The Marriage Deal

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Chapter 3

“Girls are like apples...the best ones are at the top of the trees. The boys don’t want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt. Instead, they just get the rotten apples that are on the ground that aren’t as good, but easy. So the apples at the top think there is something wrong with them, when, in reality, they are amazing. They just have to wait for the right boy to come along, the one who’s brave enough to climb all the way to the top of the tree.”

- Pete Wentz

She was immediately surrounded by him. Her senses over flooded with the realisation that Michael was kissing her. His cologne was making her lightheaded. She couldn’t identify the scent but it was distinctly Michael. As his tongue licked her bottom lip, she opened her mouth to allow him entry and drowned in his kiss. Her hands moved of their own accord from his shoulders to entangle in his hair. She gave a satisfied sigh and smiled dreamily.

Dreamily! She pulled back quickly. Was she actually contemplating giving in? Had she lost her mind already after being in his presence for a few hours? How would she survive this marriage? She shook her head mentally and pushed the disturbing thoughts at the back of her mind. She stared at his tie, too mortified by her behaviour to look at the guests and gauge their reactions.

She was too aware of the burning gazes from Sera and Chloe, from her peripheral vision, she saw her Dad’s expression…caught between happiness and a grimace and almost laughed. The laugh got stuck in her throat when Michael started caressing her waist. His burning touch was winding her up. It felt delicious and her body welcomed it, never having experienced such an intimate touch from a man in all of the twenty-six years of her life.

“So what do you say Violet?” Michael asked her again.

She reluctantly looked into his blue smouldering gaze and felt her temperature rise by a few degrees. This is not fair, she thought sullenly. He shouldn’t be able to affect her with just his eyes and his touch. “I wasn’t planning on being unfaithful ever,” she admitted reluctantly.

“Meaning?” He asked, bewildered by her response.

“In the agreement, you said that we could be with other people provided it was discrete. Well, I was never going to have a lover on the side.”

“You weren’t?” she could hear the puzzled tone in his voice.

“No, I wasn’t.”

“Why not?”

Because I am a virgin, she wanted to shout. Instead she shrugged.

“Come on, tell me the reason,” he demanded. She rolled her eyes and was going to retort when the DJ spoke up again.

“Sorry to interrupt the lovely couple, but there is a special request from the bride’s father. Mr. Fury, move away so that the father can dance with his daughter.”

She gave a silent sigh of relief at the perfect interruption and smiled happily at her father as he made his way towards her. Michael waited till her father reached her and gently passed her hand to her father’s waiting hand.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

George Cartwright was a tough man. He had to be, when trouble came knocking on their door and there was no other option but to stay strong. He had cried a total number of six times in his life and he didn’t care to remember the last time because it was too painful. Now, that the loans had been successfully paid off a few months ago and his daughter was finally married, he couldn’t have been happier.

Though he still had his suspicions about Michael Fury, he was giving the guy benefit of doubt after observing his behaviour today. The guy was obviously smitten with his daughter and he couldn’t be happier. The only issue was his daughter. She had always been reserved about her love life, or lack of it, he acknowledged dryly.

Violet was painfully shy as a child. She had become slightly more social after spending time with her cousins, Sera and Chloe and her best friend Ethan but that was as far as her circle went. Her friend list started and ended there. Plus her early graduation from high school at the age of sixteen and her early degree from college hadn’t really helped her social life. For her to fall in love with Michael Fury so fast and get married within two weeks unsettled him, especially since he had met Fury only once and could see why his daughter could fall for the charismatic and charming guy.

Michael Fury radiated authority and power. He looked dependable and had a slight hint of twinkle in his eye whenever he looked at Violet. He was the complete opposite of Violet. George had already accepted the kind of guy that Violet would settle with – happy, slightly dorky and unassuming. Michael Fury was none of those and it annoyed him that he had to mentally prepare himself again to give away his little girl to a completely different character. But, maybe Fury was perfect for Violet.

He would encourage her to interact more socially confident. He would also prevent Violet from being too involved with her job as a psychiatrist. Maybe, this marriage would benefit them both.

As he silently took his daughter’s hand in his own and started dancing with her, he decided to voice his thoughts.

“Are you happy Vi?” he asked her quietly.

She looked up at him and smiled, “Yes, Daddy. I am”

“It’s difficult you know, for me to picture you making a life with him. I am equal parts happy and disgruntled.”

“I thought it would be a few more years you know but I am happy. Even though I am reluctantly happy, I am glad that you met someone to love.”

Violet laughed as she looked at her father, battling with his feelings. She had always been Daddy’s li’l girl and she knew how difficult it must have been for him to give her away.

“I am really happy Daddy. He makes me feel…nice. I have never experienced this before and it is really nice.” She winced mentally at her attempts to lie and prayed that her father didn’t catch anything suspicious. Her father nodded with suspiciously bright eyes and kissed her forehead.

“I know a wedding is no time to bring you down but your brother would have been really happy Vi,” he told her tearfully.

“I know Dad. And I miss him so much. I just wish that it would have been different, that he didn’t have to go through all of that and—,” she was cut off by her father gently shushing her.

“I didn’t mean to make you think about the bad stuff, honey. I just wanted to share my thoughts.”

She nodded and rested her head on his shoulder. She missed her brother and her mother terribly. Even though Elijah had been six years older than her, he had always been a good brother. Attentive, protective, and one of the best listeners, switching roles as and when required. Even though her mother’s accidental death had shaken up everybody, he seemed to be the one handling it the best. That should probably have alarmed her but she was too grief stricken to pay attention to anyone else. She sighed and opened her eyes to make a cursory glance across the hall.

