I glared at the clock with a scowl, trying to make the hands turn at my will. It felt as if time had come to a stand still, refusing to move. Beads of sweat sat at the nape of my neck. It was the last class on a hot Friday afternoon and I only wanted out. Tearing my eyes from the clock I tuned back into the drone of the presenter’s voice.
“Solis, or the Solisian Islands, is a small country off of the west coast of France. It is made up of a cluster of three major islands. The largest is DuMont, which is named for the Royal Family and is where the capital, Dumasville, is located. The second is Mortimer and the third is Carmencie. Currently, the head of government is his Royal Highness King Bellamy IIV. Ranking second to the king is the Prime Minister, Guillaume LeBlanc. Over the course of its history the Royal Family has only lost their rule for a brief time in 1704 to France but latter gained back their independence in 1752.”
I tuned Ben out again. We had each been assigned a country for our final project in World History and because of this, had been listening to presentations for the last three classes so that our teacher could have them marked for the final grades in two weeks. Mine had been on Canada because I figured it would be easy. I had never really liked history; I found all of the dates, facts, names of dead people, and past events boring and tedious to remember.
“The Solisian flag,” continued Ben, “is made up of three horizontal stripes that are supposed to represent the view of the islands on the horizon. The blue is the sky, the white is the famous marble cliffs and the grey is the water.”
I turned to look at my teacher, Mr. Maxwell, who was nodding his head in agreement as he scribbled furiously on the paper in front of him. He was a nice man, if not a bit eccentric, and very enthusiastic about the subject he taught. I glanced at the clock again; five minutes were left.
“Because the islands are so isolated there are a few delicacies that are unique to the country. These include the traditional Solisian red wine and chocolate pastry, as well as the Solisian Horses which are native only to the island. Solis is also the world’s largest exporter of snowshoes.”
Ben paused dramatically before taking one last breath and rushing out the last sentence.
“In conclusion I think that Solis is a very interesting country and would like to visit it someday.”
The class broke out into a boisterous applause, happy to finally be free of the presentations. Mr. Maxwell walked up to the front of the class commanding our attention.
“Thank you so much for your presentation, Ben. For homework please complete the questions Ben made up for his presentation and for a little bonus, I will add an extra percent to anyone who can give me one of the princes’ full names before the exam. Be wary though, this is not something that can be found easily on one of your ‘Wiki’ or ‘Google’ searches. You are dismissed.” With that the bell rang, sending everyone running for the door.
I pushed my way though the crowed halls to my locker, finding Tess and Alexander already there. I tuned into their conversation as I spun my combination lock.
“I don’t understand why Mr. Maxwell is making us do so much research on the princes of some random French country.” complained Alexander.
“Dunno,” replied Tess with a shrug. “I don’t mind though; they’re hot. Did you see the photos in the presentation?”
Alec scrunched his nose in disgust. “Eww, but the one guy’s eyes are so weird. He must have a contact or something.”
“Why would someone only wear one contact?” Tess demanded, “I think I heard it is some genetic family trait or something.”
I reached into the depths of my locker, stuffing any papers and books I could find into my knapsack. Exams were next week and I hadn’t even started studying yet.
“Whatever it is, it’s creepy,” Alec declared.
I slammed my locker shut with my hip, seeing as my hands were occupied. Not all of the text books fit in my bag, so some were now stacked precariously in my arms as we made our way to Alec’s car. Tess and Alec continued to bicker the entire time, not letting me get a word in edge wise. The car pulled to a stop out front of my house, finally silencing them.
“Who’s that?” queried Tess indicating the black car in my driveway. It reminded me of a hearse.
“I’m not sure,” I replied with a frown. The car was completely black, onyx like an airport limo. The windows were tinted dark like pitch and edged in shiny silver. There wasn’t a speck of dirt on the thing. Alongside John and Renee’s beat up Jeep, it made quite a scene.
“I hope everything’s alright,” worried Alec.
“Me too,” I said hopping out of his car. “Have a good weekend studying, guys. I’ll call later tonight.”
“Yup, see you Fred.”
I somehow manage to work my way into the house and placed my books on the bench in the hall. “Mom, John?” I called. They weren’t usually home this early, but their cars were in the driveway.
“We are in the living room, Honey,” my father answered.
I walked into the living room to find my parents on the couch. John had his arms around my mother who was sobbing softly.
“Oh hey, what’s wrong Mom? And what’s with the car-” I started but my mother burst into tears and leaned farther into John who was doing his best to console her.
I stopped unsure of how to proceed. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Both my Mom and John were still in their uniforms; they had clearly left work in a hurry.
Suddenly I heard a slight shuffle behind me and someone cleared their throat. I whipped around to be met with two huge men in dark suits, hats and sunglasses. They stood facing me and bowed their heads slightly. They reminded me of the guys in the Men in Black movies. I half expected them to whip out those memory eraser sticks.
“Hi.” I said confused, “Who are you?” The Men in Black made no move to answer.
“These are Mr. Lefevre and Mr. Arsnault. They are representatives of the DuMont family.” said John in a thick voice.
“Alright,” I said tightly. This wasn’t really clearing things up. “What do they want?”
One of the Men in Black answered this time. His voice was thick with a French sounding accent, “You.”
Renee burst into a new round of tears.
“Look, Fred, maybe you should sit down,” John suggested lightly.
