28 June 2010

Principessa: New Contours

A few days later, Lenny sat in a plush leather upholstered seat, on a private plane heading out to Italy. The sky was cloudy and overcast, mirroring her exact mood. She didn't know what to expect. She had to come to grips with her new heritage and her new family. The only thing that seemed to be stable in this chaotic world of hers was Benito, the man who had delivered this untimely news to her. He sat opposite her, with his feet crossed at the ankles and was reading an autobiography of some sort. Lenny exhaled, for what seemed like the hundredth time.

"Princess, I assure you everything will be fine, you do not need to worry," Benito said looking up from his book and smiling at her.

"Ben, how can I not worry? What if this is a mistake or what if they do not like me... or... that I'm not made of Royal material..." Lenny said panicked.

"Principessa, you are every bit a Royal, as I am my father's son... you may not see it but I definitely do... and so will the people. Please try to relax," Ben said.

Lenny leaned back and closed her eyes. The last couple of days, she had been trying to conjure up memories of when she was a child, but the only ones that came to light was her time in foster care and that was a side, she didn't want to revisit. She told herself to relax, to unwind... and suddenly, an idea sprung to mind, could she ask Ben to remain at her side? She opened her eyes and caught him staring at her, she thought he would look away, but his gaze held hers.

"What are you thinking Princess?" Ben said quietly.

She had to get used to being called by that title, "Ben, when we get to the palace, what will happen to you?"

"As King Rinaldo, will no longer require my services, I will go back home," Ben replied, putting his book down.

"And where is home?" Lenny asked.

"Home is in Tuscany, your Highness," Ben replied softly.

"And is Tuscany like Rome?" Lenny asked.

"No, they are very different Princess, you will see once you get there," Ben replied, "Tuscany has rolling green pastures and Cypress trees, the smell of lemons and stone houses. Rome has it's architecture stemmed in history, it's shopping, the tourist trappings and all sorts. Everything a tourist could possibly want and if you enjoy books... you will very much enjoy what there is on offer."

"How do you know, I like books?" Lenny asked.

Damn, he slipped up on that one. How on earth was he going to explain that to her, he was about to open his mouth when the captain's voice came through the speakers and pronounced, they would be landing soon with a welcome return. He watched as Lenny buckled herself in and so did he. It was as if she had forgotten her previous question and went back to staring outside the window. He could see the worry and fatigue all over her face, she had been frowning the last couple of hours, since they had boarded the plane. She was going back to a life she did not know, nor how to start and yet, he realised she was very bit a Princess dressed in a maroon dress, the bodice cupping her ample breasts and clinging to her every curve as it sashayed out from her knees like a mermaid fish tail. Her hair was neatly tied back in a ponytail and her make up was simple, not that she needed any, she was beautiful as she was but he had gathered, she was very unaware of how beautiful she was, because she was fretting so much. He had spent the last couple of days by her side, only opening his mouth when she had asked his opinion. She was thoughtful, witty but now she had slunk back into her shell and was afraid to come out again.

As the plane hit the tarmac, he saw her eyes widen with surprise and she leaned forward to take a closer look outside the window. He followed her gaze and noticed the crowds of people waving Italian flags and cheering for their new Principessa.

Ben walked out of the plane first, standing at the top of the stairs, looking around for any impending threat, but Italy was a peaceful country. He stood aside and watched as Lenny entered into view, the crowd erupted, engulfing her with loud screams as if she was the next best thing to the Beatles. Gone was the shy young woman and here was a confident young woman waving and smiling at the crowds. He held out his arm and she took it and they walked down the stairs together.

*** *** ***

Ben helped her out of the bullet proof black Rolls Royce and felt her tremble, "You will be fine Princess," he tried to sooth her but she smiled weakly. He led her away from the car, towards the walkway to the palace. He watched as she took in the vast extremity of the Royal Palace with it's white washed exteriors and high walls, angular square windows with their matching white shutters and a Moroccan coloured terracotta roof. It's grandeur was breathtaking, as were the gardens full of blooms. Ben led her up the stairs to the open gallery, where the walls were covered with floor to ceiling portraits of past Royals and a chandelier bigger then her room back in London, it was breathtaking and Ben heard her exhale. She was mesmerized by the frescoes on the ceilings standing in the centre.

"This is absolutely breathtaking," she managed to murmur.

