A/N: Thank you, my readers! This is the last chapter, as the book is now.


Part Eight: Who Knew?

That was this past Friday night. Rather late on Saturday morning, I woke up, and I was happy. Nothing hurt, everything worked, and I remembered where I was and who I was with. Miraculous. I was Christmas-morning happy, between the present I had unwrapped the night before, when that ivory gown had slipped off her, and the gift I was looking forward to asking for that morning, which might last the rest of my life…

It would have been ironic if there had been no sexual chemistry between us once we finally got naked, but that was not going to be a problem. It seemed as if we were unusually compatible, and that night had been a very intense experience, physically and emotionally. She was the important one, and had always been.

She drew in that first deep breath of waking. Brulee the cat was perched on her shoulder, and when I pulled her close, he swayed and squawked about it. She smiled and said my name before she opened her eyes.

"I'm telling you this now before I ask you to marry me, just so everything's clear," I said. "I will never lie to you or cheat on you, but I'm not going to reform. You can expect chicanery, deceit and prevarication out of me on a daily basis. I'm nasty, spiteful, splenetic, I love to gloat, and I'm going to stay that way. That only applies to the world outside, however. With you I'll be as agreeable as two weeks in Cancun. Was that a chortle? Besides, you even see through the lies I tell myself, so lying to you is a waste of effort. I want to keep you in the know so you can appreciate how clever I am."

"Oh, lord," she groaned, and added, "I'm not good at witty repartee before I've showered and had a mug of tea. You're just saying all these things to lull me into a false sense of security."

"No!", I protested, "I love—."

"You're trying to get my hopes up by promising me a life with lots of exciting things to relate over dinner, and infuriated people dropping by to rage and curse your name for what you've done. I can see through it, though. You'll grow into another boring middle-aged lump of a husband—." She was grinning. I grabbed her bare waist and tickled. The cat launched himself off the bed, complaining about the unfairness of it all. We did not get up for another hour…

Early Saturday afternoon, Lovell, having tracked me down, called Primavera's suite to tell me that Hastings's wife had been arrested the night before for murdering him and attempting to murder Janine Shore.

He also said, "We had a betting pool going on how you were going to make your move, so what happened?"

"A what? Laying bets on me—Primavera and me?"

"Uh-huh."

"How did you all know—?"

"Are you kidding? The temperature of any room the two of you were in went up ten degrees. None of us wanted to stand between you two for fear of spontaneous combustion. And furthermore—."

"Okay, okay. This is outrageous and insulting. But I'll answer. She gave up waiting for me and took the initiative."

"Radcliffe's the winner, then. She put her money on Doctor Visconti."

I passed that on to Primavera. She said, "I was trying to make it as easy for you as I could. Why do you think I turned up in that dress, if not to fetch you?" Saturday afternoon, we went out.

I had no idea being a couple, a real couple, was so much fun. The most ordinary things become fun. Going to a bookstore and then out to dinner is enough to stop the heart with happiness.

I steered us to one of the better jewelry stores. It looked like rain, the kind of thundershower we often got on August afternoons, one which would last ten minutes, drench everything, and dissipate leaving the air even stickier than before, having done nothing to cool the day or alleviate the drought. We didn't have umbrellas, so as it grew darker, I took stock of where we were, and suggested that we cross the street and turn the corner. When the first few fat drops smacked the pavement, I said, "Let's duck in here."

'Here' was Roundel's, one of the best jewelers working today. "While we're here, why don't we look around a little?" I said to Primavera, and to the diamond seller, "Might we see some engagement rings?" Primavera gave me an eloquent, amused look.

"Certainly, sir. Miss." beamed the man. "If you'd care to sit over here?" The seating we were directed to were stylish, comfortable chairs. Roundel's knew how to assess people and their spending capabilities.

"I don't want to see anything smaller than seven carats, solitaire or center stone." I pronounced. As our clerk reached for a tray, Primavera protested, "Seven carats is much too large a stone."

"Why is that too large? Your solitaire earrings are what? Six carats total?"

"Not quite. Five point eight nine."

"Shouldn't your engagement ring be more significant than your earrings?"

"Not when you consider my work." The salesman stood there silently as we debated, holding a tray of scintillation. His eyes tracked the course of our give-and-take like a tennis spectator.

"How does that come into it?"

"I have never yet had to stick my ears inside a patient of any species for any reason whatsoever, but my hands have been wrist deep inside any body cavity you care to name. Not to mention all the other things I get into. The larger the stone, the more likely it is something will happen to it."

"But the ring Daenne chose was four and a half carats. If I were to go by what you mean to me, proportionately, you wouldn't be able to lift your hand for the weight of your diamond. Am I supposed to give you a lesser ring than I gave her?"

That didn't make her smile. "Of everything that went on between you and Daenne, the things that have to do with jewelry bother me the least. This isn't a competition, Richard."

Ow. I deserved that. I was momentarily lost, but I rallied. "I don't want this to be a competition. I want you to have a ring you like and can be happy about wearing, and one that lives up to your other pieces. I would like your engagement ring to be able to sit beside your father's gifts and not look shoddy."

Our hovering attendant coughed. "If you will excuse me for a moment, I would like to visit our vault." We excused him.

While he was gone, she said, softly, "When you said you were marrying Daenne, that was one of the worst shocks of my life. I had only just overcome all the anger and betrayed feelings at finding out you engineered my exclusion from those two projects, and then you told me you were marrying someone. Someone else. I considered catching the next shuttle. You would have found me on your doorstep saying, 'You're not marrying her, you're supposed to be marrying me!'"

"I wish you had! That would have been wonderful. Why didn't you?"

"You don't have a monopoly on pain, doubt, and anger."

"I cannot now apologize properly, as that man's coming back." He had returned with a stack of hand-sized black velvet boxes.

"Sir. Miss. If you would care to see them, I have here several fine examples of diamonds that are out of the ordinary. They haven't been set, but we have empty settings in stock, or we can switch center stones if you see one you like that's already made up. None of these are larger than four carats. Most are under three." He sat down, opened one of the boxes, handed it to me, and then gave the next to Primavera.

Pale orange fire bathed my eyes. "These are natural fancy-colored diamonds. They are entirely natural. None of these has been created or enhanced in a laboratory, and each has a certificate of authenticity. You will note the International Gemological Institute's seal on the card in the lid. It also describes each stone in great detail." He continued his speech as she and I traded boxes. The other stone was a light yellow-green, not unlike olive oil. He opened the next two boxes, which held a bright yellow and a candy-pink.

