Marriage by Law

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Because you don’t care? I thought.

“It’s not because I don’t care,” he said, as though he read my mind. And for a moment I thought I said that out loud, but I didn’t.

With a serious expression on his face, Darius continued. “It’s because I trust you. And did you really think I would marry you without knowing everything about you? I’m not going to force someone to marry me just because our great grandfathers were a bunch of idiots, Ivory. Your dad told me about your relationship with James and I knew you had zero feelings for him. The only reason I even considered to think he would make a good business partner was because he was recommended and it would be rude if I knocked him right away. So I’ve just been waiting to turn him down.”

I stared, hardly blinking like I was hypnotized by his emerald eyes as I felt something inside me swirl. Was it pride? No.

He said, “I left you in that room alone with him because I knew nothing was going to happen. Not many men can feel that way by just leaving their woman with some man, let alone someone they once had feelings for. It’s because I trust you that I left you on your own. I don’t want to choke you like our parents do.”

I was too distracted by the way he was playing with a strand of my hair as I scrutinised him under my stare. So he did care?

“What, you’re not going to say something?” he asked in the voice I used before mocking me with a smile. I narrowed my eyes, playfully shoving him hard enough to turn around, mostly to hide my smile. So he did care.

But I was still a bit annoyed at him. He could have told me this before I had my little outburst, which he found quite amusing.

I pulled the blanket higher, closing my eyes before I heard him again. “What, not even a thank you for that peacock thing?”

I made a grunting noise as I turned back around. Fine. He did win it for me after all.

“Fine. Thank –”

He had a wicked glint in his eyes and I should have seen it coming. Before I can even finish my sentence, he bent down and closed his lips around mine.

And as quickly as it happened, it ended, leaving me confused.

“You’re welcome,” he said, and then he turned around pulling half the blanket to his side. “Now if you mind, some people want to sleep.”

I blinked, staring at his back. Are you serious?

I grabbed the blanket and tugged it back to my side. I turned away from him. Trust him to make me even more confused.

By the time I woke up, it was just past ten in the morning. Why was I up so early?

I turned around as I stretched, only to see that Darius had left already. I sat up looking around and raising my hands above my head. Where did he go?

I looked at the bedside table where he had laid his three phones out last night. They were all gone.

Today I have something important to do. I got up and headed to the bathroom to have a shower, taking his jacket with me. Now, to get this stain out...

I had a quick shower, washing my hair with the shampoo that smelled so good I used half of the bottle. Why did hotels always have such nice smelling stuff? I wrapped a robe around myself and then a towel in my hair and walked to the sink, grabbing the black jacket off the hook.

“God, Ivory, do you always have to be a messy eater?” I admonished myself as I turned on the hot water tap. If I thought it was just cream and it would come off, I was wrong.

The food color from the ice cream stood out against the dark jacket. I grabbed some soap, placed the jacket under the running water and rubbed at the stain.

“Damn it,” I muttered, pausing as I got out of breath.

I had removed most of it but the blue was still there. It was like it was etched onto the fabric.

Drastic measures call for drastic time.

I looked under the sink and found a spare toothbrush. I hope it’s not someone’s. I placed some of the soap on it and rinsed it under scalding hot water before I rubbed it violently against the patch of stain.

“Go, go, go!”

It didn’t do anything; there was still some stain left over. I stopped, leaning against the wall feeling like I ran a marathon. Man, this was like a cardio workout and all I was doing was intense scrubbing.

I looked at my hands that were red from the water but that would go back to normal. I wrinkled my nose at all the soap around my ring and pulled it off, rinsing it under the tap. I turned it around looking at the massive stone, hating how big it was. It was beautiful but it was too big, and impractical for everyday wear.

If I had to put a wager, it would be that my mum bought this or chose it for the wedding. It was a large diamond that was surrounded by more diamonds. I placed it on the counter. The ring was sharp and I could see the imprints of some of the small diamonds on the side of my other two fingers.

