Crazy Fantasy: Part 1-9

That had to have been the longest ground breaking I have ever attended. Definitely one of the more fun ones, at least. It isn't often I get to use a jackhammer. Gen was right about the Newfoundlanders having to be different. Unfortunately, they have also made me late for my phone call to her.

"Something bothering you, Wills?" Grandmother asks from across the limo. "You seem agitated."

"Just anxious to get back to the hotel," I answer, not bothering to deny anything.

A knowing smile crosses her face. "Things are going well, I take it?"

I nod. "We had dinner last night before my plane left. It was nice to do something out of the spotlight, and the owner of the restaurant was very accommodating." He even helped with a last minute gift when my original plan didn't arrive on time. The roses seem to have gone over well, and have given me an idea for some future gifts.

Grandfather looks at me appraisingly. "And how late were you up talking with her once you arrived?"

"Not too late. Around twelve. We aren't getting much of a chance to talk tonight. She has a neighborhood party to celebrate the end of the school year and everyone returning home for the summer. It sounds like she's going to have a lot of fun." And I am so happy that she has found that again. I know tonight is going to be a bit of a struggle for her to stay positive all night, but I hope she's able to enjoy most of it.

Grandmother makes an observation about my preference of parties and I just laugh. If Gen were at the one tonight and I had to choose it would be difficult, but without her calming and somehow entertaining (or perhaps it's just distracting) influence at either, I'd take the country bush party any day.

Finally, a full quarter of an hour after I said I'd call, we are back at the hotel and I'm nearly bouncing with my desire to get upstairs and on the phone.

"You know, I would have loved the convenience of a telephone when we were courting, but now I really do treasure your letters so much more," Grandmother tells Grandfather as he helps her from the limo. She looks at me as we head to the elevator. "Are you doing anything for Miss Hudson besides regular phone calls?"

"I have a few things in mind," I say, avoiding revealing my actual plans. We step onto the elevator and I watch the floors go by.

"Any you'll be sharing?" Grandfather asks.

I smile as we reach our floor. I know Grandmother has to hurry; she's already lost most of the buffer built into this time. "Not intentionally," I promise. I know he meant with the press and the public, and just expects I'll tell them, but I really would prefer to keep as much as possible between just Gen and I. So much of our relationship will be known to the public, it will be nice to have a few things just between us. And our bodyguards.

Grandfather looks ready to ask for more details, but chooses instead to inquire about Gen and how she is handling everything. I give him a quick answer, saying she is doing remarkably well. I really am in a rush to get on the phone with her, and quickly promise to pass along his offer of assistance in getting used to the life of royal consort before heading to my room. As soon as I am alone I grab the phone and relax to the sound of Gen's "Hey there."

"Oh, that is a very welcome sound to hear," I say, enjoying the melody of her giggle.

"I could say the same about you. I missed you and all the adventures that come with spending time with you a lot today."

"Adventures?" I question.

"Well, more like general busy-ness, but it is a bit of an adventure for me still. It has been a lot of fun to play tourist and advocate in my own town. It's still new to me. I've been on the other side, trying to bring in the celebrity before, but being the celebrity is still really new."

I guess I can understand that. I wonder if it was like that for Mum in the beginning. "Besides missing the adventures," I joke, "how has your day been?"

"Charity work has kept me pretty busy. I got a lot of the paperwork that I'd been putting off for the camp finished in the morning, had lunch with Mom and Mary, and then spent a few hours at the centre. The paperwork sucked, but lunch and the centre were nice. Everyone is very interested in figuring out why we click so well. In other news, Jon has forbidden me from staying in the city for a while."

Despite Gen's joking tone, I am suddenly worried. Jon isn't the type to over react. If anything, he'll probably give Gen more freedom than she should have while she gets used to this. "What happened?"

Gen sighs. She must hear the tension in my voice. "I saw someone on a neighbor's balcony with a camera after we got off the phone last night. Jon arranged to have the windows and blinds replaced this morning, but I'm not allowed to spend any length of time there until that's been taken care of."

She sounds like she understands why, at least. The camera is inconvenient, but if a photographer can gain access to a good viewing platform into her apartment, then so could someone with a much more deadly weapon.

"Is he changing your door as well?"

Gen laughs. "It was already the right kind, actually. He wants the lock replaced, but that isn't critical to occupancy."

"I'm sorry, darling."

"He's keeping me safe, right? I like the convenience of a place in the city, and it was nice having my own place, but with Jon that is gone, and I don't need to be in town every day while I'm not in school, so I can stay out on the Hudson property or at my parents'. I should be spending more time at the Hudson's working with the horses anyway. I need to get an understanding of their personalities."

