I’m still on vacation. So far we’ve mostly stayed at home, but Saturday we had an impromptu party at the neighbor’s place. Good food, good friends, and a great time. In fact, I may still be over there when this post goes live!
Since my “write a few posts for the blog for the second week of vacation” time was spent cooking, eating, talking, and laughing I am giving y’all another excerpt from “Sweet Sixteen.”
For those of you not up to speed on the story, the first chapter is on the website http://www.amandanicoletrisdale.com/sweetsixteen.html and the family tree (for those curious about the Zeidrich Family Tree and the Houston Family Tree) is located at http://www.amandanicoletrisdale.com/zeidrichfamilytree.html. Comments are always welcome!
“Sweet Sixteen: Chapter Two”
At 18:30 Hans knocked on Alexandria’s door. Taking a deep breath, Alexandria opened the door. “Sir,” she said softly.
“You look wonderful, Margaret.” Hans smiled a fatherly smile. ‘She needs a father. I need to remember that I can’t be just her grandfather. I need to finish the job of raising my granddaughter. And I need to do it without Alexandria noticing I know who she is.’ He thought as he looked her over.
Feeling self-conscious, she looked at her shoes. “It’s my best outfit.”
“It’ll be fine. This won’t be formal. Peter, Chris, and I are just going in our daily uniforms.” Hans said soothingly. Realizing that wouldn’t be much help, he tried a different tactic. “I’ve got some clothes that my daughter-in-law used to wear. You are just about her size. I can have some of her things brought over.”
“I don’t want to be any trouble.” Alexandria whispered as she tried to think of whose clothes Hans was talking about. Adolph had been the only Zeidrich Brother to marry. Alexandria was hoping he wasn’t talking about her mother’s clothes. Then she remembered that Mark Jones, Hans’ eldest, was married. Perhaps Hans was talking about Leslie.
Reaching out, he lifted her chin. “It’ll be no trouble at all, sweetheart. The truth is I had Mary’s summer clothes taken out of storage when I knew you were coming.”
‘Mary’s clothes? Mama’s clothes? He’d let just some girl wear those clothes?’ Alexandria wanted to scream that the clothes belonged to her. Obviously she didn’t have that right. After all, Mary wasn’t truly her mother.
Sighing deeply, Hans realized he had offended the teen. She obviously still cared deeply for her mother; for Mary. Yet, Hans felt the clothing belonged to Alexandria. “I wouldn’t let just anyone wear these clothes. I loved Mary as though she was my own daughter. But you are my daughter now, Margaret. And I think Mary wouldn’t mind it if you wore her old clothes.”
“Yes, Leader,” Alexandria whispered softly. The statement that Hans wouldn’t let anyone but family wear Mary’s clothes made Alexandria feel a bit better.
Hans ignored the pain he felt. Alexandria should be calling him “Pops”, like she always had. “When you are a bit more comfortable you’ll be allowed to go off on your own at these events. For now, I expect you to be at my side. Tonight is a celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.” Hans felt he had to let the teen know what to expect. “You will stand beside me, along with Peter and Chris, to thank everyone for coming to the barbeque. Then we will eat together at the head picnic table with my top four generals and their families. I believe two of them have girls around your age.”
“They won’t like me.” Alexandria muttered under her breath.
Looking her straight in the eyes, Hans silently apologized to Alexandria for taking so long to get her home. He prayed there still might be some of the little girl he loved hidden in the teen. Even if she had died long ago, Hans would love Alexandria unconditionally. She was his granddaughter, and he would love her no matter what. “They just might, if you give them a chance to know the real you.”
“Whatever,” she responded sarcastically like a teenage girl.
The simple statement caused Hans to want to smile. There was hope that Alexandria still existed. “Come along, Margaret. It isn’t seemly for the Leader to be late.” Holding out his arm for the teen, Hans gently lifted her hand. He placed it on the crook of his arm. “We will drive to the picnic area. One can only assume Peter shall join us there soon. He would have driven with us, but he was needed elsewhere on the compound.”
“Peter doesn’t like the fact I’m here.” Alexandria said softly.
Patting her hand, Hans escorted her down the hallway. “Peter doesn’t know who you are. Once he knows that, you will have Peter wrapped around your little finger.” He kept from smiling. ‘And my son will be mad that I kept this information from him, but he should have known it the moment he saw you, Alexandria. Even if I hadn’t known you were you I would have known who you were.’ Hans thought to himself.
For a bit Alexandria was quiet. The door to the house seemed to mysteriously open as they approached. Two privates saluted as Hans escorted Alexandria outside. Hans acknowledged the salutes silently as he put his cover on. The door to the middle humvee in the convoy was opened by one of the men. Hans leaned down slightly to whisper in Alexandria’s ear. “When you get inside, don’t slide. I’ll walk around the humvee to enter the vehicle.”
