Chapter 4: PARIS! Need More to Say?
Disclaimer: I do not own Sailor Moon!
Serena swatted the annoying tap from her shoulder with the flick of her fingers. She was having an incredible time in dreamland and did not wish to return to reality yet. However, whoever was bothering her now would definitely get a piece of her mind as soon as she opened her eyes.
"Serena, wake up." An impatient voice rang out through her mind as she refused to acknowledge the sound. However, the second comment had done it.
"God, you sleep like a dead pig."
Serena's eyes snapped opened as she glared angrily at the source of her annoyance, which currently is Darien's handsome face. He only grinned at her slightly before he winked and replied her cold glare with a simple, "We're almost landing. I thought you might want to freshen up a bit."
Serena grumbled slightly as she grabbed her change of clothing before stomping toward the bathroom with a definite pout on her face as she tried to ignore Darien's obvious amusement to her predicament. Serena slammed the door before she washed her face and brushed her teeth. She looked completely disarrayed as her once silky blond hair, signature of one of the famous hair stylist in New York, was now in unrecognizable clumps. Serena dried her face with one of the hand towel on the rack and sighed. She looked slightly rested and the dark circles under her eyes were almost gone. Taking out a designer concealer from her purse, she quickly dabbed some onto the area and rubbed it to blend in with her skin tone. She had to admit that she looked better, though she rarely use any make up. It had always puzzled her why women go to great length to avoid looking like human for day-to-day function in society.
"Then again, most women do not pose as a pretend wife to some Adonis god either."
Serena exited the bathroom and tiptoed to the adjacent bedroom where she deposited the change of clothes. It had amazed her how a normal jet could be turn into a luxury air travel. She was used to traveling in planes where there were rows of chairs for many passengers, not a private jet with every luxury there is to satisfy one needs. The life of the rich was something that she would never get used too. Of course, she should act like it though because of whom she pretended to be married too, and Darien was definitely a high-class person.
Serena spotted the clothes and grinned slightly. Of course, the upside of this whole scheme was the mega-shopping spree Darien had insisted she go on. Serena, being the lady that she was, could not turn down such a generous offer. Then again, who in their right mind would turn down any shopping spree when the money is not from their own pocket?
Serena changed into a pair of knee length skirt and a soft cashmere top. She brushed her hair thoroughly and slipped on a pair of two inches of heels. It was simple clothing but elegant.
Walking out of the bedroom, Serena found the said man once again engrossed in his paperwork. Does he ever rest? Serena snorted softly. If from what she found out from movies and books, businessmen are all workaholics and only has one goal in mind: make a lot of money. As if he needed any more money than he can spend. He once told her that his net worth was somewhere around fifty five billion dollars. Serena was genuinely confused as to why would anyone have that much money? If they die, would the money be burn with them?
Business was hard stuff.
"So, what do you think?" Serena said after she finally realized that Darien was not going to pick his head up from the bunch of papers and pay any attention to her.
Darien lifted his gaze from his work and dismissed her just as quickly before he swung his gaze back to her again. Serena wanted to burst out laughing when he cleared his throat a couple of times.
"If it's ugly, I could go back and change." Serena offered in what she hoped to be a polite tone.
"No—ah—you look—fine." he finally mumbled out. Serena was at her limit. She know that she looked just a bit glamorous than her regular self, and Darien seemed to think so too.
"Aren't you going to change?" she asked as she took a seat across from him and picked up one of the magazine and flipped casually through the page. "If you ask me, this whole dress to impress thing is a bit overrated. I mean, they already know that you have money, any more decorative front you put on, it's just kind of look like you're showing off your wealth."
Darien chuckled. "That's the point. The wealth is all that count. Dressing accordingly is just one of the benefits to spend your money. You can wage that any party you going to encounter in Paris would no doubt be full of women in expensive gowns and dripping with diamonds and men in their dashing suits."
Serena wrinkled her nose. "Why waste your money on materialistic objects when you could help the poor? There's certainly enough wealth to go around, don't you think?"
Darien shrugged. "There are always charity fundraisers all year round that I get invited too. Nothing like you expected to be."
"Somehow, I get the feeling it's not really for the good of the poor." Serena said with disgust.
