Lit A. - Beautiful Contract.epub

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It’s one thing to be a family member supporting an arranged marriage; it’s completely different when you are no longer the supporting family, but suddenly find yourself the Bride-to-be. Aika found herself bound to a beautiful woman she barely knew in a world where unions like theirs could surely cause problems not to mention break a million traditions. How could Aika’s father suggest such a thing? How could this aspiring editor make peace with her fate and still live the life she dreamed? How could the brash Yuki agree to such outrageous and spontaneous terms? Certainly, there could be no love between herself and the elegant and surprising Yuki! Aika could barely to be in the same room with the woman! However, as they move closer to the date of their union, Aika begins to feel something for Yuki. Could it be admiration? Could it be attraction? Could it be the impossible: love?If you like any of these book, support the author by buying it.SampleChapter 1
It was a beautiful Saturday morning in early spring, and it was an elegant and comfortable home featuring luxurious oak ceilings, walls punctuated with beautiful white paned windows and sliding glass doors that overlooked a garden full of deciduous trees. The living room was styled with a light brown, cool gray, and teal color palette with modern yet tasteful furniture. I heard the soft noise from a water fountain outside and I could smell the scent of fresh flowers of the season.
I wished I could have been someplace else.
Mrs. Narita Satoko, the head of Narita Pharmaceutical Research, sat across the coffee table calmly sipping her green tea from an adorned sakura art teacup. A lady in her fifties, she was dressed in a simple long-sleeved white shirt and khaki pants. She was lovely to watch despite of her age. Her face was gentle, angular and beautiful, and her shoulder length, soft gray hair was neatly combed. Similar cups had been put onto the antique, Asian-style coffee table by a maid. The teapot sat in the middle.
We were there to discuss an omiai, an arranged marriage. As was the custom, the parents of the bride- and groom-to-be were supposed to be present for their first meeting together. Since my brother and I had lost our mother five years ago, I had come in her place although I wasn't sure if they really needed me since this was their second meeting.
My father, Senkawa Shinji, looked relaxed and comfortable on the white sofa, sipping his tea, his manner simply mirroring our host. He wore the gray herringbone-pattern cardigan that I had bought for him last winter and neatly pressed dark blue pants. Dressed in a simple navy blue jumper and blue jeans, my elder brother Senkawa Eiji sat next to him with his elbow resting on the edge of the sofa. His eyes casually stared at the elusive young woman sitting next to the older woman.
Almost a younger version of Mrs. Narita, her dark brown hair and deep set light brown eyes reflected her Eurasian heritage. She wore a simple yet pretty light blue dress and looked bored without offering the slightest effort to hide it. I suppose one could easily understand her lack of enthusiasm since my brother was a bit too old for her.
"How's the tea, Shinji?" Mrs. Narita asked politely, her voice ageless if not actually youthful.
"It is fine, Mrs. Narita," Dad paused in the middle of sipping his tea and nodded at her reassuringly.
I shifted my attention back to the younger Narita, the granddaughter of Narita Satoko who had just turned twenty-four last February. Born to Mrs. Narita's late son, Narita Renji, and a German-born mother, Juliane Wentz Narita, she had lived with her grandparents since her parents were killed in an accident when she was only six.
When he was still learning the trade of the pharmaceutical business, my father became close friends with his mentors, Mrs. Narita Satoko and her husband, Narita Kenta, who had succumbed to cancer the previous year. Sometime during the course of their friendship, the Naritas and my father had agreed to unite our family through marriage.
Without warning, Yuki's eyes fixed their gaze on me, causing me to squirm like a deer caught in the headlights. I cursed myself for having met her gaze. Grabbing one of the teacups, I quietly sipped, pretending that I had done nothing to annoy her.
"I would prefer if we have a simple Shinto wedding," Mrs. Narita spoke with a clear commanding diction. Dad nodded.
"I agree. Should we discuss the wedding date Eiji?" He said, looking towards my brother.
My brother sat upright and politely smiled at our host and dad, "I'll leave all arrangements to your discretion, Dad, as you and Mrs. Narita know what is best for us." Yuki rolled her eyes. My eyes widened in surprise, almost angry at her attitude.
Manners, lady, I wished I could scold her right then and there.
"How about autumn?" Mrs. Narita suggested.
My sympathies were solely with Eiji; those for Yuki had been thrown out of the window. How was my brother going to handle his role as a husband in this marriage? I do not know, yet Eiji was more diplomatic and more patient than me. The marriage will work out... somehow.
"If I may Mr. Senkawa," Yuki finally spoke. All eyes focused on the younger Narita, who had suddenly sat upright and taken a deep breath.
