THE ACCIDENTAL BRIDE
( Who’s the cook ? who’s the bride ? )
Written by :- Williams Kendall___
THE OFFICE TASK
“I don’t think…um…I can work on Hobsons’s project.” I said hesitantly to Caldwell.
As I said, I was afraid of him a little and it was completely normal after all, he was the president of the iAdverts. His eyes were focused on his laptop’s screen, but when he heard me, he turned his attention to me, “Miss Frances, I didn’t ask your opinion on this matter. I’m quite busy right now. If you don’t have anything important to say, then don’t waste my time.”
Something very expected. I know I was uselessly trying to convince him for this. The chances were very low that he would listen to me because I was just an employee here and didn’t hold much power.
“This is important. You said Ashar Hobsons is your special client. That’s why I’m insisting you to please replace me. I’m not sure about my skills.” I hoped I was not sounding desperate.
He stood up from his office chair and I did the same, “I think you’re overly nervous about this. I’ve thoroughly judged the past performances of the selected employees and you’ve been doing quite well. Don’t worry. Ashar is very cooperative. Just do what he says.”
I clenched my fists to the extent that my knuckles turned white. This blonde man was pretty hardhead and stubborn. “Caldwell.” I said as politely as I could, “There’re many other good employees who are better than me. I’m saying this because I don’t want to ruin this assignment.”
He hissed aloud, definitely got irritated. I stepped back in nervousness. “Nothing is going to happen. Everything will be done like we all always do. Departments’ heads will check everything, then, I’ll go through the work before presenting it to Hobsons. The selected team will get a bonus as well. Just go now.”
Who cares about bonus?
I just didn’t want Ashar’s plan to be successful. I sighed in defeat. Caldwell narrowed his eyes at me, probably noticed my frustration, “Miss Frances, Derek will explain everything to the rest of the team members. Moreover, Ashar Hobsons demanded that he would deal with our team all by himself.”
I arched my brow at him in confusion.
“I don’t know why he’s doing this.” He shrugged in response. I knew why he was doing that. He was testing the limit of my patience.
“Since he’s a friend and offered a considerable amount so I accepted his conditions. It’s like he has hired all of you to help him design his promotional campaign. I’ve sent your names and contact information to him. Stay in touch with him and follow his orders.” He instructed.
That’s not how iAdverts functioned. This was against our rule. No one could hire an employee from here. Other clients just contacted us, gave us the important information and we just worked for them. If the beginning was this much unexpected, I could not even think what could happen till the end.
Ashar had bribed Caldwell and made him accept his conditions. Now, I was going to work for him and would see him frequently till the end of the assignment. All of this explained that it was not just happening, it was properly and thoughtfully planned. Ashar was not going to leave, he had planned to stay.
At the beginning of the lunch hour, I walked outside the office building with the goal in my head to convince Ashar to leave from here immediately. I couldn’t convince Caldwell, but, I was going to kick Ashar out of here, out of my life and of course out of my thoughts.
My gaze stopped at Ashar who was sitting inside his car, possibly to hide himself from other workers of the advertising agency. He caught my gaze and waved at me. I sucked in my jaws a little and gave him a light nod.
I began ambling to the nearby restaurant with a hope that he would follow me till the restaurant. I took the empty table and waited for him. The anger already began rising in me because of being so helpless and clueless about everything. Few minutes later, Ashar entered into the restaurant and landed his eyes on me. I broke the eye contact and looked on my side. He walked forward and pulled back the vacant chair opposite of me.
“Let’s order something, shall we?” He asked as soon as he settled on his chair.
I turned my head on him. My brows were drawn together in a frown, “I’m not here to eat with you. Let’s talk and then I’ll go.”
He bobbed his head up and down slowly, “Okay. But, I’m starving.”
He picked up the menu from the table and began looking at it. I glowered at him, but he ignored me and kept staring at the menu card. The black, formal tux really suited him, made him fairer and more graceful. My old version who was head over heels in love with him would definitely drool over this perfectly-suited man, but the present me was about to burst into flames after seeing his nonchalance.
