The Prince - Chapter 10

Hello guys and girls!  I hope that you enjoyed the last installment of “The Prince.”  I want to say thank you for not receiving any hate mail.  LOL.  Also, please check out the yahoo group.  The address is .  All of the stories are posted there before they arrive at Nifty.  Also, you can feel free to email me on thefuturecanadian@yahoo.CA .  Make sure you use .ca and NOT .com, as I won’t get the messages if you use the latter!  There is a contest coming up for an advanced copy of Chapter 11.  The details will be in the group!


David :)


The Prince

Chapter 10

“Alexander, Queen of Lorenzia”


***Wednesday, 17 march 2006, Cabocha***


    Two mornings before, Alex felt higher than he'd ever felt before.  He was in love with a man who loved him for him, and not for anything else.  He felt as those that moment was a symbol of the times that were to come.  He'd hoped that when Gavin did find out, that he would accept the fact that he was a Prince.  He'd hoped that he'd be able to have love and still live up to his nation's expectation.  He was brought to the realization, though, that those two things were mutually exclusive.  Gavin had found out about him; however, the reaction was the exact opposite of what he was expecting or hoping for.  In a matter of moments, his sister had managed to ruin what was the single best thing in his life.  Alex returned to Lorenzia a defeated man.  Upon his return, he found his life in shambles, with his love gone; he found his future uncertain, with Parliament wanting to “discuss” his sexuality and the news of Alex's American experience.


    He spent Tuesday wallowing in his own self-pity.  He needed to be by himself, to gather his thoughts and his composure.  Margaret was worried about him, because upon his return, he didn't even want her to be around him, which she found quite odd.  Marcia was also worried about him, but had other things on her mind, as her mother had taken a turn for the worse over the previous day.  Isabel was worried, but also hurt by Alex's sexuality.  She didn't know what to think.  Unlike Margaret, she'd never suspected that Alex was gay.  Of course, in a way, she understood that he needed his space for a couple of days, more to come to terms with the reality of the situation in which he found himself.  The day ended with more questions that answers, from both a personal and a political standpoint.


    On Wednesday morning, the light shined through the window, lightening Alex's suite with a reminder that yet another day had begun.  It was a day of desperation, though, that would begin another chapter of Alex's life.  As the light progressed over Alex's bed, he was brought to consciousness.  He was fully clothed, having cried himself to sleep the night before.  Sure, he was horny, but he dare not touch himself.  It might have made all the memories of Gavin might appear in his mind and overtake him, leaving him feeling alone and despondent.  


    As he lay on his bed on that bright March morning, he couldn't help but stare blankly at the ceiling.  He longed to be back in America, in the loving embrace of the man for whom he'd become quite fond.  He was back in that place once more, complete with all the pomp and circumstance and tradition that had become the norm over 400 years of the Lorenzian monarchy.


    “Highness?” Mr. Chamblis said as he came into wake Alex up around 9 that Wednesday morning.


    “Morning, Mr. Chamblis.  How are you?” Alex said, not turning to look at him.


    “Better than you seem to be doing, sir,” Mr. Chamblis said.  “Your mother has asked that I wake you to join her for breakfast.”


    Alex took a deep breath.  “I guess I shouldn't turn down the request, should I?”


    “Probably not.”


    “Very good, sir.  I will let her know that you will be down shortly,” Mr. Chamblis commented, walking back out of the room and shutting the door that separated Alex's bed chamber from the sitting room part of the suite.  He slothly climbed from his bed and walked over to his bathroom.  He started the water and then took off all his clothes, leaving them in a pile on the floor of the room that was almost the size of the room he'd shared with Gavin.  As he stood from removing the boxers that he'd slid from his feet.  He looked into the mirror.  To him, he looked different.  There were still no blemishes or imperfections in his skin, but there was something there that hadn't been there before.  He climbed into the shower and let the warm water wash over him.  For a moment, his mind was blank.  It was almost blissful to him.  It didn't last long, though, as he thought about Montevallo.  He thought about the night he'd met Gavin in the shower.  The perfection of the memory seemed too much for him for a second as he began to once again cry.  Thankfully he was standing in the water, so anyone that would have come into the room couldn't hear him crying.


    For a few minutes, he could do nothing more than stand there.  He was safe there, though he didn't realize it at that moment.  He was shielded from the vulturous American and European press agencies that had camped at the bottom of the hill and across the Queen Martha Highway from the Palace.


    He finally decided that it was time to climb out of the shower and get ready to see his mom.  He stepped from behind the glass shower door and grabbed a towel.  As was his custom, he dried his hair first.


    “Hey,” Margaret said as she walked up to the door.


    “Hey, sis,” Alex responded.  He turned and continued to dry himself as his sister stood in the door.  He wasn't concerned about her seeing him naked.  His concern rested in her ability to see where he'd been crying.  He felt almost ashamed of the fact that he'd cried, even a little bit.  He expected himself to be strong and masculine in front of his sister, who knew about him and didn't care.  “So what brings you over here?” Alex asked lightly.


    “I just wanted to check on my little brother and to make sure that he was OK.”


    “I appreciate that, I suppose.”


    “That was convincing,” Margaret said.  Alex wrapped the towel around his waist and again checked his face.  He needed to shave, but he had neither the patience nor the desire to remove the few stray hairs that had been on his face since Monday afternoon.  Margaret moved out of his way as he slowly walked from the bathroom across the room to his closet.


    “I'm sorry, Margaret.  I'm just...I dunno...”


    “It's OK, Alex.  You don't have to apologize to me.”


    “I know, Mags.  I'm just not myself.”


    “You're telling me.  Normally, I would have been cussed for standing in the door of your bathroom while you were towelling off.”


    “So have you been downstairs this morning?”


    “Nope.  This is my first stop.  I wanted to check on you first, since you are my favorite family member.”  Alex smiled for a second, knowing that at least one person in his world was there unconditionally.


    “I appreciate that, Mags.  I really do.”


    “So did you try to call Gavin yesterday?”


    “I did.  He didn't answer his cell phone, so I assumed he didn't want to talk to me.”


    “He could have just been busy,” Margaret said, trying to be optimistic.  Alex shook his head for a second as he pulled a pair of black pants over his body.


    “I doubt it.  I'm sure he's disgusted and hates me.”


    “I bet he's not.  He just may need a bit to adjust to the newness of the situation.”


    “Thank you for your optimism.  One of us has to be that way, I guess,” Alex responded as he walked out of the closet wearing dress pants and a white t-shirt.  Ties weren't his style, so he left the top button open.  He was holding a black coat over one arm and a pair of black shoes in one hand.  He sat beside his sister on the bed.


    “You look nice,” Margaret said, breaking a silence between them.  She felt an odd absence of the link that had typically existed between them.  She could feel his pain, but there was nothing that she could do about it, and it upset her a bit.


    “Thanks,” Alex answered, trying to be sweet toward her brother.


    “Want me to go down with you?” she asked.


    “I guess I should go by myself,” Alex said, lacing the black shoes that he'd put onto his large feet.


    “Alright.  Well, I will be up here.  Come and see me if you need.”


    Alex looked at Margaret.  “Thank you for saying that, Mags.  I love you,” he said.  He reached over took her into a hug.  She could again feel the connection between them and smiled a little bit.  When Alex moved away, he half-smiled in her direction.  “I'm sure I'll be over there shortly.”  Alex stood and put his coat on.  Margaret stood within seconds of her twin brother.  She stood in front of him and adjusted his coat and shirt until he was perfect.


    “Gracias, hermana.”  (Thanks, sis.)


    “No te preocupes, Alex.  Todo va a estar bien,” she answered.  (Don't worry yourself, Alex.  Everything will be OK.)


