Marriage by Law

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24


“Wh-wh-what?” I can see my eyes widening as I looked at him. Did he know? Of course, he wouldn’t know.

And what did he mean if I liked him? That was in the past, he couldn’t have possibly known. Unless James told him, then that two-face lying f-

“James. What do you think of him? Do you like him? I was thinking of making him my business partner,” Darius said as he got up and grabbed his tie from earlier.

“Oh.” My heart was racing, it was practically pounding and I could feel the blood flowing to my ears. “Um,” I said. What was I meant to say?

No, he was a hopeless partner and there was no way you guys should be partners. Would that be a bit too obvious?

“I-I don’t know. I mean, it’s up to you.” Iwas stuttering helplessly. Damn it, Ivory, tell him now. This is the perfect chance. James shouldn’t be a business partner because he is a lying, cheating, backstabbing asshole.

Damn it, why can’t I just tell Darius? His eyes were staring right at me and all I could do was stand there like an idiot. I had to tell him; this would be the perfect opportunity before I make things worse.

“Actually...” I just couldn’t do it. What if Darius didn’t know? I can just pretend it never happened. And then no harm is done. Darius wouldn’t need to know, and James just needed to keep his mouth shut.

“You know,” said Darius, getting up, “it’s your business too, so you have a say. Isn’t that why we had to get married?” He walking into the walkin closet. I stared at the floor. Duh, of course that was why we were married.

Not because we loved each other; everything is far from that. We were married because our stupid elders made a deal that no company can take over the other. Instead, together our companies will take over the rest. It was stupid.

I couldn’t even imagine how my life would have turned out if I didn’t marry Darius. I mean, would I have the chance to find someone again?

I sighed as he walked back out, with the phone on his ear again. He looked up at me and raised his eyebrow. “You going to sleep?”

“Oh right.” I realized I had been standing there like a statue. I walked over to my side of the bed and got in. It still felt so weird sharing a bed with him. Sharing a bed with someone was such an intimate gesture and here I was sharing it with someone who was just my ‘husband’ on paper.

“You’re not going to change?”

I shook my head and replied, “Nope.” I turned to my side facing the door to the veranda. I heard a deep chuckle before the lights went off.

“Should have known,” he said.

I felt the bed dip as he got in and I could see the light from his phone. Knowing Darius, he was probably going to be on that till morning.

6 Months ago

“Oh my god, it’s perfect,” she said, clapping her hands. I raised an eyebrow at my mother. Seriously? She thought this dress was perfect?

I could barely be seen in the mirror. All you could see was material and more material flowing out and out.

“Mother, can we pick something small? Something elegant but not extravagant?” I asked.

“Darling, have you had too much champagne?” she asked with a sigh as she picked up the glass from the sales girl. I rolled my eyes. No, it looks like you had too much.

“Go change. That dress is perfect.”

I gritted my teeth, trying not to say anything, and stormed back into the room. I tore the dress off me, slipping back into my horrible tight black dress she made me wear, and marched out of the stall.

“Yes. Pack it, will you?” my mother was saying, and at the same time she was on the phone. I started heading for the door when mum pulled me back, her grip too hard on my small wrist.

“Where are you going?”

“Home?” I asked. Where else can we go?

“Nonsense. The groom is finally going to have lunch with us. Come on, let’s meet him.”

I groaned. Was he at least going to show up this time? Well, bold, fat, pot belly mafia leader, let’s meet you.

12 months ago

“I don’t really want to,” I muttered as James looked through the pamphlet. An exotic trip to Hawaii, just the two of us. For some reason I didn’t want to. Especially with the way he was acting lately. He was so bi-polar.

One minute he was loving and caring, then the next minute he would yell or swear at me.

“Why not?” He yelled, making me wince. There it was, that drastic change in mood. I looked around the ice cream store and I could see some people staring at us.

“James, keep your voice down,” I whispered.

“Why should I? We paid to be here.” He was still yelling. I bit my lip as I looked around. Does he always need to be the centre of attention?

“Why don’t you want to come with me, Ivory? Do I embarrass you?”

“What? No! What are you talking about?”

“I saw the way you were talking to Michael the other day. What, you like other guys now, don’t you? Am I not good enough for you?”

“James, Michael is twelve. He asked me where the history building was. I was not flirting with him,” I retorted, as though I was talking to a child. What kind of a guy is jealous of a twelve-year-old?

“So you’re into kids, now?” he asked, his eyes narrowing.

“I’m not dealing with this. Call me when you grow up.”

I grabbed my bag, stood up and walked out. There was no way I would deal with hischildishness today. Especially with weird things happening at home, all these stupid phone calls, long discussions with my parents, my mother pretending I had no boyfriend and asking me when I want to get married.

I wasn’t going to deal with a man who was jealous of a twelve-year-old. Was he even a man to act that way?

I stepped out onto the street and looked around. Damn it, it was already dark. How did I not realise what the time was? Crossing my arms over my chest, I bowed my head down and started walking. My house wasn’t that far away , but still, I should have called for a taxi.

I headed up my street, seeing the lights on all over the house. Was there something going on?

I slowed down as I reached the gate, watching as a limousine drove out.

Present Time

In the middle of the night, which I call the witching hour, when there was no noise, and no light, and the rest of the world was sleeping, that was when I woke up.

I wasn’t exactly sure what woke me up. Maybe it was the fact that I was positively melting under these covers.

I looked over my shoulder to see Darius sound asleep, and I slowly slipped out of bed. I walked across the floor carefully, trying not to make any sound, and opened the bedroom door.

The door creaked. I froze, looking back. Darius wasn’t moving. I slipped out quickly, tip-toeing down the stairs and sneaking out into the backyard. The air was still cold but warmer than before.

I grabbed my spade and cutter from the corner and walked over to my precious babies.

“Hello, children, miss me?” I asked as I started to pluck off the dead leaves. “I had neglected you guys too much.” I looked at the blue orchids again.

“I wish you guys would bloom quickly” I picked up my watering can and continued talking.

“I’ll make you a deal. If you bloom and actually come out right, I will throw you a party,” I muttered, standing up.

“Do I get to go to this party?”

In the stillness of the night, the voice was an unwelcome distraction that had me jumping under my skin. I looked around with eyes wide and saw Darius. Oh, just him.

“Damn it. Can you give some warning before you go scaring people?” I demanded, putting the watering can down. He walked up to where I was standing.

I didn’t realize what he was wearing till now: a grey v-neck shirt that just made his eyes stand out even more and highlighted his body a bit too much. Stop it, pervert Ivory.

“What are these?” he asked, referring to my orchid.

“Eh-”

“What are you doing up, anyway?”

Hmm. Which question should I answer first?

He lifted his hand and poked the bud. I watched, horrified, as it tilted and fell off the plant and onto the ground at my feet.

“Um, I don’t think that was meant to happen, right?” He asked, unconsciously rubbing the back of his head. I looked at the ground with my mouth hanging open, and then at him.

His lips curved upward in an attempt to smile. “I guess the party’s off?”


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