I was so nervous and I had no idea why.  This guy came for me, I really shouldn’t have anything to prove, but I really felt like I did.  What if he took one look at me and decided I wasn't worth his time or effort? What if he was old and ridiculous? I wasn’t a gold digger and would refuse right on the spot.

I allowed my brother to bring in a stylist considering I had nothing left in the house, but I did stop him when he started making suggestions that would make me look more like a drag queen than a socialite. I went with a blue knee length dress that was sleeveless.  The bodice was form fitting, but modest and the skirt had a flare to it allowing for ease of movement.

I can’t believe I am going through with this meeting.  I hated everything about my brother’s pretentious world.  I loved the options that money brought, but I also knew how to work hard for the money I had and used it well.  I had to remember this ws for mom and dad and all of the people who depended on our business to stay open. I took a deep breath and went downstairs.

Fabian was waiting for me in the sitting room with another gentleman who had his back turned to me.  I got a good look at his back though. He had a large wide build, he clearly worked out and took care of himself.  His light brown hair was cut very short on the sides and back and was stylishly long and messy on top.  He sat straight and very rigid.  I wonder if that is his personality or if he is as nervous about this as I am.  Well, I didn’t have long to find out.

I could see him look at his watch as I approached. “I’m sorry I kept you waiting.” That was all I could say, I didn’t even know his name.

He turned around quickly and stood as though I startled him. The front of him was even more amazing to look at than the back. His deep brown eyes were instantly captivating and he towered over my 5 foot 4 inches, even in heels he had a foot on me.

“Lindsey, this is Reece Raines.” My brother introduces us. “Reece, my little sister Lindsey Carter.” We just stare at each other for a bit, then my brother, who cannot handle comfortable silence, starts trying to interject some kind of conversation.

I hold my hand up to him, “Fabian, why don’t you give us a minute to get acquainted.  I’ll let you know if we need anything.” I don’t even look his way. I notice a small smirk on Reece’s lips at my very obvious dismissal of my brother.



I had no idea what today would be like, I was half tempted to call the whole thing off, who does arranged marriages anymore? But, then I remembered the predatory look in Fabian’s eye at the thought of being able to sell his sister for profit and I couldn’t leave her to whatever else he might do if I don't claim her.

It’s that thought I am lost in when I hear a sweet, but firm and calm voice behind me. “I’m sorry I kept you waiting.” She says.

She’s amazing in this bright blue dress that hugs her curves in all the right places.  It brings out her light blue, almost gray eyes and platinum blonde hair that is either natural or very well done. I was actually worried that Fabian sold me a bag of lies when he told me he and his sister were very different when it came to style and taste.  I half expected an escort in a band of short hot pink spandex pretending to be a dress walking down the stairs. 

I can hardly take my eyes off of her.  She stands tall and proud, not looking like a teenager at all.  How was she only 18? And then when she stops her brother from speaking with just a wave of her hand and dismisses him without so much as a look in his direction.  I could feel my walls crack.  I have never met anyone who can get Fabian to shut up let alone leave a conversation or the room altogether.  She commands your attention, I could feel her confidence and I had known her for a matter of minutes.

“Please, sit. We clearly have some things to discuss.” She gestures back to the chair I was sitting in.

“I was actually thinking we could go for a drive.  I really don’t want to have this conversation with your brother lurking around.”  I took a chance at showing my distaste for him to gauge her reaction.

“Actually, you’re probably right, he tends to stick his nose where it doesn’t belong. Isn’t that right Fabian?” She raises her voice on the last few words and I hear an oomph and what sounds like something hitting a cabinet before he responds with, “Have a great drive you two.  Just check in with me later, ok Linds?” She raises her eyebrow at that.  Clearly his brotherly affection is not a normal thing here.

I smile at her and gesture towards the door and follow her out. It was late spring, but the weather was still cool so she brought a  light jacket, but I wasn’t sure it was going to be enough.  I had brought my little two seater convertible and had removed the hard top.  The cool air didn’t bother me and I always dressed for the drive. I should say something, but I didn’t want to have to go back inside and deal with Fabian. She’ll be fine, we won’t be gone that long anyway.

“Where to?” I ask.  I have a few scenic drives I like that aren’t far from here, but I want her to be as comfortable as possible.

“Not sure, really, I haven’t spent enough time here to really get to know the area. With this kind of car, I suspect you have a road you like to cruise though.” She smiles at me.

“Very observant.” I say and she rolls her eyes at me. That’s the first childish thing she’s done and it's actually adorable. I head out and we sit in silence for a bit.  I can’t take it for very long, so I break the ice. “So what did your brother tell you of our arrangement?”

“Not much really, and I would like to leave it that way.  We are all getting something out of this, I’m not sure if I’m ready for all of the details.  Just promise that whatever business plan is in place, the employees from my parents company are taken care of, no matter what.”

“Of course, I try to cause as little upheaval as possible when I merge a company.”

“When is this wedding taking place? Is there anything that you expect me to do?”

“I was actually thinking a very small ceremony next week would be good.  I’m not one for the social parading surrounding most weddings and that will save us many questions. Is that ok with you? I can have everything arranged, just tell me if there is anything in particular that you would like.”

“No, that sounds good. I agree with the avoidance of all things socialite.  That's my brother’s scene not mine. The only thing I want is to be able to wear my mother’s wedding dress.  I really don’t care about the other details. We can keep it simple and clean.  I don’t like really flashy, flaunty things.”

I drove her around for another hour or so, we talked a bit more, but mostly sat in silence.  I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not.  She seemed compliant and low maintenance, but it feels like this is a bit too easy, like something really bad is about to happen.  Nothing is ever this easy, especially when it comes to relationships.

The first red flag was when she asked if she had to go back to her brother’s house.

“Do you not live there too?”

“No, I haven’t lived with my brother for years, I spent most of my time at boarding schools and, when I was able, I stayed for the summers, only visiting my Gran on weekends and holidays we had off. I don’t really like my brother’s place, but I will need to get my car, before something happens to it.” 

“What would happen to your car at your brother’s place?” I asked, very curious about their relationship now.

“The last time I left anything of value over a weekend span of time, he sold it. It’s not much, but I really like that car. It was my first purchase on my own.  I know that’s stupid and sentimental, but it’s still an accomplishment.” She looks at me from the corner of her eye, like she’s trying to gauge my reaction.

I have been with her for the better part of the day and, until this moment I forgot she’s only just eighteen. Her life experience has been so limited and, I’m sure, very jaded by her brother.

“I can have someone pick up your car, do you have a place to go?” She nods slowly.

“I have an apartment on the upper east side, can you drop me off there?”

“Of course.”  It’s completely out of my way, but I am still trying to stay in her good books so she will go through with this arranged marriage.

When we finally get to her place, I notice it's not in the best neighborhood, but it doesn’t look rundown or like she’ll get kidnapped if she’s walking on the sidewalk.

“Can I get your number? I ask. Why do I sound hesitant? I have been getting phone numbers from women for years, why am I nervous to ask the woman who is going to marry me for hers?  

“Sure.” She held out her hand to me, and it took me a second to realize she wanted my phone. Definitely a generational thing. She plugs in her contact information including her address and email along with her phone number.

 I look at her curiously. “Can you send me a copy of the contract you have? I’m sure you sent it to my brother, but, as you may have guessed, he’s not the most thorough person.  I know you said you’ll take care of the people who work for our company, but I would like to see that in writing before we sign anything. I’m not really big on taking people’s word.”

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