A/N: Hi everyone! :) I can't believe we're in October already. They say this winter is going to be the coldest in many countries. I'm already freezing and it's not even December yet.
Your reviews always make my day, so thank you for patiently waiting for a new chapter. I would also like to thank my guest reviewers: Lily, Nina and Shell.
Enjoy the new chapter.
Jake was right about one thing.
My life changed drastically after my father got elected as governor.
I dedicated most of my free time to his campaign, lending a helping hand at his campaign headquarters and attending dozens of charity events and gala dinners.
My mother was my personal stylist and motivational speaker. She'd encourage me to embrace my Grace Kelly elegance and charm my way into people's hearts.
Both my parents believed that I was capable of convincing women my age to vote for Charlie. They would introduce me during election rallies as their Golden Girl; the beloved young teacher who values tradition, family and of course, education.
I was put on display for the entire state to observe, judge and write about.
Local newspapers and magazines began publishing articles and interviews about Charlie and his political agenda. Renee was featured in Martha Stewart Living and a camera crew from CBS visited our family home for an exclusive interview with the three of us.
My brother chose to distance himself completely from dad's campaign. He wanted to stay away from the spotlight and the constant media exposure we were subjected to on a weekly basis.
I secretly envied him for staying out of the public eye and choosing to stay in Africa. Of course, Charlie wasn't too happy about it but he had bigger fish to fry. We all did.
Summer ended and the school year began.
It was naïve of me to think that everything would go back to normal once I returned to my full-time job. All eyes were on me the second I walked through the front gate.
High school teachers whom I barely spoke to greeted me in the staff room. Many students recognized me from the rallies and parties they had obviously attended with their parents.
I was literally the center of attention all day long. It was a very unpleasant feeling but I ignored it as much as I could.
Jacob sent me a text message during my lunch break asking about my first day of school. He was always sending me comforting messages throughout Charlie's campaign.
Things between us were still undefined.
We had a wonderful time in Bordighera. The entire trip was surreal, sublime…like a dream. I sometimes wonder if the whole thing was merely a product of my imagination.
I missed Monaco and its glamor, the turquoise waters of the Riviera and Jacob's subtle attempts at seducing me with his French lilt and expensive wine. The mere thought of being in his arms sent pleasurable tingles down my spine.
'Hey, Bella. I just voted for your dad!'
Ashley's cheerful voice yanked me out of my thoughts. She was fastening the -I Voted For The Chief- pin to her purple sweater.
The bright red pin was a reminder of my newfound identity as the Governor's Daughter.
Charlie was gaining more popularity by the hour according to the polls and people were already congratulating me on his guaranteed win.
A few weeks later, he was officially elected as Governor of Washington.
I suddenly found myself swept up by a media storm as we celebrated his win in public. The flashing cameras and swarm of reporters was beyond overwhelming.
'Miss Swan! Miss Swan! Are you going to continue working as a teacher at Washington Academy?'
'Miss Isabella! How do you feel about the Governor's proposed solar energy legislation?'
I was bombarded with questions the moment we exited the restaurant.
'Miss Swan! Are you dating anyone at the moment?!'
Charlie's newly appointed bodyguard came to my rescue and escorted me to the black Lincoln. I almost tripped and fell in my high heels if not for his hand on my back.
"Jesus. It's like I'm Kim Kardashian all of a sudden." I huffed, making him laugh.
Renee was already lounging in the spacious backseat, the tinted windows hiding her from view. She looked like Jackie Kennedy in her tailored ivory dress and diamond brooch.
'You'll get used to it eventually.' She told me.
"Why are they so obsessed with us? I don't recall them making such a fuss over the old governor."
'Governor Thomas is a widower with no children and zero appeal. Your father has the whole package, Pumpkin. If he succeeds as Governor, then he will definitely run for president in 2016.'
"Oh mom, do you still dream of living in the White House?" I chuckled in amusement.
'Every single day.' She smiled. 'I plan on introducing you to Prince Harry this winter. My sources tell me that he is single and ready to mingle.'
"Prince Harry is a bit of a player. I doubt he's ready to settle down anytime soon, mom."
'Speaking of settling down...' Renee cleared her throat, smoothing down the silky fabric of her skirt. 'I've arranged for you to go out on a blind date with this wonderful young man…'
"You what?" I stared at my mother in disbelief.
'Don't look at me like I'd just committed a crime.' She rolled her eyes at me in motherly fashion. 'Consider it my gift to you given all the time and effort you have dedicated to the campaign.'
"A blind date? Since when do you involve yourself in my love life, mommy dearest?"
Renee patted me on the hand, her warm fingers curling around my palm affectionately. 'You always look so melancholy, Bella. I noticed it on more than one occasion.'
"So you decided to set me up on a blind date?" I interjected with a snort.
'I met your father on a blind date.' She reminded me for the umpteenth time. 'It was the best decision I have ever made.'
As if on cue, Charlie climbed into the Lincoln, followed by his bodyguard who motioned for the driver to pull out of the crowded parking lot. The annoying reporters trailed after the car, shouting our names into the tinted windows.
