The Mirror's Reflection

Chapter 8

The next day Clarisse ordered tea and breakfast for both of them. The kitchen staff had heard that there was a ‘situation in the throne room’ the night before, but no one knew any details. They just knew it had been bad. So no one questioned or gave a second thought to the fact that Joseph was in the Queen’s suite first thing in the morning. Joseph called over to Mia’s suite and spoke with Shades. He said that the Princess had been able to confide in him and Charlotte and she was slowly beginning the recovery process. Joseph looked to the stoic woman sipping her tea…he hoped that she would soon confide in him.

Neither was hungry, but they slowly drank their tea. Afterwards, Joseph built a fire and they sat on the couch, watching the logs being consumed by the flames, both lost in self reflection. The activity was repeated at lunch time. Finally at dinner time, Mia came for a visit. Joseph welcomed her at the door.

“How is she?” She whispered.

“Quiet. How are you?” He asked.

She exhaled slowly. “I’m still not sure, to be honest. My side is healing nicely, the doctor says. The scar should disappear completely over time. The scars on the inside…those may take longer.”

He nodded, fully understanding. “Why don’t you sit with her for a bit? I’m going to check on things with security and I’ll be back in about thirty minutes.”

“Sure, Joe.” She hugged him and then went and snuggled next to her Gramma on the couch. He smiled as Clarisse put her arm around her and pulled her close.


“I’m having you extradited to Puerto Rico…they will deal with you there.” Joseph informed the man who had assumed his identity for the past few days.

He sneered. “The prodigal son returns home. Maybe I should ask mother to come visit me?”

“You can ask your mother to come visit you, if you like. My mother, on the other hand, will be coming nowhere near you. You’ve lost any rights to any family that might have otherwise welcomed you.”

“Because you made so many efforts to see me before.”

“I told you – I didn’t know you existed. IF I had known, I would have sought you out and maybe things would have been different.”

“So you keep saying.”

“Let me be very clear about one thing, though.”

“What’s that?”

“If I EVER see you again…or you EVER touch her again…I will kill you.”

Jacob saw the darkness in his twin’s eyes…a look he had recognized in his own reflection on more than one occasion. “I believe you.”


Joseph hadn’t wasted time showering; he had just grabbed a change of clothes and made his way back to Clarisse’s suite as soon as possible. Mia was sitting on the couch by herself. Seeing Joseph’s panicked look, she interjected. “She’s in the shower. She should be out in a few minutes. I told her I would wait until you got back. Is he gone?”

“Yes, he is being taken away now. He is on a one way flight to Puerto Rico and I don’t expect to see him ever again. If he does…”

“You’ll kill him.” Mia stated flatly as if there were no other obvious conclusion.

“Yes, Princess…I’ll kill him. Whatever he did to Clarisse…he deserves to die.”

Mia nodded in agreement.

The shower was still running so Joseph decided to pry a bit. “Did you see anything? You know?” He wanted to ask without truly asking.

Mia gazed into the fire. “Believe it or not, André didn’t let me watch what I suspect was the worst of it. What I did see…”

“Please, Princess…anything you can tell me will help.” He was desperate.

Mia looked towards the bathroom and then back at Joe. “They came to the room that night to make love. She thought it was you, Joe.” Mia sought to reassure him.

“I understand, Princess. Please continue.”

“I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but when I looked again, Gramma was tied to the bed.”

“Oh my God.”

“He was touching her…she wasn’t enjoying it anymore. He kept saying things to her and she would reply and shake her head no. I don’t know what happened after that…André wouldn’t let me watch. When I was allowed to look again, her eyes were closed, her breathing was shallow and he was holding a knife over her heart. That’s all I know. I don’t know what happened in her room. Please, Joe…tell me that he didn’t…” She swallowed hard. “…rape her.”

Joseph pulled her into his strong embrace. “No, Princess…I stopped him…just barely; I’m afraid, though, I didn’t arrive in time to prevent the entire scenario.”

“Thank you for preventing at least the worst.”

“André didn’t…to you?” He had to ask.

“No. He actually was quite the gentleman…all things considered. He did make me take my shirt off…but that was so he could bandage my wound.”

“Perhaps I will show him some leniency then.”

She smiled. “Let’s not get too carried away.”

“Deal. Thank you for telling me, Princess. I know it wasn’t easy.”

The shower had stopped. They only had a few minutes left. “Please don’t tell her I said anything.”

“I promise.”

