Chapter 28: (v.3) Gino and the Radicals.

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

Reads: 253

When I headed back downstairs, I heard my father singing in the kitchen. It brought a smile to my face because I loved his singing. He never sang in English, though. My earliest memories were of him always singing to me in Italian. He had an amusing habit of doing that while he cooked and cleaned too. Pop was the one I got my love of singing from. I followed his voice into the kitchen and soon felt the joy in the air, and I let that feeling wash over me. It felt amazing to see the warm and beautiful relationship developing between my father and my son, and I loved how those two hit it off so well.

“Hey, Abbo!” Luca acknowledged with the brightest smile plastered to his face. “Won’t you join us as we make a lunch salad with grilled peaches and burrata?”

Ooh, yes, one of my favorite salads! I loved peaches. They were the perfect summer treat for me. This invite to help make lunch was also just the thing I needed to take my mind off the dark and heavy stuff. We made sure there was enough salad made for my mother to have when she returned from her nap, but we soon enjoyed our meal, and afterward, my father took us downstairs into the basement.

The basement was Pop’s territory, but it also used to be our space as the men of the house. He had a talent for woodwork, and it was his stress relief, as he always said it was the one thing that quieted his soul and redirected all his racing thoughts into one single focus. He built every single piece of furniture in this house, and he also built mine and Ana’s bedroom furniture set, as well as the gazebo that was here out in the backyard. The gazebo was Pop’s best work yet, and it was gorgeous. It was custom-made for my wedding with Ana when they hosted our wedding here.

Pop had a heart for the community and the less fortunate, so he often built things for those in need. He even helped to rebuild the home of a family friend after their house burned down. He also made stuff for others as various forms of gifts ranging from grandfather clocks to hot tubs. I loved how crafty he could get with his talent. My all-time favorite gifts from him were the acoustic guitars he would always make for my birthday every year since I was ten.

We even built a few things together, like the enchantingly beautiful cherry Oakwood grandfather clock in the living room we made for my mother for her 45th birthday. Pop was fun to build stuff with, and I knew that Luca would want to try his hand at woodwork. My father would be thrilled to start a project with him, even if it was something small and something that wouldn’t take up too much time. My father showed Luca around the basement and showed him all the projects he had completed down there. His latest project was a rustic ornate sign in which he’ll carve an inspirational quote of sorts, though he refused to go into detail about what quote he’d be carving on this one, and he refused to tell us who it was for.

It felt like it was only for a few minutes, but time flew by fast. Before we knew it, dinner time approached, and my mother asked us if we wanted pizza. Naturally, my father was first to say he’d get right on it, and Luca wanted to watch him make a pie. So all four of us were in the kitchen. Luca sang with him too, of course, but my mother and I just got caught up in conversation with everything else going on.

I didn’t know when would be a good time to bring up the fact that the king wanted me to tell them he found Gino. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that after all these years, I’ve had a brother somewhere out there in this world, an older brother I never knew existed until today. I studied my parents in their actions, and my father made pizza while he sang as if he didn’t have a care in the world. My mother talked to me about what they’ve been up to while I was doing my album tour. I was caught between a rock and a hard place in the matter of Gino. My mother didn’t need to be reminded of what the king did to her any more than she’d already been reminded of, but she also had a right to know who her son was.

My mother didn’t want anything to do with Xudia or its king, and I couldn’t blame her for feeling that way, but would she change her mind if she knew the king had information she needed to find Gino? I knew my father would return to Xudia with me in a heartbeat, but only if my mother wasn’t as sick as she was. He loved her too much to leave her side in a time like this. Because Ana, Luca, and Marija didn’t know who Gino was, it was easy to figure out that the king kept this as a closely guarded secret, but for what reason? At the very least, I’ll wait until dinner is over before surprising my parents with the news of Gino, but I didn’t want to keep this news to myself for too much longer.

“Are you alright, Vince?” my mother inquired with a concerned expression on her face, which brought me back to the present. “You’ve grown very quiet.”
“Sorry, Ma,” I apologized. “I’ve just got a lot on my mind.”
“Care to share, or does it concern what we discussed upstairs?”

My lips curled into a small smile.

