Belle paced around the purple and pink bedroom of her daughter Ediva. She was had woken ill a few nights ago and needed Belle to hold her while walking in circles to get any sleep. Belle was exhausted with worry over her ten month old. Even when her little girl was sleeping Belle didn’t rest. When her son Ambrose returned she planned to take Ediva to her sister in law Laura to be sure this was just an illness that would pass. Even though this was Belles third child she didn’t worry any less when her babies got sick. Belle just hoped he would return soon and stay out of trouble. Unlike their oldest child Gabriel, Ambrose was always getting into trouble. He had come out of the womb defiant and looking to destroy things.
Belle deeply wished she knew what to do with her fifteen year old. It had been months but her feelings were still deeply hurt that her own son would slap her. They had gotten into an argument and he took her completely by surprise when Ambrose slapped her and told her to shut up. At first Belle just hadn’t known how to react but then she got angry. She punished her son and then told him if he ever hit her again she would tell his father but that time she was letting it by him.
Belle typically told Zane everything the children did but Ambrose was a man now and she feared Zanes reaction if he knew. Not that he had ever been abusive in any way to their children but Zane already struggled to even allow Ambrose in their home with how disrespectful and horrible their son could be. This time when Ediva fell asleep Belle laid her daughter down to make herself some herbal tea. As the water began to boil Belle heard a knock at the door. She answered and immediately frowned at the guards holding her sons arms. “what has he done?” She asked sadly.
“He went into the carpenters shop and destroyed some of the merchandise mam. He is to spend the night in the dungeon but we wanted to give you the courtesy of letting you know right away.” Belle sighed and Ambrose rolled his eyes “he had it coming. The shopkeep was rude to me”
“shut your mouth Ambrose. Please just take him. I can’t leave right this moment because Ediva is sleeping but could you men have sombody tell the shopkeep I’m coming to repay him for his loses. Actually, have him, his wife or children drop by my home.”
“Yes mam” The guards walked away and Belle sat at the table, holding her head in her hands. She sat like this until her water boiled. She made the tea then tried to allow it to relax her. The next knock at the door woke Ediva so she grabbed her baby then answered. “Hey Mara, please come in” The carpenters wife came in and followed Belle into the living room. “I need to change and feed my daughter. I’m sorry, I’m sorry for my son too”
“It’s no matter Belle.” Mara answered. Belle changed and fed her daughter as fast as she could then returned to Mara. “I really am sorry about Ambrose. I’m embarrassed”
“You did nothing so theres nothing to be sorry over. I know how much hell he gives you two”
“What all did he damage?”
“You and Zane are our friends. You don’t need to repay us for all of it” Mara started and Belle interrupted “I will, it’s only right. How much do i need to give you. Be honest” They settled on an amount and Belle paid Mara. “your daughter doesn’t look well. Is she ok?”
“No, I was waiting on Ambrose to come home so I could remind him of his chores and then I was going to leave. His father is going to be back within the next few days and Zane has forbid me to do my sons chores anylonger. Now that I’m not doing them they just dont get done and I just want Ambrose to take care of them before Zane comes home and fights with him again.”
“I can hear the stress in your voice”
“I am, I just dont know what to do with him. No matter what we do or have him do as punishment he still acts like this. Gabriel was so easy. We barely ever had to punish him for anything and once we did he never did whatever again but Ambrose, it’s like nothing phases him”
“Maybe it’s time you shoved him out of the nest. He’s na adult now and you shouldn’t allow him to act this way in your home. Not saying you aren’t trying but maybe he needs to be truly knocked on his ass and be forced to face the world. I mean, the boy is fifteen and refuses to do any kind of work. I bet that will change fast if you kick his butt to the curb. Maybe you should see if the knights will take him. They might be able to whip him into shape”
“Perhaps you’re right. I love him, but I just can’t take this anymore.”
“Everything will work out and when Zane gets back I would tell him what’s been going on so he can make sure Ambrose sticks with his punishment.”
“I will, thank you.”
Mara gave her a hug, which she needed, then left. Belle needed to go to the castle, but couldn’t leave Ediva alone and the walk to the castle might be to much for the little girl. She decided to go to Theo’s house and ask them to watch Ediva while she went to talk to Rapunzel and Casimer. She knew what she was going to do and she knew Ambrose was going to hate her for it, but something had to be done. She would ask Casimer if he, Bernadette, and Jerry could help teach Ambrose some respect. She bundled Ediva up and headed out, walking as quickly as she could so Ediva wouldn’t have to be outside for to long. Theo saw her when she was close to their home and came running, instantly frowning when he saw how distraught his sister was.
“What happened?” He asked.
“Can we talk inside?”
“Of course.” He took them inside and Laura took Ediva since she knew Belle must be tired from carrying her all the way there.
“Ambrose destroyed some things at the carpenter’s shop and he’s going to be spending the night in the dungeon. I need to go talk to Rapunzel and Casimer and see if they can help, I’m at my whits end.”
“I’ll watch the baby, Theo take her to the castle.” Laura said.
“Thank you so much.” Belle replied and gave Ediva a kiss on the forehead. She didn’t want to leave her, but she knew Laura could protect her. The one thing she wasn’t looking forward to telling anyone was that Ambrose had slapped her. Everyone in her family did not believe in abusing women and would come down hard on Ambrose for striking he. She especially didn’t want to tell Zane, but she knew telling him was the right thing to do.
Laura could tell right away Ediva was sick but it wasn’t anything major. Once she had the little one sleeping or Theo came back she would make a potion that would make her better then teach Belle how to make it for an illness as simple as what Ediva had. Laura knew how to cure most anything herself since as an escort she needed to cast sickness aside as fast as possible. “After you talk to Rapunzel and Casimer why don’t you let Laura and I keep Ediva for atleast the rest of the day. You look like you need a break”
“Not from Ediva. I mean, she’s sick so i haven’t been getting any good sleep but you don’t need to keep her”
“I want to. I know you have trouble separating from your little ones but if you miss her too much you can walk to our house and get her. You need some rest and relaxation and I love that little girl. It would be fun to keep her”
“If Lauras ok with it I guess”
“I know she will be. She will probably have little Ediva better by the time we return.”
