Although Dominic was rather elderly in his years, he was no fool. He remained sharp and quickly discerned that the Guiver family wasn't keen on marrying their daughter off like this. However, they had no choice in the matter since the expert that Dominic had consulted previously had unequivocally named Annalise as the chosen one for marriage with Claudio.
“The fifteenth of August seems like a good date. Let's fix the wedding to happen then,” declared Dominic unilaterally.
Not only did Annalise and her family fail to change Dominic's mind through this meal, but they had also even thrown themselves deeper into the mess and even set a date for the wedding.
Annalise turned to her parents and stated, “I'll do it.”
Still uncomfortable with forcing Annalise into this marriage, Fiona began, “Annalise...”
Although the objective of their meal together was for both parties to get to know one another better, only Dominic and Markus Jundt had turned up to represent the Jundt family. Fiona was keenly aware that their prospective son-in-law hadn't deigned to drop them a call, let alone show up for this meal at all. Joshua couldn't help but feel aggrieved on behalf of Annalise and said, “We're not going ahead with the marriage. I'll reject the proposal and return the gifts when we get back.”
Joshua had only Annalise as his sole darling daughter and didn't see why she had to force herself to marry a man eight years older than her when she was right about to enter her prime. Furthermore, their family had been clearly disrespected by the Jundt family. He was willing to give up his company if the Jundt family proceeded to threaten them forcefully, as long as it could protect his daughter and safeguard her lifelong happiness.
Fiona chimed in agitatedly, “Yes! We've worked so hard in order to allow our children to lead a better life. Now that our money has become nothing but a burden and shackles that limit us, we might as well give it all up!”
In a matter of seconds, Joshua and Fiona had summoned all the courage they had and defied the Jundt family openly. They were resolute in their choice and left for home in their car.
As they spoke, Annalise's eyes swelled red with tears in gratitude for her parents' words. However, she knew there was no way she could bear to let Joshua and Fiona give up all the blood, sweat, and tears they had put into their work over the past few years. Even though Joshua and Fiona had claimed they could do without the trappings of money, Annalise knew she still had to spare a thought for her brother and couldn't be so selfish.
Over in the CEO's office at Jundt Group, Claudio sat buried in his work as he coldly went about his tasks. The aura he exuded was so imposing that one could sense his aloofness even from afar. He was handsome and blessed with sharp features that helped to accentuate his overall dashing appearance.
When Dominic strolled into the office, Claudio only glanced up to see who had entered before he continued his work uninterrupted without bothering to greet his father. Unperturbed, Dominic took a seat on the couch and announced, “You're getting married on the fifteenth of August.”
At this, Claudio's hand paused mid-signature as he stiffened and once again glanced at Dominic as the latter lounged nonchalantly on the couch, apparently oblivious to the bomb he had just dropped.
Dominic lifted a cup from the coffee table and placed it against his lips, allowing the fragrance of its contents to waft into his nose. As he did, he said, “I know you've been persevering for a long time now. I'm sure your dearly departed mom wouldn't be too glad to see that you're still unwed even at this age.”
After a brief pause, Dominic added, “The wedding date has been set. She's from the Guiver family, and her name is Annalise. She's a rather unique lady. She's twenty this year and still a university student.”
“She's twenty? Give her to Lucas,” suggested Claudio thoughtlessly as his lips curled into a mocking smirk.
“Scoundrel!” bellowed Dominic. “This is your wife! How can you just casually mention giving her away to your nephew like that?” It was a fairly normal occurrence for Dominic to lose his temper whenever he spoke to Claudio. The latter was like a persistently rebellious thorn in his side that insisted on clashing with him in everything he did. As such, Dominic always tried not to meet with Claudio unless he especially had to.
“Why don't we do it this way? Whoever arranged the marriage will be the one getting married,” suggested Claudio.
“Claudio!” yelled Dominic, once again infuriated by Claudio's words.
He continued, “This isn't up to you anymore. We've prepared the betrothal gift, and we're ready to head over to the Guiver residence to make it official. I'm warning you now, Claudio. There's no way you're getting out of marrying her.”
Claudio's eyes narrowed as he coldly stated, “No way in hell!”
Dominic's Adam's apple bobbed as he took in the vehemently protesting Claudio. Finally, Dominic decided to pull out his trump card and said, “I'll tell you something important about that woman if you proceed with this marriage.”
This time, it was Claudio's turn to be surprised. He knew who his father was referring to when he gave this tantalizing offer. Claudio narrowed his eyes suspiciously and asked, “You're investigating as well?”
Dominic took a sip from his cup before he rose and declared, “Fifteenth August. Save the date and prepare yourself accordingly.”
Time flew by quickly, and soon enough, the day of the wedding was upon them.