Two guards dressed in chain mail and long blue tunics with the emblem of a white horse upon the breast, each holding a burning torch that lit their way into the deep dank dungeon in one hand, while the other hand tightly gripped the handle of the sheathed sword at their sides. "Do you think he got loose? I mean these bars can't hold a monster like that could they?" the first guard said.
"I don't know," the other answered. "But did you hear those roars? I thought that he would bring the castle down."
"Who didn't hear him roaring? I am telling you that we shouldn't be here. We should just leave him down here and seal the door." The first said as they near the darkest cell.
"It would probably be for the best," a deep voice said echoing through the dungeon. The guards jumped looking at the yawning mouth of the cell with its iron teeth barring the way. With soft hesitant steps they moved closer to the cell pushing more of the darkness away with every cautioned step. The walls of the cell bore new slashes and cut from sharp claws, several of the strong iron bars were bent out of shape bowing outwards and some had broken entirely leaving shattered pieces of metal strewn about the stone floor. In the back corner, where the straw mat used to sit, before it had been shredded to pieces, sat Jack with his head low and his ears back. His golden eyes closed as the guards moved forward toward the cell. Jack could only remember bits and pieces of the night; but, a few images stood out more than the others - a horrified look on Carissa's face as she saw what he had become, how he attempted to maul her before the iron bars of the cell kept him at bay, and Carissa running away from him in fear.
The guards pulled out the keys to the cell slowly easing them into the lock before the click sounding and the iron door swung open with a shrill squeal of complaint. Jack lifted his head slightly as his sad eyes looked to the fearful guards who took a quick step back. Moving very slowly, Jack stood up, stooped through the doorway of the cell, and gave a slight bow to the guards. Jack walked in front of them, the guards watching his back to make sure that he didn't turn on them. The more they ascended the stairs the brighter it got which made Jack squint with his night of being in the pitch black dungeon.
Walking through the halls was almost as painful as being locked up in the mines. People that worked and moved about would suddenly froze in whatever action that they were doing to stare at him, either in fear or in contempt. Jack could hear the whispers all around of how none wanted him there. His very presence seemed to be of fear and malice. The guards left him at his room where he sat in the corner for a long time not wanting to leave the small area that seemed to be the only safe-haven from the hateful stares.
Braving the halls and yard of fearful on lookers, Jack headed to the stables where he felt accepted without fear. He smiled almost immediately as he entered the large building full of stalls. For now, it was only Jack and the horses as he lifted the heavy bag of feed onto his shoulder to fill the troughs. One by one the horses would come to the gate as the sound of the shifting oats would draw them for breakfast. Tossing the bag, once it was empty, Jack made his way down the line greeting all of the horses who would nuzzle their noses to his hand in a simple display of affection. Thor was the only one that didn't greet him in this fashion. When Jack would approach Thor's stable the large, black draft horse would stomp his front hoof and lower his head slightly to which Jack would do the same. Between Thor and Jack there was a bond of friendship instead of handler and animal. Smiling as he was treated with kindness within the stables he released the horses to run in the stable yard.
Carissa could hear the sound of the horses being set loose and she finally moved from her place beneath the covers that she had pulled over her head. The image of Jack lunging at her before crashing into the bars was still in her mind. Jack's claws seeking to tear into her, his fangs snapping, and the roars of anger that he bellowed to her. With a slow determination she walked to the window to watch the horses graze in the field that they were given. Carissa smiled softly as she remembered back to when she would ride all the time. With a nod she turned heading for her large walk in closet. "That is exactly what I need," she said to herself as she pulled on a simple riding dress.
She hurried down the stairs passing her mother who looked her up and down. "Don't tell me that you are going to wear that to the lunch today," her mother said almost sounding horrified.
"I am going to see Snow. What lunch?" she asked as she stopped.