“Are you done?” I slapped the table to get his attention.
He looked up at me, acting oblivious. For a moment, I got dazed as I stared into his blue, gleaming gaze. I was bewitched. The dark locks on his forehead made my throat dry. I squeezed my eyes shut momentarily to suppress that stupid fascination inside me.
“Why are you doing this?” I questioned.
“Doing what?” He asked innocently.
“You know what I’m talking about. Are you stalking me?”
“What if I am?”
I let out a short, fake chuckle, “I can’t believe this. Just leave, Ashar.”
“What if I don’t want to?”
I leaned back in my chair and gave him a blank look.
“Okay, Okay. I’m sorry.” He put down the menu and gave me his full attention, suppressing the smile, “I’m sorry for stalking you, but, it was important. I had to find you and no, I’m not going to leave. Did you like Zoya? She’s cute, isn’t it? That’s really unfair that she only took my hair color. She looks exactly like you.”
He lowered his eyes on the table, saying, “She’s like a younger version of yours. Every time I looked at her, your face popped up in my head.”
He said the latter statement in a very low voice that it was barely audible. He glanced back at me, “In the evening, Zoya will again come at your house and this time I won’t take her from there. She was quite happy after seeing you, do you know that?”
“Why you won’t come?” I leaned forward in the chair and inquired with a quizzical face.
“Because from now, she’s going to live with you.” He answered.
A feeling of happiness beamed inside me when I heard that I could see that little beauty again, but quickly I reminded myself that’s not how I should be feeling. I shut that thought. I had to keep my wishes and love for my own daughter in control, if I had to handle this whole situation strongly. “Why? You don’t want her anymore?”
He placed his arms on the table and bent closer to me, “No, this is not the reason. As I told you, I’m not planning to leave, so I was thinking you should spend some time with your daughter too.”
“Is this one of your ways to hurt me and Zoya at the same time? Why are you playing with a kid’s heart?” I was getting restless now.
He groaned, “You’re thinking wrong, Sanaya. Zoya is going to get her long lost Mom and trust me, she’s so happy about it.”
“Stop it, Ashar. I’m still unable to understand what’s going on in your head and why are you here bothering me after so many years.”
“If you let me explain, I can tell you what took me three years to come for you.” He whispered solemnly.
Come for me?
Did he hit his head somewhere or what? Back then, he didn’t bear to have few minutes with me, now he was acting all sugary and it was definitely hard to swallow.
“It doesn’t matter what were your reasons. Can’t you see? I’ve moved on. I’m not interested in knowing your stories.” I snapped.
I was overwhelmed right now due to the countless questions and confusions and those hints in his words. Those hints that said…that said…
No, let’s not go there. I was not going to think about the impossibilities. I had left my past life in the past and there was no way I was going to waste that struggle and energy I had used to overcome my miseries, to be strong enough to live with the regrets.
“What do you mean you’ve moved on? Are you dating someone right now?” The curiosity was visible on his face.
“It’s not your business.” I didn’t date anyone during previous years because I couldn’t. Besides, it was difficult to find a guy who would be ready to date a twenty two years old mother.
My friends persuaded me for dating that it would help me to move on and forget about Ashar completely. They were wrong. I could never forget him, even if I wanted to because my daughter was in his hands. I was connected to him for the rest of my life.
Anyways, I also thought I was unable to keep someone happy when I had my own insecurities and fears. I was scared of getting closed to someone, getting hurt again.
“It’s my bu-”
“Just tell me why you chose my workplace?” I didn’t let him talk, “There are dozens of advertising agencies that are better than iAdverts. I think you purposely came here.”
“I want to work with you. Simple.” He shrugged.
“And why is that?”
“Because…I want to see your marketing skills. I want to know how much you’ve groomed yourself in this field. From now, you’ll see me a lot.” He explained, smiling.