"You're right. It is not for the poor in a sense of speaking. Women throw parties like fundraiser to let the paparazzi know that they're doing something useful for society while their motives are hidden."
"You know from experience?"
"You could say that. I had dated many women who have the same idealistic theory that as long as you pose yourself as Mother Theresa, people will portray you as one too."
"Kind of sick, don't you think?" Serena joked.
"Absolutely. My mother would agree wholeheartedly." Darien said with a chuckle.
"Oh well, I'm just glad I do not live in that kind of world. It probably molds me into someone like you." Serena teased with a dramatic roll of her eyes.
"You mean someone like me with a dashing look and extremely intelligent? Why, I am very flattered." He said with a mock surprise on his face while one of his hands was over his heart.
Serena suppressed a giggle. The man was hopeless.
They landed fifteen minutes later. Serena took a moment to appreciate the sight of Paris. Never in her life would she ever imagine that she would step foot in Paris. The illuminating lights from the city were incredible as the full moon from above lend a sense of peace. The night wind sends a gentle chill down her spine but Serena was utterly absorbed in the sight that she did not noticed it.
Darien gave her the time she needed as something struck him how much he takes many things fro granted. He was used to traveling in luxuries and money was just a mean to an end for him. He did not have a hard childhood, his parents had never abused him and he never had to prove himself to anyone until he took over the reign of the Moretti Industries. Still, in his eight years of working, there were very few times when people had dared to challenge him. It made him think of how people like Serena appreciates the simplicities and beauties of little things in everyday life and does not takes them for granted.
The sleek black limo was parked at the foot of the jet and Serena found herself climbing into the car with its rich black Italian leather seats. She had trained herself to get used to all of the expensive stuffs that the rich had provided but for someone like her from the lower class working family, it was a huge change and acting like this is an everyday things was a little unsettling.
Being born into a lower class was not something that bothers her much. Growing up with two parents who fought all of the time was. Serena went to school just like everyone else but neither of her parents ever picked her up and to be truthful, she was embarrassed of the way they behaved. She used to fantasize about loving family and all of the craps that she had seen on television about the complete family bits. It had lured her into a wrong sense of hope for a girl her age since something as good as that would never happen to her. In a way, growing up without anyone to look after her had taught her how to fend for herself. She toughened her mentality even though her physical skill was sorely lacking but she made do. Running from thugs and drunken men like her father was part of a daily routine for her growing up. She was not from a decent neighborhood in Chicago. The place that she used to live was straight out of a slum. Dirty streets and robbery was a daily routine while prostitutes and hookers made their spot regularly across from her rented apartment. She had seen the way men treated those women and it was never something Serena describe as gentle.
Her father had always predicted that she would not ended up better during his drunken days. Even though he was not conscious of what he said to her, Serena found that her father was a bastard just like the rest of the people that he hung out with. She remembered those days when her tiny run down apartment filled with men and bottles of liquors scattered everywhere. Her tiny closet was her domain in those days. A place where she was safely hidden until those men are gone for the night. Sometimes, she would fall asleep through the night and wake up the next morning to find her own father passed out in the bathroom.
Money was a problem for her as well. She never had new clothes when school starts and her meals were usually what she could scrape from the nearly empty fridge. She was skinny as a bat back then yet it did not bother her. She did not need to eat to be full, she just need to keep herself from starving.
It never occurred to her that she needed to get out of this place until she was fifteen. Walking down the dirty street of her neighborhood, she spotted a prostitute being beaten badly by a group of men. She had hid behind a trashcan and cried silently for the broken woman on the floor as the men laughed cruelly at her state. They had beaten her until she stopped moving, blood covered the grimy ground as they finally left her alone and got into their fancy car and drove away. Serena had tentatively walked toward the fallen woman and gasp. Her face was nearly unrecognizable as her dirty blond hair matted with dirt and blood fanned out around her. The sight had disgusted Serena so much yet she could not look away. Visions of herself being in the same state invaded her mind as she saw herself lying on the floor, blood covering her body from head to toe as faceless people walked passed her without batting an eye.
The sight horrified Serena so much that she puked her guts out. It never struck her how finally looking at things more closely around her revealed so much pain. She always dismissed bad things out of her mind because she did not want to be the one who feel the pain of others. She pretended to be naïve to live in her fantasy world, but reality was always there and it took her long enough to figure out if she continue to live like this, her future was the going to be the same thing as those women standing on street corners in their revealing outfits to trap men.
