Sealed With a Vow

22-year old Claire Delaney's life turns upside down following the death of her beloved father, Mark Delaney, who happens to be the CEO of Delaney Corp.- one of the most successful hotel chains worldwide. She thought things would go back to the way they were once her older brother took over the business...but unfortunately that wasn't the case. Mark's last dying wish? Marry off his daughter to the owner of Weston Hotel Group, in order to maintain the partnership between both thriving companies and prevent any competition. Can Claire possibly seek love in an arranged marriage, or will she be forced to spend the rest of her days with a total stranger? Read to find out.

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13. Chapter 13- Freedom at Last

Claire's POV

 

When I walked into Dustin's apartment, the first thing I noticed was how unorganized it was. He had tons of stuff scattered everywhere on the floor, but apart from that, it was a pretty nice place. However, with a little bit of rearranging, I bet it'd be tidy in no time.

 

"Sorry if it's a bit messy. I'm still deciding what to bring to college," Dustin remarked, scratching the back of his head.

 

Oh, so that's why.

 

"No problem," I reassured with a smile.

 

He led me to the spare bedroom, which was located directly across from his. It had a full-sized bed, dresser, and nightstand. I could tell that no one ever slept in it based on how clean and empty it looked.

 

To be honest, I did feel kind of awkward being alone with Dustin in his apartment. But I reminded myself that it was only temporary and besides, he was a nice guy that I could easily talk to. I bet in a couple of days, I'd get used to it.

 

As I was putting my suitcase into the closet, I couldn't help but wonder what Derek was doing right now. He probably was out celebrating with his friends now that I had finally left, and he could be free to do whatever his twisted heart desired.

 

Just the thought of his face made me want to throw up. I hoped I'd never have to see him again for the rest of my life. I could just imagine the headline: 24-year old Derek Weston- CEO of Weston Hotel Group- Dies From Rare Shark Attack.

 

Ok, maybe that was a little bit too far. But still, he deserved to suffer for everything he'd done to me.

 

That night, Dustin and I ordered a pizza for dinner and we watched a movie. I ended up falling asleep on the couch like I usually did and dreamt of my good old college days.

 

The following morning, Charlotte called me and I let her in on my current 'situation'. She became outraged and swore into the phone when I told her about the night I'd had dinner with Derek's parents and how his mother had acted like a bitch.

 

"And don't even get me started on the whole deal with his chocolate cake," I said, rolling my eyes as I remembered that day.

 

"What happened?", Charlotte asked.

 

"I was sick, and he made me bake him a cake for his stupid banquet at work. And do you know what time it was? Freaking ten o'clock at night."

 

"Holy shit, he's mental I tell you," she blurted.

 

"And that's not it. The following night, he came home and told me that my cake had tasted like shit," I continued.

 

"But you were sick! That bastard!", she exclaimed into the phone.

 

"Tell me about it," I agreed with a heavy sigh.

 

"You never would've left, though, if he'd been a considerate guy, right?"

 

"Of course I wouldn't. You know, sometimes, when Derek does something nice for me, I can actually imagine myself spending the rest of my life with him."

 

"But how often is he like that?", she prompted.

 

"Like, never," I scoffed.

 

"Sad. Listen, I'll stop by after work tomorrow and we can go out for dinner or something," Charlotte offered.

 

"That sounds great. Dustin's at work right now, so I'll probably go jogging for a bit."

 

"Ok. How's Dustin by the way?"

 

"He's cool," I replied.

 

"Do you like him?", she asked in a suggestive tone.

 

"No! Well, as a friend, yes. But I don't like him that way," I quickly responded.

 

"Whatever you say. See you later, girlie."

 

"Bye, Char."

 

Once I hung up the phone, I went to change into a pair of light blue Nike running shorts and a white tshirt. The sun was shining brightly, and the temperature wasn't too hot either. It was just another perfect day to be outside.

 

I decided to drive to Coronado Island and run a lap there. The Script's Science and Faith album was playing in my earbuds as I jogged along the harbor, admiring the beautiful view of downtown San Diego.

 

Running had always been a passion of mine ever since I was little. It helped me to forget about all of my problems and just relax. Each time I ran, I'd push myself to go a longer distance than before.

 

To me, nothing felt better than being able to accomplish a goal, whether it was school or sports-related, or anything else.

 

I still remembered the day my hockey team made it to State back in high school. After several intense battles on ice at the Xcel Energy Center, we ended up winning the Class AA Championship against one of our biggest rivals. It had been one of the most memorable achievements of my life.

 

The boys' team that Nick played on had always made it to the State Tournament every single year because they were absolutely phenomenal. In fact, most of those guys went on to play for the big colleges and even the NHL.

 

Sometimes, I thought about how different my life would've been if Nick was still alive, and my father had never forced me into marrying Derek. I'd probably still be living in Minnesota after I graduated from college.

