He wouldn't leave my side. I felt like I couldn't breathe. The realisation of what I had done kick started my heart so it was vibrating against my chest. I had married Lyle Armel.
"Something wrong Arabella?"
His voice was like silk dusting along my skin, a sweet melody that sounded to anyone around us caring. I knew better. His hand squeezed my hip bone, not painfully, just in a warning. We were surrounded by his family, friends and associates. They believed this to be a marriage of love, not payment. They believed in a fairy tale that didn’t exist.
My father caught my eye across the room, his old worn suit standing out against the many immaculately dressed people here. I swallowed my fear knowing that for at least five seconds I had to get away from the heat of the body behind me. I was suffocating in his presence.
"I need to speak to my father." I demanded shocking myself.
"I'll come with you."
I shook my head. "I need to speak to him myself for a moment." His hand again squeezed my hip, my eyes cast to Lyle's cautiously.
The dark brown orbs were flecked with black, something I hadn't noticed since meeting him that morning. There was an intensity to them that would make any man cower at his feet. He ran his free hand through his chocolate coloured hair. For a moment my eyes wavered to that movement watching the muscles flex under his suit jacket. I shook my head immediately stopping my obvious ogling.
"Two minutes. Tell him what day you will see him."
"Day?" I gasped.
"I will allow you to see him one day a week. Your father is no longer your concern. You are lucky I'm being so kind." I raised my head, so our eyes were glued to each other. He didn't falter, didn't even blink.
"Sunday." I nodded knowing this was an argument I was never going to win.
"Tell him, two minutes." He leaned down kissing me briefly. A gasp left my lips as the goose bumps peppered my skin with that small touch. He affected me too much, his sheer masculinity was overwhelming.
The breath caught in my throat when his index finger trailed up my arm. Lightly his lips brushed my ear, his teeth soon brushing against my earlobe. "Stop." I whispered. He only laughed in response, the movements of his chest brushing against my breasts. He knew what he was doing, of course he did. Everything he did was controlled.
"So responsive." He whispered, the silky tone of his voice gone to be replaced with something more primal, something that seemed to call to my traitor of a body.
I didn't say anything as I tore myself from his embrace and walked to my father. As I left Lyle my anger seemed to surface. Storming past my father he followed me out of the enormously overdressed ballroom. Honestly, how they had managed to book one of the ballrooms in a high-class hotel in such short notice was beyond me. Then again who would dare say no to the Armels.
"I'm so sorry Angel." I looked at the tears filling his eyes, my heart melting just a little.
"How could you do this? I can deal with picking you up at the sleazy bars, the casinos, the houses in the middle of nowhere but this? You borrowed money from the Armels - the Armels dad. That name is known all over and we both know what for."
Turning away from him I squeezed my eyes shut stopping the tears that had threatened to fall all day. I felt my father's hand on my back. When I turned around a stray tear had slipped from my eye. I was exhausted, this had all happened so fast that it just couldn’t be real. How could this possibly be my reality.
"Oh Angel, I'm so sorry. I'm going to get help this time. I'll win big, I'll make sure you are free from him. I promise"
I nodded knowing that he wouldn't. Promises with my father were never to be taken seriously. He couldn't keep one if his life depended on it. I was the only one who could get myself out of this situation and a part of me wasn’t even sure if I could. These people were dangerous, they followed their own set of rules and now I was part of them. I was trapped in a world that was so beyond my normal.
"I am allowed to come by every Sunday."
"Allowed?" He echoed in what I could only described as pure shock.
"What did you expect Dad." I grated through my teeth exasperated. "I am nothing but a piece of property to him. The next time you borrow money remember that I'm not going to be there to bail you out. I'm his now."
"Oh God." He gasped his eyes widening. "I didn't think, I didn't realise. I'm going to fix this." He took my hands in despair, I could feel his shaking beneath mine.
"You have to go. I don't want you associated with these people any longer." He nodded sadly at me.
"I don't deserve you." He admitted weakly.
"Go Dad. You're the only family I have, and I love you. I'll see you on Sunday."
"I love you too." I didn't watch him leave, I turned instead heading back into the ballroom with a smile painted on my face.
Lyle raised his eyebrows when he saw me clearly angry that I had taken more than his allocated two minutes. When I reached him, I was pulled into his arms. My stunned expression must have shown as his mother laughed towards us.
"Lyle, you nearly knocked the poor woman off her feet." She smiled lovingly up at him.
