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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31. Chapter 31- Dog Days

"Fuck my life," Derek grumbled to himself as he bent down to clean up the dog poop in our backyard.

 

Currently, four dogs were chasing each other around the lawn- two of whom belonged to Keith Harrington. He had left for Washington to spend Christmas with his in-laws and asked us to watch over his dogs while he was gone.

 

It sounded like an easy task at first, but things took a turn on Christmas Day when an additional two puppies joined the household. Derek had received a yellow lab from me as a present, and coincidentally, he'd bought a dog for me, too- a female golden retriever to be exact.

 

They were the cutest puppies I'd ever seen in my entire life. Ever since I was little, I'd always wanted a pet, and now I finally had one. My mom, brother, and his girlfriend, Lauren, had flown down here to spend Christmas with us last week, and they just left yesterday. Getting to finally see them again was great.

 

Justin had helped me to come up with a name for my golden retriever, and after testing out dozens of them, we ended up choosing, 'Buttercup', because it sounded super adorable and sweet.

 

"Like Reese's chocolate," he had said.

 

As for Derek, he'd decided to name his lab, 'Buster'. It was the first thing that had popped into his head, and without a doubt, it went perfectly with my own puppy's name, too.

 

"You need any help, hon?", I asked, my eyes shining with amusement at the sight of Derek cleaning after our canine friends, irritation evident on his face.

 

"I'm good. Man, I thought two dogs were enough, but four? That's double the poop I have to clean."

 

"Yeah, I know. It's been a zoo lately. Thank god Keith is coming back tomorrow to pick them up."

 

Derek's nose was scrunched up as he proceeded with his less than enjoyable task, and I couldn't help but laugh at his facial expressions. If only he could see how hilarious he looked right now.

 

"What's so funny?", he demanded.

 

"You," I giggled.

 

"What? Never seen a CEO pick up dog shit before?"

 

I shook my head, and Derek pretended to roll his eyes in annoyance.

 

For December, it was unusually hot today. Beads of sweat formed on the back of my neck despite the fact that I was standing in the shade.

 

My gaze returned to Derek and the dogs as he began to slowly peel off his tshirt, his eyes never leaving mine. The sight of his rock-hard abs always sent my nerves in a frenzy.

 

He ran his tongue along his teeth, making me feel all hot and bothered. It took every ounce of my self-control to not throw myself at him and have him take me right then and there.

 

"I know what you're trying to do," I scolded, crossing my arms in front of my chest.

 

"What are you talking about?", he asked, feigning innocence.

 

"You're trying to seduce me, aren't you?"

 

"Um, no? I took off my shirt because it's hot."

 

"Sure..."

 

Derek chuckled and went to stand in front of me, tilting my chin up with his hand. His cool breath fanned my cheek and I closed my eyes, aching to feel his lips against mine.

 

...But just when I thought he was going to kiss me, a tshirt was thrown in my face.

 

"What the-!", I exclaimed.

 

"Oops, my bad."

 

My eyes shot daggers at Derek, and the devilish grin on his face widened.

 

"I hate you," I spat at him, turning on my heel to leave when he grabbed my arm, pulling me back towards him.

 

He crushed me against his chest and before I could even utter a word of protest, his lips crashed onto mine, devouring them hungrily. I moaned in appreciation, and he glided his tongue along my lower lip, begging for entrance, which I happily granted.

 

My fingers tangled in his hair as our tongues danced in unison, savoring each other's taste. When I began to grow breathless, Derek pulled away, placing his hands on my butt.

 

"Still hate me now?", he asked with a smirk.

 

"Yes, but you can make it up to me in the bedroom," I said, smiling coyly.

 

"Looks like someone's desperate." He gave my butt a squeeze.

 

"I'm not desperate!" I flicked his nose.

 

"Ouch! I was only kidding, baby." He chuckled in amusement, elbowing my ribs playfully. "Oh, and guess what?"

 

"What?"

 

"You smell like dog shit now."

 

Yup, this guy was dead meat.

 

Somehow, we ended up wrestling each other on the clean part of the lawn while the dogs sat there watching us. After several futile attempts, I managed to roll over on top of Derek then began tickling him relentlessly.

 

"S-stop it!", he choked out in between laughs, his eyes watering.

 

"What? I can't hear you."

 

"I'm sorry for teasing you!" He continued to twist and squirm underneath me.

 

"Really?", I raised a brow.

 

"Yes." He looked at me with puppy dog eyes, and being the softie I was, seized attacking him. By then, we were both covered in grass stains.

 

To my astonishment, he took it as an opportunity to roll on top of me, and I let out a yelp, bracing myself for the merciless tickling I knew was about to come. But instead, he pinned both my arms to the ground, smiling proudly, before his lips descended onto mine.

 

Soon, we were engaged in a heated make-out session, and yes, the poor dogs had to witness it all.

 

It wasn't until seven when Derek and I finally managed to clean up the remaining dog poop in the yard. After taking a shower together, we both decided to take the dogs out for a walk along the beach.

 

In the truck, Buttercup sat on my lap while Buster sat on Derek's. The two bigger dogs were in the back seat, enjoying the breeze as it blew through the windows.

