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Friday, December 27, 2013

Libra Thoughts on Marriage - AKA, I'm a weirdo, lol!

As a Libra, I naturally think relationships and Marriage are awesome and totally worth it. I think that when two people meet and feel a spark, they should immediately plan out their next step, such as moving in together or even getting married. It seriously frustrates me whenever I watch a show - or know a couple in real life - that take FOREVER to admit that they like each other and want to be together. I do believe in love at first sight AND in death do you part.

That said, I am a weirdo, lol! I have always been poly in my heart, planning out how awesome it would be to have a husband AND a wife, and I would seriously love it if my beloveds had girlfriends and/or boyfriends of their own. My motto would be the more the merrier if we could find people that would actually fit into our little family without causing strife. I mention strife specifically because my hubby has a temper and is the most likely one to cause strife, so really, we'd need to find loved ones who can either handle a temper gracefully, diffuse it easily, or just plain ignore it and wait for it to blow over. I absolutely do not want to be part of a family that does nothing but hold shouting matches!

Okay so, that out of the way, here's what I suddenly realized the other day. Our ancestors may have known more about what they were doing than we give them credit for! I'm talking about the ones who arranged marriages for their kids. I'm also talking about a time when it was so common that it was almost expected for the bride to be young and the groom to be old. I'll give you a moment to shudder over that because you probably have some ugly preconceptions in mind of perverted old men raping teenaged girls in the name of creating heirs.

Okay, you good? Shuddering done?

Good!

Here's why I think our ancestors may have known more about what they were doing than we think. Let's start with the common scenario of an older man marrying a younger girl. For ease of math, we'll make him about 40 and her between 16-18. That makes him approximately 20 years older than her. Ironically, it would be even better for her if he was even older, but I'll just go with this for now.

Our older man probably has at least a little money, because that was a big thing that parents looked for. They wanted the husband to be able to take care of their daughter. HE wanted his new wife to be young enough to easily have babies to inherit his money some day. It seems like a match made in heaven to everyone except perhaps the outsider wondering why the poor girl can't marry for love.

Here's an odd phenomenon: The more you spend time with someone, the more you love them. This means that people you hate can grow into good friends, and people you kind of like can grow into passionate lovers. So long as a man is not abusive - and really, most men aren't - his wife will either grow to love him OR love her children and be grateful to the man who gave them to her and takes care of them - her included. A lesser form of love happens. She's probably happy, even if she had already fallen in love with someone else, and if she's not 100% happy, she'll probably take a lover on the side to meet her baser needs.

Okay, so fast forward 20 or so years. Our younger wife has had her husband's heirs and he's gotten older and - assuming he's indulged in bad habits his whole life - he's now closing in on death. Let's say that he dies while she is still in her late 30s to early 40s. She's still young enough to get married again and even have more kids if she wants. He probably left her a little something to live off of in his will (though most of it went to his eldest son), so now SHE'S in the position to take care of herself and possibly a much younger man.

So she marries a man in his early 20s, one who is just getting on his feet and doesn't necessarily want kids yet, but needs love and support. She supports him - maybe having kids, maybe not - until he is in the position to take over and support a family. This really is a love match and makes her so incredibly happy! He's there for her as her health declines, and then one day, he's the 40 year old man who wants a younger wife. Especially if his first one didn't give him children. He's now fully on his feet and capable of supporting a family.

So the cycle starts over. Yes, I made it a little to cut and dry, assuming that the older person would die while the younger one is still young enough to move on and marry again. But think about it, THIS way, a person has the opportunity to have 2 loves in their live. One which is more like a good friendship and the other which is more passionate. Hell! They could both be passionate! But more importantly, it is a very supportive system, making sure that younger people are taken care of. (And you know, in my poly world, the older one wouldn't have to die before the younger one married again, lol!)

Some of the fun of marriage is struggling at first and then overcoming all obstacles and challenges. I get that, I really do, but in my opinion, overcoming challenges is less stressful if done in a supportive environment. Also, when two people want to bring children into the world, I personally think that it is just better all around if at least one of them can financially support the entire family. YES, I KNOW that is strange coming from me considering that I am on welfare and cannot support my family. Yes it does contradict my belief that having kids is just part of life and should not be planned or saved until a couple has "enough" money, but if given two choices - having kids with money or having kids without money, I think most people would agree that having kids WITH money (as in you have money, not the kids, lol) is so much easier all around :-)

What made me think about all of this? You might wonder. Well, I reread my story called Jocelyn's Decision and it got me thinking. Jocelyn starts out as a 13 year old, and as teenaged girls are wont to do, she grows infatuated with an older man. Her infatuation grows into full out love over the years, and if she had lived in an earlier time, he could have simply married her and they could have lived fairly happily ever after.

Unfortunately, they live in a time in which - and I could never really understand how this happened in just the last hundred years - any man over the age of 18 (especially over 21) literally CANNOT fall in love with and marry/have sex with an under aged girl. Thousands of years of biology telling us to have young/old pairings, and suddenly now it's wrong. I shake my head in disbelief.

Don't get me wrong, I really do understand that a girl should be able to choose her husband and whether or not she is READY to get married. I do not think that we should go back to a time when young girls were literally FORCED to get married to old men they didn't want anything to do with. I am NOT trying to advocate any form of rape here. All I am saying is that we as a society need to stop being so anal when it comes to age. Teens can and do fall in love. Real love, or at least they think it is real. Even if adults know and can prove that it is simply the result of teenaged hormones, it literally is real to them.

Our society shuns and shames the older lover, saying that he (or she) should know better. We call them perverts and label them as sex offenders and try to send them to jail. It is automatically assumed in any case where an adult has any sort of sexual relations with a minor, that the adult forced, raped, molested, or coerced the minor into sex, but I remember being a teenager... I KNOW that teens often want sex with adults! I'm just saying that if we stopped being so anal about it and just let love - real and true love - take its course in any form, EVEN young/old, then maybe the world would be a better place. Shrugs.

Good night all :-D

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ambivalent

So yesterday I spotted. It started as a little, faint, brown spot, got pinkish and gooey later on, but still miniscule, and then I had one bright red spot before bed last night. Imagine pricking your finger, then dropping one good drop of blood on a piece of paper. It was about that size, maybe a little bigger.

I had already planned to go into the doctor because I was about 10 weeks and knew that it was about time to go in and get checked out. So I went into the doctor today and had:

- A lab visit for a urine pregnancy test - positive.
- A visit with a Doctor to have a vaginal check and various routine tests. With an order to back to the lab for a bunch of blood tests.
- A brief consult with a nurse who ordered more OB related tests to be drawn.
- A second visit to the lab to have all the said tests drawn - I think it was 7 vials, maybe 8.
- An ultrasound to check on baby,
- A much longer visit with the nurse to discuss the ultrasound and plan out my next few steps.
- A visit to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions.

I left my house at 12:45 in order to get to my doc's by 1:30. I stepped out of the pharmacy at 4:16 and found I had just missed the bus and needed to wait until 5:10 for the next bus. Then I transferred to the next 2 buses I needed and got home at about 6PM.

