"How could you do this to me?" the young lady blurted out angrily after her mother told her the news. They remained seated at the dining table.
"It's already fixed," the elderly woman said to her furious daughter as she took a sip of red wine.
"Mother, I don't want to marry someone I don't love!" She turned to her mother, begging for understanding and placed her hands on the table.
"Kitty, Mother has a perfectly good explanation for doing this," was all the young man who was sitting beside her could say and look at her anxiously.
"What?!" she snapped, not wanting to believe what she had just heard. Her brother agreed to her mother's plan for her. "And what could be the perfect explanation for that?" she retorted.
"No more questions!" the woman shouted. "You're going to marry John Hollis' daughter, and that's final!" she declared and banged her free hand on the table.
"And you're not going to dictate my future!" the young woman retorted vehemently, and hurriedly rose from her seat and walked away.
"Come back here, young lady!"
She heard her mother shout, but she ignored her and walked further out of the room.
On her way out, she could still hear her mother’s fuming remarks.
"William! Talk to your sister and tell her that I'm going to disinherit her if she doesn’t do what I say!" She heard her mother’s furious remark.
A few days ago...
"How bad is it?" asked the man in the dark suit, as he paced to and fro inside the office of John Hollis.
"I need fourteen million to put it back together," said the man seriously. He worried over where in the world he would get that amount.
"But why did you have to gamble that much?" returned the man with light hair as he continued his pacing.
"Don't question me about what I should do with my money!" he reprehended, angered by the remarks of his legal adviser. "It's your job to figure out how I won’t lose my business!" With that, he rose from his desk and stormed out of the room, leaving behind the man in the black suit with a heavy burden on his shoulders.
The name Hollis had been an influential and respected name in the wine business in Vienna, Austria. For generations, it preserved its wealth by maintaining the business within the family. However, that tradition was about to be broken if his client couldn’t raise fourteen million euros lost in gambling. And now, Geir Berg, had been left again with the immense task of how to restore the Hollis’ wealth while maintaining its’ good name in elite society; All due to the impulsive gambling of his client.
Two days later...
The man's brooding was cut short when his lawyer entered the room with a briefcase in his right hand and a worried look on his face.
"So, what have you got?" the head of the Hollis’ company asked.
"I have tried asking all your friends," Berg started, as he sat on the chair opposite his anxious client. "Unfortunately they've all refused to invest fourteen million in your company after they learned about your gambling."
"That son of a bitch!" John Hollis cursed. He stood up and paced, furious about what his co-player had done to his life. "Why did he have to tell my friends that I lost in that stupid game!"
"I'm sorry to tell you this," Berg said apologetically and waited for a moment before telling another news to his client. "However..." he started, and yet hesitated "there is one person who is offering you the fourteen million, but..." he had not finished the sentence yet...
"Then why didn't you say so!" John Hollis exclaimed instantly. His face brightened with shrewdness upon hearing the sound of fourteen million. "But what?" he asked.
"Here you go." Berg gave the paper to his client and carefully watched his expression.
After reading the whole page, his client handed it back to him, looked at him with resolve and said, "Prepare the papers, tell her I'm accepting the offer."
"Are you sure about this?" Berg asked, surprised at the answer. "Don't you think that you should ask..."
"I'm certain about this," Hollis interrupted as he glared at the man in front of him.
The following day, Geir Berg handed over the papers that his client needed to sign. "Is this the last one?" John Hollis asked impatiently. Geir just nodded, sadness and regret lining his face.
Two days Ago…
Laura’s father had been a widower for four years now, and ever since her mother, Margareth died, everything in the Hollis’ household changed. Laura had been greatly affected when her mother died, she recalled her father John Hollis grew more irritable each passing day and showed no interest and concerns anymore to her. He resorted to gambling as a means of forgetting his wife's death and devoted a lot of himself in his work. Since then, it never change.
Despite of being deprived of a father's love and attention, Laura was thankful that she was provided with all the material things she needed and have been sent to the best schools, however, she still longed for a parent's affection. Wanting to help her father overcome his loneliness, Laura remained living with her father, due to a promise once made.
On her mother's deathbed, Laura recalled her mother's wish; that she stay with her father until she was able to find a wife of her own since her mother knew that her father cannot take her death very well.
Laura had always been a good daughter and had endured all her father's irascibility. She always made sure to obey him. But her docility resulted to her not having a single girlfriend. Her father had always threatened those potential suitors and would always look down on each of them. No one had passed John Hollis’ standard for his daughter's partner, and now at 21, Laura, unfortunately, had never experienced having a girlfriend. Sure, she had some flings before, but never someone she had been serious with, for fear that her father might hurt the person. And still, she remained an obedient child.
But little did she know, that her future had already been decided and sold to unknown person…
"Laura, are you there?" a female voice asked, after tapping on the door of her room.
Realizing that it was her cousin, "Yes, Betty," she replied right away and opened the door. "You need anything?"
"Uncle wants to talk to you," Elizabeth informed. "He's in his study."
"Okay, thanks," she uttered and hurriedly went downstairs.
After almost an hour and after receiving the message from her father, Laura found herself crying endlessly in the seclusion of her room. She hated her father. Her future was now ruined by her father's selfishness.
All throughout the night she pondered on how she would get out of this mess. When there were no more tears to cry when her anger subsided a bit. She thought of one thing to do... She hit the number two on her cell phone.
It's been half an hour since she made the call and Laura found herself fidgeting in her room.
