That's my very first C&J fanfiction I ever finished. Enjoy!
P.S. I don't own C&J and all the others. I just play with them and deliver them back unharmed ;-)
Of Books and Men
Shifting from one foot onto the other Joe nervously checked his watch. Again. In less than 20 minutes he would finally see her again. It had been four weeks now since he had seen her and it felt like a life time. Even when they had talked over the phone it felt strange because they couldn't talk privately. He had always known that once they would leave San Francisco it would be hard to find some private time without being interrupted or discovered but it had turned out to be more difficult than he expected it to be. God, they couldn't even talk on the phone without being careful. How were they supposed to find time and space to meet in that damn big palace without being watched or overheard? The maids knew everything and they certainly talked about everything to everyone who wanted to know and in Genovia the life of the Queen and her family was important to everyone! Especially to the enemies of the Renaldis who wanted the throne for themselves… That Mia had become the new heir to the throne of Genovia had made some people unhappy and sooner or later the whole thing would explode around them. If it became public knowledge that the Queen was sleeping with her bodyguard it wouldn't be easy to avoid a fight for the crown and it was his duty to protect Clarisse and Mia from any harm – physical and emotional.
He sighed and got impatient while he waited for the baggage to be transferred into the waiting Jeep that should bring him and some of his security guards back to the Palace. Now that Mia was attending a private College his and their presence wasn't needed anymore and they all could return to serve their Queen in Genovia… god, four weeks had passed since that ecstatic and life changing night in San Francisco and he could still remember every touch and kiss from her. All the words of love and lust she had whispered into his ears while making love to him in that majestic bed of hers… what would it be like when they faced each other after his arrival? Would they find the time to talk about everything or would they simply stumble into her bedroom to make up for lost time?
He found himself smiling all of a sudden. No matter how difficult it turned out to meet her privately he would find a way. And he would find it soon. Tonight when everybody was sound asleep he would go to her and talk, kiss, make love whatever they needed to do after all this time of separation…
"Hello, Charlotte! It's good to see you again!"
He greeted Charlotte with a smile as he entered the Palace and she returned his smile. Now the Palace was complete again.
"It's good to have you back. Joe!"
"It feels good to be home! How are things here?"
"Everything's just fine. It works like a charm."
"Good and Her Majesty? How's she?"
Charlotte smiled. He was too cute when it came to Her Majesty. She had been watching them for quite a while now and was only too happy that the two seemed to have found a way to confess their feelings for each other. Actually, she never had seen her boss as relaxed and happy as since she had returned from San Francisco.
"Her Majesty is just fine."
"Good. Where is she? She wanted to talk to me when I come home from the States."
"Oh…" Charlotte blushed lightly and shrugged slightly. "I'm afraid she is occupied right now. She's having tea in the garden… with someone." She added uneasily and swallowed.
He raised his eyebrow. Someone wasn't a term he especially liked. He liked facts and clear statements.
"Would you bother to tell me some details? A name for example?"
"Well, his name… something like Antoine Mercier… I only know he's an author. Actually his last book was a bestseller but you know I haven't read it although Her Majesty praised it and wanted me to read it…" Charlotte made a face and he knew she hadn't read one line of the so-called bestseller. "Well, she told me to prepare the invitations for the Ball because she wanted to speak to him on her own. Without me. You know her, Joe. Books are her special treasure."
He understood what Charlotte meant. Clarisse and her taste in literature were a special matter. Her taste was quite extraordinary to say the least and especially Mia had felt tormented by the amount of books her grandmother had given her with the order to read them. Which she had done – half-heartily and quickly. He avoided the subject of literature whenever he could. They hardly had found a common ground when it came to arts – modern or ancient. But it was her pleasure to read and he wouldn't dare to criticize her for that.
"Well, you know her taste is very extravagant."
"I know, Charlotte. So when will that special guest leave again? It's really urgent that I speak with her about Mia!"
He had no intention to miss out on her only because of a writer who was having tea with her. Literature could wait, he couldn't.
"Well, he arrived last night for dinner… and he's supposed to stay for the rest of the week… maybe longer. Her Majesty wasn't very explicit on the matter when we talked about it."
The expression on Joe's face changed so dramatically that Charlotte stepped back because she feared he would start to yell at her. Apparently the Queen hadn't told him any of this and if there was something that the head of security didn't like was when he wasn't informed about long term visitors.
"She wasn't explicit… very well then, Charlotte. Anything else I need to know?"
"We're preparing everything for the Queen's Birthday Ball in two weeks… but it's business as usual. You know she hates making a fuss about her birthday."
"Yes, I know."
With that he stalked down the hallway to his office. Charlotte had a hard time to follow him on her high heels but he didn't care. He was upset. He should be more interested in the Birthday Ball of the woman he loved but right now he was too angry with her. She had never invited a stranger into the Palace to stay that long without telling him before. Even if he was a successful author, who knew what kind of person he really was? He was sure that no security check had been done in his absence and for sure no one had done a background check on him.