“I hope so” When they arrived at the castle the staff told the prince and princess that the king and queen were in the back yard. They went out back and exchanged hugs before Rapunzel asked ‘you ok Belle?”
“Not really, you two know the trouble Zane and I have always had with Ambrose. He is only getting worse and I can’t take it any more. He wont help atall around the house, he refuses to move out and wont get a job outside our home either. He is constantly disrespecting me and being mean to his sister and worst of all…” Belle paused, still not wanting to tell her family. “what?” Casimer prompted, already feeling frustration with his nephew again. Belle sighed “Not long ago we were arguing because he broke one of Edivas toys because the noise it made bothered him. Her toys can get on my nerves from time to time too but that was her favorite and he just cruelly broke it and made her cry..anyway, he ended up slapping me and telling me to shut up. I” She was going to continue but Theo interrupted “that little shit slapped you and you didnt tell anybody about it when it happened?”
“I punished him and he hasn’t slapped me again. I was going to tell Zane if it happened a second time.” Belle looked at Casimer before continuing. “I came to ask you if you, your brother and Bernadette could train him with the knights and straighten him out. I don’t know why he was born such a hateful child but I haven’t had any peace with him since he could walk. I feel like such a failure somtimes. Gabriel was so easy and maybe I was spoiled by that” Belle began to cry so Theo hugged her “you aren’t a failure Belle. Snow was a jerk forever and our parents raised her the same as us. It’s not your fault.”
“Damn right it isn’t. He’s not coming home after his stay in the dungeon and he wont be coming home until he learns respect for you and he sure as hell is going to apologize” Casimer said angrily. Rapunzel grabbed his hand, trying to relax him though she was just as livid with Ambrose. Right now their nephew was lucky that he was family and they all loved him despite his temperament.
Zane was finally happy to be on his way home. This time his quarry had taken him far away, something he hated more than anything. Gabriel rode along side him, talking about his mother’s cooking and how much he missed it. Zane would never say anything, but Gabriel was and always would be a mommy’s boy. He had been attached to her hip as a child and even now he would do things to help take the pressure off of her. “I wonder how mom is doing.” Gabriel said. “Ambrose has been giving her so much trouble.”
“I know and as soon as we get back I’m going to be staying home with her for awhile so she can get some rest. I think I’m asking too much of her.” Zane replied, truly feeling bad.
“You know mom would never see it that way. She knows you have to work, that what you do is important.”
“Yeah, but it’s not fair, not even a little.”
“I’ll help around the house if you need me too. It’s not like I live far.”
Zane chuckled. “You do enough for us son, you need rest too. A tired mind and an assassin do not mix. You have to be at the top of your game all the time, always alert and ready to strike if need be.”
“Then don’t push yourself. Your mother and I want the best for you, so when we get home rest up and if we need you for anything, I’ll come and get you.”
“Alright, I understand.” Zane reached over and squeezed his son’s shoulder.
“I’m proud of you Gabriel, I really am. Now we just have to get Ambrose to stop being an ass towards everyone. I just don’t understand why he’s like he is.”
“who knows, it’s infuriating how he talks to mom and the way he treats Ediva. He acts like she cries and does normal baby things just to annoy him”
“I could only imagine if he was living with a baby that was as much trouble as he was. I love you all to death but I wish your mother would just let me kick him out. He’s a grown man now so the time for dealing with it is over. He can respect us and treat you and your sister with decency or he can be on his own. Speaking of grown men and of how proud I am of you, how would you like the next job I’m given to be passed to you?”
“You mean go on my own?” Gabriel said with both shock and excitement. Zane smiled “I know you can handle it. You only get better with every job. The only thing I see room for improvement on is your stealth and I only mention it because the element of surprise is this best tool you have.”
“I know, I’ve been practicing like you told me. Could I practice more with you after you and mom have had some alone time?”
“wow, going on a job by myself. I just hope to do as well as you think of me”
“as I said, I know you will. I wouldn’t send you by yourself if i wasn’t sure. If anything happened to you your mother and I would be devastated and we go up against some cruel, vicious men and women. Lets just hope your mother doesnt worry. She’s so prone to worrying about you three. It’s why she wont let me kick out Ambrose. I’ve been trying for it since his fourteenth birthday”
“did you tell mom we’re on the way home?”
“Yep, she should have gotten the letter by now”
“Awesome! She’ll have food ready then!” Zane laughed “I love you son”
“Love you too.”
“How’s your love life going?”
“I want a girl who doesn’t want me because I’m an assassin. I mean, I’d rather them like me and not be all wet and crazy because of my job”
“That’ll be hard. Women everywhere throw themselves at assassins. It’s why my dad cheated so much on my mother”
“as horrible as it sounds I’m glad I never met my grandpa on your side”
“I’m glad you didn’t either. He was a jerk all around. My mom deserved better”
“Do you miss your mom?”
“Yeah, unlike my fathers passing her passing still can hurt from time to time. I was robbed of so much time with her due to my fathers philandery. I had to stay with him while she left with my brother”
“I can imagine. Lets get away from the topic before I feel like rushing home to my mother to be sure she’s fine. I don’t need a girlfriend and hopfully my cooking will improve. Even if it does I doubt anything could beat moms cooking”
“I’ve eaten in many towns and nothing has compared to me yet”
Belle took a deep breath as she followed Rapunzel, Casimer, and Theo downstairs to the dungeon. She didn’t want to tell Ambrose of his punishment, but she knew as his mother that she had too. They game to the main door and the guard on duty stood and unlocked the door. “I’ll take the keys.” Rapunzel said and the guard handed them over. There were two on the iron ring, one for the main door and the other opened all the cells. They walked down the hall, looking for Ambrose and stopping in front of the third cell on the right. He was sitting on his bed, but stood when Rapunzel unlocked the door.
“Can I go home now?” He asked angrily.
“No you may not.” Belle said and took another deep breath. “Since you do not want to follow the rules of mine and your father’s home and since you think using violence is the only way to solve anything you will be spending some time with Casimer, Bernadette, and Jerry learning to be a knight.”
