Chapter 6: (v.3) A New Day Dawning.

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

Reads: 382

Luca went upstairs to change when the sun rose, and I just got ready down here in the den. When I was finished and had all my things packed, I folded the blanket I was given and placed it neatly on the sofa next to the pillow that I straightened out. Once completed, I took my stuff and headed upstairs. I soon saw that Xir Charles Oswad had returned to the house, and it seemed he was in a bit of a tiff. He was tall and slender, probably about six foot even, with extremely dark hair and olive-toned skin, like Kristijan’s. Kristijan’s skin, however, was slightly darker, and he was short and stocky. He couldn’t have been more than five feet and six inches in height.

Must we bring the Italian?” Xir Charles Oswad asked as he hadn’t realized I was within hearing range.

His hatred for my culture couldn’t be more obvious, but at least he didn’t use a racial slur this time. Since he was the right hand to the King of Xudia, I just knew I would have to deal with him more than I did yesterday and probably more so today. He was an integral part of the royal court, and since I was handed custody of the heir to the Xudian throne, I would have to deal with this man on many more occasions formally. As much as I hate to see how he has been a horrid representation of the hatred of his people, I knew I’d have to represent my people in the best light, which meant I’d have to be friendly and respectful to him even when the occasion wouldn’t call for it.

“Does His Majesty want the prince to return to Xudia?” asked Mr. Juric.

Before I realized it, Luca was by my side and watched me watch those two quietly argue with one another, and he smirked. I brought my right index finger up to my lips as a signal for him to be quiet, and then he made some hand signs, but his lips parted in silence.

“I don’t like him,” he spoke with no noise and then pointed to Xir Charles.
“Me either,” I mouthed back in silence with a headshake and smirk.

At least I wasn’t alone in how I felt about this man. We both then turned our attention back onto his grandfather and Xir Charles.

“Yes, but --” Xir Charles began, though Mr. Juric wouldn’t let him finish.
“Then you are going to have to deal with Mr. Palladino. His Majesty cannot disregard Vince’s custodial rights over the crown prince. Now he has agreed to bring Luca back to Xudia, and I’m sure Luca will not leave without showing Vince the sights. There will be a time and a place to discuss the future of the crown. His Majesty can rest assured of that.”

Xir Charles huffed but stayed silent, and I took this as my opportunity to announce my presence. I think that Luca knew what I was about to do in the way I moved because he stepped forward first, and then I just followed.

“Good morning,” I stated out loud.

Immediately the look on both of Xir Charles and Mr. Juric’s faces told me that their little argument was now over.

“Good morning,” Kristijan replied, and then he looked at my duffle bag in my hands. “I see you are read and packed?”
“Yes, absolutely,” I answered. Before packing up in New York, I had considered catching a flight to join my wife and boys in Greece after Camila’s funeral, though a flight to Greece was out of the picture for the moment, but thank God I brought my passport along. “I’m ready whenever you are.”
“Wonderful!” Mrs. Juric responded from behind as I heard steps approach. “Is the plane ready?”

I turned to find Mrs. Juric had her attention solely on Xir Charles, and when I turned to look at him, I saw him bow subtly.

“They are preparing it for us now as we speak, milady,” he replied as he stood up straight again. “They should be ready for takeoff by the time we get there.”
“Excellent,” Mrs. Juric replied. “Please see to it that the bags are packed into the car, and please take Mr. Palladino’s bag as well.”

“Oh, no, I would be happy to help pack the bags,” I stated, which surprised everyone, but I turned my eyes on Xir Charles. “Let me help you, Sir.”
“It is pronounced Zir, like your English Z,” he corrected in a sarcastic tone, but then he saw the stern look from Kristijan. “With all due respect, of course. You will be an honored guest in our palace and our country, but anyone with the title of Xir may not be as nice about educating an honored guest in the correct pronunciation.”

Oh, he hated my guts, but I won’t let that deter me from my plan, so I just smiled.

“Thank you. I appreciate that,” I said as I now followed him to the kitchen where the other suitcases were, and I grabbed one while he grabbed two.

When we got outside, and led me to one of the two cars, and he opened the trunk. Then he put the suitcases inside, turned around to face me, and proceeded to take my duffel bag and the other suitcase from me.

“No one touches my duffle bag but me,” I replied, but I gave him the suitcase.

Xir Charles retracted his hands with the suitcase in one and put that suitcase in the trunk, but then he placed both his hands behind his back as he met my stern gaze.

“You are the guardian of the crown prince, are you not?” he asked me.

Oh, great, here comes that condescending tone of his.

“Yes, but --”
“No buts,” he interrupted with a glare. “As the guardian of the crown prince, you won’t be expected to lift even a finger, despite how much people will want to spit at you for being an Italian with direct access to our crown prince and the royal court.”

I stepped in front of him at this point. I was so close that my nose almost touched his.

“Listen up, pal,” I warned him softly. “You’re making it really difficult for me to show you respect, which you don’t even deserve right now. I have no issues with Xudia or the king. I don’t hate your culture or spit on it. I never have, and I never will. I’m not a racist, and maybe some Italians don’t like your culture, but not all of them are like that. If you would just set aside your anger and show me a smidge of respect, you would be surprised at how far my respect for you would go.”
“Believe it or not, Mr. Palladino, this is me being nice, and I’m only as nice as I am because His Majesty has demanded so.”