Can you see why I HATE taking the bus?! I ate about 15 minutes before I left the house, and by the time I got home, I was so hungry that I attacked and devoured the left over spaghetti my hubby made for him and the boys!!!

Anyway, so what did the doctor say?

The official answer...

We're not sure.

Lol! Gotta love doctors!

Basically, The tests show that I am pregnant, as did the vaginal exam. However, the ultrasound couldn't find a baby in the gestational sac. The sac itself measures at 7 weeks 5 days, but I expected that. Remember how I told you that the ultrasound always shaves 2 weeks off how far along I am? According to my last period, I was 10 weeks, but in my mind, I already figured the ultrasound would tell me about 8 weeks.

The tech and the nurse both told me that there could be several reasons that they couldn't find a baby in the sac, the most likely being that it's just not far enough along to see. The tech also told me that the sac is in a part of my uterus that is hard for the machine to see. Normally, it's right near the cervix at the "bottom" of the uterus, but mine was up at the top of my uterus. So the vaginal probe couldn't get a good view. The probe that goes on top of my tummy had a hard time penetrating the sac too, probably because of where it's located, and because I have a lot of belly fat.

Basically, they told me not to count it as a loss just yet. More accurate is the HGC test. It's the pregnancy hormone and where it's at - AND more importantly - if/how it changes over the next couple of days will tell them more than anything if I have a viable pregnancy or not.

So, I cannot be excited about the impending baby just yet, but I also am not depressed about a miscarriage yet either. Hence ambivalent. The nurse told me to assume that I am still pregnant and go from there. So I am.

However, just being able to see that there may not be anything in there has helped a lot. If it turns out that there is a baby in there, I will be blessed, but if I should miscarry, it actually helps a lot to know that there might not be a baby in there anyway. In other words, this miscarriage isn't killing a baby, if that makes sense.

I guess you could say that I am at peace. I can easily wait the next couple of days and see what happens. I'm also going to have a talk with my Angels and tell them what I want to happen, but I'm not going to be angry at them if I don't get what I want. It's all part of life and probably part of my life's plan (fate, karma, whatever you want to call it), so I just need to figure out what my lesson is and learn it :-)

Good night all!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Update

Today - 12/14/13 - I am officially farther along than when I miscarried last year. I was waiting for this day because now if I go in to the doctor and have an ultrasound and the baby is alive in there, I can be reasonably sure that it's actually going to stay in there. I'm happy, but I'm still being cautious because traditionally, the risk of miscarriage doesn't drop off until the 12th week, and I'm not quite there yet.

According to the date of my last period, I'm 10 weeks along, HOWEVER, the ultrasound almost always shaves 2 or so weeks off that, so according to it, I'm probably only 8 weeks along. The paranoia is getting a little easier to manage, but I still run to the bathroom every time I feel even the smallest drop of moisture shift around down there to check for spotting. Thankfully, I am NOT spotting.

That said, here's why I just can't relax: My body is NOTORIOUS for playing tricks on me!!! When I was pregnant with Gryffin, my body HID this from me until the last possible moment. I even took a pregnancy test at around 3 months along which came up negative. When I did finally figure it out, my stomach actually popped out and that's when the baby really started moving around in there; like he was saying: Well, I guess I don't have to hide anymore!

Another example of how my body will play tricks on me. When I miscarried last year, I had mixed feelings about having the baby versus not, so when I started spotting, I begged my body: Oh please don't let it be over so soon! My body stopped spotting, and everything went on as normal until I went in for an ultrasound and was told that the baby had died a few weeks prior to the ultrasound. It was AFTER I found that out, that my body actually went through with the process of miscarriage.

SOOOO - since my body likes to lie and trick me - I am still half afraid that the same thing is happening now, where it's already dead in there, or worse, never really was in there and my body just decided to pretend it was! I wish I could have an ultrasound every day, but aside from getting my insurance to agree to pay for that, I'd have no way to go in and have one every day, and I mean that literally. I can't drive there, and no way in hell am I taking the bus to the doc's office everyday!

Anyway, to combat this rampant paranoia, I have told my Angels to protect this baby and keep it growing healthy and strong in there. It is strange to think that I'm going to have a 9 year old, a  7 year old and then a newborn sometime in July (give or take a few weeks)! I just never thought it would really happen again. I thought that my boys were the only two miracles that the Gods were going to give me!

But you want to hear something really crazy? I think there might actually be two in there... EEK!

Oh, and I gotta tell you that keeping this from my boys is getting harder and harder. They ask me like once a week when I'm going to have another baby, and I can't lie to them, so I've started telling them, Oh... maybe someday soon. Lol! I can't wait until I'm 12 or so weeks along and I'm sure that everything will be okay. Then I can tell them and we can all be excited together :-D

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Jocelyn's Decision - Alternate Ending

When I wrote Jocelyn's Decision, I was completely satisfied by the ending. I explained why in the comments, and never planned to change it, even though it made some readers so mad! And then, over the last week, I suddenly had a recurring dream of sorts in which the ending turned out differently. To be clear, I am NOT changing the official ending, but pretend for a moment that there are different realities in which other outcomes happen. This story is that alternate universe and what could have happened :-)

