A Billionaire Husband and The Substitute Wife - Love Story of Dominic Peterson and Rachel Daley

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In the Daley household, young Rachel's life was akin to a continuous uphill battle. Her mother was relentless in her relentless teasing and torment, and her sister seemed intent on acquiring everything Rachel held dear, including her boyfriend. Yet, the most pressing challenge was the mounting medical bills of her foster mother, Norma—the one soul who had shown Rachel unwavering kindness since her early years and had raised her with a tender heart.

Desperation had driven the Daley family to a rather peculiar arrangement: they agreed to shoulder Norma's medical expenses, but with a caveat. They insisted that Rachel take the plunge into matrimony with Dominic, the illegitimate and seemingly directionless scion of the affluent Peterson family, replacing her sister as his spouse.

As the wedding bells chimed and the ink on their marriage certificate dried, both Rachel and Dominic would soon discover that their newlywed partner harbored a closely guarded secret, poised to shake the very foundation of their union.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
Chapter 1: "A Heartrending Bargain"

"I have committed myself to you. Why don't you end your relationship with Rachel?" The woman inquired, her voice dripping with seduction, as she hovered over the man, revealing her charms.

"Don't bring her name into our intimate moments," the man urged, his excitement palpable as he explored the woman's contours, his pleasure echoing through the room.

The woman remained unsatisfied, her desired response eluding her. "Why, though? She's merely an adopted member of our family—our dog even holds a higher position than her. What's so special about her?"

The man remained silent, his grip on her waist tightening as their passion intensified, eliciting cries of ecstasy.

Unbeknownst to them, Rachel Daley stood at the doorway, her exhaustion replaced by a cold realization. She had just returned from the hospital.

Three months ago, her lifelong caregiver, Norma, had been diagnosed with advanced liver cirrhosis, necessitating an immediate transplant. Gathering the necessary funds for her medical expenses became Rachel's all-consuming mission.

To compound her woes, her younger sister had taken up with her boyfriend, shattering Rachel's world.

"Have you heard me? You must make a choice tonight—her or me. The decision is yours," Ivonne Daley pleaded, her fists pounding on Brian Terry's chest.

Rachel kicked the door open, her gaze unwavering on the entangled couple. "Allow me to simplify matters. He is but a man; you may have him."

Though her tone seemed indifferent, Rachel's heart ached at the sight of her boyfriend's infidelity with her own sister.

Brian had been Rachel's college companion, a handsome scion from an affluent family who had ardently pursued her for three years. His declaration of love on their college campus had been witnessed by many, leading to a joyous acceptance of his proposal.

The betrayal cut deep. Rachel's eyes brimmed with tears as she looked upon the pair, her fingernails digging into her flesh.

Brian hastily disentangled himself from Ivonne, donned his clothes, and left the bed.

Ivonne nearly stumbled, her anger now ignited by Rachel's words. She had invested significant effort in winning over a wealthy and handsome man like Brian. Yet, Rachel had effortlessly captured his heart, leaving Ivonne seething with resentment.

After all, Rachel was only an adoptive daughter.

"What on earth are you saying? You make it sound like you're dumping Brian. He's the one who's dumping you, you witch!" Ivonne retorted, glaring at Brian and demanding, "Brian, tell Rachel what you just told me!"

Brian had succumbed to Ivonne's seduction, acting on impulse, and now found himself on his knees, gripping Rachel's wrist. "Rachel, please forgive me. I don't know what came over me."

Though tears welled in her eyes, Rachel regarded him with disdain. Once she resolved to do something, no force could deter her. She withdrew her hand from Brian's grasp. "I'm sorry, Brian. I want nothing tainted by Ivonne. You two are a perfect match. Let's end our relationship."

Ivonne was taken aback, and Brian teetered on the brink of despair, yet Rachel displayed no hint of sorrow. Ivonne's fury mounted because her goals had not been met.

Rachel didn't have time for this rivalry. Ivonne had been competing with her since childhood, snatching her toys in their youth. Now, she sought to steal her boyfriend.

Rachel had grown accustomed to it; her sole concern now was raising funds for Norma's medical bills.

As she prepared to depart, footsteps echoed down the corridor.

"It's late. What's with all the commotion?" The adopted parents, Joseph Daley and Kate Hays, arrived promptly upon hearing the disturbance.

Joseph entered the room first, his shock evident as he beheld his half-naked daughter perched on the bed, covered only by a quilt. "What are you doing? You're on the verge of marriage. What is this with another man?" He roared.

Ivonne clung to the quilt, her eyes bloodshot as she clenched her teeth to control her anger.

The Daleys and the Petersons had an agreement to wed their offspring once they matured. Ivonne's fiancé, however, was a castoff, disowned by the Peterson family due to his idleness and lack of prospects. Ivonne had no intention of marrying him.

She believed she deserved someone better.

"I'm pregnant!" Ivonne declared, pointing at Brian. "With his child. I cannot marry anyone else. You must call off the wedding."

Brian was dumbfounded. He had only been with Ivonne a few times—how could she be pregnant?

"Nonsense! You will marry into the Peterson family!" Joseph fumed. He wanted to shake some sense into Ivonne.

After all, the wedding was a matter of prestige. What could he tell the Peterson family if they inquired about the cancellation?

Kate shielded her daughter, rarely reprimanding her. Her husband's anger was palpable, and she couldn't bear to see him berate Ivonne.

"Joseph, why are you yelling at Ivonne?" Kate protested. "Rachel is also a Daley daughter. She can marry into the Peterson family as well."

Joseph and Kate had been childless for the first few years of marriage. Under pressure from the Daley family elders, they had adopted Rachel. Years later, Kate had finally conceived and given birth to Ivonne.

Rachel's existence was a constant reminder of Kate's infertility, and her adopted daughter's success further fueled her resentment.

As Rachel grew, she excelled in every aspect, intensifying Kate's animosity. To Kate, Rachel was a perpetual thorn in her side.

Kate's words stung Rachel. "You had agreed to marry off Ivonne to the Peterson family, not me," she declared. "Why should I marry just because your precious daughter is involved with someone?"

"We've cared for you all these years. It's time for you to repay our kindness, Rachel," Kate said with a cunning glint in her eye. "Don't you want Norma to have her surgery? We'll cover the medical expenses if you marry into the Peterson family in Ivonne's place."

Ivonne's smile of satisfaction was evident. She believed Rachel and the Peterson family's illegitimate son would make a perfect match.

Rachel clenched her fists, seething with anger at Kate's words. But the doctor's voice echoed in her mind—Norma's time was running out.

Recently graduated, Rachel lacked the funds for Norma's treatment.

Tears trickled down her cheeks as she lowered her head and whispered, "Fine, I'll marry him."
 
Last edited:

CasaNovack

Supreme Grandmaster
Sep 15, 2023
58
162
1,050
I hope it's not gonna be another story, where the main characters have 2000 chapters of infantile misunderstandings and not allowing themselves to feel something for the other. That gets boring veeeery easily.

That said I'm very surprised that you decided to translate another novel master Junlee. I can't help but notice, that the pace of Charlie Wade slowed down noticably. I hope you're not overworking yourself. We would hate to lose you, were you to start devoting even more time to our enjoyment.
You have a wonderful family. Make sure to take great care of them ;)

All the best wishes for the upcoming 2024 🎉🥳🎉
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
I hope it's not gonna be another story, where the main characters have 2000 chapters of infantile misunderstandings and not allowing themselves to feel something for the other. That gets boring veeeery easily.

