Pregnant? How was that possible? He couldn’t remember a time when she’d been out of his sight. When had she had the opportunity to meet privately with Lexis … privately enough to make love? “How … when?” “Don’t look so worried,” she said dryly, it happened before my father assigned you to me.
It was when Lexis came to Aristo for Lafoo’s wedding. “Then we must return to Aristo immediately and speak to your father,” he said. “He and your mother should know about this.” “No!” she said emphatically. “Please, Mike, we can’t tell my father. You know how old-fashioned he and my mother are.
He’ll force Lexis to marry me … or he’ll arrange a marriage to the son of one of his friends and I’ll just die if that happens.” Mike knew she was right. King Enoch would not tolerate this kind of dishonor and would demand an instant remedy. And the remedy would, in all probability, be marriage to Lexis.
If Lexis refused, new tensions would arise between the countries of Aristo and Calista. At the moment the two countries were enjoying relatively good relations, but something like this could destroy the tenuous peace. “I will not marry that man. I hope … I pray I never, ever have to see him again.”
He looked back at Alberta. It was his duty, perhaps his destiny to take care of this situation. “If you refuse to tell your parents the truth, then there is only one other alternative that will make everything all right.”
Her gaze was suddenly hopeful as she looked at him. “What?”
He didn’t love her, didn’t even believe in love. He didn’t really know her well at all, but knew none of that mattered. “The answer is really quite simple,” he said. “Marry me.” Alberta stared at her handsome bodyguard, stunned by what he’d just offered.
Impossible, she thought instantly, but, in the back of her mind she knew that marrying Mike would certainly alleviate some of the scandal that was certain to blossom when news of her pregnancy got out.
I wanted to marry for love, her heart cried out. All her life she’d embraced a fantasy of love that she’d believed one day would come true. She knew nothing about Mike except that her father trusted him with her life.
“I … I don’t know what to say,” she finally managed. “It’s a good plan,” Mike said. “I realize I am but a mere servant and not worthy of a princess’s hand in marriage” He continued “but I’ll do whatever it takes to save you from disgrace, to protect the good name of your father and the crown. It is my job … my duty.”
“Thank you, Mike, but I cannot accept your proposal.” “What I am suggesting is a marriage in name only,” he said. “Of course there would be no … no intimacy between us. The marriage would be for the benefit of the child you carry, and for the sake of your honor.”
She wondered if Mike had ever made love with a woman. Didn’t lovemaking require some sort of feelings, some sort of emotions
“A marriage between us just isn’t the solution,” she said.
“Then what is the solution?”
“I don’t know,” she replied softly. “I think what I need is to go to bed and sleep on it.”
* * *
She awakened to morning light dancing in through the window and it took her several seconds to orient herself. Mike was seated on the sofa as she walked into the living room.
“I made some phone calls this morning and the jet can be readied at a moment’s notice for the return trip to Aristo,” he said.
“I’m not returning home today,” she said and sat down on the sofa.
“Princess,” he began softly. She held up a hand. “Please, at least for the time we’re away from Aristo, please call me Alberta.” “Alberta,” he said. “As I told you last night, you don’t have to face this alone. We will marry and nobody will have to know the truth about your pregnancy.
Everyone will just assume the child is mine.” That is, nobody would know until the child was old enough to handle the truth.”
* * *
“If we marry, then there’s no reason for your father to question who the father of your child is,” he countered. “It will be implied that the child is mine.” “I’m not going to marry you, Mike,” she exclaimed. “And I’m not going to let my father force me into marriage with any other man. I’ve decided not to marry anyone.” She raised her chin another notch.
“I’m perfectly capable of raising my baby alone.” Mike stood, his eyes darkened by deep disapproval. “That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” he exclaimed, his voice radiating an anger.
“You should be desperate to accept, if not for yourself, then for your baby. Children need fathers, and you are being selfish if you deny your child that.”
“What about love?” she asked in a small voice. “Isn’t that important, too?” He snorted in obvious disgust. “Giving your child a father is what’s important. It’s time to put away your foolish dreams of silly, romantic love and make the best possible decision for the child you carry. Besides, isn’t it your silly notion about love that got you in this predicament?”
“Why on earth would I subject my child to a father like you? A cold, arrogant man who believes love is nothing more than a foolish dream?”
She didn’t wait for him to reply, but instead ran into the bedroom and slammed the door behind her.
To be continued
⬅️ PREVIOUS episode