The Mirror's Reflection

Chapter 6

The shock barely had time to register as she felt his body start to move forward to thrust inside of her. The sound of porcelain shattering all around her split the air and a second later the body of the man she had believed to be Joseph collapsed like dead weight on her frame.

Time seemed to move in slow motion…she watched the events of the next few minutes unfold before her as though she was watching it rather than being a part of it. Another man came into her view and pulled the burden off of her body. He pulled her to a sitting position and was gently shaking her. It took a few tries before her mind cleared through the fog and could focus.

“Clarisse? Clarisse? Are you alright?”

She shook her head. “Joseph?”

“Yes. It’s me.”

This wasn’t making any sense. If Joseph was the man who had just rescued her…then who the hell was laying naked and unconscious on her floor. She felt his hands on her face, turning her to look at him. “If you are Joseph…then who is that?” Her eyes darted between the two men…they were identical.

“My twin brother, Jacob.”

All of the emotion and stress of the past hour surged through her body like an electrical current. The thought of someone other than Joseph touching her, asking her intimate details of her life, seeing her unclothed, and kissing her mouth and her body…it was all too much. Her hand flew to her mouth and she ran towards the bathroom effectively emptying the contents of her stomach.

Joseph followed quickly behind her, wanting to make sure she was okay. He had no idea what had transpired before he escaped from the cell they were holding him in; but judging by Clarisse’s actions…it had not been pretty. He reached out to touch her, to offer comfort and felt a stabbing pain through his heart when she flinched away from him. He looked coldly to the man who, though identical to him on outward appearances…couldn’t be more different on the inside. Knowing that whatever he did had caused Clarisse to be afraid of his touch was enough to make him want to do severe bodily harm to the man who had used their likeness to hurt her.

He set his personal feelings aside – there was work to be done. He moved away from Clarisse knowing his presence was not going to bring comfort at this time. He ran water over a washcloth and handed it to her and retrieved her robe. After ensuring that Jacob was tightly bound and hidden in the secret passageway where he would deal with him later, he quickly undressed and put Jacob’s clothing on.

“What are you doing?” A weak voice asked from the floor of the bathroom.

“We need to find out who is behind this, Your Majesty.” He decided to avoid the familiarity of her name to help her stay on task. “We need to rescue the Princess and apprehend the people behind this.”

“Can’t you just send the Royal Guard in to apprehend André?”

“At the first sign that something has gone wrong with the plan, whoever is behind this will fade back into the shadows and wait to plot another coup.” He continued as he put in the earpiece that had been in Jacob’s ear. “No, the only way…” He stopped cold.


“I can hear everything we’re saying in this earpiece. They have a listening device implanted somewhere…that’s how Jacob knew what was going on and could interchange himself for me without you knowing.”

Clarisse watched as Joseph’s mind turned over all the details in an effort to narrow down where the bug could have been. His eyes were drawn to Clarisse’s form, now clad in white satin. She was mildly distressed at the slow perusal he was doing of her body. She pulled the robe tighter around her, now very self conscious and completely unsure of how she should be feeling at this moment. She flinched again as his hand touched her neck and slid under the fabric. Her eyes closed as she couldn’t bear to see whatever emotions were displayed on his face at her reaction.

Joseph lifted the delicate chain and pulled until the locket was no longer hidden under her robe. He turned it over carefully before opening it. He carefully removed the pictures and saw the tiny microphone that been responsible for divulging their secrets. He could only hope that the sound feed only went to Jacob’s earpiece; otherwise, their rescue plan had already failed.

“I’m sorry.” He whispered before putting the locket back together and letting it slip back into its resting place in the valley between her breasts. He could feel her body tremble as he pulled her close and whispered in her ear; thereby avoiding anyone but them overhearing. “The only way we can pull this off is for me to pretend to be him and for us to go through with everything up until the point where you would affix the Renaldi seal. Here’s what we’ll do then…”

Clarisse nodded her head to indicate that she would go along with his plan. There would be time later to try to sort through the emotional ramifications of what she had learned and what had transpired here this evening. For now, though, she needed to prove to herself that she could do what was necessary to save her granddaughter and preserve the Renaldi rule. Tonight she would be Clarisse, the Queen of Genovia, fortress of strength and resolve…tomorrow, she would be Clarisse, the woman, trying to put the pieces of her life back together again.


The throne room was dimly lit solely by the center chandelier. It had been adjusted to its lowest level so as to not attract any undue attention. The marble table that was usually kept off to the side had been placed in the center of the lighted area. A single candle had been lit and was illuminating the two additional objects resting on the marble slab: a piece of typewritten paper and a pen.

“You’re late!” André grumbled as he watched Clarisse being led back in now dressed in a red v-cut sweater and black pants.

He smiled as he watched her cringe when his accomplice’s arm went around her as he kissed her neck before explaining. “We were a little busy. We’re here now, so let’s finish this.”

Mia looked at her grandmother. She was pale and looked physically ill. Mia swore that she wouldn’t rest until everyone responsible for this night of horrors would be punished – even if she had to do it herself. She turned to André. “She was not to be touched.”