"A few of the dukes and royalty of the neighboring kingdom were passing through and thought they would make a small detour. They will be here a little after noon," her mother said. Carissa sighed not wanting to have to deal with the suitors that she knew would be coming with the royals of the kingdom. Her mother saw the look on her face and cupped Carissa's cheek with her soft hand. "Carissa, I know that you don't like me being so…demanding of you finding a husband, and I will admit that I have been a little pushy about it; but, you do know that I am so adamant about it because I want to know that you are happy and with someone that will take care of you."
"I know, Mom," Carissa said looking down. She couldn't help the feeling that her mother was only concerned with either other affairs or the well-being of the kingdom than about her. "It's just…The suitors that have come here for my hand. I can't stand any of them. They are self-serving and arrogant or immature brats. I can't be happy with someone like that."
Her mother nodded gently as she pulled Carissa into a hug. "I know that they aren't the best to choose from. But, please give them a chance. Maybe you will be surprised by one of them."
Carissa rolled her eyes in doubt as she hugged her mother back. "I am sorry. I will try to be better about it." The two pulled back and Carissa smiled up to her mother.
"Maybe the three of us can go out riding soon. We haven't done something like that in a long time. Does that sound good?"
Carissa looked to her mother with a shocked expression before a smile spread across her soft features. "I would really like that."
"I will make sure that it is arranged soon. Now go on and have some fun. I am sure that Snow would love to see you." Her mother moved around Carissa giving her a playful shove as it insisting for her to get going like she used to do when Carissa was a small girl. The two giggled as she waved and continued on her quest to the stables. Carissa could feel the doubt in her mind slowly growing that her mother would break her promise again.
The servants and the guards smiled and greeted her warmly as she made her way through the courtyard. At every turn there were warm faces and happy smiles which made Carissa feel better. When she entered the stables she quickly ran over to the door where her horse was kept. Snow was a white horse with a long flowing, cream mane that was tied up in blue bows. "Snow! Hi girl," Carissa said as she opened the stable door and walked in wrapping her arms around Snow thick neck. "I missed you," she said nuzzling into Snow's neck with a smile on her face. "Do you want some apples girl?" Running back to the door Carissa suddenly stopped and her face became a shade lighter. At the end of the man hall, where the door to release the horses into the yard, stood Jack a pitch fork in hand. He stared at her with his golden eyes just as she stared back with her green ones. Jack could see that the image she had seen of him was still fresh in her mind. He wasn't sure why her thoughts and mental image of him was so important. Jack turned to clean somewhere else. "Jack wait," Carissa said.
Jack did as he was commanded to do and turned back to her. "Do you need something, my Lady?" Jack asked gently.
She slowly nodded as she waved him forward. Jack followed the hand gesture until he was only a few feet away. "Let's just forget about it, alright." Carissa couldn't bring herself to look up. Staring at the ground she sighs. "I know that you didn't mean to try and hurt me; and, I shouldn't have been down there to begin with. Can we just put it behind us?" Jack was rather surprised by such a request. The people that he had attempted to hurt while he was out of control were the ones that were trying to avoid him the most. Jack nodded not sure if his voice was strong enough to try and speak. Carissa smiled a little before walking passed Jack and grabbing a few apples for Snow, who had voiced her complaint of being denied her favorite treat. Carissa walked back with a few apples in her arms and held one out letting Snow munch on her treat with a satisfying crunch.
Carissa took her time as she brushed down Snow's white coat receiving a satisfied whiny. Carissa smiled while returning the brush to its place on the shelf. She finally began the slow climb up to her bedroom. In her room, she looked through her dresses to pick out one for the afternoon. With it being a little warm she picked out a light green dress that came down off of her shoulders and draped to the floor. She liked the simple look for the day, it seemed, as she headed down to the dining room to greet the guests that were just arriving. Carissa smiled and nodded, as she was taught to do, when she was complimented on her beauty or her manners. She couldn't suppress the roll of her eyes as she saw the suitor that strode through the large doorway. "My dearest princess," he said in a loud voice gathering all eyes to him. "I have come to steal your heart away." Taking her hand he planted a kiss on the back of it.
