Feisty Francesca

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#68 Don’t give up on your dreams for a girl

“You didn’t tell her you’re moving to London?” Mr. Chambers asks his son incredulously. “I thought you just said you’re serious about her? How can you be serious about someone and not tell them you’re going to leave the country soon?”

That’s exactly what I’d like to know as well, so I wait impatiently for Joshua to answer. His cheeks are flushed and he’s clutching his knife and fork like he wants to stab his father. His eyes are on me, trying to convey something to me, but I’m too numb to read whatever emotion is swirling in those blue-gray depths.

“I didn’t tell you because I’m not moving,” Joshua says firmly.

“You’re not?” his mother asks, sounding confused. “But… I thought we talked about this. You always regretted passing up on going to Oxford, and you agreed with us that starting your career in London is the right move for you. What changed?”

“The girl,” his father says with a grunt. “It’s always about a girl with Josh.”

“She’s not just a girl,” Joshua bites out, slamming his knife down on the table. “I love her. I’m not moving across the goddamn world when I can get a job here, close to her.”

“You already made that mistake once,” his mother pleads, her eyes swimming with tears. “Don’t do it again. It’s not like we came up with this, it was your idea.”

“That was a year ago,” Joshua grunts. “Things change.”

“It’s only for a year,” his father reminds him, shaking his head. “I’m not saying that you should break up with Francesca. She seems like a lovely girl. I’ll be happy to pay for as many flights back and forth as you want, make sure long-distance is doable for the both of you. You love her, great. You can keep loving her in London. It’s just one year, Josh.”

Joshua opens his mouth to respond, but I cut in. “What are they talking about?” I ask my boyfriend, getting more confused by the second. “Why did you want to go to London before? Why don’t you anymore? And why is it just a year?”

“We’ll talk about it later,” he says, pushing his chair back. He looks at his parents with hatred in his eyes. “I’m not going to sit here and have you try and manipulate me into leaving. Come on, Fran, let’s go.” He stands up and looks down on me, holding out his hand.

There is something off about this whole thing. He’s acting like his parents are forcing him to do something, but it doesn’t sound that way to me. Not at all. It sounds like Joshua passed up on an opportunity and his parents are trying to keep him from making the same mistake twice. I don’t know all the details, but I do know that I would never want to be the reason Joshua didn’t follow his dreams. If he wants to go to London, he should go. I’d like to be involved in the decision, of course, but I shouldn’t be the deciding factor.

Fuck, I don’t want him to leave, though. I love him. We haven’t been together that long, even though it’s my longest relationship ever. I want to move in with him soon, be with him for as long as he’ll have me. Maybe we’ll get married one day, have kids, hell if I know. All I know is that I’m looking forward to seeing how things go the next couple of months or even years, to see if things remain this right between us, if we can make it to the next stage of our relationship.

And now, he might be moving to London. Another continent. I fucking hate my life sometimes.

“Franny?” Joshua asks, looking down at me with a frown. “Are you coming?”

“No,” I say, my voice a little wobbly. “No,” I repeat more firmly now. “I think we should stay. I’d like to hear what this is all about.”

“I’ll tell you at home.” He sounds defeated, like he already knows I’m not going to walk out the door with him.

“Sit down,” his father says sternly. “Francesca is right. If you’re going to make this entire decision based on your relationship with her, she should know what’s going on.”

Joshua sighs and slumps back down in his chair. For the first time ever, he truly looks and acts 22. This isn’t a mature, confident man. He’s acting like a sulking teenager. I know that being around your parents can make you revert to your old patterns with them, but I don’t like this. I feel like he knows his parents are going to say things I won’t like, and he doesn’t want me to hear them.

“Are you truly basing this decision on me?” I ask Joshua, grabbing my glass of champagne just to have something to hold in my trembling hand. “Am I the reason you’re not moving?”

He shrugs. “I don’t want to be away from you. I’m not doing that for you, I’m doing that for me.

Not the answer I was hoping for. “If we weren’t together, if you were single…” I take a sip of champagne, trying to remain calm. “Would you go then? If you were unattached?”

“That doesn’t matter,” he says, looking up at me from the table, resolve in his eyes. “Fact is we’re together, and I don’t want to leave the goddamn country.”

“So that’s a yes,” I realize. “If it wasn’t for me, you’d be moving to London.”

“Just for a year,” his father reminds me.

“What’s in London?” I ask Mr. Chambers. “I mean, I get that you’ve got an office there, but what is Josh going to do there?”

“Nothing,” Josh grunts. “I’m not going to do anything there, because I’m not going.”

His father grunts, looking at his son with obvious disapproval. “Joshua has only been to England for a few family visits, vacations, that sort of thing, but he’s never lived there. He’s been fascinated with his mother’s country since he learned to walk and talk, and he worked his ass off in high school to get into Oxford. And he did. He got in, and he was going to go, and then Jasmine happened.”

“We never liked Jasmine,” Mrs. Chambers adds. “She wasn’t a very… agreeable person.”

I turn to Josh with a frown. “You got into Oxford, and it was your dream, and you stayed in the States for Jasmine?”

He nods. “I loved her, and I didn’t want to do long-distance.”

“But…” I can’t believe my ears. Did her really pass up on that because of a girl? “You were 18 back then! Most high school sweethearts don’t end up together. You gave up on your dream for that cheating lying bitch?”

