Perfect Illusion

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Chapter 11: Sweetheart

Alex's Point of View...

The next day, everything goes back to normal.

Well, except for me that is.

Ever since I cut off ties with my parents, I feel... different. I don’t know. It’s weird. My heart feels lighter than before, but I’m not sure if it’s a good feeling.

I know what I did to them was harsh and wrong on so many levels, but I know that I needed to do what I did. It is time I separated myself from my parents for a while. They betrayed my trust, and I can’t forgive them. Not yet anyway.

After my parents realised that I left yesterday morning without telling them, they went ballistic on me. They attacked my phone, calling me and sending me messages. At one point, it had gotten really annoying. So, I stopped checking my phone after a while.

I don’t think that will end very well.

I have a feeling that they might pay a visit to me soon if I don’t return their calls soon. If that’s one thing I learnt about my parents over the years, it’s that they’re very persistent.

God, help me.

“Are you sure you want to go to class?” Cara asks me for the thousandth time today.

“Cara, I’m not going to break,” I inform her, tugging on my sling bag.

We’re standing in the hallway, the very one leading to my class. I notice some people give us wary looks, seeing as how we’re standing smack in the middle, blocking their route. Cara runs her fingers through her blonde hair and pouts. “I know you’re tough as a nail,” She says, “But I’m just worried about you.” After what happened yesterday, Cara has been constantly up in my ass. She’s always asking me if I’m alright or if I feel the need to rest. I get that she’s coming from a good place, but I hope she knows that yesterday will never happen again.

I poured out too many tears to be crying again anytime soon.

What happened yesterday was a moment of weakness. I keep telling myself that I am going to overcome this bump on the road, no matter what.

“You sure you’re okay?” Her eyes search mine.

“Thanks, mom.” I attempt at a laugh. “I’m fine, really.”

She bites her lips and smiles. “I know you’re not, but I’m going to pretend to believe you anyway. For your sake.” Cara knows me all too well.

“You’re the best,” I wrap my arms around her and we hug.

She pulls back and eyes the classroom. “If Daniel gives you any trouble...”

Cara knows everything that had happened last weekend. She knows about my parents’ company being bankrupt and the fake engagement with Daniel. At first, she was dead furious at me for agreeing to the contract in the first place. But she knew I wouldn’t change my mind about it.

I laugh. “I can handle him. I think.”

Cara starts to walk away. “If you can’t, just leave him to me.”

“What the hell are you going to do? Eye him to death?” “You got any better ideas?” She shoots back.

“I can-”

“You can’t punch him again. Or pour champagne over him. Last time I checked, those two options didn’t really end well.” Ouch.

I wave her away. “You suck.”

She blows a kiss at me. “But you still love me.”

After I finally made her leave me alone, I enter class. I take my usual seat, the fifth row to the right. It’s the best seat in the class because my lecturer almost never notices me. As much as I like her, I hate to draw attention to myself. Especially now when all my emotions are all jumbled up.

I start to pull out my laptop from my bag to start on my assignment when I hear a familiar voice.

“You look like shit.” A deep and firm voice sounds.

I look away, mustering a groan.

Daniel Kerrington plops down onto the seat next to me, making himself very comfortable in it. Once he has taken out his tablet, he stretches his legs and places his huge arms behind his head, letting out a huge breath.

Aw, jeez.

“Thanks for pointing that out,” I say with an edge to my voice. I decide to stare straight ahead and not look at him.

“Your welcome, sweetheart,” He drawls, amusement radiating off him. “Thought I’d do you a favour by telling you. Your face isn’t very appealing today, and you should probably do something about it, considering now that we’re engaged.”

Oh.

My.

god.

He did not just say that to me.

I turn my attention to him. “You’re joking right?”

“Does it look like I’m joking, sweetheart?” He cocks a brow with disdain, “You need to do something about your appearance, if you want to pass off as my fiancé. We have to look equally good. I can’t be the only one looking good in this relationship. Maybe I should suggest some concealer to cover up those dark circles...”