I am feeling so guilty right now. Throwing her world into total chaos; forcing her to deal with the paparazzi, putting her life in danger. And through it all she is finding a positive spin on it. "I can't understand you. You take it all so well," I say in awe.

"It's still new enough that I can take it in stride. I'm still riding high on new love," she finishes with a bashful giggle.

I think that is something we can both claim. Glancing at the clock I stick my nose out the door and nod at Steve, before returning to my room and starting to remove my tie. "Tell me, new love, which tux did you prefer?"

"Are you not changed for dinner yet?" she asks in surprise.

I blush. "I had originally intended to call after I'd at least changed my shirt and pants, but we were running really late, and I wanted to talk with you for as long as I could."

Gen laughs at my honesty. "I'm glad you are impatient. I was getting tired of waiting, and I'm going to enjoy this visual. Are you shirtless yet?"

I don't think I can turn any more read as I admit, "Working on it. Would you like the play by play? Or maybe I can distract you. Has Jon come in yet?"

"He just walked into the room," she sounds confused. Good. "How did you know? Wills, what is this?"

Jon must have handed her the gift I wanted to give her last night.

"Did Jon leave?" I ask – now I am bare cheasted, but I'll enjoy keeping her distracted a bit longer. After her quick "yes" I tell her to open it. I can hear the paper rustling through the phone. There is a moment of silence as she presumably opens the box followed by a happy gasp.

"I had it commissioned just for you. Look inside," I urge.

The day after the dance I took a chance and called the royal jeweler to have him make a locket for Gen. It is an art deco design with a deep red ruby at its centre and banquette sapphires so dark they are nearly black framing its unique teardrop shape. Inside…

"Our first photo," Gen says in awe. "And what is this one of you?"

"That is a picture of the first time I laid eyes on you."

"What?" Gen sounds astonished. "How did you get – how did you know?"

I laugh as I hang my pants up. "There was a very distinct change in my expression. I actually look interested there, don't I? And you never did answer, which tux do you prefer?"

"They both look good, and both have good memories. I'd go with the more traditional one for Newfoundland, though. I think it would go over better.

"Thank you, Wills. It's beautiful. Now I will always have you with me. If only I could put a photo of you at this moment in it. Be honest and help me finish my mental image – boxers or briefs?"

I nearly drop the phone from the shock of her asking, and have to be extra conscious of my grip on the bag my tux is in to keep it from falling to the floor. Gen must sense my panic and adds "You don't have to say."

Mentally I sigh. I really have no issues telling her, and I'm really enjoying her openness, but it's still so new and I'm still not sure I have myself under control.

"Boxer briefs," I answer with a blush.

"My imagination can do many things, but I still wish I could see this – you – in person. Are you as nearly naked as I'm picturing you?"

"I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint you. I've got my shirt on and am working on buttoning it."

"I think that is even sexier," Gen flirts.

"I'm glad you can handle the temptation." I'm honestly a bit envious. A brief flash of my imagination puts an image of Gen changing in my mind and I quickly push it back. Memories of our time together should be enough without my imagination tempting me. We've certainly gone far enough for my fantasies. I don't need new ideas put in my head.

Why do I have to stay so fucking innocent? I have such a beautiful woman who completely understands, agrees with, and is living by the same restrictions I am under. Why can't I allow myself the same freedom she does?

"You are too much of a gentleman," she seems to answer my unspoken question. "One day I'll cure you of that. At least in private."

"You have no idea how much I am looking forward to that."

It is amazing how many of my mental boundaries we have pushed aside in the last week. How long will it take for us to push away more? Could we one day be as close physically as she was with Scott before we are married?

"How long did it take you to get to where you are at now?" I ask. I hope that isn't too cryptic.

Gen seems to understand. "It took me a month before I'd even share a French kiss with Scott. He never made it to second base until we'd been together for almost six months. He got lucky and summer hit to speed things up. We spent a lot of time out riding that summer… and not riding.

"Wills," she says with so much love in her voice my heart skips a beat. "I don't want you to feel like you have to do anything you aren't ready for. I love the feeling of your hands all over me, but I don't know that I'm ready to remove my clothes around you. At least not yet. I'm letting my imagination go so far as to see you in your boxers, but I'm not interacting with that image. I'm not holding anything back from you. I do want that more physical relationship in the future, but I'm not ready for it yet.

"I do enjoy knowing I can turn you on, and I think you've noticed, I am a tease, but I really am happy with where we are at."

I'm grateful for her honesty. It really does make me feel better about how I have been feeling. Knowing we have already reached the same point it took her six months to reach with Scott is reassuring. Knowing she doesn't want to be moving any faster than we are is making me ecstatic. This newfound sense of security is giving me the confidence to tease her a little.