Miss Jocelyn… Your dad wants to talk to you,” Bea informed me.
Tell him I’ll call him back,” I mumbled.
You misunderstand… He’s here.”
I sat up abruptly, and then groaned. I ached everywhere! “Man… he really did a number on me…” I muttered out loud to myself. I forced myself to focus on the clock.
It’s been five hours?!” I gasped.
Bea handed me my plaid pants, and I slipped them on as I carefully got down from the desk.
Where’s Dantaelian?” I asked.
Still with Hayley. She called shortly after I returned from shopping, and since I couldn’t find Mr. McDerry, and you were sound asleep, I gave them permission to grab a bite to eat before going to a movie they begged to see,” Bea informed me.
Scott’s not home?” I inquired, frowning.
No,” she replied with a shake of her head.
I followed her to where my father stood just inside the entrance. He was in his police uniform, and Larry stood next to him. Both looked sad, and Larry even seemed on the verge of tears. This was an event so rare, I had never seen it before.
What’s wrong?” I asked.
That’s what we’d like to know,” Jim, Tim, and Harry stated, calling my attention to the fact that they were sitting on some stairs behind me.
My dad cleared his throat softly. “Larry received a phone call not too long ago. It seems that he is listed as Mr. McDerry’s emergency contact…”
I sighed. “Did he ask you to come make me leave? Talk about overreacting!”
No… he… was in a bad car accident about 2 hours ago.”
It felt like all the blood in my body drained to my feet and then into the ground under me. “What?” I whispered, not able to accept that I’d heard the truth.
From the soft gasps behind me, I knew that no one else could believe their ears either.
He's critical, Jocelyn. The doctor's don't think he'll live. It was a pretty bad crash involving three other cars.” Dad put a hand on my shoulder comfortingly, but my knees went weak. I fell to the ground, sitting on my knees, my feet wide apart.
You’re lying! You have to be lying!” I wailed in anguish, unable to believe that the man I loved was at death's door.
I could hear his sons and Bea crying.
I’m not lying,” my dad insisted gently.
I slammed my fists on the floor and screamed. “No! This can’t be happening!”
This is all your fault!”
He didn’t have to work today!”
He probably wouldn’t have left if not for you!” His sons accused me, and I gasped when I realized that they were right.
I started sobbing. “Oh God! I killed him!” I wailed dramatically, feeling like it was true even though he wasn't actually dead yet.
My dad squatted to pat me on the back. “Hey… this is not your fault.”
Yes it is!” I insisted in a wail.
One of the boys sighed, sniffling to stop his tears. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it… You’re not really to blame.”
Another one couldn’t make himself stop crying, but added his thoughts. “We were just so shocked earlier…”
We weren’t prepared to see that…” The third finished.
I was still sobbing, curled up on the floor in something resembling child’s pose. “Yes it is my fault! From the time we woke up this morning, we were arguing. I challenged him to a drinking game hoping to get some answers out of him, and he got drunk, again. If not for me getting him drunk, he wouldn’t have crashed. So it really is all my fault!”
My dad sighed, and I think he had a pretty good idea of the things I had left out of my explanation. “No… Drunk or not, he chose to drive. Plus, he could have refused to play your game, but he didn’t. He chose to get drunk. You are not to blame.”
Stop trying to make me feel better!” I shouted. “You’re only making me feel worse!”
Jocelyn…” My dad tried to pull me into his arms, but I pushed him away. I got to my feet and ran outside until I could see my car. I threw open the door and climbed in, ready to drive to the ends of the Earth if necessary in order to be with Scott.
Jocelyn! Where are you going?!” My dad shouted after me.
To the hospital!” I shouted right back, only to realize that I didn't have my keys on me. I screeched in frustration and beat my fists on the steering wheel.
Hey!” My dad pulled my out of my car and shook me a bit roughly. “If you tried to drive in your emotional state, you'd likely end up in an accident too!”
I have to get to him!” I insisted passionately, trying to break free from my father's grasp.
I understand that, so stop fighting me and get into the limo with everyone else. I'll drive!” My dad growled at me, forcing me to calm down and look over to where everyone else was standing. Apparently, Larry had anticipated the fact that we would all want to rush to the hospital and had pulled the limo out of the garage so that it was waiting for us to pile in and go. Everyone else stood in front of it watching me with this look that made me want to start crying all over again.
The look was sympathetic and understanding – we were all upset about Scott after all – but part of it was also angry and hard. Like they not only blamed me for the situation, but also thought that maybe I was just pretending to be upset. Reggie was the only one who had ever said it to me directly, but I knew that they all thought that I was simply playing with Scott so that he would give me money.
I wiped the tears from my eyes and sent up a prayer of thanks that Reggie was with Hayley and my daughter. I really didn't need him to look at me with his hate and anger right now. It would be more than I could bear!
Calmer now, I squared my shoulders and marched to the limo. It's not like I knew where the hospital was anyway, so I really did need someone who could think clearly to drive. My dad was right! I probably would have gotten into an accident by driving around like a crazy woman!
In the back of the limo, I was silent and numb for the first five or so minutes. My hands were white as they gripped each other, and I literally shook. Tears began to fall from my eyes one at a time until I had a small stream pouring from me. I felt like Scott's life literally depended on me getting to the hospital as soon as possible! I felt like he would die if I didn't make it to his side in time.
Those thoughts sent me spiraling into a depression that I couldn't shake. All I could do was curl my legs into my chest, hold my knees with my arms, and rock uncontrollably as I cried and cried. Bea looked like she wanted to comfort me, but she was busy trying to comfort Tim, Jim, and Harry.
They weren't crying like I was, but they did look numb with shock and fear. If I could stop crying long enough to pay attention to them, it would have been obvious that they were hurting pretty bad too. Even Bea looked ready to break down and cry, but she managed to keep it together for the boys.
Meanwhile, Larry was also lost in his thoughts. He had been Scott's friend for a very long time, and he was probably going through the stages of grief himself at the thought of loosing such a good friend. My crying seemed to help him though, because he responded by putting a hand on my shoulder and making soft noises in an attempt to calm me down. It didn't work, but I appreciated the effort.
It seemed to take an agonizingly long time, but we eventually arrived at the hospital.
Where is he?!” I demanded of the first person who worked there that I came across. She was only a receptionist and looked at me as if I was crazy. Enraged by her lack of cooperation, I grabbed her by the shirt and pulled her closer so that I could growl at her. “WHERE. IS. HE?!”
Jocelyn!” My father chided me, sounding astonished and ashamed by my behavior. He pulled me off of her and held me tight as I struggled to be free. Considering that he was in uniform, the woman decided not to call for security to come handle me.
We're here to see Scott McDerry,” Bea explained much more politely than I had been.
The receptionist looked him up and then gave Bea a look of sympathy. “He's still in the ER, but you can all go to the waiting room and talk with the staff there.” She gave us directions to the waiting room and Bea thanked her.
I would have taken off running like my life depended on it, but my dad held onto me like I was a disobedient child. I struggled to pull free, but he was a trained police officer and far stronger than me. With a frustrated growl followed by a sigh, I realized that I was acting like a child, and did my best to calm down.
Waiting for Scott to get out of surgery was hands down the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life! I absolutely could not sit still and ended up pacing the waiting room incessantly. Every time a person that worked in the hospital walked by, I asked for an update on Scott, but all they could tell me was that we would be told as soon as there was something to tell.
Hours passed and I wasn't the only one who seemed to go a little crazy. The boys started bickering because they had to release some tension before they lost it like me. I was a mess! Tears flowed from me continually, even after my cheeks literally stung.
Finally, doctors emerged to talk to us about Scott. I practically mobbed them, clinging to one of the pair desperately.
Is he alive?!” I demanded.
Are you family?” They asked me, sounding cold to my overwrought ears.
We're his sons,” the three of them chorused together. “So yes, you can tell us what is going on.
