Flashback: Past, Present and Future

Disclaimer and rating - see first part.

Chapter 13: Lost and Found

Joseph finished showering; changed into his characteristic black attire, kissed his wife goodbye and headed for the room he had nicknamed Security Central.

“Good morning, Sir.”

“Good morning Shades. How is everyone this morning?”

“All systems and people seem to be running efficiently, sir.”

“Good. I was thinking that I wanted to do a double check of the security cameras around and in Princess Mia’s suite. As her security will be heightened during the time surrounding her coronation and after, I would just feel better if I knew everything was running at top efficiency. I know these systems are a bit antiquated and a thorough check couldn’t hurt, right?”

Shades kicked himself for not thinking of it first – even though there was no indication that anything was wrong. If he was going to be head of security, he needed to start double and triple checking everything – it would be his responsibility. “I’ll get someone right on that, sir.”

Joseph quickly answered, “No – that won’t be necessary, Shades. I’m the one on my way out here; I don’t want to take anyone with active assignments away from their duty right now. I’ll look into this. Just cut the power to the cameras and I’ll come back and let you know once I’ve finished my check and then you can turn them back on. Is Princess Mia outside of her suite right now?”

Shades double checked. “Yes sir. She’s meeting with the bow and arrow instructor for some final practice before the ceremony tomorrow night. I can make sure her security keeps her outside of her suite for an hour or so to give you time to complete your check before she returns.”

Joseph smiled – this had been way too easy. “That will be great, Shades. I’ll be as quick as possible so the schedule will not get delayed. After I finish, we’ll review the final security plans for tomorrow.”

“Sounds great, Sir. I’m disconnecting the power to the cameras now.”

Turning to leave, Joseph replied, “Thanks, Shades. Oh, I almost forgot, can you check something out for me when you get a chance?”

“Sure, Joe – what do you need?”

“Can you run a security check on Paul Debrowsky? His name came up this morning and I just have a strange feeling about him.”

“Does he even still work here at the palace?”

“I’m not sure. If he does, it’s in an obscure position as I don’t recall seeing him about the palace at all, but I’m sure that will come up when you do a thorough security check. I want you to go back to even before he started working at the palace, ok? I know everyone is really busy, but I learned a long time ago not to ignore this feeling.”

Shades smiled, “Sure Boss – wouldn’t want you to do anything to upset your gentle emotions.”

“Very funny Shades – just do it, ok? Hopefully someday soon you’ll understand – that is, IF I let you be head of security!!”

“OK, OK, just kidding. I’ll take care of it. Anything special I should be looking for?”

“I’m not sure, Shades. Just get everything and hopefully whatever it is will present itself to me when I review your report.”

Shades took on a serious tone. “Understood - I’ll take care of it personally.”

Smiling at the younger man, Joseph knew that Shades was going to do a great job as head of security. He liked to tease, sure, but as Mia was less than serious at times, Joseph felt like it would be a good fit and he knew Shades would guard her with his life which was what was required. “Thanks, Shades. I’ll work on those cameras and give you an update ASAP.” With that he walked out of the room towards Mia’s suite in search of the missing pair of shoes.

Two hours later

Joseph couldn’t believe it – he had turned over every inch of that suite and couldn’t find the shoes. Of course he realized that Mia probably expected him to come looking for them in order to protect her grandmother from any embarrassment and would not have hid them in an obvious place. Naturally, he hadn’t realized that until about an hour and a half into his search at which point he decided to finish his expedition just for the sake of being thorough.

Smiling, he realized that he would have to take a few moments to double check the security cams as that was supposed to be the purpose of his time there anyway. He sat on the couch for a few moments resting – he wasn’t as young as he used to be! As he was resting, he noticed the diary that Prince Phillipe had given Mia for her 16th birthday sitting on the table. He picked up the book and admired the beautiful binding and lock that had been made with such care and could only be opened with her locket that had also been a gift for Mia. He noticed under the diary was a letter. Curiosity got the best of him and he opened the letter to read it.

After reading the words, he reclined back against the sofa as the exhaustion from the previous night took over. As his eyes closed, his thoughts drifted back to the day Prince Phillipe had died.

