Okay, so we all know what kind of dad Victor is, but what kind of dads do you headcanon the tutor and princes to be in the future?
:Kai: “The Gentle Father”: I thought we already saw what he would be as a father JUST by how he cared for Adele in his character episode- but for those that didn’t caught on he would be the sweetest father and would go to their side first thing if he noticed something isn’t right with his child. Kai would be the not-so strict father, but at the same time he would scold them as gently as he could- buut he would have to go to his S/O if he needed someone to give the child a serious scolding if they were starting to act up. Doesn’t mind any gender, adoption is optional.
:Bruno: “The Strict-yet-Paranoid Father”: He would be the father that would make sure his child eats healthy, plays outside until curfew, checks to see if they finished their studies, and makes sure the young kid doesn’t stray too far off or talk to any unwanted strangers, but please note that he’s just scared that something would happen to them and his S/O would have to keep reassuring Bruno that his child will be alright and would one day be able to venture off on their own. Would prefer to have a son, adoption is optional.
:Leo: “The Athletic Father”: He would be the father that once his child can fully walk and is roughly old enough to be near animals with supervision he would teach his child how to ride a horse and maybe teach them how to run; at the same time he would be worried whether or not he’s a good father since he can still hear his first tutor’s dark words haunt him into his adulthood, in which he would need his S/O for reassurance if it becomes too much for his mind to cope. Would ask his S/O what gender they would want, probably wouldn’t want an adoption unless his lover asks.
:Licht: “The Doting Father”: Licht would DEFINITELY be the father to spoil his child more-often than Kai, and I mean MUCH MORE than Kai, so his S/O would have to step in to tell him when to draw the line; the poor lover would have the problem of “raising two children”, one of them being their own husband. But overall, Licht would love their child to death and in their growing years would just stand to the side and see how they talk to other people, only to step in whenever their kid gets picked on. Would prefer to have a daughter, would love to adopt one or two kids.
[Summary: All of the what ifs of Drake & Riley meeting somewhere else, in any other way.]
This scene drove me insane, so naturally, I wrote something.
“If we’d met somewhere else…anywhere else. At a club in New York or in an airport, or at a party…If you hadn’t been our waitress that night, and I hadn’t been sitting next to Liam…Do you think all of this…do you think it could’ve been different…between us?”
“Last call for boarding Flight 847 to Detroit, last call for boarding.”
Riley could just make out the flight attendant’s calm and professional voice over the usual hubub of the airport as she shifted her carry-on bag and set off towards the baggage claim.
JFK airport was almost always loud, a melting pot of sounds and people that reflected the city it was surrounded by. And Riley loved it. New York City, dubbed the “City That Never Sleeps,” was a cultural hub that Riley hoped would provide her with the adventure and excitement her hometown lacked to satisfy her travel bug for the time being.
Already, in her short trip from Gate 14 to baggage claim, she’d heard at least ten different languages, and just as many distinct accents from countries all across the globe. She’d jump at the chance to see them all, if her bank account could afford it. Riley had been saving up for years to travel the world, but her dead end job waitressing could only get her so far. For now, New York was her closest bet.
Just the very thought of how much this emergency trip back to her hometown cost her had Riley anxiously working her lip and her fingers itching to pull out her phone and text her coworkers for any shifts to pick up.
A sigh escaped Riley’s lips as she slumped against a pillar adjacent to her baggage carousel and watched suitcases go by with bored eyes and folded arms.
Before long, her eyes strayed to observe her surroundings. All around her, people moved about, some moving sluggishly, others rushing like their lives depended on it. To her right was a fierce looking woman in a pinstriped pantsuit, tersely talking on the phone while making agitated movements. To her left knelt a weary man before a crying young boy of his likeness, desperately searching through his duffle bag for something to console his son. All the while, he spoke quickly and despairingly in what Riley assumed was Italian until, at long last, he triumphantly pulled out a rather sad looking blanket out of the bag and held it up to the young boy like an offering.
