Marriage by Law

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25

“My- my- my babies!” I whined as I looked down at the bud. There was one, one damn bud, and he had to kill it. I gritted my teeth and he took a step back.

Count to ten, Ivory. Count to ten. There was no point arguing.

“We can still throw a party?” Darius threw up his hands, trying to placate me.

I narrowed my at him. He bent down, picked up the flower and held it out to me.

“It’s not that dead. Maybe if you float it somewhere, it can blossom,” he said. I reached for it but he pulled his hand back and inspected the flower. He pulled at the closed petal and I let out a squeak.

“What are you doing?”

“There.” He pried it open, trying to make it look like it blossomed. Only the petals all fell and scattered to the ground and all that was left was the stem.

“That wasn’t meant to happen,” he quickly reasoned out.

I looked at the pale blue petals on the ground and groaned in dismay. Rich men. I bent down and started to pick them one by one and saw him join me.

“Here, I got it,” he said, grabbing some.

“Don’t worry about it”

Yet he insisted. “No, really. I got this.” He took the petals out of my hand and placed them on his palm. But sir genius forgot about the wind which just blew them straight out of his palm and away. He looked up at me with a sheepish look.

I laughed so hard I fell back against the fence and ended up sitting on the ground.

“I told you not to,” I reminded him when I stopped laughing.

“Sorry.”

“They’re just flowers,” I said with a wave of my hand. It’s not like they were my favourite, but I had been trying to grow it for months. He sat down on the ground as I leaned my head back, looking up at the stars.

We were quiet for a little while, and then somebody barged in.“There you both are.”

I looked up to see Adrian walking toward us and exchanged looks with Darius. What on earth was he doing here?

“What are you doing here? At this time?” said Darius, reading my mind.

Adrian decided to plop himself right next to me, spreading his legs out unceremoniously, nearly onto Darius’s lap. The latter playfully kicked Adrian’s leg away.

“I wanted to see my awesome sister-in–law, of course.”

“At this time?”

“Yes. We are cheating behind your back,” Adrian replied, his voice laced with mirth. He even placed an arm around my shoulder, as if to make the point, but it only made Darius shake his head. Cheating, cheating. Isn’t that what I was doing by not telling Darius about James?

“Seriously, why are you here?” I asked, looking at Adrian.

“Well, sorry for interrupting your night, kids, but I was at the bar, and was too drunk to drive so I decided to walk to your house. Darius, do me a favour and call me a cab, will you? And pay them, too.”

“Do it yourself,” muttered Darius. I listened to the childish banter between them as they exchanged words. This was a nice side, a friendly side, a childish side I hadn’t seen in Darius before.

“You’re an idiot,” muttered Adrian.

“You’re an idiot. Go sleep in one of the rooms. I can drop you tomorrow.”

“Do I get the master’s bedroom?”

Darius narrowed his eyes.

“No.”

“Thank you.” And with that, he got up, linking his arm on mine as he pulled me up. I let out a squeal.

“Can I take this teddy bear with me?”

Darius got up as well, pulling Adrian away from me. “Go to bed, Ad.”

“You never share. You’re mean,” said Adrian, who started walking and pulling me behind him.

“Adrian,” warned Darius in a serious tone.

Adrian stopped and faced him. “Fine, you can have her Can I give her a goodnight hug at least?”

When Darius didn’t say anything, Adrian proceeded to throw his arms around me, making my face slam into his chest. I got a puff of his cologne and the smell of alcohol.

I felt hot breath on my ear before I realized he was speaking, speaking to me.

“James was in the bar. I know what happened between you both.”

When I stiffened, he continued. “He was broadcasting it live.”

“Alright, go to bed now.” Darius, unaware of what his cousin told me, grabbed Adrian’s shirt and pulled him away from me.

“How much did you drink? You reek,” Darius continued as he pulledg him through the door, leaving me outside. My body temperature dropped. Adrian knew.

