the Not Happily Ever After Series
~Introduction followed by chapter 1~
I like Clarisse & Joseph stories as much as you do. But why do they always end up fairytale like? I felt like writing some stories that don't end up 'happily ever after'. So if there's romance in NHEAS, it will not necessarily be between the Queen and her Head of Security. If there's love, it won't always blossom. There will be drama and heartache, that is for sure. Each chapter in this series covers a separate story. For your convenience I will use this introduction to summarize the chapters.
Chapter 1 Losing Joseph is inspired by Bernlef's book Out of mind which describes the deterioration of a man suffering from dementia. Losing Joseph is told from Joe's perspective and takes place after PD1. I neither can nor will claim that my story provides a realistic view on dementia.
Chapter 2 To be faithful features King Rupert who is jealous of the easy footing between his Queen and her bodyguard.
Chapter 3 Bullets and beads is told in free verse from the point of view of a Genovian who witnessed a murder. Is the ending believable? I doubt it. I went for drama though.
Chapter 4 Casanova is about two people who are in love and find out that they are not a match in bed. The story is written in the form of the Queen's private diary entries and it is set in 1998.
Chapter 5 It's in his kiss is about Mia making her grandmother talk to Joe after he found the love of his life.
Chapter 6 Who's afraid of Clarisse Romero is set up as a play. The Queen and Joseph secretly spend a holiday. Joseph wants it to be romantic, but Clarisse has something to tell him and she finds out that her lover isn't jovial when drunk.
Chapter 7 Not the kind things that you deserve starts with Joe telling his brother something he hasn't revealed to anyone before. Set post-PD2.
If you want more unhappily ever after: see my separate story Ties that bond us, in which a family celebration turns Joseph's world upside down.
1. Losing Joseph
To everyone at the Castle the Head of Security is having afternoon tea with Her Majesty. They don't know that right now we are simply Joseph and Clarisse. She is leaning against me, comfortable in my arms. I rise and check if the door is locked. She raises her eyebrows at me, smiling.
´You already locked it,´ she says.
´It goes automatically,´ I tell her, ´So I'd forgotten. And just in case...´
It earns me another smile. I sit down next to her and we kiss. I love the scent of her. The feel of her. Her softness and silkiness. I pick her up and carry her to her bedroom.
´I want you,´ I say.
´I have an appointment with the Prime Minister in ten minutes!´
On Sunday? Before I can make a fool of myself I remember it's Tuesday.
´What about a quickie?´ I say with a grin.
She shakes her head but her eyes are warm. I put her down and we kiss. She sighs when my lips caress her neck. I feel alive, as if I were made for this.
´What's his name... he plays the cripple in the usual suspects,´ someone wonders aloud as I happen to pass by.
´Al Pacino?´ a maid suggests.
´Kevin Spacey,´ I say.
´Yes: that's him! Thanks sir!´
See, there's nothing wrong with you, I tell myself. People just forget things sometimes.
I help her out of the car and formally address her: ´Your Majesty.´
´Thank you Joseph.´
Our eyes lock. I know that she too thinks about last night and looks forward to an opportunity to make love again. To the world she is every inch the Queen, but in my arms she is passion incarnated. After escorting her to her office, I make it for my own: I have some paper work to handle. Teballi, my second in command, joins me. When I want to go straight ahead, he turns left.
´Is the meeting cancelled?´
I check my watch. ´Is it that late already?´
I lead the way to the security meeting room and preside a meeting about the upcoming visit of the president of the Czech republic.
I tell Clarisse about my brother's idea to spend some time together.
´We haven't seen each other in almost a year,´ I add.
I don't like the way it sounds and I don't like saying it but I can't stop myself and I even feel some triumph when she nods in acknowledgement that a year is too long for brothers to be apart.
´Will the two of you be doing anything special?´
´He wants to go fishing. His wife will be in London with a friend...´
She laughs: ´And that allows him to do boys' things.´
I smile at her.
