Tuesday, 16 December 2014

A Reluctant Love Ch 14


Chapter 14: Throw Back Thursday.


Anton arrived on the Wednesday and everyone was back at the apartment that night for a relaxed night in. Anton had pulled Cullen aside and quizzed him about the change. His brother in laws answers seemed to satisfy him that his sister was not in any danger.

Alice got her long lunch and was slightly tipsy when they got back to the office. Dorian had proposed properly the night before and she was wearing a shiny engagement ring and was slightly over excited as only Alice could be.

Thursday night, Emily and Anton went out for dinner. Emily savoured every mouthful of the beautiful meal. It was the last time she would eat food and she wanted to relish the experience.

Anton had brought over some old family albums and Cullen had sat watching the siblings sitting on the floor as they poured over the old photographs laughing at old memories of friends and relatives who had come and gone in their lives.

"Would you ever consider the change, Anton?" Emily finally asked the question she had been wanting to ask her brother for so long.

"If you'd asked me that last week, baby girl, I would have quite categorically have said no," Anton sighed softly. "Now it's not something I'm eager to do but I am not as opposed to the idea as I once was. The thought of me growing old while you remain as you are is sad, Em. Sad because I know you will have to watch me die knowing that you'll live on well past my death."

"That's not the right reason for wanting to go through the change, Anton," Emily smiled. "I know I am letting myself in for a lot of grief as I lose the ones I love when their lifetimes are over. I've accepted that as one of drawbacks of changing. Don't base your decision on me, big brother. If you do ever decide to change, do it because it is right for you."

"You practising your royal wisdom on me, Em?" Anton chuckled and ruffled her curls affectionately. "One of the drawbacks," he mused. "What's another drawback?"

"No mochas," Emily grouched, reaching for her cup of coffee and savouring the wonderful taste.

Cullen and Anton burst out laughing.

"You can still drink coffee if you want, love," Cullen chuckled. "You just might not like the taste anymore."

"If it tastes like crap then there is no point in drinking it," she said tartly but she smiled to let him know that she was being humorous.

Anton retired to bed and Emily and Cullen followed him not long after.

Cullen pulled her into his arms and made, long, slow, passionate love to her until she was biting into his shoulder to muffled her cries of pleasure so her brother wouldn't hear.

"It's times like this I miss the house," she giggled when they lay together afterwards, their bodies spent.

"Let's go house shopping next week then," Cullen said softly. "Just don't be thinking you can use a royal decree to get your own way," he tagged on, slapping her backside playfully.

Emily giggled again and wiggled her backside against his hand. "That felt nice," she laughed. "Maybe I will be naughty sometime so you'll have to punish me with a spanking."

Cullen fought to muffle the sounds of his laughter. "You are incorrigible, wife," he finally said when he had stopped laughing, his eyes shining with love.

"But you love me," she quipped with a laugh, her face glowing with happiness.

"I do that, my Emily," he sighed holding her tightly. "Now go to sleep, minx! You have a big day ahead tomorrow and it would not be fitting for the Royal Princess to have dark circles under her eyes on the evening of her rebirth."

Sighing contently Emily settled down in his arms and went to sleep.

Emily was surprised to find that she wasn't the least bit nervous the following morning.

Dorian and Alice arrived early, Alice with a giant mocha in her hand.

"You're the best, Alice," Emily laughed sipping from the cup and closing her eyes in pleasure.

"Are you ready, Emily?" Cullen asked, his eyes shining with excitement and love.

"I'm ready, Cullen," she smiled, standing on her tip toes so she could give him a quick kiss and then drinking from her cardboard cup again.

The ride to Karpathia's didn't take long. Emily rushed ahead so she could give Liam a big hug. The club was very quiet as most of the vampires were at work but Alice's brother Chris was there along with some of his friends.

Emily gave Chris a kiss on his cheek and thanked him for coming. The young vampire smiled at her fondly.

"You saved Alice," he smiled. "And you're the best thing that's ever happened to our kind, even if some of the more ancient of us don't quite know it yet. It is my honour to be here with you, Emily."

