Purity couldn’t believe what she heard. Mr. Broderick was sick. He wants her to marry his only son to get better. What connects them both? How is that even possible? Does he even know her? Seen her? Doesn’t he have a wife? Her papa. Now she knew why.
“He doesn’t know me? Or our fathers? They are close.”
“I guess so. I can’t lose him. Please.”
“Your mother. She should be the one to help him.”
He looked away. The pains, feelings of despair came back. How could she? Why did she bring up his mother into this? How could she not? His mother had to stand by his father but she was dead now.
“She’s dead. Four years ago. Cancer took her.” he painfully explained.
She gazed at him with shock. Oh, he must have felt really bad. It must have been very difficult for them to cope. She couldn’t imagine herself without her parents even if she acted as if she didn’t value them. She felt his pain and felt very sorry for him.
“I’m sorry. Very sorry. I never knew.” she trudged to meet him and embrace him, patting his back. Purity, when did you take consoling lessons? You never do this.
He was amazed on seeing her open her arms for him. He welcomed the hug and felt secure, felt at ease in her arms. She was good despite her tongue filled with curses. She had human feelings.
“Thanks.” he mumbled.
She broke free and looked into his eyes. “You say your father will get better if we marry?”
“Yeah. I know you hate me. I can’t force you against your will-”
“Its alright Jeremy. I agree to help him. Its not a real wedding, but helping your dad.”
He grinned. “Thanks. I appreciate.”
“Its gonna be hard.”
“It will. Lets start by being friends. Agreed?”
She smiled sheepishly. She held out her hand for a handshake.
He shook it firmly.
“Papa. I need to talk to you. Mum, you too.” Purity solemnly requested.
Two heads went up simultaneously. Aaron and Prudence Theodore’s eyes peered at their daughter- Purity Theodore. They must be thinking the same thing. And had Purity spoken on a calm manner.
Aaron beckoned to Purity. “Come. Come sit with us. We’ll listen.”
Seconds later, she found herself seated in the middle of both her parents. This is what she hadn’t done in a very long time. She doesn’t even give them the chance to speak with her, feeling they’ll always control and manipulate her life. Hearing of Jeremy’s loss, she had to show her parents that she loved them. Tomorrow might be too late. Not that she hadn’t heard of someone losing a parent before, but she had not been really close to such people. So, their pains, she never really felt. No close friends. Just her. And Jeremy coming into the picture, seeing how hurt he was about his mother even if it had been four years, taught her something. A lot.
“My darling,” Prudence held Purity’s hand firmly. “What do you have for us?”
Purity was brought back to life by her mother’s question. She smiled weakly. “Papa,” she looked at her father. “Mama,” she turned to look at her mother. “I want to know why. Why you chose Jeremy Broderick to be my husband.”
Aaron frowned. “Are we back to this again?”
“Baby, its what’s best for you.” Prudence assured her.
“Its all I’ve been hearing. I’m sure there’s more to that.” Purity argued.
“About the company?” Aaron raised his brows.
She shook her head. “There’s more to that.”
Aaron lifted his hands, a sign of surrender. “Fine. I’ll tell you. I’ve noticed you don’t have or rather you’ve never had a boyfriend. Am I right?”
Oh, yeah. He was right. Boys, men. She’d never had time for them. Always kept them at a distance. Scared of them. But there was a time she met one and…
“And you are twenty-five years old. I hate to live to see a time when you’d be going crazy, searching for a mate. And I would want to see my grand kids.”
“Then you’d have let me made my choice. We talked about this once and we decided I’ll choose my husband. Didn’t we, mum?”
“Yes, dear.” Prudence stroked Purity’s hair with her other hand. “But at that moment, your papa and I had already chosen Jeremy for you. We just told you to find yourself a mate to end that discussion. You were all mad and you know…” she trailed off.
“I know you too well. I knew you would not be able to provide a suitable marriage mate.”
What? Was she that careless? Not being able to find a marriage mate? And her parents had already picked Jeremy even before they had discussed marriage. She had thought they chose Jeremy because of her inability to bring one at the due date. Even if she had, her parents would reject him. Purity resisted the urge to get angry. Calm down, calm down girl.
“So Jeremy’s the right guy for me?”
“He is.” Aaron confidently answered.
“Are you sure? Do you know details about him?”
“Of course. His dad and I being best buddies always talked about you and him.”
“His mother, Emily loved you a lot. Always wished you to be her daughter-in-law.”
