The Business Deal


Renn was one of the two heirs of both her father and mother's old money dynasty. But even her kindness, grace and patience could not save her from Andy's wrath. When Renn accepted to marry Andy at the behest of her father, nothing could have prepared her for her future. What started out as a marriage of convenience to secure a business deal turned out to be the most trying moment for her.

Andy hated Renn for taking away his "manhood" and freedom and he swore to make her pay. His impression of her as a rich, spoiled, old-money heiress did not sway his opinion of her. To him, she would always be his jailer.

Will their marriage stand the test of time or will they crumble under the harsh conditions their union was built on?

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The Business Deal

The library had the best lighting in the whole house. The glass double door opened up to the balcony which had a view of the yard that stretched beyond the eyes. The walk path was lined with crafted pixies which were in full bloom now. Together with the freshly cut glass, the two scents blended to blow a soft earthy aroma to the library and to the cabriole that Renn was sitting on. She tried to remember whether she had ever seen anyone picking the pixies, ever. She knew they were in the freshly squeezed juice that she took in the morning. She had once learnt that it was her mother that championed for them to be planted there because it reminded her of her country home.

Renn was so grateful to her mom that they had been planted because at least now she had something to fucus her thoughts on. Though the library was her favorite place in the whole 50 roomed neoclassical mansion, it was the last place she wanted to be at that moment. She was trying as much as possible to block out the back and forth that was taking forever behind her.

“Enough you guys. You are giving me a headache. Today is suppose to be a happy day. Can’t we just pretend?”

To this, Rama walked from behind the seat and sat on her left. Renn took a deep breathe. This was not going to end soon. In a split of a second, she contemplated running outside the room and leaving the two there. She half smiled at the thought. That was not her, that was Rama. She liked concluding things, she hated revisited conversations.

“You don’t have to do this sisi, you can definitely change your mind and tell dad,” she paused and looked at the tall gray gentleman still standing behind them accusatorily, “You can still tell him no.”

Lou scoffed. He pocketed his hands in frustration and walked towards the balcony, but stopped at the door. He stood there for a moment as if arranging his words in his head and then turned to face his two daughters. He gasped and rested his eyes on Renn. She looked just like his wife on their wedding day, but again, she always looked and talked and walked and did everything just like his wife. Some sharp pain twisted in his chest. He didn’t want his daughters to see him break down, not on this day.

“Rama, for the millionth time, I did not force this decision on her. I asked her and she said yes and she knows that she can change her mind. And not just now, even later and I wouldn’t hold her to anything.”

“But you weren’t supposed to ask her in the first place. You know she can’t refuse you.”

“Enough, Rama!” Lou said with frustration for the first time in 30 minutes since the start of the back and forth. He hated losing his temper with his two daughters. With Renn, it was very easy. Rama was another story.

“Mom would have never allowed this.” Rama went there, the place that the three of them were avoiding, the statement that ended all arguments. The three of them had different reactions to the statement. Lou faced away from his two daughters, Renn smiled, but Rama grew sad and her eyes moist. All of them missed her, but Rama showed it the most.

“That’s enough of this then.” Renn turned and took both her sisters’ hands. She smiled at her. She loved her dearly and she would have done the same had it been Rama asking. “The maid of honor is supposed to comfort the bride, not the other way round.” She lifted Rama’s face in her right palm. She looked into her eyes, “No one is making me do this, I want to. I need you to understand this.” A tear fell in Renn’s palm as Rama tried to not cry.

“I miss her so much, she cried softly.”

“I know sisi, I know. I miss her too, even more today.” An all-so-known feeling passed between them. They knew they could have given up anything at that moment to have their mother sit between them and console them.

Renn knew it was about her mother all along. Though she was identical to her mother, Rama was the closest to their mother and dotted to her. Rama didn’t want the wedding to happen because she thought it would be unfair that such a big step was taken when she was not there. But Renn knew if they got into it now, the wedding would have to be postponed.

Just then, the door was open and Osi, Rama’s husband, stood at the door.

“They are ready for you guys’” he announced.

“Okay, thank you,” Renn replied and turned to her sister. You need to go and get everything in order before my entrance.

“You look very beautiful.” Rama looked at her sister one more time before heading out to her husband.

“You too, dad. I need a few minutes to myself before I come out.” Lou turned from the window with a sad smile on his face, the only smile Renn had seen since her mother’s passing. Her father was no longer the man he knew.

“You look very beautiful. She would have loved to see you like this. Her little girl, all grown.” He paused and moved from the window to let all the light rest on Renn. He paused as if he was thinking of something else to say, but instead just told her to hurry so as not to keep guests waiting.

Left alone in the room, Renn stood up with determination and straightened her silk wedding gown. It was plain with a cowl neck. The only accessories she had was the pearl tiara and earrings that belonged to her grandmother and the bouquet of lilies she had in her hands. She had made a promise and she was going to keep it.

