Summary: I was young, beautiful, and filthy rich, so why was I being thrown into a marriage with a cold-hearted albeit heart-achingly handsome fiancé who had one month to make me comply with his wishes? I haven't a clue, but if this jerk thinks he can "break me" so easily, he's got another thing coming.
The world was a kaleidoscope of sound, bright lights, and pleasant sensations. Faint rumbling and quaking of metallic, gas-guzzling, nitrous-high monsters shook the earth, loud cheering and applause adding to the raucous commotion. The air reeked of fumes, alcohol, and sweat; the familiar scents filling my lungs and whispering words of home into my heavily intoxicated mind. There was nothing like a night on the town and loosing oneself in a pool of vodka to assuage the pressures of reality. Of course my reality really didn't have any demands save that of my father and his adamant wishes for me to marry.
The man is off his rocker.
What man in his right mind is eager to marry off his only daughter at the tender age of twenty-two? Yep, the one and only.
And if he comes at me with one more marriage proposal, I'm going to I'm throw myself off of my balcony and fall three stories to a gruesome death. He knows I'll go through with it, I'm insane that way. And he can't very well have his only heir to his empire of billions die so soon in the game. That's what happens when you put one overly dedicated man with a woman who was destined for a life of chemo-therapy followed by a premature death, only to be left to raise a Beautiful baby daughter who will one day blossom into Gorgeous young woman that will have men chasing after her for the rest of her life.
And by that gorgeous young woman I mean me, naturally.
If the man would only remarry and procreate with the wench he wouldn't have to worry about leaving me his entire fortune, not that I wouldn't mind taking it all after he departs from this world, bless his heart. And to leave all that money to a daughter, no less. I bet my ancestors are turning over in their graves by now. Hehe.
But the man is stubborn and refused to take another wife since no woman will ever replace the love of his life, my mother Elizabeth, a.k.a., the French Doll. (And with good reason since her exotic beauty rivals and at some level surpasses my own, the lucky bitch) He won't even pretend to go through the motions for the sake of a male heir. That's great, just great. Now I'm stuck with the burdensome task of managing his copious businesses that extend from coast to coast and his native home along the Egyptian seaboard. He is such a hopeless romantic. But I feel for him, sort of, though I have no idea what its like to lose a loved one.
Wait, I love shish kabobs. Gods I live for those things. I can't imagine my life without them. Gasp! Is that how my father feels? My heart really goes out to him. Is it bad that I'm comparing the timeless love of my parents to meat and veggies on a stick? Damn, now I'm hungry.
But don't get me wrong, I love my father with all my heart, but I wish he'd lay off the marriage subject. Its bad enough I have guys young and old hitting on me from all fronts, but did I really need my own father throwing suitors in my face every hour of the day? I think not. But I must admit it is rather entertaining to see how many men I can ward off with my vulgar disposition, flying, inanimate objects, and promises of castration to my future husband.
Ah, the looks on their faces.
And I'd do it again in a heartbeat to the asshole who thinks he can take advantage of a man who is desperate not to have his only daughter to live out a life a of loneliness, like him.
I screamed as cold, wet liquid splattered on my stomach, effectively shattering the faux haven that the Smirnoff had wrapped around my senses. I glared at the two figures of the same person standing above of me with a can of beer in her hand. "Becca, you fucking hussy! You spilled beer all over my georgette blouse! Do you know how much that shit costs?!"
"Babe, you do realize that you're half naked," she smirked nodding at my body.
I looked down at my lacey bra and Daisy Dukes, but otherwise nude form. "Indeed."
"Come on and get your ass up." Rebecca held out her free hand. "I thought you had passed out on me for a second."
I squinted at her three hands and tried to focus on which one was real and which were the fabricated illusions of the alcohol swimming in my system. Fortunately it only took two attempts for me to grasp her hand as opposed to last night where we spent a good hour trying to help one another up. Ah, good times. A smile touched my lips as I was pulled to my feet. "What's goin' on?" I asked stumbling a bit on top of the Lancer as I regained my equilibrium.
The heightened level of noise on the street answered my question. Realization hit me on the back of my head with a baseball bat. "Vinci's about to race?"
Rebecca smacked her forehead to emphasize the obviousness of it, her braided tresses flying back with the action. "Duh."
Obnoxiously loud engines roared further up the street, signaling the start of a new race. Anticipation fluttered in my stomach. I grinned and scrambled on top of the roof of the car and was vaguely aware that I should be grateful for having taken off my Dior sandals a while back. I straightened and tried to catch sight of Vinci's silver and purple Skyline further up the boulevard but only got an eyeful of people.