Emily hugged Alice next and wiped away the little frown on her forehead.

"It'll be fine, little Alice," she smiled gently. "I can't wait for you to make your change too. I think I'll call you my sister in waiting," she laughed. "I am waiting impatiently for you to join my family, my dearest friend."

She turned to Dorian and hugged him fiercely. "If something goes wrong, keep him safe, Dorian," she whispered quietly against his ear. She kept her voice as low as possible.

Dorian nodded imperceptibly and kissed her on the head. "I love you, Emily," he smiled fondly, his hand lightly brushing her cheek.

Emily shot a quick glance at Cullen but his face was relaxed. She didn't think he had heard her brief exchange with Dorian.

Liam stepped up next for his fierce hug and he kissed her head as Dorian had. "You are going to be glorious, little Emily," he sighed softly.

Finally Emily turned to her brother who was watching her with anxious eyes. She stared at him uncertainly.

"Promise me you will still love me afterwards," she whispered tearfully.

"Always, baby girl," he whispered, his own eyes moist with tears. He held his arms out to her and she clung onto him desperately.

"I love you so much, Anton," she said softly. "I couldn't bear it if you found me too different after the change that you couldn't bear to be near me."

"You will be glorious as Liam said," Anton smiled, his eyes warm with his love for her. "Don't second guess yourself, Em. You know in your heart this is right. I will always love you no matter what. I will always be here for you no matter what. No tears, baby girl." He gently wiped the tears from her face and then kissed her gently on the lips.

Cullen moved to take her in his arms and give her a quick hug. She looked around her friends and family one last time with her human eyes and then she let him lead her down the long hallway to their room.

The room had been tidied since the last time they were here together on their wedding day but Cullen had left the delicate white swathes of material in place. He locked the door behind them and then turned her in his arms and kissed her slowly.

"I love you, my Emily," he whispered softly as he slowly peeled the clothes from her body.

He helped her into a long, white, silk nightgown and led her to the bed. He picked her up and laid her gently on the centre of the bed. He then placed the King's vial on the bedside table and undressed and lay down beside her.

Are you frightened, Emily?" he asked gently, stroking her face tenderly.

"No," she whispered reaching up to trace his cheekbone lightly with a finger.

He kissed her again, softly and gently. His mouth moved from her lips to trail along her jaw line and then down to the curve of her neck. He feathered light kisses along her shoulder until she moaned softly.

His fangs elongated as his mouth moved up to the spot in her neck where her pulse throbbed wildly as her heartbeat increased in anticipation of what was to come.

Cullen bit into her soft flesh, holding her tightly as she gasped and her body bucked up against his. His fangs punctured her jugular vein and her sweet blood pulsed into his waiting mouth.

Cullen drew deeply on her precious life's blood, drinking her sweet essence. He heard Emily sigh with pleasure as her endorphins kicked in. He sucked hard, pulling more and more of her blood inside him. She tasted so good, so sweet and vital.

Emily moaned as she felt Cullen's mouth tugging urgently at her neck. The feeling of pleasure that washed over her was intense as he drank deeply and groaned softly against her neck. She held his head to her as he drank more and more from her.

She sighed happily as her eyes grew heavy and she began to feel light headed and sleepy. Her hands didn't hold him so tightly anymore. She was vaguely aware of them falling away from Cullen. She tried to open her eyes but they felt so heavy. Still Cullen drank from her neck.

Cullen drank until he felt Emily go limp in his grasp. He quickly closed the puncture wounds and then sat up. He ripped a gaping hole in his wrist and prised open Emily's mouth. He held his wrist to her lips and let his blood drip down her throat. He stroked her throat gently until she automatically swallowed.

He had to reopen his wound when it healed. He dripped more of his blood into Emily's open mouth until finally enough had poured into her that she unconsciously began to seek his blood on her own.

Cullen had to reopen the wound a third time but this time it stayed open as Emily's sweet mouth latched onto his wrist as she began to suckled against him, drinking down his blood.

