My life was going to change. And I was sure about it that it would never be the same. Two days ago, my mom called and dropped a bombshell on me, she got married to a famous businessman, Rob Mathews, in a private ceremony. My new stepdad needed no introduction -- an opportunistic, shallow minded, ruthless, selfish shark in the suit. Well, my mom was not less than him. And I was terrified of this news because I’d had to quit my job as an art teacher, because my mom wanted me to live with her-or my- new family. I had no idea of my new family. Well, I knew Rob had two children, a daughter, married, had twin daughters. He had a son too. And if I believed in rumors, then his son, Aaron Mathews, my stepbrother, had more dark personality than his father.
My first day in a new house was not less than a nightmare. My stepsister was sitting on the sofa in living room when I entered the house.
“Hey”, I said.
She looked at me, frowned and then smiled, “Hey, Uh..mm you’re Angela White, right?”
“I’m Sara, nice to meet you.”
“Lovely meeting you.”
We shook our hands. Her phone rang.
“You must be tired, your room is upstairs. Go and fresh or take rest, whatever you like. A staff member will carry your bags in your room”, she said before picking up her phone.
I smiled and nodded. I went upstairs. There were three rooms. I had no idea which one was mine. I opened first one and went inside. It was a big room, really a big room. It had purple, lavender and cream color 3D wall coverings stripes. A king size bed in the middle, with lavender covers. Floor to ceiling windows, cream and lavender curtains. A big book shelf. Nightstands on the both sides of the bed. 65 inches LED. A dressing table, study table, a couch and big closet.
“Who the hell are you and what are you doing here?“, came a deep and angry voice. I turned and looked into angry black eyes. I blinked.
“I’m sorry, I - um - I’m bit lost. Sara told me that my room is upstairs and there are 3 rooms, I don’t know which is mine.”
He didn’t say a word just stared at me like a mad wolf. His jaw muscles hardened. He put his hands in pockets and walked towards me. He stopped just a foot away from me. He was tall, may be 6′3" or 6′4", broad shoulders, black hair or messy black hair. And I was 5′3", skinny, brown eyes, brown hair. He looked down at me and I had to tilt my head back to look at him.
My heart was beating fast and mouth dry. He was making me nervous and when he didn’t speak for too long, I was scared.
“I don’t give shit about whether you’re lost or not, just get the hell out of my room. And don’t ever dare to come into this room again”, I flinched at his cold, low, angry voice. My legs trembled and wanted to run away from this room and house.
He crossed his arms and tilted his head left side. “Get. Out. Now.”
I practically ran past him and out of his room.
He was Aaron Mathews, my stepbrother. His cold attitude gave me shivers. He was trouble and I decided to stay away from him. After such harsh treatment I was reluctant before turning door knob of second room. I didn’t want to experience that again. I heard footsteps, a middle aged man was holding my bags was walking towards me.
“Um.. Excuse me. I’m Angela White. Can you tell me which is my room?”
He smiled and opened door of second room. I went inside.
“Where to put your bags Ms. White? I’m Tom Smith, housekeeper.”
“Thank you for bringing my bags Tom. Please put these near the bed.”
“Ms. White, do you need anything else?”
“No Tom, thanks for asking”.
“My pleasure Ms. White. Dinner will be ready at 8 p.m.” He left room.
I checked watch and it was six fifteen. And I was so tired after long travel. I opened my bag and grabbed a off white high neckline sundress with red and royal blue floral print. I went for shower and took my time. After shower I felt fresh. I unpacked my bags. My room was big but not that big like Aaron’s room. It was white and aqua blue theme bedroom. King sized bed with white covers, a closet, night stand, a cabinet, a single sofa chair near the floor to ceiling windows, a modern coffee table, two book shelves and a LED. Well, it was also a luxury room.
I started checking books on the shelves. I picked a romance novel from the shelf and sat on sofa. it was seven thirty in the evening and 30 more minutes for dinner. I didn’t know when I fell asleep on sofa. I jerked awake at the sound of knock on my room. I checked my watch and it was eight twenty, I was twenty minutes late for the dinner.
At dinner table, my mom and stepdad were back from their day out. My mom gave me hard look because I was late before giving me a hug for show. I greeted my stepdad but he ignored me. Sara was polite and her husband who joined for dinner was nice too. I was aware of that a pair of black angry eyes was on me the whole time. My eyes met with Aaron’s hard stare. it sent shivers through my spine. I looked away and sat besides my mother. Arron was across the table.
