Suddenly RoyalBy: Nichole Chase
How to Become a Bodyguard
—Guns and Bullets Magazine
The car pulled up to the school and I took a deep breath. Duvall looked back at me and I nodded my head. The press was waiting this time, ready for me to show up. Duvall opened my door and helped me push through the people gawking at me.
The security guards at the front door waved me past without even looking at my ID. Apparently my face had been plastered on enough TVs they all knew me on sight. We took the stairs, but instead of heading for my office, I went to Dr. Geller’s. I rapped on the door, hoping to catch him before anyone else showed up.
“Wait out here.” I looked at Becca and Duvall. There was no compromise here. I would be going in this office by myself. Duvall grimaced but nodded. I’d take that small victory.
Dr. Geller was typing something on the computer, so I closed the door quietly and took a seat across from his desk. His salt-and-pepper hair made him look older than his forty-two years. I set my bag on the floor and tried to not shift in my seat. I was nervous, the want-to-puke kind of nervous. I was about to possibly make the biggest mistake of my life.
“Hey, Sam.” He looked over at me and smiled, still typing. “Heard you had some crazy classes yesterday.”
“Certainly wasn’t my normal Tuesday routine.” I pulled some of the tests I had graded out of my bag and set them on his desk. “They didn’t do too poorly on Monday. A healthy average.”
He looked through the tests quickly, glancing at a few of the questions and answers. “Good, good. They seem to have grasped that chapter rather well.”
I didn’t say anything, just gave him a tight-lipped smile. He set the papers down and looked at me expectantly.
“Did the dean tell you why the classes were so crazy yesterday? Or was he just upset I had caused an ordeal on campus?”
“On the contrary, he wanted to know why I hadn’t told him one of my graduate students was from a royal family. I had to explain I didn’t know myself.”
“To be fair, I didn’t know until Monday night.”
Dr. Geller laughed. “Now that has to be a crazy story and is probably better than all the ones floating around.”
“You know, it is pretty nuts.” I shook my head. “I thought when they invited me to dinner they were planning on making a donation to the program. I knew David hated talking to the donors, so I thought maybe you had forgotten to tell me. Or I had missed the e-mail.”
“So you went to dinner expecting to represent the school only to be blindsided with this?” Dr. Geller chuckled. “I bet your face was hilarious.”
“Hey! What would you have thought in my shoes?”
“Oh, I agree, it was a logical conclusion. So what does this mean? You’re descended from royalty, but why did they look you up?” He leaned forward, his shrewd gaze pinned on me.
“They want to reinstate my title.”
“Ah.” He folded his hands on the desk in front of him. “And that would mean you would have to take up a seat on the Queen’s Council and move to Lilaria.”
“Yes.” I couldn’t help being surprised he knew so much about the country. “You seem to have a good grasp on it.”
“I have a friend who works for the FBT and another that went on to teach falconry in Lilaria.”
“I didn’t know that.” I fiddled with a hangnail and tried to decide how to broach the next part. “I have to decide if I’m going.”
“And have you? Will I have another friend in Lilaria?” His words eased some of the guilt in my heart.
“I believe so.” I paused, the words stuck in my throat. “I need to at least go and see if it’s where I belong. If I’m a right fit.”
“Well, we can unenroll you for the semester and I can give the classes you’ve been handling to one of the other grad students. If you decide to make it a permanent move, then we’ll make it final.” He smiled sadly. “I hate to see you go, Sam. You’re one of the most dedicated students I’ve had in a long time, but I understand that at times life takes us in different directions than we planned.”
“I still want to finish my master’s, Dr. Geller. It just might take longer than I wanted.”
“If nothing else, I will give you the name of my friend. Perhaps you will find a way to still work with birds.” He stood up and moved around his desk.
“That would be great.” I frowned. “I’m really sorry it’s turned out this way. I know… I know you’ve put a lot of time into my degree and I feel like I’m letting you down.”
“Nonsense. If anything, you’ll take a great deal of information with you. Lilaria’s noble houses have been aligned with birds for centuries. Maybe you were meant to do this all along.”
Something in my stomach loosened and for the first time I felt good about my decision. He seemed to understand what I was thinking because he laughed.
“Did you think I was going to yell and try to guilt you into staying?”
“Not really. I just hated to leave like this. It felt wrong.”
“When will you be going?” He leaned against his desk.
“I’m not sure, but I probably shouldn’t come back to the school. I’m causing too much trouble.” I sighed. “In fact, I should probably clear out my desk today.”
“If you need anything, let me know.” He looked at me seriously. “I mean it. Anything. We’re all going to be rooting for you.”
After I left his office, I went straight to the one I shared. Everyone was in there, and they all looked up when Becca and I came through the door. I walked over to my desk before stopping and turning to look at everyone.
“Well, looks like someone else is going to get the window desk.”
“Oh my God, Geller kicked you out of the program?” Mary looked at me with wide eyes.
“Um, no. I’m withdrawing. I can’t teach classes and uphold my course load if there are eight news vans following me everywhere.” I started pulling stuff out of my drawers and shoving it into my bag.
