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WIFE BY SWITCH: The Substitute Bride

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Arianna Jade Madrigal thought she'd be single forever, but things got wild when her stepsister, Julia, ditched marrying her fiancé, Angelo De Luca, out of the blue. That move could mean trouble for everyone at home. So, her Dad asked if she could step in and marry the man instead. She said yes while expecting the worst. Surprisingly, Angelo De Luca, turned out to be an awesome husband. Everything seemed great until Julia, who originally said no, started flirting with Angelo and wanted him back. Would she allow Julia to continue flirting with her husband? Or would she do something drastic to keep Angelo to herself?

Chapter 1

As I walked through the fancy halls, it felt like something heavy was hanging in the air. The pictures on the walls, showing smiles and family moments, made me grimace. Ever since Selena Bradford and her daughter joined our family, my life has become miserable.

My Mom had been dead for a long time, and Dad decided to remarry. Initially, I was against the idea of having a stepmother because most stepmothers were really wicked! However, Selena Bradford was far from being wicked on the day she was introduced to me. She had the kindest smile, and I was fooled!

After their wedding, Selena couldn’t keep her mask for long and started mistreating me whenever Dad wasn’t at home. As he was busy in our business, he’s mostly away from home. But even if they were mean to me, I tried to endure everything for Dad’s sake because they made him happy.

When my stepsister Julia wanted my room because it was bigger, I conceded. When she wanted my adorable stuffed toys, I gave it to her. When she coveted my wardrobe, I just smiled and said yes to her demands. Julia wanted to have everything I have including my fiancé, Angelo De Luca.

Although Angelo and I were not in love, and it was just an arranged marriage, I didn’t complain because in my position, it was expected to have an arranged marriage. It’s common in the family for several generations, but then, Julia wanted to have Angelo, too!

This time, I complained because it was too much, but Selena persuaded my Dad to let Julia marry Angelo. When Dad talked to me about it, I was devastated because I thought Julia wouldn’t be able to take him from me, but just like everything, she always won.

Dad promised to find me a better match but after several years, it didn’t happen. I was forgotten, and every time I would ask him about it, he would just tell me not to worry.

I wasn’t worried before but after I reached the age of twenty-five, I started to worry, and three years later, I remained unmarried! So, even if it was scary, I decided to be alone for the rest of my life. Or maybe, not really alone, because I could have some cats or even dogs!

For the nth time, I took a deep breath as I went to one of the windows to open it. Then, I saw Julia and Selena in the garden. They looked serious, but judging from Julia’s facial expression, I could tell she complained something to her Mom. Poor, Selena!

Julia was five years younger than me and her beauty was truly breathtaking and captivating. Unlike me, Julia wasn’t shy about anything. She was so confident in her own skin, and she possessed an outgoing personality. I was so lost in thoughts while looking at the women in the garden that I failed to notice someone was approaching me.

“Did you already pack your bags, Arianna?”

I was taken aback when I heard Dad’s voice. So, I quickly turned around and showed my respect and bow before him. “Yes, Dad,” I replied.

“Great. Are you done cleaning the halls? I think the kitchen needs an extra hand,” he told me, and then he looked out to the window and waved at his wife.

When he left without saying another word, I sighed deeply, but as I watched him leave, I couldn’t help but bit my bottom lip.

I was the first daughter of Xavier Madrigal, and yet, he didn’t mind letting me work in the kitchen. Another sigh escaped from my lips as I strolled toward the kitchen.

“Good morning, Miss Arianna!”

It was Eunice who greeted me as soon as I stepped into the kitchen. She had been my trusted companion for a long time. Unlike my stepsister, there was no personal maid assigned to me. Nevertheless, all of the maids in our home were my friends.

Although, I found it to be unfair, I didn’t complain or express any dissatisfaction. Actually, I considered complaining once but I couldn’t bear it if Dad would be angry. I didn’t want him to get mad for menial matters.

“Why are you here, Miss? You should be getting ready on your trip to the city,” Eunice reminded me, but I just smiled at her.

“I am done packing my bags. Besides, I am not excited to go there,” I told her.

“Why not? Who knows if you will find your future husband there?”

“That’s funny,” I remarked. “Who would fall in love with me, Eunice? Just look at me. I am not even half as pretty as Julia,” I complained.

“Don’t sell yourself short, Arianna. You are prettier than your evil stepsister,” she said in a hushed tone. “Don’t lose your hope, okay? You are still young,” she said while trying to comfort me.

“Young at twenty-eight? Are you kidding me? Women around my age already have a family or even kids!”

“But women in the city are different, Arianna. Some don’t even want to marry,” she said, and I wondered why, so I frowned.

“Is that true?”

“Yes. So, who knows?”

“It doesn’t matter anymore. I have decided to remain unmarried for the rest of my life,” I declared and everyone who heard me gasped in shock.

“Are you trying to rebel against your father, Miss?”

“Oh, not really, Eunice. I just lost hope that he will find someone for me,” I confessed. “Maybe I should just come to terms with the reality that I'll be single for the rest of my life," I added because Dad had several years to find me a groom but he didn’t spare an effort for my marriage.

“I wish I could help you find a groom, Arianna, but you know it’s not that simple. It should be your Dad who will find a match for you,” she stated a fact and I nodded.

“Don’t worry about it. I am good,” I lied.

Over the years, I pretended to be strong but there were moments when the sting of being ignored by my own father would hit me so hard. I did nothing except being a good daughter, and I strived really hard so that he would be proud of me. But in the end, all my efforts were useless because he was so focused on his new family.

