“How do you want our betrothal to go forward?”
“I thought you’ve decided that you and I will marry?”
“Yes. That is already decided for both our families,” he acknowledged. “My question is how do you want it to unfold? Do you want it announced in the papers suddenly? Your call. Let me know what’s comfortable for you.”
Aurora nodded in agreement and gave him a grateful smile. “I prefer that you and I cut all strings that are currently attached to our personal lives before going forward. I’d like to go into this arrangement with clear expectations and terms if there’s any. I am not the only person in this arrangement whose life is going to change. You must also tell me how you want this to be treated”.
“I understand. Perhaps it is necessary that you and I spend a bit more time together to figure out how we both want to proceed and decide on those expectations and terms along the way. Would that work for you?”
“Can you be more specific about spending a bit more time together? What do you mean by that exactly?”
If Jared was surprised of this clarification, he did not show it. At the back of his mind, if he did not know better, his betrothed is not that well-versed in the language of dating.
“I mean to date you, Aurora. So specifically, you can expect that I would be taking you out for lunch or dinner, or if there’s a social event for me to attend I shall be bringing you along. Is that all right with you? And did I clarify your confusion?”
“Perhaps,” she remarked her voice low in almost a whisper then gathered her hand bag and gently tapped her mouth with a clean table napkin and pasted a smile on her face and looked at him directly and uttered, “Shall we go?” her tone of voice devoid of any depressing inflection whatsoever.
He could hardy hear her when she said it but he heard it just fine. She even managed to look regally poised and sound casually modest when she said the words - such a contradicting show of disposition to Jared’s assessment. And then he witnessed her behavior switch from a vulnerable one to someone so detached almost indifferent persona as if she didn’t just reveal something very personal about her inner thoughts. Perhaps, she did not mean to, Jared thoughtfully mused. He felt the need to apologize and was about to when she arose from her seat and excused herself to proceed to the lavatory, and he felt his tongue slide at the back of his throat, and simply nodded instead.
Their trip on their way to her apartment was silent not because neither wanted to talk but because both were busy attending to text messages and missed calls. Jared stayed on the line for the entire drive giving Renata instructions for tomorrow’s board meeting, while Aurora answered text messages from her supervisor regarding her duty schedule on the next three days. Apparently, her usual 11am schedule of hospital rounds will be shifted to a very early 7am the following day until the coming week to give way to her absence on Friday and Saturday which she asked approval for when she was waiting for Jared in the diner.
When at last they arrived in her building in Marlborough Street, Jared hang up, parked the car near the curb in front of her building and reached out across her to open the door for her. “I’ll call you tomorrow to discuss the details for Friday,” he casually stated.
Aurora nodded her affirmative and exited the vehicle and said her thanks. She closed the vehicle door and was about to walk up to her apartment building entrance when she heard him call out, with car window opened. She turned half way to glance at him wondering what he would say now that she felt awfully tired.
“Aren’t you going to invite me for a cup of coffee?” he asked half-serious and half-jokingly, he wasn’t entirely sure. He saw her smile and said,
“Not tonight. I have an early start tomorrow. Good night!” she said and waved gently at him. He looked quite indescribable, Aurora noticed. And then she saw him nod and said in a voice quite cold, “night.”
He awoke earlier than his usual routine of 8am and murmured an expletive when he checked his watch revealing that it was only six thirty. He decided to proceed to the hospital to check on the old man before setting off to work. On his way to the hospital, passing by the corner of Marlborough Street his thoughts led to Aurora. She was an interesting woman, he mused his gaze focused on the view outside his left window. She was mysterious and approachable at the same time which was entirely a rare mix. He knew she was of wealthy ancestry and her revelation about her way of earning her money was of unusual proportions. He himself came from one of Boston’s elite families and knew that majority of them especially women have large trust funds which they can put their hands into by the age of 18. Difficult to believe but he was more of leaning to her side of truth observing how unspoiled she is – and totally opposite from the type of women he is frequently photographed dating. They were classy and quite lovely women but also fiery, flamboyant sometimes, and attention seeking – traits he mostly admire in bed. Aurora was subtle and elegantly simple. Conservative in nature, he also noticed and immediately wondered if they would suit each others taste on that subject. She avoided his advances the first and she declined his gesture of coffee on second. She could talk about her family and self with ease and no hauteur but when it comes to other – rather more personal topics pertaining to her she was incredibly vague, defensive almost in Jared’s estimation. She was a walking contradictory. And that fact, to his surprise piqued his interest the most.
