So this is it. The moment when I will meet prince Matteo of Italy. Their car stops promptly at the entrance. My parents and I are arranged in a neat line, trying not to show our internal emotions. I bet my mother is overjoyed. As for my dad, he is probably just worried about any stunts I might try to pull. I can’t wait for this to finish so I can go back to you.
“May I present,”, a servant opens the car door for them. “King Bernardo and queen Giuditta.”, they exit the car in that exact order, with the king offering his elbow to the queen, which is gracefully taken by her. “May I also present their son,”, the servant adds, “prince Matteo.”, the latter walks out the car with an icy grin. He’s wearing a white shirt, whose sleeves have been rolled up to his elbows. His hair is tidied to emphasize his sapphire eyes. I always wondered how is it that royals always seem to be blessed with astonishing looks.
“Queen Katrina, king Robert.”, queen Giuditta gives us a little curtsy, which her husband follows with a handshake. “Princess Isabella, we’re outrageously happy to finally meet you.”
“Likewise.”, I answer. My mom gives me a stern stare. Like I care that I should have had a fancier answer. Matteo follows behind them and greets my parents.
“It’s a pleasure to see you again.”, he then extends his arm to me. “We finally meet.”
“We finally do.”
“Well you,”, he glances at his mother, “certainly look lovely.”
“Thank you.”, I do a curtsy of my own.
“Shall we go inside for some tea.”, my mother offers, “You can tell us about your travel.”
“Matteo is not very fond of tea.”, Giuditta replies, “But my husband and I will gladly join you.”
Oh, I see where she’s heading with this. Maybe our two mothers even planned on saying that.
“Isabella,”, my mother turns to me, “maybe you can show Matteo the garden meanwhile?”, although her voice raises at the end of the sentence, it’s not really a question.
“It would be my pleasure.”, I answer batting my eyelashes. Matteo seems to notice my sarcasm as a small smile creeps up his lips.
“So,”, we’re in the garden, “we’re walking together.”
“Yeah.”, he agrees.
“I bet you actually like tea.”
“You bet right.”
We walk some more, observing the flowers around. I’m reminded of the last time I was here. When your memories were still gone and we shared our second first kiss. I wish it could be you here with me.
“Wave, they’re looking at us.”, he takes me out from my trance. Our parents are observing us from the second floor window so he gives them a theatrical wave. His mom shakes her head disapprovingly and they all return to their seats.
“So I presume you’re not into the whole matchmaking thing either?”, I question.
“That obvious, huh?”
“Maybe we should stage a massive fight and get it over with.”
“As much as I like the sound of that, our parents will say we haven’t tried enough.”
I have to admit he’s right. Our parents need to see that despite their/our efforts things just can’t work out between the two of us.
“So we’re stuck.”
“Only for a month.”, he shrugs with a smile.
We continue walking without speaking. All we do is just daydream into the distance, while waiting for the time to pass. Whose idea exactly was it that it’s best for princesses to marry princes? I mean, we already have kingdoms of our own, what do we possibly gain from such a marriage? We certainly lose a lot. But still, I am luckier than other royals before me. At least I have a way out.
My phone breaks the silence and I reach to pull it from the hidden pocket of my skirt. I asked Merry to sew one on most of my dresses.
“Sorry, I have to pick up.”, I turn to him and answer. “Hi.”
“Hello.”, your voice greets me. “How’s it going?”
I take a glance at Matteo.
“Ok, I guess.”
“How is he?”, of course you would ask that, “Please say incredibly ugly and boring.”
I know you’re not entirely joking, but I still laugh.
“Sorry, I’ll have to disappoint you.”
“Darn. So I better up my game then.”
“Your game is already high enough.”
“How nice of you to say.”
“If you’re really desperate to see him, I can arrange for my mother to invite your family over. Plus, I’m sure they’ll be organizing a ball soon, so you can meet each other.”
“Nah, I’m not too keen on meeting my competition.”
“Suit yourself then.”
“So when can I see you?”, yeah, the most important question.
“After dinner will probably be best.”
“Well, I’m a very busy lady.”
“Yeah, I’ve noticed.”
How I wish we were having this conversation in person and not on the phone.
“So, I’ll see you then?”
“Yeah, see ya.”
I hang up and hide the phone back in the pocket. Then I give Matteo an apologetic smile.
“That your boyfriend?”
“How’d you know?”
“You’re meeting him late, your face lit up when you answered the phone, I added two and two together.”
“I like your hiding place by the way.”, he points to my skirt.
“Thanks. Don’t you wish you were wearing skirts just to have such a thing?”
“What makes you think I don’t already have one?”, he asks revealing a similar pocket underneath his shirt. “Normal guys have pockets on their trousers but my mother claims that it ruins a man’s appearance.”
“Yeah, don’t start about appearances.”, I roll my eyes with a smile. Playing along he began telling me a story.
“When I was six she told me I can’t play with my toy riffle, because it would make me look violent.”
“For my eight birthday I got a kid-size kitchen so that I look more approachable in the future.”
He gives me a surprised look and asks:
“So did you hold a tantrum at your parents for not getting you the right gift?”
“Oh, no, I really liked the kitchen. I just had asked for a Barbie doll instead.”
“Ah, poor you.”, I he said mockingly.
“Ok, maybe my parents weren’t the worst in the world, but I had to beat your story.”
“Well, I wouldn’t say beat, but we were pretty equal.”
“That’s a consolation.”
He looks at me and we laugh together.