Title: Camille

Summary: Anna leaves Siam, torn between her heart and her mind, but she herself is ignorant of the secret she carries.

Disclaimer: I don't own Anna and the King, the characters or the diaries of Anna Leonowens.

Chapter One: Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
(August 1867)

Chirp, chirp, chirp.

The crickets sang loudly in a collective murmur. Such an inane sound she'd taken for granted. Regret gripped a tight hand around her heart.

She was sitting on the armchair near the window that offered a view of the garden. Her garden. Her garden full of beautiful, exotic plants, ones she'd tended to herself when she wasn't teaching. She watched a tiny hummingbird flit past, its wings beating furiously in a continuous blur. A small smile curved her lips upward. Many a time had she imagined such freedom, possessing that kind of liberty. No obligations, no worries, no regulations, no meaningless words that were knives to the soul...If only she could be as free as that little hummingbird and fly right up past the clouds...

Chirp, chirp, chirp.

The sound of the cricket's crooning penetrated her reverie. Realization struck her mind as she rose from the armchair. She ran her hands over her voluminous skirts, smoothing out the wrinkles. She steeled herself for her imminent departure to England.

Her heart felt as empty and cold as the house she was deserting.

With heavy footsteps, Anna Leonowens emerged from her house. Moonshee and Bebe followed with Louis in tow. They watched Anna with cautious eyes, but they all knew better than to say anything when she was in so somber a mood. It would most likely earn them a stern reprimand.

Without a backward glance, Anna strode purposefully forward, clutching her suitcase and parasol. She stepped into the rickshaw, belying any fatigue she might have felt. She herself was scarcely aware of the tears that trickled down her cheeks.

The port was alive and bustling with activity. Conversations and outbursts from the crude fishermen drowned out her morose thoughts, her ear could now understand the Siamese being spoken around her. Anna gazed around at the sight, she felt claustrophobic and nauseated, there were simply too many people. She had to push and shove to get into line for tickets for their ship, not really feeling very sorry at all at her rudeness. No one was likely to notice anyway.

When the person ahead of them was purchasing their ticket, Beebe dared to ask if she were alright.

"I'm perfectly fine, thank you!" She snapped, frazzled, before she stepped up and ordered their tickets. She paid quickly, thanking the man in Siamese, as she turned around and distributed their tickets among them.

"Now, the ship leaves in thirty minutes. We shall wait here in the mean time. You three should find something to eat before we leave, I think I see some kind of restaurant over there," She motioned vaguely with her hand, " I shall join you after I make sure the luggage is secured." Her voice sounded reasonably strong, with that same underlying tone of authority. Louis looked at her oddly, instinctively knowing that she was not herself, but he was too afraid to test the waters. Moonshee and Bebe whisked him away to find food, their words lost in the racket as they walked away from her.

She made her way to the ship, pestering the men loading her belongings. They grunted and basically ignored her so she decided to trust fate and leave it alone. Her eyes wandered farther down the docks, curiosity compelled her to explore it. She went to the farthest edge of the dock and stood alone by the wooden balustrade. She took a deep breath, chest heaving with the effort to breathe against the tight lacing of her gown.

How she wished she could stay, a fleeting pang of foreboding struck her, she was so tired of running from country to country.

For once in her life, Anna knew where she belonged, yet here she was, running away again. She also felt guilty for dragging Louis around as well, they had never really had a permanent home. She rubbed her dry eyes, grateful for the fact that she was at least able to regain control of her tears.

He had seen her as she stood there, watching the murky ocean water below as the waves gently broke onto the rocks. She was never difficult to locate what with her starkly unusual attire and fair golden hair.

No one had batted an eyelid when they saw a cloaked man approach the European woman from behind. Everyone assumed it was her companion, it was not a strange occurrence. The people overlooked the two figures standing on the dock, one covered and unrecognizable, the other facing the ocean.

Anna startled violently when she felt his warm breath on the back of her neck. He placed his arms around her waist, holding her snugly to steady her. In an instant she recognized his touch.

"You frightened me, Your Majesty. I did not hear you come near." She whispered, barely able to hear anything at all past her racing pulse.

"I apologize, Anna." He sounded so vulnerable, so tender were his words.

