Clay’s first glimpse was memorable. Slender, with glossy midnight hair in a professional updo that made him wonder what it might be like to unpin it and run his fingers through it. It seemed to glow. Her enigmatic smile revealed perfect teeth and drew attention to full, pillowy lips. Her deep olive complexion and eyes almost as dark as her hair nevertheless seemed to glow.
As he would soon learn in working with her, Sheera is smart, self-possessed and driven, personally, professionally and sexually. Rarely caught off guard, Sheera is unapologetically her own woman, literally one of a kind, self-created and self-contained.
It’s not hard to understand. As Sheera herself explains to Clay over a business lunch:
“My father taught business administration at U Conn Hartford.” She frowned and shook her head. “Growing up, it felt like they brought India with them.”
“Isn’t that human nature?” Clay asked. “Even as we evolve, don’t most of us crave the familiar?”
“Probably,” Sheera admitted. “And don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of my heritage. But I wanted to grow up American. Unfortunately, my parents wanted me to grow up an Indian who just happened to live in America.”
“So you pushed back?” Clay guessed.
Sheera laughed. “Oh, did someone rat me out?”
“No. It just feels in character.”
She shrugged. “By the time I was in high school, we fought almost daily about everything. Usually dating, curfews and hemlines. That’s why I went away to college instead of going to U Conn.”
Clay nodded. “Understandable.”
“Well, they didn’t. When I came back for spring break the first year, Baba had arranged for a transfer back to U Conn.” Sheera frowned. “Mother handed me the application, almost before I dropped my suitcase in the hallway.”
“Subtle,” Clay remarked. “So what did you do?”
Sheera picked up her fork and stabbed at her salad. “Even though Mother was the messenger, I knew Baba was behind it. We fought everyday for a week, but he wasn’t budging. So I pretended to. I filled out the application and gave it to Mother to mail.”
Sheera speared another bite of salad with a sardonic smile. “After Baba left for work, I snatched it before the mail was picked up and burned it.”
Predictably, Clay is smitten with this independent thinking, strong-willed woman. How that affects the course of his destiny and Sheera’s, is a far-reaching and nuanced tale of love, conflict and redemption.
West of Tomorrow is essentially Clay’s story, but the role Sheera plays in his downfall at Halberstamm Leadership Group and what follows later is pivotal to the story. Sheera’s complexity and inner conflict delights and bedevils readers in this convoluted tale.