"I don't love him, dad. You can't force me to marry Vincent for your business gains," she wailed. Her parents were serious minded business entrepreneurs for whom their financial firm was the be all and end all of life. They wanted her to marry their main investor Leroy Martin's son, Vincent. Leroy had threatened to withdraw his invested capital along with interests if they didn't go forward with the wedding.
"You're the worst daughter a parent can have, a parent's nightmare actually. Can't you see that if there's no marriage, there'd be no business? We'd be down on the streets," growled her father.
"Why only me? Can't Julianna marry him?" She asked with irritation. Julianna was her younger sister. Only two years younger, she was the perfect daughter for her parents, yet uncle Leroy didn't choose her.
"If I asked, she would, but Leroy wants you," he said with irritation. He hated arguments and that's all Sienna did with him.
"Be ready by evening, they'd be coming for dinner. And inform that good-for-nothing brother of yours to be present," he said before leaving to go to his study. Her older brother Jake wasn't interested in finance stuff to take over their business. He was a professional hockey player who played for the Texas Stars representing the Austin Area in the American Hockey League (AHL). He was hardly at home and her parents never failed to rebuke him every time he came. However, he turned a deaf ear to them as he was used to it. He was never a grade A student and throughout his twenty-four years of life he had to listen to their sarcastic remarks proving how worthless he was.
Sienna heaved a deep sigh. She had to face Vincent at dinner tonight and ultimately give in to her parents' wish and marry him.
She just wished that she could escape the torture or just die before she had to marry Vincent. She didn't get much time to ponder over what was to happen at dinner. She had to decide the entire dinner menu at such a short notice and cook it too. Her mom couldn't cook and the chef she hired to do the job called up sick.
Sienna was an excellent cook, a trait she inherited from her grandpa when he was alive. He taught her how to cook the basics, then advanced dishes and then exotic dishes as well as concoct her own recipes. Maybe this was the reason why Leroy Martin wanted her in his family. Julianna was just like her mom, she couldn't cook to save herself.
She made slow cooker beef pot roast, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables with wilted greens, a delicious red wine gravy for the meat and a lemony cheesecake for dessert. Satisfied with her handiwork, she went up to her room to change before the guests arrived. Choosing a simple white sleeveless sheath dress, she left her long brown hair, untied. It was a little damp from the shower and she didn't have the time to blow dry it.
She came down to the sound of laughter and voices talking. So the guests must have arrived. Putting up a brave face, she walked into the reception room where her dad, her mom and uncle Leroy were sipping red champagne. Vincent was sitting alone looking around. Julianna wasn't at home. She was attending a friend's wedding at Las Vegas. Jake had an important match, so he excused himself. Vincent's mom was a socialite and had a charity ball to attend to, so she would be a little late.
Vincent looked up with disinterest as she walked into the room. They had met before at a number of events but never got along well. Vincent was an arrogant jerk who was too sure of himself. Sienna didn't like how he undermined women, especially her. He was brilliant at business and had already made a name for himself along with his father. Yet he wanted to pursue an MBA program.
Even Sienna was interested in completing her MBA in marketing, but all her dad wanted was to get her married to Vincent.
They all looked up as she entered. Vincent looked at his mobile and kept typing to clearly show his disinterest. "Come Sienna dear, sit here," said her mom,"She's cooked everything on her own, without any help." She gushed as Sienna reluctantly went and sat beside her mom.
"Vincent, talk to her," said his father, showing his disapproval.
"Hi," said Vincent, with a forced smile on his face.
"Hi," she answered softly and looked down at her hands.
"Oh she's a little shy," said her father, smiling at Leroy.
"That's no problem. I like your daughter, Geoffrey. Consider the wedding fixed. Let us wait for Christina and then we can get them engaged," said Leroy as Sienna's eyes popped out in surprise. Christina Martin was Vincent's mother.
Engagement? They were planning to get her engaged to Vincent tonight?Oh, why didn't she run away? Her mom got up and pulled her along to the kitchen to serve the appetizers with the wine, Spicy tuna bites and quinoa encrusted sweet potato bites that she had made. "Don't you dare open your mouth Sienna. Everything is going fine, if the wedding doesn't happen, we'd be bankrupt without our main investor. You realise the importance of this? Do you?" She asked with a dead serious face. Her mom was very professional, she had never cuddled or hugged them as children. She was cold, calculating and strict, always barking orders.
"Yes, mom," she said quietly, all hopes of a true love, and a happily married life just flew out of the windows. She knew she couldn't ever fall in love with Vincent.
They were serving the hors d'oeuvres when the doorbell rang and Christina arrived, fashionably late, approaching her mom and embracing her lightly. "Oh, I'm so sorry that I was held up by this extremely important event that we ladies of the Inner Circle hosted. As President, I had to preside over, you see," she said as Sienna's mom's face fell. "So, tell me, what can I do to help?" She asked in her artificial voice.
"Everything's taken care of, just sit and enjoy, " her mom Elena said.
Sienna served her wine and hors d'oeuvres. "You must be Sienna?" She asked with a smile.
"Yeah, Mrs Martin," she answered with a false smile.
"This is delicious, where did you order them from?" She asked, tasting the tuna bites.
"Sienna's made everything herself," said Elena proudly.
"Oh my God, that's so much hard work. Don't you have a chef to do the cooking? After marriage dear, you won't need to cook," she said, smiling as her mom's face fell again.
"I love to cook actually, " said Sienna to save the situation.
"Mom, please can we hurry. I have an event to attend, " said Vincent for the first time in the evening.
"Alright sweetie. See, we love your daughter. So let's get them engaged as decided. Then we can have dinner. Later we'll sign the new deeds for the company," said Christina Martin.
"I will get married only after completing my MBA, not before that. That's my only condition, " said Vincent with so much seriousness that there was no room for any objections. Everyone agreed and the rings were brought out and Vincent was made to sit beside her. They put the rings on each other's finger and their parents celebrated with a toast. They all congratulated the newly engaged couple.
Dinner was served. It was obvious that Leroy Martin enjoyed the food a lot but he couldn't praise her much in front of his wife.
After dinner, Vincent excused himself and left while their parents signed some new deal. A life of torture began for Sienna. She was now engaged to a hateful stranger.