“This is incredible, but I have a meeting! In half an hour.” Christian heading to the door. Happy Birthday. I love you.” He pointed at our boys. “You two need to tell me how you did this.”
Hugs and a walk up the stairs they returned to A'Dore.
Yannick was arriving tomorrow with Delta and children and their guards. I made the Royal Valley's four...that's right, four hotels! Keith was right about our prosperous town. We did a lot! The wine was our best export. It had been asked for. People loved our wines. Those grapes Seth got from Italian were not purple but were red. He got more that were a light green. They tasted different. All good, but different. With as many people moving here you would think finding good employees wouldn't be a problem. You would be wrong. We hired a person on a trial basis. But Seth and I weren't the ones that approved their employ. The ones to approve their continued employment were the people they worked with. Yes, we hired people that weren't nice or honest. They didn't last long. People with bad work ethic didn't last long. We found good employees! We had to find more for the vineyard and winery. We added to the winery. We ran out of room. I still had Helen, but I hired two people for the increased inventory. We were growing! Our export increased. We shipped to A'Dore and Creid now, too. We sent barrels of it once or twice a month. We had to hire more to do that. We used my disguised men to get the gold. They did fine. There was almost no robbery. Almost. We had one that came back with less than he was supposed to get. When it happened again I took him to Keith and he was questioned by him, me, and a man in charge of a few men that were in law enforcement. It didn't take long to get a confession he was the thief. I knew it but didn't have proof or confession. It didn't take long for the enforcement officer and Keith to find discrepancies in his story and called him on them. He was going to be prosecuted. Prosperity meant more caution.
We went down to Grace bringing her the dirty plates and utensils.
“We'll get the leftover upstairs,” Seth said with his crutch keep the weight off his foot.
Grace sighed. “I appreciate that you want to help me.” She turned to Seth and me. “I hired help to do that. Let them do their job.” She smiled. “You two work hard. What if you didn't use the people you hired?”
“You're right.” I agreed.
She nodded and pushed us on. “I'll tell them.”
The only problem is we had nothing to be done. Seth's foot was still broken and he needed to heal. It was healing quickly, but bones needed more time. I hated Seth to be alone. The other house staff were preparing for our arrivals today. Seth and I sent our special carriage ahead to make the trip more comfortable. They were important to Seth and me. We were family. Years ago I wouldn't even consider having a friendship with a Creid. Three I considered family!? Delta was form Blethos but was Creid marrying Yannick, but Ryan and Yannick were born Creid.
Seth let out a breath of frustration. “I'm really disliking this bed.” He put the book he was reading down.
“You don't like being idle.” I grinned.
I chuckled. “No. You promised a dance day after tomorrow. Staying off the foot will help that.” Seth grunted. I went on. “Yannick and Delta will be here any time now. Your brother and Terry will be here tomorrow. Try to relax, you won't get that this evening or tomorrow.” Seth just grunted again.
It was the late afternoon when the carriage arrived. Seth was going to be there when they arrived. We heard it arrive and Seth made the stairs with his crutch. We got to the front as Yannick took a little girl to the ground. The young man had to be Tommy. Helped a toddler out told him to hold on to daddy. The toddler was standing but not steady yet. Then his wife. Yannick now looked at us smiling but frowned briefly as he saw Seth. He hugged Seth first, I hugged Delta then switched.
“Okay,” Yannick asked Seth. “What happened?”
Seth was a little embraced now. “I broke my foot a few days ago,” he hurried on, “but it's healing quickly.” He assured.
I chuckled. “The bones just need more time.” I looked over at Tommy. “Do you still go as Tommy?”
He struggled to understand that.
“He still has trouble with lip reading. He is getting it.” Yannick explained.
“No problem,” I said and signed. “My son is deaf. Do you remember Toby?”
Tommy smiled but shook his head. Not really.
“Well, it was a while ago,” I said and signed. “You were five then. Both of my sons can sign.”
Tommy smiled bigger.
“Many of the staff can understand and sign.” Seth did the same, saying and signing. “Grace can. Erik and I can. Your Mom and Dad can...it will be fine.”
“This is Elizabeth. We call her Beth.” Delta said smiling down at her daughter. “These are dear friends for your daddy and me. Don't be shy.”
“We're more than that,” Seth said. “Call him Uncle Erik and I'm Uncle Seth.” He knelt down looking at the black-headed little boy about fifteen or sixteen months of age. “Who is this?” He smiled at him.