“What?” He glared at her and took a step forward. Theo grabbed him by his shirt and shoved him down onto the bed so he was sitting down. “Mom, this is total bull shit.”
“No Ambrose, the way you treat me and your sister is bull shit. Hitting me and destroying private property was the last straw. When your father and brother get home they will be told everything that has happened, even about the hitting and I will have your father come and watch you if I must so you can’t leave.”
“You can’t do that, I’m an adult.”
“But we can.” Casimer said as he grabbed Rapunzel’s hand. “We are ordering you as your King and Queen too be trained as a knight and you will not leave this castle until you have completed your training and have more respect and compassion. You will be sleeping in the barracks with the other knights. You will rise early for training and other duties which consists of cleaning armor and helping in any way you are told. If you refuse to comply with these orders then you will be thrown in here until you decide to do as you are told. Your training starts in the morning, Bernadette and Jerry will be informed before then so get some sleep because we plan on running you into the ground.” They left the cell, Theo ushering Belle out and Rapunzel locking the door. Ambrose sat there in stunned silence, unable to come up with an argument.
Theo held his sisters hand for support as they walked back to his house. “I hope this works”
“They’ll keep him there until it works. You really should have said somthing about him slapping you. That could have easily gotten worse and I don’t know if him being my nephew could have kept me from teaching that punk a lesson. You’re a good mother, anybody knows that. You don’t deserve the way he back talks and treats you. Ediva doesn’t either. Can’t believe he was so childish as to break one of her toys. He claims to be an adult but he’s far from it”
“I love you Theo”
“Love you too. After you say bye to Ediva would you like me to walk you home?”
“I’ll be fine, thanks for taking her so I can get some sleep. I need some good rest” Theo hated how sad his sister looked because of what was going on with Ambrose. It only made him angrier at his nephew for treating her so poorly and being a brat in general. When they arrived Laura was pacing with Ediva. “hey, whats happened?” Theo explained then Laura sighed “I’m sorry Belle. The knights will get his act together. To lift your spirits I can mend Ediva. She has a small bug that i can easily take care of. You or I would have been better in a day but her tiny immune system is struggling. Once you go I’m going to have Theo tend to her while I make somthing to clear it up. After you’ve had some time at home to rest I’ll teach you how to make it so that next time you wont be struggling with her for days.”
“Oh, that is a huge burden lifted. I know I over worry but I can’t help it” Belle took her daughter from Laura and gave her a hug “I love you so much sweetheart. Have fun and be good for your Aunt and Uncle. If you need mommy they can bring you home” Belle handed her daughter to Theo then hugged Laura before leaving. Once at home Belle cleaned up the house then made herself a light dinner before going to bed.
As her head hit the pillow she was gone from the world. Ambrose had been told to rest but he was pacing angrily. He was outraged his mother was doing this to him. It made him angrier that she was going to tattle to his father about him slapping her. In his mind his mother deserved it for being such a bitch all the time. He felt women should get a slap if they deserved one. His mother was no different. Zane and Gabriel traveled as long as they could into the night, only stopping when their horses were growing tired. Since they had carried them so long into the night Zane and Gabriel took everything off of the two stallions so they could truly rest and be free until morning came and it was time to travel again.
“we’re close to home so when the horses get their drink we need to clean ourselves for your mother” It wasn’t a freezing night but it was still a bit chilly so Gabriel wasn’t looking forward to it but did anyway. When the horses were done they stripped and cleaned themselves before doing their clothes. Zane got out first to start a fire since his son didn’t deal with cold as well as he did. Cold barely bothered Zane due to the intense training his father had done with him. It had been torture and he would never do such a thing to his son. There were many things his father did to make him the great assassin he was today but most were too cruel for Zane to repeat them in his own children.
Belle woke some time later, feeling refreshed. She sat up and rubbed her eyes before swinging her legs over the edge of the bed and coming to her feet. She stretched, sighing as he muscles loosened. Her stomach growled, but she wanted a shower first. She stepped into the bathroom, pulling her clothes off then switching the water on. Once it was the right temperature she stepped under the warm spray, letting it further wake her. The worry for Ambrose came back and she hoped he was getting some rest before tomorrow. She knew how hard Bernadette, Jerry, and Casimer had trained, that there had been times they were puking. Casimer had not been joking when he said they were going to run him into the ground and she told herself that no matter what Ambrose had to endure, she would not stop him from being punished. She loved him to much to allow him to continue to act up. So far he had been lucky no one had killed him, but if he continued down the path he was going he could wind up murdered.
She washed and rinsed then switched off the water and got out. She dried as quickly as possible then went into her room and pulled clean clothes on. She grabbed her brush and pulled her hair up into a bun so it was off her neck. She tried not to think anymore about her son becoming someone’s victim and instead let her mind drift to Zane. She missed him more than anything and wished he would hurry and return. She wanted to fall asleep in his arms and let his love and warmth chase away all the stress she had been feeling. He was such a wonderful husband and she was extremely proud of him, but being apart was gut wrenching at times. She smiled and hummed as she thought of his face and his smile and the gentle way he always loved her. She chopped up ingredients for lamb stew since it was one of Gabriel’s favorites. She made sure to put in extra potatoes since he loved them the most and made it a little spicy. She knew he would be happy have it when he and Zane got home.
Once everything was in the pot the stew would basically make itself so she turned her stove down to low since slow cooking lamb stew made it taste much better than cooking it quickly. With that done she went outside to sit on the porch. The stars shone so beautifully which only made her miss her husband more. She adored the nights he let her sit between his legs and watch the stars until she fell asleep against him. They hadn’t done that since Ediva was born which was really her fault since she was so reluctant to let anybody keep her babies up until they were two. When Zane and her oldest son got back she might ask Gabriel to keep his sister one evening so she could have a romantic night with her husband.
Her stomach growled again, reminding Belle she was hungry so she got up and made herself a salad before stirring her pot of lamb stew. It concerned her that she woke in the night like this. The only other times in her life this had happened was when she was pregnant. She wondered if they may be expecting child number four. That was somthing she could ask Laura about when she went to get her daughter tomorrow.
