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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Mirror of Dreams - Chapter 10


In the morning, Andrew and I had sex in the shower, and then ate a gourmet breakfast served by room service. After procrastinating as long as we could, we kissed each other goodbye and went our separate ways. Wearing my tiara so that I didn't lose it, I went home to pack, biting my lip as I wondered what would be the best way to make absolutely sure that my mirror would not break during transport.
At home, I was surprised to find that my mother and grandmother were both sleeping in, for once! The house was so quiet! Almost eerily so...
As I walked to my bedroom, I heard a thump in Kyle's room.
Are you okay?” I called out in concern. The door opened rather abruptly.
Shh, don't wake him!” Ian insisted as he came out into the hall and shut the door. I gaped at him in shock. “I stubbed my toe and almost knocked over a lamp. Why are you staring at me like that? Kyle said you wouldn't mind.”
I don't! I just didn't think it would happen,” I explained, closing my gaping mouth to grin knowingly at him.
Ian tilted his head toward my room. “Let's go talk about your night.”
Chuckling, I led him into my room, and then contemplated my closet. “My night was good. Nothing to brag about, but perfect if you take into account how tired we were by then.”
You feel any different now that you are married?” Ian wondered.
Not really,” I replied with a shrug. “I guess it hasn't really sunk in yet.” Then I smirked at him. “I don't need to know all the details, but how was your night?”
Pretty good,” Ian informed me with a grin. “Your brother has some mad skills!”
Good for him,” I cheered, deciding to just go through everything I own and sort it into piles. One to bring, one to store here, and one to discard.
He warned me that he didn't want a relationship or anything,” Ian added.
I could have told him that was unnecessary,” I snorted. “You play with guys but look to girls for relationships.”
Yep,” Ian stated in agreement, then shrugged. “I might have made an exception for him though.”
Really?” I asked, intrigued by the possibility.
Yeah, he's cute and I already know that he's a pretty good guy. I'm surprised that he might be gay though,” Ian remarked. “I didn't see that coming.
Me either,” I responded. “He was always such a guy guy, playing football and whatnot. I guess that just goes to show that you never can tell.”
But that might be weird because you and I have such a close friends-with-benefits relationship,” Ian murmured.
I never thought of that!” I exclaimed, and then it hit me. “Oh my Gods! I've had sex with someone that my brother's had sex with!”
Ian laughed. “If it makes you feel better, you had me first.”
Hmm...” I murmured. “I wonder if this is how Nathan felt when he found out that I've had sex with his mother?”
That's probably worse!” Ian exclaimed. “Just thinking about someone having sex with my mother sends chills down my spine!”
I laughed. “To be fair, your mother is, um... not very good looking...” I said diplomatically.
I know! How she created a gorgeous guy like me is a mystery!”
Thinking about Nathan had set off a powerful longing in me. I stared at my mirror, feeling like it was calling out to me. I suddenly wanted nothing more than to go home.
Home?! When had that happened???
Ian caught my look. “Something wrong?”
Shaking my head to clear my thoughts, something occurred to me. “I'm terrified to bring it on the plane with me, and I don't quite trust a moving company or a shipping company. Would you consider driving it across country for me?”
Ian frowned as he thought this over. Eventually, he shrugged. “I suppose I wouldn't mind...” He walked closer to it to examine its dimensions. “It won't fit in my trunk, but maybe my backseat...”
I walked up behind him, thinking how ironic it was that we looked pretty good together. Maybe it was a shame that we had never felt romantic love. Then again, the week we had tried being a couple, we had done nothing but argue, so maybe it really was better this way.
Touching his shoulder, I realized that his reflection was exactly right where my kiss mark was. I found this funny enough that I leaned forward to kiss it. The next thing I knew, we were both in my Royal Bedroom.
What the?!” I exclaimed.
Your Majesty!” Lord Antony cried out happily as he got up from a chair. “I'm so happy you've returned!”
Ian looked positively gobsmacked as we turned around to face my loyal assistant. Lord Antony also looked shocked to see Ian. To be fair, Ian was only wearing the pair of boxers that he had slipped into before leaving my brother's room. Therefore, it must look like we had been doing something indecent. I myself was only wearing a pair of yoga pants and a tight cami – not to mention my tiara, which I hadn't wanted to risk losing.
All of us gaped at each other in astonishment. Ian recovered first, but only enough to turn his bone white face in my direction. “Kaitlynn... What happened?”
I somehow brought you with me!” I blurted out, shaking my head. “But I have no idea how!”
