Makarovia hid a lot. They aren't hiding now. Is it moral or immoral?
“I've gotten a commonality with our friends.” I smiled with a nod.
Peter smiled. “Okay, what is it?”
“They all do something they love.” I pointed out. “Boris and Henri love to cook.” I waved at the direction Luke went. “He loves the sea. Pano loves Edger, Barry, and Big. None are stressed about work. There could be problems personally, but they aren't stressed.”
There were a lot of people who dreaded going to work daily. They just had jobs. They had to do it to keep a roof over their head and most of the time, they often included a family that needed that roof and food to eat. Those were the good peoplewhotake responsibility for others. Others weren't good people.Add the ones that fail...you know all this.I don't need to lecture you on Sociology.
My point was, all of these new friends were less stressed.Grandpa again said: love what you do and do what you love.
That pirate would not attack with the Italian Navy with us. She could still track us with the AIS (Automatic Identification System).We couldn't know what technology or savvy she had access to.I didn't ever read or see coverage about clever pirates. Captains were smart, yes, but I wondered if the pirate's crew could even read.Those that could rose in the ranks becoming captains and first mates themselves.
This Beauty and Beast pirate was very smart.I wondered how she became what she was. What killed her conscience? Did she ever have one? The hard lives of these pirates showed on their faces. She hid hers.
Peter and I felt better with the destroyer with us. We sent Pano and Barry a tentative arrival date the next night at ten in the evening insisting Edger was there, too.
With the Italian Navy Destroyer there, Yuri had more time. The destroyer could escort us until we entered the Territorial Water s of Greece. If anybody was brazen enough to try anything, the Durand could legally open fire. They might cross a little into the waters of Greece. Where we had planned to go was a route less than fifty miles apart. Ortanto, Italy or Santa Maria di Leuca, Italy were both on the heel of the Italian boot. Corfu was practically a skip and jump away. But, we weren't going to Corfu. With the Durand we could travel south traveling on the outer edge of the territorial waters of Greece. The Durand could defend us a lot longer doing that. There was a problem when we got to where veer eastward when we got to the island of Kefaloina to get in the Gulf of Corinth. It was hoped the government of Greece made sure their territorial waters were safe. That meant nothing. The pirate was already breaking the law with how pirates made money. If they thought they could get away with it they would strike while we were berthed in Athens. It was the response time that was important. The Consortium would not do that, but a pirate might. So, yes, Yuri's Filament Program was needed.
“Greece probably thinks we're on the same side,” Peter said. “That's why they are so cooperative.”
Okay, I don't know everything but could look it up. I didn't think about it. “We are, aren't we? We're not allies, but we want the same thing. Don't we?”
“Remember the missile sent for us?” Peter grinned. “It destroyed a lot in that village in Turkey.”
I was slow at that time. Remembering almost physically hit me. “Oh, yeah, they have had a conflict since..." I said to him, "when was it?”
Peter nodded, “Off and on since the nineteenth century.”
“Sure,” I marveled. “The Anyone Who Attacks My Enemy Is My Friend thing.”
Peter gave a shrugging nod. “Well, it's really the enemy of my enemy...”
"Don't quibble," I muttered. The word quibble wasn't in Makarovian or Ukrainian language. I really said, Ne Yarto quibble.
Peter's face showed confusion again. “I don't know quibble.”
“Quibble is a small disagreement or argument.” I instructed, “The closest word is kalamutyty.” His mind slowly got it. “Technically, no one attacked Turkey. It was an accident and sent by extremists and aimed at us.”
“Now it’s your turn to quibble.” Peter rolled his eyes. “Greece might have felt sorry for innocents killed, but they weren't unhappy about it.”
I nodded. “They used resources to help us.”
“Which will benefit them both. Greece will be thrilled we tell the world we love their country.” He shrugged. “Italy will be thrilled to get praise for what they've done.” He grinned and said suddenly. “We should call Olek.”
I grinned. “We've got time. Why not?”
We had our phones for the past two weeks and never even looked at them. Emergencies happen. We had gotten used to the big monitor screen but used a phone with protective capabilities. It wasn't bad.
“Do you remember the number?” I asked.
“We haven't been gone that long," Peter said lightly. “And who uses numbers anymore?”
I got serious covering his phone’s screen with my hand. “Do you remember the number?” I asked again in a firmer voice.
Peter looked at me surprised. “Do you?” He challenged.
