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 however is expecting that you will be handed your father’s share. It is common to assume that since you are your father’s only child, that you be handed the reigns of the organization. They also know you are not capable of managing the chairmanship, and are hoping to overrule you.”
“I did not realize the situation would be that serious,” she sadly lamented. Their conversation was halted when one of the maids knocked and entered with a tray of coffee cups and saucers. After serving, she curtsied and excused herself from their presence.
“The shipping company is your grandfather’s legacy, and now to be your father’s,” Rosalie explained after sipping her tea. “You never really made an effort to study the family business. It is essential for you to realize the gravity of it, and the risk Jared will be taking once he oversees it.”
“I apologize for my lack of effort,” she admitted in defeat. “But I don’t understand…”
Rosalie heaved a sigh before continuing. “Your father will hand his financial & administrative power to your future husband. Although you are his daughter and is this family’s sole heiress, the business side of running it will be given to Jared, and all the powers associated with it. Not all members of the Board at Cunard Shipping will welcome that decision. Both of you must expect a lot of opposition, and you must be ready to support him whatever circumstance.”
“You so much trust him with handling that kind of responsibility, but that doesn’t change the fact that I hardly know him,” she argued ostensibly not understanding why they had to even dictate these things to her like a brainless child.
“Must you be so stubborn?” Rosalie hissed as she started to lose her composure, involuntarily replacing the cup and saucers a lit bit harder making a sound of clattering dishes. “You’re supposed to be matured enough to deal with these in a very subtle and diplomatic way. I expected more from you than your selfish attitude and close mindedness.”
Aurora was caught off guard with her mother’s show of temper. She had known her to be as cool and as calm but tonight, her mother looked agitated – at her.
“I was twenty-two when your grandmamma told me I was to marry,” Rosalie further explained her voice calm and collected but it bore an authority by which Aurora deemed irritation – at her. “I was frightened. I eventually learned that the marriage was for a merger, and that your father was marrying me for my money to save Cunard which was already in the brink of ruin from its competition. It was not love at first sight. He loathed me, because of the money I brought him and I was Austrian and thought our family was an ally of the Nazis and did not even bed me after our wedding. It took more than a year before our marriage was consummated.”
Hearing this, Aurora stared motionless at her mother. The shock was overwhelming, and it rendered her speechless.
“I never gave up on your father,” her mother continued and Aurora’s attention was riveted on her every word. “He was unfaithful during the first couple of years. I knew this because the maids gossiped and it was not uncommon for English gentlemen to keep mistresses. He was always out of town and I felt alone in a country I was not familiar with. I could not even speak fluent English. But I persevered because I was falling in love with him. I told him I will no longer tolerate his infidelity and when he tried to control me, I fought him. I learned how to deprive him of his husbandly rights, and I learned how to speak the language. He was a silent but ruthless man but he had a kind heart. On our third year of marriage, I got pregnant with you. That changed him and I finally felt his care. When you turned one, he admitted that he was in love with me all along, and that he was just too proud to even succumb to the unfamiliar emotion. He said he did not intend to fall in love with me, but knew it was inevitable. It was the happiest day of my life. He was the very first man who kissed and touched me, and he will be the last.”
She did not understand why but she felt humbled at the same time reprimanded upon hearing her mother’s confession. It also gave her a feeling of renewed joy and hope that maybe there’s a possibility of a happy ending for her and Jared.
“You’re very blessed, mama” she remarked sincerely giving her mother a hug.
Rosalie held her hand. “I’m telling you this because I need you to understand the difficulty and the sacrifices you and Jared must make to actually have a marriage. Everyday, choose to stay married. Always choose him. It is difficult but not impossible.”
“I admire what you and father have, and I shall remember that,” Aurora nodded her agreement, not sure though if she believes it or not.
“Your stubbornness and willfulness cannot help you,” Rosalie added. “Get rid of your doubts and selfish thoughts. This is no longer about what you want. Your father and I already gave you so much of your freedom when we allowed you to pursue medicine at Stanford. But you have an obligation to this family, and your father’s legacy. We all do. Give Jared the support he will need from you and be there for him at all times just as I did with your father.”
She nodded again, feeling like a robot but knew her mother had a very strong point. Arguing would only stress her mother more. If she had more energy, she would have argued that the man was a manipulative rake. It was not the time for that, though.
They both heard her father and Jared approach the common room. As soon as she saw him, she noticed he was smiling while chatting with her father. She wondered what her father told the man to make him break into such a charming grin. He really was one hell of a sexy creature, to Aurora’s dismay.
