Mike’s voice was taut, filled with a simmering anger that portended danger, but Lexis seemed utterly oblivious to the threat.
“Ah, I see … so that’s the way it is. The little princess has taken on a new lover.” He laughed, an offensive sound that sickened Alberta .He directed his gaze to Mike. “You should thank me, hero. I broke her in for you, although I must confess, she was a lousy lay.”
Alberta gasped as Mike exploded from her side. He slammed Lexis up against the wall, his big hand wrapped around Lexis’s throat.
Somebody from a table nearby yelled out and a woman screamed. Alberta watched in horror as Lexis reached up in an unsuccessful attempt to pull Mike’s hand from his neck. “Let me go,” he choked.
“If you ever touch her again … if you ever talk about her like that again … I’ll kill you.” Mike’s voice seethed with rage. “Do you hear me, Lexis? I will not tolerate you disrespecting her. If you do it again, I’ll hunt you down and kill you.” Abruptly he released his hold on Lexis, who stumbled and knocked into a nearby table, overturning glasses as the diners at that particular table jumped up in horror.
Mike grabbed Alberta’s arm and together they walked toward the restaurant door. The walk back to their guest house was accomplished in silence. When they reached the guest house, Alberta went right into the bathroom, telling Mike she wanted to shower. What she really wanted to do was to wash off the feel of Lexis’s hands on her shoulders. She felt slimy and dirty from his touch.
Her mind replayed the scene in the restaurant and again she berated herself for being such a fool where Lexis was concerned. “Alberta, we’d better get up. A car will be here in just a few minutes to take us to the airport.” Reluctantly she once again left his arms. They were ready and waiting when one of the royal limos pulled up to take them to the airport.
As Alberta and Mike approached the desk, Franca closed her calendar, set it on the desk and stood, her expression radiating a pleased surprise. “Alberta, I didn’t realize you had returned from Calista.”
Alberta gave her short, slightly plump mother a hug. “We got in very late last night.” Franca hugged her then held her at arm’s length. “You look well. Your vacation has agreed with you. “And things were well in Calista?” King Enoch asked.
Alberta released her hold on her mother and faced her father.
“Both King George and Queen Deborah send their regards to you and Mother,” she replied. “Father … we have news to share with you and Mother.” Alberta’s heart banged and her stomach flip-flopped nervously. She drew a deep breath and reached for Mike’s hand.
She saw the flare of something in her father’s eyes and the surprise that lit her mother’s pretty features. “While we were in Calista, Mike and I were married. We’re married and I’m pregnant.”
The silence that greeted her announcement was deafening. Alberta tightened her grip on Mike’s hand as her father stood, his olive skin suddenly flushed an over bright color that portended something bad.
“Enoch,” Franca said softly, as if aware of her husband’s thoughts and emotions.
Sickness swooped through Alberta as her father walked around his desk and came to stand directly before her and Mike.
“You are pregnant?” he said.
She nodded, but her father’s gaze had already left her and now scorched Mike. “You, Mike, have worked for the palace and my family for many years and now I find that you have betrayed my trust, made a mockery of your duty and dishonored not only my daughter, but me as well.”
“Father…””Be silent!” King Enoch’s voice thundered at Alberta, then turned back to look at Mike once again. Mike remained unmoving beneath the King’s angry glare. Not a muscle on his face twitched.
“Enoch,” Franca said softly, but the King ignored her. He reached up and took hold of the royal patch on Mike’s breast pocket and with one vicious yank, ripped the patch completely off.
“You have abused your position in the worst possible way. I have lost all trust, all respect for you and for that I banish you from the palace grounds.” “No!” Alberta cried out. She shot a pleading look at her mother, who looked as heartbroken, as helpless as Alberta felt. “We are married.”
“I recognize no such thing. Guards,” King Enoch bellowed as he stepped back from Mike. Instantly two guards appeared in the doorway. “Escort this stupid rat from the palace grounds immediately.”
As Mike left the room with the two guards, Alberta turned to her parents. “Father … no… please,” she begged.
Finding no succor in her father, she turned her attention to her
mother. “Mother, please – do something. You have to do something!”
Alberta didn’t wait to see what her mother might or might not do. Instead, she whirled around and ran after her husband, who was flanked by the two guards and heading out of the palace.
To be continued
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