The Billion-Dollar Marriage Contract

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Chapter 8 - Change

“Sebastian? Is that you? I haven’t heard from you in a long time!”

“Sorry boss. I’ve been busy. And since I moved, I was under a different boss. This one is way more demanding.”

The boy’s old boss laughed.

“I know. The place is demanding and so the bosses must be demanding too. It’s harder to survive there than here. The law there is much more difficult. Too many people to bribe.”

“Tell me about it,” Sebastian laughed. “But besides that, it’s great here. How about you? How have you been all these years?”

“Excellent, boy. Excellent as always!”

“Glad to hear that.”

“Why does your voice sound different. You seem happy. Hmm...is there a lady involved?” his boss queried.

“Maybe...”



November 8, 2013 (Ten Years Later)
Cassia’s Penthouse Apartment
157 West 57th Street, New York City


“Good morning everyone! And we are back to our show, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous!” This is your host Melanie.”

“...And Arthur Cornwell bidding you a great day ahead!”

Cassia brushed her teeth while pulling on her high-heeled shoes at the same time. She was running late for a presentation after oversleeping. The TV sounded in the background and she groaned loudly.

She forgot to flip the channel towards the news and was now stuck listening to a talk show that scrutinized lives of people she did not care about.

“And who is our celebrity for today, Melanie?” the co-host of the television show asked.

“He’s hot. He’s handsome. He’s dashing. He’s a debonair. He’s sex appeal on legs. Aaaand...he’s also one of the richest people in the world with a brain totally wired for business and making tons of money! Today, we’ll check out the life of the definitely rich and definitely famous, Nikoooos Demakis!”

Cassia muttered a muffled curse around her toothbrush. But somehow, she found herself gravitating towards the television to see what the show would say about her husband. The first part of the show described Nikos’ early life. He was described to be a very intelligent boy who always had excellent grades but was the most unruly child.

It was also discussed how Nikos’ parents married young and then weren’t quite ready to settle down in one place and build a family. Because of that, they left Nikos in Greece with his grandfather while they continued travelling the globe.

Cassia dismissed the information with a shrug. She already knew some things about Nikos’ past and why the hell would she want to know anything more?

She finished brushing her teeth and then started on fixing her makeup. She glanced at her watch and realized she still had time if she could forego her early morning caffeine fix.

It was a hard decision to make but she quickly decided that there was much more she needed to do rather than buy her usual coffee.

She sat on her sofa and then opened her laptop so she could check her presentation whether her designs were already good. She checked each slide for a flaw and smiled when she found none. The TV droned on and on in the background but she was too preoccupied to notice it.

“Nikos Demakis is also known for the many supermodels, actresses, heiresses and other women that he dated!” the male host exclaimed.

“Who would blame him? He’s hot and he’s rich. I’d date him myself if he’d have me!” the woman replied with a giggle.

Cassia rolled her eyes at that. Women kept on throwing themselves at Nikos Demakis. They did not know the evil that lay beneath the face of a Greek god; that beneath the facade of an angel was the soul of a devil. They did not know the pain that he was capable of inflicting on someone.

Cassia shook her head to clear it of past bitterness. She stood up and decided she couldn’t go without her morning coffee after all. It was just that this time, she’d have to go and fix it herself instead of buying. With a sigh, she stood up and headed straight towards her kitchen to get the coffee maker working.

While she was waiting, she leaned her hip across the counter and listened to the show.

“Ahh...but that’s where the controversy lies. You see, Nikos Demakis is a married man. For nearly ten years now, he has been married to Cassia Andrade, the only heir of the Andrade fortune. The fact is that dozens of magazines, tabloids and paparazzi catch him in the arms of different women while he is currently married! And this is no rumor, mind you. For during the different balls and social functions he attends, it’s not his wife hanging on his arm but someone else!” the host called Melanie replied with a wry grimace.

“Ahh... The man likes to play the field, so to speak.”

“Yes. And rumors say he only sees his wife once a year. It’s on their wedding anniversary. No wonder there’s still no Demakis heir running around.”