This guy definitely needs a filter in his mouth. Right now, he’s definitely pissing me off.

I flip him off, and stare straight ahead.

Daniel grins. “Feisty. I like it.”

Aw jeez. If this is how our conversations will go in the next three years, someone should probably shoot me now to put me out of my misery.

“Can you please not talk to me?” I groan in frustration. I really don’t want him to talk to me.

First off, he’s an asshole.

Secondly, he’s an asshole.

Thirdly, he’s an asshole.

..

Did I mention that he’s an asshole?

“Now where’s the fun in that?” Daniel teases.

He thinks this is fun? Really?

“What is wrong with you?” I glare at him. “I think the both of us have established the fact that we clearly hate each other ever since that night two months ago. So why bother talking to me now? What do you want from me?”

He angles his body to mine and smirks. “Sweetheart, don’t be so full of yourself. I’m not actually talking to you because I want to.” There it is again! Sweetheart.

I roll my eyes. “Don’t call me that.”

He cocks his head to the side. “Call you what? Sweetheart?” I grit my teeth.

“Would you rather I call you bitch instead, like last week?”

My fists clench. I am soooo going to punch the crap out of this guy.

When I don’t answer him, he grins, “Yeah, that’s what I thought.” He says, “Besides, calling you ′sweetheart′ gets you all riled up. I like it.”

I’m already starting to regret ever signing the contract to help my parents in the first place.

I aim my pen at him. “I’d rather you don’t call me anything at all. In fact, just please don’t talk to me.”

Daniel crosses his arms and laughs. “Aww come on. I’m just playing with you.”

Anger rush through me, a sweet and familiar thing. My tip of the pen poke at his arm. “Please.” Poke. “Don’t.” Poke. “Fucking.” Poke. “Talk.” Poke. “To.” Poke. “Me.”

Without much hesitation, Daniel snatches my pen away and at the same time, along with my hand. He bends down low, so his mouth is inches away from me.

I forget how to breathe.

Sweet baby Jesus.

I’m staring at his lips. Oh my god. If he leans forward a little bit more, our lips would touch.

I turn away almost immediately, flushed. No way in hell am I entertaining that idea.

“Listen, sweetheart,” He mutters, his breath hot against my ear, “I don’t like this arrangement as much as you do. You think I want to be engaged... to you?” He laughs to himself. “You’re fucking crazy. Definitely not my type. At all.”

“Then just end it. Tear up the contract.” I say, even though I don’t actually mean it.

A low laugh rumbles from his throat. “You think it’s that easy? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried numerous ways to weave my way out of this stupid engagement thing that my father so conveniently arranged for me. But I can’t get out of it. And neither can you since my father has you on a leash. So, we’re pretty much stuck together for the next three years of our miserable lives.” Well, am I so fucked or what.

Then, he adds. “So we can hate each other all we want, but it won’t solve anything. I’m trying to do you a favour by acting nice to you.”

“You call this ‘acting nice to me’?” I shoot back. “You told me I looked like shit. Then, you said I had to do something about my ugly face and only then I will be able to ‘pass off’ as your fiancé.”

He tilts his head. “Okay fine, let me rephrase that. I’m trying to do you a favour by acting nicer than usual.”

I lean back on my chair. “Ah, so you admit that when you’re not acting ‘nicer than usual’, you’re just a huge asshole.”

He clenches his jaw tightly. Well, he’s not the only one who can play dirty.

Daniel rakes his fingers through his blonde hair in frustration, “The point is,” He says, his voice rough, “You can at least try to be nicer to me, too.”

I make a weird choking noise. “Yeah, not going to happen. You’re always going to be a major pain in my ass.”

Half of Daniel’s lips are tilted up in a lazy grin. “And you’re going to be a major pain in mine too. Can’t say I’m not looking forward to it.”

“You’re so freaking weird.” My eyes did a one-eighty.

He chuckles again. “I have a feeling this engagement thing is going to be so much fun.”

