The Billionaire's Arranged MarriageBy: CJ Howard
She didn’t hear him hang up as she sobbed into her hands and arms, lying on the grass. Her phone shut itself off and it seemed like an eternity before she felt a large warm hand on her back.
“Baby, what’s wrong? Why are you crying? What happened?” her father asked her. She had cried so hard that her face was swollen and her eyes were red. She rolled over slowly and let her daddy pick her up into his arms. He held her and rocked her back and forth, and then he reached up and wiped her tears away.
“Come on now, it’s going to be alright. There’s nothing we can’t fix. Come on, baby, tell me what happened. What’s got you so upset?” His voice was low and soft and it soothed her, like it always had.
“Everything,” she whispered and then looked up at him through her soaked eyelashes. “Wilson and I just broke up. He said he found another girl! Daddy, we were talking just this morning about getting married! How could he do that?” She began to cry again.
Samson rocked her back and forth some more and held her to the solid wall of his chest. “It’s alright baby girl. It’s alright. Boys don’t make the best decisions sometimes, and if he let you go, well that’s the most foolish thing he could have done, but it only means that you have a chance to find someone better; someone who will really love you, and that’s the best thing you can hope for, honey.”
She looked up at him again with irritation on her beautiful face. “Daddy! Do you know that Mother told me today that I have to date some stranger? She said she has this old business acquaintance that has a son and she wants me to go out with him and date him so that our families can do better business! It’s awful! Did you know about that?” she asked, searching her father’s eyes.
He closed his eyes for a moment and nodded. “I did know about that. She talked with me about it. I’ll say this, baby girl, sometimes, especially when we are young, we can’t see as well or as far as those who are older and wiser than us can see, and oftentimes when we are young, we are ruled by our hearts more frequently than our minds, and it can lead to trouble. She’s not trying to hurt you, baby, she would never do that. She wants what’s best for you, just like I do, and she thinks maybe he might be a good boy for you to spend some time with.”
Jillian felt crushed beneath all her grief, but she always listened to her father. “Daddy,” she said quietly and sniffed, “do you want me to go out with him?”
Samson looked away for a moment and then looked back at her. “I want you to be happy. It looks to me like that boy Wilson didn’t make you very happy. Maybe you could do your old dad a big favor and keep some peace in this house, and just this once go out with the new boy, just so things settle down with your mother. If you don’t like him later on after you’ve given him a chance, why then let him go, but then you can say that you gave it a try, and that will show obedience to your mother. What do you say, baby girl?”
Jillian felt like nothing was worth talking about anymore, and her own choices had led her to an obliterated heart, so she might as well heed the words of the wisest man she knew.
“Alright, Daddy. I’ll go out with him. I’m not going to like it, but I’ll do it,” she said stubbornly, remembering with bitterness how the boy had left her among the shards of jade on the ground.
“That’s my girl,” Samson said, brushing his hand over her hair and kissing her forehead. “Thank you, Jillian. Now, let’s go get you some tea to calm you down and take some of that heartache away. I have just the thing.”
She sniffed again. “Is there ginger in it?” she asked hopefully.
He nodded and pulled her to her feet. “Of course there is.” He smiled and walked her to his dojo with his arm around her shoulder.
Reed was lounging in the sun by the enormous sea shell shaped pool behind the house, sulking about the date his father was forcing him to go on. It wasn’t the worst thing his father had ever made him do though, so he knew it could be worse. He picked up his phone and dialed the number his father had given him.
It rang a few times and a pleasant female voice answered.
“Hello. I wonder if I might speak with Jillian?” he smiled so that he would sound as pleasant as she did, though he certainly wasn’t feeling it.
“This is Jillian.”
“Jillian, this is Reed. Our parents suggested that we might spend some time together, so I thought I would call you and invite you to dinner tonight,” he said, holding his smile in place.
“That would be lovely, thank you.” she said mechanically, but politely.
“Shall I come by your house around six?” he asked, smile intact.
“Six is perfect. I’ll see you then,” she answered. “Thank you, Reed.”
“Of course. I’ll see you then. Good-bye,” he said and hung up, unscrewing the smile from his face and pushing his sunglasses back up on his nose. He laid his head back and relaxed in the sunshine, and fell asleep.
Jillian hung up the phone and fell back on her bed, looking at the ceiling in her room. She was not at all excited about their dinner date. She was still nursing her seriously broken heart. Her mother knocked on the paper screened door to her bedroom.
“Yes?” she called out, not moving.
“Was that Carter’s son?” her mother asked in a loud voice.
“You made a date with him?” her mother continued.
“Yes. Dinner tonight.” She tried not to sound sullen.
“Good. Make a good impression so that you will be going out again after tonight,” her mother intoned seriously.
“Yes, Mother,” Jillian replied, closing her eyes and hating her life.
Later that evening she was flipping through her closet wondering what to wear and finally settled on a sleeveless, tea-length, sky blue, chiffon dress with a sweetheart neckline. It was subtly form fitting without being revealing and slightly demure without being frumpy. She picked up some high heels and her cardigan in case she got cool later that evening. Jillian was just slipping silver earrings in her ears when her father knocked on her door.
“Come in,” she called out.
He slid her screen door open and stepped inside. “Don’t you look pretty!” he said, smiling. He walked up to her and hugged her, looking into her mirror with her. “My girl is the prettiest in the world.”
She smiled and hugged him back tightly. “Thank you, Daddy.”
“He’s here, baby girl. He seems nice,” he said softly. “I think it will be an enjoyable evening for you.”
She looked up at him with some gratitude. “That’s good to know, Daddy.”
He walked her to the foyer and as she rounded the corner, she saw him. He was incredibly good looking. Dark wavy hair slightly tousled and mostly tamed back, bright blue eyes and a wide brilliant smile. He was tall and muscular; the curves of his arms and his chest were not hidden by the fine dinner jacket he was wearing. He was talking to her mother, who was smiling happily at him, and he turned to look at her just as her eyes had finished appraising him.
She saw the expression on his face change. She saw that same look on many people’s faces when they saw her; she was so unusual that her beauty often caught people off guard and she was used to double takes and staring. She was all too familiar with the way his eyes opened a bit wider and his mouth opened slightly in a partial gape and then curved into a grin. She saw his eyes as they flickered down her body and then held her eyes again.
“Well hello, you must be Jillian!” he said in pleasant surprise. He was surprised. She looked different than he had remembered. He knew her parents were watching him, particularly her father who was walking behind her as she came toward him, so he didn’t get the leisurely gaze over her body that a quick glance at her told him he wanted to have.
That one glance had suggested that she had curves he wanted to spend quite a bit of time
looking at, or possibly undressing. His heart began to beat faster as he gazed at her face. She had stunning features; a fine boned facial structure, dark golden skin like chocolate covered in honey, and her hair… it was pulled up into a loose bun on her head, but wisps of it fell around her beautiful face, framing it, drawing his attention to her big dark eyes and her full lips. She smiled politely at him and he snapped back to the moment at hand.
“I’m Reed. It’s wonderful to meet you again. You look quite lovely this evening.” He bowed to her and took her hand lightly in his, brushing his lips over the back of her hand for a brief moment before letting it go and turning toward her mother.
“I brought this gift from my father with his best wishes.” He bowed and handed a beautifully decorated bottle of sake to Kimiko.
She bowed in return. “Thank you, Reed. Please tell your father that was very kind of him and we are humbled by his thoughtfulness and generosity.”
Samson placed his hand on Jillian’s shoulder. “Where will you be taking my baby girl tonight?” he asked seriously, his eyes holding Reed’s sternly.