Amidst the cacophony, Riley tuned into a clipped and frustrated voice, a blend of harsh staccatos with a faint and rather unrecognizable accent underneath. She turned her head as her eyes scanned the crowd for the owner of that voice, her interest now piqued. There was something familiar about that voice, although Riley was certain she’d never heard it before. It was as if her fingers were dancing across the worn ivory keys of a poorly-tuned piano to play a long-forgotten song, and she was trying to figure out the key.
Not far from where she stood by her baggage carousel, at the check-in counter of some airline she’d never heard of, Riley found him.
He had messy brown hair that curled over his shirt collar just below the nape of his neck and was dressed in jeans and a denim shirt that was haphazardly buttoned over a white T-shirt. Although she couldn’t see his face from her angle, the employee’s stressed expression and the way his back muscles strained against his shirt made it quite obvious he wasn’t happy.
Without thinking, Riley drew closer to get within earshot. She didn’t know what it was that compelled her to do so, maybe it was innocent curiosity or the fact that conflict is always interesting to watch. Or maybe, just maybe, it was the way this stranger was so oddly familiar. The way she knew that voice, in every tone it came in, without ever having heard it before.
“Listen, lady, I need to be on the next flight back to Cordonia,” the man said as he placed his hands on the counter and leaned forward, pleading with the airline employee. “I’m not supposed to be here, I -”
“But you bought a plane ticket to New York?”
“Well, yeah,” he grumbled, pushing his hands through his dark hair. “I came here for someone, but they aren’t…they aren’t here and I’ve got someone back home who needs me now. I’ve got the money -”
“Sir, I’m sorry, but if you bought your ticket here to New York City on your own, we aren’t responsible for your being here and cannot prioritize you over other customers,” the employee shook her head as she looked down at her computer screen. “If you want to be on the next flight to Cordonia, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until tomorrow morning. I’d be more than happy to assist you in purchasing your ticket for that flight, but otherwise -”
“But tomorrow morning isn’t good enough!” the man groaned, hands fisting in his hair before falling to his side. “It says right there that there’s a flight leaving in forty-five minutes!” he said, pointing at the screen on the wall behind her that displayed the flight schedules.
“A flight we no longer sell tickets for,” the employee stated wearily, as if they’d already gone over this before. “Plane tickets are no longer sold two hours prior to departure, and we ask that all guests check in at least an hour before take off. The soonest we can get you in the air is tomorrow morning at eight.”
“Well, then what the hell am I supposed to do until tomorrow morning?” he snapped before slamming his hand down on the counter in frustration, capturing the attention of quite a few people nearby.
“Sir,” the woman said, stern and slightly startled by his sudden action. Her eyes scanned the area around them, worried that he would start to draw too much attention.
As if only just realizing he was in public, the man stepped back and turned in a half circle to see the small audience he had begun to draw in. For the first time, Riley was finally able to get a good view of the man’s face. He had a strong jaw, a nose that looked as if it had been chiseled out of marble for the bust of Julius Caesar, dark eyes, and a brooding expression to match.
Before she could even think to look away, his eyes swiftly swept over the mass of people before landing directly on hers.
Riley sucked in a breath between her teeth, a jolt going through her body and awakening every nerve as she felt the full force of his stare. Glare? Oh, if he wasn’t before, he was definitely glaring now. His lips twisted into a scowl and Riley quickly turned, busying herself with the search for her suitcase once again as she felt her face flush.
The second she found the old, beat up, black suitcase she’d taken on nearly every trip since middle school, Riley peeled out of there as fast as possible, the rickety wheels wobbling with every step she took. Even as she approached the automatic sliding doors, she could still feel his eyes on her, burning into the back of her skull. When she stepped outside, Riley hesitated, filled with the odd and nonsensical need to turn around.
She kept going.