    “Espero que sepas lo correcto,” Alex said, looking directly into her eyes.  (I hope that you're right.)


    They hugged once more and then Alex slowly walked out of his room and then out of the suite.  He turned and took the stairs to walk toward the first floor of the palace.  He passed a couple of office and then walked into the Royal Office through the private entrance at the back of the main office.


    “Morning, Marcia,” Alex said.  She was holding the phone line for someone, but she took a moment to turn and smile at Alex.


    “Morning, Highness.  How are you doing this morning?” she asked genuinely.


    “I could be better,” Alex said.  “How are you?”


    “About the same.”


    “What's wrong?”


    “It's my Mom.  She's not doing well.  I'm holding to speak to her doctor.”


    “Ah.  Well, if there's anything you need from me, please let me know.”


    Marcia smiled at Alex's honesty.  “I appreciate that more than you will know, Highness.”  


    Alex smiled.  “Is she busy?”


    “No sir.  She's waiting on you.”


    “Is she mad?”


    “She's not been very talkative the last couple of days.  I can't guage it, sir.  Sorry.”


    “Not a problem,” Alex said.  He took a deep breath and walked toward the door of the office.  He took another one as he slowly turned the knob so as to enter the office quietly.  He went in to find his mother sitting in a large leather chair, staring out over the sprawling garden that was being fixed by several groundskeepers.  “Morning,” he said quietly.


    “You know.  There are so many things that seem so simple, but yet they are so complicated and so unnerving that they wear away at our thoughts until we finally just have to admit to ourselves that it's something beyond our scope of thought,” the Queen said, not turning to look at her soon, but choosing rather to keep an eye on the garden in all its beauty.


    “Yes ma'am,” Alex said, acknowledging that he was paying attention to the aged women before him.


    “What do you think I'm talking about?” she asked.


    “My sexuality,” Alex answered, feeling somewhat confidence in his answer.


    “Actually, I was talking about how plants grow from tiny little seeds into beautiful flowers, but if it makes sense to you, then that's wonderful,” she said, smiling a little bit out of Alex's view.  There was another silence between them.  Alex looked toward the desk, remaining standing.  “You can sit down, Alex.  I'm not going to get pissed off and yell at you or anything,” she said.  


    Alex sat.  The Queen turned herself around in the chair so as to face her son for a second.  “I'm sorry, Mom.”




    “For all of this.”


    “I'm not going to lie to you, Alex.  It's been the topic of discussion around this place since yesterday morning.  There are some people that are quite opinionated about the situation, from what might could be considered a positive and from what might be considered a negative standpoint.”




    “And it's weighed on my mind a lot, from both the standpoint of both a mother and as Head of State.”  She looked at her son.  “But that's not why I've asked you here for breakfast,” she smiled.




    “I just wanted to have breakfast with my son, since he was back at home,” she said.  “I hope that's OK with you.”


    Alex smiled slightly, but wouldn't look directly at her.  “Of course, it's OK.”


    “Good.  Then I'll order you some gravy and biscuits perhaps.”


    “Please no,” Alex answered.  “No gravy.”


    “Then Belgian Waffles with fruit.”


    “Yeah.  I've decided to leave the gravy in America.”




    “As odd as it may sound, it has memories.”


    “Of Gavin?”


    “Yes ma'am,” Alex answered.


    “I see,” she said, looking at Alex, waiting on him to look at her so that she could see if it were there, in his eyes.  The 'it' being the love that she saw in her husband's eyes, the eyes of Alex's father.


    “I should have told him from the beginning,” Alex said.


    “Maybe so, but you can't change the past now, Alex.  You mustn't regret the decisions you've made,” she said.  Alex looked at her, as if to ask her to clarify.  “I know that he is weighing on your mind.  Chances are, he will for some time.  I mean, I still miss your father so much.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about him.  But you mustn't regret the decision to let him get to know you for you and not your title.”


    “Makes sense,” Alex said, averting his eyes.


    “Ma'am?” Marcia said, stepping quietly into the office.  “I've ordered the breakfast for you and Prince Alex.  It should be up in just a moment.”


    “Thank you, Marcia,” the Queen said.  “What did the doctor say?”


    “It would have been better to say 'What didn't the doctor say?', ma'am,” Marcia answered.




    “He couldn't give me even an estimate of how much longer it would be.”


    “Well, let me know what happens.”


    “Yes ma'am,” Marcia said.  She smiled politely and walked back out of the office.


    “What's wrong with Marcia's mom?” Alex asked.


    “She is in her final days because of breast cancer,” the Queen answered.  “When something does happen, I will have to have you and Margaret go to her funeral.  I would go myself, but I've been forbidden to leave the palace.”




    “Doctor's orders,” Isabel answered.




    “I'll explain it all later, Alex,” the Queen answered.


    “Are you OK?”


    “I'll explain it all later, Alexander,” the Queen said, using his full name as a cue for him to change the topic of discussion.




    Alex began to fidget with his wrist for a second, a wrist which still was the thing on which Gavin's bracelet was still wrapped.  “What's that?” the Queen noticed the shimmering golden object on his wrist.


    “It was my birthday present from Gavin,” Alex responded.


    “It looks nice.  May I see it closer?” the Queen asked.


    “Yeah,” Alex said, standing and walking to her desk.  She took his wrist and inspected it.


    “Siempre tendrás una parte de mi corazón,” the Queen read aloud.  She smiled.  “It sounds as though he might have been smitten with you a little bit.”


    “Yeah.  Maybe just a little,” Alex responded, with a smile on his face.  “I was very much in love with him as well,” Alex said.




    “Chances are he will never want to see me again, if his reaction from the other day is any indication.”


    “You never know, Alex,” the Queen said.


    “Ma'am?” Maria, the Chef of the Palace said as she came into the room.  “HIGHNESS!” she declared out of pure joy to see the Queen's only son standing in the room.  “How are you?” she said as she walked over to him, wrapping her hands around him out of instinct.


    “I'm alright, Maria.  How are you?”


    “I am great, sir.  I heard what happened in America, and I am truly sorry,” she said, not paying any attention to the Queen being in the room.


    “It's alright.  I'll survive,” Alex said, politely, trying not to let his crumbling mental state show.


    “Well.  I'm glad you will be surviving, and, if you'd like, I can introduce you to my son.  He is a very good looking man,” she said, trying to make Alex smile a bit more.


    “I certainly appreciate that offer, Maria.  I'll let you know,” he said.


    “Alright.  Well, for you this morning, I have fixed your favorite waffle, with strawberries.  And for you, Majesty, I have prepared the usual, oatmeal with cinnamon and sugar.  I hope it meets with both of your palettes.”


    “I'm sure it will, Maria,” Alex said.  The Queen smiled and concurred, comfortable with letting her son take control of the moment.


    “Alright.  Well, enjoy.  I will be back up later to collect the dishes,” Maria said.  


    “Thank you, Maria,” the Queen said.  Maria smiled and exited promptly.  The Queen struggled, but stood in a second.  Alex waited on her before sitting, noticing the difficulty with which she rose.  “This does smell wonderful,” the Queen said as she sat.


    “Yes ma'am.  I think I've become accustomed to eating gravy every morning.  I can't wait to have waffles again.”


    “Ah,” the Queen said, adjusting herself and placing a napkin in her lap.  Alex did the same and began to quickly cut his waffle.  He enjoyed the first bite, savoring it as a taste of home and a taste of his life before Gavin, a time when he was completely at peace with himself.  The two ate quietly.


    “So,” the Queen started, “what was your favorite experience in America, other than Gavin.”


    “Mom.  I think all my happy experiences revolve around Gavin.  He has the most interesting family.”


    “What do they do?”


    “His dad is a farmer.  His Mom takes care of his little brother.”


    “Ah.  What do they grow?”