I couldn't imagine what she had to say. I doubted that she would want to have some say in the wedding arrangements. At least her demeanor was more polite and befitting of someone who would inherit a wealthy business large enough to last a lifetime.
"This marriage won't work," Yuki said clearly.
"Yu-Chan!" The affectionate nickname of her granddaughter did nothing to soften Mrs. Narita stern tone. Avoiding everyone else, I continued to drink my tea, regretting my decision to tag along to the meeting.
"I apologize, Mr. Senkawa," she continued, gathering her strength somewhat. "The truth is I like women."
A deafening silence filled the room. I was stunned.
Did she say...?
Perhaps the silent response was what she had expected though it was certainly not the one she wanted. "Let me try this again." She breathed deeply for the second time and looked my father straight in the eyes.
I tried my best not to cough, albeit unsuccessfully, momentarily choking on my tea. Dad glanced at me as I tried to apologize.
She had just uttered THAT word. Her grandmother stared at her, frozen like a statue, her teacup held in mid air. After a few moments, Yuki gently pried the teacup out of her grandmother's hand and put it down on the table. Eventually, much to my relief, her grandmother slowly slumped back on the sofa. Dad and Eiji also began to relax. They probably had the same fear as me, that the old lady might have a sudden heart attack. When I looked at Mrs. Narita again, embarrassment, and perhaps even a hint of anger, took over her gentle expression.
"So, you're a..." Trailing off, Dad hesitated. I rubbed my neck nervously, wondering how much worse the situation could get.
"That's right. I'm a LESBIAN."
There she goes again. I glared at her this time, even though she didn't seem to notice. Was she trying to put her grandmother in coma?
"Oh Yu-Chan..." Mrs. Narita had begun to massage her temple, as though she had a headache. I would have developed a headache too had my granddaughter chosen to come out of the closet in front of her prospective groom and his family. Both Dad and Eiji were quiet. My brother didn't even blink. Eventually he looked at Dad as if studying his reaction towards the whole matter.
Won't he say something?
None, not one word came from Senkawa Eiji, the pediatrician with a witty and likable personality. It was the perfect time to use those skills on his future bride who was saying things that were going to derail the whole wedding plan. Our family's effort, not to mention my own sacrifice attending the marriage meeting not once but twice, for the sake of my brother, would amount to nothing.
"Well then, what do you think of my daughter?"
Startled, I turned towards Dad.
"Old man, what are you saying?" My words were said through clenched teeth. He ignored my question.
"Excuse me?" Yuki was as baffled as I was.
"Aika is the same age as you and single."
I glared at him when he emphasized my nonexistent love life.
"She works at a publishing company, Fujimi Publishing. She's not interested in the family business but I don't think that's a problem."
Of course, that wasn't the problem, it never was. The source of the problem at that moment was him. I found myself slightly struggling to breathe. My mouth gaped open and closed like a fish. I wasn't sure if he was so shocked with Yuki's admission that it drove him to resort to such measure.
"She's... like you."
My grip tightened around the cup.
Oh no, the old man was going to say it.
"Like me?" She leaned a bit forward.
Please don't say it. Not you, too, I silently pleaded.
"She's a lesbian, too."
I covered my face with my hand. Maybe the pond outside was deep enough for me to drown myself. When I finally mustered enough courage to look up, both women stared at me with interest. My old man had the nerve to look calm and even helped himself to another cup of tea. Eiji seemed strangely relieved about the whole situation.
I put my tea down, trying to calm myself. "This... This is–" I stammered. Clearing my throat, I tried again. "This is about Eiji and Yuki, this is not about–"
"Are you mocking me, Mr. Senkawa?"
Yuki's sudden interruption annoyed me. She looked refined and could easily pass for a gracious lady– if she didn't open her mouth.
"No, I'm serious. I made a promise to your late grandfather to unite our families and I'm not going to change my mind now. You don't want my son, so please consider my daughter."
"Shinji," Mrs. Narita finally spoke. "Do you really mean what you said? You're fine with my granddaughter's... preference?" She asked hesitantly, as though she weren't sure whether she wanted to hear his answer or not.
"As I am fine with my own daughter's preferences, I see this as a solution. Everybody wins. Company assets can still be distributed upon agreements as we discussed in the first place, unless..." He looked at me, "You want us to make some changes to include you in the contract, Aika, since you and Yuki... you know..." He trailed, waiting for my answer, but only managed to get a steely glare from me. "Well, I guess the initial agreement stays as it is."
"Sounds fair, but their union won't be legal according to this country's law," the older Narita cautioned.
