Jeanine wraps up her work with the Star Kingdom and prepares for her show wedding.
The next six months passed in the blink of an eye.
Olivia and I interviewed and debated and argued and, finally, agreed on the next Duchess of Gaunner. We settled on Baroness Erin, a previously minor noble from a previously minor holding impressed us with her deep understanding of the issues facing the Duchy and with her ideas for solving those issues. Olivia and I quite enjoyed Erin’s gasp of surprise when we named her as my successor. Some nobles were upset we passed over them but most, once they got to know Erin, agreed with our decision.
The Royal family’s new Star Stone effects worked flawlessly during the transition of power from me to Erin. I never heard even a suggestion that something was wrong with the ceremony or the Star Stone.
The Queen chose that time to have King Bernard issue a proclamation against Recognized knights. Without the alien AI forcing compliance, Recognized Knights were already free to follow their own consciences. Realizing she’d have to explain that somehow, Charlotte had Bernard claim that binding another person’s will to a lord went against the Star Kingdom’s newfound respect for individual rights. The simple fact that the existing Recognized Knights had their freewill returned was offered as proof that the Star Stone agreed with the decision.
Once I was free of my obligation to Gaunner, negotiations for Neert’s secession began in earnest. Queen Charlotte, backed by Princess Olivia, was a tough negotiator. She was also a fair one. We had an agreement worked out by the time I returned to Neert to begin planning my official state wedding. The post-wedding festivities would also include the official secession ceremony presided over by Their Royal Majesties King Bernard and Queen Charlotte.
Jana and Nathan got married in a small ceremony restricted to family and close friends. Jana restricted her wedding party to Tilly, her maid of honor, and me as her lone bridesmaid. I think Tilly and Mark will follow Jana’s and Nathan’s example eventually.
My wedding party, on the other hand, is huge. Besides Kelly, my maid of honor, Jana, Tilly, and Olivia, I also invited the women from Drake’s Space Patrol crew and my half-sisters on my mother’s side. Drake’s party was equally large, including the surviving men from his crew, Prince William, and a few friends from the rebellion.
Mentioning the rebellion, with Neert’s separation from the Star Kingdom they found themselves without anything to rebel against. Since the soon-to-be Republic of Neert was sorely in need of armed forces, many of the rebels accepted appointments to Neert’s military. The rest accepted civilian citizenship in Neert and got on with their lives.
Lords and ladies from across the Star Kingdom arrived days before the wedding. The Neert nobility engaged in a friendly contest to see who could throw the most lavish party and enjoyed a moment in the limelight. The day of the wedding dawned clear and beautiful. Guests arrived and took their seats.
Drake and I had such large wedding parties it took quite a while for everyone to enter the cathedral. As I’d predicted, despite being almost nine-months pregnant, Olivia managed the long walk with grace and poise. At long last, it was my turn. King Bernard, who requested the honor, escorted me down the aisle and presented me to Drake. The minister droned a message of some kind, one I wasn’t listening to, before finally working his way around to the important part.
“Do you, Drake,” he said, “take Jeanine to be your wife? To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse, forsaking all others until death do you part?”
Grinning, Drake said, “I—”
“Aaahhhh!” Olivia, her dress soaking wet, held her stomach and fought for balance.
William rushed to her, “Olivia, what’s wrong?”
Stifling another cry, Olivia turned a beaming smile on her husband, “Nothing’s wrong, dear. Your heir is tired of waiting and is on the way.”
As Olivia’s physician and my medical people entered the cathedral, William helped his wife sit down in a hastily cleared pew. After another contraction, Olivia found the time to look my way.
“I’m terribly sorry, Jeanine. It seems my son—”
“Or daughter,” William interjected.
“My child,” Olivia continued, “has disrupted your wedding.”
I couldn’t help laughing, “It’s only fair, Your Highness. After all, I disrupted your wedding.”
“You’re right. Apology withdrawn,” Olivia agreed.
With Olivia drawing all the attention, only Drake and I heard the minister ask, “What should I do, Lady Jeanine?”
“This is just a show wedding, since Drake and I are already married,” I replied. “With Olivia going into labor, people have already gotten more of a show than they expected. Just pronounce us husband and wife and let’s call it a day.”
“As you wish, my Lady.” The minister smiled at each of us and said, “I now pronounce you husband and wife.”
An hour and a half later, Olivia delivered a beautiful baby boy.
This book will be released on the new title The Recognition Revelation on April 1. The book will go through a rewrite but will be essentially the same story you read here. Your author will take a break from regular chapters while he completes the rewrite and chooses which story he will write next.