Regent & Duke
Crown Princess Alexandra
in," Kelson called, as a knock on the office door roused him from
his paperwork. Jackson casually entered and came to stand by Kelson's
"How did dinner go?" Kelson asked.
"Well your family was rather quiet after the lecture you gave them. They're sort of sedate actually, especially your parents. I think they are looking forward to seeing their granddaughter."
"And the king sent you here to see if I will let them?"
"Yes," Jackson said reluctantly," he's hoping that once they meet her, and have been charmed by her, it will cement the proposed alliance."
"She does have that effect on people, doesn't she"?
"Except on you; can I ask why that is?"
"She is a lot like her mother; she can throw a tantrum at the drop of a hat when she doesn't get her way, and plays it to the hilt until she does."
"You know about that?"
"Of course I know about that," Kelson said, standing up. "When I'm not around, she has everyone on staff wrapped around her little finger. And I think the king is counting on that." Kelson moved to the door, "I don't think my family knows what they are in for."
After retrieving his family from the dining room on the lower level, Kelson led them back to the royal apartments on the second floor. Passing various doors down a long hallway, they stopped at a door with one lone royal guard.
"What is so funny?" Kelson asked Princess Alice MacGregor.
"You look like you're leading some sort of parade or something," she answered, trying to control a smile.
Kelson heaved a sigh. "Is Lady Therese inside?"
Before she could answer, they all heard the crash and clatter of plastic.
"Oh my God, what was that?" Janette Haldane gasped clutching at her husband's arm.
"That, Your Highness," Alice answered before Kelson could respond, "is Princess Alexandra playing hide and seek with her governess."
"Sire, would you please show them inside?" Kelson said chuckling," I need to talk to Princess Alice a second. I will be there momentarily."
"Sure Kelson...if you will all follow me." The king opened the door and motioned the group through.
As the door closed behind them, Kelson turned to the suddenly nervous Princess.
"What?" she asked innocently.
"You didn't hide that chocolate wrapper very well," he said indicating the wrapper sticking slightly out of her pocket.
"Sorry, I should have asked you first, but she said she hadn't had a candy bar in a while."
"You know why I don't give her chocolate this late in the day, don't you?"
"She gets real hyperactive?"
"Yes she does. You know I should make you spend the night with her," he said looking at the squirming Princess over the rim of his glasses," I will let you off this time, but you owe me."
"I know, and I am sorry," she said.
"And while I'm thinking of a suitable payment, why don't you take the night off? Jackson and I will be here, so there is no need for you to be on duty."
"But my father...?" she started.
"Don't worry about your father. You're on my staff, remember."
"Thanks," she said giving him a peck on the cheek.
"Don't do anything I wouldn't do," Kelson called after her as she made her way down the hallway.
"I won't," she called back.
"And Alice," he almost yelled.
"Yes?" she asked poking her head out of her room.
"Take someone with you."
"Oh all right," she said closing her door, "you're starting to sound like my parents."
"I heard that," he yelled down the hall.
Entering his daughter's playroom, Kelson came up behind the royal party. "Excuse me, Lady Mary," Kelson said squeezing by the woman with red hair.
"Oh I'm sorry," she said moving aside so he could get by.
Moving to the front of the group, he spotted Ming on a dresser to the right of the door. Her ears were cocked back in irritation and Kelson could see that she was not happy. As he scratched behind the cat's ear to placate her, Kelson glanced around the room. There was no sign of his daughter.
"Where is Alex?" he said disengaging himself from the cat.
"Your Grace..." Lady Therese started to rise from her chair.
"Please remain seated," the king said putting a restraining hand on her shoulder.
"Well?" Kelson asked, moving towards the king, almost tripping over several toys.
"We can't get her to come out," Javan interjected from his spot in the middle of the group.
"Alex?" Kelson called out to the room as he reached the king.
"You know that daughter of yours is going to wear this poor woman out," the king smiled.
"Alexandra," Kelson called out again slightly irritated, when he got no response.
"I know, Sire," he said glancing down at the exhausted woman with a smile, "she gets it from her mother's side."
Not noticing the king's slightly amused smirk, Kelson moved to the center of the playroom. Folding his arms he let out a heavy sigh.
"Alexandra Janette Mary Haldane, come out this instant."
Kelson's mother and grandmother glanced at each other at the honor of hearing their names mentioned.
"Uh oh," came the child's voice from a row of shelves lined with toys. Walking through the minefield of scattered toys, Kelson made his way towards the shelves.
"Alexandra," he said standing in front of the spot from whence the voice had come. A rain of toys began to cascade off the shelf followed by a pair of small tennis-shoed feet.
"Daddy I'm going to fall," she said as her feet dangled off the shelf.