The two hosts laughed and then a series of pictures of Nikos and the different bimbos he dated were flashed across the screen. Again, Cassia rolled her eyes and snorted. He hadn’t changed one bit.

But before, when there would have been a twinge in her chest at seeing those pictures, now there was none. She was really perfectly happy where she was. There was nothing that could take that happiness from her right now.

“Whoa. I could not believe the luck of this guy! He dated Marietta, the French Supermodel? There. Are. No. Words,” the male host said this in a tone filled with unconcealed envy.

“And all you can do is drool, huh, Arthur?”

“Just wait, Melanie. I’ll make myself a billionaire and then I’d play the field like that too,” Arthur laughed.

More images flashed and the hosts kept on discussing all the women that Nikos dated. Again, Cassia ignored it and focused on her laptop. Throughout the course of ten years, she’d read about Nikos and his conquests in all the magazines.

At first, it filled her with a burning need for vengeance along with the need to rip the magazine to shreds. But now, she was totally indifferent. One could even say that she’s become immune. She couldn’t care less which slut Nikos dated and what he did with his miserable life.

Cassia drank her coffee and suddenly, her day seemed brighter. With a smile on her face, she focused on her work and started editing her designs. Her hands flew across her tablet and the stylus came alive in her expert fingers.

However, her attention was snagged by the television when she saw a picture of her and Nikos from their wedding.

“Pathetic,” Cassia whispered to herself the moment she scrutinized the picture and saw that Nikos was clearly drunk while she was trying to appear as inconspicuous as possible.

Well, no more.

That Cassia was a thing of the past. She was dead now. And a totally new Cassia was in her place. She would never allow anyone to treat her the way she was treated all those years ago. She would never let anyone mock her.

She was successful now. During the past ten years, she had made a life for herself.

Her thoughts drifted back to ten years ago and towards the exact moment that she left Greece. She left with her heart broken, a great sense of injustice and a need for revenge.

Leaving Nikos caused an uproar and she was sure she would’ve been beaten to death by her grandfather had she stayed. Thankfully, she was able to book a flight to America with Antonio’s help and she was out of the country before the media got hold of their situation.

For a whole month, her grandfather called her. He shouted and cursed at her over the phone for her rash decision. She told him everything but he simply did not understand. He kept on repeating to her that it was her duty to stay by Nikos’ side. Finally, she had the courage and told him to fuck off for she was going to live her life the way she pleased.

Afterwards, Costas cut off all ties with her.

Technically, what that meant was that he cut off her credit cards, closed down her bank accounts and disowned her in front of the public media.

Well, good riddance!

Being poor was not new to Cassia. She came from that life and she just returned to it after pretending to be one of society’s finest and failing miserably. She did not need her grandfather’s money. She lived alone before and she could do it again. She worked two jobs just to be able to support herself through college.

Throughout the years, Nikos still maintained several credit cards for her along with a bank account where he deposited her yearly allowance. For her, the sum could feed an entire country. She could have taken advantage of his money and wasted it all to get back at him.

But she didn’t.

She wanted no part of it.

She touched it only once when she needed money for college but she paid double the amount she took when she started earning.

And after a gruelling four years in College, she finally had her degree in Fashion Design!

She survived it all because of her determination to prove herself. Another factor to her success was that Hector was by her side. She found him a few months after she returned to America when she read in the newspaper about him opening his very first restaurant.

She ate there a few days after the opening and she didn’t know which of them was more surprised when they saw each other there. He sat down with her that day and told her everything about how she helped him reach his dreams.

Then it was he who helped her reach hers.

He was her light in the darkness; her confidence boost during the times she stopped believing in herself. Now, he was a huge part of her life. She wouldn’t have been able to make it this far if it weren’t for him. Yes, Hector was not all that perfect. He had his bad moments: he was always so busy. She always felt as if she came second in his life. But she understood him for he also wanted to chase his dreams and make his spot in the world like her.

