Chapter 50: American Money - Børns
The press was present when we arrived at the palace. They were reporting on all the guests arriving at the palace. They wanted to know who was attending the wedding. My father diverged from our original plan and told the kingdom of his engagement. He combated Infidelity accusations by telling the truth about their relationship -- how it started, why it originally ended, and how they found their way back to each other after years apart. It was well received; sympathy was rightfully earned when they confessed the loss of their daughter, despite her premarital conception. Theirs was a love story the people wanted to root for, star-crossed lovers finding a way to make their implausible relationship work after a tragic loss and decades of longing. They still opted for a far less extravagant wedding than those that were traditionally held. They cited intimacy and fiscal responsibility as their reasons. Their impending union was ultimately accepted. It was a whirlwind of a campaign orchestrated by the advisors. It was far from surprising, though; Wilmer was at the helm.
“This is worse than last time.” Izzie looked out the window, remaining in my arms.
“Guests from afar are lodging here to attend the wedding.”
“Will all of them be at dinner this evening?”
“No, it was originally scheduled to be a dinner with my first family members and Jacqueline, but I refused to encounter Sal on my first night with you.”
“You don’t need to be angry with him on my behalf.”
“That is only partially why we are feuding. He was willing to risk dragging down both of our reputations for a good time and lacks remorse.”
“What would happen if you did see him tonight?”
“Likely a physical altercation. He has been further provoking me for sport.”
“You need to watch your temper. I am not kidding, Milo.” She forced me to look at her by putting her hand on the side of my face.
“Is making dumb mistakes you are mature enough to ignore. You are no longer in danger. You have handled the situation effectively, move on from it.”
“He made you cry.” I softened my tone.
She pursed her lips. “You were right. He didn’t know. I can let it go this once. I’m sure you supplied him with the facts before hanging up the phone.”
“I would never let that go unaddressed.”
She kissed me.
We were able to go all the way to my room without being approached by handlers. Dante pranced at her feet the moment she entered.
“Hold on, Baby. Let me put my stuff down.” She tiptoed around him, cautious about accidently stepping on him.
She scooped him up and smothered him in kisses once she had put her items on the couch.
“You smell so nice, Cutie Pie.” She hugged him close.
“He was bathed today. He played in puddles during his morning walk. He was filthy.” I removed my shoes, seated on the cushion before my bed.
“I want to take him home.” She rested her head on top of his, swaying with him gently. “How much trouble do you think I would get into for having him on campus?”
“Honestly, I think it could be done because he is mine. They are very willing to make accommodations for me. However, I am not bringing more attention to myself by making it painfully obvious they want to give me special treatment.”
“Admit you do not want to share me with him full time.”
“Yes, that is also the case. You are more than willing to put him above your needs and me. Lie down. I know you are exhausted.”
“Are you sure he will understand and cuddle with me?” She approached me. He was licking the side of her face, wagging his tail rapidly.
“Yes, he does it with me all the time. You’re already putting him above all else.”
“He is my fur baby. That should be the case.”
“Which is why he is staying here in Listonenia.”
“Mean.” She transferred him to me. “And to think sleeping was not what I anticipated when I picked out this outfit.”
I rubbed him as he fought to get back to her. She sat down beside me.
“This was for me?” I eyed her with an eyebrow raised and a small smirk.
“Us. It is very much two-sided.” She unzipped her first boot.
“There is always after dinner, unless you feel differently about me by that time.”
“I might. Check back later.” She leaned over and kissed me. “May I have a t-shirt? My dress isn’t the most comfortable.”
“I will return to you shortly.” I kissed the top of her head and went to my closet.
She had already removed her dress by the time I returned. I lost my ability to think straight.
“I…um…here.” I put the undershirt on the bed, patting it and stepping back.
She pulled it over her head and smoothed it down. “You act like you have never seen me like this before.” She removed her hair from its braid.
“It has been a while.” I rubbed the back of my neck.
She ruffled her hair. “Almost a month.”
“It feels like a much longer stretch of time.” I selected blanket from the linen chest.
She scooted to the top of the bed and rested her head on a pillow. Dante soon joined her, snuggling as close to her as possible.
“You are such a good boy.” She rubbed her nose against his.
“He’ll need to move.” I draped a blanket over them.
“Why?” She remarked as she rotated onto her back, holding him in her arms.
“I want to hold you.” I joined them on the bed.
We arranged ourselves to enable us to do our tasks comfortably. Dante ended up on my chest and her arm was draped across both of us. I watched television at a low volume, rubbing her back and playing with her hair. She was able to get a few hours of sleep in before dinner.
She redressed and left my room with her items. I showered and prepared for dinner.
I met her at her bedroom. She surfaced wearing a full shirted black dress, a pearl necklace and black heels. Although curly, her hair was pulled up into a bun.
“You look stunning.” I kissed her.