"Yes, it is exquisite," Ben said, "But we must meet his Royal Imperial in the Library for refreshments," as he guided her towards the library. The door man opened the door and if the gallery was stunning, this was beyond imaginable. Lenny walked in, her mouth half open, stunned.

"This is so so beautiful," she gasped with utter surprise.

"I'm glad you think so," came the voice from behind her.

She spun around and there standing amidst the gold embellished furniture was an elderly gentleman and a woman by his side. They were casually but smartly dressed and the elderly woman walked towards Lenny and drew her in a hug, cupping her head in her hand.

"Il mio nipote, it' s così buona infine vederlo e tenere," the woman said, drawing away from her and touching her cheek, "You' re mai così bello e you' la ve viene a casa,"

"I'm sorry, I don't understand Italian," Lenny apologised.

"Your grandmother expressed how happy she is to finally meet you and how beautiful you are and that you're home," Benito interjected. He faced the elderly woman and spoke back in Italian, "La vostra altezza, Lenora non capisce l'italiano ma ho tradotto che cosa avete detto ed è felice di essere qui, se non una punta nervosa."

"What did you just say to her?" Lenny asked Ben.

"I told her, that I am happy to translate for her, as you don't speak Italian yet and that you are happy but nervous to be here," Benito smiled.

Lenny smiled, "Thank you." She looked up and saw that the elderly gentleman was standing behind his wife.

"Welcome to your new home, my sweet. You will excuse my poor English, it is not my first language but I am Rinaldo De Luca, your grandfather and I will like you to come and sit with us for some refreshments," he showed them to the table and chairs.

Lenny sat beside Benito and her grand parents sat opposite her. Benito had agreed to translate for them as they could be there for a while if Rinaldo were to speak English. He spoke.

And so Benito said, "Your grandfather wishes for you to stay at the Palace here, he hopes you will find a place here that you can call home. He does sincerely apologise that he could not come to get you himself, due to his commitments to the country and his ailing health, but does not want you to worry yourself. He will explain in due course, the way history has been laid out, why you were in Foster care but of course, there is a time and place for everything and they will show you around the Royal Palace."

*** ***

Lenny was shown to every room in the Palace grounds, introduced to all the staff and shown the exquisite gardens. She decided to take everything in her stride, but the grandeur of it all but suffocating to say the least and she excused herself and headed out into the gardens. She ran from the ballroom, down the stairs and towards the fountain in the centre of the gardens. It was all too much to take in, she sat down beside the fountain and touched the clear water, watching the exotic fish circling the statue. The water was cool beneath her fingertips and she looked up, the enormity of the palace was striking in the foreground. This was hers... and one day, she would inherit it all. It suddenly put everything into perspective.

She looked up to see Benito walking towards her, she watched as he handsomely strolled towards her. He had worn black suit trousers and a black shirt, that he had miraculously rolled up by his elbows to show steely bronzed forearms with a light dusting of fine hair. His hair was still immaculate despite the blazing heat and sun and his eyes, piercing. He stopped in front of her and sat beside her.

"Are you alright Lenny?" he asked.

"You didn't call me Princess..." Lenny said surprised.

"Princess is your title but not who you are, you are Lenny... softly spoken, nervous Lenny," Benito smiled, "So, how are you coping with the new found information?"

"Not as well, as I'd like. What if I'm not made to be this Princess after all? What if I fail miserably? What then? I'm a failure and a disgrace to my family..."

"You already speak like a Princess... if you see Lenny, you worry too much, when you should really be enjoying this... you are of blue blood, as they say right? You are not a failure and you would certainly be no disgrace and you have just mentioned your family... who you have met merely a few hours ago and only a few days ago, you had none, not that you knew... so what does that tell you?"

*** ***

Rinaldo and his wife Emeline watched from the second storey window out onto the gardens, to where Benito had just arrived and sat next to Lenora who seemed quite taken a back by the whole experience. Rinaldo spoke to his life in Italian, "I'm sure this experience must be very daunting for her,"

"Daunting is too a tame word Rinaldo, she must be scared, unprepared for what's to come... or how to handle the position. It was a few decades ago, when you asked me to marry you and I was a mere commoner brought to this position but she... she is of noble blood... this is what her fate is, but I find that she is finding it extremely hard to take it all in... how will she cope for the Ball?" replied Emeline in her natural tongue.

There was a pregnant pause, Rinaldo studied the two lone figures happily talking outside and his eyes never leaving their faces, "She seems comfortable with him, with Benito, don't you think?"