According to the explanation I'd been given, it was impossible for anyone to cross between worlds unless they had a double to exchange with. This probably meant that some poor guy who looked like Ian was suddenly in my bedroom at home wondering what the fuck had just happened.
Hold on a minute!” I exclaimed, stepping away from Ian and kissing the mirror. I looked around, but there was no one in my room, and I'm pretty sure that there was no way he would have been able to run away before I returned. Taking some time, I made sure that he hadn't somehow gone into my closet or bathroom. Then, I kissed the mirror again to go back to my palace.
Ian and Lord Antony had moved to the table and were busy sipping on tea. Ian brightened up at the sight of me.
About time you returned! It's been at least five minutes,” he told me.
Really? I was only gone for less than a minute,” I reasoned. “Oh yeah... that makes sense I guess...”
I walked over to the table, sat down, and poured myself some tea. Lord Antony looked like he wanted to protest that he should pour it for me, but I was already finished. I needed to think this over carefully.
Lord Antony...” I began, not quite sure what I wanted to say. “Uh... Am I allowed to visit the Temple of your God? I need to ask him some questions...”
Of course you are allowed to visit the Temple!” Lord Antony assured me. “Your Majesty is one of very few people who are allowed to do so whenever you like.”
Really?” I inquired. “Who else is allowed?”
Lady Sophia, for one,” Lord Antony stated. “She's a previous Queen after all.” Upon reflection, he added: “Lord Nathan might be granted permission if he showed up asking for an audience.”
Then I should go there right away,” I decided.
Please, Majesty! You've been gone so long that it'll take days to catch up on your reports!” Lord Antony protested. “Please wait until after dinner at least!”
I thought I left you in charge,” I stated in a slightly exasperated way.
You did, and I did a capable job, but still, you need to know everything that happened while you left,” he reminded me.
I know,” I admitted in frustration. Suddenly, I gasped and clutched my arms so that I wouldn't scratch them raw.
Your Majesty!” Lord Antony exclaimed in concern. He looked ready to carry me to a healer if I so much as sneezed.
I'm fine,” I assured him – and Ian too, who was also staring at me in concern. “I just felt the sizzling return in full force. After a few days with it on low, I wasn't prepared for its true intensity.”
Sizzling?” Ian wondered, reminding me that I hadn't ever actually told him about that part.
I shrugged, spreading my hands wide before me. “I'll try to explain it later.” I glanced at the large and ornately beautiful clock on the wall. “Huh! That's probably the first time that it's more or less the same time here as it is in the real world.”
If you need to eat breakfast, I can have something brought to the dining hall,” Lord Antony assured me. He then glanced at Ian. “And maybe your friend can borrow something to wear from Lord Nathan.”
I grinned at Ian. “Knowing you, you'd be delighted to stay and see my dream world.”
You got that right!” Ian exclaimed, returning my grin. “I'm still in shock! Even though I believed you, it's a different story to see it for myself.”
Right?” I stated, feeling validated. “Anyway, I have a pair of your sweatpants and a muscle shirt in my wardrobe.”
So that's what happened to my favorite workout outfit! I'd forgotten that you'd borrowed that,” Ian murmured, then looked around. “This room is probably bigger than yours and mine together!”
I don't know about that!” I half protested. “But my bed sure is enormous!”
I see that,” Ian drawled, wiggling his eyebrows at me.
With a laugh, I got up and rummaged around until I found his clothes, and then tossed them at him while I set my tiara in its velvet lined holder. He pulled them on and then examined himself in my mirror.
Not exactly what I pictured wearing in a palace,” he remarked wryly.
I slung an arm over his shoulder and kissed his cheek. “You look gorgeous. Lady Sophia will probably try to drag you away the very moment she meets you.”
Should I resist her?” Ian asked, nudging me with his hip.
No! She makes an excellent lover!” I informed him. Then I chuckled and added another necessary piece of information. “But if Lady Leeza expresses interest in you, you might want to run. She's an expert at torturing her lovers.”
That sounds like it could be fun,” Ian drawled, winking at me.
I giggled. “I thought so!”
Lord Antony cleared his throat. “Your Majesty, if you're ready...”
I can't wait for you to meet everyone!” I exclaimed, unbelievably excited.
Ian held out his arm to me, pretending to nod in respect – which made it quite cheeky. “Your Majesty.”
Why thank you, kind sir!” I replied flirtatiously, slipping my hand into the crook of his arm. I led him out of my room and down the hall before we stopped giggling.
When there was still about a hundred feet to the dining hall, a thought occurred to me. “So... do you want to be a Lord? Or a Sir?”
Ian shook his head. “Nah... I don't think I'd like a bunch of people calling me Lord Ian all the time. And Sir Ian sounds like some stuffy old British dude.”
