In fact, I should just get a flight out of here. I could head back to the States.
I mean, sure, everything is different now. It's been two years since I've lived in the States. I was supposed to go back and move in with Derek.
Derek and I had been in a long-distance relationship while I was in Africa, which seemed like the thing to do at the time, although in retrospect, it was obviously a stupid idea. But we'd dated throughout college, and my mother and his parents were friends. It's not as if we had no history together.
It was expected that we’d be together. But if I were being honest with myself, I’d admit to myself that I was never in love with him. Not really.
It was far too easy to leave him for two years to go to Africa. It shouldn’t be that easy to walk away from someone you love.
To say that my mother will be disappointed with my breakup will be an understatement. It’s the reason I’d been avoiding her phone calls for the past week, hiding out while I got my shit together after the Vegas debacle. She had to send bodyguards and a private plane to escort me to Protrovia, ostensibly because I was avoiding her calls, but also because that’s just like her, to do something like that for dramatic effect.
There’s a single knock on the door, and the door swings open without hesitation. My mother closes it swiftly behind her, standing with her hands on the doorknob behind her back as if she needs it to support her. “Isabella Kensington,” she says, her tone harsh.
“I understand you're upset, Mother," I start. "I had planned on telling you about what happened with Derek. I just needed some time."
"No," she says, walking toward me with long strides, her expression calm. You'd never know she was upset in the least, not to look at her. "Upset isn't the right word to use in a situation like this. Right now, I’m devastated."
I choke back a laugh. "Devastated?" I ask. "You're devastated about my broken engagement? I think that's how I should feel."
She holds her hand up, making a silence gesture. "I tolerated your need to run off to that God-forsaken continent to save the world. I was more than understanding."
"Yes, you were the epitome of support," I say, my tone bitter. I applied for the two-year position without telling anyone, using my mother’s maiden name and keeping my secret until I knew I’d gotten it without any connection to my mother or the Kensington fortune. I only told her after I’d already made the decision and accepted the position.
"There's no need to take that tone with me," she says. "And your little outburst today was appalling."
"I'm sorry you found it disturbing," I say. "Perhaps you'd find it as upsetting to know that your favorite almost son-in-law was fucking Adriana? Or that he's been doing it for years?"
"Derek is a man," she says. "All men have indiscretions, particularly men like Derek. What matters is that he's marrying you. And, if you recall, I never liked Adriana.”
I shake my head. "We’re not getting married anymore," I say. "And I don't believe that. I don't want something like that."
She raises her eyebrow. "Please tell me I raised a daughter who's not naive enough to believe in some ridiculous notion of true love."
I don't know why the words surprise me, but they do. "It's not ridiculous," I protest, my voice weak.
Except I'm not sure I believe that. Maybe it is ridiculous and naive.
"Fairy-tales," she says. "I blame that nanny of yours. She was always reading you stories like that when you were young. It's time to grow up, Isabella. Life isn't one big fairy-tale."