Back in Time

Joseph was standing several feet away from Clarisse and Phillipe and observed that they were having a deep discussion bordering on an argument. With the exception of some tension between mother and son, there appeared to be little danger, so Joseph allowed a small part of his focus to wander. He focused that attention solely on observation of her. She was, of course, wearing the customary black of a widow in mourning as King Rupert had mysteriously passed away less than a year ago. It had been a mystery to those closest to him because he had always been a fairly healthy man – not the picture of health, mind you – but certainly too young to have his heart just give out like that. Joseph knew it had been very hard on the Queen – watching him slowly die. He knew they had made their peace long ago and had formed a great friendship. She was mourning – not so much for the loss of her husband – for she had dealt with that grief many years earlier, but rather for the loss of a dear friend.

Her friendship with Joseph had strengthened over the years as well. He had sensed, though, that since King Rupert’s passing, she had closed herself off somewhat. He knew something had happened while he was gone on that special errand for the King – something that had caused her to raise the “Queen” wall a little higher than before. She had almost a haunted look in her eyes since that time. Perhaps it was her way to mourn; however, he had sensed it was something more – and his senses were rarely wrong.

In retrospect, he had also thought it strange that the King had sent him on this special errand rather than his personal assistant, Paul. The King had been insistent; however, that he would only trust him with this special assignment. This had seemed odd – especially afterward when all they retrieved from the special vault was a sealed letter with Philippe’s name handwritten on the front. It was sealed as royalty had done in olden days with wax and then imprinted with the official royal seal of the Renaldi family crest.

When Joseph returned from the errand, King Rupert was dead. Not knowing what else to do with the envelope as the King had not provided any instructions past the retrieval of the package, Joseph had decided to deliver the envelope to the addressee. Paul had asked him about it later that day, but he had just told him that it had been delivered to the intended recipient. Paul had not seemed pleased.

Joseph recalled that that it was shortly after that when Phillipe announced his official intention to take his place on the throne to rule over Genovia. He had often wondered what had been in that letter, but had never asked as that would have been inappropriate.

The letter to Mia, however, had been dated shortly after that special delivery had occurred. He recalled the words he had read that Philippe lovingly penned for his daughter:

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious may not live at all.”

Now asleep, his dream took him back to that fateful day. Clarisse had asked for some privacy so he had stood a little farther away than he usually did; but, the look on her face had told him her Majesty had not been pleased with Phillipe’s decision to go for a drive in the Jag that day. Finally, Phillipe lifted his hand up to cup her cheek – a gesture Joseph was very familiar with. He thought it a very sweet gesture between mother and son. He was certain, though, that there wasn’t even remotely any maternal or paternal feelings he experienced when she touched him in that manner.

He saw Philippe pull his hand away and take her hand between his. He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. As he pulled his hands away, Joseph noticed, in the dream, that he had passed the Queen a piece of paper. She had started to look down at it, but he had whispered something in her ear and she had nodded and closed her hand around it – concealing it. She had hugged him and then he had smiled, waved, and got in the car to drive away to the mountains of Genovia. That had been the last time anyone had seen him alive.


Joseph awoke with a start, realizing the flashback had helped him see something that he had missed that day. He had been so intent on watching her that he had missed the exchange of that note between Clarisse and Philippe. He needed to find Clarisse and ask her what was in that note. He had that tingly feeling again that it was important – he just didn’t know why yet.

He made a quick check of the security cameras and made his way to the security office. “Everything seems fine, Shades. I do think some motion sensors in the areas not covered by the cameras will be beneficial. Can you look into that and see how long it will take to get those installed?”

“Sure thing, Joe. I started the background check on Paul – I hope to have a report in the next couple of days.”

“The sooner the better, Shades. I just can’t shake this feeling that there’s something not quite right about him – something that didn’t come up when we did the standard security check before he became employed. Try to look into anyone noteworthy that he has been associated with since he came to the palace.”

“That might take a bit longer, but I’ll see what I can do.”

“I’ll take speed and thoroughness, ok?”

“Sure, Joe – I’ll do my best.”

“Great. Can you tell me where my beautiful wife is?”

“She went to her suite about a half hour ago. Charlotte mentioned that she was tired and wanted to rest.”

“Ok, thanks.” Joseph left again and hastily made his way to the suite. He was anxious to talk with Clarisse about his dream.

He entered the suite quietly as he didn’t want to startle her. He looked around the living room area, but she wasn’t there. He noticed the door to their bedroom was ajar so he carefully opened it and looked inside. The view caused him to stop and catch his breath.

