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The Arrangement

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Arranged marriages were a thing of the past....or, at least that was what Lily Chu had thought before she found out about her current predicament. Born from a wealthy family, people would have thought that Lily would be more sociable and used to being in the limelight. Yet, hidden behind her smiles lies a wall of insecurities and a dark secret she had no wish to reveal to anyone. Marko Villafuente, the son of an influential businessman, had always felt that the world was his oyster. He was used to getting what he wants. Yet being blackmailed into an unwanted engagement had only made his temper more volatile. With no other choice, Marko agrees to take part in the arrangement but vows to make his bride-to-be as miserable as he was. A six-month grace period was given so Marko and Lily are forced to live under one roof in order to get to know each other. With their family’s expectation to marry by the end of the year; the couple would have to get past all of the obstacles that would come their way..........

Romance / Humor
4.7 3 reviews
Age Rating:

Chapter One

Jeannie del Rosario eyes the closed-door warily despite how painful the stylist was twisting her hair up.

Geez, if this job wasn’t that important she would quit base on how callous the stylist was handling her precious hair. The stupid stylist was practically yanking her hair off.

Turning her attention back at the guards, Jeannie frowns. Those two hadn’t moved at all. She thought, taking note of the two men who stood guard in front of the door. The only time they did move was to turn away anyone who had tried to gain entrance.

Who was in there? She asked herself. And what was all the fuss about?

Unable to contain her curiosity any longer, Jeannie had turned to asked Leah; one of her fellow models; who was sitting right beside her.

“Who else do you think is in there?” Leah hissed the moment Jeannie had asked her question.

Jeannie was puzzled when she saw how nervous Leah was. She made sure that no one was around before she whispered the news to her. “It’s supposed to be a secret but I accidentally heard Miss Violet discussing it with two of her assistants, Allure will be doing a closed-door photoshoot in another set.”

“Allure?” Jeannie exclaimed excitedly.

“Shush!” Leah hissed when a few heads turned their way. “Keep it down.”

“But this is Allure we are talking about.” Jeannie whispers back, “I’ve always wanted to meet her.”

“Well, don’t get your hopes up.” Leah said, “One thing I do know about Miss Violet, she would never allow anyone to see Allure. In fact, no one knows about this photoshoot. She probably wants to keep the press away.”

“But why are they hiding her?”

Leah shrugs. “It’s probably because Allure is one of the most sought-after models. Anyways, no one can get their hands on her unless the designers or endorsers get their approval from Miss Violet.” Said Leah, “The last time someone attempted to go behind Violet Chu had lost everything.”

Intrigued, Jeannie leaned even closer, “What happen?”

Looking around her to make sure that no one was listening in on them, Leah motioned for her to come closer.

“One time, a photographer had sneaked into the set and took a couple of shots of Allure. He had planned to sell it to the tabloids.”

“No!” Jeannie was shocked when she had heard this piece of news. “Then what happened?”

“When Miss Violet found out about it, she was furious.” Leah continued. “The man had been so confident that she wouldn’t be able to touch him, but he was wrong. Miss Violet slapped him with so many lawsuits that he lost everything. If that wasn’t bad enough, Violet had also launched a personal vendetta against the publishing house who had bought those photographs. It went under in less than a year.”

“She’s that influential?”

Leah nods, “Miss Violet likes to keep her personal life under wraps, so not a lot of people know just how influential her family can be.” She whispers, “Those who do know about it would never dare to cross her. So don’t do anything stupid. Miss Violet is one of the nicest people you can get but she is absolutely ruthless when she’s angry.”

Jeannie nods her head obediently but continues to stare at the closed doors longingly. To have Allure within her reach but was still unable to see her or speak to her was such a downer. Maybe someday she would be able to meet the famous Allure.

Behind the closed door, a slender young woman stood awkwardly on a platform and waited patiently for the two women to finish adjusting her dress. She cursed silently when one of the women would poke her unintentionally with one or two of those pins they were trying to attach to the dress.

“Just a bit more and we’ll be done.” Jessa Mendez said after hearing the girl’s soft sigh.

