Chapter 18- A Final Decision

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It had been the longest week of Alex's life.

Eliza was better at least. She was tired and achy, but otherwise fairly well. The doctor ensured that she was on bed rest for a couple of days and had given her some brews to keep the soreness at bay.

He visited when he could but the guilt ate him alive. Alex couldn't look her family in the eye. When Eliza tried to mask her pain, he felt that pain in his stomach. He so badly wanted to talk about what had happened but Eliza had made it very clear that she didn't want to discuss it.

Alex couldn't blame her really. Who would want to talk about an event that led to them being hit by a spooked horse?

The owner of the horse had come forward to apologise profusely for what had happened. In her usual fashion, Eliza was kind and forgiving. She even pointed him to a food company that required a supplier. The idea of anger towards this poor man was alien to her. Alex wasn't angry either- at least at the farmer. He was angry at himself.

His father wanted to see him. Even with what was going on, Alex couldn't stop being a prince. Lyle Hill needed him for one day it would be his kingdom. He wouldn't be surprised if his father was going to choose a bride for him. They hadn't discussed Alex's outburst but the time to choose was still coming.

He didn't want to think about all that but it was going to happen soon.

"I was summoned," he dryly stated as he entered his father's sitting rooms. To his surprise, his mother was there too.

A calming influence if ever there was one.

"Sit down," the King told him, nodding at a nearby chair.

Alex knew that his father was in no mood to play games so immediately sat down. His mother gave him a kind smile. He noticed she'd stopped her embroidery.

"How is the Lady Elizabeth?"

Alex was surprised at the question. The King knew full well how Eliza was. It was his job to know everything in the kingdom.

"She is well, father. Dr. Goodwin has her up and about doing short exercises. She should be at court within a week."

"What she did was very brave."

"Indeed, though I would also argue foolish."

"It was not something that Lady Elizabeth would deem foolish from what I understand of her character. I owe her a debt that can never be repaid."

"She wouldn't want a reward."

"So I've heard. Your mother speaks most highly of her. I know that Her Majesty is always kind but I know that she is not alone in her sincere admiration of Lady Elizabeth."

"Everybody loves Eliza. You should see the Greystone house, it's full of flowers and fruit baskets."

"You care for her, don't you?"

"Eliza...Eliza is the best person I've ever met, bar none. I cannot overstate my beliefs in her. She is just good. I hate myself for not pushing her out of the way even though I know she could never hate me for it. I'm always happy when I'm around her. She's everything right with the world."

"Okay."

"Okay what?"

"You can marry her."

"I'm sorry...what?" Alex thought he had misheard.

"When you told me that you wanted to marry her the first time, I thought you just had a passing fancy and wanted to rebel. Now I see that you truly want to be with her. She is a fine girl from a fine family. A woman like that, so loved by all, is what we want, it's what our nation deserves. I can only hope that making her happy repays the debt I owe her for saving your life. You deserve the marriage that your mother and I have. I cannot condemn you to the fate of an unwanted union."

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