"He's so unfair!" she exclaimed, furious about her father's decision. She had been a good daughter to him and patiently stayed by his side, since her mom died. But right now, she could never allow her father to ruin her life. Then she remembered what her mother told her, "I want you to marry someone for love, and not for what she had." The thought saddened her more… Her pondering was cut short when she heard a light tap on her window.
"Damn! What's this all about little hottie?" the somewhat uncomfortable young man whined, after dusting off the dirt from his jeans. "I feel like we're still in High school."
"I'm sorry Kirsch," Laura told her childhood best friend after she asked him to come through her room's window. "But Dad is still in his study and Beth is in the living room.
"Didn't occur to you that they live here too?" her best friend joked… "Unless you're hiding somethi- ... Kirsch stopped, realizing that something was wrong. "Have you been crying?"
Kirsch’ mood changed. He approached Laura’s bed and sat beside her, "Laura, are you alright?"
"Nooo!" she burst out and cried at her best friend's shoulder.
Kirsch had asked, while stroking her long blond hair. "He… He set me up with someone," Laura said in between sob.
"Who?" the confused young man asked, and released Laura from the embrace. Laura just gestured on the floor referring to the one who was in the study room. "Your father?"
Laura could just nod in reply, and went back to his arms.
"Then what's wrong with that? At last! You'll gonna have a girlfriend! And you'll be free!"
"You don't understand!" she exclaimed growing frustrated at Kirsch slow comprehension, and pulled out from her best friend's arms. "He arranged me to marry someone I don't love!"
"Holy shit!" Kirsch exclaimed. "Why the hell would he do that?"
"Because we're nearly bankrupt Kirsch," she said. "Someone had offered Dad to help him with his debts, but there's a catch: That I marry her daughter."
"But that's fucking insane!" the angry young man uttered, pacing around the room "Have you met her?"
"No, I haven't!" Laura returned and sighed, even the thought of meeting the woman she was destined to marry made her angrier. "And I don't even wanna know what her name is!"
"So, what are you plannin' now?" was her best friend's worried question. "Don't tell me you'll gonna do it?!" Kirsch asked she knew how kind Laura was. "Because I'm telling you now, it's like taking a fucking suicide!"
"I know, that's why I've asked you to come over," she returned, in between sobs. "Will you help me get out of here?"
"It'll be my pleasure," Kirsch retorted and grinned. "I just don't understand why you still chose to stay with John the grouch. Don't get me wrong, but living here is like being in prison!"
"Ok, I get the message now," she interrupted, as she noticed her best friend becoming hyper. "Will you please calm down before my father and cousin heard us."
"So, where are you heading? You could live with me, if you want," was Kirsch eager suggestion.
"Kirsch, you just live a block away from us," she answered. "Where do you think is the first house my dad's gonna search when he found out that I'm gone, eh?"
"Oh. You're right," Kirsch returned, realizing that he's been hyper and excited by the thought of him and Laura living together. "But you're not planning on going to North Pole or Antartica, are you?"
"No, you silly," she said, as she smiled a little bit from her best friend's disoriented remarks. "I'm planning to stay at my mom's old friend. You see, before my mother died, she told me about that friend of hers, and she said that if ever I would be in great trouble, all I have to do is go over there and tell her that I'm Margareth's daughter."
"And how do you suppose to know, that your father won't find you there?" Kirsch asked, "She's your mother's friend, I'm sure he knew about her."
"No, he doesn't," Laura said with full of assurance. "Coz she's my mom's former lover."
Before the crack of dawn, with Kirsch help, Laura quietly slipped out of the Hollis mansion and headed to the train station. Her mind was fully disoriented as she fidgeted and paced to and fro at the old wooden planks of the station, her musing was cut short as she heard the chugging sound of the first train of the morning. Quickly she embarked and took a seat at a corner, where no one would recognize her. She was glad that the train was almost deserted, as it started its journey.
Hours later the train arrived at its destination. When she came out of the station, she saw how small and quiet the town was and felt secured. Compared to where she lives, it felt so homey and safe. She then took a piece of paper out of her pocket and read it as she treaded along the street.
When Carmilla Karnstein stormed out of her mother's house, and drove out of Styria Hills, she was full of hatred. She was already twenty-five years old, and yet, her mother was still interfering in her life. She cannot stop her though, coz even if she had chosen to live alone and stay in their old house in Styria she was still financially dependent to her mother.
"Shit! I really need to get a job now," she thought, while driving in her black Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG convertible. She had been slacking up in her life since her mother was a successful and rich businesswoman. And now, her worries were overflowing as to how to fend for herself in case her mother seriously disinherits her, if she would refuse to marry the daughter of her mother’s acquaintance. "I hate her!"
When Carmilla made an instant turn in one of the streets in Styria, she had no idea that she was about to encounter the person that will change her life forever…
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
She hit so hard on the horn of her car, and stepped hard on the break when a certain blonde carrying a baggage and a knapsack suddenly crossed the street absentmindedly.
She almost hit her. "Hey! Watch out!" she shouted to the shocked young lady who almost fainted at the sight of her car.
"What the hell?!" the woman yelled back furiously, after regaining her composure. "You're the one who should watch where you're driving! You almost killed me!"
"You're not lookin' where you're goin' sweetie!" Carmilla retorted, and blamed the person as she stood up in her convertible.
"And you're driving like a maniac!" the blonde retaliated. "You don't own the road! I could sue you for this!"
"Oh really! Go ahead, call your lawyer!" was Carmilla’s arrogant remark. "You don't know who you're messing with!"
And with that, she zoomed out of the scene and left the poor blonde picking up her bags.