In Her Majesty's Secret Service

By Shakyala
Summary: This is a story from Joseph's POV regarding a special service he provided to his Queen.
Rating: MA Adult material. If you are underage, you should go read another story.
Disclaimer: The owners of these characters would NEVER allow them the fun that I do, and I do it all for FREE!!

I would like to give special thanks to my dearest friend, Dorthe, for being my beta and for the beautiful graphics that are a part of the story as well.

Secret Service 10 Year Anniversary: “Indeed”

Author’s Note: Since we’re picking up 10 years in the future, I wanted to fill you in on what’s taken place in the past years (and yes, for those of you who are paying attention…these are the same events that I had take place in the future in my “Flashback” story!) So, to catch those of you who need it up…

Clarisse and Joseph’s 1 year anniversary: They attend the wedding of Mia and Nicholas.

Clarisse and Joseph’s 5 year anniversary: They become great grandparents as Mia gives birth to twins: Joseph Philippe Renaldi Deveraux and Julia Clarisse Mignonette Deveraux.

So now we move forward to their 10 year anniversary…

Clarisse Renaldi Romerro’s heels clacked softly on the marble floor as she made her way through the corridor that led from the private residence to the main foyer. There was a slight bounce in her step and small smile on her face as she anticipated what the events of today would bring her. Today was her and Joseph’s tenth wedding anniversary. Joseph had promised a surprise; and, more importantly, a private celebration.

A slight blush covered her body as she thought about the years they had shared in marital bliss. Since their wedding night, when she had finally been able to give him all of herself: No duty, no responsibility, and no crown…just her. From that night on, they had experienced a myriad of pleasant private celebrations. Her mind began to wander to some of the more amorous celebrations; but before she could get too lost in thought, she heard the unmistakable thundering of foot steps that provided the tell-tale sign that her great granddaughter, Julie, was about to make her entrance.

Huge blue eyes shone with excitement as Julie squealed and leapt towards Clarisse. “Great gramma Clarisse! Happy Anni-bersary!” the little girl exclaimed excitedly as Clarisse lifted her and twirled her around in the air before pulling her into a tight embrace.

“Why, thank you, young lady. I trust you wished your Mother and Father the same?”

Julie’s eyes sparkled mischievously as she replied in her most “princess” voice. “But, of course, it was the proper thing to do.” The little girl in her reasserted itself quickly as she added, “You should’ve seen all the roses that Daddy got Mommy! They were EVERYWHERE!”

Clarisse smiled at the bundle of energy she held in her arms that so closely resembled her mother and grandfather, Philippe, in temperament and looks…the exception being that she had her great grandmother’s intense blue eyes. Clarisse knew without a doubt that some young man was in for the ride of his life once he succumbed to the irresistible pull of those shiny blue orbs; because behind those eyes was a mind filled with intelligence with enough mischief mixed in (undoubtedly from her mother) to create havoc wherever she went.

Her musings were, once again, interrupted by another question. “So…what did Grandpa Joseph get you for your ani-bersary?”

Clarisse smiled at the little girl’s trouble with the word “anniversary”. Before she could respond, however, another small, yet strong voice spoke up in reprimand. “Julie! It is not nice to ask such personal questions.” Joey, her twin brother advised as he stood holding Joseph’s hand.

Never one to be admonished easily, Julie quickly replied in a manner frightenly similar to her great grandmother. “Oh tosh! Gramma Clarisse wants to share, don’t you? Tell me, Gramma, did Grandpa give you roses?”

The adults grinned and Clarisse’s smile broadened as Joseph produced a single peach colored rose from behind his back and offered sincerely. “Indeed, he did.”

Clarisse switched Julie to one hip so she could take the rose and inhale its fragrance. She spoke in a quiet voice as her eyes locked with his. “Oh Joseph, it’s beautiful and smells heavenly. Thank you.”

Joseph leaned in to kiss her on the cheek, whispering huskily before he pulled away. “A flower for my beautiful rose. You’re welcome.”

Julie made her presence known again. “One rose? Grandpa Joseph, are you serious? Daddy gave Mommy whole bunches and bunches of roses.” She put her hand on her forehead as she shook her tiny curls indicating her disapproval.

“Julie!” Joey protested. He had definitely taken his temperament after his father and Uncle Pierre. He also had spent a lot of time with Joseph, who had loved every moment of time he got to spend with his great grandchildren. Joseph’s influence, especially, on his great grandson did not go unnoticed.

He smiled at the young boy glaring up at his sister. He reached down and picked him up and indicated to Clarisse to give him Julie as well. Once they were both in his arms, he explained. “You’re sister is right, Joey. Someone as beautiful as your great grandmother deserves something very special. Which is why…can you keep a secret?” He asked them with a twinkle in his eyes.

Both children nodded enthusiastically and leaned closer to hear the secret. Joseph whispered into their ears some of the details of his plan for his wife for the rest of the day. The children giggled as they listened and then erupted into laughter as he began to tickle them and kiss their necks triggering more tickle reactions.

Mia’s voice reached the group before she did. “Julie! Joey! I hear you. You better not be causing trouble!”

“In here, Amelia.” Clarisse offered as she watched with immense enjoyment the exchange between Joseph and the children.

“There you are!” Mia entered the corridor with Charlotte and Nicholas close behind. “We’ve been looking all over the palace for you two. Aren’t you supposed to be with Ms. Jacobs for your lessons?” Mia asked with a disappointing tone.

Joey answered first. “Yes, mother; but Julie wanted to see Grandma Clarisse and Grandpa Joseph before they left and I followed so I could bring her back after we said good bye.”

Julie, still giggling, offered. “Yes – what Joey said.”

Mia and Nicholas each took one child from Joseph. “Well next time, ask first, alright? You had us worried.”

Both children sobered quickly as they had been taught almost from birth that running off on your own was not a luxury they could be afforded. As future King or Queen, their safety and protection had to be ensured. They replied in unison. “Yes, mother. We’re sorry.”

Mia smiled affectionately at her children. “All is forgiven. Now kiss your great grandparents good bye and let Miss Charlotte take you back for your lessons.”

Sweet kisses were exchanged from each child. Joey held onto Clarisse’s neck for just a few seconds longer and whispered in her ear. “You’re gonna love your surprise, Grandma. He did really good this time.” He offered.

Clarisse kissed him back and replied with a smile. “He always does, Joseph, always.”

Joey put his hands on his hip and admonished. “I’m Joey, Grandma! If you call me Joseph, people won’t be able to tell the difference between us.”

Clarisse looked between her three foot grandchild, standing with his jaw set and a determined look in his eyes and then up to the powerful presence of her husband and best friend, who was now looking at her with a twinkle in his eyes. Clarisse nodded her head slowly. “I see your point. If one did not look very closely, one could definitely confuse the two of you. Joey it is then.”