With a nod, the doctors explained that Scott had survived so far and was stable, but that they still couldn't be certain that he would live. We could see him, but he was unconscious and we had to be careful not to jostle him. Doing so could rupture his stitches or cause internal bleeding.
We all promised to be careful, and then stood staring at Scott in shock. He looked terrible! I couldn't stand to see him looking so beat up, so I buried my head in my dad's chest and simply cried.
Days passed. Scott remain stable, but he didn't wake up. This was only partially because of the drugs they gave him to manage the pain. The doctors assured us that he was simply trying to survive and that he would wake up when he was ready, but the longer he slept, the more concerned I could feel them getting.
Bea couldn't stay in the hospital, neither could my dad or Larry. They left and returned for visits when they could, but I refused to leave, and so did Tim, Jim, and Harry. We all camped out in Scott's room, which – by the way – was big and roomy because Scott was apparently a large donor to the hospital and they were willing to give him and us anything we wanted. They knew he was wealthy and would be paid a fortune for his care no matter what happened, so they played nice.
Even so, the doctors kept frowning at me. I didn't notice it at first, but eventually I couldn't ignore it any longer. “What?” I asked them impatiently.
Who are you? You're not listed as an immediate family member, so technically, you shouldn't be here.”
Uh!” I grunted in protest, offended by their rude disregard of how much I loved Scott.
She's immediate family,” Harry stated, surprising me because I thought they were all asleep.
She's our dad's... girlfriend, I guess you could say,” Tim added with a shrug.
She's the mother of his daughter,” Jim finished the explanation.
My eyes were watering again, touched that they seemed to accept me as part of the family. I nodded in agreement because the doctors were looking at me in disbelief. I bet they thought we were lying for some reason.
I haven't let our daughter come visit because I don't want her to see Scott like this, but it's true. We do have a child together,” I stated, my eyes returning to Scott, who hadn't really changed except that his heart was beating strong and steady now.
I guess I went against your wishes then,” my father informed me as he entered the room. “Dantaelian threw a fit until we agreed to bring her here. She is afraid for her father's life and needs her mother to comfort her.”
I started crying again, having no idea how I was going to be strong and keep it together for my daughter. My dad stepped to the side and let Hayley and my daughter into the room. They both looked like they had been crying almost as much as I had. I held out my arms, my heart constricting at the thought of my daughter crying so hard over anything.
Mama!” She wailed as she flung herself into my arms. Sobbing, she squeezed me tight as she looked over at Scott. “Daddy's hurt!”
I lost it again, sobbing with her as the doctors shook their heads and left the room. Eventually, we both calmed down and she fell asleep. I'm willing to bet that she hadn't slept well at all in days! I handed her over to my dad, who promised to take her home and bring her back for another visit later on.
A few more days passed, and Scott was doing really well. His wounds were healing and no longer in danger of rupturing. In fact, if he would just wake up, the doctors would probably let him go home to finish recuperating. As it was, they said there was still a chance that he might give up and die after all. I watched as nurses changed his bandages and shifted him slightly to the side so that he didn't develop bed sores from laying in one position for too long.
After they were gone, I studied his sons for a few minutes to determine that they were really asleep. It was exhausting doing nothing but praying all day long, so exhausting that we had actually all taken turns going to the hospital's gym just to get a break. We'd exercise for a bit, grab something to eat from the cafeteria, and then return to Scott's side.
With a sigh, I nodded in relief that they really were sleeping. I had something to say that couldn't be said in front of anyone because I was too emotionally raw and couldn't bear it if anyone heard me spill my guts. As carefully as I possibly could, I climbed into the hospital bed with Scott. It was larger than the regular beds because the hospital wanted him to feel pampered when he woke up, so I had just barely enough room to lay on my side next to him.
Hey Scott,” I said softly, not quite a whisper. I grabbed his hand and held it tight. “You'd better be in there listening to me, because I've got something to say to you. Don't you dare leave me! I don't want to live my life without you! You hear me?”
I lightly ran my hand across his face to brush his hair to the side. It was longer than he usually preferred it, and somehow, he looked younger. He still had bruises, and they were that nasty blackish purple color that was tinged with yellow. It was a sign that he was healing, but he still looked terrible. The sight of him made me cry again.
Please?” I begged. “Please? … Please don't leave me. I need you! I'll do anything you ask if you just come back to me.” I cried all the harder for a few minutes because my begging didn't seem to be working. Then I got angry.
If you leave me, I'll never forgive you! You have a daughter that still needs you! Your sons may be adults now, but they still need their dad too! You can't leave us like this, damnit!”
This had no effect either, so I simply cried on his shoulder until I fell asleep, occasionally mumbling the word please over and over. As I slept, everyone gathered; my dad, Larry, Reggie, Bea, Hayley, Dantaelian, everyone! They were quiet so that they didn't wake the four of us, which meant that I had no idea that they were there. Simply being with Scott helped me to sleep better than I had since my birthday.
A nurse came in at one point to check on Scott's vitals. She was doing her own thing – documenting his information – when she suddenly gasped. It was loud enough that I heard her, but I refused to pay her any attention because I was so afraid that she had bad news.
You're awake!” She stated in awe.
Yes... how long have I been asleep?” Scott asked softly.
My eyes flew open and I stared at him in astonishment. He was looking right at me, the best he could with my head on his shoulder. My hand was in his because I had apparently refused to let it go.
Mr. McDerry!” Hayley gasped happily, calling my attention to the fact that everyone was here.
Tim, Jim, and Harry rushed to the side of the bed so that they could put their hands on their father and reassure themselves that he was still alive and awake. “We thought we lost you!”
I started crying again, so happy that I just couldn't contain myself. I clutched his hospital gown in my free hand, squeezing his hand in mine; afraid that if I let him go, I would wake up and find that I was dreaming this miracle.
Oh come now, surely things can't have been that bad,” Scott said, shifting his attention to his sons.
They didn't have a chance to respond before Dantaelian burst out wailing. “Daddy! You were asleep forever and ever!” She ran to the foot of the bed, climbed up carefully, and rested her head on his leg. “I thought you were never going to wake up!”
Scott looked around the room in concern. He could see by the looks on everyone's faces that she wasn't simply over exaggerating. He paled as the implication hit him.
But... it was just a small fender bender,” he protested.
My dad shook his head. “No, I actually went to the scene of the accident. You may only remember a fender bender, but it was a bad crash involving three other cars. It's been determined that you were not at fault – the person you hit was responsible – but he died. There's been one other death and five people were critically injured. Thankfully, they've all recovered now.”
How long was I asleep?” Scott wondered, his voice sounding concerned for the other victims of the accident.
The nurse told him exactly how many days – close to two weeks – that he had been in a coma.
And you've all been here this entire time?” Scott asked incredulously.
Not all of us,” Bea answered with a soft smile, her eyes shifted to me. “Just your sons... and her...”
This was all my fault!” I blurted out.
Scott sighed and rolled his eyes. “No it isn't. Now will you all please give me a few moments alone? I want to get out of this bed and also talk to my doctors in private.”
I felt crushed! After all my worrying, he was still pushing me away. It hadn't even been 10 minutes since he'd woken, and already he wanted me to leave him alone. I closed my eyes to hide how hurt I was. If he didn't want me, I wasn't going to let him see me cry!
Come on baby,” I said, scooping up my daughter. We all quietly left the room, waiting out in the hall. I couldn't handle it anymore!
Dad, will you take Dantaelian? I need to walk around for a bit to clear my head and I think I'm going to take a bus home.”
My dad nodded, taking my daughter from me and kissing me on the temple. “Hey... don't worry. Everything will be better now.”
I shrugged, unable to believe him.