After her salad she set the bowl at her side and waited another hour before going back to her stove and stirring it again. Belle took a small taste and had to have a bowl. That now convincing her she was pregnant again. She doubted herself a little now because of Ambrose. She had all the confidence in the world as a mother up until Ambrose hit five and had himself in trouble constantly.
She had raised him just like Gabriel, reading to him in the bath, cuddling with him when he felt bad or just until he fell asleep if he wanted it. She played with him and all else she had done with Gabriel but he had turned out to be Gabriels opposite. She didn’t want to fail two more children. She almost cried again thinking about the situation. She took a deep breath. She wouldn’t allow any more tears. Belle finished her stew then made sure the door was locked and the stove off before laying in bed to sleep through what remained of the night.
The next morning Belle woke with a long stretch again then got up to make herself some scrambled eggs. She ate, brushed her hair and straightened out her barely worn clothes before walking over to Laura and Theos. Once again she was fighting herself not to think about what Ambrose may be going through. “He needs this” she repeated in her head. Belles heart lit up when she heard Ediva laughing as she approached Lauras door. She pushed it open and saw Theo blowing raspberries on the small girls stomach. Theo stopped then let Ediva run over to her mom. Ediva fell just shy so Belle lifted her “that was a good go at running beautiful. I’m so glad to see you feel better”
“I knew you wouldn’t make it past morning.” Theo said with a grin. “She sleep well?”
“Yep” Laura came in and hugged Belle “morning, you look better”
“Sleep, it does wonders. Also, I think I might be pregnant again. Can you check please?”
“Of course’ Laura felt Belles stomach and smiled “Mothers intuition nails it again. Want to know gender?”
“Boys seem to be yours and Zanes thing” Belle giggled “wow, men who fall for Ediva aren’t only going to have Zane to deal with but now three brothers” Theo laughed boisterously “I don’t envy those men. Just finding out she’s Zane’s daughter might make them mess themselves” The girls laughed and Belle felt better briefly.
Ambrose stood outside, arms crossed with a scowl on his face. He didn’t want to be here with his uncles and aunt and thought this punishment was ludicrous. “So what punishment am I to endure today?” He asked.
“You get to be put through the same training we knights have to go through. We’re going to make you strong and thicken you up a bit.” Casimer answered. “First we are going to run from here to the lake and back. It’s three miles there and three back. If you try to escape we will catch you because I can tell just by looking at you that you don’t run enough to out run us.”
He glared. “And then what?”
“Then it’s sword training and let me tell you, you’ll get a few nicks. After that you get to clean out the horse stalls. The manure is to be taken to Ian Brimner, he’s the farmer who supplies us with the fruits and vegetables here at the castle. Bernadette will be escorting you, yes a woman, and I expect you to show her the respect she deserves because if you don’t she’s liable to hit you. Once your work day is over you will be given a room in the barracks.”
When Jerry and Bernadette came out there Bernadette looked like she was struggling not to pound Ambrose over hearing he had slapped his mother. Ambrose rolled his eyes and Bernadette nearly lost it. She walked to Ambrose’s side so she could have a reason to punch the little prick in his face if he tried to run away during this exercise. Ambrose thought he would be able to keep up easily since he was fast but they showed him quickly he was nowhere near as fast as the knights.He got frustrated and decided if he couldn’t run faster than them he could fly. He would bet anything he flew more than them and was better at it so he morphed into a dragon and took off into the sky. Bernadette growled and she along with Casimer morphed into dragons. Jerry was pissed he couldn’t fly after Ambrose aswell but he knew Casimer and Bernadette could get him.
Jerry just started walking back to the start since he was sure they’d make him re run the whole thing. Abrose was soon sorely disappointed when Bernadette bit his wings. Ambrose let out a roar of pain and the very next moment Casimer came soaring down from above to pile drive him back to earth. They were high but in his dragon form he could take it and being slammed into the earth would teach him not to try and fly away.
Ambrose struggled the whole way down then another loud roar of pain sounded when they slammed back down into the grass. All three shifted back into human forms “you assholes” Ambrose said in a sneer. Casimer jerked him up by the back of the shirt. “You’re starting over now and I hope you’ve learned you can’t fly away either”
“I cant run again” he complained when they were back at the start “should have thought about that before expending more energy trying to fly away” Bernadette answered. They forced him to run again. This time he didn’t try to escape but he just barely made it back to the start. He fell down, panting and moaning about pained muscles. “I’ll go fetch the little wimp somthing to drink” Bernadette said then ran to the castle.
“This is cruelty” He whined. “No it’s not. You should be ashamed to be putting on such a display. You are the first man who has ever done that then carried on like you’re doing now. Be prouder as a man. I don’t think you know how spoiled you are and how much your mother has doted on you” Ambrose gave a laugh “she doesnt do all that much for me. All she does is bitch at me for not doing chores or being mean to Ediva.”
“You should do what your parents ask of you. You are an adult living at home. They pay for everything, the least you could do is help out”
“It’s HER job, not mine” Jerry deeply growled, scaring Ambrose briefly. Jerry leaned over Ambrose where he laid on the ground ‘where the hell did you get this attitude? None of us taught you any of this shit”
“Where i get my ideas from are none of your damn business.” Casimer then spoke “as your king I want to know who the hell taught you to be such a sexist bastard. You are running this again if you don’t tell me. I’ll make sure everything is twice as hard” Ambrose rolled his eyes.”he doesn’t live in the city”
“who has been teaching you these things and where does he live?”
“I dont know where he lives really. I met him one time when we were traveling as a family. Mom and dad have been letting me wander since i was ten as long as I came back. I met this guy named Lawrence. He told me what a bitch mom really was and i agree with him because she and dad are always punishing me. He then enlightened me to so many things. I finally had someone who agreed with me that my parents were ridiculous and that the whole race is stupid for how we let women talk to us. My mom deserved that slap and if you were enlightened you’d know it”
“why does Lawrence sound familiar to me?” Jerry asked. Casimer thought on it only a short time before asking “does he ever refer to himself as a prince?”
“I didn’t say he wasn’t a little crazy. He keeps a crown in a messenger bag he carries. Claims he was a prince until mom ruined everything for him” Casimer groaned while rubbing his forehead “you do realize he tried to kill your mother when your older brother was four don’t you? He’s not a prince anymore because after his assassination attempt he was exiled?