    “They raise cattle and hogs, but then they grow any kind of vegetable that you can imagine.”




    “That's a fruit, Mom,” Alex laughed at his mother's obsession with the tiny citrus fruit that couldn't be grown well in Lorenzia for some reason.  “They don't grow it, though.  The climate and soil aren't right for it.”


    “Oh.  Well damn,” the Queen said.  Alex looked at his mother, who rarely used profanity.  They both laughed for a second.  “You look nice this morning.”


    “I wasn't sure what I was coming to, honestly.  I didn't know if you were pissed at me or if someone else would be here.”


    “Oh.  It's nice to see you dressed up a little bit, though.”  The Queen took another bite of her oatmeal.  “You remind me of your father a bit when you dress up.”


    “What do you think he would have said if he were here today?”


    “Alex.  You and I both know we probably shouldn't go there.  He was from a different generation and a different culture.  I will say that he would have still loved you, though.  He could never have stopped loving you.  You were his only son.  When he died, he said that his only regret was that he didn't get as much time with you and Margaret as he did with Elizabeth.”


    “Ma'am?” Marcia said, poking her head into the office and over to where the two were eating.  “The Prime Minister is on his way over with the Leader of the Opposition.”


    “This is going to be a great day,” the Queen said.  “Have they just left the Parliament?”


    “Yes ma'am.”


    “That gives us twenty minutes in here,” the Queen thought aloud.  “Thank you, Marcia.”  The door closed as Marcia walked back to her part of the office.


    “You're welcome to stay in on the meeting, if you wish.  I would just prepare myself to hear some fairly nasty things, if I were you.”


    “I've been preparing myself since Monday afternoon,” Alex said honestly.


    “If I am guessing correctly, the Leader of the Opposition, with his long winded tendencies, is going to make some nasty comments about Gavin.  As the future sovereign, you must let him have his say, no matter how much it makes your blood boil.”


    “So you're not going to ask me to step aside.”


    “No.  I will be honest with you, though.  The thought crossed my mind once or twice yesterday.”


    “What changed your mind?” Alex asked.


    “I thought of how nasty your sister would be to you in the process.  Elizabeth...not Margaret.”


    “Speaking of, Mom, I have something that I need to show you,” Alex said.


    “What is it?”


    “I think Elizabeth might have been involved in leaking the pictures to the paper.”


    “Oh really?” the Queen said.


    “My roommate in America received a phone call one afternoon.  He said that the woman identified herself as Elizabeth and asked Eddie to send her some pictures for some crap thing she said she was doing for our birthday,” Alex said.


    “Uh huh...”


    “Well, he found the pictures of Gavin and me, and thought they'd be nice for the 'project'.”




    “And so he sent them to her.  She, in turn, sent him €50,000.”


    “Oh she did???”


    “I have the receipt upstairs,” Alex said honestly.


    “You might want to get that and make a copy of it, just in case.”


    “I will in just a moment.”




    “So knowing this has put a whole new light on things,” the Queen added as she took her final bite of oatmeal.


    “I've really tried to be nice to her, but she always shits on my parade,” Alex said.


    “Yeah.  She is quite an evil person.  She reminds me of my uncle.”


    “You had an uncle.”


    “Yes.  We've never spoken of him much.  He was, from what my father said, the black sheep of the family.  He was never fond of conforming to the will of your great-grandfather.  He ended up joining the communists, which, in those days, was illegal in Lorenzia.  As a result, he was removed from the line of succession.”


    “I never knew that.”


    “Would you do me a favor, Alex?”


    “If I can.”


    “Look in my desk drawer and hand me the black bag that's in there,” she said.  Alex jumped up and handed her a heavy black bag.  “Thank you.”


    “Not a problem.  What's in there anyway?”


    “Just some medications that I have to take daily after breakfast.”


    “What for?”


    “That's what we'll discuss later.”




    It was only a moment before the two most powerful men in Parliament arrived for a meeting with the Queen.  The Queen had just taken the last of her pills and asked Alex to set them back in her desk.  Alex was a little confused by what was going on, but didn't ask.  After all, he'd been told that the issue would be discussed later.  “Good morning, Gentlemen,” the Queen said as Marcia escorted the men into the office.


    “Morning, Majesty.  Highness,” the Prime Minister said.


    “Morning, sir,” Alex said.


    “Good Morning, Majesty,” the Leader said, glancing only for a second at Alex.  It was intended to scoff his presence, and it was interpreted that way by both the Queen and the Prime Minister.


    “How can I help you gentlemen?” the Queen asked, moving from the table to one of the leather sofas in the office.  She motioned for the two leaders to sit across from her.  Alex stood beside the Queen's desk.


    “Majesty.  Before we begin, I must say that I'm not comfortable with him being in the room.”




    “The Prince, ma'am.”


    “I've asked Alex to be present for this meeting, since I'm sure he's the topic of interest for you, Mr. Leader.”


    “It certainly is, ma'am, but I will not discuss it with him in the room.”


    “Your protest is noted, sir, but I will not ask him to leave, since he is the first in line for the throne.”


    “You can't be serious, ma'am.”


    “And why can't I?”


    “This is an unacceptable behavior that must not be tolerated by the Crown.”


    “Are you saying that you cannot pledge your allegiance to him because of a relationship that he was involved in?”


    “That's exactly what I'm saying, ma'am.”


    “To whom could you pledge your allegiance, sir?”


    “I would have no problem with swearing allegiance to Princess Elizabeth.  She was, after all, prepared for the Crown before he was born.”


    “Uh huh...”  the Queen said, looking at Alex.


    “Mom.  If you'll excuse me, please,” Alex said, walking out of the office with the intention of bringing back the receipt from the transfer.


    “Go ahead,” she said as Alex walked out.


    The leader waited until Alex was out of the room.  “Good.  I can't stand being in the presence of faggots.”


    “Sir.  You will watch your tongue!” the Queen said, staring at him.


    “Pardon my language, ma'am, but I don't agree with their choices.  I don't agree with their lifestyle.  It's a violation of God's law; and it should be a violation of our law again.”


    “Mr. Leader, when you were Prime Minister, I seem to recall that you tried to pass a law banning that, but it was vetoed by the Senate.  Why was that?”


    “Because their a bunch of liberal know-nothings that didn't want to upset any of those deviants.”


    “It was because it was a violation of the part of the Lorenzian Constitution which guarantees equality for ALL citizens of this nation, including those who you call deviants.”  The Prime Minister looked at the Queen and smiled.  “If the law doesn't extend to all citizens, including members of the Royal Family, who are also equal to everyone else in the nation, then the law is no good.”


    “I agree,” the Prime Minister stated.


    “I don't agree.  The Royal Family is, and should be, held in high regard.  I for one, can't have respect for people like that.”


    “Remember, Mr. Leader, that you're speaking about my son.  He's not only the heir to my throne, but also my son, the product of mine and my husband's love.  I would thank you not to refer to him in the manner that you have.”


    “Begging your Majesty's pardon, but I have no other way in my mind to make reference to him.”


    “You will address him appropriately.”


    The Leader snickered, “In my mind, that way is appropriate, ma'am.”


    “Well find another way, and quickly.”


    “Majesty, since it's obvious that you're not thinking clearly right now, I am forced to say this to you.  I have my party's permission to resign from Parliament if there is not an acceptable solution to this issue by the end of business today.  If I resign, the whole party resigns, and there isn't enough support to hold a quorum, which will force and election.  My party, I am comfortable in saying, will win if an election is held anytime in the near future.”


    “I see...”


    The Leader of the Opposition stood and faced the Queen.  “Majesty, consider what I've said very carefully.”


    “Of course,” the Queen said, refusing to stand for him.