´Has your brother suggested a particular period?´
´That's what I need to discuss with you. Javier suggests to leave Wednesday fortnight.´
´At the start of the president's visit... Do you think Teballi can handle things?´
´If you prefer me to stay, I'll stay.´
She shakes her head.
´You haven't had a holiday in years. The fact that you even mention the idea means that Teballi is more than capable.´
I'm not sure what to feel. I mentioned the idea because I really would like to spend time with Javier. Why am I so glad to have a few days off? It's not like me, especially not with the security risk being high with a Head of State visiting. But I should trust Teballi whom I trained myself. It will be good for him to be in charge.
I tell Charlotte that I will take a holiday. She agrees it's a good idea.
´Why?´ I ask, alarmed.
´Well Joe, when's the last time you took time off?´
I give it a thought and she laughs.
´See?´ she says.
I grin at her, feeling relieved.
When she hears when I will leave there's surprise in her eyes but it is immediately replaced by trust. She makes me promise that I won't be supervising from a distance and that I take a real holiday.
My brother's back is plaguing him so instead of going fishing we make long walks. I welcome the opportunity to talk. We share recollections about our childhood and my brother, who's three years younger than I am, is impressed by my memory. He always loves to hear me talk about our mother, who had a fatal accident when he was six. It's good to be back home. I don't have any nightmares here.
I miss her though and I sing her praises. I tell Javier how kind she is. How intelligent and diplomatic. How elegant and witty. He nods: I don't need to convince him about Clarisse's merits. My brother being a discrete man, I hint that she and I... I just need someone to know. I think Charlotte suspects something and something tells me that princess Mia wouldn't be surprised to find out (Go Joe!), but well... I understand we can't be together, but my affair with Clarisse is the most important relationship I ever had and... I need someone to know.
´Do you love her?´
I sigh with relief.
´With all my heart,´ I reply.
We walk in silence for a while.
´Are the two of you... a couple?´ Javier softly asks.
I smile. Javier swallows hard and his eyes get moist. He's always been emotional, my little brother. I feel as if a burden has been lifted from my shoulders and I explain this by reminding myself that it is normal to share your happiness with your closest relatives.
On nearing the Castle, I look forward to see her. Touch her. Make her moan. Having to get back to work gives me the same feeling as having to return to school used to give me. It will pass.
These gardens are beautiful. I see Charlotte walking a huge white Poodle.
´That's a nice dog,´ I say to a gardener.
´Yes sir,´ he replies, ´Maurice is a fine dog. Doesn't mess with the plants that one, like Hector did.´
´Hector was a hunter,´ I grin, ´and he felt he should even hunt bushes.´
The gardener nods: ´His Majesty was fond of him.´
´I doubt Her Majesty was though,´ I reply.
´Nor was I sir, nor was I.´
A dog barks right next to me.
´Pleased to meet you Maurice,´ I say.
I courtly nod at the woman walking him.
´A good day to you,´ I say.
She laughs. ´Are you returning to the Castle Joe?
I might as well.
´May I walk you there?´ I ask.
Charlotte smiles and takes my offered arm.
´Are you already done checking the cameras?´
´Would I be talking to the gardener if I wasn't?´
The sound of rain awakes me. She is lying in my arms. I smile. My Clarisse. I caress her hip. Her skin is very sensitive and even though she's asleep, she stirs. I want to feel her wriggling underneath me. In and out. In and out. I reach for the hand that's lying on my shoulder so I can gently push her on her back. I feel her seal ring.
The King! He might enter any moment!
I manage to sneak out of bed without disturbing her.
As I am trying to make the schedules for the coming month, I tell myself that it was a dream. I dreamt about being alarmed that the King would find out. That's all. I shouldn't worry about it for that makes it hard to concentrate. Maybe it's a good idea to hand over making the schedules to Teballi and use the time I gain by that to exercise. It will help me relax.