“Olek's private line, your number, the house in Boston and Makarovia's palace,” I said. “Grandma's cell number and the number she had in Asheville. The international numbers when we call from overseas..." His face wasn't puzzled exactly, so I explained. “This pirate and the Consortium will take you or me without worrying about us. If they do, you can call from any phone for help.”
Peter smiled. “I remember Olek's and Mom's.” He shrugged. “You're right. I need to remember the palace's number and Don's number.”
“Yes,” I said. “The pictures you have on your phone are great when you're in a hurry. That and passwords when the computer asks if it should remember them for me I always say no. The repetition is needed so I don't forget.”
He typed in the number to prove to me he could. I did see one second or two where he had to run through the number to get it right.
“How'd you find time to call me??” Olek's happy voice came. “From what I've seen on television you two are very busy!”
“We're on television?” Peter asked.
“Sure you are!” Olek confirmed, "And making an impact you go! Corfu loved having you there and so did Athens!”
We weren't on a video link, so my smile was only seen by Peter. “That's wonderful, we love Greece. How are things in Makarovia?”
“Great!” Olek said. “Things have calmed down a lot since the wedding.”
“And how is Helga?” Peter asked.
His tone lowered a little. “She's fine, but...”
After a long pause, Peter asked. “What, Olek?”
“She is always saying she doesn't want to go down in history as the woman who bears a child with a king," Olek grumbled.
“She's won’t," I said quickly. “Many women have given birth to a king's child outside of marriage. Spain, the Netherlands, Monaco...”
“Did any of them become Queen later?” Olek pointedly asked in frustration.
He had me there. “No,” I said. “They were usually mistresses of the king.”
“That's what she said!” Olek stated loud. “I am going to marry her. I am. I offered to have it legally done last week!”
Peter looked at me and then asked. “Isn't that too late?”
“She said that, too!!” Olek said back. “She's sick most of the time. She won't eat...even with the saltines and room temperature ginger ale she says she sick.”
“It's pretty early in the pregnancy...” Peter began hesitantly to a touchy subject.
I looked at Peter. "I believe women have a right to control their bodies..." I said.
“No!” Olek said quickly. “She won't have an abortion.”
“It would solve things,” Peter said. “She wouldn't be the pregnant mistress anymore and she's sick...”
“No,” Olek said again but there was a sad tone in his voice. “Not because I say not to. I mean she will not. She had one before.”
“But not with her husband?” I said.
“This is a secure line,” Olek sighed. “She was sixteen. She loved a boy her mother refused to even consider. She thought if she got pregnant her mother would consent to her marrying him. Or at least make it so she had to see him. Her mother didn't consent but insisted she have the abortion. She won't go through that again.”
“That,” I began as I thought, “is wrong in so many ways.”
“The pregnancy?” Olek asked.
“No!” I said quickly, but then I sort of nodded. “Well, yes, but not directly.” I knew that wouldn't answer any question. I wouldn't let it go if I got that answer. “She was pregnant but she was sixteen! How many sixteen-year-olds make good plans? She did it to force her mother to let her marry the guy.”
"Blackmail," Peter said simply.
“Yes, but not to blackmail the guy!” I said, “For her mother.”
Peter did the head back move as he thought. “I've never heard her speak about any family except about the Jewish members.”
“Yes,” Olek said. “She has only shared a little with me.”
I sighed. “We Ivanovs speak openly about many very personal things. She knows that. I guessing she hasn't shared because of that.”
“Perhaps,” Olek said. “I will say this. Her mother is alive in Germany. Her father died years ago and before that pregnancy. If you recall, the Jewish portion of her family was on her father's side. She takes more after him than her mother.”
“Okay,” I said. “Let's not go into it over the phone.”
“We'll be coming home in a couple of days," Peter explained. “We promised some of our new friends in Greece we would before heading home."
“You mean the really, really big bar owner?” Olek asked.
I knew Pano had been interviewed locally by news crews. “How do you know that?”
Olek's chuckle said of course. “The BBC International news show The Royal Effect.”
“They showed him?” Peter asked in disbelief.
"They did," Olek confirmed. “They showed the aftereffects on Montenegro and the protests in Podgorica.”'
Peter looked a little uncertain. “There should be. What they're doing isn't right.”
“Don't forget,” Olek said, “I'm on your side.”
We asked about Mom and Mario and my grandmother.
“Katrina Sams exhausts me,” Olek said. “She does not slow down!”
I smiled hearing that. “I don't think she remembers how.”