"Do you like the yellow?" I asked her.

"Oddly enough, no, even though yellow's usually my favorite. This one's too sulpherous. The pink's too sweet. I have nothing against either the orange or that greenish one, but neither one inspires me."

We took the last two boxes. "Ah—!" said Primavera. I looked over. Seawater married to light had made a stone with the qualities of both parents.

"A deep blue-green diamond," said the merchant. "One of the rarest colors that exists. This stone is particularly fine."

I took the certificate from the lid. Three point twelve carats, cut in the classic round style, exceptionally slight inclusions, clean and flawless to the unaided eye. He wasn't lying. I turned the card over, glanced at him. He shifted his hand so I could see the number on his Powermod—the price. It was high enough to satisfy my pride and then some, yet not so high that I would dissuade her from choosing it. I raised an eyebrow at him, on general principles. He grimaced, pushed a key, and the price dropped by a few thousand. I frowned with one side of my mouth; several thousand more globals were deducted.

"What gives it that color?" I inquired. "Boron?"

"It isn't caused by any mineral, but by millions of years of irradiation from naturally occurring radioactive materials in the earth's crust that causes a defect in the molecular structure. The stone itself isn't 'hot', radioactively."

"So it's the defect that makes it unique and rare?" asked Primavera.

"Yes, miss. It's not a defect that affects its strength in any way. It will be no more prone to damage than any other diamond."

"Without the defect, it would be much the same as any other gem-quality diamond of its size and clarity? Rather boring and indifferent?"

"Well—It would certainly be less desirable."

"I can think of a person whose so-called defects have made him something rare," she leaned over and spoke softly in my ear, "and very desirable, although he has the hardest time believing it."

I couldn't be blushing. I never blush. But my face felt unaccountably hot all of a sudden. I pulled out my key ring of transfer links. "Um. Perhaps if we could see some examples of ring settings? I believe a choice has been made."

We browsed while the jeweler worked.

"Do I get to give you something?" she asked, looking at a selection of shirt studs.

"You already did." I smiled and slid my arm around her waist. "And I'm putting a ring on it."

"Mmhmm. To mark your property?"

"You betcha."

"Speaking of property, how do we handle the pre-nups, seeing as you are my lawyer? I'm not sure whether to call it a conflict of interest or an example of excessive interest."

"You don't need to go to anybody else. There will be nothing simpler. First of all, we won't be breaking up. Ever."

"Never? Not for any reason?"

"Not under any circumstances. I will conduct myself in such a way that you should never have a reason to be dissatisfied. I don't believe there is anything you could possibly do that could make me want to divorce you."

"Nothing? Not infidelity? Not that I'm planning any, I just want to hear the reasoning behind this vision of yours. This is all conjecture."

"Understood. If I couldn't fulfill your emotional and sexual needs, obviously I would be doing something wrong. I would just have to try harder."

"Bankruptcy?"

"If you were to go broke for any reason, I would be delighted to support the family."

"If I were pregnant with another's child?"

"You're the geneticist. I would assume you had good reason."

"If you were to come home to discover me in the midst of a multisexual orgy?"

"Would I be allowed to join in?"

She laughed. "Enough! Back on topic. The pre-nups."

"As you wish. Since you are more than ten times wealthier than I am at present, it would be foolish not to have something in writing. It will be simple. You can have everything I have or ever will have, myself included, and I will waive all rights to any of your fortune and property, during your lifetime and after."

"You," she said with great deliberation, "are deranged. Clearly, you're a danger to yourself, if not to others. I'll talk to Regina Radcliffe about this. She seems like the sensible sort."

"She is, but it won't make any difference."

The salesman returned with the diamond in its setting, which had three smaller rich yellow diamonds, not sulpherous in the least, on each side of the central stone. I slipped it on her ring finger, hooked a handy stepstool with my foot, stepped up, and kissed her properly. We went back out into the bright day.

It seemed like a good moment for it, so I tried, "Primrose?"

"Primrose? I beg your pardon?"

"Well, I have to call you something, don't I? Somehow, you don't seem like a 'honey' or a 'darling.'"

"Honey' and 'darling' are very useful if you're having a memory lapse and can't recall a name. However, 'Primrose' doesn't do it for me. Don't let me discourage you in your search, though. I've waited years to be endeared properly."

"Sunflower?"

"That has possibilities."

"That wasn't what I was going to ask you, though. It was this: Do you believe in God?"

"You know how to ask the tough ones. Don't you know how rude it is to ask that? Almost anybody would tell all the details of their sex lives or their personal finances rather than talk about their beliefs."

"Well, I already know the details of your sex life and finances, so I have to fall back on God to provide conversation material." I paused, uncertain. "I believe in Him."

"Yes, I know. You forget how often I've heard you blame Him for the crappiness of your life."

"Oh, yeah. You said I have a way with blasphemy. I'm not as mad at Him as I used to be. He's been making up for a lot recently, with how magnificently things have been working out. But I have a different concept of Him than most people. I see Him as kind of a crafty guy who's playing the biggest, most elaborate chess game in existence against Himself. It has to be against Himself, because nobody else is up to His level, and He has to pretend He doesn't know how it's going to turn out."

"So you're saying you still have an Imagist view of God?" she asked me.

"Hey, that's the last way I'd ever see God!"

"Calm down, Richard! It's okay. I didn't accuse you of being an Imagist, but when you described Him, you essentially described yourself. That is very Imagist."

"Hmm. I never thought of it like that. What about you, Sunshine?"

"Sunshine? Me? I think not… I believed in my father. As far as I was concerned, he was God. Maybe not the God, but certainly a god. As for the God, sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't. There is something I am sure of, though."

"And that is?"

"As a doctor, a scientist and geneticist, someone who has studied the world and life at its most basic, I am sure that if this Earth was made and did not just happen, than Whoever created it does not need our worship, any more than we need the worship of mice that are grateful to us for filling barns with grain. This planet is a wonder, a marvel, and Whoever made it is far too great to say, 'Bow down before me'. That's too small, too petty, too human."

I was silent for a long moment as I considered what she said. I thought of the nature center, of the perfect rightness of birds cleaving the sky, of the concentric petals of water lilies. There was something in her idea.

"If you're correct in your theory, then where do all these religions come from?" I asked.

"We have to have some way of telling people how to be human beings. It's the third most important thing we learn, right after language."

"What's the first?"

"Toilet training, quite frankly. Hygiene first, then communication, then morality. It's all part of socialization."