    “Excuse me,”Alex said as he walked back into the room.  “Here is the thing I was telling you about, Mom.”  He handed her a photocopy of the receipt where Elizabeth had sent Eddie the money for the pictures.


    “Oh, Mr. Leader.”


    “Yes, Majesty?”


    “If you resign over this, I assure you that you will not win an election again in my lifetime.”


    “Are you threatening to interfere in the election process, ma'am?”


    “I'm not threatening anything, sir.”  The Queen said with a smile.  “I don't threaten.  Rest assured, though, that the issue will be put to rest by the end of business today.”


    The Leader said nothing but left the office.  The Prime Minister stayed behind.  “What is that, Majesty?”


    “I'm not at liberty to share it at this time, but you will know by the afternoon.”


    “I'll take your word, ma'am.”


    “Thank you, Steve,” she said, addressing him as she often did, by his first name.


    “How are you feeling today?” he asked without thinking of Alex's presence.


    “We'll discuss that later, Steven.”


    “Yes ma'am,” he said, picking up on her cue.


    “Is there any other business that needs to be discussed?” she asked.


    “No ma'am.  We're quiet except for that.  The Conservatives are fairly set on getting Elizabeth on the throne.”


    “She won't get there,” the Queen stated confidently.


    “I'm not sure.  If the Conservatives win a majority of the seats...”


    “THAT hasn't happened in almost a century.  They always have to get the support of other parties in order to form a government.  Then, those alliances usually fall apart, leaving us with an ineffective minority government.”


    “History can change, ma'am.”


    “True.  But if you look at the trends, this won't happen.”


    “Since you've been watching elections since before I was born, I will take your advice, ma'am.”


    “Good.  Now, here's what I think should happen.  I want you to go to the President of the Chamber and tell him that you're closing the Parliament and calling an election.  Tell him that this issue is best resolved by fresh eyes.  By the time you get back, Elizabeth won't be an option for them to rally behind.”




    “You will know about this by the end of business today,” the Queen said, smiling.


    “I will take your word for that, Majesty,” the Prime Minister said, unsure of her actions, but willing to trust her.


    “Right.  Well, I should let you go, Mr. Prime Minister.”


    “I hope you know what you're doing, Majesty.”


    “I don't, but I have a plan,” she said as the Prime Minister stood and walked toward the door.  


    “Morning, Ma'am.  Highness,” he said as he walked out of the office.


    “Alex.  I want you to get your sister and come back down here quickly.”


    “Yes ma'am,” Alex said, walking away from the door.


    “Marcia,” the Queen called.


    “Yes ma'am?”


    “Will you please phone Elizabeth and ask her to make arrangements for her and Massimo to come to Cabocha?”


    “Yes ma'am.”


    “And also, when you call, act very nice about it all.”


    “Yes ma'am.”


    “Thank you,” the Queen said, struggling to stand up and walk back to her desk.


    With his mother's instructions, he ran upstairs to Margaret's suite.  He walked in as Margaret was on the phone.  She stopped her conversation as Alex walked in.  “Mom wants to talk to us about something.”


    “OK,” she said to Alex.  “I'll call you back later, Paul,” Margaret said.  “Alright.  Bye.”  She closed her phone and looked at Alex.


    “Paul from Montevallo?”


    “Yeah.  He said that the news hit Birmingham this morning, and he wanted to make sure that you were OK.”


    “That was thoughtful,” Alex said.


    “Yeah.  I thought it was,” Margaret said.  “So what does Mom want us about?”


    “I have no idea, but I just saw her do the most amazing thing.”




    “The Leader of the Opposition threatened to resign, and she told him to go ahead and do it.  Then she told the Prime Minister to beat him to the punch and call an election.”


    “I hope she knows what she's getting herself into,” Margaret said.


    “I think she does,” Alex said confidently.


    The pair walked back downstairs and through the backdoor of the office.  Marcia smiled as they walked past and opened the door.  “Elizabeth!” the Queen said, “It will be resolved.  I just need for you to be in Cabocha when it is.”  There was a silence on the Queen's end.  “I realize the situation, but I need you here.  OK?” she said, nicely.


    “Does she know?” Margaret said, asking about the transfer of funds, something which Alex had told her about the day before.


    “Yeah.  I told her over breakfast.”


    “Good,” Margaret whispered.  The phone call ended after just a few minutes.  “Have a seat,” the Queen instructed both of them.  They sat beside each other on the leather couch.  “Marcia's mother is likely to pass in the night.  I need both of you to be ready to represent me at the funeral.”


    “OK,” they responded to the Queen.  


    “Alex.  You have to wear a tie,” she added.


    “Yes ma'am.”


    Dr. Stoyanov was escorted in after a moment.  “Good afternoon, Majesty,” he said as he smiled in the Queen's direction.  “Highnesses,” he said, addressing Margaret and Alex.


    “Good afternoon,” Alex said.  Margaret smiled.


    “How are you feeling today, Majesty?”


    “Fine.  How are you feeling?”


    “Jolly.  My wife is visiting her sister in Sofia,” the doctor said.


    The Queen laughed.  “It's time,” she said simply.


    The doctor took a deep breath.  “Alright.”


    “I'm going to take care of a few things today, and then tomorrow morning will be it.”


    “OK,” the doctor said.  


    Alex and Margaret were left confused by the banter between them.  “What's going on, Mom?” Alex asked for both of them.


    “Two months ago, I was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the breast,” she said, watching their reactions.


    “What?” Alex said, standing.  “Why didn't you tell me?”


    “You needed to be in America, Alex.  You needed the time for yourself.  And I didn't tell Margaret because I knew you'd be the first person she told and that you would return immediately to Lorenzia.”


    “Right,” Alex said.  For a moment, he forgot about himself and the thoughts that had been captivating his mind.  He forgot for a moment about Gavin.  


    “This IS kind of a big thing, Mom,” Margaret said.


    “I know.  Trust me, I know.”


    “This is something that you should have mentioned, Mom.”


    “I know, Alex,” she said as Alex began pacing around the room.


    “So this is the reason for the medicine, and why you're moving slow, and why you shut the Prime Minister up when he asked how you were,” Alex said.


    “Highness,” the doctor said, “your mother didn't say anything to try to help protect you.  She didn't want you to worry, which is her prerogative as a parent.”


    “I know.  I'm not mad,” Alex said.


    “Nor am I,” Margaret added.  Turning to the doctor, she added, “How effective would treatment be at this point.”


    “Honestly, Highness, treatment would most likely be ineffective,” he said.


    “Then basically,” she added, “all we can do is make sure that she's comfortable until she dies.”


    The doctor looked directly at Margaret, “Yes, ma'am.”


    “You've still got a few months more with me, guys.  It's not like I'm dying tomorrow,” the Queen added, to try to lighten to the mood.  She smiled, but she didn't have the desired effect.  Alex began to cry.  “I'm sorry for having to tell you today, but I wanted you to know before I announce that I'm setting up a regency until the end of my reign.”


    “That's what she meant by saying that it was the time,” the doctor added.


    “How much longer?” Margaret asked, having also become emotional.


    “Three to four months, if we're lucky,” the doctor answered, looking at the Queen.


    “Are you in pain, Mom?” Alex asked.


    “More than you will ever know, but the medications are helping with that.  I'm comfortable for the most part,” she responded honestly.


    “I'm sorry about the mess that I've caused,” Alex said.  “I shouldn't have gone.”


    “Yes, you should have.  You needed the time to yourself for a bit.  You needed to experience what it was like to be free from the confines of the palace.  Your father and I took a month off after we got married and just lived on Malta.  We were Isabel and Petr Saavedra-Aranov.  It was the most amazing experience of my life, and I wouldn't have begrudged you that time.”


    “Highness, may I speak freely?” the doctor said.




