Raising the Crown

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

Chapter 8 (v.1) - Heart-to-Heart.

Submitted: August 09, 2019

Reads: 69

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Submitted: August 09, 2019

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“Have you lost your tongue?” the king asked in English. I hardly knew what to expect in this situation, and did not know how to speak to a king. “You may speak freely.”
“Uh . . . Your Majesty,” I answered as I almost fumbled over my own words, so I stupidly bowed my head once more to cover up my embarrassment. “Thank you for the warm welcome. It’s an honor to be here.”

Once more I felt the top of the king’s cane against my chin, so I followed his silent command, and I just looked back into his eyes again. He was gentle with the cane, and his eyes showed only kindness.

“You may stand,” he continued. “And you will now be shown to your quarters. Once you have settled in, you will meet me in the gardens, yes? I will arrange for one of your quarter guards to bring you. Then later, we shall have a banquet for you.”

I was stunned to hear this, but I knew I could not argue with the king, so I smiled as I stood up, but bowed softly.

“I would be honored, Your Majesty.”
“Good!” he exclaimed with a wide smile on his face. “Because we have much to discuss.”

Before I knew it, we were taken to our rooms, and my mouth dropped when I saw mine. This room was as big as . . . well, I'd say it was probably around 1,300 square feet! If this room I stood in now was just a guest room, I wondered how big the rooms for royals were. I watched as my quarter guards closed the door behind me, and I figured they would probably remain there, because there seemed to be a lot of guards protecting a lot of rooms in this palace – not all the rooms, but certainly a great deal on this floor. I guess it was time to take a beat? If the king said he would arrange for one of my quarter guards to take me to the meeting in the gardens, I guess I was to relax in here for the time being.

I studied the room a great deal and found it to be decorated beautifully in gold, royal blue, and charcoal grey with so many earthy tones to it. I walked around the room for a bit as I took note of all the framed portraits of the landscapes of Xudia, and then I noticed there was an opening in a wall. I walked over to it, and realized it was actually a little hall that led to another part of the room. It took me in the left direction about five feet, then forward about two, and then in the right direction again for another five feet. With the way these walls were designed, I almost missed it, and I wondered if there were a lot of rooms like this in this palace? It would not surprise me, because it would certainly make sense, especially for security purposes. At the end of this mini warped pathway, I turned to my left to find the hugest bathroom I think I’ve ever seen in real life. Thank God they have modern plumbing here, but that in-floor Jacuzzi tub took up the entire center of this part of the room, and it just looked so modern with the overhead shower installation built into the ceiling, yet so vintage in style and color!

I went back to the main part of the room, and could hardly believe how flawless this room was, so perfect that I almost felt kind of . . . dare I say it . . . spoiled? I looked over at the bed, which was obviously a California king-sized canopy bed with really thick, and probably super expensive drapes that were rich in earth-toned colors. My eyes soon turned to an aged Oakwood side table that had a picture frame on it. Upon closer inspection when I approached and picked it up, I could see it was a picture of me, Gloria, and our two boys laughing on a private beach from one of our family vacations that we took two years ago. This must be the room Gloria occupied when she was here, and the fact that she purposely left this picture here, so that she could see me and our boys before she went to bed at night and woke up each morning, just made me love her even more. I couldn’t wait to hold her in my arms again. I missed her like crazy right now.

“I see you have found Gloria’s picture,” said a voice from behind.

I turned in the direction, knowing instantly it was Luca, and I was perplexed at how he snuck up on me like this. How did he manage to do that? When the guards had initially closed the front entrance, there had been a creaking noise that went along with it, but I didn’t hear that creak again this time with Luca here. I looked around to see if there was another door, but there was not. He giggled playfully when he knew I was thrown off by his sudden appearance, but he didn’t leave me puzzled for too long, as he quickly spoke up.

“I can see you are confused, but don’t be. Remember the hidden pathways I mentioned earlier in the coach?”

Now it made sense.

“Ah, yes, I do,” I answered and looked in the direction that he pointed by an antique desk that also seemed to be made of Oakwood, but he pointed specifically to the wall, though it was closed, and the designs on the wall made it impossible to see the outline of the door built into that wall.
“I will show you the hidden passages tonight, but for now I will log you into Gloria’s laptop, so that you can video call her,” Luca explained.
“Oh, that’s not necessary. I’ll just be making a quick ca-” I started to say, but once I took out my phone, I realized I was out of cell phone tower range.
“Believe me when I say that it sucks we don’t yet have cell phone towers in Xudia, but they’re in the works to be built. Gloria knows this too, so I’m sure she is expecting a video chat before long. I just need to connect you to the VPN of the palace to do so.”