"Damn it Ricky! You couldn't get us better seats?" I yelled at the owner of the car we were currently standing upon.
Said man ignored me and continued flirting with the brunette that hung from his arm, but acknowledged my query with a middle finger behind the girl's back.
"Bastard!" I shouted overtop of the clamor and shook my fist in his direction, the movement causing my world to tilt on its axis and would have had me falling me off the roof had a hand grabbed on the back of my shorts to steady me.
"Would you look at that garden variety tramp?" Rebecca sneered releasing the band of my shorts and eyed the girl draped over our friend, distaste evident in her blue eyes. "Talk about putting the pussy on a platter."
I giggled, which in turn made her giggle, as giggles are contagious when one is inebriated beyond coherent speech. I loved my comrade in arms. We'd been friends our entire lives. We'd set our first fires, shared our first periods, and even stamped on our first boyfriends' hearts together. She was my best friend and even though the bitch was constantly vying for attention that should be solely on me, I was more than willing to compete with her for what was rightly mine. With dirty blonde hair that was frequently fashioned in outrageous styles, the biggest bluest eyes known to man, and an ass that probably makes J Lo envious, she was definitely all there in the looks department. We were the sexiest, party-going girls in all of the Hamptons and there wasn't a person I'd rather have by my side than this chic female.
Well maybe Brad Pitt, but he was presently shacking up with Angelina, not that I have any qualms. Score one for us dark-haired beauties.
Our laughter was cut off as the abrupt sound of screeching tires ripped down the street. Using each other as crutches, we stood on our tip toes and watched in animated expectancy as our man pulled out in front of the other cars, his trademark colors flaring brilliantly on the dimly lit road. My heart raced with anticipation, its pounding like a drums in my ears.
Or was it the imminence of a gargantuan headache?
Ugh, I didn't even want to think about a hangover right now.
My vision blurring slightly, I watched in dazed enthusiasm as orange and purple and silver melded together and broke free and merged again. The crowd roared as the cars flew past us in a cyclone of color and wind and fire, invisible hands of momentum urging me to ride the ferocious airstreams that whipped at my obsidian locks. I blinked. "What just happened?"
"I think Vinci won?" Rebecca dropped to a crouch with me in tow and we slid down the windshield until our feet touched the hood. Her face scrunched with indecision as she looked to and fro at the multitude of people swarming the finish line. "Yeah, I think I'm just going to wait here. That moshpit shit ain't my scene."
"I know. I'm not in the mood to be trampled tonight, though I doubt I'd feel it anyway." We parked ourselves on the hood and leaned back against the windshield. I smiled at the warmth coursing through my bloodstream, its presence making my eyelids heavy with the weight of sleep. "Vinci'd better show up soon. I'm about to pass out."
Rebecca mumbled something that got carried away by the racket around us. And I didn't care enough to ask her to repeat.
Drowsiness forced my eyelids shut and I drifted off for who knows how long. It wasn't until I vaguely felt something creeping up my inner thigh that pulled me out of my drunken haze. "Becca, you lesbo. Get yur hands off me."
She didn't respond and that hand kept inching its way up my leg. My skin quivered and jumped beneath the touch, calloused fingers drawing lazy circles on the inside of my thigh. A ghost of a smile flitted across my face. I knew those hands from anywhere. "Vinci, you naughty boy. Did you win?"
"Is the sky blue?" the husky baritone lilt of voice was smooth, cultured, refined and had my body tightening in response to his proximity, his warm breath dancing over my skin. The soft scent of lavender drifted into my nostrils and reassured me of his dominating presence.
"Mmm." Soft, sensual lips dropped tiny kisses up my neck, leaving a burning trail of fire smoldering on my skin. Sleep all but forgotten, I opened my eyes and smiled lazily at the man standing over top of me. He paused in his ministrations to shoot me a rakish grin worthy of his playboy status.
The man gave a new definition to the word sexy thanks to two genetically perfect Oscar winning parents. Soft brown eyes, hair as black as night that fell in curly ringlets at the nape of his neck, a body that I wouldn't mind jumping, he was, in essence, every girl's wet dream; every girl but mine that is. Because while this cutie was hot as hell and had put moves on me that left my head reeling, I found his lack of empathy for the trail of inconsolable hearts he left in the wake of his womanizing forays more or less daunting.
And by that I mean he was too much like me.