Dad sighed and rested his elbows on the arm rest, his brown eyes meeting my own. 'You alright, Kiddo?'
"Nope. Your wife is trying to play matchmaker by setting me up on a blind date. I guess she's in a hurry to become a grandma."
'Oh for goodness sake, it's one date!' Renee protested. 'No one is pressuring you to do anything you're not comfortable doing. It's not an arranged marriage you know.'
'I hate to say this, but your mother is right.' Charlie chimed in. 'There is no harm in trying new things, Bells. For instance, look at your old man. He went from Police Chief to Governor overnight.'
"Oh my God." I glared at my scheming familia. They had this conspiring twinkle in their eyes. "You both know the guy you're setting me up with, don't you?"
'As a matter of fact, we do.' Charlie nodded. 'He's Senator Cameron's son.'
'And such a wonderful young man too.' Renee shamelessly gushed. 'Trust me, Pumpkin. You will enjoy his company tremendously.'
"Fine." I sighed in defeat. "I'll think about it and get back to you on Sunday."
Jacob texted me on Saturday morning, asking if we could meet up for coffee.
His message erased the sleep from my eyes and reawakened the butterflies in my stomach.
I cursed the past few weeks for keeping me away from him.
We were supposed to work on our differences regarding his paparazzi phobia and of course, our secret friendship. He had even promised to introduce me to some of his non- Ivy League friends.
Unfortunately, we were forced to put things on hold due to Charlie and his exhausting campaign.
The loud buzzing of my phone brought me out of my thoughts. It was a text from Renee, reminding me about the freakin' blind date.
"This can wait." I opened Jake's text instead and told him to meet me at an Italian café near my building. It was both cozy and private.
Jake responded a few seconds later with an unprecedented smiley face:
Ok. See U at 11 :)
It was a cold October morning but the sun was warm and bright as I walked the short distance to Café Venice.
I spotted Jake sitting at a table by the window. He was gazing into the distance, brooding eyes a few shades lighter from the rays of sunlight. He was wearing a chocolate brown, v-neck t-shirt that made him look extremely delectable.
My heart skipped a beat when those eyes suddenly landed on me. They flickered with recognition, sensuous lips curling up into a charming smile.
I loved that smile. It made me feel all mushy on the inside.
Jacob got up from his chair to greet me and I was tempted to kiss him good morning.
He closed the distance between us and pulled me into a comforting hug. 'I missed you.'
"I missed you too."
Receiving a warm slice of PDA from Jake was a novelty to me. He was rarely affectionate in public.
The hug lasted for a few short seconds where I shamelessly took a whiff of his Boss Ultraviolet perfume. His familiar scent brought back a lot of memories, and so did his soft, lingering kiss on my cheek.
We sat down across from each other, mellow Italian music playing in the background. The café was considerably empty with the exception of an old couple who were quietly having breakfast at a corner table.
'So, how does it feel to be the Governor's daughter?' Jacob asked, his long fingers toying with the saltshaker. 'Did you enjoy all the dinners, soirees and rallies?'
"They were a necessary evil." I replied. "None of it is my cup of tea and you know it."
We were interrupted by the waiter who handed us each a croissant-shaped menu. Jacob ordered a cappuccino while I ordered a mug of hot chocolate and a blueberry muffin.
'You should embrace it though.' He remarked. 'Especially if the Chief decides to run for President.'
"God forbid!" I chuckled. "My mom actually wants to become First Lady. She's ambitious enough to get dad elected. Her lifelong dream is to redecorate the White House."
'How about you? What's your lifelong dream?'
"Umm…I've always wanted to be a teacher."
'Really?' Jacob raised an eyebrow in response. 'I thought you were going to say: Princess or Cupcake Queen. Something along those lines.' He teased.
"Nah. Those were my childhood dreams. A lot has changed since then."
His onyx eyes bore into mine until I could no longer maintain eye contact. My gaze dropped to the polka dot pattern on my dress. It was the same dress I wore the first time I visited Jake's private garage.
Those were the good old times. Back when our relationship was purely platonic and easier to blog about.
The waiter returned with our drinks which were steaming hot. I took a quick sip of my hot chocolate, the warm porcelain mug warming up my cold hands.
Jake made no move to taste his cappuccino. He was staring out the window with an unreadable expression on his face.
'My dream was to start my very own business, and now this dream has become a reality. See, being successful was my goal, but goals change. They become bigger, harder…more challenging.' He turned his head to look me straight in the eye. 'Especially long-term goals.'
"And what are your long-term goals?" I swallowed in anticipation.
Do they include me?
Jacob blinked, the intensity in his eyes fading slowly as he glanced down at his foamy cappuccino. 'Selling custom-made bikes to customers in Asia and beyond.' He replied. 'I wanna go global, Bells. That is why I've decided to open up a branch in both Dubai and Singapore.'
He looked at me expectantly, his russet fingers curling around his orange cup. "Good for you." I managed to say. My voice sounded overly enthusiastic. "I'm sure your business will thrive over there."
'Yeah.' He nodded. 'I uh…actually came to say goodbye to you. My flight to Dubai is on Monday.'
