The first rays of the morning sunlight shone through the glass windows, casting an almost heavenly and dreamy glow upon the interior of the house.
The translucent curtains floated slightly at the gust of the gentle morning breeze, almost as though they were the ends of the elegant and mesmerizing dress that Marilyn Monroe had worn in that one memorable and iconic photo.
Alis Rayn stood quietly in front of the window as she looked at the newly decorated courtyard - it was her elder sister, Yohanna’s, wedding day today.
Alis couldn’t help but sigh as she thought Yohanna’s groom-to-be - he was the young master of the Charly Family, one of the most prominent and distinguished in all of City H.
Although men of his status would generally command the respect and admiration of thousands of women, they instead shuddered in fear at the mention of his name.
Rumor had it that Witold, the young master of the Charly Family, was a cruel and haughty man who was extremely cold-blooded and merciless, even when it came to family.
His uncle, who used to be the biggest shareholder of the Charly Family’s properties and assets was known for being a benevolent and generous philanthropist, he once donated medical equipment to hospitals and invested resources to build a new kindergarten and a school.
But one day, he suddenly went bankrupt and committed suicide by jumping off a building, Witold viciously took back all of the shares that he’d possessed.
It was also rumored that Witold had badly injured his leg after getting into a car accident and had developed mental instability and psychopathic tendencies as a result of it.
And this led to the Charly Family as well as the people working for them living and working in uncertainty and fear, feeling like they were walking on eggshells whenever they were around him.
Alas, due to the Charly Family’s company’s competitive salary, which was 20% higher than the typical wages in the industry, many people still yearned to clinch a spot within the company.
Naturally, Yohanna had no desire to marry Witold - alas, she didn’t have much to have a choice.
After all, the Rayn Family owed the Charly Family a huge sum of money - the Charly Family promised to cancel their debt on the condition that Yohanna married into the family.
They threatened to seize the Rayn Family’s company the next day should they turn down the offer.
“Ah-!” Just then, a shrill shriek interrupted Alis’ train of thoughts.
She instinctively ran into Yohanna’s bedroom to be met with the sight of her stepmother, Caisie Renna.
She was holding a piece of paper in her hands. Alis leaned over to see what was written on it-
Dear Dad and Mum, I would’ve boarded a plane and left by the time that you’re reading this letter. I’m so sorry, but I refuse to waste the rest of my life away getting shackled down in a marriage to a cripple. I’m not willing to sacrifice my happiness for the sake of the family.
Please forgive me for what I’ve done. I wish you all the best and please don’t miss me too much.
Alis was stunned - she couldn’t believe that Yohanna had run away.
Amil, Alis and Yohanna’s father, who’d come into the room and read the letter as well, was so angry that he slammed his fist down onto the table.
“How could she escape from the marriage at this time?” he fumed, “What would the Charly Family say if they were about to know about her escape?”
“Dear, please, calm down,”
Caisie immediately went over to coax Amil, “There’s no use crying over spilled milk - besides, Yohanna has always been a stubborn girl. It’s no secret that she resents the idea of marrying into the Charly Family.”
She bit her lip slightly as she admitted, “We hadn’t taken her feelings into account.”
“It’s a marriage of convenience,” Amil argued, “My debt to the Charly Family was supposed to be cleared…”
The former was not the slightest bit worried about Yohanna, who’d run away to avoid getting married off - instead, he was only concerned about the future of his company, which was now threatened and compromised.
“Please, dear,” Caisie coaxed, “There’s really no use fretting so much - let’s just deal with what happened today first, alright?” she suggested, “The two families can discuss more tomorrow.”
Amil replied frantically, “But the Charly Family will be arriving soon! How could we possibly find someone to take her place at such short notice?”
“Well, Yohanna isn’t the only daughter that we have,” Caisie smirked as she glanced at Alis.
