My parents and I arrived at the hotel where the gala was held and walked into the reception area. It was gorgeously done with gold as the theme color. The decor looked amazing and so did everyone else. It was a black tie gala and all the men were in tuxedos while all the women were in floor-length gowns.
I suddenly remembered why I never took part in these parties. They made me nervous because I didn't know how to behave in these situations--all the business talks really bored me and I wouldn't know what they were talking about. My father spoiled me and never forced me to attend any of his company's functions. The one time where I did attend was only because I knew Artemis would be there. I guess today was no different—I was only here because I knew he would be here.
My parents and I separated since they had their assigned seats while I was at the table for the 'extras.' I went to grab some appetizers from the cocktail table since I haven't had anything since breakfast. I had been busy all day trying to get ready with picking the gown and having hair and makeup done.
I really liked the makeup artist and the hair stylist my mom picked. My makeup was natural and it only enhances how I looked instead of transforming me into a different person. As for my hair, it was loosely braided on both sides and pulled into a natural relaxed bun at the back of my head.
After sitting down and exchanging some pleasant inconsequential remarks with the people around my table, I started eating my food. After a short while, the rest of the people started taking their seats and the announcer made introductions. Artemis's name came up and he entered with a woman in his arm—it was none other than Miss Botox-lip. I suddenly stood up, and he looked over at me since I was the only one standing.
He didn't show any reaction besides a very brief narrowed of the eyes. It was gone as fast as it had come. He turned back to the announcer and walked to the front table, completely ignoring me. I slowly sat back down, unaware of the eyes on me since I only had my eyes on him, on them.
Miss plump lips was wearing a lacy magenta gown with a plunging neckline that showed off her assets. She had her hand in the crook of his arm and walked smugly next to him with a big grin on her face like she had won miss pageant.
He looked even more stunning today in his tailored black tuxedo and black tie than his usual designer suits. He looked extremely attractive even from the back.
As Artemis and his date walked to the front, all the women nearby were whispering like bees buzzing around me.
"Oh my God. That's Artemis Jame? He's freaking gorgeous."
"I know! Me want some of that."
"Who's that lady next to him? Is that his girlfriend?"
"She's pretty but he could do better."
"Don't know who she is but she's one lucky lady."
"I might be able to snatch him away."
"I think she might his fiance."
"Rumors are floating around that he might be married."
"What? He's already taken?"
"There goes my chance."
"So is that his wife?"
My hands clenched into fists.
My heart felt a tight squeeze and my insides knotted uncomfortably. What the hell was going on? Was this why he didn't want me to go so he could go with another woman? Was he ashamed of me that he had to go with someone else? Why the hell did he marry me then? Was this just a game to him?
My mind was bombarded with dozens of questions and I couldn't breathe. I didn't realize I had been holding my breath the moment he entered the room. I felt my fingernails digging into my palms and I slowly released them.
Artemis made it on stage to give a speech and I couldn't register anything he said. All I could focus on was the woman standing next to him and all the whispers that continued in the background. I sat there frozen, mentally and physically. Suddenly, people started clapping and the noise broke me out of my thoughts. I got up and made my way to the balcony. I needed some fresh air because I felt suffocated in there.
It was chilly out but I welcomed the cold air biting at my skin. I wanted something else to take my attention away from what I was feeling right now. Goosebumps appeared on my boby as the breeze relentless hit my exposed skin—my face, my neck, my shoulders and my back—but all I felt was numbness.
"What's a pretty girl like you doing out here all alone?" A male voice said behind me. I turned to greet the newcomer.
"Hi." He smiled and put out his hand. "I'm Erin. Erin Davis."
"Hi." I took his hand. "I'm Grace." He looked young, probably around my age. He was handsome with a boyish face.
He held my hand a little longer than normal and I tried to take my hand back.
"Oh sorry." He laughed sheepishly and let go. "So are you trying to get away from the reception like I am?"
"Yeah. I guess you could say that." I said indifferently.