Joey smiled triumphantly and took Charlotte’s hand. “Thank you, Grandma.”

Charlotte took Julie’s hand and said, “Happy Anniversary to both couples. Now, children, let’s go find Ms. Jacobs. Tell your parents and great grandparents good-bye.”

“Bye! We love you.” The children replied as they began to walk away. Before they made it out of ear shot, they could see Julie patting Charlotte’s stomach and asking when Baby Shades was going to be born and if the baby would wear sunglasses all the time, too.

The adults laughed as they could only imagine what kind of response Charlotte might be able to come up with on such short notice. “Are you sure you two won’t stay for the party? It’s just going to be a small dinner with dancing – only about thirty people?” Nicholas asked.

Joseph stepped in behind Clarisse and put his arms around her, pulling her close to him. I’m afraid not, Nicholas. I’m a firm believer that anniversaries should be celebrated privately. Besides, my wife’s days of sharing her special days with the masses are now over. We’ll leave that up to the current reigning monarch, right dear?”

Clarisse snuggled even further into his embrace and turned her head to place a quick kiss on his lips before answering. “Indeed, we will.”

Joseph was quickly getting lost in the scent and feel of his wife pressed so enticingly close to his body; and while Mia and Nicholas had become accustomed to some minor displays of affection between their grandparents, he was certain that the amount of affection he wanted to bestow on her right now would not be well received. So he settled for nuzzling her neck and murmured into the softly scented flesh. “Indeed.”

Mia picked up on the exchange and said to Nicholas, “I think we should make our exit now, dear, before they forget completely that we’re here.”

Nicholas smiled at his wife, took her hand and kissed it gently. “Indeed.”

As they walked away, you could hear them quietly say, “Do you think those two will EVER slow down?”

They glanced back over their shoulders and saw that Clarisse had turned in Joseph’s embrace; the look of love and desire on their faces left no doubt. “No, I don’t think they will – and that’s the way it should be.” Nicholas said as he pulled his wife closer to put his arm around her as they walked away.

Joseph noticed Mia and Nicholas turn the corner to exit the corridor. “Finally alone.” He growled as he claimed Clarisse’s mouth in a fiery kiss. Years of being together had attuned their bodies and senses to the point that one kiss would leave them yearning for more.

As their tongues battled, his hands moved closer to cup her bottom, allowing her to feel the strong evidence of his desire. Feeling the power radiating from his arousal made her knees go weak and prompted her into action. She broke away from the kiss and breathlessly asked. “How long until we leave?”

Joseph chuckled slightly at his wife’s impatience. He teased. “Is mi’ zorra in need of the secret service that only her husband can provide?”

Clarisse turned them and pushed back, slightly pinning Joseph between her hot body and the cool marble wall. She replied in what sounded more like a low growl. “Indeed she is.”

Placing his hand on her upper arms, he pushed back slightly and turned them so she was now trapped between two unyielding surfaces. His hands shifted to allow his thumbs to caress the sides of her breasts causing a small gasp to escape from her lips. “Joseph, please.”

Never one to miss an opportunity or refuse his wife, he murmured. “Shades can wait.” With that statement, he grabbed his wife’s hand and they quietly and quickly made their way back to their suite.

From a side hallway, Mia whispered to Nicholas. “I told you they’d be late. We’ll let Shades know they’re still…umm…packing…yes, packing.”

Nicholas chuckled and refrained from pointing out to his wife that she could be just as demanding as, apparently, her grandmother. He was also certain that Joseph considered himself as lucky of a man that Nicholas did. “Packing it is then. Shall we?”


Inside the suite, Clarisse led Joseph into their bedroom. Once they were standing close to the bed, she turned and kissed him once again. As the kiss grew in intensity and desire, she knew without a doubt that Joseph’s words to her from years ago were once again being proven true. She broke away from the kiss, but kept her lips only a scant distance from his so he could feel her breath with each exhale. “I do believe you were correct, dear.”

Joseph willed his heart to slow down a bit so the thumping of his heart resounding in his ears would subside some so he could hear the whispered voice of his wife. “How so, love?”

“I have definitely become addicted to your kisses. They are a powerful drug, without which I cannot survive.” As the last words exited her mouth, her lips claimed his again. A soft, yet forceful kiss that skillfully elicited sounds of pleasure from her husband. As she continued to ply him with gentle kisses, her fingers found the buttons on his shirt. After she had undone the top two, she felt his hands on hers, effectively stilling her movements.

Before she could ask, he put his index finger to her slightly swollen lips and then turned as if to walk away. Her face registered a slight confusion until she saw him shut and lock the bedroom door. She smiled as she offered, “I remember the first time you did that. I was devastated when you walked away from me…I thought you had decided to do the right and proper thing.”

Joseph turned to look at his wife; a crooked smile on her flushed face. Her chest was heaving slightly from her arousal and her eyes held a reminiscent hue as she thought back to that fateful day that started the love affair of a lifetime. He closed the distance between them and shared, “I can’t imagine there would have been anything more right or proper than making love to you that day.”

Her smile widened. “I had just proposed an illicit love affair with your Queen that would have to be maintained in the utmost of secrecy; I hardly think that qualifies as right and proper…in anyone’s book – much less the royal standard I had been held to my entire life.”

Joseph’s voice took on a slight teasing tone. “Which is why I eventually had to marry you – to make an honest woman out of you.”

They both laughed at his statement. He grew serious once again and asked. “I never asked you before; but what made you decide to move forward that day.”

Her hands found the buttons on his shirt again and resumed their previous task of removing his shirt. As her hands slipped inside the open shirt, feeling the heat of his skin; her eyes, heavy with desire met his and she whispered huskily. “I could no longer deny myself the other half of my soul.”

Joseph closed his eyes at the softness of her words and the feel of her hands as they gently explored the expanse of his chest. His mouth found hers again, conveying all of the love he felt for her. This time, he heard the pleasant sounds emanating from deep within the love of his life’s body. He broke away slightly, maintaining the same small distance she had earlier. He whispered his answer. “You’re the home my heart searched for; for so long. We complete each other, for you are truly the other half of my heart, mind and soul. I love you, Clarisse.”

No further words were needed as he began to slowly undo the buttons on her blouse. He was constantly amazed by how responsive she had always been to his touch. With each tiny inhale or exhale indicating the effect he had on her. When he finally had freed her upper body from the bothersome restraint of garments, he cupped her full breasts into each hand, delighting in the fact that her nipples were already standing proud and erect. He felt his own body respond in kind. He growled. “Do you have any idea what you do to me?”

