The Mourning Prince
noticed as they drove up to the house that all the lights were on.
"Harold, it seems awfully early for anyone to be up."
"Early for everyone else, but not your nephew." Harold smiled, "He's always been an early riser."
As Harold parked in front of the house, he turned off the vehicle and turned to Camber. "Well are you ready to make a break for it?"
"Not really, but I guess we have to get out sometime."
Opening both of their doors at the same time, both men made a mad dash for the front door, which was already opening. Once inside, it took Camber's eyes several seconds to adjust to the brightly-lit foyer. He could just barely make out four humans and one small furry figure.
Shortly, his eyesight having completely adjusted, he finally saw his nephew, dressed in a gray sweat suit, in his stocking feet, wearing glasses. To his nephew's left, he saw a slightly taller gray-haired man dressed in a blue sweatshirt, jeans and tennis shoes, and to his nephew's right, there was a beautiful curly blond-haired woman dressed in a nightgown. To the right of her, was a short balding man, and slightly behind the small group, sitting on the step leading to the basement, sat a rotund Siamese cat, with piercing blue eyes, her front paws tucked underneath as if she were standing guard.
Kelson was the first to break the silence. "It's good to see you uncle. It's been a long time," Kelson said, moving forward as though to kiss his bishop's ring.
"It sure has," Camber said waving Kelson off from kissing his ring, instead reaching to embrace him.
"I've been told you've had a pretty tough time of it lately. Perhaps we should talk later? But before we do why don't you introduce me to your friends," Camber whispered so only Kelson could hear. Kelson nodded agreement as they broke their embrace. Curiously, at this point, Camber noticed that Kelson had shown no visible, emotional reaction.
"Your Highness," Kelson said, "this is my Uncle, Bishop Camber Haldane, Bishop of Carthmoor and Corwyn."
"And Uncle," Kelson continued as Camber bent to kiss her hand, "this is Her Royal Highness, Princess Micheala McGregor, Crown Princess of Howicce and Llanedd."
"It is my pleasure, Your Highness," Camber said.
"Your Excellency," Micheala said, her face flushing red with shyness.
"Next to her we have the 'Supreme of Howicce', Timothy," Kelson said moving on to the balding man.
"Pleased to meet you, Your Excellency," Timothy said pleasantly, shaking Camber's extended hand.
"Next we have Dean Smith, an old friend of mine from my military service days."
"Nice to meet you, Your Excellency," Dean said grasping Camber's hand firmly.
"Well it's nice meeting all of you, but please, while I'm here, call me Camber," Camber said addressing the entire group.
"Since the introductions have been made, would you like to freshen up and rest for a while?"
"Aren't you going to introduce me to your other friend first?"
A puzzled look crossed Kelson's face. Camber indicated the cat sitting at the top of the basement steps. Kelson just shook his head and smiled. Both men walked towards her and she did not move from where she was sitting.
"Uncle I would like you to meet Ming the First, absolute ruler of this house."
At that, they heard a chuckle from behind them. Both men turned to see Harold with a grin on his face.
"You have got to be kidding me," Harold said.
They both turned to look at Harold, who was just shaking his head with his arms crossed. Then they returned their attention to Ming. Bending down slowly, Camber extended his hand to let her sniff it. Not moving from her seated position, she leaned her head forward, sniffed his hand, and then turned her face away.
"Did I do something wrong?" Camber asked standing upright.
"No you didn't do anything wrong, she just has a serious attitude problem when it comes to new people entering her domain," Kelson said as he bent down and scratched her behind the ear.
"I thought I had offended her or something."
"No, it's just her unique way of greeting people," Kelson said standing up. "Any way, why don't we get out of the doorway, it's getting cold in here with the door open. Dean can you do me a favor. Show my uncle where his room is and help him with his luggage, while I get him and Harry some coffee?"
"Sure," Dean said, as he picked up Camber's suitcase that he had brought in with him, and urged him to follow.
Camber followed behind him with his briefcase in hand.
"Kelson," Micheala said, "I think I'm going to lay down for awhile."
"But before you do I have to ask you something. 'Privately'?
"Your Majesty, if you won't be needing me, I think I will retire as well," The Supreme of Howicce said to Micheala.