*****

Jocelyn? Can we talk?” Scott asked. He had been home over two weeks now, but I had been avoiding him when I was here. As a result, he had come to my room. I shrugged in response to his question.
Whatever,” I muttered. Inside, I was preparing for him to kick me out of his house for good. I pulled my knees to my chest and held them with my arms.
He looked me over, noticing that I looked horrible, like I had been sick in bed for days. With a sigh, he sat on the edge of my bed so that he wasn't looking at me. He stared at his hands in silence for a few moments.
Listen... I was telling you the truth when I said that I don't love you. Not the way you want me to anyway. I do care for you as the mother of my child and as my...” He sighed again, running a hand through his hair.
I looked away from him, knowing that he was trying his best to let me down gently.
I'm never going to marry you, but I do want you in my life. I want what you have been offering me for so many years... a family. I guess almost dying forces a man to reevaluate his life, and I realized that I can be more or less alone when I die, or I can surround myself with loved ones,” he said, sounding like he really had given this a lot of thought.
Yeah, well you don't need me for that. You have so many people who love you already,” I stated, deciding to make it easier for him to just tell me that he wanted me to be a good mom to our daughter but to basically leave him alone.
True, but I want more... I have been thinking about how much joy Dantaelian has brought me. You asked me if I wanted another baby and I didn't know how to answer that, but now I do. I want more children, and... And even though I feel perverted even suggesting this, I can't imagine any other woman giving birth to them. So, if you still want to, I...”
Wait!” I burst out incredulously. “Are you asking me to have more kids with you?”
Scott chuckled wryly. “Yes.”
I narrowed my eyes at him warily. “And do you mean naturally; by making love? Or do you mean by using a chemical process that doesn't require us to share a bed?”
This was important to know because I wouldn't agree to it if he just wanted to inseminate me in a doctor's office. He slumped over, still not looking at me. Every ounce of his body emanated shame for a moment, but then he took a deep breath and faced me.
I watched his hand reach out and slowly pull me closer. Very softly, he gave me a kiss and then hugged me. His hand stroked my hair as I listen to his heart beat. I melted into him completely, hoping against hope that he wasn't about to reject me yet again.
I said that I don't love you but that I do want you in my life. If you're willing, I would like to have more children... the natural way... by making love...” He informed me hesitantly. “I just need you to understand that I will not marry you, and if you one day decide that you really do just want my money, you won't get a dime! But... if you are serious about being with me and having a family... I'd like that.”
I thought about this quietly for a moment. Could it be that he was suppressing his feelings for me out of the fear that I am just after him for his money after all? Considering that women have apparently thrown themselves at him his whole life, this made a lot of sense.
I snorted a laugh. “So... what were you going to say? You care for me as the mother of your child and as your...” I asked insistently.
He was silent for so long that I thought he was going to change his mind and leave the room before we finished working out our problems. Finally, he took a deep breath.
Lover,” he stated, honestly as far as I could tell.
I smiled, winding my arms around his neck. “That's enough for me. So... when do you want to get started on those other children you mentioned?”
How about now?” He murmured, almost whispering against my neck.
I purred happily, utterly thrilled that he was not drunk in the slightest and still wanted me. I kissed him, pressing my body into his.
Now is good,” I murmured. He moaned, an expression of so many emotions; relief, desire, self-loathing, maybe even happiness. I smiled again. Maybe – if I kept telling him how much I loved him – maybe one day he would believe me and stop treating himself like a monster for having feelings for me. Maybe things would actually work out after all.
For the first time, I had hope for the future.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sanguine - Part 13 - The Finale

This is the final chapter of Sanguine, and so if you haven't read any of it, now is a good time, starting here: Sanguine - Chapter 1 OR, if you have read it and only wish to reread the previous chapter so that you remember what's going on, here's the link: Sanguine - Part 12  
Happy Reading!