"So does this mean I won't get to know if you are changing while we talk?"

Her laugh makes my heart sing. "I did say I like to tease, didn't I?"

The vision from earlier pops into my head and this time I don't force it away as quickly. I am amazed at how quickly I am becoming more comfortable with the sexual side of our relationship.

I laugh with the pleasure this knowledge brings and force myself to close the subject for the night. After one last jab in her direction. "Will you be changing for your party tonight? I'm afraid I'm pretty much dressed, though. I could use your help with my tie."

"I wasn't planning on changing, but I certainly could take another look in my closet. I could probably find something else to wear," she jokes. "I wish I could help you with your tie. Will I get to see photos of how it turns out tomorrow?"

"I think the ground breaking from this afternoon is more likely to make the papers. They gave me a jackhammer to use."

"They what?" Gen asks, shocked. "I can't wait to see the paper in the morning. Did you have fun?"

I think back to this afternoon and I have to admit, "Yeah, I did. It was pretty unique."

We speak on lighter subjects for a time and Gen explains some "Newfie" customs to me. The time I have to talk with her is fading quickly, and I still have one important thing that I have to discuss with her.

"Gen, I know you don't want me to feel pushed into anything, and I want you to know I have the same concerns. I know I have a lot of rules and expectations around my life. I have had all my life to adjust to them and go through my rebellion stage – as quietly as I did. I can't begin to imagine how overwhelming everything is for you. Have you even had a chance to process it all?"

"I'm pretty sure it will take me a while to get a real grip on all of it. Jon gave me a good moment of panicked realization this morning. We were already out at the Hudson's to get that paperwork finished when he told me I wasn't to go back to the apartment until the windows were replaced. I knew the reason Jon is here, but it never really sunk in exactly how much of a reason there could be for him."

I remember the first time one of my bodyguards was actually needed and how the danger of the situation hit me. I had grown up with them around, so I'd never really thought of them as anything but the person always following me around until that day. "I wish I had been with you – or at least been accessible to you," I say, feeling guilty for having to leave her alone during this time.

"It was an internal battle. I don't want Mom or Mary or Carly to ever go through that moment of realization. I don't know if Jon knows exactly how much it really sunk in this morning. And I'm sure I'll have a few more moments like it."

I know she will as Jon starts reigning in more of her freedom. "I love you. And you know that no matter what, if you need me to call." Now that we have the easiest inconvenience over, "How are you doing with the media? Besides the guy from last night have you had any problems?"

"Nothing too bad, yet. They like to hang around the street of my different homes, which is going to get old really fast, but so far they haven't been too bad. I promise I'll vent when they do," Gen says lightly. I'm glad she isn't finding the press too much yet.

Gen seems to know where I want to take this and saves me from asking the most difficult question by continuing to speak.

"I don't know if the full reality of dating you has sunk in yet. We both know how this is expected to end – or not end," she continues trying to keep the mood lighter than it should be. "I don't know if that has totally sunk in. I don't think I'm ready for it to sink in. I know it will probably be years before we officially take it there, but we both know we are as good as engaged since the moment your grandmother gave us her blessing. I'm thrilled and terrified about it, and you are the only other person I can talk to about it. My family and the friends I'll see tonight have no clue, and Mary will avoid the subject until she has to deal with it. Matt can't stay interested in a woman for longer than two weeks, so he just won't understand. He can't think that far ahead in a relationship."

"Gen, I don't want you to ever feel like you are trapped. I will do whatever I have to for you to be happy. If this get to be too much or something isn't working, let me know. I will do whatever I have to for you to feel better again." I promise, meaning every word. I know our PR spin doctors would rather she takes the fall if anything were to happen, but the celebrity interest in our relationship is my fault, and I'll be damned if she gets any false label because she took the chance on dating me.

"Wills," Gen's voice is questioning and seems a bit unsure – a new sound for me to hear coming from her.

I quickly cut her off, hoping the thoughts my last statement would have put in her head haven't had a chance to solidify. "I hope it will never come to that, but I want you to know that you aren't stuck. I want you to be happy. Even before we met, that is all I ever wanted – for the love of my life to be happy, whether that is with or without me."

"Thank you," she says quietly. "I hope we never have to revisit that idea. I certainly don't feel trapped now. I haven't felt this good, this free, for a long time."

"So you are okay with the idea of courting a prince with the expectation of marriage?"

"Wills, if it weren't for you I'd probably end up in loveless marriage for business reasons. I'm pretty sure Jim was already watching a few young men."