He was half thankful to find out last night when he decided to pay him a random visit that his father was no longer contained in the ICU. Upon seeing him, his father started ordering people to get him out of the facility insisting that he felt fine and was ready to go home. Jared knew and through explanation of other attending physicians that it was not possible for his wound was still very fragile. His vital signs began to weaken after arguing making Jared curse himself not knowing how to discipline the old man. He instructed them to transfer him in a private suite and called his father’s manor in Chestnut Hill instructing Rosario – the senior housekeeper of the Rickfords to ready herself to be fetched by Sasha in an hour to proceed to the hospital to watch his father through the night. Looking at him now, the old man was peacefully asleep. On the chair just a meter away from his side was Rosario, his family’s senior housekeeper for nearly twenty-five years. She was a woman of nearly 60 years but with a physique of a forty-year-old, with gray hair, and gray eyes which exudes motherly warmth. She awoke even before Jared entered the room.
“Mister Jared,” Rosario stood from her lying position and greeted him frantically. “I’m sorry I overslept.”
“It’s fine, continue your rest” he acknowledged as he closed the door behind him and sat himself in the vacant chair beside the old man. “It’s only seven in the morning. Did he have a fit?”
The older woman shook her head and smiled warmly. She began fixing the sofa bed and the blankets before facing her employer’s son. “Before you left, the nurses injected some medicine in his IV and he was fast asleep almost immediately. You had breakfast sir? I can go out to buy you some coffee and donuts perhaps?”
“Yeah,” Jared replied and reached for his wallet to give Rosario some cash. “Coffee and donuts would be nice. You might want to buy the old man some apples. You can take the car. Sasha’s out front.”
“No need for the cash,” Rosario replied giving Jared a reproving look. “You forget I handle the kitchen budget.
“Oh, yes” he nodded totally forgetting that his family follows a corporate system when running the manor in Chestnut Hill. Each department has specific budget done by his mother and when she died, Rosario continued the process. It has worked well since. “I totally forgot.”
Rosario gave him a sad smile before walking towards the door. “How can you not forget, you haven’t been home for nearly a decade”, he muttered before the leaving the room and closing the door behind her.
A moment later, Jared found himself leaning closer to the bed where his father lay and looked at the surrounding medical equipment around him, the clicking medical patient monitor machine, several dextrose, the and began speaking in a very quiet yet rough voice.
“I hope you can hear me coz this is the only time that I have the courage to say it to your face,” he began his voice low and angry. “I never understood your ways. You were so tough after mother died. I gave you what you’ve demanded from me. I gave you excellence not because you demanded it, but because I wanted to exceed your expectations. But damn you, you’re never satisfied. I’ve sacrificed my dream for the company coz you asked for it. And now this. After ten years… you ask for my life in exchange for something you don’t need. The company is at its best. We both know this marriage is not necessary. I haven’t met her before and you want us to get married! It’s madness.” Jared heaved a sigh before brushing his hair with his fingers in frustration. “Dammit, father.”
After a few minute’s silence, Jared noticed his father move his fingers and he heard him utter some words. Then Jared heard it – the faint but clear voice of his old man saying: “I’m sorry, son.”
He wasn’t sure how to respond. Then his father opened his eyes and the old man motioned him to come closer. “You have met her before. It was a long time ago,” George added. His voice was stronger now as he recovers from his drug-induced sleep. Jared’s attention was now fully on his father’s words. “If I did, when was this? I don’t recall anyone named Aurora.” “You met when both of you were still children,” his father explained and Jared immediately understood why he could not seem to recall her. “You were with us at her Christening. You were only eight years old then.” “I presume that’s the time when you and mother decided on the betrothal,” he concluded. “Though I don’t think that meeting counts. We would not recognize each other at all.” “She asked me to allow you to be betrothed to Paul Cunard’s daughter the moment she found out of Rosalie’s pregnancy. Your mother is half British and half Austrian, and she’s best friends with Rosalie. They communic
It took her five hours to finish the surgery, and the moment she left the operating theater, her colleagues started teasing her. When she went to the nurses’ station, they joined in the teasing too.“Stop it guys, please” she pleaded, her face red to the roots of her hair.“That was some kiss, Dr Cunard” one of her male co-surgeon, Dave teased. He was a tall man with green eyes and curly brown hair and wears a spectacle just below the bridge of his straight nose. “About time we see you with a guy.”“Not just any guy,” a petite nurse, named Minnie interjected. “The Jared Rickford, no less. He looks hot, Doctor.”She glared at them and shook her head in disbelief. “Since when did Jared Rickford become a branded entity of some sort?”“Since he began dating Olga Vladikova” Dave answered before Minnie can. He reached for one of the patient’s records and repla