It did not take her long to run home and gather what little she possessed along with the two hundred dollars cash her father hidden to buy his booze. Leaving home was easy enough since her father was once again dead drunk. Serena did not feel any remorse leaving him on the floor. The only though that ran through her mind at the time was how she was going to change herself for the best. It did not matter to her where she came from or who her parents are, she was her own person and she was going to do things the way she seen fit. With a smile, she pulled the door close and walked out of the slums for good.
It took quite some times for her to find a decent place to live in. She worked as underage waitress at some local restaurants full time until she was seventeen before she enrolled in a program that helped her finished and get her high school degree. She did not attend college because of the lack of finance and work had taken most of her time, but she was happy. She moved out of the apartment two years ago to another place where she found another job slightly better than her old one.
She had come a long way, which she knows. She was faced with countless hardships and she was proud of herself. She thanked every god that decides to give her determination to get through this. Serena jerked out of her reverie when she felt a light touch on her cheek. Darien was sitting right besides her with a concern look on his face while his fingers were brushing lightly against the warm skin of her cheek.
"What are you thinking about?" he said quietly.
Serena smiled then sniffed. "Just something." She was surprised to find a single drop of tear falling onto his hand then she noticed that her eyes were unexpectedly wet. She had been crying this whole time and did not even know it! "I—I was—not crying. There's—''
"Something in your eyes?" he supplied helpfully. Serena nodded mutely as she accepted the crisp handkerchief he handed her from his breast pocket.
"Where are we?" Serena asked as she looked out of the dark tinted window of the limo.
"The countryside. We should be there in about twenty minutes or so. You could catch a nap."
"No. I might sleep through the whole night." She joked lightly trying to dispel the tears. He nodded mutely and opened his mouth only to close it. He looked like he really wanted to ask her something but thought better of it.
They arrived at the country estate twenty minutes later. Serena was awed by how huge the place was and it was stunning. It looked like something straight out of a fairy tale book. The whole estate was decorated with amber lights that lit up the whole place. Gardens and flowers adorned the sideways as a sound of rushing water lured by the wind was faintly heard over the night.
"It's beautiful." Serena whispered quietly to Darien. He only chuckled.
"This is one of the famous castles in France—and this whole castle would undoubtedly undermine when you meet the woman of the house." He scoffed lightly. Serena giggled at his gesture.
"You sounded like this woman is going to pop out and jump you or something." She teased before Darien stifled a groan.
"You spoke too soon." He muttered before nodding his head toward the general direction of the stairs. Serena followed his gaze and gasp. There stood a stunning woman with a head full of golden blond hair in a blood red dress.
"Holy shit. Is she real?" Serena blurted out as the woman began to make her way over to them with a huge smile on her face.
"She's real alright. You better do you job and act like a jealous wife all the way." Darien warned before placing his arm around her waist and pulled her close.
"I'm not used to acting jealous." Serena pondered aloud.
"Well, you can do possessive, right. Just think that you are stuck in a desert and there is only one bottle of water left. That water represents me. So in a sense of speaking, you better guard me with your life."
Serena stifled her laugh. Darien looked genuinely scared.
"Kay. I'll do my best." Serena assured.
"Your best better be good because here she come." Darien mumbled, as the woman in red was three feet away.
"Bienvenue, Darien. Cela a été une longue période de temps." The woman said smoothly in French.
"Oui, il a été. Antoinette, may I introduce my wife, Serena Moretti." Darien switched back to English as he pulled Serena closer to his side. "Serena, this is Antoinette Beaufort."
"I am please to meet you." Serena spoke slowly, closely examining the woman's expression.
"Oui, I am very please to meet you too." Antoinette spoke in perfect English. "Darien, I did not know you were married." Antoinette turned to Darien, surprised.
"You did not give me a chance to tell you." Darien remarked dryly.
Antoinette laughed gleefully. "Ah yes. I hope I did not scare you." She said before turning to Serena. "You seem to be tired. Let us go inside and freshen up. My father is waiting for you in the dining room."
They walked up the stone steps into the waiting grand hall. Chandeliers and antiques polished furniture surrounded the room. Darien looked unperturbed compare to Serena's wide eye wonder. How could anyone house look like a decorative museum and that is exactly what this castle was: A cold museum.
