Krystina Stephenson, Alex’s mom, had taken it upon herself to tuck Felicia under her wing and stay by her side the entire wedding and most of the reception since Aaron would be busy with the wedding party.
Aaron watched them from the head table, wishing he could be the one introducing his wife to all their friends and family. Sometimes they would point over toward Aaron and the person would smile and wave and congratulate Felicia.
Finally, when dinner was over and the cake had been cut and the wedding party was free to disperse, Aaron went to find his bride, and then his grandfather.
“Oh, thank goodness,” Felicia said when she was finally in Aaron’s arms. “I thought I’d never get you back.”
“You have me forever, my darling.” Aaron leaned closer and lifted her chin delicately, afraid if he kissed his bride with too much passion, he’d end up sneaking her away somewhere and doing things that needed to wait until later that night. He forced himself to remember the kidnapped girls and lifted his gaze to search the room for his grandfather, Senator Alejandro Cohen.
They found the senator at a table with Aaron’s cousin, Monroe, who was dressed in full uniform, having recently promoted to the rank of Captain in the United States Army. He was receiving almost as much attention and congratulations as the bride and groom.
Monroe kept standing up whenever someone approached him to shake his hand or thank him for his service.
Aaron was surprised to find two open seats beside their grandfather, and he led Felicia to sit closest to the senator while he tucked up behind her practically wrapping her in a little cocoon of his loving arms.
“Greetings my young prince,” his grandfather said. “All grown up and brought your adorable wife to meet me.” He reached out and held Felicia’s hand between his own, a peaceful smile breaking through his political façade.
“Hola, Abuelo,” Aaron said. “Esta es Felicia.”
“My dear, welcome to the family,” their grandfather answered in Spanish, taking Aaron’s cue.
“She’s sort of already part of the family,” Aaron said. “Felicia is your brother, Santiago’s granddaughter.”
“Well, how extraordinary.”
“Grandpa, we need your help.” Aaron heard the desperation in his own voice. “Some girls near where Felicia lives in Guatemala have been kidnapped from their refugee camp and we found out they’re being trafficked as sex slaves. We need to get the U.S. government involved somehow.”
“You should talk to our cousin, Henry,” Monroe interjected. “His position in the Army specializes in helping refugees.”
“Really? I didn’t know we had a cousin named Henry.” Aaron was trying to mentally search back in their family tree. His paternal grandfather, Prince Benjamin, had only one son, his father, Prince Marcos. His maternal grandfather, Alejandro, had two children, his mom Hazel and her twin brother Mateo, who was Monroe’s dad. He didn’t have any other cousins, that he knew of. “Are you talking about Alex’s cousin?”
“Yes, Henry is Alexander’s cousin.” Monroe glanced across the room to where Alex was dancing with Ellen on his lap, on his wheelchair, in the middle of the dancefloor, cheek to cheek, swaying to the soft beat of a love song. “Son of Alexander’s dad’s brother, Frederick. He’d be, like, our second cousin twice removed or something weird like that. We’ll just call him our cousin and be good.”
“Is he here?” Aaron asked, looking around the room.
“He’s on the dance floor, fighting off every eligible bachelorette in the reception hall. He’s the guy in uniform.”
“Another officer,” Aaron said. “I’m impressed.”
“Another captain, actually,” Monroe corrected him.
“Double impressed,” Aaron said. “Congratulations on your new commission, by the way.”
“Thank you.” Monroe nodded his head with subdued humility. He was the epitome of what every serviceman vowed when taking the oath to defend all enemies, foreign and domestic.
“Thank you, for your service. I’m honored to call you my cousin.”
“Likewise, Your Highness.”
“Now, now, none of that,” Aaron said. “I abdicated my throne, remember?”
“Whatever. Once a spoiled little prince, always a spoiled little prince.”
“Once a cocky older cousin, always a cocky older cousin.”
“You know it.” Monroe reached over for a fist bump then stood and straightened his uniform. “I’ll go drag our other cocky older cousin away from his harem and you can explain the situation to us like only civilians can. We’ll put our heads together and see if we can’t brainstorm some ways we can be of service.”