Marriage by Law

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40

“Get your hand off me.”

Sober up, Ivory. And this is why you shouldn’t drink. I struggled to get up by rolled over to lie on my back and pushing my elbows up to lift myself.

“Just listen to me.”

I shrugged his hand off my shoulder. Why was the room spinning? I felt sick. Where was the bathroom?

“There is n-nothing to listen to,” I said, raising one hand to my forehead. I could feel a strong headache, like someone was pounding my head, like it was a door and they wanted to sell cookies.

“Please, I love you.”

I froze. Three words. One meaning. And he said it before Da - I shook my head. I should stay away from alcohol. That, and a boat. Did I not learn from my Uni adventures? Clearly not.

“James, I’m married now. Get away from me,” I said as he tried grabbing my hand again.

“Ivory...”

Since we were here now, might as well give him a piece of my mind. “Look, it’s over. You were with her the whole time you dated me. Four years. How could you do that to me? And to her as well? If you didn’t want to date me, you could have ended it at any time. You lied numerous times. You told me you were an orphan but of course you weren’t.”

James looked pained as he knelt on the bed, holding my hand in a death grip. I pulled at my hand, trying to free it.

“I knew her before I knew you.”

I scoffed, feeling disgusted. Was that meant to help? I could feel the bile rise in my throat by just looking at him.

“Just give me a chance,” James suddenly yelled at me, making me flinch. “I love you more than Darius ever could. You don’t even like him!”

Was it true? Don’t I like Darius? He was my husband. I was meant to like - no, love - him. But James saying it out loud made me question myself. Do I feel something for my husband?

Yes.

Do I love him?

I could say for sure that this feeling I have for Darius was more than what I felt for James, and I was pretty sure it wasn’t the alcohol thinking either.

I looked back at James. Back when I didn’t know about his girl on the side, he was good to me. He was the only other man in my life apart from my dad and I guess I fell for that stupid charm he blinded me with, the lies he told me.

But that was then and this is now. I was over him. There was nothing left for James in my heart, apart from disgust.

“Just give it up. You lost me the day you dated her.”

Our relationship was a roller-coaster, especially toward the end. Guilt must have eaten him up. He suspected everything I did, and thought I was cheating on him with everyone I talked to. Probably wanted to make himself feel better since he was the one cheating on me.

He even picked a fight with a twelve-year-old.

He never trusted me.

Not like Darius. Darius trusts me. I felt something sting behind my eyelids as I remembered the speech he gave me, the way my stomach rolls every time he touches me and the way my heart skips a beat when he kisses me.

I do love him and I have to tell him. So he didn’t get me the dog I wanted, but he got me the peacock. He did small things for me that made me happy. I felt a shiver run through me as the alcohol vibe started to wear off. Did someone turn the aircon on?

I had to find him. I staggered up, holding the bed frame till I regained my balance and turned around.

“Ivory!” The voice was more demanding and harsh as James walked to my side.

“Please.”

I sighed, and wish he’d see things my way. “James, look. What we had was good while it lasted. But you were too demanding. You were more like a bodyguard and an annoying father than a boyfriend to me. You made your choice and I made mine. You need to let it go and not let it bother you.”

James’s eyes turned darker and I flinched, remembering the times he got angry at me. They never ended well. He would always leave slamming the door or destroying something.

“You listen to me,” he snarled, stepping forward. I put some space between us and looked at the door. Five metres at the most. If I could distract him, I could get away from him.

I could smell the alcohol on him. How much did he have?

He placed a hand on my left shoulder, making me flinch as he pushed me against the wall.

The other hand was raised in my face and for a second I thought he was going to hit me, but instead he waved a finger back and forth like an adult would do to a child when they got in trouble.

Except this time I did nothing wrong.

“If you think that man remotely even likes you, you’re dreaming. Look at you. You’re pathetic. No one can love you the way I do. You’re not even pretty.”

I flinched. That hurt.

But it shouldn’t.

I closed my eyes for a brief second, counting to ten. Just pretend this is some jealous whore.

“Do you know your beloved husband has a string of girlfriends in every town he goes to?”

Lies.

“They’re all prettier than you.”

That could be true, if the first statement was true. But because the first was not true, then this one was not as well.

“You’re just someone to keep his bed warm.”

Well, not true. He usually kept my bed warm, but you can blame my parents for that.

“He -”


“Oh, shut up, James,” I snapped, not wanting to hear anything else. And I really needed fresh air, now. “Would you stop being so jealous of him? You make it seem like he was having an affair with his secretary who turned out to be male. And even if Darius was having an affair or a string of girlfriends, guess what, I don’t care. Because between using his three phones and sleeping, I don’t think he has time for a quickie like you can fit in your business trips.”

This time it was his turn to flinch. I figured out what happened on those trips as soon as I caught him with her.

“Is that your final decision?” he asked.

I was surprised. So was he finally letting this go?

“Yes.”

“Fine.” He stepped aside and I stared at him. Was he really letting me go? Why was I thinking about this? I wanted this. I was just surprised he could act humanely.

I took a step forward, just to test him. His eyes were closed, his hands on his hips, and I turned around.

“Wait.”

I turned around. “What?” I asked, looking at him, and remembered something, . “I want you to stay away from us, and our business, understand?”

James nodded. “I will but I have one last question for you.”

“What?”

“Do you feel nothing for me?”

I stared at James, not wanting to hurt his feelings. I swallowed hard. “Nothing,” I said, telling him the one hundred percent truth.

He closed the distance between us in a second, lowering his head to mine. And before I could react, he placed his lips on mine, making me gag. His lips tasted like whiskey and Cuban cigars, making bile rise up from my stomach. I shoved my hands against his chest to push him away.

“You felt nothing?”

“God, you are sick.”

He grabbed my wrists in a painful way, making my eyes sting with both humiliation, hurt and pain.

“Let go.”

I stomped at his foot with the heel of my shoe, making him let go of one hand, but still holding one of my wrists as he doubled over.

I raised my knee, hoping I hit something vital. I heard him groan as he let go of my other hand. It worked.

I ran to the door, blindly reaching for the knob and opening it. I heard him scream my name behind me and his pleas for me to stop.

Like hell.

I saw the stairs then ran toward it. I was such in a hurry that I didn’t see where I was stepping on. Something grabbed my dress, making me fall face first into the railing. My right eye blacked out for a few seconds as I got up before it returned to normal. I kicked behind me, causing him to lose his grasp on me, and I hurried up the stairs.

What the hell was wrong with him? He was like some possessed beast.

All alcohol gone from my system, I reached the top step with my ears throbbing from the blood rush and the sudden loud music.

A hand around my waist made me flinch and I turned around to shove him when a wrist caught mine, holding it still.

“Ivory?”

I looked up at the voice and froze and relaxed. Thank goodness.

“What happened to you?”

I flinched as Darius touched my upper lip and looked at his finger. Blood. Was that my blood? Oh god, blood.

He looked from his finger to me and then I watched, horrified, as his eyes turned dark and his face contorted into an angry beast. “Hold her.” The words were barely heard through his clenched teeth as he shoved me backward.

Before I could even ask who I was meant to hold or stop myself from falling, I was shoved into two arms that held me upright.

Jesse.

“Where’s he going?” I asked at the same time that Adrian said, “Should we call an ambulance?” from beside Jesse with narrowed eyes.

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