"Sirs, I here present unto you Queen Anne, your undoubted Queen: Wherefore all you who come this day to do your homage and service. Are you willing to do the same?"
I sit and watch my eldest daughter stand radiant as a crown is placed upon her head. Isabella smiles at me and I think back over our journey. It was because of her unwavering faith that we were lucky to witness this moment.
I feel as if we are the only ones here. Having witnessed many coronations throughout my life, I know the number of people who would show up to an event like this. There would be a full church with very few places to stand. The streets outside would be filled, and the people would be waiting to take their first glance at their new queen.
My daughter was special. Born special and perfect in every way. And yet, it was a very small circle that knew that Anne technically had no right to sit on that historical throne reserved for my bloodline.
I guess for you to understand how it all came to pass, I would have to begin before I met Isabella Swan and how one rebellious decision led me on the path of a lifetime. My whole life had been laid out and planned before I was even born. I would attend the best schools. Speak five languages before the age of five. Have teachers and tutors to ensure that I was well rounded. Special classes in music and combat. My days would be fully planned so that any time I had to myself was limited and encouraged only for rest and reading. I did it all and never complained or criticized because after all, how could anyone refuse a king or queens wishes, even if they were my own parents. But even I knew that there was more that I was missing.
"Absolutely not. Have you lost your mind?" My father barked.
I exhaled loudly knowing how this conversation was going to go. I had practiced it in my head. In my shower. In the fields for nearly a month before gathering up the courage to voice my wishes. I was preparing for my rebuttal but feeling myself falter just looking into my mother's eyes.
"Edward, what could possibly be gained by you travelling so far away? If you seek further education, we would encourage it greatly but there are schools, fine institutions here or closer than the United States." My mother suggested.
"Schools here or close…I would be Prince Edward. For once in my life, I want to know how it feels to not be Prince Edward. The Americans have very little knowledge of royal families. Most would believe that William and Harry and the only royals in the world. I have done everything you have ever asked. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have received but I need to know that as great as I am being Prince Edward, that I could also be great as just, Edward."
My father took his turn sighing loudly.
"The United States is too dangerous. You know of the corruption within their own government. We can't go hardly a month without hearing of shootings and protests. Why not pick somewhere a little less controversial? Canada would be appropriate," My father suggested.
"The place I have in mind is barely on the map. The school is called, Western Washington University. It has…"
"I've never heard of such a place," My father interrupted.
"Well…it isn't a very well-known school but the curriculum…"
"Oh please, Edward. It's bad enough that you want to go to the United States but now you don't even want to attend a reputable institution. I don't know how much more of this I can take."
My mother placed a calming hand on my fathers to stop him from going further. I knew I was losing this battle. In all the scenarios, I had rehearsed, I had always lost the battle. It was to be expected. I should just give in and tell them that my silly fantasies were over.
"I am of age. If you don't let me do this. If you don't support me, then…."
I had started with such vigor and fire, fire that came from a place deep down that surprised even me. My father raised an eyebrow. It was rare of me to go against him.
"I won't take the throne. I will abstain."
I finished softly but I meant every word. I needed this. I needed a little taste of freedom if I was going to continue the path that had been laid out and planned since before I was born.
My father was not used to hearing someone speak to him like this. You could tell he was having an internal war in his mind. I imagine a game of chess was playing out and he was devising a plan to secure him the victory.
My mother too looked upset.
"I don't have to be king. I know how much Rosalie would love to be queen so…"
"How dare you say such a thing! That girl is coming nowhere near this palace or its crown,"
My mother stood up and in all the practicing I had done, I had worried about my father's wrath. It seems that I was ignorant to not plan for my mothers. I knew the Rosalie thing was a little below the belt but I also knew they would rather see a commoner wear the crown before her nasty hands got a hold of it.
"That passion you feel mother, is the very same that I feel for this idea. I know you don't want to understand how I feel but this is something I am going to do. Please be fair."
I began to hear the clock tower in the distance and bells do their usual dance. I sighed and looked at my watch.
"I have to go. I am late for Jasper. I hope you will please think about my request and open you mind to it."
I turned and walked straight out of the room closing the door behind me just enough so that only a sliver of light would shine through. I paused outside the door and leaned in.