Renn had met her future husband, Andy, twice. One at their introduction, and then at their engagement dinner. He was cordial towards her at best, but she didn’t expect otherwise from him. This was an arranged marriage after all. He was decent looking. One could even describe him as handsome. Standing at 6’2”, the pull-necks he always wore only made him tower over her 5’6” frame. He had very dark eyes. They seemed like a maze that if you stared at long enough, you could get lost in them. His face was diamond with strong jaws. His teeth told a story of many visits to the dentists. He didn’t look very masculine despite him average shoulders, but he was in a good shape. His slender but firm figure was not hereditary, “He maintained it by doing cardio,” Renn thought. But his long and delicate figures told the story of someone who hadn’t picked a pixie in his life. But she was not marrying his for his pixie picking skills, he was marrying his as a business deal crafted by their fathers.

Renn didn’t know all the details about it, she just knew that her father was investing a large amount of money in Andy’s father pharma company. An amount so big that the deal had to be written in blood to have security. Unfortunately for both Renn and Andy, their bloods would be the inks. They acted as gracefully as anyone in their position would.

But now sitting across him saying her vows, she had an unsettling feeling in her stomach. Rama’s words were echoing in her head, making her question everything. She didn’t have to look beside her to know how much anticipation was in the room. Their dads were counting on them to sign the contract, and neither was in a position to disappoint.

The rest of the wedding was a blur to her. She stood next to andy and shook hands and smiled. That was expected of her. She didn’t remember eating or what was served the next morning, but she woke up with a feeling of relief that it was all over. They had stayed at their mansion for the night before going to their honeymoon in the country.

She didn’t have to look, she knew Andy was not besides her. She smelled an after shave and cologne and knew he had risen early, prepared, and left the room. She felt disappointed that he didn’t wake her or even said he was going downstairs. But they were strangers that slept on the extreme sides of the queen-sized bed.

She took a bath and changed out of her pajamas. She went downstairs to her dad and Andy having a quiet chat sitting on the parlor. Lou’s face lit up on seeing her.

“And how’s the bride feeling today?” She went and got two kisses on both cheeks from his father and a brief side hug from Andy.

“I’m okay, dad. I slept well.”

“Good. You two have an hour before leaving. I’ll have the butler bring down your language and take them to the car.”

“Thank you, Lou.” Andy gave a half smile in the direction of his new father-in-law.

The maid ushered them to the kitchen dinning area where they took their breakfast in silence, occasionally looking up and smiling at each other. It was a good start. But they both knew this was going to be a marathon that neither of them was allowed to bow out of. They would have to see it through even if they had to crawl to the finish line.

The journey to the country was no different, silence and occasional smile. They settled into Renn’s family cottage, a cottage that was left as an inheritance from her mom. Though she had been there several times, somehow this time was different. It was as if she was discovering it for the first time. Small compared to the mansion she was used to, it was intimate with a comforting air. The smell of cleaning detergents told her that their arrival was expected and planned, probably by Rama who always oversaw hospitality of the whole estate. Renn was grateful to her because she was tired from the journey, she wasn’t up to tidying up the place.

“They left us food.” Renn followed the voice to the kitchen where Andy had both doors of the refrigerator opened. Inside, there were topplewares full of cooked food and some fresh vegetables. She smiled when she saw a jug full of freshly squeezed juice. She loved pixies and the person preparing food must have known that. She made a mental note to thank Rama when she got a chance.

“Well, don’t gulp all of it down. Save me some.” Andy interjected the vigorous gulping of juice through Renn’s throat.

“I’m sorry, I was so thirsty.” She apologized while grabbing a piece of kitchen towel to wipe the wetness off her mouth. She poured her new husband a glass and handed it to him, to which he raised his left eyebrow and titled his head a little to acknowledge the gesture. While Renn retrieved the food from the fridge, Andy carried their luggage to the bedroom

Again, their meal time was quiet. You could hear the munching of carrots across the table. Renn wondered if this was going be her life from now on, if every meal time was going to be quiet, every ride silent. She reminded herself that the change in their names didn’t mean they knew each other. Going into this, she knew patience and understanding would be key.

“Have your family owed this cottage for long?” Renn jacked her head up. Andy spoke to her, he was actually trying to make conversation. Until then, she didn’t know how desperate she was to hear from him. His voice was husky, middle tone, the kind of voice that if loud enough could cause the windows to tremble.

“It was actually my mom’s. It was part of her inheritance from her father, this house and the lands around it.” She frowned. Had she said too much? Did she sound desperate?

“So, what do people do around these places for fun?”

There’s a farmers’ market and then there’s a Mitchelin Star restaurant in town. The golf club is also a great place to hang out.”

“Don’t you need a membership for that?”

“Normally, you would, but you won’t.”

“Oh,” Andy exclaimed. And for the rest of the sit down, Renn wondered what the oh might have meant. Was he disappointed, happy, surprised? Did it matter? Well, at least he made an attempt to make conversation. That was all the meaningful conversation they had that evening. Loading the dishwasher didn’t take much time and so did the preparations for bed.