The woman, Antoinette, however was a complete contrast to the cold hall. She was radiant in her blood red dress that clung to her like a second skin. The undulating of her hips as she walked was a hard thing to go unnoticed and Serena was hard press to find out how in the world could anyone walked like that with a five inches of heels on their feet. It was obvious that she had a lot of practice with them. She glanced at Darien to find him looking as bored as ever. He did not even notice the stunning Antoinette that walked in front of them. Talk about a blow to the girl's pride.
They stopped before a double solid oak door, Antoinette turned the knob, and the door slid open. Once again, it was just as a grand as the rest of the castle but Serena was just as amaze as the rest.
"Father, Darien and his bride is here."
A man in his late sixties with a pipe in his mouth started toward them with a grin on his face. "Moretti, I haven't seen you in a while." He spoke in French as he clasped his stubby fingers on Darien's back.
"How have you been, Monsieur Beaufort?" Darien replied in kind, as he returned the similar gesture toward the older man. In another seat beside the window was another beautiful woman in her fifties but looked much younger, decked out in dark green gown and a head full of light brown hair. It was obvious that this woman was undoubtedly Antoinette's mother.
"Darien. It's been ages since I last seen you." She said in a friendly tone as she stepped forward next and embraced him warmly. She parted a moment later as she signaled her daughter over. "Annie has been restless waiting for you for the past few days." She said rather nicely with a displaced glance at the petite blond woman besides Darien. He was uninterested enough to miss the exchanged glance but Serena caught the meaning. Oh, yes. She had better watch out for both mother and daughter.
"Clarice. It was a long day in the states." Darien replied smoothly, and then he gently pulled Serena to his side and placed a comfortable arm around her slim waist. "But I could not wait to see the sight of France again. This is my wife's first time in France. Serena is really excited to come."
Serena rolled her eyes mentally. Oh hell, this was it. She had better be convincing or they would not be able to pull this off. Darien was eager enough to slip into his role and doing a fine job at it too. It was as if he had always had a wife to introduce to his partner. Serena had seen the venomous glare radiating from the older woman and she was almost con into thinking that it was not really Antoinette Darien should watch out for.
"I've been dying to get out of Darien's office for days." Serena said with an affectionate pat on his arm, which he returned in kind.
"I'm sure that there are plenty of things for you to discover while you're here." Annie said with a gracious smile.
"I'm sure there are." Serena replied in kind. She found Annie to be exactly the opposite of what she been described as and Serena was quick to access any bad apples from the good. Living in her kind of world for years, it was necessarily for her to do so. She had come up with two possible solutions. Either Annie was genuinely her perky self or she was a very good actor.
"Annie, why don't you show Darien and Mrs. Moretti to her room? I'm sure she would like to freshen up before dinner." Clarice suggested as she looked at her daughter pointedly. Annie nodded her head.
"right this way." She said.
Serena smiled at the pair before she and Darien sauntered after Annie out the door.
Their bedroom was on the third floor of the mansion. Serena was starting to get the feeling of creepiness as they get further and further away from the stairs. How could anyone stand being in this gigantic place? It was probably haunted or something. Whatever the case, Serena made a mental note to pray for the spirit before she went to bed. After all, better be safe than sorry.
The bedroom was enormous as Serena entered and took a quick glance around. Darien closed the door behind them after assuring Annie that he knows where the dining room was. He let out a sigh as he leaned against the door and stared at a wide-eyed Serena.
"Antique and interesting, right?" Darien said as Serena turned to look at him.
"Actually, I'm more concern about dead spirits. Are there any here?" she asked in a casual tone.
Darien's lips twitched lightly. "Actually, Monsieur Beaufort last five generation lived and died here. That's about at least hundreds of dead spirits if you look at it that way."
Serena looked extremely horrified as her expression dared him to be serious. For a good measure, Darien added, "I'm pretty sure this bedroom used to belong to his great-great-grandmother. Rumors had it that she was the insane one after she killed her husband violently by stabbing his heart multiple times then throw him off the cliff because he cheated on her."
Serena however, had stopped listened to him after she heard 'killed and stabbed and cliff' because she had already took out her cell phone and dialed the closest airport for a flight back to Chicago. Darien laughed silently as he walked to her and easily plucked the device out of her shaking hands.