The afternoon sunlight was streaming through the windows and cast a rosy hue on her body as it filtered through the dusty rose curtains. Her outer clothes had been carefully removed and laid on the chair next to the bed so they would not get wrinkled. The light blanket that she had used to cover herself had moved down her body somewhat from her earlier restlessness before she settled into a peaceful slumber. It now only covered the lower part of her body.

She was on her back with one arm crooked above her head and the other resting on her exposed stomach. Her chest was covered in a rose colored satin bra that was trimmed with delicate lace. Her face seemed at peace – not currently haunted by any nightmares. The freckles on her face were very prevalent due to the exposure to the sun over the summer months. The freckles left a trail down her neck and fading away into her cleavage. Joseph decided that the overall affect was purely angelic; and, with a wicked grin, he decided that his thoughts on what he would like to do to her were most definitely less than virtuous!

All thoughts of asking her any questions about the past quickly faded as he followed her lead by removing his clothes down to his boxers and climbing into bed next to her. He stopped quickly, though, realizing there was one thing that must be taken care of first. He got back out of bed, went across the room, pulled the doors closed AND locked them. He wasn’t taking any chances of being interrupted this time.

Climbing back into bed, he placed gentle kisses on the exposed underside of her arm resting above her head. His hand gently took the hand resting on her stomach and began caressing it. As she started to stir, he began placing kisses on her forehead, eyelids, tip of her nose and finally her mouth. By the time he made it to her mouth, she was fully awake – even though her eyes were still closed. Her mouth opened to his tongue’s gentle probing and her response showed she wanted him as much as he needed her at that moment. As their tongues continued to dance, their hands began to explore. Clarisse loved running her hands over the expanse of his chest, gently teasing with her nails. He started to move over her body, but she decided that this time she would show him exactly how much she loved him, his body, and all the wonderful things he had done for her when they made love.

Breaking the kiss, she used her hands to push him back. At first he was startled. “Clarisse, what’s wrong?”

She smiled sweetly at him as she sat up and then straddled his body at his waist. She was rewarded with a look of genuine surprise followed quickly by desire as he took in the sight of her body over his. “Absolutely nothing, my dear. I just thought I would repay the favor you did for me in the greenhouse. While I don’t have a rose…I’m sure I’ll find something with which to caress every inch of your body.”

For once in his life, Joseph was speechless. Other parts of his body, however, had something to say and Clarisse smiled as she could feel the evidence of his excitement as it pressed into her body. He reached up and unfastened the clasp of her bra. “See, I’m learning. I remembered it unhooked in the front.”

Laughing, she let the material fall behind her and leaned down to begin kissing Joseph. Her kisses were insistent and demanding. Her tongue blazed a trail of fire along his neck and shoulder. Her breasts were creating sensations as they brushed up against his chest. While paying attention to his upper body with her mouth, she was rotating her lower body against his, enjoying the solid feel of his arousal against her satin clad center. She continued to move her body lower now using her hands to caress his arms, his neck, and his beautiful chest. The first time her mouth closed over one of his nipples, it was his turn to cry out in pleasure. She nibbled and sucked, enjoying the sounds of his excitement and the way she knew that she solely was responsible for his pleasure. His responses gave her courage to continue.

She slid further down slipping her tongue in his belly button while her hands worked to remove his boxers. It took some maneuvering, but finally she had freed him from the confines of his shorts. His hands were tangled in her hair as that was all he could reach at the moment, but even that faded as she slid further down on the bed. His eyes had been closed as he was focusing on her ministrations, but they shot open when he felt her mouth descend over his erection. “Clarisse!”

She smiled around him and then closed her mouth over him again, sucking as she drew her mouth upward creating the most painfully pleasant sensation Joseph had ever experienced. When she reached the top, she smiled wickedly up at him, “What is it, dear? I’m a little busy right now.”

He exchanged his angelic thoughts of her from earlier and tried to come up with a description that would do justice to the woman kneeling before him right now. As he wrestled with what to say next, his thoughts soon strayed wildly again as she took him in her mouth again. As she worked her magic, she used her nails to create gentle scraping sensations along his shaft as well as the surrounding area. Joseph fought desperately to focus his mind on something besides the sensations building throughout his entire body. If he didn’t focus on something else, this time together would be very short indeed; and, he had no intention of letting that happen.

Suddenly he felt cool air on his member as she removed her mouth and stood. He started to get up to join her. “No. As you were, Mr. Romero. I’m not finished with you yet.”

He smiled as he watched her remove her panties. “Your wish is my command, Mrs. Renaldi-Romero.”