Just then Bernadette returned and gave Ambrose a drink “what’s going on?”
“He’s apparently been talking to the dethroned prince Lawrence since he was ten”
“Lawrence who tried to have Belle killed Lawrence?”
“Thats the one” Already frustrated enough this about made Bernadette explode “you’ve been talking to a man who tried to kill your own damn mother! I thought I couldn’t think less of you!”
“who cares what you think” Ambrose shot back.
Bernadette knocked the cup out of Ambrose’s hand. “Whoops, oh well guess you didn’t need a drink anyway.”
“You bitch.” Jerry lifted him by his shirt.
“You speak to her like that again and I’ll do the world a favor and rip your tongue out.” Ambrose swallowed and kept his mouth shut.
“What are we going to do about Lawrence?” Bernadette asked.
“Since he is no longer protected by his parents we will send either Zane or Gabriel to fetch him, but until then it’s time for a little sword play.”
Zane was excited to be so near home and wanted very desperately to see Belle again. Some of the other assassins sometimes teased him for how much he doted over Belle, but they knew that having a family only made him more dangerous and he would kill anyone or anything that dared try to take that away. “Another hour and I can eat something delicious.” Gabriel said, making Zane laugh.
“You don’t like my cooking?”
“Though I will eat whatever you catch and cook, it is kind of bland.”
“I have to agree with you there, but it’s something you get used to. You kind of have to ignore the lack of seasonings and tell yourself if I don’t eat this I’ll be weak.”
“Yeah, but at least we get to bring some of mom’s bread.”
Zane chuckled and slapped his son on the back. “True, her bread makes anything taste good.”
Belle was heating the stew again and had a fresh loaf of bread in the oven. She knew her husband and son ate a lot of her bread when they traveled but she knew fresh bread was a million times better than the days old bread they’d end up eating. Now she was mashing potatoes to cook for them as a side. She hated how poorly they had to eat while on a job so tried to make sure their first meal home was more than they could eat and as delicious as she could make it. Ediva was playing in the living room with her stuffed bunny. She was in a particularly good mood today which Belle assumed was because she finally felt better.
The stew and bread were already on the table when Zane and Gabriel made it to the house. They could smell it outside and it had both their mouths wet with hunger. They both went straight to the kitchen where she was still making the mashed potatoes for them. She smiled excitedly and turned the stove lower so she could hug them both. Zane hugged her crushingly tight in his relief to have her in his arms.
Next it was Gabriels turn “Lunch smells amazing mom”
“Well go sit down you two. The potatoes will be ready soon’ They each kissed a cheek then went to the table. Belle put the finishing touches on then heated them just a bit longer before calling Gabriel to carry the pot to the table. He came quickly and soon were all served with plates of hot food. While she was finishing the potatoes Zane had already brought his daughter to the table and put her in her high chair. Belle felt overjoyed though she was tense about talking to them about Ambrose. She was procrastinating until she couldn’t anymore because Gabriel asked “where’s my brother?”
She decided to lead with somthing fun “which one?” She said with a grin and it took them only moments to figure out what she was saying “you’re pregnant again!?” Zane asked excitedly “yes, just found out this morning when I went to pick up Ediva from Laura and Theo” They talked excitedly about that a few moments before Zane asked “where’s my second son? It’s rude of him to be late to lunch. You will not heat this up for him”
“he wont be coming to lunch or any meal for a long time. He’s training with the guards under Casimer and Rapunzels orders..” she started looking away with a frown. “why?” Zane asked, worried about what he may have done to merit that. “Can you two promise me first you will keep level heads and not freak out”
“you know I can’t promise that my love” Zane answered quickly. Gabriel just sat back in his chair with his arm crosses ‘what did he do?” Belle sighed “He was frustrated with his sisters noise making and broke her favorite toy. i started to reprimand him and he slapped me” she just came out with. “he slapped you?” Zane said in a dark tone that even Belle had never heard him use before. “Zane, he’s being punished and hopefully the guards will whip him into shape.”
“They will or I will. I’m done, no more. He is not coming back in this house. I will buy him a home of his own and put his things in it. I love you but this is the final straw. I am done putting up with his shit” Zane said in a serious tone. “theres a free house by mine” Gabriel added. “How much is it?”
“I’ll look into it”
“after lunch we look into it.” Belle didn’t respond, he needed to move out anyway and start his own life. If he lived by Gabriel he could atleast have someone watching over him. As much as Gabriel disliked his brother Belle knew he still loved him enough to protect Ambrose if he pissed off the wrong person. The tension at the table was so thick Ediva began to cry. Belle took her out of the chair and into the kitchen to wipe her off with a rag. When the men were done they all went to see how much the house next to Gabriels cost. Zane paid the owner then hugged Belle and Ediva again “I’m going to make sure Ambrose isn’t giving those knights even the smallest amount of trouble.” he turned to Gabriel “Are you going to rest or come with me son?”
“I want to come too”
“Please keep in mind he’s already being punished” Zane kissed her “I will, when we return Gabriel and I will be moving Ambrose’s things into his new home.”
“You two just came back from a trip. I’ll ask my brothers to do it”
“alright” Belle walked to each of her brothers house’s that lived close. Richard, Theo, Laura, Theo Jr, Malachai, and Erminia were happy to help.
Ambrose hurt from all the labor he was being made to do. Shoveling out horse stalls and hauling the manure to a farmer was harder than he thought. The whole time Bernadette watched him, her face serious, an unmoving mask of authority. “Why did they have to have you follow me around?”
“Because I’m a woman in a position of power. I outrank you and since you think women need a good slapping every now and then you get to deal with me, a woman who will break your nose if you touch her.” He rolled his eyes and grumbled under his breath. “Do you know what happened to the assassins Lawrence sent after your mother?”
“They were killed.”
“One by your brother and one by your father. The latter was thrown into the ocean for the fishes to eat. Your father doesn’t play around when it comes to Belle and when he finds Lawrence, he will be punished. The only reason he won’t do to you what he did to those men is because you are his son so consider yourself lucky.”
