Zachary & Ciarabymspat©
"What're you going to do Zach?"
"I don't know," Zachary Collins replied to his friend Gideon. "I know that I'm not going to marry Abigail Stapleton, and I'm not letting my inheritance be donated to charity."
"You will if you're not married within the next four days," his friend Colin said moving over to the huge bar in their hotel suite and pouring himself a drink.
"I can't believe my father would put me in such a situation," Zachary said joining Colin at the bar and pouring himself a drink.
"I wasn't surprised," his friend Aaron said.
"Of course you weren't," Zachary said picking up a pillow off the couch and throwing it at Aaron.
"Your father was my father's solicitor, and you witnessed his will. You knew about this before I did."
"Yes, I did," Aaron said dodging the pillow, "but professional ethics wouldn't allow me to tell you about it."
"I can't believe it's been almost six months already since my father died," Zachary said, "and since the reading of his will, ruining my life."
"I don't think your father was trying to ruin your life," Colin said. "I think he was trying to get you to take your life more seriously and to settle down."
All the men looked at Colin and after a few seconds everyone broke out laughing. Everyone except for Zachary who was looking at him like, he wanted to kill him.
"You don't have to get married," Aaron said to Zachary, "you could allow the money to go to charity."
"There's no way I'm going to allow over fifty million pounds to go to charity," Zachary said looking at Aaron, as if he'd lost his mind. Zach's cell phone rung. He looked at his screen and saw that it was Abigail Stapleton calling. Against his better judgment, he answered the phone.
"Hello," he said his tone flat and not hiding the fact that he didn't want to talk to Abigail.
"Hello, hubby," Abigail chimed her voice cocky and confident, "are you heading back home soon? Everyone is preparing for our wedding day that's only four days away. When can we expect the groom home?"
"I'll be home soon," Zachary said, "but we won't be getting married."
"We will be getting married Zachary Collins," Abigail said her voice showing her determination to have Zachary as her husband. "I can't see you letting one hundred million pounds go to charity."
"The money's not going to charity because I'm already married," Zachary lied tired of her cocky attitude.
"You're what?!" Abigail screamed.
"I'm married," Zachary said. "So you and my mother can stop with your wedding plans because the wedding has already taken place."
"Whom did you marry?" Abigail demanded to know.
"Our connection seems to be failing Abigail," Zachary shouted into the pone holding it away from his ear.
"What is the woman's name?!" Abigail shouted.
"I'll talk to you when I return home!" Zachary screamed. "The connection seems to be getting worse."
Zachary pressed the button on his phone that ended the call.
"Have you lost your mind?" Colin asked after Zachary hung up his phone. "Why did you lie to Abigail?"
"Because she was getting on my fucking nerves," Zachary said. "She's so bloody sure that she's the one, I'm going to wind up married to. I'm not marrying that cow! I'll let the money go to charity before I let her get her claws into me."
"What're you going to do now?" Aaron asked.
"You've only got four days before you either get married to a woman you choose, to a woman of your mother's choosing or your inheritance goes to charity."
"I'm going to get me something to eat," Zachary replied.
"You're what?!" his friends said in unison.
"I'm going to get something to eat from the restaurant downstairs," Zachary said heading for the door to his suite.
"How can you think of food at a time like this?" Gideon asked. "You need to think of a way of getting out of the lie you just told Abigail."
"I'll think of something after I've filled my stomach," Zachary said. "Are you gentlemen going to join me or shall I eat alone?"
All of his friends stood and headed out of the room, into the hall, towards the elevator. "Do you think they'll serve anything we're going to want to eat?" Alexander asked.
"We're in Atlanta, Georgia, Alex," Zachary chuckled, "not Saudi Arabia and this is my hotel, of course we're going to serve something we're going to want to eat."
"You just bought this hotel, Zachary," Alexander pointed out. "You haven't had time to make changes to the menu."
"True," Zachary agreed, "but I'm sure things have improved a great deal since the Civil War and there will be something on the menu that'll appeal to our British sensibilities."
Everyone laughed as they entered the elevator.
"Stop it guys," Zachary said as the elevator made its way down to the lobby. "You want everyone to think we don't have the good breeding and class everyone expects British citizens to have?"
"You're right Gideon said. "We mustn't forget the good breeding and manners we're known for."