´Are you the cook? My name is Joe. Joe Romero.´
The moment I say it, the moment I see her expression, I realise I've said something strange. Of course this is the cook! Caramba! She's devoted to the Queen, famous for her soup, feared by many. What's gotten into you Romero?
I wink at Charlotte, who tries not to giggle.
´I had you there didn't I Mrs Danieli?´
I raise my eyebrows a few times. I know it makes for a charming sight. The cook blushes and my men laugh. I grin.
´Shall we walk to the lake?´ Clarisse asks.
´I will walk to the moon with you,´ I say.
It earns me a feeble smile.
´I will not be that demanding Joseph.´
For a few steps I enjoy the sight of her hand on my sleeve. Then, feeling a need to break the silence, I start talking about the princes. Do you remember this, I ask, do you recall that? She does.
´Is something bothering you Joseph?´
´What makes you think so?´
She clears her throat. ´You seem out of sorts these days.´
Part of me is glad that she mentions it and the other part feels that there is nothing to worry about. Not really. I forget things and I recall them. That's all. Nothing to worry about.
´I'm getting older I suppose,´ I say with a smile, ´I seem to have more difficulty settling down after my break than I used to have.´
I want her to laugh and to reveal that it is something she recognises. She merely casts me a glance before walking ahead. We look at some noisily geese flying over.
´Teballi came to see me this morning,´ she remarks as she turns toward me, ´He was worried Joseph and so am -´
´He should know better than to discuss his worries with you,´ I interrupt, ´I apologise my Queen. I will tell him to talk to me about whatever it is he has on his mind.´
She tucks a lock of hair behind her ears. It means she's either impatient or nervous. I can't make up my mind. Why not? I pride myself to be able to read her better than most people. I do know for sure she's lovely. The idea of losing her makes me sick at heart. I would never let go of her, would I?
´Querida,´ I start.
The expression on her face is one of surprise. I understand why: we never use endearments outside her suite. She looks around. Why does she have to be so... cautious? So logical? I shrug. Suit me.
´I have to pee,´ I tell her.
I turn my back at her and start walking toward a tree.
What did I just say?
I turn around. She's still standing where I left her, looking flabbergasted. Her eyes dart from my face to some point lower. I nearly cry when putting my penis back inside my pants.
She walks toward me.
´I'm afraid,´ I moan, ´I'm afraid. I'm afraid. I'm afraid.´
Part of me scolds myself for acting childish and weak. The other part feels safe in her embrace.
´I'm scared!´ I all but wail.
I fall down to my knees. She doesn't let go of me and cradles me close. I'm crying.
´I don't want to be sick!´
She kisses my head.
´Maybe it's a virus that altered your... behaviour... Or an infection,´ she says.
´What if it's not?´ I whisper.
She kisses my head.
´I love you I love you I love you,´ I say, ´Remember.´
I hear her swallow.
Everyone thinks I'm on a special assignment, even Charlotte. She asked me whether there's a threat to Her Majesty for why else would I stay in her office? The idea that people believe the Queen is in danger should make me feel uncomfortable but staying with Clarisse just feels too good. And besides, it's not my idea to begin with.
I walk toward my Queen. She's working at her desk and she can't see me approach. I kiss her neck and cup her breasts and she stiffens.
´We're alone,´ I reassure her.
She places her hands on mine, to still them. She can't keep her body from responding though.
´You want me,´ I whisper in her ear before nibbling her ear-lobe.
´Joseph, we- ´
´We have today. There might be no tomorrow,´ I say dramatically as if I were an actor.
She is silent for a moment but then she turns in her chair. It takes a moment before she faces me.
´I love you Joseph,´ she says, as she pulls down my face to cup it.
´Say that again.´
She does. I kiss her.
´With all my heart,´ she says.
I softly push her backwards.
´No, "I love you Joseph", not "with all my heart". Again.´
I close my eyes and wait. Her fingers caress my face.