I cared not for the weeping fools who set their hearts obtaining the unattainable and so did he.
Let's be serious. Who had time for love and relationships with a world full of beautiful men just waiting to be ensnared by my beautiful looks? And thank the gods for that because I sure as hell didn't score any points in the charms section.
"Why didn't you meet me at the finish line?" A pout formed on his kissable lips.
I lifted a finger and traced his jaw line. "Do you not see the state I'm in? Does it look like I'm in any condition to fight off your groupies?"
He chuckled, the deep, resonating pitch reverberating through me. "Good point. But here's an even better question," he leaned down and pressed his lips against my mine, "are you drunk enough to consider going home with me tonight?" he fed the words into the cavern of my mouth directly, the friction, might I add, being simply divine.
Did I neglect to mention that we were just friends? Ok, just friends with the occasional benefits.
I moaned and automatically tangled my hands in his hair, frissons of electricity snaking down my spine and hitting the very core of my being. Did he know how to kiss or what? And he hadn't even slipped in tongue yet. Oh yeah. The boy had skills.
"Well damn, don't forget about me Vinci."
Memo to self: Yank the braids off of her head as soon as we go home. Cock-blocking bitch.
I almost wept when his soft warmth receded, leaving me cold and wanting more. I pouted as he winked at me before sauntering to the other side of the car and bestowing my best friend with the same greeting.
He was such a man whore.
Now I know why we choose to remain friends.
His libido was too big to be restricted to one girl, the perv.
I tapped my fingers impatiently on the hood as they continued to whisper sweet nothings into one another's ears before sealing the deal with a kiss. Growing irritated, I arched upward and slid off the car now that the attention to me had been redirected elsewhere.
"Gotta find shoes." Easier said than done.
I squinted in the semi-darkness and tried to find where the hell I had placed my things. Bending over, I scoured the ground around the Lancer only to come up painfully short. And it wasn't helping that I becoming increasingly aware of the chill in the air. Was my buzz wearing off already? Damn, I maybe should've taken that extra shot after all.
Growling, I dropped on all fours and peeked beneath the vehicle. A wiggling, black blob sat in a neat pile inches from my position. Oh shit.
My effects had grown legs and were trying to run away from me.
Ungrateful little twits.
I hurriedly bent over before they had a chance to bounce, only I underestimated the space between my goal and the distance that separated us.
In other words, I forgot about the car's low flanks and ended up hitting the shit out of my head. Pain exploded in the front region of my cranium, the burst of stars accompanying the collision rendering me insensible for a couple of seconds and I would have fallen flat on my ass had it not been for the strong arms that held me in place.
"What the hell are you doing?"
I tried to tilt my head and glare at Rick, but the throbbing insistency of my head prevented such action. I glared at the ground instead. "Fuck you and help me up," I grumbled. "And slowly, my head hurts."
"Bitch, that's what you get for always being mean to me," he sniggered hoisting me carefully to my feet. "Come on, I'll take you home. Your dad probably has the S.W.A.T. team on standby by now."
"I'll take her," Vinci stated, not offered, appearing out of nowhere and taking my arm from his friend.
"Aw Giovanni, I didn't know you cared," I cooed snuggling into every crevice of hard frame to escape the cool weather and was helpless to stop a jaw-splitting yawn that nearly took my mandible off its hinges. "Get my things will ya?" My eyelids started sagging.
I would kill for a bed right now.
"Whatever you say babe." But rather than stooping down and picking up my renegade things, Vinci hooked an arm under my knees and swept me off my feet, quite literally.
Did he not hear me? Why did my words always fall on deaf ears when it came to him? My mouth parted to voice my annoyance but the combination of his intoxicating cologne and the heat pouring from his body to my exposed parts lulled me into the alluring folds of sleep.
So you can understand the reasoning behind my involuntarily slap to the idiot that shook and roused me from this wonderful cataleptic state of inertia.
"We're here Lay."
Yawning, I stretched and sat up in the leather seat. When had I gotten there, I have no idea. "Home already?" I groggily stared out of the tinted window at the familiar sakura trees lining the circular driveway that led to my home. "Thanks Vinci-poo, I owe you one."
"I'll be sure to add it to your tab." Even through the darkness that cloaked the interior of the car, I could sense his trademark smirk. "Though I will say this much: by the time you're done paying off your debt, you won't be able to walk straight for a month."
"I'll keep that in mind. Call me." I fumbled with the door handle for a good minute before I finally found it. The door swung open and I all but fell out. My legs felt like jello and my head was spinning so fast I didn't know left from right and up from down.