“In no way am I lucky to be Zanes son” Ambrose snapped back then felt a chill in the wind as his father said “Right now you sure as hell are boy. Don’t talk to her in that tone and continue your work” Ambrose quickly returned to work as Bernadette began to tell Zane what Ambrose had told them. “Your mother has done nothing out of the way to you ever. She’s done more for you than you deserved with how you’ve always treated her. Lawrence, he made a bad problem worse. I cant believe that weakling is still alive since he can’t live in towns. No wonder you spiraled even more out of control though I put little of that blame on him since you were a jerk before. He just put more fuel on your fire.” Zane turned to his oldest son “I promised you the next job, will you hunt Lawrence down?”
“Thank you dad but this is a job I don’t want screwed up. You have more experience and far more skill. You go collect him and I’ll stay.”
“I have faith in your abilities son but I’ll gladly go if you want that”
“Seriously, go, you’ll get him and bring him back much faster than I or if I tag along” Zane got a new horse and took off without another word or even preparing for another journey. With how angry he was he wasn’t even sure he’d be able to take Lawrence anywhere. He had the mind to kill the bastard to end his hatefulness. Gabriel asked Bernadette “want me to stay here and help with my brother if he gets out of line?’
“No, he hates female authority and itll bother him more if it’s just me. I can handle him”
“I’ll go see what my mother is up to then.”
“good to have you two back home”
“It’s good to be home though we come to this. You should be ashamed of yourself Ambrose but I know you’re not”
“shut up you suck up” Ambrose shot and Bernadette hit him “none of that!” Gabriel smiled “you definitely have this under control. Bye” Gabriel walked at a speedy pace back to his mothers. When she returned with his aunts, uncles and cousin he helped them move Ambrose’s things. When they were done Gabriel picked up his sister “I never gave you a proper hello.” Ediva smiled and hugged her older brother. Belle smiled “she always misses you and your dad just as much as I do”
“Did you try to replace the toy Ambrose broke?”
“I figured he would break it again”
“I’ll get her another and god help him if he breaks it again. I’ll be back mom” Gabriel walked away with his sister and Erminia said ‘he’ll make such a sweet father one day.”
“I know he will. He’s a good boy” Belle answered. With the information as to where Ambrose first saw Lawrence and the few other places the knights had pulled out of him Zane searched for Lawrence. It took Zane a few days but he found Lawrence asleep in a tree. With one swipe of his razor sharp blade Zane separated the branch Lawrence was sleeping on from the tree and caused him to fall out. Lawrence’s eyes widened and he tried to run but soon was pressed into the ground with a dagger pushing into his throat. “You’ve been talking to my boy you little worm. He was hard enough to handle before you warped him even more. Filling his head with bullshit about his mother. I’m taking you to him and you are going to tell him what a bullshit filled worm you are and then I may consider leaving your guts inside of your body” Zane drug Lawrence until he found some vines. He needed them to tie Lawrence up.
When that was accomplished he loaded back on his horse and rode back to his home. Lawrence looked absolutely petrified the entire way but that was just how Zane wanted him. If he was braver he might try somthing stupid and Zane couldn’t handle any more stupidity.
It was another day of hard work for Ambrose, his muscle swore and protesting at his every movement. He had cuts on his hands and arms from sword training, bruises from wrestling and hand to hand training, and he smelled of sweat and farm animal. He fell to his knees while carrying a bale of hay and didn’t think he would be able to get back up. “Come on, don’t be such a baby.” Jerry said as he passed his nephew carrying two bales of hay.
“I’m too tired.” Ambrose complained.
“The horses need to be fed more than you need rest. You can sleep when the day is over, now get up and help.”
Ambrose forced himself to his feet and hoisted the bale of hay off the ground. He walked slowly, his legs threatening to fall out from under him again. He threw hay into each stall until he had no more in his hands the took a deep breath. He needed a small break. It was raining outside so he walked out of the barn and turned his face to the sky, eyes closed as the water washed away some of the sweat. It felt good to cool off, but he knew he had to get back to work or his uncle would drag him back. As he turned to go back inside he heard the sound of hoof beats splashing through puddles. He looked back and saw his father with a man tied up behind him. Zane swung out of his saddle and down to the wet ground, his boots causing the water to splash muddy water up into the air. He grabbed the prone figure off of his horse, dragging the frightened man off. It was only then Ambrose realized it was Lawrence. Jerry came out and glared angrily at Lawrence who looked near peeing himself.
“Jerry, can you take my horse please, I need to take this fiend to the castle.”
“Sure thing, Ambrose go with your father for now, but after all this is over and done with I need to sweep out the barracks.”
“He’ll be back.” Zane replied and Jerry just nodded as he grabbed the reigns of Zane’s horse.
Ambrose followed his father wordlessly, not being brave enough to speak with how angry he looked. Zane drug Lawrence in thrown room and waited. It wasn’t long before Cantaly, Rapunzel and Casimer came into the room. “Lawrence” Rapunzel said in a royal tone of disgust. “You were let off easily just being stripped of your name and exiled. Then you shoot after Belle again using her own son. What do you have to say for yourself”
“I..I’m sorry” he whimpered. Ambrose couldn’t believe his idol right now. The man that seemed so proud and tough before was a rattlesnakes tail before his father. “sorry will not cut it this time. I’m not even sure what to do with you. You obviously can’t be trusted in exile and I’d hate to add insult to your family for them to know you are in our cells. My husband and I have considered letting Zane take off your head. Heaven knows all the womens lives you’ve taken deserve it. You stole daughters who were loved by their families. You broke the hearts of everyone that loved them. Being exiled was more than you deserved the first time”
“He killed other women?” Ambrose asked. Cantaly spoke “even i know that but then again I listen to my elders. Lawrence was a spiled rotten brat, just like yourself. When he finally found a woman fool enough to marry him he decided to have every woman that rejected him killed off because he’s petty and vindictive. Your mother never did a thing to him aside from reject his proposal. Some friend you made yourself Ambrose. You treat the people who love you like shit while idolizing this lowlife. I’m honestly ashamed to call you cousin. I only hope now you see how stupid you’ve been.”
