“Here ye, here ye!” Ambrose called out. “All those who are important must come to my bed chamber immediately!”
“Are you doing this again?” Apollo rolled his eyes. “Seriously?”
“Bow down lowly peasant!” He pointed his cardboard scepter at Apollo.
“Kings are supposed to be nice to their subjects.”
“Fine, whatever. Just sit down and listen, I have an announcement,” Ambrose answered impatiently.
“Make it quick your highness, this peasant has somewhere to be.”
“Tis’ officially summer vacation! Wooooo!” Ambrose cheered.
“Seriously, that’s it?”
“No, there’s more! We will be spending my birthday at the Summer festival! Be there or be square.”
“Did you ask mom yet?”
“She said I can do whatever I want for my birthday. Now that you’re mad at Katherine, you’ll actually come to my party!”
“Stop talking about that,”Apollo grumbled and left the room.
“Why are you wearing that?” Caleb laughed at breakfast. “I thought you were king yesterday.”
“I’m king everyday,” Ambrose shrugged.
“Yeah, you’re a royal pain in the butt,” Apollo smirked.
“Hey, don’t make me uninvite you to my party!”
“You can’t uninvite him to your party, Ambrose. That’s not cool,” Caleb scolded.
“I don’t want to go anyway, so he can uninvite me. It’s fine.”
“What about our surprise from mom?” Ambrose grinned devilishly. Apollo raised his brow in response.
“Your surprise is actually coming tonight!” Leia called into the kitched. “So, make sure you at least start your summer homework or you’re not going to get it.”
“What if it’s not that good?” Ambrose asked. “I don’t want to do my homework for no reason!”
“Shut up, she got us a gift, don’t be so rude.”
“Yeah, but I hate homework!” Ambrose whined.
Apollo turned to Caleb, “So, do you know what the surprise is?”
“Of course I do.”
“Are you going to tell us?” Ambrose pushed.
“Of course not, now go and eat your breakfast so you can have some fun before being forced to do your homework,” Caleb said before leaving the room.
You could tell how much Ambrose loathed school work just from looking at his face as he sat next to Apollo. Leia always thought that Apollo was a genius like his father. He never really had problems doing his homework or studying. In fact, he hated when somebody offered him help, because he knew he could do it on his own, even if not at first. Leia hat thrown out the idea of being a doctor to Apollo many times but he didn’t seem too interested. He still didn’t know what he wanted to do. He flipped page after page while Ambrose was still on the first page.
“So if I subtract 3/5 and 3/7, do I get 0/2?”
Apollo looked at his brother with a look of shock. “You can’t be serious. You’re pulling my leg right?”
“Uh yeah…” Ambrose said, embarrassed. He scratched the back of neck nervously. Math was never his strong suit, especially not fractions, but he never asked for help in fear of looking stupid.
“Here, let me check over your work,” Apollo offered.
“No, it’s ok!” Ambrose held the paper to his chest tightly.
“Don’t you want them all to be right?”
“It’s ok. I’m fine with just a C. I don’t need A’s like you.”
“You should want better for yourself. Mom works so hard for us, we have to do good in school.” Ambrose had wanted to, but what would the others think of him if he raised his hand and got an answer wrong? He was the class clown, and normally wouldn’t mind the attention, but his brother was always being talked about. He couldn’t live in his brother’s shadow. He wouldn’t be ridiculed for his lack of knowledge if he could help it.
“I said I’m fine!” Ambrose snapped.
Apollo looked at his brother with a face of worry. His normally boisterous personality was replaced by anger and defense. Was it homework causing this stress or school in general?
Outside, Noah was sweating. It was ten years since he stood in front of this house, but it looked exactly the same. He fixed the collar of his shirt. Did he look ok? What would his boys think? Would they be shocked, excited, scared? Noah took a step back. This was a bad idea, he had a terrible feeling. He was about to turn around and leave when Leia caught sight of him through the window. She opened the door quickly and pulled him in. “Noah!” She whispered.
“Why are you whispering?” He whispered back.
“I want it to be a surprise for the boys…” She pointed towards the kitchen.
“They don’t know?” The look of panic spread over his face once again. “Leia…you should have warned them…”
“Don’t worry about it…” She whispered. “It’ll be a little awkward but that’s it.”