"He what?" I'm shocked that anyone could be considering using marriage in such a manner when they are in such a love-filled relationship.

"You're cute when you are being protective," Gen laughs.

"Try incensed," I say through clenched teeth.

"You mean jealous? I think he was hoping that one of them would interest me enough to break me out of the depression I was in. He was just watching them, and being pretty subtle about it. I haven't had any gentlemen callers or anyone but Matt ask for a dance since before Scott died. Jim just wanted me to be happy; the business side would just be a bonus. I know he is happy that he won't be playing matchmaker now. As far as having marriage looming on the horizon goes, I'm quite happy that it's you I'll be meeting at the altar."

I'm grateful I didn't see her after she lost Scott, and even more so that I'm the one showing her she can love again.

"Was Matt on his list?" I can't help asking, as I remember the looks he was giving me the night I met Gen.

"Oh, are you ever jealous!" she chides. I suppose I am. He will get to see her nearly every day for two months this summer while I only get a week in the middle and a few days on either end. But I'm the one who got the girl. "I'd be surprised if he wasn't on Jim's list. There would be a lot of benefits to joining the estates, and Matt and I get along. I don't want you to think of them like that. They are both thrilled that you are in my life."

I try and think about what I'd do if Harry were in Gen's situation and have to admit I'd probably try and hook him up, too. I just don't have business colleagues' daughters available to consider. There are certain Lords it would be nice to have closer ties and control of, though. I suppose being at the top of the social ladder helps a lot. If he were to find someone on his own I'd be thrilled too.

"They just want you to be happy, I know," I say sincerely. "I'm glad I'm the one who is making you happy."

"I don't know if anyone else could have. I love you."

"I love you," I try to fill the three simple words with the true depth of how I feel. "I'm sorry for all the serious conversation tonight. My grandfather wanted to know you were doing alright with everything. They were reminiscing about their own courtship earlier and I'm guessing it brought up old memories. Things were much easier back when they got married, but he has had to deal with a lot of the same things you will have to over the years. He wants you to know that he's available if you ever need someone else to talk to. He really seems to like you."

"Is that a big win for us?" Gen asks.

"It has certainly helped. Grandmother will listen to him, so I'm pretty sure some of our good luck with her is thanks to him," I explain.

"I'm glad we have him on our side, then," Gen's happiness fills her voice. "Don't feel bad about the serious conversation. It helps talking it out with you. A lot of this is going to take a long time to adjust to, and you should know where I'm at with it all. I'm going to have a lot of work through."

"Are you okay with everything? Dating me isn't too weird?"

"Oh, dating you is stranger than I could have ever imagined. But it certainly seems like it will be worth it. It's nice to know where we will both expect this to go. At least we don't have to worry about playing the dating game."

"Thank you, Gen," I don't think I will ever be able to express my gratitude for her acceptance of this life. "I think we'll have enough of other games to deal with outside of our relationship. I'm glad we can be so honest with each other."

"Me too. Do we have enough time for me to ask how you are doing?"

Looking at the clock I shake my head, "Probably not. I think we've only got a couple minutes before I have to head downstairs. I am doing well, though. I'm amazed at how quickly being with you has become normal, and how comfortable it is. I've always known what had to happen in a relationship, but I had no idea how special the woman filling the other half of those requirements would be to me, I guess. I was also expecting a marriage of convenience. Right now I think my biggest concerns are you being okay with everything that comes from dating me and being able to control myself until we are married."

"We'll find a way," Gen promises. "Though I don't know how easy it will be. We'll just have to make it through. It's going to be a much anticipated honeymoon."

I want to groan for all the anticipated frustration between now and that unspecified point of time, several years in the future. "Living on separate continents may be a blessing in disguise."

"Don't even joke about that!" Gen tries to laugh. "I'm not looking forward to all this time of not being near you for months."

"I know, love," I try to comfort. "Neither am I." There is a knock at the door and I sigh.

"Time to go," Gen states.

"Yes. I'll talk to you tomorrow, love," I say quietly. I didn't want our conversation to end on such a low note, but it'll have to. "Enjoy yourself tonight."

"I will. You too."

"I'll try," I say sincerely. It won't be easy, but I will make a genuine attempt to have a good time tonight.

* * *

"Jon, I'm going out," I call into the next room. Last night's welcome home party was a lot of fun, but it also reminded me where I came from and what that means to who I am.

"Let's go," he says, appearing at my door.

Dang it. "I was really hoping to go solo this morning," I hint, knowing it would be futile.

Jon's eyes show understanding, but have a hard, don't argue with me edge as he apologizes. "I'm afraid you are stuck with me."