She’s probably bored to tears. Jessa had thought with a smile. Lily Chu was hardly a person who could stay idle for too long. She was just too used to burying herself with work. Jessa managed a glance at the tall young woman who was being fitted for her employer’s latest creation. She had to admit, Violet’s older sister was the perfect model for this dress.

Tall and slender inbuilt with just the right proportions that could tempt a man; Lily Chu was gorgeous. Jessa could never understand why the girl was so insecure about herself.

I’m so bored! Lily had wanted to shout as she waited patiently for Jessa and Elise to finish with the adjustments.

How did it ever come to this?

Even after four years, she could never really understand how her sister had managed to talk her into modeling.

Since Violet was too busy flipping through the photos her photographer had asked her to look over; Lily felt it was safe enough to glare at her sister just for the sheer pleasure of it.

She never wanted to be a model. How had her baby sister talked her into it? If anyone among the Chu sisters who should have chosen a modeling career it should have been Violet.

Studying the casual way her sister was standing, Lily had to swallow back a pang of envy at how sophisticated she looked. Violet was always dressed in the height of fashion. The Lanvin outfit she had on was probably custom made since it looked so good on her.

Lily sighs again. Like most of the women on their mother’s side of the family; the Chu sisters were tall and slender in built. Although Violet did seem to have a bit more curves in certain areas of her body, she thought sourly fighting back the urge to stare down at her appropriately endowed figure. Standing next to a voluptuous sister, Lily felt scrawny and ugly.

Lily could never understand why Violet had chosen to become a fashion designer. The one thing she was so sure of, Violet would have made a great model. She had the height, the walk, and the attitude. She; on the other hand; was not cut out to become a professional model. In fact, it was an occupation she detested.

She is Lily Chu, the current COO of Legacy Hotel as well as Legacy Food Ventures. She didn’t know or care much for fashion, but she does have a knack for making profits and competing with other companies in various sectors.

Eyeing her sister again, Lily smiles a little. Violet would probably curse her if she knew. But in her opinion trying on a variety of clothes, accessories, and shoes before settling on just one was a complete waste of her time.

So why must she endure this situation repeatedly?

It was the same scenario over and over again. Every time she did a final fitting it was always uncomfortable and stressful. Not only did she have to stand on a pedestal being dressed and re-dressed, poke and prodded to perfection. She also had to suffer through her sister’s infernal bossiness and go through the painful process of hair and make-up.

Lily had to ease up some of her hostility at the thought of her stylist, Abby. Unlike Violet, Abby had always been nice to her. She never seemed to give her as much trouble as her sister did.

Abby Liang was a former model. She grew tired of the modeling business and decided to change her career by becoming a stylist. In fact, she became quite good at it and had even established a name for herself before she came under Violet’s wing.

As a former model, Abby was one of the best but she refused to return to the limelight. Violet had constantly ranted that Abby was just wasting her talent away but Abby; from what Lily could see; was very much content with her career as a stylist. She found it challenging to meet Violet’s requirements and intriguing to create Allure’s persona.

“Why do I have to keep doing this?”

Lily had finally asked her sister as she raised her left arm a little higher as Jessa had instructed. Seriously, the final altercation for the gown she was supposed to model for her sister was beginning to bother her. She was doing a photoshoot for a magazine Violet was connected to. Compared to a catwalk, a photoshoot was worst since she had to stay in the dress much longer than usual and would have to undergo several changes in wardrobe and make-up. How do these people keep up with all of this?

“I thought we have already talked about this,” Violet answered, without bothering to look up from her work.

“We have talked about it. FOUR YEARS AGO.” Lily answered sweetly as she placed more emphasis on the last three words. “I just want you to explain why I am still doing this?”

“I still can’t find a model that would do my masterpieces justice,” Violet replies casually pulling out several photos she did not like. “So far you are the only one who would fit the gowns perfectly.”

Lily rolls her eyes in disbelief. That was probably one of Violet’s well-rehearsed lines and it was such a lie. Everyone in the family knows that Violet never runs out of talented models. Even those who want to start a career would be marching by the hundreds just to see if they could pass Violet’s discriminating taste.

