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The Uncomfortable Truth

My news feed over the last few days has vacillated between frustrating to comical.  Between tragic to oblivious.  Between…well, you get the picture.

The turmoil?  Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump’s remarks about a married woman he wanted to seduce caught on a hot mic eleven years ago.

As this issue has unfolded, I’ve watched with amusement as people who already left the party to throw their weight and effort behind an unserious third-party challenger jump on board the rafts of glass houses full of self-identified Republicans tripping over themselves to throw their stones at Trump.  Sadly, a number of these people were arguably in a position to actually demand changes in the party governance which might have made a Trump candidacy a bad joke unable to advance beyond the primary season, but maintaining the integrity of their own primaries by keeping them closed was as horrifying to many of these same people as opposing the crony capitalism which has blossomed in recent years.  Others are people who have hobbies and interests which mirror some of Mr. Trump’s more prurient proclivities, but have lacked either the opportunity or the courage to pursue them with equal dedication.  Regardless of which camp all the now mortified individuals now fall, they are share the same condition:  They all either knew or should have known who Donald Trump is.

And as I watch them all try to distance themselves from the spectacle that the media has dutifully turned him into for this, I’m trying very hard to not say that Bill Clinton was right.

In 1992, Bill Clinton went on record as saying that “Character does not matter.”  As much as the idea distresses me, I’ve come to the conclusion that he was correct, based on empirical evidence.

If character mattered, Bill Clinton’s impeachment wouldn’t have happened,  because his past with women, which was made clear to the American electorate, would have prevented him from being elected in the first place.

If character mattered, Bill Clinton would have resigned, rather than been impeached.

If character mattered, Bill Clinton’s impeachment would have ended with  Al Gore becoming President.

If character mattered, Teddy Kennedy would have lost his election after Chappaquiddick if he had the nerve to run in the first place.

If character mattered, Maxine Waters’ conflicts of interest, and those of Nancy Pelosi would have ended in discipline from ethics investigations, and them choosing not to run for re-election after.

If character mattered, John Conyers would have been back in Detroit decades ago, bumming dimes from bypassers on the street for his next bottle of Ripple.

If character mattered, Alan Grayson would have been prosecuted, rather than elected.

If character mattered, Tim Geithner never would have been the Secretary of the Treasury, and Hilda Solis never would have been the Secretary of Labor.

If character mattered, Mitt Romney would be running for his second term.

If character mattered, the RNC would have someone…anyone else as their standard-bearer in this election.

If character mattered, then there would be no shortage of Democrats telling Hillary Clinton that she needs to shut her mouth and not comment how Trump treats women.

The uncomfortable truth is this:  While character SHOULD matter, it doesn’t…at least not to Democrats, because the only way that anyone could turn a blind eye to the corruption and immorality that the party and its various candidates are rife with is if character doesn’t matter.  Yet they successfully use their compromised position to their advantage.  It’s easy to be cynical, and reject morality for yourself, but use it as a cudgel against other flawed human beings.  And proving themselves to be the party of stupid, the Republicans inevitably retreat with their tails between their legs when this cynical strategy is employed.

I’m sure that some of you are reading this, and screaming obscenities at me already about my “defense” of Trump.  Make no mistake.  I don’t defend him.  But I do note that he has enjoyed an unusual degree of success at simply ignoring previous attempts to cow him for things he has said and done, such attempts being of a kind that would have more traditional GOP candidates falling all over themselves, apologizing profusely in the pursuit of a respect, or even adoration that not quite half of the population has been conditioned to not give them, simply because they purport to represent the Republican Party.  In my own more cynical moments, I allow myself to believe that this is precisely why he is the Republican standard-bearer, and it completes my break with the Republican Party, which could have enjoyed a well-deserved loyalty from a solid constituency had it actually made a stand on issues, including character issues, not because they believed they could win, but because it mattered.  Instead, with a handful of exceptions, they frittered away these opportunities, and joined their morally rudderless opponents in openly mocking and ridiculing their own number who chose to fight the fights that mattered.

And now, as I watch the rats scurrying through the hawser holes of their sinking ship, in search of some sort of political cover, I want to scream “OWN IT, YOU FAITHLESS S.O.B.S.!  You made your choice.  You took this snake to your bosom, knowing it was a snake!”

No matter who wins in November, America lost.

If Hillary Clinton wins, we have lost the rule of law, and the countless benefits and blessings of residing in a republic.