“What are you going to do?” David spun around in his desk chair and looked at me seriously. “Are you going to finish your degree somewhere else?”
“I don’t know yet.” I started to tell them I was going to Lilaria but stopped. “I have several options to choose from.”
“Like what?” Mary walked over to my desk with a box and helped me put some of my books and papers in it.
“Do you still have my field guide?” I brushed off her question.
“Oh, yeah. Hold on.” She ran to her desk and fished through her bag. “Here it is.”
“So, you’re just leaving?” David asked.
“I’ll be in touch. It’s not like I won’t ever see you guys again.”
“We should throw you a party!” Mary sat on the window ledge and looked at me. “It’ll be fun. We can invite the whole department.”
“Mary, I think that would be difficult right now.” David narrowed his eyes at her. “She has security following her to the bathroom. You really think they’re going to let her have a party?”
“Becca does not follow me into the bathroom.” I glared at David. “And there isn’t time. I’ll probably be leaving in a couple of days.”
“Are you going to Lilaria?” David leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees.
“We’re going to miss you.” Mary threw her arms around me and I laughed when she knocked me off balance. Becca moved closer, but I waved her away.
“I’m going to miss you too. Don’t drive David crazy, okay?”
“Bah. It’s so much fun.” Mary winked at me.
I walked over to David and hugged him before kissing his cheek. “Take care of yourself.”
I told everyone else good-bye, joking and laughing where I could. The truth was, I was crying inside. This had been my life for several years and it felt strange to leave it without having completed what I came for.
Parker took the box out of my hands when I left the office and Duvall looked at me expectantly. “I need to speak with Rose.”
“Very well. I’ll see if she has time this afternoon. In the meantime, where would you like to go?”
I called Dad on the ride over, letting him know I was on my way. Seemed like the polite thing to do since there were two news vans tailing us.
“I mean, really. What do they expect to find out? That I’m really an alien sent from Pluto?” I glanced over my shoulder quickly.
“Good shots can make a reporter’s career. Finding out the smallest bit of information can mean scooping another station. The fact is, right now you’re news.” Duvall looked back at me and if I didn’t know any better I would think there was sympathy in his expression.
“They don’t even know why they’re following me right now.”
“The little bit of information they have—”
“Yes, the little bit they think they know means you’re a story their viewers would find interesting.”
I just shook my head. Dad was waiting for us when we pulled up. I could see him peeking out the side window. Since there were people following us, Duvall and Becca escorted me into the house. I hugged Dad and then introduced him to my shadows.
“Nice to meet you. Would you like something to drink?” Dad smiled at Duvall and Becca, who both declined.
I threw my box of books on the floor and sat down on the couch. Dad nodded his head and sat across from me. “You’re going?”
“Yeah.” I sighed, knowing he would probably put up a fight, but I was ready. “You’re coming with me.”
“Sam, I’m in the middle of chemo. I can’t just leave.”
“We’ll talk to your doctor and figure out what to do.” I sat up and looked him in the eye. “Have you been to Lilaria?”
“No.” Dad shook his head.
“There’s no time like the present.” I knew he loved to travel and damn it, if he was going to be okay with whatever happened, then he might as well live a little in the meantime.
“I may have to wait until after the last round of chemo.” He leaned forward and patted my knee. “But if you want me to come, I’ll come after that.”
I didn’t like it. I wanted him to meet with the specialist right away, but I understood he would be better off finishing what he started. “I might have to go before that. The duchess made it sound like I only had a few days.”
“Then go! I’ll be fine. Patricia will take me to my appointments.”
“Just call me cabby, why don’t you?” Patricia hollered from the kitchen. She leaned against the doorframe, a dish towel in her hand. “You’re going to Lilaria?”
I nodded my head. It still didn’t feel real. The entire last few days felt dreamlike. Especially the part where I had been plastered against Alex before sticking my foot in my mouth. Well, the foot in my mouth part felt pretty real. I’d been doing that my whole life.
“Good! Don’t you worry about your dad. I’ll keep him in line.”
“Samantha, the duchess said she would be free in an hour.” Duvall stepped forward. “Should I tell her you are coming?”
“Yes.” I pulled my phone out of my pocket and checked the time. “Where is she?”
“She’s at the Parallel.”
I glanced down at my clothes and sighed. I had worn jeans and a sweater, but it would have to do. There wasn’t enough time to go back to my house, change, and make it to the hotel.
“Okay. I’ll have to go like this.” I turned back to my dad and wrapped my arms around him. “You call the doctor today and tell him you’re going to be moving to Lilaria. Tell him you need all your charts for Dr. Bielefeld, okay?”
“Samantha, I’m sick, not stupid.” Dad kissed my forehead.
“Yeah, yeah. Don’t forget.” I laughed as I pulled my coat back on. How long had I been here? Five minutes? Six? Is this how life would be once I accepted the family title?
“Love you.” I smiled at him over my shoulder as I followed Duvall back to the car. The news crews were still setting up, obviously expecting me to be there longer than the amount of time it took to say hello.
“Love you too.”
Becca pulled the door closed behind us and we left for the Parallel.