That said I'm very surprised that you decided to translate another novel master Junlee. I can't help but notice, that the pace of Charlie Wade slowed down noticably. I hope you're not overworking yourself. We would hate to lose you, were you to start devoting even more time to our enjoyment.
You have a wonderful family. Make sure to take great care of them ;)

All the best wishes for the upcoming 2024 🎉🥳🎉
Hello there, I'm delighted to see you here! Just to give you a heads up, I'm currently committed to producing a minimum of 10 chapters per day for the Charlie Wade story, and I often find myself exceeding that target.

Now, when it comes to this new novel, it's going to be a bit different. Instead of churning out bulk chapters each day, I'll be focusing on delivering a few chapters daily. The reason behind this approach is that each chapter will be packed with intrigue and interest. Unlike Charlie Wade, which sometimes has multiple chapters to conclude a single scene, this new story adopts a more concise and engaging style. And this story is already finished. So for sure we will not be hanging dry at one point.
 

Gily

KF Founder & Dragon IGM
Jun 4, 2023
6,736
21,113
2,100
I hope it's not gonna be another story, where the main characters have 2000 chapters of infantile misunderstandings and not allowing themselves to feel something for the other. That gets boring veeeery easily.

That said I'm very surprised that you decided to translate another novel master Junlee. I can't help but notice, that the pace of Charlie Wade slowed down noticably. I hope you're not overworking yourself. We would hate to lose you, were you to start devoting even more time to our enjoyment.
You have a wonderful family. Make sure to take great care of them ;)

All the best wishes for the upcoming 2024 🎉🥳🎉
CasaNovack, I for one wishes to read a story from you in here. More of personal story. You read a lot of stories you must be good in creating a short story.

What do you say? Would you grant our wish?
 

SkY RiDeR

Dragon Among Men
Sep 22, 2023
38
60
900
Hello there, I'm delighted to see you here! Just to give you a heads up, I'm currently committed to producing a minimum of 10 chapters per day for the Charlie Wade story, and I often find myself exceeding that target.

Now, when it comes to this new novel, it's going to be a bit different. Instead of churning out bulk chapters each day, I'll be focusing on delivering a few chapters daily. The reason behind this approach is that each chapter will be packed with intrigue and interest. Unlike Charlie Wade, which sometimes has multiple chapters to conclude a single scene, this new story adopts a more concise and engaging style. And this story is already finished. So for sure we will not be hanging dry at one point.
It's good to know that atleast any of my ongoing story has seen final chapter.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
It's good to know that atleast any of my ongoing story has seen final chapter.
Yeah i was on a hunt a few months ago for one that has final chapters already published. Its disappointing to have the story in climax just to realise u hit the slow curve. So yeah, this one is worth the read. Something my wife and I enjoy reading. She wont read the martial arts stories. So this one is a common ground to us both.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
Chapter 2: "An Unlikely Union"

A few days later, Rachel arrived at a quaint suburban church, donned in a simple, elegant white slip dress. She was on the brink of matrimony, yet her groom remained a complete stranger.

Foregoing the extravagance of a rented wedding gown, Rachel had chosen frugality to cover Norma's medical expenses. She stopped by a flower shop, acquiring white baby's-breath, along with an extra white silk ribbon to fashion into a hair braid, giving her an air of purity and innocence.

As the appointed hour approached, there was no sign of the groom. The wedding venue remained sparsely populated, with only a handful of attendees.

Joseph, ever the voice of reassurance, said, "Don't fret, he's probably caught in traffic. Let's give it a little more time."

Rachel's anxiety grew with each passing minute. She had heard unsavory tales about her prospective husband, Dominic Peterson – an idle man with no respectable occupation, who frequented the company of streetwise acquaintances.

The thought of uniting with such a character churned her stomach, but her circumstances allowed no alternative.

Kate, radiant in her soft purple dress and subtle makeup, inquired with a furrowed brow, "Where are the groom and his family? It seems they aren't placing much importance on this marriage."

Rachel, however, remained untroubled by their absence, her focus solely on Norma's medical bills.

Leaning closer to Kate, Rachel whispered, "Will you deliver the money as soon as the ceremony ends?"

She had agreed to exchange her marriage for funds, a promise made to her adoptive parents to save Norma's life.

Kate responded, her voice gently masked with impatience, "We are family; why do you always bring up money? Rest assured, I'll keep my word. No need to keep reminding me."

Meanwhile, Ivonne entered the scene, accompanied by her boyfriend, bedecked in extravagant attire and adorned with expensive jewelry. A smug smile graced her face – the same Ivonne who had stolen Rachel's affluent beau, leaving her to marry the seemingly worthless illegitimate Peterson heir.

Upon seeing Rachel in her wedding attire, Brian's brows furrowed, a guilt-laden ball forming in his stomach. It was his impulsive actions that had severed their relationship, propelling Rachel into another man's arms.

Initially uninterested in attending the wedding, Brian had been coerced by Ivonne, who revealed she was carrying his child.

However, Brian's gaze remained fixed on Rachel since his arrival. Ivonne couldn't bear to watch him stare at the woman she loathed. Jealousy surged within her, prompting her to lash out at Brian during the inopportune moment.

"Believe it or not, I'll gouge your eyes out. What's so special about her? Why are you gawking?" Ivonne snapped.

She then turned, sneering, "Where's the groom? Late for his own wedding? How dependable. His family hasn't even bothered to show up. It's clear they don't care about that guy."

Ivonne was used to being a princess at home, but her audacious comments, made in a public space and as the bride's sister, became the topic of everyone's gossip.

Rachel, lifting her hemline gracefully, took a step forward. She had tolerated Ivonne's arrogance and heartlessness for far too long, but she could no longer endure her insolence.

"Ivonne, refrain from using such language! This is a church, and basic manners should be observed!" Rachel chided.

Ivonne was taken aback; she had never seen Rachel assert herself in such a manner.

The church fell into an eerie silence, only for the creaking gate to interrupt the tension. A tall man stepped inside, his slender frame accentuated by the dazzling sunlight. As the gate closed behind him, he buttoned his suit and smoothed his coat, clearly in a hurry.

The sunlight cast a soft glow on his handsome face, as if he were a divine creation. All eyes were drawn to him, as if he possessed a spellbinding aura.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
Chapter 3: "A Stunning Revelation"

All eyes remained locked on the newcomer, who effortlessly exuded an air of charm that left the onlookers in awe.

Ivonne's eyes brightened with curiosity. She speculated that this handsome man must be one of Dominic's two elder brothers. The Peterson family held immense power in the city, and as Dominic was the illegitimate child, Ivonne assumed he'd pale in comparison to the family's noble scions. The man before her seemed to embody both charm and regality, leading her to believe he must be the legitimate heir of the Peterson dynasty.

His striking good looks and innate charisma ignited excitement within Ivonne. Brian, whom she had once considered handsome, now appeared rather ordinary in comparison to this man's charisma and allure.

Ivonne ventured forward, greeting the man with a blush in her cheeks, "Are you one of Dominic's brothers? The groom's family has yet to arrive. Please take a seat; the wedding won't begin for a while."

She toyed with the idea of asking for his phone number but refrained due to the solemnity of the occasion.

However, the man paid her no heed, continuing on his path toward Rachel.

