The Thorn and the Rose

Chapter 1: Meeting Mary

Aaron Payne

She’s… beautiful.

I thought as I skim her pure and innocent face from the photo on my hand.

“What do you think about her, boss?” Said my personal driver, looking at me from the rearview mirror.

I sighed, “She’s just 18, Roy. Too young.

“And what’s wrong with the 10-year age gap?” He argued, “You’re at the perfect age for marriage, yet you’re still single. You don’t even play with women.” He eyed me when the car stopped at a red light.

“I don’t want to ruin someone else’s youth just because our parents had this stupid promise of marrying their children together. They should’ve thought of that when Ms. Rose got pregnant 10 years late.” My head shook as I threw the picture away.

Mr. Roy shrugged before continuing to drive. “Who knows, Mr. Payne? You might save the young girl from her suffering.

My brows furrowed, “What do you mean save her from suffering?

“Oh, haven’t you heard?

I shook my head, “No, I’m afraid not.

The old man deeply sighed, “I guess we still have a few more minutes to get there. Let me tell you what I’ve heard.

It didn’t take long until we arrived at the Hotel where Mr. and Mrs. Rose booked the reservation. On the way here, Mr. Roy shared some interesting information about the couple, which I find difficult to believe.

They didn’t seem like it and I’m about to prove that tonight. When I was little, they were very kind to me, so I don’t know what other people are talking about. Especially in this case.

I dusted my suit as I walk towards the restaurant inside the five-star Hotel.

As soon as I entered the private room reserved for us, they all stood up to greet me with a smile.

“Aaron, my boy!” Mr. Rose came to me and cheerfully gave me a strong embrace.

I warmly greeted him back, “It’s nice to see you again, Uncle.

He gave me a pat on the back before pulling away, “You’ve grown into a fine good man.” He complimented, “Come, take a seat!

They left an empty seat right across Mary. Oh, she was stunning. Her hair was long down to her waist and she was wearing the most minimal makeup I have ever seen in my life.

I gave her a small smile before taking my seat.

Her parents rambled while waiting for the food to come. They told how both our parents met and how heartbroken they were when they heard the bad news of their passing. Of course, they highlighted tonight’s reason for this formal dinner. And that was for me and Mary’s arranged marriage.

Thank goodness the food came because me and Mary were becoming more and more uncomfortable… or was it only me?

“You’re currently single, right?” Mr. Rose asked.

I nodded, “Yes, sir.

“Then that’s great! It’ll be easier to arrange the wedding date.” He chewed his steak.

“The sooner, the better!” Barged Mrs. Rose, and I saw Mary’s eyes widened at her mother.

She looked very uncomfortable throughout dinner and I could see her body shaking here and there.

For some reason, I didn’t know why I acted hurriedly when I saw her, “M-Mrs. Rose—”

“Oh come on, dear. You may call me ‘Mom’ from now on.” She let out an ugly laugh.

I gulped, “I-I was wondering… I was wondering if we can call off the wedding—”

“What?” Mr. Rose sounded angry. “You dare break your father and I’s wish?

“Oh, no no…” I shook my hand, “With all due respect, Mr. Rose. It’s not what I meant.” I looked over at Mary, and for the first time tonight, I saw her eyes gleam with hope.

Hope not to get married. I pitied her. She’s just 18.

“I just meant that…” I thought, “…won’t Mary be distracted from her studies and school activities? Being a wife in her age is… difficult.

After looking at one another, Mr. and Mrs. Rose chuckled. Mary went back to eating her dish.

“Oh, you don’t need to worry about that, hun!” Mrs. Rose waved her hand, “Our dear Mary here didn’t want to go to college, isn’t that right, sweetheart?

Surprised with the unexpected comment regarding college, my enlarged eyes fell upon Mary to confirm. It took her a few seconds before she lifelessly nodded her head.

“See?” Mrs. Rose then placed her hand at Mary’s back. “You don’t have to worry, Aaron. Mary was educated since the day she was born. Me and Mr. Rose here made sure to perfectly prepare her for her future… which is to marry you.


Just in time before my jaw drops, my phone rang. I immediately excused myself and went out of the room to take the call.

Thank goodness! That phone call has saved me! I needed some space from those two psycho parents. They were such scary people! It made me wonder how my parents even kept their friendship. I bet these two forced m parents for the arranged marriage.

I went to the toilet to freshen up a little, that conversation was stressing me out.

Just when I was about to leave the comfort room, I then heard some echoes from the women’s toilet and the voices sounded familiar.

“What did I tell you to do today, hmm?

Hearing Mrs. Rose’s voice, I decided to take a few steps back and try to listen. It took a moment before a reply echoed.

“To look pretty and convince Mr. Payne in marriage.

My brows shot up. That’s some… loving motherly reminder. Is this even real?

“You’re missing something, Mary…” Mrs. Rose said through her gritted teeth.

“I must smile the whole time—”


I flinched in shock, just in time to cover my mouth from gasping. Her mother really knows how to keep a conversation private, yes.

“I’m sorry, mother.” Mary lifelessly replied.

I heard a scoff, “You better be… Tsk, this is why Mr. Payne is having second thoughts about marrying you. Every rich gentleman wants a beautiful, sweet, smiling young girl for them. Now get back there and flash your pearly whites!

With hurried steps out from the toilet, I went back to the private room seconds before the mother and daughter came.

“Oh, Mr. Payne.” Coos the mother sweetly who just burst out in anger a few seconds ago. “You are back.

I nodded but my eyes were glued at Mary, “Yes.

Mary sat back down on her seat and this time… she was smiling at me, beautifully. She’s gorgeous. Who wouldn’t fall in love with such innocent eyes and sweet smile? But damn…

Whatever happened back there, I’m sure her mom threatened her or something to get her pearly whites out. This is wrong. Everything is wrong.

Interrupting my thoughts, Mr. Rose spoke with glee, “Now, going back to where we were talking about—"

“I would like to speak to Ms. Mary alone.” My lips blurted out before I could even stop it. There was something in her that I wanted to know, something to confirm.

I turned my head to look at both of her parents who had their eyes widened and brows shot up to their foreheads. “You… You do?


“B-But we can’t leave you two—” Mr. Rose was about to stop my request until his wife’s hand held his wrist.

My eyes shifted to her who was smirking, “Of course you may, my dear. Me and Mr. Rose planned to stay the night here in this wonderful hotel, but I guess…” She took out a card from her purse and effortlessly placed it on the table, “You’ll be needing it more than we do.” Mrs. Rose smirked.

I sent her a smile, “Thank you.” Then I looked at Mary who was just smiling and not even showing any emotions. I cocked a brow, “Shall we?

She was just smiling back at me before nodding once.

There is definitely something wrong with her— or with her parents.

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