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Contractually Ever After

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Warning: This book contains mature and dark content, including but not limited to explicit language, sexual content, and sensitive themes. What would you do if a billionaire proposed a marriage of convenience to secure his inheritance? Imagine a contract that forbids you from dating anyone else for two years. Now, picture him looking at you with a possessiveness that blurs the lines of your agreement. His words and actions make you forget this marriage is just a business deal. His touch ignites a longing that makes you wish he was truly yours. He tells you that you belong to him. You’d probably say no, right? Well, I said yes. To everything. And now, I’m not sure where the contract ends and where my heart begins. ...................... "How long have you known her?" I asked, curious about their history. "I've known her since we were kids," Adrian replied, his attention barely lingering on Elena. I stole a glance at Elena, her expression filled with admiration for Adrian. "Then why didn't you ask her to marry you?" I inquired, keeping my eyes on her. Adrian's response was simple, yet it caught me off guard. "I wasn't attracted to her," he stated, his tone matter-of-fact. My head snapped back to him, surprised by his candidness. "And you're attracted to me?" I asked, unable to hide the curiosity in my voice. He met my gaze, his eyes locking onto mine. "I don't know," he admitted softly, his hand finding its way to my waist, pulling me closer to him. "Am I?" he whispered into my ear, sending a shiver down my spine.

Chapter 1

Gina

"I knew it!" I exclaimed, jumping up from the bed and pointing at her. "I knew you were rich! Why else would anyone let someone live with them without asking for rent?" I paused, mulling it over. "I mean, sure, they might do it out of kindness, but who does that these days?" I waved my hand dismissively.

Abby's eyes narrowed. "Yes. Now, as I was saying, my parents have money, so maybe we can ask them for help with the bookstore.”

The bookstore.

Our blood, sweat, and tears.

Chapter & Verse.

We opened the bookstore as soon as we realized the corporate world wasn't for us. We poured our hearts into this place, saving every penny and sacrificing sleep to make it thrive. And now, we were on the brink of losing it all because our landlord suddenly wanted to sell the building.

Despite our best efforts, nothing seemed to work. The bank refused to give us a loan, our landlord remained stubborn even when we offered to pay more rent, and we had no one else to turn to for help. We were each other's only friends, and our isolation was starting to feel suffocating.

In hindsight, we should've learned how to socialize in school. Maybe then we'd have connections or friends who could help us now. But we were in this together, and we weren't going to give up without a fight.

As we sat together, deep in conversation, Abby suddenly dropped a bombshell—I had no idea she came from a wealthy family. After seven years of friendship, it was a surprising revelation, and I couldn't help but feel a mix of shock and curiosity. Why hadn't she mentioned this before? How would her background change our current predicament with the bookstore? These questions raced through my mind as I listened to her explain, trying to understand this new piece of information about my best friend.

"Why haven't you told me this before?" I asked, unable to hide the hurt in my voice.

Her eyes softened. "Because they disowned me," she said softly.

My brows furrowed. "What? Why would they do that?"

Her expression cleared, and I had a sinking feeling I knew the reason. "Because I can't bring them a son-in-law," she explained.

Anger surged through me, and my teeth clenched. "Those homophobic assholes!" I exclaimed. "No offense."

"None taken," she replied, laughing softly.

"When did this happen?" I asked, once her laughter had subsided.

She looked away, remembering. "After my first year at college. I was finally alone, without their scrutinizing eyes, and I lived for the first time. Met a few girls, if you know what I mean," she winked at me. "And then I told them that I like girls. They spewed a bunch of b*llsh*t about how it's not the way nature works, and blah blah, and then they disowned me. They took back everything they'd ever given me. The only reason I didn't have to leave college was because my grandmother was the one paying for it. She's also the one who gave me this apartment on my 18th birthday. They couldn't take this away because it's completely mine." Her eyes glistened.

Without hesitation, I hugged her tightly. She hugged me back and said, "That was a tough time, but I got through it, and then I met you." She broke the hug, wiped her eyes, and smiled at me. "I just didn't want to talk or think about those times. That's why I didn't tell you. I'm sorry." Tears slipped from her eyes.

"It's okay, silly," I said, wiping her tears away.

I got up and paced the room, feeling angry for Abby, for us, for not being able to save the one thing we both loved. "You're not asking them for help, Abby. We'll think of something else. We're not asking them for help."

"But—" She started.

"No buts, Abigail," I said sternly. "I'll sell my kidneys before I let you ask them for help."

She laughed. "F*ck, I'm lucky to have you."

"Duh," I said. We laughed.

"We'll save it," I said with determination as our laughter died out.

She locked eyes with me. "We will.”

……………….

I was scaring him. That's the only explanation for why the lone customer at the bookstore was avoiding looking at me, constantly changing shelves, and shaking.

But hey, it's not my fault. He'd been here for 20 minutes, picking up a book, staring at it for two seconds, and then putting it back. Was he only here because of the air conditioner?