Ivonne's face flushed with embarrassment, and her initial excitement swiftly turned to dismay. She returned to her seat in frustration, her eyes widening in shock as the handsome man settled beside Rachel. It was then that she realized he was none other than Dominic, the groom.

Ivonne shook her head in disbelief. "How could Dominic look so dashing?"

She leaned over to whisper in Kate's ear, "Mom, why didn't you find a photo of Dominic for me? If I had known what he looked like, I wouldn't have asked Rachel to marry him in my place."

Kate closed her eyes, sighed audibly, and shook her head disapprovingly. She turned to her daughter with a reproachful gaze. "You're still young, dear. When you grow older, you'll understand that a man's appearance is the least important thing. Dominic is a failure—he doesn't even have a decent job. He's a useless ne'er-do-well with no direction in life. He's the perfect match for Rachel; they're both outcasts."

Ivonne refrained from arguing but couldn't shake the resentment that Rachel was marrying such a handsome man who resembled a movie star.

Dominic approached Rachel, his gaze studying her face intently. "I'm sorry for my tardiness; I had some personal matters to attend to," he explained flatly, scratching his brow.

Rachel, undisturbed by his delay, replied, "No worries." She couldn't help but feel relieved that Dominic was, in fact, a good-looking man. It was a small consolation.

As she turned to face him, her eyes caught the dazzling Patek Philippe watch adorning his wrist, which gleamed brilliantly in the sunlight. Though not wealthy herself, Rachel had seen enough of the world to recognize the watch's value—a timepiece worth at least a million dollars. Her eyebrows shot up in surprise.

Everyone had painted Dominic as a destitute and insignificant man, which was why they had chosen Rachel to marry him in the first place. But how could he afford such an extravagant watch? The mystery hung in the air like an unanswered question.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
Chapter 4 – "The Watch and First Impressions"

Rachel's frown didn't escape Dominic's notice, and he followed her gaze to his wrist, where his watch had caught her attention. After a brief moment, he understood her concern. Leaning in closer, he whispered into her ear, "This is just a knock-off I borrowed from a friend. I usually wear it to look cool, but I didn't expect you'd notice it so soon."

Dominic removed the watch and discreetly tucked it into his pocket.

Rachel smiled, feeling her ears grow warm as she stepped back. Dominic's breath had brushed against her ear as he spoke.

Upon reflection, Rachel realized that it was quite ordinary for someone like Dominic to have a friend who sold counterfeit items. She breathed a sigh of relief, as her initial fear of Dominic being involved in illegal activities to amass wealth faded.

Dominic furrowed his brow slightly. He had heard rumors about the Daley family's daughter having multiple boyfriends and frequently socializing with different men. Rachel's sudden shyness took him by surprise.

"The groom has arrived. Why hasn't the wedding begun yet?" chimed a sweet voice.

Ivonne, grinning, approached with her boyfriend, gripping his arm. "Now that the groom is here, let me introduce my boyfriend to you," she declared, intentionally speaking a bit louder. "This is Brian Terry, the eldest son of the Terry family. We're practically family, so Brian and I can offer our assistance in the future."

Brian lowered his head quickly, as though too ashamed to meet Rachel's gaze.

Seeing Brian arrive with Ivonne didn't elicit any particular reaction from Rachel. She pretended as though they were meeting for the first time and casually remarked, "Nice introduction, Ivonne. But your current boyfriend seems different from the one I saw last week. I wonder if he'll still be your boyfriend next week."

Brian's forced smile froze instantly.

Ivonne, offering a sheepish smile, shot Rachel a venomous glare and hastily changed the subject. "Anyway, if you'd like, I can recommend Dominic to the Terry family's company. I'm sure they'd be willing to take him in, even if he doesn't possess any technical skills. Perhaps he can handle tasks like mopping the floor and cleaning the toilet, those sorts of things. It's better to have a real job than to wander aimlessly after getting married."

Rachel sneakily glanced at Dominic, expecting him to react to such offensive words. Surprisingly, he didn't seem bothered in the slightest. He simply responded with a warm smile and waved his hand dismissively, saying, "No thanks. I enjoy exploring the outside world."

Not receiving the reaction she anticipated, Ivonne's expression soured, and she sulkily returned to her seat, dragging Brian along with her.

Shortly after, the priest arrived and hurriedly conducted the wedding ceremony.

Dominic led Rachel back to a modest house in the suburbs.

The dwelling was small, aged, and somewhat dilapidated, but it provided them with a place to call home. While it appeared somewhat barren and contained only basic necessities, it seemed that these items had been recently acquired for the wedding. Dominic, a tall and muscular man, made the already narrow space feel even smaller once he entered.

It was evident that he was just making ends meet.

"This is my humble abode. We'll manage with it," Dominic remarked nonchalantly, displaying no hint of embarrassment.

"Yes, it's a small house, but it looks neat and tidy. It's suitable for the two of us," Rachel replied honestly. Although the house seemed humble, Dominic had maintained it meticulously. The yard was well-kept, and the interior appeared spotless. However, it lacked the warmth of a true home, feeling somewhat empty—perhaps because Dominic rarely spent time there.

Rachel took in her surroundings and noticed that Dominic had removed his suit jacket and placed it on a wooden chair. He was unbuttoning his white shirt, revealing the well-defined muscles beneath. It was apparent that he engaged in regular workouts.

Sensing Rachel's gaze on him, Dominic turned his head, locking eyes with her anxious ones. He paused in his actions and took a step closer. "You've had a busy day. Would you like to take a shower first?" he inquired with intensity.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
Chapter 5 – "An Uncomfortable Conversation"

"You should take a shower first. I can wait," Rachel stammered, involuntarily retreating as though she were protecting herself from an adversary. She resembled a trapped bird, desperately trying to conceal her anxiety.

Facing her supposed husband was proving to be an overwhelming challenge for her.

Dominic remained by the table, his gaze fixed on Rachel, who appeared like a deer caught in the headlights of an approaching vehicle.

He chuckled lightly and assured her, "No need to be nervous. I won't bite. I just need to discuss something with you."

Rachel crossed her arms, hesitatingly approaching him. She had no desire to form any connection with this man, and everything had transpired far too swiftly. She was now married to a man she had only just met at her own wedding.

"What is it?" she inquired.

Dominic picked up a wooden chair with a single hand, positioning it in front of her. "Please, have a seat."

He then drew his own chair nearer and seated himself across from her. "I prefer not to beat around the bush. I understand that you didn't willingly enter into this marriage."

Rachel tried to explain, her embarrassment evident, "Building a relationship takes time. We need to get to know each other."

Yet, after voicing her sentiments, she found her explanation somewhat superfluous. Dominic was fully aware of his status and how people perceived him. He understood that Ivonne had no intention of marrying someone like him, who was considered illegitimate.

Dominic furrowed his brow as he assessed Rachel from head to toe. She had been visibly anxious since the outset, nervously biting her lower lip while her gaze darted around.

"Don't worry. I have no interest in this marriage either. We can present ourselves as a married couple to the outside world, but we'll stay out of each other's way. That way, we can avoid any unnecessary trouble and live harmoniously. I spend most of my time outside and rarely come home. I desire the freedom to do as I please, and the same applies to you. I won't control or meddle in your affairs."