Donald Trump wins, we lose our self-respect, and maybe our soul.

I find either choice spiritually damning, so I fall back on the next priority:  Will we remain a nation of laws?

I only hope that if Trump loses, we are finally rid of the Republican Party, and can build something in its place that values liberty, freedom, integrity, and can actually communicate conservative principles to voters, and then LIVE them in office.

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For hours, Denny drove the ancient Land Rover over numerous back roads of the kind that Cooper and Jake had frequented before Lise brought them in.  He didn’t doubt that the people he could see in the shadows intended to be there, avoiding discovery by anyone who might be looking for them.  What he questioned was whether or not the silent, hard man who drove the antiquated SUV  actually knew where to find Lise and Teresa.

Cooper looked to Rick, who was looking out the other side of the vehicle, his eyes studying the topography and the faces as they rolled past.  Deciding that he could no longer wait, Cooper broke the silence and asked “Where are we going?”

Denny’s eyes never left the road as he stated ” A warehouse.  It’s in the middle of no where.  Our southern neighbors use it as a staging area for their ops here.  It has a clearing where helicopters can go in and out.  That’s how they plan on getting your fiancee and your wife to Toronto, where they will be put on a boat, and ferried across to the US.”

Cooper marveled at the matter-of-fact way Denny announced this, and how his own brain seemed to fill in the omitted “Everyone knows this.” at the end of Denny’s declaration.  He barely started to ask “How…” when Denny, trying not to look perturbed, turned to him and said “Did you think Agent Roy was kidding when he said he wanted to help?  They’ve known about this place for years.  It’s under constant surveillance.  You can say what you want about the RCMP, but they observe the Coventry rule better than any outfit I’m aware of, and the fact that we’re going to act on this information means that someone is going to lose their intelligence gathering capabilities.  Roy’s got pull with his peers, and even some of his superiors…maybe even enough to avoid getting in trouble for using those   connections to get us this information.”

Denny’s gaze returned to the road before him, and before another five minutes had passed, he pulled off to the side of the road, and put the Land Rover in park.  He turned to Rick and Cooper and said “Right.  The warehouse is less than a kilometer in that direction.” as he pointed  to the right, where the trees were thick enough to obscure their view of anything.  “I’ll go first and take out the sentries.  Then you two can follow.  Try to be quiet.  I’m certain that they have a man advantage on us, but I’m equally certain that as long as we maintain the advantage of surprise, I can cut their advantage down to size.”

The three got out and checked their equipment, and then Denny quietly walked off toward the warehouse.  Cooper watched him leave, then turned to Rick, who was checking ammunition and his knives.  “You haven’t had much to say, Old Man.”

Rick  holstered his knives, and  looked at Cooper, his expression neutral, but his eyes smiling.  “You remember that bit of Yankee poetry you used ta be fond of quotin’?” he asked Cooper.  Cooper looked at him and asked “The hand that knows his work won’t be told to do it better or faster; those two things?”  Rick nodded and said “Yup.  That’s it.”  He paused for effect, then said “That guy?  He knows his work, and he’s a damn sight better at it than I’ll ever be, despite the best training available at Ma Benning’s Home for Wayward Boys.”  Cooper paused.  Coming from Rick, this was high praise, and he decided to let it go.  Rick looked at his watch, and said “I reckon it’s been long enough.  We should follow on, now.”


Lise could hear the sound of her own heart beating in her ears.  She didn’t relish dying, but the idea that she would be used to lure the only man she ever loved to her death was more than she wanted to live with.  She finished untying the ropes on Teresa’s wrists, and waited as Teresa untied those around her own wrists.

After they had each untied the ropes around their ankles, they stood up.  Lise realized for the first time that they were about the same height.  Teresa looked at Lise with a look of disdain, then allowed it to soften.  “I see what he sees in you.”  Teresa said quietly.  Then, almost as an afterthought, she asked “Is he happy?”

Lise was caught off guard by the question, and by how earnestly it was asked.  She replied softly “Yes.  At least as much as can be expected.”  Teresa nodded, then said “Ok.  Let’s go save his life.” and she opened the door, only to find the guard on the floor, his lifeless eyes staring at the growing pool of blood running out of his body.

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“You can’t trust her.  It’s a trap.”  Rick spat, shaking his head.