“Right, Kismet at eight,” Riley repeated, her phone wedged between her cheek and her shoulder as she hastily scribbled the words down on a coffee-stained napkin she found in her bag. “Damn pen,” she muttered under her breath as ink bled into her fingers and smudged onto the napkin. Shifting everything around again, she wedged the clean end of the pen between her teeth, shoved the napkin into her back pocket, switched her phone to her other hand, and checked her watch. Six thirty. She took the pen out of her mouth and tapped it against her hip. “I can do that.”
An hour and a half. That was just enough time for Riley catch the bus home, unload her stuff, take a quick shower, and head over to Kismet, the hottest club in town to potentially pick up a friend of a friend’s shift, assuming they still needed the help.
“Uh huh,” she nodded, pacing around the shelter next to the bus stop as she spoke on the phone. “Of course, it’s no problem…No, not at all…Money is money after all…Alright, cool, thanks…Yeah, you too…Okay, bye.”
Satisfied, Riley hung up with a relieved smile. Due to a series of calls, she was able to find someone through a mutual friend who needed somebody to cover for her at a popular club while she went on a date. It was only for one night and the pay wasn’t nearly enough to make up for her last trip, but it was good enough.
Riley dropped her phone into her bag and plopped down on the bench, leaning back and rubbing her tired eyes. She wondered how many cups of coffee it’d take to get through the night.
“Does this mean you’re done pacing now? It was really starting to get on my nerves.”
Rylie shot up in her seat, eyes fluttering open. To her left sat the same man from earlier in the airport, with the cool expression and the brooding eyes. A duffle bag sat at his feet.
“I didn’t realize…” Riley shook her head and scooted backwards, putting some space between her and the stranger. She’d been so wrapped up in her phone call, she must not have noticed when he arrived. As her eyes took in his impassive expression and she remembered his irritated tone, her brows furrowed and she pursed her lips. Any timorous feelings she had under his gaze before had completely disappeared. “How long have you been there?”
“Long enough,” he shrugged, folding his arms across his chest and letting his legs stretch out. “What’s Kismet?”
“It’s a club,” she answered curtly. “Didn’t anyone ever teach you that it’s rude to listen into other people’s conversations?” And then, wilting slightly under his inquisitive but intense eyes, she added, “And to stare?”
The man raised an eyebrow and the corner of his lip just barely quirked up. “Didn’t anyone ever teach you?”
Rylie felt her face go hot again and she quickly looked away, mumbling under her breath. “That was different.”
“Oh really? How?” he scoffed. “Pray tell.”
Rylie scowled and sent him a scalding look as she crossed her arms as well. “Maybe if you hadn’t made such a big scene, I wouldn’t have paid any attention.”
“And I’m just supposed to ignore you pacing all around the bus station in front of me?”
“That’d be much appreciated.” Riley quipped, turning slightly away from him so she didn’t have to see his irritating smirk and longer than she had to.
“Is everyone in this town so hypocritical?” he muttered bitterly.
“City.” Riley corrected him.
She glanced over her shoulder, raising an eyebrow before looking away again. “This a city. You know, New York City…The City That Never Sleeps…”
”Fine, fine. Is everyone in the city this annoying?” the man groaned, covering his face with his hands before pushing them back through his hair. Then, he dropped his hands to rest his arms on his knees and looked up at Riley, his expression growing smug. “Or is it just you?”
Heat flared up in Riley’s stomach and in her cheeks. She whipped her head in his direction, eyes narrowed into a glare. “Don’t get pissy with me just because you bought a ticket to a city you don’t even want to be in. I mean, who does that? And it’s not my fault that you can’t go home today, so leave me out of your little mope fest.”
For a split, incredibly satisfying, second, the man’s expression fell and his brows raised in surprise at her sudden outburst. But just as quickly as it came, his shock melted away. His brows pulled together, a deep crease forming in the middle, and his lips twisted into a scowl very similar to the one he gave her earlier, but with so much more intensity.
