With a deep breath, I raise my right hand to press onto the doorbell but as my finger is inches away, the door swings open; revealing Kenna who's currently putting studs on her ears. She eyes down my suit and tie, a smile plastered on her face before gesturing for me to come in.
''That was quick,'' I say as she closes the door behind us. Then, I turn to see her making her way towards the kitchen, glancing at herself in the mirror.
Kenna chuckles as my eyes wander around her apartment, everything seems to be the same except for the sofa; it was not leather, before. Just as I'm about to ask her about the sudden change of sofa, I am left speechless as she turns to look at me—the beauty she holds mesmerises me, the dress glittering due to the downlight shining brightly.
It's not just her dress but it's her. The way her makeup enhances her face to make it more appealing than changing her natural features, she is an absolute goddess. My heart begins to beat utterly fast as I only stand and stare at her without her realising how much I see beneath her beautiful features, she's perfect . . . breathtakingly, perfect.
I gaze down her tanned skin, surprised by how they're glowing and somehow matching with the highlight on her cheekbones—leaving me clearing my throat as her lips begin to speak words I'm not able to comprehend or hear due to being lost in a world of my own.
''So . . . I smacked him again,'' She says, chuckling softly. ''I mean, he was being fairly annoying and I had no other choice—we both know how Dimitri is whenever he sees me. He acts like a different person . . . babbling and just saying things I don't even want to know,'' She adds.
''Yeah, he's like that.'' I mutter after clearing my throat again, catching her attention after seeing her raising an eyebrow at me before taking a few steps towards me. ''What?'' I ask as soon as I realise how close we are, letting me uncomfortably shift.
She places the back of her hand on my forehead, ''Do you have a fever? A sore throat?'' She asks, making me roll my eyes and push her hand away. Our faces are inches apart but I pay no attention to her eyes nor even her lips because the lesser the distance, the more uncomfortable I'm currently feeling which causes me to take a couple of steps back, surprising her.
''I'm good, perfect . . . wonderful.'' I reply, fixing my suit as she shrugs, looking at herself in the mirror again—ignoring me, completely which eases me more.
There's nothing in my mind nor my heart other than my acceptance towards her beauty. She is very stunning . . . spectacular. Tonight, this time, right now, I admit she is by far the most beautiful woman I've ever met and no one is going to top her anytime soon. She's at it.
''Can you help me?'' She asks, making me turn to look at her. My eyes wander to her hands and seeing that she's currently pointing behind her neck, asking me to help her tie the dress which leaves me nodding, slowly making my way towards her with both of my hands tying the dress without wanting to make any skin contact yet I fail, miserably.
I look down at her back, clenching my jaw before pulling away as soon as I'm done.
She turns towards me, ''How do I look? My hair? My makeup? My dress? Everything looks fine to you or do I need to change? You can be honest with me . . . I don't mind,'' She asks, her eyes are widening with every words escaping her mouth before receiving a nod from me.
''You look beautiful, Kenna.'' I reply, the compliment sincerely heading towards her with a smile appearing on my face which causes her to smile back. Both of us are staring at one another for a few seconds before letting me break the eye contact and make my way towards the front door, gesturing for her to step out whenever she's ready.
Ever since Kenna and I agreed to the agreement or more specifically, the contract, I've never paid much attention to other women in particularly for . . . enjoyment. I've kept myself busy and mostly focus on work other than enjoying my time like how I used to with Dimitri before the contract was made.
There's no way I'm going to ruin the possibility of my mother to stop asking me about my life, my commitment and my marriage with a temporary satisfaction. It's just a temptation that I have to endure for a year for the sake of my present and future. Of course, it includes my long-term friendship with Kenna because I don't want to ruin that, either.
Just as we make our way towards my car, I am left opening the door for her as she steps inside . . . slowly, not wanting to ruin her dress. Within seconds, I'm already sitting in the driver's seat with my left hand on the steering wheel and the other pressing onto the button to start the car's engine.
Then, we're on the road.
''Aidan,'' She calls out for my name which causes me to glance at her direction, ''Do you think they'll believe us? Do you think we'll be able to play the role until the contract is over? What if we suddenly fail . . . don't you think that's a risk we don't want to take?'' She asks, the same questions that has been bothering me, ever since.
I keep quiet for a few seconds before speaking, ''It's unlikely for us to fail and the chances of them not believing us is also low. Remember when my mother wanted us to get married just because I couldn't stop seeing you? I couldn't even go on a week without even seeing you once. Do you remember that?'' I ask, seeing her smiling as she nods.
''Senior year. I can never forget that,'' She replies.
''Yeah and how insane was she? We were both eighteen and she wanted us to get married just because I couldn't live without seeing you. I'm sure she'll believe us because we've known each other long enough to somehow . . . magically fall in love,'' I continue to talk, ''In her own point of view of love,'' I add and we both chuckle, softly.
My mind wanders back to the memory of us years ago, it was too clear to be years ago but then again, it was too long to be the present. I had to skip school for a week just because my parents wanted me to come with them to Australia, for their share company's anniversary celebration and apparently, Kenna wasn't feeling well to attend school for the past few days before I was on my flight straight to Australia.
