Heir Expectant

T-Misc. Books- Action/Adv/Romance

Giannine Bellisario and Nigel Rasmussem are back for the would-be sequel to Heir Apparent. When Nigel creates a sequel to the game that Giannine almost died in, he asks Giannine to play because it was made for two people to play instead of one. So, now they embark on a new journey as Queen Janine de St. Jehan and Prince Kenric.

Heir Expectant

Level 1

Facing Fears

Giannine Bellisario was riding the automated bus once more. She was lost in thought as her mind drifted back to that fateful day last year when she had taken the same bus to the Rasmussem Gaming Center. It was there that she nearly died in one of their Total Immersion Games after some crazed CPOC, Citizens to Protect Our Children; members rushed in and destroyed some of the equipment, leaving her stuck inside a game fighting for her life.

"Ms. Bellisario, your stop will be reached in about thirty seconds, please prepare to stop." said the automated computer. "Would you still like to stop here?" Giannine looked out the window at the street to see it was clear of picketers and sighed,

"Yes." The bus doors opened and she made her way to the front to get off. The computer chirped a pleasant goodbye as she exited and found herself once again outside the Rasmussen Gaming Center but only because the owner and her friend Nigel Rasmussem asked her to. She took a deep breath and walked into the building. The movie theatre looking lobby hadn't changed. There was still the same concession stand with an employee working diligently behind it. The same metaphorical receptionist was sitting behind her desk with the same annoying and mean desktop dragon. The receptionist looked up at her and went wide-eyed.

"Ms. Bellisario! How lovely to see you again! Are you doing well?" She asked with a smile. To Giannine she sounded genuinely pleased and happy to see her.

"I'm fine." She replied honestly. "Do you know where Nigel is?" Giannine and Nigel had gotten to know each other as email buddies and friends after the CPOC incident. So, they called each other by name rather then formal last names. The receptionist smiled and pointed to the concession stand. She could have slapped herself. Nigel's parents allowed him to work at the Gaming Center on weekends and after-school to keep him close to his gaming empire in case something should happen. The Rochester Center was the World Headquarters, how convenient. She walked over to the concession stand and leaned against the counter and began drumming her fingers on it.

"What can I do for you?" asked Nigel without turning around. Stifling a giggle she replied,

"I should be asking you that Prince Kenric after all you are the one who summoned me to this strange counsel." He instantly whirled around to face me. He flashed one of his gorgeous smiles before exclaiming,

"Queen Janine! Thank you for returning here on such short notice but there is a matter that I just simply must share with you!" He came and wrapped his strong but gentle arms around her in a tight hug. "Well we mustn't keep them waiting." Who? What was Nigel so excited about? Time would only tell, that is if Nigel didn't tell her first. He led her over to one of the many game promo computers and typed something in. A file appeared that was named "coming attractions". He clicked on it. A promo poster appeared. It showed an army being led by five people. Three of them Giannine recognized as the queen's son's Wulfgar, Abas, and Kenric in order starting from the left. The fourth was a shadow, probably indicating a player. But in the middle of the four to the right of Kenric and the left of the supposed player stood herself as Queen Janine. She gasped with shock. The title was "Heir Expectant". Nigel's voice woke her from her daze,

"This as you can probably guess is the sequel to "Heir Apparent". This one picks up right where your game ended. I liked the way you played the game so much that I left Janine as a character." Nigel explained, "Now, you can play as any of the characters besides the Queen or her half brothers and follow a different path. That's what the shadow represents, the other characters." Nigel explained.

"Cool, it sounds like fun. I'm flattered about you basing a character off of me." She said honestly while trying to hide a blush.

"I just finished buffing it. I'm going to close up the center early today so that I could test it out. Well the newer feature." said Nigel as he powered down the computer. He then began to steer her back towards the concession stand. But she didn't really understand why she was here. Well as her grandmother always said, "Answers come to those who ask."

"That's all good but why am I here?"

"Well, this game can be played by 1 to 3 people at time. That means more problems, riddles, puzzles, paths, and many, many more decisions." said Nigel.

Nigel gave her a reassuring smile as he led her through a door behind the concession stand.

"To experience the newer features you have to play with 2 or more people the first time." Nigel explained.

"Which is?" asked Giannine.