“It can wait ‘til after dinner,” I told her. “And, no, it’s a new and unrelated matter.”
“Does it have anything to do with the regency?” Luca asked me as he turned his attention in my direction for a few moments.
“No, but you know what? I’ve made my decision on that matter. I won’t be accepting it.”

This totally threw Luca off.

What?” Both my parents were surprised by this outburst, but I had a feeling it was coming. “Why?”

My mother exchanged looks with me for a moment before I locked my eyes with Luca’s.

“Xudia needs a regent who knows her customs and her language, neither of which I know much about. I’ve also never been politically savvy, so I would be a terrible choice as a leader of a nation who-”

Luca interrupted my statement as he stepped forward in anger.

“You cannot decline the offer for regency, Abbo!” Tears had filled his eyes now, and though they threatened to fall, his anger held them back. “If you decline the regency, then Xir Charles will become regent, and I can’t have him sitting on my throne because he and the entire Italian-hating Council would seek to remove me from the throne before I reach my coronation. They do not want me as king because they really hate the fact that I’m Italian and carry an Italian name. You may not see much of their distaste, as they have to fake their respect to us in Xudia’s court, but you forget, Abbo, I have access to all the secret passageways in the palace that most people don’t even know exist, not even Xir Charles. I’ve seen and heard things I shouldn’t know, so I need you to trust me when I say Xir Charles has a plan in place for himself to become a more permanent ruler if he is successful in legally taking my throne before I turn sixteen.”

My mother and I were silent for a few moments, as we didn’t know what to say.

“What have you heard?” she questioned as curiosity got the best of her.
“Let’s just say if they had it their way, they’d be willing to get their hands dirty enough to start a Civil War within our borders to remove me and any other Palladino heirs from the throne.” Luca then turned toward me. “You do want to see the monster apprehended and punished for his crimes, don’t you?”

I knew he referred to his stepfather, but my mother seemed confused.

“Of course! What he did to your mother was inexcusable,” I answered.
“Well, then if you don’t accept the regency, you can kiss our Xudian border protection goodbye because the radicals don’t care about the monster. They’re glad that Mommy’s out of the picture because it’s one less obstacle they have to worry about. If you don’t accept the regency, it will be difficult to protect our family and me, and it will be next to impossible to have the monster arrested within our Xudian borders and then tried and hung for his crimes.”

I breathed deeply as I knew he was right. The expression on my mother’s face told me she knew it too.

“You know, I hate to say it, but the kid makes a fair and valid point.”

I tried to relax back into my chair with my right elbow on the table, though I couldn’t help but bring my hand up to my face as I felt conflicted about what to do. I knew becoming king meant something to Luca, a whole lot, because I saw in his eyes that he wanted to make a difference in the world, and his people listened to him. Could declining the regency set off a Civil War? Would the radicals really make an attempt on my life and the lives of my family? What the hell do I do?

“So you mean to tell me that Xir Charles Oswad doesn’t just hold a prejudice against Italians, but he’s also … a radical?” I asked.

Why did I have such a hard time believing this?

“That’s exactly what I’m trying to tell you, Abbo. I couldn’t say it around my security, or on the plane, or back home in Xudia. No place was safe. This is part of why I wanted to return here with you because at least I can warn you of what you’ll be stepping into when we do make our final trip back. I need you to help me secure the Dynasty of the House of Palladino.”

Another sigh escaped my lips. This kid wasn’t going to leave me alone on this. I knew what I had to do. It was hard to believe the words that came out of his mouth, but I had to do something, at least for now. I removed my hand from my face and pointed in his direction.

“I’ll think about it, but you better tell me everything you know. If I’m going to say yes, and become your regent, I’ll need to know everything. I can’t make any guarantees that my final decision will be a yes, but I will guarantee you that whatever my decision, it’s what I feel will be in everyone’s best interests, and I’ll need you to respect that.”

It blew my mind to think that Xir Charles was a radical. If the Council was also a group of such men, I was in for a turbulent time in Xudia. Xir Charles was highly protective of the king, though. Perhaps that was a mask, a front to hide his true colors? If that was the case, then he was in for a rude awakening.

Submitted: September 24, 2020

© Copyright 2023 Jenah Pierce. All rights reserved.


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