"It is more than alright." Now that she had regained her composure, she turned to face him while remaining ensconced in his embrace. Anna gazed up into his eyes adoringly. She was captivated by the strong curve of his clean jaw, the smoldering heat in his eyes and the underlying strength of his taut muscles.

He slowly began to lean toward her, she watched his lips with unshuttered desire. They kissed unabandonedly, his tongue gently probing her mouth as she moaned softly. He traced intoxicating patterns on the small of her back.

To his eternal delight, she reached up and placed her hand at the nape of his neck, holding him as he kissed her. With her other hand, she caressed his cheek.

She pulled back, short of breath, as the ship that was about to take her away pulled into the harbor and blew its horn.

"King thought you would try to leave without saying goodbye." He chastised, "Had to make sure this would not happen."

"We said our goodbyes the other night. I honestly believed it would be easier that way, but I cannot say I am not glad you came."

She could have died then, she saw the crowd of other passengers preparing to board out of the corner of her eye.

"I have to go." Anna's words from the night on the balcony haunted them both. Mongkut tightened his grip on her even as she tried to disentangle herself from him.

"Your Majesty, you are not making this any easier for either of us." She said a little crossly, in a tone that was too inadvertently sultry for his libido.

He buried his face in her sweet smelling hair, relishing the fact that she didn't seem eager to be released.

"Really, Your Majesty." She murmured, this time she really meant it. Anytime, Moonshee, Beebe and Louis could see her, coddling with a hooded man on the docks.

"I promise I'll write. You promise to write me back." Anna tried to lighten the mood with a shaky smile.

He nodded, a wistful expression bent his thick eyebrows downward.

"Of course. Good luck, Ma'am." He straightened to his full height and stepped back.

"Thank you for everything, Your Majesty," Anna flicked her gaze downwards and back up at him again, ignorant of how the gesture stirred up immense affection in his heart, "For everything...Mongkut."

While she emphasized the word 'everything,' she also said his given name in a voice that clearly held nothing but the deepest respect for him. He could not help but yield to his impulse, he grabbed her roughly and kissed her briefly once more.

Without another word, she backed away and turned around, setting off to find the rest of her party. Mongkut watched the woman he loved as she boarded the ship, a twisting, stinging sensation pained his heart behind his sternum.

It should never have began. Their affair had blossomed through a flurry of kisses, secret glances, and arguments that ended like a release of the stormiest lovemaking any royal court had ever seen. That was one of the reasons why she was so intriguing to him, she was the first woman he ever knew could hold her own against him, the King of Siam. In the beginning of her presence in his household, he found her arrogant, but as time passed and he learned her character, he was pleased at what he found.

She remembered the first time she became aware of their mutual attraction. She had arrived in May, it was now mid June, and the more the days passed, the more she grew to like the king. It had been when she was rearranging the furniture of the classroom, he had wandered inside and found her struggling to move the desks. They were made of heavy mahogany wood, he would have been surprised if she had been able to move them herself.

At first, Mongkut had been content to watch her, trying to push with all her might. She growled in frustration and resorted to lifting each edge of the desk in order to move it where she wanted it. Unfortunately, she was still unsuccessful in her endeavor. He watched dismay distort her features. She slumped as she sat atop of the stubborn piece of furniture. She looked like a caged lioness, her temper simmering just beneath the surface.

That was when he decided to make his presence known. He stepped forward, causing her to jump in surprise.

"Hello, Your Majesty." The schoolteacher's words ended on a slightly higher pitch note, she asked a question through a declarative statement, 'What are you doing here?'

"Good afternoon, Ma'am. King was taking a stroll through gardens, could not help but witness your trouble." He moved to stand in front of her, looking at the way the light reflected off of her red-gold hair. She wore it half up, half down, the loose ends curling slightly at the bottom. He thought she looked much lovelier when she wore her hair in this way, the style softened the sharp angles of her face and made her look more womanly. Of course, she always looked strikingly beautiful no matter what, but now, she was even more irresistible than usual.

"Yes, these desks are indelibly stubborn. No matter how much I try to move them, they simply will not budge!" Anna cried as she winced and brought a hand to her neck. He watched her with some curiosity as she tried to massage her neck, her arm positioned awkwardly.