Yannick picked his son up. “This Allister. Crown Prince of Creid.” Seth shook his little hand and Allister babbled back.
He was this firstborn son. Those were the rules forever in the past which we all did it. Even those that were native here chose a male as leader. Men were fighters and aggressive.
“Great looking family.” I smiled at them. “Let's get you settled in.”
As with everyone you change over time. Yannick was healthy, had gray in his hair. In his sideburns and in his beard. He was about forty. He always kept his beard trimmed, now he looked very distinguished.
“Now something has happened,” Seth told them. “He's still deaf, but Toby can speak now.”
They spun to Seth hearing that. Then came the questions from both at the same time. The questions were one thing. How did we do it?
I motioned them. “We didn't, they did.”
I got them inside said. “Wait.” I went upstairs to the boy's bedroom. I sat near them. “I want to introduce some very special to this family. The man is King Yannick of Creid. He's like your Daddy's and my brother. The lady's Queen Delta. She'll be Aunt Delta.”
Toby looked at Dennis. “Say the names, please?” He held up a hand, not keep from seeing his mouth but feel the air come to out of Dennis' mouth.
I watched Dennis slowly and over pronounce Yan nick. He did the same with Del ta. Toby nodded and said both of the names. He had to try again with Yannick's name.
“How kings do you know, Dad?” Toby asked.
I sat back. “I've met more than a few, but know personally your Uncle Sam and Uncle Christian. Uncle Yannick's is family. My point is, they have a son named Tommy. He's deaf, too. He can sign, but can't read lips well yet.”
“Okay.” Both said and followed me downstairs.
Seth was using his charms on Allister he held in his lap making faces to get Allister to laugh while talking to Yannick and Delta. “That took a while.”
“It couldn't be helped,” I said.
Toby grinned. “I had to learn to say the names.” He chuckled. “Yours took a couple of tries.” He said to Yannick and then bowed to Yannick and Delta. “Welcome Your Majesties.” Yannick and Delta were gaping.
Yannick found his voice and asked. “How did you do this?”
He looked at Dennis. “I had him to teach me.”
Delta asked. “How?”
“I slowly say the word.” Dennis shrugged. “It took a while.”
“I watched him teach Toby to say your name, Yannick,” I said to him.
“Our Dads told us you were family. May we call you Uncle Yannick and Aunt Delta?” Toby asked.
“There are others we call Aunt and Uncle,” Dennis explained smiling. “You are.”
Delta was nodding and Yannick smiled saying. “Of course, you can.”
Delta came and hugged the two. “And so polite!”
“You've never seen our Dads look if we aren't,” Toby said.
“And proper grammar.” Dennis chuckled. “I learned not to say can I and get back from both can you?”
I brought the boys to Tommy. “This is their son Tommy.”
Toby started signing. Hi, Tommy. We're your cousins Toby and Dennis.
Tommy signed back. I go by Tom now. You're deaf!?
I am. Toby signed. I can't even hear myself speak. It took a lot of practice. I feel what I say.
“Now, you need to meet your other cousins,” I said. “You'll have to the explanation one more time for Uncle Sam and Terry.” I looked at Yannick and Delta. “They have a daughter near Beth's age.” Allister was cackling at Seth. “You've got one, try working on Beth.” I pointed to her as she had looked around enough for now.
“Excuse me, Your Majesties.” One of the young women Grace hired curtsied. “I'm Anna. We are taking your trunks your room. Is there something not in the trunks you want?”
Beth sat up quickly. “Bebe!”
Delta stopped Beth. “Bebe is her favorite toy. A doll.”
“I thought so.” She grinned reaching to the table behind her and picked a doll up and held it up.
The doll sort of looked human, but a much-loved doll. It was stuffed but so loved it flopped in the middle. Delta took the doll and handed it to Beth. “What do you say ?” Delta asked Beth.
“Thank you,” Beth said hugging her doll.
“Your cousin Micheal will be here tomorrow,” I said and signed to three talking in sign.
Dennis nodded and signed. He signs, but not that well.
Toby grinned. We have to patient with Mike.
I rolled my eyes seeing at what was said.
Grace came into the room and also curtsied. “What should I call you now?”
“I'm still Delta.” Delta hugged Grace.
Yannick smiled saying. “You called Sam and Terry by their names. I know you called Ella by her name and probably Christian, too.” Yannick hugged Grace. “I'm still Yannick.”
