Knot thy Enemy
One Should’ve Known Better
The clip-clopping of heels echoing in the hallway said only one thing, Savannah thought; her annoyance level was about to rise.
But Savannah still jumped when her mother-in-law barged into her room. Savannah’s efforts in trying to locate her were useless as she was much closer than expected. Sarah barely spoke to her or even looked her way, so her presence was surprising, to say the least. It was a complete shock to even be acknowledged. Savannah had been married to her son ten long, mind-numbing and tedious months ago. A marriage that wasn’t by choice for either party.
Savannah decided to keep seated in front of her bedroom window combing out the slept in knots from her shoulder length brunette hair as Sarah strolled in. She was still wearing the mauve night-gown from last night that somehow always made her skin look creamier and more treasured than Savannah’s. The prudish, bothered expression she kept on her face was still there and her nails, as usual, were perfectly done. Sarah’s hair, straightened within an inch of its life, was somehow hanging flawlessly from her shoulders.
Sarah stood near the bed tracing the carvings on the wooden post. “Your things need to be moved to Daniel’s room.”
Savannah’s brows shot up. Stopping to think for a moment, Savannah put down the brush and turned in her seat, with one question ringing through her head. “Why?”
Savannah knew and understood the charade of keeping up appearances when she and Daniel were out in public, but she could see no reason in sharing a room with a man she has barely spoken to. Or the one who has yet to acknowledge her as being alive in the same house as he.
“Chelsea, Jacob, and the children will be living with us for a while. Their house sold earlier than expected and will be here until they’ve found a new one.”
Chelsea, Sarah and Grant Watterson’s first born, left home years ago. Married and just had her third child four months ago, Savannah found her… pleasant. Which shouldn’t be a word used to describe any of the Watterson’s in Savannah’s opinion. She met Chelsea at the wedding for the first time, as she did every other Watterson family member, and thought she was nice to the woman holding her brother’s heart.
Savannah turned back to the mirror, scrutinizing the diamonds and pearls that laid unused, and for the most part as unwanted as she has felt in the past ten months. Twirling a teardrop earring between her fingers as she asked, “Does Daniel know?”
Savannah caught Sarah’s blue eyes. “Yes. And he’s not happy about it.” The expression that Sarah wore said, ‘And neither am I.’
“Well, that makes three of us,” Savannah mumbled while going to the closet to search for clothes for the day.
Chelsea and the Watterson’s youngest child, Haile didn’t know their brother’s marriage was an act with each party playing their role when required. The only people who knew the specifics of the marriage were their parents and Daniel. Savannah was still a little muddled on a few details. The maids and butlers, while assuming the roles of ignorance and unawareness, were not blind, but were well paid by the Watterson’s.
“When will they get here?” Savannah asked Sarah as her hand reached for the door.
“Four days from today. Get Molly to help you.” While walking through the door, Savannah knew that while Sarah shammed indifference, she was seething with anger.
Savannah threw her body on the bed, memories flitting as she recalled the reason she was there. Her father begged her to marry Daniel, using guilt and the pain behind the news of his lung cancer. Savannah, in her moment of mourning the only father she knew and cared for submitted to his will. It wasn’t like her parents asked much of her, and when they did it was for her benefit. With that assumption, while Savannah never wanted to marry a man who didn’t want her, she took a leap of faith, comforting herself in her parents’ wisdom and want for all good things for her.
But it hurt more than she ever thought it would. More than she ever could admit. Ten months of living in a room with nothing to do but read, breathe and sleep. Ten months of being ignored and pushed away by her in-laws and her husband. By everyone, including her family who seemed to speak less and less with each phone call.
It wasn’t supposed to hurt her that these people abhorred her, suffered the thought that she was a part of their lives, that she bore their name. Even worse, it wasn’t supposed to feel good when her husband kissed at the altar. No sparks should’ve been involved. Sparks led to dangerous things. Sparks led to fires and Savannah wasn’t sure she could handle being burnt by Daniel. Well, no more than he already had.
