- Genre: Romance
- Age: 18+
- Status: Completed
- Language: English
- Author: Prosper Joe
Isabella hated crowded places. The occasional brush of a stranger’s skin against hers, the absolute lack of personal space, and, how could she forget, the unnecessary chatter from every single person, which sounded like a group of buzzing bees, always gave her a migraine. But today was different. She was suppressing a growing smile on her face as she waited for her flight to be called.
Isabella was heading back home to New York from Paris, where she had displayed a new fashion line. Ever since the end of the event, her phone had been blowing up with emails, text messages, and calls from clients who couldn’t wait to get their overpriced manicured nails on the clothes.
The dings and chimes were a constant reminder of her success, but she soon put the phone on silent after she had been graced with a few annoyed looks from others who were also waiting for their flights.
When her flight was called, she carried out all the necessary precautions with an extra twirl in her step, smiling at every single staff member she encountered. Her journey seemed to last for only a few seconds, and she was back to the bustling streets of New York.
Flagging down a cab, she hauled her suitcase into the vehicle without the driver’s help. But Isabella wasn’t surprised at his nonchalance. On a bad day, she would have been muttering profanities directed at the man whose legs were propped on the dashboard, but Isabella had made it her priority to be as happy as a unicorn, so she loaded her luggage without any word.
The cab pulled up to her house, which was a modest word for the majestic mansion that she had grown up in. The driver perked up as he gazed at it, leaping out of the vehicle to help unload her luggage. Isabella almost rolled her eyes at his sudden care for her; this was something she had gotten used to after living a privileged life for twenty-five years and counting. The frowns turned into wide grins, the glares into soft looks after her name was recognized in a building filled with other wealthy individuals.
She pulled out a few dollar bills, shoving them into the man’s hand before hastily dragging her luggage behind her.
The house was lively and buzzing with activities. There were more servants than Isabella could remember; artificial flowers and expensive plates were being moved into a white van outside, and a lot of orders were screamed from different parts of the house. Looking round at the multiple faces, Isabella searched for any face that may be oddly familiar, and it soon rested on her mother’s, who sat on the white sofa with a serious expression while a lady holding a clipboard chattered animatedly to her.
Sighing in relief, Isabella called out, “Mother.”
Right on cue, her mother’s eyes met those of Isabella’s, and her face soon broke into a grin.
“There she is. Come here,” her mother gestured to her with open arms.
Isabella smiled at the warm welcome before enveloping herself in her mother’s embrace. “It’s so good to see you, mother.” It had been at least three months since she last saw her family. “You look stunning, by the way.” A compliment had always been the one thing that could melt her mother’s stoic heart.
“You love to flatter me,” her mother blushed deeply. “You must be exhausted from your journey.”
In truth, Isabella knew that the journey had passed by in a blur, and she felt no form of exhaustion due to the residue from her excitement, but her mother would rather chew her tongue than hear all about her job.
“Come on. Get refreshed and come downstairs. You won’t believe the news I have for you,” her mother squealed excitedly.
“Alright,” Isabella giggled, infected by her mother’s happiness. “I’ll be right down.”
She dragged her luggage behind her, smiling in response to the occasional greetings from the maids and manservants. She pushed open the door to her room and was met with the image of her actual home. Her room was exactly as she had left it months back. The warm purple walls, fairy lights, and multiple pictures covering an entire section of the wall instantly brought the feeling of internal peace.
After Isabella stepped out of the bathroom, the warm bath made a fresh wave of exhaustion wash through her, and the inviting bed called out to her loudly, such that she obliged. As her head hit the soft pillow, she dozed off into a dreamless sleep.
“You’re finally awake,” Isabella’s mother announced as she walked down the stairs.
“Yeah. Sorry, I dozed off,” Isabella apologized.
“It’s not your fault; blame the jet lag,” she chuckled.
There was definitely something different with her mother; she was happier and nicer to Isabella than the last time they had interacted. What changed exactly was something Isabella couldn’t quite place.
All the busy workers had cleared by the time she woke up, and the house was quiet and cold.
“It was really busy earlier today. What was the occasion?”
Her father walked into the sitting room where Isabella and her mother sat discussing.
“Good evening, father,” Isabella greeted cautiously.
His only response was a grunt as he settled himself on the white sofa. Isabella wasn’t shocked at his rudeness; they had never been close as a family or individually.
“Rough day?” Isabella attempted to start a conversation.
“I hope you’ve told her?” her father ignored her question, facing her mother instead.
Isabella only attempted to sink into the soft cushion as she watched their exchange.
“No, honey. I was just about to when you walked in,” her mother answered.
“Tell me what?” Isabella directed the question at her mother this time, too curious to mind herself.
“We actually have exciting news for you,” her mother clapped in glee. “Are you ready?”
Isabella wasn’t. All her life, her parents’ version of a surprise was something sick and twisted. Her last surprise from them had been nine years ago, after she had gone to visit her aunt for two weeks. Unknown to her, the application that she submitted to a highly competitive fashion school was accepted, but her parents had rejected the offer in her absence, using their connections to earn her a spot in a university to study Business Administration.
Isabella had never felt so pissed off, but she did the course for four years, earned her degree, dropped it before her parents, and then proceeded to travel to Paris to study Fashion Designing. Her parents turned their faces away at the mention of her job.
Now, she dreaded the surprise.
“You’re getting married this Saturday,” her mother squealed.
It took a total of five seconds for the words to register in Isabella’s brain.
“What exactly do you mean by that?” she asked slowly.
“Oh, sweetheart. You are going to be married in the next two days. All preparations are underway, so do not fret over that.”
Her heart pounded faster in her chest, and the blood seemed to rush into her ears, drowning out the sound of her mother’s chattering.
This couldn’t be happening. Isabella had always been a hopeless romantic while growing up; she fantasized about her prince charming, that one guy whom the universe had made just for her. The kind of guy that would run while it rained heavily just to tell her how much he loves her.
Not some nameless stranger.
“I can’t get married to someone who I don’t love, heck, who I don’t even know. He could be some serial killer or an axe murderer for all we know,” Isabella’s voice rose an octave; the ridiculousness of the situation seeped into her anger.
“He isn’t a serial killer, dearie,” her mother placated.
Isabella almost felt sickened at the calm voice and terms of endearment directed to her by her mother. If her mother was this nice, this marriage was a huge deal to them.
“His name is Alexander Sinclair,” her father chipped in.
The last name rang a distant bell in her head, and that was when the realization set in. “You’re selling me off because of a contract?” Isabella’s nostrils flared in unbelief. “This is due to that stupid merger with Sinclair Ltd you have been pining after for months now. You want to use me as some leverage,” she stated in disappointment.
“That stupid merger could set our family and generations to come for life,” Mr. Monroe tried to convince.
“Is everything about money to you both? Have you ever considered my happiness? I won’t do it.”
“Yes. You will,” her father screamed in anger. “You will marry that boy and be a doting wife. That is the least you can do for this family, you selfish brat,” he glared at Isabella.
“I’m selfish?” Isabella scoffed. “I have given up my dreams for you both, and somehow, I’m the selfish one?”
She stood from the cushion before walking towards the stairs.
“Come back here, Isabella. We’re not done.”
But she was.