“You have no idea what you’re talking about,” he snapped, eyes flashing. “I didn’t have a choice. I had to come here.”
Riley studied him for a few moments, pensive. He didn’t look the business type. He had only a duffle bag at his feet - no briefcase - so his venture out here couldn’t have been work related. He wasn’t a tourist, he made that much clear. And he clearly wasn’t from around here - any of the states, probably - given how out of place he looked here. There was also the fact that whatever place he was talking about earlier with the airline employee certainly didn’t sound like any place in America. What was it again? Cordonia?
“Why are you here?” she questioned, her tone no longer harsh but simply curious.
The man’s expression slightly softened as well. “I…” he trailed off, looking crestfallen. His dark eyes took on a hazy appearance and as if he was suddenly miles away. A few moments passed before he abruptly shook his head, coming out of whatever trance he seemed to have been in. He met Riley’s gaze once more, expression guarded yet again. “Forget it,” he mumbled under his breath and looked away. “You wouldn’t understand.”
Not sure how to reply to that, Riley stayed quiet and let the cars around them fill the awkward silence between them.
When her bus finally came, Riley was surprised to see the man stand as well and walk over to the curb for boarding. She wondered if he even knew where he was going. Or what he was doing.
Her questions answered themselves as she stood on the step behind him, waiting as he searched his pockets fruitlessly for any spare change to pay the bus driver. In the end, the best he could procure were a few foreign-looking coins and his wallet.
“I don’t suppose you take credit cards, do you?” he asked, no hope in his voice as he flipped open his wallet.
The bus driver shook her head.
Shoulders sagging, he turned to get off of the bus. His arm brushed against Riley’s as he passed.
She turned to watch him go, so defeated, and before she could think twice about it…
Riley pulled a few extra dollars from her bag and held them out to the driver along with her own bus fare as the man halted in his tracks and turned to look at her, brows furrowed.
“I’ve got him covered.”
She could feel his eyes on her as the driver took the cash and she took off down the aisle without waiting to see if he got on or not. Riley made her way towards the back of the bus and tried to sort out her reasoning for helping the gruff stranger out. By the time she had rationalized that she simply felt bad for him and she was a good person, she heard him mumble a low thank you to the driver and the doors slid shut.
As the bus lurched forward, Riley sat down in an empty row by the window with her suitcase at her feet and immediately pulled out her phone to text her family that she arrived safely and her friends that she was back home.
Someone sat down beside her, and without having to even look, Riley knew it was the stranger from the airport again.
Minutes passed in silence, Rylie scrolling through her feed as the man sat there, occasionally glancing over at her and opening his mouth to say something, but ultimately deciding against it.
Finally, he spoke up.
“You didn’t have to do that, you know,” he said softly. “Pay for me, I mean.”
Riley didn’t say anything for a while and the man looked away, accepting her lack of response as a response.
At the sound of her voice, he turned his head towards her again. She still hadn’t looked up from scrolling on her phone.
“So…why’d you do it?”
His simple question caused her thumb to stall over the phone screen. He watched as she bit the inside of her cheek and shrugged. “I don’t know. I felt bad, I guess.”
“But,” he shook his head, dumbfounded. “I was a jerk to you.”
Riley let out a small laugh and locked her phone before letting it drop into her lap. “Yeah. You were,” she said, looking out the window. “But you seemed to be having a rough day. And being alone in a big city…I guess I can see why it’d suck.”
He studied her, thoughtfully and with a slight twinge of guilt about the way he’d acted towards her earlier. He’d have to apologize for that later, make it up if he could. He wondered vaguely if she liked whiskey.
“What’s your name?” he asked. The question was innocent enough.
It got her to finally turn towards him brows raised. “Riley,” she said. “Riley Cole.”
“Drake.” He held out his hand to her, feeling obliged to introduce himself to this stranger after she’d helped and put up with him. Riley examined his hand briefly before grasping it, her smaller hand easily fitting into his.
