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Part 7

Could we see when and where we'd meet again, we'd be more tender when we bid our friends goodbye- Ouida


"Marquis of Carabas! The king will see you now!"

Jake froze at hearing that voice, it was the cat that insisted on sleeping on his bed, even when he could have slept on the ground, the one who tortured him endlessly with his idea that he could sing, and the one who he trusted with all his life...clearly. Jake froze, Elena also seemed to notice and opened her beautiful eyes also, they were inches...mere inches apart when the crazy cat distracted him, but he willed himself to think there was a reason, knowing Puss wanted him to have Elena almost as much as he did, so if he thought he should stop, he should at least hesitate enough to consider it.

Her face began to flush, and with pained determination, he took a step back from his princess who was turning tomato red, again. He was mildly aware his foot hit something, and he looked down to see his orange cat without boots, standing behind him, although he moved swiftly to hide. Jake blinked, trying to regain his composure, only for the King himself to walk into the garden opening.

"Marquis of Carabas, here you are," he said good naturedly, Jake's heart would need a doctor by the end of the night, because it was beating erratically, upon seeing the father of the girl he was so close to kissing seconds ago. She also looked surprised by that too. It took a second longer before words could form.

"S-sire," when it said words, it really meant word.

"Are you ready, Marquis?" Jake managed to stand upright, and pulled a tight smile. The king will see me now...that's what Puss meant, Jake thought briefly.

"The pleasure is mine, sire," he said, his majesty smiled and turned his attention to his daughter.

"There are quite a few suitors inside wishing for your attention, Elena, perhaps you should greet them," the king encouraged, Jake felt a knot of jealousy form and immediately suppressed it, it helped that Elena's eyes drifted quickly to him before bowing in obedience to her father. She walked off quickly, a guard that had been with the king following after her.

"Marquis, shall we talk?" the king said, leading him away, back into the castle. Vaguely he was aware that Puss had shown up, but Puss kept his distance, even as the King spoke to him about everything from politics to running a kingdom, to finances--fortunately despite what Puss said about Jake being only a pretty face, Jake was more than capable of retaining and providing sensible information on politics and other 'important' matters the king wished to discuss, much to King Thomas' pleasure. Jake couldn't help but give a cocky grin to his feline friend, who looked mildly impressed when he was able to speak at the same level as the king about strategy, geography as well as business information. He may in truth be a poor miller boy, but he was a smart, poor miller boy--regardless of what the cat thought. He did spend more than his fair share of time reading any book he could get his hands on while he was growing up. Although, somewhere in him Jake assumed Puss must have known, because he hadn't bothered to interrupt any of his conversations, besides with the princess, almost as if saying , ' yes, I know you can handle this.' Soon the night became morning, only once more did he get to talk to Elena although definitely not alone, but he was getting along well with all of the royals, and many nobles wanted to engage him in conversation, so it came as a surprise when Puss did his customary bow and loud greeting, to alert Jake that their carriage awaited them.

The two went out to the carriage, and since the king was still talking he followed them out, briefly Jake was grateful that Puss had thought ahead and planned to have the rented carriage collect them. They made it to the door, the king, queen and Elena were seeing him off since he was one of the last few to leave, a few others had accepted the invitation to spend the night in the King's castle, but Jake expressed his deepest apology stating he had urgent matters at his manor, like shoveling cow manure...not that he said that part.

"It was so nice to meet you, Marquis, I enjoyed your company tremendously," the king said, as a carriage hand opened the door for Jake.

"As did I, " Jake returned with a bow, he turned to the queen, "Madam, you were radiant this evening, I know your daughter got her beauty from you," he said smoothly, from the corner of his eye he saw her blush, and he felt good knowing he got to tell her she was beautiful, even though it had to be done indirectly. The queen gave a light laugh.

