Perfect Illusion

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Chapter 13: Rules

I want to live here forever.

If Daniel ever hears me say that out loud, I’ll never hear the end of it.

Waking up the next morning in my room, I feel a giddy sensation blanket me. My eyes scan over my surroundings as if I can’t get enough of them.

My new room is extremely spacious, painted in lavender. It’s creepy how Mr. Kerrington knows what my favourite colour is, but I figure at this point, I don’t really care.

The furnishings are soft yet firm, a small vintage couch is situated next to the tall window draped with beautiful velvet curtains. Five white bookshelves have been installed to the wall opposite from my huge four poster bed so I can admire all my books and little ornaments I plan to place on them.

Next to it is a dressing table coiled with mini decorative lights. I have already lined all my lipsticks and hair bands on the little compartments that go along with the table. A huge crystal chandelier hangs from above the ceiling, casting a warm glow to the entire place, along with the mild scent of jasmine that fills the air.

Hallelujah.

Laying on the soft satin sheets of the bed, I watch as light pour through the window, signalling a new day. Sighing against the pillows, I wrap myself in the daydream that is my new bedroom. This place looks much better than my tiny room back at Cara’s apartment.

My face immediately falls.

Cara.

She’s still mad at me for ditching her. How can I ever forget? I still remember how hurt she looked when she found out I was moving out yesterday.

Suddenly the daydream that is my bedroom doesn’t really feel like a daydream anymore.

I should probably apologise. It will be best for the both of us if we can put all this behind us.

Huh. I realise I’ve been doing a hell lot of apologising these few days.

With trembling fingers, I pick up my phone and dial her number. I have a feeling she won’t pick up. She rarely picks up her phone in the mornings. It’s a weird habit of hers.

“What?” Cara answers the phone after the second ring.

“Um...” My voice trails off. Okay, I am so not prepared for this conversation. Cara’s pissed at me, and I don’t want to mess with her when she’s angry. One wrong move, and I’m dead. “Well... I didn’t expect you to pick up the phone at all.”

“Do you want me to hang up so you can talk to the answering machine instead?” Her bored tone seeps over the phone.

“No!” I say that with more edge than usual. “I mean, no, but you know what I mean.”

Then, a pause.

“What do you want, Alex?” She murmurs, her tightness slowly fading away.

“I called to apologise,” I purse my lips as I sit at the edge of my already made bed. Talking to Cara has never been this hard before “I um… just want to say I’m sorry. I didn’t know I was supposed to move out until yesterday. I’m sorry that I needed to leave you.” Silence.

“I didn’t have a choice, Cara,” I add on, “I signed the contract. I have to follow the terms. And so I have to move in with Daniel.”

I don’t know how she’ll respond. If she’s angry at me, let her be. I guess I deserve to be yelled at.

“I don’t understand you Alex. I get that you have to do it, and I get that it wasn’t your fault...” But then she continues. “I mean technically it is a little bit because you signed the stupid contract which until now, I still don’t get why you did it-”

“I told you I did it for my parents.”

“Yeah you did. The parents who had betrayed your trust and didn’t give a shit about you unless they needed you.”

I close my eyes. I can’t believe she pulled that card on me. “That’s not fair, Cara.”

“I’m sorry, you’re right,” she makes a frustrated sound. “I’m just... pissed and a little bit hurt. That’s all. I thought we would be living together for the next four years.

We’ve been talking about it since high school. And now.. Everything has changed.

And I don’t like it.”

“Me too.” I run my fingers through my hair. “I mean how was I supposed to know that my parents’ company would be broke and that the only way to save it is to get engaged to their arch nemesis’s son?”

“Well if you put it that way...”

A small smile appears on my face. “I don’t want a small thing like this to put a wedge between us. You’re my best friend, Cara. Always have.” “And always will be.” I can hear her smile through the phone.

I start to get up from the bed. I really need to get some breakfast. My stomach is already growling.

“You’re right. I’m being dumb.” She says after a while. “I guess we’ll still see each around on campus and I’ll try to visit you in your new apartment...”

“Penthouse.”

"What? You’re living in a penthouse?” Her shocked voice almost pierces my ears.

“Um. Yeah.”

“Damn. Kerrington spared no expense on this engagement.”

“True.” I laugh. “Even though it’s a fake one.”

The next couple of minutes are spent catching up. Cara tells me what happened after our little disagreement yesterday. She went to get some Starbucks (of course) to let off some steam and met this cute barista guy who gave her his phone number. They’re going on a date together next week. She says that when the time comes, I’ll get to meet him.

I tell her what went down with Nate and Daniel. She knows that Nate doesn’t know shit about how the engagement is just a sham, and she promises to keep her mouth shut about it if she ever converses with Nate.

“So what’s going to happen with you and Nate now?” She asks.

“I don’t think there’s going to be a ‘Nate and I’ anymore.” I frown.

“Damn it. I was really rooting for you guys. He seemed like a nice guy.”

“Yeah. Totally date-worthy material.” I sigh. “Too bad I’m engaged.”

"Fake engaged. Maybe there’s a little bit of hope for him.”

