I'm seated on my bed seething with anger.
This has been the trend for the last few years. My Mom is moving in with her new boyfriend. I'm somehow used to that, but this time, I'm not willing to go.
She's making me.
Thing is, my parents divorced a few years ago. It was devastating and it obviously got to me, but I still see my dad every few weeks, so there's that.
My father remarried a year after he officially parted ways with my Mom and he has a son with Celine; the new wife. The boy is four or five years old but I've never met him. I'm still bitter about the divorce, so meeting my dad's new family is not appealing at all.
My mom hasn't been so lucky with her love life. She has dated quite a few guys since the divorce. We always move whenever she meets someone new, and because of that, I keep changing schools.
It doesn't help at all that those men always end up breaking her heart.
Right now, I should be starting my final year of highschool and I'm totally fed up with moving all the time. I always have to start from scratch; make new friends, meet new people, and I'm just so over it.
"Can I come in?"
Mom's voice makes me look up. When I stay quiet, she walks in and closes the door behind her.
I watch her as she approaches my bed. She's in dark jeans and a blue sweater, and her hair is pulled back in a sleek ponytail. She looks way too young for her age and she is pretty; so pretty.
"Bella, stop being a baby." She sighs as she sits beside me and places a gentle hand on my shoulder. "You have to start packing!"
I shrug her hand off.
"Why are you doing this to me? What pleasure do you get in starting all over again? Do you just like it when our lives are a s**t show?"
She gazes at me for a long second.
"You don't understand. I'm in love with Daniel."
"You're not." I shake my head to emphasize my point. "You've known him for what, four months?"
"Five, actually. He's different, Bella. You should give him a chance. At least get to know him before you dismiss him."
"Don't you get the déjà vu? We've had this talk four times in the past and all those times, those men ended up breaking your heart. What are the odds that it'll be any different this time?"
"Daniel is different."
"I've heard that four times before."
"We're not going to argue about this. We are moving tomorrow. Daniel already looked into schools and got an amazing one for you. He even took care of all the paperwork that you'll need to join the new school. You just have to calm down and pack."
"I don't want to change schools again."
"It can't be that bad. The new school is only fifteen minutes away from Daniel's, and we'll get you a car on your birthday next month. Everything will be okay. You'll see."
I briefly close my eyes, fighting the thick lump that's forming in my throat.
"That is not the point. I'm just tired of moving around. Why can't you send me to a boarding school? We could easily secure a vacancy before the new term begins, then I won't have to bother you and your boyfriend. I'll get to keep some friends and my sanity."
"You know why I can't let you stay away from me. You know, don't you?"
I look away before I nod. I know why she's so paranoid; why she'd rather have me move me across the state than letting me stay in the school dormitories.
My parents had me when they were eighteen. Mom got pregnant on her first day in college after a drunken one night thing. She met my dad at a party that her new roommate had coerced her to attend, and she lost her virginity to him in her drunken state. The two only got together when she found out she was pregnant with me. She keeps reminding me that their marriage was a nightmare because they were forced together by circumstances, namely me, and that's why everything went to s**t in the end.
They never loved each other.
For that reason, she won't let me out of her sight, and she'd definitely have a heart attack if I asked for permission to go to a party. Even worse, she'd kill me before I had a boyfriend.
She wants me to graduate highschool, go to college, get a good job then a husband; in that order. According to her, that is the only ideal life, and she's willing to do anything in her power to ensure I get the cream of it. That's why she'd rather have me move in with her and her new man.
That, is suffocating, especially when you consider the fact that I've never liked any of the dudes she's dated. They were all absolute jerks to her.
"Mom, your paranoia is baseless. There are no parties in boarding schools. I won't do anything stupid and I won't get a boyfriend if that's what will make you happy."
"You don't understand, darling. I'm trying to do right by you. I'm just trying to protect you from making the same mistakes that I did. I missed out on life. I dropped out of college to take care of you, and I was stuck in a loveless marriage for a decade because I went to one party. You're the best thing that ever happened to me, Bella. There's no doubt about that, but I wouldn't want you to follow the same path I did."
I feel awful for starting this conversation when tears brim in her eyes. She always gets upset whenever she talks about her marriage with Dad.
"Why didn't you two get a divorce sooner?" I ask, taking her hand in mine to soothe her.
"We wanted to stick together for you. We didn't want you to grow up without both parents."
"You only ended up getting hurt. You should never have done that for me."
"Don't be ridiculous. I'd do anything for you."
"Then I don't want to move. Don't make me do it."
She shakes her head.
"Anything but that."
A chauffeur gets us from the airport since Daniel is still at the office. It was a really short flight but I feel exhausted. I hate moving, period.
I already miss our small apartment. It wasn't much, but it was ours. Mom worked her ass off to afford it, but look at us now. We're moving out and away to live with a man I've never met.
What if he kicked us out? What if he's a disgusting human who's just taking advantage of mom's naivety? What if he hates me the first time he sets his eyes on me and makes my life a living hell?
I groan as I lean back into the seat.
I'm about to find out.
I look from my Mom, to the chauffer, to the mansion standing before us, and then back to Mom.
We just got to our destination and I can't believe my eyes.
"Daniel owns this?"
"He's a wealthy man."
I gulp as I look at the massive building again. It's a wonder to behold. Is Mom only moving in with him because of the money?