“You promise what?” Clarisse asked.

Joseph smiled, grateful she had finally spoken. He winked at Mia. “I promised her that I would get a shower next…she thinks I’m starting to smell.”

Clarisse rewarded them with a small smile. She knew they were lying to protect her; but she appreciated the effort. “It’s all yours.” She gestured to Joseph.

“Thank you, Your Majesty.” He turned to Mia. “Sleep well, Princess.”


Joseph emerged five minutes later, freshly washed and in a change of clothes. He had opted for his black sweats and t-shirt. “I hope this is acceptable. I can change back into my dress slacks if you wish.”

She gestured to her silk pajamas and robe (as if he hadn’t noticed already). “It’s casual attire tonight.”

This time they did eat a little of what had been provided for their meal: a small bowl of chicken broth and crackers. They ate in silence then resumed their places on the couch in front of the fire.

Joseph was lost in thoughts of his encounter with the brother that he had never known and, after all that had transpired, never cared to know.

Joseph woke; his head feeling like he had fallen from the top of a very tall pear tree. He was groggy and his vision a little blurry. He sat up carefully, surveying his surroundings. Within moments, he realized he was in one of the few remaining cells in the basement of the palace.

“Looks like Sleeping Beauty is awake.”

Joseph forced his eyes to focus. He must have had more to drink than he remembered. Briefly it seemed as though he were looking in a mirror, except his reflection was not mimicking his stance or actions. “Who are you?”

“Is that any way to speak to your brother?” Jacob asked.

“Look…I don’t know who you, but I demand to know why I am being held like a prisoner.” His head was pounding, but the sense of foreboding and danger that was spreading through his body like ice through his veins far outweighed any other physical discomforts.

“From the information I’ve been able to gather about you, I’d say SHE has held you hostage for the past several years. I’m surprised at your inability to take what you so obviously want.”

Joseph’s anger was palpable. “I’ll ask you again…who the hell are you?”

“Sit down, brother and let me tell you a story…”

As he had been a captive audience, he had no choice but to listen. Though their physical presence was identical, from the moment they exited the womb, their lives had taken far different paths resulting in one man being filled with honor and love – the other bitterness and hate.


From the moment he had learned the truth, he had tried to reconcile all of the information Jacob had told him with what he knew to be true from his childhood. With sickening recognition, he knew that the story that Jacob had woven for him could, indeed, be true…

Each dealing with their own personal demons, the atmosphere in the suite remained tense and sorrowful. After an hour or more, Clarisse finally spoke. “Is he…gone?”


“I see.”

“Did you want to speak to him before I sent him away?”


Several minutes passed before she spoke again. “How did you not know he existed?” It wasn’t an accusation, just a need for information…for understanding.

“If what he told me is to be believed, my parents gave him up at birth.”

“Why?” Her voice was slightly incredulous.

“You won’t understand.”

She shot him a look, but refrained from a total outburst. He didn’t want her judging his family. He then remembered Mia’s words recounting the horrors Clarisse had been subjected to and softened. “Apparently we were very poor and they were concerned about having two mouths to feed. Healthcare was minimal in the small town we lived in…my mother didn’t know she was pregnant with twins. I never knew he existed until I saw him after he locked me up.”

“Did he say anything else?”

He thought for a moment, trying to fully understand what she was asking. After several moments, he replied. “If you’re asking if he volunteered why he did this…the answer is no. I would surmise that it was revenge.”

“On you?”

“I believe.”

“Why? You had nothing to do with the decision to give him up for adoption.”

“I don’t think that mattered to him. He was set on destroying me and all that I…” He turned to look in her direction. “…love.”

She nodded but did not say anything more. After another thirty minutes or so, she stood up and moved over on the couch so she was close enough to reach out and take his hand. Their clasped hands rested on the space in between them. Joseph squeezed it gently, not daring to look at her and thought that maybe there was some hope for them after all.


The next day passed in similar fashion as the day before. Mia came to visit right before dinner and Joseph went to check on André. He knew something was amiss when he arrived at the holding cell area. He was met by the Master of Arms. “I’m sorry, sir. We didn’t know.” He tried in way of explanation.

“Didn’t know what?”

“That he was on suicide watch.” The man explained.

Joseph picked up the pace as he made his way to the young man’s cell. He stopped cold at the sight of the lifeless body swinging from a rafter. “Why wasn’t someone watching him?”

“Our man was stationed at the end of the corridor; but, like I said…we didn’t know he was a potential suicide.”