I was no doubt, moody and even grumpy. The whole week spent in Australia was the worst week of my life because all I ever wanted was Kenna to come with me so that we could travel in a different country, see different sights but it was somehow . . . destined differently.
So, when my parents and I got back from Australia, I headed straight towards Kenna's house and ran up her room to pull her in for a hug. Her parents were surprised and so was I, at that time because when I saw her, I was relieved.
My whole misery or even anything else that came in my way was all gone. It was solved simply by hugging her . . . that was all it took for my mother to let me marry Kenna. We were both adolescents and maybe our hormones were raging crazily, I don't know but it felt as if all I ever needed was Kenna for my life to go on with no interruptions.
''If we fail . . . I want you to know that you can put all the blame on me,'' I add which causes her to turn and look at me while my eyes are focusing onto the road, ''You can say that I forced you into it and everything was my idea but that's never going to happen,'' I shrug at the end as soon as I realise how the mood was slowly going a little bit low.
Both of her eyes are continuing to look at me as I stop in front of the hotel's entrance, the valet walking towards my direction immediately but I turn to look at Kenna, seeing her blinking a few times as she looks up front, sighing deeply.
''We're here. Are you ready?'' I ask, slowly.
''If I say that I'm not, will we make a run for it?'' She responds back with a question which leaves me nodding my head before stepping out of the car and heading straight towards her side of the door, opening it and giving her my hand to grab.
As soon as her hand touches mine, I'm left gripping onto it before smiling down at her because I want her to know just how much everything will go as planned. We walk side to side, heading towards the hotel's entrance with the workers greeting us with full of respect as they open the doors, letting us pass through.
We step inside the elevator before it stops, letting a couple of women stepping in with a smile on their faces as soon as their eyes caught mine. They purposely glance back at my direction without even noticing the presence of another woman beside me, leaving me turn to look at Kenna, seeing how she barely notices the women glancing and smiling at me.
I grip harder onto her hand, letting her lean closer towards me which causes them both to notice the sudden gesture before clearing their throats and step out of the elevator as soon as they've reached their floor. As for Kenna and I, we wait for the elevator to reach ours.
''Wait, can we run?'' She asks, making me turn to look at her. Both of my eyebrows furrow at the expression of her face, seeing how she's panicking just by the sudden coldness radiating from her hand, leaving me turn to face her as I cup onto her face.
''Do you want to run?'' I ask.
Her eyes meet mine, ''No. Forget I said that,'' She replies and the elevator doors open, revealing the amount of crowd in the ballroom. My eyes wander to Kenna again, wanting to make sure that she's feeling alright as she takes a few deep breaths, trying to calm herself.
''Let's do this.'' She adds, confidently.
We step out of the elevator and we're immediately greeted with my brother, Alain. Both of his brown eyes are staring directly into mine as he sees my hand gripping onto Kenna's, causing him to smirk as he takes a sip of his wine. ''Not very punctual to a family gathering,'' He says.
Alain is the oldest and also mother's favourite child because he has a better commitment, a wife and a daughter to actually prove himself just how much he's not a waste of time. He had gotten married a year before he graduated and found out Harley was pregnant right after his graduation day . . . what a life worth living, described by mother.
He's not much older than me, only a couple of years but he had gotten married way younger than my current age which is why mother has been talking about it over and over again. It's tiring to my ears and also to my mind, trying to process the same words for the past few months without having the right to stop her or even prove her how much I commit to my work and my life without even needing a wife or a child, yet.
''Hi, Kenna.'' He greets her with a hug. Just because Kenna's my best friend, it means she's also close to my other family members including my brother, my sister-in-law and my sister, Mia. Especially when she is the only child in her family, she didn't get the chance to feel the whole sibling arguments and fights.
''Hey, Alain.'' She replies.
''You look stunning. I'm glad you could make it,'' He continues to speak, ''Knowing you have a busy schedule . . . I'm sure Aidan forced you to be here because he just can't live without you. You know that right?'' He raises an eyebrow, taking another sip of his wine.
''Thank you and yes, I've known that for years. Don't worry, Alain because tonight, I willingly came. Aidan didn't force me into anything,'' She replies as she turns to look at me which leaves me to look down at her, too before smiling slightly.
''Where's Ava and Harley?'' I ask, eyes wandering around to the amount of people here before looking back at Alain.
Ava is their beautiful five-year-old daughter and also my one and only niece. Ava and I are very close because ever since she was born, I couldn't keep myself away from her. Her closet are mostly filled with the clothes or shoes I bought when she was only a newborn and even though, Harley told me to stop buying Ava clothes until she is at a age where she grows slower, Alain, my brother didn't stop me from doing so . . . he said just buy her everything if I can.
I glance at Alain who's busy texting on his phone and I realise how much he's a workaholic just like Kenna . . . they can be twins, at times. ''You're working at an annual family gathering with both mother and father, not even a few feet apart from us. You're breaking the family rule,'' I pretend to gasp as he empties his glass of wine before making his way towards the crowd.
