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I looked out of the limousine window and saw the same scene unfold in front of me. The sea glittered beneath the sunlight; it would’ve acted as a mirror if the waves didn’t crinkle the surface. Boats with large white sails navigated the tides with ease. Fisherman cast their nets, diligently working to harvest one of our country’s most bountiful resources. Pastel painted homes were embedded in the hill behind the harbor. Instead of a deep longing for my home in America, I was content – happy, even. I did not just have a taste of what I wanted; I had it all. Needless to say, everything was far from perfect. They never would be, but the thing that made it me comfortable with that concept was the knowledge that I was not the only person making up moves as they went along. The future was no longer something I dreaded; I began to look forward to what was to come and whom I would transform into as a result.
“We are not going to test you.” Giselle stood in my room as I unpacked.
“No. They trust you. What are you doing?” She observed my behavior with apprehension.
“Unpacking. Izzie taught me how to pack my luggage. She said it is important to take it out promptly to prevent wrinkles.”
“I thought she just made you happy, but she is sincerely good for you.” She smiled.
“She allowed me to earn high marks in dance, Spanish, and English.”
“Did she do your work for you?” She stepped forward to help.
“No, I am supposed to do this by myself. She will poke fun if she finds out I commissioned assistance from an advisor.” I turned away from her. “No, to your other question as well. She studied with me.”
“Is she the reason you are picking up books voluntarily? I heard about what you did on the plane.”
“It was one book, Sell.”
“But you completed it.”
“I started reading it days ago. I like F. Scott Fitzgerald.” I bypassed her to return to my drawers.
“Does she know what she has done to you?”
“I hope so. She had a vital hand in my liberation.”
“From whom? She hardly interacted with those of us in your life.”
“Myself. Explaining further would feel too intimate, so I will let the point rest there.” I pushed my drawer closed.
“Do I have time to visit Sal before dinner with my parents?”
She checked her planner. “Yes, dinner has been pushed back an hour. Your father has a meeting with the prime minister.”
“Is there any business I need to attend to before I leave?” I searched for my car keys.
“Yes. You need to visit your mother. She is in the tea room.”
“Do I need to don more formal attire?”
“No, she wants you as you are. Those were her words. I made a note of them.”
I looked down at my shorts,t-shirt, and trainers. “Does she understand what that entails?” I pushed my glasses up onto my face as I walked over to my mirror to fix my hair.
“Not entirely, but she wants to make sure you are on stable standing before returning to Greece.”
“This conversation has the potential to become uncomfortable.”
“Pushing through it is how you foster lasting connections.”
“I hope you are right.” I inserted my phone in my pocket.
I meandered through the corridors in pursuit of my mother. A level of discomfort was a given, but I was hopeful that she would make more of an effort to fix it. Generally, I was the only one trying to communicate. She would stare at me silently until I gave into her demands and stopped arguing.
I saw her in casual clothing for the first time in my life. Her makeup and hair were still professionally done, but her khaki slacks and billowy button down hinted that she was trying to get on my level. She met me halfway in the room and hugged me.
“You look more and more like your father each time I see you.”
“Is that a compliment? You are leaving him.” I stepped away from her.
“This is why we need to talk. Have a seat.” She returned to the couch.
I sat down beside her.
“Would you like tea?”
“I prefer coffee.” I rubbed my hands on my shorts.
“I did not know that about you.” She motioned over one of the servants.
I placed my order. She picked up her teacup and turned towards me.
“We are no longer married, but I will always care for your father. My family has a shipping empire for which I am the heiress to. I did not marry him for money. His parents came to me. I was convinced that I would make him happy.”
“Had you met him before agreeing to marry him?”
“No, but I studied him. He was intelligent, passionate, and poised. I understood the honor that accompanied being with him. I did not know about Jacqueline until the day before our wedding. He still loved her. It was written all over his face when he looked at me.—“ Tears flooded her eyes and she looked down at her tea.
“But you kept going?”
“I did not know about the baby until I told your grandmother that Vincent refused to consummate our marriage. He was unable to be the man I was promised because he was rightfully heartbroken. I helped them push him beyond his limits. I have always regretted it.” She used her tea to clear her throat.
“What will you do in Greece?”
“I cannot start over, but I can move on to something new. I look forward to that prospect.” She exhaled with a tiny grin.
“You look happy.” I spoke with honesty as I studied her.
“I am. I miss my home. I will be returning to it soon. Vincent and I are finally speaking frankly. You are doing better than ever. This is the right decision.”
“When will the divorce be announced?”
“Tomorrow morning. How are you handling the ordeal?”