I had told Abby that if people really came here to read and buy books, then they wouldn't mind getting a little sweaty. But no. And now look at that. We're attracting freeloaders when we can't even afford the coffee I was drinking.

I took a sip of the coffee and felt my nerves settle a bit. The door jingled, and in came Abby, clearly in a sour mood.

Join the party, Abby!

She made her way over to me. "I need to talk to you."

"Whatever it is, we have to do it here," I said, moving closer and whispering, "I don't trust the freeloader," nodding subtly toward him.

Abby followed my gaze and rolled her eyes. "Fine." She took a deep breath. "Remember when you told me not to contact my parents?"

My mood instantly darkened. "What did you do, Abigail?"

"I didn't contact them," she said hurriedly, sensing my anger start to rise. "But—" My anger flared up again. "I did contact my brother."

I frowned at the new information. "You have a brother?"

"Well, stepbrother," she corrected me.

I struggled to contain my anger. "Oh, I'm sorry. You have a stepbrother?" I nearly shouted, and the freeloader jumped from his spot. He looked at us for a second then hurried out of the store.

Abby held my shoulders, trying to calm me. "Yes, and the only reason I didn't tell you about him is because I actually forgot I could do that." She saw the confusion on my face and explained. "You see, his father married my mother only a few days after his mother died, so it was clear that they were having an affair. I didn't know that. One day, my mother came home and told me that we were moving to a new house, a better house. And that's when I met him. Adrian.

"I was sixteen when I went to his house, and I could see in his eyes that he didn't want us there. It had been only a few weeks after that it was his eighteenth birthday, and he left the house on the same day. I haven't seen him since. We barely even talked during the time he was there." She chuckled, but there was no humour in it.

"Then why did you contact him if he hates you guys so much?" I broke the silence.

Abby furrowed her brows. "He doesn't hate us. At least, I think he doesn't."

"But he left the house after you guys came."

She shook her head. "He didn't leave because of us. The few times we talked, he was nice to me and even helped me with my homework. Yes, he didn't want us there, but he never looked at us with disdain or hate. Those looks were reserved for his father. He always looked at him with so much hatred, and the moment he could leave, he did.

I didn't know what he was doing until a few days ago. I met a guy—I'll tell you all about him, don't give me that look—and it turns out he works for my brother. So, I took a chance and met him.”

"What did he say?" My curiosity peaked.

Her shoulders slumped. She hesitated. "He said he can help me, but..."

Again.

That d*mn "but."

"He said that he'll help us if we also helped him."

I was getting more confused by the minute. "How can we help him?" I asked.

She started. "Okay, so in Adrian's mother’s family, there's a clause to get their inheritance which states they have to get married by the time they're thirty."

Rich people and their inheritances, right? "And we can help him with that, how...?" I asked aloud.

"He suggested..." She stopped and closed her eyes. "Thatyougetmarriedtohim," she said in a single breath.

"Yeah, go back and talk like a normal human being."

She took a deep breath and said, "He suggested that you get married to him.”

I blinked at her.

She blinked back.

Then, I started laughing. It was an uncontrollable, belly-shaking laughter. "God, your brother has such a great sense of humour," I managed to say between laughs, wiping the corner of my eye.

"He doesn't," Abby said flatly.

"He doesn't what?"

"Have a sense of humour."

My smile vanished. "So he was serious?"

"Yes."

"He wants me to..." I couldn't even say it. "He wants me to marry him?"

Abby slowly nodded.

“But he doesn't even know me.”

“He doesn't. I only mentioned that I opened the bookstore with my friend Gina, and he asked if you were single. When I told him you weren't, he said he'll help us if you marry me.”

“Why?”

“Because he needs the inheritance—”

“No.” I interrupted her, my mind racing. “Why me? Doesn't he meet lots of girls he can woo and marry? Oh.” I gasped, realization hitting me. “Do you think something's wrong with him? Does he beat his girlfriends or something?”

“What? No!” Abby's eyes widened in shock. “Look, I might not have spent much time with him, but I at least know that he would never do that.”

“Okay.” I relaxed a little. “Then why doesn't he have a girlfriend?”

“He said he didn't want one. He wasn't interested in dating.”

“That's a nice way of saying I couldn't get any girl.”

“Can we please not talk about my brother's dating life, please?” She groaned in exasperation.

“Really?” I deadpanned. “You just brought me your brother's marriage proposal.”

“Yeah, but it's not like you're going to say yes. That's why, Gina, I think it's time for me to contact my parents. That's the only option.”

“No! Absolutely not, Abby!” I said firmly, my voice leaving no room for argument.

She looked utterly exhausted, the weight of constantly trying to find a solution to our future evident on her face. I gently grabbed her shoulders. “Hey, it's okay. We'll figure this out. We will. But right now, we're both too stressed. Let's take a break for today and talk tomorrow.”

She buried her face in her hands and nodded. “Okay.”

I pulled her into a hug, trying to comfort her.

As much as I hated to admit it, she was right.

