An American Cinderella:A Royal Love Story(3)

By: Krista Lakes

I couldn't believe this was happening. There had to be a way around this.

“And Senator Glenn has approved this?” I asked Thomas, crossing my arms. I hoped that the big boss was fighting this. I had a brief vision of Senator Glenn marching into my tiny office at the USTR and telling me this was all a big mistake and that she wanted me back.

But Thomas nodded. “She's the one who arranged it.”

I deflated slightly.

“Maybe I can talk to her,” I said. “This has to be some sort of misunderstanding. Is she in her office?”

Thomas grimaced. “She's in a meeting.”

“I can wait,” I told him. “This is my job on the line.”

“She's in a meeting with your mother. I mean, stepmother,” Thomas explained.

“Oh.” All visions of the Senator coming to my rescue like a white knight vanished. I really was fired.

“I'm really sorry, Aria,” Thomas repeated. He ran a hand through his hair and shrugged.

I sat there for a moment, trying to come up with a plan, but not finding one. I didn't come prepared to fight my stepmother for my job today. I needed time to regroup. There wasn't anything I could do right at this moment, except maybe cry.

“Thank you for your time,” I said, rising to my feet. I wasn't sure what else to say. It wasn't Thomas’ fault that I was fired. It wasn't fair to yell at him, even though I wanted to. It wouldn't accomplish anything except make poor Thomas have an even worse day.

“I'm going to need your notes,” Thomas said, pointing to my messenger bag. “I'm really sorry, Aria.”

I sighed and opened up my bag. I pulled out the two manila folders and a flash drive with my work. I'd worked so hard on these files for two weeks. I held them in my hands for a moment.

The files were simply research for an upcoming bill Senator Glenn and some others in her party were working on. It was a small thing, but for me, it represented how I was going to change the world. I was supposed to take this aide position and learn the ropes. I'd move up the ladder until I could make real change. I was going to help the United States be everything I knew it could be.

Except, I wasn't anymore. I was back at square one in my old job that wasn't even in the field I wanted to work in. I wanted to be in the Senate, not scanning memos. This was as far from being able to change the world as I could get.

“You said they're replacing me with my stepsister?” I asked, handing over my work. “Good luck.”

Thomas frowned. “What do you mean? I was assured she's very competent.”

“By the same woman who promised to tell me I didn't have a job anymore, right?” I smiled at him, but there was no joy. “Audrey Verna makes her living from lying to people. She's very good at it.”

“How bad is your stepsister?” Thomas asked, sounding like he could feel a headache coming on.

“Anastasia thinks that a main job of Congress is to make sure that Conga lines continue,” I informed him. I closed my bag and snapped it shut. “I'm not sure how much help she's going to be researching the precedents for non-dance moves.”

Thomas closed his eyes and sighed. He pinched the bridge of his nose like it ached and he took a deep breath as I left the room.

“Thank you, Thomas,” I told him, pausing at his door. “I appreciate you telling me this. To be honest, I'm glad it came from you and not Audrey.”

He gave me a weak smile. “Good luck, Aria,” he told me, setting the files on his desk. “I know it doesn't seem like it right now, but things will work out for you. You deserve better than this.”

I gave him a half-hearted chuckle and thanked him before heading back downstairs and through the lobby.

“Do you need your badge, ma'am?” the guard asked as I passed.

“Nope. You were right. I was fired,” I told him. I didn't stop to see his look of pity. I just headed out the doors and into the morning air.

At least I made it out of the building before I burst into tears.

Chapter 2

I stared at my reflection in the empty bathroom of the closest Starbucks. I always thought that I would only ever be in here to pick up the Senator's coffee, but here I was jobless and coffee-less.

I scrubbed at my cheeks, trying to wipe the tear marks clean. My eyes were bloodshot, the brown dark against the red. My mascara was long gone at this point.

I threw my straight dark hair up into a ponytail and evaluated myself in the mirror.

“You look awful,” I told my reflection. I sighed and closed my eyes. “Get it together,” I told myself. “You're better than this.”

I took a deep breath. I would survive this. I would make this work to my advantage. Even if I didn't know how yet, I was going to make sure I didn't fail. I'd worked too hard to get here to just let it all go.