''What?!'' I ask, without realising the tone of my voice—causing the whole restaurant to become quiet and turn to look at me. I immediately cover my face with my hand; embarrassed. As I mutter curses under my breath, I start to look back up at my mother, seeing her lips curve up into a smile.
''You heard me, sweetheart.'' She replies, taking a bite of her salmon. Both of her brown eyes are looking straight at me and for once, I feel like poking both of her eyes due to the anger I'm feeling. My mind can't seem to take the pressure I'm feeling at the moment.
''What does that even mean?'' I groan, rubbing onto my temples as I start to feel stress radiating.
My mind can't seem to forget the words she said minutes ago. She told me that I am engaged to a well-known prince of England. Not only that, she also told me that I have been engaged ever since I came out of her tummy—taking the first breath of fresh air. My mother could be insane, she might need to be admitted to the hospital and get things checked out but I know that's not it.
''Emma, what's so shocking about it? You're twenty-five this year, you don't have a boyfriend, you are beautiful, available—so you shall get married. It's destined for you. Other girls would be dying on their feet to marry a prince. I really don't expect a reaction like yours,'' She says, shaking her head in disagreement.
My eyebrows furrow, not really believing what she said, ''I don't want to get married, mother. I'm twenty-five, single, beautiful but not available. There's nothing that you can do to force me because I have control over my own life.'' I reply, with a smile on my face; trying to calm myself down.
To my surprise, she starts to chuckle which leaves me in confusion. I continue to look at her, trying to seek for answers but she seems calm and prepared for everything—which terrifies me. What if she planned everything out yesterday before meeting me? That can be a disaster.
''You simply don't understand, child. Your great-grandfather made the agreement with the previous king of England. Do you know how important is it? Royalties take such things very serious, they don't fool around.'' She continues before taking a sip of water.
''No. This is not happening. I have a life, mum. I managed to take over dad's restaurant and make it successful again after my graduation so you're not going to take that away from me. Marriage is very out of topic, we shall not talk about this again if you don't want to upset me.'' I say, groaning afterwards.
My life can't be destroyed with marriage. This is too much for me to handle. Sometimes, I can't even handle myself and she wants me to marry a royalty? That's very insane. I know, I've been single ever since I got my heart broken by my first love—back in high school but that's not the case, I really don't want to fall in love again. Not yet.
''Sweetheart, this isn't my choice. It was made before your father was even born. There's surely not an option either for you,'' She breaks the silence, causing me to groan once more—realising that she's really starting to piss me off.
When it comes to temper, I'm not very good at handling it. My family knows that about me. They say that it comes from mum but she hardly agrees. Almost everything about me comes from her except for my appearances—it's mostly from dad but the eye colour is definitely from mum.
Brown eyes all the way, people.
Mum and dad had a divorce when I was fifteen. It's due to the fact that they can't solve things very well—it's the cause of their marriage to be broken. Dad also said that they weren't compatible anymore and if they continue any further, it might scar deeply. Apart from their divorce, they are still close friends.
''Wouldn't you like it if I marry someone I love?'' I ask, causing her to stop talking at once. Her eyes are looking straight into mine; somehow I see regret appearing but she immediately blink it away.
Tears are starting to appear in her eyes, making me lean back on the chair. She breathes out, smiling down before looking back up at me, ''Just like your father and I.'' She mutters under her breath but still loud enough for me to hear.
She holds onto my hand on the table, ''That's exactly what I want for you, Emma. I want you to marry the man that you love, the man that you will plan your future with together, the man that you will fight for. I want what's best for you, honey. Marrying the prince is definitely not one of them but there's not an option for you,'' She rubs the back of my hand with her thumb; trying to soothe me down.
We end up enjoying the silence, only remembering the memories of growing up and spending with our loved ones. I know, deep inside, she never wanted to let dad go and it goes the same with him but it's also true that if you truly love someone, you'll let them go when it's right. For the sake of each other's happiness.
