Thanks everybody for hanging in there with me, back from vacation and ready to continue. Thanks to my editor, I appreciate their time and effort. Thanks to you guys that are reading and commenting and voting for my story, I appreciate your time and effort too. EMD
Naomi sat in her Father's study as he paced around the room looking pensive and angry. The royal family's publicist and one of the ministers of the House of Gentry were both sitting also looking at her Father as he paced. She knew them both, the publicist, Sheila Graham was originally from New York and usually boisterous, always with something to say. Minister Killian was part of the Foreign Relations Ministry, why he was here, she wasn't sure. She'd been summoned the Sunday morning after her arrival back in Bocara to her Father's office. He was mad, angrier than she'd ever seen him. If he could turn red, he would have, but he couldn't so he just breathed deeply. It looked as if he was trying to calm himself down before he spoke. This would be first time she'd spoken to him at any length since her arrival back from Germany.
“Naomi, I must first express my deep disappointment at your actions in Germany,” he said in an even but hard tone.
'Oh no' Naomi thought, not the disappointment speech, she hated this one. He could have slapped her and it would have been easier. The disappointment speech just rendered her so guilt ridden she could barely show her face in public.
King Milo stepped to the side of Naomi's chair and looked down at her, meaning to intimidate her and it was certainly working well. His dark eyes held anger but more than that they held disappointment at the poor choices she had made during her holiday. He sighed deeply his chest heaving, his head was down and his eyes closed. He was attempting to gain his composure, she wasn't a five year old anymore, but she felt like one. He was trying to treat her as any adult in his cabinet and royal household when they made a mistake, but she was his daughter and he loved her and wanted her to be happy. He could never quite understand why she always seemed so eager to snub her nose at being a royal. She played her role as Princess very well, but he knew she wasn't always happy about the life they led. She wouldn't dare say it out loud but sometimes he knew she would brood silently and especially when she did things like this that were passive aggressive to show her feelings about this life. He knew it was difficult to be a royal since as a young man, he had also had troubles with his fate but by the time he was her age he had accepted that this was his life and there was no getting out of it. It had been his fate and duty to be king of Bocara Island, he just couldn't understand why Naomi seemed bent on railing against this duty. He could see her out of the corner of his eye, she was scared, but the look on her face still held a hint of defiance. 'I'll be darned' he thought to himself she was him as a young man, all bravado with no sense of duty. Well, she must learn her duty and she will learn it now.
“This stunt you pulled during your holiday has shamed our country and the royal household deeply. I must say, I know you have better sense than this Naomi, to lie to me about the goings on in Germany, to sneak off with some commoner, a white American of all things. We have been making calls, asking for favors hoping to get this news to simmer down and not go into full scandal mode, but it's already close.” He chose that time to look at her with hard eyes and Naomi just stared up, she knew not to look away when her Father spoke it would be her downfall.
“Do you have anything to say for yourself, Naomi?” it was more of a rhetorical question because no matter what she said there was no way to explain this away.
“I am trying to ease tensions between us and the Duke and Duchess of Endlemen who are threatening to call off the royal engagement.”
In her mind, Naomi was thinking she would have been relieved if she could get this engagement called off, but she knew the handlers would smooth that over and it would still take place.
“They are thoroughly embarrassed and are not pleased thinking that their son may be marrying a princess without purity.”
“What?” Naomi almost shouted, she couldn't believe it, that tramp son of theirs, and they had the audacity to besmirch her reputation.
Her Father's eyes flashed fire at her, “What did you say? You have no right to be upset with anyone at this moment young lady. Your mother and I have to put up with the insinuations and gossip about our household and our own daughter running wild as a buck in Germany. Now is not the time for any more foolishness from you Naomi. We will go through with this engagement as planned at the end of the Festival of Feasts and you will be there for all the celebrations and you will stand, be cordial and polite and wave and keep your bloody mouth shut. Do you understand me?” his voice was rose as he gave the speech.
Naomi knew now was not the time to try out her newfound bravery, “Yes, sir I understand”
“Minister Killian and I will be giving a press conference tomorrow. You will be there. Ms. Graham will be preparing a statement for you to make. You will be apologizing most profusely in it and begging for mercy and forgiveness of the Bocaran people. Do you understand?”