Which ended that discussion, at least for the time being. She had given me a lot to think about.

One very nice thing was getting to touch her, knowing she wanted me to, and having her return the contact, or surprise me by reaching out to me first—not that we were groping each other publicly. Nor do I mean only in a directly sexual way. After all, even if you're pumped full of performance enhancers and do-it-again drugs, there's only so long you can spend actually having sex. But touching is another story, and the socially acceptable ways are lovely in and of themselves; an arm around her waist, leaning into her while we looked at the same book.

That was how Norfolk found us in the bookstore—she was showing me a passage in a play called The Lady's Not For Burning, by a 20th century playwright called Christopher Fry.

He came around the end of the stack, and surprised us there. "Excuse me—Richard!" he said. "Doctor Visconti. Um, hello," He grinned involuntarily, and tried to hide it.

"Don't even pretend you're shocked to find us like this. Lovell told all." Primavera teased him.

"Besides, we've made it official." I nudged her arm. "You'll be the first we've told." She displayed her ring.

"Wonderful! That's an unusual stone..." he said. "Congratulations. We've been expecting this ever since we heard that you and Daenne were divorcing."

"What, before you ever met Primavera?"

"Oh, yes. Not that you talked about her, but once when you took a call from her, I happened to catch you smiling. Really smiling, not just baring your teeth."

"I go around thinking I'm a stone wall, and it turns out I'm plate glass," I complained.

"Only to people who you let in behind the circle of defenses," said Norfolk. "Hey, have you thought about the bride's gift to the groom?" he turned to Primavera.

"No, but we haven't been engaged for twelve hours as yet."

"I have a suggestion. Do you have any oceanfront property?"

"No."

"Then you should buy some. What do you think of giving him the Island of Monte Cristo?"

I said, "Just because you're obsessed with Alexandre Dumas doesn't mean…," as Primavera said, "What a great idea! I wonder who owns it now? How appropriate. Thank you, Norfolk."

"Okay, explain. I know you're referring to The Count of Monte Cristo, but I've never read that one. I know that makes me an illiterate, but in my defense, I have read all the Musketeers books and Dumas' book about food."

"Never read it? It's only the best revenge novel ever written," protested Primavera.

"He's been too busy living it to read it," laughed Norfolk. "If you do get the island for him, tell me, and I'll hunt down a prize copy of the book to go with it."

"Please do," smiled Primavera. "And now… I want some dinner."

"Then I'll say goodbye," concluded Norfolk. "Newly engaged people don't need a third at dinner. I am very happy for you both."

Perhaps some day I will cease to be surprised that people like me, but I will never get tired of it.

Sunday morning, Primavera moved from the hotel into an apartment next to mine, Abyssinian cat and all, and we then took out an adjoining wall. Modular units are great that way. It was a temporary arrangement, just until things settled down after the transitions at A.L.-Bion, and we had leisure to look for a real place.

We spent the afternoon at Elyse's, hanging out with all the kids. They had met her already as Eddie and Rick's doctor, but as she was now going to be their aunt, the situation had changed. We played outside, kids and adults altogether, until Elyse came home. She quickly caught on to the changed relationship between us, and smiled nastily. Then she told us to go take our happiness somewhere else—but could she see me early next morning? The vote was to be in the afternoon. I said yes, and my love and I went off together, to walk and idly make plans for the future and our wedding. We'd be married in Tuscany, with her aunt and uncle and cousins around her…

Yesterday was Monday. I met Elyse at nine, in Ed's old office. She opened our meeting by tossing a file folder down in front of me. Its cover read, in blue on silver, Bosworth Analytical Services.

"This is a compilation made for the Bureau of Estates," she said. "As required by law. About ten years ago, a young lawyer by the name of Richard Genet-York got a law passed which ensures that all heirs and children, whether adoptive or genetic, born in or out of wedlock, with the exception of properly attributed sperm and ova donor children, get a share in their parents' estate. It's popularly known as the Bastard's Rights Act. In order to have the estate settled and the will probated, I had to go to Bosworth and get them to run a check of all registered DNA patterns, which is pretty much everybody these days, against Edward's, to check for any children he had out of wedlock. Of course I knew about Steven down in Uganda. I thought he was the only one. It was unpleasant for me to learn about the six others."

"He had six other children!" I fake it so real, I am beyond fake, but that was a surprise to me. I had thought there were only five. I'd been watching his money, though, not his sperm. "Oh, I am so sorry."

"Thank you, Richard. I don't think you know how sorry you are, or rather, how sorry you're going to be. Look at the top profile."

She had something, or thought she did. I opened the Bosworth file. The first page had a printed digital clipped to it; a shot from the party on Friday. I pulled it loose and put it aside.

The name on that profile was a name I knew. Primavera Visconti.

My doctor, my best friend, my love and lover, my soon-to-be wife, all the things she was to me—

Was my brother's daughter.

Elyse meant to shock, horrify, and disgust me. I glanced at her. She was giving me a look I knew well, as I'd seen it on my mother's face often enough. Bitter triumph.

Primavera was Edward's genetic daughter. I thought about her life history.

She was Hugo Visconti's adopted daughter; I'd known that all along. She was one of the thousands, if not millions, of Mississippi Delta Plague orphans from the outbreak nearly thirty years ago. It was a cruel disease that killed healthy adults and left children untouched. In trying to save the littlest ones from a slower death from dehydration, medical professionals and volunteers alike had swept up pre-coherent minors, babies and toddlers, by the dozens, every day when the plague was at its peak. Paperwork and identification got lost or was left behind, and the DNA Registration Act didn't exist yet.

Orphanages were put together in haste, far too much haste, to house and care for them all. There was a shockwave two years later, after the disease had finally run its course and the government was trying to impose order in the central states. Some of the orphanages were as good for the children as you could want them to be, clean, loving, well-run—but others weren't.

Primavera had been placed in what was arguably the worst of them. Neglect. Physical abuse. Emotional abuse. Sexual abuse. They found the bodies of children, some dead for over a year, wrapped in plastic and shoved into the garbage bins to dry out. They didn't rot. There has to be flesh on a body for it to rot, and those children had died of starvation… while there were cases of food, unopened, locked in the orphanage's storerooms.

Hugo Visconti had led in the team who discovered those horrors, and as they were trying to round up all the living and evacuate them, he heard a noise in one of the broom closets. Behind a sink, in a space smaller than a child should have fit into, dank and wet, was a tiny child with matted, reddish hair who wouldn't come out. She was crying for her father, though she didn't know who he was or what her own name was.