We both giggled at this. As we approached the dining hall, I could hear talking. To my relief, no one was shouting. Silence fell as I entered the room.
Your Majesty!” Lord Gregory, Lady Leeza, and Sir Barrett exclaimed as they got to their feet.
You're finally back!” Sir Barrett added.
How long was I gone?” I wondered. By my reckoning, I had been gone four nights, three full days, and most of a morning.
Eighteen days,” Lord Gregory informed me.
That's gotta suck!” Ian exclaimed. “Every time you want to go home for the weekend, your work must really pile up!”
You have no idea!” I exclaimed with a pout.
But you're the Queen here, right?” Ian asked for clarification. “So shouldn't you be able to delegate all your work to others?”
I sighed, wishing it was just that simple. “You'd think, right? But no, I have to know what's going on if I want to be a good Queen. Did I tell you that they have war here?”
There's war in America too,” Ian stated with a shrug.
Yeah, but it's not really in America,” I reminded him. “It's on the other side of the world. Could you imagine if it was actually in our country? Or imagine what it's like to be the President, trying to keep our country safe...”
Yeah... that probably sucks...” Ian agreed.
Exactly!” Now that I had made my point, I gestured to everyone. “Ian, this is Lord Gregory, who is the man responsible for how smoothly Rolandia runs. Well, him and Lord Antony, who you already met. This is Lady Leeza...”
Ian and I exchanged a knowing look. “Pleasure to meet you, my Lady,” Ian greeted with a gallant bow. She simply stared at him oddly.
Smooth,” I praised him, and then continued. “And this is Sir Barrett, my personal bodyguard.”
Do you need a bodyguard?” Ian wondered.
Not so far as I've noticed, but apparently I might eventually be targeted by Nibal,” I replied with a shrug. “Everyone, this is Ian. We've been best friends since...”
Since...” Ian and I both looked to the ceiling as we tried to figured out exactly how long it's been. “Since we were both knee high to a grass hopper.”
I burst out laughing. “Do people still say that?!”
Ian shrugged and grinned at me. “Does it matter?”
Lord Gregory interrupted us. “Your Majesty, do you require anything to eat?”
Nope, but some tea would be lovely,” I answered, knowing that he was impatient to get to work. Maids rushed forward to be on hand when I finally sat down.
Do you want me to do the chair thing?” Ian asked, rolling his eyes to look significantly at my chair.
Gods no!” I blurted out, pulling my own chair away from the table.
Didn't think so,” he replied with a chuckle. He pulled out a chair and settled his rump in it. “You know, you may have eaten this morning, but I was dragged into your dream world before I had so much as a slice of toast!”
Oh! Right! I forgot about that,” I muttered with a sheepish grin. “And after all that strenuous exercise you had last night!”
Exactly!” Ian stated in agreement. “Meanwhile, I bet you and Andrew had a big feast this morning.”
Actually, we did,” I admitted, smiling at the memory. “Steak and eggs and bacon and the whole nine yards.”
Do you think your brother is going to think I ran out on him?” Ian asked, biting his lip with worry.
Not a chance,” I assured him. “We're going to be back literally a second after we left.”
Oh, right, I forgot about that,” Ian mumbled, looking relieved.
I thanked the maid who poured my tea, giving her a quick kiss. “Can you send for something for my friend to eat?”
Yes, Your Majesty,” she assured me, and then smiled. “Welcome back. We all missed you.”
Thank you,” I said, smiling at her for a moment before talking to Ian again. “The maids here are into cosplay. You should see how cute they look when they dress up.”
I look forward to it,” Ian murmured, smiling appreciatively at the maid.
She giggled and blushed. “My Lord...”
Ian groaned softly. “They're doing that Lord thing already.”
Good luck with that!” I wished him. “I've only been trying to get everyone to call me Kaitlynn for a year now.”
Kaitlynn!” Nathan called out, making it sound like I had just exaggerated how hard it was to get people to call me by name. He was running but forced himself to stop just after he burst into the room. Now walking awkwardly slowly, I saw his mother following him at a much more sedate pace. I stood up and walked over to him.
Nathan, I missed you,” I told him as I held my arms out. Happily, he hugged me before kissing me. It was a fairly chaste kiss, which told me that he was still probably a little upset at me, but his need to welcome me home was stronger.
Oh my!” Lady Sophia cried out in admiration once she spotted Ian.
Holding Nathan's hand, I pulled him closer to the table. “Nathan, meet Ian. Ian, Nathan. Lady Sophia,” I turned to grin at her. “This is my lifelong best friend who I am sure you will want to get to know very well later on.”
