While Jana and Nathan study the Star Stone report, what is happening in the Royal Palace?
I gradually emerged from sleep’s comforting embrace. When consciousness reasserted itself I found myself longing for the hazy half-awake state where problems do not exist and life is wonderful. But sleep’s shelter was gone, banished to the hidden recesses of my mind by harsh reality. My eyes fluttered open and I found William silently watching me, his mouth stretched into a gentle smile.
When several seconds passed without him speaking, I asked, “What?”
“Have I told you how much I love you?” he asked.
“You tell me all the time, dear — not that I’m complaining.” I scooted toward William and kissed him. “I love you, too.”
“For which I am profoundly grateful.”
“Is something wrong, William? You seem pensive.”
“Last night’s double alarms, especially that harrowing evacuation, coupled with your recent kidnapping sent my subconscious off in morbid directions. My dreams have faded, thank God, but they shared one horrible theme. You were gone from my life.”
“You can’t get rid of me that easily, William.”
“I know that, it’s my subconscious that’s being difficult about this.”
Looking into William’s eyes I realized his nightmares truly bothered him. That made my decision simple. I grabbed William’s comm — since I was snuggled up to him, his was closer — and called his assistant.
Peter answered, “Yes, Your Highness?”
“Peter, after such a trying night, William and I are spending the day together. Please reschedule all his appointments. Also, contact Elizabeth and have her do the same for my appointments.”
Despite the mountain of work I’d just dumped on our two assistants, Peter simply replied, “At once, Your Highness!”
“Yes, Your Highness?”
“William and I understand just how difficult we’ve made your day. We’ll find a way to make it up to you.”
“That’s not necessary, Your Highness. This is my job, after all.”
An idea occurred to me. “You have a teenage daughter, don’t you? Katrina, I believe?”
Peter couldn’t keep the surprise out of his voice, “Yes. She’s quite a fan of yours.”
“Do you think she’d enjoy spending a day with me? I could take her shopping — my treat, of course — have lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, and then she could join William and me for a private dinner.”
“That… That is most generous of you, Your Highness. Katrina would love that.”
“Excellent! Could you arrange that with Elizabeth? And tell her I’ll think of a way to make this extra work up to her, also.”
“I will, Your Highness. And thank you. Thank you so very much!”
“It is the least I can, Peter.”
I disconnected the call and put William’s comm back on his bedside table. Meeting William’s stunned gaze, I said, “I believe you were about to have your way with me.”
“I was?” He suddenly grinned, “Yes, by God, I was!”
I was so wrapped up in my husband that I didn’t realize the Star Stone report was missing until after dinner. Even then, I merely assumed someone had moved it. It wasn’t until the following morning that I discovered it had vanished completely. I alerted Palace security, of course, but their attention was rightly focused on hardening the Palace’s network security.
I had only read part of the report, but I couldn’t imagine it would be useful to whoever took it. Even if it ended up in the hands of Jeanine’s pet slicer, what could Jana possibly learn that she hadn’t already discovered when she accessed the Star Stone directly?
I put it out of my mind and turned my attention to the true needs of the Star Kingdom.
What has Jeanine been doing all this time? Find out in Chapter 51, coming Wednesday.