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C1 Sunset

"Will you sign here please?" Attorney Silas instructed me. He pointed at the blank line above my full name. I carefully held the pen so they would not notice that my hands were trembling. Two weeks had passed since the death of Don Agustin Rivera. And his lawyer was here to facilitate what we had agreed about before his death.

After I signed, he took the papers and placed them inside his briefcase, "I will see both of you after three weeks for the civil wedding. Your father ordered me to process it eight months ago."

Then he shook hands with Bram and me. He then walked out of the library. We were inside the Rivera ancestral house here in Laguna, a province two hours away from Manila. We could see Mt. Makiling from afar from where we were seated. Bram stood up and walked towards the door. I heard him open the door and then he paused. I turned to see why he paused.

"Do you have a ride home?" Bram asked me. He looked bored.

"Yes, I brought my car," I answered him.

"Good then, see you at the wedding," he said, then he closed the door.

Wedding Day

I stared at myself in the mirror here in the restroom of the city hall. A judge would officiate my marriage with Bram. Last night I was having second thoughts regarding this ensemble. Because this would be like a scripted wedding, why should I wear a white dress? My mother told me that I still needed to look presentable even if it was just an arranged-marriage wedding. I placed both my hands on my waist so I could see my knee-length box pleated skirt.

My white top was tucked in. It emphasized my small waist even more. I looked down at my three-inch white pumps and sighed. I think I look okay? I decided to use light pink lipstick, light brown eyeshadows and just a little bit of blush on my cheeks. I was not really good with make-up but I did my best today.

My mom did my hair. She made a half ponytail and curled the lower part of my hair so it would not go to my face. One last look at myself, then I went out of the restroom. My mother was waiting for me outside. She was wearing a white dress and two inch sandals of the same color. She was also wearing light make-up. Our civil wedding would start at 10am. We walked towards the courtroom where the wedding would take place.

Uncle Theo was my father's older brother. He stood up when he saw my mom and me. He would be one of my witnesses. The other witness would be my mom's older sister, Aunt Lydia. I glanced at the side where Bram and his witnesses were seated. I was surprised that he was looking in my direction. When our eyes met, he looked surprised at first, then he scowled and looked away to other directions. I turned away from him when I heard someone calling the room to order.

Glass House, Laguna

Uncle Theo and mom dropped me at the house where Bram and I would fulfill the requests of Don Agustin. I heard the door closing as the driver went out after he took my two luggage inside. I squeezed my white handbag as I stared at the grand staircase with its glass banister.

"Hello, my name is Maria," said a woman from behind me, "I'm going to be your butler."

I was a bit startled but I extended my right hand so I could reach hers, "Hello, I'm Emma," I said with a small smile.

"Here, let me walk you to the elevator," Maria said as she pulled out both my luggage. I thought she looked strong for her age. She had some white hair on her meticulously made bun. She also looked taller than me; my best guest for her height would be five foot seven. Just two inches higher than my height.

The elevator was just behind the grand staircase of this two-storey house. I wanted to help Maria with my two luggage but I stopped myself. When the elevator door opened, my mouth dropped. The whole interior was in gold. I was staring at the ceiling of the elevator when Maria called my attention.

"Ready, Madam?" Maria asked while she held a button on the right side of the elevator.

"I'm sorry, yes," I replied as I entered the elevator. When the elevator closed, I released a long breath. I did not realize that I was holding it. Maria took me to a room that was bigger than my mother's and my room combined.

"This will be your private quarters, Madam," Maria told me after he placed my luggage inside the room, "Do you want me to help you unpack?"

I bit my lower lip to hide my nervousness and smiled at her, "Yes please," I uttered.

"May I?" Maria asked as she pointed to my luggage. I answered her with a nod and she laid it down on the floor and opened the zipper. She opened one of the mirrored cabinets and I saw empty shelves. Then she started folding my clothes and putting them in there.

"Do you want to change your clothing now, Madam?" Maria asked while she continued her task.

"No, I can manage. Thank you," I told her. I kneeled on the floor and started to open my other luggage.

"Do you prefer your dinner at seven in the evening, Madam?" Maria asked when I was removing my shoes.

"Yes, that would be great," I replied and looked for my home clothes and pulled out my laptop bag. I bit my lower lip again because I was starting to panic. I was thinking about what I would wear later this evening.

"We were told that Sir Bram would come home late. Are you expecting any visitors, Madam?" Maria asked me again, then she closed my empty luggage.

"No," I answered with an awkward smile. I had a lot of questions in my mind. Did the servants know that this was an arranged marriage? I highly doubted that. Were they given instructions? What was I supposed to do now?

"I see, so it would be dinner for one?" Maria asked again as she started on my other luggage.

I sighed and asked her, "Can I eat my dinner here in my room?"

"Of course, Madam," Maria answered immediately. She worked effortlessly with my clothes when she added, "You have a beautiful view from your balcony."

"Thank you. I prefer my dinner to being there on my balcony," I said. Then I stood up with my shorts and shirt in my hand.

"As you wish, Madam," Maria responded. She was so fast that she finished the second luggage quickly. Then she walked me through my room.

She showed me the bathroom, the balcony and the mini living room. All this time I was observing her attitude towards me. She was very polite and professional. Her small smile appeared genuine to me, but I could never really tell. She then left me on my own to change and told me that I could call her at the intercom if I needed anything.

I placed my laptop bag at the foot of the nightstand. I yawned and slowly laid down on the huge queen-sized bed. I looked up at the ceiling. I closed my eyes and shook my head from side to side. I turned to my left side to face the balcony. Maria opened the curtains for me during my room tour. It was probably past five in the afternoon. I watched the red-orange sky as the sun went down.

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