Perfect Illusion

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Chapter 8: Everything Goes Poof

At first I don’t say anything. My heart is beating so fast I’m afraid if I open my mouth, it will fly out. So, I just sit there, for what seems like a really long time, unable to say anything.

When I finally snap out of it, the word comes rushing out of my mouth. I stand up abruptly, screaming from the top of my lungs. “WHAT?”

I can’t even fathom what Mr. Kerrington had just said. An engagement? Between Daniel and I?

The world has finally gone bonkers.

I don’t think I’m the only one that feels that way. Just almost after my outburst, Daniel gets up, a look of pure shock glued to his face.

He reaches for his dad so fast I almost missed it. “What the hell, dad? You can’t do this!” He pleads. “You can’t drag me into your stupid business deals! You told me I was not going to get involved in any of this!” “Sit down, Daniel.” His father commanded.

“No fucking way.” A dry laugh comes out of Daniel. “This is crazy! Have you completely lost your mind?” He faces his dad.

Irritation picks along my skin as I face my dad, “You want me to be engaged? TO HIM?” I sneer, pointing a finger at Daniel.

Daniel looks at me as if he thinks he might just glare me to death.

He steps up, facing me this time. His eyes flash red, jaw set in a hard line. “You think that I want to be engaged to you? You’re a fucking child!”

I clench my fists so hard, my nails are digging into my palms. “EXCUSE ME? You dare call me a CHILD?”

He points to his eye. “You freaking punched me in the face!”

“You totally deserved it!” I scoff. “You were acting like such a dick!”

Mr. Kerrington finally decides to speak up. “So, you were the one who gave my son a black eye?” One of the veins in his neck pop as he looks at me, teeth gritted.

He’s furious at me.

Well

Boo

Freaking Hoo.

I’m furious at him too. I’m furious at everybody in this whole room!

“Yeah, and I’m not ashamed of it!” I spit at Mr. Kerrington.

“Jesus Christ!” My dad finally decides to speak up, pushing his chair back. “All of you are acting like children!”

“Don’t you dare tell me that”, I say to my dad, exasperated, “this is completely unacceptable. You want me to be engaged... to a man-whore?”

“It’s not called a man-whore,“Daniel snaps back, “It’s called being ridiculously handsome.”

Oh. My. God.

He can still be arrogant at a time like this? Really?

“Shut up, Daniel.” I seethe.

“Please, Alexandria,” My dad lays a hand on my shoulder. I immediately pull away, feeling his betrayal creep up on me. “Just listen to me for one moment-”

“I can’t believe you agreed to this!” I say, my hands flying everywhere. I don’t care if it makes me look like a crazy person. “My own father!” “Alexandria...” His voice trails off.

“What am I to you, dad?” I cock my head to my side, my hands resting on my hips. “God, I don’t even feel like I’m your daughter anymore! You barely called me this past two weeks, not even bothering to check up on me. And then, you decide pull this shit!” I gesture in a wide circle in front of him. “Without even asking my permission! Or without even consulting me first about how I would feel about all of this!”

“Alexandria,” My dad speaks, his voice cracking. “I’m sorry.”

I scoff. I am way past angry right now. Actually, I don’t even feel the anger anymore. I just feel hurt.

I can’t believe my dad would do this to me. As if I am some slave, and he is going to sell me off. Just like that.

“Is that all you have to say to me?” Tears start to swim in my eyes. God, I can’t do this. The pain. My dad had just torn all heart out and smashed it into bits and pieces.

“Alexandria, please sit down.” He murmurs. I shake my head.

“The hell I am!”

My mother’s voice somehow fills my mind again. Don’t act irrationally.

Am I being irrational right now? I guess I am. But don’t I have a good reason to be like this? I’m going to be engaged the guy I actually hate.

A guy who had humiliated me before.

A guy I spilled champagne on.

A guy that is a total nightmare.

“Okay, enough is enough,” Mr. Kerrington presses his hands against the meeting table in frustration. “Daniel and Alexandria. John and I knew the both of you would be mad about this whole arrangement-”

“You think?” Daniel booms with anger. “This is the freaking 21st century, dad! I didn’t even know we even have arranged marriages these days!”

“Marriage?” My mouth gapes wide open. “You have got to be kidding me!”

Of course. Marriage usually occurs after engagement. Why the hell didn’t I think about this before? This just makes the whole situation even more fucked up than ever.

Oh hell no. I’m so objecting to this.

I’m only eighteen! I can’t get married, let alone get engaged!