"Sorry." He whispered into my ear. I just smiled as his mother looked at us in awe.
"I can't believe my Lyle found love." She exclaimed excitedly clapping her hands. "You are a very lucky man; you better remember that Lyle Armel." His mother warned, instantly in that moment I liked her.
"I know Mum. Trust me, I know."
"You are going to be so happy together. I can just see it. This was so unexpected. I'm still trying to process my son is married." Her and me both I thought but didn't dare say the works aloud.
"Excuse me." I slipped from Lyle's arms quickly so he couldn't stop me.
The bathroom was freezing cold when I walked in thanks to the woman standing smoking out of the window.
"I won't tell if you don't" The woman laughed flicking the cigarette out the window and leaving, thankfully I was left in peace.
For a moment I stood there, frozen. My head was aching, my body numb, my feet throbbing in these heels. I didn’t think twice about taking the deal to get my father out of trouble yet now, that’s all I could think about. I had jumped into a deal blindly. I had taken an offer that seemed like my only way out and when I looked at the reality of the situation, I had taken it because it truly was my only way out.
My four-inch heels clicked on the tiled floor as I walked to the mirror. I didn't look like myself. The make-up artist had plastered me in make-up, the hair stylist curled my hair until it was too perfect and the dress I wore was not something I would have picked. It screamed money and clung to every inch of my body. I looked like a doll, I guess now I was. I felt like a ghost to the woman I was yesterday.
"That was rude." I blinked several times realising that I was once again pulled into Lyles arms.
"I just need a minute." I begged.
His eyes looked at mine in the mirror then cast down the reflection of my body, it was like his eyes were undressing me. Standing there I felt completely vulnerable. I had never felt a reaction to someone like this, never felt a sheer fear to be in someone’s presence. It was both alarming and alluring all at once and that alone made me terrified.
"Appearances are important in this world. You don't take a minute. Nobody can see weakness, only strength." His voice was surprisingly soft. "Do you understand?" He demanded his voice now completely serious, his eyes penetrating mine.
"I'm not made for this world." I looked down at the ring on my finger.
"Yes, you are. More than anyone in that ballroom." I didn't question what he meant; I didn't have the energy. I just wanted to sleep and wake up for this all to be a dream.
"I'd fuçk you right here if I could get away with it." He groaned. As he stepped forward I felt his erection strain against his suit trousers.
"What?" He frowned seeing my distressed expression. I looked shocked; I was shocked.
Nobody had ever spoken to me like that. He was blunt and serious, and I could feel the panic surround my body. This was a whole new experience, a whole other world, a whole other set of rules. In that moment I realised just how serious my impulsive decision to marry this man was. I had made a decision that had changed everything and now I had to live with it.
"I'm a virgin." I blurted.
He took a moment to recover. If I wasn't assessing every inch of his face I wouldn't have seen the slight widening of his eyes. I didn’t imagine much shocked this man, yet somehow I had. A strange spark of satisfaction lit through my bones.
"I don't want to lose my virginity to a man I met this morning, a man I know nothing about other than his..his reputation." I stuttered like a stupid little schoolgirl.
"Are you denying me? You are my wife; you will fulfil the duties of a wife. Remember Arabella, I allowed this deal to save your father. I can easily see that his debt is taken care of another way." He seethed, his anger clearly visible.
"No, I'm just not ready. It’s a lot to deal with, I haven’t even had time to get my head around today" He nodded almost reluctantly at my rushed statement.
"Your virginity is safe for tonight Mrs Armel but mark my words, when I do take you, I'll fuçk you hard. I'll mark you as mine so that you will never think of another man. I'll be all you need, all you can think of. Besides just because I'm not inside you tonight doesn't mean we can't do...other things." He smirked.
My breathing was shallow, my legs like jelly. "Thank you." I was in so far over my head, this wasn’t what I expected my life to be. I ignored his statement, hoping he would just leave me alone, yet something told me that wasn’t going to happen.
I followed Lyle out to the ballroom his hand holding mine like a vice, I’m sure my fingers were turning purple. He smiled down at me as we walked to our seats so we could re-join his mother. Her happiness made me nauseous, the poor woman had no idea what this situation truly was.
My heart was running its own marathon in my chest as he spoke confidently to his family around him. The more time that passed the faster it seemed to go. I didn't know how I was going to survive this marriage. I had to get out as soon as I could, hopefully before he found out that I had lied about my virginity.
At least I had given myself something that was going to be crucial - time.