He told her that he was her father, and she came to him. He then made his lie the truth, and adopted her. He gave her the name Primavera. She could have been any age from three to five, so they called her four, and made the day he found her, her birthday.

Two years later, when she was somewhere around six or seven, and I was thirteen, we met, and that began the chain of events, the association, the relationship, what ever you want to call it, that led me there to that moment, thinking how much better a father than Ed Hugo Visconti had been.

It had been part of the bond between us, the separate seasons we had spent in hell, giving us a deeper understanding of each other.

It would have been quite possible. Edward had fathered Steven at about the same time, and Steven was even a little older than Primavera. Did Ed have a red-haired, brown-eyed girlfriend? I couldn't remember. He must have. Neither trait ran in the Genet-York family. Had she put her child up for adoption, or kept her? Had he known he had another child? It could never be known, now.

I had a niece only about six years younger than I was.

There was the real reason she and I were so like one another. DNA.

How did I feel about it? It didn't bother me.

What bothered me was how Primavera might feel about it.

This was the sort of thing you tell a lover in person, and as soon as possible. I smiled brightly at Elyse, snapped the folder shut, handed it back to her, and said, "Very interesting. I'll certainly take this under advisement. If I don't call before then, I'll see you this afternoon, won't I? You're coming to witness the vote?"

"Oh, yes," she spit at me. "I've told your mother, by the way. The picture from the party was what convinced her."

I looked at it. Yes, that would do it. Elyse had taken it when she was hounding the three of us together. My mother and Primavera were looking in the same direction, and the resemblance was strong. "Again, thank you, Elyse. I'll have to return the favor sometime."

As soon as I left the room, I called home. Who knew what Elyse or my mother might do? She answered, and I asked her to shut down all communication with any one but me. I finished by telling her, "Take an old book and shut yourself in the walk-in closet, after you put earplugs in."

"Oookay. Should I do this reading under a quilt with a flashlight?"

"It couldn't hurt."

"Richard, are you hurt? Are youdying?Did you kill somebody?"

"No. Not yet." We said our goodbyes, and broke the connection.

When I got home and found her pacing around, I stifled her "Oh, Ri—," with my mouth, and kissed her as if, as it might be, for the last time. She might not feel the same way, afterward. When we parted, she was as sad and serious as I had seen her since her father's death.

I did not stall for time. "Elyse ran the legally required paternity screening for Edward's genetic children. He had several children out of wedlock; I knew about it, but there was a surprise. You are on the list."

"Me? Is it a lie? A feint? No, it would be too easy to disprove. Richard—you're my uncle?"

"It would seem so."

"I want to sit down."

We sat, not touching. I looked at her face as her thoughts played across it. I had thought her features almost ordinary, when first I saw her adult face at the hospital seven years before. What they truly were was familiar. Literally familiar, as in, like family.

There were her grandmother's, my mother's, sculpted cheekbones. Edward's height. Her grandfather's, my father's, full lips and wide mouth. Her forehead was different—no, I saw one like it every day. In my mirror. Her eyes had the same exotic shape that made George look a bit wild and pagan.

In her were all the people I had ever loved, and she was the only one of them who had ever loved me.

But as much of her was her unknown mother. Her long nose with the little bump at the bridge, and the rich chocolate of her eyes, had come from her mother. And the rather square chin, and the red tones in her hair. And perhaps her heart.

She shook her head and protested, "I don't want to be Ed's genetic child. He was a boring womanizer! He made a pass at me. Several passes. I don't want to be Elyse's step-daughter, either. Or Madame Genet-York's granddaughter. Or—my god—your niece."

"We don't seem to have a choice."

"Hugo Visconti was my father. That is the truth. That's the important truth. That my DNA came from Edward—is only a fact." She looked at me. "Nevertheless, it is a great shock."

"Yes, but what now?"

"I—must think."

She lapsed into silence briefly, and then said, "I have it. You blind yourself and I hang myself."

I had to wrench my thoughts into line with hers. "Oedipus. No, that's mother-son incest."

"Send to the king of the Hittites for a son of his to marry?"

"That's grandfather-granddaughter, and she'd already been married to her kid brother King Tut, for years."

"True—then you make up a riddle about it to confuse people, until the one who figures it out runs off, and we're both struck by lightning by the angry gods."

"Where'd you get that?"

"Shakespeare. Pericles, Prince of Tyre. The king of Antioch and his daughter."

"Father-daughter. Edward wanted to; you didn't. Nothing happened, so it can't be that."

"Then I marry Han Solo?"

"Brother-sister."

"No classical examples spring to your mind, then?"

"None whatever."

"Mutual suicide pact?"

"We would die of old age before we agreed on the method." Nothing had yet stopped us from being smart-asses.

"Nothing to do but live, then."

"But how? That's the question. Together or apart?" I asked her.

"I'll say this right now; genetically and morally I have no qualms whatsoever. Genetically, it won't matter, as our children, should we have any, would be conceived in a dish and optimized before implantation. There would be no chance of any genetic disasters hauling themselves out of the Genet-York gene pool to flop around on dry land. Do you even want children? One of the many things we hadn't gotten around to talking about." She tilted her head, questioning me with her eyes as well as her words.

"I had pictured us with children, one day. Bright enough to make the world stare and wonder." Smelling of baby shampoo and peanut butter…

"Tremble in fear is more like it."

"That could be good, too. Morally, you were saying?"

"Morally, I feel we're in the clear. We met as consenting adults. It's not as if I were underage and you were sneaking down the hall to molest me. You would know more about the legal aspects than I would."

"This sort of thing has been going on since the late twentieth century, since the advent of modern reproductive methods. Laws and people being what they are, it took us until forty-four years ago to examine and redefine the marriage laws and the meaning of incest."

"So what is it now? I ought to know this stuff; why did I never learn?"

"I'm shocked to find you don't know everything in the world. Incest is now the technical term for a relationship within the first degree—parent-child, brother-sister, grandparent-grandchild—or genetic congruence of greater than twenty-five percent, if they come together under circumstances such as ours. Marriages between individuals so related are still forbidden."

"And for us?"

"We're within the second degree, now called a 'consanguineous relationship' to distinguish it from incest. This covers first cousins, half-siblings, and situations like ours, uncle-niece and aunt-nephew. Or uncle-nephew, etcetera. The genetic overlap has to be twenty-five percent or less, but we are free to marry almost everywhere."