"You better hope they never see you after a night of partying and hard drinking," Aaron said. "That image would blow it for every British citizen on the planet."
"That image would blow it for the British citizens that haven't been born yet," Colin said.
They were all laughing as the doors of the elevators opened. They exited the elevator and made their way to the hotel restaurant.
As they were entering the restaurant Zachary's cell phone rung again. Zach told his friends to go get a table, and he would join them after he handled the call.
He took out his cell phone and looked at the screen and saw that it was Abigail calling him again. He sent the call to his voice mail and turned his phone off.
Deciding to order a drink before he joined his friends Zachary made his way to the bar. He ordered himself a gin and tonic. While he was waiting for the bartender to prepare his drink the conversation of two women sitting to his right drifted into his ear.
From what he could hear of the conversation the two women were, sisters and one sister, was in dire need of the other sister's help. But, the sister didn't seem to be in a sisterly mood to help the other.
"Brie, please let Emilee and I stay with you for a few days," Zach heard one of the sisters, plea.
"Ciara you know Emilee doesn't get along with Carl," the other sister replied, "and Carl doesn't like it when people stay over. He likes to come home and relax. And he can't do that with other people in the house."
"All I'm asking is that you let Emilee, and I stay for a few days," Ciara said. "I'll talk to Emilee and we'll stay out of Carl's way. I promise."
"I can't do it," Brie said. "I wish I could but I can't. You should have prepared for this Ciara."
"I did prepare for it," Ciara said. "I saved up money, but the money is gone now."
"You lost your job three months ago, Ciara," Brie pointed out. "I can't believe you haven't found another one by now."
"I've been looking for another job," Ciara said, "but the job market is very competitive right now and finding another job isn't as easy as you think."
"Isn't this something," Brie said her tone smug and superior thinking of the ironic turn her sister's life had taken. "Everyone thought that since I was the "wild one" that I would be the one to get pregnant before getting married. That turned out to be you. They thought you would be the one that would always have a job because you went to college and got a diploma in computer science and computer programming, but look who's without a job and looking for a place to stay. I bet momma and daddy are turning over in their graves."
Brie started laughing and it was more than Ciara could stand. She got up from the table and rushed out of the restaurant.
As he listened to the two women talking, an idea took root in Zachary's mind. It was a crazy idea, too crazy to be considered under normal circumstances, but he wasn't operating under normal circumstances.
He was in a fix and the woman sitting beside him was in a fix. The solution he came up with would benefit both him and the lady. But, only if she would agree to go along with it.
Zachary followed the woman out of the restaurant catching up with her as she stepped out of the lobby doors, calling out to her and placing a hand on her shoulder.
"Excuse, me," he said as the woman stopped, and turned to face him.
Ciara turned to see who'd tapped her on her shoulder. She was surprised to see a strange man standing behind her.
Ciara put his height at about six feet, six inches tall, his weight about two hundred to two hundred ten pounds. His facial features made him very appealing to look at with his brown eyes, shoulder length dark brown almost black hair. He had a roman nose, strong chiseled chin. His physique was very appealing as well featuring broad shoulders and a narrow waist. His clothes covered his tanned body fitting him like what they obviously were tailor-made and expensive.
"Excuse me," Zachary said.
"Yes?" Ciara replied stepping away from the stranger standing in front of her.
Zachary observed the woman standing in front of him.
Ciara Walker stands five feet eight inches tall, weighs one hundred forty-five pounds, her eyes were the darkest shade of brown Zachary had ever seen, they were red because she had been crying, and sat above the cutest pert nose, he'd ever seen. Ciara's hair was braided, pulled back in a ponytail, came to rest just pass her shoulders. Her skin reminded him of a Reese® cup. Her lips full and kissable were turned down, sad and began to tremble. Her figure was covered up by the large novelty T-shirt that read; If I'm still alive, I can still win, written across it in big white letters, loose fitting jeans, and she wore white sandals on her feet.
"Are you alright?" Zach said asking what he knew was the stupidest question he could ever ask her at this moment.
"I'm fine," Ciara lied reaching up to wipe away a tear from the corner of her eye before it fell, then turning to leave.
"Would you mind if I bought you a drink?" Zachary asked.