Because of Hector and her hard work, she was now Cassia Adrasteia, renowned designer.

Yes, she used a pseudonym when she was designing for she never wanted to be associated with her grandfather or with Nikos. She wanted to make a name for herself and that was what she did.

Now, she was the owner of one of the most successful fashion shops in the world, Cassiopeia.

She was very proud to call it hers for it came from her own sweat and blood. It was born from her hard work and her determination to prove to others that she was capable of making her own path.

“Two years ago, there was an event which was said to have changed Nikos’ life forever. He and his friend Antonio Velez disappeared for over a month with no trace whatsoever. And our sources say that the two of them were kidnapped!” Arthur explained.

“How horrible!” the co-host replied.

“Yes. However this was not proven for the PR team of Andrade-Demakis International have negated this issue over and over again and refused to give out any statements. But trusted sources say that the two truly have been kidnapped and held for ransom.”

“So that means they paid, right?”

“Hmm...sources say that they escaped with the help of someone from inside. And then they just miraculously returned one day, thin and worse for wear. But the statement that they gave the media was that they took off on an adventure and went mountain climbing. Yeah, right,” the host said sarcastically.

Cassia scoffed.

She heard those rumors all those years ago and she received a call from the PR team of their company. When she heard about it, she felt a hint of fear and worry but when she asked what happened to Nikos, she was told that they couldn’t tell her any information for it was classified and Nikos did not allow it.

Yet again, she realized just how much Nikos valued her and thought of her. She let the issue go and just agreed to do what the PR team demanded so that they could all shut up and leave her alone. They just asked her not to say anything and that her husband was fine. She gave all the necessary statements to placate the media as dictated by their PR department.

But she did not believe Nikos had been kidnapped. Maybe he just enjoyed too much time with one of his mistresses.

Or, if it was true that he was kidnapped, then karma took a really long time to catch up with him.

Cassia glanced at her watch once more and then turned her laptop off. She leaned against her couch and cradled the coffee mug in the palm of her hands.

“And how is Nikos now?” the female host asked.

“Well... I’d say he’s back in top shape. Business-wise, Andrade-Demakis International is booming! They are now the top shipping company in the world and that is with Nikos Demakis and his wife Cassia at the top of the company.”

“That is great! Yes, almost two years ago, Costas Andrade who is Cassia’s grandfather had a heart attack. Since then, he has been confined to his bed. And it seems as though whatever scandal happened ten years ago, after Cassia and Nikos’ marriage, was put to rest because Costas claimed Cassia as his heir once more. He even left her in charge of the Andrade side of the company which has its headquarters in New York.”

This time, Cassia sighed.

Yes, it was true. More than two years ago, Costas had a heart attack and a stroke. Doctors said that half of his body was now paralyzed. When Cassia first heard of the news, all she thought about was that karma also took a long time before it hit the cold-hearted Costas Andrade.

But the goodness of her heart won and she returned to Greece to visit her grandfather. He was her only living relative after all.

Nothing much was said between them when she visited. All Costas told her was that she would now be responsible for half of the company and that he expected her to run it together with Nikos.

Cassia refused but the old man took a different route this time. Instead of shouting at her about her responsibilities, Costas told her that this should have been her father’s legacy. He should have been the one handling the business and it was what he was groomed for all his life. He told her that he was happy during the brief time he ran the company but that was before he met Cassia’s mother. After he met her, he then dropped everything else and ran away with her.

That little story made Cassia feel guilty and nostalgic.

So, she agreed to run half of the company. It was not for Costas but for her father. She would make all her father’s dreams and visions for the company come true. But there was one condition: she’d be doing it in America and not in Greece.

Surprisingly, her grandfather agreed.

During the last two years, she had tried managing both half her company and her own business, Cassiopeia. Everyone told her she would fail. But she did not. Once more she proved everyone wrong by rising to the top.

“Hmm...what about Nikos’ own business? The Nostos Chain of Hotels, Restaurants and Shopping Malls?”