Clarisse had been lost in her own world, reveling in the pleasant stimuli being directed towards her needy body. She chuckled slightly at his statement. “What I do to you? I believe you started this, oh so many years ago, sir! That fateful day we were just discussing…as you will recall; that day you awakened a part of me…a part that didn’t even exist before. YOU created it in me.” To emphasize her point, she let her nails scrape lightly over his nipples, delighting in the moan that escaped her lover’s mouth.

At the end of the moan, Joseph replied. “And mi’ zorra was born!”

Clarisse smiled broadly at his statement. She had always loved that nickname he had bestowed on her. Truthfully, it was the only nickname she had ever had. No one ever dared called the Queen by a nickname – no one was ever allowed close enough to take such liberties. But Joseph, HER Joseph, had broken down every wall she had ever constructed and burrowed himself deep within her heart; claiming her soul for his very own. She needed him as she needed air to breathe.

He had taught her so much about herself…ALL sides of herself, not just those that were on display to the public; but her private thoughts and needs as well. He had taken her on a personal journey that had, indeed, awakened the vixen that slept deep within her psyche. Those five years had taught her that her physical needs were not something she had to deny or be ashamed of; and she had been a willing pupil. Thoughts of their past encounters surfaced and served to fuel the needs she felt in present day. Calling on one of their favorite analogies, she replied. “Oh yes she was; and now your instrument is in desperate need of tuning. Please Joseph, make love to me…as no one else, but you, ever has.”

To emphasize her need, she unbuttoned and unzipped the skirt she was wearing and let it fall to the floor. She then reached across and repeated the actions on his black trousers. Feeling her skin against his, with only a small amount of material between them was all the invitation he needed. He had wanted to save all of this for later in the day; but she looked so…so breathtaking as she stood before him. He allowed himself a moment to survey the goddess that stood just a short distance in front of him.

Although the years had crept slowly onto each of their bodies, they had been very kind to Clarisse. Her skin still clung pleasantly to her frame and, while not as supple as it had once been, still gave no indication to her actual number of years. Her freckles were still splattered playfully across the canvas of her skin, often times providing a map to treasures that lay hidden from most. He took the opportunity to trace his favorite smattering that ran from the curve of her neck down to seek refuge in the swell of her breasts. He smiled as her eyes closed in response and she gently licked her lips. He knew it was no longer because she was nervous, as had been the case in their earlier encounters; but rather her way of dealing with the anticipation that was building in her body much quicker than the pace he would take them.

He inwardly chuckled as he remembered the number of “discussions” they had shared over the years regarding their perspectives on what she had deemed his mercilessly teasing her. She had, in the end, acknowledged that she had never walked away from one of their encounters unsatisfied and that she secretly enjoyed the way he teased her body until they soared the heights of ecstasy together. Of course, that didn’t imply that he didn’t, on occasion, succumb to her wishes and make their joining a heated encounter that was solely about fulfilling the physical needs that often raged as an uncontrollable tempest between them. He suspected this morning would be one of those times. His suspicions were confirmed as she pulled him and maneuvered them until his body partially covered hers on their freshly made bad and she urgently whispered. “Joseph. Please.”

He gazed into his favorite part of her body…those bright blue depths that had ensnared him from the first time he unknowingly looked into her eyes. There was something mesmerizing about them and he could spend hours just exploring all the facets of her personality that were displayed in those crystalline orbs. His great granddaughter shared those captivating eyes as well; and he had learned early on that anything either of them asked, he was helpless to resist. Whether it be ice cream for Julie or the much more personal and adult needs for his beloved wife. His thoughts trailed off as she pulled his face to hers seeking the addicting comfort of his lips.

Before he allowed her access to that which she desired most, he asked, “So tell me, mi’ zorra, will I find you as I did that day…wet and wanting?”

A slight blush arrived on her already flushed body as she remembered that first encounter in her study…

She grabbed one of his hands and pulled it around to her front. She guided it past the garter belt, below the waistband of her panties to her curls. As she guided his hand, he felt her warm, moist heat. “Oh…” was all he could manage to say.

A sharp intake of breath on his first contact with her center was her only response for a moment. Finally, she found words, “You do this to me, Joseph – JUST from looking at me. Do you understand? You don’t even have to touch me…just a look and I become wet and wanting.”

She repeated her actions from that day, guiding his hand under the black satin to the dampness that signaled, once again, that his presence had caused a reaction in her body that she no longer even tried to control. The embarrassment she had felt that first day was nothing more than a shadow of a former self that she no longer remembered or recognized. Her reply was nothing more than a husky whisper. “I suggest you check for yourself. You will find that nothing has changed from that first time; just the sound of that deep, sexy voice of yours and I become wet and wanting.”

Joseph felt his desire surge to new heights as her hand directed his to the damp patch of golden curls that demonstrated she was; in fact, ready to be fully possessed by him. He felt her body shift slightly to allow him even greater access to her innermost recesses. He gave in to the desire sweeping through his body and crushed his mouth on to hers, demanding entrance into the hot recesses of her mouth; while his fingers invaded her moist depths. Her gasp of pleasure was all the encouragement he needed to move forward at an unrelenting pace to drive them both to the fulfillment they could only find in each other’s arms. The years melted away as hands and mouths moved with expert skill, raising the desire levels to the point where it seemed that nothing existed save their need for each other.

Their journey was interrupted by the unwelcome sound of their doorknob being rattled as a result of the efforts of someone on the other side trying to open the door. Through their haze, they heard the unmistakable voice of Olivia calling out. “Joseph? Ma’am? Are you in there? Shades thought you might need help packing; I thought I might offer my assistance.”

Joseph rolled off of his wife’s heaving frame and watched her try to compose herself; the back of her hand rested on her forehead and the other just below her breasts. She forced a deep breath from her lungs as she whispered. “No privacy.”

Joseph took a few deep breaths himself before seeking to relieve some of their frustration by offering, “Thank God I locked the door or poor Olivia might be highly traumatized about now.”

Clarisse uncharacteristically giggled at that statement before sitting up. She looked at her husband unashamedly and stated. “A few minutes more and it wouldn’t have mattered as you know how, shall we say, vocal I can be in my praise of your efforts to bring me pleasure.”

Olivia’s voice resounded again. “Hello? It sounds like you’re in there. Can I be of service, ma’am?”

Joseph sat up and returned his wife’s unwavering gaze. “Not the kind of service you need right now. Know that before this day is over, I shall fully experience exactly how vocal you can be. That, my love, is a promise.”

As he watched her eyes close, thinking of the pleasure that awaited her before the day was over; he answered the persistent woman on the other side of the double doors. “We are just finishing up, Olivia. We’ll be down in fifteen minutes; please let Shades know.”

They could hear the hesitation in her voice as she answered. “Of course…I’m sorry if I…I’ll let Shades know.” Then she added as almost an afterthought, “Happy Anniversary.”

