He watches me and I do not look away. I have no fear that the cameras' security footage will back up my story. He finally nods and stands up. "You may go, Rosemary."
I don't need to be told twice. I rise quickly and make my way out of the office. Helen is waiting for me in the living room, sitting on one of the couches. I see the silent question in her eyes, but don't feel like explaining the end of my afternoon another time. I sit opposite her, open my tablet, and continue reading the documents she's sent me.
I'm halfway through the section on intellectual property rights when Henry descends the stairs, now done with his phone call.
His eyes meet mine and I smile at him, hoping that he understands that I'm okay. He reaches my side and takes my hand in his. I give him a squeeze and move over so he can sit next to me.
He wraps his arm around my waist and pulls me completely into his side. "Did my father scare you too much?"
I shake my head. "No. Just a small misunderstanding. We straightened it out very quickly." Out of the corner of my eye, I see the office door start to open and add, "I can tell you more tonight."
After dinner, Henry excuses us from the table. I don't miss the President's careful eye following us as we leaving the dining room.
"Let's go for a walk," Henry whispers to me.
I nod and let him lead me outside. He walks halfway across the back lawn, which is just as big as the front where the President holds the post-Ceremony party, until we reach white bench underneath a large tree. He motions me to sit. When I hesitate, he lowers himself onto the hard surface first. "You're hiding something from me. What did you leave out earlier?"
I sigh, knowing he won't leave the topic alone until I give him an answer. "I had a short encounter with Matchmaker Taylor after I used the bathroom and she accused me of snooping near the seventh floor."
"Were you?" he asks, his expression impassive.
"No," I answer. The moment the lie passes my lips, I regret it and wonder if I should have told him the truth. Secrets are never good for a relationship, and I hate that I may be dooming ours to failure. But on the off chance that he changes his mind about being sympathetic to my sister, I know I can't tell him anything damning against her or me.
He searches my face and reaches out. I stare at his outstretched hand as he slowly wraps it around the back of my neck and pulls me into an embrace. Not a kiss, but a hug. He guides my head to his shoulder and simply holds me.
"Rosemary," he says softly after a few moments.
"Yes?" I ask.
"Can you promise to be open with me in the future? I can't be a good Match if you shut me out."
I turn toward him. "About that..."
I smile at his use of the nickname. "You asked me to keep an open mind while you gave me time and space."
His hands tighten around me. "What are you saying?"
"I'm ready for more," I whisper.
He pushes me away until he can look me in the eye. "Are you sure?"
Without a word, he takes my hand and leads me back toward the house. "Come with me."
I blush, thinking about walking past his parents.
He sees me and must know what I'm thinking because he says, "Don't worry. There's a back entrance to our room."
He opens a small door underneath a small balcony on the side of the building. It reveals a dark and narrow stairway leading up.
YOU ARE READING
The MatchmakersScience Fiction
Science. Love. Power. Love is a science in the 23rd Century. The Matchmakers rule The Heartland, where arranged marriages are routine and Rosemary can't wait until she meets her Match on her eighteenth birthday. When her rebellious sister is tied to...