Emily suckled for what felt like an age and then she was still again. Cullen watched her anxiously for a moment and then began to relax. The change was coming over his sweet Emily. Already her hair looked more red, more curly, more vibrant. Her beauty seemed to deepen as he watched. It was as if her beautiful face had been hidden by a thin veil which was suddenly being removed.

Cullen reached for the Kings vial and poured the liquid into Emily's mouth. She swallowed and then moaned low in her throat as the power and knowledge of over four millennia settled upon her. Satisfied that all was well, Cullen lay down beside his wife and pulled her gently into his arms.

Emily slowly came awake. She lay still with her eyes closed and listened to the sounds around her. She could clearly hear the hum of conversation in the main club room and also the sounds of traffic and music outside in the street below. Cullen's heart sounded so loud as it thumped heavily in his chest. She smiled slowly and heard him gasp beside her.

"Emily?" Cullen breathed softly.

"I can hear everything. Cullen," she said with a huge smile.

Her eyes slowly opened and Cullen forgot how to breath as he stared into the deep violet depths of her beautiful eyes.

"Dear God, you are glorious!" he exclaimed in shock.

Emily laughed a delighted laugh and sat up quickly to look around the room. "Everything looks so much more vibrant," she said. "Everything is so beautiful. Why didn't you tell me it was like this, Cullen? I would have changed so much sooner if I'd known."

Cullen chuckled at her delight. He laughed harder as she suddenly flew up from the bed and whizzed around the room.

Naturally, to him, her speed seemed normal but to a human she would have been practically invisible.

"This is so amazing!" she cried excitedly finally bouncing back onto the bed beside him. "Oh, thank you, Cullen," she sighed hugging him happily.

"Thank you for joining with me, my Emily," he whispered softly, kissing her tenderly.

"What is this awful hunger I'm feeling?" she suddenly asked pulling back from him with a confused expression on her face.

"I believe it is customary to awaken famished after the change," Cullen laughed reaching over to the bedside table and holding a glass out to her.

The sweet scent coming from the glass made Emily's mouth water. She drank the cold, thick liquid down in one go and then held the glass out to her husband. "More, please," she said smiling. "Who would have thought that blood could taste so delicious."

She drained three glasses before she felt satisfied. "Will I always drink that much?" she asked curiously.

"Maybe for the first month or so," Cullen answered with a smile. "After that you will probably be able to get by with just one glass a day."

"Don't know why I was so worried about never drinking coffee again," she laughed. "The alternative is so much better."

Cullen laughed at her delighted expression. It seemed that his Emily was adapting well to the change. No revulsion at having to live off human blood as some changelings felt when they were newly born to this world.

"What about the other thing?" he asked softly. "Alexander's blood inside you."

"It's amazing, Cullen," she said raptly. "I feel like I know everything there is to know. Every moment of Alexander's existence is somewhere inside my head, just waiting for me to call up the memory. I feel strong and powerful but kind and compassionate too."

"Everything a Princess of Vampires should be," he whispered, his voice full of awe at the splendour of his beautiful wife.

She regarded him intently, her lips curved into a glorious smile. "Cullen," she sighed. "I know there is going to have to be some pomp and ceremony sometimes now that I am royal but please, not from you, my love. Keep me firmly grounded on what is right."

"I'll be by your side always, my wife," Cullen smiled happily. "You won't need me to keep you grounded, love. You will know the right thing to do."

She hugged him tightly and gave him a loving kiss. "I love you, my sweet Cullen," she whispered against his lips.

"I love you, my sweet Emily," he smiled. "Are you ready to go introduce yourself to your loyal subjects?"

"Yes," she cried jumping up and running to the garment bag which held her coming out gown.

Cullen dressed quickly and then laced the back of the dress for her and ran a comb through her tumbled curls.

"Do you think Anton will be all right?" Emily asked him quietly.

"He will adore you as always, Emily," Cullen sighed softly, pulling her head against his chest and running a soothing hand down her back. He held her at arms length and smiled his beautiful smile. "Ready?"

"As I'll ever be," she smiled back and let him lead her out the room.