No. Lily thought. Her little sister just likes to bully her into doing things her way.

“Did you prepare a mask for this dress?”

Vi stared up at her sister before she closed the portfolio. “Just this once, can you just forget about the mask?” She asked, tossing aside the photos that didn’t pass her standards.

Lily raised one perfect brow and glares at her sister. It was fine when Vi bullies her into modeling, but she would never agree to go down that runway without a mask to conceal her identity.

With a sigh, Violet picks up a circular hatbox and pulled out an extravagantly decorated mask that would go well with the dress. She turns around and studies Lily who was still standing on the pedestal. Violet couldn’t help but admire her sister’s grace regardless of how awkward the latter may feel.

Although Lily is not exactly a raving beauty most men would find appealing, she is still beautiful in her own way. Soft-spoken, warm, and bubbly; that is how she could best describe her sister. Violet had to admit that she has no idea how Lily does it, but she had always had the ability to draw people to her. She can even make them feel at ease regardless of how stressful the situation can be. Taller by a few inches and slender in built, Lily has a certain grace that would make most women envy her.

To put it more bluntly, her sister could actually catch any man’s eye if she took the extra trouble to make herself a bit more presentable. They have had numerous arguments over the years over the same issue but she never listens. She still preferred to wear loose and comfortable clothes to chic and fashionable ones.

“I still say it is such a waste to do it this way.”

“A deal is a deal.” Lily nearly shouted before shifting to the position Jessa and Elise instructed her to do. “No one can know that I’m Allure.”

Vi smiles at that. In the last four years since she had entered the fashion industry, Lily had been her top model. It started as an emergency plan that she came up with when one of her models came down with the flu. Lily was conveniently available and happens to fit the dress like a glove. After a long argument, she finally agreed to help out with the condition that she wore a mask to hide her identity. Even then Violet had wanted to argue about it, but she knew it was pointless to push Lily even further. She had agreed to step in and that was what matters most.

Lily has had endless complaints regarding the gown she had worn that night. The dress was too long. The shoes too high for her to walk in and she could barely breathe because she was so nervous.

They had a hell of a time trying to calm her down. Lily would have walked right out of the door if Abby had not interfered in time. It was thanks to Abby that Lily had calmed down a bit. The moment it was her turn to walk down the runway, she became an instant sensation. The entire fashion world became very enthralled with the talented model whose face no one has ever seen. Many had tried and failed in their attempts to locate the mysterious model. No one seems to know who she was since she only appears near the end of each show and disappears before any of the girls could even stop to breathe.

Allure; as they began to call her; only answers to one designer. It was because of this very reason that every show under the brand of Violet Chu would be packed. Photographers, designers, and endorsers would all come to her show. Everyone wants to have a small glimpse of Allure. They were even willing to pay her a ridiculously expensive fee.

Other than Jessa, Elise, and the make-up artist Abby, no one knows that Lily was the elusive model, Allure.

“What time will Abby be here?”

Violet had snapped back to reality when Lily had asked her that question. “She was supposed to be here twenty minutes ago.” She answered, turning her attention back on the vast array of jewels she was supposed to choose from. “Why?”

Lily motioned for Elise to adjust the snugness of the gown around the waist. She can’t have this beautiful gown looking bad during the photoshoot. “I just want to get this done as soon as possible.”

“Why?” Vi asked in a completely bored tone of voice that Lily found annoying. She held up two necklaces that would go well with the gown. After deciding that the ruby would go nicely with the dress, Violet had replaced the diamond with all the others.

“Today is Dad’s memorial, that’s why I’m in such a rush.”

Violet nearly dropped the expensive necklace she was holding. The astonished and guilty look she wore on her face was so comical that nearly made Lily laugh.

“You forgot, didn’t you?”

Vi blushed and nods. “Sorry, it completely slipped. I just had so many things in my mind right now that I forgot.”

“It’s fine.” Lily interrupted her litany. “I’ll be going to the cemetery after the shoot. Everyone had also agreed to gather tonight for a family dinner, so you can relax.”

