I love you, Daniel. Put a good word in for me, Okay?
Peter made the second broadcast live. It was recorded, but only as a record. He told them again there were going to be more presentations in Makarovian. Urging them to see what and when. These presentations would be shown on television as well.
We came into the family dining room. It was again devoid of most of the family. Only Olek was there at the moment. Reading something.
Getting our coffees we sat at the table with him, “Good morning, Olek!” Peter greeted.
Olek looked at us and smiled, “Good morning.”
I looked around quickly, “Where’s Helga?”
Olek sighed, “She’s on her way to Sambor.” There was the sound of irritation in his voice.
My eyes widened, “Isn’t that a little far?”
Makarovia wasn’t big in width. Stryia was located in the middle of it’s widest part. It was a valley and a lot longer than it was in width by about a factor of eight or ten. Sambor was the Northernmost village or community in Makarovia. To the west was Poland, to the east was Ukraine, and to North was Belarus. Don’t forget those mountains that surrounded us. Those mountains kept us in but also protected us. There were invasions, but it wasn’t easy. There were three passes you could get through and they were watched carefully in the past and present. Two were on the east side to Ukraine and one to the west toward Romania. The train came through those passes. When the snow and ice were at their worse, even those were blocked at times. It was a couple of hours to Sambor just by the terrain.
“They were having a power access problem Helga went to see about,” Olek explained glumly, “They flew her up by corporate helicopter.” He narrowed an eye and jabbed a finger in our direction, “I told her! I’m not doing this alone. She gets back in time or I cancel the conference!”
He would, too. How far anyone had traveled didn’t matter. The press turnout was a lot less than for the Proposal or the Wedding, but still…
I grinned at Olek, “Well, she is Dr. Helga Schneider.” I shrugged.
“They flew her up there?” Peter asked, “I’m sure she insisted, knowing what was happening today.”
The sound of hard soul shoes on the stone floor we heard before who was in them entered the room, but two hushed voices in a conversation told me who they were. It was almost like a library or church where it was expected you were to be quiet.
Boris and Yuri entered the room and moved to sit opposite of Peter and me on Olek’s other side.
“Greetings, everyone,” Boris said in a happy tone and he looked at Peter. “That was a good radio announcement this morning.”
Peter’s face turned pink, “I simply told them what was happening and what to do to see it.”
Boris stood again and went for his coffee. “It was more than that, you made it sound it will be exciting,” he made a second cup I knew was for Yuri. “I know what it’s about and I want to see it.”
“Aw, well...” Peter began. His tone was one of those you shouldn’t have sound.
I was putting butter on a large croissant. “You know what really bothers me?” I asked loud and interrupting Peter. I didn’t wait for an answer. “A person receives a compliment and the person receiving it calls the person that gave the compliment a liar.”
Olek grinned as Boris slid the coffee into of Yuri. Peter looked a little indignant.
“I hadn’t said anything yet!” Peter protested.
“If you were going to thank Boris, fine,” I said to him. “If you were going to deny what he said in any way, you will be calling him a liar.” I looked at him directly. “If not, I will apologize in front of everyone.”
Peter opened his mouth as he searched for what to say and he frowned, “Okay, I was going to do what you said.” He admitted, folding his arms across his chest in a near pout.
I smiled at him, “I said, I didn’t want to see that Peter again. That includes hearing from him. You were a star these past two days.”
Peter looked at Boris. “Thank you, Boris.”
“Is anyone using the plane Monday?” Yuri asked getting a piece of bread from the basket.
Olek shook his head, “No.” He suspected as I did as to why.
Yuri nodded, “I will need to pick up Mikell and Cosmo.”
I almost let out a cheer! Peter was smiling but asked, “Has he...improved at all?”
Yuri looked serious a moment, “His overall health has improved, but no he still can’t walk unaided. He will if he gets therapy.”
“It’s not premature?” Olek asked.
“I was told he has healed enough to travel,” Yuri nodded. “As before, if he were just being sent home to live alone, they would keep him longer.” He motioned to Olek, “You told them he was coming here, to the palace.” He grinned at me, “I talked General Burke and he promised us with two medical service related employees to come with us. One’s a therapist who will learn what he needs to do. The other is a physician’s assistant that can handle the worse crisis medically.” And he shook his finger at us, “And I know what you’ll ask next. You could come with us, but you don’t have to.” He had a look of uncertainty. “I would prefer you to remain here.”
It was clear from Yuri’s tone he knew his preference wasn’t an order, and there was more depth about the reason.
“Why?” Peter asked wanting to know more about the reason why.