"Are you sore, Ma'am?" Mongkut himself was surprised at his bold inquiry. She looked up at him then, her eyes questioning, as she cautiously replied.

"Just a little. I slept badly last night, and I have the ache in my neck and shoulders to prove it." She continued to massage her neck, but it was clearly in vain. He imagined she did not feel any better at all. Silently, he moved to stand behind her, and she half turned to see what he was doing.

"Allow me, Ma'am. King understands your discomfort, I will try to relieve you of it," His words came out in a soothing murmur, she did not protest like she normally would have. The humidity of Bangkok was getting to her.

She waited tensely as he moved her hair out of the way. He placed his long hands on her shoulders. Despite the heat, she tried not to shiver as he began to massage her knotted skin through the cotton material of her dress. His strong thumbs grazed her muscles, undoing all the tightness and pain. Closing her eyes, Anna slowly relaxed into his touch, welcomed it shamelessly as he moved from her shoulders to her neck. He moved his thumbs to the base of her spine, touching her directly on her bare skin.

She gasped softly in pleasure at the contact, which caused his blood to thrum with arousal. He focused even more on pleasing her, he wanted more than anything to make her feel good. He was rewarded with throaty moans and sighs, his dexterous fingers dancing all over her fair skin. He was even more surprised when Anna arched into his touch, seemingly craving more. She was nearly purring by then, a sight he would always remember. He felt a touch of smugness that it was he who made her so content.

He leaned down so close that his lips were nearly touching her ear.


He felt her startle at their sudden proximity yet he did not remove his hands from her shoulders. He couldn't let go for the life of him.

"Yes, thank you, Your Majesty." She said, feeling foolish about her unadulterated reaction to his massage.

"You are quite welcome, Ma'am." His words came out in a low groan, the sound made a very different sort of heat diffuse throughout her belly and lower regions.

She stood up, her voluminous skirts provided a comfortable barrier between them once again. Her head was spinning, the memory of the way he touched her forever imprinted in her mind. She could not help but try to imagine what it would feel like he touched her body, made her skin tingle as he did only moments ago. She was torn, she did not want to become involved with this man for the sake of her reputation, but she craved him and his touch all the more.

Glancing at him now, Anna could see a similar war playing out in his eyes. He looked as if he were about to ravish her senseless, but at the same time she could tell he did not want to cross the line by doing so. Exhaling slowly, she tried to calm her racing heart. It was so difficult to remain where she was standing, she felt as though there was an inevitable, invisible force that was surely propelling her toward him. She knew very little about his past, besides the fact that he spent half of his life in a monastery. She found that she wanted to learn everything about this man, about the child that had grown into such a handsome, intelligent monarch.

"Why are you staring in that manner?" Mongkut asked a little more forcefully than he intended. She blinked, snapping out of her reverie.

"You are the most insufferable man, as well as the most entrancing man I have ever known." Anna wanted to kick herself at the idiocy of her response. She observed his eyes as they widened imperceptibly.

"You are the most forward woman I have ever known." He returned jokingly. He saw that he put her at ease by using gentle humor.

"Well, as I have said before, being bold and English are two rather inseparable traits." The schoolteacher shifted her weight on her heels, noticing how tall he was for a Siamese man. He could easily give some Englishmen a run for their money.

"Yes, but now, they are more desirable than anything else." His voice dropped to a murmur at that. Anna knew her jaw had dropped, she could not believe what Mongkut had said. She fidgeted slightly, uncertain of the proper reply to such a remark. God knows, she was nearly giddy with elation, but in reality she knew it was not likely that he would pursue her romantically.

"What do you want from me?" She asked with a tiny quiver.

He did not say anything, but the look on his face adequately answered for him.

"Forgive me Ma'am, if I offended you-"

He turned on his heel and left the classroom, leaving a disappointed and slightly confused Anna Leonowens behind.

She sat up ramrod straight, that same damned tingly feeling making her acutely aware of the heat between her legs. Her whole room rocked, the waves beneath made her vision swim in and out of focus. Realization flooded her mind as she remembered that she was on the voyage to London from Siam. She peered outside her window, the darkness outside was offset by the flashes of lightning and the roaring of the thunder.