"I don't accept drinks from strangers," Ciara said turning to leave once again.
"My name is Zachary Collins," Zachary said introducing himself to Ciara, holding his hand out so that she could shake it. "My friends call me Zach. Only don't call me that in front of my mother it makes her angry."
"Ciara Walker," Ciara said chuckling at his little joke and shaking his hand.
"Will you join me for a drink now, Ciara?" Zachary asked.
Ciara looked at the man a few seconds trying to gauge whether she got a good or bad vibe off the man standing Zach.
"I assure my motives, are non-threatening," Zach said smiling at her.
Ciara didn't return his smile, she just continued looking at him suspiciously.
"I give you my word that I'll be a gentleman the entire time," Zach said holding up his right hand and making the sign of a cross over his heart. "Cross my heart."
Because she didn't get a bad feeling from him, Ciara agreed to join him for a drink. Zach held out his arm to lead her back into the hotel.
"Where are we going?" Ciara asked.
"Back inside if you like," Zach replied.
"Sure," Ciara said taking Zach's arm and letting him take her back into the hotel to the restaurant.
They were led to a table and seated ahead of other customers and guests the moment Zach entered.
"Would you like to order something to eat?" Zach asked when a waitress approached to them.
"No," Ciara said, "I'm not hungry." Her stomach chose that moment to let loose with a loud growl.
"Perhaps a hamburger, fries and a drink," Zach suggested.
"Perhaps," Ciara replied.
"What would you like to drink?" the waitress asked.
"Sprite," Ciara replied.
"Make that two of everything," Zach said. "One to go."
"What did you want to talk to me about?" Ciara asked anxious to get back to her daughter.
"I wasn't eavesdropping," Zach said beginning their conversation, "but I was sitting at the bar when I heard you talking to a woman that I'm assuming was your sister."
Ciara's eyes went dark and they started to fill with shame, she stood to leave.
"Please don't leave," Zach said reaching out and placing his hand on top of hers. "I really do think that what I'm about to propose will help both you and me."
"I'll listen but I can't think of anything you could come up with that could help me except a job," Ciara said sitting back down at the table.
"I think once you hear what I have to say, you'll change your mind," Zachary said.
Ciara sat in her chair not believing what she was hearing, not believing what Zachary wanted her to do and not believing that she was considering doing what he wanted.
"Where would we live?" Ciara asked.
"We would spend time both here and in the U.K.," Zachary said. "I'm an American citizen because I was born here, but I spend six months here and six months in the U.K."
"You do know that I have a daughter, she's eight years old," Ciara said. "And, she'll be starting school soon."
"She can go to school here or she can go in the England," Zachary said. "That will be totally up to you."
"Why don't you want to marry the woman, your mother wants you to marry?"
"I don't love her. She seems to think that I belong to her whether I like it or not and I can't deal with that attitude. I'm also doing this to shake my mother up. She needs to learn that she can't control my life."
"So, your marriage to me would serve two purposes," Ciara noted. "Fulfill the condition of your father's will allowing you to inherit and show your mother and this other woman, they can't control you."
"Yes," Zachary said. "And for you it would provide you and your daughter with a place to stay and financial security for the next two years because I will give you a monthly allowance and a bonus at the end of the two year term of our marriage. Allowing you and her the chance to start off with a better future."
"This marriage will be in name only," Ciara confirmed.
"Yes," Zachary replied. You and Emilee would have a wing in both my homes."
"What about dating?" Ciara asked. "I know that our marriage will be in name only, but I have a daughter. I'm not going to lie to her about why I'm marrying you but, people will talk, and they can be cruel and I don't want her to have to deal with gossip or to read about you and other women in the newspapers or to hear about it on the local news."
"I understand," Zachary said. "And I promise to be discreet."
"Why don't we agree that there will be no dating during the two years we're married," Ciara said.
"The entire two years?" Zachary asked visions of blue balls filling his head.
"I think that would be best," Ciara said. "That way we won't have to worry about anything being reported or printed. If you can't live with that, we shouldn't start this."
"Okay," Zachary said seeing Ciara's determination to protect her daughter. "What about Emilee's father? Will he go along with this and her being out of the country?"
"Her father is dead," Ciara replied not offering any more information about Emilee's father. "But, I'm not going to do this if Emilee doesn't agree to it."