I should have told Darius before. Damn you, Ivory. Still, he had no clue about my past, so why should I tell him?

Because it is the right thing to do, said my conscience. Damn it. I really have to tell him now so it’ll be less awkward later.

I looked up when I heard footsteps and saw Darius walking back to me while shrugging his coat on. Where was he going?

“You know what we should do?”

“What?” I asked.

How about we speak the truth?

Shut up, conscience.

And then he said, “Go to the pub.”

I was so shocked I felt as though my jaw dropped to the ground. “What?” Needless to say, I wasflabbergasted. Darius, of all people, wanted to go to the pub? Why on earth would he want to go to the pub at this hour? “It’s nearly midnight though.” He shrugged, putting his hands in his pocket and rolling back on his heels.

“Adrian left his wallet there, too.”

Just great, Adrian. I bit my lip, imagining me at the pub, at this time, with Darius.

“Come on, let’s go.”

Against my better judgment, I stepped inside and locking the door behind me. “Fine,” I muttered as we walked toward the front door. Maybe some alcohol in me would make me tell the truth. I was about to open the front door when I heard someone from behind us clear his throat..Adrian was standing in the middle of the staircase with one of my teddy bears and I felt my face heat up. Where on earth did he find that?

“Excuse me, I believe you both have a curfew. Where are you going?”

“Out,” was the only thing Darius said.

“You’re going to the bar, aren’t you,” he said, pulling at my teddy bear’s ear. Don’t hurt Mr. Snow. It was a special gift from - actually, burn it.

“What if we are?”

“I want to come, too.” Adrian sauntered over to us.

We looked at him as if he lost his mind. “Don’t you think you had enough to drink?” It was Darius, eyeing Adrian wearily. Adrian threw one arm around my shoulder and one around Darius.

“Nope.”

Darius gritted his teeth in annoyance. “Fine,” he grumbled, then threw Adrian’s arm off his shoulder and walked ahead of us.

With Adrian on my shoulder, I turned around to lock the door.

“You weigh like a pig,” I told Adrian, his weight practically crushing me as I walked down the street trying to catch up to Darius.

“It’s all these muscles,” Adrian explained, and I saw him wink in the dark. What an egoistical man. He continued, saying, “You know, you should have married me instead. I am hotter than Darius and I have more muscles.” He even poked me in the cheek.

I swatted his hand away, ignoring the glare I earned from Darius. I felt like asking him, What on earth did I do?

“Is that a yes?” called Adrian loudly as we neared the pub. The line from the pub ended on the street!

“Darius, the end of the line is here,” I told him, confused why he was walking to the front.

“You silly girl.” It was Adrian, who, for a change, walked without my assistance and even pulled me to hurry up.

“What?”

At the door stood a huge man. And by massive, I really meant massive: bulging muscles everywhere, even his ears I reckon, with long hair that was tied at the back with a pony tail. That one tattoo on his arm would have scared everyone.

I tried not to move as his scrutinizing gaze met mine and his dark eyes held it there. His eyes went from me to Adrian, and then to Darius, whom he obviously recognised. He muttered something to Darius and then opened the door, from where I could barely see the inside.

“We don’t wait like them?” I was referring to the people who was waiting for their turn to get inside. Some even looked at us daggers Adrian raised an eyebrow, giving me this look and marching inside with me hot on his heels. He stopped so suddenly that my nose collided with his back.

The smell of alcohol and sweat hit my nose, making my stomach feel weird. Obviously, Ivory, you’re in a damn pub.

I squealed in protest when Adrian dragged me to the crowded dance floor.

“DANCE WITH ME!” He yelled to get himself heard, but he was near me it made my ears hurt. He grabbed my waist and my arm, turning me around this way that had me colliding with people, then spinning me the other way that had me crashing against more people.

“Adrian!” I squealed when he did an over-exaggerated movement of making me lean on my back that I almost touched the floor. Even with the loud music, I heard my back crack. And then he pulled me back up and everything was spinning. I hadn’t even had anything to drink yet.