“Hah.” I bat my eyelashes as I walk towards my door. “Not going to happen. The contract restricts me from having any other relationships that the one I have with Daniel.”

“Boo.” I can picture Cara totally making a face right now. “So, does that mean you can’t have any hanky panky business with other guys other than Daniel?”

“Yeah. It sucks.”

“So... You going to hook up with Daniel?”

I stop at my tracks. I can’t believe Cara said that.

“Are you nuts? He’s a psychopath!”

“A hot psychopath.” Cara corrects me. “Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed. I hate to admit it, but he’s very good looking.”

“Don’t let him hear you say that. His ego is big enough. He doesn’t need you to tell him he’s good looking. He knows he’s good looking.” “Still...” Cara smiles through the phone.

“No. No freaking way. Haven’t I told you this already? Daniel sleeps around. A lot. I bet he has banged his way through every girl on campus.” I say fiercely. “Yeah Daniel and I? So not going to happen.”

“Aw come on. Maybe he’s changed. After all, it has been two months since the whole fiasco at Basil Kitchen.” Cara pouts. “And plus, you just moved in with him yesterday. He can’t be that bad, right?”

I open the door to my room and step out of the living room. “Well...” My voice trails off.

“See maybe he isn’t that bad after all.”

I open my mouth to reply but the words get caught in my throat. My jaw drops when I see who is standing in the living room.

A girl.

Not just any girl.

A naked girl.

She’s at our kitchen, her bare ass on the marble top as she pours herself some juice from the carton taken out from our refrigerator. Her freakishly long legs dangle in front of her and her boobs bounce a little when she shifts slightly to angle her body from me.

My anger boils.

“I’m going to have to call you back, Cara.” I seethe. “There is someone I really need to kill right now.”

“Um okay?” She says, puzzled. “Bye, Alex.” “Bye.” And I hang up.

Then I walk towards the naked girl.

“Who the hell are you?” I yell. The girl almost jumps out of her skin when she hears my voice. Her eyes widen when she sees me.

“Oh boy.” She mutters to herself and immediately attempts to cover up her lady parts with her hands. Her entire face turns red. “You’re not the girlfriend, are you?” “I’m the fiancé.” I grit my teeth. “Why the hell are you naked in my kitchen?”

“Ah shit,” she gets off the marble top and scramble to fetch her blouse that dangles on the doorknob of Daniel’s room, “I’m in deep trouble now am I? I swear we didn’t do much last night- okay maybe we did but I wasn’t enjoying it! Okay maybe I was but-”

I point to the door. “Get. Out.”

“Okay,” She quickly grabs the rest of her things and heads out the door.

I’m soooo going to bust Daniel’s balls right now.

Trudging to his room, I throw open the door. Daniel is still in bed, his eyes closed, and his hands splayed over the pillows. My jaw almost drops. He’s naked too. Only his lower body is tangled up in sheets. My gaze travels to his upper half, lingering on his stomach.

Oh Lordy lord.

His stomach is so perfect, I’m pretty sure I’m imagining things. It’s as if he had glued on paint rollers under his skin. No doubt he has worked hard to get his body. Suddenly I picture him doing rigorous push ups and sit ups only in his pants, sweat glistening his arms and his chest...

I seriously need to get laid.

I lift my gaze suddenly to his face. His lips are moving slowly and only a second after did I realize he had said something to me.

“What?” I blink a few times.

“I said, do you like what you see?” Daniel’s sexy smirk appears on his face.

This guy really needs to tone down his ego a notch or a hundred.

He hoists himself up in a sitting position. His eyes meet mine and I almost want to look away. But I don’t. I hold his gaze.

“That’s not the point, Daniel.” I stand my ground. “I am shit angry at you right now because this morning my eyes practically burned from looking at a naked ass girl you probably had sex with!”

“I did.” Daniel says. My eyebrows lift. “I did have sex with her.” Oh my god.

I cross my arms in disbelief “You aren’t even going to try to explain yourself?”

“You should have known I was going to bring a girl over. I always do that. I didn’t realize you would be surprised about it,” He says like it’s no big deal.

“I should have known?” I laugh at this. “Oh I should have known that the first thing I was going to see this morning is some girl’s boobs!”

“In my defence, I didn’t know she was going to prance around in our apartment naked.” Daniel lifts his hands up.

“Still! You shouldn’t even have sex with her in the first place!” I almost yell.

“Calm down, woman!” Daniel starts to get up, his sheet still covering his you-knowwhat. “Your voice is giving me a headache!”

“Good!” I press my lips into a thin line. “You deserve it!”

“I’m guessing it takes an apology for you to stop yelling at me so I’m just going to do that. So here it goes: I’m sorry.” Daniel shoots at me. “I’m sorry I had a one-night stand without telling you. But I thought I made it clear that I had a girl over the moment I brought her into our apartment. We were pretty loud last night...”

“Oh my god!” My hands fly up to my ears. “I so don’t want to hear about this.”

He apologizes. “Perhaps I was a little bit careless about the whole thing.”