Standing tall once again the suitor let a sly grin spread across his chiseled features. Short fire red hair covered his head that was drawn together along the center of his scalp and pulled up to make a sort of fin, and burning blue eyes that watched Carissa with a sort of snide look. Dressed in fine crimson hued clothing and a long black cape that was thrown across his chest and over his shoulder he squared his shoulders and puffed out his chest, the ornate sword that was strapped to his hip rattling inside its scabbard. Carissa could feel the ego pulsing around him. "That would be quite a feat, Prince Leiko," she said through clenched teeth feeling the slimy kiss placed on the back of her had.
"You are just as beautiful as the love goddess herself," Leiko continued, attempting to woo her once again. Carissa could only sigh and walk away, shaking her head. Taking her seat she groaned when Leiko sat in the seat beside her. "What is it about the thought of marriage that makes you so opposed to meeting with suitors?"
"It is not the thought of marriage that has me so opposed," Carissa said in a clear voice. "It is the fact that the suitors, like yourself, are either sniveling little brats that can't handle putting their own clothes on in the morning without help from their chambermaid or they are so arrogant and full of themselves that they forget that they are trying to win my hand, not their own."
"My most beautiful princess, why must you speak to me in such a cold and heartless manner?"
"Because I find your ego to be as overwhelming as the stench of breath from a goat," she said flatly. The servants all dressed in fine tailor made suits, arrived placing dishes down in front of all the chatty guests around the table. Silver plates of pork and gleaming bowls of fruit dotted the table adding color to the pale tablecloth.
"It that overwhelming presence that makes me the perfect suitor to be your king," he said as he tore off a leg of meat biting into it, the juices rolling down his chin. "The strong are those with the presence to expand and build, and what better way to show our strength then binding our two kingdoms together?"
"I find that true strength comes from a kind heart, an open ear, and a closed mouth," she quickly retorted, picking an apple from the one of the bowls and taking a small bite out of it. She looked up to see Jack in the horse stable cleaning up with a small smile on his face. It seemed that the work he had now better suited him then the mines.
"Strength like that is easily overcome, my Princess," Leiko said darkly in a hushed tone. "Acts such as that is only a weakness."
"And yet it is that weakness that managed to hold off the waves of warriors that you threw at our valiant cavalry and castle walls almost a decade past."
The prince chuckled as he sat back tearing another bite off of the dripping leg of pork. "It is quite true that your cavalry and stone walls kept you safe on that day and we greatly admire your people for their resolve in such trying times," he said his mouth full. Looking out the window he huffed at seeing Jack patting one of the horses on the neck. "How can you let a beast like that around your legendary horses?" Leiko asked Malak as he leaned forward for another leg of pork.
The King looked out the window and then back to the princess. "Because he seems to understand those horses better then even my most experienced riders," Malak said staying very formal and warm.
"An animal like that should be used for more constructive methods, such as…a fur coat," Leiko said laughing with a few others who liked his joke.
Carissa growing frustrated turned to Leiko and quickly spat out, "That animal is more polite and caring then some humans that I know." Carissa did not hide the fact that she was talking about Leiko himself.
Before Leiko could speak the whole room shook violently. Goblets and glasses fell on the table, silverware rattled about, and the stone floor shook causing a few nobles to fall from their chairs. "What the devil is that?" Malak asked as he stood up his hands on the heavy table to keep him balanced. Like the thundering of a drum, the shaking and deep booms came from beneath them growing closer and closer until the table went skyward breaking in half and sending shards of wood in all directions, and the stone floor exploding in dust and rubble. Carissa was thrown from her chair into the corner of the dining hall as stones, chairs, and people were scattered all about.
Coughing and squinting through the dust-filled air, Carissa could see a hulking form slowly rise up out of the hole that now dominated the center of the dining hall. Guards rushed in surrounding the figure while others began to escort the nobles out of the room. The dust began to clear bringing light on the hulking figure that snorted and released a thundering bellow. The figure stood up on two legs and towered over the men by a good two feet, thick coarse fur covered every inch of the creature's body, and the head of a brown horned bull looked about with dull, rage-filled eyes. The guards would stab and slash at the beast's thick hide only to have their spears and sword shatter on the leathery skin.
