Authors: Marie Kelly
The Wedding Deal
Tessa Jones had stepped gingerly from the taxi, feeling as her body had tensed once more being so close to the house that she had spent her early childhood years. Pausing for a second, she had taken in the well manicured lawns, the grand entrance filling her with foreboding before stealing herself to move forward. Lifting the large ornate knocker she had allowed it to fall, the dull sound bringing back so many memories. As the imposing door had opened smoothly she had smiled at the butler so familiar to her from her youth, his surprise at her presence so clear.
“Miss Tessa……….I’m not sure that your grandfather was expecting you”
He began, his voice unsure as he had stood blocking the entrance, the sound of music filling the air. With a reassuring smile she had carried on moving forcing the older man to step backwards.
“Sure he does Mr Smithers” she had grinned, seeing how the butler had smiled with relief, accepting her answer with a small nod before closing the door behind her.
Passing by a large mirror she had checked her appearance, scrunching up her nose playfully at her reflection. At 23, Tessa was stunning. Of slightly taller than average height about 5’9, with a wonderful figure, and the grace of the dancer she was. Her long legs were hidden beneath the cocktail dress she wore, but her curves were clear to see in the way the dress hugged her perfect body. Tessa had been loath to wear the revealing dress, but it had been the only one her friend Clara had found that was long enough for her, and as she had to see her grandfather, who was avoiding her, she had reluctantly put it on.
Placing her fingers on the handle of the large impressive door, she had taken a deep breath preparing to enter the dragon’s lair. Pushing it full open she had moved into the large room, the music suddenly so loud along with the sound of people’s voices and laughter. Her beautiful brown eyes, so large in her creamy oval face, had regarded the scene so seriously and focussed, as she had raised her chin proudly, her long black shining hair held up within a soft bun with tendrils which tapered down her long graceful neck.
Alexis Demitri, stood beside the beautiful blonde, who was simpering and flirting outrageously with him, her beauty marred by the huffy pouting glances she would send her grandfather’s way, as he encouraged her obvious behaviour. Frowning down at the soda water he held in his hand he had once more kicked himself at letting himself be tricked into the social event, knowing instantly what was going on, wishing himself anywhere but there. Before him John Jones had looked on at the couple, a small frown crossing his harsh features, not happy with the way things were going. Marcie did not usually let him down when it came to men and looking around he had smiled spotting a young girl in the crowd.
“Angela” he had cried out, his voice booming even in the large room full of sounds. The young child, no more than six, had made her way over, her displeasure at being pulled over clear on her face. He had tried not to roll his eyes at the scene being played out solely for his benefit, as his lips twitched watching it all unfold before him.
“Angela, aren’t you going to say hello to your favourite cousin?” John had cried out, the young girl moving over to the blonde beside him.
“Hi Marcie” the girl Angela had said, her voice lacklustre at best.
Marcie had leant down pulling the girl in closer to her, hugging her, her enthusiasm for the youngster so lacking in belief.
“Oh I do so love children don’t you Mr Demitri?” she had cooed while looking so ill at ease with the child in her arms, only the small girl Angela looking more uncomfortable being there.
Smiling noncommittally, he had only nodded, wondered how quickly he could escape the awful party, and these awful people, seeing as John Jones made to move in closer, no doubt to add more to the virtues of his granddaughter. However the young girl Angela had suddenly given out a yelp of joy, pushing herself free from the blonde Marcie, John Jones eyes fixing on someone, his body tensing, his features hardening.
“Tessa”, she had cried, running forward and throwing herself into the arms of another woman who had been walking towards the group. Alexis had turned to look at the newcomer, his mouth opening in surprise at what he saw.
Tessa had laughed as Angela, her young cousin had launched herself into her arms, lifting her in the air and spinning her once. Laughing she had placed her back down on her feet, having nearly knocked over several of the crowd in the large room, apologising and smiling as the other guests had smiled warmly back at her, their pleasure at seeing her so obvious.
“Hey button” she had cried, her wonderful mouth breaking into a large smile which had lit up her whole face as she grinned warmly at the small child, who was hugging her tightly.
“Wow, when did you get so big and strong?” she had chuckled leaning down to give her a hug back.
“Mummy says I can come to your classes this term” the little girl was excitedly telling her, pushing her hand deep into the young woman’s,
“She said that I could go to any dance school I wanted, and I want to go to yours” she had continued, her eyes and face shining happily as she chattered.
Tessa had grinned back down on her.
“Wow, you will be my star pupil” she had replied playfully tweaking the young girl’s nose and dropping a small kiss on her head.
Hearing her mother calling, Angela had looked disappointed to have to let go of Tessa’s hand, and had given her another hug before running in the direction of a smiling woman. Tessa had watched her for a second, very fond of the young girl before once more moving towards her grandfather, the smile dropping from her features to be once more replaced by a look of grim determination.
She had taken in the group, her main focus being the imposing figure of John Jones, his cruel face now glaring angrily at her. To his right she could see her Cousin Marcie fawning over a tall handsome man, her eyes registering him for a fleeting second, taking in everything about the man. He was well over six feet tall, broad shoulders, tapering down to a slim waist which allowed him to look so good in the expensive tailored suit he wore. His dark hair was neatly cut around his handsome face, but it was his eyes which had made the biggest impact on her. Dark, almost black eyes, surrounded by long lashes which leant him an exotic yet dangerous look were fixed on her. His gaze was unblinking and sure, and for some unknown reason, she had felt a small shiver of awareness pass through her, before pulling her eyes from him back to her grandfather.