"They're coming," Dorian said loudly and a hush fell over the crowded room.

The main club room was packed with vampires, all wanting to get the first look at their new Princess. Alice, Anton and Liam stood at Dorian's side, closest to the door the couple would come through as they were the family of the new Princess.

The silence in the room was palpable as the door slowly opened and Cullen stepped through first pulling Emily behind him, with an indulgent smile on his face, as she suddenly appeared nervous and tried to hang back.

There was a collective gasp in the room when Emily appeared. She was so radiant, so stunning, that even the most disgruntled of the ancient vampires couldn't contain their gasps at her beauty.

Emily's eyes automatically sought her brother's. The shock on his face was intense. His eyes were bewildered by what he was seeing. Her fear began to grow and she felt moisture gather in her eyes as she anxiously searched his face.

"Anton?" she whispered, a hint of a plea in her voice.

The shock receded from his expression and his face broke into a huge smile. "Baby girl," he said softly and she was running into his arms and hugging him tightly, mindful of the fact that she was so much stronger now.

"I've never seen anyone as beautiful as you, Em," Anton whispered. "You surpass glorious, baby girl."

She laughed shakily and stepped away from him. Suddenly Alice and Liam and Dorian were surrounding her, fighting to get in the first hug and kiss and she was laughing in delight as their enthusiastic greetings lifted her heart and she felt she could take on the whole world single-handedly.

Finally Emily turned to face the gathered vampires. One by one they began to bow low before her, Chris being the first to pay his respects. She was astounded when her family bowed too, Cullen included.

Emily stared at them and wiggled a finger at Cullen for help, hoping he would see it as his head was bowed. He was instantly at her side.

"They won't rise until you tell them to," he said softly for her ears only.

"Please rise," she called quietly and sighed with relief as they all did so instantly. Bloody pomp and ceremony, she thought crossly but kept her expression clear of her inner feelings.

Emily smiled and slowly circled the room, trying to meet the eyes of everyone there to gauge how they really felt about her.

Most seemed curious though there were a few closed expressions from some of the more ancient vampires. She sighed inwardly. It was to be expected.

She finally returned to Cullen's side and then she just seemed to know what she must now do. She dropped into a deep curtsey and bowed her head.

"I ask your leave that I may serve you to the best of my ability," she said softly.

The room was deathly silent as she spoke and then a slow hand clap rang out within the room. It was quickly taken up and before a matter of seconds had passed, every vampire in the room was joining in.

She rose slowly and as she completed the movement the hand clap stopped.

"All hail the Princess Emily," Liam called and a loud cheer echoed through the room.

Emily's eyes shone with joy as her new people accepted her into their ranks.

"That's enough pomp and ceremony for me for one day," she said impishly. "Let's celebrate."

Laughter broke out around the room and the atmosphere relaxed immediately.

"Deftly done, Granddaughter," Alexander said inside her mind. "I knew I had made the right choice."

"Grandfather," Emily exclaimed in delight. "I can hear you in my head!"

"You share my blood now, child. We will be able to communicate like this from now on. It is a perk between the ruler and his heir," the King told her "Other vampires can use this skill at a more rudimentary level but they must share their blood and keep up the blood sharing for it to stay in place. I believe Cullen and Dorian do it sometimes when they have the need."

"I thought I saw those two having some kind of private conversation once when I first met them," Emily laughed. "I haven't noticed it for a long time though."

"Perhaps Dorian does not wish to be inside Cullen's mind anymore now that you are his wife," Alexander chuckled. "I imagine Cullen's thoughts can be pretty entertaining now."

"Grandfather, you are naughty," Emily giggled.

"You can share this kind of bond with Cullen, child," Alexander said softly. "If he drinks of your blood. It will be a permanent thing so think long and hard before you do so. Sometimes a husband becomes angry with his wife no matter how much he adores her. I imagine it would be most awkward if you both knew what the other was thinking at times like those."

"I will seek my intuition's guidance before I proceed," Emily smiled.

