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“I understand that two weeks is the maximum duration of my stay in New York. I will be able to see her trial. I can learn how the rest of it went when she comes to visit.” I leaned back in my desk chair.
“No harm in ensuring we are on the same page. I am happy I get to meet her.” My dad replied.
I smiled. “Really?”
“Yes, I have always been curious about the type of girls you genuinely fancy. Your mother is too.”
“You are still talking?”
“Our separation is very civil. We talk more now that we are no longer married.”
“I did not know it was officially over.” I looked down with a somber expression.
“We signed the papers this morning. That is the main reason I called. She still lives here in the palace. We have yet to announce it to the kingdom. You will be here when we make that announcement.”
“When is she leaving for Greece?”
“The end of the summer, just as you are returning to school. You will be able to see her off.”
“I rather not. I am not good with goodbyes.” I preoccupied myself by opening my laptop.
“It is not a goodbye. She will always be your mother. You will see her just as often as you see me.”
“Roughly three times a year. Very manageable. Will the visits occur at the same time for convenience? ” I mouthed off without contemplation.
“I know I have been distant in the past, but we have grown closer lately. We talk quite frequently. I actually know most of what is going on in your life. You have requested honesty from me. If you truly want that, you are not allowed to lash out at me for complying.” He argued with fervor.
“I know and I just – I am sorry. It is a force of habit.”
“It is one you need to break. They will be watching you this summer.”
“Ready to see how royally I screw up to express my dislike of change, I am sure.”
“Well, yes, but you will use it as an opportunity to prove that you have matured since your expulsion. After all, it is the truth.”
“Will they be looking at Izzie?”
“Your contractual agreement to an arranged marriage has been publicly nullified. You will be eighteen in a few short months, making you a prized and eligible bachelor. If you make it known that she has your attention, they will want to know why.”
“IF I make it known?”
“If no one in the kingdom knew I was expecting a child with Jacqueline, there is no reason they ever have to know you have a girlfriend.”
“In the time you have spoken about her, you have never mentioned her last name. What is it? I want a complete mental picture.”
“Why does that name sound familiar?”
“She is the senior marine biologist at the wildlife conservatory you worked at last summer. She was away on sabbatical when you were volunteering, but I am sure she was spoken of often.”
“Yes, nonstop. She is supposedly brilliant.”
“Yes, she is. Are you keeping up with your coursework?”
“Yes, I am expecting a friend over any moment to study.”
“Spanish. I have an auditory quiz on Monday.”
“Are you sure Isabella is the best person to assist you with that? Ryan would be a viable option. He is the reason you passed last year.”
“She is better at it. Her mom is Colombian. I can be distracted by either of them.”
The crack in my door slowly grew wider and Iz popped her head through. “Hi.” She whispered, leaning down to my desk to kiss me.
A smile lingered on my lips after she left them. “Listen, Dad, I have to go.” My eyes followed her as she walked to my backpack. She rummaged around for my textbook. I was more preoccupied with her backside.
“Try to learn something.”
“I am serious.”
She caught me staring and shook her head at me. “I am too. I will talk to you later.”
“Farewell.” I ended the phone call and put my phone on my desk.
“We are actually studying. This is not a front to fool around. Turn to the page.” She handed me my book.
She checked her phone as I found the chapter.
She read passages and I did my best to answer the questions that followed. She thwarted each of my attempts to derail our study session. She was distracted, texting the moment she finished reading to me, only stopping to start reading a new paragraph.
“We have been at this for two hours.” I rubbed my forehead.
“Let me read over what you have done while you take a break.” She extended her hand in my direction.
I gave her my notebook. I laid down on my bed as she remained seated.
“You did well for the most part; only a few incorrect tenses and the occasionally missed accent.” She relayed when she was finished analyzing it.
“We should celebrate.”
“I need to leave soon.” She leaned over and kissed me.
“Do you want to go now?”
She shook her head. “In a second.” She returned her lips to mine.
A second turned into minutes. Our clothes were eventually stripped off, but we remained in our underwear. We frenched frantically as I rubbed my pelvis against hers.
“Is Ry in his room?” Her breathing was labored as she grasped my back.
“I do not know. Do you want to keep going?”
She pulled my face back down to mine. We were almost to the highest level of intimacy when her phone started ringing.
“Let it go to voicemail.”
“It’s Phil. I have to answer it.”
I pulled back to look at her in astonishment.
“I am helping his sister Liza. She was nervous about calling me. I need to leave.” She reached for her phone and answered it. “Hello?” She cleared her throat.
“I wasn’t doing anything. You can put her on the phone.” She resumed talking as she moved out of my arms and got off my bed.
“Hey, Liza, how are you?” She hiked on her pants and buttoned them. She pinned her phone to her ear as she looked for her bra.
