Book cover of “Arranged with Deceit“ by Snowflake

Arranged with Deceit

  • Genre: Romance
  • Status: Completed
  • Language: English
  • Author: Snowflake
Veronica Wilshire is a famous actress, a celebrity figure who is adored and admired by almost everyone for her graceful yet kind nature. But behind that elegant stature is an independent woman who wants to live her life to the fullest without any restraints, without having anyone like her husband to control her. Aaron Aldridge is a self-establis... 

Chapter 1

|| Veronica ||

"I don’t want to get married."

As soon as those words left my mouth, tranquility emerged in the bubbly atmosphere. The excitement of my mother, Catherine Wilshire, dropped like a melted ice-cream. My cousin shrugged, fully aware of my intention.

No one responded to me. The only thing worse than chaos was silence, and I hated it with a burning passion.

"Say something, Mom. Are you paralyzed?" I poked her cheek to get any reaction out of her, and I did, at the very next moment, when she let out a loud squeak.

"Goodness! It's not funny, Vinnie. Do you have any idea what you are saying?" my mom reacted and looked at me with shock written all over her face as if I had just told her that I was pregnant at the age of twelve.

But I guess I should not be surprised, considering tomorrow was my engagement with a man I never met before. Actually, this was all my fault.

My mom called me two weeks ago when I was in the middle of shooting a crucial scene and was bugging me about marrying my late dad's best friend's youngest son. Therefore, I ended up saying 'yes' to the marriage in a haste to finish the conversation, which led to the preparations today I was facing after returning from Paris.

I sighed and tried to explain calmly, "Look, Mom, I know it was my mistake. But try to understand. I can't get married, I don't want to. I don't want a husband who will take away the little freedom that I have."

"Honey, what will people say? What about your dad's promise to his friend? How will I show my face to his family?" asked Mom, looking at me with disbelief in her dark blue eyes which were inherited by me.

"You care about people's opinion?" I let out a humorless laugh. "Mom, I'm Veronica Wilshire. I can get any man I want with only a single wink," I let out with pride, flicking my mid-back length platinum blonde hair.

I was a career-oriented woman, and I didn't want any man at this point. I was a happy, successful actress, meaning if I married the wrong guy, my career was as good as doomed. But my mom was hell-bent on marrying me off to God knew whom.

"At least care about me, Vonnie. What will I say to Mom and Stephen?" spoke up my cousin, Sara Aldridge, the eldest daughter-in-law of the family I was about to marry in, and Stephen Aldridge was her husband. "Do you have any idea how hard it was for us to convince Aaron?"

"Well, you shouldn't have convinced him," I retorted. "Because I won't marry a person who doesn't even bother attending his father's funeral."

Three years ago, I went to the funeral of my dad's best friend, James Aldridge, but his youngest son didn't show. His brother, Stephen said that he was busy, which I found very disturbing and gave me an impression that Aaron Aldridge was not a very nice or responsible person.

"Aaron must have had his reason," Sara tried to defend her only brother-in-law.

"I don't see any valid reason for a son to skip his father's funeral unless he's a complete ungrateful prick who hated his father," I responded and went near my mom who was still trying to digest what I declared. I placed my hands on her shoulder and said, "Therefore, Mom, I won't marry that jerk or anyone for that matter. That's final."

Mom released a deep sigh and looked me dead in the eye, giving me a shiver. She was fully in her businesswoman mode now. "Tyler wanted you to marry in a good family, and I am going to fulfill his last wish, whether his daughter cares or not. Therefore, Veronica, you will marry Aaron Aldridge. That's final," she declared and walked out of my room.

Sadness engulfed my heart as I plopped down on my bed hopelessly. My own mother wasn't willing to understand me. Then who would? She had gone crazy to fulfill Dad's last wish.

Sara placed a hand on my shoulder and said softly, "Think this over well, Vonnie. It will all be for the best." With that, she left my bedroom.

I clutched a fistful of my purple bedsheet, feeling rage storming inside me. I wanted to go against my mom so bad, but I had always been a good daughter. That's why it was so hard to decline her request and make her head bow in shame.

I released an exaggerating sigh.

I need a drink, I thought.

I took out my cell phone from my purse which I had yet to unpack since I returned home to Los Angeles. I gave a call to my manager, Juliette Ellinor. However, that brat didn't receive my calls.

Frustrated, I let out a groan and grabbed my grey hoodie, aviator sunglasses, and face mask. I could not take the depressing atmosphere anymore. I needed a drink to clear my mind which was impossible at home.

I threw in the hoodie over my white crop top and took my car keys. Avoiding any confrontation with my mom or Sara, I sneaked out with my favorite car, Lamborghini Veneno.

I stopped near a bar and looked around. There were profound probabilities of any of my fans recognizing me there, then a lot of unwanted gossips could spread as tomorrow was my engagement. And the last thing I wanted right now was a scandal. So, I adjusted my glasses and mask before going in.

I stepped inside the bar, only to be welcomed by the blasting music, reek of branded alcohol, and gleaming neon lights. As usual, some hormone-struck teenagers were making out somewhere. Gross.

Avoiding the temptation to dance, I went to the bar counter and ordered a drink. Once I sat down on the barstool, my eyes fell on the guy beside me, who was sleeping with his head buried in his hands, clearly drunk from the three bottles of alcohol that were near him.

After a minute when I was handed over my glass of drink, the man beside me raised his head, his handsome face twitching in pain as if he was having a pounding headache.

Since I had nothing else to do and I loved watching people which helped me make my acting seem more realistic, I just studied the gorgeous man with a sexy jawline and pretty eyes. He had a dark shade of hair, the front of it slightly curly and the rest was styled in a tousled way. His eyes and skin color were not clear due to the flashing neon lights. His slouched broad shoulder told me that he was depressed just like me. Nonetheless, he looked familiar somehow.