 

When we arrived at Pacific Beach, Derek put all four dogs on their leashes and then we made our way down towards the water. I kicked off my flip flops, letting my feet sink into the soft sand.

 

"I'm glad we got Buster and Buttercup. They'll always keep us company," Derek remarked with a grin.

 

"Me too. We'll train them to be good dogs, so when we go to work, we won't have to worry about them destroying the house."

 

Both Buttercup and Buster's heads whipped around to face us, as if they understood what we'd just said. I had to admit, they were probably a lot smarter than I thought.

 

"So, how'd you like spending your first ever Christmas with me?", Derek asked, changing the subject.

 

"I loved it. Although I did miss the snow quite a bit."

 

He smiled, reaching for my hand and I took it, intertwining my fingers with his.

 

In two days, we would be leaving for Sydney, and I couldn't wait. Unlike Derek, I'd actually been there before back in high school when my family traveled to Australia to visit my dad's parents in Melbourne.

 

It would be Dec. 29th by the time we arrived in Sydney, which meant that we'd have the opportunity to see the world-famous New Year's Eve fireworks at the harbor.

 

Keith and his wife were accompanying us on the trip as well, so we had arranged for Derek's friend, Stephen, to watch over our dogs since his wife was a stay-at-home mom.

 

Because Justin's company had partnered with Derek's to cover the hotel project expenses, he and his girlfriend would also be flying to Sydney for the grand opening. They were arriving one day after us.

 

Last week, Charlotte and I had gone shopping for swimsuits since Sydney was home to several beautiful beaches. It was currently winter over there, but the temperatures constantly remained in the upper 70s and 80s.

 

After playing catch with the dogs, Derek and I plopped down on the sand to admire the sunset, with the cool wind blowing through our hair. His leg brushed against mine, and I leaned my head on his shoulder, feeling content as could be.

 

This, to me, was truly paradise.

 

***

 

"You two behave yourselves, alright?"

 

"Woof!" Buttercup gave me one last lick on the cheek, wagging her tail enthusiastically.

 

"Have fun in Sydney, guys," Stephen said, letting all four dogs through his door.

 

"We will. Thanks again," Derek spoke.

 

We all walked back to his Range Rover then drove to the airport. Both Keith and Derek looked dapper in black suits while Jessica and I wore elegant summer dresses.

 

After leaving the car in the long-term parking ramp, the four of us headed inside to check in. There was a two hour layover in LA, and then we'd fly directly to Sydney.

 

It had only been less than an hour and already, I was missing Buttercup like crazy. She'd managed to capture a special place in my heart the moment I first laid eyes on her, like the daughter I would hope to soon have.

 

By the time we arrived at LAX, all I wanted to do was sleep since it was nearly eleven. While Derek spoke on the phone to a hotel representative in Sydney, I immediately dozed off on his shoulder, dreaming of Buttercup's adorable face.

 

"At this time, we'd like to begin boarding all first-class passengers and exclusive members of our Qantas Airways rewards program."

 

The sound of the announcer woke me up and I rose to my feet, stretching out my limbs. Derek looked as fresh as ever, fixing his tie before we made our way towards the gate.

 

Outside, the sky was pitch dark and bright lights illuminated the runway. Downtown LA was visible in the distance, surrounded by vast mountains.

 

After our boarding passes were checked, we headed inside the plane, taking a flight of stairs to reach the first-class lounge. My jaw instantly dropped to the floor at the sight of the luxurious leather seats and individual TVs. It felt more like a hotel than an actual plane.

 

In the back was a full bar that housed world-class wine and a variety of light snacks. Like me, Jessica was also standing there with her mouth hanging open.

 

"It's nice isn't it?", Derek asked with a grin, making himself comfortable in one of the seats and stretching out his legs.

 

"Are you kidding me? This is like heaven," I said excitedly.

 

The flight attendant came over to check up on us and when she left, I went into the bathroom to perform my nightly routines before bed.

 

Upon returning to my seat, I found Keith and his wife both fast asleep as the cabin lights dimmed. Derek was working on his laptop, the top buttons of his shirt undone. His shoes were on the ground next to him.

 

"You look comfy there," I remarked, stroking his face. He brought my hand to his lips and kissed it, causing butterflies to flutter in my stomach.

 

"I am. Are you going to sleep now?"

 

"Yeah. I'll see you in the morning."

 

He reached up to give me a brief kiss on the lips.

 

"Good night, sweetheart. I love you." A smile lit up his handsome face.

 

"Night, Derek."

 

With one easy press of a button, my seat transformed into an extra-wide bed. Kicking off my heels, I lay down, sighing in content as my eyes slowly closed shut.

 

Soon, the plane took off into the skies above, en route to the 'land down under'.

 

 

A/N- Hey guys! Like I mentioned in the previous chapter, I couldn't update sooner because I was in Chicago, but I'm home now. And yes, the Hawks won, which made my trip that much more exciting. Northwestern University was beyond beautiful, and I'd love to be a student there one day. On a different note, I'm leaving for California next Friday, but I'll try to get another update in. Remember to like and comment!

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