I’ve delayed leaving, for love of you and my son, but I’m afraid my time to go has come.
I’ve left a coming of age gift for our son,
in anticipation of the man he will become.
Under your bed you will find the treasure,
please keep it safe for his future pleasure.
With a special love that will last forever,
After staring at the note for a while, he got up and looked under the bed. He saw a dark shape, and grabbed a hold of it. It was harder to pull out than he expected, and more beautiful than imaginable. The finely carved oak chest had just enough gilt paint to accent the fine pattern. Instead of looking ominous, the sturdy golden lock blended in with it, enhancing its beauty. The key was in the lock, so he turned it. With a click, the chest popped open, and he gasped. A red velvet lining was almost hidden by glittering gems heaped on top of it. They threatened to spill out, so carefully he picked up a handful and examined them. There were diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, opals, and the largest pearls he’d ever seen. There were also gems of mysterious, unfamiliar varieties. And those were just the ones in his hand. The chest contained a fortune. He was quite sure it was worth more than his whole estate.
He closed the box and found a canvass laundry bag to disguise it. He threw on a house robe and grabbed his keys. On the way to the door he stopped, and went back for the note. He locked it into the chest, then took a narrow fire staircase to the basement so none of the servants would notice him. He entered his largest safe, and spent some time moving boxes. After using a crowbar to ply up floor boards, he opened a triple lock on a safe underneath. This safe was not on any of the house plans.
He had to rearrange a few precious items of his own in order to fit the chest in. Carefully he relocked the safe before replacing things as they’d been. By the time he was finished, he was famished, so he went for breakfast still in his robe.
The cook did some teasing about his state of dress and tardiness. He brushed it off, and asked seriously “Where’s Rejinal? Has he breakfasted yet?” The cook shook her head. “I expect he’s still in his room. Shall I have Tom get him?”
Lince shook his head. “No, I’ll go see him.” He finished his last bite and got up. When he entered his son’s room, Melissa was dressing him.
“Yes, Lord?” she asked.
“When you’re finished, I’d like to talk to my son. I’ll also be having a staff meeting soon.”
She nodded as she finished doing up buttons. When she was about to leave, he caught her arm.
“Make sure no one washes Lady Gena’s pillowcase.”
She looked at him oddly, but nodded. When she was gone, Lince went over to sit beside Rejinal.
“I have something unpleasant to tell you, son,” he said.
The boy’s eyes sharpened, but he said nothing.
Lince continued, “Your mother won’t be with us anymore. She had to go back to the land she came here from. She loves you very much, and left you a special present for your twenty-first birthday.”
Rejinal’s face was frozen. He looked to be in shock, which he probably was. Finally, he leaned back and stared at the ceiling, looking much older than he was. “She said she had to go,” he said quietly. Tears welled in his eyes, and he turned away to hide them.
“It’s all right,” Lince said. “You can cry about this. I did.” He reached out to hug the boy. Rejinal pulled away, angry.
“What’s wrong?” Lince asked, hurt.
Rejinal was glaring. “You don’t tingle like Mommy.” Lince just stared at him. The comment seemed to make no sense, but the boy was right. She did tingle.
“I know,” he said softly. “But listen, Rejinal, I miss the tingling just as much as you. I’m all you’ve got left, and you’re all I’ve got left of her. We have to be strong together. Now give me that hug.”
The boy accepted it this time, tears streaming down his father’s shoulder.
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