My eyes followed Luca over to the desk, and then I saw Gloria’s Trillion laptop there, so I followed him. I watched as he pressed the following keys of b-@-1-L-3-y-o-3-!-7-!-2 while he spoke out loud at the same time.

“Bailey . . . March 17th . . . 2012.”

My eyes lit up in surprise when he put that password in without any trouble, and said that name and date out loud. Hearing that name pass my oldest son’s lips nearly brought tears to my eyes. I tried to hide them though and held them back.

“She told you the password to the laptop?”

Luca looked up at me in response, confused by my reaction.

“Yes,” he said softly in a hesitant tone while he hit the ‘enter’ button on the keyboard so that it could finish its boot up. “When she gave me the laptop, she asked me not to change the password, so . . . I haven’t. Does this upset you, Abbo?”

I turned away from the desk for a moment and walked over to the bed, because I just knew I couldn’t let Luca see the tears collect in my eyes. I took in a deep breath as quietly as I could to remain calm about this, and then the tears were held back with strength. When I turned around again to look him in the eyes, I gestured with my head for him to come over here, which he did.

“Did she tell you what that name and those numbers mean?” I asked softly.
“No, but the letters reminded me of St. Patrick’s Day, and Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur. I thought it was cool. With all the studies I do in many various topics, one thing that never seems to stick with me are passwords, unless I work out my own sort of mnemonics system based on associations and connections.”

Did he really just say mnemonics? I really did have a boy genius for a son, didn’t I? I haven’t heard the term ‘mnemonics’ since I graduated high school!

“You might think it’s a cool memory retention exercise, but please do us both a favor and leave alcohol out of it? You especially should never touch it, by the way, even when you’re an adult.”

I should have left the topic about that password alone. Hopefully this new matter that I’ve changed the conversation over to will make Luca forget about the former subject. I’m pretty sure Gloria would be really upset with me if she knew I told Luca what Bailey and those numbers meant to us.

“Yes, I know. Alcohol is a blood thinner, and not something for someone with my condition. I assume mommy told you about it in her letter?” Luca asked as he looked towards me and gazed into my eyes, yet all I could do was nod in silence. “You know what I wanted, Abbo, what I really wished I could have had the opportunity to be?”

I watched as Luca went back to the laptop, but turned his back to it for a few moments and leaned his butt against the desk while he simultaneously folded his arms across his chest.

“What do you wish you could’ve been?”
“A doctor.”

That really threw me off.

“A doctor? Really?” I asked.

Luca smirked from ear to ear at this and looked down at the floor in front of him for a few moments.

“Yes. For a brief moment when I really thought I didn’t want to be king, I actually studied in the world of medicine. I guess I was inspired after my liver transplant gave my blood the ability to clot on a more normal basis. It’s not a preferred method of treatment for Hemophiliacs, because it’s not something that is a guarantee, but it is fascinating! I started helping out the doctors here with their patients, and when I came across a ward of young children dying of cancer, I wanted to cure them. I studied all kinds of medicines, all kinds of treatments, not only in the fields of Radiation and Oncology, but just . . . all across the board, you know?” I watched as Luca’s eyes stayed on the floor for a few moments longer, but this time he had a sad expression painted on his face. “I really wanted to help those children. None of them deserve cancer, but some of them really don’t deserve the cards they were dealt with when it comes to life in general.”

I could sense that Luca had a story to share, as his eyes welled up with tears in them, and now he met my silent gaze.

“Take Rheya for example. She’s twelve, and she has no family. She was orphaned as a newborn baby, only a few weeks old, but we believe the reason she was orphaned is because of the fact that she is Deaf. She was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of five, and she’s been battling it on and off ever since, but she . . . is a fighter. She’s Luna’s best friend, and she’s like a sister to me. She’s fighting for that one special day that some family will finally adopt her, but the statistics of our country show that no one wants to adopt a Deaf child, or a child that is Hard of Hearing. Luna was actually the first Deaf child of Xudia to be adopted in recorded history, and that is only because she was adopted by Americans.”

That . . . was sad. I mean, it was good for Luna, but the statistics of Deaf children adoptions here in Xudia was quite a sad thing to hear. Wait a minute . . . did he say the girl’s name is Rheya?

“Wait, did you say the girl’s name is Rheya?”
“Yes, Rheya Kujiac.” Why does that name sound so familiar? “Did Gloria ever talk to you about her? I know Gloria told mommy once that she wanted to adopt Rheya, but needed to speak to you first about that.”