Zanes eyes moved to his son, a stone cold gaze that chilled Ambrose to the bone and he found himself missing his mother calming Zane down. Ambrose was starting to wonder if he had been the jerk all these years and it wasn’t just the people around him. A,brose stood there silently until his father said in an antarctic voice “well?” Ambrose almost had too much pride to admit he was wrong but finally said ‘I’m sorry…”
“Your mother needs the apology. You treat everyone like crap but nobody quite like your mother. I sure as hell hope you’re ashamed of yourself Ambrose. I’m still expecting you to complete your training as a knight because I’m still not sure if you’re any better and damnit if you dont need this. If it’s not raining tomorrow I will bring your mother here at lunch and I better hear you tell her how sorry you are”
“I will” He said somberly. Rapunzel spoke “Daughter, we have been training you to be queen in our place when we step down. We want you to decide Lawrence’s fate. Should he be beheaded or forced to spend his days in the dungeon?”
“I have a better punishment for him than death or our dungeons. I sentence you to a hundred years in the prison the Isle of Mann where the prisoners are made to mine in a quarry as punishment. Only the worst go there and none of them will put up with you. Until a ship can be procured you will be staying here.”
“Guards, take him away and lock him up.” The two guards standing at the throne room door seized Lawrence and dragged him away kicking and screaming.
“He is truly lucky and you are a better ruler than I could ever be.” Zane said.
“You don’t need his blood on your hands Uncle Zane, he’s a disease and the Isle of Mann is a far worse punishment.”
Zane nodded his agreement. “Well, I need to get home to Belle I just kind of left without saying anything and Ambrose needs to get back to work.”
“We’ll see you later then and take some time off, you’ve more than earned it.” Casimer replied and Zane headedout with Ambrose walking behind him.
“So I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then?” Ambrose said as they walked into the barn and his father retrieved his horse.
“I’ll be waiting then and if she doesn’t want to see me, I’ll understand.”
Zane sighed and turned to face Ambrose. “You’re her son, so I’m sure she’ll want to make sure you’re doing well. She could never hate you Ambrose, not even a little and neither can I and you should really thank her for being your mother because if not for her I would have beat you to a pulp. So think on that and make sure your apology is sincere.” He pulled himself onto his horse. “I love you Ambrose, work hard.”
“I will.” Zane clicked his tongue and his horse walked out of the barn and into the rain.
Upon arriving home he walked right in, glad to see his wife and daughter. Belle ran over to Zane and hugged him “they told me you went to find Lawrence. What happened?”
‘hes being sent to Mann.”
“He’s seen the light thank goodness. He apologized to me and is going to tell you how sorry he is tomorrow. I’m sorry I left without telling you bye”
“You never think clearly when you’re angry. I understand.” Zane wanted to scoop her up and cuddle on the couch but he needed to wash, dry then put clean clothes on “I wish our little girl was sleeping so you could shower with me”
“I know, we’ll be waiting right here though”
“I hate to admit it to you but I didnt eat while searching for Lawrence. Could you make me something while I shower”
“Zane” she said in a disappointed tone “I know dear, I just wanted to be home and I was so pissed off that I couldn’t be with you that I didnt think of eating. Now I’m starving and feel weak”
“Yes, hurry with your shower and I’ll make a snack to hold you over while I make a big meal. You are going to be eating until you can’t eat any more” Zane kissed Belles cheek “Thank you, my sweet, sweet Belle” She smiled at him, making Zane feel warm despite his shivers. Belle made him two grilled cheese before starting on what she really planned to make. She had just bought a chicken yesterday that was plucked and ready to cook. Belle listened for Ediva, always trying to be alert of where she was. She thought of Ambrose actually being sorry for his behavior and she began to cry as she prepared the chicken for their oven. She started crying so much with all her emotions she had to stop and sit down. Soon Ediva came crawling in, she always came if her mother was upset. Even if Belle wasn’t crying Ediva would know and come.
Belle smiled down at her daughter and washed her hands before picking Ediva up and hugging her “I love you so much. Mommy will be ok” Belle said as she tried to stop crying. When she set Ediva down Ediva went back to playing while Belle returned to the chicken. Zane came staright to the kitchen once he was dressed and noticed right away Belle had been crying. he hugged her from behind “you ok?”
“I’m just so happy Ambrose is going to be different…maybe I havent been such a bad mother” Zane turned her around “You have never for one second been a bad mother to any of our children. Ambrose being the way he was wasn’t your fault Belle.” Belle nodded “Please don’t leave for awhile”
“I’m not, I’m taking time off, a lot of time. I’m going to stay home for atleast five months and thats that. If there are any jobs to be had Gabriel can go. He’s skilled enough now and I trust he can do it. I need to help him with his stealth but he is amazing in all other areas.”
“If you think he’s ready i know he is. Go eat your grilled cheese while I work on this”
“You dont have to go all out”
“I need to. You didnt eat after barely eating as it is on jobs” Zane sat down and quickly devoured his sandwiches. After dinner they played with their daughter until it was her bedtime. She didn’t put up much of a fight before settling down so they could go to bed. In their bedroom Zane lifted Belle, carrying her to the bed. She smiled up at him as he laid her down and began to rain kisses on her face and neck. “I missed you far too much.” he whispered between kissing her cheek and chin. “I missed you too.”
“If I had the energy in me I’d make love to you” Zane said as he looked into her eyes. “good thing I only want cuddles” she answered in a voice like summer. Zane got under the blankets with his wife and pulled her close. He met their lips and held her in the kiss a few moments. “goodnight my beautiful gift. Always be mine”
“Of course I’ll always be yours Zane”
Zane woke first the next morning with a stretch. Belle shifted against him, making a little moaning sound that instantly stirred him up. He kissed her as he trailed his hand up her leg and under nightgown, his fingers pushing past her panties to slip inside her. She moaned, still only half awake as he body began to come alive under his slow teasing. Her legs began to shake as he built her up, his lips staying against hers to muffle her cries. He stopped to pull her panties and his pants off then sat back and pulled her into his lap, pulling her down onto his waiting erection. She whimpered, trying to be quiet so she wouldn’t wake Ediva.
“We have to hurry.” She said between moans.