Grudgingly, I accept his attendance. I stop in the garden to cut some fresh flowers. The perennials Scott and I planted two years ago before leaving for Europe are in full bloom, as are all the vegetables I helped plant this spring. With the mix tied together, we drive silently into the city, taking the occasional detour to avoid being followed. I won't be surprised if someone is waiting for me when we get there, but I'm going to do what I can to avoid them seeing this.

It is a drive I know too well along beautiful wooded roads. As I turn off the main road I can tell Jon understands why I wanted to do this alone, and, though no one is around, I understand why he is here. I park the car and walk to the marker I have spent so many hours in front of the past 8 months and kneel on the freshly cut grass. Blocking out the rest of the world, I trace the letters on the stone.

"What do you think, Scott? Am I doing the right thing?" I smile. This has to be one of the best places to think things through. "Everything has been happening so fast. He's not a bad kisser, you know. You were better, but he's improving quickly. One day I think he'll work away my memory of your kisses," I pause with a sigh. "Do you have any idea how terrifying this is? I don't know who to blame it all on, but I just don't understand how I ended up with someone even higher on the social ladder. You know the only reason I went to that ball was the invitation came from him. I'd already chosen not to go with your parents. I don't know how he managed to pick me out from the crowd. Or why! Did you pick him out for me? Is that why everything seems to work in his favour when I am still so hung up on you?

"I know I need to move on, but I don't know if I can do it – if I know how. Wills is trying to help – yes, I call him Wills – but he's never been in love before. He's still trying to wrap his head around all these crazy emotions. Hell, so am I," I mutter in frustration. "I never thought I'd be going through this again. I don't know if I'm ready.

"But would I be falling for him if I wasn't? I've been so consumed by you for so long. He's so gentle and careful. Even more than you were, but he doesn't know what to expect. Poor guy had to end up with someone as broken as me, to boot. Did you have any idea what would happen when you sat down next to me that day in the library? When you asked me out for coffee after? I know you must have known I wasn't like your other girls. I was never in the same class as them and never wanted to be. You helped your mother see it was better this way. Did you know how much we were going to change each other? It's been so long since that day and I'm still settling into your world. Now I have another universe to break into. I never would have expected that simple country girl you met to be dating a prince just four years later.

"A prince. Scott, how do I end up with the most unlikely men? First an English heir, and now THE English heir. And I thought you were the only Englishman I could stand," I smile wryly. Even Jim, sweetheart that he can be, tries my patience at times. "He's pretty amazing. He's cute thinking that I am making a great sacrifice by dealing with the press to be with him. He fills the hole you left. No, that doesn't do it justice. He's got his own place in my heart that is growing. It's helping to close the hole you left. I know it will never heal completely, but he is making it less painful each day. I still love you and I will always love you, but I need to keep living, and he's letting me come back to life at my own pace. I never thought my pace would be this fast! I know the reward I get, I guess, and he's not asking me to leave you behind, he just wants to share. He knows you'll always be a part of me.

"I wonder if he knows how much being with you transformed me. How much of the strong woman he adores is thanks to you. I know you don't think you had anything to do with it, and I was always like this, but I wasn't. Your stubbornness with your mother and forcing me through that – and making me stand up to Mary – taught me so much."

I rest my hand on his gravestone, my fingers brushing over the family crest, resting on the lion. "Does he have any clue what this means to me? What being with him for even just these few days has done for me? Scott, I haven't felt this human since before that horrible day. Or this terrified since it either. I don't think I could lose him.

"He gave me a locket. It's amazing and beautiful and probably worth way too much money, and is hanging next to your ring. You aren't the only man I'm keeping next to my heart anymore. I hope you can make room.

"I have to keep reminding myself this isn't a dream. That I'm not in some crazy fantasy. You are really gone, I have grieved, and am moving on. Do you think he's good enough for me? I know, you wouldn't think anyone is. You didn't even think you were. Is he going to give me the same sort of problems you did? At least I've learnt how to deal with English snobbery. Laura seems to think his friends will be more of an issue than he does. I'll have to give it time. Gordon waited six months before showing his true colours. I still can't believe he seriously thought I was just a fling after all that time."

I glance back to the car where Jon is waiting patiently, leaning against the door, his eyes carefully watching around us; never focusing on one spot for long, and never resting on me. "At least I have some sort of proof that they are all taking this seriously. I have a personal bodyguard who is having the loft renovated to protect me from intruders and well aimed bullets." I shudder slightly. That is a part of this new romance I'd rather not dwell on – the new danger it brings. "Jon is a good man. I think I can trust him more than the other people from the Palace. He doesn't have an agenda for me to fill." I grin ruefully. "But neither does Wills. He's trying to protect me from the games. I don't think he likes them much. He plays along because he knows he has to in order to keep everyone satisfied, but he's losing himself in it. Maybe he wants to – or wanted to, anyway. He has been so hurt by so many things in his life. We are going to be healing together.