´I love you. Ti amo,´ she says.
I shake my head. She inhales audibly.
´I love you Joseph,´ she whispers.
I smile. ´Good! For I love you body and soul.´
To tease her I first kiss the tip of her cute nose and than her cheeks. They are wet. For a moment I think this has to do with me. But why? I'd never hurt her. I'd never make her cry. Then it dawns on me: ´You're thinking about your son aren't you querida?´
I straighten up and gesture toward a sofa. She takes my offered hand and when I sit down, I drag her on my lap.
´Prince Philippe will always be in our hearts, won't he?´
She places her head in the crook of my neck. I hold her and she clings to me, crying. I soothingly caress her back, glad that she allows herself to mourn for her child.
There's a man with us. Clarisse addresses him as doctor.
I look around. We're clearly not in a hospital. Unless it's a private hospital? No: there's a dog. He walks toward me.
´Nice dog!´ I praise.
´Joseph, could you sit with me please?´
She's wearing a navy blue dress.
´I used to be a marine,´ I say, ´And you look beautiful.´
She does. She reaches out her hand and I take it.
´My name is Joe Romero,´ I introduce myself. A stranger tries to catch her eye. I greet him as well.
´So,´ I start the meeting, ´I understand you want to discuss security issues?´
´Doctor Martin is here to discuss the results of a test Joseph.´
´What kind of doctor are you?´ I demand.
My question surprises him.
´I'm Her Majesty's personal physician,´ the man says, ´We've met before, remember?´
I don't see why anyone would think I know a Queen's doctor but I nod all the same. A nod can mean anything.
He starts talking about test results but there's a scab on my knuckle which is far more interesting than what he could have to say. Besides, if I don't take it off, the other little knuckles might get infected to.
A fair lady with sad eyes replies to what the man, whom she addresses as doctor, though he doesn't wear a white coat, says.
Progressive he says and dementia.
Clarisse briefly closes her eyes but I see it nonetheless.
´It will be all right,´ I promise her, ´You will get pills and then your illness will go away. I will take care of you mi amor.´
The people here are tense. I told them something about myself: that I was in the army and that I'm from Spain. Normally it makes people ask things like which part of the army where you in or are you from Madrid. But these people just stare at each other and continue eating.
´I called Miss Charlotte,´ a woman whispers to someone else.
Miss Charlotte? Must be someone I haven't met yet.
´I was a navy seal,´ I offer.
I don't get so much as an admiring glance. They eye me all right but as if they are uncomfortable with me being here. Oh no!
´I'm sorry,´ I say, ´but aren't the guards allowed to eat here? Or I am too early or too late? Please tell me.´
´No it's just fine,´ a woman says.
I enjoy my soup and after a while people start talking among themselves again. I have my bowl refilled by a pretty maid. I smile at her but she averts her eyes. Suddenly everyone rises. I respond a little too late for when I rise too (there must be a point in doing so) a refined voice already says: ´Please be seated.´
And there I stand. I see an elegantly dressed lady wearing a long coat with a few drops on it. It must be raining.
Hoping there's another Joseph I stupidly ask: ´Do you mean me ma'am?´
I thought there was tension in the room but now it builds even more.
´Yes I do Joseph.´
´I'm sorry ma'am but may I ask how you know me?´
A maid starts to cry. Why do I have the feeling that I'm in trouble? My new colleagues are holding their breaths and stare at their plates. I can't expect them to help me.
´I've only just arrived you see,´ I continue.
The fair lady tucks a lock of hair behind an ear.
´I read your personnel file,´ she explains, ´and there was a picture of you in it.´
I nod understandingly, wondering what she could want of me.
´Could you come with me please?´
She walks toward the door. I catch a woman's eye and raise my eyebrows: should I follow the lady? She swallows and nods.
When I enter the corridor I'm very happy to see Clarisse. The door falls close behind me and I look over my shoulder to see if there's any danger. When I look back Clarisse is gone. There are a few men, a lady and a young woman.