“Ahh...this is where it differs. For years, Nikos’ business was at the top. But now, there is a new contender. This is the one endangering Nikos’ business with its stiff competition! This is none other than the Petrides Corporation.”

“Please enlighten me about this Petrides Corporation,” Arthur told his co-host.

“This is owned by a man named Hector Petrides who came straight from the gutter and worked his way to riches. Just recently, he was on the cover of Time Magazine for his exemplary business skills which quickly turned him into a multi-millionaire. His dream started with a small restaurant in which he was both the owner and the head-chef. From there, it all went uphill.”

“Sounds too good to be true!”

“I agree! It kind of sounds like a fairy godmother just waved her wand and all his wishes came true. But you know, some people seem to have all the luck in the world. Some of them really deserved it, and I’d say Mr. Petrides deserved it. Maybe one day, he’ll be the one featured here, right?”

Cassia smiled after hearing those words.

After watching the entire talk show, she could say that this is her favorite part. She couldn’t care less about Nikos Demakis but Hector Petrides was her whole world. Together, they discussed their dreams and together, they made them come true.

Now, they were reaping the fruits of their labor.

Finally, they are where they envisioned themselves to be that time that they talked ten years ago.

The talk show spouted more facts about Nikos and his business but Cassia wasn’t listening. They also discussed Nikos’ latest rumored mistress but yet again, Cassia didn’t care. She only glimpsed at the face of the girl and she knew that it was one of her models.

“Then again, Nikos can do whatever he likes,” Cassia muttered to herself.

She stood up and dumped the empty coffee mug in the sink. She picked up her laptop, her files and her car keys. She took one last glance towards the television and switched it off.

She then exited her penthouse apartment and drove herself to work. Today was a big day for she would be organizing the biggest fashion show in her career. Also, this would be one of her biggest charity works, for her designs would be auctioned and half the proceeds would go to the orphanage that she was sponsoring.

Cassia was snapped out of her thoughts when she heard her phone ring. She quickly dug her phone out of her purse and connected the Bluetooth headset to her ear.

“Hello?”

“Hi, princess,” a familiar voice drawled.

Just like that, a smile came to Cassia’s lips.

“Hello, yourself,” she replied.

His rich laughter slid over her like silk and her smile widened. This man was the reason why she no longer cared about Nikos and about revenge. This was the man that changed her life and helped her become a better person. This would be the man she would marry one day after she freed herself from Nikos Demakis.

“Where are you?”

“On my way to work.”

“Good luck with that fashion show. I know you’ll amaze them as always.”

“Thanks. And Hector, good luck with securing that deal with the bank for the new site of your restaurant,” Cassia said cheerfully.

“Thanks, darling. When that restaurant is finished, you and I will be the ones cutting the ribbon again,” Hector replied.

Cassia laughed and she heard Hector sigh.

“So... are you doing anything tonight?” Hector asked.

“Hmmm...let me check my schedule. One moment,” Cassia said and acted as though she was looking for something when she was just smiling like a teenage girl with her first crush.

“Alright. I’m sorry I am not available. Upon checking my schedule, I have a date with a Mr. Hector Petrides at ten pm in that five-star international cuisine restaurant that he owns,” she teased.

“Ah...you’re breaking my heart, princess. How can you date someone else like that? I won’t survive this. I’ll die with a broken heart,” he answered melodramatically.

Cassia just couldn’t stop herself and she burst out laughing. Her conversation with Hector continued and it was filled with laughter and sweet words.

Before she knew it, she already arrived at her office.

“I have to go,” Cassia told him with a sigh.

“All right. Can’t wait for tonight. See you later, princess,” Hector told her and then cut the line.

As Cassia exited her black Porsche, she had a smile on her face and a ton of extra energy to get her through this day. This was a critical point in her career and she would do everything she could to turn it into a complete and utter success.

Her smiled widened even further when she remembered that she was going to have dinner with Hector later. Finally, she was going to tell him that she’d made her decision, that she already had an answer to his question.

And she just couldn’t wait for tonight...

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