"Me too." He said as he put both of his arms on the balcony railing and looked straight ahead. He was taller than me but shorter than Artemis. "I get bored at these functions but my father forced me to go since I'm supposed to take over his company when he retires in 5 years." He looked back at me. "So here I am, learning the ropes of things."
I gave him a small smile as I put my arms on the railing as well. "Lucky for me, my father gave up that idea a long time ago. He knew I wasn't interested in the family business so he never forced me to go to these things."
"Then why are you here?" He asked with a smile.
"I-I...Well..." I stuttered.
"So here you are." A familiar voice said behind us. We both turned to see Artemis standing in the doorway and my heart half jumped and half squeezed. I was happy to see him but it was painful as well. Was he looking for me? I thought hopefully.
"Your father Mr. Davis is looking for you." Artemis said coolly.
Erin groaned. "Already?" He looked over at me and said brightly. "Well, it was nice meeting you, Grace. I hope I'll see you again." I smiled and slightly nodded.
After Erin left, Artemis walked right up to me and asked. "What are you doing here?"
He sounded calm but I could feel tension in his body. We were only a foot apart and I was finding it hard to breathe.
"Why can't I be here?" I asked opposingly even though it came out as a whisper.
"I don't want you here." He said offhandedly.
"What you want and what I want are two different things." I looked up at him. "And I can and will do what I please."
His eyes narrowed and I stopped breathing. He suddenly grabbed my wrist and dragged me away--away from the reception, away from the people, away from help. The balcony was at the back of the party so no one noticed when Artemis pulled me toward the hotel front desk. I tried to jerk my hand away but his fingers were locked around my wrist like handcuffs.
He booked us a room and continued to haul me into the elevator.
"What do you want?" I snapped as I tried to get out of his grasp without success.
He didn't answer and the elevator dinged when we made it to the top floor. He tugged me to the room, opened it, forced me in and locked the door behind us. I stood there glaring at him, my hand rubbing the wrist he had finally released.
"What do you want?" I asked again, more calmly this time.
"I want you to listen to me when I tell you to do something." His eyebrows furrowed as he stared back at me. We were a couple yards apart and I could feel the tension crackling in the air.
"You mean you want me to obey you when you give me an order." I countered. "Why don't you go back to your date and just leave me alone?" I spat out even though I didn't want him to leave me at all.
He briefly narrowed his eyes and then relaxed them as he walked to a nearby chair and sat down with his elbows on his knees. "I'm doing this for your own good."
"My own good?" I snickered. "Really? How come I didn't know anything about it?"
"For now, you just need to trust me." He said nonchalantly.
"Trust you." I said softly and repeated it louder the second time. "Trust you. What right do you have to ask me to trust you?" I could feel myself slowly breaking down and about to fall apart. "Besides having husband rights, which isn't much, what other right do you have to ask me to trust you when you have done nothing to earn that trust?"
I continued, my voice dripped with frustration. "I know I'm not one to talk since I married you to help my father's company but at least that part was transparent."
I paused and then persisted. "But you, I don't even know why you married me. What was in it for you? Was it just a game for you? Was this all just a game that was supposed to end in a month?"
My hand shot up and clenched the fabric on the chest. My heart ached and I didn't know why. My eyes stung and tears fell down my cheeks and for once, I couldn't hold it in any longer. He immediately stood up and got next to me within a few quick steps. His hands grabbed my shoulders as he looked at me with concern in his beautiful darkened eyes.
"That's why you didn't want the world to know that I'm your lawfully wedded wife or that I deserve to know more than what you're willing to tell me?" My voice shook with emotions I couldn't control. "How could you even ask about trust when there wasn't any to begin with? It's one thing to have trust and then lose it but it's another to never had it at all and ask for it. Don't you think that's a lot to ask?"
He embraced me as I sobbed into his chest. "I feel like we're strangers, like I don't know who you are at all." I mumbled between sobs.
"Alright. I'm willing to answer one of your questions in order to earn a little trust from you." He finally said. "Just one."