I was about to assist Eunice in peeling the potatoes when my stepmother entered the kitchen. Everyone paused to greet the woman, and I wondered why Selena came to the kitchen. It was an unusual occurrence because she hated coming to the kitchen.

“Come with me, Arianna,” Selena said as she approached me.

I glanced at Eunice, and just like everyone else, they were perplexed. For once, Selena Bradford refrained from raising her voice. But then, I realized that Dad was home, so she was putting on her mask again. Dad had no idea that his new wife was only pretending to be kind when he was around.

“Dad told me the kitchen needs a hand,” I informed her, and as expected, Selena wasn’t able to control her temper.

“I said, come with me!” she snapped at me.

“Okay,” I said as I shrugged my shoulders, and then I followed her.

She led me to the upper floor of the house, and into my Dad’s study. He was sitting on his favorite swivel chair while perusing a document. Then, Selena announced our presence. He looked up and I smiled at him.

“Sit down, Arianna,” he told me.

“Yes, Dad. Why did you summon me here?”

“Nothing serious. I just want you to help Julia this time,” he told me and I frowned because what else did the brat want this time?

I looked at Dad in confusion especially when there was no proper context on how could I help Julia. While waiting for Dad to speak again, Selena turned to face me, and I rolled my eyes when she acted like an innocent lamb. Fortunately, Dad didn’t witness how I rolled my eyes before his wife.

“I don’t understand,” I mumbled.

“Julia is terribly sick and can’t attend the wedding tomorrow,” Selena informed me and I frowned because Julia wasn’t just a guest at a wedding. It’s her wedding day with Angelo De Luca!

“I will call the doctor to come here,” I offered.

“No, no, Arianna. You don’t understand,” Selena continued. “Julia’s condition is serious,” she added.

“Does she have cancer?” I asked and when Selena flinched, I knew she was lying. I saw Julia earlier and she looked fine to me!

“It is worse than cancer,” Selena replied. "I'm not sure how it happened, Arianna, but she suddenly collapsed!”

“But I saw the two of you earlier, and she didn’t look sick to me!” I complained but then Dad discreetly cleared his throat and straightened his shirt collar.

“Are you implying that Julia lied about her illness?” Selena asked and her tone was filled with malice. “Xavier, darling, can you please explain to your daughter about what happened?”

“Okay, Selena. Leave us then,” he said.

Selena was hesitant to leave but she had no choice. So, she strolled to the doorway but before she opened the door, she glanced at us one more time. Then, as soon as Selena was out of the study room, Dad stared at me.

“How can I help Julia, Dad?” I asked to make it quick.

“You should marry Angelo on her behalf,” he told me and I was too stunned to speak.

Although, it was me who was arranged to marry Angelo in the beginning, I was no longer happy or excited about it now. Besides, I heard several rumors about the man, and to me, he was a bit scary. How could I marry someone so scary even during the daytime?

“I don’t want to,” I replied and he looked at me in disbelief.

“Have you lost your mind?” he yelled at me.

“It’s you who have lost your mind, Dad. Why would you ask me to marry that guy now? No, I don’t want to do it anymore. I am good now, so I don’t need a man to live my life!”

Xavier Madrigal paused, inhaling deeply, preparing himself to utter his words. “Then, we will be in trouble,” he claimed and I arched my brows in disbelief.

“What kind of trouble?”

“We will lose a lot of money from this deal, Arianna.”

“I see. But why should I worry about it now? You should discuss it with Selena or Julia. Besides, she isn’t sick. You saw her earlier.”

“I’m sorry, my dear, but this will be the last time I am going to ask for your help, Arianna. Can you please do it for me? Please?” he pleaded.

I should be grateful that he said sorry and he asked nicely but my heart was suddenly consumed with anger. “Am I just a tool you can use whenever you need to?” I asked him and he frowned in response.

“Arianna, what are you talking about?”

“Never mind, Dad. Since I am treated just like a mere servant in this home, then, I think it’s better to marry Angelo De Luca. But on one condition,” I said and he arched the tip of his eyebrow.

“Say it,” he said.

“I want fifty percent share of the land holdings, this house, and fifty percent of all the stocks you owned at the moment. Before tying the knot with Angelo De Luca, please transfer it to my name,” I ordered and he squinted his eyes at me.

“Are you serious?” he asked in disbelief that I had chosen the wrong timing to bargain.

“Yes, Dad. Take it or leave it,” I challenged him because there was no way I would lose to Julia anymore.

"But why so sudden? You didn't care about it before," he said. 

"That's right, but I changed my mind when your gold-digging wife asked me to save her daughter and you helped her in convincing me. Just prepare the documents as soon as possible, Dad."

Then, I stood up and left his study room, much to his chagrin. 

Chapter 2

When Julia unexpectedly decided not to go through with the wedding, chaos ensued. My father had to quickly make his way to the city for a meeting with Angelo De Luca. Caught in a tricky situation, Dad requested that we postpone the wedding by two weeks with me. Fortunately, Angelo De Luca didn’t complain when the bride had to be replaced as long as it’s Xavier Madrigal’s daughter.

What was his goal?

Actually, it struck me as peculiar how indifferent he was towards the bride aspect - akin to ordering a pizza and being unconcerned about the toppings, as long as it's pizza. And so, in the midst of a tight schedule, I still have to pressure my Dad about the documents for a fifty percent share of the land holding his stocks, and also the house.

“What did he say?” I asked Dad as soon as he got back home from the meeting with my future groom.

“He doesn’t care whether he’s marrying you or Julia. He only cares about becoming my son-in-law,” he replied.

“Weird. I

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