´Where is she? What did you do to her?´ I yell.
´What is it Joseph? Who are you looking for?´
I run away to find my lost love.
This place is beautifully decorated. Leather chairs. Heavy curtains. I'm not complaining but no one asked me if I wanted to stay here and I'm afraid it's more expensive than I can afford. There's someone who brings meals! At first I didn't eat, not wanting people to think I was taking advantage, but now I will just tell the manager that I was placed here though I'd asked for a cheap room. He'll have to agree with me that I can't be expected to pay for this luxurious suite.
I like to stare outside, to see birds and clouds.
Does a cloud ever wonder where he is? I know I do. Does a bird ever feel that he's somewhere where he shouldn't be? I'm like a bird who should have left for the north. Or another direction. But my compass got stolen and I missed the others because I slept in.
Bastards! First they steal part of me and then they don't wake me up.
Suddenly someone's standing behind me. I turn around and push her against a wall. I scream that she should have woken me up. Or at least not have taken my needle thing.
When someone taps me on my shoulder this thief says she's all right. Ha! Not for long! I plan to find out if part of me is inside her head but someone grasps my arm. Yes! A fight! I let go of the lady and turn around. The man behind me hesitates as to what to do, which is not done for a true warrior. I punch him in the stomach.
´It's mine!´ I cry out.
I turn around, proud to have a good strong body, and I hit the thief before this Joseph may come to her rescue.
I face the floor. Someone is sitting on top of me. Maybe I ate this magic chocolate and now I'm bound to float unless they stop me from doing so.
´Your Majesty,´ a voice says, ´Are you all right?´
´I'm not a king,´ I say and at the same time a woman replies that she is fine.
I turn my head. I see a handsome young man who appears to have his lower leg on my back.
I smile at him. He looks both uncomfortable and determined.
´Are you Joseph?´ I ask.
´You can let go of him Capras,´ a woman orders.
´No!´ I cry out, ´I don't want to float to the ceiling!´
´I will hold you,´ a sweet voice says.
Someone grabs my hand and the man moves away from me.
I don't float! Wonderful. But you never know.
´Will you keep holding my hand please?´
´Of course I will.´
When I'm on my knees, I look up.
´Why hello!´ I say, pleasantly surprised at finding a fair lady near me.
Her left cheek is red. How dare someone hurt a woman! I look around and see a handsome man near the door. He looks at the floor.
´You should be ashamed of yourself!´ I yell at him.
I walk toward him and drag the lady with me, not wanting to start floating after all. It is at times like these that I realise that there's nothing wrong with my brain: I can think in a perfectly logical way.
It's just that I'm... Oh, I don't know. I think I'm on medication. At least I have this tune in my head... Tatata. Lala.
´Do you know that tune from what's it called... The A team! Do you know it?´ I ask a young man.
´No sir,´ he says.
´Do you know that tune madam?´
She shakes her head.
´You may leave Capras,´ she tells the young man. He leaves.
I burp. I giggle. It's fun to burp. A voluptuous woman swallows hard. Voluptuous.
´Volpous,´ I say, for it is a beautiful word and I'm proud to know it.
I tilt my head and cup a woman's breasts. Her left cheek is red.
´Are you all right?´ I ask.
She grabs my wrists.
´I know who you are,´ I whisper in a godfather-like way, ´You are the one who stole my...´
I release myself from her grip.
´I could ask them to help looking for it,´ I tell her, ´Hannibal will help and BA. BA is strong.´
´And the Face is smart,´ she says.
Oh, this is nice!
´Please have a seat,´ I say, ´I'm new here and I'd like to make friends. Would you like a drink?´
´No thank you Joseph.´
She sits down on a sofa (great legs!) and gestures me to sit next to her.
´Do you like the Face? Many people prefer Murdock, though they'd hate having a lunatic like him near.´
She smiles, but her eyes don't smile along.