The bell rings, signalling the end of our class. I quickly pack my bag and start to head down the stairs by the side.

But before I can manage to escape Daniel, he calls out to me. “Oh, and by the way, we’re moving in together!”


I come into a halt when I see it.

People. Moving all my stuff out of my apartment. Boxes start to pile up by the stairs, boxes filled with all my things- my clothes, my shoes, my ornaments and My books. All eight hundred and fifty-seven of them.

Oh hellll no.

“What the damn hell is going on?” I drop my bag down and wave my hands around. The movers ignore me, continuing their way up and down the stairs. I spot a random guy carrying some boxes filled with my paperbacks down the stairs. I run over to him and grab him by the shirt.

The man is in his early twenties, probably about the same age as me. He has long dark hair that falls upon his shoulders and his electric blue eyes. They widen when he sees me.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing with my stuff?” I spit out.

The man looks at me as if he can’t quite figure me out. “We’re moving them to the truck.”

What truck? “Uh, no you’re not. You can’t move all my things without my permission.” I point out, crossing my arms over my chest.

He frowns. “Sorry ma’am, but we don’t take orders from you.”

“Excuse me?” I’m baffled by his response. “Then who do you take orders from?” “Our boss.” He shrugs, then he continues his way down the stairs.

What the crap.

“But wait...” My voice trails off.

What am I going to do now?

“What the fuck,” Cara materializes behind me, her eyes wide and her mouth gaping open as she sees the scene unfolding in front of her. I whirl around and catch her gaze. Her eyes dart to the boxes and then to me. “Alex, what is going on?”

“I don’t know...”

Then, what Daniel had said to me during class come crashing back to me.

That son of a bitch.

I take out of my phone and dialled that asshole’s number.

“Hello?” His smooth voice sounds over the phone. I bat my eyelashes.

I start to yell at him. “You motherfu- what the hell were you thinking?”

“What are you talking about, sweetheart?”

“My stuff!” I exclaimed. “They’re moving my stuff out of the apartment!”

Then, a pause.

“Well, if you even bothered to listen to me when I told you we were moving in together-”

“I did!” I say, exasperated. Cara gives me a weird look. “But that doesn’t mean I’m agreeing to it! There is no way in hell am I moving in with you.”

A small laugh escapes from him. “Do you think you have a choice? We are forced to do this, Alex. If you bothered reading the extended version of the contract, you will see it stated clearly in print. By living together, it will make our engagement more believable.”

I say nothing. My brain has practically shut down on me.

“So, pack your bags, sweetheart, because we’re moving in together.” God dammit.

“How are you so calm about this?” I ask. “I know you definitely don’t want to move in with me too.”

“Like I said, I don’t have a choice in the matter. And I have to accept that.”

“You sound so mature for a guy who had yanked on my hair two months ago.”

“Jesus Christ, Alex.” He groans. ” I’m doing the best I can to cope with this too, okay? I’m still trying to get a grip on the fact that I’m being forced to be engaged to you!”

Cara nudges my shoulder and mouths ′what the hell is he saying?′ I shrug.

What am I going to do? I don’t want to move in with Daniel. Hell, I just moved in with Cara two weeks ago. I absolutely love it here. If I leave, Cara will be devastated.

“Alex?” Daniel’s voice booms over the phone. “Alex!”

“Jeez, calm down mister! You’re killing my ear!”

“I’m coming over there to get you, okay?” He says.

“What? No way-”

"Yes, way.”

What? “Why?”

“I need to go get my things too. And I want to see how much shit you’re bringing to the penthouse.”

“I’m not bringing any shit to any penthouse!”

And damn, a penthouse. Really? Harry Kerrington must be really invested in this engagement.

“Has anyone ever told you that you’re very stubborn?” I can totally picture Daniel rolling his eyes when he says this.

“Daniel, I’m not leaving this apartment.”