Naomi looked over at Minister Killian and Ms. Graham, who both looked liked they wanted to be somewhere else.
“Yes, I understand.”
“You have embarrassed this country and this family enough with this stupid dalliance of yours. It is unbelievable that you did not think beyond your own selfish desires and what this would do to your country and our reputation as the monarchy. I don't know if I can trust you now.”
In her ears her father sounded so sad, she was sad too because the time she had spent with Douglas had been way more than a stupid dalliance. But she knew her father would never understand that she had fallen in love with this commoner, this white guy from America, who had the sweetest ocean blue eyes that turned stormy grey when he was full of passion, and tousled brown hair and who kissed her like she was the only thing that mattered to him. She could feel tears welling up in her eyes as her Father dismissed her from his office. She left silently, she knew in a few hours she'd be receiving the speech from Ms. Graham, words that would leave her empty and grim. She didn't want to apologize for falling in love. As she walked to the back of the palace and out to the outer grounds she let the tears fall. None of this was right or fair, she loved him and knew he loved her too but she was about to become engaged to a man she hardly knew and didn't want to know any better. She ran to the gardens and sat on her favorite bench. It was an old wooden bench with many names and sayings that had been craved into it over the years. She used to come out here in her childhood when she needed to think and to look among the beautiful tropical blooms of her island and let her mind wander. She wasn't sure what to do, she had turned something good into something tragic and now she couldn't take it back. She'd still been trying to contact Douglas off and on but he didn't answer her calls or return any of her e-mails. She put her head in her hands and just cried because she was trapped and she couldn't get out. She was never going to be happy no matter what she did she'd just have to be Princess Naomi, there was no self, only her country and her duty to it.
Doug hadn't been sleeping and tonight wasn't any different. Naomi had been calling and sending e-mails but his pride couldn't let him talk to her. It was too much, the pain was too deep or maybe it was just his ego at having been made a dumbass by some woman again. But although he felt so much anger at what she had done, he'd been keeping up with what was going on with her on her island. He'd seen that she'd given a press conference a few days ago to apologize and ask for forgiveness for her mistake. Was that what he was, a mistake on her way to the altar. It also looked like she was still about to get engaged to some guy that looked like he had been dropped from a bad pimp movie, his name was Randolph. 'Who names someone Randolph' Doug mused and he was as arrogant as he seemed distant. Doug could tell that he didn't love Naomi and she sure didn't love him. His words in the news were dismissive and hurtful towards her all the while trying to seem heartbroken at her supposed betrayal. But from what Doug had read about him he was an around the world playboy, seen with many women of every color imaginable on his arm. 'What a dickhead' he thought and she has to marry this asshole. Even she didn't deserve this kind of life, one with a husband that has no respect for her or her family.
He was mad but at the same time he was sad at the possibility of what they could have had with each other. He knew he felt sad because he loved her and something in him told him that she loved him. During the press conference she looked so lost, so sad, he saw it in her face and wondered why no one else noticed as they bombarded her with camera lights and shouted invasive questions at her. She had been gracious and elegant just as royalty should be but he could see in those beautiful coffee colored eyes that she was sad, almost like she'd been knocked out for the count.
He lay in his bed missing her, it was the middle of the night and he couldn't sleep, he kept dreaming of her. Her face, those beautiful soft full lips, that smooth sweet body that fit so perfectly with his own and those delicate hands that had caressed his body with such tenderness. He missed having her in his bed beside him although she'd never been in this bed, it still didn't seem right not to have her right beside him. Doug turned over and ran his hand over the pillow and closed his eyes to continue his fitful night of sleep.
The next day at work, he was in the lab testing some cultures he'd received regarding a possible strain of whooping cough.
“Damn,” he said to himself he'd done this test twice and was messing up the culture each time. His mind was so consumed with Naomi. He'd really been doing a lousy job at work and that wasn't good. People's lives depended on his work he needed to get this right.
“You okay, Dr. Harper,” his research assistant, Kody asked him. Kody was a good kid, just out of college with a wife and baby of his own. It was hard to believe the kid was only 23 years old. When Doug was the only things on his mind were partying and women even though he was in med school. He was always surprised he made it all the way through, those were some wild days.
“Yea, Kody I'm great. I just cannot get this culture right for this X-17-7 culture test. I haven't been sleeping great and I think it's starting to effect me a little.”
