Regent & Duke
Guess Who Knows the Truth
at a small table in the informal dining room overlooking the garden,
Helen and Kelson were deep in conversation. "As I was saying to His
Majesty, it may be the best possible way to solve my problem and
Kelson stared at Helen for several seconds and rested his chin on the top of Alexandra's head. Alexandra was thoroughly engrossed in her coloring book and was totally oblivious to the entire conversation going on around her. "It is a good idea," Kelson finally said. "I wish I had thought of it, but my main concern is whether parliament will go for it?"
Helen took a sip of her coffee and looked at Kelson reluctantly. "That is my next hurdle Your Grace."
"I still would prefer it if you were to become Prime minister." The king interjected with a sidelong glance at his son-in-law.
Kelson heard Helen sigh as he rotated his head so that his cheek was resting against Alexandra's head.
"Sorry Sire, I would have to decline that position. I want to stay out of the running of the government as much as possible. Being Prime minister would not allow me to do that, and besides," Kelson gave Alexandra a little hug, "I wouldn't be able to see this little turkey very often."
"I don't want him to be Prime Minister, Grandpa," Alexandra said not breaking stride in her coloring.
"Well that answers that, Sire," Kelson grinned, "she is in charge after all."
"What about the problem of the regency?" the king asked more seriously. "What if something does happen to me?"
"We'll cross that road when we come to it," Kelson answered. "Being Co-speaker of parliament right now might help with legislation, etc. later on if there is need for regency."
"Would he still have a vote?" the king asked Helen.
"Well, sort of Sire. He would have half a vote and so would I. So, if there is need for a tie breaking vote, we will both have to agree to vote the same way."
"And, all you have to do is convince both houses, Commons and Lords, to go along with this," the king said. "Have fun getting them to agree. They rarely agree on anything."
"I think I can Sire," Helen said with a smile. "Both houses generally like his Grace, and I think the Lords are counting on him siding with them on most of the issues."
"I wouldn't count on it," Kelson said with finality. Kelson felt a slight brush against his shields as Jackson approached them.
"Excuse me Sire, Your Grace, Lady Helen." Jackson nodded to each one in turn.
"Yes, Jackson?" the king asked.
Jackson held up a manila folder and looked intently at Kelson. "We just received some preliminary results on the attempt investigation."
The king raised to his feet, "Are you coming, Kelson?"
Kelson paused, "No Sire, Jackson can brief me later. I would like to go over a few things here with Helen."
"I can come back later if it is really important Your Grace," Helen put in.
"Jackson?" Kelson looked questioningly at his Captain of the Guard.
"It is somewhat important Your Grace, but nothing that requires your immediate attention."
"In that case, you can come find me in the garden later on."
"C'mon Jackson," the king said. "Show me what you have found."
"Alexandra sweetheart," Kelson asked his daughter. "Could you do Daddy a favor?"
"Yes Daddy?" she responded, not glancing up from her work.
"Would you mind getting down for a little while, my leg is falling asleep."
"Gathering all of her colors and coloring book in a big bundle, she looked up at her father. "Okay, can you help me down Daddy? My hands are full."
Lifting her underneath her arms, Kelson set her down on the floor and she toddled off towards a nearby table leaving a trail of colors behind her.
"She is an adorable child Your Grace" Helen commented as they both watched her retrieve the errant crayons.
"Thank you Helen," Kelson said looking back her. "She won't stay that way forever "
"My asking you to become co-speaker of Parliament isn't the real reason you agreed to meet me, is it Your Grace?"
"No it isn't," he said pausing," I assume you talked to. I'll call her 'Carol'?"
"Yes I did, but she didn't really have time to tell me that much. As a 'retired' member, I haven't kept up with what has been going on with them."
"Well," Kelson said looking around to make sure there was no one around who could hear their conversation, "she seems to think I am the only one normal enough in my family to be trusted with your peers existence."
"Are you uncomfortable with that?"
"A little bit, putting my faith in people I have never met before makes me uncomfortable."
"Your Grace," she said reaching across to touch his hand. At the same time she brushed lightly against his shields. "If it makes you feel uncomfortable, by all means take your time. What is that saying? 'All good things come to those who wait'?"
"I will remember that," Kelson smiled.
At that moment he felt another slight touch against his shields from someone approaching the dinning area. Apparently Helen sensed the approach as well because they both turned to see Lady Therese and Linda enter the room.
"Good morning, Your Grace," Therese said in greeting.
"Helen," Kelson said turning toward her. "I would like to introduce Alexandra's governess, Lady Therese, and my former high school teacher Linda."
"It is my pleasure," Helen said standing to shake each of the ladies hands.