Sleep was impossible, especially because she kept dreaming about the early days of their affair.

"Oh God..." She groaned. Her stomach did a flip flop, she felt as though all of her organs were trying to dislodge themselves from their rightful places. Nausea had been constantly plaguing her for most of the journey, preventing her from eating virtually anything. The only thing she seemed to have a tolerance for were the stale biscuits from the ship's kitchens. Bebe had dutifully attended to her most of the time, but now Anna was alone and frightened. The storm ouside was the strongest she'd ever seen, she wondered briefly if they would even make it past Africa anytime soon at this rate. The worst that could happen was if they were blown hopelessly off course by this storm, but she had faith in the captain and the crew.

Turning over onto her side, she was helpless to the onslaught of longing to be back with Mongkut and the children. Her eyes welled up with tears at the memories of her time with him. More than anything, she wished she could see his face again. Her stomach seized again in a horrible cramp, the pain sending her over the edge. She began to sob, heart wrenching little cries into her pillow. Everything was completely wrong, her illness, the storm, the repeated rocking of the boat, and being away from him.

The door creaked open suddenly, and someone hurried inside. Anna tried to regain control of her tears, she hated being seen like this. She felt the mattress sink as the unknown intruder took a seat at her bedside.

"Mother?" Louis' voice rang out. She immediately turned to face him with a watery smile on her face.

"Yes, dear? Why aren't you asleep?"

He sighed, a lot of maturity displayed on his childlike face. He was so young yet he already looked so much like his father. She motioned for him to lie down beside her.

"I heard you from my room. Are you alright, mother?" His concern was sweet, Anna couldn't help but wrap her arms around her son and hold him tight.

"I am feeling a bit peaky, darling, I should be fine by the morning."

"May I sleep here?" He asked, closing his eyes anyway.

"Mhmm. It's such a cold night." She murmured, also beginning to drift off to sleep.

This time when she slept, she dreamt of nothing.

Upon reaching London, Anna had moved back into the apartments she bought in the city. They had all settled in rather nicely, Louis more or less got over his melancholic mood. Anna also tried to behave normally, she kept her emotional outbursts to a minimum.

She busied herself with the decorating and renovation of their home with Bebe's and Moonshee's assistance. She had arranged a job as a teacher at a local girl's school, so she would earn money through it.

She really was doing fine.

As fine as one could be, considering the circumstances. She only cried when she was alone, and the nausea had lessened somewhat since the voyage. It had not really improved her appetite however, and she still only ate minimally. The sight of any food at all made her stomach turn over.

Then one afternoon, she remembered her promise to Mongkut. It had been three months since she left and she had yet to put pen to paper. Seated at her oakwood desk, Anna decided to write to him.

My dear M,

I made it home just fine. The voyage was terrible, and I fell somewhat ill during the trip. Beebe was very fussy, but that was to be expected. Louis misses Chulalongkorn, he has no one to share his adventures with. London is very dull, a gray city full of smoke and factories. There really are not very many friendly people, my neighbors do not care much for socialising, and I do not know anyone here.

I am a teacher at a local school for girls, and it is still fulfilling but it does make my heart ache as I recall the bright and eager faces of all your children. I miss them terribly, if I may be frank. I miss you as well. I wish I had a portrait, just a miniature one in a locket, so I could see your face every once in a while.

I honestly did not mean to sound as if I were complaining. Everything is going rather well, my daughter Avis has come to live with us, and she has grown into such a beautiful young woman. I wish you could meet her, she is a wonderfully intelligent, compassionate girl. She and Louis bicker, but I suppose that is the norm between older sisters and younger brothers.

How are you? I hope you are doing well. Give my regards to Lady Thiang, I miss her company. It is outrageously cold and overcast here in London, I had grown so used to the heat in Siam that I have to cover up even more so than I usually do. This may or may not reach you for a very long time since the postal service is so unreliable. I just want you to know that I think of you often, and that my love for you has not diminished despite the great distance between us.

Please reply, unless you are too busy-

Sincerely yours,


She was satisfied with her letter, so she put it into an envelope and sent it off to the Siamese consulate to be mailed to the palace in Bangkok.