“I know what you mean Dr. Harper. When my son got colic, man I was up all night sometimes. It's tough.”
“Oh, I wish it was something as legitimate as a colicky baby but my matter is just of the romantic kind.”
“Awww, man that's even worse. A baby will get over colic, getting over a broken heart is harder.”
He watched as Kody walked away, for a young kid he was quite insightful. He hadn't been that insightful maybe ever, but now as he sat on the stool looking over another ruined culture, he couldn't help but think he had to do something about this. He had to talk to her, bring closure to this or she'd haunt him forever. But how would he do that, his phone started to vibrate in his pocket. He was wondering if it was her again trying to call him as he pulled it out, instead he noticed that it was Dhani. He'd talked to his friend briefly over this time and forgave him for keeping the secret from him but he was still a little hurt by it.
“Hey Big Man, what's up?” Doug spoke as soon as he opened his phone.
“Nothing man. I'm calling to check on my boy. You know I still feel bad. Part of this is my fault. I still feel like you haven't completely forgiven me. “
Doug was walking towards his small office in the back of the lab, “You're forgiven man, get over it. I'm still trying to deal with it myself. She's been calling and I haven't been answering.”
“She has,” Dhani said with a little worry in his voice, he knew Doug could be a sensitive guy and this had really hurt him, “Well I talked to Freddie. You wanna know what she said?”
Doug thought for a minute as he sat behind his desk, did he want to know, the hurt part of him was screaming no but the part that still had deep longings for that beautiful chocolate goddess said hell ya. He sighed “Yea, go ahead and tell me.”
“Freddie told me, she's heartbroken man. Her father has been giving her hell and she's just tore up about you and how she feels about you. It's taken a toll on her dude.”
“So what,” he automatically said, she's sad and heartbroken, she did this not him.
“Man, ain't the girl suffered enough,” Dhani spoke with agitation in his voice Doug's stubbornness was starting to get old, “ain't you suffered enough?”
Doug didn't know about her, but he certainly felt like he had.
“So what do you suggest Dhani, I get on a plane go down and try to see her?”
“Yea,” Dhani said nonchalantly.
“Man, are you serious?”
“Hell to the yea, I'm serious. Either you two need to fuck or fight, one or the other but it's got to go down. I don't really have any more time off but I could get Friday off and take the plane to Bocara with you for support. It'll also give me a chance to see my girl, Freddie. So this ain't just for you. I miss her and want to see her.”
“Well, I do still have sabbatical time I could take, but this is such short notice. But then again I've been screwing up so much at work, they'd probably be happy to see me gone again.”
“What you gonna do, Doug?”
Doug thought this would be a chance to get everything out in the open, he'd been left with so many questions and it was driving him nuts not to have answers.
“Alright man I'll do it. But you know they're having that big festival there. I'm sure we can buy plane tickets, but what about hotel rooms.”
“Listen, I have a friend in the royal household if they can't get a hotel room, who can?” Dhani said laughing.
But Doug wasn't amused. He was going to her country to see her again. He was finally going to figure out whether this had all been some joke to her. Either she'd send his heart soaring or crush it forever and he was terrified either way.
Naomi was sitting in the kitchen early Saturday morning. The Grand Parade was taking place this morning at 10 am and she would be in it with Zoe and Freddie. She was sitting at the huge butcher block table in the center of the kitchen, it was around 6 am and most of the kitchen staff was just getting up to prepare breakfast. She was nervous about the parade this morning and still thinking about Douglas so she hadn't slept well. As she sipped orange juice, she pondered what she was possibly going to do to stop the engagement announcement next Saturday when the Festival of Feasts ended. She hadn't come up with anything that she thought might convince her Father to delay the announcement. She was relieved she didn't have to ride in this parade with Randolph; she thought her Father might really feel like punishing her and subject her to his boorish company for the morning. She had given up on calling Douglas since he wasn't answering and now she was trying to come to grips with the fact that he'd probably put her and this debacle behind him and gone on with his life. 'He'll make some lucky woman a great husband one day,' she thought but it hurt her heart to think that it would never be her.
“Noami, chile' how are you this morning?” she felt Freddie's arms encircle her neck, giving her a hug. She put her hands up to grasp on to Freddie's and squeezed them.