With that, he stood up, retrieved his suit jacket from the chair, and then, as if suddenly recalling something, he bent over, gripping the chair's armrests and inadvertently trapping Rachel between his arms.

"Watching a man change isn't quite appropriate. However, should you have any... intimate needs as a wife, I'd be more than willing to fulfill my marital duties."

The scent of laundry detergent mixed with his own lingered in the air, causing Rachel's scalp to tingle with discomfort.

"No, thank you," she hissed through clenched teeth, determined not to show any vulnerability.

Dominic's countenance darkened, and he briefly glanced at Rachel's stomach. He cautioned her, "While we may be just a nominal couple, there is one thing I want you to remember. I have no desire to discover that my wife is carrying another man's child one day."

For Dominic, loyalty was a paramount virtue, and he had heard rumors about Ivonne's propensity to change partners frequently.

"As long as we are married, I will fulfill my duties as a wife," Rachel asserted firmly. "I hope you will keep your word and refrain from interfering in my life."

The man's playful smile waned slightly.

He straightened up, retreating a step from Rachel. "You're not Ivonne Daley, are you?" he inquired, raising an eyebrow.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
Chapter 6 – "A Startling Question"

Rachel was taken aback. "If I'm not Ivonne Daley, who else do you think I am? That's a pretty lame question," she replied with a touch of humor.

Rachel had married Dominic under the guise of Ivonne Daley. If she messed up the plan, Kate wouldn't provide her with the money she needed to save Norma, who was still in the hospital awaiting surgery.

Dominic furrowed his brow; something felt off. According to the information he had gathered about Ivonne, she was described as an arrogant, willful, vain, and somewhat brainless woman who enjoyed seducing wealthy men for personal gain.

Consequently, he had pretended to be a destitute loser in front of Rachel, thinking she was Ivonne, in the hopes that she would take the initiative to request a divorce due to her disdain for poverty.

However, the woman before him was surprisingly accepting of his financial situation and his humble abode. Furthermore, her nervousness was unmistakable, despite her efforts to appear composed.

Dominic found her demeanor kind and gentle, intriguing even.

But regardless of whether she was truly Ivonne or not, his marriage to her was solely to fulfill his mother's dying wish.

All he needed to do was honor that commitment.

"It was just a casual question. Forget it," Dominic said, retrieving his suit jacket and stepping back. "I've said what I wanted to say. Do you have anything to add?"

Rachel breathed a sigh of relief. "No," she replied.

She glanced around the small, unadorned living space and realized there was only one bedroom. A troubling thought crossed her mind: Would she have to share a bed with Dominic?

Dominic turned towards the bathroom but noticed the concern in her eyes. Recalling that the house had only one bed, he decided to address the situation.

"There's only one bed here. I'll sleep on the sofa tonight, and you can have the bedroom," Dominic offered, nonchalantly unbuttoning his cuffs.

Rachel looked surprised. "Is that alright? It's our wedding night, and it doesn't feel appropriate for you to sleep on the sofa. Besides, it's quite small, and you're a big guy. How will you fit comfortably?"

Dominic acknowledged the discomfort. "You're right; it's not the most comfortable option. But with only one bed, if I want to sleep comfortably, I might have to share it with you," he leaned in closer, his voice a low whisper in her ear. "I'll join you after taking a shower."

Rachel's face flushed bright red. "You... you've misunderstood me. That's not what I meant," she stammered, attempting to escape his proximity. She found herself retreating towards the wooden table, and with no more room to maneuver, she braced herself for an imminent collision.

Just before she bumped into the table's corner, Dominic swiftly reached out, encircling her in his arms.

"What did you mean, then?" Dominic inquired, a playful glint in his eyes as he cocked his head to the side.

Rachel blinked, resembling a cornered animal.

Her heart pounded in her chest, her senses overwhelmed by Dominic's warmth and proximity. She had an inexplicable urge to flee.

"I just want to sleep alone, as you mentioned we should only be a nominal couple," she managed to respond.

Dominic's tone remained nonchalant. "Well, I can change my mind. Being a real couple sounds appealing. After all, it seems like you're eager to consummate the wedding," he stated, a sly smile forming on his lips.

"No, I'm not!" Rachel hissed through her teeth, her face now a shade of red that resembled an angry kitten.

"It certainly appears that way, given you invited a man to share a bed with you," Dominic commented casually.

Rachel pushed him away and hurried into the bedroom, locking the door behind her.

Outside, Dominic chuckled softly.

Leaning against the door, Rachel took a moment to catch her breath. Her heart raced, and her face burned with feverish intensity.

As her heartbeat gradually slowed, she made a mental note that she would resort to using the bedside lamp as a weapon if Dominic attempted to approach her during the night.

Rachel cautiously sat on the bed, her eyes fixed on the locked bedroom door, finding sleep elusive on this eventful wedding night.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
12,979
2,100
Chapter 7 – "Breakfast and Memories"

It had been a rare occurrence for Rachel to experience pleasant dreams lately. In this particular dream, Norma had received timely treatment and was on her way to a full recovery. They had returned home together, and life seemed brimming with brightness and hope.

However, the abrupt ringing of her cellphone jolted Rachel awake. She sat up in bed, momentarily disoriented by her unfamiliar surroundings. It took her a moment to recollect that she was now married, a reality she was still grappling to adjust to.

Upon opening the bedroom door, her gaze landed on Dominic, who was curled up on the sofa, embracing a pillow. The sofa was clearly too small for his tall frame, with his legs extending beyond its confines. A gray blanket draped over him, and the gentle morning sunlight cast a soft, warm glow on his flawless features, making him appear almost ethereal.

Relieved that Dominic hadn't made any advances towards her during the night, Rachel felt her guard relax around him.

With a quiet smile, she made her way to the kitchen. The refrigerator held eggs, bacon, and bread, with the spices appearing unused.

Rachel donned an apron and began preparing breakfast. The bacon sizzled in the pan, filling the air with the delightful aroma of butter.

Dominic soon stirred, rubbing his eyes as he observed the woman diligently working in the kitchen. His gaze remained fixed on her for a while, stirring memories from his past and a profound sense of nostalgia.

For a brief moment, he believed it was a dream. During his childhood, his mother had always prepared breakfast before he woke up, and the entire house would be suffused with the fragrance of butter.

Dominic ran a hand through his hair, and the haze of nostalgia cleared, revealing that the person cooking breakfast was his newlywed wife.

Noticing Dominic sitting on the sofa, staring into space, Rachel casually asked, "Would you like some breakfast? The bread is almost done. Freshen up first."

Known for her culinary skills, Rachel had even entertained the idea of opening a small restaurant at Norma's suggestion.

Dominic quickly returned from the bathroom, pulled a wooden chair up to the table, and sat down. The sight of the steaming breakfast before him made his mouth water, and he eagerly picked up a sandwich, taking a bite.

As he savored the flavors, memories of him and his mother having dinner at this very table when he was a child came flooding back. Despite dining at numerous upscale restaurants, nothing ever seemed to compare to his mother's cooking. Rachel's food, simple as it was, somehow transported him back in time to those cherished moments.

A soft smile graced Dominic's face, his eyes filled with emotion as he turned to Rachel and expressed his appreciation. "It's delicious. It tastes just like the meals my mother used to prepare for me when I was a child."

Rachel was taken aback and at a loss for words. She had simply made a straightforward breakfast using the ingredients available in the refrigerator, so the depth of gratitude and emotion in Dominic's eyes took her by surprise. She waved her hands dismissively.