Upon receiving Anna's letter, Mongkut had felt a rush of adrenaline. He retreated to his study where he could read it in private, away from the prying eyes of the Kralahome and his wives. He tore it open without hesitation.

The sight of her familiar loopy cursive made him grin. Even her penmanship made his heart swell.

He relished every word, imagining that she was in the same room reading it to him. He missed her voice, her prim British accent and mannerisms, the way she would risk peeking up at him through her eyelashes. It had been very hard to endure the emptiness of her absence. He had recently been reading some of the books she gave to him as a gift on his birthday, among them was a collection of sonnets written by an English author named William Shakespeare. He happened to find one that reminded him so much of her that he wanted to copy it in a letter and send it to her.

Dearest A,

I am very glad to finally receive your letter. All is well here. Cannot speak much of political matters in case message is intercepted. Chulalongkorn has finally adapted to new English teacher. Her name is Christianna Hardcastle, she arrived a few weeks after your departure. She is a warm young woman, with fair appearance and kind words, but she lacks your outright stubborness. She does not defend her opinions as fiercely as you do. In simple words, Miss Hardcastle is spineless.

I was vexed to hear about Ma'am's illness. Wish that I could be with you to nurse Ma'am back to health. London sounds so distant and most unwelcoming. I still believe you should come back to Bangkok, children's behavior in school might improve if Ma'am is with us once again. Because Miss Brinkley is so unassuming, children take advantage and play practical jokes all of the time especially during science lessons. Only you can prompt them to behave properly. Well, of course I could, but King cannot be with children every moment of day.

Am glad that you have been reunited with daughter. She must be a lovely girl, with such a radiant woman as her mother. I would very much like to meet her one day, you may bring her to Siam along with Louis.

If you truly wish to stay in Europe, will respect your wishes. I hope you find happiness, although I know mine can only be restored by the sight of you in person. For now, I am content with the many memories we created in the past year. I have been reading the sonnets you presented to me as a gift last October. This one perfectly captures the mood here in palace.

How like a winter hath my absence been

From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!

What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen,

What old December's barreness everywhere!

And yet this time removed was summer's time,

The teeming autumn big with rich increase,

Bearing the wanton burden of the prime

Like widowed wombs after their lord's decease.

Yet this abundant issue seemed to me

But hope of orphans and unfathered fruit,

For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,

And thou away, the very birds are mute;

Or if they sing 'tis with so dull a cheer

That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.

Siam has lost its luster without you, my love.


Anna read the sonnet with trembling hands. She had received his letter in the morning before she and Louis left for school but she hadn't opened it until now. Her hungry eyes devoured every word, she laughed when she read Mongkut's dry description of her successor. A pang of longing shot through her as she realised the sonnet he included in his missive was one from a collection she gave to him. On some lazy afternoons, she remembered they used to take turns reading to each other as they lay entwined beneath the bedclothes. A memory that had been otherwise forgotten surfaced from the dusty corners of her mind.

(late June, 1862)

"I wish we could stay like this forever." She sighed. He looked down at her and smiled crookedly. She looked perfectly at home in his arms, her head rested on his shoulder. Her impossibly long hair tickled his smooth chest as her warm skin covered him. He idly stroked her forearms, desire to have her again made him ache. They had tumbled into bed even though it was only five 'o clock. Their joining had been frenzied and ecstatic, she did not bother to stifle her screams of passion, much to his delight. The entire Royal household was outside playing croquet and frolicking on the green lawns in front of the palace. No one but them remained indoors because it was such a beautiful day, they did not have to worry about being overheard. Mongkut claimed he had some correspondence he needed to catch up on, so he would not join them outside.

"I do too..." His lips found her earlobe and nibbled gently at it. She sighed happily and leaned back. His hands moved from her forearms to the plane of her flat stomach, and upwards to the soft undersides of her breasts. Ever so lightly, he ran his palms over her breasts, eliciting a gasp from her. He knew she wanted to turn around in his embrace, but he held her in place so he could continue his quest. He reveled in the way she arched her back in an attempt to further melt into his touch, how clearly the lust showed on her face. He was always awed by her willingness to surrender control to him when they made love.

