The Billionaire's Arranged MarriageBy: CJ Howard
He didn’t say a word to her until she calmed down and he dried the tears from her face. “Well,” he said softly, “I guess it didn’t go as nicely as we had hoped?”
“He was horrible Daddy! He’s a disgusting pig and I don’t want anything to do with him.” She wept miserably.
Her father looked stern. “Did he hurt you?” he asked.
“He didn’t hurt me. He was unbelievably disrespectful, but I’m not hurt,” she said through her tears.
Her dad held her close again and rubbed her back. “It’s alright, baby. It’s alright.”
“Daddy, Mother wants me to date him. She told me to make a good impression on him so he’d want to see me again and I didn’t!” She looked up at him in consternation.
He smiled down at her. “Oh now, you’re a good girl, Jillian. I’m sure it wasn’t that bad. What could you have done that would drive him so far away that he wouldn’t want to see you again?”
She spoke quietly. “I slapped his face.”
Samson raised one eyebrow. “You slapped his face? Well, if he pushed you that far, I know he must have deserved it. Don’t you think about it any longer, baby girl. You’re home and you are alright. Let it go, now.”
“Mother is going to be furious if she finds out,” Jillian said, her eyes falling to her hands that were folded in her lap.
“Well, just don’t tell her that part. I’m proud of you anyway. I’m glad you think enough of yourself to stop a man when he goes too far.” Samson smiled at her. “You’re a strong woman. It’s one of your best traits. You know you get that from your mother,” he said with a wink and a smile.
Jillian rolled her eyes and sighed, letting out the last of her grief from the evening. She had cried herself tired. “Well, I’m going to sneak off to bed so I don’t have to talk to her about it until tomorrow. Maybe I’ll dream up a good story tonight that I can tell her later. She just doesn’t understand me! You’re the only one who really gets me, Daddy. You’re the only one who is even a little bit like me.” She reached over and set her hand beside his, looking at the comparison between the two of them. Matching skin. Matching people. Her team.
“Baby girl, I am leaving early in the morning.” Her dad looked at her with sorrowful eyes.
She sat up and looked at him in surprise. “Leaving? Where are you going?”
“Your uncles in Japan need me there to help them with the business for a little while, so I’m going to go give them a hand,” he admitted to her.
She shook her head in denial. “No! Daddy don’t leave me here! Take me with you!”
“I’m sorry, my girl, but this is a long trip and you need to stay here at home.” He patted her back. “I’ll call you and check in on you. I promise,” he said with a half smile.
Jillian was back to being miserable. “How long will you be gone?” she asked in a whisper.
“A month,” he answered quietly.
She lowered her head sadly and laid it against his shoulder. “I’m going to miss you so much, Daddy.” Her voice wavered.
“I’m going to miss you, too, baby girl.”
Reed walked into the dining room the morning after his disaster date and his father didn’t even bother to greet him with a ‘good morning’.
“How did it go last night?” Carter asked immediately.
Reed sagged down into his seat and picked up his coffee cup. “It was terrible.”
Carter’s gaze hardened. “What do you mean it was terrible? What happened?”
“She’s a snob and a goody-two shoes. It was a rotten night.” Reed stabbed at his breakfast with his fork.
Carter leaned toward his son and glared at him. “Please tell me you didn’t try to make a move on that girl. She’s a conservative girl from a traditional Japanese family and she isn’t like one of your little play things. She’s a lady. What did you do to her?” Carter demanded.
Reed grew defensive. “Nothing! Carter, nothing happened. I just don’t like her.”
Carter drew a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Well, son, that’s too bad.”
“Why is that?” Reed asked as suspicion built in his mind.
“Because you’re going to ask her to marry you.”
Reed almost jumped out of his chair. “What?!” he shouted.
Carter looked at him with an unwavering gaze. “You are going to ask that girl to marry you, immediately. If you don’t ask her to marry you, I’m going to give the company to your younger brother and you are going to be disinherited. You will lose your car. You will be kicked out of this house permanently. You will have no money whatsoever to go and make a new life. You will be barred from ever returning, and you will not have any place in my life again.”
Reed was too stunned to speak.
Carter continued. “You have driven me too far, Reed. You are an embarrassment to this family and to the company that I have worked so hard all of my life to build. You go through women and money like they are running water. You have done nothing to improve your life or yourself, and you have no future ahead of you.
“I refuse to continue to contribute to your lifestyle or the impending demise of my home, this family’s reputation or my company because you have chosen to be a careless playboy. This is your one and only chance, and you know I am dead serious about this. You marry that girl and make a solid responsible life for yourself or you are out of here. I want an engagement ring on her hand within the week.”
Reed stared at his father. He knew Carter was deadly serious. He also remembered quite vividly, the sting of the slap she had planted on his cheek the night before and her insistence that she never wanted to see him again.
“I’m not so sure that Jillian likes me very much. What if I got engaged to another girl?” Reed offered weakly, trying to compromise with his father.
Carter held his gaze on his son. “You will marry Jillian. It’s your problem and your fault if she doesn’t like you. You figure it out. You have one week. Get a ring on her hand.”
Reed sat back in his chair and felt chaos and disbelief flooding through him. He was going to lose his whole life. He was going to lose his home and his family. He was going to lose everything, because he had been too hot handed the night before and let his hormones get the better of him like they always did. There was no way she was going to even agree to see him, let alone allow him to try to talk her into marrying him.
The idea of marriage terrified him. It was a lifelong commitment to one woman. He could not see the appeal of it at all, except for the fact that everything he had, everything that meant anything to him would be gone forever if he didn’t get engaged to a woman who hated him, and he had less than a week to do it. Hercules never faced a tougher task than the one that was looming over Reed.
He stood up and left his breakfast on the table, shoving his hands down into the depths of his pockets. He looked at his father and let out a deep sigh. “No problem, Carter,” he said shortly, and turned and walked out of the dining room.
Reed headed to his brother’s office which was near his father’s. He was grateful to see the young man sitting at his desk when he walked in and closed the door.
“Hey, Anderson,” he said quietly and lowered himself into a chair in front of his brother’s desk.
His brother turned to look at him. “Hi, Reed.” He looked at him carefully and leaned back in his chair. “Dad must have talked to you.”
“Yeah, he did,” Reed said with a sigh. “Listen… Andy, if by some chance you wind up getting… everything…. Would you cut me out of it all? Would you leave me hanging out in the wind like Carter was saying? Or would you look after your big brother and maybe give me a job or something?”
Anderson shook his head. “A job? You mean a handout. Listen, Reed, you’re my brother and I love you plenty, but you’ve done a lot of damage here and at the company, and I’ve had to clean up a lot of the messes you’ve left. You think dad goes in and takes care of it all? No way, Reed. He always dumps it in my lap and I get to deal with it.
“I’m on a first name basis with most of the elite businesses around town because I’m constantly on the phone with them sending them checks to pay for the havoc you wreak.”
Reed sank down in the chair.
“Besides, the old man had the lawyers draw it up so that no one in the family or the business can lend you a hand, or a handout. You’re on your own for real if you don’t tie the knot with that girl. I wouldn’t worry about it too much, though, Reed. After all, you’re the ladies’ man. Didn’t she fall in love with you the minute she laid eyes on you? How did it go?” Anderson asked, tilting his head and raising his eyebrow.
Reed leaned forward and covered his face with his hands. “She hates me.”
Anderson leaned forward in his chair and stared at his brother in shock. “She hates you? How could she hate you? No women hate you!”