Home > Royally Remembered (Royally #4.6)

Royally Remembered (Royally #4.6)
Author: Emma Chase

 


(Two years after Royally Yours)

 

“I had a second child, after Thomas—a daughter. Did Nicholas ever tell you that?”

~Queen Lenora, Royally Screwed

 

Edward

 

“I DON’T WANT TO HAVE any more children,” my wife says.

Grief is bottomless. An endless chasm of anguished yearning for all that could have been, should have been. For more time, more memories. For just one more moment.

I didn’t understand that until now. When we lost my brother, I believed that would be the most acute pain I would ever feel. The aching helplessness of watching him waste away, knowing that when he was gone he would be gone forever.

But I was wrong. There is deeper agony.

“I couldn’t bear it if we . . . I won’t survive if this happens again.”

We buried our daughter today. In a small satin dress and her favorite fluffy blanket.

The service was a spectacle as royal funerals always are, with press and pageantry and miles of black-shrouded mourners. So much pomp and circumstance for such a tiny box. We walked behind her through the streets of the capital—Lenora and I, Miriam, and little Thomas. Before Nanny put Thomas to bed, Lenora kissed his cheek and I patted his head and we told him how proud we were that he had walked the whole way. That he had done his duty as a prince and he had honored his baby sister so beautifully.

And now we lie here, side by side, staring at the dark ceiling above our bed, still wearing our funeral garb because we’re too worn out to change.

“All right.”

Lenora turns her head to me, and I can feel her surprise before I read it on her face.

“You thought I would disagree?” I ask.

Her voice is curious and soft. It’s not Her Majesty the Queen’s tone—commanding and stern. This voice is for my ears only.

“Don’t you want more children?”

She feels the loss of our daughter in a keenly excruciating way I can’t really comprehend. Because she carried her in her body. Felt her grow, knew her kicks and hiccups long before I was ever able to hold her.

And after . . . after we knew she was ill, after the doctors told us there was nothing else they could do—Lenora still hoped. Still thought they were mistaken. Still believed fiercely as only a mother can. Still kept her faith that our daughter would recover.

And I couldn’t bear to take that from her. To crush her that way.

I will never not loathe myself for that.

Because when the end came, when the final goodbye was upon us and we held her in our arms as her breathing slowed and slowed, and then stopped—Lenora was unprepared. Blindsided. The devastating shock of it took a piece of her that will never be made whole, wounded her in a way from which she will never fully recover.

“You could’ve died when you gave birth to Thomas,” I tell her. “With Evangeline, it was worse.”

It hurts to say her name. And I hate that.

The memory of your child isn’t supposed to gut you. There should be delight at the thought of her tiny, perfect face, her little toes, her chubby hands, the way her eyes lit up when she saw us. Her eyes were pale green, but I think they would’ve lightened all the way to silver. She would have had her mother’s eyes if she had more time. If she had lived.

The ifs hurt too.

“I won’t risk losing you again, Lenora. So, no . . . I don’t want more children. You and Thomas are all I want.”

She nods, her features pensive. She’s still so young—only twenty-four—and in some ways even younger than that. In time, she may change her mind about this and if she does, I will do everything I can to dissuade her.

It’s selfish of me. But I have made peace with the fact that when it comes to this woman—her heart, her mind, her body—I am a greedy, selfish man.

“Dr. Abbott said there’s a pill I can take. Though the Church says it’s a sin.”

“I’m willing to take our chances that the Church is wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time.”

“The pill will prevent me from conceiving, so we won’t have to stop . . . we can still . . .” She hesitates, trailing off.

Because in all the times and ways we’ve touched and tasted and given each other pleasure, there are still certain words that don’t come easy to Lenny. It’s utterly endearing.

“Fuck fantastically?” I offer.

She closes her eyes, shaking her head, her lips pulling into an exasperated smile. And then she chuckles ever so gently.

It’s the first time she’s laughed in months. And it is everything.

“You do that on purpose, don’t you?” she asks.

“Oh, yes.”

“Just to make me blush.”

I sweep my thumb across the sweet blush.

“Every chance I can.”

Lenora gazes at me, quiet for a moment. Heavy, glistening tears well in her eyes and her voice cracks.

“I love you, Edward. It’s very important to me that you know that.”

I raise up on my arm and lower my head to kiss her tears away.

“I know. Never doubt that I know.”

“We’re not going to make it through this, are we?”

And because I understand her through and through, I understand her meaning as well.

“It’s not the sort of thing you make it through, sweetheart. There is no finish line, no other side to reach.”

“No.” She shakes her head and then nods, breathing deep. “It will stay with us. This will change who we are.”

“Yes,” I agree, cupping her cheek in my palm. “But whoever you are, whoever you become—I will love you every bit as much as I love you now. I will love you more.”

Lenora reaches up, tenderly tracing my jaw, my lips, with her fingertip. I lie back and she comes to me—nestling her head on my chest, our arms around each other, our bodies entwined.

 

 

(23 years after Royally Yours)

 

“His father used to look at his mother the same way—like she was

the Eighth Wonder of the World.”

~Queen Lenora, Royally Screwed

 

Lenora

 

I SIT AT MY VANITY, checking my reflection in the mirror. Hair, lipstick, straighten the emerald pendant on the lapel of my snow-white cashmere coat.

“Are you all right?” Edward asks from across the room, his arm resting against the thick wood mantel. “You seem fidgety.”

I take a deep breath.

“I believe I’m nervous.”

He grins, teasingly. “You? I guess there really is a first time for everything.”

I swivel around on the cushioned bench. “Do you think . . . do you think she’ll like me, Edward?”

Edward checks the time on his pocket watch. “If history is any indication, I think she’ll be terrified of you.”

I roll my eyes, turning my back on the impossible man. But he approaches, standing beside me and trailing his knuckle slowly down my cheek and across my neck in a velvet caress.

“You are so beautifully imposing.”

Heat blooms in my stomach. Because even after twenty-six years of marriage, that’s what he does to me—my dashing, dirty, devastatingly handsome husband still turns my insides to jelly.

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