"You're not going to fall," he said picking her up by the waist and into his arms.
"What did I say about playing on the shelves young lady?" he whispered into her ear.
"You said not to," she said almost on the verge of crying.
"Now we will have none of that," he said putting his forehead on hers," just don't do it again, okay?"
"Yes Daddy," she said giving him a hug and kiss on the cheek.
"You have some visitor;, they have come specifically to see you."
"Me?" her eyes brightened and turned to glance at the group congregated by the door.
"Who are they?" she whispered.
"That is the best part," he answered, "it's your great-grandparents, your grandparents, and your uncles and aunts."
She looked at him with a confused look on her face, as he carried her towards them.
As they made their way across the room, Ming removed herself from her perch and made her way down to meet them.
"They are my grandparents, my mommy, my daddy, my brothers and my sisters," he said stopping a short distance from them.
"Really?" she said smiling.
Setting her down and kneeling beside her, he whispered as Ming brushed against his leg, "Do you remember how we practiced addressing Aunt Mika?"
"I think so; is it 'Your Highness'?" she asked glancing at the smiling Michaela who was standing by the king now.
"Very good, go introduce yourself," he said giving her a gentle nudge.
As she moved toward them, Kelson's mother and grandmother moved forward to meet her.
"Your Highnesses," she curtsied, focusing her gray eyes on the two women.
"Hello, Alexandra," Janette said bending down and smiling, "it is nice to meet you."
"That is a nice suit you have on," Mary said admiring Alexandra's Haldane red coverall's and pink shirt.
"Thank you, Your Highnesses; my grandpa gave it to me," she said indicating the king.
"You can call me Grandma if you want."
"Okay, Grandma," she said taking Janette's offered hand.
"And you can call me Great Grandma," Mary said offering her hand as well.
"All right Great Grandma," she said taking it.
"Would you like to meet everybody?" Janette asked.
"Yes please," Alexandra smiled up at her grandmother.
"This is your Uncle Alroy," Janette began as she stopped in front him.
"Your Highness," she said curtseying.
"Hello Alexandra," he said smiling down at her.
As the introductions continued, Kelson just shook his head, picked up the cat and made his way towards the king.
"You know Kelson," the king began, "she has them already."
"Gee, thanks, Sire, for using my daughter as a diplomatic toy."
"You know that is not my intention," the king said seriously, looking sidelong at Kelson.
"I know, Sire," Kelson said grinning, stroking the cat, "I was kidding."
"Daddy?" his daughter asked suddenly running up to him.
"Yes, sweetheart," Kelson answered bending down to meet her and setting down the squirming cat in the process.
"Can I show them my doggy and kitty?" she asked as Ming brushed past her and she stretched out her hand to pet her.
"I don't see why not."
Smiling at him she dashed over to where Alroy was standing.
"Your Highness," she said pulling on his sleeve.
"Why don't you call me Uncle Alroy?" he whispered as he crouched down to her level, after some gentle prodding from his mother who was standing behind him.
"Uncle Alroy," she paused," can you whistle? I can't whistle and my daddy can't whistle and that is the only way I can show you my doggy and kitty."
Slightly disarmed by the request, Alroy glanced for guidance at Kelson, who just shrugged his shoulders.
"Okay I'll try," he said, noticing that she looked like she had done something wrong.
As he stood up straight to give it a try, she took his hand. He looked down at her and smiled sheepishly. Stirring up some courage, he placed his tongue underneath the roof of his mouth and blew.
Instantly a large mound of toys by a toy chest in the center of the room erupted as two furry creatures sprang from underneath it. The two animals chased each other around the room briefly before they made their way towards the group. Both animals skidded to a stop, the dog almost bowling over the cat, as they came face to face with Ming who had positioned herself in front. The Siberian husky leaned over the black and white tabby to sniff at Ming.
Suddenly, without notice, Ming swung out one of her paws as if to strike him, causing him to withdraw, but instead she proceeded to lick it clean.
Kelson placed his hand over his mouth keep from laughing out loud, as simultaneously he heard several snickers from his family.
"This is my doggy Cotton," Alexandra said pulling Alroy forward," and that is my kitty Tiger 2."
Letting go of Alroy's hand she moved forward and gave the dog a big hug, then picked up the cat and gave him a squeeze. As she sat the cat down, she looked up at her uncle and said. "They just love me."
Looking down at Ming, who was still sitting in front of the group, she smiled mischievously. Upon seeing that look, Ming cocked her ears back and quickly made her way to where Kelson was.
Kelson picked the cat up in his arms as he watched his daughter suddenly whirl around and stamp her foot.
"Boo!" she said raising her arms in the air.