Carissa lay horrified as she tried to wiggle out from beneath the heavy portion of the table that had her pinned. She watched as the monstrous creature would swipe with its massive hands sending guards crashing into the walls and columns. Looking around, Carissa tried to find something to help her escape before her eyes fell on the small book that had been on the table next to her. She reached out her small finger barely brushing the leather bound pages. Turning to look at the bull-headed creature she saw the black cape and crimson banner stepping toward the beast his ceremonial blade drawn. "Come you monster! I will cut you down to size!" Leiko yelled as he charged. With a single swipe Leiko flew across the room into a group of guards that had stormed in and now lay unconscious on the floor.
The guards trying desperately to keep the beast's attention on them with the queen screaming for someone to get Carissa. The horned head turned to look at the pinned Carissa sitting against the wall, her hands clutching the small, leather bound book to her chest. Carissa could feel the air leave her body and wasn't able to get her lungs to draw any air in. The scraping sound of a hoofed foot on the stone signaling the monster's intent to charge as it reared its head back with a bellowing roar before thundering forward its head down and horns set to gore Carissa to the stone. Carissa squeezed her eyes shut and could hear her mother let out a piercing scream of horror. The bull head let out another bellow before a clap of thunder stuck in an explosion of dust and debris.
Silence reigned over the room, the dust slowly starteing to settle once more. Not a single breath was taken as everyone was waiting to see the fate of the young princess. A small coughing echoed from the cloud of dust and slowly Carissa came into view before the gaze of the nobles, and Carissa, widened at the sight before them. Between Carissa and the deadly horns stood Jack, his lips curled back in a vicious snarl baring his dagger-like fangs, his black fur standing on end over the flexed muscle that held off the charge, one hand grabbing the arm of the brute and the other holding onto one of the horns as the other horn had gored through his forearm. The brown tip of the horn poking through Jack's muscle and fur letting drops of crimson blood fall to the dust and debris covered floor. Around his feet were small crates from the force of the blow that would have demolished Carissa. A vicious roar came from Jack's throat as he threw the beast to the ground pulling his arm free of the horn, the blood matting the fur of his arm. Jack turned grabbing the large chunk of wood and chucking it away to shatter more on the stone wall. The guards quickly rushed in to pull Carissa away who was still in shock at what she had seen.
The hulking beast got to its feet again letting out another bellow scrapping its hoof against the ground. Jack replied with a thunderous roar his claws bared to cut the monster to shreds. The two charged almost in unison before colliding with another thunderclap. Fists and claws swung about hitting their marks with devastating force. Jack's body was rocked by the heavy hitting arms of the hulking mass that tossed him around. Jack's claws cutting through the thick hide to draw blood from the monster that only was fueled more in its rage. The beast grabbed Jack by his fur and threw him against the stone wall before charging to gore him once more. Jack rolled letting the horns smash into the stone before jumping on its coarse hair covered back and grabbing both horns controlling its head. Jack was tossed about, bucked, and slammed repeatedly against the walls as he held on tight. With a sudden twist and a sickening crack the bull head swiveled to the side while its body went rigid before crumpling to the ground the head flopping around like it was only held on by skin. Jack stood over the beast bleeding from his arm and the few splits in his skin from the heavy hits. Suddenly, Jack reared his head back letting out a resounding howl that filled the halls and courtyard of the castle. As the howl's echoes finally ceased Jack fell to the ground on his back too weak to stand up any longer, falling into unconsciousness.
Princess Leiko gritted his teeth spitting out the blood in his mouth. Grabbing his sword he slowly walked to the dead mass of muscle and fur before walking to Jack gripping his sword tightly. His eyes filled with anger at the the creature he deemed beneath him and quickly raising the edged weapon. Carissa rushed forward screaming,"No!"