Joseph smiled as he knew she finally realized what she must have interrupted. “Thank you, Olivia.”

“You’re welcome, sir.” They heard her reply before hearing the outer door open and close signaling her departure.

Clarisse made one last attempt. “I don’t suppose…”

Joseph stood and looked over at the tempting offer his wife was extending to him as she made no move to get herself dressed. With great reluctance, he responded. “We can’t, Clarisse; if we don’t appear within fifteen minutes, Shades will send the Calvary after us.”

Clarisse gave one last longing look at the bed that she now had to vacate before she stood and retrieved her clothing from the floor and began to dress herself. “Very good point; with the baby arriving soon, he has been quite the stickler for keeping to a schedule, hasn’t he?” She asked.

“I think he wants to be sure that Charlotte knows exactly what time he will be leaving and returning so she can find him when the time arrives.” Joseph offered as donned his clothes once again.

“It is getting close, isn’t it?” She asked as she fumbled with the buttons of her blouse.

He smiled as he stepped in front of her to assist with the task. “Any day now, I think.”

“Then we shouldn’t keep him waiting, should we?” She asked as she made a check of herself in the mirror.

He stepped behind her and placed a kiss on the ‘sweet spot’ on her neck. “For you, I would leave the Arch Bishop waiting.”

Clarisse allowed herself a fleeting moment to cherish the feel of his lips against her highly sensitized flesh before responding. “How sweet, darling; but we really should go now…as much as I would prefer to spend the rest of the day here in our suite; my great grandson assures me that my surprise is well worth the wait.”

He kissed his favorite spot one last time, garnering a sigh from his beloved before he responded. “And, Joey is always right! A trait he gets from his great grandfather, no doubt!”

She laughed and turned towards him. “You still are as incorrigible as ever, you know that right?”

His laughter rang through the room as he extended his hand to his wife to escort her from the suite towards the impatient Shades. “Indeed!”


They had both chuckled when Shades insisted on putting the privacy screen up when they entered the car. He would never say anything; but he knew when the Queen and Sir Nicholas had advised that the couple was finishing their “packing”, that there was anything BUT packing going on in their suite. He had hated to interrupt them; but fear of missing the birth of his son or daughter weighed much higher in importance for him right then than anything else – even the private anniversary celebration of his former Queen and boss.

Once settled in the back of the limo, Clarisse watched with contentment as the rolling landscape of her beloved Genovia sped by the window. She could sense Joseph watching her; she had become accustomed to that over the years. She didn’t want to look at him for fear that she would get swept away in her desire once again. Her nerves were still frayed from their earlier escapades and she knew that relief would not come soon. As a result, she saw no point to starting something or encouraging something that neither of them could finish right now.

Her eyes closed and a quick breath escaped her as she felt the warm hand of her husband sliding up her leg as he moved in closer behind her. As the offending hand slipped under her skirt and to her inner leg, she gasped. “Joseph!”

His response was to nuzzle her neck as he murmured. “Mmhmm.”

“Joseph, we can’t..ahh..” She couldn’t finish her sentence as her voice caught in her throat when probing fingers brushed enticingly close to her center.

Joseph lifted his head from the curve of her neck and whispered. “Why not?”

She forced her eyes open and turned her head. Forming some semblance of a glare, she tried her best “queen” voice on him. “Because it’s not proper, that’s why.”

His fingers began to lightly caress the crevice where her leg joined her hip. His voice was nothing more than a seductive whisper as he spoke. “I seem to recall a time when you threw propriety out the window and enjoyed yourself, rather immensely as I recall, in the front seat of my car.”

She heard herself continue to voice her objection regarding how this was different; her body, though, betrayed her words by moving to allow him further access to the area where she craved his touch most. He let his fingers brush softly against the satin, her hips moved in response and a small moan escaped through her slightly parted lips. Joseph leaned in and whispered. “Do you think you will be able to be quiet? I want to take care of you; but I don’t want to startle Shades either…that could be dangerous for us if he’s not concentrating on the road.”

Clarisse let her head fall back against the head rest, exhaling slowly as she did. After a moment she spoke. “Honestly? No, I don’t. I want you so badly right now, Joseph; I feel like it’s our first anniversary rather than our tenth. Add to that the fact that you’ve been mercilessly teasing me…so no; no I don’t think I can keep quiet. So what would you like to do now?” Her voice held an edge of frustration at the situations they kept finding themselves in today. She secretly hoped that Joey was right and that all of this frustration and waiting would be worth it when she finally got to be truly alone with Joseph – that was all she had really wanted for her anniversary.

Joseph slowly and reluctantly removed his hand from her heated center. “I’m sorry, love, I just can’t seem to help myself where you’re concerned. There was that one time, though, when we kept quiet…do you remember?”

Her eyes were closed and she was biting her lower lip in an effort to maintain the quiet; the flush of arousal covering her body provided a beautiful contrast to the creamy beige of her slip; and the fading light from the window made her appear as though she were surrounded by a cloud of muted colors.

Their joined hands moved to cover her breasts, providing minor relief to the aching Clarisse had felt there since his attentions moved away only minutes ago. She felt the tension mount with each skillful stroke he delivered until nothing but feelings of pleasure coursed through her entire body.

Neither made a sound as they achieved their completion – only the whiteness of their fingers caused from squeezing their hands so tightly gave any outward indication of the passion that was just shared. Clarisse noted the deep indentations left by her nails on the back of Joseph’s hands. She raised each one to her mouth to deliver healing kisses before pulling him back into her embrace.

Clarisse’s eyes were closed again as she joined him in the trip down memory lane. “Of course, I remember. Poor Charlotte was a mess when I got back; she knew exactly where I had gone, who I had been with and what I had done. She acted strangely around me the rest of the afternoon.” She chuckled slightly as she remembered how ill at ease Charlotte had been that day. She then added, “I must tell you, though, love, that remembering making passionate love to you does not ease the ache I’m currently feeling by not being able to make love to you.”

“I know, love, and I’m sorry; I’m just trying to keep your mind focused elsewhere. How about one more trip down memory lane? As long as I promise it focuses on a night when our souls first connected and our soul song was born. That was such a special night for me; it set the stage in my heart to know that I could never live without you.”

She turned so she was fully facing him, a look of deep love clearly displayed on her face. “Nor I you, my love. I know it sounds cliché; but I need you like I need air to breathe.” Her lips found his, sharing a tender kiss filled with years of love, friendship, and a bond that only soul mates could share. Clarisse had to admit to herself that she felt much calmer now; it was ironic how he could both entice her and calm her – often at the same time, she mused. She turned again so she was nestled safely in the crook of his arm. “So take me down memory lane…”

His voice was quiet as he shared his tale:

Setting: At the consulate in California, the night before they returned to Genovia.

