Chapter 1

Ethan Rayne was absolutely exasperated with his son. The boy was spoiled and indolent. Ethan admitted that he often overindulged his son, but now it was time for him to become a mature adult. Ethan knew his son would not take well to what he was about to propose, but he found himself not caring. Pulling the photos out of his desk drawer he placed them face down and awaited his son's arrival.

Groaning Angelus made his way down the hall towards his father's office. Angelus hated these impromptu visits his father forced on him from time to time. Normally the visits stemmed from guilt his father felt from the death of his mother. Ethan had raised Angelus virtually alone. Actually Ethan really had no part in Angelus' upbringing. Vaguely he remembered the elderly lady who took care of him until he was seven years old. His father had then reasoned he was old enough to go off to boarding school in England. Perhaps another reason his father was laden with guilt.

Standing as his son entered the room he motioned for him to sit. Raising his eyebrows Angelus wordlessly took the offered seat. Ethan began to pace back and forth in front of the large bay window. Struggling with how to begin the conversation Ethan finally sat and looked at his son.

"You're what 23 years old now?," asked Ethan.

"25 father, now what is this about?," Angelus asked exasperated.

"You've finished college, however you've yet to achieve anything," fumed Ethan.

"I know I'm a great disappointment. So what prey tell do you want?," he asked as he abruptly stood.

"Firstly you will began working at my company come next Monday," Ethan patiently explained.

"And secondly…" he asked raising his eyebrows.

"Secondly, I saw that bitch ex of yours dropping of your illegitimate spawn last week and she looked hardly fit to be caring for the child. You will get custody of him, but not until the marriage is finalized," Ethan informed his son.

"Darla is perfectly capable of caring for Conner. And what marriage are you speaking of?," Angelus asked alarmed.

"Darla as we speak is probably shooting up god knows what with the generous monthly stipend she receives. And the marriage I speak of well…," Ethan stated calmly as he stood and flipped the pictures over pushing them towards his son.

"She's a little young for you father," Angelus remarked as he quickly glanced at the young blonde female pictured.

"Precisely why she will be your wife this time next week," Ethan said smugly.

Abruptly standing from his seat and placing his hands on his father's desk he roared out "What! I think not." Several times Ethan tried to speak only be cut off by his son. Exasperated Ethan sat down and watched his son pace back and forth muttering obscenities under his breath. Finally a little calmed Angelus sat back down in his recently vacated seat.

"What do you mean I am to marry her?," he asked jabbing the picture with his finger.

"Simple Angelus either you marry her or you're cut off. No money, no job, no support for Conner. It's your choice," Ethan said coolly.

"Choice! Choice! What choice do I have in this matter? I don't even know her," he said in a frustrated wail.

"So am I to presume you will do as I wish?," Ethan asked casually.

"What is her name? How old is she? How do you know she will even agree?," Angelus asked in a flurry of questions.

"Her name is Elizabeth, she is 17 years old, and her father has assured me that she will consent. Is this a yes?," Ethan asked one last time.

Defeated Angelus shook his head yes then stood. Walking towards the door he stopped short of opening it. "When is this wedding taking place?," Angelus asked almost as an after thought. Clearing his throat Ethan answered, "Saturday at one in the back yard." Clutching a photo of his soon to be wife Angelus left his father's office.

Smiling to himself Ethan picked up the phone and dialed out. "Hank… yes he has agreed… Saturday at one… tomorrow? … yes I will arrange it," then he promptly hung up the phone. Leaning back in his chair he breathed a sigh of relief. He had expected more of a fight from his son and was greatly relieved that the plans had been set. Come Saturday his son would be married to a very beautiful and demure girl. Ethan knew he may have been haste in his decision, however he could not risk his son marrying one of the many tramps he insisted on traipsing about with. Smiling to himself he knew he had made the perfect choice in a partner for his son. The last few months Ethan had met with many potential women for his son. However, he had not been able to find someone that would fit with his son. Upon discussing the situation with his lawyer, Hank Summers, he learned of Hank's daughter. Immediately he met with the girl and was struck by both her beauty and her personality. Knowing his son could grow an intense attraction to the girl he and Hank set everything up.

Fuming in his room Angelus began to throw things against the wall. How dare his father force him to marry some girl he had never met. Angelus vividly remembered when he told his father that he had gotten Darla pregnant. Ethan Rayne had never approved of Darla. She was too brazen and assuming for his father's tastes. His father had nearly choked on the bourbon he was sipping. He had wanted Darla to get an abortion, but she refused. Ethan had forbade Angelus from marrying her and insisted he keep the child a secret. Snorting at the realization that no one ever asked him what he thought of the situation. Angelus wanted children, however not till much later in life. Consequently Conner did not see much of his father.

