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It’s been almost a week and the press have not let up. They covered the news of the London Edition shutting down and it was trending on social media. Her parents are still up in arms about her marriage to Kaiser, her mother most especially; she’d heard from Beatrix that she called Sloane and there was a falling out between them. An entire mess.
However, tonight she has to put all that on the back burner because she is having dinner with her husband’s family; mother-in-law and brothers-in-law. Her sisters came through for her yet again, Sloane sent over a very fine very vintage bottle of red wine and specially made French desserts that had to be flown in from Paris. Bella gave her three customized photographs and Serena asked Gabriel to make his signature apple pie. She was armed with charming gifts, and prepared to face her mother-in-law who by all accounts was simmering down some.
Kaiser stops by the door of her wardrobe, ‘you look beautiful.’
Bella turns to look at him, ‘and you look handsome.’
‘I’d be lying if I said otherwise.’
‘You’ll be fine. I’ll be there and she’ll love you almost as much as I do.’ Two weeks in and he is still very much in love with Bella, Kaiser knows he’ll never not love her, it feels like he’s known her all his life, and was meant to be with her. The conversation with his mother, his brothers there for support, went as well as could be expected and she insisted on meeting Bella. He couldn’t ask for more. His wife is nervous, her sisters have armed her with gifts and pep talk, but he understands. Much like he is nervous about meeting her parents who are still so angry at her. Her mother in particular. He is yet to speak with them, Bella wouldn’t let him be in the line of her fire so they’ll do things accord to her plan. For now.
‘So Bella, Kaiser tells me you recently shut down your newspaper. The London Edition. I was sorry to hear that. I read it a few times, and was impressed by it.’
‘Thank you Mrs Williams. I was sad to do it, but it had to be done.’ So far dinner has been painless. Whilst Mrs Williams did not roll out the red carpet for her, she did not freeze her out either. She’d been as welcoming as a mother whose son eloped and now she has to deal with the aftermath.
‘And how are you bearing up with the press brouhaha?’
Bella shrugs, ‘they’ll find another story to devour soon enough.’
Ruth Williams nods, so far she likes the girl. She seems decent, hardworking and she knows of the Rhodes family, they are well respected. Bella did not come across as conceited because of her parent’s vast wealth or that she was raised different to her working class family. She is polite, intelligent and by all accounts is in love with her son, even if it is still so new.
Ruth turns the topic to the elephant in the room. ‘You and Kaiser. I’ll admit I am still in shock. Is this real for you?’
‘Yes Mrs Williams. I know this is not what you hoped for your son, and I understand your feelings, but know that this is real for me. I love Kaiser and he loves me. That is as honest and as real as I can be.’
‘Would it be so bad for you to simply date each other, get to know each other a while before rushing into marriage.’
Kaiser is about to say something but Bella gives him a look Ruth did not miss. Good.
‘That would be the sensible thing to do but we have our whole lives to get to know each other. I’m sorry for the way we got married and I hope you will be there for the ceremony my sisters are planning, but equally, I hope you’ll accept that I love your son and this is how we have done things. It doesn’t make it any different except we chose to start in the middle of our lives to work our way back to the beginning but we’ll spend the rest of our days until the end together.’
Ruth smiled, Bella has a way with words, she’s a journalist but she also appreciates her candour. ‘Let’s go for a walk in the garden.’
Both women leave the table, Kaiser has a look of skepticism but Bella flashes a smile at him. Ruth Williams is a formidable woman and impresses Bella as one with no nonsense outlook about life. Luckily, Briar Rhodes raised four incredible women, she would be proud, if she weren’t so angry at the moment.
‘My dear, I am not going to sugar coat my words, so I hope you will forgive me for being cynical about all this.’
‘I understand. You don’t know me, I don’t know you, yet your son has decided to make a life with me and I with him, in a space of a week. It is a lot to wrap your head around let alone accept. I understand. My parents are of the same mindset as well. They have instructed me to annul the marriage. But here is the thing Mrs Williams, I love your son and he loves me, the world might not be accustomed to how we have done things, heck I wasn’t even until he asked me to marry him and I answered without hesitation. Our life together will be long, and we will go through the different phases of marriage, know that his happiness means the world to me. I don’t want to stand here and give you a sales pitch about me, but I hope you’ll get to know me and hopefully accept who I am to your son. Who I will be.’
Ruth cannot begrudge the girl her respect, she was candid with her and so far has not played the game. She came without an agenda and whatever she is feeling, it cannot be easy to want to walk in this light with the world against you.
‘When I met my husband, the world was a different place, England was a different place. Our families did not want us together, a Black man and a White woman, from opposite ends of the track did not belong together. He was a labourer’s son I was the posh girl from Chelsea whose father owned properties all around London. A rebel they called me, when I brought him home. We hid our relationship for two years before he met my family. His parents were skeptical because of the world we were in. My parents were afraid for our safety, but we navigated society, did things our way and until his death and after, I love him every day. I say all this to say, please take care of him. I know Kaiser is a big boy and he can handle himself but if you are in this for real with him, hold him close and keep him in your heart.’
‘I am and I promise to always hold him closer.’
‘Welcome to the family.’
At least one thing had gone right.