For King and Country – Chapter 19 Excerpt

Augie leaned back and sipped his tea.

“It’s been a very nice week,” he said.  “You know, it’s been several very nice weeks.  Things are looking good.  God is in his heaven, the king’s on his throne, and all is right with the world.”

“Nothing to worry about but the impending doom sure to destroy us all,” said Zoey, from the other side of the breakfast nook.

“You need to stop worrying, dear.  After all, you’re a dragon.”  He laughed.  “If the rest of us get burned to ashes, you can still fly away.”

“How can you say that?” she gasped.  “Don’t you know that anyone or anything that means you harm has to go through me?  Even if it kills me.”

“Don’t be upset, my love.  Senta assures me that she has everything in hand.  Furthermore, she tells me that no attack will occur before Treuary 22nd of next year.”

“What if she’s wrong?  What if she made that date up?”

“She wouldn’t do that.  Would she?  I mean, to what end?”

“Does she really need a reason to do any of the things she does?” wondered Zoey.

“Yes.  Well, maybe not a good reason.  Now you’ve gone and made me depressed.”

“I’ve just given you something to think about—the same thing I’ll be having nightmares about for the next few days.”  She stood up, bent over, and kissed him deeply.  “See yourself out.”

Then she was gone.

Sitting until he finished his tea, Augie finally got up and made his way out of the huge house he had built for his dragon paramour, and crossed the gardens, now bare and grey, to the side entrance of the Dechantagne mansion.

At the top of the steps, Hsturrn opened the door for him.

Does my wife have people here for breakfast?” he asked in the reptilian’s tongue.

Breakfast is over.”

Nodding in acknowledgement, he entered and made his way to the elevator.

Walking down the hallway, he slowed to examine some of the photographs mixed among the paintings on the wall.

One in particular caught his attention.  It must have been taken in late Magnius or early Kafirius, almost exactly twenty-two years before.  The photograph was a family portrait taken in front of the original Dechantagne house in Birmisia.  It was a large house with two stories and gabled roof, though nowhere near the size of their current home.  From left to right were Auntie Iolanthe and Uncle Radley.  He was holding Iolana tucked in one arm.  She would have been about two and a half.  Then there was Mrs. Godwin, whom Augie had heard of but didn’t remember, then Augie’s mother, holding him, still a newborn, in her arms.  He wondered for a moment where his father was, but then remembered that he would have been in Brechalon at that time.  Finally, on the right, was Mrs. Colbshallow and her son Saba, in his blue constable’s uniform.

Saba had been having a rough time lately, Augie mused.  Lost his job and charged with manslaughter.  Augie didn’t hold with wife-beaters.  Still, beating the man to death was a bit much.  Saba was a family friend though, and such things had to be seen to.

Augie was so lost in thought that he scarcely noticed when he entered the elevator, or for that matter exited it.  He caught himself as he passed his wife’s door.  He wondered for a moment if he should stop in and see how she was feeling, but he didn’t.  He continued to his own door and entered his suite.

The room was a warm, comfortable space that still featured many of the items that had been in his room when he was a boy.  Stuffed dinosaur heads were hung on the wall.  A hutch filled with carefully painted tin soldiers was directly across the room from the fireplace.  Between them was a sofa and chair.  He stepped over to the sofa and plopped down.

“I didn’t know you were home.”  The voice of his wife, as she stepped out of his bedroom, startled him.

“What are you doing here?” he wondered.

“I was organizing your shoes, and once I got started organizing, I couldn’t stop.  I’ve gotten your suits organized now.”

“That was very thoughtful.”

He stood up and crossed the room, kissing her on the cheek, before continuing through his bedroom and into his closet.

“Well done,” he said.  “A place for everything and everything in its place.  I need to get rid of some of these suits.  I don’t wear them anymore.”

“If you’ll point them out to me,” said Maria, “we can donate them to shrine members.  I’m sure there are many young men among them who would appreciate a fine suit.”

“That’s fine.  Say, what are you about today?  Do you plan on organizing the kitchen or the gardener’s shed, or did you have something else planned?”

“As a matter of fact, I decided that I would do a little site-seeing today.  There are still many places in the colony that I haven’t seen after nearly two years here.  I haven’t been out to any of the dinosaur ranches.  For that matter, I haven’t been out of the city limits at all.”

“Are you going with some of the ladies from Shrine, or perhaps Mother and Gladys?” he asked, still flipping through his suits.

“No.  Just me, and of course, Maxwell.”

“Well, we can’t have that,” he said, turning around.  “I’ll take you around.”

“You’re not too busy?”

“No.  I do have to stop by the Gurrman Building and pick up some paperwork, if you don’t mind, but that won’t take but a moment.”

“That would be lovely,” said Maria.

“Shall we meet downstairs then?”

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