I don’t think I’ve ever moved so fast in my goddamned life. I race through the halls of the palace, nearly bumping into a staff member carrying ingredients for dinner in the process. He spins around and barely catches himself and the ingredients before he continues walking into the kitchen. I mumble an apology and keep to my original objective.
Annie’s in the hospital.
I sprint into the grand main entrance, running down the stairs, taking them two at a time--almost three. I nearly trip over my own two feet, catching myself on the elegant golden bannister I used to slide down when I was a kid with my brothers. Even though I was the eldest, I still wasn’t the best influence. I always did stupid things as a kid, so of course, wanting to be in with their cooler older brother, Michael and Stephan followed me into even the most dangerous situations.
But that isn’t a story for right now. Now, I need to be focused on my wife, the woman I’ve just now realized I love, and the reality that just two minutes ago I received a phone call from the palace doctor, telling me that she’s collapsed in the parlor. Collapsed. Annie fell to the floor when she was with Cassandra.
“What? What do you mean she collapsed in the parlor?” I demand into the phone, the diplomats across the table from me raise their eyes from the trade deal in front of them in silent question. I feel my heart rate spike and suddenly my mouth feels dry.
How ironic is this?
I’ve come to see the error of my ways, I’ve realized that I never should’ve told her that I didn’t love her, or that I never could, because that was a straight up lie. I do love her, more than anything, and I hate to admit it, but I think I’ve loved her since that moment when I took her into town and saw her singing along to the street performers. Or when I took her to get some pizza and the shop owner snapped that polaroid picture of us--the picture that has and will forever stay in my wallet since that day.
“Your Highness, Dr. Winslow specifically told me to let you know that your wife is doing fine, but she wants you here immediately. We know you’re busy and all, but can I tell her we’ll be expecting--”
I’m out of my chair and out the door before she can even finish her question. “I’ll be there in five minutes.” I snap into the phone and hang up, slamming it into my suitcoat pocket. I can’t believe they thought I would say I was too busy to go see Annie. How is that possible?
I think for a moment, and it makes sense. There was one point where if I received that exact same phone call, I’d calmly answer is, hear the news, tell them I’ll be around when I can, and apologize before getting right back into the meeting.
Now though, I don’t even bark out an apology to the diplomats I was meeting with before leaving. Instead, I rush out of the large room and run down the hall. Some things are more important than meetings, and once they hear about the condition of my wife, they’ll understand, and if they don’t, then Verilia won’t be doing any more trade deals with them because they clearly don’t share the same values as us. We put great worth in family, and Annie’s mine. She’s the love of my life and one day we’ll rule side by side. I just have to figure out a way to tell her that, because I never want her to leave me again.
I barely miss running head on into another maid and swerve around her, yelling my apologies as I sprint towards the hospital wing of the palace. I finally make it there, after what seems like literally the longest journey of my life and nod to the guards standing outside the door before pretty much ramming into it. The door nearly busts off the hinges as I slam it into the wall. I hear Annie shriek in surprise. She turns her widened eyes to me before they soften in a mixture of humor and love. She looks at me with such love. I realize that now. I also realize that I never want her to look at me with any other emotion. “Daniel, what took you so long?” She giggles, and it’s a calming sound. Perhaps my fears were all for naught, and she’d truly alright. Hopefully I haven’t lost her before I truly had her. “And you didn’t break down the door?” She shakes her head in amusement, sitting up in her hospital bed. “To be honest, I’m a little disappointed.”
I’m glad she’s well enough to joke and be sarcastic with me. That means that maybe I never really had anything to worry about at all. When I heard she collapsed, a million worst case scenarios ran through my head: dead, accident, sudden heart attack or other fatal occurrence. I even considered poison briefly. After all, I wouldn’t put anything above these Royals to get the crown for themselves, including taking out my wife. But seeing her smiling and joking with me, alleviates some of my fears, even the ones brought on by seeing her in a hospital bed and gown-- even if they’re both the temporary palace ones.