Joseph pushed the man against the wall, his forearm pressing against his chest. “He wounded the Princess, kidnapped the Queen and tried to stage a Palace coup. He was caught and was facing banishment from the only country he had ever known. What about that scenario doesn’t suggest that he might be interested in taking his own life?”

The man realized that he had failed and now had the Royal Family’s head of security on his bad side…not a good place to be. “I’m sorry, sir.”

“I’m sure you are. I’ll be sure to send the Princess…your future Queen…down to see you should she have any questions about what occurred here.”

“He left a note.”


“For the Princess.”

Will this nightmare never end? He thought to himself. “Let me have it.”

“Yes, sir.”

Joseph snatched the note and issued a final order. “Take care of this…mess you’ve created. Not a word to the press, do you understand?”

“Yes sir.”


Joseph walked into the suite, his heart heavy. He wasn’t sure how the Princess would take the news; but she deserved to know and deserved to have the note. Maybe it would give her some closure. He had given Charlotte and Shades a ‘heads up’ so they could be there for her.

“Hi Joe. Gramma and I were just wondering when you would be back.”

He smiled at the Princess before answering. “You mean YOU were wondering…your grandmother does not ponder over things she can’t control or wonder over things for which she already knows the answers.”

He caught a slight smile from Clarisse…she knew that he knew her well enough to know that; and he had been right. It was only Mia that had wondered what was taking Joseph so long. Clarisse knew he was taking care of things…as Joseph always did. She also knew that he would not be away from her one moment more than necessary.

“Yeah whatever.” She smiled. “We’re glad you’re back. What took you so long?”

He came and knelt in front of Mia, his voice taking on a serious tone. “I went to see André.”


“Princess…I’m afraid I have some bad news.” He took her hands in his.

“What is it, Joe? I mean he already tried to kill me and steal our crown…how much worse could it be?” Her hands had started to tremble.

“André took his own life.”

“What? How?”

“Does that matter, Princess?” He really didn’t want to go into the sordid details if he didn’t have to.

She seemed a million miles away. Clarisse’s eyes were closed, her hand on Mia’s leg, silently offering support. “No…no, I guess it doesn’t.”

“He left this for you.” Joseph offered, reaching in his pocket to retrieve the note.

Mia looked over the sealed envelope, noticing it hadn’t been opened. “How did he? I mean it’s in an envelope…”

“All prisoners, unless they are on suicide watch, are provided with note paper and pen to write family.”

“Why didn’t you open it?”

“It wasn’t addressed to me. I will take it and read it, though, if you like.” He offered.

She thought for a moment and then shook her head no. “Thank you for not reading it…I will...when I’m ready.”

“The decision is entirely yours, Princess…whatever or whenever you decide.”

She nodded her understanding and then stood up. Her expression was still far away; but she asked. “I’m going to go now, Gramma. Will you be alright?”

Clarisse stood and hugged her. “Of course, dear. Will you?”

“Yes…at some point. Probably not tonight…but I will.”

Shades was waiting at the door to escort her back to the suite. Joseph showered again and then joined Clarisse for a light dinner. After they had eaten some, Clarisse offered. “Thank you for delivering the news. I know you didn’t have to or that you could’ve assigned that task to someone else. I appreciate you taking care of it personally and with compassion.”

“You’re welcome.” He knew better than to say no thanks were needed – he had learned that lesson the hard way.

After dinner, they were seated in front of the fire again. Tonight they picked up where they had left off the night before. Clarisse held his hand and they quietly reflected on the latest news. Finally, Joseph spoke. “It doesn’t have to be tonight. But at some point, Clarisse, I need to know what happened. For my own sanity.”

She squeezed his hand but said nothing for several minutes. “It was like he knew me, Joseph. In retrospect, perhaps not as well as you do…but still more than he should have.” She continued. “It makes me wonder.”

“Wonder what?”

“How can I know when I was with him…and when I was with you?”

Joseph waited a few moments before he spoke. “I was drugged and moved to the cell on Wednesday night. Anything from that point on was him, not me.”

Clarisse thought about those nights that ‘Joseph’ had come to her; the number of times they had kissed…and more. She swallowed hard, fighting back the wave of nausea that once again threatened to overcome her. “I’m so sorry, Joseph. I should have known, should have realized that it was another man.”

He, too, had spent a great deal of thought on that very subject. He had to ask. “Why didn’t you?”