“She is dead.” Purity blurted out.
Aaron and Prudence froze.
“How-how did you know?” Prudence enquired.
“Jeremy. We’ve been talking.”
“Ah!” Aaron exclaimed with joy. “That’s good. You guys have been getting along.”
“Um..not really. I want you guys to know that I’ve decided to marry him. Not that I love him ot want to please you two, its because his father’s sick and its his wish.”
“Whatever.” Prudence hugged her daughter. “This is the best news I’ve heard so far!”
Purity grinned. It had been a while since she saw her mum that way.
“He’s a good man. He’ll take care of you. You know you’re stubborn and all that. He’ll know how to. Just like me.”
Purity swallowed hard. This man always said things to get on her nerves. She promised herself she’d remain calm. “It wasn’t all about the company, right?”
“No, my love. All about you. Shall we celebrate?”
“Not yet. I want to rest and think.”
Purity wriggled herself out of the embrace.
Aaron Theodore knew his daughter could change her mind if they piss her off. He knew better than to upset her. He held his wife’s shoulder. “Take all the time, my love. Please, don’t change your mind.”
“By the way, you’re looking more beautiful in this your serene state. Jeremy sure does have a lot of good influence on you.” Prudence cut in.
Her husband nodded in agreement.
Purity nodded too and disappeared into the hallway.
Prudence’s eyes twinkled. “Oh, Aaron. I’m so happy. I can spot the changes in her.”
“Same here, darling. Told you Jeremy would be a great man especially for our Purity.” He kissed her forehead.
“Darling,” Prudence held on to Aaron and smiled. “Edwin’s sick. Lets call him.”
All dressed in a blue cocktail dress stripped with white, Purity sat on her king sized bed waiting for Jeremy to come pick her up. She heaved a sigh and lay on the bed. She was bored and still phoneless. It didn’t occur to her till now. When she probably needed to do things with it. Play games, check her emails, chat on Facebook; then read a story on w—-d. She had no access to such. She’d probably get a phone the next day.
Dragging herself down from the bed, she stood in front of her dressing mirror. She looked down at her 4 inches black stilleto heels, to her cocktail dress. She wore a silver bracelet on her left arm. He neck, decorated with a silver neck lace which matched her bracelet. Her ears, a silver clip-on ear-ring. Her make up was mild and simple. She had applied powder, black eye shadow on both eyes, pink blush on both cheeks and a bright red lipstick. Her long brown hair was in a French twist. Her silver eyes shown. She looked so pretty. She stared and smiled at her reflection.
Where was Jeremy? She glanced at the wall clock hanging on the wall of her room. The time was 5:45p.m. Jeremy was to pick her up by 6:00p.m. They’ll hang out together till it was 8:00p.m, then they’ll go see Edwin. She was all dressed up now, waiting for him. Why had she prepared so early? Did she really want this date? Had she already started falling for Jeremy? No. No. It was all because of his father. If Jeremy hadn’t told her about his health and the death of his mother, she wouldn’t be doing this. Then, why had she hugged him? Just being sensitive to his feelings, that’s all.
What if you guys become so close and you start to fall for him? He is doing so for his father too, he might hurt you in the end. He doesn’t care about you one bit? You can’t do this. No, Purity. Stop this! How did you even get yourself into this miss? He might also be after your body. They all are. You’ll surely get hurt.
“He’ll definitely hurt me,” she mused. “Why didn’t I say no? But my parents are happy.” She continued staring at the mirror. “I’m more happier. What could go wrong?”
Men, you’re scared of them, came a voice.
A knock on the door. She turned to it. “Coming.”
She fed her eyes once more. Then noticed something. Tears formed in her silver eyes. When did she start crying?
She turned her back to the mirror, to face the door. She got to it and turned the door knob, then flung it open. Purity gave a gasp of surprise as she saw Jeremy and her mother together. Her mum, beaming with smiles. She couldn’t help but notice Jeremy’s extreme handsomeness. He looked so good in his brown tuxedo. He greeted her with a boyish grin. Her heart melted.
“You are looking pretty, my darling.” Prudence commented on seeing her lovely daughter.
Purity only smiled.
“Jeremy had arrived since. Been with him so I decided to surprise you by bringing him to your room. You will soon be married. Have fun.” she bade them goodbye.