“I'm doing okay, as well as I could be with the start of the festival. I'm just not in the celebrating spirit, you know?”
Freddie went over and poured herself a cup of coffee as a few of the kitchen staff bustled around them making sure to look busy and not eavesdrop on their conversation.
“I know, Naomi. I know you're having a hard time with this. I want to give you good news but I don't have any,” Freddie sat on the stool next to her and looked at her with sympathetic eyes.
“It's okay. I'm beginning to realize that it is probably over. He's never going to forgive me or talk to me again. I don't know why I did that to him, why I deceived him and acted as if it were no big deal,” she looked over at Freddie with such regret, “but you told me, didn't you? You warned me about playing with his feelings and in the end I got played. Hmpf.” It was a sad realization she was trying to protect her own heart and it ended up getting broken anyway.
Freddie put her arm around her and pulled her close, “Oh, I'm not going to do the 'I told you so' Naomi. You thought you were doing the right thing, it just turned out that it wasn't.”
“But you know what Freddie, I knew in my mind I was doing the wrong thing and I thought I could make it turn out right. I'm just a stupid Princess, who's selfish and shallow and mean and dumb.”
Freddie turned to her and said sternly as possible, “You listen to me, chile'. You are not stupid, selfish, shallow, dumb, and certainly not mean. You're my Princess and my friend and I love you. So you made a mistake, now you can learn from it.”
Naomi smiled back at Freddie. She was the best personal assistant ever and an even better friend.
“I guess you're right Freddie. Anyway, I don't want to think about that now. I still have to prepare for this parade this morning. By the way, how are you and Dhani doing?”
Freddie perked right up at the mention of her hunk of man, Dhani. They had been getting to know each other better and talked all the time. Freddie knew what was going on with Doug because Dhani told her, but she decided it would be best not to reveal that to Naomi, she was still really fragile and the news of Doug's anger wouldn't help with the situation at all.
“Dhani is fabulous, just fabulous. Oh Naomi I'm falling head over heels in love with him. I don't know how it happened, you know how I am so stern and careful and practical. But this man has me melting at the sound of his name. He is spectacular. I don't know what I'm going to do when he gets…” Freddie stopped short she didn't want to reveal to Naomi that Dhani was here and she thought Doug was here with him.
Naomi looked up from her juice, “When he gets what?”
“Oh, when he gets his Christmas break. That's what I mean. We're going to try to spend that time together.”
But as Naomi looked at Freddie she could tell she was leaving a portion of her statement out. She wondered what she was hiding.
“That's great Freddie, you deserve it. He's such a sweet and gentle guy but very strong, I know you feel safe with him. I wish I had that in my life. Well I did, but I messed that up.” Naomi rose to take her glass to the counter.
Freddie came behind her to deposit her coffee cup on the counter. “Don't you worry Naomi things will work out for you. I just know it.”
“I'm glad you feel it will because I don't feel anything close to that. I better get back to the cottage, the dress divas will be there in a few to clothe me in royal attire,” Naomi smiled but Freddie noticed it didn't reach her eyes.
“I'll see you when the carriage arrives to whisk us away my Princess,” Freddie called to her as she left the kitchen. She was hoping that she wouldn't be mad with her and the little surprise that may have arrived on Bocara last night.
The Grand Parade was winding through the narrow streets of Big Bocara, twisting and turning through the huge crowds that had turned out as usual. Shouting and celebrating as they passed by. Although it was the first part of November, it was still quite warm; it was in the upper 70's today. Naomi, Zoe and Freddie sat in the back of a large white carriage following another large white horse drawn carriage carrying her mother and father. Naomi had on a white suit, they always dressed spectacular for this event with suits designed in Milan, the suit was a three piece pantsuit, with a vest and wide legged pants and a long white dress jacket. She was wearing a large white sun hat on her head that covered her eyes slightly because she wasn't allowed to wear sunglasses. Zoe had on a canary yellow suit that had a short skirt and short jacket with a beautiful silk blouse underneath, she also had a hat but it was bunched in the front revealing a lot of her beautiful caramel skin of hers to the elements. Freddie was sitting in the opposite seat in the carriage facing backwards, she had on a robin's egg blue dress that flowed around her thighs and ended just below her knees and sunglasses.