    “I agreed with your mother's decision not to tell you.  I can't begin to imagine the situation that you're in right now.  I can't imagine to understand the situation that you're in, right now, but you will be a better King because of your experiences there.  You've had a taste of what it means to be normal, in a sense, and personally, I will be the first person to pledge my allegiance to you as our King.”


    “Thank you.  If the Conservatives have their way, that won't happen.”


    The doctor scoffed.  “My best friend from childhood is a Conservative in Parliament, and he was telling me yesterday that he didn't care who you went to bed with, as long as you did right by the people of Lorenzia.  He said that most people on his side felt the same way.  You know that the Labor party won't care, and the Socialists will openly fight for you and your rights.”


    “Thank you for your support, Doctor.”


    “It will always be with you, Highness,” he said.


    Alex wished that Gavin was there.  He felt the loneliness with more power, and it frustrated him greatly.  He needed Gavin to be there, with his arms wrapped around him, holding him protectively.  Margaret noticed this in her brother and wished that there were something that she could do to comfort him.


    “Alex?” the Queen asked after a moment of silence.  “Are you OK?”


    “I'm fine, Mom.  I will be, at least.”


    Marcia came into the room.  “Ma'am.  Princess Elizabeth will be here shortly.  Her plane took off from Abruzzo just a bit ago.”


    “Alright,” the Queen said.  Marcia looked at Alex and knew what was going on.  She closed the door after just a moment.


    “It will be two hours before she's here.  Is it OK if I go for a run?” Alex asked.


    “Yes,” the Queen said, Alex walked out of the room.  He walked toward the back door.


    “Highness,” Marcia said.




    “I'm sorry,” Marcia said.


    Alex smiled.  “Thanks,” he said.


    “If you need anything, I'm on speed dial with the switchboard.”


    Alex couldn't contain his emotions.  “I appreciate that,” he said, trying to smile at her once again but finding that it would be best if he left her office in that moment.


    He slowly climbed the stair to his suite.  He had been through a lot of stuff over that week.  He changed quickly into a pair of green running shorts.  Once changed, he scoured his room for his iPod.  It was nowhere to be found.  It seemed like the straw that broke the camel's back.  It was the last in a series of events that had happened to him over the week and he began to cry almost uncontrollably.  Margaret walked in after a second, only to find him lying across his bed staring up toward the ceiling and crying.  She sat down and then fell back on his bed, in the opposite direction.


    “What a fucking day?” Alex said.




    “I just wish Gavin was here.”




    “He'd know what to do.  He'd know just what I needed to do.”




    “Why do you keep saying yeah?”


    “I dunno.  It just seems like the right thing to say,” Margaret said.


    “Want to go for a run?”


    “Yeah.  That would be nice.”  She climbed off the bed.  “Let me get changed.”  Alex lay there and waited on his sister to return.  It only took her a minute to change into a running suit and return to his suite.  “Come on, slow poke!” she said, trying to lighten the thick air in the room.


    “Alright,” Alex said, climbing off the bed.


    “Outside or in the gym?”


    “Outside, definitely,” Alex answered.  The two walked down to one of the auxiliary entrances to the palace.  They slowly walked to the edge of Queen Sofia's Garden, designed and worked by their great grandmother, the Queen's grandmother, almost a hundred years before.


    They began running side by side for the first few hundred meters.  The light breeze felt good; the shining sun gave them just enough warmth and light to navigate through the shady trees.  They both ran for some time, not realizing that they'd run the parks length in just a short amount of time.  There were no words exchanged between them.  As their sixth lap around the garden came to a close, they realized that they'd run almost five kilometers.  They stopped at the main entrance to the garden and walked back to the palace.  


    “Are you feeling better?” Margaret asked.


    “Not really, but at least I might sleep tonight.”


    “You didn't sleep last night?”


    “Only for a couple of hours.  I can't sleep without Gavin anymore,” Alex responded.


    “I'm really sorry that that happened Alex.”


    “It's alright,” Alex said, slightly out of breath.


    “If I could, I'd go over there and bring him back to you, kicking and screaming if I had to.”  Alex smiled.


    “Thanks, Mags.  I love you for that,” he said, wrapping his arms around her shoulder.


    “GROSS!  Man sweat!”  Alex laughed.




    “Not a problem.”


    “It's no more gross than Woman sweat.”


    “I wouldn't know.  I've never had a woman wipe her sweat all over me.”  She looked at Alex.  “Come to think of it,” she started.  Alex felt the joke coming and was hoping that his sister wouldn't say it, “Come to think of it,” she started again, “you haven't either.”


    Alex chuckled a little bit.  “And I probably never will, now!” Alex shot back.


    “That's a good thing.  Girls are icky!” Margaret joked.


    The two walked up stairs and showered.  Alex put on a pair of khaki pants and a button down shirt.  He didn't feel like dressing up for Elizabeth.  She could rot in hell, for all he cared.  He loathed his sister from the point that he found out of her involvement in the scheme to take him from the throne.  Of course, there was also the fact that she'd taken Gavin away from him.  With Gavin, he was totally comfortable and totally happy.  He'd never felt some of the feelings that he'd felt when Gavin was around.  He'd never experienced the sensations that Gavin made him experience.  He knew that even if there were a chance for Gavin and he to get back together in the future, things wouldn't be the same, because of her.  Gavin had been the man to whom he gladly gave his virginity, and Elizabeth had caused ripples in their relationship.  He thought and thought and thought about all the things she'd done to him, and he grew angrier and angrier and angrier at her.


    While Alex was dressing, Mags slipped into a simple black suit.  With pants and a top that she'd purchased in America.  She could almost feel her twin's anger as it rushed through his body.  With that, she grew angrier and angrier.  She knew that Alex was hurting; she knew that Alex was being flung into a new world for him, and she hated her sister for forcing that prematurely.


    As the twins dressed, the Queen was talking with Marcia.  There was a plan in the works that would vendicate her son, for whom, over the course of that day, she'd began to understand a bit better.  Because of his actions and his mannerisms, she knew that he was going to forever regard Gavin quite highly.  She knew from his passion in dealing with that situation that her son would be the best monarch for the nation she was giving up the following day.  She knew that with his passion and zest for love and live that Lorenzia would prosper.  It was during that same time that she'd learned that the Doctor's prediction about the reaction of the Conservative Party to their leader's fiery words had come true.  The Prime Minister didn't take her advice as a result, but instead introduced legislation that would secure Alex's succession to the throne.  And he had the support of almost two thirds of the members of the Main Opposition Party and the entire support of the Socialists, who'd supported the Labor Party because of their platform of full equality for all citizens, regardless of any difference that existed between them.  The Queen was pleased that Alex would be inheriting a government that could stand on its own and would make the decisions necessary for the best interest of the nation.


    Elizabeth's plane landed at the airport in Cabocha, and the car that was to bring her to the palace quickly met her and Massimo.  The children were still in Italy, because Elizabeth was under the notion that Alex would, in some way, make them want to be gay as well.  Elizabeth was firm in the idea that she was about to inherit what she felt was rightfully hers.  She didn't listen to the news once she got there; she'd turned her cell phone off, so the Leader of the Opposition had no way of contacting her to let her know what was going on in Parliament.  Massimo acted as though he were about to become the second most powerful person in Lorenzia, a land that he'd only visited a few times over the course of his life.  He was Italian, and really had no interest other than his own on his mind.  


