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You don't get a life as surprise gift, you make a life yourself.

After spending good amount of time, at the Sofia’s, I was walking back home. How strange that man knew my name. Is it common for people to know my name? I still could not come to terms with what happened earlier. I unlocked the door, went straight to my bedroom. I need a dress, and on top of that a formal dinner dress. Just too poor for my wardrobe. I pulled out all the dresses that I own, none of them suits the occasion. Just great. I need to go shopping, wow, so much for a busy day already. At times like this I wish I had a best friend, with whom I can at least borrow a dress. I quickly switched on my MAC, to search dresses for rent. It makes sense to rent a dress that I need to wear for one dinner night. Might as well go shopping in next week maybe be. The site that I came across was pretty decent and the style they provided was corporate theme, great. I came across a black spaghetti strap midi length dress. This is just perfect. I can pair it up with a matt back coat or a blazer. I hit the order button. It will arrive by evening 5. Good I will still have some time left to get ready.

Switching off the Mac I entered shower, washed off all the dirt and dust on my skin. My mind still went back to the voice

“We will meet soon, miss hale”

I shuddered at the thought, or is the water that is turning cold now. Satisfied that I look good and clean, I wore my robe, hair draped in the towel. I went to sit on my bed. I laid on my bed, glanced to my right on the board of the study table, I saw the picture of me and Andrea. She was my best friend, until one day she left the town, without any goodbye. I tried to reach out to her. But I never could know, or will know, where she went and her mysterious disappearance. With all these thoughts buzzing my mind I felt blackness take over me.

I wake up to the sound of someone ringing my doorbell, I jerked up quickly from my bed, 5:15. Hush! I thought I slept the whole evening. The doorbell continuously ringing. Right! My dress was to appear at 5, oh my god, I rushed on the ground floor to the door and opened it.

“Dear lord heavens! You look awful miss hale”

“Thanks Nina, you know me well.”

“This is for you” she handed me the dress that I ordered online. I gave her questioning look. Wait how did she knew. I stood there looking at her.

“Oh! Well you know honey, your mom assigned me to get you ready for the party and get your there. I arrived just in time, when a lady was standing at your doorstep holding up this dress. She was too professional to be an employee. Maybe…… So let’s get u ready dear. This is going to be a big night for you.”

I was terrified and enthusiastic at them same time excited to know about the business people and the opportunities that were going the meet me tonight at the table. After 1 hour and 15 minutes, I was totally transformed. My blonde locks which are usually straight are turned into soft curls. The dress hugging my curves in perfect paces. The Julia looking in the mirror was never before seen once in my life.

“You could cry miss hale, but I suggest you only do it if u want to ruin that mascara of yours. Let’s go, before u are late”

I grabbed my purse, wore my heels, headed out of the door. Nina came with a sleek black Porsche. Wow!

“Get in miss hale. Or else we both have to answer your mother.”

I stopped drooling. Got in the back with Nina. Soon after 20 minutes of drive, we arrived at Santana Row. She dropped me off.

“Go figure your way ahead, miss”

I went to the reception. The woman smiled at me.

“Here miss hale, we were expecting you” I followed her quietly. To a large table with few men and woman sitting on the table. I found my mom and fortunate enough an empty seat beside her. I sat there quietly looking at the palace like place and admiring its beauty. My father entered with some men. All handsome men I must say. Mom raised up from the seat to greet them and I did the same.

“Julia, these are Brooks, our old family friends. They have helped your dad in tough times honey, they are like family to us. This is Mr. Brook, and Mrs. Brook. Introduced my dad.

“And this is their son Xavier Brook, and his younger brother, Damien”

I smiled at them.

“Hello Mr. and Mrs. Brook I am Julia”

“Oh, honey call me, Rose” Mrs. Brook said. The younger sibling of the two approached me for a handshake.

“We will meet soon, Miss Hale. I did not know this soon.”

As soon as I heard this, I jerked my hand out of the strangers hand, astound at his voice. He is the one I met today. He smiled at me and walked off to his seat. We quickly took our seats. Dinner continued. Dull and boring, except for few glances from the elder son of the Brooks. Why I was even invited to this dinner. My dad was busy talking business. Mom and Rose about their new clothing line. But what caught my eye is Xavier. He sat across me on the table. His continuous gaze was making me feel embarrassed. When I caught his glance it was like he was trying to find something in me. Soon the deserts came in. This time it was my mom who spoke.

“Julia, dear. This dinner was specially planned for you.” I did not seem like it at all mom!

”There is one thing your dad and I have been wanting to tell you from you 18 birthday.”

“What is it mom?”

“Darling we have decided to have an arrange marriage between you and Mr. Brook’s elder son Xavier”

This made me drop my spoon from hand. What is this, how can you……words were choked in my throat. I couldn’t see clearly. Tears formed my eyes.

“How could you do that? I have every right to choose my partner. You can’t force me to marry just anyone”

My dad was angry at my retort.

“They are not just anyone Julia, they are your future in laws and business partners. Sorry Mr. Brook she is just shocked”

I wanted to get out of there, heck I need to get out of there. I dropped the spoon on the floor, and started running away from the table. I have to run. Thank god I did remove my heels while eating the dinner, helps me run faster now. I made a dash from the hotel, ignoring all the calls from the people behind me. I did not even see my mom, dad nor could I hear them.

I sprinted out of hotel doors. Shit! I did not bring a car, and I am without any footwear. I need to get a taxi. I ran from hotel to the road heading towards another block. I took a turn across the block and found myself into a dark street. What did I do? Before I could head back I felt a sharp slap across my face as I fell down on the hard pathway. How did I not even see a person anywhere?

“Are you that bitch, whom the Xavier Brook is going to marry? Nice I must say. He sure has a good taste.

The ringing in my ear did not stop.

“I don’t know what you are talking about, I am not related to them.”

He grabbed my hair and started pulling me to the dark alley. I was fighting with all my might, but he was too strong. I felt my feet cut and bleed from the dirt and the shattered glass in the alley.

“Shut up, you whore, for how much did u sell yourself to him, tell me how much?, I will pay to 3 times his price.”

He grabbed my chin harshly and made me look at him. He had stench of alcohol and cigarettes and sweat on him.

“I don’t know what you are talking about. Leave me.” I thrashed badly against his grip trying to free me. But it only hurt my feet more.

“Leave her Romero or else I will shoot you”

A thick Italian accented voice spoken from behind him. The man left his grip on my chin and hair. I scooted to nearby wall as far as the small passage would met me to. I looked up to find Xavier holding a gun in his hand. He looked up to me for a split second absorbing the condition I am in, all my dirtied dress, exposed skin, bleeding feet and ruined makeup. Rage clouding his eyes as he pulls the trigger without even blinking an eye. The man who tried to kidnap me fells to the ground. Near my feet. A bullet hole through his head and his blood seeping near my feet.

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