"I was teasing." He finally relented as Serena already closed to tears. She glared at him venomously and punched him on the shoulder none too lightly.
"Well, it was not funny one bit." She snapped. "I was really scared."
"My apologies." He said, his tone was not serious. "We better get changed." He urged. "The bathroom is yours and I will change in the closet." He said before walking toward their suitcase and took out some clothes appropriate for the dining. Serena nodded as her eyes stared dubiously at the bathroom. Darien did say he was teasing, but about which one? Was he referring to the dead spirits or the crazy dead woman? Well, whichever one, she decided that she should pray to all before she go to bed tonight and every other night that she would spend in this room. After all, she did not want to offend anyone. Dead or alive.
Grabbing her change of clothes, she went into the bathroom and switched the lights on. It was just as elegant as the rest of the house, but Serena did not spared a glance at all of the antique stuff as she quickly changed into a soft empire waist beige satin knee length dress. It was simple yet exquisite at the same time. Serena especially loved the black satin ribbon tying across the empire waistline that formed a ribbon at her back. She decided to leave her hair down. It was already in big curls that she did not have to waste time plugging in the curling iron and do it over again. To complete the outfit, Serena slipped on a pair of beige heels that was about three inches high. It made her 5'5 inch looked slightly taller. Of course, if she was going to stand next to Darien, she was going to need more than three inches of heels to reach his shoulder. The man was easily 6'3.
Serena spotted him already changed into his dinner attire and long day of travel or not, he stilled look gorgeous in his black pants that molded into his thighs quite nicely. Serena found herself craning her neck to follow the direction of his moving rear. Nice ass. Serena snapped at herself mentally as she realized what she had just thought. "I did not just think that…I did not just think that Darien has a nice butt—although he does."
Urgh! She hated ghost stories. It messed up her mind bad.
"So what do you think?" his voice cut through her hazy mind. Serena stared dumbly at Darien as he stared at her.
"Pardon?" she asked.
Darien grinned. "You have been staring at my ass since you came out from the bathroom. So, what do you think? On the classic scale from one to ten." He said with a wicked grin on his face. Serena's face exploded into crimson color as she muttered something under her breath that sounded suspiciously like 'egotistical jerk and irritable businessmen' followed by Darien's laughter.
Despite the anger Serena felt, they both entered the dining room presenting a flawless picture of a happy husband and wife. They both took their seat as Serena caught Clarice annoyed gaze. Clearly, they had interrupted something as Annie bowed her head low. Serena was starting to think that Annie really has no part in the matter.
They exchanged small talks around the table until the foods were served. It was full of French delicacies as Serena tried her best to distinguished what kind of things she was about to eat.
"So, Darien, Serena. You never told us where you went for your honeymoon." John said after he sipped his wine. Serena found out that Monsieur Beaufort actually does have an actual first name.
They both replied in unison before looking uncomfortably at one another. John and his family were looking at them confusedly.
"We went to Hawaii first before jetting to England." Darien amended easily as he sipped his wine.
"Ah. I see." John replied before the conversation resume to a lighter subject. Serena found Annie was simply sweet and a little on the naïve side, but she still stuck to her first impression of the woman and decide to monitor her for the rest of the stay. She also found out that there are also two stables and at least twenty horses for the guests to ride and tour around the estate. Serena eagerly accepts the invitation to early morning ride with Annie, much to Darien's dismay. The dinner was finished followed by dessert before they all resume to the drawing room to end the night with hot chocolates. John and Darien seemed to be in deep conversation and Serena, Annie and Clarice was in their own world. Serena was unprepared for the questions that Clarice shot at her in rapid speed intending on finding out every fact on her married life before the night close in. she was praying with all of her soul to let this dinner disaster end already or otherwise she was liable to shot Clarice and burn her remain in the backyard. The woman was simply incorrigible.
Finally, Darien excused himself from John and led her back into the bedroom. Serena was more than happy to get away from the Beauforts and looking forward to rest in the huge comfortable bed that they had provided. She still remembered her praying toward the dead before sleeping in the room also. She changed into a pair of pajama bottoms that has a picture of cherries scattered across the fabric, her very own collection, and a white tank top. Darien had loosened his tie and lost his jacket was neatly piled on the back of an antique chair. He was on his cell phone with someone and he was speaking his foreign language: Italian. Figures, Serena rolled her eyes as she walked toward the vanity and picked up a brush to comb her hair. Her eyes traveled toward Darien's form as he paced back and forth across the carpeted floor.