“Jared must take his leave,” Paul announced as he entered the common room. His affectionate gaze was directed at Rosalie, which Aurora noticed. “You have to postpone your wedding ideas for next week, darling, after their trip from New York.”
Aurora watched his father held her mother’s hand as she stood from the sofa and gave her a kiss on her forehead. What a love story her parents had, she now realized. Thinking about it, if she were in her mother’s shoes, she would have never tolerated the infidelity and the sacrifice her mother went through. Now, looking at the both of them together for more than thirty years, it seemed that persistence and perseverance worked well for them. She was not sure however, if it will be enough for her and Jared.
“Shall I take you back to your apartment, or do you wish to stay here for the night?” Jared asked, making her direct her attention to him.
She looked at her parents, and was torn between staying for the night to spend time with her father and wanting to be alone to think things through. Tonight’s revelations were just beginning to sink in her cerebellum and there was tomorrow’s New York trip with her betrothed. She has not even started packing yet. She was not certain also if she has a decent gown to wear for Saturday.
“Oh heavens,” she muttered totally caught off guard with the realization. “I must return to the apartment…”
“Is everything alright?” Rosalie inquired, touching her daughter’s face. “You look rather pale…”
“Yes, mama,” she smilingly replied and gave her and Paul a kiss. “I just need to make last minute appointments for Saturday. I’ll call both of you tomorrow.” She turned to Jared and instinctively placed her hand on his arm. Jared bid his farewell, shook the hand of Paul, and kissed Rosalie’s hand before escorting Aurora out towards the main door where his SUV was parked.
Inside the vehicle, when they were already approaching the highway on their way to the city center, Jared glanced at her somewhat perturbed profile. She seemed deep in thought.
“Something bothering you?” he finally asked somewhat irritated with the fact that her mere facial expressions can stimulate his interest without difficulty.
“Yes,” she replied while forcing a laugh for the mediocrity of it. “Kinda pathetic actually but still a problem as of now…”
He glanced at her again before returning his focus on the road ahead. “Well, what is it?”
“I’m not sure I have an appropriate dress yet,” she murmured but enough for Jared to hear. He gave her a look which Aurora defined as a smile and a scowl or something in between.
“You don’t need a dress,” he replied instead. “You need a gown. And I need you looking fabulous in that sea of phony personalities so when they ask me who am I with, I would simply tell them the truth that I’m with the Countess of Bavaria. That way, they will all shut up and leave you alone.”
“Wow,” she whispered in reply. “Was that supposed to encourage me?”
He broke into a grin and simply said. “Call your stylist. She’ll worry about it for you.”
This time, Aurora looked at him like he was out of his mind. “I hate to break it to you, but I don’t have one.”
She heard him sigh deeply as if the situation was trying his patience. “I don’t remember concerning myself with women’s dresses before,” he unconsciously blurted out.
She wanted to curse him but decided it was unladylike. “Perhaps you never dated commoners before…” she remarked sarcastically.
“Why don’t you call your mother’s stylist?” he asked, deliberately ignoring her jibe about his dating preferences.
“She does not have one either,” she retorted. “Don’t concern yourself. I’ll manage”. She assured him as she began texting messages to her friends who were in New York.
“Seriously, Aurora” he emphasized his concern as they neared Marlborough Street. “Let me know if you need assistance. I can make some phone calls…”
“It’s fine,” she insisted her voice irritated and upset. “I said I can manage. Worse comes to worst, I would just have to settle for last minute shopping in Manhattan tomorrow.”
“Would you like to leave earlier tomorrow so you will have enough time?”
“Might as well,” she reluctantly decided while heaving a deep sigh of what looms ahead. “Is ten in the morning possible?”
“My phone’s dead and I don't have my charger with me. My pilots have to be notified. I would have to issue Renata some instructions before she retires for the night” he said. They were nearing her apartment building and were pulling over the front entrance.
“What time’s her bed time? My phone’s nearing dead too,” Aurora noticed, her attention riveted in her phone’s battery icon to be 2% left.
“Nine,” he replied and then checked the clock in the dashboard. It blinked 08:45. “You have a phone I can use upstairs?”
She nodded an affirmative. “Why don’t you drive around the back entrance? You can use the available parking slot,” she invited and Jared maneuvered the steering wheel towards the back entrance.