“Well, welcome back,” Grace said. “Dinner will be ready in half an hour. May I bring you something to drink?”
“I'll help you!” Delta said immediately. “Please? I don't do much as queen.”
Grace nodded. “Sure.”
Seth went to Beth and sat by her and started to talk about her doll asking her about Bebe making Beth smile. The talent he had with children was working again.
“Seth really has a knack with kids.” Yannick chuckled.
“I know,” I said smiled at Seth as he asked to hold Bebe. She did slowly. Seth had Bebe dancing, doing somersaults, bowing. Beth started laughing. “He got the ability from his father. I don't know anyone who could relate to children as King Alexander and Seth did and do.”
“I'd say it was magic,” Yannick said a little sour. “I do the same things. I don't the reaction he's getting.”
“Seth knows how.” I shrugged. “My nephew Edward cried when Seth left. He wouldn't let Seth go!”
Delta came back with a rolling serving cart. “Okay, what do you all want? I've got some delicious grape juice.”
“'uice!” Allister said loud. The J in the word juice was tough.
Delta was a hands-on mother. She had Beth sit on the floor she had Beth drink her juice from there. She held a bottle that had been Dennis'. Grape juice in it. Yannick picked Allister up and began feeding him. He was a hands-on Dad!
Dinner was done. Allister was put in Dennis' highchair, but we ate not in the dining room. We ate in the kitchen. They really weren't just guests. When Sam and Terry got here we would have to.
The children were slowing down. We had two extra beds in their room. What I was pleased with was how well our boys were enjoying their new friend Tom. They asked if Tom could stay with them. Yannick laughed consenting readily.
“Allister was sleeping with us.” Yannick laughed and said quietly to us. “He does move at night and I find myself on the edge of the bed.”
I laughed at that. “Toby and Dennis would, too. Which was fine when they were a little older we got the hand on our face.”
“And legs and feet.” Seth chuckled.
Yannick nodded and pointed at Beth and whispered. “She did, too.”
We made sure we had diapers or nappies in their room, the powder and lotion. Sam and Terry were halfway here. I hoped.
When we got into our daily bath. “I'm going to get flabby.” Seth chuckled. “All that food and not working.”
“I don't think you need to worry about that,” I said shaking my head smiling. “You can't stand being idle.”
“After our party celebrating our anniversary, things will return to normal.”
“You and I don't do normal well.” Seth grinned.
“Normal for us.” I slid closer. “And normally,” I said kissing him slowly, “we normally do one thing very well.”
“Because you know I love you,” Seth said softly.
“And you know I love you.”
The next morning was a little chaotic. We had to eat in the dining room as they prepared for tomorrow. We needed to be out of the way. Grace was telling girls and guys she hired what needed to be moved and cleaned. For King Samuel's and Queen Teresa's arrival. She some coming early to get the dough they would done rising and blah, blah, blah. Not that I didn't appreciate it, but I couldn't help it, I felt guilty. I was tired just hearing what was planned. Again married couples communicate without words.
“Stop it,” Seth said to me. “I know what's going through your mind. It's on your face.”
“I can't help it!”
“Did you feel bad when we had two banquets in two days?” Seth asked.
“A little,” I admitted. “The difference is, I know these people. We're friends.”
“Friends that needed work and we gave them jobs.” He pointed out. “Grace has it under control. They're doing it for us. To stop them I'd have to fire them. I don't think you want to piss Mom off.”
I chuckled with Seth. “No,” I used a long no. “I wouldn't dream of it. It's just how I was raised. Nothing wrong with my legs. Remember?”
“You called Mister Independent. You are Mister I-Can-It-Myself.” Seth smiled at me. “Relax.” He put his forehead against mine.
It was midday when the carriage arrived. Sam had commissioned a carriage as we had.
I wasn't too surprised at seeing Terry. Our homing pigeons' messaging system delivered the message Terry was pregnant. She looked like she was about midways. He helped Terry out of the carriage.
Michael and Kristine saw us and raced over to hug Seth and me talking at once.
Sam got close and hugged Seth. “Why the crutch?”
“I broke my foot,” Seth said. “The little warriors are working.” He pointed at me. I promised Erik a dance or two.”
“If you can,” I said, then I hugged and kissed Terry on the cheek.
“Another prince or princess,” I said to Terry.