"Spoken wisely, my Granddaughter," Alexander said his voice full of approval. "I come, Emily. I would gaze on the face of our salvation so I may weep with joy at your coming to us. Prepare them for my arrival. I am less than an hour away."

"Yes, Grandfather," Emily said and then she felt his absence from her mind.

The whole conversation had probably taken less that a few seconds but Emily saw Cullen raise a questioning eyebrow at her.

She smiled and moved into his arms, feeling safe and content in his embrace.

"Alexander?" Cullen asked bending his head so his words were for her ears only.

Emily nodded and smiled. "He's on his way. I'm supposed to prepare everyone, whatever that means."

"If you announce his coming everyone else with know what to do," Cullen chuckled.

She sighed and kissed him and then turned to the room again.

"I'm afraid I have to call time out on the lack of pomp and ceremony," she said with a small smile. "The King is on his way."

A murmur went around the room and then people began to move away.

"Where is everyone going?" Emily asked, pulling out of Cullen's arms.

"To the meeting chamber, my Princess," an ancient vampire said as they all halted at her words.

"Why?" she asked with some confusion.

"That is where the King's throne is, Highness," the same elder spoke.

"What is your name?" Emily enquired politely. "Forgive me but I do not believe we have been introduced before today."

The ancient vampire bowed low, his blond hair flowing forward. "I am Lucien, Highness."

"Tell me, Lucien. Do you never greet the King in this room?"

Lucien took her question as permission to rise. "There is no throne here, Highness," he said as if that answered her question.

Emily smiled patiently. "I can see that, Lucien," she said softly. "But there must be at least a hundred vampires in this room. Surely it would be a simple matter to transfer the King's throne here?"

Lucien looked scandalised by her suggestion. He quickly schooled his expression as everyone in the room looked at them.

"Highness, the King is always greeted in the meeting chamber."

"Because the throne is there," she finished his sentence for him.

He smiled warmly, pleased to have the matter settled.

"That has to be the stupidest reason for doing something I have ever heard," Emily said, her voice full of vexation. "I cannot believe that no one in this room has never considered picking up the damned throne and bringing it in here. Is the bloody thing bolted to the floor?"

A startled gasp when round the room and over a hundred faces stared at her in shock. Emily turned to look at her family and all but Cullen wore the same expression. Her husband was trying to hide a smile behind his hand.

"My Princess, I fear the King would be most surprised to find his throne missing from it's customary spot," Cullen said smoothly, his eyes twinkling with laughter.

Emily took his hint and smiled around the room and inclined her head towards Lucien.

"My apologies, Lucien," she said warmly. "You grace me with the answers I require and I take my vexation out on you. I will speak to the King about this matter when he arrives. I would not want him to vexed by the unexpected disappearance of his throne."

The room relaxed and Lucien even managed some warmth in his eyes when he met hers.

"So, what happens in the meeting room, apart from putting me on trial for witchcraft?" Emily asked next and another blond, ancient vampire stepped forward as Lucien gratefully stepped back.

"I am Marcus, Highness," the vampire said with a respectful bow. "It is customary for the King to impart his words of wisdom when we gather in the meeting room."

"And I am sure they are very wise words," Emily smiled. "And then what?"

"I do not understand, Highness," Marcus said puzzled.

"Once the King has imparted his wisdom, what happens next?" Emily tried again, struggling to keep what she hoped was a benign smile on her face. She was started to get annoyed at having to repeat herself.

Marcus looked uncomfortable. "That is all, Highness."

"How long does the King usually stay for?" Emily asked, already dreading the answer.

"Sometimes it is but an hour, Highness. This night I suspect it will be longer as he has a new Granddaughter to get acquainted with. Perhaps three or four hours." Marcus answered.

Emily couldn't stop a look of horror crossing her face. "The King is going to speak for three or four hours?" she cried.

"Oh, no, Highness," Marcus said hurriedly, upset with himself for causing her displeasure. "His Majesty is brief with his words."

"So what does everyone do when the King has said his brief words," she sighed, suddenly feeling very weary."

"We wait, Highness," Marcus answered.