“Clarisse? Are you alright?”

She gently shook her head. She opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out. He watched her intently as she fought for composure. Finally, she let her robe drop off of her shoulders. Joseph’s eyes were in complete focus now as she stood naked before him. Without speaking a word, he pulled the blankets back to extend the offer of “her” side of the bed.

She climbed in and nestled into his waiting arms. She spooned against his body and he felt her tears falling freely now. He kissed her hair and fought to keep his own emotions in check. His heart ached as he was sure hers did. The opportunity to spend alone time together in Genovia would be rare, if not nonexistent. The secret service he had been performing would have to be even more secretive, if it were even possible at all...

She rolled over, her crystal blue eyes staring deeply into his. Their souls spoke to each other through their eyes – sharing the doubt and fears as well as the unspoken love. His lips found hers with the lightest of kisses. She deepened the kiss, but only slightly. Tonight was not to be about the needs of their bodies; but the need of their souls – the need to connect outside the physical realm.

Hands and mouths touched each other gently, in a worshipful manner. They rarely broke eye contact, allowing each touch to speak to the other’s soul saying the words that could not be verbalized.

As he settled into the cradle of her legs, he placed reverent kisses on her forehead making his way to the area over her heart. He held his lips there, feeling the increasing beat. Their bodies joined symbolizing that they were one – connected now in every possible way. Her arms and legs encircled his body and held him close. His head nestled in the crook of her neck. They remained still until their bodies demanded that release be granted.

He heard their “soul” song in his head and began to move. He sensed that she heard it as well as she moved in tandem with him. The violins and piano began a steady crescendo as the symphony swelled nearing its completion. Joseph swore he heard cymbals as they came and he enjoyed the peaceful look that now transfixed his beloved’s face as the music faded slowly away.

Clarisse leaned further into his embrace and spoke in a reverent whisper. “I heard it that night, too. It was the oddest sensation…I heard music in my head that I had never heard before; and it matched our movements perfectly.”

“And you left the words for me on your pillow that morning…when I read those words, I vowed that I would find a way to make everything work out and that I wouldn’t let you forget our song. I knew that a life with you was my only hope.”

“Oh Joseph!” She caught him in another passionate kiss that spoke of the depth of their love. She smiled and then asked, “To quote our great grandchildren…are we there yet?”


A short time later, they arrived at the final destination. Joseph and Clarisse had shared a few more trips down memory lane that, while they hadn’t abated their desire, had at least calmed the immediate need somewhat.

Shades opened the door, relieved to find them both dressed and apparently put together. If anything HAD happened in the back of the limo, they had kept it quiet and made sure they were finished in plenty of time so he wouldn’t be aware of it – a fact for which he was eternally grateful.

Shades handed two duffel bags to Joseph that had been prepared ahead of time. They included everything Joseph would need to give Clarisse a romantic evening. Joseph patted Shades on the arm. “Alright, Shades. Thanks for the ride. You get back to your wife now. I’ll see you later at the appointed time and place?”

Shades uncharacteristically smiled at the mention of his wife and thought of his unborn child that would be making his/her entrance into the world any day now. “Yes sir. I’ll see you later as we discussed.” His smile broadened as he watched his former Queen slip out of her sandals. He could hear her voice as he started to get back into the car.

“Your shoes, please Joseph.” She asked sweetly.

“You can’t be serious, Clarisse. Brave knights do not go barefoot.” He teased as he answered.

Mimicking his response from many years ago during their first visit to their secret hideaway, she answered. “No I’m sure knights don’t. However, I bet Joseph does…or would love to experience some adventure and feel the soft, summer grass under his feet. Don’t you?”

He laughed heartily as he recognized his words being tossed back at him. “Fine, but if I stub my toe, you’ll have to carry me out and explain to everyone what happened.”

His shoes came off and went into one of the duffel bags before taking his wife’s hand as they began the now familiar journey to their mystical hideaway. They passed the time reminiscing about other adventures they had shared together over the years with lapses of time spent in companionable silence. The scenery was breathtaking this time of year; the leaves were just starting to change into their fall colors sporting vibrant oranges and rich browns. The afternoon sun was casting an ethereal glow as it streamed through the heavy cover of leaves above them. It was still early enough in the fall that the grass was still pleasantly warm and soft under their feet.

As they emerged into the clearing that signified their normal stopping point, a relieved look crossed Clarisse’s face. “Thank God. You know I’m not as young as I used to be…that walk seems to get longer and longer each time.”

Clarisse sat down her pack and raised her arms above her head in an effort to relieve the taut muscles. “Not yet, love. We’re going a little farther into the woods this time.”

The look Clarisse shot Joseph indicated that she clearly was not pleased with this turn of events. He moved over behind her and dropped his burden to free his hands. His capable hands gently massaged the tight muscles of her shoulders. After a few moments, he could see her visibly relax somewhat. “It’s not far…and I promise…” he leaned in to whisper in her ear, “it will be worth the wait.”

Clarisse felt a small chill run down her spine at her lover’s words; the needs from earlier beginning to reassert themselves in a very physical way. She turned in his embrace, flattening her palms against his chest before letting them circle his body and pull it flush with hers. “I’m counting on it.” She whispered in return.

Neither spoke a word as they picked their respective bags back up and Clarisse followed Joseph further into the thick of the forest. Clarisse decided she enjoyed the view of Joseph from the back and realized how much pleasure he must have garnered over the years following just a few steps behind her. About ten minutes later, they broke through into another clearing; this one much smaller than their usual spot, but just as beautiful…and with one very pleasant addition. In the center of the grassy area was a medium sized body of water. She followed Joseph to the edge and asked. “Not to appear dense, but what is it and how did it get here?”

Joseph walked up to her and began to slowly unbutton her shirt. “It, my dear, is a natural hot spring. To my knowledge, it has always been here; we just never ventured any further than our own little slice of paradise.”

“How did you find it?” She breathed, being slightly distracted by the feel of Joseph’s hands on her flesh.

“Pure curiosity, actually. I was thinking of building a small cabin here for us so we could come here in the winter time as well. I decided to survey the area around our little clearing to ensure it was safe and just to see what was there. In doing so, I discovered this.”

By the time he finished his explanation, Clarisse was partially unclothed. Joseph started to work on the fastening of her skirt when she stilled his hands and whispered, “Fair is fair…let’s get you out of your shirt first.”

He smiled and let her begin to unbutton his shirt. She made quick work of it and as soon as she had finished, she pulled him close. There was a fine sheen of perspiration covering their bodies from the slight exertion from their hike into the woods coupled with the afternoon sun. Clarisse inhaled Joseph’s musky scent, feeling slightly intoxicated from her need and the closeness of the man who was the sole cause of her distress; and the only one who could ease her distress and fill her needs completely.

