Disclaimer and rating - see first part.
Chapter 12: Interrupted
The sun began to rise over the countryside of Genovia and slowly creep through the windows of the palace. It began its ascent slowly filtering through the windows, finding gaps in curtains and blinds beginning the day inside the palace walls.
Joseph propped himself up on his right elbow to look at Clarisse as a streak of sunlight brightened her partially exposed shoulder. Her eyes were closed, but he knew she was only feigning sleep. Her breathing was too uneven for her to be truly asleep. He decided if she was going to pretend, he would take advantage of the situation. He used his left hand to run his fingers through a lock of her hair gently tucking it behind her ear as he had seen her do numerous times before. He ran his index finger down her ear gently toying with her earlobe before moving down her jaw line to the hollow of her throat. He gently moved the covers back to expose more of her body to his touch.
From his higher vantage point, he had a beautiful view of her breasts that were only partially concealed from the side with the soft pink satin. The sight caused his body to involuntarily respond. He credited her with staying completely still even though he knew she could feel his arousal. He reverently lowered the spaghetti strap of her gown and began kissing her shoulder while his hand pushed the fabric of the bodice lower to allow him better access to her breast. He began feather light touches with the tips of his fingers while placing kisses of the same intensity along her shoulder. When her nipple hardened, he smiled into her shoulder knowing she was most definitely awake.
“Just exactly what do you think you’re doing, Mr. Romero?” She asked with her eyes still closed.
“Catching a possum.”
This caused a laugh as she opened her eyes and turned toward him. “A what?”
“A possum you were playing possum, pretending to be asleep. So I decided to catch you using my best skills as a hunter.”
She laughed again. “Well, if that’s how you hunt, let us hope we are never stranded in the forest in need of food to survive. We will surely perish.”
“Oh, but what a way to go!” He smiled as he leaned down to begin kissing her breasts fully as he now had complete access.
She laughed and then gasped as he took one the hardened nipples between his teeth. “Oh Joseph!”
His hand started to move down to her thigh when they simultaneously heard a knock on the bedroom door as it opened as Olivia burst through.
“Good morning, your Majesty.”
Clarisse sat up quickly as Joseph was trying to move away resulting in their heads bumping into one another. It only took a moment, though, to right themselves. Joseph had to stifle a giggle as he felt like a teenager that had just been caught by the parents of his girlfriend while he was making out with her. Clarisse shot him a look which indicated that she did not think any of this was funny then directed her glare at Olivia.
Olivia was wide eyed as she stared at her Queen and then at Joseph. Her gaze remained fixed on Joseph and his bared chest as she spoke, “I’m sorry your Majesty. I had no idea Sir Joseph would be here with you.”
Joseph spoke before Clarisse could answer, “Where else would I be, Olivia?”
“In your suite, sir?” She seemed quite confused.
Joseph was quite amused as Clarisse had gone from an embarrassed red to now a look of annoyance as she noticed Olivia seemed quite fascinated by Joseph in his current state of undress so much so that she hadn’t even bothered to lift the strap of her gown back to her shoulder to cover herself more appropriately. He decided that he liked this side of Clarisse he had never thought she would be jealous; and, while he would never do anything intentionally to make her jealous, he was enjoying this inadvertent twist of fate.
“Were you absent from the palace a few days ago when her Majesty and I returned from our wedding?” He was very much enjoying this.
Olivia giggled slightly at this, “No sir. I just didn’t expect that you would continue to stay in her Majesty’s room each night.”
“And why not?”
“Well, King Rupert, may he rest in peace, never did.”
“Do I resemble King Rupert?”
Still smiling, she responded, “No sir.”
“Then you have your answer don’t you?”
Before she could answer, Clarisse interrupted in a stern voice, “Was there something you needed, Olivia?”
Tearing her gaze away from Joseph, she looked for the first time at her Queen. Noticing her appearance, Olivia realized what she must have interrupted. She curtsied quickly as she added, “many apologies your Majesty…Prince Pierre is on the phone for you.”
Throwing the covers back, Clarisse stood and straightened her night clothes. “Then perhaps you should have mentioned that first before you launched into a discussion about where my husband should be sleeping.” She gazed directly at Olivia. “That will be all, thank you.”
Olivia stole one last look at Joseph and curtsied again before leaving the room. As Clarisse started to leave the bedroom to take the phone call, she heard Joseph saying, “We’re definitely going to have to remember to lock that door from now on.”
Clarisse picked up the phone, apologizing immediately. “Hello, Pierre, I’m so sorry you had to wait. Olivia got a little distracted in delivering her message. How are you?”
