I woke the following day feeling satisfied that I had done the right thing breaking off my engagement.
Leo phoned and said, “I do hope you haven’t forgotten the ball for my official birthday? It’s next week and I would really appreciate it if you would be my official partner, I’m too busy to go hunting out a supermodel, and I know you bought that stunning dress in Venice this year. We’ll dress you up in some of the family jewels and you’ll clean up well and pass for a princess.” I laughed, it was good to be teased by him again.
On the day before the ball I arrived in the capital and went to the family part of the palace. I was sitting in the garden, having a quiet cup of coffee when Leo came into the garden, also seeking some quiet time. We decided to go shopping together, I needed shoes to wear to the ball and both of us needed to get birthday presents for his father whose birthday was in a few days.
We set out in an area where I was sure I could find what I needed, and at the second shop found exactly what I wanted, Leo looked at the height of the heels and started teasing me about how women change their appearance. We walked on towards a shop that has fly fishing gear, that being his father’s renewed fancy as a hobby.
I was telling him of my visit to Theresa and her little family, and how good it had felt cuddling the baby. He stopped and put an arm around me, bent his head to my ear and said, “One day you will have your own and you will be a great mother”.
Suddenly he was torn from me and there was a flurry of blows. Philip yelling “She is mine, keep your hands off her” and hitting Leo. Two men nearby came running over to hold him off. Philip looked at me and said sorrowfully, “Is this man really why you broke off our wedding?”. He obviously didn’t recognise Leo who had a handkerchief to his nose as it was bleeding. I replied “Philip that only had to do with you and your attack on me”.
He looked at me and said “You just don’t understand, do you?”
A policeman came running up, recognised Leo and asked if he should arrest Philip. Leo said “No, not this time, I’ll deal with it elsewhere”.
We returned to the palace, and the doctor came and checked Leo. He would have a black eye shortly, but nothing was broken.
The night of the ball was fun. Family dinner first, then I rushed off to put on my dress, and Leo arrived with a necklace and earrings that were magnificent. His eye was rather red, and the area around it was darkening. I used a bit of makeup to hide it as best we could.
For some reason the ball was less stressful Leo than the previous year, he was settling into his official role and felt more at home with it. He was receiving recognition from the politicians and the press for some of his initiatives and felt he was doing worthwhile work for the country.
We had just come off the dance floor together and were chatting to the new American ambassador when Leo said “I wonder he has the gall to come here tonight”. I turned and there was Philip.