I stared at the man in front of me and I gave him a lopsided grin when he looked at me but he just took his gaze off me. Rude.
"I apologize for our lateness. I took too much time to get dressed up", I said with a pout as I looked at the older woman sitting beside him instead.
"Oh, you don't have to apologize, dear. Ladies should take their time to get dressed up", she replied with a cute smile as she stretched her hand forward across the table.
She placed her right hand on my left and I gave her a forced smile back. Her reply wasn't the one I was expecting.
"Mm mm", someone cleared their throat and everyone at the table turned their head towards the head seat of this huge rectangle table.
Right there, his father, Mr. Marvin, sat with a very cool expression on his face.
"You and Adele should talk more on your own, Christopher. You should introduce yourselves properly to each other", Christopher's father said, and he finally spoke for once ever since this boring meeting had started.
"We will, father", Christopher replied and I turned my head to look at the young man in front of me.
"Of course, we will", I said meaningfully as I stared at him once again and he looked up at me.
I gave him a small smile again and he raised an eyebrow at me but this time around, I took my gaze off him first.
Opposite my parents and me are Christopher Marvin and his mother. As I learned from my parents a few days ago, I would be getting married to this young man in front of me. I still can't believe it. I am even only meeting this man for the first time in my entire life.
"What do you do during your free time, Adele?", Mrs. Marvin suddenly asked, snapping me out of my thoughts.
"My free time?", I asked with disbelief laced in my tone and I ended my words with a chuckle.
Mother cleared her throat beside me but I just ignored her warning as I spoke up once again.
"I don't have any 'free time' because I am free every time. I am just too lazy to work", I replied with a cute smile and for the first time, Mrs. Marvin's eyes widened at me in shock.
I smirked when I saw her expression. I will do everything possible to stop the wedding from taking place during this meeting. Mother bugged me so much that I had to come to this meeting hesitantly but she most certainly can't stop me from trying to ruin the whole thing.
I was about to do a victory dance in my mind when Mrs. Marvin did the unexpected. She laughed. She laughed so much that beads of tears appeared at the sides of her eyes and her eyes went glossy.
"You are so funny, Adele", she told me and my eyes widened now.
Funny? That's not what I was going for!
"Oh", Mr. Marvin suddenly said as if he had just realized something and he laughed a bit as well, at my 'joke'.
As I stared at the couples in front of me, I suddenly felt mother's hand rest on my lap and I glanced down at it before taking a sharp breath.
"I paint during my free time, ma'am", I said politely this time around as I fought the frown that was threatening to appear on my face.
"Oh, I wish I could see some of them", Mrs. Marvin said with a smile and I nodded as I smiled back.
"Someday", I told her and she nodded.
There was a bit of silence between us all before Mr. Marvin spoke up.
"So, we agreed that the marriage should take place in a week", he announced and I tilted my head toward him sharply.
A week?! Mother and father did not tell me about that.
"Yes, of course", father replied and my gaze turned towards him.
There will be no time for me to stop the wedding when it is happening so soon!
"I am thinking of inviting about two hundred people, how is that?", Mrs. Marvin asked eagerly and I can see the joy in her eyes.
"It is-", mother started but she was cut off immediately when someone else spoke up.
"We would be having a court marriage, there would be no need for the guests", Christopher said sternly with no expression on his face before picking up his glass of juice.
"Wha-?", Mrs. Marvin asked in disbelief as her eyes widened in surprise and I grin at her expression.
"I agree with him. I don't want a big wedding ceremony as well", I said, still keeping that grin on my face.
Mother turned her head immediately to look at me after I finished talking and I looked at her. She has a shocked expression on her face but her eyes are not wide like Christopher's mother's own.
There was a prolonged silence throughout the dining room and I used that moment to take a sip of my juice as well.
"Well, I guess that is settled then", Mrs. Marvin said with a blank expression on her face as she gulped and I sighed as I placed my cup down on the table.
"It is getting late, we should have dinner now", she said again and mother nodded.
"Of course", she told her and I just kept watching their every move.
"I should inform the cook that we would have dinner now then", Mrs. Marvin said before excusing herself from the table.
She arrived with the cook and a maid and soon dinner was served.
Nothing was said all through dinner and the only thing that was heard was the clattering sounds of cutleries against ceramic dishes. I can say it was pretty awkward.
When we finished having dinner, the maid came to take the dirty dishes away and I took a last sip of my water before the maid took the cup away.
"Oh! You two should meet up to talk", Christopher's mother suggested with wide, eager eyes.
"You two would get to know each other better that way", mother too added with a smile and I slanted my lips a bit at their words.
I felt someone's gaze on me and when I looked up, my eyes came in contact with his. Christopher's.
"I am sorry but I have urgent matters to attend to upstairs", he replied coldly, not taking his gaze away from me for once as he said those words.
"So, if you would excuse me", he added as he stood up from his seat and gave a small bow to everyone.
He walked away after that without looking back before he disappeared out of my sight and up the stairs, he went.
Mr. Marvin cleared his throat awkwardly after that and I just tapped my right index finger on the table gently and restlessly.
"Uh", Mrs. Marvin started and my parents and I turned to look at her.
"I apologize for his behavior. He is like that sometimes", she said with an apologetic look on her face and my lips twitched.
"It is fine", mother replied instead and a smile appeared on Mrs. Marvin's face almost immediately.
We finally arrived back home and as I was about to go up to my room, mother called out to me.
I turned back to look at her and father looked at us both before leaving the two of us to talk.
"It is for your own good", she said slowly immediately after father was up the stairs.
I sighed loudly as I looked down at my feet before looking at her again.
"I know", I replied
"You've said that countless times these past few days", I told her with a forced smile and she sighed now.
We stared at each other for a while and when I was sick of it, I spoke up.
"I am going to bed", I told her and she nodded.
I went up the stairs and as I arrived in my room, I switched on the light bulb. I threw my handbag on the bed. and walked towards the mirror of my vanity table. I have not used these cosmetics in a long time.
I looked up at myself in the mirror and sighed. I am in a large woolen, blue top and black leather skirt that reaches just above my knees. Mother had only allowed me to dress like this to the Marvin's house because I had agreed to go to the meeting and she could not afford me to change my mind.
I removed the hair band I used to hold my hair into a rough bun and let my hair flow down. I walked towards the bathroom and disappeared behind it.
As the cool water from the shower ran down my body, a memory suddenly flashed across my eyes. It was a memory of 'him'. I sighed as I kept my pains in and continued bathing, not opening my eyes for once.
My salty tears mixed with the water from the shower and I was grateful I was not seeing myself as I shed tears. I would only pity myself.
I walked out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around my body when I was done. I don't feel so down even though I just finished crying. I guess I have gotten used to it.
In a few minutes, I was already on my bed, waiting for tomorrow to arrive.
* * *