Chapter OneMature

{An Arranged Marriage Story}
Natasha Carter has always been a shut-in, preferring to excel academically and win her father's approval. Damon Nicholson is almost the opposite, living every moment to the full. After the two create a scandal that could potentially ruin the reputation of the two law firm's, their only solution is to have Natasha and Damon married. Bitter enemies, the last thing either of them expected was to fall in love.

Hey everyone!! So this is my first story up here, so I hope you enjoy it. I've actually been working on it a while, just finally plucked up the courage to put it somewhere.

WARNING: Moderate swearing.


I watched the condensation trail down the side of the glass. The droplet paused for a moment, before dive-bombing onto the sticky surface of the table. I moved the glass to see the droplet sitting on the wood, trapped. I wiped it away with my napkin.

 All around me, music pulsed and bodies moved with vitality, excitement and drunkenness. Beats thrummed along the floor and zinged up my legs, hitting my heart and head at the same time. It was dark, the only lights illuminating the bar and the dancers in front of me. It was exhilarating.

 I winced and rubbed my forehead, wishing I was back home with my books and comfy sweats. Not in some club in Las Vegas for a bachelorette party with a bunch of girls I didn’t even really like. But I’d been friends with them since High School, and now we were all in the same University.

 I didn’t necessarily hate the girls - I just hated how fake and superficial they were. But they were the academically popular girls in private school, and father thought that they would be a good influence on me. And what father wanted . . .

 However, he had not been happy when I’d told him about my plans for the weekend. I can still picture his distasteful expression.

 * * *

 “You are what?”

I forced myself to face his reflection, from where he was glaring at me in disbelief, his hands paused at his pale pink tie. My hands knotted in nervousness as I met blue eyes that were an exact replica of my own.

“I’m going to a bachelorette party in Las Vegas this weekend,” I repeated, my tone flat and polite. “We’re flying over Friday night, and flying back on Sunday. I’ll call you when I’ve gotten there, but my phone will be off during the flight.” I was babbling, just trying to fill the silence.

Father cinched his tie harshly, jaw tight with displeasure.  “Will you be going to clubs?” he shot out. “Drinking?”

There was no fair way to answer it without lying - and he always knew when I lied. “I . . . suspect so, father. We, ah, also have a dinner reservation.” I had no idea why I’d blurted that out - maybe to prove to him that there was some form of organising to this event, that it wasn’t all on a whim.

“You do understand that you will not be drinking, don’t you? I also want to see whatever outfit you’ve chosen to wear. Can’t have you looking like a whore.” He fastened his cufflinks. “We have a reputation to uphold, after all. Now why don’t you help mother with dinner, darling?”

* * *

I squeezed my glass, glancing down at my very conservative, very non-Vegas dress and shoes. It had been humiliating to stand in front of the girls with their revealing, sexy dresses. I looked like a country bumpkin. Which, I suspected, was how father had wanted me to feel.

I recognised one of his twisted lessons when I saw one.

I gazing longingly at the dancers, wishing I could do that. Wishing I drink and forget everything. Wishing I could let go, for once in my life. Wishing . . . that I wasn’t Natasha Carter.

Imagining it was something a whole lot stronger, I took a deep drink of my water. I set down the half-empty glass just as a familiar stranger stole the seat across from me.

He was tall, with a slim figure and broad shoulders. His shirt was tight, showing off muscles that he put to use regularly. His hair was black and loose, flopping into his dark brown eyes that glinted with humour as they ran up and down my outfit. My skin tightened as he prolonged his perusal. The blinking lights around us illuminated his darkly tanned skin, a gift from his Italian heritage. He was a lady’s man, and rich enough that he could make the trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas several times a week without blinking at the price. He was also charming, one of LA’s most eligible bachelors and every girl’s dream guy.

He was my nightmare.

“Natasha Carter,” he drawled confidently, relaxing in the chair as if he owned the stupid thing.

I sat back nonchalantly, trying not to feel overwhelmed and panicked. “Damon Nicholson,” I replied.

He slowly looked around the club, making a show of it, then back at me with a dark eyebrow raised. “Never expected to run into you in a place like this. Daddy’s little girl feeling adventurous?”

I swirled a finger around the rim of my glass. “Not that it’s any of your business . . . Oh wait. It isn’t. Now if you don’t mind . . .” I gestured for him to leave. He cheerfully ignored me.