Part 13

Gavin sat in his favorite apple tree listening to the little noises of the farm. He felt as if the entire week was nothing more than a dream. A dream in which he'd met his mother and learned that he was the Heir to Clan Blood...
It had mostly been fun. His mother had been almost everything he had day-dreamed about; kind, beautiful, mysterious... And then there were her wards. Listening to his three adopted sisters bicker had made him laugh.
But why couldn't she have adopted any boys?” He asked himself in a whisper. “It'd be nice to have a brother...”
Hey Gavin! You're back!” A group of boys around his age stood at the foot of the tree looking up at him. “You left so suddenly, and all that your grandparents would say is that you were visiting your mother for the foreseeable future.”
Harvey – the boy Gavin considered his best friend – took over the conversation. “I didn't know you had a mother. I mean obviously you have a mother, but everyone assumes that she must have died.”
My folks say that Gavin was adopted.”
My folks say that too!”
Gavin sighed. He wasn't really supposed to talk about his mother just yet. She wanted to make an official announcement at court first. Besides, he didn't think his friends would believe him, or worse! That they would believe him and start treating him differently.
It's true. I met my mother, but I don't want to talk about her,” Gavin insisted as he climbed down the tree.
Why not?” Harvey wondered, teasing Gavin lightly. “Is she some horrible old witch?”
Gavin took a deep breath. “No... She's... She's wonderful... and terrifying!”
Sounds like -” Harvey was interrupted as a different boy covered his mouth.
Shh! Do you see that girl riding this way?”
Oh man! She's beautiful!”
Shut up you idiot! Can't you see? She's one of the wards of Clan Blood!”
As the boys argued in whispers about the girl's identity and just exactly how beautiful she was, she got close enough to them to clearly prompt them all to shut up. She looked angry about something.
Hey Gavin, would you like to race me? I need something to do!”
Aren't you supposed to be busy today, Ardent?” Gavin asked, surprising all his friends.
I WAS!” She shouted to the sky. “But Uncle Frayeur kept making me sooo angry! I couldn't see straight, so I left to try and cool down.”
Lily and Sandra heard the shouting and came to investigate. “Ardent!” They called out happily. She waved at them, but then returned her attention to Gavin.
So please race me! I only feel calm when the wind is tossing my hair about!”
Gavin shook his head. “Sorry, but I'm not very good with horses. I mean I can ride and all, but I'd lose the race and possibly fall off the horse.”
Harvey laughed. “Plus, his horse is old!” This referred to the horse that had belonged to his father for as long as Gavin had been alive.
Sandra bounced excitedly. “I'll race you! I'm great with horses!”
Ardent frowned, almost sneering. “But you're such a... girl!”
Sandra crossed her arms and glared at Ardent. “You're a girl too!”
Yes, but I'm not weak like you!” Ardent insisted.
I am not weak!” Sandra protested. “I'd like to see you haul in bales of hay!”
You are so! At the first sign of trouble, you ran to hide behind your father!”
Ardent!” Gavin snapped. “That's uncalled for!”
Well it's true!” Ardent yelled. “All three of you, in fact. You could do nothing but stand back and hide while we protected and saved you!”
What were we supposed to do?!” Sandra demanded. “They had a crossbow aimed at Lily! We were terrified!”
Ardent sneered at them. “Terrified? Of six pathetic men? You're a disgrace to Clan Blood! Your mother could have easily taken them single-handedly, and yet you all just stood there!”
That is enough!” Danny shouted. He had heard them arguing and rushed to intervene. “I think you should return to the castle now, Ardent.”
Ardent roared in frustration. “Why does this always happen?!” She kicked her horse into a run. “Nobody wants me around!”
Ardent, wait!” Sandra called after her. “Dad, she needs someone to talk to. I'm going to ride after her.”
You be careful!” Danny cried out as his daughter raced toward the barn. She didn't even bother to saddle her horse – Sanguine had given them each a horse of their own – and was soon hot on Ardent's trail. Danny was thankful that she really was good with horses and used to riding bare back.
Danny noticed the hurt look on Gavin's face and put a hand on his shoulder. “What's the matter?”
Ardent is wrong! I am not a disgrace to Clan Blood! I'll show her!”
Son, Ardent didn't mean that. Don't let her provoke you into doing something rash,” Danny advised.
You don't understand!” Gavin insisted. “If I do nothing, then she's right! But I'm going to prove her wrong. I need to finish my studies...”
You want to return to the castle so soon?” Danny asked in disbelief.
Yes,” Gavin confirmed, and then sighed. “And no.”
Mama!” Lily cried out joyously and rushed to greet her.
Sanguine reached down and scooped Lily onto the horse with her as she rode the last little bit to Danny and Gavin. She glanced only once at the group of boys who were standing behind Gavin with their mouths hanging open in astonishment.
What brings you here?” Danny asked as he took Lily and then helped Sanguine off the horse. She smiled at him for a moment before turning to focus on Gavin.
I've been summoned to the Royal Palace. I need to leave tomorrow morning, but I'm giving you a choice.” Sanguine held out a thick book that she pulled from a saddlebag. “Do you wish to stay here and work on your studies, or do you wish to come with me as I make the announcement.”
Gavin hesitated for a moment. This is all happening so quickly! Then he squared his shoulders and gave her his most serious gaze.
I'll go with you,” he stated firmly.
Are you sure?” Danny asked in concern.
Do we all get to go?” Lily wondered, tugging on her mother's sleeve.
I'm sure,” Gavin affirmed.
Sanguine smiled at him, and then turned her attention to Lily. “I'm sorry, but it's best if you stay here with your father.”
Why?” Lily asked.
Sanguine looked up at Danny. Her look told him everything he needed to know. He picked Lily up so that he could look her in the eye.
And then he lied. “You're too young to go to the Palace.”
Lily groaned in disappointment, but accepted this answer as the final word on the subject.
Gavin, will you please go ready your horse?” Sanguine asked.
Gavin nodded and then motioned for his friends to follow him so that they could make an escape. Based on their expressions, they were all just a bit terrified standing in the presence of their Lady. He was sure that they would welcome any excuse to run away.
Lily, will you go tell your grandparents that Gavin is leaving?” Danny asked. Lily nodded and ran off to shout the news.
Danny watched Sanguine struggle not to cry. She stepped into his arms and held him tight.
I've been summoned both to return the prisoner now that I've reformed him, but also to...” She simply couldn't say it.
Get married,” Danny murmured sympathetically, finishing her sentence.
Sanguine nodded and then rested her head against his shoulder. She sighed heavily. “When I decided to retire... I made plans to get married, but not to him!”
Danny felt his heart contract. He'd been waiting his whole life to hear her say that she wanted to marry him, and now that she was finally ready... It just wasn't fair!
I love you,” Sanguine whispered in his ear.
Danny kissed her deeply for a moment. “I love you.”
Sanguine could hear Christopher and Shelly saying their goodbyes to Gavin – as were his friends – so she decided to mount up and leave before she started crying. She could do that all she wanted in the solitude of her bed tonight. Hopefully, she'd also get some sleep before they left in the morning.
Gavin had no idea how long it would be before he saw his father again, so he made sure to hug him tight before mounting up and following his mother – who was still mostly a stranger to him. He rode behind her silently, wondering what he should say to her. Nothing sounded good, so he kept his mouth shut. This is going to be a long trip!

҈҈҈҈҈

Sanguine sighed in relief when the Palace came into sight and mentally kicked herself for putting her son in a carriage with a man who was attracted to young boys. Prince Collin was behaving himself, but she could sense that he did so only because she was sitting in the carriage. Gavin sat next to her and Collin sat across from her, so she was essentially between them. Collin seemed to smell Gavin's innocence, and that made Sanguine bristle protectively.
Even though the journey took more than half a day, none of them felt like talking, so they had suffered an awkward silence. Sanguine was so focused on trying to figure a way out of her predicament that they were literally at the Palace steps before she realized that she hadn't warned Collin about their impending nuptials. It was too late now!
The King and Queen had sent word for her carriage to be escorted to a far more private entrance so that Collin could essentially be smuggled to his room and properly prepared before anyone saw him. He was rumored to be confined to his chambers with a lingering illness. Certainly the pallor he had cultivated in the dungeon would go a long way to confirming this theory.
As for Sanguine, she was also somewhat smuggled into the Palace. She was brought to a chamber to stay in until the King and Queen summoned her. A note awaited her from the Queen asking her to settle in and wait patiently until tomorrow for an audience.
Having no other choice, she did exactly that. With a sigh, she studied Gavin as he read the book of laws and wondered how she could bridge the gap between them. More like infinite chasm! She thought with a inaudible snort.
Deciding that nothing would ever change unless she started somewhere, Sanguine sat to talk to him. Even idle chitchat was better than silence! Or so she thought until they'd spent nearly 20 minutes talking about the weather. She was almost ready to give up!
Can you tell me more about Lord Wolf so that I know not to make the same mistakes he did?” Gavin asked.
Relieved to finally have something to talk about, Sanguine told him everything she knew about Lord Wolf. Even what she could remember from before she was taken by the Tax Collector. The rest of the evening was spent talking about anything that crossed their minds. Both went to bed that night feeling optimistic about the future of their relationship.

