Raising the Crown

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

Chapter 14 (v.1) - A Cold, Hard, and Bitter Reality.

Submitted: September 13, 2019

Reads: 57

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Submitted: September 13, 2019

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When I awoke from my dream I was immediately filled with a sorrow, which was deeper than I had previously felt before. I enjoyed the dream about the first memory I ever made with Camila, and I didn’t want it to end. I wanted more than anything to go back to that time, because if I would’ve known then what I knew now, I would’ve stuck closer to Camila, and I would’ve followed her back to North Carolina to convince her to marry me before our son would’ve been born. Now here I was in her palace, in her home land, alive and about ready to pay my respects to her royal funeral. I was having a hard time wrapping my head around this fact, yet at the same time, it was like my mind didn’t want to. My mind didn’t want to face the reality that Camila was no longer here with us. Neither did my heart. The tears formed in my eyes, and my nose instantly turned stuffy, so I sniffed to clear my nasal passage, and tried to wipe away my tears before they fell on this luxurious pillow underneath my head.

“Hey,” I heard softly.

For a moment she sounded like Camila in that soft tone. I hadn’t realized until now, but someone was in bed with me, and she hadn’t moved a muscle until just now. I paid close attention to her movements and quickly realized it was my wife. Wait . . . my wife was here? When did she get in?

“Gloria?”
“Hey, sweetie,” she replied, again in the same quiet tone as before, but this time she reached out to my face.

It felt amazing to feel her warmth. God, I missed her like crazy! I just wanted to cry in her arms.

“How long have you been here?” I asked instead as I tried to keep my composure.
“I just got in about an hour ago.”
“What made you decide to come?” I continued in question.
“Well . . . when I had that video call with Luca earlier, so he could let me know you both arrived safely, he told me he could sense you really needed me, and he asked for me to come. After he caught me up on some things when I got in, I knew he was right, and really I’m glad I came. Besides coming here for you though, I really did want to come and pay my respects to my best friend, as it’s what she would have wanted.”

Her best friend? Gloria considered Camila her best friend? Really?

“I kissed her,” I blurted out loud.

I watched as my wife’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

It was hard enough to be honest in this moment, but to say it again? Tears formed in my eyes as my lips parted once more. I didn’t want to say it twice.

“I kissed Cami. I kissed her cold, dead lips.”

Don’t get me wrong. I preferred transparency over lies, even if it meant Gloria might be upset or mad with me. It was the fact that when I kissed Camila, that’s when I realized she truly wasn’t coming back. That’s why it was hard for me to admit this out loud. However, now that Gloria understood what I meant, she had tears in her eyes, but not for the reasons I thought she would.

“Thank you for being honest with me. I know this must not be easy, and –”
“You mean you’re not mad that I did what I did?” I asked.

I really thought she would’ve been more hurt by the fact that I kissed someone other than her.

“Why should I be? I kept my friendship with her a secret from you, and kept you from having a relationship with your son. So at the very least, I owe you the closure you need with Cami, and I have no right to judge you in however you need to get that closure.”

I could see in the moonlight that the first of her tears fell, and based on the tone she used in her voice, I could tell she was riddled with guilt.

“Would you be upset with me if I said I still love her?” I asked.
“No,” she said without missing a beat as her eyes remained locked with mine. “Because sometimes, truly, a person can love more than one person at a time. I know, Vince, that your love for Cami is totally different from your love for me. I’ve always known that you’ve never stopped loving her, but you know what? You’ve also never compared me to her, or her to me. In fact, I’ll be honest, and say that I was rooting for you and Cami back in the day, when I went down to North Carolina to confront her, and try and convince her to come back to New York. When she told me she was pregnant with Luca, I should have tried harder. I’m so sorry that I didn’t try hard enough.”

What? Was this really how she felt? I could see she was about to have an emotional breakdown.

“But then you and I wouldn’t have gotten married and created the beautiful children, and the beautiful life we have,” I told her. “I love you, Gloria, and I will never leave your side. I don’t ever want to live my life without you, and I don’t know what I’d do if something happened to you.”
“I know, but I can’t help but feel like . . . if I would’ve only tried harder to convince her to move back to New York, she would still be alive today, because she wouldn’t have met that monster if she married you.”

My wife, my precious, loving, beautiful wife felt guilty over something she had no control over. How could I stop her tears? I hated seeing her like this when it wasn’t her fault at all. Besides, she was pregnant, and couldn’t afford to be stressed out like this. I tenderly cupped her face with my left hand, and I had my lips parted to say something, but apparently Gloria had something else to add to her statement.

“And to make matters worse, I didn’t answer her calls.”

Huh?

“What do you mean?” I asked.
“On the day she was in the accident, she called me several times, and I had such a bad migraine, so I was sleeping, and had my phone off,” she further explained.
“Did she leave you any messages?” I had to ask.
“Yes. There’s even one she left for you at the end, and I have one from Luca after the accident.”
“Do you still have them?” I asked.
“Yes. I can’t bring myself to delete them,” she answered.

I got out of bed, walked around to Gloria’s side, and sat down next to her as I picked up her phone from her side table. I went to turn it on, but as soon as I picked it up, the motion sensor lit up the screen, which surprised me.

“Your phone’s on,” I told her when I met her eyes again as she turned her body to face me on this side of the bed.

She always shut it off when she slept, because she was a Linguist who constantly got calls in the middle of the night for random translation services, usually emergencies, and she and I both got tired of all the midnight calls so long ago already. She was allowed to decline them to make sure she got the proper amount of sleep she could get during her pregnancy, or if she was on vacation, but she could also choose to answer those calls if she wanted during those times too. For the sake of our sanity though, she just simply stopped accepting translation requests during the hours she would sleep, so that’s why she kept her phone off in the middle of the night.