Ian got to his feet and bowed to her. “My Lady,” he drawled sexily.
To my surprise, Lady Sophia was gaping at him in astonishment, she looked around the table as if expecting an explanation. That was when I noticed that everyone else cast Ian frequent looks as if trying to figure him out. I had simply dismissed this as surprise that I'd brought a friend with me, but now I realized that it was something more.
What?” I asked curiously.
Lady Sophia shook her head, apparently unable to speak. It was Lady Leeza who answered my question. Leave it to her to take everything in stride!
Does Your Majesty remember a particular portrait in the Hall of Kings that might possibly look a bit like your friend?” Lady Leeza asked.
No,” I murmured. “I think I'd remember if I saw that.”
She shrugged as if it wasn't important in the slightest. “Well, that portrait was of a holy man important to Rolandia. The only man ever to serve our most beloved God as a Priest. He was killed many years ago in a tragic battle...”
Oh...” I murmured, not knowing what else to say.
We all knew him well,” Lady Sophia added, having recovered her composure. “It's quite shocking to be reminded of him so suddenly.” She held out her hand to Ian. “Forgive my rudeness. Welcome to Rolandia.”
Ian took it and then looked baffled as to whether he was supposed to shake her hand or kiss it. Lady Sophia solved his problem by gripping his hands in hers. “Harold was a dear friend of mine and you really do look just like him. I hope that we will be good friends as well.”
As do I,” Ian murmured with a small smile. He turned to look at Nathan, who was glaring at him. Thinking that Nathan was upset to see his mother holding a stranger's hand, Ian let her go and took a step back.
Nathan realized that he was being rude and took a deep breath so that he could exhale away his frustration. “Ian... I've read a lot about you in Kaitlynn's journal. I never thought that I'd have a chance to meet you... Do you feel like sparring?”
Nathan!” I exclaimed with a laugh. “You don't need to feel threatened by Ian!”
Hmm,” Nathan huffed, pursing his lips but not saying anything.
I actually don't know how to spar,” Ian replied, clearly trying to sound apologetic. “Not unless you count fake stage sword fights. Which I'm not very good at anyway.”
Hmm,” Nathan repeated, probably feeling cheated out of an opportunity to kick Ian's ass.
The maid arrived with food for Ian, and everyone sat down again. Finishing my tea, I turned to Lord Gregory.
Thank you for your patience, you may begin,” I permitted, standing up again so that I could stretch my arms above my head and roll my neck in circles.
Lord Gregory had an alarmingly tall stack of papers that actually turned into two alarmingly tall stacks of papers when he pulled a cart over. He pushed the piles to the middle of the table, and then silently looked at Lord Antony.
Would you prefer to start with the oldest report first, or the ones that we deem to be the most important?” Lord Antony asked.
Most important,” I stated, stretching my legs now. They took a few moments to rearrange the stacks between them, and then Lord Gregory took up a report and began to read it to me.
Sir Barrett silently retrieved our practice swords from a nearby cupboard, and handed mine to me. The moment I was ready, he attacked me with his practice sword. Now that I knew that the sizzling in my blood was magic, I paid closer attention to it in order to see if I could figure out what part of this sparring was magical.
10 bushels of wheat, got it!” I called out to prove to Lord Gregory that I was paying attention to him talking about people asking for aid. By now, he more than trusted that I could multitask, but it was still polite to acknowledge him.
Lord Antony took up the next report. This was also a request for aid. I frowned at the news as I blocked a particularly enthusiastic strike. Sir Barrett was not taking it easy on me!
Are there any more requests for aid, and if so, why?” I called out.
Remember that bridge that was destroyed in a flood last year?” Lord Gregory asked.
Yeah?” I responded.
Well, the area flooded again this year, but it waited until after the planting had been finished, so the new crops were all destroyed,” he explained.
That sucks!” I stated in concern. “Why isn't there a dam to prevent flooding?”
Usually, the flooding comes right on time each year, and brings fertile soil with it. The farmers rely on it. It was only this year that the flooding came late,” Lord Gregory informed me as I stepped to the side and avoided a strike.
Ah, got it. Continue.”
There are five more requests for aid,” Lord Antony said, answering my question. He pulled all of those reports out of the pile and set them in the finished section. “We naturally granted the requests in Your Majesty's name.”
Thank you!” I cried out in appreciation. A moment later, I roared in frustration and kicked Sir Barrett's legs out from under him. “If you're going to try to kill me so ferociously, then I don't want to spar any more!”
My apologies, Your Majesty,” Sir Barrett murmured sincerely as he rolled back onto his feet. “I merely wanted to make sure that your skills didn't get rusty while you were away.”
