"I. Am. Not. Getting. Married," I repeat, this time more slowly, emphasizing each word clearly. My head is spinning.
I’m not getting married.
I don't say the rest of the words. But I think them in my head, panic rising in my throat.
I am not getting married -- because I already am. The thought makes me want to vomit.
I’m already married.
To my brand-spanking-new stepbrother.
Prince Albert, the Crown Prince of Protrovia.
This is a royal fucking nightmare.
“Isabella Kensington,” my mother hisses. “This is not the time nor place.”
If she only knew how badly this was not the time nor place.
“Oh, juicy.” King Leopold’s daughter stands on the other side of the room, leaning against an ornate carved wooden statue that's trimmed in gold and glittering with precious gems, her torn jeans and faded t-shirt emblazoned with the name of an indie rock band from the United States. She is a stark contrast to the formality of this room in the palace.
I look around the room with a clinical kind of detachment that means I’m probably in shock. I haven’t even had a chance for a tour of the palace. I wonder if this room is the place where they announce bad news. Do royal palaces have designated bad news rooms? They should.
I suppose my mother and the king – Leo – only think their nuptials are good news.
The girl – I can’t even remember her name; it’s like my mind has gone completely empty -- pops her gum loudly. “Sweet. A broken engagement? At least I’m not the only one causing drama for once.”
Leopold gives her a disapproving look. “Yes, Alexandra,” he says, scowling at her. “That’s certainly a silver lining.”
“So the two of you are getting married,” Alexandra says, crossing her arms over her chest. “I think we’re all pretty clear on that. You’ve been seeing each other all summer. It’s not exactly a big secret, okay? We’re one big happy family. Smile for the press and all that. Are we done now?”
“Alexandra!” Leopold bellows, his deep baritone thundering through the room. The sound makes me jump, and it seems to surprise him, like he’s not used to losing his temper, because he clears his throat immediately. “Yes. Sofia and I are getting married.”
Am I the only one in the world who didn’t know?
Even isolated in a rural village in Africa before I came back to the States – to Vegas, because of my engagement -- I got mail. My mother could have told me before this.
She could have sent a postcard or something:
Wish you were here. P.S. I’m marrying a European monarch. You’re going to be a princess!
The King continues, saying something – using words like decorum and public eye and propriety – but I don’t hear what he says. It’s like he’s speaking in a tunnel, his words coming from someplace in the distance, and my head is swimming. I know I’m standing still, but it feels as if I’m on a boat, the floor rocking back and forth. Someone asks me if I’m okay, but I can’t seem to muster up a response.
Instead, I turn and run headlong through the room. My palms slam against the heavy, ornately-carved wooden door, pushing it open without waiting for the assistance of the man standing beside it. Is he a butler? Do palaces have butlers, or is there a fancier term for them?
When I burst out the door, a bulky, imposing man in a suit with an earpiece in his ear catches my elbow. “Are you okay, Miss Kensington?”