"Presenting Lord Demetrius Ramos Esparza of La Tierra de los Tesoros," announced the Doorman.

A youth appeared with ebony hair, dressed in a suede coat and beige canvas pants with steel-toed boots that made hollow clacks as he approached the pair of gold encrusted thrones. He dropped to one knee and stared at the marble beneath his boots.

"Welcome to the Royal City," declared King Richard. "What are your concerns?"

Demetri met his eyes and rose. "Are you my real padre?"

Queen Julia darted a surprised expression at her brother, who seemed to not respond.

"Your real name," he answered, "is Demetrius Alexander Rodya Andrei Azarov Ramos Esparza."

He could see the shuddered breaths in Demetri's chest. When the young man spoke, his voice was strained but passionate: "That means I deserve a residence in this palace with my right to be prince."

"Yes, you do. As well as the responsibilities that accompany royalty."

"And my brothers and sister born after me. There must be employment for them here."

King Richard stared. "Their age must meet due requirements, and they must pass –"

"Stop. We have not been living as lords and ladies. I have supported my Madre and siblings in the Imperial gold and gem mines since I was fifteen. I am now eighteen. At night, I tend a bar. Because the man she married after Padre was killed in a mine collapse is a gambler who has squandered her money, my brother Valentín is both a miner and a firefighter as of late. Manuel and Esperanza are panning for gold in the river. Our leaving will save Madre money and spare us having to deal with another divorce. They must come with me."

"Your request is under the jurisdiction of Queen Julia."

The woman who drove his mother away. The Queen was lovely in a silver brocade gown with her crown atop her auburn curls. After sending a surprised and pleased look to King Richard, she gave his son a warm smile. "Absolutely."

"Also, why was our relation never mentioned to me?"

"Your mother wanted you to live a private life, and I agreed."

Demetri gave them a last look as he pivoted around and exited. After a couple minutes of silence, the roar of a motorcycle starter preceded its roaring down the street. Queen Julia swiveled her eyes toward her elder brother.

"He has as much fire as his mother," she mused. Jesse appeared at the door with widened eyes.


"Yes, Jesse. He speaks the truth."

Jesse shook his head as he started to leave. "The media will start a firestorm over this, Your Majesty. A lot of them have suspected he was your son the entire time."

King Richard released his breath. "Yes, there will. He reminds me of his mother. He will hate it here."

"There is something more to him than his mother," Queen Julia assured him. "Altruism. Remember, he was concerned about his siblings. There is love in his heart."