For the second night, they slept without contact. Renn didn’t mind because she was still tired and knew Andy was too. The next morning, he woke up early, again. The aftershave scent greeted Renn when she woke up. But that was quickly replaced with the aroma of the mountain coffee that was coming from downstairs. She hurried to the kitchen to find Andy sitting on the kitchen counter.

He turned his head to acknowledge her presence. He stared too long and this made Renn uncomfortable. She hurriedly settled on one of the raised stools on the counter.

“Good morning.” That voice again. She had heard it a few times, but she wasn’t quite used to it yet. Every time she heard him speak; she got some unsettling feeling in her lower tummy. She prayed to heavens that the feeling remained on her tummy and not expressed on her face because she wasn’t sure what it was yet, pain or pleasure.

“Good morning. How did you sleep? May I?” She asked while gesturing towards the pot of coffee.

“Of course.” Andy paused and waited for her to finish pouring her coffee. He frowned a little when she started drinking the coffee without adding cream or sugar. He then shook his head as if to say, “None of my business.”

“I slept decent enough. I would have slept better had your body been closer to me.” Renn swallowed hard. There goes that unsettling feeling in her stomach. She heard him clearly, though she wasn’t sure if he was trying to flirt.

“Why do you look surprised? We are married and as such, I expect you to provide some comforts. A little bodily warmth shouldn’t be too much ask. Besides, this cottage is a little chilly.” She wasn’t entirely sure how to respond. She could just say, “Of course,” to seem like something she agreed with and was ready for, or she could just smile and leave that to interpretations. Instead, she just sat there, quiet, sipping on her coffee without tasting it waiting for her stomach to settle.

Their awkward moment was interrupted by the housekeeper who was supposed to cook and clean for them while they stayed there for a week. Renn was only too happy to excuse herself after breakfast. She rushed to the bedroom to shower. This was the first day in a week she wasn’t exhausted. She found herself enjoying every drop of water coming from the shower. And with every drop, her body relaxed to welcome the water. Slowly, she was letting go of all the tension on her body. First, her neck, then her shoulders, and then her stomach.

She felt her stomach with her hands as warm water ran through her navel. She ran her fingers through her chest, towards her legs. She settled her hands just below her navel and her thought went to the unsettling feeling she heard when Andy spoke. She felt her body getting warm from within. She wasn’t sure what she was feeling, but somehow she wanted more of it. She closed her eyes to amplify the unknown feeling.

She left a small cry when a hand landed on her waist from behind. She would know that aftershave in a crowd. She opened her eyes and immediately regrated it. Water from her hair was irritating her eyes. She didn’t move, but the hand did. It traced her arm towards the navel, to where her hands were, grabbed her hands and lowered them to between her legs. To this, she leaned her head backwards to rest on Andy’s chest.

He growled in a deep, low voice. Renn wasn’t sure what was going on, whether it was s****l or she was imagining things, but she knew it felt good and perhaps at that moment, that was all that mattered. It didn’t last long. He withdrew his hands from on top of hers.

“I am going to check out the property. I will be back before lunch. We can visit that restaurant you mentioned. Hopefully, they have food worth a forty-minute drive.” Renn couldn’t dare look at him. She lowered her head from his body and nodded in agreement. She stood still and heard him leave the bathroom. The warm feeling she felt earlier was replaced by anxiety. She felt unsettled, but again, that’s how she felt around Andy. She had melted in his arms and her body clearly wanted more of what he was offering her, whatever it was.

At the restaurant, they ordered braised ribs which Andy took with mashed potatoes and Renn opted for a salad. She had avoided eye contact with Andy all the way to the restaurant. The ride felt like two days. They made polite conversations, but not a mention of what happened that morning. Renn was only so glad because that way, the memory would be buried quickly.

“I cannot believe it! It truly is you.” Renn smiled knowing that voice so well. She didn’t have to turn to know it was Matiu, her mother’s friend and the owner of the restaurant. Renn always loved it here because of how Matiu treated them and how he always reminded them of her mother.

She rose from her chair, placing her napkin on the table. “Uncle.” She smiled as she faced the big framed-man that was walking towards her. She disappeared in his embrace. Matiu was huge with a round stomach, he always swore he looked like that even before becoming a chef and opening his own restaurant. But somehow, all of his old pictures said otherwise. Now, Renn was so glad he was huge because that feeling could not be replaced. She smelled the burnt cooking oil and some paisleys on him. Somehow she was comforted by the smell.

“I heard you were in town and,” he paused and looked both sides dramatically before whispering loudly, “Married.” She blushed under his gaze. She always felt like a small child in his presence and marriage at that moment signified that she was a grown woman. She wanted to be a baby to him forever.

Both their attention shifted to Andy, who was still sitting at the table. Matiu moved closer to him, stared him down.

“This is Andy. My …” she couldn’t say it. She hadn’t said it out loud ever since they got engaged. They both saw her stuck and Andy rose to shake Matiu’s big hands.

“I’m her husband.”

“Oh, the lucky fellow. I see.” The three of them both sat down at the table. They had both finished eating and were sipping on their expresso.

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