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Chapter 2 One

  • The wedding is a small one, held in the backyard of my new home with my handsome husband. He is white, British to be exact. Pa must have left out those part or if I had gone through the file like Pa asked me to do, I would have known. But it’s a welcome surprise—a young husband.
  • I steal more glances at him as he saunters to greet one of the many unfamiliar faces present for the reception, doing my best to be subtle. His brown locks are swept back, staying in place with the amount of gel he must have applied and I feel a warm sensation spread through my chest.
  • He’s a beautiful man to look at and I don’t mind spending the rest of our reception staring at him. His lips are not as thin as you will expect from a British man, they are pouty, full and I want another taste. My cheeks heat up at the thought, I cough and his amber eyes narrow slightly in my direction before returning to his guests. Keeping to the shadows to get a better glance at his stiff profile, I pout. His nose is crooked like it has been broken and fixed one too many times.
  • All these features sit on a face that tells a story—a dangerous one at that and I find myself getting attracted to him. To uncover the secrets that lies behind those eyes searching for me.
  • Pa did try to set us up many times, I never showed up. I wonder now if that will put me in my husband’s bad book, he looks like one who never forgets. My husband? The word tastes like sour grape, I’m unsure if I like it. Is he as uncomfortable as I am about this whole arrangement?
  • I frown when his head falls back with laughter at something his guest—a female says, my heart clenches and a corner of my lip twitches until I give into the small smile. I love the sound of his laughter. Snapping out of these weird thoughts, I move to stand behind an empty seat. I must have looked stupid, standing a few feet from the main event, smiling alone. His guest places a hand on his shoulder, I force down the urge to stomp over and slap her tiny hands off him or throttle her with her bleached weave. That is my man. Is he? I swipe the strand of hair that keeps falling over my forehead with aggression, he is my husband so that makes him my man.
  • “You look so beautiful, El,” Ma is saying. My head snaps in her direction, I offer her a smile. She takes a sip from the flute of champagne perched between her fingertips with an elegance that surprises even me. My smile widens, I squeeze her in a brief hug, she cleans up real good.
  • Her fingers brush my hair, keeping in place that stubborn strand that has come undone from the high puff I managed to make from my wild curls. My hair has a mind of its own, today, it will have to deal with the style I want.
  • “Thank you. You look wonderful yourself,” I repay the compliment and she smiles as she does a little twirl.
  • She is dressed in a black off-shoulder gown that stops just above her knees to reveal her toned legs. Her skin glistens in the sun, she has truly been sun-kissed and her dimples are prominent when she smiles. Ma no longer has those hollow spaces in between her collar bone and I am glad I decided to marry this man, Brandon.
  • The name is foreign like many of those rich kids I attend school with but I don’t scoff at hearing it. Instead, I like the way it settles on my tongue like it’s my favourite candy and I bite down on my lip to keep from staring in his direction. He is still with that lady, why can’t they talk later?
  • Speaking of the devil, Brandon walks up to us with a glass containing similar content as Ma then whispers into my ear, “Your mother is right, Elna, you look beautiful.” I want to be angry at him but the proximity wipes off all reasonable thoughts and I freeze. “You make a beautiful bride.”
  • Brandon's voice takes a few seconds to settle in, when it does, my heart gallops and my nipples harden behind my armless gown. I suck in a sharp breath, the mirthless giggles escaping him tells me he noticed my little disorientation in his presence. He places a kiss on the back of Ma’s hand and she excuses herself with a sly wink, something about giving the new couple privacy.
  • Without Ma, the atmosphere grows awkward real quick. I clear my throat, he shoves a hand into the pocket of his pant and I turn away under his smothering gaze. I can’t stop myself from glancing in the direction he came from, his guest is gone and my body relaxes at the knowledge.
  • “Are you enjoying...” he trails off at the speed my eyes return to his face and that mischievous smirk returns to his lips at my failed attempt to raise a brow. “Are you enjoying the party?”
  • “Yes.” My voice is raspy, the nerves have seeped into it so I clear my throat and say, “Yes, are you?”
  • The distance between us diminishes, Brandon arches an eyebrow like he knows I am lying. Does he expect me to say otherwise? It is my—our wedding, I am supposed to be happy. I have to be happy. Sparing a glance at our seated guests, he offers me his hand but I am hesitant to take it.
  • “Can you dance?”
  • Dancing has never been my forte but I don’t want him to know that. More than anything, I want to impress him and I have no idea why. He’s the one who wanted the marriage, not me. His smile fades, hand lowers and I smoothen the front of my gown. “I don’t feel up for dancing.”
  • Brandon nods, I bite the inside of my lip when he strokes my cheek, trying and failing to meet his gaze. His breath fans my face, our eyes finally meet and I lean into his touch when his thumb caresses my lip. Shivers trickle down my spine, my tongue runs over my lips in anticipation and his eyes tail the move. I forget everything around me and wait, wait for a kiss that never comes.
  • “You had this on your face,” he says, his eyes darting to the almost invisible speck of dirt on his index finger. My disappointment is palpable, I grunt in reply, murmuring a barely audible gratitude and he lets out a chuckle that has me rolling my eyes. I did not even want to kiss him.
  • Seconds after he steps away from me, my eyes follow his to a couple. They are watching us and I can’t help feeling the show of affection was solely for their sake. He raises his glass to them and they do the same, observing each other in terse silence that makes me clear my throat.
  • “Cheers,” he says, standing beside me. Maybe it is just me but I detect sarcasm in that word.
  • The band on the makeshift stage continues with their soulful rendition, they play all kind of songs, the type I would have wanted at my wedding and my head bobs to the rhythm. I do not consider this wedding mine, it’s too flashy and the only people I know here are my parents.
  • Brandon dumps his glass into the tray of a passing server, wraps his hand around my waist from behind. He tucks his head into the space between my neck and shoulders. “Relax, El.” The knots in my joints loosen, I nod and his arms tighten around me. “Relax and enjoy the moment.”
  • There’s a strange sense of comfort I feel at having him in such close contact with me as we watch different couples dance in the space we created at the centre of the small field like it is their wedding. I feel it then; I know we’ll get along.