Fifty times. That was the number of times Noah had called in me in the past hour and also the number of times I had hit the red button and cancelled his calls. A part of me was dying as I did this to him but an even larger part was already dead inside of me. A kind of numbness had crept all over me and as a result of that, I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing, the shock had been so great, that it had rendered me  incapable of behaving the way a normal person would under the circumstances.

I leant my head against the car window, pressing my forehead against the cool glass to provide a reprieve to my burning forehead. I was ill, a temperature of about 102 degrees and it was a miracle that I had still managed to maintain some level of consciousness. I couldn’t tell him, I couldn’t even look at him without wanting to wrench my own heart out. What had happened? How had this day gone from being so perfect to becoming the biggest nightmare of my life?

I Arianna Bell was married to Zach Price, the Zach Price who was supposed to marry my sister a few hours ago. The thought made me want to hurl and the one thing I wanted more than anything else was for someone to wake me up. Any moment now, Olivia would come yelling for me in my room, shaking me so that I’d wake up and make her, her favourite chocolate chip pancakes.

It didn’t happen, she didn’t come and no one woke me up. Olivia had abandoned me, left me to the worst of fates and here I was in a car, married to the man who was supposed to be her husband. I couldn’t even dare move my face towards him, in fear of the amount of hate that I might see in his eyes. I had willingly sacrificed my happiness for my family’s sake but Zach? Zach had been forced to do so; I had heard the arguments, his parents trying to reason with him. In the end his father had resorted to threatening to disinherit him. I didn’t even need to look at him to know how much he resented me.

The car came to halt outside a huge mansion, the Price Mansion to be exact. I had been here a couple of times with my family but never had the place looked so daunting, so intimidating. It was engulfed in darkness and as I peered out of the car window, I realized that this was the welcome that was specifically intended for me. Had the day gone as planned and Olivia had arrived instead of me, there would have been lights galore, celebration and an air of festivity. I on the other hand brought with me gloom and perpetual doom. The gates opened to let the car in and I could feel the stare of the watchman following my face as the car slowly made its way inside. No sooner had we stopped that Zach sprang from his seat, getting out and slamming the car door behind him.

A migraine made its way to my head that coupled with my burning fever didn’t really help my condition. I tried to move but my body felt too weak to even be able to move a single muscle. The driver had noticed my predicament and opened my door with a concerned expression on his face.

“Are you alright Miss?”

I shook my head, a sharp pain shooting through it as I did so. I gripped my temple and laid my head back on the seat. Everything was starting to spin around me, my eyes beginning to water. I distinctly heard the driver call for someone before it all faded to black.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Will she be fine?” he asked and even in the state of near unconsciousness that I was in, I scoffed. He didn’t care, the carefree tone of his voice made that obvious. He’d left me in the car and now was putting on act for God knows who.

“Well I’ve written down the required medicines and a nurse will arrive shortly to stay with her as you requested. I’m sure that when she wakes up, the temperature will be considerably lower. There’s no need to worry Mr. Price.”

A doctor, I assumed and tuned them out. Couldn’t he just let me be? I’d prefer to be in this state forever than to wake up and have to face reality. A reality in which I was Zach’s wife, a reality in which my sister had left me to be fed to the sharks, a reality in which my parents literally sacrificed me on the altar. Worst of all, a reality in which there was no Noah.

A pain shot through my chest at the mention of his name. Noah, Noah, Noah. Would he ever find out about what happened to me? What would he think? Would he hate me? I loved him so much, could he be able to see that? The questions made my head hurt and I felt the migraine come back with a vengeance. My head felt like it was being crushed with the weight of a thousand boulders and I couldn’t hold it in any longer. A low scream left my mouth and immediately I felt someone rush into the room.

Zach hovered above me, protectively and I shivered inwardly at the size of him. He towered above me as I lay on the bed, his features masked by the lack of light in the room. I couldn’t see the expression on his face, was he angry, annoyed, worried?

“What’s wrong Arianna?” He asked softly and knelt beside the bed. He was near enough for me to smell his cologne, an expensive one at that. Noah didn’t smell like that, not like rich people. He had his own wonderfully warm scent. I quickly pushed the thought out of my head.

“My head...” I managed to choke out in between the spasms of pain that were now rocking my entire body.

“Here, take this. The doctor said it’d make the pain go away.”

Zach made me sit upright and noticed how disabled the pain had made me. He made me open my mouth and placed some pills inside it and then placed a glass of water near my mouth, forcing me to drink. The simple act of kindness was all it took for my inner guilt to come back and haunt me.

Voluntarily or not, I had taken a place in Zach’s life that was never meant for me. I had invaded his world without permission and he had to bear the brunt of that. My sister, my own flesh and blood had ruined his life because of her selfishness. He did not deserve what he'd gotten.

After laying me down carefully on the bed Zach walked out of the room, switching off the bedside lamp as he left. The last thought that crossed my mind before the sleeping pills began to take effect was how unusual it was for someone to be so fond of the dark. Not a single light illuminated his way as he walked out, so easily into the darkness. Is that how he perceived his life to be now? Full of darkness, was there no room for light in his life anymore? 

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