“I want to make a positive first impression on your stepmother.” She smoothed down her skirt.
“I know she will love you.” I escorted her out of her room by her hand.
Jacqueline and my father were seated on the same side of the table in the dining room. They stood up to greet us. Izzie curtsied when he stood before us.
“It is so nice to see you again. You have been dearly missed around the palace by all of us.” He offered her his hand.
“I have missed Listonenia and all of you. It is partially why I will be moving here this summer.” she shook his hand.
“You will have all the protection and everything else you need and more. I assure you.” He subtly glanced in my direction.
I nodded once in acknowledgement of his warning.
“Hello, Izzie, I am Jacqueline. I have heard many great things about you. I am exciting to get to know you for myself.” Jacqueline’s hand was angled at Izzie after she let go of my father’s hand.
“The feeling is mutual. You’re brave enough to be that one’s stepmother.” She pointed to me with her thumb.
She giggled. “Here I was under the impression that he was kind-hearted.”
“Oh, no. He is a secret meanie. Don’t trust him. I made the mistake of falling in love with him.” She continued her joke.
“I like you already. I did not know you were moving here after graduation.” We all made our way to the table.
“Yes. I signed with the Listonenian Royal Ballet Company. I like to think I was asked to join on talent alone, but there is no telling if intervention was done by either of the men at this table.” Izzie placed her napkin in her lap.
“I was not aware you were even considering our company, but I do admit that I would have put a good word in if I had known. I want you here as much as Milo does.” My father rebuttoned his suit jacket.
“You are destined for greatness in more than one field. Even if you do not remain within Milo’s arms, I want you as an ally. I have much to learn from you, as do all of us. You will easier to keep tabs on if you live in this country.”
Her smiled shined. “That means the world coming from you. I’ve always been under the impression I’m terrible with fathers.”
“You are dreadful with terrible fathers, as was I and Milo.”
“You were never poor or cruel to me. We were both misunderstood.” I intruded, unwilling to humor his misplaced guilt.
“I did not intervene either. I know it would only hurt you if I had. You did it on your own.” I assured her.
Wine was not served to neither Izzie nor I during the appetizer course. I made the kitchen aware of our dietary restrictions.
“Izzie, I have baked on a semi-professional level.” Jacqueline sparked a conversation with her.
She stopped cutting her salad and looked at me. “You told her what I said?”
“It slipped out during our first dinner.”
She sighed and directed herself towards Jacqueline. “Unfortunately, I am as strange as I sound. I was hoping I could pretend to be normal for you for a little while, like I was able to with King Vincent.”
“That was unsuccessful. You spoke of mini horses within the first hour of our first encounter.”
“Quirky as you may be, your charity is truly admirable. The webpage is bookmarked on my computer.” Jacqueline resumed her conversation with Iz. “--you are doing something I never would have thought to at your age. You seem to love it.”
“A little too much at times. Milo has to remind me to sleep.”
“I do. She has a tendency to neglect her needs for others.”
“That is a wonderful flaw to have.” Jay smiled at her. “You seem to be a good influence on my soon to be son.”
I coughed, accidently laughing with food in my mouth. Izzie patted my back as she scowled.
“She can talk me into anything.” I sipped my water. “And she enables my procrastination sometimes.”
“Such as?” My father’s ears perked.
“Helping Sami release frogs from the science lab, sneaking into the dance studio after hours to practice an advanced lift our teacher advised us not to do without mats, and suggesting I watch our favorite zombie show with her when I am too overwhelmed by my homework load.”
“Do not pin that on her. You would have partaken in all of those activities without her.”
“Thank you, King Vincent. He likes to say I am the bad influence, though he is much worse.”
“Name one incident.”
We bickered for the fun of it, holding hands beneath the table to convey our insincerity.
“Remember when we did that?” I overheard my dad say to his fiancee.
I shifted my attention to them.
She nodded. “I missed it terribly in our years apart. No one will ever be able to provoke a reaction out of me in the way you do.” She touched her hand to his arm.
I thought of how much I’d miss her if Izzie left me. It would be to the point of being unable to get angry; I would just be hurt, experience a terrible pain that never completely evaporated. I leaned over and kissed her cheek because I could. In that moment, she was with me and she was as hopelessly in love as I.
It is a unique feeling being loved and loving in that fashion. You know all of their patterns and quirks, the secrets they do not trust another soul with, and the qualities that make them shine brighter than anyone else in your life. They are welded to you in a way that cannot be pried. And you more than okay with that because there is nothing you want more than to remain connected to them.
We returned to my room after dinner. She tangled her fingers into my hair, kissing me delightfully hard. I picked her up and she wrapped her legs around my waist. I laid her down on the bed, crawling on top of her. Dante started barking as we kissed and moved in desperation. I inwardly groaned, but was determined to ignore him. I wanted her to the point of it evolving to a need.
“I don’t want him around when we’re together like this.” She breathed against my lips.