The man in his mid-twenties fixed his navy blue shirt, which was paired with cream-colored pants and white sneakers, and looked at his Patek Philippe wristwatch, which made me think whether he was filthy rich or just a good thief.

"Shit," he cursed, his eyes widening in horror.

Wow, he has a deep, attractive voice even when he's cursing, I thought.

The man hurriedly took out his phone from his pocket and blinked a few times to adjust his vision before dialing a number. "Hey, Dean, come to pick me up," he ordered over the phone and dropped it on the counter, slumping his head down again, probably feeling another hammering pain in his head.

"You have been staring at me for a while now, miss," spoke up the man, making me jump a little.

I pretended not to listen and took off my mask before taking a casual sip of my drink.

"Ah, it's so sunny right now. I will go blind. Might you lend me a pair of sunglasses as well?" he let out sarcastically in a slurry voice, hinting at my sunglasses.

"I am wearing them for a reason, okay?" I responded, turning my head towards the man who was now looking at me with a bemused look, his elbow rested on the counter and his head on his palm.

"Now we are talking," he said, a smirk lingering on his face.

I frowned. "I wear my sunglasses because I can't have my fans recognizing," I muttered.

Who knows if this person was also a fan of mine? What if he screamed seeing my breathtaking face and attracted the others?

"Well, someone thinks they are a celebrity just by covering their beautiful face," he commented.

"And well, someone thinks they are a billionaire just by wearing an expensive watch," I retorted.

"Ugh, I came to get rid of my family's nagging, yet I happen to meet another annoying woman," complained the man and ordered another drink for himself to the bartender.

"You also came here to escape your family? Me too," I chimed, now somehow interested to talk to the person beside me.

"Wow, what an unfortunate coincidence, miss— uh, what should I call you?"

I bit my lips as I couldn't tell him my real name. "You can call me Ms. V," I answered and forwarded my hand.

"Oh, okay, then I'm Mr. A," he responded and shook my hand.

I chuckled and wondered if he was a celebrity like me or it was just his drunk sense of humor. "So, Mr. A, what's gotten you so depressed?" I inquired, playing with my glass. As much of a chatterbox I was, I loved listening to others as well.

"As if you would understand." He rolled his eyes and sipped from his glass.

"You will never know if you don't try," I encouraged.

He anticipated for a while before letting out a shuddering breath and started, "It's the 21st century. Yet, who the fuck does arranged marriage nowadays?"

My eyes widened, glimmering in excitement. I leaned towards him and immediately agreed, "I know, right?"

"How can someone expect me to marry an unknown woman?" he complained, slamming his palm on the counter.

"I freaking know, right?"

Wow, Mr. A and I really have a lot in common. We have the same mindset.

"Wait, are you getting in an arranged marriage too, Ms. V?" Mr. A arched an eyebrow, and I nodded with a pout. "Now I think it would be just better if I married someone like you," he hummed remorsefully.

"Once again, I know, right? It would be so much better if I can marry someone who has the same mindset as me," I crooned enthusiastically.

The two of us talked for a little longer, telling each other about our respective families that were forcing us to get married when we weren't even that old and had a stable career. I was only twenty-four years old, and Mr. A was two years older than me.

Damn, it must have been fate. Otherwise, why else would I meet someone who was handling the same shit like me?

"What shall I do to break off this engagement?" I whined, my voice slurry as well. I had finished two bottles of alcohol, and my mind wasn't functioning well right now.

"You should cheat on your partner and tell that to his face!" exclaimed Mr. A.

I gave him an impressed look for such a brilliant idea and clapped. "But the only person I can think of cheating with is you."

Mr. A pulled his stool closer to mine, bringing his face inches away from me. My breath hitched at his sudden action. "Same goes for me, except I really want this," he said, his eyes dropping to my lips with lust.

"W—what do you mean?"

"Your lips are very attractive," he murmured, which made my cheeks heat up for no goddamn reason.

I gulped as he was inching closer. I would surely regret it later, but I wanted it as well—a distraction and a genuine kiss. So, I closed my eyes when his soft lips touched mine, letting my stomach twitch into knots of pleasure.

It wasn't like any other feeling I got before, not with any other kiss. It was special. Because it wasn't for a crowd of people to watch. It was just the two of us. In a bar where no one was paying attention.

Diving in ecstasy, I started moving my lips in sync with him. As the sunglasses were getting in my way, I hurriedly took them off to close the remaining gap between us, deepening the kiss.

He placed a hand on my waist, sending a shiver to my body, and another on my cheek while I wrapped my arms around his neck, our lips still connected.

We were lost in our own world until a man hollered, "Sir, what are you doing?" It made the two of us pull apart from the kiss and gasp for breath. Damn, that was so good.

I quickly pulled down my hood, covering my face, and looked away as the chestnut-haired man approached us. "Tomorrow is your engagement, and you are here kissing another woman? You will drown your family name along with me," the man hissed and pulled Mr. A up from his seat and wrapped one of his arms around his neck before making him stand on his staggering feet, without taking a glance at me.

Mr. A looked over his shoulder, a silly grin forming on his face, making his one dimples pop. I swear this guy's smile was so damn pretty; he should have been a model. "See you some other time, Ms. V," he hollered and I waved at him.

A smile curled up on my face as there was a strange attraction, an odd feeling that told me we would meet again, and that might be very soon.

Once he left, I felt all the energy drain out of my body. I slumped my body over the counter as reality started sinking in. I jumped up when it hit me like a truck. "I just fucking kissed a total stranger!"

★★★★★

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