Marriage by Law

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31

“So what did he say?”

“What did who say?” asked Darius, helping me out of the car.

“Alphonso, before,” I reminded him, curious about what they talked about. Damn, I should have paid more attention in French classes back in school.

“Oh,” he said with a slight pause and then turned around heading back toward out hotel. “Nothing.”

I hurried after him. Nothing? Well, he clearly said something. I hurried into the elevator and turned around, wincing as I saw all the orange powder that stained the clean foyer. Oh boy, the hotel wasn’t going to be too happy with us. But then, again seeing as it was Darius, they probably wouldn’t even care.

Wait, this was the surprise?

I got out at our level, walking toward the room when the main suite room opened and Adrian sauntered out, all clean.

“Wow, you guys aren’t even ready yet,” he said, smirking as he leaned against the wall as Darius grabbed the key out of his pocket.

“We will be soon. What are we doing?” I asked, narrowing my eyes. What was this big surprise? Judging by the way Adrian was dressed, casual, it couldn’t be anything big.

“You’ll see and oh, good luck washing all that colour out of your hair,” he said laughing as he followed Darius into our room.

I touched the top of my head, only to feel that my hair was a rat’s nest. I could only imagine the pain of trying to untangle it.

“You go first,” said Darius as he headed toward the other side of the room. I shrugged as a way of answering, then walked toward my suitcase and lay it on the floor to dig for clothes. Adrian came standing behind me, poking my head.

“Do you have a problem?” I snapped, getting irritated.

“Yes, your hair is a mess.”

“Thanks,” I mumbled, grabbing jeans and a casual top and standing up. Adrian smiled at me and I shook my head heading toward the bathroom. Surely my hair wasn’t that bad.

Yeah, my hair wasn’t bad. It was a disaster! There was so much colour in it, making it even harder to comb it out. Giving up, I decided I might try washing it out.

I hopped into the shower, letting the warm water soak me from head to toe. I looked at the floor as the orange water went to the drain. God, this was ridiculous. Who knew how much powder could stick to a person?

After an hour of tugging, probing and clawing my hair, I finally got it untangled, and managed to rip a quarter of my hair out. The Colour Run, or whatever it was called in French, was amazing, but the aftermath was horrible.

Maybe next time I’ll take a hat.

“Hurry up, Iv!”

I rolled my eyes rushing to get ready. I probably did take a long time. I looked in the mirror, still seeing some patches of orange on my skin that just wouldn’t go. Cursing under my breath, I tied my wet hair into a loose ponytail and opened the door.

Adrian was leaning on it and fell back before gaining his step and standing up, clearing his throat. “Nothing happened.”

“If you say so.”

“You took your time,” he muttered. I waved him off, realizing he was holding a bag.

“What’s in that?” I asked.

“You’ll see. Come on, Darius had to use my shower because you took forever. What were you even doing, having a nap?”

I narrowed my eyes at him as he dragged me outside where Darius was against the limo talking on his phone. That reminds me, I still had his phone. Did he really buy a phone just for this trip? Doesn’t that make him a workaholic?

“Alright, I’ll talk to you later,” I heard Darius mutter into the phone as Adrian pushed me inside, not gently either. I sent him a dirty look which he just responded to with a smile and grabbed a chocolate bar out of his pocket.

“Want one?” he asked, offering me.

I wrinkled my nose, shaking my head as Darius got in. “I ate too much,” I told Adrian, leaning against the seats. I heard Darius chuckle and I looked at him. “What?”

“If you didn’t eat too much, I would be surprised.”

Adrian started laughing and I frowned as I looked out the window. I wanted to try everything Alphonso made. It was purely delicious, well, apart from a few delicacies. I remember the last time I had French cuisine. We went to a restaurant with my parents for their anniversary and even then the whole menu was in French and my father ordered for me.

And that was just some fancy sandwhich was deconstructed on the plate, nothing like what I had today.

“So where are we going?” I asked after a few minutes of quite chatter between Darius and Adrian.

“You’ll see,” said Darius, sending me a wink. I turned around looking out the window as my heart skipped a beat. Damn those winks, he better stop or my heart will explode.

I watched out the window, noticing that in this part of town, there was no traffic. I focused on the amazing scenery. It was a fairly long ride and I even dozed off in the middle before I felt the limo come to a gradual stop.

“Are we there?” I asked, rubbing my eyes.

“Yep.”

I followed them out of the limo blindly and froze, one leg out. I smelled it, the salt in the air. It woke me up immediately as realization came to me. There was only one place with this smell I loved.

Beach.

I scrambled out, my jaw dropping at the sight. The water was calm with waves slithering onto the sand gently. There were seagulls in the air, their squawks barely heard. The wind was gentle, just a soft breeze.

France has beaches? Sure, it was a stupid question to think, but staying near Paris, I didn’t think there were any beaches there. No wonder the drive took too long. I could see the sun setting behind the waves, still half way, the orange and purple light it sent into the sky was beautiful.

“It’s so pretty,” I said.

“It is.”

“Come on,” Adrian screamed as he started running. “The last one to find a shell is a rotten egg.“I raised my eyebrow at Darius as we watched him run in the beach screaming like a banshee.

Is he for real?

Darius looked at me and shrugged and did what I didn’t think was possible.

Ran right after his cousin.

“What?” I asked myself quietly before the kid in me took over. I didn’t want to be a damn rotten egg.