''Your family is huge, I don't even remember the people here.'' Kenna says as she frowns before sighing, deeply.
''I don't even know them either,'' I reply and she laughs, catching mother's attention as her eyes meet mine, causing me to look away immediately. As I clench my jaw, ''Mother alert. She saw me and she's going to interrogate me. So, how should I start announcing about us?'' I ask, looking down at Kenna who turns to look at my mother who is currently approaching.
''Wait . . . I have an idea,'' She mutters.
''It better be good, Kenna. She's getting closer and I don't think she's going to stop even if someone screams bloody murder behind her,'' I start to glance up at my mother's direction again, seeing her getting closer and closer with every step she takes. ''Oh, shit . . . she's—''
I am cut by Kenna as she cups onto my face before pulling me down to kiss me on the lips, silencing me immediately. My eyes widen for a couple of seconds but they remain close once I realise I'm kissing my best friend in sync, following the rhythm of her lips moving against mine without showing any signs of stopping soon.
Slowly, my hands are going up to grip onto her waist as I pull her closer. Her soft lips are moving in a slow pace yet it's enough to show someone how we belong to each other just by the simple kiss. Even though it's nothing near passionate . . . it's passionate enough in someone's eyes for them to misunderstand.
I break the kiss, our lips are inches apart as I slowly open my eyes to see her eyes are still closing from the kiss which causes me to clench my jaw—eyeing her lips. My heart begins to beat fast as her blue eyes meet mine; leaving me completely breathless at the sudden gesture, which I assume . . . a part of her idea.
Just as I'm about to lean in for more, my mother's voice interrupted me. My eyes widen at the sight of her looking at us in surprise as her mouth is gaping at our previous kiss, leaving me feeling a slight headache from the kiss, ''Uh . . . mother?'' I speak.
''I knew it!'' She exclaims which catches everyone's attention before eyeing Kenna's left hand on my shoulder before her eyes widening again, ''Oh my god, Aidan!'' She walks towards me as she pulls Kenna in for a bone-crushing hug, making Kenna look at me as she winks.
My lips curve up into a smile at her idea, making me realise just how cheeky and perfect it turned out to work. No explanation needed.
Mother finally let go of Kenna before turning towards me, ''You should've told me you've always loved Kenna. It would've been easier for me to just meet her parents and go straight ahead plan the wedding without troubling myself with all those unnecessary dates!'' She says as she pulls me in for a hug, ''Why have you been keeping it a secret?'' She asks.
''What secret?'' I ask as she pulls away.
''That you and Kenna are together!'' She replies and everyone in the room begin to utter whisper. My eyes wander to look at Mia who is currently looking at me, confusingly. ''When did he propose? How did he propose? Please, don't tell me that the proposal was shitty.'' She asks, Kenna who starts to laugh while others chuckle.
''After you threatened me, mother. I couldn't marry anyone else because I started to realise just how much I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Kenna. You made me realise that,'' I answer instead of Kenna as she smiles beside me, ''I can't love anyone else but her,'' I add.
''So, you've been keeping your relationship a secret? For how long?'' She continues to ask which leaves me blank before turning to look at Kenna who masks a smile, completely nailing this whole act. ''I'm sorry because if I have known, I wouldn't have asked you to go on those terrible dates.'' She frowns.
''We weren't dating,'' Kenna replies, ''Actually, I've always liked him but we were friends and I didn't want to ruin our friendship. Then, when he proposed . . . I realised just how much he feels the same way, too.'' She answers without a single doubt appearing on her face or from the sound of her voice which leaves me turning towards my mother again.
Harley, grins widely at Kenna as she pulls her in for a hug. ''Congratulations! You two have always been great for each other . . . but too clueless, probably. Come on, you have to tell me the details and when I said details, I want to know everything.'' She says and begin to walk away towards Alain and Mia who seems, too surprised.
Mother turns towards me, ''I'm glad it's her.''
''Were you secretly expecting me to bring Kenna?'' I ask and she chuckles before nodding her head, leaving me clearing my throat—not liking the fact that they actually like about this a little bit too much, especially mother.
''I've always wanted you to end up with Kenna, Aidan. You two have been inseparable ever since you started kindergarten and I can't help but notice how much you two were really made for each other . . . I can't deny that and now, you two are engaged, I know that I wasn't wrong.'' She replies, ''And, I have just the perfect date for your wedding.''
My eyes widen at the word 'wedding' before raising an eyebrow, ''Wait a second, what? What do you mean, wedding?'' I quickly ask.
''How about next month?'' She asks without even answering my question which leaves me completely blank and utterly speechless, not knowing what to say.
''No. I think that's too early,'' I mutter.
''Don't be silly. You guys have known each other for two decades and I don't think you two need to wait any longer. Just tie the knot, Aidan . . . stop looking for excuses. You've found the one and she has always been in front of you the whole time, why wait?'' She pulls me in for a hug again, ''I'm really happy for you and I can't wait to help you two plan!''
My eyes meet Kenna's as she talks to Harley and Mia before running my index finger across my neck as a sign that 'we're dead' which causes her smile to drop immediately.