"I will recover and be stronger and better because of it. I will always love you, Scott, just not in the same way I thought it would be. I'll be back on Sunday and every Sunday after that. I may not be able to come as often, but you will be in my heart and thoughts. Maybe the distance and time will help. I know it is certainly going to hurt in the start. I love you."

I kiss my fingers then place them on his stone as I get up and walk back to the car in peace. It felt good to air my concerns to the one person I know exactly what I'll hear in reply. Scott was never great at listening without trying to fix, but once he zoned out made a great sounding board. As long as I had prattled on long enough, I could talk through just about anything to him without worrying about interruptions. It bothered me at first, but I quickly learned the benefits of a warm, breathing diary to lay everything on the line with. He never took offence when I'd be frustrated with his parents or friends, and, once I'd beat the subject to death, and shed any necessary tears, I could give him the Coles Notes version if I still needed him to listen.

I always wondered what he was thinking about at those times. Probably sports.

* * *

"Wills, you are such a tool," my kid brother laughs at me.

"Good to know I am in such high standings. What earns me that status tonight?" I didn't expect to hear from Harry tonight. It must be nearly two in the morning back home. Something must have caught his attention.

"The lengths you will go to impress a girl. Did you seriously commission a five thousand quid locket?"

Ah, he finally heard. "They ended up using a smaller ruby, it was only four thousand," I say, nonchalant. The majority of the cost was the six carat ruby. I wanted seven.

"You are setting the bar way too high for me!" he complains.

"I don't think Gen has any plans to be showing it off to the world. But I don't expect she'll be without it very often, either. She added Scott's ring to the chain and will be keeping us both close to her heart."

"Ouch. How does it feel, competing with a dead guy?"

I sigh. Harry has it all wrong. "I'm not competing with him. I never could. But she was a different woman with him. Losing him affected her a lot – like losing mom and dad did with us. He's always going to be a part of who she is. Hell, if it weren't for him, I don't know if I ever would have met her or won Gran over. He's the reason she is comfortable in high society, why she knows how to handle herself. At least in the typical situations. Yes, she loves him, but she knows he's gone. It'll be a bit of a conflict for her, but I'll be here for her."

"God, you sound sick. How long until the blubbering fool stage wears off?"

I laugh at his disgust. "Let's see, I've been forced into memorizing how much poetry while we were at Eton? And now I'm majoring in the Romantic Era of history. Harry, your screwed. It's never going to end, and I'm pretty sure Gen likes it, even if she isn't used to it."

"Christ. You're going to be one of those guys that makes it impossible for the rest of us."

"Not my fault you're an inconsiderate ass," I mock.

He just laughs, then cuts back to his original subject. "You seriously laid down that much change on a broad?"

"Yes, Harry. And she's worth every penny."

"You make me sick," while he kept the tone light, I could tell he was half serious. "At that price she must be a good shag."

Harry is not as restricted – or at least restrictive – in matters of physical intimacy as I am, and is not above using his biological celebrity to earn him some opportunities to experiment. I can't say I approve of some of his choices, but I do envy him the freedom to make them. My decisions can have more dire results.

"Careful what you say, little brother. She may well be your sister-in-law one day," I try to avoid saying how likely it is, but everyone involved knows that the chances of this ending now that has Grandmother's blessing is slim.

"I don't know how you can think like that. You've barely even gotten your feet wet on the dating scene. How are you going to have any clue what else is out there?"

"Not all of us have to play the field before we decide what we want," I tell Harry. "Besides, it wouldn't be appropriate," I add with a sarcastic laugh. "She is amazing. Just wait until you meet her. She understands things so easily," I refer to the limitations I have to put on things and her ability to figure me out so quickly, "and none of it bothers her. She's figured out the difference between the royal and the private side of me. She just gets it."

"You're right; I do need to meet her. She must be something to turn you into this much of a blubbering fool."

"I can't wait until you fall for a girl."

"Don't worry, I won't turn into the same sort of idiot as you," he laughs. "Do you have any more outrageous gifts planned for her?"

"Not any time soon," I promise. "But we are planning a day in the city together. We'll see what we end up doing for that."

"And she'll be over here at the end of the summer. It'll be interesting to meet a woman who can catch your attention."

I think of everything I have learned about Gen since we met and, yet again, am amazed that she has chosen me. "She is like no one else I have ever met, Harry."