"For what?" Emily said trying not to clench her teeth.

"For the King to speak once more," Marcus said as if it was the most normal occurrence in the world.

Emily groaned and rolled her eyes. "Dear God, do you all take lessons in prevarication?" she muttered in frustration. "Why do I have to drag everything out of you, sentence by sentence?"

Marcus went to speak but she held up her hand. "It was a rhetorical question, Marcus," she sighed. She turned to Cullen.

"So if I'm understanding this correctly, The King is going to arrive, go to the meeting room because his throne is there, sit on it, talk for a brief moment and then everyone is going to sit in silence for three to four hours just in case the King decides to speak again?"

Put like that, Cullen could see how ridiculous it sounded and yet, they had always done things that way. He struggled not to laugh at the look of complete horror on Emily's face.

"My Princess's grasp of the ceremony is most perceptive," Cullen said formerly, trying to keep a straight face.

"Cullen, I'm going to die of boredom!" Emily practically wailed. "Seriously, no talking? No laughing? No music or dancing or anything? Just silence?"

"Just silence, my love," Cullen answered and this time he did burst out laughing when he saw her expression. God help them all because his beautiful wife was now seriously pissed off.

"I'm not having it," she said firmly. "I am not sitting in a bloody silent room for up to four hours on my coming out night, bored to bloody tears. It's not on!"

"Me, neither," Alice muttered under her breath and then froze as all eyes turned to her. She shrunk back behind Dorian.

"Right! This is how it's going to be," Emily said loudly. "I'm going to ask some more questions and the first one of you who starts bloody prevaricating is going to really make me very angry."

She glared around the room to make sure she was getting her point across. The vampires appeared stunned by her volatility.

"Is the meeting chamber equipped to play music and if so, do we have any music here?" Emily asked. She sighed with relief when Chris stepped forward. Finally someone who could string a whole paragraph together.

"I believe the meeting chamber has been used for balls in the past, Highness," he said quickly. "It has a very good sound system and there is some music readily available but it is not very current."

"Thank you, Chris," Emily smiled happily. "That's how you answer a question," she said to the rest of the room, and was rewarded with a smattering of chuckles.

"Do you or your friends have anything current here?" she asked Chris.

"I think we can cobble something up, Highness."

"Great, hop to it then," she smiled. She turned to the rest of the room again.

"Look, I know you're all used to doing things in a set way," she said with a conciliatory note in her voice. "But this is my coming out celebration and I don't want to be bored to death during it. So, you can keep the throne in the meeting room and we will all listen most intently and respectively when the King graces us with his wisdom. After that we're going to have a party.

That's music, laughter, dancing, even some smooching with your loved ones if you have any with you. A good old fashioned party."

"What if the King objects?" Marcus asked when the silence stretched on after she had finished speaking.

"Then I guess I'm going to be bored to death," Emily grimaced but her intuition was telling her that this was the right thing to do, so she didn't anticipate that happening. "Let's go people, the King will be here imminently."

Cullen had tears in his eyes he was laughing so hard as his little wife shooed the stunned vampires out of the room. "Oh, Emily, you are priceless!" he laughed, wiping at the tears rolling down his face.

Emily shook her head at him and looked at Dorian and Liam. "I can't believe you three just go along with this madness," she said shocked.

"Me, neither," Alice laughed. "Talk about outdated and boring." She stressed the word boring, smiling up at Dorian as she did so.

"That is the very reason we need you so badly," Liam smiled at Emily. "I never realised how ridiculous it all was until you laid it out like that."

"Same here," Dorian said, pulling Alice close to his side. "Still, there are going to be some pretty disgruntled vampires in that room. They really don't like change."

"Well they're just going to have to live with it," Emily said tartly. "Come on, we'd better go in.

Ten minutes later King Alexander arrived at Karpathia's. Emily was sitting closest to the door he would enter the meeting chamber by. Cullen, Liam, Dorian, Alice and Anton were all sitting to the left of her.

The room was thick with tension and she was receiving some pretty black looks from some of the older vampires across the room. They weren't very happy with her.