Anger engulfed me. I stood up from my chair, “I can’t bear the sight of you. I can’t work for you. Go back to where you came from.”
I sprinted out of the restaurant as fast as I could. This was not good. Was he here to pull some prank with me? Just when I thought my life was now somehow stable, he was here to turn it upside down once again.
“Wait, Sanaya. Can’t you understand why I am doing all this?” Ashar yelled. He paused and came in front, waiting for me to respond, but I just stood still.
“I’m here to mend the bond. I’m here to repent for my mistakes.” He whispered. He was thinking to repent for his mistakes after three, long years? I mentally laughed at him.
“Are you hearing yourself? Or did you forget that I’m the same woman who was a liar, a slut to you?”
He stiffened. Guilt flickered in his eyes, “I’m sorry.” He moved up his hand and brushed my cheek with the back of his fingers.
“I can’t un-”
“I’m not asking you to forgive me now.” He said in a soft, gentle voice, “I don’t expect you to. First, I’m going to try every method to win your heart, will show you that I never wanted to do or say all that to you back then.”
He touched the tendril of my hair, “After that, I will expect you to forgive me. It won’t be easy for you. I know. But take your time. Take all the time you need. I’ll wait uncomplainingly.”
I became dumbfounded. It was impossible, one hundred percent impossible. This man was surely not Ashar, but only looked like him. I had never imagined that even in my dreams that he would come to me someday and apologize for his mistakes.
“See you later.” He gave me a small, brief smile and then disappeared out of my sight in a swift, left me alone in my own mental disarray.
I was here to yell at him, but instead he left me speechless.
Ashar kept his words. In the evening, Zoya came to my house and this time she came with a small baby pink, Barbie suitcase. I understood that it was his way of saying that he would not make it easy for me.
“Mommy…” She showed me her full smile that brought a smile on my face as well.
I knelt down to her level, “Looks like someone is quite happy.”
She bobbed her head up and down in a slow motion with a shy smile, then, wrapped her arms around my neck and hugged me. I stiffened at first, not expecting this. My eyes moistened as I felt her warmth against me. I returned the hug. She pulled back after a minute.
“What was that?”
“Daddy said mommy needs a hug.” She answered coyly.
My nostrils dilated. He was going to use my daughter against me. Very manipulative!
“Oh, I forgot.” She smacked her palm on her forehead. I chuckled at her gesture. She looked adorable.
“Daddy told me to give you this.” She extended a folded piece of paper to me.
I took it and unfolded it. It was a small note from Ashar that said;
During office hours drop her to the Rainbow Day Care Center. She goes there regularly. See you at work.
I clutched the note into my hand, muttering cuss words for him. He had fully planned to get on my nerves. I was really out of ways to get rid of him when he was bringing Zoya in between. He did have an upper hand in this whole situation.
“Mommy, do you hate Daddy?” Her lips pulled out into a pout.
“No, Baby. I don’t.” I lied. I loathed him.
She clapped her little hands together, “Okay. I love daddy.”
Her dark hair were tied into a side braid with a cute bow hair band. Two soft pink barrettes were fixed at the top of her head.
I smiled, “Who did your hair?”
“Daddy.” She touched her hair, “Do you like my clips?”
“Yes, of course.” I responded distractedly.
It was another new fact that left me surprised, that put my lower jaw dropped down. I was fazed. Ashar knew how to tie a child’s hair properly. It could be the glimpse of Ashar’s over all love and attachment for Zoya that he even learnt settling her hair.
Next day early in the morning, I got a call from Derek. He told me that Ashar had summoned the entire team to his office. He held a meeting there to give briefing about the new gadget his company was about to launch. That reminded me of Ashar’s words he said to me yesterday that from now I was going to see him frequently. I guess that phase had begun.
I reached to the address Derek sent me on my phone after dropping Zoya to the daycare center her father had mentioned. It was the first time I slept with her. After uncountable sleepless nights, I got to sleep peacefully last night with my arms wrapped around my baby girl.