"What are we going to do, Carlisle? He seems determined. Never has he been so resolute."
"It is dangerous. Too dangerous but what would you have me do? Lock him up?"
"I could lock him up," My father continued as he pondered his statement.
"Lock him up?" My mother questioned. "You and I both know that is absolutely ridiculous."
I breathed a sigh of relief that my parents hadn't completely lost their minds. No, ladies and gentleman, only one royal member may lose their mind at a time and even then, it is to be swept under the carpet and kept hidden from society.
"Twenty years old and still standing outside with your ear pressed up against the door as if you were a child."
Jasper ascended the staircase and I straightened up trying to act my age.
"The very fate of my future is being discussed. I am not a child and if you continue to insult me, I will fight you and win!"
Jasper barked out a laugh.
"Win. You couldn't win if I had one hand tied behind my back and my eyes blindfolded. You think you are so mature and accomplished but I am the master and you will always be just a student."
Jasper was only slightly shorter than I. He was slight in stature and although I would never admit it, he was right. He was better at combat than I was but to be fair, he was better at combat than everyone.
"You think you're so great and yet here you are on a Saturday night with a mere student when you could be off with a woman. Fess up, when it comes to women, that's one sword you fail to handle adequately."
The laughter left his face and I smirked. He may be the master of the sword but I was far better with the ladies. To be honest, I wondered if he was still a virgin.
"Well, give me a fancy title and I'm sure I could have my pick. That is how you conquer is it not? We both know that you never had to work very hard, Prince Edward."
Jasper never called me by my formal title unless there were people around. It was one of the reasons we became friends in the first place. He made me feel normal.
"You don't think I could get a woman without telling her who I was?"
"I don't think we will ever know. Everyone knows who you are, your majesty."
"Stop with all that crap," I snapped. He was getting on my nerves.
The door opened, and my parents came through interrupting Jasper's and my quarrel.
"Oh good, Mr. Whitlock. We wished to speak with you," My father started. "Edward has made it clear that he is to go away for a few months. We have decided that you will go with him. We know you will see that he comes home to us and ensure his safety."
Jasper looked taken aback. I hadn't discussed my plans with anyone so I'm sure he was confused.
"And just where are we traveling to, Your Highness?" Jasper asked me.
"Apparently to a place so small it's barely on a map. Washington," my father replied for me.
My father did not look at me and pretended as if I wasn't even in the room.
"Thank you, father. Thank you, mother. I promise, I will not disappoint you."
My father rolled his eyes and continued walking without responding to me. My mother put her hand on mine, "Of course, I want to understand how you feel. You are my son and I love you very much. It was unfair of you to say such a thing to me."
I didn't know how to respond. I didn't mean to offend her with my words and I knew I should apologize but she was already leaving while I was trying to find the right words.
"Um…what just happened?"
My head started to whirl around. What did just happen? I never thought my parents would support my expedition. I was suddenly nervous. I was going to Washington.
The late admission turned out to be more difficult than the talk with my parents but by the end of the following week, my cases were packed for me and with only a few strings pulled, I was enrolled into the program at Western Washington University. I had decided to focus on business since I knew that I could put any education I received to good use.
Jasper walked into my room and threw himself on my couch. He looked mighty annoyed and just sat there staring at me.
"Do you have an issue?" I asked simply.
He took a long breath and continued, "When your father said Washington, I was under the impression that he meant the District of Columbia."
I shrugged my shoulders. "Well, it's near there."
"Near? It's across the damn country!"
"But it is closer than we are now, is it not?"
Jasper jumped up from the couch.
"Do you have any idea where you have exiled us to? I looked into this place and we might as well be in Siberia! At least D.C. has the Smithsonian. Culture. Class. Five-star restaurants. What exactly are we going to gain from going to this Western Washington University?"
I looked out the window and could see all the things that Jasper wanted. Our country was small but we had class, culture and Five-star restaurants. It also had thousands of people who would recognize my face immediately.
I turned back to him and smiled.