“I’m well, Mother. How is married life treating you? Is Joseph taking good care of you?”
She felt herself blush knowing what she had been doing while Pierre was holding. “He’s doing his best, dear. You know how difficult I am to live with.”
Laughing, he responded. “As a matter of fact, I do.”
“Just teasing, Mother I’m sure you two will be fine. Just try not to be stubborn, ok?”
“I am not stubborn.” She pouted and then prepared to explain to him exactly why she wasn’t.
Before she could get started, he interrupted. “You are, Mother, however, I didn’t call to debate that with you.”
“Fair enough we’ll save that discussion for another time. So to what do I owe the pleasure of this call when I get to see you in just a couple of days?”
“Well,” he hesitated, “that’s the reason for the call. I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to make the coronation.” He waited for the outburst that was to come. He was not disappointed.
Her voice took an edge of disbelief as she asked, “And why exactly not, may I ask?”
He sighed, “Some things have come up at the church that require my attention, Mother. I do have a duty to the church now, you understand?”
“Don’t talk to me about duty, Pierre. I understand that your duty to your family and to me has always come second. It is Mia’s coronation. A new ruling monarch is a big deal to this country and to this family. This is your niece, Pierre, not just anyone. It is important.”
He didn’t want to have this argument again. He knew that he could not ever truly explain to his Mother why he had abdicated from the throne. The church had provided a good out and reasonable explanation, but it had not been the entire truth. He could not, however, change his story now that could be detrimental to the entire family. She would never really know how much he loved his family and how much he had sacrificed for them. He would, however, let her go on thinking that he was not willing to honor his duty to his family if that would keep her safe. “I’m sorry, Mother. I cannot attend. I hope you’ll forgive me. I will send regards and congratulations to Princess Mia as well.”
Her tone was colder now. “As you wish, Pierre. I shall pass your sentiments along to Amelia.”
He changed the subject somewhat it appeared to be almost an afterthought to Clarisse when he asked, “Who will be guarding you and Mia at the coronation and afterwards when she starts to rule?”
“Who will be protecting you and Mia during the festivities surrounding the coronation?”
The question caught her off guard and it took her a moment before responding, “Well Shades is transitioning into head of security. I’m sure he will be the primary for Mia with Lionel acting as the secondary. As for myself, I don’t believe I need anyone other than Joseph. Why do you ask?”
“Just wanted to make sure you two are safe. It’s a big event and you just never know what kind of crazies are out there. By the way, have you heard or seen from Paul Debrowsky lately? Is he still in the employ of the royal family?”
She wasn’t sure if he was trying to change the subject to avoid her anger or if he was really concerned about her and Mia’s safety. “I’m not sure, Pierre. I haven’t seen much of him since your father and Philippe passed away. Why do you ask?”
“Just curious he was with the family for a long time. I just wasn’t sure if he was still around or not.”
“I have no idea.”
“Will you look into it for me?”
Her hurt surfaced again, “You are really in no position to ask favors of me, Pierre.”
Her motherly instinct won over her hurt. “However, I will ask Charlotte to look into it and ask her to get back to you with an answer. Will that be satisfactory?”
“Yes. Thank you, Mother.”
“Please come. I really want really need - you here.”
He hated to hear the pain in her voice and hated not being there for her. He took some small comfort in the fact that Joseph was there and he would take care of her and ease her pain. “I’m sorry, Mother. I can’t. I love you.”
She sighed as she prepared to end the call. “I love you too.”
She hung up the phone. She stood there for a moment to regain control of her emotions. She quickly wiped away the tears that had slipped down her cheek. She took a deep breath and squared her shoulders allowing the Queen mask to help her bury her pain yet again.
“You don’t have to do that for my benefit, you know?”
His voice startled her as she spun around to see him leaning against the door frame. “I didn’t know you were standing there.”
“Is that how you do it?”
“Bury your hurt and emotions deep inside of you forming a barrier inside that let’s no one in?”
She started to argue that she didn’t do that, but opted for a different tactic. “I let you in, didn’t I?”
His face saddened somewhat as he responded. “I had thought so, but I must be truthful when I say that now I’m not so sure.”
The look of sadness on her face matched his. He quickly added “I do believe that you have let me closer than you have ever allowed anyone else yet you still keep your innermost self protected.” He closed the distance between them and gently touched the area over her heart. “I know you’ve had a lot of hurt in your life, but if you share those burdens with someone, it makes them lighter to bear.”
