Bound by the Millionaire's Ring

By: Dani Collins

“It’s not your fault.” Trella spoke in the same pained tone she had used each time Isidora had tried coaxing her toward a disclosure. “I know I have to cop to eating for two, but I don’t want...”

To tell the father. That was obvious, since she refused to name him even to her family. They all had a very good idea, however. Isidora had concluded herself that the man in question had to be Prince Xavier of Elazar, who had been photographed kissing “Angelique” earlier this year.

As Ramon had said himself, Isidora had never had a problem telling the twins apart. She had known straight away that Trella had been caught kissing that particular prince, while Angelique was the twin in the photos with Kasim.

Did Prince Xavier know which twin he had kissed? That was a question for another day. She imagined Angelique’s fiancé, now King Kasim, must have some opinions on the matter as well, since his intended appeared to have two-timed him. But Angelique had never said a word on the topic. Today, she showed nothing but loving protectiveness as she looped an arm around her sister and gave Trella a comforting hug.

“Why don’t I walk over right now and we can discuss some angles,” Isidora suggested. She could use an excuse to leave the building and get some air.

“Pahahaha!” Trella sputtered.

“You can’t!” Angelique cried at the same time, urgently shaking her head.

“Why not? Is there something going on at the design house—?”

“You’re one of us now, moza amiga.” Trella leaned forward as though speaking to a child. “You travel by armored tank and avoid leading the hunters to the door. Seriously, hermano. What were you thinking?”

“What do you mean?” Isidora asked, even as reality began to sink in. Declaring a fake engagement, putting her on the spot in front of the cameras like that, had been awful, but the greater ramifications began to strike her consciousness.

No. The explosion of excitement downstairs had been for Ramon. Hadn’t it? The paparazzi wouldn’t think they had found a fresh target in her, would they?

She had never thought of herself as naive, but suddenly saw herself as the world’s most gullible idiot.

“Have you talked to your parents?” Angelique asked with concern, voicing what was finally hitting Isidora’s sluggish brain. “They’re probably getting calls.”

Her mother.

Isidora touched her brow. All those years she had spent lying to the world, including to her own father, spinning and downplaying her mother’s affairs so their family wouldn’t be talked about and vilified. Now every single tryst would be dug up. Her mother’s past lovers might even throw their names into the ring of fame, just to have their moment in the spotlight. It didn’t matter that her parents had eventually divorced over Francisca Villanueva’s infidelity. She had cheated on Bernardo Garcia dozens of times and he would be forced to relive all of it. He would be humiliated all over again.

Isidora flung around to face Ramon. Of all the things he’d done, this was, by far, the worst. “I will never forgive you for this.”


ISIDORA’S MOTHER ANSWERED her call with “Oh, mi cielo. Henri just called. Such thrilling news! You’ve always loved Ramon so much—”

“Henri called you?” Isidora interrupted, praying her mother’s voice hadn’t carried.

Ramon was focused on his own phone as it buzzed with incoming texts. “Si,” Ramon said to Isidora. “Henri was watching the press conference. He’s sending a car for your mother now.”

“Henri is worried reporters will descend on you,” Isidora informed her mother.

Francisca would definitely say the wrong thing if she knew the engagement was a publicity stunt. Isidora didn’t clear up her mother’s misconception, and just said, “You should pack, Mama. Don’t keep them waiting.”

“Where is Ramon? I want to give him my love.” It was a twist of the knife her mother had plunged into her heart five years ago.

Isidora didn’t waste hatred on her own flesh and blood, though. She didn’t even bother speculating why her mother had taken Ramon to her bed when she had known how her daughter felt about him. She had processed long ago that her mother had an illness. An addiction. It looked like a dependence on sex, but it was actually a broken, empty soul starving for love and admiration. She was permanently an abandoned adolescent, like a broken runaway, with the same lack of judgment and gaping emotional needs.

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