Dinner was awkward because my mother embarrassed me by telling my childhood incidents and made fun of my art and DIY craft skills. According to her, this was waste of time and at my age girls started master seduction art to catch a wealthy man. Well, I survived through dinner.
The nap I took before dinner made me fresh. I had nothing to do and I was bored. I decided to go out and explore this big house. It was nine thirty five, I took my phone walked out of the room.
I was observing the paintings on the walls when I heard light footsteps approaching me. I turned around and saw my stepdad smiling at me. I gasped. He approached me.
“Hmm, I must say my step-daughter is quite beautiful.” He said.
“Excuse me,” was all I could blurted out. His grin was a trouble signal, making me uncomfortable.
“Ah, and innocent too,” he winked at me. It disgusted me. “Don’t look like you have just seen a ghost, I am a harmless person.”
“Umm.. I am -- I mean I was just bored so I was looking around to pass my time.”
“What a shame! Beautiful young lady like you spending her time alone? you must need a company, come on, lets have a drink. You know, for father-daughter bonding” he touched my cheek and I stepped back.
“Thank you for the offer but I don’t drink and its getting late, I should go back to my room.” I didn’t wait for his reply and ran away from him.
I went upstairs and bumped into Arron, I almost fell but he didn’t try to save me. I balanced myself with the wall and looked up into his eyes, still dark with anger and disgust.
“Had your fun?” he sneered. “stay in your limits or be ready to face the consequences. Well your mother has trapped my pathetic excuse for father to get her hands on the money. I know how to keep bloody gold-diggers like her into line, but I won’t do that to her because my father deserves such evil woman. But if you ever try to cross your limits, I will fucking ruin you. So nip your luxury fantasies in your bloody scheming brain.”
His harsh words brought tears in my eyes but didn’t spill. I couldn’t cry in front of this disgusting man. I didn’t say a single word because he was not worth of any explanation. I just headed to my room and shut the door behind me. I changed into pajama and tank top for sleep. But events of last hour were fresh in my mind. My stepfather was a labelled asshole but my stepbrother was worse than him. He judged and labelled me as a gold-digger in just few hours. I let my un-shed tears fell down my cheeks and drifted to sleep.
I was a morning person and woke up at five thirty. Events of yesterday were still fresh in my mind and the room was depressing me. I took my camera and went into the garden to capture nature’s beauty in my lens. It was spring season and garden was covered with colorful flowers. I hid behind my camera lens and started taking pictures of the blossoming flowers.
While taking pictures my eyes caught something – or someone—it was Arron doing exercise in the garden. I didn’t know why but I clicked his picture. He had photogenic face and I had drawn towards his beauty. Suddenly he looked up and saw me. He didn’t shock but tilted his head and smirked. Just then I noticed that I was in my night clothes and a blush rose to my cheeks. I turned my back and started taking pictures of flowers. I sensed his presence behind me. He snatched my camera and I angrily turned around but when I saw his face my anger changed into fear. He had that dark look again and I shivered but I refused to cower. He smirked at my reaction like he could read my mind.
“So, little miss gold digger is a morning person or playing some kind of mind game at this early hour.” He said.
I wanted to punch him for his bloody mouth, but didn’t want to poke a bear.
“None of your bloody business,” I replied angrily.
Something flickered in his eyes, before I knew what happened he threw my camera away with full force and held back of my neck tightly and roughly pulled me against him.
He lowered his head and bore his eyes into mine. Grabbed my jaw tightly with his left hand.
“You better remember some things that I don’t like bitchiness, I have no patience for scheming people especially women. I’m not a fool Ms. White with ‘black heart’, the games you and your vile mother is trying to play will lead both of you to your destruction. You are not gonna get anything from this façade. You better mind your business or I’ll put you in your place.”
His words evoked unpleasant memories from my past and I froze. I blinked several times as I was on the verge of a panic attack. His grip on my neck and jaw was painful. He let go off of me and started walking towards the house. I didn’t know why he hated me so much and what he was talking about. I had nothing to do with anything. I had presentiment that my life was going to change and I’d be alone. I was staring at my broken camera and again looked towards Arron’s back, he tuned and met eyes. He evoked a fear in me and his gaze confirmed that dangerous future was waiting for me.
Aaron’s words sharp like knife were cutting my heart. At 10:00 am I decided to go for shopping, I needed a lot of stuff. I went downstairs. My mom was already there talking to her husband in hushed voice. When she noticed my presence, smiled brightly.