"Yes, are you asking him to stay?" Emeline asked, reading his thoughts.

"I think I will be, yes," Rinaldo replied.


Benito never left Lenny's side as they walked the Palace grounds. There were prolonged silences that lingered in the air, they weren't uncomfortable but the complete opposite. He watched her from the corner of his eye, she was looking at the grass and she had been for quite some time.

"Why do you look at the grass so much? You may miss out on the bigger picture," he asked softly.

"Oh, sorry, I didn't know I was staring at it so intently," she giggled, "I've just never seen grass so lush and so green before, silly me. I was just amazed by it... were you saying something?" she said looking at him.

"No, nothing at all," he smiled. At that moment a gentleman appeared in a smartly dressed suit and announced that his Imperial Rinaldo De Luca would like to see Benito at once. He excused himself and left Lenny by herself.

He was brought back to the Library, where Benito was staring outside the window and from what Benito could see, he was staring at his grand child, "She is beautiful, isn't she? Like a treasure waiting to be unravelled."

Benito remained silent, waiting for orders to leave the palace as his mission was done. Instead his Imperial Highness, turned around and looked at him, "Benito, I understand that you have for filled your mission and brought back my grand daughter to me... but I wonder, if it's possible you could stay a while longer."

Benito tried to silence the beat of his heart, as he could suddenly feel it ringing in his ears, "What are you proposing?"

"I'm proposing that you stay here... it seems my grand daughter has taken a liking to you... she seems comfortable with you and in order for her to settle here and find her way as a Princess, you would be the next best thing. Of course, you will be here living in the Palace grounds and all your needs taken care of, would that be suitable?"

Benito thought long and hard, "And what if I choose to decline?"

"You don't have a choice," Rinaldo spoke softly but the authority was masked somewhat.

"Then that's settled then," Benito said.

"Yes, indeed it is." Rinaldo replied, pleased with himself.

21 June 2010

Principessa: Truth Surfaces

She was running through the fields of happy faces all towering over her, she felt so small compared to these gigantic stemmed sunflowers. The sun was burning a path leading somewhere... a place she could not see, for the sunlight was blinding her perception. She edged onto the path, following eagerly, only to fall forwards into a great black pit... and into some body's arms.

Lenny sat up bolt straight, she found herself in bed and immediately touched her head, another dizzying spell. She winced at the pain, closing her eyes to the extremity of pain and as she opened them slowly, she noticed she was in a room, all white washed, fresh white linens and the faint smell of flowers... she couldn't make out what kind of smell it was but it was far from intoxicating. She poised to touch the flooring of the kept room only to have someone tatter, the sound emanating from the shadows. She paused and looked up, the person walked towards her but she did not recognise him.

"Who are you? What am I doing here?" Lenny asked fervently.

"Please sit back down Princess," the deep husky voice projected back.

"Princess? Me? No... that can't be right... my name is... my name is..." Lenny tried to think, tried to rummage through her thoughts, she couldn't remember what her name was, she panicked. She gulped down, her mouth, her throat dry, "What is my name... and who am I?"

The silence deafening.

"Who am I, sir?" Lenny said more astutely. Lenny watched as the gentleman bowed down in front of her, she was puzzled to why he was doing that and was about to ask him to get up when his answer confirmed that.

"You are the Royal Highness... Princess Lenora Elena De Luca of Italy. Your highness, you are Princess and second to the throne."

"There must be a mistake!" Lenny replied back.

"No, there is no such mistake..." the gentleman replied back, "I have been ordered to bring you back to Italy, your Highness by his Imperial..."

"What is your name?" Lenny asked.

"My name is Benito Mancini, your highness but you can call me Ben. I have been informed that you will incur loss of memory for a few hours, due to the fall you sustained. You were unconscious for several minutes... so you must rest up before we can proceed with travel," Ben stood up and Lenny saw how tall and broad he was. His eyes were a startling grey and he was devastating.

"I don't have a passport..." Lenny hummed.

"You won't be needing one, your Highness. You will be flying by private jet to Italy and there you will be met by the Imperial... you're grandfather Rinaldo De Luca."

*** *** ***

Ben watched the surprise and bewilderment surface. Her eyes had gone from a rich chocolate brown to a foggy cold black, she was obviously trying to gain head and tail of the whole situation. He'd tried to break the news to her, as best as he could but how could you break news to someone who had never been aware of their heritage. He did reside with her, it must have been tough to strive to survive, managing a numerous amount of jobs, only to be told that they were Italy's most prized possession. Royalty.

