“My son, the time has come,” Eli said, taking Ethan by the shoulders with a piercing gaze.
“What if I’m not ready, Your Majesty?” The vulnerability in Ethan’s pale face pulled at Eli’s heart, almost to the point of backing out of their plan. His hair had grown out and he’d gained weight. The fight was over. His multi-colored eyes, so similar to his mother’s, shone with unshed tears.
“You are ready, Your Highness. But more importantly, the world is waiting.” As hard as it was to watch his son leave, Eli knew he needed to provide that last bit of encouragement.
“I will not be returning to the kingdom,” Ethan said, his voice hitching. “Ever.” At thirty years of age, Ethan had already finished his education at a private business school in New York City and had plans to accomplish great things with his life. This unfortunate turn of events wasn’t part of the plan.
“Invest what time you have left exploring the world and sharing that which is now rightfully yours.”
“This is a large sum of money, Your Majesty. You and mother will be destitute.”
“We have sufficient for our needs to see us through the remainder of our lives.”
“What about Princess Miranda?” Ethan was grasping, delaying his departure.
“Your sister is married to a prince nearly as wealthy as yourself. She will want for nothing.”
“You’re sure you don’t mind me giving it all away?”
“I don’t see this as giving the money away,” Eli said. “I see you investing in the lives of others, using riches that have gathered value for decades and are now liquidated. You have conducted careful research and will make good choices.”
“You’re right, father,” Ethan whispered. “I’ll do my best.”
“While you’re out distributing the money, travel to see the world. Visit the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Lake Victoria, the Mayan ruins, stand on a glacier, go to the top of the Eiffel Tower and the St. Louis Arch, float the Amazon River and go on an African Safari.”
“I’m not going to live long enough to do all those things, father. But I’ll do as many as I can.” Ethan pulled Eli into a hug and allowed tears to fall unabashedly. “Take care of mother for me.”
“I promise,” Eli said, pushing his son gently out of his arms. “Now go, before I beg you to stay.”
“As you wish, Your Majesty.” Ethan bowed and then lifted his chin.
Eli held his son’s gaze for one last long moment, then Prince Ethan Sayid turned to go pack and begin this new adventure.
Eli’s heart broke watching his son walk away, knowing the next time he saw Ethan would be the day he was laid to rest.
(Tomorrow’s chapter will start into the last section (of this book), which I call The Last Prince, Prince Ethan’s story)