“Do you, Ethan Reynolds take this woman, Crystal Jones, to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, in good times and woe, for richer or poorer, keeping yourself solely unto her for as long as you both shall live?” Minister’s words echoed in the church asking for the purest promise from the man standing near me, who was going to be my husband in just few minutes.
“I do,” Ethan replied in his cold voice without any hesitation.
“Do you, Crystal Jones take this man, Ethan Reynolds, to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, in sickness and health, to love, honor and obey, in good times and woe, for richer or poorer, keeping yourself solely unto him for as long as you both shall live?” it was my turn to reply, and I was terrified.
I was quiet. I did not want to marry. I knew my life was going to change but in dangerous way. Everybody was waiting for my answer, and Ethan was getting relentless, might be thinking that I was prolonging the inevitable just to humiliate him and his family name. Little did he know that I was dying inside as the realization was sinking in that my single answer would seal my fate forever.
A sigh escaped my mouth as my eyes started to water.
“I do,” I replied in shaky breath before the bile rose up my throat, and my tears threatened to spill any moment.
My answer seemed to relax everybody in the church except both my husband and I.
It was time for us to exchange the rings. My husband placed the ring effortlessly while my hands were trembling when I put the ring on his finger.
“You may now kiss the bride,” said the minister. I was frightened the very moment. I didn’t know what was going to happen. Hell, even I wasn’t sure what I really wanted.
But one thing was sure, I didn’t want my first kiss with some stranger and that too without any feelings. He lifted my veil and leaned down and I closed my eyes in fear and anticipation. Then, I felt his minty breath on my face and a shiver ran down my spine.
After an eternity, I felt his soft lips on my cheek. Realization hit me; my husband kissed me on my cheek. I heard gasps of the guests who witnessed this little scene and I felt humiliated, embarrassed as well as relieved. Well, relieved because I really didn’t want my first kiss from my husband as he was a complete stranger to me.
Without making any eye contact, I looked down and felt my cheeks heat up due to some strange emotions because the reality of the events was hitting me like a bullet.
I was no longer single.
I married a complete stranger, who was not only cold but also dangerous.
I, now belonged to someone.
I was to going to live in a new house with my husband.
I was not sure what my future held for me, and this very thought scared me to death.
I was in my thoughts and didn’t realize when my husband walked away from me leaving me alone. My cousin, Ash, came to me and congratulated me while dragging me with her towards my husband.
“Congratulations, brother-in-law,” spoke Ash with happily sing song voice.
Ethan turned towards her with poker face and chuckled after a moment.
“Thank you, Miss Jones,” he replied.
“Well, Mr. Reynolds, keep your Mrs. Reynolds by your side and enjoy your big day. Honestly, you both make a cute couple,” saying this Ash pushed me gently in Ethan’s direction and I collided with his hard chest. My hands grabbed his biceps as his left hand went to my waist while other one to my lower back to steady me.
Only this time I noticed that how tall he was. Probably 6’4” or 6’5” as compared to my 5’2”. Although, I was wearing 4-inch heels, it didn’t help the fact that I was a pixie in front of this giant. I looked up at his sea green eyes which had the power to hypnotize anybody. We stared at each other for some time. His eyes void of any emotions; cold and distant. I shivered at our closeness and he sensed it. His grip on my waist became tighter pulling me closer. I shyly turned my head away and he snapped out of his thoughts stepping away from me like I burned him by becoming closer. I stepped aside, creating some distance between us.
Guests started coming to us to congratulate. Ethan and I said thank you to each and everybody, but we didn’t exchange a single word with each other.
The day went in blur. I was hardly paying any attention to the events happenings as I was wreck of emotions, getting more and more nervous as the time for my departure was nearing.
I was sitting alone on my table as Ethan was busy talking to his business associates. And I was literally so happy for that, as long as we were away from each other.
My mom came to me with my cousin Ash and I could see in her eyes that she was an emotional wreck because her daughter was no longer hers only but a wife as well.
“Crystal, my baby, you don’t have any idea how happy I am!” my mother exclaimed.
I gave her a small smile, tears brimmed in my eyes.
“Oh, my poor baby, don’t cry. It's your happy day. And a bride should never cry on her wedding day. She should be happy. And you should be happy. You have got your prince charming, who would take care of you, respect you and most importantly love you,” she was old fashioned and this marriage was a good match in my family’s eyes. If it wasn’t, my family wouldn’t let this marriage take place. But I wasn’t ready for this change.
“Mom, I don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave you and dad. I just want to spend my entire life with you people only,” I said in a cracked voice. And obviously, my mom thought that I was being an emotional bride which was not the case. Inside, I was feeling nervous and scared.
“Shhh, everything is fine princess,” she pulled me in a hug and rubbed my back to make me relaxed.
“Oh Crystal, why are you being a crying mess? You have got a hot alpha male as your husband, who, in fact, is a fantasy of all the girls out there,” Ash spoke playfully for the first time to change the mood. And in a way, she was right. Ethan had that type of personality but then again I wasn’t interested.
I and my mother pulled away and stared at her. Well, I glared at her while my mother gave her playful smile. This girl had the big mouth. She always spoke the first thing that came to her mind regardless the situation and place. And may be that was the one thing that I liked about her the most. Her outgoing personality made her a wonderful girl and this was the reason we were more like friends despite being parental cousins.
As I was talking with my mother and Ash, my father and Ethan came to join us.
“Princess, here, take this gift. Actually, Chris has sent this for you. He is sorry for not being able to come to your wedding. But he made sure to send a present for you,” my dad spoke while handing me the gift which my elder brother sent for me.
Chris couldn’t make to the wedding because his wife, Sarah, was eight months pregnant but she was having some medical complications. As a result, doctors had restricted her to travel as it might be dangerous for both the mother and child. And I completely understood their situation.
“Thank you, dad. I know this must be the hard time for both of them. I just hope for their wellbeing. I’ll talk to him,” I replied to my dad.
He kissed my forehead and engulfed me in his embrace. I felt safe and happy. I was going away from my family who were like a warm blanket around me, protecting me from the cold and harsh realities of the world.
“Ethan, I’m giving away my treasure to you. Keep her safe, always.” My father addressed Ethan.
“Mr. Jones, your daughter is my responsibility now. I’ll take care of her.” Ethan replied. My father visibly relaxed after hearing his answer, however, this caused a new doubt in my mind. I sensed a dark unspoken threat behind his words and it evoked a fear in me.
“I guess it’s time to leave. However, I just don’t want my princess to go. Well, I guess I need to be strong,” my mom chuckled with teary eyes. She hugged me real tight.
My parents gave their blessings to us and we said our goodbyes.
As I was walking along with Ethan, he put his right hand on my back. This simple touch evoked so many emotions in me.
I turned to see him already staring at me with poker face. I hesitantly looked away and kept walking.