The king? Really? Okay …

“Well then, respectfully, Xir, I suggest you adjust your tone because you come off as rude and condescending,” I replied as I put my duffel bag in the trunk and then shut the trunk and looked him in the eyes. “I have to ask. Why do you hate my culture so much?”

Xir Charles was about to respond, but I quickly parted my lips again.

“Never mind. That’s a stupid question that will only result in a bigger argument that’s just not worth my time. Let me ask you this. Is there any chance that you and I could start over with each other? Honestly? We both know we’re going to have to deal with each other for … well … probably the rest of our lives.”

Xir Charles inhaled deeply, which I think was a sigh of defeat, possibly?

“As much as I hate to say this, you are probably correct,” he agreed as he corrected his posture and adjusted his tone to a more respectful one. “I suppose we could … start over … but don’t expect me to hug you or shake your hand. I apologize for calling you a wop yesterday. It’s just that … every Italian I have ever met has either spit on me, or they were just downright nasty to me.”

“Well, shame on them,” I spoke. “I’m sorry that you had to go through that, but I can assure you that not all of us were raised in families that breed hatred. We need to start being kind to one another and show each other that neither of us is a bad person. I know Luca wants to bring peace to both our cultures, and if Luca is going to be a good king, we need to start somewhere. I don’t expect the two of us to be best friends or anything, but we should be united in the name of peace when we stand beside Luca.”

Xir Charles seemed quite surprised by my statement, and he relaxed his posture.

“Thank you, Mr. Palladino, and I have to say … you make a compelling argument.”
“Well, alright then,” I replied as I extended my dominant right hand for a shake. “Do we have a deal?”

Xir Charles looked at my hand for a moment.

“Is that an Italian thing to do, to make a deal by shaking your hands?”

I wanted to chuckle, but I didn’t want to come off as rude.

“No, it’s an American thing. My heritage may be Italian, but my nationality is American. That’s where I was born and raised.”

He was quiet for another moment, but then when he looked at my hand again, I saw a slight smirk, and then he shook my hand.

“Well, okay, I suppose we have a deal,” he replied as we both met each other’s gaze. “Now, I must go fetch the royals, for we must be in the air soon. His Majesty expects our arrival to be as soon as possible.”

I nodded in understanding as I let go of the handshake and watched as he took off. This conversation went better than I expected! Before I knew it, we were all together in the car and then on the private royal Xudian plane in the air. Since Luca and I had spent most of the early morning awake, and I couldn’t sleep then, I was too tired to remain awake for the whole flight. I got in at least enough sleep while flying over the entire Atlantic Ocean.

Oh, child, I see inside your soul / That all your sins have taken their toll.

That voice! Holy smokes! Immediately I woke up to find my ten-year-old son singing softly with his eyes closed as he sat across from me with earbuds in his ears.

I know that deep inside your heart / You’ve completely fallen apart.

I wondered what artist he sang along to. I know I haven’t kept up to date with any contemporary worship artists, but this song was beautiful! I had instant tears in my eyes for two reasons. Camila was an okay singer, but this kid inherited his voice from me, and it made me proud to hear such a beautiful melody roll off his lips. Not only that, but the song … I knew he was mid-way through the song, but I needed to hear it from the start, though the song he sang moved me in such an unexpected way.

But sweet, sweet child of Mine, I want you to see / That up on the cross your sins have died with me.

Oh, my God. It was challenging to fight the tears. I had to wipe the initial ones away before they had a chance to slip.

Please take My hand and walk with Me / I’ll tell you the truth, with Me you’re free.

If I knew he would have sung this, I would have taken out my cell phone and turned on the camera. His lips closed now, but now he hummed along instead. He had such an expression of peace on his face, though. Did Ana ever hear him sing or sing like this? It would have floored my mother to listen to him sing right now.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Mrs. Juric asked from the windows at the other side.

I nodded as I turned in her direction.

“Oh, yes,” I answered. “If he wasn’t the crown prince, he sure could make a killing as a musician.”

Mrs. Juric nodded in agreement with a smile.

“Oh, you’re awake!” Luca exclaimed.

I guess he did have perfect hearing if he heard me talk through the music playing in his earbuds. I turned back in his direction and smiled. He returned my smile and then parted hips lips.

“We’re almost to England. We’ll have to stop there to refuel. Are you hungry?”

Not really.

“Are you?” I asked him.
“We already ate breakfast and lunch, but we didn’t want to disturb your sleep. You seemed so peaceful.”

That’s because my body was exhausted, as I’d been running on so little sleep these last few days. I was going to collapse sooner or later. I’ve never had trouble falling asleep on airplanes, though. Cruises and airplane rides were the places I actually got my best sleep, and I guess knowing that my son was close brought me comfort as well because it meant he was safe and out of harm’s way where the monster couldn’t get to him. So between all of that, it was easy for me to catch up on some of my Z’s.

“I can wait a while yet, to be honest,” I answered.

I really wasn’t hungry. I haven’t had much of an appetite over these past few days. I should eat, but I can wait until dinner time, I guess. It was still surreal for me, in a sense, to be traveling on a private royal plane to a country that my son was going to rule someday as their king. I could just sense that there was a new day dawning, and, to be frank, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for this yet.

Submitted: June 30, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Jenah Pierce. All rights reserved.


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