I was getting frustrated now. The Men in Black had just stated that they were here to kidnap me. I didn’t understand. Had I done something wrong? What did they want with me? Something was clearly going on and no one was filling me in on the situation.
“No, I want to know what’s going on!” I shouted.
John sighed shakily.
“Perhaps it would be best if we explain,” said one of the suits. Renee nodded in consent.
“As your parents have already explained, Winifred, M. Arsnault and I work for the Royal Guard of the Royal Family DuMont of Solis. We have come here to see you.”
“Okay, but why?” I interrupted. The French man raised a hand to silence me.
“It is a story of great length. Long ago our country of Solis was allies with the country of Acadis. The two royal families were very close so they made a promise to one another that there would always remain a bond between them. The Kings signed a declaration that stated that if the heirs to the throne of either kingdom were not married by their eighteenth year they would marry an heir or heiress of the partner country. This way, the bond would remain and the values of each country would be intact. It also assured that the kings were married by eighteen and their assent to the throne could proceed as is law. As it turned out, this law never had to be utilized and it was not long before Acadis was taken under French control and their Royal Family went into hiding. This has caused an uncomfortable predicament for the family DuMont, because the treaty has been recently been called upon by their Royal Majesties.”
“I still don’t understand why you need me.”
“Does the last name Sinclair mean anything to you, Winifred?”
I shook my head no.
“In the last few months M. Arsnault and I have been working hard to track down the bloodline of the Royals of Acadis, the family Sinclair. We discovered that they migrated to the Americas to make a new life in the area that was named for their lost country, Acadia. As time moved on Acadia was divided and renamed into what is now the region of Halifax in Canada. The Sinclair’s changed their name and blended further with America. The current head of the family is living in Forks, Washington under the name Morgan. As fate would have it, his sole heir is his daughter Winifred. This makes you, Winifred Marie Morgan, the youngest and only heir of the Sinclair bloodline and the betrothed to His Royal Highness le Prince de Solis.”
“Pardon?” was the only thing I could muster up. This had to be a joke. “That’s a good one John, you almost had me for a minute.” I started to laugh, but no one joined. The men in black didn’t even crack a smile. I began to realize that they might actually be serious and collapsed into one of the chairs.
“They are telling the truth, Fred,” my mother sniffled speaking up for the first time. “They have the DNA test to prove it.” She indicated some papers on the coffee table. I picked them up and began to flip through the sheets as if they held secrets. It was useless; I couldn’t make out any of the text.
“You can’t be serious, I’m no princess.”
“It would appear that you are Mademoiselle,” said one of the men, Arsnault I think. “And because of this, it has been requested that you return with us to Solis.”
“For what, princess training?” I guffawed.
“As a matter of fact, yes. Also you are bound by treaty to marry the Prince.”
“You can’t make her go, I’ll call my lawyer,” cried John defensively. I appreciated the effort.
“No, we cannot force her to leave as per the direction of the King and Queen but your lawyer will do no good. We have already spoken to the United States Government and they have given us permission to remove Mlle. Morgan if it became necessary. They have voided Winifred’s American citizenship so she is no longer under the protection of your laws. Your daughter is now only a citizen and princess of Acadis, a country which no longer exists. You may also want to take this fact into consideration; if Winifred does not marry the Prince, the Royal family will be stripped of their titles and power and the throne will be passed to a family that will create much trouble for many people.”
I couldn’t speak, I only gaped at the men who were essentially blackmailing me into marrying a stranger. The sad thing was I was falling for it.
“I-if you-you’ll just give us a moment…” I stuttered as I coaxed Renee and John into out kitchen.
The Men in Black bowed again and I began to wish that they actually had the memory erasers. I think that would have been a preferable situation.
My parents bombarded me the second we were out of earshot.
“You know you don’t have to go. There is always another option,” insisted John.
“They can’t take you from us!” cried Renee.
I raised my finger to silence them. “I think I should go.” I admitted quietly, “I can’t let other people get hurt because I won’t try. I have to give it a chance and if it doesn’t work out I can always come home like you said. We can have a trial period, just for the summer. I have to at least give it a chance.” I paused and then amended, “I want to go.”
“My parents watched me in surprise for a moment, then my mother spoke up. “You have always known what is best for you Fred and there is nothing we can do to make you stay. I want you to know though, that we will stand by you and love you no matter what you choose, just please give it a day or two to percolate first.”
I nodded and hugged them both, “Seems fair.” We returned to the living room. The Men in Black hadn’t moved.
“I have decided that I will come with you to Solis,” I announced.
“Excellent, everyone will be very excited to hear this!” said almost smiling. “We will be leaving on Monday. A car will arrive at seven in the morning.” We shook the men’s hands and they drove off in their hearse leaving us behind to catch up.
Renee, John and I spent along time talking after the men left. John called his lawyer and found out that everything Mr. Lefevre and Mr. Arsnault had said was true. There were many more tears and final arrangements made. I was going to be missing exams and needed to have most of my stuff shipped to Solis.
We googled Solis and the DuMont’ but found that what Mr. Maxwell had said to be true, there wasn’t much out there. The only thing we managed to dig up was a small blurb on a blog that stated that King Bellamy had visited Quebec last year. There wasn’t much on Acadis either.
I even called up Louis to see if he knew anything, but he said that he hadn’t even been notified, not having custody of me. That brought on an entirely new round of questions, yelling and tears.
It was late when I finally made it to my room and dialed the familiar number. “Hey, Alec, you’re never going to believe what I’m about to tell you.”