Jeremy stepped into the room. It was a great sight. Wonderfully decorated. The walls were painted pink and blue- equally. The floor was carpeted, wall to wall. Opposite the big bed, a white dressing table was stationed and a stool beneath it. On the dressing table, he could see cream, make ups, perfume, a brush and other female items. By the side of it stood a full length mirror. Then a bureau; painted pink. On it stood a blue flower vase with fresh rose flowers. Her closet was next, firmly locked. The door leading to her bathroom followed. It was open, the floor was tiled and it glittered. The bathroom was neat.
One more thing, the nice scent of the perfume she used filled the room. Welcoming him. He grinned ear to ear. “You’ve got a really nice room here.”
She shut and bolted the door. “Thanks.”
“Can I sit on the bed?”
“Great!” He sat carefully to avoid hurting or infuriating her. He’d observed that she takes good care of her things. The room was very tidy. He fingered the crisp white duet spread over the bed. He watched her at the same time. Her hands were folded on her chest, her back resting on the door.
“You are beautiful.” He muttered. Geez! Where did that come from? That was to be said in his head.
Purity blushed. “Oh yeah? Liar.”
He chuckled. “You are. Um. You dressed up early. I admire that.” After they’d agreed to be friends, he decided to give her a chance. She might not be so bad after all.
“Thanks. Are you going to spend time in here?”
“Only if you let me.”
She let her eyes drop to the ground. A thousand and one thoughts ran through her mind. Should she let him stay and then tell him she wouldn’t go out with him? Should she just yell at him, they’ll fight and things will go bad? She was confused. She kept pondering over what to do.
Jeremy studied her. It was obvious she was worried. Was she planning to change her mind? “What’s wrong?”
She looked up, then he noticed it.
“What happened to your lip?”
Oh, the bruise she had while washing him out of her. She’d used make up to hide it till it heals. Was it still visible? No one had questioned her about it, he didn’t this morning, why now?
“Its nothing, just an injury.” she lied. She fought within herself between telling him the truth or not. He cared, to ask about it.
“It isn’t so obvious. But are you sure you are okay? How did you get it? Come, sit.”
She shuffled to the bed and sat beside him, meeting his gaze. “You’re going to be a great journalist.”
“Why is that?”
“You’re a good questionnaire.”
He giggled. “That’s with only those I care about.”
She shook her head. “Come off it. I know you do hate me. Its for your father.”
He ignored her remark.
“Purity, I know you are a good girl. My father convinced me. You are really good. Don’t know why you insulted me back then.”
She beamed. She could see his face. He was staring at her with horror after she had said very embarrassing words to him. He’d hated her since then. And her too.
“You tried taking advantage of me.” she explained quietly.
He was slightly dazed. “Me? I never did! I just, you know,” he shrugged. “There was an ant crawling on your lap. I tried to get it off without letting you know. If I had told you, you’d have shrieked and you know the rest. I considered that a favour for you.”
Her eyes were wide with shock. “I didn’t know you were trying to help me. As you left, the ant stung me.”
Laughing, he said, “You deserved it. I had actually prayed for it to bite you.”
“And it did. I was wearing shorts. And for a boy to touch my laps, I didn’t like it. It was going to lead to something else.”
“How did you know? You were only seven then?”
“Right. My mum always taught me everything early enough. I learn fast.”
“Oh, I see. I’m sorry, would have told you. Your words and actions made me hate you.”
“Same here. My hate is stronger.”
“Do you still hate me?”
“I don’t know. Do you?”
“I don’t anymore. We’ve understood why all that happened.”
“Yeah.” she let out a breath.
He reached for her hand. As he touched them, he felt electric sensations. She snatched her hands immediately. Those sensations reminded him of the first kiss they shared.
“Don’t touch me without my notice, next time!” she snapped.
He grinned at her. “Did you feel it too?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.”
She rolled her eyes. Folded her arms.
“Purity, I want to take you out.”
“I decided we’ll just see your papa and then I’ll return home.”
“That’s not what we agreed on.”
“I changed my mind!”
“Its not fair. Come on!”
She remained silent. Pursed her lips and kept looking at her feet.
“Are you scared of me?”
He hit the nail on the head. She was actually scared of him, all men except her papa and maybe his. Then, her brothers.
“Oh, why would I be scared of you?”
His eyes were all over her, scanning her. Concern and worry written over it. “Then dine with me. I want to take you out.”
“Nope. Lets go see papa.” she disagreed.
He scanned her more. “You dressed so pretty for me. Why not let me show you off tonight?”