Violet sighs in relief. It has been six years now. Being busy is a poor excuse to forget their father’s anniversary.

“I’ll pay my respects tomorrow,” Violet said as she places the necklace around Lily’s slender throat. “Do you think he would mind?”

Lily smiles at her sister. Even though Violet is considered one of the most sophisticated women, she was still very much a child when it involves their father.

“He’ll probably pout about it a bit, but you do know that Dad will be very proud of what you have achieved.”

Vi gave her sister a hug. “It’s all because of Allure though that I have become so famous.”

“You are a very talented designer Vi. Even for someone like me; who don’t really follow fashion; could see that.” Lily told her sister, gently patting her sister’s hand in a comforting manner. “I’m just an accessory to your talent.”

Vi studied her sister thoughtfully, “Since you’re the accessory, then you should just do as I say and go without the mask.”

Brushing her arms aside, Lily took hold of her skirt and slowly stepped down the pedestal with Jessa and Elise’s aide. “That is never going to happen.” She muttered, walking as fast as her gown would allow.

The dressing room door suddenly burst open and in walks Abby Liang. Lily had to admit that even after seven years of her retirement Abby still has the confident walk of a successful model. Seeing that everyone was already present, Abby quickly shuts the door before anyone else could come through.

“Sorry, I’m late.” She said, removing her sunglasses. “Traffic was a little bit more hectic than I thought.”

Crossing her arms over her chest, “It’s fine Abby,” Vi said shifting back to her normal behavior in front of her coworkers. “She’s ready.”

“Hello Abby,” Lily greeted smiling at the stunning woman who had just walked in.

Abby turns and smiles at Lily who wore a beautiful wine satin colored gown. Abby’s full lips made a perfect O expression. She watches Lily approaches her in one of the most beautiful gowns Violet had created.

The gown fitted Lily as if it was made for her, its rich burgundy color made her skin glow to perfection. The strapless, caught-up gown with pleated neckline and corset closure, highlighted Lily’s creamy shoulders and the exquisite diamond and ruby necklace she had been given the honor to model. It was truly innovative. Violet’s latest design features a sculpted neckline transitioning into a body-hugging bodice adorned with a grand embroidered motif at the side waist. Sweeping bustles flow throughout the gathered skirt and finish with a bubble hem, giving the gown its dramatic yet elegant finish.

What was it with these Chu women that make them so stunning in anything that they wear? Violet may not have her sister’s beautiful height and figure, but she wore her outfit with such grace and confidence.

“I’m sorry to keep you waiting, Lily.”

Lily waves her apology away and carefully sat down, waiting patiently for Abby to start working her magic on her.

Abby quickly set out to work. She places her makeup case on the vanity table and opens it. She pulls out a variety of items and arranged them as she goes.

Lily watched in amusement as bottles of cleanser, toner, sunscreen, and moisturizer that suited her skin type were arranged meticulously. Face and eye makeup, removers, six shades of bases, light to dark concealers, light and dark colored loose powder, about twelve different shades of blush in both cool and warm colors, dry and cream eye shadow primers, eye shadows in neutrals to cool and warm colors. Powder Contour, powder highlight which she often uses for touch-ups; assorted colors of eye pencils, lip liners, lipsticks, lip gloss, and mascaras; lash lengthener, an assortment of false eyelashes, lash glue, brushes for a variety of uses, tweezers, pencil sharpener, eyelash curlers, small sharp scissors, a variety of sponge, wet wipes, cotton pads and tissues, hair clips, she even brought stage makeup just in case they were needed.

It never ceases to amaze Lily at the numerous items Abby had to use on her to transform her into Allure and knowing Abby as well as she did, the woman was nothing if prepared.

“Now where is the wig that I have to work with for today?” Abby asks, gently patting Lily’s face clean.

“Here it is, Miss Abby,” Jessa said walking over to them, carrying a mannequin’s head wearing a long, wavy chestnut-colored wig.

Elsie added, presenting “I have the contact lens here as well.”

Lily smiles at Abby indulgingly. The pains she had to go through just to present herself as Allure.

“Alright, now let’s work some magic,” Abby said excitedly.

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