Billionaire's Best Mistake: Love After I Do

contract marriage
one-night stand
love after marriage

Clarice works at a bar where she meets Tobias, a young, successful business mogul and scientist with a chain of companies under his name. After drinking his sorrows away, Tobias confides in Clarice that he found out his fiancée had cheated on him and then stood him up on their wedding day. Tobias knows all about Clarice's family debts and offers to clear them all and even get her a job at his company. She just has to do one thing: marry him. He has a reputation to maintain, an ex to avenge, and a father to please.

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Chapter One
I have been staring in the mirror for quite a while, and I can’t tell where my mind is at the moment. I’m supposed to be happy. Today is the day I take that next step in life, but I just can’t seem to be happy about it, and it’s not because I don’t want to do this, I really do, but I’m just nervous that it might fail. I grew up in a failed marriage and the one thing I promised myself was to make sure I was certain about marriage before walking into it, and that’s why, at thirty-five, I never really had that pressure of wanting to get married, but being the first child kind of just had that hidden pressure of me having to do it before my younger brother. I love Ally, no doubt. Hell, I loved her from the moment I set my eyes on her, but then I found out about the mistake she made. The worst part was that I had to find out two days before our wedding, which was a setback that I wasn’t expecting. But we talked it out. And apart from the fact that I love her and don’t want to cancel the wedding, I was glad that she took the step of letting me know before the wedding instead of me finding out on my own after we'd taken the big step. I won’t deny that it hit me like a cold wave. And the fact that it happened six months ago didn’t ease the pain in my heart. I trusted Raphael. I never expected he would go behind my back and seduce the one woman that he introduced me to. And that is why I kindly requested him not to come to our wedding. I do not want to regret what I might do to him if I set my eyes on him. The broken nose and jaw should be enough to keep him away. I look at the tuxedo and try to make it look good, but it just doesn’t feel like it. I always feel good in my suits, but this one is just off. Ally was the one that sent me photos and asked me to order it. She said it would make me look handsome, but I think it was more of its value than the looks of it. I mean, it is a million-dollar suit, and Ally said she wasn’t going to get married to a wealthy man and not spend money on her wedding. She wanted it all. And I gave it all. After all, I work my a.ss off to make the money, and spending it on my woman, makes me happy, so when she asked for the limousine, I said what the hell, when she asked for a cake the size of a royal wedding cake, I said what the hell, but now I just feel like this was all for her. All in all, I’m just glad that I will be able to make her happy. My phone buzzes on the top of the counter, bringing me back to reality, and I smile when I see the caller ID. I pick it up with a smile on my lips. “Isn’t it bad luck to talk before the wedding?” I ask her and she lets out a small laugh. She has a beautiful laugh, but I can tell she is not genuinely happy. “Baby, is everything okay?” I ask her and she goes quiet for a moment. “Ally,” I call. “How are you feeling?” She asks and I clear my throat. “Nervous, you?” This is a big day, and nervousness is quite an understatement. “Fine, the dress looks good.” “Yea?” I’m happy that she loved the gown. I don’t want anything that will ruin her mood. “Yea, do you want to see a photo?” She asks and I’m shaking my head even before she can finish the question. “No, that’s bad luck baby. Besides, I know you look beautiful.” She chuckles, then a sudden silence follows. I know something is disturbing her, and I just wish she would say whatever it is so that I can see what we can do about it. “Is everything okay, Ally?” “Toby, are you sure you still want to do this?” She asks and I crease my brows, I don’t know why she would ask me this a few hours to us saying I do. We are kind of already past that. “Ally, I told you I want to do this.” I don’t know why she still doubts me. She just doesn’t know how much I love her. “Toby, I broke your heart, why do you still want me?” When she asks that, I feel a pinch in my stomach. She did break my heart, but I will heal. With her help, I know I can heal. I just want to get past this. “It’s in the past.” I honestly don’t want to talk about this. “Toby, I want to ask you something, and before you answer me please think through it.” She says, and I’m just hoping she is not going to ask if I still want to go on with the wedding because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be dressed in this hideous tux. “Okay.” “I have hurt you, Toby. I slept with your best friend, and kept it from you for six months. Now I know you said you still want to marry me, but do you still love me?” “What?” I don’t know where all this is coming from. Of course, she knows I love her. “I want you to tell me that you still love me as you loved me before all this happened. Tell me you still love me like the first day you said it to me, because if you don’t feel the same way, then, it will be okay if you cancel the wedding.” The moment she says that, I go quiet, and not because I want us to cancel the wedding, but because I know deep down that I don’t love her as I loved her when we met. And no, my love for her didn’t start fading when I found out about the cheating; it was way before that happened. I don’t know when, but I know it got to a time when I no longer wanted to spend time with her. I had moved from wanting to see her every day of the week to wanting to see her once a week. I no longer felt like taking her for dates or doing fun things with her. I felt unattached from her. That love that consumed like fire, was no longer there, and now that I’m thinking of it, I don’t think it was ever there in the beginning. Lust sure, but a consuming love, not really. There was nothing about her that excited me as it used to, not her beauty, her cooking, or even her sense of humor. Nothing. At this moment, even when I think about it, there is nothing that makes me love her apart from the fact that I’m loyal to her. I feel that, because I have been with her for a year, this is the right thing to