⋨ ⋩ ⋨ ⋩ ⋨ ⋩

Sanguine was both anxious and relieved when she finally got her summons to go before the King and Queen. She brought her son with her, praying that they treated him kindly. She'd fight tooth and nail before she ever let anyone harm him!
A servant showed them to a private sitting room, which actually surprised her. She thought that she was supposed to meet with the Royals in public so that they could announced her pending nuptials. Of course, invitations had been sent out, so it was common knowledge, but none of the courtiers had ever met her before. It just made sense that she'd be put on display.
My dear Sanguine,” the King greeted her with a kiss on her cheek. “You look lovely as ever. How are you?”
Fine, Majesty. I'm simply curious as to the details of my wedding,” Sanguine informed him pleasantly. She even managed to smile!
I'm sure you are, but first, I wanted to thank you for working your magic on my son without harming him. He has made a solemn vow to us that he will never take a lover younger than 15 again,” the King stated, smiling happily. Sanguine could tell that he was a bit disappointed that she hadn't completely stripped his desire for boys from him, but that he was grateful for the compromise. There was also a hint of a smirk that told her that he was relying on her to keep his son in line.
The Queen hugged Sanguine to convey her gratitude as well, since she'd had nightmares of rats chewing on her son until he died. They'd had several cover stories prepared to explain either his death or his severe disfigurement. That he had been returned to them whole and contrite was a miracle that they hadn't dared pray for!
And who have you brought with you?” The Queen asked curiously.
My King, my Queen,” Sanguine intoned formally. “May I present to you my son and heir, Gavin?” She beckoned for him to come closer to her, and then took his hand in hers.
Oh...” The Queen murmured thoughtfully.
I knew you'd had children, my dear, but I didn't realize that he was this old,” the King stated, also looking as if he was thinking about how to handle this news.
Sanguine rushed to speak her mind before they could say anything else. “Yes, I had him raised by his father, my long time lover, so that he would not be tainted by my important work. Now I am training him to successfully govern my lands while my adopted daughters continue to reform criminals in my dungeon.”
She paused to take a deep breath. “It was my hope – now that I have officially retired – to marry his father...”
The Queen smiled at her sadly. “Unfortunately, my dear, that cannot happen. We were quite serious when we said that you are the only woman qualified for the job of our son's wife. There is not a single other woman in the entire Kingdom that is strong enough to control our son and capably rule the Kingdom.”
Sanguine sighed in disappointment, but then nodded. “I understand. I knew you were going to say that, but forgive me, I had to try...”
The Queen brushed Sanguine's cheek in a motherly way. “I understand what you are giving up in order to serve your Kingdom, so I have decided to reward you with a promise. We will guarantee that your son may live out his life as Lord of Clan Blood without any interference or machinations from us... However... Should he turn out to be a bad Lord, we expect you to correct him.”
The King took her free hand in his. “Does that sound fair to you?”
Sanguine nodded, nearly faint with relief and gratitude. “Yes, thank you!”
The King smiled at her and then turned his attention to her son. “Young Gavin, we pray that you govern your lands as well as your mother did and wish you luck in your future endeavors.”
Thank you, Majesty!” Gavin replied, flustered by the personal attention from the King. He still thought of himself as nothing more than a farm boy, and under normal circumstances, a farm boy would never have a chance to meet and speak with the King!
Now,” the King returned his attention to Sanguine. “About your wedding...”

⋨ ⋩ ⋨ ⋩ ⋨ ⋩

Sanguine smiled at her son as they waited for the doors to the throne room to open. “Thank you so much for doing this for me. I know a lot has happened to you in such a short time, but you seem to be handling it beautifully.”
Gavin shrugged, and then looked at the floor. “Maybe, but I think that's because I still think I'm dreaming and am going to wake up soon. Imagine... me – some nobody country bumpkin – now an Actual Lord with a castle and a mother who is about to become a Princess and the future Queen of the Kingdom!” He sighed. “Only I can't decide if it is a dream or a nightmare, because if it were a dream, wouldn't things be happier?”
Sanguine hugged him. “Life is not always happy and never turns out the way we intend it to. If I knew all those years ago what I know now, I may well have married your father when I first realized that I was pregnant with you, but...”
But what?” Gavin wondered curiously.
I really don't think you would have turned out so well growing up in the dungeons with me,” Sanguine stated with a shrug. “And I am so very proud of who you are!”
Gavin blushed, looking at the floor in an attempt to cover this. The music suddenly changed and the doors to the throne room opened. Without a word, Gavin escorted his mother down the aisle towards her groom.
Most people simply stared at them curiously, but Sanguine was happy to see that Abattre and her husband Godric of Clan Storm were waving at her from near the front. Both knew that she really wanted to marry someone else, but were being cheerful to show that they supported her no matter what. It helped Sanguine steady her nerves.
Prince Collin was in a state of shock and it showed on his face. He had begged his parents not to go through with this from the moment they told him until literally about 10 minutes ago when the Queen had finally gotten fed up with him and slapped him across the face. His father had firmly told him to just do as expected, and then pointed through their private entrance to the spot in the throne room where we was to stand while waiting for his bride.
Collin sighed once more in frustration, but rightly feared that if he refused, his parents would only send him back to the dungeon until he relented. His only hope was that Sanguine had proven herself a reasonable person, and so might make a tolerable wife. If he had his way, he would never marry at all!
To his dismay, the wedding proceeded despite his desperate prayers that something would happen to stop it. All too soon, it was irrevocable! Collin kissed Sanguine and then watched as she was made the Crown Princess and future Queen. A thought occurred to him that made him look over at his parents.
They want her to rule so that I don't have to! This thought startled him and made him happy at the same time. It was well known that he didn't have what it took to run a Kingdom, and now, he wouldn't have to. He returned his attention to his bride, a new respect gleaming in his eyes.
When it was time, everyone moved to the banquet hall to celebrate and feast. Collin and Sanguine held hands as they walked around, smiling at everyone who wished them well in their marriage. Between conversations, the two of them had a private one of their own.
Collin, I think that to make the right impression and leave no doubt in everyone's mind that our marriage is solid, we should always address each other as dear or dearest,” Sanguine suggested.
Yes Mistress – Er, dearest?” Collin replied uncertainly.
Sanguine smiled at him. “Good, now say it again.”
Yes dearest,” Collin stated, smiling at her in return.
My dear,” Sanguine addressed him sweetly. “Don't you think it's time that we sat down to eat?”
Of course, my dear,” Collin replied, playing along.
The two of them pretended to fawn all over each other until everyone was talking about how wonderful it was that the Prince and his bride seemed to really get along well. By this time, Sanguine had a raging headache.
Collin dear, maybe it's time that we retired for the evening?” Sanguine stated in a way that sounded like a question but really wasn't.
Collin nodded and promptly got to his feet. “My beautiful bride wishes for us to retire, and I find that I cannot deny her anything, so I must bid you all to carry on with out us.” He held out his hand for Sanguine, who placed hers in his and smiled as she got to her feet. They walked to the King and Queen and briefly paid their respects before being granted permission to go on and start working on an heir.
Sanguine bit her lip in worry, wondering how she was going to accomplish that task. “Collin dear?” She asked the moment they were alone in the private hallway that led towards the royal bedchambers. “Are you even capable of having sex with a woman?”
Collin shrugged. “I don't know, I've never tried it before.”
Sanguine sighed, tempted to rub her temples. Then a plan formed in her mind. “Hmm... How well can the servants procure things?”
Such as?” Collin wondered curiously.
Such as herbs to help make this a bit easier on both of us,” Sanguine stated.
Oh those!” Collin responded with a laugh. “Yeah, they can get their hands on as much of those herbs as we could ever want!”
Sanguine chuckled. “Well that makes things a whole lot easier than I thought they would be!”
Collin showed her around the spacious chambers dedicated to the heir to the throne. Despite her assumptions, Sanguine found that he had excellent taste in decorations. His entire apartment look rich yet comfortable, which suited her just fine.
A maid waited to tend to them, curtseying and addressing them both with the utmost respect. Sanguine smiled at her, never one to belittle her servants.
Do you think you could bring us an infusion of these herbs?” Sanguine asked as she wrote them down on a piece of stationary. The maid glanced at the list and blushed.
Yes, my Princess, at once!” She exclaimed and rushed off.
While she was gone, Collin's personal body attendant undressed him as Sanguine walked around making mental notes off all the little things she would need to change, such as buying an armoire for all of her belongings. The maid returned with the infusion just as Collin was finished undressing. Sanguine was interested to note that while his male attendant had attracted a large portion of Collin's attention, the frankly gorgeous maid didn't even garner a second look from him.
The infusion was poured from a teapot into two cups, which Sanguine gestured for the maid to serve Collin first. “Drink up, my dear.”
Yes dearest,” Collin replied automatically, obeying her command. As he did so, the maid helped Sanguine out of the fabulously intricate dress. It had at least a hundred tiny pearl buttons running along her spine, and would have been impossible for her to undo by herself. Soon, she was undressed except for her lacy undergarments.
I can do the rest myself, thank you,” Sanguine informed the maid with a kind smile. “Please leave us alone.”
All of the servants and guards nodded and promptly left the room. Sanguine sighed deeply, and then downed her cup of herbal infusion.
I wonder how long until this kicks in?” Sanguine muttered to herself.
Not long,” Collin promised, patting his bed in an invitation for her to join him. “Why don't we at least talk until the drink takes over and we attack each other?”
Sanguine giggled, wiggling her fingers at him. “Careful, my attacks are not so easy to survive!”
Collin gulped at the sight of her claws – which had looked like strange decorations while she was dressed up earlier. “I know...”
Getting into bed with him, Sanguine asked him to tell her some of his more erotic adventures, hoping to put him in the mood. He regaled her with a surprising bevy of naughty tales, which – combined with the infusion – inflamed them both with lust. By the time they fell asleep, they could honestly say that the marriage had been consummated and that an heir might have been conceived.
Unknown to them, a servant had been assigned to watch them in secret. He rushed to give a full report to the King and Queen, who sighed in relief at the news. They had been afraid that the newly wedded couple might decide to never share a bed, which could potentially threaten the future of the Kingdom.