He makes a deep frustrated growl. “You’re killing me, sweetheart. You’re absolutely killing me right now.” He says, “Just... stay put, okay? I’m still coming over.”

“Kerrington, I swear if you come here, I will-”

“Can you just shut up for one second and do as you’re told? Stay put. I’m on my way.”

“I can’t just stand here and wait for your stupid ass to come get-” And then he hangs up.

He freaking hangs up on me.

A let out a sound of frustration. Cara grabs me by the shoulders and forces me to look into her eyes.

“You’re moving in with him? With that bastard?” Her sharp eyes question me.

Slowly, I nod.

She hastily looks away, stringing together a bunch of curse words. I have never seen Cara this angry before.

“Cara,” I start to reach for her, “I’m sorry-”

She held a hand up to stop me. “Is it part of the deal? You and him moving in together?”

“Yes.” I gulp. “I have no choice.”

“Shit, Alex,” She cusses. “What have you gotten yourself into?”

I open my mouth to reply, but even I don’t know the answer. My mind is spiralling, trying to grasp everything that’s happening to me. I can’t keep up. I don’t understand anything anymore. I press my palms on my forehead and force myself to take deep breaths.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

The door next to my apartment suddenly flies open. I see Nate coming out of his apartment, confusion written all over his face.

“Alex?” He sounds, “Alex, what’s going on?” He says when he sees the boxes, and the movers going in and out of my apartment.

Oh no. I have completely forgotten about Nate. I have been so caught up in this mess that I’ve forgotten to tell him about everything. Oh god, and we’re supposed to be going on our date this Friday. How can I still possibly agree to that, now that I’m engaged to his roommate?

This is seriously messed up.

“Nate.” I breathe.

He walks towards me, his hands in his pockets. “Alex, are you moving out? Your things are in boxes...”

I have to tell him everything. It’s useless trying to keep him in the dark any longer.

“Yes,” I reply, frowning. “I’m moving out.”

Nate seems puzzled. “But I don’t understand. You just moved in two weeks ago. Why would you move out?”

“I’m... uh, moving in with someone else.”

His eyes widen. “Huh?” Silence drifts out.

From behind me, Cara voices out, “Okaaaay, I’m out of here.”

I whirl around to stop Cara. “Wait-”

“No,” Her voice is firm and icy. “We’ll talk about this later.” “I’m sorry.” I plead. Pressure clamps down on my chest.

She shakes her head. Damn she’s really pissed at me for bailing on the apartment. “Yeah well, me too.”

And then she’s gone.

I look back at Nate. He seems more confused than ever.

“Is everything alright with you and Cara?” He cocks his head to the side and folds his arms over his broad chest.

I want to laugh. Everything is so going to shit right now.

“No, it’s not,” My fingers trail along my hairline. “Nate, listen, now’s not a good time to talk. As you can see, I’m in the middle of something huge right now and I’m still trying to deal with everything.”

“Um, okay?” He says, puzzled.

“I’m sorry, Nate. Today has been complete utter bullshit for me...” I stop halfway because a familiar blonde starts to come up the stairs.

Gee. Today is officially the worst day ever.

Daniel finishes the last flight of stairs, and lets out a deep breath. His face tilts up, and his eyes lock with mine.

“Sup, sweetheart.” He drawls.

Nate eyes him warily.

Daniel scans our surroundings and notices all the boxes. “Damn, you seriously have a lot of stuff. You’re lucky we’re going to live in a huge space otherwise I’m not sure if we can find a place for all of this.”

I feel Nate’s gaze burn through my skin. “What?”

“Nate, I can explain-”

He takes a step back. I see his entire face breaking. “You’re moving in with him? My roommate?”

“Um...”

“Yes, she is.” Daniel answers for me. He takes a few steps towards me and loops an arm around waist, bringing me closer to him.

“But I don’t understand, you don’t even know him, Alex.” Nate turns to me, his eyes stony.

Daniel chuckles. “She knows me longer than you think, Nate. She’s my fiancé.

We’re engaged now.”

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