She broke our lip lock and rested her forehead against mine. “He’s not watching us make love.”
“He has no idea what is going on.” I kissed the side of her face.
“I know. He’ll think you are hurting me. I can’t focus if he is distressed.” She sighed and moved her hand to my hair, contradicting herself.
“I’ll put him in the hallway.”
“What if he gets lost?”
“He won’t. He lives here.”
“Fine, I can give him to someone.”
“Yes.” I returned my lips to hers.
“Hurry.” She released me from her web of limbs.
He jumped on the bed as soon as I was standing. I reached for him, he started growling and bearing his teeth.
“I told you.” She pet him.
“You don’t growl at me.” I wagged my finger.
She picked him and nuzzled him until he calmed down. She transitioned him to me afterwards. I carried him to the door. I found an aid walking in the hallway and halted them. She agreed to take him to my father.
I shut the door and returned to Izzie. Both of her shoes were gone and she was seated on my bed, removing her charm bracelet and necklace. The moment she was done, she laid down on the bed.
“The dress too.” I removed my watch and ring.
“I am not lying in my underwear as you remain fully clothed.”
I put my jewelry on the nightstand beside hers. “That can be remedied.”
She eyed me as I removed my clothes instead of doing the same.
“Iz.” I finally complained when I was down to just my underwear.
She smirked and put her hands behind her back. She unzipped herself. She stood up and let her dress fall to the floor. She pushed it aside with her toe.
She ran her hands across my shoulders and down my arms, creating goosebumps. She took my hands into hers. She rose on her toes and kissed me softly. I was mesmerized. I instinctively walked forward in pursuit of the bed.
“You are forgetting something.” She remained in place.
“I love you?”
She shook her head and kissed me once more. “And don’t say that like a question again.”
“You know I love you.” I moved one of my hands to her hip and shifted my lips to her collarbone.
“Then say it like you mean it.”
“I love you, Beautiful. Only you.” I was still fixated on her skin.“What am I forgetting?”
“Mm. You were listening.”
“I’m concerned with your thoughts too.” I pulled her closer.
“We are not there yet.”
“I don’t want to have to completely stop.”
I was far from willing to argue with that. I grabbed a few of what was required and reproached her.
She put her arms around my neck and walked backwards until we reached our destination.I immediately joined her.
“Mmm.” She moaned into my mouth when I ground myself against her.
It was a frenzy after that. My primary concern was making her feel good. She was satisfied several times over before I was willing to stop finding ways to do it.
“I remembered correctly.” Her breathing was heavy.
“I’m giving you a hickey for doubting me.”
She whined. “At least not on my neck.”
“Not a problem.” I moved down a touch.
She sighed, moving her hand to my hair, stifling a moan.
“The walls are sound proof. You don’t need to do that.”
“I should hope so. I would not be leaving this room if that were not the case. Wayyy too many witnesses to face.”
“Perhaps.” I grinned against her skin. She grabbed my arms and pulled me back up to eye level. She put her hand on the side of my face and we kissed slowly and deeply.
“Do you know how beautiful you are?“I kissed the space beneath her ear as I ran my hand down the leg she draped across my torso.
“I am comfortable with my appearance, but you make a point to exaggerate at every turn.”
I pushed the hair from her face as I looked into her eyes. “I am always honest with you.”
“I have seen your exes, Hon. They--”
“Are not you.” I silenced her with a kiss.
“You have always been too nice to me, even from the very beginning.” She formed my favorite smile.
“Because I encouraged you to be mad at me for hitting you?”
She nodded. “But you’re not ‘too nice’ if that makes any sense.”
“When we’re together, you’re always very confident. Don’t let this admission go to your head. You still have to work for it.”
“I will.” I cracked a smile as I pushed her hair out of her face.
“Good.” She moved in close.
We went again, completely consumed by each other and unable to stay separated longer than we already had. She rolled off of me after the fact. Instead of looking at the ceiling for a bit at as she typically did, she put her hand on the side of my head and started running her fingers through my hair. She looked into my eyes, silently pondering.
“What are you thinking about?” My arm was across her body.
“I’m trying to figure out when the weight of this dawned on me.”
“If you are anything like me, it happened all at once.”
“Did it hit you like a freight train?”
“Mine was more subtle, like -- like ”
“A passenger train?” I offered with a smile.
“Perhaps.” She giggled. “I don’t know the speed of trains or their impact levels. We should look it up later.”
“Oh, we will. That is not left for assumption.”
“This is exactly why I want to stick with you. We behave as lovers and fall right in to silly conversation as best friends with the next breath. I love it.” Her crooked little smile hit me with tremendous force.
“I love you.” I breathed without thought.
She initiated our lips’ reunion. Her hand remained on my cheek as we got more and more into it. I slipped on the silk sheets trying to transition on top of her. We both laughed, kissing through our fits.