We reminded Olek to be ready. We were coming back.
There was always something to do. We just needed to find what that would be.
We wanted a refill on our coffees, so we went to the galley.
Now Henri and Boris were having another conversation. No raised voices yet.
Henri's eyes brightened. “Mes amis!” He greeted us. “Dinner tonight will not be like yesterday...”
Peter folded his arms over his chest and growled. “And why not?”
Henri, for a moment, was sucked in.
I did the light jab in Peter's gut. “Henri, you can't be fooled by Peter anymore.”
The grin on Peter's face after that made Henri shake a scolding finger at Peter as he laughed. “Monsieur, vous êtes très mauvais. Very bad.“
Peter still grinned and shrugged. “I am.” He admitted.
“We don't want to interrupt two great culinary minds at work, but can we get our coffees?”
“Absolument!” Henri said and turned to do that.
“Can you tell me why and how you're on contract for the Duchess?” I asked.
Henri chuckled. “The Countess funded me.” He said simply. “She helped me finance Maison d'Henri à Paris.”
I nodded. “Henri's House in Paris.”
Henri smiled. “That's right.” He gave me a look. “If we're together more, I bet you could learn to speak French quickly.”
"That's a good incentive," I said. “We'll have to see.”
“You're not on the Duchess all the time are you?” Peter asked.
Henri shook his head. “I have an apartment in Paris when I go see the restaurant there. I have one in my restaurant in Cannes.” He looked around with pride. “When I'm not in those places, I do live here.” He said. “I make all my discoveries here. This is my kitchen. I know where everything is.” He said content. “The Countess lets me stay here free and cook as much as I want.”
Yes. That made sense.
Peter was a thinker. He would just take things in and mull them over in his mind before he said anything. I loved that I could see that and just let him do it. We relaxed in some lounges on the deck as evening approached.
“You know,” Peter began out of nowhere.
I grinned as I was waiting for him to reach a point he would comment.
“Helga has always seemed to be this...” he sifted things in his mind for the right word, “This classy person.” He cocked his head as he put words to his thoughts. “I'm not referring to her social status. There are many people in the world that have almost nothing, but have that quality."
I listened. I was his sounding board.
“She's so smart!” Peter said. “She's...open?” He said as a kind of question. “She's willing to learn things and accepting what she finds out.” He glanced at me. “I can't see her as poor. Am I making sense?”
I nodded. “Perfect sense.”
Peter frowned, “Am I right?”
I shrugged. “I don't know.” I saw his frown get larger. “No one can answer that but Helga. You made some observations and are telling me what your perceptions are.”
“And what do you think?”
“I never considered her financial status before,” I said. “When you and I became more intimate, I took you to meet my grandmother. The dinner at the White House was something to help Makarovia and I met your family. How many times has Grandma been to see us? How many times has Mom and Olek visited with us or we visited with them?”
Peter nodded smiling. “There are quite a few times.”
“And Helga has been unofficially part of the family since when?” I shook my head. “No visits by her mother to Makarovia. Olek hasn't mentioned any visits by them to see her mother.” I reluctantly nodded. “He didn't say what her health situation is. Helga's in her late thirties, so her mother should be least be in her sixties.”
Peter nodded. “She could have dementia.”
I nodded. “She could a lot of things.” I waved my hands out with the usual futility. “Until we're told, it will be guest work. Just speculation.”
“Olek is not letting her go.”
“And we need to tell her, that neither will we.” I took a breath. “The world's opinion of her is giving her trouble.”
“She's worried everyone will see her as immoral?” Peter asked. “Look at what we did Saturday before last!”
I chuckled and looked away. “It isn't fair, but women face scrutiny in history books. It was common and even expected that kings and princes would have many lovers. A queen or princess could not. Women's fashion in the past could hide things. A princess is sent to a convent somewhere for a year to have a child.” I chuckled. “Makarovia is leading the way. They supported you and me in our getting married. We'll show the world we love and respect Helga and Olek. I know they will be married.” I held a finger up. “However, I think they need to make it legal as soon as they can.”
“Why?” Peter asked, but knew to what I'd say.
“They can still do the Proposal and wedding later,” I said. “God in heaven forbid anything happens to Olek. You know I love that man, but if they aren't covered legally; a child will be born, but if they are legally wed. She will give birth to the next king or queen.”
Peter nodded and slumped. “Yes, I knew that was what you meant.”
“I hope she does it openly and honestly,” I said. “She won't face the world's judgment alone."