When Rinaldo had summoned him to the palace a few months ago, he had gone without further thought. He had a duty to do and this mission was almost over, once he brought her back to her native Italy, back into the arms of her Royal Family.

16 June 2010

Principessa: Meeting Albert

Lenny walked into the Vintage book store.  There was something appealing about old ancient books, who hadn't seen the light of day from the first day they had been published, to the ever present day. She was fascinated by the showmanship of some of them and the stories they told. She loved first editions and loved pealing back to see the author's name emblazoned in gold on the front. Her heart always fluttered when she was handed an old copy of a long lost story by Albert, the Vintage shop owner. They had become close acquaintances since she'd delved into this part of the neighbourhood, like her, he shared the same common interest in books and ancient old things. He had inherited the book store from his father, and his father's father before him and was hoping to pass it down to his daughter, who was studying at Cambridge university, but he had suspected she wasn't that keen on inheriting a miserable run down shop. He had expressed his concerns with Lenny one afternoon about the future of his book store and she had sympathised with him tremendously and she had tried her best to convey to him, that his bookstore was a treasure and why wouldn't his daughter not want it? It was a historical landmark, an artifact that has stood the sands of time and of course, he had mentioned that if his daughter did not want ownership of it, he would gladly pass it to the hands of Lenny and Lenny paused.

"Me? I couldn't possibly... I mean, yes of course, I would be most honoured," she heard herself stammer. It was truly a unique gift, for one to pass down. An heirloom entrusted to someone with the same love and passion for all things written and published. She remembered the way Albert's eyes and face lit up when she had accepted on condition, if his daughter refused it and he had set about putting it in writing.

"Good morning Albert," she cheered, as she entered the shop.

Albert was reading the paper and he looked up, smiling diligently towards Lenny, "Good morning to you Lenora. How are you this morning?"

Lenny beamed, "I'm good and yourself?"

"Mighty dandy for seeing you today. Have you got any plans today or just enjoying the sun?" Albert asked.

"I think I may just see how it goes... have you got anything new in store?" Lenny asked, as she hovered around the book titles.

"Nothing new, as when you were last here," Albert chimed, "But I'm sure there's always something that'll tickle your fancy."

Lenny smiled, after several minutes she couldn't find anything to amuse herself, smiled and said goodbye to Albert. It was bustling outside, she stopped to admire the view and stepped out onto the pavement, not noticing the commotion taking place a few metres down the road. She began walking towards the bus stop when someone shoved her out of the way, it happened so fast she hit the brick wall head on and slid down it, blacking out.

*** ***

He watched as the thief made his way through the crowds of people, trying and failing to find a swift exit but in his haste, he'd attracted a crowd. There was no way, he was going to intervene and risk someone finding out his true identity. He watched the moment unravel,  Lenny was leaving the Vintage Book store and threading the pavement when the thief pushed and shoved innocent bystanders out of the way, he was heading towards Lenny. She was completely unaware of the whole fiasco behind her and then he realised Lenny was in the path of this thief. He started to sprint towards her but he watched in horror as the burly thief swept through the street, knocking her head first into the wall. He watched as she slid down the wall like dripping paint. He ran towards her, as quick as he could, he bent over and saw a nasty gash on her forehead, her eyes were closed. He picked her up, she was lighter then he had expected and he carried her away and into a side street away from prying eyes.

Principessa: Books & Pop Tarts

The sunshine filtered through the blinds of Lenny's bedroom window, she yawned and stretched in bed. Thankfully it was her day off. A whole twenty four hours to herself, to do whatever she pleased. She got out of bed slowly, grabbing her discarded dog eared book sitting haphazardly to one side of the bed and walked the short distance to the kitchen. She put two pop tarts into the toaster and poured a glass of concentrated orange juice and sat on the stool in front of the ancient TV set she had brought down the market for a cheap twenty quid. It was big and bulky, nothing technical about it but the plug. There was no high-definition qualities, no extra channels, just bog standard terrestrial channels. She put the warmly toasted pop tarts onto a plate and started nibbling.

She jumped into the shower a few minutes later and put on comfy jeans and a woollen roll neck jumper and rolled her luscious brown hair into a bun, she grabbed her bag and coat and headed outside into the sun. The street was already teaming with families, taking their children out for a stroll. She was going to do the exact same.