Ethan briskly made his way to his son's room. He had tried to send a servant, but they feared his tantrums. Soundly rapping on the door Ethan patiently waited. "What!," Angelus roared as he threw the door open. His fell when he realized it was his father. "Angelus may I remind you that this is my house and you needn't frighten the staff. Tomorrow we will be going to the Summer's resident so be ready by two," Ethan said then curtly walked away not giving his son a chance to retort.

*******

Inwardly groaning Angelus slid into the passenger seat of his father's black jaguar. Ethan glanced over at his son then put the vehicle in drive and began the short journey to the Summer's residence. Rolling his eyes as they pulled up to the modest home located in the suburbs Angelus quickly opened the door and stepped onto the side walk. Ethan smiled then lead his son to the door. "Now Liam I expect excellent behavior out of you," Ethan breathed as he rang the doorbell.

Buffy tensed as she heard the sound of the doorbell. Why was she doing this? 17 years old and getting ready to be married. Sadly she felt she had no other choice. Since her mother's death six years ago things with her father had become nearly unbearable. He hardly looked at her and rarely spoke to her. She seemed to be more of a burden to him then a child. She learned quickly to do as she was told and stay out of sight. Sighing Buffy knew her childhood could have been worse. Her father never physically abused her however, he neglected her emotionally. Hearing her father call her she quickly checked herself in the mirror one last time then headed down stairs.

Hank lead his guests into the living room then offered them refreshments. Hank was excited about this merger, that's exactly what this marriage was to him. A merger between the two families. Obviously the Summer's were gaining more then the Rayne's. Hank grabbed the drinks from the kitchen then called for his daughter to come downstairs. All three men stood when Buffy entered the room. "Angelus, Ethan this is my daughter Buffy," Hank said as he motioned towards the small blonde girl. Angelus had to admit that she was beautiful however he still did not want this marriage. Coyly Buffy smiled then sat down next to her father.

Hank and Ethan began to discuss the details of the wedding. Buffy really did not understand much of what they were speaking of. She sat there poised her hands folded neatly in her lap. Angelus listened intently to the conversation learning as much as he could about the situation at hand. Swiftly he spared a glance at the girl that would be his wife. She looked bored and blissfully unaware of the circumstances surrounding this arranged marriage.

Placing his briefcase on the ornate coffee table Hank pulled out several small stacks of papers. "Here is the pre-nup. Four copies just to be sure all parties understand the contract, " Hank explained as he slipped into lawyer mode. Curiously Angelus picked up one and began to leaf through it. Furiously Angelus threw the stack of papers on the table. "I am suppose to marry this girl and she gets half if the marriage is dissolved?," Angelus screamed. Startled Buffy pushed herself into her father.

Shaking his head in disapproval Ethan began to speak, "If you had bothered to read the contract thoroughly you would know that is not the case. If Miss Summers wishes to end the marriage for any reason before the term of ten years she receives nothing. If you choose to end the marriage for any reason before the term of ten years she receives 30 % of all income and assets. If the marriage ends after the ten years she receives 50% of all assets and income."

Still upset yet somewhat placated Angelus took his seat then picked the contract back up. Hank shot a warning glance to his daughter who quickly composed herself. "Rest assured Angelus this contract was drawn up long before Buffy entered the picture," Hank said hoping to alleviate the young man's fears. Conveniently Hank left out the part about him receiving $1,000,000 once the marriage was finalized then another $1,000,000 as long as Buffy did not dissolve the marriage before the ten years.

Tentatively Buffy reached out and took one of the contracts from the table. Hank frowned in disapproval, however thought better of chastising his daughter in front of her soon to be husband and father-in-law. Buffy quickly skimmed through the contents not really understanding the legal way it was worded. Noticing her father's puckered brow she quickly placed the set of papers back on the table. Dutifully she folded her hands in her lap and gazed out the window. Quickly pulling out a pen first Hank, then Buffy, then finally Angelus signed the pre-nup. "I have already procured the consent for minor forms and the marriage license. Everything is set for Saturday. So Ethan what do you say we enjoy a cigar and drink in my study and let these two get acquainted," Hank said as he stood.

Silently the couple sat across from each other. Buffy didn't dare look up. Angelus stood sparing a glance at the girl as he walked to the window. As the tension filled the room Angelus finally broke the silence, "I thought your name was Elizabeth." Looking up Buffy shook her head, "Bu.. Buffy is my nickname." Shaking his head in understanding he walked back over to the couch and sat across from her. Nervously Buffy chewed on her lower lip. Angelus hated to admit that he was somewhat attracted to the diminutive blonde sitting across from him. A hardness settled into his eyes as he resolved to never let his father have the satisfaction of him actually falling for this girl. Startled by the sudden coldness radiating from the man she quickly looked down at her hands. The two sat in an unnerving silence for nearly an hour. Finally Hank and Ethan emerged. "Well Hank we'll see you Saturday then," Ethan said as he shook the man's hand. Without even saying goodbye to his soon to be wife Angelus stood and made his way out the door.