"Kelson," The Supreme of Howicce said nodding to him. He turned and went towards the back of the house.
"I think I'll get that coffee started," Harold said, seeing the need for him to make himself scarce.
Kelson waited several seconds for both men to exit out of the entryway.
"What did you say to him?" Kelson asked, indicating the direction the Supreme of Howicce had exited.
Micheala hesitated for a few seconds, as if reluctant to talk about it.
"Quite basically, I told him he had better start behaving like a proper guest instead of an arrogant ass or he would be out of job once we get home." She said softly.
Kelson's jaw dropped to the floor.
"Kelson you're gaping," Micheala said with a tired smile, "and don't look so shocked. You probably don't know, but I get really 'cranky' when I don't get much sleep. Can we talk about this later, I really am tired."
"Sure if you want."
She started to walk away, stopped and slowly turned her head.
"While you and your uncle are visiting, think about my father's offer, please?" Then she was gone.
Kelson just shook his head in amazement as he watched her walk away. Turning slowly, he made his way towards the kitchen. Once there, he found his two friends enjoying a cup of coffee, and as he approached the table, he noticed his own coffee cup had been refilled for him.
"Where's my uncle?" Kelson asked Dean. "He said he needed to freshen up a little bit, he'll be down in a few minutes. Have a seat, we would like to have a few words with you."
"Uh,oh" Kelson thought, "I'm in for it now."
"So Harry how was the trip from the airport?" Kelson asked as he nervously lit a cigarette.
"Oh, it was an uneventful one, but a very informative one," Harold said staring at Kelson.
"What did my uncle tell you?"
"Well, mainly he told me that you are an heir to the throne to the kingdom of Gwynedd?"
"A very distant heir."
"An heir none the less. Why didn't you ever tell us?"
Kelson hesitated for several seconds, but before he could respond, Dean spoke.
"He told someone right before you showed up."
"Look guys, the main reason I couldn't tell you before now is that my family isn't exactly welcome in Gwynedd. And right now, if word were to get out that there was an heir in the states, it would put the people he is around in danger. Can you understand that?"
Both men looked at each other in amazement. "Danger? You're joking right? After all the things we've been through in the last ten years, that is the last thing I'm worried about," Dean said.
Kelson was quiet. He didn't look at them, he just stared at the contents of his coffee cup.
"There is another reason isn't there?" Harry asked.
Kelson just looked at him over the rims of his glasses and smiled sheepishly.
"There is," He said finally.
"Well? We're not getting any younger you know," Harold said in exasperation.
"It's pretty stupid."
"It wouldn't be the first stupid thing you've done," Dean said sarcastically, "C'mon tell us."
"I didn't want to be treated differently than anybody else."
Both men just looked at each other and chuckled.
"Well Kel, I for one wouldn't treat you any differently than the jerk you are," Dean said with a huge grin on his face.
"Me either," Harold chimed in.
The three men started at the sound of Camber's voice, they hadn't heard him approach.
"I hope I didn't startle you too much?" Camber said.
"No more than usual," Harold answered, "your nephew has a bad habit of doing the same thing. We're kind of used to him sneaking up behind us."
"Yeah we're used to it," Dean said, giving Kelson a glare.
"Look Dean, it's not my fault your age has affected your hearing," Kelson said with a grin.
"All right you two, knock it off," Harold said," you see what I have to put up with Camber. It's like babysitting children."
"Yes I do see," Camber said, a smile crossing his face.
"I'm sorry Uncle, would you like to have seat, and here's your coffee," Kelson said getting up and handing his uncle the coffee cup intended for him.
"That's all right," Camber said, taking the cup, "Is there somewhere we can talk in private?"
"Sure, we can talk in my study," Kelson said picking up his cup and his cigarette from the ashtray, "Sorry guys, I guess you are going to have talk amongst yourselves for awhile."
"That's all right Kel. We were hoping you would leave anyway so we could compare notes about you. And we really can't do that with you here," Dean said with a smirk.
"Gee I'm glad I have you guys around for support," Kelson said over his shoulder, as he left the kitchen. Camber followed behind, with is coffee cup in one hand and his briefcase in the other.