"Ugh, you are hopeless!"

* * *

"You are too sweet. They are beautiful. Thank you," the text message on my phone reads. Gen must have found the roses. It has been a week since I left Fredericton and Gen to continue this tour. I set up a stranding order with the florist that supplied the flowers last week to deliver a pair of red and blue roses each week to Gen's current residence. This first delivery appears to have been a success.

We have been talking on the phone a lot in the evenings, and we'll send the occasional text message during the day when we need the other's support. I'm amazed how much I depend on her level head already. I have used it as a way to ease the boredom or annoyance that many of these functions will bring out. Gen normally tells me to pay attention. She has vented about Jon once and a couple times about one particularly stubborn photographer. She must be excited about the simple gift. I know she doesn't like interrupting me while I'm performing my "princely duties".

* * *

"I'm glad you like them. ‘Blue' and ‘red'," Wills replies to my happy message. He couldn't have timed the flower delivery better after a less than enjoyable tea with the society ladies all wanting to know more details about my relationship with him. Two simple roses with very simple meanings that have become a code for our feelings. I am so blessed to be so loved and spoiled.

* * *

"Gen," Laura says over the stall door. "Do you have a minute?"

I'm in the middle of brushing down one of the camp horses after a day of riding and have two more to go to cover my share. "Sure," I say as I keep brushing, but keep switching my focus between my job and my friend.

"I'd rather get you out of the stable for this," she leads.

I am surprised. It isn't often that the barn wouldn't be appropriate for a conversation between the two of us. I put down my brush and head for the door, leading us out to the yard. We stand close to the spot Wills and I were when he said his grandmother had agreed to our courtship and well away from any prying ears.

"You weren't planning any press releases for this morning, were you?" Laura asks.

I'm confused with where this is going. "No. There is one we're working on for late next week, but that's all." We just announced I was going to London and want to spread out the information to keep the press interested in that instead of trying to figure out any details on "my" camping trip.

"Someone put out a story this morning about you attending a charity ball while you're in England."

You have got to be kidding me. I only confirmed that I approve of the charity last night! Wills and I never even discussed what we'd be doing with them. "Does that someone work at St James?"

Laura nods. "It was a royal release."

"Thanks for telling me," I try to hide my annoyance. I know my aggravation is going to be nothing compared to Wills'. I hold in a sigh. At least one person is going to lose their job over this. They should know better than to release anything without having it approved first!

"You're not happy," Laura reads me like a book.

"They have been playing games lately and I'm pretty sure this is going to force Wills' hand. I just hope the wrong person doesn't take the blame."

Laura looks shocked. "Over a ball?"

I shake my head. For someone as bright as she is you'd think she'd figure it out on her own. "Over falsely representing the Crown Prince. He has an image to protect, and his representatives can't be making public decisions for him – or me. Would you ever put out a press release for a company saying what its plans are without the CEO's approval?"

"But still-"

"If it isn't stopped now or they only get a slap on the wrist they will continue to push. At least this will only be one or two people, not the majority of the staff at once because they have gone too far to be trusted."

"I can't imagine having to deal with that insanity. I thought I had such a good idea of what you'd be getting into, but there is so much more."

I nod. "I know. It has been a huge adjustment. I have been so lucky to have you and Jon and Wills – heck, even ___________ (etiquette tutor) to help me through this. You understand that I can't tell you everything yet, and I'm so grateful for that. Your forums help so much to let me know what I can talk about, and gives you insight to the things I can't."

Laura smiles, "You know there are some things I wish you would talk about."

"I wish I could!" I sigh. "You know I've always been pretty guarded but now it's worse. I can't believe how secretive I have to be."

Laura looks at me skeptically.

"I shouldn't have even let it slip how pissed Wills is going to be. I mean, I'm ticked too, but if the power struggle we are having with St James got out it would be less than flattering for someone, and negatively affect all of us. Family quarrels are kept absolutely silent. There is a lot of Royal dirt I have learned that can never be shared. And then there is the simple things like times and dates Wills will be certain places," I pause with a sigh. "It is going to be a life of secrets and games, but at least not between Wills and I. One day, maybe, things will change."

We both laugh, knowing better.

* * *

* * *

Rolling over, I look at the clock. 1:00 stares back at me as I reach for the phone lying beside it. Putting the headset to my ear, I smile. "You switched time zones again, didn't you?" I say.

"We did," the wonderful voice of my prince is filled with remorse. "What time is it?"

"One," I say with a yawn as I roll onto my stomach. "But I get to hear your voice, so I really don't mind. I missed it yesterday."

