Raising the Crown

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 11 (v.1) - To Be or Not to Be Legitimized.

Submitted: August 29, 2019

Reads: 64

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Submitted: August 29, 2019

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When Luca and I reached the Children’s Hospital of Moscjen, I had immediately noticed it was four stories in height, but huge in length. When we entered the building with each of our respective set of four guards, the nurses at the front desk immediately bowed towards Luca, and then they spoke to him in Xudian. After he responded to them, he then turned to me.

“She’s on the 4th floor, which means she’s terminal,” Luca replied with a sad and concerned expression on his face. “Follow me.”

How heartbreaking! I did as Luca asked, and once we entered the elevator with our guards, we then hit the 4th floor. After we walked into the ward, we were once again met with a few nurses at the front desk, who also bowed to Luca, and spoke to him in Xudian. Before long, we were taken to Rheya’s room. One of the first things I noticed about this ward was that it was immaculate, but bright and colorful, and it had lots of toys and books, none of which appeared to have been played with lately. This room of Rheya’s, however, only had a few books and no toys whatsoever. Our guards stayed at the door, four on the inside of this room, and four in the hall. I could see Rheya all curled up into a little ball, and compared to that standard hospital bed she just looked so tiny, and my heart instantly melted!

She was asleep, but when Luca had approached, he tenderly placed the back of his left hand upon her right cheek, and stroked her skin ever so lovingly. It didn’t take that precious little gem too long to wake up, and realize that she had visitors, one of whom she was even so fond of. When her eyes opened and met with Luca’s, she immediately, but slowly sat upright. It looked to me like she barely had the energy right now to sit upright, but she mustered all the strength she had to do so, and she did it so gracefully while using both her arms to get herself in the right position. I hadn’t even spoken to her, or been introduced to her yet, and already I wanted to adopt her!

“Hello, beautiful sister,” Luca said out loud as he used his hands to communicate with her.

Rheya smiled warmly, and after she propped her pillows behind her neck and back, she then signed right back to him. I have got to learn sign language. ASAP!

“I want to introduce you to someone who is very special to me,” he said again as he continued to sign to her, and then he looked over his shoulder at me and gestured for me to approach. I did as he wanted, and then he introduced us. “Rheya, this is my father. Abbo, meet Rheya.”

I thought back on what Luna had signed to me at Camila’s wake in North Carolina, and when I remembered the signs I repeated back to her, I knew I could apply that here, and so I did.

“It’s nice to meet you,” I said out loud as I signed.

This pleased Rheya and then she continued to sign to me, which would have overwhelmed me and my attempts to communicate with her, but Luca was there to translate.

“You sign so well!” Luca translated with a big smile. “It’s so nice to meet you. I’m so sorry you have to see me like this.”
“Can you translate for me too?” I asked Luca, who then looked at me and nodded as he looked back to Rheya again. “Thank you, but that’s all I know for now. I know I have a long way to go, but it’s a start, and you don’t need to apologize. You’re very beautiful and so sweet. Luca has told me quite a bit about you, and I hear you know Gloria?”

After Luca finished translating what I said, she signed right back, but kept her eyes on me as she did so. Then Luca spoke up again.

“Thank you, sir, and yes, Gloria is awesome! I love her so much! She is like the mother I never had, the kind of mother I wish I had, and the kind of mother I pray God will bring for me to keep.”

Tears immediately welled up in my eyes, but Rheya saw this, and continued to sign.

“Don’t cry,” Luca said out loud for her. “I have faith that God will provide. I know I will have someone to call ‘Mother’ before my life is over.”

Has she already accepted her fate? How then did she have so much hope? I guess it was true when Luca said Rheya had a strong will to live, if only it meant she would finally find a family to call her own. I would have said something to that, but then she turned her eyes on Luca, and signed to him.

“I’m sorry, Rheya, but Gloria’s not here with us today,” Luca replied out loud as he signed back to her. “But I was able to video call her. She told me to tell you that she misses you, and loves you, and she promises to come back real soon, sooner than you could know.”