“Getting snippy are we? Anyway that’s not why I came over here.” He straightened his shirt jacket, fashionably open to reveal a t-shirt.  “I’m calling a truce.”

I gaped at him. “Uh, what?"

He shrugged carelessly and sipped a beer, as casual as anything. Too tense to feign casual, I folded my hands in my lap and twisted my fingers, squeezing until the tips were white. My spine straightened, and got tighter and tighter until I feared it was going to crack. “Our families are rivals - nothing new about that. I’m sure both are to blame in some degree. All I’m saying is, do we have to follow their example? I mean, you’re still in Uni, right?”

He said with such a derogatory tone, that I snapped back, “Aren’t you?”

“Besides the point.” I rolled my eyes. “Why don’t we try to be friends? At least for tonight.”

My eyes narrowed. “Why?”

Damon sighed impatiently, eyeing up a blond a few tables away. “Because I’m not leaving any time soon, and clearly you aren’t either. Better to try and get along for a few hours than have you glare at me the entire time and ruin whatever fun I might have. What do you say?”

Conflicted, I stole time by taking a drink. The Carter’s and the Nicholson’s were rival lawyer firms.  Apparently, we used to be just one firm, but then the Nicholson’s stole money that they had no right to. Ever since then, the two firm’s had been enemies. For as long as I could remember, I’d been told to avoid them at all costs. Especially Damon. A few years older than me, he was the son of the head of that firm - just as I was the daughter of the head of ours.

But . . . it would be nice. To forget that rivalry, at least for a while hours. I mean, what would it cost? It wasn’t as if Mother or Father would find out. No one would know but us. What was the harm? It was just one night.

Shrugging, I set down my glass. “Fine. Whatever.”

A grin spread across his face, knocking me breathless - as it had with countless girls before me. “Don’t sound too excited.” I offered him a small, tentative smile. He jiggled his empty beer bottle and announced, “I’m getting another. What do you want?”

“Nothing, I’m fine.” He raised an eyebrow, but wisely didn’t say a word as he stood and headed for the bar. A scant three seconds later, the girls I’d come with rushed to the table. They were panting and sweaty, slightly drunk with excitement gleaming in their eyes. Katie, Stacy and Marie surrounded me quickly.

“Who was that?” Marie, the bride-to-be, hissed, her alcoholic breath hitting me straight on the face. I wrinkled my nose and leaned away slightly.

“That,” Stacy stated breathlessly, “was Damon Nicholson.” She was craning her neck, trying to locate him at the bar, barely managing to balance in her precarious heels.

“Fuck,” Katie breathed. “How the hell do you know him?”

Feeling awkward because of all the attention, I shrugged and looked down at my knotted hands. “Our . . ., uh, families know each other.”

“Could you introduce me?” Marie asked, fluffing up her hair, then boosting her boobs. I rolled my eyes, feeling sorry for her fiancé Harry.

“Introduce who?” Damon asked as he sat down across from me, then slid over a tall glass filled with something that was definitely not water. As the girls tittered over his presence, I prodded the glass with a finger, feeling slightly ridiculous.

“What is this?” I demanded.

“Alcohol,” he replied. “I know, you’re not drinking. Daddy dearest probably told you not to, right?” My throat tightened at his way-too-accurate guess. He didn’t wait for a response. “It’s one drink. You’re in Las Vegas, in a club. Who’s gonna tell?”

I looked at the glass.

“Go on.” When I looked up, his eyes were surprisingly soft. “Let go. Have fun for once. Be human.”

I stared at him for a second longer, unable to look away from those soft eye. My heart thudded heavily. The little voice in the back of my mind goaded me on, convincing me it would be alright.

Keeping my gaze locked on his, I raised the glass and took a drink.

* * *

Groaning, I raised a hand to block the sunlight that threatened to blind me. Not ready to face the day, I buried my head in the pillow. Then frowned. Geez, this hotel had crappy pillows. Firm and . . . warm.

Ignoring my pounding headache, I opened my eyes and instead of seeing a fluffy white pillow, I saw a chest. A really nice chest. A tanned chest. A chest that did not belong there.

Cringing, I raised my head and met dark brown eyes.

“What the fuck?” Damon grumbled.

The End

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