Whenever I slept, the ring would turn a bit and dig into my skin, like now.

I turned the water to ice-cold, wringing my fingers under it. It was still a nice stone. I’m pretty sure every other lady would love to have a ring like that.

I looked in the mirror at the dark eyes that stared back at me. They looked... happy? I waved my hands in the air and pulled off my towel, letting my long black hair fall down my shoulders. It looked like most of the orange had gone since I couldn’t visibly see any powder left.

I ran a hand through my hair, letting it spread so it would dry faster.

I looked down to see I left the tap open and swore, hurrying to shut it off.

“Nice one, Ivory,” I muttered, turning it close when my hand accidentally hit the ring, sending it tumbling into the sink.

“Oh shit, no!” I slammed my hand down the sink but the ring just slipped under my fingers.

“Shit,” I muttered, looking up only to stare at horrified eyes staring back at me.

“Oh my god, oh my god, I’m going to die,” I chanted as I shoved clothes on as fast as I could and ran a hand through my hair.

I opened the door looking in. Silence, nothing.

Thank god he wasn’t back yet.

I stepped out of the bathroom, running to my suitcase and grabbing flats out and shoving them on.

“What do I do?” I know. Notify hotel stall for a wedding ring. Perfect. Genius, Ivory.

I pulled the last flat on, rushing to the door and opening and was running out when I slammed into the chest of someone standing outside. I looked up as I rubbed my nose.

“Ow,” I exclaimed as Darius looked down at me in confusion. He was holding his key card in his hand.

“Oh, you’re awake,” he said.

“Yea?” I said and then realised I was using my left hand. I quickly pulled it out of his eyesight, placing them both on the arch of my back as I leaned back.

“So,” I said, standing in the doorway leaning back on my feet.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Of course. I’m just going to, you know, step out for a moment,” I said, smiling. Darius looked confused, more than confused as he stared at me and then nodded.

“Are you sure? Because you’re just standing in the doorway.”

“Yep!” I quickly stepped outside so I can let him in.

“I’m going to go find Adrian!” In my mind, I added, Don’t wait up! I shoved my hands in the pockets of my jeans and then walked toward Adrian’s suite.

“He’s not there. He’s probably getting breakfast downstairs or something,” said Darius when he saw the direction I was taking.

“Of course,” I said, turning around and shoving my hands in my back pocket. I gave him a huge smile as I continued walking.

Jus then he said, “Wait for me. I’ll just change and we can get breakfast.”

Oh no! Oh shit! I can’t eat with a fork when you can clearly see the big stone missing.

“I’ll be downstairs,” I said and hurried my pace before he can catch up.

I heard him say something but I already reached the elevator. I pressed the buttons. No, more like smashing them and cursing under my breath.

Nice one, Ivory. Did you really have to take the ring off? Who cares if it had soap all over it and was sticky? You should have just kept it on your damn finger.

Like Beyonce said, if you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it. But then I didn’t like it. I mean, I liked it but not –

The sound of the elevator opening snapped me out of my thoughts and I stepped in, smiling at the old couple that was there.

I shifted on my feet, noticing the uneasy feeling in my stomach and I was sure that it wasn’t because the elevator just went down the floors in the building.

“Sorry,” I said as I accidentally shoved someone when I rushed out of the elevator. Where the hell was the breakfast area? I stood in the middle of the hall looking around and saw wooden double doors.

Yep, that must be it!

I was just about to open the doors when I heard a voice behind me. “Ivory?”

I turned around, expecting to see Darius. Don’t tell me he already caught up with me? Why can’t guys take ages to get ready, too?

“Yes?” I asked in confusion when I didn’t see anyone I recognised but saw the guy standing in front of me.

“Are you looking for something?” he asked and I raised an eyebrow. Do I know him? He was wearing a black and white suit without the tie and looked a bit too professional as he stared at me.