"I hate to do this, Your Grace," Helen said after she had made her greetings. "But I really must be going. I have a lot of politicking to do between today and tomorrow's convening of parliament."
"Okay Helen, I will see you tomorrow then," Kelson replied.
After she had departed, Kelson turned to Therese and Linda. "So what brings you down here this morning?"
"Actually," Therese began, " we were hoping to steal away Her Highness for a little while so that she and Linda can become better acquainted."
"Then I assume you are planning on taking the job?" Kelson asked Linda.
"Yes, Your Grace. It is time for me to take on some new challenges."
"You will get that here." Kelson snickered as he moved towards Alexandra's coloring table. "But I have a better idea. Why don't you stay here and help Alexandra with her coloring?"
"Don't you want to be here?" Therese asked as she and Linda followed Kelson to the table.
"No, that is alright," Kelson, said as he reached his daughter and crouched down beside her. "Besides, I need to find Jackson to discuss the investigation. Alexandra?"
"Yes, Daddy?" she asked as she continued her coloring.
"I need to go do some things sweetheart. Lady Therese and an old friend of mine are going to help you with your coloring. Her name is Linda."
"Okay," she said nonchalantly.
As he stood, he kissed the top her head and whispered, "Behave yourself young lady. I will see you later.
Not finding the king or Jackson in the palace, Kelson exited via the kitchen door. He did not see anyone immediately as he glanced around the garden but finally spied a figure sitting on a bench on the west side of the garden. **Who the hell is that, ** he thought. **I thought everyone was out for the day? **
Making his way toward the bench, Kelson made sure to take note of the various hiding places in the garden. There was still no sign of the king or Jackson.
"Nigel?" He said as he reached the west side of the garden.
"Oh bloody hell," Nigel exclaimed taking a drag from his cigarette and blowing out the smoke.
"Nice to see you too," Kelson said taking a seat next to his cousin.
"I'm sorry Kel," Nigel sighed. "It's just that everyone keeps badgering me about the oil lease deal."
"And you think I am going to also?" Kelson asked looking at him sidelong.
"I am hoping not. I have a lot on my plate right now and they are not helping to make the decision any easier." Nigel took another drag from his cigarette, "not even Michaela."
"Michaela?" Kelson folded his arms and smiled. "Is there something going on between you two?"
"We are just friends Kelson. And don't you get any funny ideas about us," he said pointing his finger at him.
"I'm not," Kelson said raising his hands in innocence.
"Yeah sure," Nigel said distantly leaning forward placing his elbows on his thighs.
"What's bothering you, coz?" Kelson asked leaning so that he was eye level with Nigel.
"Do you want to change jobs?" Nigel asked suddenly out of the blue.
"What?" Kelson asked stunned sitting straight up.
"I asked if you wanted to change jobs? You would probably handle this a lot better than I ever could."
"Why would you ask if I wanted to change jobs? Is something wrong?"
"No, not really. It's just that the pressure is starting to get to me," Nigel said distantly. "Everybody wants me to do what they want."
"What do you want?" Kelson said leaning closer once again.
"I have no idea anymore. I mean, I want to do what is best for the people of Carthmoor, but some other people have different ideas."
"Anyone I would know?"
"Maybe. Lets change the subject, okay? This is my problem and I will have to do deal with it the best I can."
"Okay. Something else is bothering you, isn't it?" Kelson asked trying to look into Nigel eyes.
Nigel took another drag from his cigarette. "It's Brion."
Kelson nodded understandingly. Nigel's younger brother Brion, who was autistic and needed special care, was always a major concern to Nigel.
"How is Brion anyway?"
Suddenly it dawned on Kelson why Nigel was stalling on the oil lease. "Is someone threatening to hurt Brion?" Kelson asked his cousin attempting to look him in the eye.
Nigel stiffened. "No, why would someone do that?" Kelson could tell that Nigel was lying without even exerting his Truth Reading abilities.
"Kelson," the king said appearing out of nowhere. "We need to talk."
Kelson glanced at his cousin then started to stand. He was on to something but tried not to show his irritation on being interrupted.
"Kelson, please sit down," the king said as Kelson and Nigel started to rise. "Do you mind Nigel? We need to talk to Kelson privately. It is rather important."
"No," Kelson said putting a restraining hand on Nigel's arm. "I think he should stay. We were actually discussing something rather important ourselves." Kelson could feel Nigel's eyes boring into the back of his head as he turned his attention to the king.
"Okay," the king said with a sigh. The king turned to the Captain of the Guard who was standing slightly behind him. "Jackson? Please hand me that folder?"
Jackson handed the folder to the king and stood with his hands behind his back, his face showing no emotion, altogether unreadable.