Using the side of the limo for support, I quickly slipped off my shoes, placed them inside the car and ran after them. My feet hit the warm sand. It was warm and comforting against the cool breeze, sending warmth through me. I saw Darius pick up something only to be pushed by Adrian aside.

Shit, I needed a shell.

I ran toward the waves. Usually shells were deposited there.

“I found one na na na na na you are a rotten egg.”

I sighed upon hearing Adrian chanting in the background as I picked one up.

“Aluminium hasn’t found one either,” said Darius.

“Actually, I got one,” I said, turning around and holding mine up. Adrian laughed, pointing a finger at Darius.

“You’re a rotten egg. Come on, Ivory, let’s run away from the smelly boy,” and before I knew it, Adrian’s hand was around my wrist and my head nearly got whiplash as he pulled me after him.

“Adrian!” I snapped as I felt various rocks and shells in the sand stabbing my feet. This boy. Can someone remind me how he was a CEO?

Running in the Colour Run was tiring and running again now, my body simply refused to go on. Not more than fifty metres away, I gave up.

“Ivory, run or else we’ll smell like eggs!”

“You... go...” I said, panting. “I... can’t.”

He gave me a glare before shrugging, “Everyone man for himself,” and ran off while I dropped to the sand and laid on my back, refusing to move as my breath tried to catch up with me. I closed my eyes feeling the water lap at my feet. I was too close to the water but I had zero energy in me to move back.

I saw a shadow, realising it was Darius. I squinted, trying to make him out. He sat down beside me and I saw his black shoes, dusted with sand, and I stifled a laugh. Of course, he wears business shoes to the beach.

“What’s funny?”

“Your shoes,” I said, propping myself up on my elbows and sighing. I could feel my heart rate finally return to normal and my breath caught up with itself.

“What’s wrong with my shoes?” asked Darius. I looked at him, laughing at his confused face as he stretched his long legs beside me.

“Oh, nothing.” I shrugged as Darius laid back on his elbows as well. He nudged me with his shoulder.

“Tell me,” he asked but it sounded more like a command.

“What’s the rule about wearing business shoes to the beach?” I asked. He turned his head to face me, his eyebrows knotting like he was in deep thought. A small crinkle came between his eyebrows and I felt like reaching to straighten it out.

Wait, what?

“What’s the rule?” he asked.

“Huh? Oh, you don’t wear them,” I said looking back at the water to break the eye contact.

I lay back onto the sand, placing my hands on my stomach, and looked at the sky that was gradually starting to darken and I looked around to see if I could see any stars. I saw Darius in the corner of my eyes follow my movement and lie down, his shoulder brushing mine, making me shiver.

I tried to ignore how close he was and how I was feeling. This was stupid. I’ve been closer yet I felt like some high school teenager with my fast heartbeat.

I heard the soft sounds of the waves lap at my feet and realised, weren’t his shoes getting wet?

Oh well, this is exactly why you don’t wear business shoes to the beach. I stared back at the sky to see one small dot that was shining.

“A star.” I pointed it out and heared him chuckle.

“What?” I asked, turning my head in his direction.

“That’s not a star.”

“Yes, it is,” I insisted, looking back up. I knew a star when I saw one. And what else could it possibly be?

“It’s a helicopter,” he said.

“No,” I said in disbelief, looking back at the sky. “Really?” I saw it twinkle.

“Yea. It’s too cloudy for you to see stars tonight.”

“Oh,” I said, a bit disappointed. Stargazing on the beach is one of the best things you can do. Just lay on the warm sand, with the cold water at your feet, stars in the sky and not a care in the world. That was till his phone started ringing and ringing.

“You’re not going to get that?” I asked after a few more rings.

“Not important,” he said.

“How do you know?” I asked turning my head to face him. He was staring at the sky, the moon reflecting off his cheekbones.

“I have three phones,” he said, shrugging. I nodded, turning back to the sky and froze.

“What?” I snapped a bit too loudly, staring back at him. He laughed and turned to look at me, his green eyes locking with mine.

“Why do you need three phones? Are you crazy?” I snapped.

“One for business, one for friends,” he said. “They all have a different ring-tone, and that’s why I know this isn’t important.” I was sure my jaw was open. Three phones? I barely remembered that I had a phone and he maintained three?

“And the third one?” I asked. If he had all areas covered, then what was the third one for?

“Family.”

Oh of course, family. Which phone did I have? Can it be for family? No, because James was in there and James was not family and would never be. Which reminded me that I had to tell him.

“Darius?” I asked turning my head toward the sky. There was no way I can say it looking into his eyes.

“You know, your new business partner?”

“James?” he asked and I nodded, not sure whether he was looking at me or not.

“Why, um, are you thinking of merging business with him?”

Stupid, Ivory. Dumb Ivory, like you care. Maybe I will take the around the road approach.

“Because he asked.”

“Are you going to?” I asked, my voice dipping to a whisper.

“I’m still thinking. Why? Should I?”

I felt my heart rate pick up from a trot to a gallop, any faster and I was positive he can hear it. There was a slight pause and I knew I had to say it. This was now or never.

“N-” My voice got caught in my throat when I felt something on my cheek, something that felt soft that sent shivers up my spine. I turned my head, realising how dark it had become.

Darius, what are you doing? That was what I would have said if my voice decided to work. His finger stroked my right cheek as he stared at me, his eyes a bright green capturing my attention. My eyes briefly closed at the sensation and when they opened again, he felt a lot closer than before. Were we really this close?

I could feel the warmth from his body against mine, smell his cologne that I liked. And before I knew it, I felt half his weight on me before his lips on mine.

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