"Hm. Pass me my Powermod?"

A moment later, we knew that we shared 23.74123533333 of the same genes. Entirely within the legally permissible percentage to marry.

"I could never connect the you I know with the concept of 'my father's brother' anyway. My uncle is Marco Visconti. He lives in Tuscany and he owns a traditional method organic farming concern. Every feeling in me would balk at the idea of going to bed with him, in or out of wedlock. There's just something wrong with sleeping with someone with whom I fought over my bedtime twenty-three years ago."

"I agree with you. It's socialization. I was getting weirded out by Edward and Elyse's daughter Elyse Jr.—Ellie, that is—a few weeks ago, when she seemed to be becoming a little too interested in me. I've sent her dolls and things since before she was born."

"There is another thing to consider, however. The executive directorship. This is a weapon that would defeat your appointment; that is, if we stay together, if we marry. Elyse knows it. She will reveal this information to the other directors this afternoon, if she hasn't already."

It was true. The directors whose vote I counted on were older, conservative, and traditional Imagists. No matter what laws or percentages I cited, they would look at this with horror and disgust.

"It could still happen," she said, softly. "If we broke up immediately. If you went before them this afternoon, confessed, explained, repented. If we expressed our shock and dismay and put on enough sackcloth and ashes. And then never saw each other again. Literally: never speak or write or meet. I could still boss the Science department. You could still be Executive Director."

"No."

"Yes. It would hurt. It would hurt like the amputation of a limb, and we might bleed, but we would live and heal."

"We have only had three days." It was horrible to think of. It was like when my father died. Was that all I would ever have of love, just a taste?

"Would it be easier if we'd had three weeks? Or three years? Or three children? Besides, looked at another way, we were together nearly every day for over four years."

"When I was in the hospital. It wasn't this."

"No. But it was friendship and we were together."

"We couldn't even have that any more. They would be watching and spying."

"You would be Executive Director. You would have your heart's desire."

I paced up and down the room. The executive directorship was mine for the taking. Every move I had made for over twenty years had been made with the intent of getting that position. Ever since I knew Edward was being groomed for it. I wanted it.

I looked at her. She was still on the sofa, looking out the window. Her hair was growing out of the cut she had when she came here. It was shoulder length now, and a little unruly, tousled. Sexy.

With every breath I took, my feelings changed. I could never give her up. No. Love was too ephemeral, too intangible. It could dissolve at any moment. But I wanted her.

She got up and went for her purse. At the door, she paused. "I'm going for a walk. I'll be back in twenty minutes, half an hour, something like that." She took off the ring we chose two days before, made it spin across the foyer table as if it were a toy top, and closed the door behind her as she left.

Leaving me to struggle with myself.

What if I chose her over the directorship, and we broke up, seven years or five years or five months or one month later?

What if I chose the directorship and loneliness crushed all the satisfaction in it?

I paced some more. All the possibilities, good and bad, crashed around in my head. I would have given a lot not to have to make that decision at all.

Then I thought about Edward and his ready acceptance of death whether it was from heart disease or in a building's collapse, and George, who had carefully engineered his life to put him in a place where he didn't have to be competent, or responsible for anything or anyone. I remembered the dead bird, trapped in its fear and pain. I thought about twentieth century singers, as well, and about kingship.

Appropriately, B.B. King Live at the Regal had reached "Sweet Little Angel" when she returned. You know I asked my baby for a nickel; she gave me a twenty dollar bill. I took her purse from one hand and a bakery bag from the other and put them on the table. Then I put a mug of tea into her right hand, put that ring back on her left hand, and kissed her. B.B. and Lucille encouraged us in the background.

When we finished that kiss, she grinned and said, "If I ever hear a goddamned thing about what you gave up, I'm gonna rearrange every bone in your body until you're back the way you started."

Ultimately, it wasn't that hard a decision. She was the only person who had ever looked at me as I was—and seen what I could be.

The next thing to do was work out a peace treaty. My mother and Elyse might have had misgivings about coming over to our temporary digs, but they came all the same.

Mom took one look at the two of us, deduced what was still going on, and drew in her breath with a sharp hiss. "I did not believe you could deliberately choose to continue in perversion and degeneracy."

"Legally, morally, and genetically we are well within our rights," I informed her. "You can say what you please."

"This relationship is strange and unnatural." She was pleased to continue attacking us.

"If you're going to mention relationships," retorted Primavera, "the day I visited, although I was only six years old, I already thought you a strange and unnatural mother. Clearly, Richard and I take after you."

My mother flinched.

"We're not the only ones," I told my Primavera. "Your patient and half-brother Rick," –my mother flinched again—, "is another. Wait until he's back to normal, then you'll find out what he's really like. And Margali, George's daughter, the cute little brunette—." A big wince from my mother that time.

I seized on it with pleasure. "Mom, can you actually be thinking that just because I said that seven-year-old Margali is cute, it means I'm lusting after her? I don't know how she does it, but she manages to think worse of me than I am."

"Your children will be defective."

"Our children will have their mother, who is, among other things, a geneticist, going over their gene patterns very carefully for any dangerous alleles. If we can't make a healthy baby with only our own genes, I see nothing wrong in importing more compatible DNA. Our children will be amazing."

"Enough of this," snapped Elyse. "Get to the point."

"All right," I said. "I will withdraw my suit for the Executive Directorship when the meeting convenes."

"You would have to, under the circumstances," Elyse replied.

"Indeed. I will also endorse Richmond's suit. That's in the short term."

Primavera took over. "I will sign my share of Edward's estate back to you once the funds have been cleared. I don't need it, and frankly, I don't want it. Let my brothers and sisters share it."

"Thank you." Elyse's voice was heavy with sarcasm. "From the woman with an estate in Tuscany."

"Primavera and I will be moving away from A.L.-Bion once the boys have been discharged."

"Good," said my mother icily.

"That's fine with me. How soon will that be?" asked Elyse.

"They should be home by mid-September," answered the doctor. "I'll be glad to get away. You are not invited to the wedding, by the way."

I jumped back in before either of them could get a comment in.

"In exchange for which, you will refrain from making a big deal over our genetic connection. You don't have to keep quiet, lie or deny anything. Just don't deliver long tirades about it. Don't bad-mouth us, either, and no hysterics. If you say anything, you will also explain that ours is a legal union, recognized as such by the state, even if Imagist doctrine is against it. I only ask you to tell the truth; isn't that part of what Imagism is about?"