“I can’t, I missed you. I need to take my time.” He sucked and bit at her breasts as he lifted and lowered her. She gripped his shoulders, her back arching as she quivered around his shaft, making him moan. “You feel so amazing baby.”
“Zane, please.” She begged.
He tipped her back onto the bed and thrust into her faster, making it harder for her to stay quiet. His lips found hers as he found his release and rolled onto his back, taking her with him. They laid there gasping, their heart beating so fast they felt like they might burst from their chests. “I could die a happy man.” Zane finally said.
“You better never die at all.”
“I won’t, I promise.” A few minutes later they heard Ediva making noise. “I’ll get her.” He said and kissed her softly before getting up and pulling his pants on. He washed his hands then went into his daughter’s room. “Good morning sweet heart.” He said and Ediva smiled happily at him. “Someone needs a diaper change then we can have breakfast and go see Ambrose.”
Belle smiled as she listened to him, loving what a good father he was. She got up, dressed and decided to make them blueberry pancakes since the blueberries needed to be used anyway. When Zane came out with their daughter she was wearing a beautiful dress and Zane had placed a butterfly clip in the small amount of blonde hair their daughter had. “so cute” Belle said then looked back at the pancakes she was making. Zane took one of the already prepared pancakes and cut it up for Ediva before sitting her in the high chair.
After breakfast they walked to the castle. As Zane and Ediva approached Ambrose was just finishing his run. He went straight over to his mother and hugged her. This in itself was making Belle have to force back tears. Ambrose hadn’t hugged her in years. When he pulled back Ambrose said “I’m really sorry I’ve been such a jerk mom. I’ve thought over things since dad brought Lawrence back and I’ve been a real bastard to you. I promise I’ll never hit you again”
“I love you baby”
“I love you too. I’ve got to get back to training now but I’ll figure out how to make things up to you when I’m a fully trained Knight”
“Ok baby” Ambrose hugged his sister too “sorry Ediva” Ambrose said before going about his next part of training. Belle only managed to keep her tears in until she was back home with Zane. He quickly set his daughter down and took Belle in his arms. She gripped Zanes shirt as she cried into him. When she managed to stop Zane said “I know you hate being away from our children, especially when they are little but why don’t we get sombody to keep Ediva so we can just be together a day or two, please Belle”
Belle nodded “let see if her big brother wants to watch her”
“I’ll make Edivas bag”
Once they had the bag packed and Belle had checked and re-checked it they headed over to Gabriel’s. He was sitting outside sharpening his knives and put them away when he looked up and saw his family. “Come on in and let me put these away real quick.” He picked up the knives and carried them in the house, putting them in a secret compartment in the wall that was too high for Ediva or anyone shorter than him to get too. “So what brings you three this way?”
“We were wondering if you’d like to watch Ediva for a couple of days.” Belle said and Gabriel gave her a big smile.
“Of course, you know I love spending time with my baby sister.” He held out his hands and Ediva leaned towards him. Belle let her go and Zane sat the bag down on the couch. “I’m glad she’s feeling better and how are you feeling mom, with the new one.”
She rested a hand on her stomach. “I’m feeling fine now that I’m not so stressed. Your brother apologized to me and Ediva so I feel loads better. He seemed genuine and I hope he stays that way.”
“Well if he doesn’t you know he’ll be run into the ground until he’s puking his guts out. Casimer, Bernadette, and Jerry don’t play around and him slapping you only made it worse for him.” Ediva grabbed his nose and Gabriel laughed. “That’s my nose little one, you have one too.” He pinched Ediva’s nose and she giggled. “Alright you two get out of here and spend some time together, you’ve both earned it.”
“If Ediva needs anything please come over.” Belle worried even though she knew Gabriel would take good care of her.
“Don’t worry mom, I’ll take good care of her.”
Zane took his wifes hand and guided her out. Gabriel did a quick search of the house to be sure he hadn’t left a single blade out. Once he was sure of this he began to play with and enjoy the time he had with his sister. “what would you enjoy doing beautiful?”
“You’ve been working hard out on your job, you choose”
“Belle, you’ve had to raise Ambrose and a lot of periods on your own. It is you who deserves to pick what we do.”
“This would be the perfect time to enjoy nature. We dont have Ediva to fuss over and I’m not pregnant enough to tire easily.”
“even so, you know I can carry you no matter how far along you are” Belle smiled as they walked out of town. They spent the entire day just roaming around, enjoying the fresh air and sights. When night time came they found a wide open clearing where Zane sat indian style. Belle sat in his legs and leaned against him. Zane kissed her cheek in response and wrapped his arms snugly around her waist. Belle gave a contented sigh “this is so nice”
“It is” Zane responded after giving her shoulder a kiss. “Do you think Ediva and Gabriel are having fun?”
“I know they are. Gabriels a good big brother.”
“I feel lucky to be your wife Zane. Never worry about when I’m dealing with the children on my own or how I might feel about bloodshed. You have been making me happy since the day I was born and you’ve given me such a wonderful little family. I love each and every one of our children so much. Even the little one I havent met yet. You are always so sweet and gentle, far sweeter than a lot of my friends husbands. Truly, all I want you to know is how happy I am with you. I feel beyond fortunate that you love me.” Zane held Belle tighter in a hug before turning her head for a kiss.
Zanes heart felt warm as he kissed Belle, happy to hear those words from her. “I guess we’ll never agree on who is the luckier one. Do you have any idea how long I wanted this life with you before I asked? Have I ever told you that?”
“No, not really, you said years”
“I wanted to marry you since we started dating. I just didnt feel good enough to ask. I figured your father was just letting you do what you wished until a better suitor came along and took you from me”
“That was foolish to think like that”
“I know that now. I just felt lucky you would even be mine Belle. No words can explain how amazing you are to me.” They kissed again then relaxed under the stars. When Belle was sleeping Zane stood and carried her home, happy to be back and glad he was able to stay by his wifes side for many months to come. In reality Zane was glad that he hadn’t been right back then because he truly didn’t know if he would have been able to let Belle go if she wanted someone else. It was an alternate reality he never even wanted to think about and thankfully would never have to think about. zane kissed his wifes head and thought only of the new baby and the months ahead.
~ The End ~