I'd think not.
My mother is certainly a lot of things, but a gold digger has never been one of those.
"Have you been here before?" I ask casually as the chauffeur piles our bags on the porch.
"He must be stupid rich. What on earth would anyone want such a big house for?"
Mom shrugs and says nothing.
I glance around us as we head to the front door. The whole neighbourhood is almost the same. All the houses are majestic, standing proudly in the setting twilight, and it's so quiet around here save for the occasional passing ostentatious car.
Daniel's house is sandwiched between two others, both bigger and grander than his. There's limited space between his house and the white mansion on the left, but there's a nicely tended stretch of grass between this house and the one on our right.
I briefly wonder if people staying in such places ever interact with their neighbours?
I highly doubt they do.
"Don't just stand in the driveway. Come in." Mom calls from the doorway, and I hastily follow her. I don't want her thinking that she's making a mistake even though that's exactly what I'm thinking.
I mean, who has that kind of money to live in such a posh neighborhood? What does he do for a living? Is he a drug dealer? A lottery winner?
A fricking magician?
I'm probably being too paranoid but I can't help it. I love my Mom. I don't want her to get hurt.
A young lady is waiting for us in the living area. She warmly shakes our hands, and not once does the smile on her lips die.
"My name is Alicia. I'm the housekeeper. It's great to meet you." She addresses me before she turns to my Mom. "It's a pleasure to meet you again, ma'am."
"You can call me Alex." Mom smiles back.
Alicia nods uncertainly.
"I'll show Bella to her room."
"You know my name?"
She's quick to nod.
"Your Mom told me that she has a pretty daughter named Bella after the legendary Twilight character."
Yeah, my mom is a total sucker for Twilight.
I keep looking around as I follow Alicia up the flight of stairs. It's so quiet and so white in here. Having lived in small apartments all my life, I find this place extremely eerie.
It's just a lot for me to take in.
Alicia opens a door on the far end of the relatively short hallway and we step in.
My room looks like it fell out every teenage girl's wildest dreams. It's spacious and grand, and the colours are warm and nicely blended. The walls are painted a very pale blue, and the window is a little too wide.
A grey couch with multicoloured pillows is seated against one of the walls, and a walk-in closet opens at the far end of the room.
I raise an eyebrow as I regard the queen sized bed. What am I gonna do with that? Play tennis on it?
"What do you think? I can change the curtains and the pillows if you think they're too much. I was really hoping that you'd like it. Daniel told me to ensure it's great..." Alicia trails off, and I turn to look at her when I realize that she's rather anxious.
"The room is perfect. Thank you so much for preparing it for me."
Her shoulders relax as she nods.
"I'll arrange your closet if that's okay."
"Don't worry about it. I got it."
"Are you sure?"
"Uh, okay. I'll arrange your books on the shelves for you. You can't say no to that. I have to help somehow. That's my job."
I spare her a tiny smile.
"You really don't have to, but that's okay."
"Do you need anything to drink?"
"No, I'm fine."
She nods before she exits, to bring up my bags I guess.
I walk to the window and peer outside. The white mansion on the left is unbelievably close. A window is directly opposite mine, and I could actually see inside the room if it were open.
The windows are just a few feet apart so I briefly wonder if anyone uses that room. Hopefully, it's unoccupied. I'd hate it if I had a neighbour. Staring out of my bedroom window is kinda my thing, and I genuinely don't like anyone disrupting me while I'm at it.
When I finally meet Daniel at dinner, I can't believe my eyes. I assumed he'd be an aging man but he looks a year or two younger than my mom. If my judgement is right, he's still in his early thirties.
He gets to his feet to shake my hand when I walk into the dining area. He already has a warm, reassuring smile on his face. He appears to be genuinely happy to see me for some reason.
"Bella, it's so nice to finally meet you! Your Mom has told me so much about you."
"Whatever she told you is probably a lie." I say lightly, not bothering to return his smile. I still think that he's going to hate me like all the other guys mom dated.
"She actually said that you're a very beautiful, smart girl. She's so proud of you."
I smile awkwardly as I take my place at the table.
Throughout the meal, I keep my eyes on Mom and her boyfriend, and I'm awed.
Daniel keeps his eyes on her almost the entire time, and he keeps passing her the food before she even asks. He smiles every time their eyes meet, and he instinctively leans in; giving her his entire attention whenever she says something.
After dinner, I'm quick to leave the table, but Daniel stops me in my tracks.
I take a deep breath to calm my nerves before I turn around.
"Welcome home. If you need anything.."
"Thank you. I'll, um, go upstairs and unpack. I have school tomorrow."
"Ryan will drive you in the morning."
"The driver. You don't have a car yet, and your Mom won't let me get you one before your birthday, so you'll have someone take you to school."
This is not the life I want. I have a comfort zone that I don't want to step out of. I don't want to be some stuck-up kid with a chauffer. I want to be myself in the new school; the awkward, insecure girl with divorced parents who never loved each other.
"I don't need a driver. I'll catch the bus."
Daniel throws his head back and laughs.
"Bella, that's ridiculous! You won't get a bus around here. Everyone has a car."
I look at Mom who just shrugs.
"Let the driver take you to school. It's not a big deal."
I don't seem to have an option.