She grinned. “Who gave you the guts to say I dressed for you?”
“You did. Look at you. You just didn’t dress like you’re going to visit a sick man. You’re dressed like you’re going on a date. And you barely dress this way.” he remarked.
“How come you know such about me?”
He had kinda told her what she kept to herself. Just her papa ad mama knew. They must have told both Edwin and Emily. Emily, when she was alive. Edwin had probably told his son.
“Forget about that. Are we going out? That’s what I came here for. Am I not looking cute?” he winked at her.
She was beginning to like him. She nodded.
He grinned with delight. He hauled himself off the bed and attempted to help her. She swatted his hands.
“Ouch! That’s hurts.”
“Serves you right.”
After saying goodbye to her parents, they both strolled out of the mansion. Purity tucked her arms under Jeremy’s. She was too tired to walk. He gracefully assisted her.
When they got to his car, he helped her climb in. As he got in, he didn’t turn the engine on. He just peered at her.
Purity was beginning to feel uncomfortable. She started sweating. She wasn’t used to being stared at the way he was doing now.
“Please stop. Why are we not moving?”
“I have a surprise for you.” he tilted himself to the back seat of the car and pulled something out. He handed it to her.
“What is this?” she took it from him. She didn’t hesitate to unwrap it. When she was done, she couldn’t believe her eyes. He had given her a new phone. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge! Tears welled up in her eyes. “Thanks.”
“Did you enjoy the meal?” Jeremy questioned Purity, walking her to his car.
She nodded in affirmation.
They continued the walk in silence.
They were walking side by side.
Purity, on a date with Jeremy. It was actually her first. They didn’t go out as lovers but friends, getting to know each other. She had been very shy while they were eating. She’d never been shy eating with the opposite sex. Countless number of times, she had talked over meals with different clients, negotiating businesses and offering deals. That’s her only special. But when it came to other things outside the world of business, it was all new to her. She couldn’t look Jeremy in the eye.
She had stolen glances at Jeremy, he ate confidently, talked confidently, even smiled confidently at her. To her, she felt he must have had lots of dates with different women. No wonder he was so good at it. Considering his looks, women would surely drool over him and want him for themselves. She really hadn’t though of women falling does men. It really didn’t exist to her. Why now?
Jeremy had winked at her while watching her sip her glass of wine. She caught him doing so and her heartbeat increased. So many fireworks exploded in it. She simple felt special. The thought of him winking at another lady got her jealous. Purity, you never get jealous.
While she had kept pondering over what she had felt during the meal, she never knew they had gotten to the car; till Jeremy firmly gripped her arm. That feeling came again. She shot him a grave look.
Jeremy read it immediately and released her arm.
“No thank you?”
“For defying my orders?” she retorted.
He looked at her with surprise. “I didn’t know what you were thinking about while we were moving to my car. But I know you’d have walked past it and bumped into that crash can if I hadn’t stopped you.”
I had been thinking about you! She pushed those thoughts aside. “You could have warned me, shouted my name or something.”
He chuckled. “And get you to jump out of your skin? Then you’ll lash me with ugly words? Nope.”
She sighed. “I give up.”
He pushed himself closer. “Purity say thank you. I helped you.”
She made a face. “I don’t usually thank people for the things they do for me. They’re supposed to do it. I’m a princess!”
“Not here!” Jeremy objected. “You are a princess at your home and father’s company.”
“We are not leaving this place till you say ‘thank you’. You should learn to appreciate what others do. And let me correct you. You’re wrong when you say people are supposed to help you. They do it out of kindness and love, you can’t force them. And when they do so, show that you appreciate by saying ‘thank you’. It’ll want them to do more.”
His words made sense. It touched her. She really never appreciated what people did for her. She did in her heart but never showed it. She was a princess and its the duty of others to worship the ground she walked on without thanking them. No one dared to questioned her about it. Just her papa. And now, Jeremy Broderick. Her father was right. He’s the only man that could tame her.
“Aren’t you scared of me?” she enquired.
He smiled. “Why should I?”
She twisted her lips. “Cause everyone else is. Men and women don’t lecture me the way you just did and you insulted me. Calling me ungrateful?”
“Are you grateful?” he didn’t wait for an answer. “Ever since that day you rained curses on me, I had vowed never to be scared of women or let them manipulate my life. You were the first to do that. And hopefully, you’ll remain the last. Now, say, ‘thank you’.” He ordered.