"We are going on an adventure. We do not know what we will see or have until we go. Can't you imagine for once in your life not having the comforts of home. The boring life here that is boring because it's all expected. Imagine for a minute that every part of your day wasn't planned but now we have the opportunity to go where we want. Meet new people. Be someone that we want to be and not someone we are expected to be…"
"Are you going to start singing?" Jasper interrupted.
"If it will get you to stop whining. Besides you never know, Jasper. By expanding your horizons, you just might meet the woman of your dreams…"
"An American? The woman of my dreams? Most American girls are shallow and care about how many sexual partners they can enlist. They have television shows with roses and countless half-naked drunkard men who go after their conquest for the publicity."
I rolled my eyes at his absurdity.
"Jasper, your ignorance knows no bounds. For you to lump a whole diverse country into one category…well, you should feel ashamed. I'm sure that women in the United States are just like women here; kind, upstanding and productive members of society. You'll see."
Jasper walked toward the door and paused before leaving.
"I'm sure your ignorance knows no bounds. These are the very same people who voted in a television reality star with no political aptitude and named him leader of the free world! But, I'm sure you are correct. Maybe there is at least one decent minded girl among them."
He left me with my head shaking. I knew he was just scared of going to a new place. Jasper had never even been out of Europe so anything new and different was bound to worry him. I had to show him that there was life beyond these borders. I would make it my mission to see to it that Jasper had a good time. I was a bit of an expert when it came to women. If I could help Jasper find a woman, then I'm sure he will feel forever in my debt.
My parents had summoned me the night before my departure was to take place. I was suddenly nervous that they had changed their minds or worse, rethought of their plan to lock me up. After a fine dinner of all my favorites that I knew I would never receive in Washington, I made my way to them. When I arrived, I was a tad surprised that Jasper was waiting there as well. Maybe he said something to cause them to rethink this endeavor.
"Father. Mother. Jasper," I said somewhat narrowing my eyes in his direction.
"As you know Edward, we have agreed to let you embark on this…expedition. You have requested limited security and after speaking to Mr. Whitlock, we are assured of your protection. Nevertheless, we will not bend when it comes to your living conditions. We have found an appropriate place for you to live, in an appropriate location…"
"Father!" I interrupted.
"This is not to be contested or we will scrap the whole tour!" He snapped back. "We aren't happy, but we are making due. It seems reasonable that some consideration come from you at the very least."
I sighed and looked away. I could only imagine what place they found to be appropriate. Some ostentatious mansion or suite at some grand hotel that would most definitely cause the other students to take notice.
"Prince Edward, it is a small concession. I think if you heard your majesty out, you would not be so quick to anger, "Jasper said.
My father puffed his chest up proudly, so I waited in silence for them to continue. It seemed that Jasper had already been briefed on the situation and hadn't given me fair warning. I'm sure to get back at me for making him go to Washington the state and not the D.C.
"There is a two-bedroom condo a mile away from the campus that is right on the water. It seems close enough but still far enough if there should be some campus protest or incident regarding the American's lax laws on gun control. It has been thoroughly checked out and approved by your mother and myself. If you should choose to not live in the place we have provided, you may stay here, at home, if that is what you wish."
It didn't sound too bad, but I would reserve judgement until I had a chance to see the place for myself.
"I don't know father, with it being so near the coast, aren't you worried about natural disasters like tsunamis or melting ice caps?"
"Edward! That is enough!" My mom spoke for the first time. "We are trying the best we can here, and your insolence is not warranted."
I sighed because she was indeed correct. They were being decent about this but sometimes, it felt like they would never see me as anything more than a child or some person they birthed just to pass the crown on.
"My apologies. I will accept your conditions and be grateful."
My father gave a curt nod and my mother's tension ceased.
"May we be excused. We have a long day tomorrow and I need some sleep."
My father nodded once more.
"Please be sure to say goodbye before you go tomorrow," My mother said.
It was then that I realized how worried she was. She believed that my one rebellious decision would turn me into the kind of man who would leave and not say good bye? I walked over to her and gave her a soft kiss on the cheek and a small embrace.
"Of course, mother. I would never go without saying my farewells."
The next day I made sure to allow enough time to say goodbye. I could even see a small tear in my mother's eyes as she hugged me one last time. My father managed a handshake before turning to go back to the palace. Jasper was waiting in the car when I took my seat.