He leaned close and whispered to my ear. “You know when I saw James, I didn’t recognize him at first. Then I heard your name.”

I almost died.

Adrian kept dancing, or more like throwing me back and forth like a teddy bear. I accidentally stepped on someone’s foot and I looked over my shoulder, meeting a pair of annoyed eyes.

“I’m so so-oh shit.” I rammed into Adrian’s chest. My nose was bound to break tonight. I could actually feel it start to swell.

“And then he began talking about how you both were a couple. He recognized me. He also is a bad drunk, did you know that. He is more emotional than a woman on her period. Trust me, I know.”

I sent him a glare upon hearing the last part of what he said. He smirked. “Are you on your period?”

I felt my face reddening in embarrassment. “Adrian,” I growled, narrowing my eyes. I was doubting whether he was drunk or not. One minute he was drunk, then the next he was serious.

I froze when he said, “Then he was talking about some teddy bear he gave you.”

“So I had to check. There could be a million other Ivorys out there, you know?” he continued, oblivious to what I was going through. I felt my heart beat pick up, and it wasn’t due to the number of bodies crashing against another or the heat in here.

Adrian looked at me closely. “So tell me, dear sister-in-law, did you and James have a fling?”

I was afraid that I might say the wrong thing, or he might misunderstand whatever I was going to say. When I didn’t say anything, he continued. “Because he seems heartbroken, what with his one love getting married.”

I gritted my teeth in annoyance. That son of a b*tch! He was the one cheating on me and now he was going around and telling other people. I could only imagine what story he was telling others.

I was saying, “That’s no-” but I stumbled forward when someone rammed into my back, hard, their elbow digging in. Adrian’s hands steadied me and he glared at someone behind me. I looked over my shoulder, seeing the guy I had stepped on.

What was this, payback?

I looked away, not wanting to cause some stupid fight.

“I don’t really care what happened then,” said Adrian, grabbing my attention from the guy. “But you need to tell Darius about this. If you do still have feelings for James, then you shouldn’t be in a relationship with my cou-”

“I don’t!” I snapped a bit too loudly.

“Huh?”

“James and I broke up a long time before I got married to your ‘cousin’. I don’t know why he was even talking about me. He was the one who cheated on me,” I whispered, looking around to make sure Darius couldn’t hear me.

“The whole time, James was dating two of us at the same time. When he told me he had a business meeting, he was actually with her. He is a rat bag and I have no intention of even speaking to that scum.”

Adrian shook his head. “You still need to tell Darius.”

“I was going to!” That is, I was just waiting for the right time. I felt someone behind me too close, the same guy from before.

“Hey, babe, why don’t I show you how to have some real fun?”

I narrowed my eyes at him and Adrian grabbed my arm, pulling me away from the crowd. My eyes started scanning the crown. The last thing I needed was a drunk James telling Darius everything before I could.

“He went home,” said Adrian, reading my mind. “I called him a cab actually.” And he seemed proud for doing so. Adrian steered us through the crowd and led me to a table in the corner where a brooding Darius was sitting with his arms crossed over his chest.

“Thank you for joining me,” Darius grumbled at Adrian, who just winked at him, flicking his imaginary hair.

“Anytime, girlfriend,“Adrian replied in a mocking tone as he slid into the booth. It was a 3seater booth. One seat was against the wall opposite the dance floor and the other two on the side, so it was still semi-private.

Adrian ordered more drinks and I gave him a weary glance. “Are you sure you should be drinking more?” I asked.

Adrian gave me a disgusted look and then turned to Darius. “Ivory and I have something to tell you.”

“What?” I asked, my eyes probably as big as golf balls.

“We’re in love.”

My jaw hit the floor, not expecting this from Adrian, and I was pretty sure Darius was caught off guard with the way his posture changed.

