Beautiful Disaster

Beautiful Disaster

By:  Val Sims  Updated just now
Language: English
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What does the underboss of an infamous crime family have in common with a spirited primary school teacher? Absolutely nothing, except a marriage of convenience, of course. When Lionel Tyson defaults on a gambling debt and offers his most prized possession as collateral, Austin Hawthorne is underwhelmed. But in desperate need of a housekeeper and permanent child minder, he knows he’d be an idiot to look a gift horse in the mouth. So, against his better judgement, he accepts an offer he should absolutely refuse. Marybeth Tyson is horrified to learn that not only is her father wanted by loan sharks, but he has also sold her off to a mafia boss. Bound by duty and pushed by guilt, she agrees to give Austin Hawthorne one year of her life, despite common sense screaming at her to run the other way. After all, how hard can pretending to be madly in love with someone be? It’s all fun and games until play pretend becomes all too real, and an earth-shattering secret from Austin’s past comes to light, threatening to destroy his second chance at love with his dogged pursuit for answers. Betrayal, especially at the hands of his older brother Blake and long-time friend, Andrei Ivanov, is a bitter pill to swallow for Austin, and letting them off scot-free is not an option. Driven by his unquenchable thirst for revenge, Austin will stop at nothing to get to the truth, even if it means destroying decade-old friendships and fragile ties to The Corporation. 2022 Val Sims. All rights reserved. No part of this novel may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author and publishers.