"If you want to compliment her you can go right ahead you need not make me the middle man," she joked, Jake smiled politely, he was slowly getting accustom to the queen's mischievous statements, and somewhere around 1 in the morning he stopped having the energy to blush. He turned to Princess Elena, and it could have been fatigue, but he felt his breath get taken away again.

"I apologize for keeping you up so late," he started, it was now almost 3 am, "I've enjoyed your company, greatly, especially when you had taken me through the garden," her face blushed slightly at the memory, and he watched her, he wanted to remember everything before he went in the carriage and rode off, well walked off pretty soon to hard toil and work. He wanted to remember every expression he got a chance to glimpse tonight, as if it was his last time, he was no very well could be his last, so even if he made her blush, he wanted to relish in it, he wanted these was feelings that got him here, he took her hand in his, and raised it to his mouth kissing her softly, "I couldn't help thinking, you were the most beautiful one here," his lips lingered on her hand for a second longer, until appropriateness and a jab from an equally tired cat, convinced him to pull away, to see a blushed face beauty. Jake exhaled, taking a step back, and then bowed to the royals.

He stepped into the carriage and sat down, in the comfort of the seat all too aware that this charade wouldn't last long, but deciding to enjoy it while it did, as Puss bowed deeply to them also, and came in beside Jake.

"I do hope you can come again soon," the king said, as the coachman shut the carriage door, leaving them to talk through it's window. Jake's smile tightened, he wasn't sure how that would happen, more than 5 times his monthly salary went into buying this outfit, it'd look strange if he came wearing the same thing, even worse if he wore one of his normal clothes, just based on clothes alone seeing Elena or any of the royals would be something that would require 5 months of saving, nevertheless, his eyes went to the king and then Elena's, even her mother, he had greatly enjoyed their company, they almost felt like family even though he only knew them for one night.

"I do hope so as well," Jake found himself saying sincerely. "I shall send Puss In Boots to convey my greetings, unfortunately I tend to be a bit busy at times," he said, putting down the ground work Puss told him he had to by the end of the night. If the royals didn't expect Puss anymore it'd be odd for him to show up, yet he needed a reason why he wouldn't be always be present.

"You're definitely not as flamboyant or flippant as I expected...but you've turned out to be even better than all Sir Puss In Boots has said," the queen chimed in, beside her husband. Jake laughed, he found it hard to think he could live up to the fairytale Puss spun, not that he had all of the details.

"I'm glad I didn't disappoint," he joked feeling a lot more at ease now.

"But you will personally visit soon, Marquis?" Elena put in quickly, amidst the soft laughter, if Jake didn't always have his ear open for her, and her constantly in his sight, he may not have noticed...but let's face it, even if she sighed, he would have noticed. He swallowed softly, he hated lying to her the most.

"I shall ensure to bring my Marquis back to you, milady," Puss interrupted noticing his hesitation, "Until then..."

"Stay well," Jake said softly, as Puss signaled to the coachman who started to get the horses to ride off.

It wasn't a long ride, just to the stable just outside the castle area, there Puss and Jake got off, having to pay a bit more because they realized they could be found out getting off too close to the castle. From there, the two tiredly walked the five miles to reach Jake's house, by the time they reached, exhaustion was evident in both of them, and they fell asleep the moment they got back, incapable of doing much else.

Jake dragged himself up a few hours later, the sun rising in the orange sky, and he could feel pain flying through his body. He had definitely never felt this tired, Puss got up just as broken as he had, grumbling about wanting milk, it took a while before they realized it was really evening, and Jake had missed a full day of work. That got him up as he raced out of the house to determine if he could find a way to keep his job, farm work, though it paid poorly was very competitive, because James Hordy needed someone daily, if you even missed a day it could be detrimental to his farm and livelihood so he didn't take it well if his worker skipped.

"You knew that,stableboy! Yet you show up at sunset? What were you doing that made you oversleep? Tell me why I shouldn't fire you!?" Mr. Hordy snapped.


Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated - Confucious

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