This week, Megan begins to realize the reality of her situation, and proves herself a up to the task.
(Want to catch up on the story? You can find it here.)
The King is Called Home, Part 5
When Megan opened her eyes the next morning, the tiny apartment was full of shadows that moved as cars rushed past the building. She was alone. Shivering, she pulled the blanket tighter around her shoulders, and resolved to buy a warmer wardrobe immediately. Chicago was certainly colder than Scardaugh!
The inky black shadows faded to a muted grey as her eyes adjusted to the early morning light. She sat up in bed, reaching for her morning coffee and mail. At home, this routine was well established, and these things were always waiting for her on the nightstand when she awoke, as if by magic. Here, without the staff that kept the great houses running smoothly, if she wanted a cup of coffee she was going to have to make it herself. Half an hour later, Megan finally sat down at the little kitchen table with her hard-won cup of homemade coffee. “Automatic coffee maker – hardly!” She spoke out loud.
As she sipped, she surveyed the apartment once again, deciding what to do. She savored the moment. It was a rare day when she had no appointments, no commitments. Perhaps she would go out shopping, and meet Brian at a café for brunch after he finished his registration at the University.
Their luggage sat open on the floor near the bed, clothes from the previous day nearby. She rummaged through the tiny suitcase she had packed so hastily, and realized how limited her options were. She had not been thinking of what she might need on an extended trip when Brian and MacDuff woke her in the middle of the night and told her to pack a bag. She chose a burgundy cashmere sweater from the assortment she had brought, then realized she had not put a second pair of jeans into the suitcase.
Megan sat on the edge of the bed, staring at the open suitcase. “How am I supposed to get dressed? I can’t even go buy more clothes if I can’t get dressed!” The apartment felt like it had shrunk, and suddenly her day full of possibilities seemed impossible.
She took several deep breaths, and looked around. Panicking would not solve anything, she reminded herself. She saw the jeans she had worn the day before, lying on the floor of the bathroom. Realizing she had no other choice, she stood and walked calmly into the bathroom and got dressed. If she could dance with the Baron Ceridan, who was old enough to be her grandfather and who sweated whiskey, she could wear the same pair of jeans for two days and do it gracefully.
Brian closed the front door behind him just as Megan came out of the bathroom. “Good morning. Hope I didn’t wake you…I wanted to get to the registration office early. Classes start on Monday.” He set down a large armful of textbooks.
Megan smiled. “Not at all. I made a pot of coffee.” She told him. “I was thinking of doing some shopping today, after brunch of course. Perhaps there’s a nice café at the University?”
“We might be better off staying in. MacDuff and the Americans have put some money into an account for me, but it’s not much. Large amounts of money transferring from the Caudorian treasury would be noticed and traced.”
“That’s fine, I’ll just use my monthly allowance.” Megan replied.
Brian shook his head. “Your credit card could be traced. For all we know, we have enemies in the National Bank. They know by now that you’ve disappeared, and have guessed that we’re together. If your credit card suddenly turns up in Chicago, they’ll know where we are.”
Megan sat down at the kitchen table as this new development sunk in.
“Actually, we should probably destroy that card. If it were found or stolen, it has your real name on it. That could get us both killed.” Brian
Megan watched as he cut her credit card into tiny fragments and threw a few of them away.
“I’ll throw the rest away in different trash cans around the city so even if someone found them, they couldn’t piece it back together.” Brian explained.
“Aren’t you being a little paranoid?” Megan asked, finally. “I’m sure MacDuff has this under control, or he will soon.”
Brian sat down across the table. “Maybe. He might come to bring us home next week. But it could be years. We just don’t know. They made it clear before I left that I may not see Corlaund again until I return for my father’s funeral and my own coronation. If you want to go home, I can try to get in touch with the American State Department…”
Megan reached across the table. She took his hand, still clenched around the shards of her credit card. “I’ll stay. It’s not like I was doing anything all that important at home – just waiting around to marry a prince, and I can do that anywhere.”
“Then why keep waiting? I know it won’t be the court wedding you’d planned, but…Lady Megan of Boderlund, will you be my bride?” The traditional words sounded out of place in the tiny apartment, but Megan didn’t care.
“Of course My Lord.” She smiled, as he drew her close for a kiss that made her grateful their betrothal had not taken place in public after all.
Stay tuned for next week’s installment, which I’ll post here on Monday. Impatient? Leave me your email and I’ll send it to you on early:
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