Hope took a deep breath and looked at Amelia. She gave her a sweet smile.
“Douce enfant, sweet child, is that you?” Hope asked, reaching out a wrinkled hand to touch Amelia’s.
“Yes. Prince Daniel and I reconnected and are mates. I need to know what happened,” she told her, taking the woman’s hand. She felt a familiarity with the woman.
“Lady Laura, Rosalind and I went to the beach for some fresh air. Lady Laura enjoyed being at the seaside and thought Rosalind needed some more sun. She’d just recovered from a nasty fever,” Hope explained, Amelia wished she remembered her time as a child before the orphanage, but she didn’t.
“Was that why Nick wasn’t with us?” Amelia asked she’d learned from Lord Watson Nick had stayed behind.
“Yes. He was still sick, and we thought it best to move you away from him to keep you from getting sick again. That was the time when a very nasty virus went through our kingdom.”
“I remember that,” Queen Imelda interjected. Hope smiled and nodded.
“Well, we spent an enjoyable day at the beach. Lady Laura told the bodyguards who were with us to go and enjoy the evening. That was when we got into the car and started to come home. On our way home our driver noticed a car tailing us. He thought it odd so we took a few detours, but the car didn’t stop. That was when he sped up to get us home and they started shooting at the car. Lady Laura ducked low shielding Rosalind. Two of the tires were shot at and we lost control over the cliff. The driver died on impact.” Hope’s eyes were streaming with tears down her face. Amelia clutched Daniel’s hand; this is what she needed to learn.
“Lady Laura was dying, she made me promise to hide Rosalind. She told me threats had been made against their family for being so close to the king. There was an orphanage ten miles from where the car crashed. I took Rosalind and dropped her off at the orphanage in the middle of the night with a note explaining she was a very important little girl and needed to be treated as such. Then I went back to the wreck and waited for help to arrive. I sustained the least damage because of how the car landed. I only broke my arm,” Hope finished, everyone stayed silent for a minute processing everything.
“Why didn’t you take her back to Lord Watson?” King Stephan asked, crossing his arms.
“I asked and Lady Laura said the people would only kill Rosalind another way. They’d gotten her, she didn’t want Rosalind to suffer the same fate. Everyone in the kingdom knew she was Prince Daniel’s mate.” Hope turned her knowing eyes onto King Stephan.
“How come you didn’t come back for me later?” Amelia asked all of this could have been avoided. Hope looked away and shrugged.
“Try again,” Daniel growled, Amelia sensed his unease.
“It turns out someone knew you weren’t dead. They didn’t know where you were, but that you hadn’t died in the car accident. I received a letter and ten thousand dollars to never bring you back into the nobility. I don’t know who it was from, but I figured you were safer there and I didn’t work for the Watson family anymore. I didn’t want to get in trouble,” she explained shaking her head. Amelia couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Someone wanted her dead, they were unhappy with her family and how close they were to the king and queen.
“Do you think it has something to do with me being Daniel’s mate?” she voiced her question aloud looking at everyone in the room.
“I would say so. I want to talk to Lord Watson and find out what he knew about the threats to your family,” King Stephan replied, giving her a soft smile.
“Thank you, Hope, for coming in to speak with us. I know it wasn’t easy for you to share your part in this. I would like to know one thing,” Amelia explained, Hope gave her a curious look.
“Why did the orphanage have my high school transcripts? I found my file with them and it had things about me from high school.” Hope gave her a confused look.
“I don’t know. I did not contact the orphanage about you. I didn’t want to link you back to your family if it meant you were to stay safe,” she answered and Amelia deflated. She wanted to know and the lady who ran the orphanage had died. Everyone stood and Amelia showed Hope to the door.
“Thank you again, Hope.” Amelia gave her a sweet smile and squeezed the woman’s hand.
“I am glad to see you back where you belong.” Hope bowed her head and Floyd walked her out. Amelia turned to her new family and sighed.
“Well, that is one piece of the puzzle solved. Now we need to figure out who was trying to kill you and if now that you’ve returned they will try again,” Nick announced, he’d been silent the entire time Hope spoke. Amelia wondered what he had been thinking as Hope shared about her.
“Now you know none of this was your fault. It sounds like the threat to your family was against you too,” Daniel pointed out looking at Nick. Nick shrugged his shoulders.
“I’d never heard about the threat to our family. Dad never mentioned it to me.” Nick growled and paced around the office running his fingers through his hair. Hope brought to light more questions they needed to answer.
“We can talk to him this weekend when we spend time there,” Amelia suggested and Nick frowned.
“I don’t want Kylie around Valerie, she isn’t nice. I know she is going to spread rumors about Kylie just like she did to Lady Cline.” Amelia sighed, she knew Lady Valerie would be trouble, how they would handle her, she didn’t know.
“Lady Valerie will not do any such thing,” Queen Imelda announced and Daniel grimaced.
“She cornered Amelia in our apartments this morning. A servant gave her the codes,” Daniel explained, both the king and queen gasped.
“What did she do?” King Stephan demanded Amelia jumped at his tone.
“She told me not to get in the way of her relationship with my father. Pretty much I am not as important as her and to stay away. I don’t think she likes that I am back because I remind my father of my mother. As I understand it, he went into a deep depression when my mother died,” she explained, watching both royals’ faces darken as she spoke.
“Do you know what Lord Watson and Valerie were like before they got married?” Daniel asked he led Amelia back to the chairs, signaling for everyone to sit again. Alex stayed by the door but listened to everything being said.
“I remember Richard being inconsolable when Laura died and you disappeared. It took me sending a royal summons to the palace for him to come out into public. It had been a little over a year since her death. He came and met Lady Valerie, I’m not sure what happened after that,” King Stephan explained, Queen Imelda gave a bright smile.
“That is where I come in. I knew Valerie had been attracted to Richard since before he married Laura. Laura and Valerie and I were in the same finishing school in the same year. Valerie met Richard at a tea-time gathering when we were teens. She swooned over him and she and Laura got into a big fight over him. Turns out Laura and Richard were mates, not Valerie. I thought she’d let it go to be honest until Richard came out of mourning. She latched onto him introducing him to some of the new wives in court. Two years later they married and had Caleb and Gwen.” Amelia knew she shouldn’t think Valerie had anything to do with her mother’s death, but the more she heard about the woman the less she liked her.
“I now see why she wouldn’t want me around then,” she remarked with a wry smile on her face.
“You are the spitting image of Laura with Richard’s eyes,” King Stephan agreed.
“Is it safe for me to go to their home this weekend?” she asked, this time she looked at Alex.
“We will do a sweep of the house before you and Daniel arrive. I have a team of guards to stay with you and they have been thoroughly interviewed. All of them are loyal to you and Daniel,” Alex explained with a terse nod. Amelia still did not feel good but trusted Alex.
“I will stay with you or Nick will be with you. We won’t let you be alone with Lady Valerie,” Daniel promised, she gave a tight smile but nodded.
“Mother, tomorrow Amelia will be attending the museum opening with me tomorrow morning. Can you go over anything she needs to know before she goes with me tomorrow?” Daniel asked, turning their conversation to something less upsetting. Queen Imelda turned her eyes on Amelia and smiled.
“Come, my dear, we will go over everything.” Taking her hand the queen dragged her out the office and across the palace to her own office. The rest of the afternoon Queen Imelda filled her head with protocol and that a royal stylist would be in her apartment the next morning to help her pick her clothing. She made it back to her apartment dropping onto the couch and flopped back her head dropping into Daniel’s lap. He laughed and kissed her forehead. Their evening was spent eating dinner, playing a card game, and making love late into the night.