Ten years had passed since his brother's disappearance. It wasn't like him to leave without saying a word to him or their parents. He had searched everywhere but couldn't find a trace of him. No one could tell him anything. Eventually, even his parents gave up the search. However, he had determined within his heart he would find out the truth.
One day, he spotted an old estate. It looked deserted. As he walked onto the property, he felt a chill. This place seemed cold and unwelcoming.
"You won't find anyone here. No one has lived on this estate for years," said an old man. The young man turned around. "Do you know what happened to the family who lived here?"
"I do. The daughter married the King. Her name was Regina. Her parents, Henry and Cora, moved into the palace as well. One day they are here and the next they are gone. Why do you ask? What business is it of yours?"
"Sir, I'm looking for a stable hand who worked here. His name was Daniel. He was my brother."
The old man shook his head. "No, name doesn't ring a bell. I came here right before the girl's wedding. I had little interaction with them."
"Thank you for your help," said the young man. His last hope dashed. He walked off the property.
"Regina," he thought. The name sounded familiar. He remembered Daniel mentioning her in a letter. He said he was going to marry her one day. But that couldn't be the same Regina, could it? Why would she marry the King if she was in love with his brother?
He decided to go to the palace. Maybe the queen could help him. It was worth a shot. He traveled all night until he reached the palace. He looked at the building. It was the most fascinating thing he had ever seen. He found a guard in front of the castle. The guard eyed him down.
"State your business," said the guard.
"I'm here to gain favor from the Queen so she can help me locate a missing family member," he replied.
The guard chuckled. "Lucky for you, the Queen is hearing the people's concerns today. Another guard will escort you in."
Another guard took the young man to the Queen. He looked at the long line ahead of him. The guard chuckled. "Lad, you'll be stuck here for a while." The guard left.
Regina hated this part of ruling. She had to listen to these people's pathetic concerns. She had her own problems to deal with. Like getting rid of Snow White. She feigned interest and listened.
For what seemed like hours, it was finally his turn. Thankfully, he was the last person. His gaze fell upon the Queen. She was beautiful, regal but there was a certain air about her. She looked like she could kill you and it was in a person's best interest not to cross her. He didn't realize he was staring until Regina spoke.
"Are you going to stand there and gawk or will you state your business?" Regina asked clearly annoyed.
"Forgive me, my Queen. I'm here to ask if you could help me locate a family member," he said. He averted his eyes.
Regina rolled her eyes. How could she locate somebody? Doesn't he know these lands are massive?
"I'm sorry for your loss but I can't help you. I'm sure whoever it is, is long gone and doesn't want to be found." Regina stood up.
The young man spoke but kept his head down. "Please, I beg of you. I just want to know if my brother is safe."
Regina didn't know why but her heart melted a bit but she quickly put up her walls. She huffed. "Tell me his name."
"Daniel. His name is Daniel."
Regina flinched unnoticed by the guards. She glanced around the room. "Leave us," Regina told the guards.
The young man was suddenly fearful. What did he say that was so horrible?
Regina narrowed her eyes. "Look at me," she commanded. He did as ordered. "What do you know about this Daniel?" She kept her voice devoid of any emotion.
"He was a stable hand at an estate. He disappeared ten years ago. No one has heard or seen him since. I went to the property but couldn't get any answers. All I know he was in love with a girl named Regina."
Regina gasped and her eyes glistened with tears. She tried to keep her voice monotone. "Where are your parents?"
"My parents are dead. Daniel is the only family I have left. I just want to know he's safe."
Regina looked at the man before her. This could have been her brother-in-law. "What's your name?
"Robert," he replied.
"Follow me," Regina said. Robert followed her to the stables. Regina closed the door. "Robert, I knew Daniel. I'm the Regina you are looking for."
"I don't understand. My brother wrote to me and said he was going to marry her when the time was right."
Regina sighed. "Your brother worked on my family's estate. We fell in love and we were going to run away and get married."
"My mother," Regina said with venom. "She…she killed him because she wanted me to be Queen. She ripped his heart out and crushed it." She now had tears in her eyes.
Robert shook his head. "No, you're lying. He can't be dead." He sunk to the floor. He held onto the hope that Daniel was alive and happy. Regina's heart broke. She tried to find his family but she didn't know where to look. Truthfully, she didn't want to face them.
Regina reached out to Robert. "I'm so sorry. There are times I wished he would have never met me. He would probably be alive."
Robert looked at her. "No, he loved you. He wrote me this letter." He handed it to Regina. It read:
To my dearest brother,
I've met the most beautiful woman in the entire kingdom. Her name is Regina. She has a kind soul and is very caring. She loves horses as much as I do, I can't wait for you to meet her. I know you, mom and dad will love her. I'm going to marry her one day and be a good provider. I want to spend the rest of my life with her. I can't imagine my world without her. She makes me see things differently. My brother, Regina, is one of a kind. I will never meet another person like her. My hope is that you find someone just as lovely as Regina. Be safe my brother. I'll be home soon.
Regina cried even harder. "When did he write this?"
"Weeks before he disappeared. This is the last thing he wrote me." Regina nodded. "Whatever you want, it's yours. It's the least I can do."
Robert stared at her. "My queen, I don't want to impose any further. My being here has upset you. I don't wish to cause anymore pain."
Regina smiled. "Nonsense. You aren't at fault. Whatever you want, I can give you."
"All I want is a nice home and to work around horses," said Robert. "Fine, you can work here as a stable hand but I'll give you an estate. You will be comfortable. I'll make sure of it."
"No, thank you. You have given me a piece of Daniel that I never thought I would have. We're family. It may not be official but we're family. As long as I am in power, I will personally see to your needs."
Robert pulled Regina into a hug. She tensed but soon hugged him back. For that moment, she was Regina. She was happy. She pulled back.
"Come. We will have the maids prepare your room." Robert walked ahead of her. Regina turned around once more and smiled. She could feel Daniel's presence. In a small way, she had her own family.