“Angela, baby girl, are you going somewhere?” she asked.
“Yes mom, I need some things. So going for shopping.” I replied.
“Oh that’s great, you must go on shopping spree regularly, after all you are the member of Mathews Family now. Money is not an issue. Right Rob darling.” She said.
Her words made me uncomfortable. At the same time Aaron came and by the look on his face seemed he had heard mother’s comment. He now had a strong reason to paint me and my mother as gold digger.
“No mom, I just need some important stuff. I’m not going to buy expenses dresses, jewelry or something like that, and I have my own money.” With that I tuned to leave. But no such luck.
“Aaron, you’re going for the out, right? Take Angela with you. She is new in the city. You may help her with the shopping. By the way, she is your sister now.” Rob said.
“step-sister.” He said.
By look on this face I knew he wanted to say so much but a dark glare from Rob stopped him.
“No Mr. Mathews, I’ll take cab.”
Rob grinned, “I didn’t ask for your choice whether you want to go with my son or not , I ordered both of you. Now. Go.” He said coldly.
Aaron went outside and I followed him. I sat with him in his BMW. I looked at him, his jaw was tightened, angry face but looked devilishly handsome. He had the personality of any girls’ prince charming and aura enough for any guy to be jealous of him. He looked at me and shot daggers with his eyes. I looked away. He suddenly stepped at gas and I jerked forward. I was so busy staring at him that forgot to put seat belt. He smirked at me. I felt like an idiot. Thought it was 20 minutes dive to the market but felt like forever with him in pin drop silence. He didn’t say a single word. But this silence felt like ‘Calm before the storm’.
He stopped at a supermarket. I didn’t say thanks to him and stepped out of the car. Before driving away he gave me a dark look and it brought back so many incidents of my past. I didn’t want to remember them, I shook my head and went inside the building for shopping.
Shopping was fun. I bought stuff related to DIY craft and art. I was cutting crepe paper for roses when my mother came into my room.
“Angela, leave this stupid stuff and listen to me.” She said in authoritative voice.
I knew something was up. “of course mother. How could I disobey you? Please have a seat.” She sat on bed facing me.
“Listen daughter, you’re are a big girl now. I and Rob were talking about your future. We think this is the right time for you to get married.” She said.
I gasped at the mention of marriage. I was expecting anything but marriage. “Mother, I can’t marry, you know the reason very well.”
“Don’t be stupid Angela. Is that accident happened six years ago still fresh in your brain? Oh God, you damn girl, leave that past behind and move on. Listen to me very carefully, you’re going to marry and this is not negotiable. If you refuse this, I promise I’ll make your life the biggest hell which your kidnappers couldn’t do.”
Tears formed in my eyes. How could a mother say such terrible things to her daughter. but I refused to cry, at least in front of my mother. I couldn’t afford weakness in front of anyone.
“No mother, your threats mean nothing to me. Please don’t force me to get married.”
“Iis there someone else in your life? Is that why you are disrespecting my decision?”
“No, there is no man in my life.” I replied “and there’ll never be the one ever.”
“Watch your wings you little bird. I’m not asking for your consent. I’m telling you my decision. Or if you tried anything against me, I promise I’ll sell you to the mafia who kidnapped you once, because if you don’t get married as per my wish, you are useless piece. By selling you, I’ll get enough money. I never wanted children. You were an accident, abortion was not an option because it could cost my life. And don’t think that this marriage will be any happy news, because I’m sure your future husband already despises you. So don’t expect any roses or hearts or love letters. He needs a wife soon and you are available.”
I froze, I was on the verge of panic attack, it was too much too handle. This women was not my mother. How could she? A parent doesn’t say or wish such hateful things for his/her child.
One thing was clear, I was still trapped in that horrible past. I had scars of those four days and nights on my body, which haunted me every single day of my life.
If I knew mother, she meant every single word. She hit that spot where it pained the most. I had no choice. A marriage couldn’t be any worse than sold off to mafia. Right?
“Ok, Mrs. Mathews, I’m ready for the marriage. Who is the groom?”
“That’s like my girl. Oh you’ll find it soon, you’ll be surprised and happy because he is a real catch.” She smiled and walked out of the room. This was not my mother, but a monster.
Tears started rolling down my cheeks. It was hard to believe what just happened and I knew it was real nightmare. Stress, fear, sadness, anxiety engulfed me and I lie down on the floor. I cried to the sleep.