Marrying the Wrong Twin

By: Nicole Casey

The car stopped and Dad leaned forward toward me.

“I don’t want you to feel blindsided,” he told me quickly. “But this meeting is about you.”

The door opened and the driver waited for us to step onto the red carpet leading to the establishment. Mom seemed grateful to escape the car but I made no move nor did Dad.

“What is that supposed to mean?” I demanded. “What about me?”

“We’re meeting with Morris Sphinx tonight. Do you know who he is?”

I scoffed lightly.

“You’ve been trying to get Sphinx and Sons into our portfolio for a hundred years,” I replied. “Did you succeed?”

“We’re finally making steps toward a negotiation,” Dad explained. Why wouldn’t my shoulders relax?

Anticipation mounted in my gut as Dad stared at me, presumably getting his thoughts together.

“Okay…” I said, waiting. “And?”

“Morris has always been reluctant to get on board with JRP. He’s somewhat of a paranoid sort, even with all his lawyers.”

“What’s he worried about?”

“He’s worried that Sphinx will get swallowed in the conglomerate if he lets me buy into the company.”

He’s not paranoid—he’s right.

Even in the relatively short time I’d been with the company, I knew that my father was capable of doing exactly that—buying and stripping a company to his benefit. Why would Sphinx be any different?

Except I knew what the difference was—we didn’t have a pharmaceutical company in our portfolio. And Sphinx was not small potatoes.

“I’ve given him my constant assurances that nothing like that would happen,” Dad continued, almost tripping over the words as if he noted my sour expression. “That we honor our businesses and—”

“You don’t need to sell me, Dad,” I sighed dryly. “I know what’s going on.”

He paused and eyed me. Did I see a glimmer of exasperated respect in his eyes?

“Morris seems to have come up with a solution that will placate him.”

“Which is?”

Again, an unfamiliar look of embarrassment clouded my father’s eyes.

“He…he has suggested that you marry one of his sons.”

I blinked, the words not taking full effect for several seconds.

“Are you coming?” Mom growled at us from outside the car but I couldn’t pull my eyes away from my father who had flushed crimson.

“Y-you want to marry me off like some sort of medieval princess?” I choked, finally registering what he’d said. “What the hell?”

Dad shook his head quickly, the glint of salt catching in the dull sunlight that filtered into the vehicle through the open door.

“It’s not as bad as that,” he rushed on. “And I’m telling you now so that you know what to expect when we walk in there.”

“He’s here WITH his son?” My usually composed tone was reaching a fever pitch of dismayed anxiety. “You don’t call this blindsiding?”

“Oh James!” Mother snapped irritably, overhearing my protests. “I told you to wait until we were in the restaurant. She wouldn’t make a scene there.”

Hatefully, I glowered at her now, a dozen retorts ready to fire from my lips but my dad, put his hand on mine.

“Asha,” he said quietly. “I have always given you a choice.”

Gooseflesh slithered down my body in a blanket of cold as I stared at him.

“I could never and would never force you to marry anyone anymore than I would force you to do anything else. Everything in life is a decision, a choice.”

I sat, silently, knowing that once again, I was somehow going to be swayed to his will.

“In ten years, you have shown no interest in anything but the business,” he went on in a low tone. “I have to believe that’s because you care about our company as much as your mother and I do.”

Is that what he really believes? That I have no life because I’m so invested in JRP?

Never mind that I was afraid to go out and explore life as a woman. Never mind that I threw myself into work to forget my past, my lost child.

“I have never done anything that I thought would harm you. When I tell you something, I think it’s the best thing for you.”

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