superior. I think it helped him cope with being far away from New Delhi, his hometown and one true love.
On a Friday afternoon in my second year at university, I didn't get my phone call from him. At first I thought nothing of it. I had assignments to finish and I confess, I forgot about it for a few days. I was thinking of majoring in cultural anthropology and the stress of making sure I aced all my assignments made me forget about everything else. On the Tuesday after I had not heard from him, I rang him at home and there was no answer. I tried his mobile, but it was switched off. Very peculiar. I tried to ring him again the next day and the day after that with the same result. I began to get worried. I had no idea what to do. I couldn't just jump onto the next flight. It was agonising not knowing what had happened.