But the crushing blow, Savannah found was that her husband wasn’t supposed to be forced to marry her either. He wasn’t supposed to be kicking, screaming and swearing his way to the altar. While Savannah lost long ago the rose-coloured glasses fairy tales provided in childhood, the idea behind marriage stayed the same, both parties should be willing. If not, then at least one. In her case, preferably the groom. So how was she going to sleep in the same room with a man who couldn’t stand her now? A man who let the maid show her to her room on their wedding night. A room that might as well be on the other side of town with how far away from him it was.
But Savannah felt as if she should be grateful, without that space between them, she wouldn’t be able to cope with her daily life. Too much of Daniel could never be a good thing. And now that’s exactly what she’d received; Daniel in large, daily doses.
Her husband was of a strong built. Standing over six feet, she wasn’t sure of his exact height, but her father was 6’2’ and Daniel was a little taller. The first time she saw his hazel eyes watching her, she thought, with a smile his hardened face would be quite handsome. With short hair that wavered between dark blonde and light brunette, Daniel carried a nice body. A body she knew well from their honeymoon. They had to go on one to keep up the farce and mockery of a divine institution.
The first time she saw him practically naked swimming in the pool, Savannah nearly drooled. The only thing that stopped her was that for the week they spent in Jamaica he ignored her. His focus stolen by work and the TV. The honeymoon suite, of course, was furnished with only one bed and he chose to put up a fort on the couch, with her manning the bed. Neither camps were to be crossed unless for the bathroom near the couch or the pool which was outside the patio doors by the bed.
That didn’t stop her from taking her eye full of him with every provided opportunity. She’d watch as his clothes come off before a shower in the morning or evening. She’d watch him swim in the indoor pool in swim trunks for which she was yet to send a thank you note to the designer. Needless to say, Savannah was hot and bothered the entire trip. A fact that originally concerned her before remembering that she was simply a woman, having normal bodily reactions, to a very fine specimen of the male species.
Not wanting a repeat of her honeymoon, Savannah decided as she left the bathroom to get dressed to do something about her predicament. The more she thought about it, the more she realized just how difficult a task she was now being assigned.
Leaving her bedroom she walked through the long hallways. The master bedrooms were upstairs. The mansion was so enormous if someone wasn’t looking for someone specific, they wouldn’t find anyone or anything. The rooms we separated by walls connected to high ceilings, which only added to the grandeur. As she passed another large painting under a small chandelier, she shook her head and agreed with the thought that the place was frankly bordering on gaudy.
She crossed one of the kitchens ending up below one of the larger chandeliers clogging up the ceilings. Ned, one of the butlers looked surprised to see her as she walked past him. She doesn’t ever go up there, but she had to do something, find a way to avoid this new script she was to play. Her life was stuck in limbo and she felt like she couldn’t breathe. Being confined and hidden in a guest bedroom was testing, but being stuck in a room with Daniel would be insufferable.
“Is Mr Watterson in his room?” She asked Ned.
Ned cocked his head to the side.
‘Of course’, Savannah thought, ‘both Mr Watterson’s live here. And since I never ask for either of them, he wouldn’t know which one I wanted’. “The one I’m married to?”
“Uh, Y-yes ma’am, I believe he is.”
She nodded her head thanking him. Passing multiple rooms on the way she knocked on his door lightly. The doors swung open with Daniel standing there with an opened button up shirt.
‘Thank heavens he’s wearing a vest. Otherwise, I might never be able to get a word out, was Savannah’s first thought. She watched as his eyes scan every visible inch of her body waiting for her to speak. But all Savannah wished he’d do was to button up and turn around. Her thoughts were getting scrambled and that was unacceptable. She knew exactly what she came up here to say; only now she couldn’t seem to get it out. Eyes pinned on him, Savannah found herself playing fingers behind her back; a nervous habit she hoped he’d never notice as she tried to arrange her thoughts.
“Um… I, uh…”
Savannah’s thoughts arranged themselves the moment Daniel glanced at his missing watch, an indication that she was wasting his time.