“I know,” she replied. “I haven’t been able to turn it off since I first saw and listened to those messages.”

I understood how she felt, and I couldn’t blame her for never wanting to miss another important call again.

“Besides, I’ve already faxed in my resignation to NSLN, so I’m no longer receiving any calls for translation requests.”
“What? But you love North Star! You’ve been with them since college,” I told her as I turned the light on, so I could see her face better.

It had been Gloria’s dream since she was seven-years-old to travel all over the globe with North Star Lingual Networks, for they were the most sought after company with their professionalism and hiring the best language interpreters in their field. Gloria wanted to work her way up to CEO and take over the company. In fact, she was the assistant to the assistant CEO. For her to give up on her dream now, after all the hard work she put into her education, and all the time and passion she invested with North Star really told me a lot about what was going on in Gloria’s mind right now.

“I know, but I’m too stressed out right now, and we’ve just been given full custody of Luca. We’ve got two kids with another baby on the way, and now we have the future King of Xudia in our care for the next six years,” she said as she wiped the tears from her eyes. “I don’t know if you’ve realized it yet, but our lives have just totally changed. We can never go back to the way things were. Based on my conversation with Luca yesterday via our video call, I knew then that moving here permanently would be a new reality we will to have to face sooner or later.”

Well . . . shit . . . she had a compelling point I couldn’t deny.

“Yeah . . .” I replied softly. “I’m beginning to see that.”

Gloria placed her right hand on my own, and I looked into her eyes again.

“I can’t be working for NSLN when I’m going to have to devote all my time to helping you and the boys transition into this new way of life.”

I nodded in understanding to this.

“What has Luca caught you up on?” I asked.

Gloria smiled now, and she sat upright as she adjusted her pillows behind her.

“He told me about your introduction to the king, and how quickly the king has grown so fond of you, and he also told me about how you enjoyed spending your afternoon with Rheya, how your heart just about melted for her. He also told me how happy he is to finally have you in his life,” Gloria said, but then her smile faded. “But that he can see how much pain you’re in, and how angry you are with your mother. He didn’t feel it was his place to go into details, but he said you and I would have a lot to talk about in regards to that whole situation, and that it was much more complicated than simply about how she treated Cami.”

I was surprised to learn that Luca hadn’t told Gloria about the fact that the king was my biological father, but I’m glad he didn’t, because that should actually be a discussion between husband and wife.

“Oh, yeah, we definitely have a lot to talk about there, but I’m really . . . not in the mood to talk about my mother right now,” I said as calmly as I could to keep my anger at bay.
“I know,” she replied quietly as she tenderly squeezed my right hand. “We can talk about it tomorrow. That being said, if you will trust me, I think it would be better that you wait until after the funeral to listen to those voice messages.”

Why did she want me to put the phone down?

“Why?”
“Because you need your sleep,” Gloria answered. “And if you listen to these messages now, you will be up all night. I would know.” Because she was up all night. “So do you trust me on this?”

I was quiet for a few moments, because I really wanted to listen to those messages, to hear Cami’s voice one last time, but I put the phone back on the side table. Gloria knew me better than I knew myself though, so I knew I would be better off if I just listened to her right now. I nodded in response before I brought her right hand up to my lips, and then I softly kissed the top of her hand.

“Of course I trust you,” I replied quietly as I met her gaze, this time in so loving a manner as I turned my body to face her more directly. “You’ve always known what’s best. I don’t know how you can do this though.”
“Do what?” she asked as her eyebrows once more furrowed in confusion.

This,” I said as I gestured towards this whole room, but I meant so much more than just this room alone. “I’ve managed to go without thinking of Cami since I became sober so many years ago, but now that she’s gone, it’s . . . it’s going to be really hard to not think about her. Just being here reminds of me her . . . and Luca . . . I see her in his eyes, in the way he moves, and I can hear her in his voice. I look at him and . . . I see how much I missed out on with both of them. It makes me want to go back to yesteryear and –”

Gloria had tears in her eyes, but she sniffled and held them back. She placed her right hand on my face, but it didn’t feel right to me at the moment.

“No, don’t,” I told her quietly as I gently removed her hand from my face. It was hard to look her in the eyes right now. “I feel like I’m cheating on you and I just . . . I don’t know how to handle this.”
“Vincenzo, honey, trust me when I say you need to look at me.” When I didn’t, she placed her right hand under my chin, but I didn’t stop her this time, and gently lifted my face to look into her eyes. “You are not cheating on me, and I’ll tell you why, but I need you to climb back into bed first, okay? Just come back to me. And, Vince, please don’t make me ask you again.”

I watched as she scooted over to my normal side of the bed, then she turned her body sideways, but faced me, and patted the empty spot next to her. I did as she asked, but turned out the light first, and climbed into bed towards her. As soon as I was within reach, she grabbed my face again, and guided me as close to her body as she could.

“I know your emotions are all over the place, but you are not cheating on me. You are grieving. You are grieving over your first love, the mother of your firstborn child.” In the moonlight I could see the tears in Gloria’s eyes resurface, and I couldn’t hold onto mine anymore. “I’ve gotten to know everything there was to know about her over the last decade, and I can tell you that it would be hard to not love a woman like her in the ways that we love her.”

I couldn’t keep my composure anymore. The first of my sobs escaped from my lips as I closed my eyes. I could also hear the pain in Gloria’s voice. This was a cold, hard, and bitter reality I knew neither of us wanted to face. We both hated this.

“I know, honey,” she said softly as she brought my head close to her collar bone. Her words now broke up on her too, a sign that she was just as broken inside as I was, and she wept right along with me. “It’s okay to cry. It’s okay. I miss her too.”


© Copyright 2019 Jenah Pierce. All rights reserved.

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