I found it beneath my pillow and handed it to her. She slipped it on quickly. She moved on to her shirt, only removing the phone from her ear to put her head through the hole.
“If you cannot have lunch with him, text me the entire hour. I’ll be like our daily lunch date. We’ll keep in touch like old pals, nothing heavy.” She stepped into her shoes.
She adjusted herself in the mirror. “You are the only reason your brother and I are talking again. I’m only doing it because I need him to get to you. You’re clearly the superior sibling. Feel free to tell him that.” She joked to put her at ease. She smiled at her reply.
I retrieved her bag before she had a chance to. “I am nothing?”
She shifted her phone from her mouth. “What was I supposed to say?” She kissed me on the cheek and walked out the door.
I hated being disregarded. Call it territorial or what have you, but I wanted my existence known. It would be each time I could help it.
I joined Ryan in our living room after showering. Without the need of a verbal cue, he transitioned from playing a video game in solo mode to multi-player. As hard as I tried, I kept finding myself sidetracked. I repeatedly looked at my phone, hoping for some sort of apology or at least a proper explanation.
“Why are you babysitting your cell?” Ryan spared a glance in my direction.
“I didn’t know you wanted to ask Elle to prom. Your mother does not have a preference between your group photos and single ones.”
“Iz. Great. Thanks for answering.” He deflected.
“Oh, come on. You knew the way I felt about Izzie.”
“Everyone did. Well, everyone minus her.”
I remained silent, knowing there was not much else I could say to him.
“I am not trying to be her boyfriend or even hook up with her. I like her as a person. I just want a simple night with a cool chick.” He explained it on his own.
“That is all you needed to say. Some sort of consultation would have been nice.”
He pushed me. We played in a comfortable silence for a little while.
“What’s going on with you guys?” He picked up.
“She’s been talking to her ex lately because his sister needs her. She said the she has told him we are together, but she will not tell her. She said she wasn’t doing anything when she left here earlier. It was a small indiscretion, but it bothered me.”
“Do you think she noticed?”
“I don’t know. She has been preoccupied with a lot lately. I do not want to be the needy boyfriend that is nipping at her heels for validation.”
“But you are.”
I pushed him.
He grinned. “What? It’s true. I have no idea how you have toughed it out this long. Izzie is a great friend, but she has so many strings attached to her as a girlfriend. Is there a point to it?” He shrugged.
“She has had a rough go of it, but when she smiles or laughs, I am taken. Even when she is sad, I admire her courage. Instead of curling into herself, she is taking care of other people. It is a reality check that other people have it much worse. I love her, Man, I love her.”
“There you go.”
“Did you just reverse psychoanalyze me?” I looked over at him.
“Yeah and it worked. I know you care about her, more than anyone and anything. Get over the sister thing. She is terrible at keeping secrets from you. You know she’s not gearing up to creep behind your back.”
“He humiliated her in front of their classmates. She hardly had feelings for him in the first place. What was there vanished long ago.”
“Then why are you griping?”
“I always claim her.”
“Pick your battles. I am sure she’ll mention it to her eventually. It’s a really small thing.”
“You are right.”
I rolled my eyes with a smile. We played until a basketball game we wanted to watch came on. There was a knock at the door during half-time.
“COME IN!” Ryan shouted.
Izzie walked in, waving to me timidly.”Can I talk to you for a second?”
“Sure.” I stood up from the couch. We went to my bedroom.
“I’m sorry I left like that. I know we were in the middle of something. I promised him that I’d be here for Eliza. She asked me if Phil and I were becoming a thing again because we are finally on speaking terms. I told her about you. I understood how you took what I said. I felt bad. Sorry.”
“It is okay.”
“Are you sure?”
I nodded. “You set the record straight.”
“I am really happy you are coming to New York with me. You are really sweet to give up part of your summer.”
“I’m not giving anything up. I’ll be with you.”
“How committed were you to the game you were watching?” She slid her arms around my neck.
“Depends on the alternative.”
“I needed the past month to process things, but I miss you. I’d like to pick up where we left off.” She moved her mouth closer to mine.
I took the bait and kissed her. The match of fierce intensity was struck once again. She decided to spend the night after we extinguished it several times, too tired to go home. Her head was resting on my bare chest. I played with her hair.
“What?” She mumbled half asleep.
“What am I thinking about?”
“I feel foolish for doubting your loyalty. All that we are is built on trust. You would not be here if you did not have complete faith in me.”
“Are you full blown sleep talking?” I craned my neck, trying to look at her.
She sighed. “I love you. Don’t overthink it. You’re my source of simple.”
“As in stupid?”
“Things are easier with you — less complicated.” She rubbed my chest.
“I’m determined get through this with you at my side.”
“That’s all I needed to know.” I kissed the top of her head.