“I, uh, just wanted to ask you something.” She finally got out.
Daniel looked at his phone, then his bed with neat stacks of paper. “I don’t have time, but we can fix your problem over breakfast. I’ll see you down in a minute.”
He pushed his door close and Savannah ran down to the dining room feeling like a complete imbecile. Why couldn’t she just say what she had to say? Why should his presence affect her to the point of being tongue-tied? It’s downright stupid and idiotic and made her look like a half-wit.
But, Savannah surmised, Daniel had a tendency of doing that to every woman to come across him. And even some men. It was no secret the effect that was Daniel Watterson. Even before their marriage, she heard about him. Through the little research, she was able to do before the wedding, he was a no-nonsense kind of man. He had to be, taking his father’s company from being worth millions to billions within four years. Something that shouldn’t be possible, but was.
Her father traded his Bible for the business section of the newspaper in the mornings, shortly before revealing his cancer. It was at the breakfast table that she had he first glimpses of the man she was now married to and his family. In reading a few of the stories, which she found contradictory at times, Savannah found his ruthless business sense a turn on and his face didn’t detract from his attractiveness either. His aggression, which she found was a natural part of his personality, gave him that extra boost needed to push his way to the top. Never once in all those years, before this mess started, did her father mention knowing a Watterson. And that was something that still bothered Savannah.
The aroma of her favourite cinnamon rolls threw her from her thoughts. And reminded her of her impending guest at the table. As she spread the napkin in her lap, the butler came in to set breakfast on the table just before Daniel arrived. He sat looking at his plate, for the five minutes it took the butler to reappear with their coffees and the rest of their breakfast.
A preferred view to me, Savannah sighed.
Even though Daniel not looking at her shouldn’t hurt, it did. But she was still thankful as once again she was nervous to look at him for too long with the possibility of him catching her. So like him, Savannah chose to concentrate on her breakfast.
“Well, do I have to drag it out of you or are you going to tell me what you wanted to ask?”
Chewing her food she slowly lifted her head and met his eyes. Savannah felt her mouth open and air escaped on a gasp. Daniel hardly ever looked at her without reason, but now, with all his attention on her at once, her thought process slowed. Considerably and embarrassingly.
Savannah watched as Daniel stare at her before starting to chew faster and with his food quickly disappearing from his plate, she knew her time ran short.
Savannah sighed. Now or never, Savie. “I’m bored here all day with absolutely nothing to do. Like really bored. Even reading has become a chore now. I –would it be okay if I got a job or maybe volunteered somewhere?” She dared not look at him the entire time she spoke in fear of her words going missing again.
After a couple of minutes of not hearing him speak or his fork scraping against the plate, Savannah looked up. Daniel, however, seemed to already be drilling holes in her head the entire time with his brows smashed together.
Still waiting for him to speak, Savannah looked beyond Daniel to the mauve paint of the dining room that took on a dark pink hue in the early sunlight. After another few minutes passed with no answer and Daniel returning to his breakfast, she wondered exactly what the problem was in her leaving the property. Not like she hadn’t done it before. Each time she needed to talk to her family, she’d walk the fifteen minutes to town to the solitary bank of payphones near the square smack in the middle of Bloxton. But then again, most times she’d only say she was going for a walk, nothing more.
“Why do you need a job? Aren’t all your needs and wants being attended to here? ”
Savannah bristled at his underlining suggestion. “Yes, but I also need something to keep my mind occupied. You have your job, I’d like one too.”
Daniel sneered, “A job that pays for everything you come into contact with. Besides, who do you think would hire you? You carry the Watterson name and have no usable skill set as far as I can tell. What are you going to do?”
“You know what, do what you want. Just make sure you’re back before security leaves their post.”
Setting aside the steaming anger that flared when Daniel practically called her useless, she took measured breaths as an effort in keeping the peace.
