"Why are we so poor?" I yelled at no one in particular. I just about had it with these people who supposedly have some sort of blood connection with me. I redirected my attention to the tussled middle-aged man cowering in front of me. "Are you or are you not capable of starting a business without going bankrupt?"

"But Gina, I had no idea that the porridge would be so unpopular--"

"It's a cafe! Of course people don't want to slurp on porridge in a cafe!"

"And who would've thought that so many people would be willing to buy ten cups of coffee for a new bike..."

"You've got to be kidding me!"

"And what with accidentally ordering too much--"

"That's enough!" I had reached the limit of my patience. "You do realize I'm about to enter into my last year of high school, don't you? Should I even bother applying for college?"

The man who claimed to be my father looked at me with a blank expression.

"Why wouldn't you apply to college?"

"Because we can't afford it," I replied through gritted teeth.

The front door opened and a haggard-looking woman walked in with the groceries. They were, I couldn't help but notice, mostly cabbage and potatoes. Wonderful.

"Gina dear, you do realize I can hear you from about a mile away?" Mother said as she calmly put away the groceries in our small refrigerator that held little else. "Where's Collins and Berta?"

"Collins took Berta to the park before Gina got home," dad answered.

"Smart of him."

"Mother! Can we please get a little serious?"

"Really Gina, this isn't the first time your father bankrupted one of his business ventures." Her level, reasonable tone infuriated me even more.
"But that's the problem! He does this time and again! There's no way the bank will go easy on us this time. We're going to be kicked out of our house! I'll have to quit school right before my senior year and get a job at a fast-food restaurant flipping burgers and taking orders to support this family and--"

"Georgiana Martine Fitzwilliam, stop this nonsense immediately."

I instantly obeyed. Mother had that look on her face. The one I assumed was on mine when I walked through the door earlier today after the first day of the new school year to find my father in his pjs, eating popcorn and watching The Price is Right. It wasn't hard from there to figure out what he had done. Again.

"You will not be quitting high school and you'll go to college." Despite the finality in her voice, I couldn't help but doubt this incredible statement.

"Yes, well..." It would be unwise to directly contradict my mother. "I may have over exaggerated, but not by much! First of all, how could we possible afford college tuition? More immediately, how can I continue going to my ridiculously expensive private high school? I won't quit school but won't it be better for us if I just switched to a public school? Really, I don't mind transferring my senior year..." Maybe this was the silver lining. I'd finally have a valid excuse to switch schools.

"Absolutely out of the question," mother said, deflating my hopes. "You attend the Academy on mostly scholarships. How can you even think about giving that up? It's your ticket to all the best colleges in the world."

"Mother," I continued. Sometimes I just really didn't know when to quit. "We still have to pay a quarter of the tuition every year and that's a lot. Won't we be better off cutting that from our expenses? I can still get into a good school-"

"This discussion is over. Go change into your best outfit. You're leaving in twenty minutes."

"But-" I started. "Wait, what? Why? Where are we going?"

Mother looked pointedly at dad. "You haven't told her?"

"I could hardly get a word in edgewise when Gina flew into one of those rages of hers!" Dad tried to defend himself.

Mother sighed and looked towards the heavens as if hoping the answer to all her problems, or in other words the man that is her husband, would be there.

"Gina dear," mother said, trying to smile. "We got a call from an old friend of your grandmother."

"Grandmother Pearl?" I asked in a respectful tone.

"No, from your father's side."

"Nana? But she died two years ago."

"Yes, we got a call from her friend," she said in an exasperated tone. "Well, her friend's son to be exact."

I stared at them blankly. If it had been dad beating around the bush like this, I would've exploded by now and demanded whatever it was he was trying to say out of him. But this was mother. If she was talking in circles like this, there was usually a very good reason.

Mother paused before starting again. "Do you remember how King Geofferey came to Nana's funeral?"

I thought about that day two years ago. Many people came. Nana had always been well-liked by many people. But the person who stood out the most was when King Geofferey of Durenia himself came to pay his respects to my grandmother. I had heard whispers that they had met in their youth before the King, who was at that time the Crown Prince, was married to a princess from a distant land. But as far as I knew they had not spoken since then so it was a shock for me to see him there, an expressionless look on his face. Then I caught a brief glance of his majesty again as he was getting into his car soon after the service ended. He was crying. Not long afterwards he retired from his seat in favor of his son, the current King Henry, and moved to a smaller castle in the countryside.

"Yes, I remember."

"He and your Nana were... very close. Anyways," mother continued, quickly brushing past their relationship, "he made a promise to your grandmother."

"... And?" I was beginning to lose my patience.

"He promised to betroth the one who will ascend to the throne with any daughter Nana might have."

"Nana only had dad and Uncle Chuck."

"Yes, exactly. So the promise was passed down--"

"To us."

The world seemed to stop as I slowly stared between my mother and dad but my mind continued to race ahead at impossible speeds as I tried to sort out this information. King Geofferey had two children: the current King Henry and Princess Margaret. Nana never had any daughters to marry off to King Henry when he was the crown prince and Princess Margaret marrying either dad or Uncle Chuck was out of the question since Princess Margaret wouldn't ascend the throne (besides how could the venerable Princess Margaret marry someone like either my dad or Uncle Chuck?). So King Henry married Queen Beatrice and had one son and daughter while dad married mother and had me, Collins and Berta.
"Mother," I started again slowly after forcing my brain to a halt before it took me any further down this road of impossible. "Either I've gone crazy or I've somehow misunderstood you. It almost sounds like you're saying that..."

"You've been more or less betrothed to Crown Prince Alexander since birth."