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Substitute Wife For The Billionaire.

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"Listen to me!" I raged. "Thirdly, I owe you no obligation. No personal information will be divulged. Let's do well to avoid questions like Where are you? Where are you going? What are you doing? You shall touch no possession of mine, and I'd gladly do the same!" "You're being ridiculous!" He spat. "All these rules and for what? To calm your tantrum? This is the real world, Rosa; nobody ever does what they want! Everyone sacrifices something. What are you doing!?" "Setting boundaries," I breathed. *** Rosaline Rivera, daughter of a multibillionaire fashion empire, had always been living under the shadow of her perfect sister, Julie, until she died. To make matters worse, her sister's fiancé proposed to her three years after the death of her sister. What happens when Rosa finds out she was just a mere substitute in place of her deceased sister just to save the family's business? Will she be the perfect daughter her parents want her to be and be a submissive wife to Gerald, her late sister's fiancé, who seems not to have gotten over her late sister yet? Out of spite as she decides to make her rules in the marriage, what happens when Rosa finds out the person who had killed her sister in the first place, the person whom she least expected?

Prologue.

ROSALINE

The fleeting summer breeze settled on my face as I peered over the edge like a knock-off Rapunzel. Poorly created, wore shorter hair, and embodied a different kind of misery. Not to mention, that stifling pain that owned my chest because it was finally that day again.

My birthday.

I got a little lazier on days like this, carrying the ghost of past memories. The bathtub became my worst adversary, and my bed seemed to have claws that relentlessly pinched at me. The satin blankets turn into a pool of deadly, violent waters that selfishly s*ck my breath, so I cowardly run from them all and sit by the window like this, my eyes locked on the imposing silver gates down below.

At least Rapunzel's view wasn't a fleet of cars and an unusually wide terrace with men in black suits patrolling. As if to apologize for my unhappiness, the vast gates swung open, giving way to an army of cars that I instantly recognized.

My lips pulled into a smile, and I heaved a broken sigh, feeling a sense of relief wash over me as I raced downstairs, almost tripping over the porcelain-tiled staircase. They were back.

How long had it been? Eight months? I got to the main living room and found that they'd already made their way in. My parents. I walked to them with open arms and pulled them both into a big hug.

Having business moguls as parents had its ups and downs. The downside is I could go a year without setting eyes on either of them.

"My sweet little princess!" My mother cooed as she flung her Fendi baguette suede bag onto the nearest mahogany table and blessed me with a kiss on my forehead. "I've missed you so much!"

"Did you grow taller?" My father joked. I could only ever tell it was something to be of humor by the tone of his voice, never by the look on his face.

He owned a stoic expression he'd mastered for the business front lines. I didn't fault him for it, and the world never appreciated a smiling face.

I beamed like a fool, nothing short of happy to see them, again. Happy not to be alone on this day. The butlers slipped by us in fleets, moving their luggage from the trip to their respective rooms.

"You must be so exhausted from the journey. Would you like for a bath to be prepared for you?" I inquired, specifically my mother.

"No, silly, I'd get settled in with time." She dismissed with a wave, pulling closer to me, her warm hands cupping my cheeks. My mother stared intently at me before uttering the words. "Happy birthday, my love."

It stung. I couldn't believe it still stung that hard. Not because she said them but because her words mirrored the melancholic residue that we'd battled on this day every year.

"Happy birthday, Rose," My father said, too, his tone low.

I gulped hard, tasting the bitter lump at the back of my throat that almost seized my voice. "Thank you," I muttered. "I love you."

They chorused a response, and a moment of awkward silence passed. My stomach jerked at intervals. My mother cut through the silence with an announcement I never would have expected.

"And there is a surprise!" She chimed, clapping elegantly. "By evening, my love, we'll be organizing a birthday dinner in your name!"

A dinner? Me? My brows pulled together, and I stuttered. "W-what?" My voice conveyed every iota of doubt I thought I could hold back.

She smiled at me, tucking my floating tendrils behind my ears. "So beautiful," She whispered as she did. "You're just perfect. Rose, you may return to your room. You should be well rested for the party, especially since it's with the Thorne family."

My mother had this habit of divulging information in bits. The way that makes one's heart skip beats like mine did upon hearing the name. "The Thornes? Gerald Thorne?"

She nodded in the affirmative. "Yes, my love."

I couldn't ask why, or say anything that would sour the atmosphere. I liked the happiness she wore, and I would do anything to retain it. Still, it begged the question, why were we having dinner with Julia's fiance's family?

Especially since she died three years ago, on this day. "Alright, mother," I agreed, unwilling to say anything about my demised sister. "Thank you so much!"

I guess it was really happening. Regardless, I was excited, thrilled even. It was my first birthday celebration in three years, so it made butterflies flutter in my stomach.

Whatever this was for, I trusted them. I returned to my room with mixed feelings. A strange sense of anxiety crawled up to me, but it was eventually alleviated by my optimism and happiness. My birthday could finally break its angsty string of awkward silences and internal mourning.

The mere thought of it alone pleased me more than I expected. After a while, my mother came into my room with a parcel.

The bed dipped with her weight as she settled next to me, and I sat up, listening to her body movements.

"I got you something," She announced as she set the parcel on her leg and gently tore it open, revealing a small jewelry box.

A present? Even better. My eyes lit up as I watched her bring forth the dainty necklace. She shuffled closer, and I turned, allowing her space to put it on me.

"Here..." She finalized with a satisfied edge to her voice. "It's beautiful, just like you."

I looked down at the necklace, my finger perusing the pendant with the initials 'J.R' etched on it. I didn't know what it meant, but it was beautiful, and I was ecstatic to have it.

"I love it, Mother," I relayed dearly, ogling the precious item.  "Thank you."

"Shh," She placed her index finger on her lips. "Say less. It's going to be a big night for you, Rosa. You should be prepared for it."

For no reason at all did her response cause goosebumps to scrub up my arms. Something didn't feel right.

01: What A Birthday Surprise!

The mirror said I was pretty. At least, that was what I read off it as I'd been there for the past hour, trying to find a look that succinctly defined the age I just turned. Elegance never came easy, Mother would say, and I guess that was why I'd pulled my hair into four different styles; I had yet to find the perfect one.

Night had fallen quicker than I expected, probably because it was enticed by my brimming expectations of the surprises this dinner would hold. One thing was certain, my mother had something planned for the night, and it was left for me to unravel whatever it was.

The mere thought of it caused my toes to tingle, and my head went wild with questions and ideas. What could it be?

'Say less. It's going to be a big night for you, Rosa. You should be prepared for it.' Her voice rang at the back of my mind, a distant echo, and I let my hair loose, frustrated from thinking too hard.

Nobody else was as strategic as my mother;

Heroes

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