I rush to her side and grab her hand. She still has a pulse, and it’s warm and soft like it always is. This is a good sign. Her face is still round and pale, the same glow to her cheeks and her eyes are bright. These are all good signs, but I look at her and notice the trails of pre-shed tears on her cheeks. Until I know for sure what’s wrong, we aren’t out of the water yet. Something still could be wrong with her. I hate to say it, but there’s still the possibility that I could lose her. The thought makes my chest constrict and I squeeze her hand. She squeezes back and looks up at me with a puzzled expression. “Hey,” Her voice is soft and calm. “Are you okay, Daniel? You look a little pale.”
I bet I do look pale. I could practically feel the blood drain from my face when I got that phone call. I nod and squeeze her hand again. "I'm alright. The question is: Are you, Little American?"
She bites her bottom lip and looks to Doctor Winslow and her maid friend. "Um.... Can you two give us a moment?"
Doctor Winslow nods. "Of course. Call when you need me and I'll have the official discharge papers ready for you." She smiles and leaves leaving me feeling a little bit better. The doctor didn't have a "this is the end" look on her face and she said Annie could be discharged. This seems like yet another good sign.
The maid friend--Aline does the same, her smile wider, and I can tell she has also been crying. She leans down and give Annie a kiss on the forehead. "I'll be right outside if you need me, Ann."
Annie says her thanks as Aline slinks away, but not before she gives me the stink eye and makes the I'm watching you motion with her pointer and middle fingers. I don't blame her-- in this story I've clearly been the villain thus far. I just hope it isn't too late to be the Prince Charming that Annie deserves.
Aline leaves us alone. That woman gives me the chills sometimes. She's so intense. I have no doubt that if I make another mistake like the one that drove Annie away from me, I'm done for. She'll take me out for sure. And I would deserve nothing less for causing Annie more pain.
She watches the door close completely before turning to me and sighing. She opens her mouth and I expect her to tell me that she has some terminal illness or something dire, but instead she shocks me. "I'm sorry, Daniel. I know you're busy. I told them not to call you. I hope I didn't interrupt something that can't be rectified. I'm truly fine."
She's fine. Annie's going to be okay. A weight lifts off my chest, but I can't help but gape at her words.
"What?" I blurt out like a complete idiot. "Annie, it's fine. You are in the palace infirmary. It doesn't matter what I was doing, of course I was going to drop everything and run because--" Because it's not nearly as important as you. Because I couldn't stand to be there when I know you're here. Because I can't live without you. Because I can't lose you. Because I love you. Words I want to say more than anything. Words that die on my tongue, just like the hope that dies in her eyes. Why can't I do this? It's not that hard. It's three little words. Three little words that might as well be in another language completely.
A lightbulb goes off in my head.
I know how to tell her, and I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner.
I take a deep breath. "Do you remember our wedding day?"
Her face heats a little, but she nods, a small smile on her face. "I do." She giggles at her own little joke and I smile as well.
I pull up a chair so I'm more at her eye level and not towering above her. I typically don't like this, but for what I'm about to say, I want us to be as equal as possible. "Do you remember The Bond?"
She thinks for a second, her nose scrunching up in that endearing way it always does when she's trying really hard to remember something, then she nods.
I recite the words I know by heart in Verilian and she sits and listens quietly. "They're beautiful, just like they were the first time I heard them."
"From this day fourth, we are One.
I am Yours.
You are Mine.
We are One in body and spirit.
My Heart is Yours, and Yours is Mine.
From this day until my very last.
Let this ribbon not become a shackle, but a tether, for I will never leave you.
With this knot, this is The Bond I pledge to You."
Tears well up in her eyes. "Wow, I didn't realize that was so meaningful." She covers her mouth with the hand I'm not holding. "Daniel, that's amazing."
I squeeze her hand and tuck a stray strand of golden hair behind her ear. "I'm so sorry, Little American. I broke the first rule of The Bond: I didn't mean the words when I said them." I lean forward and take a deep breath. "I mean them now. I mean every word of it. I'm yours. My heart is yours. Annie I... I'm an idiot. I really am. I'm probably the dumbest man alive for not realize what I had right in front of me. You. You're amazing, and smart, and you're smile lights up a room, and you're sexy and sarcastic and..." I look into her eyes. Hopefully I'm giving off all my emotion. I'm about to tell her the words I should've that night when she confessed to me. "I love you, Little American. I love you more than anything. I think I've always loved you, and I know you're already my wife but I want it to be real. I don't want the divorce. Fuck the contract. Fuck the force marriage and pregnancy. I want you. I want to start our family when you're ready, not because some piece of paper demands it from you. I want you to chose me. I'm not going to force you anymore."