Coming to a halt before the older man, Tessa had smiled at him, the smile not reaching her large lovely eyes, seeing the coldness reflected in his.
“What are you doing here?” he had asked the anger in his voice only barely controlled.
Tessa had pulled herself to her full height.
“Well I knew that you were having a party” she had breezed lightly.
“And I assumed that my invitation had just got lost………..so I just turned up……….didn’t want to make a fuss”
She had smiling over at Marcie, who was scowling seeing her there.
“Nice dress Marcie” she had offered brightly, holding back the laugh as her spoiled cousin had glowered back at her.
“There was no mistake, nobody invited you Tessa” her grandfather had spoken, his tone harsh, as she had looked back at him, her eyes suddenly very serious.
“Sure you did John” she had spoken softly, anger now in her voice, “when you wouldn’t answer my calls”
Suddenly very aware of where he was John Jones had taken her arm, looking at the man standing silently watching the scene unfold.
“Please excuse me Alexis, I need to talk quickly with my granddaughter” he had spoken, before roughly grabbing her arm to pull her away.
Tessa had turned towards him also.
“Yes, apologies” she had quipped in a tone that held no apology.
“But it was a pleasure meeting you Alexis” she had thrown, quickly seeing how his mouth had twitched as she was dragged away into a far corner.
As the annoying blonde had continued to try to hold his attention with her inane chatter, Alexis had watched as the two seemed to be locked in a fairly heated argument. John Jones had finally stepped away from her, his expression stony as he had moved back towards them, seeing how the woman, Tessa, had looked deflated. Her sassy composure now gone as she seemed to be trying hard to pull herself together, her hand stroking her forehead in defeat, as she had moved back towards the exit.
“Forgive, me Alexis” John had gushed.
“Unfortunate intrusion, but I’m sure Marcie here has been looking after you” he had cried, seeing how Marcie was indeed trying her best to drape herself over the younger man before him. Alexis had smiled politely, gently freeing himself from the blonde.
“Thank you John…….. but I really must be going” he had spoken softly, his eyes still following the woman who had finally made it to the door.
“But…but…surely you can stay a little longer” the older man had blustered, the blonde pouting her sexiest, trying to once more wrap herself around his arm.
“No, really, I have a meeting I must attend” he had lied.
“But it was very kind of you to invite me” he had added, taking the older man’s hand and shaking it with a finality which brooked no argument, before nodding politely to the young woman who was looking confused at having not been able to make him stay within her arms.
“I will phone you tomorrow, to discuss that deal further” John Jones had muttered, seeing how Alexis Demitri’s expression had hardened.
“I see little point, John, I am not going to change my mind” and with that he had turned and made his way to the door he had seen the young woman leave from, breathing a sigh of relief to be free from the room. When he had arrived that night, he had not expected a party, having been invited over for an informal talk, and his face had hardened at the way John Jones had attempted to push his granddaughter so obviously on him.
Outside his eyes had scanned the foyer looking for the woman who had left before him, his brow furrowing not seeing her. As he had moved forward to check outside, to see if she was entering one of the many cars in the large driveway he had finally spotted her half hidden behind one of the many pillars which supported the upstairs landing whose balcony looked down on the magnificent hallway below.
Tessa leant against the hard marble pillar, her eyes shut tight as she bit her lip, a small tear coursing down her cheek, trying hard to pull herself together after her run-in with her grandfather. It had taken a lot for her to come that night, but she had hoped that she would have been able to appeal to his greedy side, knowing that he never wanted her to have her inheritance. However, she had underestimated his need to upset her more, the repercussions of this causing another tear to fall down her cheek, her mind going back to the previous day.
Tessa had never known why she had the sudden urge to visit Andrew Drake that day. Why she had turned her beat up car from heading to her small comfortable apartment to make the extra 3 mile journey to Andrew’s house. She had been exhausted, after a full day of dance rehearsals, with the midterm show only a week away. Tessa had been smiling to herself, remembering how cute the newest intake of baby dancers were in their costumes, which she had spent most of her nights creating, with the help of two of the other mothers, so happy with the way her life was going.
On driving up to the detached house, she had been surprised to not see the usual top of the range car in the driveway. With a frown, she had almost turned her car around, before smiling seeing a light flicking on in one of the downstairs rooms.
Well even if Andrew was not there, his wife Helena would make sure that she at least got a cup of tea, and looking forward to seeing her friend she had parked her car.
Knocking gently on the door, she had stood for some time before it was finally answered. At the door step Andrew looked nervous and dishevelled. He was dressed in his usual suit, but the tie was pulled down low and his hair was sticking up at angles, as though he had been pulling his fingers through it. Tessa had gasped seeing the wild look in his eyes and the way her friend, normally so well presented and slickly dressed looked.
“Andrew” she had gasped in shock.
She could see how he tried to put on a smile for her, his eyes still holding the bleak haunted look.
“Hey Tessa……I…I didn’t expect you”
“What’s wrong Andrew?”
She had continued her tone more insistent.
His eyes had darted around, refusing to meet hers.
“Look, it’s a really bad time now Tessa……..Can you come back tomorrow?”
Looking hard at him she had moved forward, catching him unaware, as she had moved into the house.
“I don’t think so Andrew……..not till I find out what is going on”
As she had walked into the living room he had tried to move ahead of her, but Tessa had been faster. Spotting the note on the table she quickly moved over picking it up and beginning to read it, her mouth opening wide with astonishment. As she had looked over at him she had seen the look on his face, seen the tears rushing to his eyes.