´Would you rather talk about another series?´ I say understandingly, ´I work as a bodyguard for the Queen of Genovia and she likes to watch Cheers. That's why I watch it, to have something to talk about with her. You see...´
I chuckle and place my hand on the lady's knee.
´Would you like a drink?´
´No thank you Joseph.´
´The weather is nice isn't it?´
She confirms it.
´Would you like a drink?´
´No thank you.´
´Are you married?´
She shakes her head. I smile and sit a little closer to her.
´I love you Joseph. And I remember.´
She looks so sweet and sad... But she must mistake me for someone else poor soul and -
Suddenly the fog which I didn't know to be inside my head clears away.
I see us. Us. Me and her. Clarisse.
She eyes me as if she wants to penetrate my mind. Her lips curl into a sm-
Who is this lady?
´Wrong wrong wrong!´ I scream for there's nothing left for me to do.
I bend over and hide my head under my arms.
There's a knock on the door. The sound of high heels. Buzz buzz. Heels.
Someone's touching my shoulder.
Hide and seek!
´Boo!´ I say when I remove my hands.
A woman kisses my forehead.
´I have to go Joseph. I will be back.´
She cups my cheek.
´I remember. I love you.´
I want to leave my room to start working but a handsome young man prevents me from doing so. I invite him to enter my room and he steps inside. It's easy to knock him unconscious. Just in case others might mean me harm, I avoid being seen, feeling a bit like James Bond.
It's a good thing that I know my way around here. I sneak into a secret corridor leading to Their Majesties' offices and I end up behind a huge plant. Through its leaves I can see two men wearing spy-like earplugs.
´- uty this morning,´ the smallest man says, ´And the door stood ajar. I heard the boss repeat the same line again and again and she kept replying in the same kind way.´
´What did he say? You can tell me, there's no one around.´
I put my fist in my mouth for it's funny that they think they're alone.
´He kept saying: Look I made you this Miss. Or aunt or mummy. And every time she kindly said: That's a beautiful drawing, thank you.´
´Tell me. I hope that when I go gaga, there's someone who's that kind to me too. I really hope so. Just in case I have a bright moment.´
Aha! This is my clue to continue my voyage of discovery. When I hurry to the other side of the corridor, I notice that they notice me. I open a door and hide in a dark room. No one comes after me. I use my flash light. I'm in a cupboard with brooms and stuff. Because I need to relieve myself, I sit down. After I'm done, I use my flash light to make shadow animals on the wall. After a while there's a knock on the door. And another one.
´Sir's not here!´ I say.
The door slowly opens.
´Sir, there you are!´
I giggle because the man in the doorway has a bruise on his face. He puts a blanket around me and suggests that we go back to my room. I'm a bit tired so I don't mind. First he takes me into a men's room to clean up.
I wake up on a couch. There's a pile of towels on a table. I unfold one of them. It's soft and huge like the sheets my brother and I use to make wigwams.
A door opens. Footsteps. Enemy Indians? I make an eye-hole in my tent. There's a female Indian dressed in black and white. No feather on her white cap. She carries a big cotton bag.
I reach for my pipe when suddenly my tent is being opened.
´Ah!´ the Indian cries out when she sees me.
´It's my territory,´ I say, ´Mine and Javier's. You can't play here! Go away stupid girl.´
´Can I get you someth -´ she starts.
´Go away!´ I order.
She leaves and I make myself a snug bed in my tent.
There's someone with me. She's wearing a soft sweater. It feels good against my skin. I hear her heartbeat.
She softly talks. I don't know what to say in reply but I don't want her to stop talking: I like her voice. To show her that I pay attention, I remove my thumb from my mouth and nod. She caresses my head. I sigh.
´Ti amo,´ she says.
A spoon full of soup.
Open. Swallow. Close.
A woman dries my chin.
´I remember,´ she says, ´I love you.´
´I remember,´ she says, ´I l-´