Now I remember! A couple of years ago, after Gloria went through her sixth miscarriage, she came to me and begged me to consider adoption of a little girl she had met named Rheya, but it was right after she had lost our last baby. I thought it was a coping mechanism for her grief, and I too was distressed over that miscarriage. I had told her then that I didn’t think it would be a good idea to try to have any more kids. It was a stupid and insensitive thing for me to say, even out of anger and frustration, and Gloria and I actually didn’t talk for two whole months.

During that time, she wouldn’t even let me sleep in bed with her. I had to sleep in one of the guest bedrooms. When I realized I was wrong, I put my pride and stubbornness aside to apologize to her, and then she finally allowed me back into our bed. I was even willing to talk about the idea of adoption, but at that point, she didn’t want to talk about it anymore. When we tried to have kids, she kept miscarrying, but now that we haven’t meant to try for two years, she was pregnant again. I hope to God she brings the baby to full-term this time! I couldn’t help but think of Rheya though. I was so stubborn and angry in my grief when Gloria first mentioned her that I wasn’t willing to hear about Rheya’s story back then.

“She did talk with me about it, but honestly at that time, my heart wasn’t ready to be a parent to another child, not after our last –”
“I remember that,” Luca stated quietly. “I remember mommy crying on the phone with Gloria when that happened. I’m sorry about Yarrow.”
“You know about Yarrow?” I asked.
“I know about all six, including the first one you lost in March of 2012. I kind of figured out the password is probably the name of the first one, and the date Gloria miscarried.”

Actually, that wasn’t a bad guess, but certainly off a little. I suppose if he knew about all six, I could give him the real explanation. I gestured with my head for him to sit down on the bed, and when he did, I then spoke up.

“That’s a good guess, but . . . Bellamy . . . was going to be the name of our first child,” I started. “Bellamy . . . was conceived on Valentine’s Day, but then we lost the baby on March 7th. That name in the laptop password . . . Bailey . . . is actually the initials of all the babies we lost in order of when we lost them and –”
“Those numbers aren’t a date, are they?” Luca interrupted. “Each one is according to how far along Gloria was in her pregnancy with them.”

I nodded my head before I spoke up again, this time with tears that threatened to slip.

“Bellamy was 3 weeks, so not even a month, but Alex was 3 months, and Ica was 1 month. Lili though . . . she was 7 months. She seemed the strongest, but . . . then she was stillborn . . . and, of course, there was Embry who . . . like Ica . . . was also only 1 month.”

I don’t think I’ve ever talked about them out loud, their names and . . . now the first of my tears slipped from my hold.

“And Yarrow was 2 months,” Luca finished. “I’m so sorry for your loss of each of them, Abbo, and I’m sorry if I have upset you. I can understand why you weren’t ready to consider adoption when Gloria brought it up to you.”
“You didn’t upset me, I promise,” I replied quietly as I quickly wiped away the tear that fell while I tried to focus on maintaining my composure. “It’s just . . . hard . . . to say their names out loud, but you should know who they were. We would’ve been a really big family.”

Luca was quiet for a few moments until he scooted closer and now sat right next to me. Then he placed his left hand on my heart. I knew he could feel my sorrow.

“We are a big family . . . here . . . in the heart.”

I could swear Luca knew what I felt right now, because the more he gazed into my eyes, the more his own eyes showed empathy as he mirrored my heartaches. The silence in the room, along with him just sitting there and being with me, was exactly what he knew I needed. I had no more words right now, and he didn’t need any, but he immediately removed his hand from my chest when there was a knock at the front door. Then he stood up and turned around. He held his shoulders back in a regal manner, spoke up sternly in Xudian, and then the doors opened.

“Your Highness,” said the quarter guard as he bowed. “I have been requested by the king to bring Mr. Palladino to the gardens.”

Luca and I once again met each other’s gaze and with his head he gestured towards the front door.

“Go,” he said softly. “I will video call Gloria and let her know we have arrived.”
“I will,” I said as I stood up. “But tell me, how’s Rheya doing now?”

Luca smiled warmly at this and put both his hands behind his back.

“Would you like to see for yourself and meet her?” he asked.
“It would be my honor,” I answered. “I’ll see you later?”

The biggest grin appeared from Luca’s face now and I knew he tried to contain his excitement.

“Count on it,” he replied with a subtle nod of agreement.

I mirrored his body language and then left the room with my quarter guard. I quite enjoyed our little heart-to-heart conversation, and I looked forward to many more. For now, though, it was time to have a different kind of conversation.


© Copyright 2019 Jenah Pierce. All rights reserved.

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