Chapter Ten, Season One - Unexpected (a)
Minutes later, I finally arrived in front of the bakery. There, I found Grandpa Ben smoking his pipe, sitting comfortably on the bench by the window, his legs crossed.
I went down Lady and pulled her to the side. “Good morning, Grandpa Ben,” I greeted, walking towards him with a smile.
He looked up, snapping out from staring into nothing. “Oh, good morning, dear boy,” he said cheerfully. “How are you doing?” he engulfed me in a warm hug after standing up.
“I’m quite well, Grandpa Ben. How about you?”
“Well, as you can see, I finally found myself some time to enjoy a smoke,” he replied, showing off his, what it seems like, antique pipe. He moved it closer to me, “Do you want to try?”
“No, thank you, Grandpa Ben. I don’t do that,” I politely refused. “Also, I tasted the pie when I got back.”
“And?” he raised an eyebrow as he smirked, waiting eagerly for my answer.
“Well… you weren’t kidding when you said some people went crazy for those pies. It was a delight!” I replied with pride.
“I told you: you would be coming back here for more once you tasted Laura’s apple pies,” Grandpa Ben chuckled. “However, I don’t think you’re here for the apple pies, Robert,” he continued to smirk at me.
I started to scratch the back of my neck, smiling shyly. “Well, you caught me, Grandpa Ben,” I laughed nervously. “Is Laura currently working?”
“Yes, she’s helping out with the muffins inside. One of our members is taking a rest for two days so she took responsibility for the muffins,” Grandpa Ben nodded.”
“I can wait for her. I’m not in a rush,” I smiled.
“No, don’t be silly. Sit here and I’ll get her for you,” he led me to the bench, making me sit. After I made myself comfortable on the bench, he went inside to fetch Laura.
What should I tell Laura? How should I approach her? Should I take her word for it and act like nothing ever happened? Or should I apologize now that I’m here? Mother did say that the best way to apologize is to say it in person.
Moments later, Laura came out of the bakery, wiping her hands on her apron. “Robert,” she started walking towards me.
“Laura,” I stood up in a heartbeat, walking towards her as well.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“I came to see you.”
“Did you receive my letter?” she asked another.
“Yes,” I nodded. “I told you: if you follow the instructions, I’ll receive your response.”
“I don’t understand what kind of instructions those were,” she shook her head. “All I told myself was to just follow the instructions to send my response.”
“Well, you did a good job on that,” I suddenly patted her on the head. I cleared my throat, “Would you like to have a seat?” I said, pointing to the bench behind me.
“Um, of course,” she smiled.
I let her sit down before me then I sat down after she made herself comfortable.
“Is there something wrong?” she started the conversation. “I was surprised to know that you’re here during this time of the day. Don’t you have… duties to take care of?”
“I already finished some before coming here,” I replied, turning my whole body in her direction. “There is something that I would like to say,” I held her hands in mine.
“I’m very sorry for how I treated you on that day,” I looked straight into her eyes. “You didn’t deserve that. I was being an idiot.”
“Robert,” she pulled back her hands from my grip. I thought she was mad but what she did next… left me speechless. She held my hands in hers, caressing them with her thumbs. “I told you: I forgive you. We don’t have to repeat that day over and over again,” she continued. “I know that as a prince, there are a lot of things on your mind and it can cause a few mood swings, here and there. Stop feeling guilty for that,” she smiled a comforting smile.
I looked at her in complete awe. I didn’t know mortals are capable of doing what she’s currently doing now. The way Grandpa Ben raised her is impressive.
“Now, don’t frown too much. You’ll grow old in no time,” she giggled, making me giggle as well.
“So, what happened to you when I was away?” I enquired.
She sighed and groaned at the same time. “Do you remember the man that I told you about? The one who’s a bit too much of a Prince Charming?”
“He returned here the other day, carrying all sorts of flower arrangements for me,” she said, annoyed.
I looked around here on the outside of the bakery and peeked through the window.
“What are you looking for, Robert?”
“Well, if you said he brought you numerous flower arrangements, how come I don’t see them anywhere here?”
“It’s because I didn’t accept one from him,” she replied.
“No, I didn’t. That’s the last thing I would want to happen: accept something from a man and get teased by the whole bakery because of it,” she complained, running her hands through her hair.
“Oh…” Think carefully for the next thing you’ll say to her, Robert. “Does Grandpa Ben tease you with that man? For sure, he will if that man is public with his affections for you.”
“Thankfully, he didn’t.”
I suddenly remembered what she told me on the hills. “Oh, that’s right, you don’t tell Grandpa Ben about your dealings.”
“Robert, Grandpa Ben knew from the moment that man stepped into our bakery that he fancies me,” she quickly blocked my response.
“But if he knows, how come he doesn’t tease you to that man?”
“That… is something I also don’t understand,” she scratched the side of her forehead in confusion. “But one thing’s for sure: he teases me when it comes to you,” he looked back at me.
“That is… a bit… weird,” I stuttered. My heart fluttered with that comment of hers. I didn’t know she was being teased because of me. I quite like it, for some reason.
“And I would like to apologize for that odd information but you had to know,” she immediately backtracked.
“No, I don’t mind,” I reassured. I don’t mind because I’m happy to know that at some point, I think Grandpa Ben approves of me for her. It gives me some sort of leverage, should I develop more intimate feelings for her.
“I still have questions for you,” she jumped to a different topic. “I hope it’s okay to keep asking.”
“Go ahead, ask whatever you want,” I gave her a warm smile, rubbing her back softly.
“As we’re both now on the same page, you’re a prince, right?”
“Mm-hm,” I nodded.
“How did you become the prince? Was your family truly born from royalty?” she asked. “Or was there something else that happened for you to end up as a prince?”
“The truth is… we’re not completely from the royal family,” I replied. “My parents were ones of the lords and ladies of the court that revolted against the previous monarch before them.”
“There was a conspiracy… that my grandfather, who was king during his time, was killed by the two men who wanted the throne for himself,” I began the story. “They tore down the kingdom to shreds, everyone was starving. The remaining family members of my father and my mother revolted alongside the townspeople to remove them from power.”
“And how did that make your family the current monarchs?”
“My father and mother were married off quickly and with the blessing of the high gods, they were made monarchs by them and the people as well,” I answered.
“I’m sorry if I’m being too intrusive, Robert,” she apologized once more. “I just want to get to know you more.”
“Don’t apologize, Laura,” I laid my hand on hers. “I don’t mind. I also feel the same way; wanting to know you more.”
“Well, to your dismay, there’s not much to know about me,” she continued. “And if there are any, you already know them at this point. You have lots of stories about your life so it’s best to say that I’m the one who has a lot of questions to throw.”
I sighed, chuckling at her response. She has a point and she continues to amuse me with her smart answers. “Well then, go ahead and ask me.”
“Are you the eldest family in your generation? Is that why you were made as monarchs of the kingdom?”
“On the contrary, my father was the youngest,” I shook my head.
“Youngest?” she asked, confused. “I thought it was always the eldest child who gets the throne.”
“It’s odd, isn’t it?” I smiled. “Well, the people preferred my father because of the strength and qualities he showed to the people. Also, his siblings weren’t brave enough to join the revolt so the people held my father in high regard.”
“Didn’t your father’s siblings try to steal the throne from him?” she asked, shifting her body wholly to my direction. “As you mentioned, he’s the youngest. Technically, that’s wrong, right?”
“Yes, the eldest brain-washed my father’s siblings and they all tried to remove him from the throne,” I replied. “But the people defended my parents and his siblings were banished from the kingdom.”
“Oh, that’s quite… tragic for your relatives,” her tone changed.