"I agree. Don't demand I like it as well," said Elyse.

"Mother?"

"Very well. I agree."

"Good. I am keeping the Genet-York directorship."

"No!" snapped my mother.

"Yes. According to the by-laws, any legal member of a directorship family is eligible for the directorship, and once they have it, it is theirs until such time as they die, go to prison, or step down voluntarily. There have been directors in full-service elder care facilities before this. I think it will be the best for all concerned."

"Really," drawled Elyse.

"Yes. I do. But we needn't get into that now. I will keep my vote, and I will stay concerned with A.L.-Bion's fate and future. Lest I find myself supporting Mother in her old age." She looked distinctly unhappy with that prospect.

"Continuing to speak of fates and futures," I continued. "I'm also going to maintain contact with all the kids, just as I always have."

"You will not!" fumed my mother. "Why do you think we'd ever permit it?"

"I can take it before the court, for one thing. Don't disregard my legal skills. I'm the closest male relative they have who's alive and not in prison. They've had me in their lives since they came into the family, whether by birth or adoption. They need to know I'm still around and still care for them, even if I'm physically distant."

"You'll never—," my mother began.

"Do you want me to seek custody of Margali and Jonathan? Their father's in prison, and if he's called or contacted them since he went in, it's news to me. Their mother took off and left them with you, and she's called exactly twice in six months. You yourself are always leaving them at Elyse's or with care-providers. I've got a strong case for it." The reason I hadn't sought custody already was that I didn't want to drag the kids into what would certainly be a hideous, vindictive mess unless I was certain it was absolutely necessary for their well-being.

We continued to negotiate on such matters for a little while. I got it all down—it's always best to get things in writing. Eventually, I asked them, "Do you have any more terms?"

My mother retreated into Imagist dogma. "The two of you will be damned for this."

"Age before beauty," purred Primavera.

"Not a legal option, sorry." I added. "Nothing else?"

"There is something else I want. Don't write to me any more." My mother continued. "Don't send me gifts. Don't call. Leave me in peace. I want nothing of either of you and never will."

"You never did. I have come to the conclusion that you never loved any of your children. Edward was committing slow suicide by heart disease. He wanted to be dead, but lacked the courage. The stadium collapse was a blessing to him. George felt unloved, and took money as a poor substitute. And as for me—'All I ever needed to be good was to be loved.'"

"Gaston Leroux." Primavera identified the source of my quote. "The Phantom of the Opera. 'Poor, unhappy Erik!'"

"How did I know you would know that?" I asked. "Except in this case, it's more like, 'Extremely fortunate Richard'.I agree to your terms. Elyse, do you want to be included?"

"You better believe it."

"Good." I drew up an agreement and we all signed it. Elyse and my mother left.

I returned for the vote that afternoon. Primavera came with me to A.L.-Bion for it. I had no time to prepare or plan a speech, but I knew I wanted to make one. I had spent much more than twenty-two years of my life waiting, wanting to say what I thought of Imagism, and this would be the time, if ever there was such a moment. I would not choke. I would not hold back, for fear of finally going too far and saying the unforgivable. I was past that now. I had torched my bridges, and they made a beautiful blaze. I was free.

I was free. I thought of all the headaches, of how A.L.-Bion had been draining me, parasite-like, as it had drained Ed, and George, and old Henry Lancaster, of so much energy, of hope, of potential, as we saw all our days going on, one after another, just like the last. It offered a certain safety, but it took away surprises. Now it would all be Richmond's. He might even be suited to it.

Primavera squeezed my hand. We entered the building, and met my core group just inside. "My office!" I waved them ahead. When I had closed the door, I turned a raised a hand. "Elyse is here?"

"Yes, and she's in with the directors in the conference room."

"I thought as much. Is the auditorium full up?"

"Yes. They're waiting on the opening speech."

"Good. I'll improvise one for them. Short explanation: I'll expand later. Have you met my eldest niece?"

"Elyse Jr.? Yes—."

"That's what you think. Admittedly, it's also what I thought. But no; here she is."

"Hiya, folks!" said Primavera.

"Oh. Oh, no!" They knew what that meant in Imagist A.L.-Bion.

"Oh, yes. I'm going to go in there and withdraw. Now." I steamed out of the office and down to the conference room."

"Honored directors." I greeted the room. Elyse started. They turned, and I saw revolted horror, stern disapproval, avid glee, stony anger, and chilly disdain, all over their faces. "I'm very glad to see you all this afternoon. I believe we are expected in the auditorium?" With murmurings and mutters, the group of directors followed me down the hall.

I mounted the podium and looked out over some several hundred faces. Perhaps as many as a thousand, or twelve hundred. The place was more thoroughly packed than I had ever seen it.

I didn't know them all, of course, but I knew enough of them. At one time, most of these people, but never all of them, would have been traditional Imagists. Labor laws forbid such an exclusion way back then; now the ranks of orthodox Imagism had dwindled due to attrition.

There were new schools of thought about what Imagism should mean. The beliefs had altered, some people adhering to the traditions in theory, but breaking it in practice, like my brothers and their wives, with their alcohol and their cosmetics. My mother was among them, really, with her face-powder and moisturizing creams. Some had rejected it, as I had. Others had embraced a somewhat wider ideal that could accept and understand that a person who had surgery and therapy would live to praise God longer and deeper. Yet Imagism remained Imagism—all image, and precious little God. I had learned this by talking to them, and listening. I had done a lot of listening. I was glad of that.

I was about to rip their ideology into shreds. It was making me somewhat nervous, and ferociously eager, both. I hoped nobody had brought tomatoes to throw. I liked the suit I was wearing, and I didn't want to see it ruined.

"Good afternoon." I said. "Today we select a new Executive Director of A.L.-Bion. Thank you for attending this pre-vote meeting. This is how we Directors can tell that our decision matters something to you. Traditionally, this meeting has opened with a prayer that we should recognize the many faces of God around us and in us. I am going to break from tradition today, but I won't leave God out.

Interpreting the will of God is an uncertain business. I think the greatest danger in it is the tendency to mix up one's own desires with those of God, to see God in one's mirror when we should see Him through a window. I have listened to the phrases, "God the Father" and "God's Laws", and in Imagism—indeed, in many religions, I have seen most often God the disciplinarian, rather than God the nurturer.

I practice law. I have loved the law as though it were another father ever since I could understand the concept that I had rights, and those rights were guaranteed me by the law and protected by the law. In the practice of law, it is held to be better that a few sinners should go unpunished rather than that one innocent person should be condemned wrongly.