"Oh." I tried to mask my disappointment by taking a long sip of hot chocolate. "When are you...umm…coming back?"
'I don't know.' Jacob shrugged, threading his fingers through his raven hair. 'Opening a new branch could take up to three months. There's a lot of paperwork and recruitment involved, not to mention finance and marketing.' He sighed.
"Sounds like a lot of work." I remarked, my heart sinking like a heavy stone inside my chest.
'It is.' He said, staring down at his untouched cappuccino. 'I might be gone for six months…' His voice trailed off .
I swallowed the lump in my throat.
My hands were itching to touch him.
"Six?" I repeated glumly. "Why didn't you tell me this sooner, Jake?"
He swiped his thumb across his lower lip, his brooding eyes still fixed on the cocoa heart sprinkled on top of his coffee. 'You had a lot on your plate, Bells. School, family…Charlie's campaign.'
"So what?" I frowned. "Like it or not, you are part of my life now. Yes, we've had our ups and downs and yes, the past few weeks have been hectic as hell, but you were always on my mind."
My words made him finally look up from his cappuccino. 'I doubt you'll be thinking about me once you become an affluent socialite, Bells.'
"Don't be silly." I told him, reaching out to pinch him lightly on the arm. "You're unforgettable."
He smiled. 'You flatter me, Doll-Face.'
"I don't do flattery, Black. You of all people should know that."
'Touché.' Jacob smirked.
My mother decided to ruin our cute moment by calling me on my mobile phone. Persistently, I might add. I regretted not answering her text message earlier. She was beginning to get on my nerves big time.
"Hey, mom." I smiled at Jake apologetically. "Yes, I got your text. Can we talk about this later?"
Mr. Bad Boy smirked, raising the orange cup to his lips.
'Bella, you need to make up your mind by noon. Please do not embarrass me in front of Senator Cameron and his wife. They're going to be a permanent fixture in our social calendar this year.'
"Oh. So you basically want me to go out with their son so you'd avoid any awkward, unpleasant conversations over dinner. That's not shallow at all, mom." I muttered sarcastically.
As usual, Renee ignored my morning dose of sarcasm and went straight to the point. 'Let me know your decision by maximum two o'clock. Goodbye, Pumpkin.'
"Goodbye, Jackie O."
I ended the call and set my iPhone down on the table next to my muffin.
Jacob was watching me closely with a strange look in his cocoa eyes.
"My mom has been badgering me about going out on a blind date with a total stranger." I filled him in.
He licked his lips and glanced down at his now-empty cup. 'He's not a stranger if your parents know his family, Bells.'
"Yeah. I guess you have a point, but still…" I took a small bite out of my blueberry muffin. "If I go out with him, he's going to think that I'm…"
I wanted to say available, but Jacob totally blindsided me with his next words. He didn't wait for me to finish my sentence, as if afraid of what I might say. He simply set his cup down on the table and sat up straight in his chair. 'There's no harm in going out on that date.'
I felt like my ears had somehow betrayed me. Did he really give me the green light to date other guys?
'You need someone who comes from a political background. Someone who can accompany you to charity balls and galas.' He suggested in a very nonchalant manner.
"Anyone with a tux can take me to the events you've mentioned." I argued, trying to keep my composure.
'No. Not anyone can handle the media attention, Bella.' He said with a hint of irritation in his voice.
"Jesus. You sound as if I'm constantly hounded by the paparazzi, which is not the case at all. They only ask me personal questions when I'm out with dad."
'For the time being, yes.' He nodded. 'But the moment they find out where you live and where you work, it's all going to change.'
"No. I refuse to let that happen."
'We'll see.' He remarked.
The skepticism in his voice offended me. His overall behavior after my mother's phone call was getting under my skin and ruining my good mood. "What's that supposed to mean?"
'Nothing.' He shrugged, digging a hand inside his pocket and fishing out a lone cigarette. 'Just…don't fall in love with the limelight while I'm gone.'
"Oh my God." I glared at him, feeling utterly appalled by his insinuation. "Do you honestly think that I'm going to turn into an attention whore now that my family's in the public eye?"
Jacob had the audacity to look offended. 'Don't put words in my mouth, Bella.'
I leaned forward across the table, almost squashing my unfinished muffin in the process. "Not every girl you meet is a disaster waiting to unfold, Jacob. Courtney was a bitch from the start but you were too freakin' blind to see it!" I hissed before getting up from my chair.
It was obvious that Jake's feelings for me were not as strong as I had hoped they would be. This made me feel equally hurt and betrayed.
"If you don't know me by now, Jake, then you never will."
Strong hands gripped my arm, begging me to sit down, but I was mad at him for leaving and for casually suggesting that I go out with another guy.
'Sit. Down. We're not done talking yet.'
"Yes we are." I stubbornly said, yanking my arm out of his grasp. "I will take your advice under consideration. Have a safe trip."
'Fine.' He held up his hands in mock surrender. 'Have it your way.'
Was Bella being over-dramatic due to stress? Is Jake pushing her away now that she's the Governor's Daughter?
You'll find out soon. :)