"I'm glad you enjoyed it. Please wash the dishes when you're finished. I have something important to attend to today."

Dominic nodded and continued to savor his meal, cherishing every bite.

After breakfast, Rachel grabbed her purse and left the house, heading off to deal with an urgent matter.

Not long after she departed, a sleek black Bugatti pulled up in front of the house.

A man dressed in a striped suit stepped out, carrying a bag.

When he knocked on the door and Dominic opened it, he was taken aback by the surprisingly gentle tone his boss used. "Did you forget something?" Dominic inquired.

Andy Davis's eyes widened in astonishment. Boss's demeanor seemed unusually warm. Could it be that he was genuinely happy about the marriage?

"Why are you standing there?" Dominic prompted, glancing outside before inviting Andy into the house. "Come in."

"Boss, I've brought breakfast from the Michelin restaurant for you."

Dominic was renowned for his selective palate, choosing only specific restaurants or personal cooks to prepare his meals. Andy, as his assistant, was responsible for overseeing his culinary preferences.

"I've already had breakfast," Dominic replied casually, before adding, "Feel free to have it if you'd like. And please wash the dishes in the sink when you're done."

Andy was astonished once again. The man before him appeared to be an entirely different person than the boss he knew. Could marriage truly bring about such a rapid transformation in someone?
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
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Chapter 8 – "Family Disputes"

The taxi came to a halt outside the Daley family's opulent villa. Rachel hurriedly exited the vehicle and rang the doorbell, her purpose clear in her mind.

Now that she had upheld her end of the bargain by marrying Dominic, she intended to collect the money she had been promised. Her only motivation for going through with this marriage had been to secure the funds necessary for Norma's medical expenses.

Kate, lounging on the sofa with a cup of coffee, glanced up at Rachel and greeted her with a faint smile. "How's everything going with Dominic? You only got married yesterday. What brings you here today? Aren't you supposed to be at your new home? Did something happen? Please, share with me."

Oddly, Kate made no mention of the money they had discussed, as if the agreement had never existed.

Rachel fixed her with a stern look. "I'm here for the money. You promised to provide it once I married Dominic."

Kate calmly set her coffee cup on the table and wore a gentle smile, but the promised money seemed forgotten. It was as if it had only been a ploy to persuade Rachel, an agreement never solidified in writing. With Rachel and Dominic now married, there seemed to be nothing she could do to demand the funds.

"Don't be in such a rush, Rachel. I will give you the money, but you must understand our family's situation," Kate responded. She continued with a pitiable look on her face, "Your father recently invested in a new business venture. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a shell company, and the owner absconded with the money and his mistress, leaving your father to shoulder the financial burden and the fallout. Business is a complex field, and it's taken a toll on your father. As you can see, his hair has already grayed. Our family is currently facing hardships. We're dealing with cash flow issues and are unable to provide such a substantial sum at the moment. I hope you can empathize with our situation."

Rachel seethed with anger.

Kate was nothing short of wicked. Even a single piece of jewelry from her collection was worth more than Norma's medical expenses. It was clear she was lying about being unable to afford the promised funds.

Joseph frowned deeply. Kate had pushed things too far this time, and he felt genuine sympathy for Rachel. "Actually, it's not a major problem. We can still manage..."

"What did you say, Joseph? Don't we have to tighten our belts? Ivonne is about to study abroad. Don't we need money for that? The funds I have right now are the result of my years of frugal living, after trimming down our expenses. Have you forgotten everything I've done for this family? Yet, you don't care about us, do you?" Kate wiped away fake tears, glaring at her husband.

Joseph was rendered speechless and dared not utter another word.

"You assured me that you'd provide the money as soon as possible," Rachel stated firmly, though she couldn't force them if they truly refused to pay. After all, it had only been an oral agreement without any written commitment.

Wiping her eyes and forcing a smile, Kate replied, "Of course, darling. Dad and I will get you the money as soon as we can. I do have a few thousand dollars now. I can give you that for the time being."

Kate's aim was to delay Rachel. After all, once the elderly maid passed away, Rachel would lose her reason to demand money from them.

But how could a few thousand dollars suffice?

Rachel bit her lower lip, about to say something when Ivonne intervened. Descending the stairs, she cast a contemptuous glance at Rachel.

"Why are you back? Where's your husband? Is he already repelled by you?" Ivonne sneered as she approached Rachel.

"I married him on your behalf. With your notorious reputation, if he loathes his wife, it means he loathes you," Rachel shot back coolly.

Ivonne always held herself in high regard. Rachel's words, however, infuriated her, and she was incensed by the humiliation. Ivonne seized a glass of water and attempted to pour it over Rachel, who was seated calmly on the sofa.

Anticipating Ivonne's move, Rachel skillfully evaded the attack. She had anticipated that Ivonne might resort to such tactics, as she had a penchant for physical aggression when angered during their childhood.

"Leave! This is my home!" Ivonne barked, pointing towards the exit. Rachel's composure only seemed to fuel her anger.

"I wouldn't be here if you didn't owe me money," Rachel sneered.

Witnessing her own daughter being mistreated, Kate lost her composure. "How can you speak to your family this way? I don't recognize you as my daughter. Leave!"

Rachel's heart sank with disappointment. Arguing was futile, so she rose from her seat, ready to depart.

As she opened the door, she was met with the sight of Dominic, standing there in a jacket. Behind him stood a breathless man, clutching several bags tightly in his hand.
 
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Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
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Chapter 9 – "Unexpected Gifts"

Dominic stood resolutely outside the door, emanating an undeniable presence that made it impossible for Rachel to move past him.

His voice was calm and measured as he responded, "Something came up. That's why I'm late."

Rachel was filled with a mixture of anger and sadness, her voice breaking as she retorted, "Why are you here? I want to leave. Get out of my way."

The redness and tears in her eyes were evident as she spoke.

Without yielding to her anger, Dominic gently grasped her wrist and reassured her, "There's no need to leave."

With his guidance, he led Rachel back to the living room. Andy placed the bags on the table, opening them one by one to reveal their contents.

Once everything was displayed on the table, Andy wiped the sweat from his forehead and retreated to stand behind Dominic. The physical exertion of his task had left him weary.

Rachel's eyes widened as she took in the gifts before her. Expensive jewelry, watches, fine wine, and other rare antiques gleamed under the room's lights.

She couldn't help but wonder if these gifts were also counterfeit, much like Dominic's watch, which he had borrowed from his friend. The Daley family may not have been the most powerful in the city, but they were certainly well-versed in distinguishing genuine items from fakes.

Rachel tugged at Dominic's sleeve and whispered in his ear, "What were you thinking? They won't be easy to deceive. Forget it. If they find out these are fake, just tell them I bought them."

She stood on tiptoe, her voice a hushed plea.

A faint smile tugged at the corners of Dominic's mouth, amused by Rachel's suggestion. It was the first time someone had considered the possibility that he might give knock-off gifts.

Moreover, the way she wanted to protect him and take the blame brought a genuine smile to his face. He gently scratched her soft palm and assured her, "Don't worry. I never give fakes as gifts."

It took Kate and Ivonne a few moments to recover from their initial shock. They finally closed their gaping mouths and exchanged bewildered glances.

Both of them recognized the value of the gifts; they were truly priceless.