Traditional Imagism does not allow for that. Traditional Imagism would rather condemn many people to a wide variety of needless suffering, rather than deviate from what it interprets as the will of God. In Imagism, the phrase, 'Suffer little children to come to me', should read," and I mimed the punctuations as I spoke, "'Suffer, little children, to come to me.' Do you understand?"

They did. A murmur sussurated around the vast hall.

"It's been a couple of centuries now since same-sex marriages became legally possible, and I see a number of people here today who are in such unions, including a few among the Directorship families, and even among the Directors. Some religions still condemn them. One such injunction occurs in the same passage that condones slavery and bars hunchbacks from becoming priests. There's a prime example of interpreting one's self rather than God, because today there is nowhere on this Earth where slavery is legal, and no one is entirely forbidden to serve God because of a birth or genetic defect. No, not even the defect of being female can bar you from serving God, if you choose the right religion. Do you see what I mean?"

Again, yes, the unvocalized response.

"There are very few places where it is considered right that consenting adults should be prohibited from loving and marrying where they choose, but this is one of them." I turned and addressed the Directors. "I could tell that when I entered the conference room."

"Elyse has been spreading the news that Doctor Visconti, who is my fiancée, who would be my Head of Science, should I become Executive Director of A.L.-Bion, is my late brother's pre-marital daughter."

Elyse hadn't spread the news as thoroughly as I just had. A minor shockwave passed through the assembly.

"Primavera is, and we know this, now. Elyse has probably been telling you that we're so depraved that we're going to stay together, marry, and perhaps have children who will simultaneously be my mother's grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Elyse is right. But did she also tell you that she knew this before Primavera and I –consummated our relationship, and said nothing? That she saw the attraction between us, and watched it follow in its natural course, and did not inform us of our genetic connection until after the romantic connection was a fact? Did she tell you that she then attempted to use that knowledge to coerce and injure?"

The attention of the auditorium shifted to Elyse, who suddenly looked naked and afraid. "It wasn't—I didn't—" she spluttered.

I didn't give her any more time to explain herself. "I don't know what else she may have said. I think her malice may have been inspired by resentment and jealousy. I care for her children, you see. I care about their health and well being, their happiness and their futures. I care about my disgraced brother George's children as well. I've tried to take an active role in their lives, and I think she sees it as an attempt to usurp her authority and take for myself the affection due to her. This may be the result."

I paused, and took a badly needed sip of water. I was shaking.

"I am not going to try to persuade you to elect me despite yourselves, even if I could. There is too much ill-will here for me—for us—to stay. I don't want people to watch me hug my seven-year-old niece and wonder if, because I don't consider myself bound by one taboo, I'll start violating others. I don't want to see people watching our unborn children grow larger in their mother's belly and speculate if the baby will show signs of in-breeding or not. I love my fiancée too much to want to put her through that. I love my as-yet-unconcieved children too much, too.

So I am withdrawing my name from the pool of candidates. I personally plan to cast my vote for Theodore Richmond-Stanley." I cast about for something to say about him that was true but kind. "I know from working with him over these past months that he will be scrupulously careful with the consortium finances, that he has a head for business, and I believe he will be a capable administrator and an able leader.

Thank you."

I sat down, and then I was astonished, because somebody stood up and started applauding. Others followed. It wasn't Primavera, who was giving me the same seventeen-Christmas-trees-lit-up look that she had given her father over twenty-two years ago, but Norfolk who began it. It started with my core group, and spread through the entire staff of the Finance Division, (except for Elias Morton-Bishop), and then it spread through the rest of the A.L.-Bion personnel, to the younger members of the Directorship families. They looked somber, proud, and happy all at the same time. Some of them were crying.

Finally, Tom and Ellie shook off their mother, who was trying to restrain them bodily, to stand up and clap with the rest. Ellie was crying openly, and Tom was trying hard not to cry.

Margaret Beaufort-Richmond-hyphen-hyphen-Stanley tried to call the room to order, and failed. The applause had to die down on its own.

"At the risk of sounding stupid, why did I get a standing ovation?"

The Directors had voted, me included, and we had retreated to my office for a few minutes before the results were announced.

"He doesn't know?" asked Catesby, who, having been my late brother's personal assistant, was the newest of my personal staff.

"That doesn't surprise me," replied Primavera. "He's always under-valuing himself. I'm trying to break him of that…"

"Well, if anybody could break me, I'm sure it would be you. Really, though, what did I say? I just got up and winged it." I wasn't fishing for compliments, I was nonplussed. I had expected to be cursed off the stage, especially after I criticized Imagism so thoroughly.

"You only made possibly the best ex tempore speech of all time, to begin with," said Radcliffe

"I did?" I had got through it in an overheated, light-headed daze. I had felt naked. There was no protective layer of bullshit between me and my audience.

"That was only part of it," added Norfolk. "I don't think you realize how highly esteemed you are around A.L.-Bion, and before you ask why, let's go over some of the reasons. You kept the company from going under…"

"Opened up the benefits package so people could get real medical care, not just what's sanctioned by Imagism…" continued Catesby.

"Treated people like the little tea-cart lady and the guy who services the chloroplasm vanes with as much respect as if they owned half the company's stock." Norfolk went on.

"You're honest and hard-working without being tight-assed, and that counts for a lot, believe me." Lovell finished.

"Thank you. And while I would say please, keep on saying things like this, I love it, you can come and wake me up at two in the morning to tell me things like this, I didn't do it on purpose. I mean, of course, I did it on purpose, I couldn't do it by accident, but it was more automatic than anything else. I wanted the company to survive and get back on track, and anybody with a gram of common sense would have changed that benefit package. The terms as they were, were barbaric."

"People had been trying to get upper management to change the company policy on the medical coverage for over thirty years, Richard."

"So I was the first person to come along with that gram? It says more about my predecessors than it does of me. And as far as being ordinarily polite to people, I had no idea how to relate to people when I was young, so I read etiquette books. The books told me what to do and say, and it became second nature. I didn't do it to get people to like me."

"Mirable visu," said Primavera. "Wonders will never cease. They liked you for you. Which makes it all the sweeter, isn't it so?"

"Yes…"

"Um," said Lovell. "We had a quick confab while the vote was going on, and we have a question for the two of you."

"Go ahead and ask."

"What are you going to do now?"

"I don't know." I confessed.

