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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24. Chapter 24- Happiness

My eyes fluttered open at the crack of dawn as a beam of sunlight peeked through the curtains. Derek must've left the balcony door ajar last night because I could hear the distant sound of waves crashing in the ocean.

 

Immediately, my cheeks grew red with embarrassment as I realized how loud he and I must've been last night. The last thing I needed was for our neighbors to come knocking at the door, questioning our bedroom activities. I made a mental note to close all the windows and balcony door next time.

 

As I stretched my arms and legs, right away I noticed how sore my entire body was. To the right of me where Derek normally lay was a wrinkled mess of linen sheets. He probably left a while ago.

 

At that moment, I began to miss him like crazy. If only he was still here in bed beside me instead of on a plane to LA with that bitchy secretary of his, although I couldn't help but smile to myself in amusement.

 

So this was what a one-night stand felt like... Only the man was my own husband who just had to leave for a business trip.

 

I bet he'd had a fair share of those in his past. Screwing some girl one night then throwing them out at his disposal the next. I honestly didn't even understand how men could be like that. But then again, no one would ever figure out the male species. They were something else.

 

Thinking about last night's events sent a mixture of emotions running through my brain. The truth was, I had always thought that I'd lose my virginity to my one true love- Nick. But who knew Derek and I would come this far in our relationship?

 

A part of me was overwhelmed with satisfaction, but I couldn't fight the feeling of guilt that was currently surfacing. I felt like I'd betrayed Nick by sleeping with Derek last night.

 

I knew he would've wanted me to be happy...but he was the one that had brought nothing but joy to my life ever since we met eighteen years ago.

 

The memory of our beloved friendship always brought tears to my eyes, and sometimes, I'd find myself talking out loud to him, as if he was still alive and by my side.

 

With the image of Nick's face lingering in my mind, I dragged myself out of bed and headed to the bathroom, picking up my clothes off the floor along the way.

 

A look of horror struck my features the moment I glanced into the mirror. On my neck was a huge hickey where Derek had bitten and sucked last night, and to add to that, his mind-blowing kisses had left my lips completely swollen.

 

What a great day to be visiting my grandparents. 

 

When I was about to step into the shower, my phone started ringing, and a smile grew on my face as I picked it up.

 

"Derek?"

 

"Good morning, Claire Bear! What are you up to?", my husband asked cheerfully, instantly lifting my spirits.

 

"I'm about to take a shower."

 

"Damn it, why couldn't I be home right now," he muttered. I threw my head back and laughed.

 

"Jeez, wasn't last night enough for you?"

 

"Baby, I can never get enough. And if I was there right now, I'd put that shower of ours to good use," he drawled.

 

"You're insane." I heard him chuckling through the phone. Then, his tone grew more serious.

 

"I miss you, Claire."

 

"I miss you, too." I sighed heavily.

 

"You should've come with me."

 

"I will next time. Are you in LA already?"

 

"Yeah, I'm just exiting the airport," he said.

 

After exchanging a few more words, we both said our goodbyes then hung up. Derek thought I'd be hanging out with Charlotte today because that was what I had originally told him. But yes, it had been a lie. She was still out of town.

 

Before leaving the house around noon, I threw the dirty bedsheets into the washer then grabbed the cherry pie that I was bringing for my grandparents.

 

It was a slightly cooler day, so I'd opted to wear a pair of dark blue skinny jeans with a white top and stylish cream leather jacket. Luckily, the drive to Coronado was quick since there wasn't any traffic.

 

When I pulled up to my grandparents' driveway, I spotted my dear grandma watering the flowers in the front yard. She lifted her head up at the sound of my arrival and smiled warmly. 

 

"Grandma!", I exclaimed, running towards her open embrace.

 

"Oh, darling, it's been too long."

 

For someone in their late sixties, my grandma looked awfully young and healthy. She barely even had any wrinkles and as usual, her deep brown eyes shone with delight. I couldn't remember a time she was ever sad except for when my father had passed away.

 

"Something's different about you," my grandma remarked, standing back to get a good look at me.