I looked over to Jasper appalled at his exclamation.
He shrugged and said, "I don't know. I saw it on some American movie. Apparently, we are to head to this special place on your twenty-first birthday and proceed to drink until we piss ourselves."
I shook my head and returned to looking out my window.
"Las Vegas is much closer than D.C. Apparently in the United States, they don't allow partaking in alcoholic beverages until the age of twenty-one. So, it looks as if you are still considered a minor of sorts in the law of the U. S of A."
Jasper continued with his babbling which was unusual because Jasper seldom babbled. I watched as we went through the gates and I tried to memorize every last cobblestone and storefront as we drove through the small town outside the palace.
"New York is nearly as far as D.C. but it could be worth a trip. Chicago has some pizza that everyone seems to rave about. California is close to if we want to apply to be on one of those silly shows I told you all about. The one with the roses and drunken men. They have a version with many drunken women vying for roses but the chances of being picked as the one lucky guy are low odds in our favor however if you were to say that you are a prince…"
"There will be no mention of my title! Are we clear!" I snapped.
Jasper looked taken aback by my anger.
"My apologies if I have said something to upset his majesty," Jasper replied holding up his hands in surrender.
"What did you and my father speak about? What percentage of your job is babysitting verses spying? I would at least appreciate some heads up from the man I called my best friend."
Jasper laughed softly, "You're such a child."
"Stop calling me a child!" I yelled.
"Then stop acting like one!" He yelled back.
I turned back to my window unable to even look in his direction. I could feel my skin itch and burn in anger.
"Or course your father talked to me. I am solely responsible for your life! We are going to a place that neither of us have ever been during a period in this country's history that is known for being hostile. If anything happened to the crowned prince of Caldonia, I would be the one blamed and not only will I have let down my country, but I would be responsible for getting my best friend hurt or worse! I am to give reports and status updates to your father. It is my job, but my loyalty will always be to you so if you wouldn't mind, I would very much appreciate if you could keep your nose clean, so I don't commit treason. You may see this little expedition as a way to spread your wings and fly but I see it as how many ways I am going to have to betray my country and my king."
I chewed on my lip and sighed once again. I knew how much Jasper believed in loyalty especially to his country, so I understood the sacrifice he was making for my rebellious decision. I relaxed my shoulders and looked toward him.
"I wasn't planning on going rouge. I won't even drink alcohol since apparently, it's the law, even though I have been drinking since I was sixteen. I won't join a protest even if I feel the cause is just. I won't even join a fraternity. I will be an upstanding example of a Caldonian citizen as long as you promise that you will never divulge my true identity."
Jasper nodded curtly, "If that is what you wish…Edward."
I relaxed a little and sat back in my chair.
"I do think it was unfair of you to not tell me about the conversations you had with my father. I apologize for being upset with you."
"Really? You were upset with me for not sharing? Kind of like when your best friend holds back on his desires to leave his country and head half way across the world? You told your father before me! Me, Edward!"
Oh crap, he was right.
"I thought you might tell me I was being stupid for even considering it."
"Of course, I would tell you that you were being stupid. I don't even know how you managed to convince his majesty to allow this. I still think you're being stupid. It's my job as your friend to tell you that. But I know things about you that would turn your mother's dyed hair gray and yet, did I receive a heads up? No! I was ready for a combat session and suddenly the king is ordering me to fly worlds away to a country I never had any desire to see."
"Again, my apologies but I really don't think Washington is going to be that bad. It's near woods and has less than a hundred thousand people living in those trees. You watched too many movies and American television shows. I am sure that it is nothing like that."
I had visions of arriving in Washington and being greeted by the tall green pine trees. Smelling the brisk clean air. Walking around the University and witnessing my classmates as they walked around with books in their hands pondering their futures.
The first thing Jasper and I both noticed when our plane touched down was the sheets and sheets of heavy rain pounding the pavement. A car had been ordered for our arrival. The door was open and all it took was a quick trip down a few stairs to make it to the warm dry car.
Jasper looked at me and then looked back out the door.
"Not that bad, huh?"
I rolled my eyes and started down the stairs, "I assure you, you won't melt. So, get your ass down here."