André just shrugged his shoulders as if to say he had no control over his partner.

Her voice was like steel as she vowed. “I’ll see you rot in jail for what you’ve done and allowed to be done.”

Before she could get carried away, she heard her grandmother’s voice…quiet, but strong. “Amelia, justice will prevail – you must have faith. For the moment, I think we should get this over with.” Their eyes locked and spoke volumes. “Understood?”

There was something in her tone that reassured Mia that all wasn’t lost – although she had no idea how they were going to get out of this one. If there was one thing left that Mia believed in…it was her grandmother. And if her grandmother said everything was going to be alright, then that was exactly what it would be. Mia looked more closely at her, studying her intently. Her skin held the pallor of a woman who had been ill; her body language and posture – a woman who had been traumatized over the past several hours; but her eyes…her eyes held a glint of defiance and assuredness that indicated to Mia that her Queen had this situation well in hand. She held her gaze a moment trying to assure her grandmother that she would do whatever necessary to make certain things went according to her plan…whatever that plan may be. “Understood.”

André watched the exchange and found it slightly disconcerting – the Renaldi women exuded a certain power, especially when they were under pressure that seemed to defy explanation or logic. He felt an inexplicable chill run up his spine. He spoke gruffly. “Let’s get started.” He handed a pen to Mia. “Princess, if you will do the honors of going first.”

Mia grabbed the pen away; the action caused her side to start bleeding again. The pain barely registered as she slowly signed away the birth right that she had only learned of a few short years ago. Amelia Mignonette Thermompolis Renaldi – the name was penned and she tossed it on the floor, enjoying watching André scramble after it.

He shot her a glare before turning to Clarisse. “Your Majesty…” he indicated as he held the pen out. Clarisse Mignonette Gerard Renaldi she signed in flowing letters indicative of the familiarity of signing important documents on a regular basis. She smiled and handed the pen back to André.

“Almost there.” He breathed a slight sigh of relief. It was now 11:53 pm.

Clarisse smiled again…which he found disturbing. “Of course you realize our signatures mean nothing until the Renaldi seal has been affixed.” She advised.

Joseph knew that was his cue. He grabbed Clarisse by her upper arms, pulling her back towards him. His voice was low and menacing. “We know that! Which is why I’m here…to make sure you do exactly what you are supposed to do. Let’s go.”

Mia made a move towards them, only to be pulled abruptly back – the action ripping her wound completely open. She doubled over from the pain and Clarisse had to fight the urge to go to her. Joseph’s strong grip on her arm silently reminded her that they had to finish their task and the quicker they did that, the quicker they could help Mia.

Clarisse removed the picture that provided a semblance of camouflage to the wall vault. The old combination lock had been replaced several years ago by a more modern touch pad mechanism. Joseph turned around to give her privacy as she keyed in the combination. A few moments later, the sound of the lock being released brought his attention back to her. Leaving the door slightly ajar, she whispered. “We must hurry, Amelia needs medical attention.”

“Yes ma’am” he whispered in reply before taking her arm again to ‘lead’ her back out to the throne room.

André had stepped closer to the table and was eyeing the signatures with a gleam of satisfaction. His hold on the Princess remained tight, although with the amount of blood she had lost that evening, her strength was beginning to wane. Clarisse stepped beside him. She slipped the ring bearing the seal on her finger to ensure that he couldn’t steal it from her and affix the seal himself…that was certainly not part of the plan.

She waited.

“We are waiting, Your Majesty.” André advised.

“As am I, André.” She replied, calmly.

“For what? Your granddaughter to bleed to death?”

Clarisse swallowed and tried to stay on task. “For whomever I will be abdicating the throne of Genovia to…I want to see their face.”

“What makes you think it’s not me?” André asked angrily.

In her best Queen look, she let her gaze move slowly up and down his physique. As her eyes skimmed over his mid section, she noticed a detail on the knife that was sheathed in its holster: on the handle was inscribed an elaborate “C”. She didn’t pause long as she didn’t want to let him realize she had noticed. As her eyes finally locked with his, her voice was filled with disdain, contempt and laced with condescension for effect. “That you would be fit to serve as King does not even enter the realm of possibility.”

Anger began to build in André’s body; but his eyes – still locked with the Queen’s – revealed a different emotion…fear. Her calm authority was unnerving. This whole night had turned out to be more than the final phase in their plan. It was as though a large mirror had been in placed in front of each of them revealing their character and what they were truly like on the inside. Both the Queen and Princess had shown strength in the face of adversity and a love for each other and their country that he imagined few truly possessed. Feeling the Queen’s judgment on his fitness as a King had only served to remind him that he would most likely never be more than a pawn in someone else’s game. He did not like the reflection he saw in the mirror. Her voice broke through his musings.

“Let me be clear. I will not affix this seal until the person I am abdicating the throne of Genovia to shows himself.”

The sound of movement from shadows on the other side of the throne room diverted everyone’s attention. A look of disbelief and horror replaced the carefully constructed façade on Clarisse’s face as she gasped. “Charlotte?!”