Chapter 3 - Convenient Marriage: Mr. Nelson's Love Trap

After trying on the dress, Dolores stepped out of the changing room and once again looked toward the changing room where the man and woman had been speaking. The door was tightly closed.

“That dress suits you well. It matches your temperament.”

The salesperson had good judgment and taste in fashion; she could pick clothes that fit her customers by just looking at them. The long pale blue dress Dolores wore made her skin look even paler. The ribbon around her waist highlighted her slim figure. She was underweight, but it just made her look more delicate.

Feeling satisfied with the dress choice, Randolph went to pay for the dress. He then only realized the dress cost nearly five thousand dollars. However, since it was the Nelson family she was going to meet, Randolph gritted his teeth and paid the money. He then turned to Dolores and spoke to her in an icy voice.

“Let’s go.”

Dolores had felt his cruelty for many years, both as a child and after he abandoned her, yet his indifference still made her uncomfortable and caused her heart to ache. She lowered her head and followed him to the car.

After an uncomfortable ride in silence, the car soon stopped at the main entrance of the Flores villa. The chauffeur opened the door for Randolph. Randolph got out of the car and Dolores followed close behind.

Standing in front of the villa, Dolores was in a trance for a few seconds. While she and her mother had been struggling to scrape by because of her brother’s condition, her father was happily living in a stylish villa, enjoying life with the other woman. Dolores couldn’t help but clench her fists.

“Why are you still standing there?”

Having sensed that Dolores was not following him, Randolph turned and saw her stupefied expression as she stood at the entrance. Dolores hurried after him. Hearing from the maids that the Nelson family still hadn’t arrived, Randolph let Dolores wait in the living room.

They placed a piano near the French window in the living room. It was a Seidel piano and was made in Germany. The price was exorbitant. Her mother bought it for Dolores’ fifth birthday. Dolores liked piano since she was a baby and started learning piano when she was four and a half years old. After Randolph had sent them away, Dolores hadn’t had another opportunity to play. She couldn’t help but reach out and touch it, feeling familiar and excited at the same time. She lightly pressed a key and a melodious tinkle rang through the room. Because she had not played it for a long time, her fingers were very stiff.

“Who allowed you to touch my piano?” a clear and angry voice called from behind.

Her piano? Dolores turned and saw Annabelle Flores standing behind her, fists clenched. Dolores remembered Annabelle was one year younger than her and recently turned seventeen. She had inherited her mother, Beulah Shawn’s, good looks. Though the way she had contorted face made her looked quite ferocious at the moment.

“Your piano?”

Beulah and Annabelle had destroyed her mother’s marriage and spent the money that was supposed to be theirs. And now even Dolores’ piano had been also theirs? Dolores slowly clenched her fists and kept on telling herself not to act on impulse. She still had to wait to regain the things that rightfully belonged to her and her mother. She had to endure it! She was no longer the little girl that only knew how to cry after being abandoned by her father eight years ago, she had grown up!

“You’re… Dolores Flores?” Annabelle only then remembered that today was the day the Nelson family was arriving and her father had brought Dolores and her mother back here.

Annabelle could still remember Dolores’s pitiful look when Randolph was sending them abroad. She knelt on the ground and wrapped her arms around Randolph’s leg, begging him not to send her away.

“I’m sure you’re thrilled that you were able to guilt your farther into bringing you back,” Annabelle scoffed, crossing her arms in front of her chest and staring at Dolores with contempt. “You shouldn’t be happy though, as the reason Dad brought you back was only so you would marry the son of the Nelson family instead of me. It’s said that the son—”

As she spoke, Annabelle covered her mouth and jeered. She couldn’t help but gloat over Dolores’ misfortune that she had to marry a disabled man. Marriage was a huge life event. Having to marry such a man would mean the rest of her life was ruined.

Dolores frowned, but before she could say anything, a maid walked in.

“The Nelson family is here.”

Randolph welcomed them personally at the door and led them into the living room. Dolores turned and saw a man in a wheelchair being wheeled inside. He had defined facial features and a charming look. Even though he was wheelchair-bound, nobody showed him any contempt.

Seeing his face, Dolores realized he was the man who was flirting with the woman at the boutique. Was he the eldest son of the Nelson family? Back at the changing room, she had seen quite clearly that he could stand up when he put her arms around the woman. He hadn’t been using her for strength at all either. What was going on?