Ian snorted in amusement. “First of all, I had no idea that you could fight with a sword. Way to go!”
Thank you!” I bowed to him with a pleased smile and a flourish of my sword.
And secondly, could you imagine what it would have been like if you had needed your sword skills at the wedding?!” Ian asked, laughing at the mental image of me wearing my wedding dress and swinging a sword. I laughed too, the imagine was just that funny.
Did I mention that I did punch out Chris?” I asked with a giggle.
Ian laughed a bit harder. “No! But Chris mentioned it. He was apparently under the impression that I had taught you how to fight!”
I had to say that! I couldn't exactly tell everyone that I was trained in an alternate dimension!”
It came up as he, Andrew, Kyle, and I were getting dressed before the wedding and I noticed that he had some bruises on his lower rib cage,” Ian informed me, rubbing his abdomen to illustrate where.
Nathan interrupted our conversation even as I put my sword away and grabbed my cyr wheel. “I know about Andrew from your journal, but who is this Chris person? And Kyle?”
Chris is Andrew's best friend, and Kyle is my older brother,” I explained.
Your super cute older brother,” Ian corrected me.
I stuck my tongue out at him. “Only you would think that!” I didn't wait for a response before stepping into the wheel and spinning.
Lord Gregory took this as his cue to start on the next report. As he talked, I heard Sir Barrett and Nathan quietly discussing my cyr wheel. Apparently, they had both tried practicing with it in my absence, only having mild luck.
Maybe it's something that only women can do,” Lady Leeza sneered softly. “I've learned it just fine. Perhaps not as well as Her Majesty, but well enough to have fun with it if I wanted.”
Lord Gregory cleared his throat and glared at Lady Leeza. “Do you mind, we're working here!”
Lady Leeza glared at him in return, silently promising to hurt him later.
Continue!” I called out, more or less ignoring them.
Lord Gregory did as suggested, thankfully combining several similar reports into one. These were all basically the various Nobles checking in and letting us know how there were doing. It was good to hear.
So we're getting prosperous, got it!” I called out in acknowledgment.
As Lord Antony started on the next report, Ian got up and stretched a bit. He walked up to me as I performed a fun trick. When I paused for a minute to decide on my next trick, he stepped into the wheel with me and we spun together. Just as if we had never stopped practicing it, our routine came back like magic.
When we were done, I realized that Lord Antony had stopped talking. “I was listening,” I assured him.
I know you were,” he stated, his eyes wide with amazement. “But I wanted to watch!” Everyone else nodded in agreement. Nathan and Sir Barrett looked ready to try practicing some more.
I laughed and playfully nudged Ian with my shoulder. “Apparently we still got it! I'm getting a drink.”
Ian simply nodded, and then stepped into the wheel and rolled it in circles reminiscent of cartwheels. “Does it seem strangely easier here?”
You too?” I asked as I took hold of a cup, and then sipped from it.
And I know this sounds weird, but I'd swear that it feels like my blood is boiling...”
I nearly spit out my water in shock. “What?!” I demanded after I'd swallowed.
Ian came to a full stop and looked at me. “Why? Is that bad?”
No!” I hastily assured him. “It's just that I never expected that you'd have magic here too!”
Magic?!” Ian scoffed in disbelief.
No really,” I insisted. “Watch!” I ran back over to the cyr wheel and took it from him. Then, after getting it going really fast, I pushed myself up over the top bar and kept on pushing until I was sitting on it. It didn't slow down or wobble as it should have, so I carefully stood up. Once I was on top of the wheel – which was still spinning steadily – I mentally urged the wheel to slow down so that I could walk it in circles around the room.
That's unbelievable!” Ian exclaimed.
It shouldn't be possible, I know,” I agreed.
But I'm still not convinced that it's magic,” Ian added.
I dropped down and used the bar to swing from a couple of times. By rights, the wheel should have tipped over, but it didn't.
Still not magic,” Ian sang out in amusement.
Somewhere deep down inside, I just had to prove it to him. It was as if an imp sat on my shoulder and whispered what to do. My blood got almost chilly in agreement.
Okay, how about this?” I asked as I felt that strange sensation come over me. If I cared to look, I would have saw a blue flame emanating from me. I grabbed the wheel and swung it around my wrist exactly like a much lighter hula hoop for a moment before flinging it up into the air and willing it to fly in circles. Not random circles, but deliberate ones.
Willing it back to me, I stepped inside and then had it go back into the air before I started on my solo routine.
Okay, I give!” Ian cried out in astonishment. “That really is magic!”

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