King Richard raised his cup of apple cider tea to his mouth and swallowed the rest before he set it down to start on his cornbread with honey. "So today is the day you speak to the orphanages about seeking a child to raise. I have some concerns that lead to ground rules."

Queen Julia squinted over her cup of strawberry vanilla rose tea with curiosity and propped her heels on the sleeping lion sprawled beneath the table. "Such as…?

"As I recall, you are prone to adopt an older child because they are often overlooked."


"Must be a girl," he asserted and pointed at her with raised eyebrows. "Last problem I need is to raise a boy who has a crush on you."

Queen Julia almost protested, as she knew there were plenty of boys who craved love as much as the girls, but she recognized the potential problem readily. "All right, I agree with that one."

"Second," he continued. "With the exception of sisters, we start with one girl."

"Richard," she raised her voice with surprise, "we have the love and the means to support several children. Whyever would we limit the orphanage to one?"

"Because raising a girl can be a challenge; believe me."

She glared at him with a smile.

"And even when you provide love and needs and desires, many children have to adjust to being adopted into a new family. You are going to have to give her love, time, and patience until she has adjusted enough to accept another change in another child."

"That makes sense," she admitted. "And I know this can be a difficult transition for someone."

"Lastly, we keep the secret of her adoption to us as long as possible. She is not a member of royalty, and she must be able to come and go without being harassed or threatened by anyone in the public. We send a security member with her when she leaves who acts as her parent."

"Good plan. She should be able to engage with people on a daily bases if she chooses, not just us goons in these ridiculous getups."

A spark ignited Richard's eyes. "You are an ambassador to the public and an example for this girl to look up to. I am proud that you are the one to accomplish this. You are perfectly suited to do it."

She smiled and rose to kiss his cheek. "Thank you. I love you."

"I love you, too."

Queen Julia strode to the library and picked up the phone from the desk. She dialed the orphanage she had visited two years ago and stared at the rain out the sliding glass door. She breathed in the scent of rose potpourri on the desk as someone answered.

"Good morning! This is Queen Julia –"

"Your Majesty! Great to hear from you, dear!"

"Well, thank you," she chuckled with appreciation. "So I wanted to ask you about adopting a girl. An older girl. Anyone you see as someone who could benefit the most from being raised here."

There was a stunned silence. "You want to arrange to adopt a girl?"

"Yes, please."

"To live in the palace?"

"That's right. An older child that you suspect could benefit the most from living here. And we hope to keep her location anonymous so she can be free to come and go."

"Well," the woman released an astonished laugh, "I will make arrangements immediately!"

"Thank you!"

Queen Julia replaced the phone and pumped her fist in the air with an excited smile. She pulled it back down and punched the air ahead of her, breaking into a twisting dance with her fists pumping excitedly in every direction. She pressed a button on the radio on the desk and continued dancing across the room when "It Don't Mean a Thing" by The Puppini Sisters started playing.

"Thanks, God!"