The common room was a cozy room of carpeted floors, paintings of what seemed relatives of the Cunards or the wife’s. Aurora was seated in one of the cushioned sofa chairs while Paul Cunard poured a glass of scotch in one of the glasses, handed it to Jared and seated himself in the chair behind his oakwood desk. The room also serves as his office, Jared realized. Rosalie Cunard however, is now seated in a trimmed chaise lounge near the fireplace. Jared decided to seat right next to Aurora, as he deemed most fitting. “You called me an asshole?” he whispered in German enough for Aurora to hear. She stared at him and immediately shifted her gaze on the wall. She did not know Jared could understand German. “Yes,” she decided to reply curtly. “Are you going to contradict me?” “That is quite enough,” Paul said in a steely voice, which made Aurora wince. “I can see you don’t get along well the both of you. Might as well learn to set aside your difference soon enough
She was surprised of his gentle gestures but her mind was not on him but her sorrow. She was half thankful and half irritated with the fact that Jared allowed himself to be cried into. His shirt was wet with her tears and now his handkerchief. She finally found reason against her sorrow and whispered a mortified apology for the mess she created. “I made a mess of you…” she uttered her breathing still uneven choking her words in her throat. He shook his head in reply. “Don’t mind it. Let’s get you some water…” he muttered as he held her hand in his and walked towards the mini bar where her father’s drinks were kept. He poured some in a clean glass and handed it to her to drink. She took a sip and replaced the glass on the shelf. “I need some air,” she said her voice still shaking, her eyes still in shock. “Come,” he instinctively wrapped his arm around her. Aurora wanted to remove herself from his wrapped arm but she felt tired to even exert such effor
Dinner was friendly and casual without delving into much discussion about the impending marriage. After dinner, Jared and her father were deep in discussion about the shipping company and went into the salon to discuss it further. She decided to look for her mother and found her upstairs in her in the common room. “I’ve asked Maude to serve us some tea, why don’t you join me while we wait for the gentlemen to finish their meeting?” her mother invited, gesturing her to sit next to her in the chaise. “They are discussing serious business matters?” she inquired as she sat herself next to her mother. “You can call it that,” Rosalie replied while taking a piece of carrot tart from the desert tray. “Your betrothed will be handling quite a lot once your father transfers his shares to him.” Aurora gazed at her mother worriedly. “Isn’t the company in good financial standing?” Rosalie nodded her affirmative. “It is,” she replied. “Some of the Board howe
She was thankful he was walking towards the study when he voiced that out and did not see her trip over the couch on her way to the kitchen. She almost uttered an expletive of her clumsiness. Her thoughts immediately drifted to what her mother just revealed to her earlier that evening, and so she decided to be agreeable. Heaving a sigh, she replaced her hand bag in the sofa, and prepared the coffeemaker. After placing the coffee beans in the coffeemaker, she walked towards the study and called over, saying “I’ll prepare the guest room.”He kept his gaze on the phone but heard her statement. Apparently, she took his jibe on a serious note. He did not intend to stay for the night he was just trying to irritate her. And her unexpected response made him feel uncomfortable. She was difficult to understand. He shook his head in utter confusion and just decided to call his valet to bring his things over. They were going to be married eventually so might as well sta
He awoke with the smell of freshly brewed coffee and bacon lingering in his nostrils. He barely had enough sleep thinking about the woman. He was not sure if he wanted to be married to her, but he was damn sure he wanted her. She was both complicated and unpredictable a rare mix from the aggressive, confident, often predictable women he was used to dating. As far as he can recall, he was attracted to women who loves to be his arm candy, does not ask too many questions, clingy, dependent on his ability to woe them with materialistic things, and are well experienced in bed. None of the qualities Jared observed on Aurora Cunard. She was defensive, cold, sometimes aloof, sometimes open. She was driving him crazy. But then he found himself in bed for hours, last night thinking how he could at least bring her to heel, and break that icy facade she erected for herself.She heard his bedroom door open indicating that he was awake. She was slicing some apples when he appeared topless
They arrived in New York just before lunchtime. Upon arriving in the airport via Jared’s private jet, they were fetched by a private limousine and took them directly to the Ritz-Carlton. Aurora learned that Jared also has shares on the luxurious hotel chain where they decided to check in. To her surprise, they both found out that Renata reserved a one-bedroom suite instead of a 2-bedroom suite. “Can we request for another room?” she whispered softly making sure no one overhears her. He gave her a scowl. “What for?”, Jared asked. “What do you mean what for?” she countered firmly but still keeping her voice down. She noticed that the front office clerk was smiling at them, waiting patiently for their confirmation. Jared shook his head at her and turned her attention to the hotel attendant. “My fiancée would like a separate room. If you have an available 2-bedroom suite, we’ll take it.” “I understand, Mr. Rickford. Please give me a moment t