"We have positively identified the shooter," the king said handing the folder to Kelson."
Opening the folder quickly, Kelson caught sight of the picture of the man who had shot at the royal carriage several days before. He began to scan for the name and upon spying it, spoke the name out loud to himself, "Anthony von Furstan."
As he said the name out load he felt Nigel stiffen and shiver. Kelson whipped his head around to stare at his cousin, who was obviously shaken. "Nigel? Do you know him?" Kelson asked as Nigel put out one cigarette and lit another.
"Yes." The fear in Nigel's eyes was clearly visible as he turned to look at Kelson.
"I know of him as well Your Grace," Jackson put in from behind the king.
"I have never actually met him," Jackson said moving to stand in front of Kelson," but my father has had several encounters with him and his father Mikos von Furstan."
Knowing Colonel Duncan Morgan, the commander of Nigel's royal Guard, Kelson knew he was not a man anyone would want to mess with.
"What sort of encounters are we talking about?" Kelson asked looking up at Jackson.
Jackson bit his lower lip before beginning. "The kind where he," Jackson said indicating the picture, "comes to the palace demanding to see His Grace." He pointed with his chin towards Nigel. "What I hear from my dad, it has been done none to politely."
"Nigel, is that true?"
"Yes." Nigel said quietly.
"Where did your father get this information?" Kelson asked holding up the folder.
"He didn't actually." Jackson paused. "He has a friend in The New Yard at Nyford who got the information for me. And, that friend also told me something 'off the record'. Something that he can't yet prove."
"And that would be?" Kelson asked.
"He said that there is a possibility that the von Furstan's may have 'familial' connections."
"Mob connections?" Kelson asked stunned.
"Yes, but like I said, it was off the record. He said that they hadn't found actual proof of those connections."
"What do want to do Kelson?" the king asked crouching down next to the bench.
Kelson didn't answer him immediately. "Nothing," he said finally, looking into the king's eye.
"But why?" The king asked stunned.
"Because we may run into a problem if we try to apprehend Anthony von Furstan."
"And that is?"
"My cousin Brion, Nigel's little brother, is vulnerable where he is at."
"I am sorry Your Grace, but my father has the palace in Carthmoor pretty well guarded."
"Do want to take that chance, Jackson? Isn't your little sister, Elspeth, in Brion's special needs class?"
"Yes she is," Jackson answered as it suddenly dawned on him that there might be a danger for her as well.
"Do we want to get both of them out?" the king asked.
"For the time being I think they should stay put. They should be safe enough until we can find a way to get them out safely," Kelson answered after several seconds. "Besides, I don't want to tip our hand that we know who he is. And, if we move Brion and Jackson's sister out of the way, he may figure out that we are on to him. By the way Jackson, do we know where he is at?"
"My contact at the Yard thinks he may be in a safe house near his father's restaurant in Carthmoor. I think I should tell my dad."
"Would you consider waiting to tell him? I have an idea, and I need time to put that idea in place if we need to get them out at a moments notice."
"How long? I don't want my sister in that position any longer than I have to" Jackson asked crouching down in front of Kelson.
"Tomorrow night. Parliament is in session all day so I'll be busy, but maybe I can have my elements in play by late tomorrow night. Then the day after, we will release everything to press."
"Do you think we can get them out without anyone noticing?" Nigel asked, "I don't know if you are aware of this, but your speaker of Parliament is suppose to take an inspection tour of the drilling sight?"
"Then you are going to agree to the oil lease?" the king asked perking up.
"Well I." Nigel started to answer.
"Sire, now is not the time for that. And Nigel, if you go on the inspection tour, it will keep you out of the line of fire."
"But.?" Nigel started to protest.
"Neither one of you worry about the kids safety for the time being, Kelson said standing and returning the folder to Jackson. "I will have definite word tomorrow night. One way or another they will be safe."
"What do you want me to do with this? " Jackson asked holding up the folder.
"Sit on it. The day after tomorrow, release it all to the press. Of course, tell your father first."
"Where the hell are going?" the king asked as Kelson began to walk away. "What elements?"
Turning to look at his father in law he smiled, "someday Sire, I'll tell you.
"I need to meet with them as a group, Linda," Kelson was saying after having found an excuse to get her to come to his office balcony."
"All of them?"
"Yes all of them, and Matt get down here," Kelson said to the trees. With that, the leaves began to rustle, and Matt dropped down dressed in camouflage.
"Can I ask why, Your Grace?"
"All I am going to say is that I will need their help."
"With what?" Matt asked.
"I will tell you tomorrow night. Well, Linda what do you say? If I am going to trust your group, it is now or never."
An intent look crossed her face. "Come hell or high water Your Grace, tomorrow night you will meet them."