Her senses were highly attuned to the feel of his body against hers. The strength in his arms surrounding her, holding her tightly as his gentle hands caressed her back in a pattern that covered the entire surface…his fingers applying just enough pressure to excite rather than calm; the sparse hairs on his chest gently tickling the softness of her breasts as they slowly moved against each other; his soft lips seeking out the “sweet” spot on her neck; the blood pulsing heavily from his heart thrumming steadily through his veins; and, of course, the physical evidence of his desire pressed into her heated softness.

She had learned much patience over the years; but truly felt she had been pushed beyond her limits today. She had always believed that age was nothing more than a number and today she felt young and vibrant and wanted nothing more than to cry out in ecstasy her love for the man that now held her so closely. Her voice was a whispered command. “I want you, Joseph.”

Joseph instantly decided that his surprise and plan could wait just a bit longer…he wanted to hear the voice of his beloved crying out in pure, unadulterated pleasure that he alone would be responsible for. His hands found the zipper of her skirt while he whispered his reply. “Then I shall happy to be of service.”

Within moments, their naked bodies gleamed in the sunlight. Joseph unrolled one of the mats he had brought and then helped his wife to sit down at the edge of the water, the lower part of her legs dangling in the warm water. “Oh Joseph, this water feels heavenly.” She offered as she watched him lower himself into the pool. He disappeared under the water for a moment before surfacing right in front of her. The water fell in rivulets off of his hard, tanned body and glistened in the sun. Clarisse’s breath caught in her throat at the sight.

His hands smoothed along her legs under the surface of the water and he kissed each knee before he asked huskily. “Where do you crave my touch, love? Where do you want me?”

Ten years or more ago, the thought of showing him exactly where she wanted him would have caused a fierce blush to creep over her entire body. Today, she was a different woman – having experienced love and desire from the man standing before her on a regular basis. She knew he found her desirable and knew the effect it had on him when she wasn’t shy about what she wanted. She opened her legs as an invitation and shifted a little so she was slightly reclined, supporting herself with her arms. She knew that it wouldn’t take much before she would lay completely back to enjoy his ministrations; but she wanted to watch him loving her with his mouth for as long as possible – she found it highly erotic and intoxicating.

Joseph’s heart skipped a beat as he watched the events unfold in front of him. His wife – his goddess – his vixen – opening herself, inviting him into her most secret place. He needed no further encouragement and stepped into the space that had just been offered to him. His hands smoothed along the insides of her thighs, spreading them even further to open her completely to his touch. He shot a quick glance up to her face; he knew she loved to watch and he didn’t want to disappoint. Her face was masked with desire, those striking blue eyes clouded over with lust. Her chest was rising and falling steadily as her anticipation built; his instrument was ready and he could wait no longer to make beautiful sounds erupt from her lips and steadily crescendo until she climaxed. Without further ado, he lowered his mouth to the damp, quivering patch of curls.

Clarisse’s body jerked slightly in response to the first touch of his tongue against her silken folds, a low moan of pleasure slipping from her lips. She whispered to the heavens, “finally” as he began to place long, slow strokes along her sex. She felt vibrations course through her body as he began to hum gently as he increased his ministrations. She took one last look at his face; he was totally focused on his efforts – his hands and tongue working in tandem to send her spiraling towards the heavens.

Joseph smiled as he felt Clarisse give up and lay back to fully enjoy what he had to offer. She couldn’t get any leverage with her feet as they were in the water, so her hands were assisting her movements as best they could. When he finally gave over to desire and let his tongue flatten against her tiny bundle of nerves, her hands grabbed the edge of the mat and her body arched as a primal cry erupted from somewhere deep within her soul, followed by a “Yes. Yes – mmm - feels wonderful.”

He remembered his promise from earlier that day that he would make sure that he experienced exactly how vocal she could be and redoubled his efforts, getting totally lost in her essence. He moved back slightly and used his hand to cup some of the warm spring water, letting it fall from his hand over her center. The slight change in pressure and the water sliding down her folds had the desired effect and a strained hiss escaped from her clenched lips. He combed through the curls and then latched onto the highly sensitized pearl, working it with expert musicianship as Clarisse’s cries began to crescendo.

Her heart pounded loudly in her chest, providing a rhythm to the madness coursing throughout her body. Joseph’s tongue was everywhere and his hands and fingers provided skillful manipulation of his instrument. A moment later, the rest of the world faded to black as she felt his mouth close over the tiny nub, sucking it into his mouth as his fingers slipped into her sheath, curling at just the right place to send her soaring to the heavens. “Oh God, Joseph!! Yes…oh god…yes…” became her mantra as he continued his assault on her senses.

Her cries were music to Joseph’s ears as he immersed himself fully into her. Her body hummed with her pleasure and he could feel her heart beat soundly through the pulse points in her inner thighs. Water splashed around him as her legs and feet sought to join the rest of her body in the flight to the outermost parts of the physical world.

He offered no respite to his advances as she continued to cry out and her body shook from the force of one orgasm of varying intensity after another tearing through her body. Her cries finally included, “Please…enough…oh god…can’t take anymore…Joseph!”

Her pleas broke through his focus and he slowed his efforts, bringing her down slowly. He kissed the inside of her thighs, still quivering from the intense exertion they had just been through. His hands smoothing over her body in an effort to help calm her; he caught sight of her hand over her chest holding it as she gasped for breath. Something in the way she was holding herself gave him cause for alarm and he stood completely up and put his hands over hers. “Clarisse? Are you alright?”

A few frightening seconds passed and his heart caught in his throat as he waited for her to answer. He breathed a sigh of relief as he saw a smile emerge on her face as she responded. “I’m afraid that was a bit more exertion than I have become accustomed to…I’m fine though…as a matter of fact, I can only think of one thing that could make me feel better…”

He chuckled and felt the pain in his chest subside as he responded. “You truly are a vixen!”

He extended his hands to pull her to a sitting position and was rewarded by the feel of her lips against his. Her tongue demanded entrance as she sought to tell him with her body how much she appreciated the gift he had just given her. Her legs went around his waist and pulled him further into her embrace, feeling the coolness of his wet skin against the heated fire he had just stoked within her.

Before things got too carried away, Joseph pulled back. She looked at him questioningly. “What’s wrong, love?”

He smiled and turned up to see his wife looking down at him, the love and concern very evident on her face. He reached up and cupped her cheek, caressing it with his thumb. “Nothing, love; but I DID have a plan for this afternoon and I’d like to get back to it, if I may…since your needs have been temporarily abated.” He responded, which was the truth…but he also wanted his wife to relax some and give her a chance to calm down before they proceeded.