*** *** *** *** ***

He watched her from across the road, as she stepped out from her small rented apartment. She was dressed casually in denim jeans, grey trainers and a purple woollen jumper. Her hair was pulled back from her face and she was wearing her woolly coat. She didn't look anything like her picture, but he was told it was her. He got up discreetly from the park bench he'd been sitting on for the earliest part of this Sunday morning and slowly followed her. He was told by his informants that due to her parents indecision, they had given her up and she had been passed through the foster care system and unfortunately to ruly foster parents, who didn't really give her the time of day. She had her head firmly screwed on and had left to pursue her own life. He had no idea, how he was going to approach her... let alone convince her to accompany him back.

He'd been following her intensely for the last couple of weeks, keeping a close eye on her and her routine. He'd noticed she was fond of reading, every day he'd seen her with a book in hand, going to the vintage book store a few blocks away from here, going down to the flea market. He could say she was on the verge of obsessed, a complete bookworm. He was intrigued by her devotion to the written word and was assumed, she would fit nicely in the order of things. Not only was she fond of reading but she was also a hard worker, she was always working at functions as a waitress, at the laundrette folding linen, at the library helping out, she was an all round super woman and was intrigued to find out what else was simmering underneath all that clothing.

He watched as she headed towards the vintage book store, as he'd suspected and decided to hold back. He had no intention of cornering her like a hound but it was his duty to tell her, who she was and what obligations she had to uphold.

Principessa: Prologue

Lenny clasped her head in her hands and exhaled. She was having the worst day ever and she couldn't wait till her shift was over, so she could go home, curl up in bed and shun the rest of the world with her duvet blanket. She had been on her feet for the better half of the day, waitressing at one of those posh do's of canapes and flutes of expensive champagne with a smile plasted on her face and now, it was well into the early morning and she was at the laundrette, washing and folding linen. She had been working odd jobs here and there for quite some time now, she used to think it kept life interesting but it made life harder but she was thankful for the jobs in hand.

Lenny stood up and swept a stray of brown chestnut hair away from her eyes, as she folded the linen twice and laid it on the existing pile. It was a lonely job, but someone had to do it and the pay was better then waitressing, so she couldn't pass up an opportunity like that... not when she had to make rent and indulge her love of reading. Reading had been her escape from a destitute life, born and raised in a foster home that was meant to offer security but offered anything but. She had been harassed by the other foster kids and her foster parents had taken a fond liking to the other children and she felt like an ugly duckling and outcast. When she had turned sixteen, she had got a job at a library as a library assistant, the pay was pretty decent and she put in the extra shifts after school and saved up her pennies.

When Lenny had turned eighteen, she had enough money to rent out a small place that was being advertised in the local paper and it was good riddance to foster care and hello independence. The feeling of being able to support one's self was liberating and extremely hard, but it was all worth it. Her only responsibility was herself and that was whom she cared for at the end of the day and if she were to have children of her own one day, she would cherish and love them, no matter what. She would not allow her parent's mistakes and bad character tarnish that. She would love her child in abundance.


You used your fists to break me down

Made me cry... forever frown

Imprints of your knuckles left scattered around

Two black eyes - I couldn't see

I told the paramedics, our friends and relatives

I was being scatty and walked into a door, a shelf, a utility cupboard

The excuses recycled like rides of a Merry-Go-Round

You scream abuse from day to day

I take it on board, hoping it goes in one ear and out the other

I will not heel to your accusations

A poor excuse for a man

I said, I'd stay with you in sickness in health

But I see death's door looming

I can't take anymore - this is my sickness, I want to die

Your anger, betrayal, this farce of a relationship is a lie

Next time, when you feel the demons take hold and submerge you in bitter rage

Take this shot gun and shoot me.

15 June 2010

The Best of Me

I look away... afraid to say... what's really on my mind

It's hard to contemplate my life without you but it's ten times harder if you were to stay

I've changed, end of story... I hope you understand

Please don't be mad

I know you love me more then life itself

But if you were true to your word... you'll let go of me and the love we had

I'm so in love with you... this is hard to break

But life is too short

I have to think about what's important and y'know I can't have it both ways

I want to see the world for myself - not through anyone else's eyes but my own

Experience it first hand, soak in the sights... be who I want to be

In that time... for that place

I know you're angry... you can't see straight... the ominous red cloud covering your face

I hope that time will heal the hurt I've caused

Allow you to understand, it hurts the most

I have to leave... have to go

But know... I did it for the best... the best for me... I'll only know.