Kate smiled sweetly and addressed Dominic, "Dominic, now that we're family, this is your home too. You don't have to bring gifts when you visit, especially something so expensive. How could we accept them?"

Ivonne couldn't tear her eyes away from the dazzling diamond jewelry on the table. Among them, a limited edition bracelet had particularly captured her attention. Just as she reached out to pick it up and try it on, Dominic promptly closed the velvet box.

He began to close all the boxes and returned them to the bag, his actions swift and efficient. Dominic then glanced at the mother and daughter, who had been greedily eyeing the gifts.

"These were intended as gifts from the Peterson family to you. However, I've just heard that you no longer consider her your daughter. In that case, there's no need for me to give these gifts. Your family is esteemed, and I'm sure you're not interested in these trivial items."

Both Kate and Ivonne were left utterly speechless by Dominic's actions and words. Ivonne urgently tugged at her mother's sleeve, pleading, "Mom! Say something. I really want that limited edition jewelry."

Kate realized that, despite her wealth and exposure to luxury, the Daley family was outclassed in every way by the Peterson family. Even though Dominic was merely an illegitimate son of the Peterson family, it was customary for him to show respect to his in-laws through such gifts. Kate regretted having humiliated Rachel earlier, as she could have used her to her advantage in the future.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
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Chapter 10 – "Unexpected Support"

Kate, still holding a sweet smile on her face, continued to eye the lavish gifts. She tried to justify her previous actions to Dominic. "Dominic, there must be some misunderstanding here. I scolded my daughter in a fit of anger. It doesn't mean anything."

Her attention remained fixed on the expensive offerings laid out before her.

Dominic, however, remained unfazed by their explanations. He regarded them with indifference, showing no inclination to listen to their justifications.

Seeing his unyielding stance, Andy quickly moved to pack up the gifts and carry the bags away.

Dominic didn't utter another word. Holding Rachel's hand, he left the Daley family's villa.

It wasn't until they had walked outside that Dominic finally released her hand, his countenance softening as he turned to face her.

"Why didn't you tell me you were going to see your parents?" he inquired.

Rachel hadn't brought Dominic along because she intended to ask her adoptive parents for money, and she knew it was unlikely he would accompany her.

"I didn't plan on visiting them in the first place," she replied, offering a half-truth.

"I happened to take this route, so I decided to drop by," Dominic explained further. "Did you overhear our conversation?"

"I only heard your mother say she didn't have a daughter like you," Rachel confessed. "Did she say anything else?"

Dominic regarded her closely. Rachel shook her head, concealing the true nature of the conversation. She was apprehensive that Dominic might learn about the deal and potentially disrupt her plans.

To her surprise, she noticed that Dominic had blindly supported her, despite hearing only a single sentence from their conversation. It seemed he had taken her side without hesitation. This newfound support from Dominic puzzled her, as it seemed out of character for him.

"Why did you stand up for me after hearing just one sentence?" she questioned. "What if I was in the wrong? The Daley family is not to be trifled with."

Dominic turned his gaze toward her and replied, "I didn't care about that."

Rachel couldn't help but chuckle softly. The Daley family had always treated her poorly during her visits, and today, seeing both Kate and Ivonne's evident frustration brought her a sense of satisfaction.

Moreover, she had witnessed Dominic's genuine concern and care for her.

"Are these gifts really from the Peterson family?" she asked, gesturing towards the bags.

"No," Dominic admitted. "The Peterson family has had nothing to do with me for years. I rented these to maintain my appearance for you. I had no intention of giving these gifts to them in the first place."

Dominic had heard rumors about Ivonne's arrogance and selfishness. He was concerned that she might attempt to exploit him and seek benefits from the Peterson family after their marriage. Therefore, he had lied, suggesting that he had severed all ties with his family.

Glancing at Andy, Dominic added, "The man carrying the bags works for a luxury rental shop."

Andy extended his hand to Rachel with a friendly greeting. "Hello! Nice to meet you."

Rachel shook his hand politely, and Andy couldn't help but admire her beauty. She appeared nothing like the image he had imagined, exuding an air of grace and humility.

Dominic, however, wasn't pleased with Andy's casual gesture. He glared at his assistant, prompting Andy to retract his hand quickly.

"Don't mind him," Rachel said, coming to Andy's defense. "He's been carrying these heavy bags for us, so we should express our gratitude. It's quite surprising to find a rental company that offers such exceptional service. They even carry bags for their customers."

Her words left Andy speechless, unsure of how to respond.

Rachel tied her long hair into a ponytail and began to inspect the items in the bags with meticulous care. "I hope nothing is damaged. If there's any damage, please let me know the compensation amount."

Andy couldn't help but smile at her thoughtful consideration. All the items in the bags were gifts that people had given to Dominic.

"You don't need to worry about damages," Andy reassured her. "You can return them to our company at any time."

Dominic leaned against a nearby lamp pole, watching Rachel examine the valuable gifts. He couldn't help but notice that there was no hint of greed in her beautiful eyes as she admired the precious jewelry; she simply seemed to appreciate them.

Dominic sighed softly. The woman before him appeared quite different from the rumors he had heard. It seemed that this "Ivonne Daley" was far better than he had initially anticipated.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
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Chapter 11 – "Designing Destiny"

Back home, Rachel embarked on a quest for employment. Following the earlier tête-à-tête with her adoptive parents, it was apparent that she couldn't rely on the monetary promises they'd made.

Rachel had recently graduated with honors, boasting a stellar record in design. Her university days had been a whirlwind of admiration, all thanks to her exceptional design prowess. In a perfect world, she should have applied for a job alongside her peers months ago.

However, circumstances had led her to delay her application. She'd devoted herself to caring for Norma, the elderly maid who had fallen ill, prioritizing her wellbeing over her career.

After meticulously preparing her portfolio and resume, she dispatched them to reputable firms. With her status as a gold medalist and a recipient of numerous accolades, it didn't take long for interview invitations to come flooding in.

"Oh my stars! This is simply astonishing!"

She couldn't contain her excitement as she gazed at her computer screen. A sleek black invitation glimmered on the display – it was an interview offer from the prestigious Porter Group.

The Porter Group's design department was held in the highest regard by everyone. Fashion and jewelry design were just a few of the many domains the group excelled in. They were industry pioneers with a global presence, and Braden Porter, the enigmatic CEO, was the driving force behind their success.

Although he was young, talented, and the mastermind behind the Porter Group's triumph, Braden remained an enigma. He rarely made public appearances, keeping people in the dark about his personal life. Only the upper echelons of the Porter Group knew his face, leaving the rest to speculate.

Naturally, Rachel was curious about this elusive figure, and her interest was piqued even further by the interview invitation. Alongside the invitation came an examination paper, a daunting test she had to conquer before attending the interview.

A perplexed frown creased Rachel's forehead as she perused the questions. None of them seemed to have come from any of the textbooks she'd studied. They were tricky conundrums that even design experts might find challenging. However, the Porter Group demanded more from its staff and applicants than any other company in the industry, and that's precisely why Rachel yearned to join their ranks.

Determined, she completed the examination and set off for the Porter Group's headquarters. Her eyes widened as she beheld the towering silver skyscraper that seemed to pierce the heavens. The translucent glass entrance reflected her slender figure, and she was handed a concise handbook about the Porter Group by the receptionist before being directed to the waiting area.