If she'll have me. I wasn't overexaggerating, I've been a real idiotic ass. As always, my mother was right. Now I just hope it's not too late. I hope she doesn't leave. She has every right to, and I'll let her. It will hurt more than anything I've ever felt to see her walk out that door, but I said I'd let her, and I will. I just hope and pray it doesn't come to that.
Her blue eyes well up with tears, and it's too much of a parallel to when I yelled at her after she told me she loved me that my heart starts to beat quickly in my chest. Are these happy tears? Is she happy that she's finally free of me? Finally liberated to live her life and run as far away as she possibly can? I wouldn't blame her.
Then she smiles and it lights up my world. I've been living with the sun behind the clouds for my entire life and now I'm seeing it for the first time. "Daniel." She breathes, smiling as wide as she did when she saw her parents. "I love you too. You don't know how long I've been waiting to hear that." They are happy tears, but not for the reason I was thinking.
I feel myself smile with her and I wrap my arms around her, pulling her into my chest where she just cries. "It's okay, Little American. I'm so sorry. I've been an ass."
She pulls away. "Shit! You distracted me! I have something to tell you!"
I frown at her use of profanity. "I'll let that one slide for now."
She giggles but then almost sobers up and bites her lip again. "I'm fine, but I am here for a reason. I fainted because..." She bites her lip, but this time I can tell her suppressing a grin. "You know how you talked about starting our family on our own terms? Well... It's a little late for that." She places her hand on her stomach and then looks at me with a hopeful smile.
Of course, I sit there, staring at her like a complete idiot for a few moments. Then it hits me. "Are you serious?" Even I can tell I'm grinning like a moron.
She nods, more tears slipping out of her eyes. "I'm pregnant. You're going to be a father. Daniel."
I'm going to be a father. Annie's pregnant. I thought the day I met Annie was the happiest day of my life, but now I know different. I think I yell, I think I cheer, but I'm not sure what happened because Aline and Doctor Winslow rush into the room right as I grab my wife and kiss her with all the force and passion I can muster.
BREAKING NEWS: A ROYAL SURPRISE!?
Princess Annalise and Prince Daniel Windsor have announced earlier today that they are both expecting their first child and we can't be more thrilled. My coworkers are already placing bets on whether or not it'll be a boy or a girl, and they're even deciding what names each will be. Earlier this evening, They Royal Family has officially announced that Princess Annalise Windsor, new wife to the once playboy Prince Daniel Windsor I is 12 weeks pregnant with their first child. Both mother and baby are in excellent condition, says Palace Physician Dr. Henrietta Winslow, and so far the pregnancy hasn't been too difficult on the new Princess. The couple sends their apologies but says that due to the Princess's condition, they're going to have to cut events and appearances short because they're focusing on the health of the baby.
Here at The Digest we say: Take all the time you need! We just can't wait to see a little Prince or Princess!
Speculation about a royal baby began earlier this month when Princess Annalise's family flew in from New York City for a visit. Witnesses also say that The Queen has been in high spirits and that there's "an excited energy" inside the Palace, says a fellow maid. "People are buzzing around, the royals never stop smiling, there's definitely something going on." The source spilled earlier this month.
Thankfully we now know for sure! The royal bloodline is expanding, and we can't wait for baby pictures!
As always, subscribe to The Verilian Digest for all your juicy Roya gossip and news! We'll update you as soon as we know more! And as always: We're on Baby Bump Watch!
Hello everyone! I am so sorry for lack of updates but losing my glasses has sadly made writing much harder as it gives me bad headaches. That being said, I haven't abandoned this story, nor will I ever! I will keep the updates coming when I can.
As always: I love and appreciate you all and I thank you for your patience and support. I never thought my work would be this loved or this popular and your comments make me smile everyday. It's my dream to become a published author and I revere and appreciate any and all feedback. You all make me a more confident writer and for that I must thank you!
Hugs and kisses from NH!
Please everyone stay safe! We'll get through this together! <3