Letting go of his hand, she faced forward in her seat again. “So, Drake… Do you even know what you’re doing on this bus?”
He startled her with a short laugh, a low rumble in his throat. “Not a clue,” Drake admitted. “I figured that if I rode around long enough, I’d find a bar or something.”
Riley looked at him incredulously. “Seriously?”
“You come all the way to New York City, and you just want to spend the night in a bar?” Rylie couldn’t imagine choosing a bar over the New York night life. Sure, she could appreciate a good drink with good company, but was he actually serious? She worked in a bar and there was nothing glorious about it.
Drake shrugged. “You got a better plan, Cole?”
“Only about a million…” she muttered, shaking her head.
Suddenly, an idea began to form. A ridiculous, stupid, and not-thought-out-at-all idea at that. But when Riley looked up at him, she couldn’t imagine just leaving him to spend the night in some bar. And as the familiar street signs and buildings came into view around her, she realized her stop was coming up. It was now or never.
“Look,” Riley said, standing up and adjusting her jacket before grabbing her suitcase. “Why don’t you let me show you around?”
“Wait, what?” Drake’s eyebrows shot up, mouth slightly agape as he swung his legs out into the aisle to let her through. “Really? Why?”
“Apparently, I’m not done pitying you,” she muttered, not quite able to believe she was doing this either. “I might be picking up a shift tonight, but afterwards… Well, it’d be a damn shame if you came all this way and never got to see the good parts of the city.”
“I couldn’t ask…Cole, are you sure about this?” Drake asked as the bus came to a halt. Suddenly, many of the other passengers came to life, standing and pushing their way towards the front or rear bus exits.
“As sure as I can be,” she told him over her shoulder as she fell in step with the crowd. “Just meet me after I’m done and I promise, you won’t hate the city as much as you do now.”
“I – wait!” Drake abruptly stood up and called after her as she stepped off the last stair and onto the curb. “How am I supposed to…?”
His voice got lost in the city sounds, people talking, dogs barking, and cars honking. Desperately, he tried to push his way closer to a window she could hear him out of, but it was no use.
It wasn’t until the doors sealed shut and the bus’s engine sputtered off that she realized.
He had no idea where to find her, no way to contact her.
Riley whirled around, lips calling after the bus to wait but it was already lumbering down the block. She groaned, slapping her palm against her forehead and cursing her own stupidity. After checking her watch and weighing her options, Riley’s shoulders slumped and she turned away to go up the stairs to her apartment building. Even if she went after him and, by some miracle, actually found him, she’d probably never make it to Kismet on time.
“Sorry,” she mumbled, even though he was long gone. Guilt gnawed away at the insides of her stomach and she could have sworn her feet felt just a little heavier than they had before.
Back on the bus, Drake ran his hands through his hair, tugging at the ends as he stared through the window where he’d last seen Cole. Despite his yelling, she hadn’t heard him. And he was pretty sure the universe was just playing one big joke on him as she stopped and turned, the realization dawning on her face, after the bus pulled away.
“Of course,” he muttered, shaking his head as he went back to his seat. Of course, this happened to him. It was just his luck that he’d wind up alone in one of the busiest cities in the world and the only person who finally started to help him just slipped away.
As Drake sat back, he sighed out heavily and glanced over at the seat Riley had occupied less than a minute ago. He let his hands drop into his lap and was about to face forward again when something else caught his eye.
A scribbled-on napkin with an inky thumbprint smudged on the corner.
Kismet. 8 PM.
Drake read it and reread it a few times, his thumb brushing over the hasty scrawl and then settling his larger thumb over the smaller print. A faint smile just barely etched its way onto his face as he pocketed the napkin and pulled out his phone, looking up directions.