''I don't want to marry someone I don't know,'' I say and she nods, agreeing, ''I'll think about it, I'll either run away and leave the country so that they'll never find me or I'll come and see you,'' I add, making her laugh.
I immediately stand up, walking towards her before wrapping my arms around her neck and pulling her close for a hug. She rubs onto my back, soothingly trying to make me feel and think that everything will be alright. Everything will be fine. Nothing will come and prevent me from living the life I have planned.
''I love you, mum.'' I whisper near her ear.
''I love you more,'' She replies, pecking onto my cheek. I head straight towards the cashier to settle the bill before heading out after glancing one last time at her—seeing that she's also looking back at me with a small smile. Not a single mother would want to see sadness in their child's eyes but sometimes it's too difficult.
I walk down the street but my mind can't seem to forget about the things she said. My eyebrows furrow, remembering that she didn't say his name so I can't exactly search his name online because that's the only way I can know how he looks like—incase he's beautiful, I might reconsider.
Excuse me, what? I thought. I am not that cheap! I will not go for someone just because he's good-looking but that may be like the first reason—then again, it's not really necessary to only go for his looks. He could be handsome but he could also be hot-tempered; like me. If we're both hot-tempered, things will fall apart. Even the castle's roof.
I push the door open to my restaurant and I am greeted with a large amount of people enjoying their meals. My lips curve up into a smile at Jace—a very close friend of mine ever since he started working here. He's been good at giving me advice especially when it comes to men. I'm not the only one that is interested in men, he is too.
''How was it with your mother?'' He asks, resting his elbow on the counter.
With a deep sigh, I turn to look at him, ''It's awful. It would be better if I didn't go.'' I reply, earning myself a chuckle from him—maybe we can trade places. He can take my spot and go marry while I stay here, enjoying the life that I've always wanted.
''Sorry to hear that, baby girl but what happened?'' He raises an eyebrow.
We both sit down at the nearest table as he continues to look at me, concern in this eyes. He takes both of my hands on the table; trying to ensure me to speak because everything is going to be fine. ''I'm engaged,'' I mutter which causes his eyes to widen—not quite believing what he heard.
''Engaged as in engaged to be married?'' He blinks a few times.
''Yes, silly.'' I chuckle.
He looks down at my hand, trying to search for the engagement ring but I quickly raise both of my hands up, showing him that there's definitely no ring. Then, he continues to furrow his eyebrows in confusion; probably thinking that I'm insane and creating a fake engagement with an invisible man, ''Who are you engaged to? Is he hot? Handsome? Fuckable?'' His grin widens.
I roll my eyes, expecting his answers already.
''I don't know!'' I reply.
Jace furrow his eyebrows a bit more than necessary, almost squinting his light blue eyes, ''Are you saying that you don't know if he's hot or not? Girl, then you shouldn't marry him. What if he's old or a pervert or a pedophile? That's never safe, I wouldn't be there to protect you, sunshine.'' He raises his index finger before shaking it sideways.
''I mean, I don't know, Jace. My mum told me that I'm engaged to a royalty—how crazy can that sound? She didn't even tell me his name so we can't really search his name for pictures. I'm left clueless.'' I shrug, making a sad puppy face.
''Whoa, wait a minute. You're engaged to a royalty?'' His eyes widen instantly, showing how surprised he is. Then, he starts to stand up—overreacting a little before sitting down once more; but that's Jace, you got to love him, ''Damn, Emma. Go for it! He's a royalty, what more do you want?'' He winks.
''That's exactly what I don't want. Marrying a royalty is pretty cool in Disney movies but in real life, it seems impossible and weird. I'm a normal city girl who doesn't know shit about royalties—besides, this could be a pity joke. I don't what to think anymore,'' I lean my head against the seat, sighing deeply, ''What if he thinks that I'm ugly?'' I add.
''What if he's ugly?'' Jace questions.
I laugh, realising that it's true. I don't know how he looks like and he surely doesn't know how I look like—we both could be simply normal who might like each other or we might end up hating each other and never want to talk about anything. He can be a crazy lunatic or he can be a sweetheart; it's all possible.