"When did Her Majesty decide to invite that man?" he asked coolly as he entered his office.
"Last weekend… we were attending the National Book Fair in Pyrus when she had asked him for tea the first time…"
"The first time…"
"Yes, he came over one afternoon and the next day he came for dinner and since then…"
She stopped because she really feared an outburst now.
"Really nice. And what did my very worthy second in command do to check on that guy?"
"I think Shades did what Her Majesty allowed him to do… and she ordered to make no fuss about him. And she doesn't want the press or anyone else to know he is here… actually it's rather strange." Charlotte made a meaningful face as she was recollecting her thoughts about the whole matter. "It's really awkward."
"You might say so."
Whatever the Queen had ordered HE was going to see how this man was and why she had invited him to stay at the Palace for so long.
Disappointed with the way his return to Genovia had turned out he passed Charlotte on his way out of the office… "I'm going to see the Queen. If you'll excuse me."
"But she said…"
She gave up and let him do what he wanted to. After all, his return wasn't as pleasant as she had expected it to be. Men…
As he had expected she was in the garden. Joe stopped on the terrace to watch Clarisse and her visitor from afar while they were walking through the beautiful garden. The man was much younger than he had expected him to be. He looked elegant but not like an author. But what did authors look like again? Clarisse's hand was resting on his offered arm while she showed him her flowers. Joe knew how proud she was of her garden and especially her roses. The rose that was named after her gracing every ball and dinner party at the palace was of course her biggest treasure. Seeing her like this – relaxed and at peace with herself – calmed him down. His anger faded slowly, although he wished he could be with her right now and listen to her glamorous voice while she talked about simple things like flowers. It had been four weeks since she had left California and him and it seemed to him that she was even more beautiful today than in San Francisco. She wore a pink suit that exposed her excellent figure and her hair glittered in the soft light of the late afternoon. She was simply fascinating him but unfortunately the sight of the man next to her disturbed this image of perfection. He wanted her for himself.
Unhappily he sighed and decided to leave again. After all, she knew he came back today… maybe he should wait until she called for him.
As he turned her voice reached his ear and he stopped…
"Joseph! Please, wait a second!"
Glad to hear the obvious joy in her voice he turned again and saw her and the man moving to the terrace. God, the guy looked younger the closer he came. Too young to be so close to her. He still held her arm and covered her hand with his.
Clarisse smiled brightly at him as they reached the terrace she said…
"Antoine, may I introduce you to my Head of Security, Joseph. He came back from America today where he brought Princess Mia to her new College!"
"Joseph, that is Antoine Mercier… a guest."
The young man stretched out his hand and Joe took it with a faked smile.
"So you're responsible for everyone's safety here, correct?"
"You can say that."
He gave Clarisse a glance that hopefully showed her his disapproval, but she didn't seem to notice it because her eyes lay on the man next to her again. She smiled at him and if Joe wasn't mistaken it was a smile of admiration. That was enough to hate the intellectual fraud in a designer suit and with the perfect hair.
"Then maybe you're the first person to talk to after Her Majesty!"
The man smiled and Joe felt confused. Clarisse who blushed lightly, said quickly: "Maybe, and I point out – maybe – later, Antoine! The security of the Royal Family is hardly a matter I want to be discussed with anyone! The press is already noisy enough!" She smiled again at Joseph and asked quickly. "So Mia is fine, I assume…?"
"Of course she is. She wanted me to give you her best wishes. She'll call you as soon as she has the time."
"Very well, Joseph. We'll talk later."
She turned her attention back to Antoine who was observing the little exchange between the Queen and her guard. Sensing that he was released Joe made a small bow and left the terrace. He felt incredible stupid and couldn't even say why. He was an employee and she gave him orders. She was his Queen and the stranger her guest. He knew she couldn't wrap her arms around him and make out in front of that guy but she could at least pay him a look or give him a smile.
On his way out he stopped breathing for a moment when he heard Clarisse and Antoine's conversation continuing…
"So, we'll meet for dinner in three hours? I'm afraid I have some work left on my desk before I can change."
"That's no problem. I'll explore the palace a bit and collect my thoughts. I must say I really enjoy spending time with you here in such a beautiful environment… although your head of security worries me a bit. Does he always look that… stiff?"
Clarisse laughed – he loved her laughter but not now, not when she laughed about him instead of with him. He rushed to the window where he could see the two of them talking. "Oh no… I guess he was just exhausted from the long journey. We all don't get younger, you know!"
"You mean everybody but you, Ma'am!"
Antoine lifted Clarisse's hand to his mouth and placed a gentle kiss on it. Joe swallowed and left the room as quickly as he could. He had seen and heard enough for now.