"Hold that blade, Prince!" Malak roared in anger making Leiko whirl about. Carissa ran to Jack with a slight limp, giving a wide berth to the dead monster.
"This…this…thing is no better then that monstrosity!" Leiko said pointing from Jack to the beast. "It should be destroyed! It could have killed us all!"
"That thing just saved my daughter's life!" Malak said as he walked right up to Leiko and even though he was only an inch or two taller, Malak towered over the Prince. "I will not allow you to harm him because of your wounded pride! Now put that sword down! NOW!" Leiko looked like he was considering turning the sword on the King before he begrudgingly sheathed it and stormed off. "Call the healer!" Malak called out as he put an arm on Carissa's shoulder. "Are you hurt?"
Carissa shook her head slowly as the tears rolled down her pale cheeks. "Twice. Twice he kept me safe," she said as she pet her hand along Jack's brow running her fingers through his soft fur. "Will he be okay?" Carissa looked to her father with red teary eyes.
"If he could go toe-to-toe with that beast then it should be nothing for him to pull through this," Malak said as he put his hand on Jack's shoulder finding himself admiring the courage that Jack showed.
Veronica ran to Carissa, cradling her daughter to her. "Oh thank the gods. I thought I lost you," the queen sobbed holding Carissa tightly as if she would never let go.
"Don't thank the gods, mother," Carissa said quickly pulling back a little. "The gods didn't save me. Jack did. He is the one that you should be thanking."
The healers came and, with the help of the guards, lifted Jack taking him to his room where the healers cleaned and bandaged him. Carissa sat on the chair in Jack's room looking over him tears still rolling down her cheeks seeing the damage he had taken in protecting her. A soft knock came at the door before it opened and Jezebel popped her head in. "Princess? Is it alright for me to come in?"
"Yes, Jezebel, you can come in," Carissa sat there holding the small book in her lap her fingers tightly holding it as she just stared at Jack. Carissa was still wearing the torn and dusty dress from lunch as she sat there unwilling to leave Jack's side until she knew that he was alright.
Jezebel stood next to Carissa and sighed. "I feel bad," Jezebel said softly. "On the full moon when I heard all of those roars and howls, I believed that he really was what everyone said he was. Just a monster; but, monsters don't think like this. They don't throw themselves into harms way."
"You're right," Carissa looked down. She thought back to that night. How she ran from Jack, leaving him alone in the darkness of that cell. She buried her face into her hands as she sobbed violently. "I went to see him that night and I ran from him. I ran because I was scared and he knew. He knew I was afraid of him and he still protected me."
Jezebel quickly knelt down wrapping her arms around Carissa's shoulders. "Princess, please don't cry. I don't think that Jack would want you to cry."
Sniffing as she looked back up to Jack, Carissa nodded as she wiped the tears from her face. "You're right. He would want to see me smiling when he wakes up."
"Princess, I have an idea. Let's go to the kitchen and make him something to eat for when he wakes up. I am sure that he will be hungry having missed lunch and dinner." Carissa smiled as she quickly got up with her book in hand. The two of them hurried out the door and down the hall to the kitchen. "Markus. Markus we need your help," Jezebel said as they found the slightly overweight cook turning to look at them.
"Jezebel? What brings you down here so late?" Markus asked confused before noticing Carissa standing behind her. "Oh, Princess! I am deeply sorry. Let me find you somewhere to sit." Markus hurriedly looked around trying to find a place that he could clear off.
"Don't worry about that," Carissa said stepping closer. "We want to make something for Jack when he wakes up."
"Oh uh…well he probably won't me strong enough for something solid so a stew would be best," Markus said as he went through his mental cook book. "Is he alright? I heard about what happened."
"He is still resting after the battle," Jezebel said with a smile.
Markus nodded as he rolled up his sleeves. "Then it shall be my very best he shall get," Markus said setting a cauldron over the fire.