While Dolores was still figuring out why Matthew was pretending he was disabled, Randolph called her over.

“Dolores, come here. This is the eldest son of the Nelson family.” He then bowed in respect and a maid brought over a chair so Randolph could be the same height as Matthew. “Mr. Nelson, this is Lola.”

Randolph felt sorry that a dignified man with such charming looks had become disabled.

Matthew’s eyes fell onto Dolores and gauged she was still at a young age. Noticing how skinny Dolores was, most likely from malnutrition, he wrinkled his eyebrows. This was a marriage arranged by his late mother. As a son, he could not break the promise in good conscience. And it was because of that, he spread the word that he could not be detoxified and had become paralyzed after being bitten by the venomous snake abroad, just to make the Flores family change their mind. However, the Flores family didn’t do so.

Matthew fell into silence and his expression fell. Randolph thought Matthew was dissatisfied with Dolores and quickly explained. “She’s still young and has just turned eighteen. If she could have a good life, she must be a beauty.”

Matthew sneered to himself. He couldn’t tell whether Dolores was a beauty or not, but he did sense Randolph’s peculiar behavior, and the fact that he wanted to marry his daughter to him so much he didn’t even care that he was a “cripple.”

With an icy look, he lifted one of his eyebrows. “I was injured during my business trip abroad and I’m afraid I can no longer walk. I can’t fulfill a husband’s duty—”

“I don’t mind that,” Dolores replied instantly.

Randolph had promised her that as long as she surrendered to the marriage, he would return her mother’s dowry. Even if it meant marrying Matthew and getting divorced the next day, Dolores would agree to that. With a moment to ponder everything, Dolores had understood Matthew’s true desires. He could stand, yet he chose to sit on a wheelchair and she guessed it was because of the woman

Dolores had seen him with. He didn’t want to keep his promise to his mother and wanted the Flores family to terminate the arrangement. Yet, he hadn’t expected Randolph was willing to sacrifice his one unloved daughter to fulfill the promise.

Matthew narrowed his eyes and gazed at her. A chill ran down Dolores’ spine from his gaze and bitterness coated her tongue. Why would she want to marry him? If she didn’t agree to the marriage, she would most likely be sent away again and would never retrieve her mother’s fortune or her piano.

Dolores pulled up the corner of her lips and forced out a smile. She was the only one that knew the bitterness behind the smile. “We’re destined to marry each other since we were children. Therefore, no matter what happens to you, we’re already married. There’s a reason ‘in sickness and in health’ is in the wedding vows”

Matthew’s eyes grew darker and Dolores had to resist the urge to shrink away. Matthew had to admit that Dolores was good at talking.

Randolph, not sensing anything amiss, carefully asked, “So, regarding the wedding date—”

Matthew’s expression changed in a split second and went back to looking calm and demuring. “According to the arrangement, it was already decided between two families, how could we break the promise?”

Dolores lowered her eyes and didn’t dare to look at him. He was as unhappy with the arrangement as she was, perhaps more so. His consent was merely because a promise was a promise.

“That’s great.”

Randolph was delighted to hear the news. To connect to the Nelson family via an insignificant daughter was certainly a good thing. Although the Flores family was rich, it was no match for the Nelson’s.

Randolph stood and bowed deeply to Matthew. “I’ve asked my chef to prepare dinner, please have a meal here before leaving.”

Matthew frowned, disgusted by Randolph’s going-after-wealth-and-power behavior.

“No, thank you. I still have some things to deal with.,” he said, rejecting the offer and waiting for Abbott Baron to push him outside in the wheelchair.

Upon passing by Dolores, he raised his hand gesturing Abbott to stop, and lifted his eyes. “Is Miss Flores free afterward?”

Randolph stood and bowed deeply to Matthew. “I’ve asked my chef to prepare dinner, please have a meal here before leaving.” Matthew frowned, disgusted by Randolph's going-after-wealth-and-power behavior. “No, thank you. | still have some things to deal with.,” he said, rejecting the offer and waiting for Abbott Baron to push him outside in the wheelchair. Upon passing by Dolores, he raised his hand gesturing Abbott to stop, and lifted his eyes. “Is Miss Flores free afterward?”