The Billionaire's Arranged MarriageBy: CJ Howard
Moments later, Carter placed a paper in Reed’s hand and Reed nodded again and walked out of his father’s massive office. His heart was pounding in his throat and blood was rushing in his ears. He felt like his whole world had just flipped upside down and ended.
The two women stood together in the foyer of the tea house. The attendant came up to them and asked if they had a reservation. The older of the two women who was very obviously Japanese, nodded her head.
“We do, under Kimiko. My daughter and I are here for tea this afternoon,” she said in a business-like tone.
The attendant glanced at the younger woman with widened eyes and then looked back at the older Japanese woman. She nodded, then lowered her head and led them to a secluded table. They were seated and a screen was drawn beside their table to afford them some privacy.
The attendant sneaked one more look at the younger woman and then hurried away. She was used to it, though she didn’t like it. Jillian was quite exotic looking, and her looks had drawn the attention of people from the time she was a child. She had her father’s dark coloration; her mahogany skin, full lips and black eyes were almost a replica of him, but her hair was like her mother’s; long, black and sleek. It hung down to her waist like a thick flat curtain.
She also had her mother’s high sculpted cheekbones and defined jaw line, as well as her very slight frame, so she was of a small stature, but she definitely had a black woman’s curves. She had never seen another person who looked anything like her. She was alright with that, because she was constantly told how beautiful she was, but she felt like she was not really connected to anyone who was like her.
Jillian’s life was steeped in Japanese culture and tradition. When her father had met her mother during the war and married her, bringing her home to the United States, he had adapted his entire life to suit her customs and culture. They lived in a house built in classic Japanese design both in structure and in landscaping. There were koi ponds and bamboo in the gardens, and her father had his own dojo which faced the gardens. She was fluent in Japanese and English, and though her world centered around that heritage, the only person she felt most connected to was her father. She felt like they understood each other more than anyone else in her family.
Her father knew what it was like to be black and she seemed to relate to him the most, though she deeply loved and respected her mother, she just didn’t feel the connection to her Japanese heritage.
Their tea was served and Kimiko sipped hers and then looked at Jillian. “I want to talk to you about something important.” She spoke in a quiet and serious tone.
Jillian looked at her mother expectantly, as the tea cup sitting on the table before her sent steam wafting up near her face.
“I spoke with an old business colleague of mine recently. He has a son a few years older than you. You might remember him; we went to see him when you were a small girl and there was an incident with my jade bracelet. Do you remember that?”
Jillian felt her heart clutch in her chest. She would never forget it. She had been taken on a business meeting to an enormous estate; a house bigger than any other she had ever seen. When they arrived, the man they had gone to see had suggested that his son show her the gardens. She hadn’t wanted to go with him; she was shy and she would much rather have preferred to stay with her mother and sit quietly in the enormous room that looked like a library. But her mother gave her the look that she always gave her, the one that said she had no choice in the matter, and she grudgingly followed the boy out to the garden.
He seemed to want to play rough, to run and chase, but she was in a skirt and her best shoes, and she had no interest in it or in the boy. She loved seeing the garden and had felt like she had suddenly entered a safe and secret world where she could be herself and have no worry about others.
The boy had run off and things were quiet and peaceful for a few moments while she wandered happily through the beautiful garden, but then he came back and approached her slowly. He wanted to know about her bracelet. The delicate jade bracelet she shouldn’t have been wearing.
She knew she shouldn’t have it; she had sneaked into her mother’s room while her mother was out, and had found it in her jewelry box. It was carved with tigers, elephants and dragons and was so beautiful that she couldn’t resist lifting it from the box it was in and slipping it into her pocket.
She usually wore long sleeves on her dresses and so she was able to hide the bracelet from sight, but in the garden where she thought no one could see her, she had been holding it and tracing the carvings on it with her fingers, admiring it lovingly. The boy had asked to see it, and at first she had been terrified to be caught with it.
She slipped it back onto her wrist and slid her sleeve over it, her heart pounding against her ribs, but the boy softened his voice and became friendly, and said he only wanted to see it. She reluctantly pulled it off and handed it to him, so scared to share such an enormous secret, and the moment it was in his hands, the boy laughed loudly and turned from her, running away toward the atrium.
Fear exploded throughout her tiny body and adrenaline coursed through her as she tried to chase after him to retrieve her mother’s bracelet, but she couldn’t keep up with him; he was bigger and faster than she was, and when she caught sight of him again, he was looking over his shoulder at her and that was when it happened.
He tripped, and the bracelet went flying. It seemed to fly in slow motion, as though the whole world had stopped to watch its trajectory, and the whole world waited as it glided through the air; then there was a moment of deafening silence just before the bracelet hit the large marble column at the edge of the atrium.
Jillian watched in horror as the silence was broken by the clink of the bracelet as it collided with the marble and suddenly splintered into dozens of pieces, and all of them flew in every direction.
The boy lifted himself off the ground and saw the look on Jillian’s face, and he bolted off away from her. She felt frozen as she watched all the pieces land; some bouncing off the ground, some breaking even more. She walked toward them and stared at them lying around her feet.
She knew deep in her that she had committed an atrocity against her mother that would never be forgiven, and it turned out that she was right. She tried to pick up all the pieces before anyone found her, but there were so many that just as she was getting to the last of them, her mother walked up behind her and held out her hand.
Jillian had looked up at her in complete fear and slowly emptied the contents of her little hands into her mother’s. Her mother looked at the pieces and she saw an anger that she had never seen before come over her mother’s face. Her mother had taken her home in total silence, and her punishment had been long lasting and harsh. She had never touched anything of her mother’s again after that.
She looked at Kimiko. “I remember him.” She said quietly.
“I though you might.” Kimiko answered. “His father, Carter, and I were talking recently and we think that the two of you might make a good match. His father is a billionaire and owns one of the biggest technology firms in the United States. Someday, he will inherit all of that and operate it, as he is the older of his father’s two sons.
“You are already aware that our family in Japan is one of the most influential and powerful technology manufacturers in the country. We think that aligning our households would be mutually beneficial to both families in many ways. I want you to meet with the boy and go out with him on a date.” Kimiko stated this as though she had just told her daughter to go check the mail.
Jillian felt her heart begin to race and heat flooded her face. Her breath grew short and she looked at her mother with widening eyes. “Mother, I already have a boyfriend.”
Her mother looked at her squarely. “Who is your boyfriend?” she asked, as though she didn’t already know.
Jillian looked away from her for a moment and then looked back, wondering why Kimiko would pretend to not know. “Wilson, Mother, I’ve been dating him for six months now.”
Kimiko closed her eyes and looked away, lifting her tea cup for another sip. “He’s not your boyfriend. He’s just a hungry little stray dog who is sniffing around you,” she scoffed. “Please tell me you haven’t actually taken him seriously.”
Jillian drew her breath in slowly in a wasted attempt to slow her heart down. Everything in her felt as though it was racing and rushing underneath her calm exterior. She was practicing some of the techniques her father had taught her, and she had never been more grateful for the knowledge of them. “Mother, Wilson and I are very serious. We love each other. We’ve gotten close. He has even been talking about marriage with me, and he said he wants to discuss it with you and Daddy.”
Kimiko’s head snapped back to face Jillian and her eyes and lips narrowed into needle thin lines. “How dare you speak about anything like that to a vagrant like that boy! I can’t even believe you refer to him as your boyfriend! He is no such thing! He does not have my permission nor your father’s to be in that kind of a relationship with you. He comes from a poor and broken family and he has absolutely no prospects for his future. If I had realized that you were taking him this seriously, I would have forbidden you to see him.