"What do I need to do?" Carissa asked with a determined look on her face.
"Oh, it is my duty to cook things, Princess. Don't worry about it."
"Jack saved my life today. The least I can do is make him something to eat to get his strength back." Carissa slapped her hands on the cooking table rattling the jars of spices. "Please. Just let me help. I will do anything." Markus saw the desperation in her eyes and slowly nodded. Carissa was shown how to peel the potatoes and with a little practice slowly started to get it down before cutting it up and moving on to the next one. Carissa started to stir the steaming meal that was cooking, giving off a sweet aroma. Carissa was sweating with the heat and the work that she was doing not expecting it to be this difficult. "You have to do this every meal time?"
"Meal time? Princess, I have to do this all day to keep up with the food I have to give out." Markus said as he chuckles making his round belly jiggle a little. "Everyone here is working all day long to get the food ready in time for the meals." Looking around Carissa saw everyone working on different dishes for the different people or classes of people that would request things to eat before the servants would pick up the tray and leave to the different rooms in the castle. "Jezebel, would you mind grabbing a few more carrots?" Jezebel nodded as she scurried off. Markus added seasoning to the stew as he looked to Carissa. "I have something I want to ask you. What does Jezebel like?" Carissa looked at Markus confused as she blinked a few times. "You know. Does she like flowers? Music?"
"I…I don't really know. I have seen her in the flower garden a lot but…" Carissa paused as the realization finally hit her. "You like Jezebel."
"Princess, please not so loud," Markus begged looking over his shoulder to make sure that no one heard them. "Yes, I like Jezebel. She has come down here since I was first starting to become a chef and she encouraged me through all of it. I don't really know when it happened, but just one day I found myself looking forward to her being down here and if she didn't then it was like the whole day was terrible." Markus looked down adding the last of the spices. "I must sound like an idiot."
"No, not at all. I think that it is very sweet. Why don't you tell her how you feel?"
"I want to; but, every time I try either I become too nervous or when I am about to tell her she suddenly has to go or something. Maybe the gods are saying that I shouldn't say anything. I just wanted to know a little more about her."
Carissa smiles patting Markus' hand. "Tulips. She is always going into the garden and goes straight to the tulips." Jezebel returned soon after with the carrots that were added to the stew. Filling a large bowl, Carissa felt a tinge of pride as she looked at the stew that she had helped make for Jack. They walked carefully back to Jack's room since they filled the bowl to the point that it was nearly overflowing with the steaming hot liquid. Opening the door Carissa was surprised to see that Jack was awake and trying to get up out of the bed. "Hey, no lay back down," she said sternly setting the tray down. "Where do you think you are going with those injuries?" Carissa put her hands on Jack's well built chest pushing him back to the mattress. Though Jack could easily overpower her even in his weakened state he still followed her commands to lie back in the bed. "You are going to lie here and get better."
Jack nodded as his half lidded eyes looked at the princess and her dress. "Are you alright? Did it hurt you?" Jack asked not caring that his own wounds were much more severe than hers. His wrapped up arm and chest looked like badges of courage in Carissa's eyes.
"Yes, thanks to you," Carissa said softly, pulling up a chair close to the bed. She smiled as she held the stew in her lap and the large spoon in the other. She would blow on it before holding it out to Jack with a small smile. "It's my thank you for saving me, again." Carissa giggled a little as she tipped the spoon toward Jack's muzzle letting the contents fall into his mouth.
Chewing up the soft items in the stew he smiled. "That is really good. Did Markus make it?"
"Yeah, I helped a little though. My first time cooking. If you don't like anything about it then it was probably my fault."
"It tastes delicious." Jack opened his mouth and Carissa spooned in another mouthful for Jack until the large bowl was empty and Jack let out a satisfied sigh. "Are the King and Queen safe as well?"