“We want to get married, so divorce her please.”

Darius raised an eyebrow at me and I shook my head. “I –He’s drunk, I had nothing to do with this,” I said as I put my hands up. Right then the drinks came. I eyed the twenty shots Adrian ordered. Oh hell, no.

“Don’t be modest,” Adrian was saying. “I love you and you don’t love me, that’s enough.” He was smiling wide, showing all his teeth. He grabbed a shot and raised it to his mouth. I watched as he dropped it, his head slamming onto the table.

The awful sound of his head hitting the table made me jump in my seat.

I looked at Darius. “Is he-?”

“He had too much; he’ll be fine.” Darius was shaking his head at Adrian. I heard a slight snore, telling me that Adrian was fast asleep in this humid, loud club.

“I-um, should we do something?” I asked. Darius shrugged and sighed loudly.

“Fine.” He got up. “I’ll tell Richard to lend me the staff bed for the night. We can dump him there.”

I nodded and watched Darius go to the bar. He seemed to know everyone here. Okay fine, he was rich. Maybe he was a frequent patron of this club.

I looked back at Adrian, poking him in the shoulder.

He snorted.

He was fine. I felt someone watching me and looked up to see the guy from before. He smiled and waved at me.

I stood up, ready to flee to Darius, but he was already on his way back.

“Eh, do you want help carrying him?” I asked.

Please say yes. Please say yes. Please say yes.

“No, I’ll manage.”

Great.

“Just sit here.”

I sent him a glare but he didn’t even notice it as he grabbed Adrian none too gently. I sat back down, hoping the other guy got the message. I watched as another man, probably Richard, went around the counter waving to Darius to follow him.

I looked around the club, then almost jumped when I saw the guy sitting in front of me. He was fast.

“Hello there, beautiful.”

Would I stay here just because Darius told me to? Hell no.

I started to get up when he grabbed my hand.

“No, sit back down. My name is Nicholas. Yours?”

“Go away,” I snapped, trying to pull my hand back.

He smiled, the kind of smile you wouldn’t trust. “Now, now. Don’t be that way. Sit.”

“Actually, I better be –” I stopped as I saw Darius walking back with Richard. I watched them say something before they both gave each other a handshake and half-hugged. He turned and his eyes met with mine, and then looked to the guy on the other seat.

I felt the guy’s grip on my hand loosened as he stood up and left.

Oh god, please don’t start a fight. Then I remember, Darius ‘doesn’t fight’.

I saw Nicholas walk up to Darius. They stood facing each other and talked;; my heart skipped a beat. Darius smiled. What was going on?

Nicholas looked over his shoulder and Darius patted his back, nodding toward a door. What the hell?

The other guy left while Darius walked up to me.

“Ready to go?” he asked upon reaching my seat.

“Eh, uh, yea?” I was scratching my head in confusion.

“Good.”

He walked ahead to the direction of the back door. We slipped through the back door, where I saw Nicholas go through and I knew it. Darius was a mafia leader after all. Was he going to sell me?

“You have something on your face.”

“Huh?”

I looked up to see Darius motioning and pointing to my face.

“I do?” I asked as I stepped outside, the cold air hitting me in the face.

He nodded. “Go wash it off. I’ll wait here.”

“Okay,” I said. Still confused, I watched him walk around the corner. Why didn’t he just tell me earlier? I turned around to walk back in when I saw my reflection on the window.

Might as well use this as a mirror. Saves time, plus I won’t have to lose my way to the wash room.

I looked at my face. There was nothing there!

What on earth was he talking about?

With a groan, I turned around, ready to lambast him for tricking me.

I rounded the corner, ready to give him a piece of my mind. “Dari-” Then I froze at the spectacle in front of me.

I blinked, hard. On the ground sprawled Nicholas, with blood pooling from his mouth.

And then I heard Darius’s voice.

“Speak about my wife again, and you won’t have a tongue to talk with.”


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