The musty kitchen was hot and stuffy, the stench of alcohol lingered everywhere and despite obvious effort it was grimy and unkempt. The couple sat at the table looked tired and weary. The man was
jaundice and his eyes bloodshot, the woman had aged beyond her years; a youthful beauty however, lay in her eyes that now glittered with tears. Another couple sat opposite them, a look of unhidden
disgust on their faces at their surroundings. The second woman kept glancing down at her expensive silk summer dress scared of spoiling it. Doubt showed on the rich couple’s faces but it was eased
when a photo was passed to them. Glancing at each other, they nodded in agreement and placed a leather briefcase on the coffee stained table. The first couple opened it staring at the crisp green
money inside with amazement. Somewhere else in the apartment a door clicked.
Lena entered the apartment, dropping her bag and closing the door behind her. Reaching the kitchen she stopped suddenly in surprise. Visitors? She looked swiftly from her parents to the smartly
dressed couple sat on the other side of the table. Something defiantly wasn’t right, her mother was crying silently and her father seemed unusually sober.
“What’s going on?” her voice was strained and her softly arched eyebrows drawn with worry. Her mother’s crying escalated to hysterical sobs, her father sighed heavily.
“We’re arranging your marriage,” he stated bluntly and she stared at him blankly. The couple opposite stood up to leave and the woman announced primly.
“I think we should leave now, any way, we need to talk to Brendan and I’m sure you want to discuss this with Lena alone.”
“Thank you,” said her father, strangely polite and the couple left without another word taking the briefcase with them. “Lena I think you should sit down, your mother and I have some news.”
“What was that about me getting married?” she whispered, sinking into one of the recently unoccupied seats.
“We have arranged your marriage to Mr and Mrs Carr's son to pay of our debts.” Then for the first time Lena’s mother spoke.
“He’s very nice. And your father has promised to give up gambling and drinking if you agree. We need this money so badly bella.” At the sight of her mother’s tear streaked face Lena couldn’t
disagree. Swallowing her objections Lena spoke slowly.
“You’re getting paid for this?” her parents nodded. “Enough to pay off the loans and rent?” they nodded again. Lena sat there silently for many minutes, her parents watching her with
concern. She was weighing up the positives and negatives in her mind, it was a difficult task. The negatives all applied to herself, but by sacrificing her needs the benefits for her parents
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