Lise looked at him, and retorted “Of course it’s a trap.  But if she has information on what the States are likely to do next, I think we have to proceed.”

“Has it ever occurred to you that she wants to kill you?  I mean, you are sleeping with her husband, and her son has clearly grown attached to you.”  Rick asked, trying to not let the concern he felt creep into his voice.

“Why Colonel,  I didn’t realize that you cared.” Lise said sarcastically.

Rick shifted his weight on his feet, a cloud rolling over his face before he growled in a low voice “If something happened to you…I don’t want to see Cooper or Jake go through that.  Ever.  You have been great for them both, and Cooper deserves that happiness.  I’ve never seen a man endure so much to finally achieve it.  He’s my friend, and I don’t want to see him hollowed out with grief over losing you, and the effect it would have on Jake.”  He looked down at the floor, clearly disturbed that he’d said this much, and maybe a little angry that she could draw it out of him to begin with.

Lise quietly contemplated him for a few minutes before asking “Colonel…Rick…how long have you been married?”

“I’ve never mentioned that I’m ma…”

“You didn’t have to.  Remember what I do for a living.”

A smirk twisted Rick’s expression.

“So you’re just messin’ with me for fun?”


“Did he tell you?”

“Cooper?  Oh no.  I’ve never asked him anything about you, and he’s volunteered very little.  But when I see you two together, I know you’ve known each other a long time, and that you both trust each other, which is a big deal, because neither of you are “trusting souls”.  But I watch you sometimes, and I’ve listened to what you’ve said about me and him, and I know that you’re married.”

Rick looked at Lise and said “Yeah.  She’s my second wife.  And after the crap I went through with the first, I never thought I’d get married again.  I think it worked so well because I fell in love with her brain first.”

Lise smiled, but didn’t say anything.

Rick shifted again and said “When I see Cooper with you, I see him relaxed.  I can see you  care, probably more than you ever meant to, and I see that the two of you can just be.  You don’t have to be talking.  You don’t have to be doing anything specific, you can just be together and enjoy each other’s company without saying anything at all.  That’s a good thing.  Maybe the only thing.  And he needs that.”

“What the hell, Old Man?” came Cooper’s voice in a hoarse croak.  “She’s MY hot shrink.  Get your own, dammit.”

Lise and Rick looked towards the bed in the center of the room, where Cooper sat grinning, squinting through narrowed eyes clearly pained by the antiseptic fluorescent lights humming overhead.

Rick stepped toward Cooper and asked “How much did you hear, Hoss?”

Cooper turned his head slightly to face his friend and said “Enough.”

Rick’s face asked the question that remained locked behind his lips.  “Yes, Old Man.  I think Nick was scared to death of you while you were cooking the bacon at the party at Mack and Kat’s house.  Does that answer your question?” Cooper said quietly.

Rick let out a chuckle and nodded.

Cooper’s smile faded.  “Good.  Because I think Lise is right.  If Teresa has even a hint of what they are planning, we need to find out what it is.”

Lise stepped to the opposite side of Cooper’s bed, and quietly took his left hand into hers.  She found herself unable to put into words all the feelings she had for this man, but realized when his eyes met hers that she didn’t have to, because she had said it all without saying a word.

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Cooper strained to open his eyes.  Around him, he could  hear gunfire, and shouting.  He could see three men dressed from head to toe in black running through the hole in the wall.  Two quickly moved toward Teresa, but the third approached him, and drew a .45, pointing it at Cooper.  “I’m gonna be famous.  I’ll probably get the Medal of Honor.” the man said.  Behind him, his two companions lifted Teresa off the floor.  One of them rasped “Forget him!  Help us with the General’s wife!”, but before he could respond, he jerked backward once, then twice, then a third time, and fell to the floor.  Cooper turned his head to see Agent Roy, crouching in the doorway, his gun smoking.  Agent Roy held his hand to his ear, and was clearly trying to get back up, but the sounds of the firefight outside intensified.  And after what seemed like an eternity, he slowly made his way across the two feet from the doorway to where Cooper was laying, watching the remaining intruders dragging Teresa out through the hole in the wall, to some unknown rendezvous.  He couldn’t determine the condition of her limp form, and wondered if she was alive or dead.  Agent Roy crouched over Cooper, assessing his condition, when he also jerked, once, and a growing bloom of crimson began expanding on the white shirt he wore under the black jacket.  Cooper said “Agent Roy, you’ve been hit.”