She was intently studying his hand resting on her chest. He raised his hand to her chin and lifted it up so he could look into those now glistening, beautiful blue eyes. “Let me share those burdens with you, Clarisse. Let me love all of you not just the parts you believe are good enough to present to me to love. I promise - there is nothing you could tell me that would change how much I love you.”
She raised her hand to cup his cheek looking intently into his eyes. He thought he had gotten through to her, but then he saw it…the doubt, the secrets that she allowed to come between them. Her eyes closed as she seemed to be battling with herself; but, before she could make her decision, a knock on the door broke into their reverie and she pulled back abruptly. He grabbed the hand that had been on his cheek his eyes pleading with hers to finish this conversation.
She closed her eyes squeezing the remaining tears from them, gently shook her head. “Perhaps another time, my love? Duty calls now. Come in, Charlotte.”
He released her hand as he spoke for her hearing only. “You can count on that.”
Charlotte entered and saw what seemed to be a tense moment between the Queen and Joseph. “I’m sorry, your Majesty I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
Placing the Queen smile on, she turned away from Joseph, “Nonsense, Charlotte. We were just getting ready for the day. Please give me a moment to change and then I’ll be right with you.” She stopped short for a moment remembering Pierre’s request. “Charlotte, will you please check to see if Paul Debrowsky is still in the employ of the palace?”
A strange look crossed Charlotte’s face…almost a look of distaste for even hearing his name, but she too was good at masking her emotions. She answered, “Of course, your Majesty. I’ll be happy to look into it.”
Clarisse turned to go back into the bedroom to get changed. “Thank you, Charlotte. I’ll be out in a moment. Joseph?”
Joseph had been watching the look on Charlotte’s face when Paul’s name was mentioned and a small tingle ran up his spine which usually indicated something was amiss. That tingle, although highly unscientific, had proven to be very useful in his line of work and was something he had learned not to ignore. Hearing her voice, he turned toward Clarisse, “Yes, love?”
“Please remember that special matter you need to take care of this morning; and, please let me know once you’ve got that taken care of, ok?”
Putting the earlier tension behind him for the moment, he responded, “Certainly; and, please remember the price we agreed to for this special errand.” A wicked grin spread across his face as he watched her blush and her nipples harden underneath the silky fabric of her nightgown.
She seemed to forget that Charlotte was in the room as she huskily replied, “I remember and I always pay my debts.”
Their eyes were locked and Joseph knew that if he hadn’t remembered Charlotte was in the room, he would have taken Clarisse right then and there. He definitely either needed a few days for a honeymoon with his wife or a cold shower. As the honeymoon would have to wait until after the coronation, he opted for the cold shower. He broke the gaze first. “I will definitely remember that!” He smiled and headed for the shower.
Clarisse smiled and shook her head she was worse than a teenager. She was always amazed how Joseph could take her from a mature, responsible adult to a quivering, adolescent teenager with just a look. Oh how she needed a honeymoon to get some of this out of her system. She had started to tentatively plan their honeymoon which would include a beautiful location, although she wasn’t sure how much time they would actually get to spend viewing any sights outside of their room, but she liked to be prepared. The location was very remote to afford them some much needed privacy with absolutely no one to interrupt them. Additionally, she was inwardly hoping that she could convince herself to share some of her burdens with him as he had suggested earlier. She wasn’t getting any younger and the weight of carrying these secrets was getting to be much too heavy for her to bear alone. A voice broke into her thoughts.
“Are you alright, your Majesty? Would you like me to come back after while?”
Blushing she smiled, “I’m sorry Charlotte I was lost in thought. I will get dressed and be out shortly to begin our day.”
Charlotte smiled, “Of course, your Majesty. I’ll wait here until you are ready there’s no hurry.” As she watched Clarisse leave the room, she was amazed at the changes she had seen in her Queen and friend over the past few years. Ever since they went to California to find Mia there had been a slow but steady emergence of a different woman than she had known from the previous years.
Settling into the couch while she waited for her Queen, she smiled as she remembered her earlier conversation with a very embarrassed Olivia as she recounted the events of earlier that morning. Charlotte had been very careful to wait for someone to tell her to enter the suite before she walked in. She decided that she would have to do a little staff retraining to avoid embarrassing interruptions; although, after witnessing that somewhat odd, but steamy exchange between the two of them about a special errand Joseph was to run for the Queen, she was certain there would be more interruptions until the couple got their much deserved honeymoon. She made a mental note to make sure the preparations were progressing for their trip after the coronation…perhaps if they got it all out of their system? She chuckled as she doubted that would help…those two had it bad!!