Yuri sighed, “Because this isn’t a pleasure trip or even a business trip.” He motioned with his hands on the table, “We fly down, pick them up and come back,” He shrugged. “I doubt we’ll be there for more than an hour.”
I nodded, “And if we go, you’ll insist on protection for us. I get it.”
Yuri sighed a breath of relief, “Thank you, Eric.”
His silence afterward was telling me there was something else. “Yuri?”
“Is there an additional threat?” Olek asked recognizing something.
Yuri shook his head, “Not additional, but constant. There is the threat of the Consortium and that female pirate.” He chuckled a little, but he was uneasy. There was almost no humor in the chuckle. “Call me paranoid, it’s gotten suddenly quiet out there.”
“And that’s bad?” Peter asked.
I grimaced, “Please don’t say it’s too quiet.”
“Why not?” Yuri asked.
“Because it’s a cliche, damn it!” I said testily in irritation and haunched into a character other than myself, “Someone’s always walking into a calm situation and after looking around says, it’s quiet, too quiet, just to add suspense! And you always know there will be something bad to happen.”
Even if what he was mentioning was very serious, and it always was; that didn’t get anyone to lose their sense of humor. It was not what I say, but how I said it. Boris shook his head, Yuri’s eyes widened and Olek was smiling broadly.
“Or like when you start writing a book with, it was a dark and stormy night,” Boris smiled.
I waved at Boris quickly, “Exactly!” My laugh and quick nod were where I said, “No. I can promise that if I write anything that phrase will not be included.”
Yuri started with a small smile. “What should I say when it is? It is!” He grew serious again. “Reports every morning from our people that monitor the Worldwide Web, the online chatter has greatly decreased.” He glared at us. “Why? There haven’t been any new groups to surface with new threats or as much chatter.”
He had been right too many times to dismiss any hunches he had.
“Are there more precautions we should take?” Olek asked.
Yuri threw his hands up, “Sequester yourselves here!”
Olek’s eyes widened, “We can’t do that!” His voice had shock and irritation, “I will be here, but if I need to, I will go as I please.” He motioned toward Peter and me. Yuri was nodding as Olek spoke. “They have two more years at Northeast…”
“Yes,” Yuri said grumbling, “I knew that would be your answer before I even said anything.” It was a glum resolution. He looked at Peter and me, “However, riding along to get Cosmo and Mikell isn’t necessary and therefore needlessly dangerous...”
Peter nodded, “We get it, Yuri.”
“What happened with that Nelson Carter?” I asked. “Isn’t there going to be further questioning coming?”
Yuri was again nodding, “Yes.” He sighed. “For his crime. He had a trial and was convicted.” Yuri gave a you’re-not-going-to-believe-this shake of his head. “He pretty well lost his rights, but he has the right to not see anyone.” Yuri looked at us cautiously, “He refuses to see me or see you, Olek.”
“What about the rights of the accused to face their accusers!?” Peter asked.
“That only applies when we accuse him with a crime,” I said. “He’s serving time for the crime for which he was accused.”
Peter turned, still looking stunned, “And?” He waved in frustration. “Make something up!” He thought a minute, “Such as...the death penalty was tossed out by the British in 1998. We tell him he’s being extradited to Makarovia for the rest of his sentence. We do execute people.”
Olek pulled away from us a little in shock, “We don’t do that!”
“I mean we as in you, Olek,” Peter corrected. “Penelope?” He reminded. “You were going to execute her in Boston and I know it wasn’t a veiled threat.”
Olek gave a grudging nod, “Yes, well that was different.”
“How?” Peter argued, “Because she threatened your lapse in judgment and publish your naked ass on the Internet?”
Olek frowned, “You know that’s not why.” He threw his hands out. “When we went to Mario’s island and you were concerned with someone seeing and taking pictures of me naked on the beach. What will it prove? I’m a Human male?” I pointed at Peter. “I’ve never exercised that privilege and I don’t intend to.” He pounded his fist on the table, “That evil bitch lied! She was trying for me to make her queen and threatened you two. I trusted her with you! That was why.”
I smiled at the passion he had with this, “Yes! We know that, Olek.”
“But Nelson Carter doesn’t know you,” Peter pressed and he shrugged. “If he and Penelope Baldwin spoke after they were caught, she would tell Nelson how close to that privilege you were with her.” He laughed at the incredible concept. “I’ve known you my whole life and I know you were going to do it.”
Yuri nodded, “I thought you would, too.”