So their grandma held a tea party and invite Eins. Leonhardt’s 3 elder brothers just left so only the eldest aka the most intimidating big brother can attend it. The count, Adele and Heine also joined the tea party. As for Viktor, he’s really busy so he can’t even if he want to. In this chapter, we had a glimpse of Eins soft side. He refused to smoke when he’s with his grandma and little sister. It also seems he’s worried over his grandma’s health condition and showed a gentle expression. So his grandma is his soft spot? I just find it interesting that he keeps giving his father a cold shoulder and yet he finished his job quickly so he can attend his grandma’s tea party. XD Its either he probably hates Viktor or he just find Viktor’s doting very troublesome lol. He also seems to love teasing Leonhardt’s stupidity? Yes, I call it “teasing”. Its normal with siblings but I think his younger brothers just mistook it as criticism because of his stern look? XD
Juan Famenias Floris began creating scents for the Royal Family in 1730 after marrying Elizabeth “my English rose” and the company received its first Royal Warrant in 1800 as Smooth Pointed Comb Maker to King George IV. The original warrant can still be seen above the shop.
Today Floris is run by John Bodenham and Chris Marsh, direct descendants of the founder, and it is still the official perfumier to the Queen although Princes Charles, William and Harry all use Floris products.
So, because you’re all thirsty for Drake you all love my writing, some of you asked me to do an alternative version of “A Risk Worth Taking” where MC decides to go to Drake instead of staying with Liam. (Looking at you @secretnerdharmony, @violetflipflops and @shhakeandbake!)
So, this would pick up shortly after Liam told MC about Drake’s feelings for her. I wrote it imagining that she didn’t tend to Drake’s wounds after his fight with Tariq and that she didn’t go into the Beaumont study with him (basically, all those scenes were he admitted feelings for her.)
Rating: M for naughty language and innuendo. Look away, children!
Gripping the flask until his
fingertips turned white, Drake took a long swallow of whiskey as he stared out
the window and wondered where he’d go now that he couldn’t stay at the palace
any longer. To Bertrand and
Maxwell? With their family fortune
restored, he knew Bertrand would pay him well if he could keep Maxwell out of
trouble. But was any amount of money
worth having to keep Maxwell from acting like a thirteen-year-old with his
father’s credit card?
No, the Beaumonts weren’t the
Maybe he’d go to America and
look for his mother’s relatives. She’d
mentioned she brother, hadn’t she? Someone
who owned land out west. Maybe he’d make
his away across the states, working odd jobs until he found a place where he
could forget what had happened. He wasn’t
afraid of working, but he was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to escape the
memory of the woman he’d loved and his own cowardice.
“I can’t believe you.”
He jumped and whirled around,
surprised to see Riley standing in the doorway to his bedroom. The darkness in his room shrouded her face in
shadow, but he could see her clenched fists and hear the sharp, angry tone in
her voice. He sucked in a breath and
rocked back on his heels, desperate to get as far away from her as was possible
without jumping out the window. “What
the hell are you doing here, Watson?”
She slammed the door behind her
and walked towards him, her face coming into the light. He’d seen her angry before, but he’d never
seen her this furious, not even when Tariq had accosted her in her bedroom.
“I’m here to give you a piece of
my mind, Hunter,” she said, voice
don’t lose their tempers,” he muttered, taking another swallow of his drink, “it’s
“Don’t you dare talk to me like
that. I’m not a queen… and I never will
He paused, words sticking in his
throat as he tried to sound bored. “What
are you talking about?”
She inhaled deeply, her brown
eyes shooting furious daggers into his own.
“How could you not tell me how you felt?”
Drake blinked, his mouth
dropping open. “He told you?”
“Yes, and I am so furious at you I can hardly speak.”
He tried to laugh, but it came
out as a choking noise instead as he raised the flask to take another
drink. “Forgive me, my lady, I hadn’t realized that having a commoner’s love was so
She reached up, snatching the
flask out of his hand.
“Hey!” he shouted, but it was
too late. She’d walked to the window and
hurled it clear across the garden. He
watched it fly through the night air until it landed in one of the fountains
with an audible splash.