    At 3:02, the car arrived at the intersection of the Queen Martha Highway and the Palace Drive.  The guards at the first checkpoint radioed ahead to let the guards inside the palace know that she'd arrived.  The second gate was opened for them without any issue, and they drove down the drive shaded by large trees that had always received meticulous care.  The car pulled around to the front door, and the driver quickly came around to open the door.  Elizabeth, being the smug woman that she was, didn't say anything to the man.  He was, after all, beneath her.  Massimo smiled and nodded, but said nothing else.  Elizabeth stood for a second waiting on her husband to climb out of the car, and then the two of them walked into the Palace through the main entrance.  They walked down the hall, past the reception area.  The lady didn't stand for them, as she'd done for Alex upon his return from America.  It wasn't protocol for them to stand for the second in line for the throne, only the first.  Elizabeth felt as though she'd been scoffed and mentioned to Massimo that she'd be gone as soon as the Crown were in her hand.  Massimo smiled, almost greedily, and continued to follow his wife to the office and private study of his mother-in-law, Queen Isabel III.


    Alex and Margaret arrived just seconds before their sister, and walked directly into the Queen's office.  When Elizabeth and Massimo arrived, the first phase of the Queen's plan was to be put into effect.  Marcia was to stall them until the Prime Minister arrived.


    “Good afternoon,” Elizabeth said smugly.


    “Good afternoon, Highness.  Her Majesty is waiting on the arrival of the Prime Minister.  After she meets with him, she will meet with you.  Shall I call and have some refreshments brought up for you while you wait?” Marcia said, in her nicest voice as she stood for Elizabeth.


    “That would be nice.  Can you have them make something Italian?” she asked.


    “Right away,” Marcia said.  “Would you like a bottle of wine?”


    “That should probably wait until after I've met with the Queen,” Elizabeth said, “but some tea would be nice.”


    “Grand,” Marcia said as she dialed the kitchen and requested that Maria, the palace chef, whip up something for the Princess and Massimo.


    As they waited, the Prime Minister walked the Parliamentary resolution of support for Prince Alexander to the Senate floor.  The Senate had been informed of the pending action, and the body's leader cleared the afternoon schedule.  The Leader of the Opposition tried frantically to contact the Princess, but was obviously unsuccessful.  The Senate, in less time than it had taken the Chamber to adopt the wording of the legislation, approved the document without debating or amending it.  The President of the Senate then met the Prime Minister, and the two of them rode, along with the legislation, sealed in the traditional manner, inside a blue box with a lock for which the Queen was the only key holder.  They were quickly escorted to the Palace by the police.  At exactly 4:11, they arrived at the first check point.  


    By that time, Elizabeth had become restless, but she still tried to wait patiently.  Marcia was typing a document for the Queen when the phone rang.  “Ofiçina Real,” she answered the phone.  “Graça,” she said as she hung up the phone.  She immediately picked the receiver back up and dialed into the Queen's office.


    “Yes?” the Queen said, as she answered.


    “Lo Primer Ministro y'e lo Líder dello Senado sonno aquí,” she said in Cabochean.  (The Prime Minister and Leader of the Senate are here.)


    “Graça,” the Queen said to her.  “When they arrive, have them come in.  Also, have Elizabeth and Massimo come in with them.”


    “Yes ma'am,” Marcia answered.


    “Great,” the Queen said.  “Thank you, Marcia.”


    “Yes ma'am,” Marcia responded, putting the receiver back down.  The Queen took a deep breath and smiled at the twins, with whom she'd been speaking about the most random things as they waited.


    “Highness, Your Honor,” Marcia said to Elizabeth and Massimo.  “The Prime Minister and Leader of the Senate are here.  The Queen has asked that you join them as they go in.”


    “Great,” Elizabeth said, standing and placing back on the serving dish the hors d'oeuvre that Maria had prepared for them.  Massimo stood behind her and waited patiently for the Prime Minister and Leader of the Senate to walk into the office with the blue box.  She was greeted by both of them as Marcia opened the door for them.  The four of them walked into the office.  Out of respect for the Prime Minister and Leader of the Senate, Alex and Margaret stood.  Elizabeth was a bit angry to see them both there, but dismissed it, thinking that she was about to be offered the crown.


    “Majesty.  Highnesses,” the Prime Minister greeted them.


    “Good afternoon, Steven.  Eduardo,” she said addressing the two men as she always did.


    “Majesty,” Senator Leon said to her.


    “Your Majesty,” the Prime Minister began.  “We have for your perusal a joint resolution of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate regarding the succession to the Throne.  We would ask that you consider it for your assent,” he said, following the formal rules governing presentation of legislation to the Queen.


    The Queen pulled from her desk a small silver key which she often referred to as “the magic key,” and proceeded to open the blue box in front of her.  She took from it a large envelope and opened it.  She began to read, “In the name of Her Majesty, Queen Isabel the Third, we the members of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate of the Kingdom of Lorenzia adopt this joint resolution regarding our opinion as to the succession of the Crown.  Attached are the names of all the Deputies and Senators who have voted in favor of this resolution.”  The Queen took the attached sheet and perused the list of names.  “I see that no Senator voted against this resolution,” the Queen said.


    “No ma'am.  We are in full support of the opinion of the Deputies on this matter,” Senator Leon said.


    “Great.  I see that only a handful of Deputies voted against this resolution.”


    “Yes ma'am.  There were 19 members who voted against the resolution.”


    “So a quite vast majority of them are in favor of it.”


    “Yes ma'am.  280 to be exact.  The President abstained.”


    “As he should have,” the Queen said.  “Now let me finished reading this before I sign it.”  The Queen smiled.  Elizabeth, feeling quite confident that the resolution was in her favor, looked at Alex with an evil glare.  Alex continued to look intently at the Queen, confident himself for a moment.  “We the Deputies and Senators of the Kingdom of Lorenzia do hereby state a steadfast opinion regarding the succession to the Crown.  Our support, and the support of the Lorenzian people are firmly behind the continuance of the current law, the law that will culminate in the coronation of Alexander, Crown Prince of Lorenzia as the next sovereign to reign over this Kingdom.”


    Elizabeth looked at the Queen and at the legislators before her.  “What?” she blurted out.  “You can't be serious.  A faggot?  That faggot,” she said, pointing to Alex.


    “Elizabeth.  You will be so kind as to remain quiet unless you are asked a question.”


    “You're going to let HIM run this country into the ground.  Every queer, bisexual, transvestite, and whatever else will be coming into this nation and will ruin it for the good Christian people who live here.  If you sign that law, you will be condemned to hell.”


    “Elizabeth.  You will shut up now.”


    “No ma'am.  I will not,” she said, moving past the Prime Minister and staring her mother in the face.  “THAT,” she said, again pointing toward Alex, “is an abomination of God's law, and he will pay dearly for his crimes against God.  This cannot happen.  I have it under good advice that the Conservatives are drafting legislation that will change the succession so that Lorenzia's throne will NOT be occupied by a fucking queer.  I mean, what would we call him anyway, Alexander, Queen of Lorenzia?”


    “Actually, Highness,” the Prime Minister said, “the Conservative leadership WAS drafting legislation to that effect.  The backbenchers threw it out, though.  As a result, the Leader of the Opposition resigned.  He will be replaced at some point next week.”


    “When I ask for your input, then you may speak, but not until then,” Elizabeth turned and said.  She returned to her mother.  “You can't be serious.  I will fight this succession in court if you sign it.”


    “Unfortunately for you, Elizabeth, the Senate would have to decide such a suit.  And if you notice, every single Senator voted in favor of the resolution.”


    “I'm leaving, this is what I was called here for, to have the faggot's life shoved down my throat.”


    “No.  You were called here for another reason.”


    “Then get on with it.”


    “In just a moment,” the Queen said, taking the pen the Leader of the Senate was holding for her.  She began to write out her signature.  “It is my honor, gentlemen, to grand my assent to this resolution so that it may become law.”


    “Thank you, Your Majesty.”


    “My pleasure, Steven,” she said.  She stood with some effort and shook the man's hand.  “Lorenzia's next monarch will serve you proudly,” she said, looking at her son, who was smiling.  “Now.  If you gentlemen will have a seat on the sofa.  I have another matter that I'd like to discuss with you.”