“I could walk around.” Alexandria tried softly.
“You could, but it would be wrong of me to make you do such. After all, I’m a man. I am supposed to help you in these matters.” Hans resisted the urge to kiss Alexandria’s hair.
“Yes, sir,” Alexandria responded in a quiet whisper.
Straightening, Hans stopped by the vehicle. It was easy to tell Alexandria was nervous as she climbed in to the vehicle, but she was trying to hide her nerves. The lieutenant closed the door as Hans walked around. Another lieutenant opened the door on the other side. “Sir.”
“Lieutenant,” Hans acknowledge as he got in the humvee. As the door was shut, Hans looked over at Alexandria. She was sitting straight and ridged. “People will understand that you are overwhelmed tonight, sweetheart. No one will judge you.”
Trying to keep her fears hidden, the teen kept looking straight ahead. “They will judge me. And they will judge you on how I act.”
Knowing Alexandria spoke the truth, Hans refrained from the sigh he felt. “Does it matter what they think of me? No, Margaret Alexandria, it does not. What I care about is what my children think of me, and my close friends.”
It didn’t occur to the teen that Hans had just called her by her Christian name. Margaret Heidi Loving was on all of the teen’s paperwork, not Margaret Alexandria. All Alexandria heard was the unconditional love being offered to her once more by a man who used to love her. In that moment, the teen felt torn. She wanted to tell him who she really was, and why she was there. But she had a duty to those who had schooled her.
He could see the struggle on her face. “You are one of my children, just like Peter or Chris. I hope you will come to realize that, Margaret Alexandria.” There was no hidden agenda in the statement. Hans had kept a promise to get Alexandria home. Now he had to manage to free the teen from her handlers.
Deciding to switch subjects, Hans gave the teen a bit more information she’d need that night. “When we arrive, wait for one of my men to open your door. Accept his help out of the vehicle graciously. I know you are a head strong woman, but I need you to pretend that you are a lady for just a couple of hours. That includes letting Peter, Chris, or me carry your plate to the table. We will greet everyone by the entrance. Then we will get our food before the rest of the organization. Drinks will be served at the table. And you, my dear, will be drinking iced tea or water.”
“No milk?” Alexandria asked softly. She wasn’t meaning to be difficult. She just loved milk.
Smiling a fatherly smile, Hans resisted the urge to pat her on the shoulder. “I will see if I can’t get you some milk. I meant no liquor.” The look of disgust on the teen’s face made him chuckle. “It’s good to know I don’t have to worry about that yet.”
“Have you tried beer? It’s disgusting!” The teen spat as she shivered. “Yuck!”
As the convoy stopped, Hans shook his head. “Men tend to like beer.”
“I’ll never understand.” Alexandria said as the doors to the humvee opened.
One of the lieutenants held a hand out to the teen in a silent offer of assistant. “Miss,” the young man said softly.
Putting her hand in his, Alexandria blushed slightly and smiled shyly. “Thank you,” she whispered as shy as she was feeling.
Looking on, Hans noticed the light in the young man’s blue eyes. It was easy to tell that Alexandria’s soft demure had caused the young man to fall under her spell. Luckily for the older man, Alexandria wasn’t aware she could cast a spell. Walking up to the teen, Hans decided to stake his claim visibly. “Sweetheart,” Hans said as he held out his arm to her.
“Sir,” Alexandria said in a soft whisper. She put her hand on the crook of his arm again.
Placing one of his hands possessively over hers, Hans gave the lieutenant a look that said Alexandria’s was his. Looking at one of the men already at the picnic area, Hans looked normal. “Has General Zeidrich arrived yet?”
“His convoy is a few minutes behind yours, sir.” The captain responded as he stood at attention. “Should I detail an escort for the young lady?”
“This is not a young lady, captain. This is a child. She’s also my child. Miss Margaret will be greeting the organization and will be eating with me.” Hans stated as he emphasized the part about Alexandria being a child. Escorting her to the entrance, Hans kept talking to the captain. “I would appreciate it if you would see to that information being spread around. It would seem that someone lied about her age, and is indeed just turning sixteen today.”
The captain fell in to step two steps behind his leader. “Sixteen sounds like a young woman, sir.”
“Do you have daughters?” Hans inquired.
“No, sir, just sons,” the captain responded.
“Then you would not understand.” Hans stopped at the entrance. ‘Even when she’s forty, Alexandria will be a child to me.’ Hans thought. He put his hands on Alexandria’s shoulders and looked her over. Leaning down, the man whispered in her ear. “If this will overwhelm you, I can have you escorted to our table. It won’t matter.”
“Might as well get this over with,” Alexandria said in a very shy whisper.