“Which won't mind if he or she comes a few weeks early as Kris did.” She said hopefully. “I get the of the swollen ankles and having to go to the bathroom half hour or fifteen minutes.” She hit me lightly. “Men don't have anything. They should up with a sympathy pain medication.”
“Tell your husband!” I said stating the obvious.
Sam let go of Seth and hugged me. “Yannick is here?” He asked seriously.
“He is. It's serious?” I asked.
“It could be,” Sam admitted and grinned suddenly. “But we're here to celebrate a momentous occasion.” He pulled is both in one armed hug. “This one I wouldn't miss! I missed the wedding and other anniversaries. Not this one!” He squeezed us again. “I can't wait to see how you changed Blethos' northern palace!”
“What!?” Seth asked.
“You get the two kings we're allies with to come here!” Sam chuckled. “This is the northern palace.”
“There have been some changes.” Seth smiled at his brother.
“A good one,” I added. “But you'll find out in a few minutes.”
We escorted them in the men to get their things out of the carriage. All three bowed. Sam was their king. “You're Majesties!” One grinned. “Is there anything other than the trunks?”
“We almost had a crisis with Princess Beth. She forgot her beloved doll.” I told Terry and Sam. Terry laughed at that.
Sam smiled at that. “No, nothing else. Thank you.”
Entering the house Yannick stood. “Sam! Terry! Hello!” He hugged Sam and kissed Terry on the knuckle. She hadn't had the exposure to Yannick Sam had.
I pulled our sons Dennis and Toby forward. Dennis greeted his aunt and uncle. Toby smiled and said. “Hello, Uncle Sam and Aunt Terry.”
Once more was the astounding looks and questions. Which we answered. Again. They were the last family we wanted to tell. Michael was about Tom's age. Kristine was a little older than Beth. The boys' conversation had been nearly silent. Now three were speaking now three were signing. Michael tried to sign, but he didn't use it every day. Allister was liking all the activity and squealed in delight.
The reaction Yannick and Delta had was more as it was more personal because of Tommy.
Grace greeted Sam and Terry like she always did. Sam was her son, too. He raised him after the woman that saved them after the attack on the royal family died. She looked at all here now. “Now there are two kings and two queens and a whole lot of princesses and princes.”
“If we were a deck of cards.” Sam joked. “I'd probably fold. Unless I had four aces.”
Grace again offered drinks for everyone.
The volume increased, not with the children but the adults. When family loves and likes the family, the good feelings and comfort sort of made that happen.
After dinner, Seth looked at his brother. “What's the probably will become worse?”
“Sure,” Sam said. “I still want to talk to Christian. I can do that here.” He looked at Yannick. “Have you had an increase of raids lately?”
Yannick's eyebrows rose. He thought. “There have in the other towns. They were stopped quickly. We're Creid!” He said proudly. “Still brutes and savages.” He shrugged. “The terrain is is more difficult in Creid.”
“We have in the outer cities and villages,” Sam reported. “And it's not just supplies they are targeting the banks and businesses for the gold.”
“Gold robbery?” Seth asked.
“That and rapes and killing, but not a lot. The gold is what they want.” Sam said. “I fear Royal Valley will be raided soon. This is a prime target. This is a successful town. You have a wealthy town and as I said before. This is Blethos' northern palace. It will be raided.”
“Any eyewitnesses to say who?” I asked.
“That's the puzzling part,” Sam admitted. “They reported members of natives along with others members of our race. I assume they are from the members of the criminals outside the Blethos and A'dore. That's why I would like to speak with Christian.”
“I can talk to him and ask him,” I said. “We can do it now.” I rose from my place at the table.
“Excuse us for a few minutes,” Yannick said to the others.
“Kingdom business,” Sam said.
We went up to the attic and activated the mirror. We stepped into A'Dore. It was an hour ahead of us an hour ahead of Royal Valley. I was pleased to see two men using quills to write something. Using two lamps each. They kept records of all they did.
“Excuse us, gentleman,” I said startling both of them. “We need to talk to Christian. It is very important.”
The man closest to the door stood. “I'll get him, Your Highness.” He bowed and left. He forgot the two kings with us.
It was a few minutes when Christian came in. “Hi, brothers and friend. You needed to talk to me?”
“I did.” Sam clarified. He explained what he told us. “Are you experiencing an increase in raids?”
Christian frowned. “We have in our northern villages, towns, and cities.”
“Some native tribes and the outlaw settlements have banded together.” Sam said sadly. “This will become a war.”