Inside, the building exuded an aura of sophistication with its silver, black, and white walls. Fashion-forward individuals donning sleek attire mingled about, their paths crossing like runway models.

As Rachel observed her surroundings, a dashing man surrounded by a retinue of followers entered a private elevator. She squinted, sensing a flicker of familiarity about him, but before she could scrutinize further, someone called her name – it was her turn for the interview.

Seated across from her were a man and two women, all impeccably dressed. One of the women had straight chestnut hair and took a keen interest in Rachel's resume.

"Our interviewer, Bridget Mooney, graduated from the same university as you. You two are schoolmates," the woman remarked.

Rachel's gaze drifted to the woman in the middle, and suddenly, memories of a peculiar past resurfaced. Back in school, one of her senior schoolmates had harbored a crush on her, but Bridget had fancied him, leading to a rivalry and a few troublesome incidents.

Rachel had been indifferent to the whole affair, and after graduation, they'd all gone their separate ways, never to cross paths again – until now.

Bridget's ruddy lips curled into a semblance of a smile. "What a coincidence, Miss Daley. I was indeed your senior in school."

Rachel couldn't help but recall the old grudges and tension between them. Bridget had always been envious, and it seemed time hadn't mellowed her feelings.

Bridget finally broke her silence, "Miss Daley, your resume is quite impressive, but I'm afraid you might not be the right fit for us. We're looking for candidates with more experience. Also, did you receive the examination paper we sent earlier?"

Rachel retrieved the examination paper from her bag and handed it over, but as the male interviewer reviewed it, his brows knitted together.

"Bridget, did you send the wrong examination paper? This one is meant for experienced candidates."

It turned out that Bridget had intentionally sent the wrong test to Rachel, hoping to deter her from the interview.

Rachel saw through Bridget's façade. The woman had always been determined to thwart her progress. She sighed and said, "Well, it appears Miss Mooney might have made an error. Nonetheless, I've completed the examination."

Bridget bit her lip, disheartened by the revelation that Rachel had passed a test designed for seasoned professionals. The other two interviewers posed more questions, and Rachel handled them with ease.

After her departure, the two interviewers couldn't stop singing her praises. "She's a young, brilliant designer. Our company needs someone like her."

Bridget, however, threw Rachel's resume aside, her eyes aflame with anger and disdain. "She's not suitable for the Porter Group!"

Perplexed, one of the female interviewers questioned Bridget's motives. "Why, Bridget? Did something happen? You sent a test meant for experienced designers to a fresh graduate."

Bridget shrugged, feigning indifference. "I have no personal grudge against her."

Suspicion clouded the air as the other female interviewer picked up Rachel's resume. "Rachel seems like an outstanding candidate. Are you sure there's no personal bias at play here?"

Bridget nervously bit her lip. "Why would I hold a grudge against her? But, you see, there were rumors about Rachel during our college days. She's not as innocent as she appears. She used to snatch other people's boyfriends. I know her better than you guys. We can't risk recruiting her."

Her colleagues, unwilling to challenge her further, reluctantly agreed to her stance. "We trust your judgment, Bridget. If that's your opinion, we won't hire her. After all, she's just a fresh graduate. Rejecting her won't be a major setback. By the way, there's a fantastic Mexican restaurant across the street. We should try it out."

In the end, the talented Rachel found herself caught in the crossfire of personal vendettas and office politics, leaving her fate at the Porter Group hanging in the balance.
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
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Chapter 12 – "The Unemployment Chronicles"

Rachel found herself smack in the city center, while the Porter Group was conveniently nestled in the suburban maze. Her commute involved a bus odyssey that seemed to last a geological era, but finally, after two hours of traveling, she staggered back home. Her energy tank was running on empty, and she plopped onto the sofa, a human puddle of fatigue.

Bridget, her old college nemesis, had been nursing a grudge against Rachel since the campus days. Her resentment practically oozed out during the interview. So, it came as no surprise when Rachel received an email from the Porter Group's HR department, informing her of her interview failure.

Rachel rose and sauntered over to her laptop, her spirits undeterred. She knew there were plenty of fish in the corporate sea. With grit in her heart and a sandwich in hand, she combed through her emails, readying herself for the next round of interviews. Her stomach, however, had different plans; it growled louder than a bear in a library.

The day had been a whirlwind of interviews, and she hadn't found a moment to eat. She rustled up a sandwich and crunched through it as she continued scrolling through emails. Suddenly, the jingle of keys and the creak of the door signaled Dominic's entrance.

Dominic, in his black jacket and faded jeans, flopped onto the sofa, exhaling a profound sigh of weariness. His gaze landed on Rachel's resume and portfolio, carefully arranged on the table. "Job hunting?" he inquired, taking in her sandwich-munching demeanor.

Rachel, sandwich in her mouth, managed a nod. "Yep, graduated and all. Gotta pay those bills somehow. Want a sandwich?"

Dominic observed Rachel closely. Her simple yet elegant attire hinted at an art background. He couldn't help but notice her luscious lips as she took another bite. "Sure, I'll have one if you've got an extra."

Rachel slid a sandwich in front of him and seated herself opposite. Dominic's eyes caught a pamphlet from the Porter Group beneath her resume. He picked it up, glancing at her. "Porter Group interview, huh?"

Rachel, engrossed in her laptop, finished her sandwich with a final bite. "Yeah, but I didn't make the cut. Some grudges die hard," she replied with a shrug. "One of the interviewers was an old schoolmate, and she's been holding a grudge against me forever."

Dominic nodded, his face taking on a stern, contemplative look. He didn't quite understand why he was probing her, but then again, they were a married couple now, and curiosity seemed fair game. "Did they mention why you didn't get the job?"

Rachel paused, looking up at Dominic. His inquiry puzzled her, but they were in this together, weren't they? "They didn't say much, just that it wasn't my lucky day. Maybe my old schoolmate's vendetta had something to do with it."

Dominic couldn't abide injustice, especially when it affected someone as talented as Rachel. He decided to leave it at that, or so he told himself.

Rachel, after checking out a dozen other companies, began organizing the details of her interview for the next day. She stretched, surveying their compact abode. It might have seemed small, but it held a world of memories, a fusion of their pasts and their present.

The house bore witness to their shared journey, and Rachel decided it deserved some TLC. She embarked on a cleaning spree, determined to make it feel more like home. She collected scattered objects, tidied up shelves laden with memories, and carefully stacked magazines.

As she balanced a towering stack of magazines, she couldn't help but steal a glance at Dominic, who was napping on the sofa. From a distance, he looked like a model from a fashion magazine cover. She contemplated whether to enlist his help; after all, this was his house.

Just as she was mulling it over, Dominic's eyes fluttered open. Spotting Rachel's gaze, he cracked a smile. "You're making me self-conscious with that intense stare. Need any help?"

Rachel swiftly averted her gaze, feigning indifference to his good looks. "Well, you could head to the kitchen and tackle the dishes," she suggested, clearing her throat. "Those plates aren't going to clean themselves, you know."

Dominic, seemingly out of practice, made his way to the kitchen. His tousled hair lent him an air of rugged charm. Opening a cupboard, he contemplated the task ahead, recalling the days when he had helped his mother with similar chores during his childhood.

As Rachel continued to tidy up, she couldn't help but smile at the sight of Dominic diligently tackling the kitchen. Despite the rumors and stereotypes surrounding him, he proved to be a responsible partner who shared the household chores.