Gloria always had a way with children that made them love her no matter what. In this case, I could sense there was a real bond between her and Rheya. Had I been cruel in denying Gloria the opportunity to adopt this sweet little girl two years ago? Seeing it from precious Rheya’s perspective sure made it feel like I was in the wrong this whole time. I could feel the guilt as it tried to overwhelm my emotions, but I couldn’t let it show, so I held back for now and decided I would absolutely revisit the topic of adoption with Gloria when I could finally have her in my arms again.

We spent the afternoon with Rheya, even had lunch with her, and it seemed that both company and food was just the thing to give her that boost of energy that made her so much more spirited. She had a million dollar smile and it really brought out the bright and vivacious person that I was inspired by this afternoon. I found out her favorite color was turquoise, which was interesting, because that was something I actually had in common with her. Her favorite card game was Hearts, but card games weren’t really my thing, and I sucked at them. Rheya absolutely loved Chess, but hated playing with Luca, because his intelligence was too advanced for her level of playing. She invited me to play a game with her instead, and I took up that invitation, because I enjoyed a good game of Chess. Even though the game lasted a couple hours, we had a great time, and Rheya actually beat me. I was always a good sport about losing though, so it only mattered to me that it made Rheya feel good about herself.

“I hate to cut the fun short, but we must return to the palace. It is getting late, and we must not be late for supper. His Majesty is big on punctuality,” Luca stated as he signed to Rheya.

Rheya seemed disappointed, but she signed directly to Luca, and then he smiled.

“Of course, we will be happy to come back tomorrow,” Luca replied, and then he turned to me. “She adores you and thinks you’re awesome.”
“How do I say the same?” I asked. “I want to tell her myself.”

Luca showed me with his right hand in the form of a ‘Y’ and moved it away from his chin and towards Rheya, and then back to his chin twice. When I repeated it, I looked to Rheya, and she smiled the widest smile.

“Can I hug you?” she asked me in sign language as Luca spoke for her.

I mirrored Rheya’s smile, sat down on her bed, and opened my arms wide for her. She immediately wrapped her tiny little arms around me, and she felt so much smaller than she really looked. I was gentle with her, because I could sense how frail she truly was, and I didn’t want to hurt her. The way she so delicately placed the side of her beautiful head on my chest made my heart melt, and I knew right then that I wanted to adopt her. I hated to leave her, but before I knew it, Luca and I were back at the palace.

“Ah, hello, hello!” stated the king as we entered the dining hall, which was nearly three times the size of my room.

The king seemed to be in better spirits, which made me happy to see, but I followed Luca’s cue when he did an informal bow.

“It is good to see you, Your Majesty,” Luca said when he stood casually again, but approached the king. “Will Nana and Pappy be joining us for supper?”
“Actually, no, they have already eaten. This is a dinner between the three of us,” said the king as I approached and stood beside Luca. “I’ve got a delicious meal planned! Broasted garlic & beans snapper, with pressure cooked fennel linguine alle vongole, which will be followed by elderberry & vanilla whip.”

An Italian dish on tonight’s menu? Was the king trying to butter me up? Luca turned to me and smiled wide.

“Excellent!” he exclaimed. “Oh, you are going to love the broasted garlic and beans snapper, and the elderberry and vanilla whip. The elderberry and vanilla whip is my favorite dessert. Actually, the whole meal is my favorite!”

His excitement for dinner sure made me smile, but it made me wonder if the king truly was up to something, though I didn’t dare ask the man directly.

“Can’t wait to try it all,” I replied with a warm smile.
“Fennel linguine is one of my favorites too. In fact, my favorite version is your mother’s,” the king said towards me as he now gestured to the seat on his left. “Please, have a seat.”

I did as the king asked, and sat down in the seat he wanted me in, and Luca sat across from me on the king’s right side.

“Sebastjian!” the king called, and immediately a servant came out of the kitchen and did an informal bow. “Please bring some white wine for Mr. Palladino, and some Winter’s Dutchess for myself and the young prince.”

“Thank you, Your Highness, but I don’t drink alcohol. I haven’t touched it in seven years.”

I saw the expression on Luca’s face change in surprise when I said that, and the king was quiet for a moment, as he was also stunned.