"I'm sorry. I'll start to call in the morning. It's only ten here."

"Your day finished early. What was your schedule?"

"We flew from Regina into Calgary this morning and went to City Hall right away. It was politics for most of the afternoon. We had dinner with the local political figures at some high end restaurant and now I'm talking to you. What about you? How is camp going?"

"The children are a delight this week. They are having so much fun. Laura and Matt were ready to tear the others' head off at lunch again. Thankfully, they were away from the kids this time. Poor Jess was stuck talking reason back into them."

Wills' laugh comes through the line and I can just imagine him picturing Jess in her dress from the only time they met lecturing Matt in his tux and the unknown entity of Laura.

"I had to keep them at opposite ends of the group for the rest of the day. I hope they'll be better tomorrow. It's ridiculous that I have to separate the adults when I don't have any problems with the kids."

"One day they'll end up as one of the best couples we know, just watch," Wills jokes, though it isn't entirely in face.

I smile at the thought. It really isn't that farfetched. If they could ever get over themselves, they have a lot in common. "Don't let Matt hear you say that. He likes you; but the idea of giving up his roguish ways…"

"Another one of them?" the affectionate indulgence in his voice has me thinking of his brother more than Matt.

"Not everyone has to get married and start pumping out heirs before they hit thirty."

"It landed me a steady girlfriend, didn't it?" he jokingly retorts.

"Your understanding and gentleness landed you a steady girlfriend. The near promise of a wedding is more of a deterrent. You are wonderful but going public as your girl is terrifying. I'm being evaluated and judged if I'm worthy to be your wife every day."

We have had this conversation to the point it has become a joke. It's had to. The reality of it all is too much to not make a joke of it. In less than two months we have gone from being perfect strangers at the airport to knowing, one day, we'll be standing on the balcony at Buckingham. As much as I love him, I'm only twenty. It feels too early to be talking marriage. I don't dare talk about it with Mom, and I know Mary is afraid to bring it up. I don't think she wants to think about what this relationship means.

Wills' mocking question interrupts my thoughts. "Isn't that how it is any relationship?"

"Not by the whole world," I laugh.

"Say that again," he prompts.

"Not by the whole world," I say at a more measured pace.

"You had the accent perfect the first time."

"Jon has been trying to help me when we aren't in public. He enjoys laughing at my Acadian flubs, but he's practicing his French at the same time, which is just as amusing."

Wills laughs at the idea of Jon stumbling through my parents' language.

"I wish it wasn't necessary for you to give up your accent. I like it," he says quietly. We both know I need to do what I can to adopt his culture to keep the elite happy. The opinion polls have been showing more and more positive numbers in all areas except British nobility, who we desperately need to win over.

"I still have it," I switch to the local accent. "I need to speak in a language the kids will understand at the camp." Switching back to my attempt at imitating his accent, I add, "I don't talk like this when I'm out. Could you imagine the looks I'd get?"

Wills laughs at me. "You are adorable."

"Thanks," I say sarcastically, rolling over and sitting up. "I spoke with St James' today," I change the subject.

"What are they up to now?" he tries to hide the concern in his voice, but doesn't completely cover it. Since we met, the guys in charge of royal public relations have been working tirelessly on coming up with new ways to spin our relationship. Wills has fired one guy for putting out a release on us without clearing it with him first. They love all the positive attention we are bringing the monarchy while the two of us would prefer the fever to die down a little, especially in light of our upcoming plans.

Walking over to the window seat I look out over the Hudson's yard. "They were trying to get info on the end of the month," I explain, avoiding saying what exactly we'll be doing. "They're going to send some extra clothes over."

"Brilliant," Wills says. "That means I can send all these suits home."

I cheer. "As handsome as you look in a suit, I'm looking forward to seeing you in jeans again," I allude to our morning ride. I wish we had kept some of those photos Steve confiscated. "Besides, I don't want to go camping with a business man, I just want my boyfriend."

"That's all you'll get, I promise," Wills vows from a thousand miles away. The tone of his voice is so gentle and I long to be in his arms. We only had a few days together before he left – hardly enough time to get used to being together – but I miss him.

"I'm so glad you'll be here in a week and a half," I confess. "I miss you."

"I miss you," Wills agrees. "I can't wait until I get to hold you again. This tour feels like it will never end, but it has been one of the most enjoyable I've been on because of you. I've paid more attention and gotten more out of my days than ever before, and then I get on the phone and go over it all with you. Getting to know you at the same time as I get to know your country. Every day I fall more in love with you both."

I smile at his romantic words. A girl could get used to this. Heck, I think I am starting to expect him to make my heart melt. "I love you."

* * *