“Not this time,” she said, turning
on him. “No more hiding behind your
whiskey and snarky comments. We’re going
to have a real conversation, and we’re going to have it now.”
He started to say something, but
the quivering of her chin and suddenly shine in her eyes made him stop. Christ, she was going to cry. He could handle her anger, he could handle
her shouting, but he knew then that he couldn’t handle her tears.
“I’m furious because I heard it
from Liam and not from you. Despite
everything we’ve done, all the time we’ve spent together, you never had the courage
and you never trusted me enough to tell me how you felt.”
She was crying now, two little
twin rivers of tears that curved over her cheeks down to her chin. He wanted to reach out and wipe them away,
but he kept his hands at his side instead, knowing that if he touched her now
he’d never stop.
With a deep breath, she blinked and continued. “I’m furious that for months, you let me
doubt myself. Every time I caught you
looking at me just a little too long, I wondered if I was imagining things. I overanalyzed everything; all your little smiles,
your little complements, even the backhanded ones that were so fucking annoying. But just when I thought I knew what was going
on and I tried to get close to you, you pushed me away. And after what happened with Tariq, where you
ran out of my room as fast as you could, I decided that I was a fool.”
She looked away from him,
walking towards the window as he covered her eyes with her right hand and
wrapped her left arm around her waist. “I’m
furious at myself, too. I’m mad that I’ve
been telling myself and everyone else here that I’m here for Liam, when I know
that’s been a damn lie from the beginning.”
He took a step towards her,
stopping when he was only a few inches from her. “Why were you here, Watson?”
She looked up at him over her
shoulder. “Do you remember what you told
me when I asked you why you stayed here at court even though you knew you didn’t
He nodded. “For Liam.”
She tried to smile, but
failed. “And I stayed for you. I wanted to look out for you the same way you
look out for everyone else, to make you feel like you were worth something, to
make you understand that someone loved you… and that she still does.”
“I…” he faltered, “Riley, I’m so
In an instant, she was against
his chest, sobbing into his white shirt as her hands clutched at his grey
vest. He wrapped his arms around her,
one around her waist and the other over her shoulders. He kissed the top of her head, resting his
chin against her hair as he closed his eyes.
“You’re right. I should have told
He reached up, cupping the back of her neck with both his hands as he
pulled her away so he could look at her face.
He desperately kissed her forehead, her temples, and her cheeks as he
spoke, all the feelings and thoughts spilling out before he could stop them.
“I should have told you that night we snuck out to the bakery that I
realized seeing you was the favorite part of my day. I should have told you on my birthday that it
was the first time in nearly twenty years that I didn’t go to bed miserable
because I’d spent it with you. At the
beach, I should have told you how wonderful it felt to have your hands touching
me. When we visited the ruins, I should
have kissed you for the first time like I wanted to. And when I found Tariq in your room, I should
have told you that I loved you so much that would do any and everything I could
to keep you from getting hurt.”
She sniffed softly, her hands gently caressing his chest as she leaned
into his kisses. “Why? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want to hurt Liam, I didn’t want to embarrass you, I didn’t
want to make you choose. But—“
“What?” she asked, opening her eyes to stare into his.
He pulled her close, forcing his voice to stay steady as she wrapped her
arms around his middle and pressed herself to him. “Riley, everyone who I’ve loved, everyone who’s
loved me, left me. I survived that all,
but I didn’t think I could survive that.”
“Drake,” she said, pressing a soft kiss to his chin as she held him. “I’m not leaving… not without you.”
He looked down, tipping her chin upward so that he could find her lips
with his own. He’d pictured kissing her
a hundred times, but he’d never thought it would be like this. He’d never imagined it could feel so right,
that she’d feel so perfect in his arms, that she’d kiss him back with the same
ferocious longing that left them both breathless yet wanting more.
