The Marriage Deal

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Chapter 6

“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”
Meister Eckhart

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Violet closed her eyes tightly, hoping against hope that closing her mind had suddenly developed the ability to teleport. She opened them again to find herself staring at the slight stubble on Michael’s cheek. Damn it! She cursed herself for her clumsiness and then some more for the awkward position.

She felt her face go tomato red when Chloe cleared her throat again and Michael looked down at her. She avoided his eyes and gave him a slight push. He didn’t respond. She winced; this definitely was at the top of her ‘Most-Mortifying-Things-That-Have-Happened-To-Violet list.’ This beat even Ethan walking in to find her with only a towel around her body.

Michael still hadn’t moved and she was forced to look at him to understand what exactly he was playing at. She realised her mistake as soon as he smiled roguishly and swooped down to peck her lips. He was gone before she could properly respond, not that she was going to, she hastily reminded herself. He offered her hand after entangling himself from her and stood next to the bed, completely unruffled. She glared at the hand and stood up from the bed.

She mentally winced again when she felt the tail end of her top trailing down the side of her jeans. Oh God! Would this never end? She thought with chagrin.

She looked at Chloe only to realise that Chloe was glaring at her. The odd reaction surprised and puzzled her.

“Some of your clothes are still here. Change and come out,” she said firmly. She stormed out of the room after directing one final glare at Michael.

Violet was puzzled. She knew that Chloe had never liked Michael but she was usually a bit more subtle. She peeked a glance at Michael only to find him watching her with an amused expression. “What?” She snarled.

He started chuckling and shook his head slightly. He opened his mouth to say something and from the amused look in his eyes, Violet knew that she wasn’t going to like his answer.

“That was slightly amusing.”

“Well I am glad that you had fun but I have work to do,” Violet retorted snidely.

“You should change first. That little bit of skin show is still extremely tempting.”

Her blush had just started to fade but the statement delivered with that cheeky smile made it surge back to her face in full force. She glared at him and stormed off in a huff to grab a top from the closet. He chuckled again but wisely kept his distance.

He was too good looking for his own good, she thought, furious at the embarrassing turn of events. He was such a…such a….jerk! Yeah, that’s right, she told herself: He is a jerk. And a pervert, she added on to the list. Her mind quietly whispered that she was doing the exactly same thing to him. She muttered about “stupid brains” and “annoying thoughts” as she quickly changed into an oversized t-shirt.

She collided against a wall as she exited the bathroom, becoming perplexed because she didn’t remember a wall right outside the bathroom. Hands steadied her waist and caused the breath to hitch in her throat, her heartbeat to skip a beat. She could feel the burn of his touch even through the thick material of her t-shirt. She hastily moved away, annoyed at him and the effect he had on her.

“Move! I have to pack.”

“I wanted to talk about that. These are big paintings and an extremely large number of books, Violet. I think calling the movers would be better idea.”

“Movers! Absolutely not! They are my books and really precious paintings. I am not going to let anyone touch them.” Something unpleasant crossed his eyes but it was gone too swiftly for her to identify it. Maybe she just imagined it, she told herself faintly. After all, he was standing against the light and a half part of his face was in shadows.

“See, I can’t promise to not damage any of those paintings in my car and taking all those books will take us several trips.”

She knew that. But when she had made plans to gather her books and paintings and desk, it was with the faint idea of escaping for a few hours. Plus, she also didn’t want to waste the money on the movers. She hadn’t counted on Michael accompanying her, or distracting her, her conscience spoke up. She ignored the voice. She could insist on Chloe helping her out but she was still confused over Chloe’s behaviour and she really didn’t want to damage anything. She caught her lip between her teeth, a nervous habit that she had trying to rid of since ages, unsuccessfully. Unfortunately she knew that using the movers was the best option. She sighed and nodded her head.

“Yeah, I’ll call them.”

“Don’t worry about it. I am on it,” he stated firmly and turned around to make a phone call. Thanks for asking for my opinion, she thought sarcastically. It was too late to make the retort because he was already on the phone. She rolled her eyes and walked towards the kitchen.

She found Chloe putting away the groceries. She silently walked in and started helping her. She wanted to ask Chloe about her strange behaviour but she was never good at these types of conversations and she was still thinking of the best way to approach the situation. She was saved from being the first to talk when Chloe spoke up.

“Warming up to him already?” Her tone was neutral.

“I…uh…He…I mean I tripped over the carpet.” She stuttered, her cheeks blushing again as she remembered the position that Chloe had caught them in and the delicious feelings that she had felt. She hoped that Chloe wouldn’t question the blush; her cousins had a nasty habit of seeing through her pretentions and lies.

“From the way he kissed you, seemed like he had a bit of practice,” she had finished placing the contents on her side of the bag and was leaning against the counter, watching Violet like a hawk.

Violet grabbed the milk and yogurt, hastily opening the door of the refrigerator and pretending to move things around to buy time. Damn it! She thought viciously. Why did she have to trip? Why was she so bloody clumsy? Why did her top have to tear? Why did Michael have to kiss her? Why? Why? Why? She thought somewhat hysterically.

When she finally popped her head out of the refrigerator, she found Chloe calmly standing with her arms folded across her chest. She raised her eyebrow when Violet just settled for a shrug.

“Thinking of giving up your virginity finally?”

“Chloe!” She gasped. She was more hurt than shocked by the acidic tone of her cousin’s voice.

“Well, are you?” She asked again calmly.