The latter couldn’t help but momentarily feel unsettled. “I-If there’s nothing else, Dad, I’ll get going to ensure that everything is proceeding smoothly.” Alis stuttered as she tried to excuse herself to leave. “There’s no need for you to go,” Caisie interjected before Alis could leave. “Come here,” she ordered as she beckoned Alis with her finger.
Caisie had always been cold and haughty towards Alis - the latter had an extremely bad feeling about where this was all heading towards.
Alas, she had no choice but to obey her stepmother.
As soon as she’d walked over, Caisie pressed Alis roughly against Yohanna’s dressing table - she hummed as she stroked her face slightly, “Alis is in her prime at the fine age of eighteen,” she mused, “She’s getting more and more beautiful day by day.”
“Dear, are you sure that we can do this?” Amil asked worriedly as he took Caisie’s hand, “She looks completely different from Yohanna - don’t you think that it would be an insult to Mr. Charly should we send her in Yohanna’s place? What if we get into even bigger trouble then?”
Despite this, Caisie ignored Amil and gestured for the servants to come in and comb Alis’ hair.
When she tried to shrug them off, Caisie placed a hand on her shoulder and whispered into her ear, “Alis - the Rayn Family has treated you so well for so many years now,” she smirked,
“Take this as your way of paying back everything that we’ve done for you - besides, there’s nothing for you to worry about. After all, the Charly Family is good - your sister is blind and ignorant to have run away,”
Then she hummed, “So, be a good girl and listen to us, alright? Our family is depending on you.”
Alis gawked - she couldn’t believe that they wanted her to take Yohanna’s place and marry into the Charly Family at such a last-minute notice! “M-Mother, please,” she stammered, “I’m not the one that the Charly Family wants to marry their son to - they definitely won’t have it should they see me instead of Yohanna.”
“It’s better than not having anyone to marry off to the Charly Family,” Caisie rolled her eyes, “Anyway, if you don’t mind, I’ll have to get going to see to the wedding arrangements now,” she leaned in towards Alis and whispered into her ear,
“If the Charly Family finds out about this, just tell them that you’d done it as a prank - that you wanted to be married off instead.”
Caisie was confident that the Charly Family wouldn’t be able to see through their sudden change in plan.
After all, Alis wouldn’t be seen until she was to go into the Wimborne Villa, where the Charly Family resided when they arrived since they were going to skip the entire wedding procedures in church altogether due to Witold’s legs inconveniencing him.
They wouldn’t possibly be able to realize that Yohanna had been swapped out for Alis.
“Alis, it’s up to you now,” Caisie mused as she combed Alis’ hair.
Alis couldn’t help but scoff internally - Caisie, who’d always treated her coldly and haughtily, was now doting on her and treating her as though she was on a pedestal now that she needed her.
Alis gagged internally at just how two-sided she was.
It was only perfectly natural that no one wanted to marry Witold, a cripple, whom neither Alis nor Yohanna had even met - alas, while Yohanna was brave enough to pluck up the courage and take off, Alis was chained by her ankles.
As such, she soon found herself in an elegant and sophisticated snow-white wedding dress - she looked like she’d walked right out of a fairytale.
Alas, Alis couldn’t help but scoff as she stared at her reflection in the mirror - she couldn’t believe that she’d ended up in such a position…
When the Charly Family finally arrived with their motorcade, Caisie hastily handed Alis a bouquet of pink and white roses - she reminded her, “Make sure to lower your face and use the bouquet to cover it - don’t let anyone see you, do you understand me?” Alis looked helplessly at her father - she was just a fresh graduate and knew nothing.
She didn’t know how she’d ended up being the alternate bride overnight in light of her sister’s unexpected escape.
How could her father marry her off just like that?
Wasn’t he aware of the rumors surrounding the Charly Family?
Wasn’t it better if he found someone else to take Yohanna’s place instead?
Alas, Amil simply patted Alis on the shoulder and said to her, “Alis, you’ve got to be a good girl, alright? Don’t anger Mr. Charly no matter what - even if you’re not in the wrong, just apologize and everything will be fine.”