Hers was a two-bedroom apartment with approximately 2,000 square feet complete with a functional kitchen, study, a living room and dining place facing the historic Worcester Square. Aurora opted to purchase a more practical and a cheaper studio flat but her mother insisted that every good home must at least have a guest room. Her father’s real estate agents offered several apartments to choose from and so she decided on this because of its quiet neighborhood and proximity to the hospital.
“The phone’s at the study,” she stated the moment she unlocked the door and ushered him in. After she switched on the lights, she pointed at her left side where a small room was located. “Do you want to stay for coffee?”
He was walking towards the study when he heard her invitation.
“I would like to stay for the night”.
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
Aurora nodded and sipped her wine and fixed her attention to Louise. “I met Jared during one of Eleanor’s cover photo shoots with us. We were on location in Paris where she was also shooting her then movie Night Glass wherein we all know she won an Academy for Best Actress last February.” “Was Jared with her during the ceremony?” Aurora dared to ask not sure if she was going to like the answer. Louise nodded disgustingly and added, “They were inseparable. They have been together for nearly two years now. It’s the longest relationship we’ve seen of Jared so far, then the Marseilles pictures released by Us Magazine which catapulted the engagement issue.” “Do you think he loves her?” “I can’t answer that because he’s charming to all his women even before Eleanor. How he acts with his women in public? Based on images produced by the paparazzi, he’s very much into PDA, and extremely physical. From what I heard and see, he’s the same with a
What’s gotten in him lately, Jared was not entirely sure. But he felt foolish almost childish how impatient he was getting. He never knew himself to be impatient when it comes to women. He took his sweet time pursuing them and he enjoyed it. Not this time, he realized. When it came with his betrothed, a woman he barely knew – his patience was wearing thin by the minute and he wanted to strangle himself for being too possessive and careless. Is it because he knew she was figuratively born for him? The thought of it was shocking but the reality was Aurora was betrothed to him the moment she was born. Knowing that fact somehow made a significant difference, though never in his right mind did he think that he would feel so impatient, possessive and arrogantly careless to assume that Aurora would simply give in to his charms? For one, he realized while he was fixing his bow-tie in front of the mirror, his past ladies were easy to please. Jared was not entirely sure if Aurora would fit th
The Metropolitan Museum was the venue for tonight’s gala charity dinner hosted by Vogue magazine and the moment their vehicle parked in front of the red carpet, cameras began flashing simultaneously, it was blinding. “Heavens,” Aurora muttered silently to herself. She needed to calm her nerves and she was thankful Jared exited the limo first and took his time claiming her. The moment Jared stepped foot out of the vehicle, Aurora heard simultaneous screaming and yelling, calling Jared’s name in all sides. “Mr Rickford, look this way please. Mr Rickford, to your right. Jared, who’s your date tonight?” To Aurora’s delighted shock, she heard him say loudly to the panicking paparazzis, “My fiancée,” he remarked proudly. Then he bent down and assisted her as she exited the vehicle. She gave him a grateful look as she placed her hand in his secure ones and gently lifted herself from the vehicle to stand gracefully beside him as the media people with their cameras an
He returned to the hotel around eight the following morning, hoping to talk to Aurora about last night. He felt guilty misleading her to thinking that he was actually ready to marry her when in fact, he was not sure if he was eager to let go of his convenient relationship with Eleanor. In just a few days, he was aware that he made Aurora feel he was interested in her, kissing her, and making sexual advances towards her, even cared for her. And he did. But he was now sure he is not willing to commit to her. Last night, after a blissful night with Eleanor, he stayed up and pondered what may be the best solution to their situation. She needed to know the truth, and what he can only give her. He was passing through the front desk on his way to the elevators when one of the front desk personnel called out to him. “Good morning Mr Rickford,” the front desk officer named Joanne greeted. “Good morning,” Jared replied. “I have a message for you here from Ms Cu
They were legally married five days later and had an intimate societal wedding two months after they both amicably agreed upon their internal arrangement, in a chapel in Boston. She wore a ready to wear wedding dress by Elie Saab – a gift by the designer himself. They were surrounded by family and friends who were there to witness a business merger rather than a uniting of hearts. Louise took upon herself the necessity of acquiring a competent yet very expensive wedding organizer who could accomplish everything in a month’s time. She also managed to convince both bride and groom of giving her magazine exclusive rights to the publicity of the wedding. It was necessary for the what kind of attention their union was to come. It was madness, but it was possible. By the end of the week, the invites were sent and a formal announcement was made to both London Times and New York Times. By rights, Rosalie Cunard ensured that she would have the wedding she was dreaming of for her