She smiled; her heart full of love for her husband. “Well I’d say I’m sorry; but that wouldn’t be true as I fully enjoyed the diversion we just had. I will acquiesce to your wishes now, though, as I am very excited about your surprise.”

His hands went to her waist and he gently lifted her into the water. Clarisse sighed as the warm water gently lapped against her body providing calming relief to the taut muscles and heightened nerve endings. She felt Joseph gently kiss her cheek before whispering, “I’ll be right back.”

Before she could say anything, she watched him lift his body out of the water and walk over to one of the duffel bags. Despite his claim that her needs had been abated, the sight of his glorious body striding confidently to his destination, the muscles moving fluidly on his frame, caused her breath to catch slightly in her throat. She decided a dip under the water would be appropriate and might help to calm the need beginning to rise yet again in her body. She shook her head wondering what had gotten into her today.

When she emerged from under the water, she saw him crouched at the edge of the pool, a container in his hand; the sun starting to set behind him cast an orange glow all around. Clarisse blinked in the light and noticed him open the container and drop the contents into the water as he said, “More than enough roses for my deserving Queen.”

Clarisse looked around her in amazement and the water was filled with hundreds of rose petals of varying colors; from the deepest of red, to peach, yellow, white and the fairest of pinks. The water lapped softly as Joseph re-entered causing several of the petals to cling alluringly to Clarisse’s body. Joseph walked towards her enjoying the surreal picture she now presented as the muted colors of the sunset painted a mural on her skin accented by the petals that now adorned the canvas of her body. “Beautiful.” He whispered.

The softly spoken compliment added a blush to the tones of her skin. Her heart skipped another beat when he uttered. “Come here.” She complied without hesitation; but was surprised when he stopped her at arms length and then guided her on to her back. Fortunately for her, she was a good floater and felt no fear as she let the water provide the needed support to keep her above the surface. “Close your eyes and relax,” was the next instruction she received and, again, followed.

Joseph watched for a moment as she floated effortlessly in front of him, her body covered with the soft satiny petals. Repeating his actions from earlier in the afternoon, he cupped his hands and filled them with water. He let the water fall gently over her ample breasts that were now peaking above the water, watching the petals fall away only to be replaced by new ones from his hands. He repeated this action over her entire body enjoying the myriad of colors displayed on his lover’s body.

Satisfied with his efforts and that she was now sufficiently calm, he put his hands under the water to further support her back as his mouth covered the taut nipple closest to him. Her body jerked slightly at the unexpected sensation and her hand grabbed his arm and her eyes came open to see his tongue lovingly paying homage to her breast. She was grateful for his hands under her; otherwise she would have surely slipped under the water. She waited patiently as he moved to the other side before she made her request. “Joseph, please, I want to give you some pleasure…you’ve done so much for me today. I need to feel you next to me, your skin at the tip of my tongue and the taste of you on my lips.”

She was startled as he used his hands to pull her to an upright position and then caught her mouth in a passionate kiss. She adjusted quickly and melded her body to his, enjoying being an active participant again in their lovemaking. The petals shifted across their bodies as they displaced water in an effort to be close to each other. Clarisse reveled in the feel of his water cooled skin against her lips, her tongue darting out to taste and tease him. She sucked and nibbled on his ear lobe, knowing that it drove him crazy as she hummed her pleasure in a manner that vibrated throughout his entire body.

As her nails scraped down his back, he felt his desire grow to a level that demanded resolution. He reached down and gently guided her legs around his waist as he stated in no uncertain terms. “I’m going to make love to you now.”

She tucked her head into the crook of his neck she felt herself being carried across the water until her back came into contact with the soft wall at the edge. She caught Joseph’s eyes as she felt herself being held between the two unyielding surfaces and whispered. “Finally.”

He kissed her again, holding her legs under her knees and then spoke one final time before entering her. “And the two shall become one.” With those words, he buried himself fully in her welcoming body.

Once he was fully seated, Clarisse locked her arms and legs around his frame, reveling in the pure pleasure of being finally joined again with the other half of her soul. Their eyes locked and conveyed a lifetime of love and friendship. “I love you.” She whispered and loosened the grip of her legs some to allow him the freedom to possess her heart, body and soul.

His lips found hers again in a gentle kiss that conveyed how much she meant to him. “I love you, too.” He answered softly and then lowered his hands under the water to cup her bottom as he began to thrust with long, slow strokes into her. Clarisse’s hands went to his shoulders to help hold her body upright as rose petals adhered and left their bodies as the water rose and receded between them. Before she lost herself completely, she caught his gaze and repeated her words of ten years ago…”I belong to you.”

As they did on their wedding night, her words spurred him into action and he began to relentlessly drive into her. The water splashed violently around them as he moved to bring them to completion. Clarisse tightened her grip on his shoulders and bent her knees alongside his waist to allow him the room necessary to achieve their goal.

He felt her body tense and the feel of her muscles; both internal and external, clenching his body in response was the catalyst he needed to send them both over the edge. “Clarisse!” He shouted as the waves of pleasure consumed him; he was certain his name was on his lover’s lips as well. Together they had soared to a place where nothing existed but pure feeling and their souls were joined with an invisible cord that had existed since the creation of the first man and woman.

Clarisse had pulled him to her and secured him in her tight embrace as they slowly floated back to reality. Joseph buried his head in her neck, memorizing everything he could about this moment in time. The way her skin felt; the smell of her hair; the contrast of the soft petals against his weather worn skin; the steady beat of her heart against his chest – he knew without a doubt that this was one of those special moments that a person is granted only so many of in their life.

After a few minutes, he whispered. “Mi amor, mi vida. Promesa seremos siempre juntos.”

Clarisse moved her head so she could look him in the eyes; her hands cupped both of his cheeks. Her mind easily translated his statement: “My love, my life. Promise me we will always be together.” Her voice was soft as she answered. “My dearest Joseph…I love you with all that I am; and I would never knowingly do anything that would end our time together prematurely. I cannot, however, make you that promise no more than I could prevent Rupert or Philippe from being taken from us before we felt it was their time.”

He knew her words were truthful; but hearing her say it aloud tore at the very fabric of his heart. Before he could respond, she continued. “There is something, however, that I can do to at least somewhat fulfill the promise you want me to make.”

He looked at her questioningly; but her gaze never wavered. She continued. “Which brings me to my anniversary gift to you.” Joseph smiled as he had not considered that there was still more “gift giving” to occur today.

He felt her shift her body for comfort and then shared more of her story. “Earlier this week, I requested an audience with my Queen.”

Joseph chuckled at her statement and offered. “So you had a chat with your granddaughter?”