"Personally I'm not staying here, whatever else happens," declared Norfolk. "Richmond's offered me the head accountant job, but he's making Elias Morton-Bishop his CFO, and I will not work under Morton-Bishop. He's hated me ever since I discovered George's peculations."

"Not to mention that Richmond's making Dr. Ingram his head of science. I think that there, he'll be getting what he deserves. I have a similar problem with Richmond, so I'm going to leave A.L. Bion, too. You might say we are especially interested in what you might be planning to do now," said Catesby.

"Whatever the two of you get up to, it'll be more interesting than staying at A.L.-Bion with Richmond-Stanley," added Radcliffe.

They had to wait for an answer, as we were interrupted by an assistant. "They're ready to announce," said the woman.

"Okay. I'm there."

"Mr. Genet-York?" she said, as we went down the hall, back to the auditorium. "I wanted to say that I'm sorry it won't be you. If staff could vote, you'd have gotten it."

"Thank you, Ginny. I appreciate that."

I waited as the vote count was read out. Richmond won, with eleven out of twelve votes. I wondered who the hold out had been; not me.

The new Executive Director of A.L.-Bion got up and made a speech about how much our confidence meant to him, and he would try to live up to it. They applauded him, but they did it perfunctorily, and as he looked out over what was now his staff, the pleasure ebbed from his face, his eyes narrowing. He'd eaten the delicious dessert of that initial moment; now he faced the innumerable series of dry, tasteless meals that comprised the real work of being the CEO.

I stepped up to him at the podium; there was an energetic burst of applause. For me—for me. "Ted," I said, and put out my hand. He turned, and looked at me. Was that a puzzled look? No, he was only dour, as he always was.

"Richard," he returned, and took my hand. I shook it firmly, not crushing him, although I could have. Not crushing him, because I could have.

"Congratulations. I wish you well." I said, and I meant it.

Why not? He thinks he won. He's the CEO of A.L.-Bion, the most important post and the highest aspiration in a very small circle of people. Let executive directors come and executive directors go. The world's much bigger than A.L.-Bion. He can have that corner of it, and I'll try and content myself with the rest.

Or, rather, we'll content ourselves with it, for I am, finally, no longer alone. Not only is Primavera with me, but my core group as well. These are the people with whom, I once said to myself, I could take over the world.

So, between Richmond and I, let's wait and see which one of us makes history. I'll bet people will hardly remember him, a hundred or five hundred years from now.

I bet they'll remember me.

Richard, the third.

Afterword

There was a real Richard the Third, and from 1483 to 1485 he was CEO of the real Albion, or rather, King of England. His last name was Plantagenet, and he came from the York branch of the family. He had a brother Edward and a brother George.

George, the duke of Clarence, had suicidally bad judgment. The real George was such a screw-up that my fictional version doesn't really do him justice. He was condemned for treason, among other things, and he may have been executed by drowning in a vat, or butt, of wine. He was married to the elder of two sisters, Isabelle, and they had two surviving children. Richard married the younger sister, Anne, and they had one son.

Edward was King Edward the Fourth, and he was a chronic womanizer whose 'little head' did the thinking for his big head. Edward met a pretty widow, Lady Grey, Elizabeth Woodville. She was older than he was, she had children already, she was poor, she had a huge extended family of unmarried, impoverished siblings—she wasn't a fit bride for a king. But she wouldn't go to bed with him without a ring on her finger and wedding vows. She got them.

Monica Lewinsky and President Clinton only caused a scandal; King Edward and Elizabeth Woodville caused another outbreak of war and a major succession problem, later on. Elizabeth wasn't the first girl who held out on Edward until he agreed to marry her…and that lady was still alive when Ed married Elizabeth. The facts didn't come out until after Edward the Fourth was dead and the country was gearing up for the coronation of Edward the Fifth, the son of Edward and Elizabeth. The marriage was not valid and their children were illegitimate.

At the time, people truly believed that God's wrath would come down if a bastard took the throne, so in the absence of another legal heir, the only legitimate adult male in the York branch of the Plantagenets was Richard.

Richard became King, and although he didn't wear the crown for long, he accomplished good things in the time he had. His legal reforms instituted a bail system, gave the poor access to legal aid, raised jury-selection standards, and forbid seizure of an accused person's property before their trial. He also made laws protecting the freedom of the press, to promote literacy and the free exchange of ideas and information.

In that same time, he also suffered terribly. He lost his son, and then his wife, both to natural illnesses.

Over in Brittany, the Earl of Richmond, Henry Tudor, whose mother was married to Lord Stanley, was raising an army to unseat Richard. He succeeded on the battlefield—and then he succeeded to the throne.

And then…the mystery. Edward and Elizabeth's two sons, the almost King Edward the Fifth, and his little brother, Richard, Duke of York, were living in the Tower of London, which was not just a prison, but also a Royal residence. At some point, they disappeared. But when, and who was responsible?

Nobody knows. Henry Tudor, now Henry the Seventh, was married to the boys' sister, Elizabeth—yes, everybody has the same two or three names, this is history, which is sloppy, not fiction which is neatly arranged—and he was the winner. The winner gets to write history.

Henry said Richard had the boys done away with, and oh, yeah, Richard was hunchbacked, and he'd personally killed a lot of people, and had even more done away with, just like the two princes, and he was born with teeth, and even his mother hated him…

Somewhere along the way, about a hundred years after Richard lived and died, an actor-playwright called William Shakespeare got the idea to write a play about him. Shakespeare's Richard is evil, he's nasty, he's deformed—but he's also charming and witty, and he gets the audience on his side, at least until the murder of the boys and of his wife Anne.

Many people, this author included, believe the historic Richard was innocent of those murders, and deplore the blackening of his name, while at the same time, retain a sneaky fondness for the Shakespearian Richard as well.

Hence, this book, which is loosely based on the play. I've tried to capture the fun of the drama while also infusing my Richard with some of the virtues of the real man. If by any chance, you have been intrigued and entertained, I strongly urge you to read more about the historic Richard and his times.

For the truly obsessed, (again, this author included) there is a Richard III society, dedicated to reclaiming his good name and promoting scholarship about his life and the medieval period in which he lived. Membership includes inclusion to the society listserve, several publications a year, and the right to attend an annual meeting.

Recommended Reading:

Dockray, Keith. Richard III: A Sourcebook, 1997.

Fields, Bertram. Royal Blood, 1998.

Kendall, Paul Murray. Richard III, 1955.

Shakespeare, William. Henry VI, part 3, Richard III.

Tey, Josephine. The Daughter of Time, 1951.