"If you play alone you just play through the game like in the first one. But with two or more people you can live in it, in weekly increments or hourly sessions. The machine is able to space out the data so that gamers can play in hourly sessions rather than 30-minute sessions. Now you can stay in the game for a full week instead of three days time. And each one will be different! The characters will have minds of their own within a controlled aptitude. The characters will have their own minds, emotions, lives, and reactions to things within a certain limit. The player's emotions become the character's emotions well they blend." Nigel explained, "I've played the game a dozen times but I want live it!"

"So, you need me to play with you," said Giannine. They had been walking through some hallways and were now standing in front of a total immersion game room. Nigel reached for the door and opened it and gestured for her to enter. She saw a large immersion couch. Nigel extended his hand to her and she tentatively took it. He gently pulled at her hand begging her to follow. She stepped into the room slowly. A fear began to build in her. What if something happened to them? Or the machines? "Nigel, if we "die" in the game do we die for real?"

"Oh no! There is a space between the game world and the real world I have named Limbo, whenever you have a 30 minute cool down you and the person you're playing with will be transported there for the cool down. You can talk and stuff while you wait. Then if you are killed then you are sent there to wait until the other dies or brings you back. There are ways, "forbidden" ways, to bring people back," explained Nigel. They were now standing in front of the immersion couch. Giannine squeezed Nigel's hand a little harder as her nerves flared up again. He turned to look at her. "Are you scared?"

"A little…"she admitted. He gave her a reassuring smile before saying,

"I'll be right beside you." He gestured to the immersion couch. It was fitted for two people to lie on it at the same time. But she was still scared; she almost died playing the first game. She finally heaved a sigh and sat down. She would have to face her fears. She lied down on the couch. "Well are you coming or not?" she asked looking at Nigel. He smiled and went around to the other side of the couch and lied down. He took her hand and squeezed it as the immersion tech started hooking them up to the machine. Then there was a flash…

"Long live Queen Janine! Long live Queen Janine! Long live Queen Janine! Long live Queen Janine!" At first Giannine was confused by the chanting but then remembered what Nigel had said to her about the game beginning where she left off. She realized that someone was holding her. Was Kenric still holding her? She slowly opened her eyes to see Kenric staring down at her worriedly.

"Are you alright?" he asked. She slowly started to sit up expecting to feel weak or sick but felt nothing.

"I'm fine. Thank you, Prince Kenric for all your help." She said as he helped her to her feet. She started towards her throne. She spared nods and quick hellos to well-wishers. When she reached her throne she turned to face her subjects and proclaimed in a loud voice, "We have dealt with foes in ways that turned them into our friends. We have defeated the dragon and saved our land. Not only that but we stopped the robbery of the royal treasury. So, now I bid you all to eat and be merry in this joyous celebration of my half brother's soon to be marriage and my coronation as your Queen." She then stepped down and joined Kenric and the others at the table. The now queen dowager was fuming at the other end of the table but Giannine didn't care, she was queen now and plus Andreanna was still wearing the magic ring. Kenric cleared his throat to get her attention. She looked at the gray eyed prince.

"I was wondering if I could speak with you as you travel to your bed chamber." Kenric said. Giannine studied his expression. There was no malicious intent but seriousness.

"Of course." She said. But she was hungry and began to chew on the most amazing roasted duck she ever had. The vegetables were awesome. By the time she was through eating and socializing she could barely move. The sun had gone down and the crescent moon and stars shone brightly. "Prince Kenric do you mind helping me to my bedchamber?"

"Of course." He slowly stood up and took her by the arm and gently placed his hand around her waist and began to lead her from the room. As they walked out of the dinning hall Prince Kenric turned to the now Queen asking, "How do you like here so far?"

"It is pleasant enough." replied Giannine. She was getting sleepy and not really in the mood for conversation although the thought of conversing privately with Prince Kenric was quite alluring, sleep was overriding that last notion.

"I mean do you like, Giannine?" he asked. Giannine stared at the prince for a moment before realizing that it was Nigel in the Prince's body! She smiled.

"I love it!" They paused in front of the door to her bedroom. She turned to him and pecked him on the cheek before saying goodnight and entering her room. Kenric stood there, stunned. He was fighting a powerful surge of emotions that caused his head to swim. Who knew Kenric had such an attraction to the lovely Janine and combined his own attraction to gentle Giannine he was in for a long week. But he finally cleared hid head and continued on to his chamber…

Giannine rose bright and early the next morning to prepare for the ride back to St. Jehan to visit her foster parents. But nothing prepared her for what would happen when she got there…