Her voice was solemn as she replied. “No. I had an audience with my Queen. For you see, the request that I needed to make could only be granted by the Queen; not my granddaughter. Although I must admit that I was hopeful that because of our relationship, she would be more prone to grant my wish.”

“What could you ask of or need from her that you could not ask of me? It has always been my desire to give you anything you wanted, my love.” Joseph was very confused now.

“What I asked of my Queen was that she grant me an exception to a long standing law for the monarchs of Genovia.” Clarisse saw the confusion continue to cloud her beloved’s face. She had wanted this to come out more eloquently than it was; but she had started and now she must finish. “You see, there is a law that states that all Kings and Queens of Genovia must be buried in the Royal Cemetery; and, while I loved Rupert as a dear friend and my King, my heart has belonged to you for as long as I can remember. So I asked her to allow my final resting place to be beside you – here in our mystical hideaway.”

Realizing the importance of the gesture she was making and how difficult it must have been for her to put her feelings into words and approach Amelia about it, a few tears slipped unbidden down his cheek as he softly asked. “And did our Queen grant your request.”

A bright smile broke through Clarisse’s features as she replied, “In true Queen fashion, she compromised. I agreed that a headstone for Queen Clarisse Renaldi could be placed next to Rupert’s in the royal cemetery; and, in exchange, my body, along with a separate headstone for Clarisse Romerro will be here. Additionally, because your wife is still better at negotiating than her granddaughter, who is still learning…, the deed to this property has been sealed and is now the permanent private property of Joseph and Clarisse Romerro.”

Joseph pulled her close, whispering his thanks for such a special gift and terms of endearment meant to show how much he adored her. “Thank you, mi amore’, I am honored.” He held her for a few minutes before adding, “Though I still don’t think it’s possible to live without you.”

She studied him closely for a few moments, carefully weighing her response. “The heart goes on, Joseph. Some way, some how…it finds a way…it has to, for our family.” She paused and then added, “I’m with you, though, and honestly don’t want to ever face that possibility. I’m not sure I would ever be the same without you.”

They enjoyed the soothing warm water for a little while longer before the early evening air prompted them to dry off and get into some warmer clothes. Clarisse sat patiently on the mats as Joseph insisted on towel drying her hair as much as possible to prevent her from catching a cold. She started to argue with him; but decided that she had always liked his protective nature and there was no sense in trying to change him now.

After they were sufficiently dry, they snacked on some bread and cheese while chatting and enjoying some vintage wine that Joseph had been saving for ‘just the right occasion’ he had told her. After some time had passed, Joseph noticed Clarisse rubbing her arms. “Are you cold, love?”

“Just a bit…probably just chilled after being so hot and bothered earlier.” She teased.

Clarisse noticed Joseph quickly checking his watch before responding. “I’ll build a fire – that will help keep us warm.”

Never one to miss a thing, she asked. “He’s late, isn’t he?

Joseph cast a glance at her, trying to mask his concern. “Only a bit, love…I’m sure he’ll be here soon. A small fire will help dispel the chill. I also brought a small blanket which I would love to cuddle under with you.” He flashed a quick smile her way.

She returned his smile. “Sounds wonderful; besides I have nothing to fear – my personal body guard is here and he has years and years of experience in protecting me.”

Joseph chuckled. “One set of ‘years’ would have been enough, dear.”

Within minutes the fire was spreading warmth to the couple and they snuggled under the blanket as they made themselves comfortable on their customary mats. Joseph’s hand lovingly caressed any part of Clarisse’s body he could reach as he held her close to him. The excitement of the day and the warmth of Joseph’s body around her soon had Clarisse in a restful sleep. Joseph, however, found he could not sleep. Between concern over Shades not arriving yet and mixed feelings regarding Clarisse’s gift to him, he could not find rest. He knew the intent behind Clarisse’s words earlier; but did not like to think about either of them leaving the other behind. He knew she had suffered great loss in her life with the death of Rupert and Philippe and he would not want to be the cause for such pain to enter her life again. On the other hand, despite her assurances, he did not feel confident that his heart would survive being torn asunder from its other half. He whispered a silent prayer that he would never have to find out.

He focused on the sound of Clarisse’s gentle breathing and the way her chest would rise and fall under his arm. The scent of the roses still clung gently to her skin and the fragrance calmed his troubled mind as he inhaled deeply. The strands of her short hair felt like silk against his skin as she nestled in the crook of his arm. He wanted to stay awake to just watch her sleep; she was always so peaceful, so unguarded, so amazingly beautiful in her sleep. His eyelids grew heavy as the activities of the day began to wear on him. Before he closed his eyes, he whispered. “Mi amor, mi vida. Esto que sé - la vida no está viviendo si usted no está en él.”


A few hours later, the couple woke to a bright light and loud noise seemingly very close by. They struggled to sit up as their joints were stiff from being so close to the hard ground and the cool night air. A few minutes later, they heard a familiar voice shouting. “Your Majesty? Joseph? Are you there?”

Joseph replied as he finally made it to a standing position, pulling Clarisse up with him. “Over here! Is that you, Lionel?”

A few moments later, Lionel appeared next to them, flashlight in hand. Clarisse hugged the young man and said, “Thank you so much for rescuing us. I fear too much longer on that mat would have been very detrimental to my joints.”

Joseph could have sworn he saw Lionel blush slightly at Clarisse’s compliment. He knew the young man had always held a special affection from Clarisse – even offering to take a bullet for her should the need ever arise. Once Clarisse had released him, Joseph took his hand and offered his thanks as well.

“Shades sends his apologies; Charlotte went into labor and he lost all track of time. I had to wait until the baby was born before I could even get in to ask him your location so I could come to pick you up.”

Clarisse perked up at the news. “Charlotte had her baby! How wonderful! Boy or girl? What did they name the baby?”

Lionel smiled and offered, “Come on, a warm helicopter is just on the other side of this tree line. Once inside, I’ll be happy to fill you in on all the details I have.”

During the trip home, they learned that Charlotte had given birth to a beautiful baby girl. They had named her Charlotte Grace. Lionel also hinted that Shades had insisted on the name as he had always adored the name Charlotte; but had acquiesced that they would call her Grace in order to minimize any confusion for others.

Clarisse had insisted on stopping by the hospital to visit on their way home from the airport. When they finally made it back to their suite, it was almost midnight. Clarisse quickly settled in and snuggled against Joseph, resting her head on his chest – finding comfort in the steady sound of his heart beat; his fingers gently combing through her hair.

Before they drifted off to sleep, Joseph asked. “So, my dear, was Joey right? Was your anniversary gift worth the wait?”

She lifted her head to gently kiss him and convey her love and thanks for the wonderful day they had shared. Her eyes twinkled in the darkness and her smile was evident as she responded. “Indeed!”

The End

the last part