 

"But it's only been like a month since I last saw you," I said with a light laugh.

 

"I know. You seem...happier this time."

 

"I do?"

 

"Yes, dear. Has that husband of yours been treating you well?"

 

If she'd asked me that question back when my relationship with Derek had felt like a living hell, God knows what I would've said to her. Thankfully, that was all over now. 

 

"He has," I replied.

 

"That's good to hear." She smiled.

 

We both went inside the house and I found my grandpa on the couch watching TV. Unlike my grandma, his health wasn't nearly as good as hers. He suffered a stroke just last year and since then, his  physical wellness had been gradually declining.

 

I just prayed he'd get better soon because I couldn't stand to have health complications take away another person I loved so dearly.

 

"Hey, grandpa," I greeted with a huge smile, giving him a kiss on the cheek.

 

"It's about time you came to visit us. I've missed you so much, pumpkin." My grandpa beamed, standing up to give me a hug.

 

"I missed you too, gramps. I brought you a homemade pie by the way."

 

"Is it cherry?"

 

"You bet."

 

While we were all sitting down at the kitchen table to eat pie, my grandparents filled me in on their trip to Europe and how beautiful it was. I'd always wanted to go there myself. Italy especially was my all-time dream destination to vacation in.

 

"Oh, I almost forgot to ask. How's Derek been doing?", my grandpa inquired.

 

"Very well. He's currently working on a new hotel project over in Sydney."

 

"I see. Bring him with you the next time you come to visit. We both know how busy he is on weekdays so weekends are probably better," he said warmly.

 

My grandma nodded her head in agreement then glanced up at the clock.

 

"Honey, don't you have a doctor's appointment to go to right now?"

 

"My, it's one already?", my grandpa asked with surprise.

 

"Time flies when you're spending it with your favorite grandchild, right?", I said teasingly.

 

"Yes, dear." He grinned.

 

I offered to give him a ride to the doctor's, but he insisted he drive himself. He wanted me to stay home and keep my grandma company.

 

"You should tell your mother to come live here in San Diego. Think how lonely she must feel living in that huge house all by herself," my grandma spoke as we were preparing dinner a few hours later.

 

"I've tried, but she doesn't want to quit her job. She said if she moved, she might never have one that pays as well as the one she has now."

 

"True. And I guess her house is where she and your father spent most of their years together."

 

At the mention of my dad, I could feel the tears threatening to escape, but I quickly blinked them away before getting my grandma all emotional. It seemed like she already was, though, judging from the silence that fell upon her.

 

"You ok, grandma?", I gently prodded, noticing how her eyes had become watery. 

 

"I'm fine, dear. It's just the onions," she reassured with a small smile, but I knew that in reality, she was grieving for my father.

 

When the food was ready, I debated whether to go wake up my grandpa, who had been upstairs taking a nap. In the end, I decided to just let him sleep. Besides, there was plenty of pasta for later if he got hungry.

 

"Sweetie, there was something your grandpa and I had been wanting to ask you."

 

"What is it, grandma?", I asked, taking a bite of shrimp.

 

"Well as you know, our days ahead are getting shorter. Your brother still hasn't married yet, so we can't expect anything much from him at the moment."

 

Oh god, first Heather and now her, too?

 

"Let me guess, you want grandchildren?"

 

"Why, yes!" She said, smiling ear to ear. "Wait, you two have already done the deed, right?"

 

Where was the 'mute' button when you needed one?

 

Immediately, my cheeks began to grow warm, and I awkwardly cleared my throat.

 

"Last night was our first time, actually," I mumbled shyly, avoiding my grandma's incredulous stare.

 

"Oh, darling, why didn't you tell me?"

 

Yes, because it's your job to know when I'm having sex with my husband.

 

I couldn't help but laugh at the way she was acting, like a teenaged girl trying to catch up on the latest drama and gossip.

 

"I was gonna," I lied.

 

"I see. So, have you two been thinking about having kids?"

 

"I don't think I want to yet, grandma," I sighed heavily.

 

"Are you not happy with Derek?", she asked worriedly.