“Well, alright; Sebastjian, make that three glasses of Winter’s Dutchess.”

Once again the servant bowed, but this time he turned on his heel, and went back into the kitchen. The king’s eyes once again met with mine and he had an odd smirk about him.

“So you are seven years sober, huh?” he asked. “Nara never mentioned that in her report.”
“Who’s Nara?” I asked.
“She is noctivalagar, our term for a ninja of the knights, and she is our greatest protector. She is the top in her field for private investigations, and she is the best martial arts teacher in Xudia,” Luca explained. “However, I too am surprised that she hasn’t mentioned in her report that you’re a recovering alcoholic. Honestly, I’m surprised even mommy didn’t tell me.”

“That’s because I didn’t become an alcoholic until your mother left me,” I stated, but then realized both the king and Luca were disheartened by my response, almost as if they were offended and hurt by what I said, so I knew I had to explain further. “That’s, of course, not to say your mother herself drove me to the drink. It was the fact that I couldn’t handle her breaking my heart, and all I wanted to do was drown my sorrows. It wouldn’t be until Gloria became pregnant with your brother, Eric, when she and your grandmother would give me an ultimatum. They helped me to see the error of my ways, yet I was afraid there would be a scandal in the tabloids if the world knew I was an alcoholic, so I confided into my security guard. Turns out, he’s a certified recovering alcoholic counselor with his own group of celebrities who are also recovering alcoholics. He became my sponsor, and whenever I need an emergency meeting and we can’t get the group together, he’s the one I turn to. He’s been my body guard since I was thrust into stardom as a teenager, and I just trust him completely with my life.”

“Ah, well when you return to Xudia with your parents, you must bring your body guard. We shall make him an honored guest and open a conversation with him about employment for the crown,” said the king. “Why is he not here with you now, if I may ask?”

Wait, what? Hire Jose for the crown? I’m . . . not sure he’d be into that.

“He volunteered to oversee and assist my agent in handling my affairs until I return home to New York,” I answered.
“If I asked you which celebrities were part of your AA meetings, would you tell me?” Luca asked.
“No,” I said without missing a beat as I looked into his eyes. “Because it’s called Alcoholics Anonymous for a reason, kiddo.”

Luca smiled softly and nodded in understanding.

“I can respect that, Abbo.”

It was silent between us until the king spoke up a few moments later.

“Giovanni?”
“Yes, Your Majesty?” I replied kindly as I brought my attention back onto the king.
“I wanted to talk to you about your residential status.”

Uh-oh. What could that mean? Was he about to ask me to move here to Xudia? Probably. There was only one way to find out . . .

“Would you consider moving here to Xudia on a more permanent basis?” he asked.

Hah. I guessed it right. I wasn’t sure how to answer his question without offending him though.

“Would this be for Luca’s crown training?” I asked.
“Well . . . yes, but . . . I would like to have you here by my side, and legitimize you as my son.”

How . . . in the hell was I going to respond to this? I haven’t even had a chance to talk to my parents about Camila and Luca, and confront them about their lies on my paternal lineage and half of my heritage, or bring Gloria up to speed on everything that’s been going on. Honestly, I would be perfectly okay with him just admitting now that I am his son, but what reason would there be to legitimize this fact in Xudia, unless he wanted me to become the next King of Xudia? Why did I have this gut feeling that even though I’ve seen a lot of twists and turns in my life these past few days, this was not the end of them, but rather the beginning? I could already see how I’d have to give up everything I’ve ever worked hard for in my life in America if I was called to become King or King Regent of Xudia, or to just even be here to keep Luca in my life. One thing I absolutely knew I wanted was to get to know Luca, and strengthen my bond with him, because I already missed out on so much of his young life, and he’d be an adult here in six years from now. However, I wasn’t sure I was ready to be thrust in the spotlight of being the legitimate son of Xudia’s dying leader, and in turn become the heir apparent to the throne, as this was all just happening way too fast. So to be or not to be legitimized was the question, which frankly was an odd question at this point in my life, but for sure I did not yet know what my answer would or should be.


© Copyright 2019 Jenah Pierce. All rights reserved.

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