⋨ ⋩ ⋨ ⋩ ⋨ ⋩

A little more than a year and a half later, Sanguine sat resting in bed, nursing the new heir that she'd recently given birth to. He was soft and precious and adorable! She just knew that he would be everything a Prince was supposed to be; noble, kind, and intelligent. It was a new and unique experience for her to know that she would actually be able to raise him.
The thought frightened her as well! “I haven't actually done this before, you know?” She whispered to him. “I gave all my babies to their father, so I have no experience with young children. Older children, yes, but not infants and toddlers. Promise that you won't be too hard on me...”
Her little Prince cooed at her despite the fact that her nipple was in his mouth. He also waved his fist at her, utterly melting her heart.
Oh! I just love you so much!” She squealed. “I could just squeeze you to death!”
Collin entered the room at just that moment, laughing at her statement. “I suggest that you refrain from strangling our baby!”
Sanguine rolled her eyes at him. They had an interesting relationship. It was clear that she was in charge and that he respected her authority, but he was also smart and refined and surprisingly fun to talk to. He brought her places she'd never been before, and always showed her a good time. In a way, he had become her best friend. They didn't have sex very often, but that was fine by them.
Mother and Father have grown impatient,” Collin announced with a wry smile. “They demand that you bring the baby to them immediately so that they may look him over and work on spoiling him right away!”
Sanguine laughed. “I'll bet!” She took her time getting ready, thinking about her life.
She had settled into her role as future Queen nicely and was confident that she could handle the job when the time came. She already did quite a bit of the duties that were once the responsibility of the King and Queen, and was astonished to find that she liked her job. It was fun, especially after so many years spent in her dungeon!
I would still give up everything to marry Danny in a heartbeat, but if I have to serve my Kingdom until I die, this isn't a bad way to do so...
There was just one thing she wanted to do; something that kept nagging at the back of her mind. It took her at least a week to organize, but soon, she was ready.

⋨ ⋩ ⋨ ⋩ ⋨ ⋩

Sanguine stepped out of the carriage, careful to hold her baby so that she didn't drop him. Several of the servants for Castle Blood stood rigidly attentive to her in case she might need something.
Has everyone arrived?” She asked curiously.
Yes, my Princess,” a man answered immediately.
Good,” she responded with a relieved sigh. As much as she wanted to just slip in unceremoniously, she knew that was impossible now. A herald blew a trumpet and announced:
Her highness, Princess Sanguine!”
Sanguine entered Castle Blood eagerly, excited to see her loved ones again. She wasn't quite sure who to expect since she felt that it would be callous to invite (which would be construed as an order) Danny and his family, so she had simply written him a letter leaving that up to him. Even so, the most important people were her parents.
Thankfully, Gavin had arranged it so that there would be a small feast when she arrived, so everyone was seated, chatting away merrily. Sanguine greeted her son and all her daughters with a hug and a kiss, smiled sadly at Danny, and then turned her attention to her parents.
Mother, father... I know that I have not been the easiest daughter, often making choices that baffled you. I also know that I cheated you out of so many moments that you surely longed for, so I only hope that this can make up for that...”
Sanguine held up the bundle in her arms. “May I present to you the first grandchild that you may openly acknowledge and brag about!”
She handed her baby over to her father, kissing him on the cheek. “Just be careful, the King and Queen will kill me if anything should happen to him!”
Wow, I'm holding a real Prince in my arms!” Her mother murmured reverently when it was her turn to hold the baby.
I know the whole Kingdom celebrated his birth already, but I thought it was only right if we had our own little celebration as a family,” Sanguine said, finally voicing the thing that had been nagging at her. She didn't want any of them to think that she felt she was too good for them now that she was royalty.
Watching her family fuss over the baby, Sanguine was filled with hope for the future of the Kingdom. Danny put an arm around her, pulling her off to the side.
And how are you doing?” He asked, honestly concerned about her.
I'm... surprised,” Sanguine admitted. “I didn't think I would be happy, but...” She shrugged apologetically. “I am, or at least something very close to it.”
Good,” Danny stated, kissing her on the temple. “I'm glad to hear that.”
And you?” Sanguine wondered, nudging him playfully.
Same as I ever was,” he informed her with a smile. “I'm actually pretty happy too. It's a joy to watch Gavin be a good Lord, and the girls are learning so much... I'm amazed just watching them!”
So...” Sanguine murmured hesitantly. “The future may not have turned out the way we wanted it to, but it's still good, right?”
He nodded in confirmation. “Yep, still good.”
Sanguine smiled at him, relieved that he hadn't fallen into depression like he used to when she couldn't be with him. Looking around, she realized that everything was perfect in the same strange and twisted way that her entire life had been.


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