She saw Michael talking with Cybil, Sera and Ian were engaged in what looked like an intimate conversation while Chloe and Josh seemed to be moments away from hurling things at each other. She searched the hall for Nate and found him stuck near the buffet table, waiting impatiently for the food services to start. She smiled and her gaze travelled back to Michael.

He filled out his suit so well. His arms were strong but held her with so much of gentleness. He usually had hard eyes and an unsmiling mouth but he had started laughing and joking more and more in the few days since she had known him. He was just happy that his millions would safely come to him and no one else. She frowned at her thoughts.

Michael confused her. What he projected and what he was was so at odds with the man himself. His cold and uncaring attitude at certain times gave her the chills but at other times, he was relaxed and laidback. She shook her head at her thoughts and panicked a bit when he saw him making his way towards her. She clutched her father’s hand like a lifeline and tried to make her heartbeat slow down. How the hell do you do that if there is hunky male standing right next to you? Her conscience wasn’t helping matters.

“Mr. Cartwright, do you mind if I steal my wife for another dance?”

“Of course not Michael. Don’t make my daughter cry ever, okay? I have a really big backyard and a shotgun, if you even think about hurting her.”

“Dad!” Violet shouted, mortified at her father’s calm warning.

“I don’t ever plan to hurt her Mr. Cartwright,” Michael solemnly replied. Violet’s eyes widened at his reponse. George nodded and kissed her on her forehead, reluctantly making his way back to his seat as Michael took George’s place as the dancing partner.

“You didn’t have to do that. It’s not real anyway!” Violet whispered furiously.

“What did you want me to say then?” Michael enquired with a lazy drawl.

“Anything else, but that.” She didn’t know why she was feeling this way. He was making it too real with his constant kisses and possessive touches. It unsettled her and she didn’t like it. He was making it look real…too real…almost like the wedding she had pictured in her head ever since she was a young enough to dream about weddings.

“You are a fine piece of work Violet. You were the one who wanted to make your father believe that we were in love. Now that I am acting my part, you don’t seem too happy,” his voice was all business now and she was loathe to admit it, but he was right. It was on her insistence that he had finally agreed to act like the lovey-dovey couple in front of her father otherwise her father would never agree to the marriage.

She shrugged reluctantly and could think of no reply to his statement.

“This reminds me of your previous conversation. Would you care to answer that?” He sounded demanding.

“It’s none of your business,” she said waspishly.

“That’s where you are wrong wife. I have a right to know the reason.”

“Well, you were the one who told me that I could do whatever I wanted with my life as long as it didn’t interfere with yours. Aren’t you being a li’l bit interfering, husband?” She drawled sarcastically with a smirk.

“Ah, so the kitten has claws,” he smiled roguishly, his eyes gleaming with wicked humour and. “Well, I think a few things will have to change now. Since I plan on being with you, I feel that a few clauses need to be tweaked. For example, telling me about your past boyfriends and the reason why you were not going to take a lover.”

“Dream on Fury. I am not telling you.”

“I have ways of making you talk sweetheart. You don’t want me to practise those ways now, do you?” He smiled angelically while bending down and brushing his lips over hers. To anyone else, it would seem like a sweet gesture, but Violet recognized it for what it was. The bastard knew exactly what he did to her, to her body with his kisses and his hands. She didn’t want to admit the mortifying truth about her virginity and her lack of experience with the opposite sex to her playboy husband. It was too embarrassing and he would definitely make fun of her.

“Dear, brother-in-law, sorry to interrupt but it is time to cut the cake,” Chloe said sweetly, interrupting a kiss that would surely desert Violet’s senses from her logical mind. But, Violet knew that her cousin had timed the interruption perfectly. She smiled gratefully at her cousin as Michael reluctantly pulled away.

“This is not over. You have way too many allies here.” If Violet didn’t know any better, she would actually think that Michael was sulking.

As the cake was wheeled to the centre, Violet was seemingly relieved that finally the wedding would come to an end soon. She saw Nate rush towards Sera, his little arms already raised to signal his intention. She smiled at his enthusiasm.

After the cake cutting, everything else was blur. The toasts made to them were funny, the food was delicious, and her family as usual rambunctious. She was pleasantly surprised to see that they got along well with Cybil, Ian and Josh. Nate was the centre of attention as he made fast friends with Ian, Michael and Josh. Currently, he was playing on Ian’s phone in her lap.

After some time, he sleepily passed the phone back to Ian, murmuring a thank you, raised his legs to rest on Michael’s lap, snuggled his head in Violet’s shoulder and promptly fell asleep.

Violet brushed his hair from his forehead and dropped a kiss on his head. She looked up and found Michael watching her. The blush that rose in her cheeks flustered her and was completely unnecessary but her body did not cooperate. She made a move to remove Nate’s legs from his lap when he stopped her by placing his large and tanned hand on her wrist and whispered very close to her ear, “I don’t mind.” She nodded and withdrew her hand.

“Here, I’ll take him,” Sera said while expertly lifting up Nate without jostling him.

“I think you should head out too. You look tired Violet,” Cybil said in concern while directing a look at Michael.

“Ah, Grandma Cybil, I don’t think Michael will give her a chance to be feeling tired,” Josh said while the others laughed.

“I am right here, Josh and that’s my cousin you are talking about,” Shane groaned.

“Right here Josh and she is my daughter,” George said threateningly. Josh winced and murmured an apology.

Michael rolled his eyes while Violet blushed. He put his arm around Violet and she leaned into him feeling too tired to fight with her sensible mind. She waved goodbye to her family and got into the black limousine. She was tempted to stretch her body on the seat and go off to sleep, wedding dress be damned but, she settled for leaning her head back on the headrest and closing her eyes to rest, too tired to contemplate what her wedding night would mean.

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