"We can set up another contract for this particular matter. Their union would be legal for the Senkawa and Narita families, since this is only between us."
"I see, another contract then..." Mrs. Narita looked thoughtful. "Are you fine with this, Eiji?"
"Yes, I am. Besides, I think we have a perfect solution for what you might think of as a problem, and my sister is more suitable for Yuki," he had the nerve to wink at me after he said that. "You could say this is a unique agreement between us," Eiji added.
"If you want, we'll give you some time to think about it," my father suggested. "As for us Senkawas, this is our final decision. It's up to you and granddaughter to accept our proposal."
I abruptly stood up, "I object!"
"I accept." Yuki said. She merely raised her eyebrows as I glared at her.
What was that supposed to mean? Was she going to go along with all this? Did she presume I would just go along with all this too?
"Wait a minute everyone," I said, trying to sound as calm as I could. "Marriage–I mean, this union is a serious matter. I'm not sure I'm ready. Yuki and I, we barely even know each other and I'm–"
"Perhaps you two can get to know each other a little more," Eiji butted in.
"I look forward to getting to know you a little better, Aika dear." Yuki chimed in.
"Don't call me–"
"Aika," The old man warned me.
Three months. It only took that long and then I would be married for life, if one could call it marriage to this woman that I didn't think highly of. She'd be my partner, and I didn't dare to even think about the rest at the moment.
I kept thinking there must be something that I could do. Why is she staring at me like that?
Yuki's eyes locked on mine. Slowly she studied me from head to toe, lingering on my chest and then my hips before returning her gaze to my eyes. She flashed a brief, somewhat suspicious smile.
I felt like a little gazelle and she was a lioness.
"Aika?" Dad's voice snapped me out of it; Eiji and Mrs. Narita herself looked at me with anticipation. Anxious was more like it. To protest was the logical thing to do. However, as I looked at the old lady, her hands clasped together with a pleading expression in her eyes, I knew saying no would break her heart.
"I..." My eyes darted to Yuki; I swear her eyes narrowed, daring me to reject her.
"Good." My father was all business-like. "Shall we talk about arrangements then?" He said, taking out his trusty old black organizer. The rest of the conversation was a blur to me. My mind was too busy trying to process what had just happened. I looked over to Yuki, who was holding a teacup and sipping as if everything was normal. She occasionally nodded when her grandmother addressed her.
"I'm doomed... " I mumbled to myself.
Two hours after we left the Narita residence, my mind was overloaded with questions; dazed was a more apropos word. We were sitting in my father's study where the smell of leather, mixed with the unique scent of books, reminded me of the times spent in there as a kid reading while he worked managing the family's small pharmaceutical business. His old burgundy desk still held the usual piles of paper, files, and stationery, with only the addition of the new desktop computer.
"Please convince me why I should not oppose to what just happened today?" I asked.
"She likes women." I rolled my eyes at his nonchalant answer.
"Dad, I do understand why you did this. In fact, if I were you, I might have made the same decision. But try to see this from my point of view; I feel as if I were thrown under the bus back there."
"That's why it is important for you two to get to know each other," he said. "It's not like you have to live with her. This union is more like accepting Narita Yuki to the family and vice versa. You still can live as you are now. You two will be partners in name only."
In name only, thank goodness. So, I could live my life as usual while 'married' to her. Yet, I preferred not being tied down to anyone, even if it was only on paper, much less to that particular woman.
Dad continued, "But it would be nice if you two could be friends. Who knows? You might like her more than you think."
"Doubtful... " No use thinking that far ahead about how my relationship with Yuki might develop, much less putting an effort in it. In name only, I repeated the words as if they were a mantra.
"It'll be fine," Eiji added. "Like Dad said, nothing will change – at least not much. You'll live your life, she'll live hers, and everything will work out fine."
"Of course you'd say that now you are off the hook. You accepted the whole situation too easily," I pointed out, not bothering to hide my suspicious tone. "Let's talk about that."
"Ahh... No need. It's best for me to take a shower," he quickly said as he walked towards the door.
"He's hiding something from us."
"I noticed, Aika." Glancing towards my father, I found myself staring at the top of his head as he was already bent over his work. The scratching sounds of his pen and the rustle of papers filled the room.
"And?" I said, not ready to let the subject go.
"He'll talk to me about it when he's ready." He looked up. "We'll have a meeting again with the Naritas to work on a contract before your civil ceremony."
"Like a prenuptial, huh? This is crazy..."
"If you want to call it that," he answered as I moved away from the desk and sat on the chair. "You don't have to come if y
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