Sora found his mother sitting beside her chamber’s fireplace with her cat, Sir Pounce, curled up on her lap. When she saw him, he bowed his head before sitting in the chair across from her. He knew the moment he was summoned he was in trouble; he just was not sure how much trouble.
“You were quick to leave the festivities, Sora. Is there a reason you could not join us for supper after Annalisa set sail?” She kept her eyes on the roaring fire, her hand on Sir Pounce and her voice quiet and gently.
He was in a lot of trouble.
“I was, uh, just tired. It’s been a long few weeks and I…”
“You need to learn to lie better if you’re to rule a country.”
“Rule? Mother, I’m to be consort; there is no lower position in a royal house. I’ll have no real power, no useful role in the government. And I will be separated by someone who truly cares for me and not the money and prestige that marrying me will bring.”
“Truly no lower position? My dear, I am a consort and I demand the same respect as your father. I rule in his absence. I see to it the laws are upheld when he cannot. I pass judgment on those who come before the crown seeking it. Do not downplay the vital role a consort plays in any kingdom; without us, there would be no future for any House. Now, as for your other concern… we all must make sacrifices for the good of our people. Marrying a princess is yours as mine was marrying a prince.”
“You… you were…?”
“I will not lie; your father was not the man I envisioned myself spending my life with but as I look back on our time together, I can imagine no one else taking his place. Give your future with Annalisa; who knows what tomorrow may bring.”
No, not trouble. Sora was relieved.
* * *
“He needs to be dealt with, mother. He actually threatened me! Again!” His bloodshot eyes stared wildly at Queen Beatrice as she calmly heard her son’s latest complaint. She was not any happier with Antoni residing in her home, sleeping in her son’s bed, but age had brought to her wisdom and she knew that striking out at the boy, no matter how much doing so would please her, would only create more cracks in House Snow’s foundation.
“I understand, Tidus, but what would you have me do? We even whisper of allowing harm to befall that boy, who knows what your brother may do. As it is, we can barely assure House Whitescone that he still intends to marry the princess. We take any action against his lover and his reaction could betray our whole dynasty.”
“So we allow him free reign to threaten members of the royal family? He is dangerous and must be treated as such.”
“Is? Or do you insist on antagonizing him? Aside from he and Sora’s ill conceived relationship, he has done nothing else to endanger us. And when your brother leaves for Duband in six weeks, that danger will be no more.”
“That is too long to allow him to remain here. I demand he is exiled now!”
“You dare?” She stood and stepped toward him as she fought back the urge to strike him. “Never presume to command me, child. I am your mother and queen and will not be spoken to in such a manner. Do you understand me?”
He looked away, ashamed and enraged. The maternal side of her wanted to reassure him that all would be as it was and there was no need for worry and that the boy would be dealt with harshly and permanently, but the regal side, the side who had an entire nation to consider, knew that to commit such an act could do far more harm than good.
“I understand perfectly.”
“Now go. And remember what I said, Tidus.”
* * *
There were a thousand different thoughts filling Sora’s head as he opened the door to his chambers; each one evaporated when he laid eyes on Antoni, who simply stood there with his robe open and a coy smile on his face. His bare, smooth body called to him, demanded his hands explore every part of him. There were no words as he walked over, wrapped his arms around his waist, felt the warmth of his skin and kissed him. Immediately, the fire inside erupted and he was lost to the heat between them. Every touch was electric and each kiss, hypnotic. The outside world faded away until the only thing he could see or hear was breathing a new existence.
How could he ever give up Antoni, even if it meant certain war for his own people?
TO BE CONTINUED