Redirecting her thoughts to more palatable subjects, she thought of a bit of information that escaped her earlier. She always thought security manned the gate 24/7. It didn’t matter anyway, she was sure she would be back on time before they leave. Not having a key or a phone or anyone’s number, meant that not getting back before security left would leave her on her own.
“That’s no problem.”
Without another word, Daniel threw his napkin on his half empty plate and left. Having barely spoken to her, he seemed to go out of his way to completely avoid her. Just as much as she tried to avoid him. Her bedroom was on the opposite end of the house upstairs, and he never looked at or addressed her unnecessarily. As she finished her breakfast, she realised that today was the first time they ate together in their ten months. Usually, she’d wait until she knew everyone else finished eating and went off to whatever they did daily. No one came looking for her including Daniel. She assumed, if she died, the help would make some alarm so the rest of the house would know and rejoice.
But who could blame him? In his place, she would probably do the same thing. Savannah stopped for a second as she folded the napkin to put on the near-empty plate. Now that she thought about it, she did the same thing Daniel did. She avoided him just as much, if not even more than he avoided her. Most times, if she were to be honest, she tried to forget he existed and was becoming quite successful over the last couple months.
The one issue that Savannah could not pin down was that she still didn’t know what her father was blackmailing him about. Either party refused to tell her anything. Even begging and pleading with her father not to make hitch her to Daniel, didn’t work.
Grant Watterson strode with an aura of dominance and confidence into the dining room. His smile immediately faltered as his eyes landed on her. Choosing to look elsewhere, Grant once again made a pretence of her not existing by carrying on as if she were a mere fixture in the room.
Savannah sighed and got up leaving without a ‘Good morning” or a ‘Didn’t you die yet?’. Being unwanted should by now not bother her, but no matter how Savannah tried to smile through it all, barbed compliments and a regular dismissal of her person would never be things she could accept. Being waspish and spiteful must be the very source from which the Watterson’s personalities developed.
Irrespective of where Savannah chose to spend her time, her husband’s family made sure she knew she was unwelcomed, unneeded and unnecessary. They made sure she would feel uncomfortable hiding in her bedroom, the library or the gardens, where no one spoke to her except Chelsea. Daniel’s younger sister Haile suspected something was off between the two of them from the beginning. And she made sure Savannah knew too. Minutes before the wedding she confronted her. Catching her in the dressing room, Haile grabbed her arm to pull her away from the mirror. A mirror Savannah was using to berate herself for being stupid and pliable.
With a scrunched face, Haile stared at Savannah. “How far along are you?”
“Are you sure it’s even Daniel’s?”
“What is Daniel’s?”
“Don’t play stupid. You’re pregnant aren’t you?”
“Uh, no!” Savannah shook her head as she felt her dress trapped under her heels. She stood for a second and contemplated letting the dress rip before she remembered the alternates in the car Daniel’s mom provided.
“Then why the hell is he marrying you? And what’s with all the hush-hush? I didn’t hear about this until a week ago!”
“Why don’t you ask your dear brother? I’m sure he could tell you all about it.” She had had enough with everyone treating her like an unwanted guest at the wedding. And she was the bride for Pete’s sake!
“I know Daniel. He doesn’t do marriage. Hell, he doesn’t even sleep with your type more than once just so you wouldn’t get the wrong idea.” Hands framing her face, Haile shook her head. “Now I come back from school and he’s getting married? Something’s up and when I get to the bottom of this, you’ll regret it. Because he’s standing out there waiting for you at the altar but he definitely doesn’t look happy!”
Savannah got close to Haile’s face as she spoke. “I’m going to say this again: ask your brother? Ask him why he’s steaming. And tell him, I’d like to know too.”
She was angry. All this came down on her shoulders like a ten-tonne dump truck. All she wanted to do was make her father happy and he made sure to tell her never to tell anyone about the marriage.
Haile glared at her with her hand on her hips. “So, both of you are moving in Watterson’s mansion after the wedding, I hear.” A twisted smirk lit up her face. “Good luck.”
Savannah should’ve known a happily ever after wouldn’t be possible after that.