He stood tall and had his hands clasped in front of him. Blonde hair and blue eyes. Nope, I definitely haven’t seen him before.

“I was looking for the banquet hall?” I said, pointing to the door behind me.

He smiled. “That would be the cigar room. The banquet is that one.” He turned around and pointed to the glass doors.

“Oh, well, thanks.” I gave him a nod and started hurrying over and paused to look back at him.

“Have we met?” I asked but he had already disappeared. Strange.

I shrugged, pushing the doors open and stepping in. Ah, the smell of sausages and hash browns.

No, no time to eat. I need to find Adrian, which was easy enough. While everyone else was busy eating, he was standing at the counter, no doubt flirting with the waitress.

Typical, I muttered under my breath as I hurried over to him.

“So are you busy tonight?” I heard him say and nearly cracked up laughing.

“Adrian!” I grabbed his arm and dragged him to an empty table. This couldn’t wait.

“Ivory, I am busy!”

“This will just take an hour max. You can go screw her after,” I begged. He gave me a look, no doubt at my language, and shook his head. He sat down, smiling.

“I would say you were jealous.”

I rolled my eyes as I sat across him.

He continued. “So, how can Adrian the great be at your service?”

I raised my fingers, waving them in his face.

He narrowed his eyes as he stared at them closely. So, it was obvious after all.

“I don’t get it,” he said, “you have ten fingers. That’s how many normal people have.”

I grunted in disappointment. Okay, good it wasn’t obvious. Or maybe he was just dumb.

“I lost my ring,” I said.

“No, it’s there,” he said.

“No, my wedding ring,” I said as he looked at my other hand, where my childhood ring was still on.

His eyes swapped to the other hand and he cracked laughing.

“What did you do, sell it for ice cream?”

“I’m serious!” I snapped, slamming my hands on the table.

“Okay.” That took his attention; he sat up straight. “How?”

I told him how I was washing the suit, which led to me telling him how I was a clumsy eater. It took longer than necessary to explain the story, only because he had to keep interrupting or keep ordering food.

“Do you want some? This is good.”

“No, I don’t. Did you even listen to me?” I snapped. He put down his spoon, sighing and rolling his eyes.

“Yes, mother. Come on.” He got up.

“To where?”

“Big hotels like this have security clasps under their sink. They usually catch earrings and other items people accidentally wash down the sink.”

“Oh, serious?” I asked, feeling like an idiot. All that panicking for nothing. I could have just googled this.

“Yep, let’s go.” Adrian left a tip on the table and winked at the waitress he was talking to when I arrived. I turned to her and waved a hand. Adrian grabbed my arm as he tugged me along. “Now hurry up so I can continue picking up girls.”

“Whatever,” I muttered as he pulled me after him as he walked at a fast pace. Can’t he see that I can’t keep up?

We exited the banquet hall just as Darius walked in.

“Oh, there you guys are.”

“No time to talk. We already ate. Bye,” said Adrian, not even batting an eyelid or stopping or even turning his head as he pulled me out. I shrugged my shoulder at Darius was confused as he watched us leave.

“Do you have the key card?” he asked and I nodded, digging into my jeans to hand it to him once we got to the door.

He opened it up and I followed him anxiously after checking Darius wasn’t following us.

“Nice room,” he said sarcastically and I shook my head, remembering how Adrian took the suite.

“Whatever. The ring,” I snapped and he nodded as he went into the bathroom.

“The safety catch is just under the sink,” Adrian told me as he opened the cabinets under the sink. “Usually you can call any worker but I think it should be easy to remove.”

He added, “Turn the light on.”

I flicked the switch for the light so it was bright even when daylight was flooding through the window. Adrian’s head disappeared under the sink and I shifted my weight on my feet, not managing to keep still as I heard him do whatever he was doing.

Sound of plastic breaking and something turning, I hope he knew what he was doing.

I heard something, a tugging sound, making me jump. “Did you find it?”

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