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218 Chapters
1|Only For A Year
Any time now, Marybeth thought. Anytime now, her father would tell her this was all a bad joke—no, a terrible joke—and they'd laugh about it over coffee after she'd scolded him for making her drive all the way across town from her apartment in Sea Point over a stupid prank. But, a minute passed. The punchline never came. And she knew then that the one person she loved the most in the world, the only person she never thought would do her dirty, had gone and done exactly that."You can't be serious," she said as she collapsed in the worn, rickety chair at the dining table and held her head in her hands, her messy, carrot-coloured hair falling around her freckled face like leaves burning in the autumn sun. Furious didn't even begin to cover how she felt at that moment. She didn't even brush her unruly hair, let alone take a quick shower, because Danica, her stepmom, called at the crack of dawn, wailing about a life and death situation.Now, as Marybeth sat there, scowling at the decades-
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2|The Greatest Betrayals
In the peaceful silence of her car, Marybeth tore through the envelope. An appointment slip confirming her big day was indeed a go fluttered out and fell on her lap."Unbelievable!" she said, shaking her head when her eyes fell on the date on the receipt. For some unfathomable reason, her father and Danica had sat on this life-changing piece of information for over a month, choosing to drop their bombshell at the very last minute. Sure, she worked remarkably well under her pressure. But this? This was just plain ridiculous.If it wasn't so infuriating, it would have been comical. But it was infuriating, and she was heartbroken. Maybe because she didn't see it coming. But then again, the greatest betrayals always came from those she loved the most. Her mother was a stellar example of why she should never trust anyone, especially when they claimed to have her best interest at heart.She turned the paper over and dialled the phone number scribbled on the back. Her future husband's phone
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3|Screw Destiny
At a high-rise apartment across town in Pelican Surf, north of the Clifton Bay peninsula, with the pristine backdrop of the ocean and the Blue Mountains in the distance, Austin stared at his phone for a moment longer than necessary, since he'd already hung up on his future wife.He found it laughable that she thought she could weasel her way out of their arrangement on their wedding day. Considering the amount of money her father owed him, she was lucky he'd offered her an all-inclusive vacation, away from her miserable life.Who in their right mind refused a paid vacation?Who did Marybeth Tyson think she was?"Daddy! Who was it?" Orlando touched his arm lightly, demanding his attention as she stared up at him with the sapphire eyes she shared with Iris, the only woman he'd foolishly believed he'd spend forever with. But fate had to brutally rip that crazy notion from him and show him forever didn't exist when she was killed in a hail of bullets four years ago, exactly two weeks befo
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4|Life In Order
An hour later, Austin and Orlando were ready for their jam-packed day.He whipped up a quick breakfast for her and sat her down at the kitchen island."Aren't you eating?" she asked when he placed a plate of scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast in front of her."No," he shook his head, asking from inside the fridge as he scanned the bone-dry shelves, "orange or apple juice?""Apple today, please," said Orlando. "Why aren't you eating, Daddy?""I'm nervous," Austin confessed, pouring the last bit of juice into her small glass. He dumped the empty bottle in the bin. They really had to go food shopping soon."Why?""Moving in with someone is a huge decision, Orly, and to be honest, I'm not sure things will go my way," he replied. Sure, he'd talked a good game in hopes of scaring Marybeth and getting her to give in to his demands. But what if she didn't show up? What if she decided she wanted no part of his insane plan and called his bluff? She sounded confident and damn sure of herself w
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5|Full Disclosure
"Looking snazzy, groom!" Tim said as soon as Austin jumped in the front passenger seat. "You clean up nicely yourself, best man," Austin replied, punching his arm. "I wish I didn't have to," Tim confessed as he shoved a cigarette in his mouth and lit it up. "Your father will kill me for letting you go through with this.""He won't." Austin grinned. "He loves you. We all know you are his favourite."Tim grumbled under his breath between long drags and puffs of his cigarette, "I still don't understand why it had to come to marriage. Other people hire nannies, Austin.""Nannies leave. Wives don't." Austin opened his window and flung his hand out, tapping the side of his door in time to the music drifting through the car. "I'm doing this for Orly.""Yeah, but that poor woman didn't sign up for this life. She doesn't know what she's getting herself into.""That 'poor woman' should have kept her old man on a leash. He's a menace!" Austin retorted, refusing to feel bad for Marybeth and Lio
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6|Doesn't Really Change A Thing
Marybeth never really thought about her wedding day. No, that was an absolute lie. She had, as a little girl. Back then, she had all kinds of dreams, and many had centred around her prince charming, a fairytale wedding, and a happily ever after, in that order. And thanks to the countless hours she'd spent in front of the TV watching fairytale princesses sail off into the sunset with their golden-haired princes. She had slowly let go of the idea of a fairytale wedding and a happily ever after at eight when her parents' marriage collapsed, and her mom walked out on them. Phoebe Tyson was too pretty and too damn good for this humid town. She didn't sign up for all that 'in sickness and in poverty' bullshit. Her words—not Marybeth's—when she walked out of the front door with her trusty suitcase in one hand and a tattered coat in the other, and never looked back. When her father married Danica, a twenty-four-year-old waitress he met while pulling a con at Royal Lights eight years after h
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7|Out Of Duty
There weren't many things Marybeth feared. But being left behind and forgotten like she didn't matter was one of them. Another, she realised as she followed a Home Affairs official down a narrow, dimly lit hallway, was being early for a wedding she wasn't keen on. She wanted to kick herself when the clerk left her in a sparsely furnished room, explaining someone would be in shortly to speed things along. Now Austin Hawthorne would have one more reason to be smug when he found her waiting for him, like some desperate bride who couldn't wait to get hitched. Marybeth gingerly sat in one of several dusty chairs arranged around the ancient square table. She spent the next few minutes shifting her gaze between the dreary metal filing cabinet on the opposite wall and the equally sorry-looking credenza next to it, as she mentally went over her lesson plans for the following week.She checked the time, sinking lower in her chair when her wristwatch nicely informed her only three minutes had p
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8|A Mistake
"Thank you for availing yourself at such short notice, Friar John." Austin returned the hug, patting the clergyman on his back. Turning to Marybeth, he held out his hand, "This is my soon-to-be wife, Marybeth Tyson. You have no idea how thrilled I was when she finally agreed to make me the happiest man in Clifton Bay. I tell you, Friar, for a second there, it didn't look good. But thank heavens we managed to iron out all our issues this morning. Isn't that right, Beth?"Marybeth slowly nodded her head, wishing the floor would open and suck her down several levels below hell, because up here on earth, there was no way she'd be able to live down this humiliation.Nothing about the last three minutes made sense.Where was her Austin Hawthorne with his receding hairline and wife-beater vest? Where the hell was the filthy, middle-aged man she planned to hate for the entire twelve months she was bound to him?"Beth?" The smug smile she'd sensed during their call earlier lit up Austin's hand
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9|Loyalty Above All Else
A little over three months ago, without her knowledge or consent, her father—the one person she loved the most even when he didn't deserve her love—had sold her off to a casino owner like she was nothing. Like she meant nothing to him. It was her mother abandoning her all over again. But this time, Marybeth wasn't a terrified little girl. She was twenty-eight and could make her own decisions.She was such an idiot for making it this far, dressing up in someone's borrowed dress and driving across town. And for what? To give her father more time so he could pay off his debt? A debt that had nothing to do with her."I'm going to the police!" she announced, but her butt remained glued to the seat, her legs refusing to cooperate with her plan of action.Austin laughed, his amusement doing nothing but rile her up even more. "I own the police minister, Beth. In fact, I own part of the government too. So stop overthinking this. I'm not looking for romance. But I do need a companion for my dau
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10|A Man's Word
Marybeth's uneasiness must have shown through despite the dazzling smile she wore the whole time Austin's people hovered around her because he came to her rescue before the only other woman in the room could pounce on her."The Home Affairs official is waiting for us," he said as he firmly took her hand and led her out of the room. She was taken aback to see four other men waiting outside the room when they stepped into the hallway."Who are all these people?" she asked Austin."You'll meet them all later. Right now, we have to finish this thing."She nodded. "Right! Let's finish it."When they entered the office, one floor up, Marybeth didn't know what to make of the woman behind the desk, kitted out in Nike gear from head to toe.Sure, her union with Austin wasn't real, not in the traditional sense, at least. But as the marriage officer, couldn't this woman take her job more seriously and dress appropriately like the rest of them? Marybeth, herself, didn't want to be there, but she'
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