"Well, I'll take him if you don't want him." She said playfully and winked at me. "One good thing about being with the biggest asshole is that whoever comes after him will seem like prince charming."
I rolled my eyes and took another bite of my steak tacos. "That sounds so reassuring."
"I try." She grinned showing her cute dimples and threw the last bite of tacos into her mouth.
I gave her a mocking smile. "I can always depend on you to find a silver lining in the darkest of clouds."
"Yup. That's me—always the optimist. Anyway." She switched to a more serious tone as she picked up a chip and dipped it in the salsa. "Your parents seem like loving parents. I can't imagine them pushing you to marry a stranger out of selfishness and completely ignore your happiness."
"That's what I thought too but they really believe that Artemis will be a good husband to me. They seem sure on that fact but I feel like they must've been living under rock if they haven't heard all the ugly rumors surrounding him."
"Or they heard but decided not to believe it." She countered.
We both finished our meals and grabbed everything to throw away. Once we were outside, I continued as we walked back toward the academic buildings. "Anyway, Artemis and I...well, we're kind of strangers but at the same time we're not."
"What do you mean?" Pru was confused by my vagueness.
"We knew each other when we were kids. Our parents were good friends so we went over to each other's houses a lot."
We passed by the enormous library where a bunch students were sporadically spread out on the grass—some laughing and chatting while others quietly studying.
"We were friends up until I turned seven, he was twelve. That was the year that it all changed. His mother died in a car accident and then Artemis vanished." I sighed as I recollected our past.
"I didn't see him at his mother's funeral either. I kept asking my dad about Artemis but my dad always said the same thing, that Mr. Jame had sent him to a school far away. And after that I stopped asking."
"What happened to him?" She asked curiously.
"I don't know. Even now I still don't know what really happened to him." I didn't realize I was still holding on to this—the emptiness and sadness I felt after his disappearance—because the more I talked about it the sadder I got.
"I didn't see him again until the year I graduated high school. I attended my first gala with my parents for a charity Mr. Jame threw. I met Artemis there and I was so excited to see him and wanted to ask him where he had been all these years and catch up. But when we locked eyes, he seemed so distant and indifferent that it stopped me from approaching him. That and he was surrounded by a bunch of girls so I decided to avoid him altogether."
A tear escaped down my cheek and I quickly wiped it away. What the heck. Why am I crying? I guess I was hurt that day but I pretended that I wasn't and have been in denial ever since. Who was I kidding. He didn't care about me and probably didn't even remember me. Eleven years of being away versus my seven years of childhood memories; my pathetic seven years would lose to his eleven years of outside influence. He probably met a lot of people and had many life changing experiences that he didn't give a second thought about me.
"Luckily, college started soon after, I got busy and didn't give him much thought until now. Out of sight out of mind, I guess." I gave a dispirited smile. "And now, here we are, married." I sighed.
"I feel that we are closer to being strangers than friends since he seems so different from the guy I grew up with." I pondered. "Besides his eye color, everything else is different: his looks, his behavior, even his eyes—they used to be friendly but now they hold only mischief and something else."
We made it to our destination—another science building.
"Maybe the guy you knew is still in there somewhere. I feel like there's more to it if your parents agreed to let you married him." She said after some thought.
"I got that feeling too but then why wouldn't they tell me?" I asked angrily. "If there's more behind the scenes I mean. I deserve to know since I married the guy." I got more frustrated.
We arrived at our class, Biology Seminar. Oh how I hate this class. However, I knew I had to get used to it because there would be more of this if I decided to go to medical school afterward. Pru was, without a doubt, definitely going to medical school. She would get a high score on her MCAT, being as smart as she was, and would get accepted immediately. I, on the other hand, had no courage on registering to take the test...yet.
Our classes went by slowly with me participating once while Pru participated 5 times. She was outspoken and had an opinion on each of the 5 primary literatures that we read and discussed.
After class, I said bye to Pru and walked to my car. My body relaxed now that classes were over. I got in my car, before turning on the ignition, I called my father. He picked up after the fourth ring.
"Hi honey. How's married life?" He softly chuckled from the other end.
How could he be laughing right now? I couldn't find anything entertaining at all about my situation.
I huffed in annoyance. "It sucks!" I whined while he chuckled louder.
"It can't be that bad." He said with amusement. "Are you picking on Artemis?"
My brows creased and my jaw dropped. "Where's my father and what have you done with him?" I was hurt and frustrated. "Dad! This is your favorite only daughter here. How could you possibly think I could pick on Artemis? He picking on me is way more likely."
"Alright. I believe you." He said agreeably even though he sounded like he still believed Artemis to be the more probable victim. What was going on? Did Artemis bribe my dad? Why was my dad taking his side and not mine—his own daughter?
"Dad!" I complained. "What's this thing about 'producing an heir' that Artemis mentioned?"
"Well, isn't that part of what being married is all about? That you'll eventually have kids." I could feel him grinning widely from the other end.
"But was it in the contract? I don't remember it being specified in the agreement when I read it the first time." My voice dripped with agitation.
"It wasn't but Artemis added that at the last minute and I agreed to it since it seemed natural that you would give him an heir at some point in your marriage." He sounded as though he didn't understand why I was making such a big deal out of nothing.
I sighed. "Did he add anything else at the last minute?"
"No, dear. That was it."
I exhaled loudly. "Okay. Good!"
"Sorry, honey, but I have to go. Your mother and I will see you at the gala this weekend." He hung up before I could ask 'what gala?'
I stared at my phone in dismay when it suddenly dinged. A text message from an unknown number popped up.
I opened the message and it said: Mr. Jame's meeting has been prolonged. He won't be able to make it to dinner. Please don't wait up.
I snickered as I read the words. Please, like I would wait around to have dinner with him. When it came to food, I would not wait for anybody, least of all, him. And he had the nerve to ask someone else, maybe an assistant, to text me instead of doing it himself.
By the time I pulled out of the school parking lot, it was already 5:00 p.m. so I decided to grab some food on the way home.
After a full belly and feeling fresh from a recent shower, I started to work on Biology Seminar homework. I sat on my bed with my back facing the door. I turned on my MacBook and started doing searches on the net for primary scientific literatures for my essays.
Ten minutes in and I heard movements downstairs through my open bedroom door. I guessed he was home. I sat rigid wondering if he would come into my room.
My body hummed with anticipation as the sound of his footsteps got closer and stopped right behind me. He bent down, his hands on my bed, with his arms stood paralleled to mine as they supported him.
He placed his face an inch from mine, his right cheek almost touching my left, and whispered. "Hello, wife." His voice low and full of sweetness. "Did you miss me?"