In one quick movement, she straddled him once again, impaling herself on him. Both cried out in pleasure. They were still for a moment as their bodies adjusted to accommodate each other. She leaned forward a bit and whispered in his ear, “I love the sound of that and I love you.”

She took his hands and raised them above his head. Holding them there, they began moving together. Their lips met again and their tongues followed the movements of their bodies. As they neared climax, Clarisse pushed herself up, pulling Joseph with her so she was straddled on his lap. He put his arms around her, caressing her back as she gently stroked his cheek letting the sensations subside for a moment or two – wanting to draw this moment out for as long as possible. They knew that once the coronation activities started tomorrow, there would be little time for each other until they concluded.

“I love you too. Thank you for the beautiful gift you just gave me – never would I have imagined...”

She put a finger to his mouth to stop him from saying any more. “You inspire me, my love. I’m certain that you will provide much more inspiration that will cause me to test the boundaries of your imagination over the next several years, don’t you think?”

“I can only hope and pray, my love – hope and pray.” With those words, desire overcame them once again and the sensations began to build in Clarisse as Joseph paid loving attention to her breasts with his hands and her neck with his mouth. He seemed to have already learned every erotic zone that she possessed. She smiled as she realized she had learned some more of his this afternoon as well. He turned them and laid her back so now she was enjoying the sight of him above her. He began moving in her again as he felt her internal muscles massaging him. The sensations built to a frenzied height and they were about to burst over the edge together when the phone rang.

It took all of his will to stop. “Damn!”

She smiled, frustrated – but used to interruptions in her personal life. “You just stay right there. Don’t move. This will only take a moment.”

He couldn’t believe how quickly she composed herself, he could see how flushed her body was and he could feel evidence of her desire, but she picked up the phone and with only slightly missing a beat said, “Yes.”

“Joseph and I are in a meeting at the moment, Charlotte; but, please let Mia know I’ll be over to see her in a half an hour.”

“Yes, thank you, Charlotte.”

As soon as she hung up the phone, she pulled him to her and began kissing him again with a passion that she reserved only for him. It didn’t take long for their desire to build once more. Not wanting to risk any more interruptions, he increased his pace until they were both hanging on the edge of pure ecstasy. As he took her over the edge, he opened his eyes to watch her journey to heights previously unknown. Her face was beautiful as it held a look of pure bliss. He knew, even without seeing, that his image mirrored hers.

As they floated back to earth, Joseph lay cradled in her arms, his body still covering hers. She smiled at him. “So now that payment has been made, tell me you have my shoes.”

He laughed, “One should never pay a debt before receiving the merchandise, my love.”

She looked up at him in astonishment. “Are you saying you didn’t find them, Joseph?”

“I turned her suite upside down, my love. They are not in there. She apparently is storing them somewhere else.”

She smiled. “Well, I guess the old adage is right. If you want something done right…do it yourself!”

“Does this mean I don’t get paid when the shoes are finally found?”

She leaned down to kiss him. “I think, dear sir, that you have a debt to repay plus interest should I be the one to obtain the shoes; and, know that I fully intend to collect on your promissory note!”

“I shall begin now to think of ways to repay you, my love.”

“You do that! Now, I must clean up and go find Mia. She is expecting me.” With that, she arose, grabbed her clothes and headed toward the bathroom.

Exactly fifteen minutes later, she was standing in front of Mia’s suite. She started to knock on the door when it opened in front of her. Mia stood there with a big grin on her face, holding Clarisse’s shoes. Before Clarisse could say anything, Mia handed her the shoes and held her hand up to let her Grandmother know she definitely didn’t want to hear any explanations.

Instead, Mia said, “I don’t even wanna know, Grandma. However, for someone who is always preaching about not losing it… I find it interesting that you um, shall we say, “lost” it in the greenhouse.”

Clarisse was about to launch in her “sassing your Grandmother again” routine when Mia gave her a kiss on the cheek and told her she would see her later.

Clarisse shook her head as she started to walk down the hallway. She heard the door open again and Mia’s head popped out. “Oh, and Grandma?”

She looked back at her Granddaughter. “Yes, Mia.”

“Let’s not let this happen again, ok? The scenarios running through my head were WAY too scary for me.”

To Mia’s surprise and somewhat to Clarisse’s as well, she replied, “No promises, my love – no promises.” She left Mia gaping in surprise as she turned and walked down the hall as a very satisfied, for the moment anyway, woman.