The Sum of Love (Quick Read)
The Sum of Love (Quick Read)
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- Marriage of Conveniience
- Forced Proximity
- Reverse Grumpy/Sunshine
Reyna chuckled. Despite their separate moving trucks, this moment almost felt real. Like a real couple.
Her cheerfulness died when she realized that that idea had warmed her. Looking into the gray-green eyes that peered so earnestly into her own, she found herself reluctantly taking firmer hold to the cozy image her mind was conjuring.
Don’t go getting any ideas, Reyna. Her practical side chided. This is purely a business arrangement.
This story is a bit spicier than general Clean & Wholesome.
Intro Into Chapters 1 & 2
Intro Into Chapters 1 & 2
All Reyna could hear was the sound of the pen roller skating across the paper while she watched her hand do the unthinkable.
It just signed away her life — or at least the next 2 years of it.
Matthias, sitting beside her, was all grins.
How could he be so gleeful at a time like this?
“So that’s it,” he blurted at her with wide eyes. The sentence seemed to straddle the line between a question and a statement.
She shrugged, and they both looked toward the man across the desk. Their officiator.
“That’s it,” the balding man confirmed, taking on a relaxed posture; his clasped hands slid forward a bit as he leaned more heavily on his arms. “You’re officially husband and wife. Congratulations.”
Reyna felt her teeth grinding.
Looking over to Matthias — her…husband — didn’t help to lighten her mood.
As Matthias reached over to enthusiastically shake the officiator’s hand, she secured her purse, stood and arranged its strap over her shoulder as she marched out of the office to escape into the hallway.
This would be the perfect occasion to take up residence upon a nearby bar stool.
If only she drank.
“Hey, are you okay?”
Matthias carefully shut the door behind him as he joined Reyna in the hallway.
“You are? Okay, I mean? After…this?!” she countered in a tone betraying her own state of shock.
“Well, yeah. I mean, it’s a big change and all…”
Reyna huffed. “That’s an understatement.”
Matthias went on. “But — I don’t know. I think the service did a good job matching us up. And, we both get a fresh start because of it.” He chuckled, tilting his head to peer at her,
“I promise, I’m not that horrible to live with.” He then grinned widely, an eyebrow arching and quickly lowering as if to emphasize his next statement. “I don’t think.”
“You’re not at all bothered by the fact that we’ve both just signed up for a fake marriage? Lasting two years?”
He shrugged. “Well, we could either be married to our debt or married to each other. I’m pretty sure I prefer you.”
We’re either married to our debt or married to each other.
“Damn.” She cast her gaze aside as she pondered that observation. “That’s a hell of a way to put it.”
He shrugged again, and then reached out, gently taking her hand in his.
“What do you think about us getting some lunch? We might as well make the best of good company. Get to know each other. And, I promise I won’t call you ‘wifey’ at all today. Tomorrow, though…”
Reyna blinked slowly at him. She had the feeling that this man would get on her last nerve — precisely because he was so right. And so annoyingly cheerful about it.
“So let me get this straight,” her co-worker said during a lunch break several weeks later. “You both got paid twenty grand to marry each other?”
Reyna Ferris sighed. She really hated having to explain the situation to people. But this particular office-friend also happened to be the head of HR. And though Lisa was legally restricted from sharing any of her co-workers’ personal information, Reyna knew she’d be hearing directly from her associate after having filed updated tax information which highlighted Reyna’s new marital status.
“Kind of. You know that program the government rolled out a few months ago. The one forgiving student loans for up to twenty thousand dollars? Well, turns out that if you’re married, then one spouse can essentially use up the total amount allotted to both spouses. So, by marrying Matthias, I’m wiping out my thirty-eight grand student loan.”
“While he gets rent for free for two years.”
“Yeah, he’ll live in one of the units of the duplex I was finally able to purchase once my student loans were cleared out. Since newly married couples, like us, have to remain together for at least two years to qualify, it made sense to offer rent in exchange. Gives me an introduction to being a landlord, anyway. And it saves him — or whoever I would have ended up with — over twenty grand. It’s a win-win.”
“Man, whoever thought up the idea of matching singles willing to make that kind of trade was absolutely genius. Can’t believe that’s not illegal, though, to be honest.”
Reyna’s head bobbed in understanding. She’d wondered the same, herself. “Well, like I said, we do have to stay married for two years or else we renege on the terms of the agreement. And in that case we both will be expected to pay back the sum of our grant.”
“Ooh, that’s an expensive divorce!”
Reyna snorted. “You’re telling me!”
She shook her head. “You know, the only thing standing between me and my attempts to do better for myself were those student loans. Pisses me off. The whole situation pisses me off, actually.”
“Yeah. They really grab people by the balls with that whole “education as a business“ trap.” Lisa pursed her lips. “Well, at least you’re moving forward with your plans, now. Thanks to your new hubby. Got a picture of him?”
Nodding, Reyna took out her phone and brought up one of Matthias’ social media profiles. She couldn’t help the smirk that emerged as she watched Lisa’s brow raise in apparent interest.
Tapping one shiny, dark purple, acrylic fingernail against the table top, Lisa squinted intently at the phone’s screen. Finally, she swung her gaze back up to meet Reyna’s. “Forward me the link for that matching website, will ya’?”
On the other side of the state, Matthias Pierce was packing up the last of the items from his apartment, and was trying hard not to think about what he’d gotten himself into. It worried him that Reyna seemed, almost, angry at the plan to which they’d both consented. Hopefully, that didn’t foretell things to come. Admittedly, neither of them knew the other very well. They were just one of many strangers across the country who’d agreed to be meticulously paired and newly wedded for the benefit of their bank accounts.
Only a few months prior, he and Reyna were sitting on the opposite sides of their state when their local news channels had confirmed the implementation of the government’s once-in-a-lifetime loan forgiveness program.
Matthias had been fortunate enough to have had his parents’ help when it came to financing school; so his loans had been minimal, in comparison to most.
He hadn’t been as excited about the government program as some, but when he’d spotted Reyna’s ad on the “matchmaking” service he’d learned about, it’d seemed a no-brainer. She was located less than a day’s drive away from his home and family. The residual two thousand dollars he’d receive through the program — following Reyna’s cut — would take care of the meager debt that remained for him. And in exchange, over the next two years, he’d upgrade his living space while saving up a sizable downpayment to go towards purchasing a home of his own.
Participation in the brokering service had been humbling, to say the least. Though he’d never be one to boast, he’d grown into his physique while playing highschool and then college sports. And had grown accustomed to encountering little-to-no issues when it came to attracting women. But in an environment where looks weren’t the first line of offense, he’d found that he’d had to work a good deal harder to stand out among the wide selection of men the service had curated for Reyna.
Apparently, a rent-free duplex was popular!
The hoops he’d had to jump through were unreal. His only solace had been in knowing that Reyna had had to do the same to ensure she wasn’t a psycho or a flake. Finally, it’d been down to him and one other guy. After a few in-person “dates“, including one where he’d been grilled by her mom, he and Reyna had agreed that they were willing to proceed.
The moment they’d signed (and submitted) their marriage certificate finalizing that union, both of their finances were on their way to being settled.
Once the funds had cleared in their new joint account, Reyna had been able to erase her student loan debt and resume her pursuit of the properties she’d had in mind. It’d taken her less than thirty days to select a property; and another 30 days to close.
True to her word, just under two months following their union at city hall, she’d notified Matthias that the property would be ready for them to occupy on the same day that she closed on the house.
And he’d finally felt confident enough to begin packing up his whole life, in earnest.