Before I could voice out, Mr. Kerrington slams his hand unto the table, causing a mini earthquake through the room. “Sit down, the both of you! AND LET ME EXPLAIN!”

His voice shakes the entire room.

Daniel and I both exchange brief glances at each other.

We sit down.

Mr. Kerrington looks at us, a bit pleased now that he has managed to silence the whole room. He adjusts his tie, and starts to talk. “Good.” He walks over to my dad.

My dad appears stoic.

Part of me wishes that I had never said what I said to him just now. I have never talked to my dad in that manner... like ever. I never had a problem with him. We always got along alright.

And then now, we didn’t.

“Now that the both of you have finally shut up,” Mr. Kerrington speaks, “I can explain everything to you.”

I look away as I do not want to meet his gaze.

I’m just so exhausted. Physically and emotionally.

Daniel sits beside me, his hands over his head out of frustration.

“I know that the thought of engagement... is a bit odd, especially with the both of you being so young.” Daniel’s dad says, “But John assured that it was fine.” My eyes shoot daggers at my father. He shifts uneasily.

“The reason why I have come up with this condition is because of Daniel.” Mr. Kerrington continues. “Everyone knows my son has a reputation for being the... err, ladies man.”

I snort at this, briefly remembering what happened two months ago. From the way Daniel squirms in his seat, I can tell he’s thinking about it too.

“My son is the heir of Kerrington Enterprises, and he needs to start acting like one too. His reputation has been tarnished by his escapades with different women all over the years. So, with this engagement, the public as well as the staff at my company will be able to see him in a better light.”

Daniel starts to get up from his seat. “You can’t do this to me, dad. I have every right to object-”

Mr. Kerrington clenches his jaw. “No you don’t. You are going through with this engagement, whether you like it or not. If you want to be head of Kerrington Enterprises when I retire, you will do as I say.”

Daniel says nothing.

“What about me?” I question. “Why can’t you get some other girl to do this instead of me? Trust me. I’m not that special. You could head over to Craigslist and get him a fiancé anytime.”

Mr. Kerrington sighs. “Other candidates have been proven... hard to handle.” “I can be hard to handle too, you know.” I glower.

But then, his words start to dawn upon me.

Hard to handle.

Oh.

There is a reason why Mr. Kerrington wants me.

He needs someone that he can control to be engaged to Daniel. He can’t control any other girl as he doesn’t have any leverage. Which makes me the perfect candidate. He can control me with leverage.

It’s money he intends to loan Woods and Co. If I am to step out of line... then everything goes poof.

Money gone.

Loan withdrawn.

My parents company as broke as a joke.

“Oh.” I whisper as I let everything sink in. ”Oh.”

Mr. Kerrington merely grins. “It’s a chance for you to help your parents and their company, Alexandria.”

I cast a glance at my dad. He gives me a small reassuring smile.

I look away, frowning.

“So, what do you say?” Mr. Kerrington asks, his hands knotted together.

I don’t know.

God, I don’t know.

Gulping, I ask, “What are the terms of the engagement?”

“Well,” Mr. Kerrington starts off, “The engagement will only last three years. That will be ample amount of time for the public to get over my son’s wild habits, and take him seriously as a potential CEO to my company.”

I close my eyes and sigh out of a relief. At least it’s only three years. No marriage.

Thank god.

So now the big question is: Do I really want to do this?

I take a peek at Daniel. He looks absolutely wrecked by his father’s decision for him. I know he doesn’t want to do this as much as me.

If I agree to this fake engagement, I will be selling three years of my life away. And for what? For my parents company to survive on Kerington’s loans? Is it really worth it?

Definitely not worth it to me. I have to spend three stinking years of my life with the arrogant snot that is Daniel Kerrington.

Urgh.

But... I guess it is worth it, to my parents.

I know them. They wouldn’t have come to Mr. Kerrington, their enemy, for help if they didn’t have any other choice.

They are really desperate.

But accepting the deal also means that I accept the fact that my parents had gone behind my back to arrange this whole thing.

But then again, if I don’t accept it, there would be no financial aid for Woods and Co. They will be forced to close down. My parents hard work all for nothing. I’m furious at them for pulling me into this fucked up situation, but I won’t let fifteen years of their hard work go to waste.

What the shit am I going to do?

Mr. Kerrington has already laid the contract in front of me. He tells me that everything he has said to me is written in here. My eyes dance over the unfamiliar words, trying to take everything in. I still don’t know if I want to sign it.

Should I?

Yes.

No.

Yes.

No.

Yes.

No.

..

..

..

Yes.

With tears forming in my eyes, I ask, “Where do I sign?”

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