"Dad is fine. I don't really talk to Mom and I don't talk much. She is too busy with trying to get me married," Carissa sighed playing with the spoon in her hand. "She doesn't have time for me like she used to and now the promises she makes are broken for more...functional things. I just feel like she doesn't see me as her daughter anymore. Like I am just another thing on her checklist to take care of. A princess first and a daughter last. I miss the time when we could have fun like we used to." Carissa looked to Jack with a small blush. "I am sorry. You should be resting and I am rambling on." She stood up and patted Jack's hand before walking to the door.
"Oh, Carissa. I was wondering where you had gone," Veronica said as she looked to her daughter. "I guess I should have known that you would be here to tend to him. How is he doing?" Veronica though still nervous seemed more relaxed in Jack's presence.
"He is doing a lot better," Carissa smiled. "He has eaten and he is resting now."
"I have something that I want to talk to him about first," Veronica said stepping to the side. "You should be heading to bed it is late." She gently caressed Carissa's face with a tender smile. "I am so glad that you aren't hurt." Carissa smiled, but just continued her mission to her room before disappearing down the hall. Veronica turned to the large black furred Lycan before taking a deep breath and walking in to sit on the chair that Carissa had been in only moments ago. "Jack, I wanted to come here in person to thank you for what you did today. Not only did you save the castle, but you saved my daughter." She sighed as if speaking like she this was exhausting. "I would like to speak plainly with you."
"Please do, your highness," Jack said with a small smile showing a little of his fangs between the seams of his lips. "I am afraid that large words only confuse me." A chuckle rumbled from deep within his chest.
Veronica cleared her throat being a little unnerved by the smile and chuckle. "I can't express how much you have done for me today. Carissa is my daughter and only child. I don't know what I would have done to if I lost her to that beast."
"You are welcome, your majesty. Can I ask a question?" Jack said his ears low in a quiet expression. Veronica nodded as she sat tall in her chair her face looking very elegant in the candle light. "Carissa says that she feels like you don't have time for her anymore. Like she is second to your list of things to do. Why is that?"
Veronica was rather shocked by the question and it showed plainly on her face. She composed herself and looked down thinking the question over. "Well, as queen I have many things that I have to do and take care of. So I have little time for silly games."
"Forgive me if I am being too bold. But you are forgetting that she is your daughter." Jack said gently and it made Veronica look him in the eye and was about to chastise him but stopped as she thought back to all the things that she said she would do and didn't for the sake of her position. "You are so worried about making her into a queen that you are missing your daughter. When was the last time that you just sat down and spent time with her?" Veronica stared at him thinking back and couldn't think of a time that she was telling Carissa to do something to make her more womanly or royal. She looked down feeling her heart breaking. "I didn't know my mother long; but, the times I do remember she would play with me, talk with me, and just be silly. They were some of the happiest moments of my life because it was something other than the gloom of the mines or the stares of the other slaves. The princess thinks that she is just another thing for you finish with and perfect. I am only speaking because I see that the princess is sad that she can't go and talk to you as a daughter. She wants to be your daughter before she is the princess."
Veronica was rather amazed at the depth of Jack's words. "You will have to forgive me. I didn't think you so...intelligent." She smiled as she patted his hand. "You are right. She is right. I have been hard on her and I don't mean to be. I just worry so much about her future and her happiness that I forget that her happiness now will dictate her happiness in the future. Thank you for telling me Jack. I can't say I trust you completely; but, you are not what I expected. Now you rest and get better. Otherwise my daughter will be very upset and I don't want anything of the sort." Veronica stood and turned on her heel walking to the door closing it behind her. Her hand lingered on the handle for a moment more as she smiled. "You are very special, Jack. I can see what Carissa saw in you now." She said as he walked down the hall her guard right behind her with her servant at her side. "I want you to cancel any plans I have on Saturday. I am going to spend the day with my daughter." A smile spread on her lips as she went to her room for the night.
XxXAuthor's note: I apologize to all for how long it took me to finish this chapter. I know that there are a few of you that have been waiting for it, but there were some parts of it that I had to make sure fit perfectly. Hope you enjoy it and please leave