“It used to bother me, but I think this is for the best.” I thanked the person who brought me my beverage.
“I saw the recording of your recital performance. You are very talented.”
“Thank you.” I sipped my coffee and looked around.
“Your girlfriend is as well.”
I struggled not to smile. “She is.”
“You should keep your relationship private. I know you believe yourself to be in love with her, but you will be engaged in one scandal this summer. Ties to her would create another.” She mentioned with apprehension.
“It was not her fault.”
“I am not saying it was, but you will never be able to convince all the citizens of her innocence. It reflects poorly on you. Your reputation is still tarnished from your previous activities.”
“I know the risks. I will not seek attention, but if confronted, I will tell the truth about her. She means a lot to me.”
“Agapi̱ménos, I do not want them to hurt you. You are doing well.” She pushed my hair off of my forehead
Her use of ‘sweetheart’ was comforting, but I was still displeased with what she had to say.
“Thank you for noticing.” I focused on the positives.
I finished my coffee before leaving the room. I did not retreat in anger. I knew she had my best interest in mind. I ran out of things to say. Speaking came easier when I was with my father.
I left the palace and met Salvatore at the beach cottage with the intention of sailing. We were on the water until the sun began to set. I manned the ship as he lounged in the backseat, periodically checking his phone as he drank a beer.
“I have a new girlfriend.”
“You never stick with the same one for long. Is she blonde too?” He brought the glass bottle he was ******* back to his mouth.
“No. We have been together for six months.”
His eyes sprang to my direction. “How?”
“I love her.”
He laughed. “No, but in actuality, why are you still with her?”
“I’m not joking. I know her well. She is a great friend.”
“What is her favorite color?”
“You did not even hesitate. Her favorite book?”
“Matilda by Roald Dahl.”
“That is a children’s book. Is she mentally deficient?”
“No, far from it. She likes that Matilda is her own hero. She is always reading something new.”
“David H. Koch Theatre in New York, New York. She will be here this summer. Feel free to ask her.”
“I will. I know you are lying.”
“I’m not. I have an actual girlfriend, whom I actually love. It is not that abstract of a concept.” I steered us to the dock.
“It is for you.”
He sighed heavily. “I was warned that you have changed. I was hoping it was a myth. We used to have fun.”
“We still will. I thought you would be happy I will no longer be the family joke.”
“You always said you would never be the person they wanted you to be. Here you are.” He gestured to me.
“I wasn’t mad at the world like I pretend to be ; I did not care about it or anything really. I changed that and feel good about it.”
“What do you want me to say?” His blasé expression and relaxed position irked me.
“You have said it.” I hoisted myself out of the boat the moment I reached the dock.
He had always banked on me being his playmate. I had the means of doing so, but I did not want to be an ungrateful parasite for the rest of my life. I had a right to live and influence the lives of those around me in the process.
I drove back to the palace. I walked to my father’s office in hopes of catching him alone before dinner. Advisors surrounded him as he signed forms when I entered.
“Milo.” He beamed as he stood up from his chair. He buttoned the middle button of his suit as he approached me. He encapsulated me in a warm hug.
“It is good to have you home, even if you are trying to get taller than me.” He walked back to his desk.
I smiled as I sat down in the armchair across from it. “Almost there. May I talk to you?”
“Absolutely. I will sign these later.” He addressed the advisors.
They all greeted me on their way out the door. He folded his hands on his desk. “What would you like to speak about?”
“Sal is cross with me. He believes I have given up who I am in hopes of pleasing you.”
“No. This is me. It took seventeen years, but I finally found him.” I rubbed the back of my neck.
“Then do not apologize for revealing your true self. People are proud of you, but you are genuinely happy. We did not force you to become this person. You are too stubborn to give into our pressure.” He encouraged.
“You are right.”
“I hear you are reading now.”
“Yes.” I blushed.
“The Beautiful and ****** by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Izzie is always reading. I feel inclined to do so to keep up with her.”
“I love her already.”
“It is easy to do.” Her face appeared in my mind. I began to miss her desperately.
“For the record, I am very proud of you. You took the initiative to grow up. I look forward to watching you continue to do it.”
“Have you spoken to your mother?”
“Yes. You are right. You are better off separated.”
He slicked back his hair. “Moving on from what you have grown used to is difficult, but moving past the fear is exhilarating.”
I did not expect to transform into whom I had aspired to be when I returned to school. When I took a risk by slamming one door, another one opened. I was pushed to be better. My increasing fulfillment made my life worth living. I had a new found hope for the future. It was preplanned for the most part, but I did have a voice, one I was still figuring out how to use. I had time, plenty of it to decide what I wanted to do with it.
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