With a hummed tune and a revitalized home, Rachel was content. But her tranquility was shattered by a sudden crash from the kitchen. Rushing in, she found Dominic standing amidst shattered china, looking helplessly lost.

"I was just washing the dishes when they, um, decided to go on an adventure," he admitted, embarrassment evident.

It seemed Dominic's dishwashing skills were a bit rusty after more than a decade. Rachel, torn between laughter and frustration, began picking up the ceramic debris one piece at a time.

"I guess you missed the part where you're supposed to rinse these dishes with warm water—twice," she quipped, a mixture of amusement and affection in her eyes.

Dominic, humbled by his newfound domestic adventure, nodded sheepishly. "Noted for next time."
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
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Chapter 13 – "Home Makeover and Surprising Invitations"

Dominic casually handed her a sheet of paper towel, urging, "Go ahead and do your thing. I'll take care of the cleanup."

His concern for her well-being drove him to tidy up the mess he'd caused. Dominic efficiently finished the cleaning, wiped his hands, and exited the kitchen. But what met his eyes made him pause in astonishment.

The room now gleamed with spotless floors, wide-open windows bathing the space in sunlight, and a gentle afternoon breeze. The once disorganized cabinets and shelves stood in orderly fashion. Wild daisies and irises graced a previously empty, dusty vase on the dining table.

Rachel beamed with pride, holding a soda bottle in her hand as she asked, "What do you think? It feels different, doesn’t it? The house was clean enough before, but it was dull and a little depressing. It needed some life kicked back into it."

Dominic, unable to resist her infectious cheer, replied with a soft smile, "You're right. It does feel different. Just like it did in the past." His mother had a penchant for brightening their lives with small, meaningful gestures like placing flowers on the table, despite their modest circumstances.

Dominic hadn't truly felt at home since his mother's passing. For the first time in ages, he had found a place he could call home.

Observing him, Rachel remarked, "Your mother must have loved life very much."

Dominic's expression softened as he thought of his late mother. "Not your mother-in-law? Are you still getting used to the fact that I am your husband now?" He playfully retrieved a drink from the fridge, only to realize that Rachel had taken the last one.

"I… I'll be careful next time," Rachel admitted, slightly flustered by her thoughtless comment.

Dominic grabbed her soda and took a sip, not minding the indirect intimacy. "No worries. I was thirsty," he nonchalantly replied, causing Rachel's thoughts to drift to their almost-kiss.

With a hint of a smile, Dominic continued, "I'll be leaving now. I have matters to deal with this evening. Don't wait up for me."

The atmosphere grew quiet and intimate, leaving Rachel with flushed cheeks as she recalled their momentary connection.

The next morning, Rachel awoke to the shrill ringing of her alarm clock and noticed the slight depression on the sofa – Dominic had spent the night there. He had already left for the day, so Rachel focused on preparing for her upcoming interview.

While riding the subway to the company, she received an unexpected email from the Porter Group. It contained a formal apology, rescinding her previous failure notice and inviting her for another interview. Rachel couldn't believe it. "I've never heard of a failure notice being withdrawn before," she muttered in astonishment.

Determined to seize the opportunity, she went to the Porter Group for the second interview. She was led to the meeting room where she had a surprising encounter. All eyes turned towards Rachel as she entered, but before she could retreat, a voice called out, "You're in the right place, Miss Daley. Please come in and have a seat."

To her surprise, it was Kristian Higgins from the Porter Group, the vice president and a well-known playboy, who addressed her. Bridget, one of the previous interviewers, was also present and appeared hostile.

Confused and intrigued, Rachel listened as Kristian explained, "Bridget, you rejected Miss Daley on the grounds that she had moral issues, but we cannot simply take your word for it. Now, kindly tell us in detail what exactly is wrong with Miss Daley's character. It is only fair that you clarify things face-to-face, with us as your witnesses."
 

Junlee (aka 'Jungal2000')

Immortal Great Grandmaster - Dragon
Sep 4, 2023
2,126
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Chapter 14 – "Unmasking a Schemer"

Bridget rose from her seat, her anxiety evident on her face. She hadn't anticipated the storm her rejection of an applicant would cause. Who was Rachel, after all? She seemed like an ordinary person.

Over a dozen pairs of eyes focused on Bridget, waiting for her explanation. Nervously, she stammered, "I—I heard it from the others. When she was in university, she had sex with a...no, with several male students, and... In any case, they said that she is not as innocent and sweet as she appears. She—"

Kristian Higgins cut her off sharply, his tone stern, "Think carefully before you speak. Who did you hear it from? Give us the names of your informants, of the people involved, as well as the time and place of these incidents to prove these claims. We must clear this matter up once and for all. I don't want to find out later that you were judging potential candidates for the company based on hearsay. It's easy enough to investigate whether you are telling the truth or not. You will have to take responsibility for every word you say today. I don't think I have to remind you, Bridget, that there's a fine line between gossip and slander. It can easily turn into a legal matter."

Bridget froze, realizing that Kristian had already thoroughly investigated the matter. Panic set in as she understood the consequences of her actions. She had no way to save herself with lies now.

Facing the situation head-on, she lifted her chin, her eyes burning with resentment, and defiance, "I have no evidence. I only heard the rumors. I disliked her on the spot and didn't want her to work in the company, and that's why I said she has a moral issue."

Kristian's expression turned cold, and he rebuked her, "You made a subjective conjecture about another person based on rumors, and because of your personal feelings, you slandered and insisted on eliminating a perfectly capable applicant. In doing so, you almost cost the company a competent employee. It is obvious that you are unfit for a position in the Human Resources Department. The only person with moral issues here is you. Bridget Mooney, you are fired."

A tense silence hung over the room. Bridget's face lost all color, and she desperately begged, "I'm so sorry, Mr. Higgins! I know I was wrong. I've realized my mistakes. It was all my fault. Please, I've been working for the Porter Group since I graduated from university. Please, I beg you, let me go this once. If only for the sake of my years of hard work in the company."

Kristian remained unmoved by her plea. He instructed, "Call security and have them take Bridget Mooney out of the building."

As the guards escorted Bridget away, the room fell into another silence. Kristian turned his attention to Rachel, who was still in shock.

"Miss Daley," he said kindly, "you may continue your application process if you like. I have read your resume. You meet the requirements that the Porter Group has set for new graduates."

Rachel managed to nod in response, still trying to process everything that had just occurred.

Kristian smiled at her and added, "Thank you again for coming today. I have another meeting, so I will be leaving first."

As he left, Kristian winked at Rachel, piquing her interest. She was left alone in the room, slightly dazed.

As Rachel pondered the bizarre turn of events, a black Bugatti pulled up outside her house. The location was remote, far from the city, with only a few shabby houses around. The luxury car seemed out of place in this setting.

Dominic, the man in the backseat, put aside his documents and changed into a casual jacket. His assistant, Andy, questioned his frequent trips to this remote location, remarking, "You used to come here only once or twice a year, Boss. You have villas all over the city. You can just move into one of them with your wife. Why do you bother coming here every single day?"

Dominic responded with a cold glare, "You've been awfully talkative lately. Do you have so much free time on your hands? If you have nothing better to do, you might as well clean up and tend to my other villas."

Andy immediately fell silent, realizing he had spoken out of turn.

Dominic got out of the car and disappeared from view, leaving Andy to berate himself for his loose tongue.
 

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