It’s been a while since I posted an update to The King is Called Home – I guess the ADD kicked in. I started writing another “quick” one-off short story at the beginning of February, and as of this morning, it’s at about 60 pages. I guess you never know how much story there is until you start to write it. I’ll continue to update this one periodically, but I’m just dying to finish the first draft of Daughter of Oreveille so I can share it with you! So – thank you for your patience. Here’s part 6, where life shifts once again for Megan and Brian. (Want to go back and refresh your memory on the rest of the story? Here’s the archive.)
Megan slowly sipped her coffee, looking around the suburban house that was so different from the tiny city apartment she and Brian shared a decade ago. In their first years in Chicago, she had asked him every few days if he had heard from MacDuff. But Ian MacDuff had not come, and Megan had made her peace with it. She couldn’t remember when she stopped asking about him. These days, peanut butter and play dates were more real to her than the Castle at Scardough.
She smiled at her three-year-old daughter, sleeping on her lap. Soon she would wake, ready to tell elaborate stories of her dreams. Sometimes Megan longed to tell stories of her own, stories that seemed little more than dreams, of a young duchess and a handsome prince and a beautiful palace. But she didn’t dare. Even after so many years, the danger was still very real. Every so often Brian would mention that he had contact from the state department, but never any real news from Corlaund. So she stuck to Disney fairy tales and left the truth alone.
Brian would be home soon, unless a late patient arrived. He had enrolled in the University of Chicago just a few days after their arrival in the United States, and surprised everyone by declaring his major in pre-med. Megan and MacDuff both assumed he would study political science, in preparation to take back the throne once the unpleasantness was over. But Brian was adamant. He had spent his entire childhood studying political science. If he was going to have a career, he was going to do something useful. Megan laughed to imagine what the King of Corlaund would say if he knew that his only son spent his days stitching up wounds and delivering the occasional baby in the emergency room.
“What’s so funny?”
Megan startled. “You’re home early! Slow day?”
Brian nodded. “I’m on call, so if they need me I’ll have to go back in, but I can sit around at home as easily as I can at the hospital.”
The little girl stretched and sat up, instantly awake. “Daddy!”
“Hello, Princess!” Brian greeted his daughter. “I thought you were a big girl who took naps in her very own big-girl bed?”
The little girl shook her head seriously. “I take naps with Mommy. I sleep in a big girl bed later.”
Brian laughed and kissed the toddler’s forehead. “Is that how it is, then?”
The little girl snuggled in closer, as though defying her father – or anyone else – to remove her from the coveted spot.
Brian sat down next to his wife and daughter, putting his arm around both.
“I met with Davis this morning.” Brian said quietly, keeping his voice neutral. Megan remembered the plainclothes officer from the American State Department who had guarded them on their flight to America. She knew that he lived in the area, and that Brian met with him occasionally to get updates on the situation in Corlaund, but their meetings were usually brief and uninformative.
“How is he?” Megan asked. Despite the fact that Davis never gave them the answers she hoped for, she thought of the man fondly. He had seen them through the most difficult time of their lives, and she took comfort knowing that he was always around, watching out for them.
“He’s good. Didn’t say a whole lot, as usual.” Brian replied. “I invited him here for dinner on Friday. He seemed to have more to talk about this time, and the hospital cafeteria isn’t the place to have that conversation.”
Megan shifted to look at Brian. “Do you think…?”
“I don’t know. But there was something he was very carefully not saying, and he accepted the invitation.”
“I haven’t seen any news out of Corlaund. Have you?” Megan asked.
Brian shook his head. “I try to keep track of the chatter online, but I haven’t seen anything unusual. About half of it is from political extremists more interested in ideology than in running a country, and the other half is from gossip bloggers who are fascinated by a couple of our cousins acting like spoiled teenagers.”
Megan laughed. “It’s hard to remember those little girls are teenagers now.”
Brian grinned. “We did our fair share, remember? We were just lucky that every member of the staff wasn’t writing a tell-all blog back then.”
“We stayed within the bounds of propriety.” Megan said primly.
“Barely…” Brian answered, kissing her.
The little girl between them squirmed. “What’s a blog?” She asked.
“She listens to every word!” Megan smiled at Brian. “It’s a place to write about something that interests you.” She explained.
“I should get dinner started anyhow.” Megan stood up from the couch as the doorbell rang.
“I’ll get it.” Brian answered, exchanging a questioning glance with his wife. Megan shrugged and shook her head as he walked to the front door.
Megan held out her hand to her daughter, who came to join her in the kitchen.
“Come in.” Brian said. He led two men in dark suits to the breakfast nook off the kitchen. “Megan, you remember Davis. This is Mr. Miller, his associate.”
Megan nodded. “Hello.” She turned to her daughter. “Let’s go turn on Sesame Street!” She offered with a bright excitement designed to distract the little girl from the intriguing strangers.
When Megan returned to the room, the three men sat around the small round table that was already covered in papers and 8 x 10 photographs of Castle Scardough.
Mr. Davis and Mr. Miller stood as Megan entered the room. “Lady Boderlund.” Davis greeted her.
“Davis. Mr. Miller.” She replied graciously. “Has something happened in Corlaund?” she asked as she took a seat next too Brian.
“The situation has changed.” Davis answered tersely.