“How can he refuse?” Peter asked. “He has rights!? He doesn’t have the right to steal, swindle, or otherwise take what isn’t his! Does he refuse to see us? Too bad. We’ll get someone to stand over him until he does.”
“Wow,” I said looking at Peter. “Two Ivanov men speaking with such passion in the morning. It seems to work better than coffee!”
“Is the British Government not going to allow you to see him?” Peter asked.
Yuri shook his head, “It’s not that.”
I looked at Yuri, “Can’t an investigator from England question Nelson?”
“Who?” Olek asked.
“Weeell,” I grinned sitting back a little. “I’ll ask General One-punch. I bet he knows someone that can do it.”
“And will do it legally?” Yuri asked.
“Who cares?” I asked in a growl. “Everything he’s done has been illegal and unethical as a Human Being.” I sighed and touched Yuri’s hand. “We won’t go with you to Athens. Just come back with those two who have become brothers to Peter and me. They need to be at home with those that love them.”
“Is there a way to tell everyone we won’t negotiate with kidnapping demands?” Peter asked.
Olek shook his head, “I can’t say that.” He pressed his hand against his chest above his heart. “If I do, they will know it’s a lie because I would pay whatever they wanted to save anyone at this table! Helga, Alla, Mario, and Katrina. I can’t lie like that and have people believe it.”
“The only sure way to prove we won’t pay,” I said solemnly. “Is not to pay it if they succeed taking us.”
Olek nodded, “That Arab Princess lost her hand when her father refused the first time.”
I nodded, “At least they kept in one ice so she got it back and reattached.” I shook my head, “It never worked the same she said. At the time of her kidnapping, she was seventeen.” I smiled as I remembered seeing a picture of her, “She is in her late twenties and she is probably the most beautiful woman I’ve seen.” I realized what I’d said and quickly added, “After Mom, Grandma, and Helga of course.”
There was laughter at the table.
“That was a good well-worded save,” Olek chuckled. “See what General Hammond suggests.”
“After the press conference.” I nodded.
Helga did return an hour before the conference. She changed clothes. What she wore was dress in one of those styles, and forgive me, I know less about fashion than I do about flowers! What I saw looked like what women wore in the 1920s! It was a light in color, one of those colors women only knew. It was close to the color green...sort of. Not Peter’s eye color of green, but greenish? The dress was a light material that wouldn’t make her hot outside. She even wore a hat! And why is she allowed to wear a hat indoors when men couldn’t? Not that I would if I could, hats don’t look right on me. Sorry, how did he get in? No rabbits! Scram!
I suspected Jori’s handwork. The Makarovian from France? He loved making our clothes. His reputation was at stake.
The family was gathered in a section. At exactly two in the afternoon, there was a musical prelude. A male came to the podium and simply said, “I present His Most Royal Majesty King Olek Ivanov the Second. The ruler of Makarovia.” He waved his hand off the podium in our direction.
Olek took Helga’s hand and walked with her to the row of microphones. His family symbolically and literally stood behind Olek. That included Mario and Grandma.
Olek looked at the man bowing to Olek who had announced him, “I like that.” Olek said in Makarovian as he grinned. “Just get in there and get it done.”
The man knew Olek and smiled back, “You know I live to serve.” Yes, that was sarcastic, but Olek and this man had a relationship where that was okay.
Olek looked at the many cameras and people using them. Even if it was sent to be viewed, there was print news and magazines that will use photographs. There weren’t many people here from Makarovia, but there was a polite round of applause, and the clicks with flashes popped from many sources. The Makarovian camera stood, fixed, but watched by Tomas who had his focus on a monitor to see what he was getting.
Olek smiled and began in English, “As with most countries in West and East Europe, I will speak to you in English. It will be easier for you to translate English to whatever language you speak than from Makarovian.” He looked to his side taking Helga’s hand. “I want to introduce Dr. Helga Schneider...Ivanov. My wife.”
Someone put a match to these people began to murmur, “Did he say his wife!?” I heard someone plainly say. Now those clicks and flashes were happening faster.
“We married,” Olek smiled at Helga, “because in about…” he leaned toward Helga, “this beautiful soul will give birth to the next ruler of Makarovia.”
Now the reporters were asking questions aimed at Olek and Helga.
“Question and answer time will be later,” Olek said and then he switched to Makarovian. “Makarovia, I am not ignoring our traditions. There will be a Proposal followed by the year of service by Helga where you will voice whether or not she should be Queen. There will still be a wedding, only our child will be there, too. The traditions will be observed. This I swear to you as your king.”
The Makarovians and some there who weren’t Makarovian bowed to them.