Reluctantly Royal(9)

By: Nichole Chase

I covered my mouth as I cried. It hurt that he was gone, like something had been ripped away from my body. I’d known he was sick—his heart hadn’t been the same since his first heart attack—but it still hadn’t seemed possible that he would really leave us. Leave us to deal with my father.

My asshole of a father.

Rage flooded my body, the grief only heightening my anger. Drunkard. Selfish idiot. I couldn’t believe what I had seen when I had walked into the home this afternoon. Selling a story to some sleazy reporter for a few bucks? It made me sick. Without my grandfather, my father would be in jail—or dead. The man couldn’t care less about a person, except for when it could possibly benefit himself.

I balled my hands into fists at my sides and squeezed my eyes shut. What the hell was I going to do with that man? Grandfather had refused to believe he wasn’t worth saving—that he wouldn’t turn around at some point—but I knew better. I knew that my old man would sell us for a pint. Hell, he had sold his father’s life story before the man was cold and in his grave.

Soft footsteps broke my train of thought and I looked up into the face of one of the housekeepers. Quickly I wiped my cheeks and fought a sniffle.

“Can I help you?”

“My lady, I just wanted to let you know that Gerard, the head butler, accompanied your grandfather today. He wasn’t alone.” She smiled apologetically. “I know you worried about him, with you being so far away, but we all treated him like he was our own family.”

“Yes, you did.” I smiled and stood up a little straighter. It did help to know that he wasn’t alone. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” She dipped her head briefly. “If you need anything, let us know. Gerard will help get everything ready for the funeral.”

When she left I slumped back against the door frame. I was tired; mentally, emotionally, and physically. I had no idea how to plan a funeral, but needed to get started. How long did Lilarians wait before having the service? Would it be scandalous to cremate my grandfather? Or did the family have some kind of special tomb? A royal burial ground? I smacked my head against the door frame once before standing back up.

There was too much to do to stand here having a pity party. Granddad would tell me to stop worrying and to get going. He’d be right, of course. Worrying wouldn’t get anything accomplished.

Inside my room, the blankets were already turned down and there was a packet of information lying on the foot of my bed. I picked the envelope up from the white duvet and pulled the papers out. There were different packages of services that could be held. Notes had been made in the margins to let me know what would be expected for a duke’s burial.

Even after the last few years it was hard to keep my eyes from bugging out of my head at the totals that were highlighted. My grandfather was going to have a burial fit for a king. Well, a duke anyway. Good grief, there were requirements for the type of ceremony he should receive. And one of the royal family members would be present? Were they serious?

Granddad would have wanted something small and simple. Probably with a round of pints for all. The ceremony these papers outlined was far from an intimate family gathering. There were lists of flowers, how many pallbearers were required. Pallbearers? Six were required. Penciled in next to the words were three names; men who had worked for my grandfather, including Gerard, who had made the notes.

I closed the package and dropped it on the nightstand. I needed to find three more pallbearers. Sadly, I couldn’t assume that my father would agree to the job, and while I hated to even think of it, I wondered if I should let Marty be one of the pallbearers. Would that be appropriate? Hadn’t Prince William and Prince Harry walked with their mother’s carriage? Was I a bad mother for considering this, or a bad person for comparing my grandfather’s death to that of the People’s Princess? Shit, I was just a bad person all around.

I threw myself back on my bed and used my toes to kick my shoes off. I loved this bed. It wrapped around me like a warm cocoon, without making me feel like I would suffocate. It was heaven.

I blinked slowly, my eyes tired and gritty from tears. Rolling over on my side I tucked my hands under my head and looked at the photograph on the nightstand. It was all of us in front of our old house. Even Dad had stood there with a smile on his face; one of the rare moments when we’d all been getting along. Reaching out, I grabbed the frame, tucking it against my chest, and choked down a sob.

I never got to hug my grandfather good-bye.Tears were my only company as I cried myself to sleep.

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