Noah couldn’t stop the gnawing feeling from hitting him in the pit of his stomach. He was so nervous. He’d be seeing Apollo again and even more nerve wrecking, meeting Ambrose for the first time. It bothered him how nonchalant Leia was being about all of this, when usually she was different. “Leia…”
She pressed her lips to his forcefully. He was taken aback, his head began swirling. This was supposed to be going differently.
“Noah…?” She asked, just as confused as he was. “Please don’t tell me…please don’t tell me that you….Noah please….“
“Leia…” He held on to her arm. “I love you more than anything in the world. You and our kids were the only things on my mind in jail. Don’t ever forget that. I waited ten years to kiss you again.” He held her face in his hands and kissed her tenderly. She melted under his touch.
“I just…I need time to adjust, and get used to things. In ten years, you’ve built a life without me, so I need to gradually let myself back in.” Noah told her once he pulled away.
“When you say it like that it sounds horrible. I want you in our lives so much…I need you here. They don’t know it yet, but Apollo and Ambrose need you too…”
The moment was broken up by Ambrose’s voice. He was standing in the kitchen. “Mom!”
“Yes sweetheart?” She called back.
“Are there any more cookies left?”
“Top shelf, to the left of the crackers!” Leia answered.
“Honey, wait…there’s someone I want you to meet.”
Ambrose turned around and in front of him was the man in all of the photographs.
“Who are you?” Ambrose lowered his eyes. He knew but he wanted to see how Noah would handle the pressure.
“Ambrose, this is your father.”
“Father?” Ambrose almost laughed. “I don’t have a father, I never had one and I don’t need one.”
Leia was shocked, she knew the boys would need time to adjust to Noah’s sudden presence, but she somehow thought it would be going better than this.
Noah, who was quiet the whole time decided to speak up. “I’ve been gone a really long time and I know that, but I didn’t do it on purpose. Your mother told me all about you, and I just couldn’t wait to meet you in person.”
“Thanks mom.” Ambrose rolled his eyes.
“Ambrose please give him a chance,” Leia begged.
“The only guys I need in my life are Uncle Caleb and Apollo!” Ambrose snapped. “They were there for all of my birthdays, and every time I was in a talent how they were in the audience. They’re my best friends, I don’t need anyone else. I have them and Mom. We don’t need you so just leave!” Ambrose shouted.
“Ambrose!” Leia yelled at him. It was the first time she ever raised her voice at her son. She didn’t believe in it, but she felt her control slowly slipping from her grasp. She didn’t know what to do.
Ambrose turned to his mother, a look of hurt and betrayal written all over his face. He shot one more menacing glance towards Noah and stomped out of the room.
Noah turned towards Leia and apologized. He handed her flowers he was holding in his bag. “I figured these would come in handy…”
“Noah…stop. Don’t apologize. I need to apologize. I didn’t know Ambrose would freak out like that. He’s never been like that. I thought he would be excited to see you. I thought that everyone would be as excited as I am to see you, but I keep forgetting that they don’t share the same bond with you as I do. I forget that you’re a complete stranger to Ambrose and it’s going to take some time for him to adjust and I’m so sorry.” She threw her arms around his torso. “I’m so sorry.”
“Leia, I know you meant well, and I appreciate it. But Ambrose is hurt and I understand that. I’m going to leave now and give him some space. I think I want to lay low for awhile.”
“Noah…no. We’ve been apart for so long!”
“I can’t just come back and get in bed with you like it’s no big deal. I can’t live here with you until the boys can accept and tolerate me. I refuse to make them feel uncomfortable.”
Noah kissed her goodbye and began to leave.
“What about Apollo? You haven’t even met him, or said hi to Caleb yet.”
Noah shook his head. “I can’t. Not yet.”
“Come to Ambrose’ birthday celebration. We’re going to the summer festival.”
“He doesn’t want to see me, especially not on his birthday.”
“The four of us are going out together. The summer festival is public to everyone, so what if you just bump into us?”
“I don’t want to skirt around it. If it means that much to you for me to come, I’ll meet here on his birthday and I’ll bring him an amazing gift to win him over.” Noah kissed Leia one last time before leaving. “I really want to see Apollo again too.”