XVI. Prospect of Marriage
"Perfect, just perfect. I think I know what this is all about," she mumbled before making her way to her parents' bedchambers. It was on the other side of the estate as she was looking at the huge oak doors before the servant was opening it and she entered.
"Ah, darling! You're here, come in. Come in," her mother said before she was pulling Darla by the elbow to sit on the chair next to the bed. It was huge with four pillars with white silk drapes around them. And her father, the baron, was sitting on the left side of the bed.
He grinned when he saw that Darla was sitting on the chair that was previously occupied by her mother. She sat before Lady Lockwood was pouring some tea into the teacup and handed to Darla. She took it and turned to look at her father.
"How are you feeling, Papa?" she asked as Darla was looking at his white cheeks and cracked lips. My father is getting worse, she thought and wondered if they have tried everything in their power to help him.
Perhaps I can get Rosie to be here, she's a healer, after all, Darla thought as she was sipping on the tea, wanting to get out of here as soon as possible but she would have to hear what her parents have to say tonight.
And why Lord James Flemington, her mortal enemy, was here at their estate.
"So, how did it go with James after 6 years of not seeing each other?" her father broke the ice as Darla was looking at him. She blinked before clearing her throat as she was playing with her teacup.
"He is being a gentleman to me. So, I supposed he was okay to have around, not like when he was a child," Darla told truthfully. Even sometimes, I wanted to cut his throat and left his body in Fik Forest to the wolves to eat on, she thought but did not say out loud.
The baron nodded at her statement before having a silent conversation with his wife through their eyes. Darla can read that they were thinking of putting her together with James as long as they can and there's nothing Darla can do about it.
Unless she took an action before they can manage her future even more.
"We have been thinking and it's been in the good interest of our family. Your papa had discussed this with Lord Flemington, James' father, that one day our family will unite with them," Lady Lockwood stated as her husband nodded.
"So, you would understand what we are trying to do about you and James, right?" her father asked Darla before she was sipping on her tea and then sighed.
"Is that why you asked me to return from Norkins? To meet my future husband and perhaps make peace with him? He's...did he say anything about this?" Darla asked her father before the baron sipped on his tea.
"We did have a discussion and he said that he will think about it," her father stated before Darla was staring at him.
Think about it? Knowing James, he probably rather be dead than married to me, Darla thought before she put her teacup on its saucer and put it down on the night table.
"So, let me understand this correctly, you want me to marry James because it has been discussed between you and his father when we're children?" she asked before the baron nodded. Lady Lockwood smiled at her.
"And to think that your husband is a very well-known, eligible bachelor of Caga, it would serve you right, darling," her mother said before Darla was biting her lower lips.
If only he looked at me the way that he looked at every lady from the realm, she thought before sighing. Darla stood up and looked at her parents. They have such a high hope in her prospect of marriage and to think about what James had told her before in the painting room.
Perhaps this is the reason why he's so bitter, she thought rationally before smiling at her parents.
"Thank you for telling me this, Papa, Mama. I appreciate it so that I know why James and Lady Ashley are here. May I be excused for the night?" Darla asked before she yawned, wanting to make sure that her parents understood that she was tired from her journey.
"Yes, of course, darling. Have a good night," her parents stated before they were kissing her cheeks. Darla said good night and then running toward the painting room to talk about this matter again with the one and only her future husband.
James was startled to hear that someone was burst into the painting room again when he was finally had peace after that quarrel with Darla. Will it always be like this when I married her later on? James thought before he blinked as he saw who was standing at the entrance of the painting room.
"Did you know about this?" Darla asked him as James was blinking his sleepy eyes. He was exhausted but too lazy to retreat to his bedchambers yet.
"This," Darla gestured between them. "That my parents have agreed to marry me to you. As if you would take me for your bride," she snorted before she was looking at James, arching her pale eyebrow.
"Well," James cleared his throat before he was regarding Darla, "It's not in my best interest to end my bachelorhood since I love my life. But it was a duty has been bestowed—"
"Hah! Don't talk to me about duty. You did it because you're having an issue with your inheritance, isn't it? That was the only thing that drives you to agree to marry to...to...someone like me!" Darla said as she was looking at James accusingly. He blinked his eyes.
"What do you mean?" he asked before Darla snorted again. Then, she rolled her eyes at James as if she expected him to understand what was in her mind.
Bloody woman, he thought before he rubbed his face.
"Look, I don't want to marry you even when it has been agreed upon. I have...another prospect from someone else," Darla said as she was twisting and turning her fingers around. She was biting her lower lips, a sign that she was trying to keep something away from James.
"Who is it?" he asked her before she turned to look at him then rolled her eyes again.
"Not everything is about you, James. Yes, you're my mortal enemy but I have better things to be thinking about other than bringing you down in public. I have...other interests as well. It is time for us to put this...vengeance between us from our lives now. We're not children anymore," Darla said as she was turning toward the decanter before pouring herself a brandy. Then, she sipped it in one go and sighed.
"Baron of Ladenhurst has offered me his hands in marriage and I don't...I wish to be married to him," Darla said with a straight face when she turned to look at James. He tilted his head as he was looking at the girl that he told her once upon a time that she was an ugly duckling. That duckling has grown to be a beautiful swan and James nearly missed it.
"And I will go back to Norkins. Tonight. I don't wish to marry you and you don't want me in your bed. It's a win-win situation and I will make a run for it," Darla said before she gulped down more brandy before she turned to look at James.
"So, if anything, you can tell my parents that I was the one that—"
"Is that what you think I would do for you?" James said as he stood up from the divan and walked toward Darla. His head has been cleared of the fuzzy feeling of sleep and right now, he was looking at the golden mane that was shining under the dim light from the fireplace as well as her bright amber eyes that reflected the fire from within.
"What are you—"
"Just prove me one thing and when you pass, I will tell your parents that we will not be tied down in a knot. I will be the one to break the news to them if you want me to," James said as Darla was arching her eyebrow at him. He smirked.
Darla was startled by the request that she would never expect from her mortal enemy, let alone someone that would never invite her into his bed.
"Why...why would I kiss you if you don't even—"
"Just kiss me and prove to me that you don't feel anything toward our kiss 6 years ago," James said before Darla snapped her amber orbs to him. She narrowed her eyes into slits.
"Is that what this is about? Our first kiss from 6 years ago?" she asked before James shrugged.
"I just want to test my theory that you might say that I am your mortal enemy, Darla," he said huskily before he was leaning closer to her, smelling of fresh air and flora.
"But I wonder if you would love to kiss me again," James said before he pulled Darla by the waist with his arm and dipped his head.
Then, they were kissing again for the first time after 6 years estranged from each other.