The two animals took off like a shot, chasing each other into Alexandra's back bedroom.
"They just to love to play," she said gazing up at her stunned uncle.
"Daddy, can I play for a little while longer?" she said as she grabbed hold of Alroy's hand and began to pull.
"Yes, for another hour or so," he answered petting Ming. "Just pick up your toys when you are done."
"All right. C'mon Uncle Alroy I want to show you my toys," she said continuing to pull on his hand.
"Kelson," the king whispered in his ear," I think now would be a good time to have a look at that proposal."
Having said that, the king moved forward to grab Malcolm, Javan, the Bishop of Dhassa and Lady Mary, before his granddaughter could corner them too. With his Gwynedd visitors following behind him, the king exited the playroom with the Archbishop and Prime Minister bringing up the rear.
Nodding his assent, Kelson watched as his daughter raced back to grab hold of the hands of Jehana and Rhys Michael and began to pull them.
Breaking his attention away from the scene, he leaned down to Alexandra's exhausted governess and whispered," Why don't you take the rest of the night off Lady Therese? I think we have everything well in hand. There is no sense in you staying; I can put her to bed if I have to."
"Thank you Your Grace," she said standing, "can we talk sometime tomorrow, I have something important I have to tell you?"
"Of course. I will be around the palace all day."
She nodded her thanks as Kelson watched her move to the door.
Moving to where Jackson was standing by the entrance, Kelson stopped and whispered, "My brother Javan should be coming back in few minutes. See that Alroy can find his way to my office."
As Kelson exited, he didn't see the look of resentment in Alroy's eyes upon being left out.
Kelson entered his office and noticed that everyone had found a seat, including his brother Javan who was seated behind his desk.
"Is this the proposal?" the king asked picking up a thick folder at the corner of the desk.
"Yes," Kelson answered moving towards the windowsill to set his furry charge down. "And it is pretty self explanatory."
"I am sorry, everyone; this the first chance I've had to look at this," the king said as he looked up from his reading.
"It is in pretty general terms for now," Kelson said moving behind his brother," excuse me Javan, I need to get something from my desk."
As Javan slid back slightly in his chair, Kelson reached into the middle drawer and retrieved his pack of cigarettes.
"I thought it was a good idea to leave it that way," he said putting the pack in his back pocket," until we have a chance to actually look at the parliament's budget."
"That is a good idea," the king said." Are there more copies of this?"
"Yes, underneath the main one."
As the king began to distribute the various copies, he did not see Kelson back away to the balcony doors.
"Kelson...?" the King started to ask.
Looking around he saw Kelson leaning against the railing with his back to them. Nodding and smiling the king began," I know this is just a start..."
Malcolm also took note of the fact that Kelson was nowhere in the room and soon spotted him on the balcony as well.
"I'll be right back," he whispered to Lawrence, getting up from his seat.
"You know you should really be in there listening to the proposal," Kelson said, not looking at his father as he came to stand beside him on the balcony.
"I know, but I wanted to talk to you first."
**That's a first,** Kelson thought, taking a drag from his cigarette.
"I wanted to say I am sorry for what Freddy said earlier. And also to thank you for letting us see Alexandra."
"You're welcome," Kelson said. "So does this mean that you are actually going to start listening to what your children have to say?"
Kelson glanced at his father. "Don't answer that. Forget I asked. I know what you're going to say anyhow."
"Kelson..." his father started.
Staring off into the trees darkened by the receding daylight Kelson was quiet for several seconds. "So is your mistress going to have a place in Gwynedd once everything is all said and done?" Kelson asked glancing back through the balcony windows to the red haired woman seated in front of his desk.
"How do know about that?" Malcolm asked stunned.
"I've known about it for years, Dad. I found out just after Sidana was born."
Looking up into the trees Kelson suddenly realized he shouldn't have started this particular conversation. "I'm sorry, Dad. I shouldn't have brought it up," He looked side-long at his disappointed father.
"If it gives you comfort son," Malcolm said dejectedly moving back towards Kelson's office, "It is over between us, and your mother has forgiven me."
Waiting for his father to return inside Kelson stood up and glanced again at the darkened trees.
Putting the now extinguished cigarette slightly in front of him he concentrated and the remains of it exploded with a puff of smoke.
Dusting off his hands, Kelson made his way back towards his office. As he opened the doors, he saw that Alroy had arrived and Javan was about to leave. Kelson motioned for Jackson to come to him before he could depart with Javan.
"Your Grace?" Jackson asked once he had reached him.
"Do me a favor," Kelson whispered. "See that Lieutenant Cushing comes to see me sometime tomorrow. I have something to discuss with him."
And with one last look at the darkened trees he closed the door behind him.