“You think?” I arch my eyebrows. “I had to lie to Nate, the guy I really like, that I’m engaged and that there is no chance for me to ever get involved with him. I made my sacrifices, Daniel. It’s not easy, but I made them. Perhaps you should too.” Daniel frowns.

“Okay. Fine.” He slowly wraps the sheet around his waist and stands up. “There’s only one way to solve this. We have to have some rules if we want to avoid another situation like this.”

“Rules?” My interest is piqued.

He walks over to his closet and grabs a shirt and some pants. “But first could you...” He motions for me to turn around so he can change.

My face turns hot red. I oblige.

I hear the sheet wrapped around his waist drop to the floor with a thud and I blush even harder. Then, the sound of pants zipping fills my ears and I turn to face him again.

“Okay. Rules.” He says as he slips into a plain grey T-shirt. “So I have one rule: never barge into my room like just now again. Even though you only barged in just to check me out-”

“Oh god.” I groan.

“-It’s a total invasion of my privacy.” He finishes. “Not that I don’t find it fascinating that you were checking me out, but perhaps do it in the kitchen or the living room or something.”

“So, you plan on lounging around the penthouse half naked?” “Not half naked, sweetheart. Naked.” He smirks.

Someone save me. Please.

“We’ll discuss that.. issue later.” I clear my throat, blushing like a mad woman. “Meanwhile, I got one rule. Don’t bring any girls to our apartment. And don’t fuck them at any other places too. I really don’t want to have to explain to anyone if they find out my fiancé is a cheating whore. It will make me look very bad.”

“That’s two rules you have there.” He points out. “But I don’t think I can stand by your second rule. You’re practically asking me to stay abstinent for three years.” “Yeah. Like I said, we all got to make our sacrifices.” I smile smugly at him.

“It will be very hard for me though. A very hard habit for me to break.”

I give him the look. “Then break it.”

“It’s not that simple!”

“No excuses, Kerrington. If I can’t be with Nate, you can’t be with other women.”

“Okay. Fine. I won’t have sex with anyone.” He walks over to the wall and leans against it. “You do realize that that rule applies for you too, right? You can’t have sex with anyone either.”

I hastily look away. “I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.”

“Well... I guess that’s true.” He purses his lips, “It’s not like there’s any guys knocking on our door to demand for your attention.”

I reach over to the bed to take his pillow and throw it at him. “You’re really mean, you know that?”

“Hey, I’m just being honest!”

“You are unbearable.” I walk out of his room, but he slowly trails behind me.

“You are too, but you don’t see me complaining.” He shrugs.

“We need more rules. If I want to survive the next three years with you, we need to make sure there aren’t any lines to cross.”

“Right.” He nods. “Suggestions?”

I pause for a while to think. My mind drifts back to the conversation I had with Cara this morning. “I got another rule. We can’t get involved with each other.”

“That’s fine by me.” He grins. “No way in a million years will I ever think of you that way.”

“Same here.”

“So, let’s have a penalty should any of us breaks the rules we just made.” Daniel slips his hands into his pockets.

I think back to his most prized possession. Probably his Lamborghini.

I fight the urge to snicker.

“I got it.” I snap my fingers. “Should you break any of the rules, I get to take your Lamborghini out for drives.”

He furrows his eyebrows. “Okay. That’s perfectly fine by me.”

I smile. “You don’t know how I drive, Kerrington. I’ve been told I’m very reckless when it comes to driving. When I take your car out, you will finally know pain.”

“No.” He shakes his head. “Not my Lamborghini.”

“Oh yes.”

“It costs just as much as the penthouse!” He complains. “No way in hell are you going to touch my car.”

“Come on. You’re being ridiculous. It will be fine.”

“No, it will not!”

“As long as you follow the rules, your car will be fine.” I cross my arms and smirk. “Come on, Daniel. It will be fine, I promise.”

After a while, he nods but I can tell he isn’t too happy about his penalty.

Good.

He ponders for a while before thinking of my penalty. “And your penalty will be...” His gaze flickers to my books that are in piles beside my room. He grins evilly.

Oh no. Oh no no no no no. Not my books.

“If you break any of the rules, I get to have a little fun with these.” He walks over to them and his grin grows. “A book lover I see? Would be a shame if I… creased your books.” I gasp.

“Stay away from them.” I snarl.

“As long as you follow the rules, then your books will be fine.” He mimics me, flashing a grin at me.

I hiss at him.

“Good now we got that out of the way...” His hands dig into his pockets for a good minute before finding what he actually wants. He takes out the object and my heart pounds.

An engagement ring.

I can’t breathe.

He lifts the ring and slowly examines it. “Seems like the right size for you. Here.” And then he throws the ring at me.

What the actual fuck. My heart almost just died right there.

Fortunately, I manage to catch it. My eyes widen when I have the ring in my hands. This is so not how I imagined my proposal to go.

“You have to wear it.” He says, ruffling his hair. “Like right now.” “Why?” I say, almost breathless.

“We’re going to get interviewed in...” He glances at his watch. “...less than two hours. So, get ready Alex. Because after today, the entire world will know that we’re together.”

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