 

As for marriage, would I have married Nick? I mean, if we were able to maintain a long distance relationship, and he didn't fall for another girl while he played in Chicago, then yes, I'd marry him. If he proposed of course.

 

Once I began to grow tired, I sat down on a bench and stretched my legs out. I stared at the boats that were docked in the marina, thinking about Nick and how much I missed him.

 

At that moment, my phone started ringing and I snapped out of my thoughts, checking to see who was calling. A frown formed on my lips as I looked at the screen.

 

Derek.

 

I ignored it and took a deep breath to cool my body down. He probably was going to ask where I was, but I planned on never speaking to him again until he learned to quit being a jerk.

 

***

 

Charlotte and I had just finished eating dinner and were walking along the nighttime streets of downtown San Diego. Dustin was over at his friend's place and tomorrow, the two of us were planning on going to Mission Beach.

 

I wondered if Charlotte would be able to come, too. I mean, the more the merrier, right?

 

"Hey, do you and Elliot want to go to Mission with me and Dustin tomorrow evening?", I asked her.

 

"Sure, what time?"

 

"Around six," I replied.

 

"Sounds good. I haven't been there in ages," she said.

 

"I know, me too. There's also a concert at seven."

 

"Ooh nice."

 

After making a few purchases at our favorite clothing shops, we decided to walk over to the local bar to have some light drinks and listen to music.

 

I was enjoying my freedom, not having to worry about my husband and his crazy demands. I wished life could always be like this. But sooner or later, I'd have to return home to him. Hopefully, that wouldn't be the case until at least a couple more weeks.

 

When I got back to Dustin's apartment, it was nearly eleven. I stopped outside his room and found him lying on the bed, playing with a football.

 

"Hey, Claire," he greeted with a smile, sitting up.

 

"You're not sleepy yet?"

 

"I am, but I wanted to make sure that you got back first before I dozed off."

 

Wow, the guy definitely cared about me.

 

"You didn't have to do that. I'm a big girl, remember?", I said playfully, plopping down on the bed next to him.

 

"Yeah, I know. It tends to be a habit for me though. I grew up with a younger sister and every time she went out, I'd stay up until she got home before going to bed."

 

"Aww, that's seriously so sweet how you looked after her like that," I commented.

 

"Well, I am her older brother. I feel like it's my job to protect her, you know?"

 

Ok, Dustin Coleman seriously had to be the sweetest guy on this planet.

 

"Yeah. So, I guess I'm like your little sister now."

 

"Pretty much," he said with a grin.

 

"Speaking of siblings, I sure miss my older brother. In fact, his name is quite similar to yours, too," I remarked.

 

"Oh, really? What is it?"

 

"Justin."

 

"Nice. He's a businessman like your husband too, right?"

 

"Yes, but unlike Derek, my brother actually knows how to treat people with respect. Anyways, I'm probably gonna go to bed now," I said, getting up.

 

"Yeah, me too. Good night, Claire."

 

"Good night, Dustin."

 

I gave him a smile and shut his bedroom door before heading to my room. I realized then that all this time I'd spent with Dustin, he had felt like an older brother to me. And I sure was grateful to have met him in the first place.

 

As the days went by, I began to feel like my usual cheerful self. So many things had come crashing down on me in the past- first, Nick and my father's deaths, then the news about my arranged marriage to Derek- that I couldn't even remember the last time I'd ever been this happy.

 

It was Friday and I had decided to sleep in, so I didn't get up until eleven. Derek had called me several times this week, but I never answered him. He probably just wanted me back home so I could continue being his maid.

 

I took a shower and changed into a pair of gray cotton shorts from Victoria's Secret and a pink tank top since I wasn't planning on going anywhere today. Besides, there was nothing I loved more than dressing in comfy clothes.

 

Once I finished putting my hair up in a messy bun, my stomach began to growl, and I headed to the kitchen to see what I could make for breakfast. Dustin's fridge was pretty much empty except for a carton of milk and some eggs. So, I opted to just have cereal.

 

As I ate in the living room, I watched Keeping Up With the Kardashians, which happened to be one of my favorite shows on TV. My mother had always said that she never got the point of it. I just liked it mainly because it was funny and entertaining.

 

Oh, and Brody Jenner was such a babe, too.

 

An hour later, I was about to go wash my bowl in the kitchen when the doorbell rang. I didn't know if Dustin was expecting anyone today. But if so, he probably would've told me in advance, which he hadn't.

 

My body immediately stilled when the person began to knock on the door impatiently. I waited for a few moments to see if they'd stop, but they just kept on knocking.

 

Oh, for god's sake!

 

I grew annoyed, setting my bowl down on the table before going to answer the door. The moment I opened it, my eyes widened in horror as a huge gasp escaped my lungs. 

 

What the hell was my husband doing here?!

 

 

A/N- I'm not gonna say anything other than remember to like and comment!

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