do, and even though she cheated, I feel like I still owe it to her for this one thing, because I don’t want it to look like I wasted her time. “Toby.” She calls and that is when I realize I hesitated. “I understand.” She adds and the moment she says that, I know that I f****d up. “Ally.” “It’s okay Toby, I have to go, my makeup artist is here.” She says in a rather low tone. “I’ll see you at the altar,” I tell her and she clears her throat and I can hear her sigh. “Yea.” And with that, she hangs up. Just then, someone knocks on the door and my brother walks in dressed in a very fitting three-piece suit, followed by Abel, my best friend, and they look so dashing that I’m honestly jealous of them. Unlike me, they had the choice of picking their own suits, a privilege I didn’t have. “Hey bro.” “Why do you guys look better than me?” “Because we didn’t let our partners choose our suits for us,” Abel says, and I smack him on the shoulder. I know he said it as a joke, but deep inside he meant something. He hasn’t liked Ally ever since we found out about the cheating and, up to this moment, he is still against me marrying her, but he is that kind of friend that will support me regardless of how insane I might be. Him and Anthony, my brother, were the ones that stopped me from killing Raphael when I found out, so they know the whole story. “Are you ready to do this bro?” Anthony asks as he fixes my bow tie and I nod. I just want to get it over with. “Yea, I love her,” I say, and I can hear Abel chuckle before clearing his throat nervously. “Is there something you want to say, Abel?” I ask him and he shakes his head. “No man, it’s your choice.” I know he doesn’t even mean that. “I feel like your opinion is silently filling this room, so why don’t you just go ahead and let it out?” I don’t want him looking at me like I’m a fool. I have already explained to him why I’m still going on with this wedding, but I don’t mind explaining it to him again. “I mean, she cheated, man.” “Six months ago.” “This is not like you.” “What is that supposed to mean?” At this moment, I just don’t want him to ruin the day for me. “The Tobias that I know, he wouldn’t entertain this kind of BS even for a single second, man, you’re rich, you can get any girl you want, just let this one go.” I hate that what he just said hurt because he is being honest. The one pill that I don’t want to swallow right now. My brother nods and I know he agrees with Abel. “Anthony.” “I mean, he is kind of right.” “But I want her. I have been with her for a year, I don’t have the time to start dating someone new for another year, and I’m a busy man, whose age is slowly catching up with okay. So Anthony, if you ever want to walk down that aisle after me in the next few years, you should let me do this.” I’m not doing this just for myself, but for him too. “That’s a lame excuse. But we won’t pressure you or anything, you’re already as nervous as it is. We are here to support you no matter what, because that’s what brothers do.” Abel says and walks to where I am to bro-hug me. I’m just glad that we won’t be fighting about this anymore. I’m tired of them making me look like a fool. *** I’m nervously standing by the altar with my grooms’ men beside me as we watch the bride’s maids walk in. First is my sister Eve who looks so beautiful in that dress. She smiles at me and walks to the left side of the altar. I’m so nervous that I feel like this coat is a little too tight. The bride’s maids keep walking in, one after the other until finally the flower girl walks in and I know this is the time. All the guests stand up as the double doors are opened. I have on a smile as I lift my eyes to see my bride walk in, but she is not there. Instead, it’s just her brother who was supposed to be walking her down the aisle. I don’t understand what is going on, so I’m waiting for her to show up so that she can make that walk down the aisle, but instead, her brother starts walking toward me. I’m holding my breath just hoping that I’m dreaming because I want to see her in his arms, but he just keeps coming alone. He gets to where I am and takes a step closer to me. I’m giving him a look with mixed reactions. “Where is she?” I ask in a whisper. He clears his throat nervously and, without him telling me, I already know what he is going to say. Ally stood me up on our wedding day. “She says she is really sorry, but you deserve better.” He says and tries to reach for my hand, but I take a step back. I blink severally. She didn’t do that. How dare she? There are people here, important people that came to our wedding day. The media people are here and she dares not show up? Why the hell did she agree to this when she knew she was going to embarrass me like that? I can see the disappointment in the eyes of the guests, and the flashing of the camera lights is just a reminder that today is the day my name is going to be dragged in the dirt. My eyes land on my father and I can see him shake his head in disbelief. He is disappointed. He was happy that I was finally going to do this, just for me to embarrass our whole family name. Ally has made a mistake, and I might have forgiven her for cheating, but this is the one thing I will not forgive her for. I can take a lot of BS, as Abel said, but when it comes to my status; I don’t take that lying down. We didn’t work our asses off to have the name we have for a single woman to cause a scandal that is going to drag our name the wrong way. And now that I’m standing here at the altar, frozen like a snowman, I realize that all this was my fault. I should have called off this wedding two days ago, hell; I should even have called it off earlier on. She wanted me to call it off, but I was too proud to do it, and now I’m the one that’s going to pay for it all. She messed me up. “Tobias.” I hear my brother’s voice in the far distance, snapping me back to reality. What the hell am I even supposed to do? Or say. “Please, take care of this,” I ask him, more of beg as I walk out of the building. My first instinct is to find her and get an explanation of what she just did, but I think against it. I’m not in my right mind and I don’t want to say or do something I will regret. “Tobias.” I hear Abel call behind me and I stop for a moment. “I need a moment,” I tell him and he nods. I walk to one of my cars and the only thing I ask the driver is to drive. I will know where to once we’ve left this go-forbidden place. I need to forget. ##########

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