I was planning to take her to Ryan’s house and introduce her to my friends. I was certain they would get excited after seeing her. Although, I was worried about the fact that how they would react if they get to know that Ashar was here, but still I wanted them to meet my daughter.
I opened the door and walked to the receptionist to get instructions. There were only few people at the lobby and the place itself was not quite spacious. I wondered why Ashar had an office here when Hobsons Enterprise was in New York. It could be a branch office. I thought. Maybe, that’s why, it was small.
“Miss Frances, right?” The long haired receptionist smiled courteously.
I nodded in response.
“Please go this way.” She extended her arm at her right side. “Mr. Hobsons is in the conference room.”
I took the elevator and reached to the designated floor. I cast a glance at the office rooms that I came across in the corridor. Finally, my gaze caught the acrylic name plate that said ‘Meeting Room’. I took quick steps towards it and pushed the door opened.
The other team members were already there, settled on their seats. I tightened my jaws as my gaze met with Ashar who was discussing something with the two teammates.
“Good morning, Miss Frances.” He said. The other people in the room turned their heads on me.
I pursed my lips and frowned at him. “Morning.” I muttered aloud.
I broke our eye contact and took my seat, next to Laila, who was from the media dept; a young, intelligent and gorgeous looking employee of the iAdverts. She was also one of the members from the team.
Ashar stood up from his chair, shoved his hands inside his pants’ pockets and glanced at all of us, “Alright, Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m sorry for calling you here this early, but, as you know, you all are working for me now for the next two months. I expect cooperation from you.”
“Caldwell gave his assurance about all of you that you all are his best staff, so my expectations are automatically high from you. I hope you won’t disappoint me.” He glimpsed at me.
“I’ll give you a brief introduction about the new gadget and you’ll tell me how you’re going to market it. Listen to my requirements carefully…”
He spoke for about thirty minutes. Other team members asked their queries during the session, but I remained silent and just noted down the important points. His words kept me distracted slightly that he said to me that he was going to make me forgive him.
Not that I was thinking of doing so. I was not that easy and besides, his mistakes were unforgivable. But I was amazed after knowing his reasons that he planned out everything just to repent for what he did to me. Last time I remembered I didn’t hold any importance in his life.
When his speech ended, I rose on my feet and left the conference room wordlessly while others were still busy in discussion. Being with him in a same room was bothersome.
I was standing outside the elevator when I saw Ashar scurried towards me. Ignoring him, I pressed the elevator’s button, “You shouldn’t be following me like this when my colleagues are around.”
“Don’t.” I shot him a death glare, “Don’t you even think doing anything funny at my workplace.”
He stood just beside me, “Sooner or later everyone will know about us.”
“That’s not what I meant.” He argued, “I’m not going to tell them or anything. It’s just we can’t hide it.”
“What are you talking about?”
The elevators’ door opened and I stepped inside hastily to avoid him. But, since he was here to make my blood boil, he also came inside.
“Ashar, I told you not to follow me.” I snapped.
“Why can’t I be alone with my wife?” He questioned, tilting his head to look at me.
“Wife? Are you crazy?” I turned to face him, “We’re divorced.”
He pressed his lips together and paused for a moment before saying, “We’re not, Sanaya. That’s why I’m here….to tell you this. We’re still married like we were three years back.”
I looked at him as if he was speaking in a foreign language. The elevator’s beep pulled me out of the trance and I stepped out of it.
He stood in front of me, “I’m telling the truth. It was misunder-”
“Excuse me, Sir.” A male voice interrupted him.
We both turned our heads and saw him. Some strange, young guy was standing few steps away from us.
“What is it?” Ashar seethed.
He looked at me first and then him again, “The director is here to see you. He’s in your office.”
He muttered something under his breath, looked annoyed. I got confused for a second after noticing that he didn’t like the interruption. But then, I suppressed the unnecessary curiosity and walked away. This time he didn’t stop me.
I knew he was just playing with words. I was confirmed about our divorce.