While back home to see his mother, Philip took the opportunity to go to the head office to find out if a foreign wife was an impediment to promotion in the service. When he realised that the service made a special case for foreign spouses to quickly obtain citizenship, he was relieved. That would make Anthea more his and more of an asset in his ambitions. He also discussed the use of her title and discovered it was best to check with the protocol office in any new country to see if that was a good idea or not.
He returned feeling he had almost everything settled.
He spent an afternoon at a jewellers shop selecting and buying her engagement ring.
Two nights later he took Anthea to their favourite upmarket restaurant and proposed to her. Anthea compared this restrained, formal proposal to the rather wild one she had had for her first marriage, and decided it was far more appropriate. She accepted and Philip produced the ring and put it on her finger. They had a moment of confusion as in his country they used the left hand and in hers the right to indicate betrothal and marriage. He insisted she follow his custom, and rather than fight on such a happy occasion, she let him put it on her left hand.
Once he was sure the ring fitted, he suggested she keep it hidden until he had had a chance to approach her father. She laughed and said that as a widow she was entitled to make up her own mind.
That night in bed she was delighted at his ardour. The engagement seemed to have made him love her more. When she, satiated, complimented him on it, he held her close and said “Just wait till you are completely mine, I will make you the happiest you have ever been”. She went to sleep in his arms, and several times that night he woke her again for more lovemaking.
He made an appointment with her father for the next Saturday morning and went to ask his permission to marry his daughter. He was rather disconcerted when her father said, “She’s a grown woman and can make up her own mind.”
They had dinner with her family that night and they toasted the pair and their future together. For the first time he met her brother, who seemed to take a dislike to him.
He informed the ambassador, who congratulated him. David, however, seemed less enthusiastic about it, but complimented him on catching such a prize.
When she went to the palace during the week, she sought out Gerard, the old king, to thank him for pushing her to follow her attraction for Philip. He was delighted to have been instrumental in her happiness. He said “Well at least this one isn’t a womaniser like that wastrel you married the first time, but keep an eye on his drinking, I’ve seen him drunk at the Palace you know”.
Leo, when she told him, simply asked if the man made her happy in all ways”. Then he gave her a hug and said “I love you so much, as long as you are happy, that’s all that matters”. She hugged him back and said “Now I’ll have to play matchmaker and find you someone to marry.” She didn’t notice his expression.
When Anthea came and told me she was going to marry that man, I felt as though my world was in tatters. Somehow I’d just hoped that she would see what she means to me and respond. All she said was that she would find me a wife. I didn’t want anyone but her as my wife.
My father seemed delighted at her happiness. He and I talked about it, and how sad and broken she had seemed when she returned home after her husband died.
When I told him how I felt about her, he said “Well my boy, you hesitated and now you have lost. It’s a pity; she would make a wonderful partner in this ‘royalty business’.”
He can be so maddening, my father. He does mean well.
Anthea’s brother, John, came to visit a week later. He’d been out of the country working for a few years, and had returned home, for good he said. He’d gone to work for the bank where I’d been before my sudden push into the throne. He was enjoying it, and brought greetings from those I’d worked with previously.
Over supper, the conversation turned to Anthea, and he said something that surprised me, and gave me a glimmer of hope.
“She’s behaving like her 16 year old self again”, he said, wrinkling his nose and brow in disgust. “Those infantile infatuations, one would have hoped she’d outgrow them by now.” I thought when she’d finally heard some of the stories of her husband’s behaviour she would have re-assessed what she wants in a man, but it seems as though she hasn’t changed there. It seems so stupid in a woman who is otherwise so sensible and intelligent.”
When I asked what he meant, he continued “she falls for someone based on purely physical attraction, and disregards their nature and character. That sort of attraction is fine for an affair, but not for marriage. This one I don’t like or trust. Something I can’t quite put my finger on.”
When I asked if he’d heard any stories about this one behaving like her late husband, he too had not heard anything. He said one more thing before the conversation moved back to banking regulation matters and sport. “There are more ways than just infidelity to be a bad husband.”