She was slightly surprised to see Marcus smile at her quite warmly. And more surprised when Lucien did too. The two blond vampires appeared to be coming round to her, despite her being rather short with them. Or maybe it was because she had been short with them. They would respect that type of behaviour from their ruling class.

Suddenly Philip and Hugo entered the room and stood on either side of the door. Hugo banged his sceptre sharply on the floor and Philip called out "His Majesty, King Alexander."

The King strode into the room and Emily was once more struck by how he reminded her slightly of Cullen. She had been quite terrified the first time she had met him but this time she felt joy lift her heart when he appeared. The whole room rose and bowed lowed, Emily included.

"Have you been causing havoc already, Granddaughter?" Alexander said in her head but his voice was amused. "I could cut the tension in this room with a knife."

"I merely pointed out some stupidity, Grandfather," Emily said warmly. "I may have sworn a few times when I did so though," she admitted sheepishly.

Alexander roared with laughter. "Oh, Emily you are going to be such a treat to get to know, child."

"All rise," Philip intoned and everyone sat back down and turned their gaze to the King.

"It is with gladness that I come once more into your presence," Alexander said formerly, a beautiful smile on his face and his gaze warm as he looked around the room. "My heart is joyful that I come to greet the birth of my Granddaughter. Emily, my child, come greet me so I may gaze at your splendour."

Emily rose and walked up the steps to stand before him. She smiled raptly at him and his own smile was equally as radiant.

A tear gathered in Alexander's eye and slowly rolled down one perfect cheek. He wiped it away gently, gazing at the wetness on his hand. "So it seems I do weep with joy at the beauty that has graced us this day with her presence among us." He sounded slightly surprised that he had wept.

"As long as it is joy, Your Highness, and not disappointment, then my heart sings," Emily said softly, her eyes glowing.

"It is indeed joy, Granddaughter," Alexander sighed. "How could anyone look upon such glory and splendour and not feel joy?"

"Try asking them to move a throne," Emily quipped impishly. "That gets a completely different reaction."

Alexander stared at her in surprise and then smiled gently at her. "And why would you feel the need to move my throne, Granddaughter?" he asked quizzically.

"It was more the need for my bottom to be sitting comfortably on a leather sofa if I was to endure up to four hours of silence whilst I was waiting for you to impart some words of wisdom, Grandfather," Emily said, rolling her eyes as she spoke.

The room went deathly silent and then Alexander threw his head back and roared loudly with laughter.

"And your solution to such an untenable proposition was to remove my throne to a more convenient room?" he asked once he had stopped laughing, his eyes twinkling.

"The common room is much warmer and more comfortable, Grandfather," Emily sighed. "The seating is less formal but more relaxing and there is waiting staff should one wish something to drink. It seemed a logical proposition to me."

"Your logic seems sound, child," Alexander smiled. "Though I am guessing your suggestion was not received very favourably."

Emily smiled. "I probably had more chance of one of them attempting to bring me the moon," she said in agreement with him.

Alexander laughed again. "Let it be known henceforth, that should my Granddaughter require my throne to be situated elsewhere then her wishes are to be carried out with all due haste," Alexander said loudly. "Just don't have me facing the wall with my back to the room, child," he added with another laugh. "Oh, and let me know you've moved it so I enter the correct room."

Emily laughed delightedly and was pleased to hear some laughter within the room.

"So, Granddaughter, do you wish to evict me from my throne this instant?"

"No, Highness," she smiled. "I accepted the wisdom of my husband that I should follow tradition in this instance until I had time to discuss it with you. We're here for the night."

She was getting tired standing in front of him with her back to the room. She needed to see the reactions to the banter between her and the King.

"May I please sit, Grandfather?" she asked with a smile.

He looked around with a small frown. "Where, child?" he asked. "I must see about having a second throne installed."

"Perish the thought!" Emily said through clenched teeth. "The arm of your throne will suffice if it is not taking too much of a liberty, Highness."

"Please, take whatever liberties you see fit to," Alexander laughed, waving a hand.


To be continued....