All in all, a good night in my book.
"Wait," I glanced down, realizing that I was still half-naked and my father would probably be sitting in the foyer, ready to chastise me for coming home so late, again.
Whatever. He'd get over it.
My Dolce and Cabana bag landed in the recently vacated passenger seat. "You're an angel sweetie."
He laughed. "I have to be to put up with you."
Snatching my bag, I mumbled some form of a good-bye and pushed the door shut. It took ten minutes for me to punch in the security code to unlock the black-steeled gate and fifteen for me to walk up the gravel driveway.
Hn. I wonder whatever happened to Rebecca. The whore was probably shacking up with Rick again. I don't know why those two won't admit that they're not just fuck buddies and go out already. Common sense is such a rarity these days because if either had an ounce of it, they would've known by now that their feelings for each other ran deeper than that of their random hook ups.
After staggering up the steps, I listlessly retrieved my blouse from the bag and pulled it over my head as best I could in a condition where I could barely distinguish my hand from my ass.
Giggling softly at the ingenious comparison, I turned the giant brass handles of the door and entered the mansion as noiselessly as possible. I was the master of disguise, an integration of shadows and discretion, the quintessence of prudence.
A dog began barking from the hallway.
And I had forgotten to pump my stupid dog full of sedatives before leaving so this wouldn't happen.
Said dog galloped happily up to me, his large, bulky body easily towering over my small 5'3 frame. "Lucky!" I hissed, but the reprisal was lapped away with a wet tongue running across my face. I don't care if he was a champion show dog with beautiful Artic blue eyes and fur as white as snow, this husky would so be sleeping outside for the next week.
"Layla? Is that you?"
Make that the next month.
"Yeah Pops, it's me," I said shoving the gargantuan dog to the side and attempted to smooth down my ruffled façade.
"Come here for am moment. We need to talk."
What was it, four in the morning? Why was this man still awake? And more importantly, what did he want with me at this ungodly hour? This had better not be about me urinating on the front lawn last night. I was piss ass drunk and couldn't make it to the bathroom, so sue me. Can a girl catch a break? Cripes, I hope they didn't have me on camera.
Begrudgingly, I followed the light streaming from the expansive office to my right. Why did his office have to be in the front of the house?
The man was killing me.
I fell against the threshold and used my hand to shield the brightness from the ten or so lamps that were blazing before it blinded me. "You wanted something?" I asked edgily, eager to get to my room so I could promptly black out.
I expected him to frown and comment on the alcohol I knew was radiating from my pores or bring up last night's escapade, but when a thick, uncomfortable silence descended from thin air, my body went on high alert. Something was up. The unease wafting in the room was palpable.
And my father was never easily perturbed.
My eyes narrowed. "What's wrong?"
He hesitated with his response. His usual unruffled demeanor oddly frayed. The copious mane of jet black that was so similar to my own was disheveled and looked as though he'd been running his fingers through it for the past hour. His navy blue, collared shirt was crumpled and half tucked into his black slacks, half sticking out with a tie that had long ago been tossed on the ceramic tiles of the floor.
He never leaves his things carelessly strewn about, and on the floor no less. My father thrust his hands through his hair again and finally met my gaze. Tired brown eyes sought what seemed to be forgiveness for something that escaped my knowledge, or maybe had yet to be mentioned. "Layla," he began nervously, his Adam's apple bobbing like crazy up and down his throat.
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. Would he spit it out already? I hated beating around the bush. Did he want me to stop partying so late? Clean my room? (Though I don't know why since we have an arsenal of hired help to do that) Wear conservative clothing? Rediscover my Egyptian roots? Become a nicer person?
"I've set up an arranged marriage between you and one of my business associates, whom you'll be meeting tomorrow for a luncheon," he blurted quickly, as if the words were blasphemous and the mere presence scalded his tongue.
I blinked once, twice, then turned around and walked towards the spiraling steps, my happy-go-lucky purebred trotting obliviously behind me. I didn't have time to put up with his BS this early in the morning. Darkness crept from every corner of my mind and threatened to overtake my vision any minute. I made it to my room by the grace of some higher being and fell facedown on the satin sheets. Ah, my bed, what would I do without my baby? The tempting arms of sleep effortlessly enveloped me into a world of unicorns and pink elephants where annoying fathers didn't exist with half-baked propositions of matrimony. Ah, the bliss of ignorance, if only it could last forever.
AN: Review and tell me what you think!