Marriage for One, an all new contemporary romance by Ella Maise, is Live!
Note to My Past Self : Do NOT get married to the handsome stranger.
Jack and I, we did everything backward. The day he lured me into his office-which was also the first day we met-he proposed. You’d think a guy who looked like him-a bit cold maybe, but still striking and very unattainable-would only ask the love of his life to marry him, right? You’d think he must be madly in love.
Nope. It was me he asked. A complete stranger who had never even heard of him. A stranger who had been dumped by her fiancé only weeks before. You’d think I’d laugh in his face, call him insane-and a few other names-then walk away as quickly as possible. Well…I did all those things except the walking away part.
It took him only minutes to talk me into a business deal…erm, I mean marriage, and only days for us to officially tie the knot. Happiest day of my life. Magical. Pop the champagne… Not. It was the worst day. Jack Hawthorne was nothing like what I’d imagined for myself.
I blamed him for my lapse in judgment. I blamed his eyes, the ocean blue eyes that looked straight into mine unapologetically, and that frown on his face I had no idea I would become so fascinated with in time.
It wasn’t long after he said I was the biggest mistake of his life that things started to change. No, he still didn’t talk much, but anyone can string a few words together. His actions spoke the loudest to me. And day after day my heart started to get a mind of its own.
One second he was no one. The next he became everything.
One second he was unattainable. The next he seemed to be completely mine.
One second I thought we were in love. The next it was still nothing but a lie.
After all, I was Rose and he was Jack. We were doomed from the very beginning with those names. Did you expect anything else?
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“Please face each other,” the officiant said, and I followed his instructions like a robot. Feeling numb, I let Jack reach for my other hand, and when his fingers gave mine a tiny squeeze, this time I met his questioning eyes. I swallowed, tried to ignore the little jump my heart gave and offered him a small smile. He was truly striking in a cold, calculating sort of way. I’d be lying if I said my heart hadn’t given a small jump the first time I’d laid eyes on him. Completely involuntarily. He had the strong-and-silent thing down pat. His equally striking blue eyes dipped to my lips and then came back to my eyes. When I felt him slowly push a ring onto my finger, I looked down and saw a beautiful wedding band with a half-circle of round diamonds staring back at me. Surprised, I looked up to meet his eyes, but his attention was on my finger as he gently rolled the ring back and forth with his thumb and index finger. The sensation was as alien as it could get.
“It’s okay,” I whispered when he didn’t stop playing with it. “It’s a little big, but it’s okay.”
He let go of my hand and the ring then looked at me. “I’ll take care of it.”
“There is no need to do that. This is fine.”
I didn’t know if Jack Hawthorne ever smiled. So far—the three whole times I’d seen him—I hadn’t been a witness to it, at least not a genuine smile, but I would have assumed if he was marrying someone he was in love with instead of me, there would at least be a small playful grin on his lips. He didn’t look like the grinning type, but surely there would be a hint of it. Unfortunately, neither one of us was the picture of a happy newlywed couple.
I reached for his hand to put on his wedding band, but call it nerves, clumsiness, or a sign, if you will—before I could even touch his hand, the cheap, thin ring slipped from my shaky fingers and I watched it fly away from me in slow motion. After the surprisingly loud clinking sound it made when it hit the floor, I ran after it, apologizing to no one in particular, and had to drop to my knees so I could save it before it rolled under the ugly orange couch. Although the light blue dress I had chosen to wear was by no means short, I still had to put one of my hands on my butt to cover myself so I wouldn’t flash everyone as I caught the damn thing before I had to crawl on my knees.
“I got it! I got it!” I yelled a little too enthusiastically over my shoulder, holding the ring up as if I had won a trophy. When I saw the unimpressed expressions around me, I felt my cheeks turn a bright shade of red. I dropped my arm, closed my eyes, and released a very long sigh. When I turned around on my knees, I noticed that my ringless, almost husband had made it to my side, already offering his hand to pull me up. After I got back on my feet with his help, I dusted off my dress. Looking up to his face, I belatedly noticed how stiffly he was holding himself—jaw clenched, the muscle tick definitely back.
Had I done something wrong?
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, thoroughly embarrassed, and got a curt nod in response.
The officiant cleared his throat and gave us a small smile. “Shall we continue?”
Before he could drag me back, I discreetly leaned toward my soon-to-be-maybe husband and whispered, “Look, I’m not sure about…you look…” I paused and released another long breath before gathering enough courage to look straight into his eyes. “We don’t have to do this if you’ve changed your mind. Are you sure? And I mean really, really sure you want to go through with this?”
His eyes searched mine as we ignored the other people in the room, and my heart rate picked up as I waited for his answer. As much as I was reluctant to do this, if he’d changed his mind, I’d be screwed six ways to Sunday and we both knew that.
“Let’s get this over with,” he said eventually.
That was all I got.
I’m a big dreamer. And that’s how it all started for me, really. Reading and dreaming. I love nothing more than to escape real life to find those very few magical moments in a book. I love how it has the power of stealing your worries away, putting a smile on your face even when smiling is the last thing on your mind. Crushing on fictional characters is also another bonus. Through my words, if I can manage to make even one-person smile, it means I’ve done my job well.
Writing became my world and I can’t imagine myself doing anything other than creating new characters and telling their stories. You know how some things simply makes your heart burst with happiness? A really good book, a puppy, hugging someone you’ve been missing like crazy? That’s what writing does to me. And all the hard work, all the sleepless nights, all the anxiety that comes with publishing…everything is worth it at the end.
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