Marriage Of Convenience

By: Cher Etan

“I was really hoping to get some coffee at Starbucks,” he said regretfully.

Leila almost smiled, “Well I didn’t exactly stop you.”

“Indeed,” Jonathon agreed. “But we can’t exactly throw you under our vehicle and then ask you to please wait while we get our coffee fix of the day now can we?”

Leila shrugged, “I don’t know. Can you?”

Jonathon laughed, looking at her with renewed interest.

“So are you like, a professional biker?” he asked.

“No. I’m a lawyer,” Leila said looking him warningly in the eye. Jonathon shuddered theatrically.

“Oh oh, are we in trouble or what?” he said waving his hands as if he was afraid.

“Well, I’d watch out if I were you and be on my best behavior,” Leila said tongue in cheek.

Jonathon laughed again, “I definitely like you.”

“Lucky me,” Leila replied wryly.

“Oh you have no idea,” Jonathon said, his eyes full of mystery and speculation.

Leila frowned at him but he just stared impassively back. And then he smiled.

That was when Leila knew she was in trouble.

Chapter 2

They drew up on the street outside Leila’s apartment block and Jonathon turned to her. “Well, here we are. What floor do you live on?”

Leila looked at him frowning as if puzzled, “I fail to see how that is any of your business,” she said.

Jonathon laughed again. “I just wondered if you might need help getting there. If for example, your apartment building has no lift and you live on the top floor.”

“Well that’s kind of you but I can manage,” Leila said as Mathews opened the door for her. Jonathon opened his own door.

“I’m afraid I must insist,” he said.

Leila was getting irritated. “Like I said, it's not necessary. Now if you would just give me my bike-“

“No way. We have to get that repaired,” Jonathon interrupted. Leila felt like she was being held hostage. She took a deep breath.

“Okay this has gone far enough. Would you just-“ she tried.

“Ms. Masters you are the one who seems not to understand. We have caused you grievous injury by hitting you with our car. We’re not just going to leave you unassisted. What if you collapse? There is no way you’re in any condition to carry your bike anywhere anyway, so I’m afraid you’re going to have to accept our help.”

Leila wanted to bite somebody…really hard. “Fine,” she bit out and then marched into the building. Or tried to anyway. Her ankle would not hold her weight. Before she knew it, Mathews had swept her up in his arms again.

“Excuse me…!” she tried to protest but nobody was listening. Jonathon got the door open and Mathews carried her into the building much to the amusement of passers by. Leila was mortified but what could she do? She ground out her apartment number when asked and tried to just bear the embarrassment stoically. If her mother was okay, she was going to be so bemused. When they reached the door Jonathon turned to her.

“Shall we ring the doorbell or do you have your keys or what?” he asked.

She glared at him reached into her jacket pocket and retrieved her keys. She hesitated a moment, wondering whether to try and open the door herself but he snatched them out of her hands and unlocked the door swinging it open and gesturing at them to precede him. Leila wondered why she wasn’t more afraid of having two strange men in her apartment with no one but a sick mother around.

“Put me down,” she ordered Mathews and he lowered her gently to her feet. She limped away calling for her mother as she went. Nobody answered but when she knocked on her door and opened it her mother was in bed, oxygen mask on, eyes closed. If it wasn’t for the loud sound of her breathing, Leila’s heart would have stopped with dread. She opened her mouth to call out but then closed it again. She figured her mother could rest while she whipped her up some soup.

“What’s wrong with her?” a voice asked from behind her startling her quite badly. She turned around on one foot to glare at Jonathon.

“What are you doing here?” she snapped at him. Jonathon took a step back his face falling.

“I’m sorry, but I wanted to make sure you didn’t fall…and you looked worried so...” he said.

Leila stared at him, “How old are you?”

Jonathon looked up at her in surprise, “What?”

“Sometimes you act like a ten year old with poor impulse control,” she said then instantly regretted it. She didn’t know him well enough to be making these types of judgments. He opened his mouth to say something but she got there before him. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”

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