“If you don’t end your relationship with that black woman, the engagement is off and you can kiss your job at this company goodbye.” Mr. Addington’s face was flushed with anger.
Brett stared at the man who in a couple of months’ time would be his father-in-law. He didn’t need much more clarity than that. “How did you find out about her?” he asked.
The cabin. Someone had seen them there but who? Mr. Addington had a lot of connections. It could be anyone. He should have known that he would have him watched, after all he was engaged to his precious daughter, Greta.
Why was he marrying Greta when he didn’t love her? Oh yes, it was to please his father who wanted his only son to marry well–marry into a rich family. And, he, like a fool, went along with it. Greta seemed nice. She was pretty, likable and still a virgin. She was the perfect candidate for marriage, right? His parents certainly thought so. And, he came from a decent family of lawyers, law enforcement, politicians and philanthropists so he was ideal son-in-law.
He and Greta were officially introduced at sumptuous dinner at the Addingtons. Under the watchful eyes of all present, they socialized. He was the charming suitor and she the demure lady. After several such meetings and dates, they became engaged, much to the delight of their parents. Immediately, wedding arrangements were made.
Everything was going splendidly well until he met Carlene. He was driving home one afternoon and saw her waiting at the bus stop. Normally, he didn’t stop for a stranger but it was raining and she was getting soaked. Besides, she was holding shopping bags in her hands and didn’t have an umbrella. He stopped the car and got out. She seemed surprised but was grateful for his kindness. He helped her to put the bags in the trunk and then held open the front passenger-door for her to get in.
“Thank you,” she said as they drove off. “I think I must have just missed the bus because there wasn’t anyone waiting when I got there and the next one won’t arrive until in about fifteen minutes’ time. I had no idea that it was going to rain or I would have brought my umbrella.”
“It’s no problem,” he assured her. “Do you live far from here?”
She told him where she lived. It was about half-hour away. “I hope I’m not taking you out of your way.”
“No, you’re not.”
He found out that she was a recent university graduate working as a Business Development Representative at a Technologies company. She lived by herself in a one bedroom flat. Her family lived in Luton. She visited them once a month on the weekend.
They reached her apartment. He got out walked around to her side and opened the door. It had stopped raining and the sun was shining. He opened the trunk and took out the bags. “I can help you to take these up,” he said.
“Thank you,” she said. She preceded him to the front entrance of a modest looking building and headed straight to the bank of elevators. They rode up to the sixth floor and got off. She unlocked her door and pushed it open. After removing her shoes, she set the bags down on the floor and took the ones he had. “Thank you for giving me a lift home. I don’t usually accept rides from strangers but I knew that I could trust you.”
He smiled. “I don’t usually offer rides to strangers either but I was more than happy to help you.”
“Would you like to come in for a cup of tea?”
“I would love to but unfortunately, I have to be somewhere. Perhaps, we can go for coffee Friday evening if you’re not busy.”
“Friday evening is fine.”
“Great.” They exchanged business cards and then, he left. He thought about her all the way to his flat and found himself really looking forward to seeing her on Friday evening.
Friday evening came and they went to a café and over Lattes, they got to know each other. By the time, he had given her a lift home, they had arranged to see each other again. Before they became romantically involved, he told her about Greta. Although she wasn’t happy about it, she didn’t want to stop seeing as he had feared. “But when you get married, we can’t see each other anymore. I don’t want to be your mistress.”
“All right,” he agreed. They became lovers and met clandestinely at her flat. Then, he bought a forest cabin in a clean, safe and secluded area about an hour outside of London and they spent some weekends there. It never occurred to him that Mr. Addington would find out about them.
“I hope you’re thinking over what I have just said.” Mr. Addington’s sharp voice brought him back to the present. “I meant every word. End your tawdry affair with that woman or you’re fired.”
Brett looked him squarely in the face, resentment and dislike marred his features. “I have thought about what you have said, Mr. Addington and I have decided that I’m not going to end my relationship with Carlene.”
Mr. Addington’s face turned red. “Then, the wedding is OFF!”
“Yes, Sir. It wouldn’t be right for me to go through with it now.”
“You ungrateful, impertinent, good for nothing–“
“I will stop by the manor and tell Greta that the engagement is off–“
“You will do no such thing. I don’t want you anywhere near the manor. If you so much as set foot on the premises, I will have you arrested, do you understand me?”
“Loud and clear, Sir.”
Mr. Addington clenched his fists. “Now, I want you to clear out before I have the security guards throw you out.”
“Yes, Sir. Goodbye, Sir.” And he was out of there. He went straight to his desk, grabbed his belongings and his keys and walked out of the office without so much as a goodbye to the staff who watched him go in surprise.
He hopped into his car and drove off, happy to see the last of Mr. Addington and that place. Later that afternoon, he and Carlene met up.
“What’s up?” she asked. “Did something happen?”
“Well, I got fired.”
She stared at him in shock. “What? Why?”
“My boss who as you know is also my ex-fiancee’s father found out about us.”
“Someone must have seen us at the cabin. That man has connections. He probably hired a private detective to keep an eye on me.”
“You said ex-fiancée. So, you’re not longer engaged?”
“No. He offered me an ultimatum, either I broke up with you or the engagement was off and I could kiss my job goodbye. When I told him that I wasn’t going to break up with you, he told me that the wedding was off and that I was fired. I told him that I wouldn’t have gone through with the wedding anyhow because it wouldn’t have been right. I wanted to see Greta in person to break off the engagement but he threatened me. If I showed my face at the manor, he would have me arrested.”
“It was really foolish of me to agree to go through with an arranged marriage. I didn’t love Greta. If we had gone through with it we would have been two very unhappy people and probably would have ended up resenting each other. And then to further complicate matters, I met and fell in love with you. I think it really hit home when you told me that after I got married, we couldn’t see each other anymore. I couldn’t live with that. I couldn’t go through life without you. If Mr. Addington hadn’t given me the ultimatum, in the end, I would have gone to Greta and broken off our engagement.”
She leaned against the rail. “So, it’s just you and me now, huh?”
“Yes,” he muttered, going over to her and pulling her up and against him. “It’s just you and me now.”
She smiled and put her arms around his neck. “Good.”
He looked her straight in the eyes and murmured huskily. “I love you, Carlene.”
“And I love you, Brett.”
As he lowered his head to kiss her, he was thankful that he had come to his senses and walked away from what would have been a terrible mistake.