 

A smile grew on my face as I thought of my charming husband. He was so sweet and generous, willing to go out of his way to show how much he cared about me. And that smart mouth of his was quite something, too.

 

"I am. He's a great guy," I said.

 

"He sure seems like one. Anyways, I was just joking with you. You can have kids whenever you're ready. I know with the situation you both got into, it's not easy for everything to just magically fall into place. It takes time."

 

"For a moment there, I thought you were serious." I breathed a sigh of relief.

 

"I was. I just don't want to make you feel rushed or anything. As long as Derek makes you happy, that's all that matters to me and your grandpa." Her eyes shone with the wisdom of her years. And the truth was, she couldn't have been more accurate.

 

For months, I'd kept telling myself that I would never be able to be happy again. But I was wrong. Derek was my happiness. 

 

Derek's POV

 

"Someone seems awfully cheerful today," Ashley commented as we were heading out of LAX.

 

Ever since the passionate night I'd spent with my wife, I just couldn't stop smiling. I felt like the happiest man in the world.

 

"Aren't I always cheerful?"

 

"Eh, not quite," she said.

 

"What's that supposed to mean?" I furrowed my brows, pretending to sound angry.

 

"Well, you're usually so engrossed in your work, and you get irritated easily."

 

"True." I rubbed my jaw.

 

"I've just never seen you this happy before."

 

"It must be a good day for you too, then," I remarked with a grin.

 

"Yup. I don't have to worry about you yelling at me," she said triumphantly.

 

We both got into the sleek Audi that was waiting for us by the curb, and then I gave the driver the address of our hotel downtown.

 

It was a beautiful, sunny morning in LA without a hint of rain in sight. I definitely had to go surfing later on this evening if any extra time remained after our conference. It was one of my favorite pastimes, apart from football.

 

I played linebacker on the varsity team all four years in high school and was even named captain my senior year. My father had always told me that I would make something of myself one day. After seeing what I'd managed to achieve and accomplish in just the span of twenty-four years, I guess he'd been right.

 

As we drove past the beach, I made a mental note to bring Claire here with me next time so I could teach her how to ride the waves.

 

Just a couple minutes ago, I'd talked with her on the phone and managed to crack her up with my sexual innuendos. There was nothing I loved more than hearing the sound of her sweet laughter. It hadn't even been a day yet and already I missed her.

 

Getting out of bed this morning had been the hardest thing for me to do. I'd woken up tangled around my wife like ivy, with her soft, bare skin pressed against mine, and it almost killed me to have to just leave her all alone in that bed.

 

When I found out last night that I was her very first lover, there were no words to describe how incredible it'd made me feel. She was so pure, so innocent, and I was the lucky guy that got to worship her in all her beauty. Hell, if it were possible, I'd spend the rest of my life lost inside of her.

 

However, when she'd brought up Ashley, the look of pain in her deep brown eyes had struck my heart like a dagger. To this day, I still hated Ashley for the things she said to my wife to make her feel like she wasn't important to me. Thankfully, she'd kept her word about maintaining her distance from me.

 

Last night, I wanted to make Claire forget all about the pain and hurt she was going through and show her how much I treasured her. But most importantly, I wanted her to forget about Nick Schneider, just for one time.

 

I knew being jealous of a dead man made me seem like a complete dick, especially since Claire loved him. However, I couldn't help but cling onto the hope that maybe one day, she'd fall for me.

 

Whether or not that day would ever come,  I didn't know. But no matter what, I would never stop fighting to win her heart.

 

Because even though our marriage had had its storms and winds in the past, Claire Elizabeth Weston had somehow managed to find her way into mine.

 

 

A/N- I can only imagine how many of you are beaming with joy right now. I know I am(: Derek better man up and confess his feelings soon. On a different note, Happy Birthday to my favorite player in the NHL, Tyler Seguin!(: And yes, it's also Super Bowl weekend! Which team are you guys cheering for? I'm a die-hard Patriots fan. Go Brady and Gronky! Last but not least, remember to like and comment!

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