I stare at the three envelopes sitting in front of me.

For the last two years, it was all I could think about—college.

What exactly do I want to do with my life, and more importantly, what sacrifices am I willing to make for a future that may not be right for me?

I gave up parties and social gatherings, opting to study and earn college credits. I’m blessed with a boyfriend who’s equally as focused as me. We’ve spent numerous hours cramming for exams and it all boils down to this very moment. I sought comfort in knowing I’m not alone. Most of my peers have received their acceptance letters in the last few weeks, each one getting into their first or second choice of colleges.

My cousin, Andy, is still waiting to hear back from two colleges. He and I have followed the same method—our personal choice, our mother’s choice, and our father’s choice.

However, Andy has been fortunate to have both his parents support his decision, never mentioning a preference as to where they thought he should apply. Unlike myself, Andy is creative, so I wasn’t surprised when he told me one of the colleges he applied to was NYU, and being the amazing human being he is, he got accepted. So, all his applications were of his own doing—three different colleges for three various reasons.

I’m not that lucky.

My mom lets out a sigh, sitting beside me as I hold the letter opener in my hand, staring blankly at the envelopes.

“They’re thick,” Mom comments, touching my hand softly. “Go ahead.

I take a deep breath, counting down in my head while giving myself a pep talk.

Don’t define yourself just because you get rejected.

Remember, each school has its pros and cons.

Jamming the opener into the corner, I slice the envelope open. Pulling out the letter, my eyes move toward Dear Amelia, Congratulations! I am pleased to offer you admission to the University of Southern California.

My shoulders slump as I slide the acceptance letter toward my father, who sits across from me.
Within moments, his eyes beam with triumph. I’m not surprised by his reaction since he chose the college, which means I can stay as close as possible to home. He doesn’t say a word, especially after we butted heads earlier over a party I want to attend tonight. I rarely ask for much these days, but granted myself a pardon from studying since the pressure is causing many emotions of late. I am beyond burned out, yet in his eyes, I’m just a kid wanting to go to parties to have sex, drink alcohol, and smoke weed.

“What’s going on?” My sister, Ava, enters the room while munching on an apple.

Wearing her denim shorts and white midriff top, I’m shocked Dad hasn’t reprimanded her for showing skin since the rule is either the short top or short shorts—not both.

Ava wraps her hands around my father, hugging him tightly. She has always been his favorite, unlike me—the black sheep. When it comes to Ava, she gets anything she wants, and I swear, when she enters the room, he looks somewhat relieved to see her rather than having to focus on me.

“Amelia has received her college responses,” Mom softly says before scowling. “Ava, what’s with that top? Don’t you think it’s a bit too tight?

“All the more reason to go shopping,” Ava responds with a grin, taking a seat beside my father and grabbing the letter. “Oh, USC, you can live at home.

I ignore her, knowing all too well she understands my hesitation in remaining close to home. Dragging the letter opener through the next envelope, I pull it out quickly to read, Dear Amelia, Congratulations! I am pleased to offer you admission to the University of California, Berkeley.

With a pleasing smile, I slide it over to Mom. Her chocolate-brown eyes dart back and forth until the corners of her mouth turn upward. Momentarily, she glances toward my father, who offers no emotion upon reading the acceptance letter.

It’s an option, and San Francisco is only a five-hour drive from home. It would be a long enough distance for me to live on campus yet still be able to visit home occasionally on the weekends.

The final envelope sits in front of me, the most crucial one of all. The college I chose, the college I have dreamed of attending for as long as I can remember, Mom’s alma mater—Yale.

The navy logo sits in the corner, the envelope not as thick as the others.
I prepare myself for the worst, the possibility of my dreams being shattered all in this one moment.

I have so desperately wanted to study law, and aside from Harvard, which I opted not to apply to, this is the one place where I want to start my future just like my mom did many years ago.

The sharp blade glides once again across the seal as I take a deep breath, my stomach tied in knots. I close my eyes briefly before pulling the letter out and opening it wide.

“What is it?” Ava asks in anticipation.

Dear Amelia, Welcome to Yale!

I release a loud breath, falling back onto the chair, overjoyed at the words which seal my fate. The straight A’s, and everything I did to make my college application as best as it could be, has paid off—this letter proof of exactly that.

My eyes do a doubletake before Mom’s hand rests on mine. “Congratulations, honey. You’ve worked so hard for this.

Clearing her throat, she follows with, “Lex, would you like to say something?

Slowly, my eyes lift to meet my father’s. Unlike Mom, who’s on the verge of tears, his reaction is the complete opposite. The hard stare and the way his hands clench against the tabletop is anything but welcoming.

Growing up with a father who also happens to run a billion-dollar empire wasn’t always easy. Sure, we had a beautiful home and nice cars—money was never an issue. But Lex Edwards is a known tycoon. His intimidating stare alone frightens anyone who dares to challenge him. All but Mom, she somehow has him under some sort of weird spell.

And being the oldest has its disadvantages. I am the guinea pig of his rules. The only saving grace has been Mom. She understands me and has often played the mediator between us. The last few years have been the hardest. We’ve had somewhat of a distant relationship, though I never truly understood why.

However, this time, I doubt he’ll listen to her.

Yale is across the other side of the country, and even though it has been my dream, my father’s slow and steady gait warns me that the battle has only begun.

I hold his stare, crossing my arms, knowing we’re about to get heated.

“I don’t expect a congratulations from you, Dad. But you, of all people, understand the importance of working hard toward your goals, unlike some other children of yours who’ll remain nameless.” I purposely ignore Ava’s roll of her eyes. “I have studied hard to get straight A’s. I don’t spend my weekends shopping or attending parties. In fact, I’ve declined almost every social invitation aside from tonight’s, which you so easily refused my attendance. I’ve done nothing but invest my time into making sure I got the results needed to get into an Ivy League school.

His eyes soften, and perhaps, my words finally get through to him.

But, of course, my victory is only momentary. He toys with his cufflink, still wearing the suit he wore to work today. Although he has removed his jacket, his white business shirt and navy tie remain. Steadily, his gaze fixates on mine. The emerald-green orb’s I’ve grown so accustomed to are slowly shifting to a darker shade.

“Congratulations, Amelia. You have worked hard to achieve the result you desired,” he says in a significantly neutral tone, “But I’m sorry, you’ll not be moving across the country.

Pushing his chair out, he stands up, his tall stature demanding attention. “You’ve got other excellent choices. I suggest you pick one of them.

And just like that, he exits the room, an audible breath expelling as the reality of his words begins to sink in.

Everything I’ve worked so hard for seems impossible to attain because of the one man who controls my life.

Lex Edwards.

My father.

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