That earns me a look of approval from Joshua’s father. “That’s exactly what I told him. Well, maybe not in those exact words, but I thought it was ridiculous as well. But you know Josh, he would do anything for love, and when he has his heart set on something, he doesn’t change his mind.”

“Jasmine cheated on you?” Mrs. Chambers asks her son, sounding like she wants to cut the bitch. “You never told us that.”

Oh shit. I spilled the beans. Oh well, it’s not like this is the biggest thing we’ve got going on right now. Maybe I should keep it to myself that I’m one of the people she used to cheat on Joshua, though. His parents seem to like me just fine right now, but telling them about having a threesome with Josh’s girlfriend and my neighbor… Nah. Let’s not do that.

“Yeah, she cheated on me,” Joshua confirms. “That’s why we broke up the second time.”

“You should have just stayed broken up with her after the first time,” his dad grunts, and I can’t help but nod in agreement. “Anyway… when Joshua broke up with Jasmine the second time, we talked about him going to London for a year. We’ve got this training program for junior accountants, and it’s a year in Oxford where I’ve got this great guy running the program. Joshua has always been afraid that everyone in the office will think he’s only getting a shot because he’s my son, and not because he’s smart and hardworking. He’s been to my offices here in the States many times before, and they’ve all seen him on the pictures on my wall, but in London, no one knows who he is. If he uses a different last name, he could easily fit in with the other junior accountants and find his own way in the program.”

“And that would be great if it wasn’t for the fact that I don’t want to leave,” Joshua cuts in, still sounding annoyed. “I’ll manage here. I can just work in the office right here in the city and work my way up, proving to everyone I’m more than just your son.”

“You can certainly do that, but you were so excited, honey,” his mother says softly, taking his hand. “Almost as excited as you were about getting into Oxford in high school. You’ll be living in England for a whole year, and you’ll get to step out of your father’s shadow like you’ve always wanted. I don’t want you to give up on your dreams.”

“I’m with Franny,” Joshua says like that explains everything.

“I actually agree with your parents,” I say, knowing that while I’m hurting myself by saying this, I need to make sure he’s not going to give up on something he’s been wanting for years now. I won’t be another Jasmin, cutting him down and making him stay for me. I don’t want to lose him, but he’s going to resent the hell out of me if I let him make a decision based on five months with me. That’s just ridiculous. His father is right, we could always try long-distance.

“You agree with them that I should go to London?” Joshua looks at me like I’m a three-headed dragon. “You can’t be serious.”

“You just said that if it wasn’t for me, you’d be going,” I remind him. “It’s only a year. Your father says he’ll pay for our plane tickets, so it’s not like we’ll never see each other… It’s only a year.”

“No,” Josh says angrily. “I don’t care. I’m not leaving. Not now. Not when we’re in this really good place in our relationship. Being with you is a different kind of dream, but a dream all the same. I’d pick you over London anytime.”

Mr. Chambers’ fists lands on the table with a loud smash, causing several other people in the restaurant to stare at him. “You’re only 22, Joshua! You shouldn’t be making decisions based on your girlfriend, especially not when she’s telling you to go. You’re not married, you don’t have kids, this is the perfect time to do this. I know you’ll regret it if you don’t.”

“But I want to marry her,” Joshua says in a soft voice, his hand finding mine under the table. “And I want to have kids with her.”

“Right now?” his father asks almost dangerously, his eyes spitting fire.

“No,” Josh says with a grunt. “In a few years.”

“Then what’s the fucking problem!” his father shouts. “Go to London, live out your dream, then come back and get a job at any of my offices here, marry Francesca, have all the kids you want. She seems like a lovely young woman, your mother and I won’t stand in your way. Just don’t pick a girl over yourself. Not again.”

“I don’t want to-”

“Joshua,” I cut him off in a warning tone, not wanting to hear him say that he’s picking me over London. As much as I hate to admit it, he should go. If what his parents are telling me is true, he shouldn’t even be in the States right now. He should have gone to Oxford after high school instead of staying here for his high school girlfriend, who turned out to be a horrible cheater. I’m not a bitch like her, and I’m not going to make him stay here for me. No way. If the roles were reversed, and I could get my dream job in a different state or something, Joshua would be the one to tell me to go for it. I know him. I know he’d support me if he knew it was something I truly wanted.

“We’ll talk about this at home,” I tell him sternly. “Now let’s finish dinner. It’s your dad’s birthday, after all.”

“But we-”

I interrupt him again. “I love you, but we’re about to get into a horrible fight if we don’t stop talking about this right now. So let’s just put a pin in it and save the yelling until we’re alone.”

“We don’t want you to get into an argument,” Mrs. Chambers says, sounding like she’s truly sorry about the whole situation. “We just want what’s best for Joshie.”

“Then we’re on the same page,” I assure her. “So… different topic… How’s your steak, Mr. Chambers?”

Joshua’s father looks at me in surprise, a small smile lighting up his stern face. “Wonderful. How is your salmon, Francesca?”

“Really good,” I say, forcing a smile as well. I gulp down the last of my champagne and cut into my food, trying to occupy myself.

Joshua tries to take my hand, but I swat him away, not wanting to get into anything right now. I may want him to go to London, but my heart is already breaking. He’ll be gone for a whole year. A lot can happen in a year.

Everything is going to change, I can just feel it in my bones.

Fucking London.

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