    “I'm leaving this sodomous place,” Elizabeth declared.


    “Actually, Elizabeth.  You are not,” the Queen stopped her.  “If you do, you will be arrested and placed in jail until I feel like having the Senate charge you with treason.”


    “You can't do that!  I've done absolutely nothing wrong.  It's him you should be trying for crimes against humanity.”


    “Alex has done nothing wrong.  The only thing he's done is fall in love.”


    “And buttsex!” Elizabeth said.


    “Yes.  And there was buttsex involved I'm sure,” the Queen mentioned, uninhibited and euphoric from her pain medication.  “That, though, is his business, thankfully.”  The Leader of the Senate chuckled for a second, but then stopped when he realized that no one else was laughing.  The Queen brushed it off.  She turned to the men again.  “Gentlemen, I have evidence which will support a claim that Princess Elizabeth was involved in an act to overthrow the legitimate successor of the Crown and place herself on the throne.”


    “That's preposterous!” Elizabeth screamed.


    “Actually, Elizabeth.  What's preposterous is that you didn't cover your tracks well enough.  You see, I have a copy of the receipt from where a certain Edward Deen received 50,000 euro from you in exchange for pictures of Alex.  The Italian Minister of Justice has secured a warrant for your financial records to prove that.  We also have evidence where he sent those pictures to your personal email address and then you forwarded them onto the Editor in Chief of the Times.  He's gladly provided us with all that IP information.”  Massimo, feeling his freedom being sucked away from him, began to turn pale.  Elizabeth still tried to maintain that she didn't know what was going on.


    “Majesty.  That certainly is tragic,” the Prime Minister said.


    “It’s also interesting that the Minister of Justice noted that Elizabeth’s house is fully staffed, but that Elizabeth hasn’t paid the employment tax for some time.”


    “Why are you doing this to me mother?”


    “To give you a taste of what you’ve put everyone else through, Elizabeth.  The way you went about this was WRONG.  Whether you agree with Alex’s life or not, you had no right to publish pictures of him in one of the most intimate times of his life.  You had no right to attempt to usurp what is, legally, his.  You’ve been this way since they were born, and you have absolutely no reason to be that way.  Alex and Margaret just wanted you to love them as much as they loved you back then, and you treated them like shit beneath your feet.  And not only that, but this is TREASON.  You might not have realized it in your quest for power, but you committed treason by paying someone for information that you intended to use to put yourself in a position to gain the power of the Crown.”  The Queen stopped.  “What do you have to say for yourself?”


    Elizabeth said nothing.  The gravity of what she’d done hit her like a proverbial ton of bricks.  She looked toward the ground for a second.


    “Majesty,” the Prime Minister said.  “I think it would be best if I left.  This looks like it might be a family thing.”


    “Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.  The man grabbed his things and left the Queen’s office, leaving only members of the family there in the room.  “Elizabeth.  You have to say something,” the Queen added.  Alex and Margaret turned and looked at their older sister.  “Did you realize what you were doing?”


    “Yes ma’am,” Elizabeth said honestly, but in a defeated tone.  She had known exactly what she was doing, but had never thought it would come to the point of being defined as treason against her homeland.


    “I see.”


    “What did I ever do to you, Elizabeth?” Alex asked.  The Queen and Margaret, along with the only male blood relative, looked at Elizabeth.  Alex knew that he’d defeated her, and so there was no need to act angry.  It was the first test in his resolve and patience that would indicate what kind of King he would be.


    “Do you know what the Bulgarian word ангел means?” she asked.




    “It’s the Bulgarian word for angel.  Our father used to say that to me.  Do you know when the last time he said that to me was?”




    “14 March 1986.  I remember the day exactly because it was the very last day that I was an only child.  The next morning, I had a brother, and the world forgot about me.”


    The Queen looked.  “You can’t be telling us that your whole reason for treating Alex and Margaret poorly is because of your Dad.  How dare you desecrate his memory?  He loved you more than you will ever know, and I will not have you blame this all on him!”


    “Mom.  She’s not blaming it on Dad,” Alex said.  “She’s blaming it all on me.”


    “I don’t want you to defend me, Queer,” Elizabeth said, moving away from Alex.


    “Fine.  Rot,” he said, walking toward the door.


    “Alexander,” the Queen said.




    “Stay here.”  Alex reluctantly agreed, moving to stand beside Margaret.  He glared at Elizabeth.  “Elizabeth.  This is how things are going to go.  I will drop all of this and phone the Italian Justice Minister.”


    “I suppose I have to do something unthinkable in exchange for that.”


    The Queen smiled and pulled some papers from her drawer.  “First, you will apologize to Alex and Gavin for what you did.”


    “Sorry,” she said sarcastically, turning to look toward Alex.


    “No.  You will contact the editor of the Times, and you will have a retraction printed in tomorrow’s edition.”


    Elizabeth sighed, “OK.”


    “And you hold a press conference afterwards and express your desire for unity in this time of our nation’s history.”


    “That’s pushing it, Mother.”


    “Oh you will do it, or there will be charges brought against you at the opening of business in the morning,” Isabel said.  “Shall I continue?”


    “Yeah.  Go ahead.”


    “You will then sign this document.  It officially takes you out of the succession.”


    “WHAT!?  That I will not do.  You can charge me with treason, but I will not voluntarily take myself out of the succession.”


    “Alright,” the Queen said calmly, picking up the phone.  “Marcia, have the Guard come in here.”


    “I can’t believe this!  All because of a fag and his buttsex buddy.”


    The Queen said nothing further to Elizabeth until the guards arrived, in their police-style uniforms, to take Elizabeth and Massimo away.  “Captain,” the Queen said calmly.


    “Yes, Majesty?”


    “They’re to be placed under arrest under Royal Prerogative.  Take them to Chacra,” she instructed, ordering the Royal Guard to take the couple of Lorenzia’s oldest, roughest prison.  There, the couple would be separated.  Massimo would be escorted to the men’s wing; Elizabeth would be sent to the women’s wing, the rougher of the two.  Elizabeth looked at her mother.


    “Ebi se!” Elizabeth said in Bulgarian.  (Fuck you!)


    The Queen knew what she said, but Alex and Margaret were left in the dark.  She’d heard her mother-in-law say the phrase many times over the course of her son’s life.  When he died, his family returned to Bulgaria and refused to have anything to do with them, despite the Queen’s attempts to make sure that the twins knew of their heritage.


    “Alex and Margaret,” the Queen said as they were moved away.


    “Yes ma’am?” Margaret said.


    “I need a bit,” the Queen said.


    “Yes ma’am,” the twins said, exiting the office.


    “Ay Dios mío,” Isabel said.  “Petr.  Por quê nao pode istara aquí?” she asked.  “I never imagined I would have to do what I’ve just done.  You would know just what to say to Alex.  You would know just how to handle what Elizabeth has done.”  The Queen sat there, quietly turning her chair around to admire the job that the groundskeepers had done on the garden just outside her office.  She dropped her head for a second as a tear left her eye and travelled down the bridge of her nose.


    “Ma’am,” Marcia said, coming into the Queen’s office.




    “It’s my mother.  I need to go.  The switchboard is sending someone up.”


    “Alright.  Call me later and check in with me,” the Queen said, turning to face the door.


    “Yes ma’am.”


    “And take my car.  The plates will get you through traffic a lot faster than you car would.”


    “Yes ma’am,” Marcia said, “I greatly appreciate it.”


    “You’re family, Marcia.  It’s nothing.”


    “Thank you,” Marcia said, smiling at the Queen.






    The Queen smiled a sign of support once more and then let Marcia slip quietly out of the office and the palace.  The guard escorted her to the car, and in just a moment, she was off.  