As they parted, she looked up at him, smiling. He pressed his forehead to hers, chuckling
“All the times I fantasized about holding you
and telling you how I felt, never got past this point. I… I don’t know what to say. I mean, what do we do now?”
“Lock the door,” she whispered as she pulled his head down to his again
for another kiss, “and let’s start making up for lost time.”
“Your Highnesses, today’s lesson once again involves you thinking as if you were already king. You are married, and your lady queen will soon give birth to your first child. If she has a son, you have an heir, a successor to the throne. If she has a daughter, you can form an alliance with a neighboring country. Which do you see as most important?”
The princes all sat for several moments, looking down at their feet and frowning.
“Why?” Kai asked at last, and his brothers all looked at him.
“Why what, Kai?” Leonhard asked.
“Why should we think like that?” Kai drew his long legs up against his chest. “Is it not more important to love the child?”
“That’s kind of a given,” Licht chimed in as he sprawled more comfortably in his chair. “Love makes the world go round, after all!”
“But still, as king, we would have a responsibility and duty to the royal line,” Bruno said slowly. “Sentiment is all well and good, but as royals, we face considerations that the general populace does not.”
“You are so cold-hearted, Brunie, just like always. You not only lack the soul of a king, you lack the heart, too!”
Bruno’s eyes flashed as he leapt to his feet.
Heine held up one hand warningly. “Your Highnesses-”
Licht stared up at his older brother in surprise, caught completely off guard by his sudden fury. “Brunie-”
“If you want to consider cold-hearted, Licht, consider that our little sister is barely three years old, and she is already affianced! Kai was betrothed since he was younger than you! Not to mention that we all exist solely to perpetuate the royal line if anything were ever to happen to Eins!” Bruno was shouting by the time he was finished.
The three other princes sat back in their seats, while Heine sighed and pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose.
“Prince Bruno raises an excellent point. You should all be familiar with the term ‘heir and spare,’ which is, as he so bluntly pointed out, exactly what you are. But that does not in any way diminish the fact that His Majesty, your father, loves all of you dearly.”
Leonhard tugged at his bangs and looked miserable. “But… Bruno’s right. It is cold. And… and I don’t know if I could be like that, if I were king.”
“Me either,” Kai said softly. “When I have children, I want them to be happy, and loved, and safe. I would not want to bargain them away, even for Granzreich.”
“Would you keep your children chained to your side forever, then, Highness?” Heine asked, his eyes moving to Kai. “It is the duty of every parent to raise their children to the best of their ability, and then trust in that love and care and upbringing to guide the child as they head out into the world. You do not own your children, you are only given them for a short while.”
Bruno had resumed his seat but still looked deeply troubled. “But what happens if we make the wrong decision, Master? Is it not the duty of the king to always do what is best for the kingdom?”
Licht was quiet, remembering his father’s words outside the cafe. “It is for the kingdom, you’re right, but it’s also for my family too, whom I adore.”
He bowed his head, ashamed as he thought of how he’d accused his own father of the same cold-heartedness of which he’d just accused Bruno. “I think… that as king… we have to balance duty with love. One cannot take precedence over the other.” He rose from his chair and crossed over to Bruno, and then slowly put his hand on his elder brother’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, brother.”
Bruno looked startled, then rested his hand on Licht’s. “As am I. And you’re right. A king’s heart must be guided by both. To be one is too rigid; the other, too weak.” The prince looked at Heine. “I am sorry, Master, but my brothers are right. As king, I would wish only that my child be healthy and happy, and that I have the wisdom to raise that child well.”
Kai, Licht, and Leonhard all nodded, and Heine’s eyes crinkled slightly in satisfaction.
“Well said, Your Highnesses. It is clear you have already learned well from your father’s example. I have no doubt you would make fine fathers yourselves.”
The four princes all smiled.
Until Heine added, “I can only hope your children do not turn out to be nearly the handful that you four are now.”