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Our entourage shifted when we arrived at the airport. Will returned to Listonenia with my belongings. Gaston accompanied us on our flight to New York. It was a short flight, only an hour and a half. I did not have a concrete idea of what I would be walking into with Izzie, but I braced myself for the worst. I was all too aware of what was being said about her. People pried because of her father. I lent her my full support.
“Was your first normal flight everything you hoped it would be?” She smiled at me as we deboarded the plane.
“No, not at all. A small child did not kick the back of my seat. All the babies slept quietly throughout. The flight attendants were too nice; I wanted to get yelled for attempting to ask a question. But I guess my pleasant flight experience will have to do for now.” I bantered.
Her musical laughter brought a smile to my face. “You’ll have bad luck next time.”
“I hope so. I want to be able to join in when people talk about their bad airport experiences.”
“I’ll clue you in on a trick. Say going through security was a pain. EVERYONE hates taking off their shoes, jackets, sorting all of their things in bins and being searched. Say you hated that and you’ll blend right in.” She advised with a smile.
Everything was business as usual when we were in the airport terminal. The scene was much different when we were in the baggage claim. Going through security wasn’t required; anyone could walk right in, including paparazzi. Airport employees worked to keep them from going past a certain point. Izzie slid her sunglasses onto my face before they spotted her. Gaston became much more protective of me. Their cameras flashed like lightning as they captured her every move. They eventually started yelling rude things at her in hopes of getting a negative reaction shot to label with a quote taken out of context.
“No, B, no! I don’t like it!” Soph whimpered in fear and hid behind his leg as we waited at the luggage carousel for our bags to arrive.
“Don’t worry, Ladybug. I won’t let them get you.” He knelt down and picked her up.
“I’m sorry.” Izzie looked up at me.
I let go of her hand and draped my arm across her shoulders. I kissed the top of her head. She leaned into me.
We attempted to leave the moment we had our luggage. The questions continued as we neared the exit. She shielded her face with her free hand.
“Is he your boyfriend?!”
“What would your father think?!”
“You’re getting around!”
“HEY! Leave her alone!” I shouted in response, having reached my breaking point.
“Prince Milo, we need to leave. It is not safe for you here.” Gaston intervened, actively worked to get me out the door.
We were safe in the parking lot, but the fire storm of scrutiny at the airport was a lot to come down from. Izzie and I needed to go our separate ways for a while – I needed to check in at my hotel and she was expected at Audrey’s house.
“You did not need to do that for me.” She hugged me tight.
“Yes, I did. That was unacceptable.” I kissed her cheek.
“I love you.” She closed her eyes.
“I love you too.” I rubbed her back.
“I’ll see you later.” She leaned up and quickly captured her lips with mine.
I waved. She twirled around and joined Bosworth in their car.
I climbed into the limousine reserved for my arrival.
“Words must be the extent of what you do for her.” Gaston warned me as he began to compile a report for the palace.
“I know. That is all that I intended to do.” I buckled my seatbelt.
“You appeared to be in control. I am simply expressing my thoughts as a precaution.”
“I know.” I glanced out the window.
“It could have been worse.”
“You. You could have done something to enrage your family. You said simple words and continued on with your business. You should not get in trouble for that.”
“Are you sure?” I glanced in his direction.
“I saw no harm in what you said. I was simply worried they would push you to do worse.”
“They might have, so thank you.” I expressed sincere gratitude.
“You’re welcome. Will it be like that the entire time we are here?”
“Presumably. That it why I insisted on coming. I am not afraid to say something to them; she is.”
“Verna and Wilmer will have their hands full this summer.”
“I intend on being well behaved.”
“The press won’t be. Finding your limit will be a game. It is much harder to spot. Even I am beginning to struggle with it.”
I smiled. “I am pleased to know I have become less predictable.”
He cracked a smile himself. “I liked it better when I knew definitively that you were up to no good. I could shut down everything without hesitation. Now I need to stay on alert. I will look incompetent if I thwart your kind gestures.”
“I am becoming quite proficient in those.”
“I am gathering that.”