An Unarranged Love

Maribel is arranged to marry one of the richest and most handsome sons of the Erickson family - Charles Erickson III. She has the life and fiance that most women in the countryside would be envious of, but her heart is beholden to a different man - Nicholas Watson. When Nicholas is forced into going off to war, Maribel must deal with her pain in secret. How will she love her future husband when her heart isn't in it?

"For the Love and Loss: On Dublin Street competition"

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As we descended the brass stairway, Charles became clearer in my view. He was wearing his most crisp suit, a yellow shirt underneath to correspond with my dress. Once again, this was not my idea - just like the entire marital plan.

"Maribel, love," Charles said, turning to me with a smile on his chiseled face. He flashed the million dollar smile that made the ladies in Beaumont swoon and detest my very existence. As he took hold of my small, dainty hand in his large, strong one and kissed me on the cheek, I put on the award winning fake smile that I had become so accustomed to fashioning every time I had to pretend to be overjoyed. 

"Misses Curry," Charles addressed my mother, bending to kiss her plump hand. Even though Mother was married, I knew that she was secretly enjoying it. "Men," he nodded at the three fellows he had been chatting with previously. They raised whiskey glasses and him, as if dismissing him. 

My acquaintances Isabelle and Santana rushed over to me - or should I say more accurately, rushed over to flirt with Charles. I tried to ignore the fact that Isabelle and and Santana were hiking up their dresses and bending over in front of Charles as they giggled like airheads. Ha, ha! They could have him! My eyes were only trained on one man. 

Nicholas Marshall Watson. 

Nicholas Watson was a man of my age of 17. His tanned skin and silky black hair were a stark contrast to my white-blonde hair and skin the complexion of sea cotton. I had first laid eyes on him at a barbecue two years ago when his acquaintance Charles had invited him. It was the talk of the  town when the seemingly flawless Nicholas spilled potato salad on my all white dress. Why that caused me to fall in love with him, I wouldn't know.

Unfortunately, he had Rachael Martins on his arm, and she was rubbing his arm adoringly.  Gag me, will you? I felt the eyes of the men in the room fall upon me in pure adoration, envying Charles for just being able to hold my hand.

"Nicholas,"  I exhaled, letting a real smile paint my face for once. Rachael sniffed and turned up her nose at me. We had never had a liking for each other. 

"Ah, Mari," he grinned, kissing my hand. He was the only one that could get away with calling me Mari - I hated it coming from anyone else's mouth.

"May I speak to you?" It was more of a demand than a question, because I yanked Nicholas by the jacket and tugged him in the direction of my father's study. I shoved him in and slammed the door.

His face remained puzzled. "Mari, what-"

"Kiss me," I cried in despair, falling over him with flailing limbs. He caught me and lifted me as if it were a trust exercise. 

"I couldn't do that to Charles," he whispered, caressing my face.

"But it's not him I love, it's you! It's been you all along! He's almost 12 years older than me; It's like falling in love with my father!"

"I'm going to battle," he said solemnly. 

My face grew still. "What?"

"Look, I really must go before Rachael or Charles suspect anything," he said, fighting to open the door. 

"No!"  I shouted, crying and messing up my makeup, "you can't be! I forbid it!" I put my arms around him, pulling him away from the door. A failed effort - undoubtedly, he was much stronger.

"Be mature about this!" He said. What a deceivingly mature thing to say. He looked at me pitifully and kissed me, walking through the door as if the past years had never occurred - as if I was some simple peasant of the town.

 

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