We were out of options.

……………..

Abby was in a cheerful mood, her sm

She made her way over to me. "I need to talk to you."

"Whatever it is, we have to do it here," I said, moving closer and whispering, "I don't trust the freeloader," nodding subtly toward him.

Abby followed my gaze and rolled her eyes. "Fine." She took a deep breath. "Remember when you told me not to contact my parents?"

My mood instantly darkened. "What did you do, Abigail?"

"I didn't contact them," she said hurriedly, sensing my anger start to rise. "But—" My anger flared up again. "I did contact my brother."

I frowned at the new information. "You have a brother?"

"Well, stepbrother," she corrected me.

I struggled to contain my anger. "Oh, I'm sorry. You have a stepbrother?" I nearly shouted, and the freeloader jumped from his spot. He looked at us for a second then hurried out of the store.concern. “Because you deserve someone who loves you, not someone who wants to marry you for an inheritance.”

“I will also marry him to save my bookstore, so I guess we're even.” I tried to lighten the mood with a smile, but Abby's expression remained serious.

“No.” She shook her head adamantly and rounded the counter to stand in front of me. “You're not marrying him.”

“Tell me one reason I shouldn't.”

“You don't even know each other.”

“We can always get to know each other after we get married and solve our individual problems.” My words sounded hollow even to me, but I was grasping at straws.

“Gina!”

“Abby! I spent the entire night looking up your brother, researching about him, and haven't found a reason why I should say no. I know I obviously can't find everything on the internet, and that's why I want to ask you. Do you think he's a bad person?”

“No, but that's not—”

“Then that's it. I'm saying yes.”

“Your standards are really low,” she said after a beat, her tone a mix of concern and disbelief.

I smiled. “I've seen his net worth, Abby. Believe me, my standards are anything but low.” She shook her head at me. “Tell him I want to set up a meeting. Also, give me his number. It's weird that I don't have the number of my future husband.”

“You're really saying yes?” She asked slowly after a while, her voice tinged with uncertainty.

“Yes. But not just like that. I will first meet and talk to him. If we meet and I find out that he's a creep or a total *ssh*l*, then the deal’s off.”

She thought it over. “So you're only saying yes to a meeting?”

“For now, yes. But if the meeting goes well, then there's no reason to say no.”

She nodded slowly, processing my decision. “Okay.” She shook her head slightly. “Okay. I'll tell him that.”

I stood outside the restaurant, my heart pounding with nerves, contemplating whether to go inside or not. I could do it. One leg after the other. One step at a time. And in the end, I'd find my future husband. It felt so weird saying that.

I had managed to stay strong in front of Abby, but as I approached the restaurant, I could feel my nerves creeping up on me. Summoning all the courage I could muster, I entered the elegant establishment. I approached the hostess and informed her about the reservation under Mr. Reynolds' name. With a nod, she gestured for me to follow her.

She led me through the bustling restaurant, and as she mentioned that Mr. Reynolds was already seated, my nerves intensified.

All night, I'd been scouring the internet for information about the man. I read about his humble beginnings, the challenges he faced in securing investors, and how he eventually transformed his startup into a highly successful company, becoming one of the youngest CEOs in the industry.

But that wasn't the reason for my nervousness. I was nervous because the man was undeniably handsome. Every photo of him showed a flawless appearance, impeccably dressed in his ten-thousand-dollar suits, with his perfectly styled hair. There was always a stray strand of hair delicately falling onto his forehead, begging to be brushed back.

As I approached the table, I glanced up and found him already standing, his gaze fixed on me. D*mn. The photos didn't do him justice, especially his eyes. They were deep pools of black, with a mesmerizing intensity that seemed to draw me in. They made me feel like I was the only one who existed at that moment.

His chiselled jawline and perfectly styled hair gave him an air of sophistication, while his tailored suit hugged his frame in all the right places, emphasizing his athletic build. Every movement he made was confident and deliberate, exuding a magnetic charm that was impossible to ignore.

And I couldn't decide if that was a good thing or not. His appearance was undeniably captivating, but it also left me feeling slightly intimidated, unsure of how to match his level of elegance and poise.

Chapter 2

Gina

He extended his hand. “Miss Rodriguez,” he said with a nod, his voice smooth and confident.

“Oh, we're being formal,” I remarked aloud, a playful smile tugging at my lips as I returned his nod. “Mr. Reynolds.”

He smiled slightly, his eyes twinkling with amusement. “We don't have to do that if you don't want to.”

I hesitated for a moment before extending my hand, feeling a rush of excitement and apprehension. "Hi, I'm Gina," I said, trying to sound confident despite my nerves.

Adrian took my hand in his, his grip firm yet gentle, sending a subtle jolt of electricity through me. "Adrian," he replied with a charming smile, his eyes meeting mine. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you."

As we sat down, I couldn't help but feel a bit flustered by his presence. "Likewise," I replied, trying to keep my composure. "I've heard a lot about your success with NexGen Technologie

Heroes

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