“What is wrong with you?! Will you keep it down for God’s sake!” she glanced fretfully towards the hallway, making sure that Michael was nowhere near the kitchen.

“Oh! So he doesn’t know? That’s interesting,” she said after some deliberation. “Personally, I think it would be tad inconvenient if you don’t let him know that you are-”

“One more word and I will tell Sera about who stole her favourite purple cardigan and accidently tore it!” Violet said fiercely in a whisper, her eyes narrowed in defiance. They both knew the wrath of their older sister, Sera and avoided it at all costs.

“It was a mistake! And you promised! You--”

“Say another word about the previous topic of conversation and you might just receive a furious call from our beloved and adorable sister.” She threatened her cousin.

They both stared mutinously at each other. Violet had won, for now, she thought with a sigh but she knew that Chloe’s odd behaviour would continue in another conversation.

“This is not over,” Chloe said menacingly.

Violet sighed again and nodded, rubbing her forehead, feeling the beginning of a headache. Michael entered the room then and paused as if sensing the tension between the cousins. Violet made efforts to give him a smile and nodded, asking him silently about the arrangements.

“They’ll be here in another twenty minutes and it’ll take them over an hour to pack up everything and deliver it to our house.”

She jolted from her thoughts at the last two words of the sentence. She looked at Michael and found him watching her closely. She knew then that he had deliberately used those words. She swiftly turned her face away, afraid that it would reveal too much. Afraid that it would reveal how nice it felt to have him refer to the house as “our.” She wasn’t supposed to feel this way. She tried to remember how she had felt when he had spoken about the contract, how disgusted and hurt she had felt. She blinked back the sudden tears that she felt at the back of her eyelids and hurried out of the room.

“I am just going to pack everything,” she mumbled as she rushed out.

She blindly started stacking the books in the boxes, suddenly wishing that it would have required her full concentration. She just wanted to get away for a few minutes, think about everything. Bid her dreams adieu and prepare to grapple with her sham of a marriage, with a husband that gave off mixed signals.

She sighed again, as she looked around. This room held so many memories. She had been living here since she was twenty, after everything had fallen apart. She had cried so many times on that bed, battling with her grief and eventually accepting her loss. She stared at the few paintings that were yet to be taken down and slowly turned to gaze at the photo frames on her bedside table. She swiftly got up and closed the door, needing a moment to get her bearings.

She toed off the shoes and gently lay down on the bed, curling up diagonally and dragging her favourite pillow under her cheek. She blanked out her mind and tried to drift off into sleep but a sharp knock on the door immediately made her eyes fly open.

“Violet! The movers are here,” she heard Michael say quietly before his footsteps retreated from the door. She sighed and got up, gazing slowly across the room and blinking back tears. It would no longer remain hers. Chloe was going to rent it out because it was a difficult task to maintain the apartment for a single owner. She understood the reason but didn’t mean that she to like it.

She smiled fondly as she saw the numerous handprints that Nathan had left behind and the small blob of pink paint on the bookshelf that Chloe had tried to paint because she thought that the shelf was “too plain.” She remembered the hysterical argument that had ensued and how Ethan had tried to step in only to retreat on his own. Chloe had made her Chicken Parmesan to apologise. She smiled feeling nostalgic and slightly angry that she would have to leave all this behind but she knew that it was illogical. She had a nasty habit of not being able to let go.

Just because it was a new life, didn’t mean that it had to be a bad one, she thought reasonably. All that she had to do was stay out of her husband’s way and it would all work out fine. She had already fulfilled a part of their deal and hopefully the second part of her deal was a little time away. She wasn’t ready for intimacy because she didn’t know anything about it! Oh! She knew all about having sex, from a purely scientific perspective, she thought mockingly to herself and as her cousins had often teased her but she didn’t know how to go about it. She wrinkled her nose. Should she have watched porn? Or read erotica? She had an awfully good grasp on books; maybe she could learn something from them. She pondered the idea, letting it roll around in her mind before nodding firmly to herself.

She would read erotica. It would be the only way to not completely get embarrassed in front of her very handsome and extremely experienced playboy husband. Maybe she could also dig up a few dissertations on the topic and find out more. She felt the familiar thrill of learning something new skitter up her spine. She was warming up to the idea and now it didn’t sound so bad.

It had never sounded bad, her conscience spoke up. She blushed at her thoughts and suddenly remembered the way they had kissed in the morning. She felt her face heat up in a flush as she felt her body temperature increase. The problem with having an eidetic memory was that all memories were crystal clear and feelings were not easily forgotten either. He had made her feel beautiful and wanted. It was a new experience for her and she was getting quite fond of his kisses. The way he would wrap his arms around and stroke her cheek or her hair, did strange things to her insides. She suddenly shook herself from her alarming thoughts. This was dangerous territory she acknowledged. It would be stupid to let her feelings get involved. Her thoughts should definitely not fixate themselves on how he had carried her from the limo to the bedroom so that she wasn’t disturbed in her sleep and how chivalrous he was to wake her up to change so that she could be comfortable. STOP! She ordered herself. She could definitely not think thoughts like these. Michael had always been a playboy and getting her feelings involved would hurt no one but only her.

She walked towards the curtain to distract herself from the dangerous thoughts, and looked out. The view was of a diner that Chloe and Sera often frequented when they were feeling too lazy to cook. She smiled faintly and trailed her hand across the windowsill and finally moving away from it. She turned around and swept a lingering room across the room, storing it in memory as she remembered the tale behind each imperfection. She smiled, gave herself an encouraging nod and strode purposefully across the room to open the door to embrace her new life.

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