    Alex and Margaret had gone to their respective suites.  Alex again felt the coldness of solitude.  As he rested on his bed, he couldn’t help but think of Gavin lying next to him.  He longed for the simplest of touches.


    “Hey bro,” Margaret said as she came in without knocking.


    “Hey Mags.”


    “Marcia’s mom just took last rites,” she said.


    “We should go over there or something and help out with something,” Alex said.


    “We should.  You want to take dinner to her family later?”


    “Sure,” Alex said.  “It will be nice to get out of here.  There is a lot of energy that I can’t explain around here.”


    “Yeah.  I understand completely.”  Margaret sat on the edge of his bed.


    “Even though I should feel good, I still feel like shit.”


    “It’s OK, Little Bro.  You’re gonna feel that way for a while, I’m sure.”


    “Yeah.  I just want to call him and say something.  I wouldn’t even care if he were yelling at me, I just want to hear his voice.”


    “Just call him, then.  Then we’ll make arrangements for dinner for Marcia’s family.”


    “Alright,” Alex said, reaching for his US cell phone.  Even though he remembered Gavin’s number, he still seemed to grab for his RAZR by default.  Margaret left the room, so that her brother could have some privacy.  She was on a mission as she walked to the basement into the kitchen.


    Alex dialed the number he had listed as ‘HOTTIE’ in his phone.  There was a second delay as the connection was made between the mobile phone operators.  The first ring went by.  There was no answer.  The same result came after the second ring.  Three rings later, he got Gavin’s voicemail.


    “Hey Guys, this is Gavin.  I can’t talk right now, so leave a message after the tone.”  BEEEP!


    “Hey Gavin.  This is Alex.  I was just calling to check on you.  I heard the news hit Birmingham, and I needed to know that you were OK.  My sister Elizabeth was responsible for all of this.  I’m sorry again that it all happened, and despite everything, I still love you very much,” he stopped for a second.  “Call me if you feel like it.  Ciao,” he said, closing the phone.  He sat there for a second, thinking about things.


    He knew that he would have to keep himself busy for a bit to keep from losing himself in the emotion of the moment.  He joined Margaret in the kitchen and helped the people in the kitchen get the dinner ready for Marcia’s family.  Along with three kitchen staff members, Alex and Margaret served Marcia’s family dinner that evening as they waited on the horrible moment.  Marcia was quite appreciative of their efforts and their kindness to her, despite the fact that she could see in the back of her mind that Alex was hurting and confused.  After everyone had eaten as much as they wanted, Marcia pulled him to the side, out of the earshot of her family.


    “Highness.  I know you’re hurting,” she started, “but know that you will be alright.”


    “I know, Marcia,” Alex said as he sipped a glass of wine.  “Maybe I was too naïve to think I could have both my life here and a life with him.”


    “No.  You weren’t.  Your mother was so in love with your father that it was sickeningly sweet.”


    “I know.  I swear that I didn’t go there to find a man.”


    “I know, sir.”


    “Call me Alex, please.  I’m still getting used to the whole ‘highness’ thing again.”


    “Alright…Alex.  You went to study and you went to find yourself.  You did both.”


    “Yeah.  Too bad it’s caused a big mess here.”


    “No one cares here.  Speaking as an ‘ordinary citizen,’ I can say that I don’t care.  My family doesn’t care, and they’re probably the most ordinary of all families in this country.”


    “There’s nothing ordinary about you, Marcia.”


    “I consider that a compliment.”


    “It was intended that way,” Alex said.


    “My advice would be to give yourself some time to get used to everything and then, if it’s meant to be, the two of you will find a way to be together, regardless of your position.  Regardless of his position.”


    “Thank you, Marcia.  I think I needed to hear that.”


    “It’s not a problem.  Thank you for this evening, by the way.  This is one of the reasons why you and your sister are two of my favorite people on the planet.”


    “It was all her idea, honestly.”


    “Well, I speak on behalf of my whole family when I saw that we appreciate it,” Marcia noted.


    “Marci…” Marcia’s sister said as she came out onto the patio where Marcia and Alex were talking.


    “Tempo?” Marcia asked.


    “Acabo de pasar,” the sister said.  There was a moment of silence between the two sisters.  Marcia quietly stood and went to her sister, who began to weep as Marcia began to hold her.  Alex walked into the house to give the two sisters a bit of privacy.


    “Alex,” Marcia said as he walked past her.




    “Tell your mother I won’t be in tomorrow, if you don’t mind.”


    “I will,” Alex said to her as she continued to hug her sister.


    Alex found Margaret and the two left, along with the kitchen staff that had accompanied them.  It was almost 10 at night before they returned to the Palace.  Margaret walked upstairs to change into her nightclothes while Alex walked toward his mother’s office.  He wasn’t sure if she were there, but he wanted to try, nonetheless.


    “Mom,” he said as he walked into the Queen’s office.  The Queen was napping in her large leather chair.  Alex stopped for a second and looked at his mother, sitting there, seemingly at peace.  He was turning to walk out of the room, but was stopped by the sound of her stirring.


    “Hello, Alex.”


    “Hi.”  Alex said, turning.  “You should probably get to bed.”


    “Yes, Dr. Alex,” she tried to joke.  “I heard what you and Margaret did.  I’m very proud of you, Alex.”


    “Thanks, but it was her idea.”


    “But you took part in it.”


    “Yeah.  I guess,” Alex said.  


    “There was a call earlier for you,” Isabel said.


    “Oh really?” Alex asked, almost excited by the fact that it might be Gavin.


    “It was Lisa,” the Queen said.  Alex appeared disappointed for a second.  “She said she found your iPod and was going to send it to you.”


    “Oh.  I should call and thank her.”


    “That would be a nice idea,” Isabel responded.  “I’m sorry it wasn’t Gavin, Alex.”


    “It’s OK, Mom.  It probably wouldn’t…”


    “Wouldn’t work out?” the Queen asked, completing her son’s sentence.


    “Yeah,” Alex said, feeling the tinge of what he perceived was rejection.


    “You never know,” the Queen said.  “Parliament is behind you.  The people seem to be behind you.  The future might hold something very bright.  And if it doesn’t work out with Gavin, there’s always Maria’s son,” she joked.  It didn’t help Alex’s mood, though.


    “I know that you might not be comfortable with me being gay…” Alex started.


    “Alex.  As your mother, I don’t care, as long as you’re happy,” the Queen said.  She thought about how the situation might have been different if she were not dying, but then she thought that Alex was still Alex, the same Alex that she’d always known.  She still loved her one and only son.


    “Is it wrong that I don’t want to settle for anyone?  It’s almost like I’ve tasted the finest wine and can’t seem to be able to stomach the idea of not being able to have that ever again,” Alex explained.


    “A veces el amor te duele, amorcito,” the Queen stated.  (Sometimes love hurts, little one.)


    “Dice la verdad, mamá,” Alex said.  “Bueno.  Tengo sueño.  Me voy a la cama.”  (You speak the truth.  Well.  I’m tired.  I’m going to go to bed.)


    “Voy a irme en un momento,” the Queen said.  “!Qué duermas con angelitos, amor!”  (I’m going in a momento.  Sleep with angels, love.)


    “A ti, también,” Alex said, smiling for a second at his mother and then turning and walking from the office.  (You too.)


    Alex walked up the stairs to his room.  He passed his door for a second, walking towards Margaret’s suite.  He peeked in to find that she was already asleep.  He returned to the solitude of his room, stripped off his clothes and climbed into his large bed, lined with silk sheets.  As he’d done the night before, he arranged the pillows so that either way he turned, his back would be against something, much as it would seem if he were sleeping in the bed with his beloved, a man that he thought he would most likely never see again.