''Baby girl, Emma, you're the most beautiful friend I've ever had. I swear, you can make any gay guys go straight but that's not going to happen with me, alright? You obviously have everything you ever wanted here in New York, maybe you can try and see, he could be one in a million?'' He sits beside me, wrapping his arm around my shoulder and pulling me close; giving me support.
''You friendzoned me, Jace.'' I look up at his blue eyes.
The both of us end up laughing and deep inside, I know that Jace is right. If it's true that I've been engaged to him ever since I was born, I can just go and see how things will go on—if he's a lunatic or something awful, I'll leave and never look back. I either live in regret of not going to see my so-called-fiancé or confirm things.
Who knows? He might be really nice and we might have each other's back.
''You might be right.'' I mutter.
He playfully punches me on the arm, ''What are you talking about, sunshine? I'm always right.'' He replies, chuckling before standing up, ''Look, unlike you, I actually work here and I need to get back before something goes wrong.'' He pats onto my shoulder and he starts to disappear into the kitchen; leaving me here, thinking about my life.
''Boss, you got a phone call!'' One of my employees shout from behind, causing me to quickly run towards the back, taking the call.
After work, I am just chilling in the living room, watching my favourite TV show. It's quite a day at the restaurant since it's actually the weekend, that explains the amount of customer. I've been dedicated towards my dad's restaurant ever since I graduated because when I was younger, he told me that it'll be mine one day.
Only if I work hard enough.
I guess I did work hard enough because if I didn't, I wouldn't be here, running after the restaurant. It's quite thrilling, running after a family business—I once thought on becoming a cardiologist but becoming one is a risk; leaving me here, running a business.
''Hi dad,'' I say after hearing him answering the call.
''Hey, princess. How are you? Is everything okay?'' He asks, making me smile after hearing his voice—I've missed him. The last time I saw him was last Christmas because we've both been busy and he moved to San Diego a couple of years ago.
''I'm good, how are you?'' I feel tears appearing in my eyes; making me press my lips into a thin line, wanting to prevent myself from crying. For no reason, I really feel like crying and tell him everything that has been going on with life but I don't want him to worry.
''The usual, sweetheart.'' He answers and keeps quiet for a few seconds, ''I know there's something wrong, Emma. You can tell me anything. You and I against the world, remember?''
My lips curve up into a smile as I wipe away the tears that has fallen, ''I had lunch with mum today and I found out that your grandfather was a really close friend with the previous king. Due to the fact that they want their friendship to last, they made an agreement.'' I speak, hearing him sigh at the other line; probably not expecting me to find out.
''It's not like that, Emma.''
''How long were you going to keep it a secret, dad?'' I ask.
''It was never a secret. Some people say that you were destined to marry the next king in line because ever since the agreement, you were the only first daughter born and he was the first son born. They have always had a son—it's highly unexpected for them to have a first daughter born.'' He continues, ''The agreement was made centuries ago but an agreement with the royalties are very respected.''
I breathe out, ''I've never had a choice, haven't I? You would never walk down the aisle with me towards the man I love but towards a man I barely know, would you still consider that destiny? What happened to you and I against the world, dad?'' Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I swallow the nonexistent lump in my throat.
''I'm so sorry, princess. This is one of the reasons why I don't want you to know,'' He replies.
''You can't keep it away forever.'' I mutter under my breath.
''I love you, Emma. I was only trying to protect your feelings. I wanted you to be the girl with hopes and dreams instead of the girl who knows that she'll never have a choice of her own future because it was decided before she was even born. I was only protecting my little girl,'' He says, somehow, I understand—he's only trying to make me believe that I'll actually have a normal life.
A life where I can choose where I'll stay, what I'll be, who I'll end up with but that has turned into memories. Memories that I don't intend on remembering. Maybe they were right, being an adult is much more difficult than I thought it would be. I've been wanting to grow up fast so that I can own everything, earn anything, be something but I can't seem to believe that it's all decided.
''I love you too, dad.'' I reply, ending the call before sighing deeply; watching the rain through the glass window.