She smiled wryly. “And if I don’t?”
“I’ll make sure you walk home.” he threatened.
She giggled. “Ha! Over my dead body.”
His face warned her. There was no smile on it. Those hazel eyes were filled with fury. One more wrong then, he’d do something disastrous to her, something terrible. Like he’d done the previous night- kiss her. What was wrong with this man? Why is he trying to teach her manners? Not that she didn’t know them, she did but never practised. She wasn’t giving up without a fight.
“I am Purity Theodore. You know that right? You know who I am? I can ruin you with a snap of my fingers, like this!” she snapped her fingers.
Jeremy continued glowering at the pretty witch bluffing. He thought they were going to get along. What the hell was wrong with her? He’d asked her to say ‘thank you’ for what he’d done. Instead of doing that, she’s here, bluffing. Saying she can ruin him. She’d forgotten he was a Broderick- mightier and richer than the Theodore’s. His glowering face turned to a mocking laugh.
Why was he laughing? Purity lost her courage at once. Ah, her father’s enterprise needed help, the Broderick’s were willing to help only if she married their son. They were powerful. That was it! She said the wrong thing to the wrong guy. He had won. Stupid me, she cursed herself. Her pride. Her pride.
“Darling, I’m waiting for you to ruin me. Please do.” he winked at her again.
The same thing happened. Her heart simply exploded. Dancing with happiness. She blushed fiercely. “Oh, shut up!” she barked trying to hide her feelings.
In a blink, he grasped her arm and forced her near him. Very close. He held her tightly. Purity tried to make him leave her. She fought and fought till she got to understand that it was pointless. Jeremy was stronger.
She was panting. “Release me at once!” her voice was weak, she was weak too. This man had exhausted her. What sort of devil is he?
Her command made him tighten his hold on her.
She regretted that.
What was she scared of? He smiled evily when he recalled that she had pleaded with him not to kiss her at her office.
“Do you want to walk home, tired?”
“No.” she replied weakly.
He smiled. “Good. Do you want to share another kiss with me?”
Her silver eyes widened with shock. Her heartbeat increasing. She was somewhat excited and shocked. A part of her wanted to say yes, the other part violently resisted the temptation. She had wanted to act with the former but not vigor for that. She found herself resting her head on his chest.
“No, I’ll bruise my lip.” she confessed.
“Then say ‘thank you’.”
“Th-th- Thank you.” The words were strange to her lips. She usually said thank you whenever she felt like. And now she didn’t. She’d lost. Surprisingly, she didn’t feel defeated, she felt good and relieved. Wow. This was strange. She grinned to herself.
Yay! Jeremy had won! For a minute, he had just wanted to push her into the car and zoom off. He had gotten tired of the fight. He tried the very last thing on his mind and it worked. Thank the heavens. He had to admit, he loved her guts, but the bad manners, he hated. He grinned like a champion. “You’re welcome, my lady.” He freed her, using the remote control, he unlocked the doors of the vehicle. He swiftly opened the door of the passenger’s seat. She hauled herself in.
He shut it, jogged to the other side, opened the door and got in. They both fastened their seat belts and soon, were moving.
“What hospital is your dad in?” Purity broke the unending silence. They hadn’t said a word to each other after Jeremy had succeeded in making her thank him. She really didn’t see the need of doing that. She’d just been quiet, looking out the window. The route they were taking was unfamiliar and she wasn’t sure it led to a hospital.
“Was in Saint Maria’s,” he answered without looking at her. He focused on the road ahead.
“I don’t think this road leads there.” She was looking around this time, both back and front and out the window; peering into the road. “Wait a minute, did you just say ‘was’?”
“Yeah. I did. He was discharged this evening. He’s home, that’s where we’re going.” He refused turning his head to face her. He could feel her eyes over him. He was sure he’s receiving deadly stares. He chuckled within him.
“Why didn’t you let me know?” she queried.
“Um… It was, uh, kinda like a surprise?”
She sighed. “Visiting me in my bedroom, getting the latest cell phone for me, taking me out for dinner is enough surprise for a night. Don’t you think so?”
He shook his head. “Its not. One more.”
“Oh, and I forgot to add. The unexpected visit at my office? The scene you put up. You were actually struggling with my secretary? And you told her we’re engaged. D–n it, Jeremy. I’ve got enough surprises already.”
He chuckled silently. “Lets see my papa and it’ll be over.”