His fingers barely avoided her nipples, which earned him an impatient groan, and then came up to trace the line of her clavicle. He loved the exquisite delicateness of her neck, the way her jaw curved effortlessly into her long graceful neck. It was too much for him, he encouraged her to turn over. She immediately did so and captured his lips in a wet kiss. Her tongue darted out to taste him, licking his bottom lip as he opened up to her. He could feel so much intensity in the way her lips explored and tasted his own, it was heady and delicious, it made him pull her body even closer to his. She was everything his wives were not, she was worldly yet pristine, wise as someone beyond her years yet she possessed the heart of a fighter.

The contradictions she embodied made her who she was.

"You are a goddess," He declared as he rubbed the tops of her creamy thighs.

"Hardly, but thank you for the compliment." She scoffed.

"You are my goddess." He said with emphasis. "Say it, Anna. That you are mine and mine alone."

"I am yours, always yours..."

Urgency gripped him in that moment, he grasped her hips and plunged inside her. She cried out at the sudden motion, but soon she was gyrating her hips, bringing them both undeniable pleasure. Her eyes glowed as she placed both hands on his chest for leverage. He thrust upwards, increasing their speed, and she was only too happy to oblige him. The little sounds she made in the back of her throat added fuel to his raging inferno, her gratification made him want to bring her even higher, make her scream his name again-

"Ah-oh yes, ohhh!" She exclaimed. He felt his own release approach, her internal muscles spasmed wildly around him, coaxing him to follow her off the edge into the abyss. He kept thrusting, prolonging her orgasm, until he could not hold off any longer. Everything around them seemed to fade, he kept his gaze focused only on her as she bucked on top of him. He exploded inside of her, filling her womb with his seed, and vaguely he realized he should have pulled out like he had done all the other times. Despite his carelessness, he found he did not- or could not- regret it. The feeling of finishing inside of her was one he would always cherish.

They were both panting harshly as she came down to kiss him.

She raised herself up off his body and repositioned herself next to him, snuggling close as she rested her right arm over his chest. Neither of them said anything as the haziness of their orgasms faded away. Something caught her eye though, she quirked a questioning eyebrow as he wondered what was so fascinating. He turned and realized she was staring at the book on his bedside table. He reached for it and picked it up.

"King was in need of good reading material." He chuckled as her eyes widened.

"I gave you this. You said there was no place for silly love poems amongst your collection!!" Her eyes were gleeful and also accusing.

He must have looked sheepish as he told her that he was rather intrigued by the eloquent words of William Shakespeare. Anna smiled so brightly at that, she noticed some of the pages were book marked. Questioningly, she opened it up and her eyes fell upon Sonnet 116. She turned back to look at him.

"I thought of you when I first read it. King hopes you do not think him to be too sappy."

She ran her fingers over the page, silently reading the familiar poem to herself, when he stopped her.

"Please, Anna. Read aloud?"

With a nod, she began,

"Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom:

If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved."

When she finished, she sighed and rested her head on his broad shoulder.

"Someone's bound to walk in here accidentally and discover that we lay about exchanging romantic sonnets. What would we do then?" She stretched her legs languidly, reminding him of a sleepy cat.

"No one can walk inside, Anna. The doors are locked, the windows shut. Even if they did, they could not possibly see through the bed curtains." He motioned at the burgundy gauze curtains that were so thick one could not see through them even if they stood with their faces pressed against them.

"Oh, right. Sorry," She giggled. Rarely did she emit such a lighthearted noise, it was melodious and tinkling, like a little silver bell.

He closed his eyes but did not doze off. She must have thought he did because she turned to another page and began to read, albeit more softly this time. He recognized her selection as a work of Elizabeth Barret Browning, another English poet.

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death."

He listened as she closed the book and set it aside. She nestled back into his arms and the both of them slept, blissfully sated. She did not see the smile that graced his lips.

It was now four months since Anna had left Siam. At the time of her departure, she knew nothing of the impending events that would further change her life forever. She now knew why she had been so ill during the voyage. Why she still had no appetite. Why she was prone to headaches, stomach cramps and had not experienced her menstrual cycle for quite a long time.

Anna Leonowens was with child.