"We also need to draw up and agreement and we both sign it," Ciara said, "so there will be no confusion about what's expected."
"I can arrange that," Zachary said pulling out his cell phone and dialing a number.
"Aren't we going to need passports to travel to London?" Arlene asked.
"Yes," Zachary replied.
"Emilee and I don't have our passports."
"I can take care of that too," Zach said.
"How are you going to take care of getting passports for Emilee and me in four days?" Arlene asked.
"I need you to take care of something for me," Zachary said speaking into his phone. "Look to your right."
Zachary raised his hand up signaling to someone. Ciara looked in the direction he was looking and saw a man with flaming red almost orange hair waving at them from the other side of the restaurant sitting at a table with two other men. They all stood up started, heading over to where she and Zachary were sitting.
"Who are they?" Ciara asked watching the men as they approached.
"My friends," Zachary replied. "The redhead is Aaron, he's my attorney, or as we say in the U.K...."
"Solicitor," Ciara said finishing what Zachary was going to say.
"Yes," Zachary said smiling at her.
"I do know some British terms," Ciara said feeling proud of herself.
"I think you should meet Emilee before we sign the agreement," Ciara said getting up and standing.
"She's in the kitchen visiting with some friends. I'll go get her."
"What's going on?" Aaron asked as he watched the woman Zachary was sitting with walk away from the table and head towards the kitchen. "And who is that?"
"Sit down and I'll explain everything," Zachary replied to his friends.
Zachary had almost finished telling his friends how he planned to solve his problem when Ciara rejoined them at their table with Emilee.
He was surprised to see Ciara's daughter sitting in a wheelchair with casts on both of her legs.
Ciara's daughter was a younger version of her in almost every way except for the color of her eyes and her. Emilee's eyes were amber with little flecks of gold sprinkled about. Emilee's hair like her mother's was in a ponytail, unlike her mother it wasn't braided.
"Who, do we have here?" Zachary asked standing to greet Emilee.
"My name is Emilee Walker," Emilee replied extending her hand out to Zachary.
"That's a very pretty name for a very pretty little girl," Zachary said shaking Emilee's hand. "My name is Zachary."
"It's nice to meet you Zachary," Emilee said. "Can I call you, Zach?"
"Yes, you may," Zachary replied. "All my friends call me, Zach, and since I want you to be my friend, I want you to call me, Zach also."
"Did you hear that mommy?," Emilee said turning to look at her mother, "He, said I could call him Zach because I'm his friend."
"I heard him, baby," Ciara said. "What do you say"
"Thank you," Emilee replied.
"You're welcome," Zach said. "These ratty looking fellows are my, friends," Zachary said turning to his friends, "Aaron, Colin, Gideon and Alexander."
"Hello," Emilee said to the men.
"Hello," the men replied in unison.
"Emilee is going to in this wheelchair for about another three to four months," Ciara said looking down at her daughter. "She was in a car accident and both her legs were broken. The doctor said with some physical therapy she should recover and be able to walk again."
"That's wonderful news," Zachary said.
"Yeah, but I may not get the physical therapy now because mommy doesn't have her job anymore," Emilee said sadly.
"I told you not to worry about that," Ciara said taking hold of her daughter's hand. "I promised you that when the time came you have the physical therapy you need. Didn't I?"
"Yes, ma'am," Emilee said giving her mother a weak smile.
"Do I ever break my promises?" Ciara asked.
"No, ma'am," Emilee said her smile growing bigger and brighter.
"And, I won't break this one," Ciara assured her.
"Are we going to live with Aunt Brie and Carl?" Emilee asked.
"No, baby, we're not going to live with Aunt Brie and Carl," Ciara said her tone turning solemn and sad.
"How would you like to come and live with me?" Zach asked joining the conversation.
"We can't live with you," Emilee said. "You're a stranger."
"Like mother, like daughter," Zach said looking over at Ciara. "I know you and your mother just met me, but didn't I just call you my friend and, don't friends stay over at friends house?" Zach asked.
"Yes," Emilee replied.
"So, why can't you and your mother come live with me?" Zach asked.
Emilee gave him a look that said I don't know then she turned and looked at her mother.
"Do you have a place where Emilee and I can sit and talk?" Ciara asked Zachary.