It was eleven steps down the stairs and a few steps to the car but to say I was thoroughly drenched by the time I arrived would be a bit of an understatement. Jasper with his longer hair looked like a wet terrier. He took a moment to wring out his hair before giving me an indignant look.
I tried to remain positive even though the sky outside told a different story. The lush green atmosphere that I had envisioned held up to expectations. I asked the driver to take a detour to go by the school, so I could see it in person. There were a few students running with umbrellas but for the most part the campus looked deserted. The buildings were impressive against the tall pines backdrop and sure at that moment, the sky was so dark one might fear the world's end, but I just took a calming breath and smiled at the freedom before me.
The car continued slowly toward our destination but at a stop, something caught my eye. I ejected myself from the car so quickly that Jasper hadn't a chance to protest.
I ran across the street dodging cars and ended up in front of the Western Washington University bookstore. I entered the store trying to wipe off the drops of water from my coat and looked around at the blue and white apparel.
"Have you gone mad?" Jasper barked entering the store.
"Look!" I pointed. "Isn't this exciting?"
Jasper scrunched up his face, "you're getting excited over clothes?"
I walked over to the nearest rack and pulled my size from the hooded sweatshirts. Dark blue with white letters.
"Do you want one?" I asked.
"To show school pride. We've arrived, Jasper."
"It's not my school, sir," He stated plainly and then it hit me.
"Of course. I forgot…." I began to mutter. "Wait, what exactly are you going to do while I am in class and such?"
Jasper shrugged, "I figured I would just go with you and hang around."
"Hang around? They're not going to allow that. You can't come with me to class."
"I have to. How else am I going to protect you? That is my job after all," He replied.
"I can protect myself just fine. You must find something else to do. I'm sure I can handle going to class without my hand being held."
"Says the man who just jumped from a moving car into oncoming traffic! You're not going to last a week here, are you? Less than an hour we've been in America and you've already lost your mind. Next you'll tell me that you want to become a citizen, so you can vote reality television stars into government."
I rolled my eyes.
"Excuse me, can I help you find something?"
A small girl approached and Jasper suddenly couldn't find an insult to sling.
"My apologies, we just arrived for late admission and thought about showing some school spirit, but my friend here seems a little down about the weather," I explained.
"Oh my god, where are you from? You have the most adorable accent!"
"Don't worry sweetie, you'll get used to the rain." The small girl interrupted me and wrapped her hand around Jasper's arm. "Wow, you have some nice arms. You know what would look good on these nice arms of yours?"
Jasper's mouth opened but nothing came out.
"I have a muscle tee over there that would look amazing on you while you work out."
The small girl raced around the store and started pulling different items off the racks. She came back and dumped them into my friends waiting arms.
"Do you need a book bag? We have them on sale for forty percent off."
Jasper looked down at his arms full of clothes and then looked back at the girl before nodding.
"Um…you know what, I think we will wait on the book bag for now. Besides we just got in and we will need to unpack our things before we decide what we need."
Poor Jasper, this girl was obviously working off commission and if we stood there any longer, we would have purchased the entire store, brick and mortar. I pulled the clothes out of my friend's arms and handed them back.
She looked me over and then looked Jasper over before her eyes lit up.
"Ohh….I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to move in on your territory. My bad!" She apologized smiling awkwardly and stepping back slowly as if we were going to bite.
Jasper and I looked at each other perplexed. What did that mean?
"Um…we'll be back…a little later. Come on Jasper, we have to get to the condo."
I pulled Jasper out of the store and back toward the car.
"You know for someone who isn't even enrolled in this school, you sure were about to make a weighty investment in it."
"That girl! She…she was amazing." Jasper stuttered.
I looked behind me toward the store.
"That girl? The American looking one? I wouldn't bother with her. I hear that American women are shallow and are only trying to see how many men they can enlist for sexual exploitation. Being this close to the Canadian border, I'm sure we can find you a nice appropriate Canadian girl."
"Admit it. This is going to be one amazing journey!" I slapped him on the back and shook him slightly unable to control my excitement.
A bolt of lightning lit up the sky and the thunder that followed was impressive.
I looked over to Jasper who was looking out the window, his face pale.
"I mean…if we don't die first of course."