"He's not that sexy." Serena mused as her eyes traveled from the tip of his sock covered toes up to his long legs clad in a pair of black fitting trouser, to the muscular upper body that was visible even in shirt. "Shit. He is sexy." Her inner being shouted before Serena sighed aloud. She really needs to get out and meet more men. Simply staying with Darien would definitely raise her standard in men off the chart and she was pretty sure that no one could ever come close to him. Setting the brush aside, she got up and walked toward the bed when something hit her.
There is only one bed.
Oh. My. God.
That little fact had managed to slip through her mind with all of the commotion that was going on. First of all, she had never shared a bed with anyone since she was four years old. Second, she was pretty sure that billionaires like Darien had never slept on the floor for his life, third of all, her sleeping habit was something that shall not be discuss to the public. Maybe there is another solution to this situation, she mused with a pout before her eyes caught the sight of Darien undressing. Screaming inside her head loudly, she hurriedly tries to thinks of anything to get out of sleeping in the same bed with him. It was not the fact that she was afraid of him jumping her in the middle of the night. It was herself that she was worried about. After all…
"What are you thinking about?" Darien's voice broke through her reverie and brought her back to reality.
"Um..the bed…?" Serena began hesitantly.
"Yes?" he asked with a raised brow before his face lit up and his lips stretched into a knowing grin. "You've never slept with a man before, have you?" he asked with amusement laced his tone. Serena's face exploded into crimson color as she mumbled something unintelligently underneath her breath. Darien laughed as he caught the sight of her face. "So, does that mean you've never had sex?" he continues as Serena buried her face deep in the pillow in attempt to suffocate herself to death, then she Darien would be on top of the list of the people she would haunt for life. "You're a virgin?" he suddenly exploded as Serena screamed into the pillow before using that very same pillow to attack Darien with. God, could he scream any louder? She bet that 2/3 of the world heard that.
Darien continue to laugh as Serena shot him with her most iciest glare that only seem to heighten his amusement to no ends. Fed up, she grabbed the pillow and a blanket and proceeded to sleep on the floor. She would not go near that insufferable man even if she has to face evil spirits by herself.
"Oh c'mon. I was just joking." He coaxed as he stood besides her.
"Go die in a gutter." Serena muttered under her breath as she tried to shut him out just by simply closing her eyes.
"Isn't it uncomfortable sleeping on the floor?" he asked teasingly.
"Anywhere is better than sleeping with you." Serena answered but refused to open her eyes to look at him.
"Well, technically, you won't be sleeping with me. We only have to share the same bed." He replied with a tick of his lips.
"God, you're so…unbearable." Serena snapped as she opened her eyes abruptly to find him excessively close for her liking.
"Wow. That's the first time anyone tells me that straight to my face." He said with a deadpanned expression before breaking into a smile. "Anyway, we're both adults and I am not going to do anything you don't want me to do so you can go back to sleeping on the bed."
Serena's eyes narrowed as if she tried to find some trick to this. "Just so you know, I happen to have a black belt in Karate. Touch me in anyway and I will not hesitate to give you a black eye." She warned as Darien puts his hands up in mock surrender and backed away from her slowly.
"Okay, okay." He said as he watched Serena picked up the pillow and blanket before she crawled in on the other side of the bed. "Oh, and just so you know, I do not need to lower myself to jumping women. They tend to trip on their own feet and rolls to me." Darien said with a quirked brow.
"Well, that's good to hear because you can assure you that I will not roll to you." Serena said dryly before closing the lamp on her side of the bed. "And stay on your side of the bed."
"And they say marriage is bliss." He sighed dramatically as Serena suppressed a giggle.
"Not if you're married to me." She said before closing her eyes and minutes later, she succumbed to her tiredness.
English is not my first language so if there are mistakes, I apologize.
I finally updated! So sorry for not updating so long and during the holidays. So here is my late Christmas present to all of you and a very happy new year to all of my readers!
Keep me posted on what you think by simply drop a review!