Agent Roy was gritting his teeth, and said “That’s not important right now.  We have to get you to a doctor.”

Cooper looked around for some help, and saw that Rick was back in the doorway.  Rick made his way over to Cooper and Agent Roy, and Cooper said “Get Roy out of here!  He’s been shot!”  Rick shook his head, and said “No  can do, buddy.  You’re the priority here.  And your fiancée’ would kill me if I didn’t get you to safety.”  Rick looked at Roy, who said “Get him out of here.  I’ll cover you.”

Rick started to drag Cooper to the back of the house as Agent Roy stood near the opening in the wall, and looked before firing a few shots out toward the fleeing invaders.  The sound of gunfire was tapering off, and Cooper watched as Rick dragged him down the hall, succumbing for a second time as a black hole opened beneath and swallowed him up.  The last thing he saw before darkness overtook him was a bullet tearing through Agent Roy, and the Mountie falling to the debris strewn floor.  All he could think was “NOOOOOOO!  Not for me!”


Cooper came to, with a medic checking his vitals, and Lise checking him out.  “Jake?” he whispered.

She stopped, took his hand and smiled.  “He’s safe.”

“Hell, he isn’t just safe.  He’s probably safer than he’s ever been.”  Rick said, with a grin.

“You’re friend hasn’t lost his enthusiasm for exaggeration,” said Lise “I did nothing out of the ordinary.”

“Don’t let her fool ya, buddy.  When one of the teams came in through the front door, she dispatched them all without batting an eye.  I don’t think they even had time to clap eyes on Jake.”

Cooper looked at Lise, uncertain if the tears he felt welling up were from what he’d just heard, or the goose egg on his head that was growing by the minute.  Still holding his hand, she brought it to her cheek,  tilted her head, and said “I wouldn’t…I couldn’t let them hurt Jake.  I couldn’t bear what that would do to you.”

Cooper turned his hand to stroke her cheek, more aware with each passing second of the screaming headache that radiated from the rising welt on his head.  “Where is he?”

“Safe.” she said quietly.  The visitors have gone, and no less than three teams are with him in the reinforced part of  the house.  “And Teresa?”  Lise’s smile faded.  Before she could respond, Rick said “She fell the same time you did, but she was closer to the blast.  I didn’t see a lot of blood when they took her away, but I couldn’t tell how badly  she was hurt…”

“Or if she was dead.”  Lise said flatly.

“Regardless, ” said Rick “I don’t think her visit was sanctioned.  The troops seemed more interested in getting her than they did you.”

“And Agent Roy?”

“He’s down, but the docs think he’ll make it.  I think those Newfoundlanders are almost as hard to kill as Texans.  He’ll be back.” Rick said with a smile.

“I want to know when he can have visitors.” Cooper said.

“Probably before you can, if this delays our wedding.” Lise said with a smile, but Cooper could tell that the smile was covering something, but he couldn’t really suss it out through the flashes of pain in his head.

“We’re right behind you.” Lise said as the ambulance doors shut, and it sped away from the safe house under heavy escort.

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1. I get it. Really, I do.
As a conservative, the idea that Trump could be the GOP nominee is terrible. Hell, as a human being, I find this idea repugnant. But honestly, the question for me is “When the media and the Left (BIRM) have taken their best shots at Mr. Hell Toupee, and he and his followers (I’d say supporters, but in truth, I’m not seeing much to differentiate them from Obama followers, and we all know why we use that word to describe them) have just laughed them off and doubled down, to great applause, what does National Review believe that this will accomplish?” At best, this is an exercise in preaching to the choir; and at worst, it makes as much impact as a fart in a hurricane.

2. Principles matter.
People like me are glad to see that some people who identify as Republicans are now on board with this idea have decided to join the rest of us. Perhaps if a few more self-identified Republicans had been as vocal on this point when those elected in 2008 and 2010 declined to fight the fights that matter, the fights we elected them to fight, regardless of their assessments of success in doing so, then we wouldn’t be facing the apparent possibility of a Trump candidacy, let alone the horror of a Trump nomination. Instead, usual suspects continued to support the Marquis of Queensberry Rules and the Imperial Rules of Engagement, and rendered all their talk hollow and cheap to a frustrated electorate. So when the party and its institutions point out that Trump’s prior statements and actions don’t square with his current ones, they fail to recognize that they are the pot calling the kettle black for most Americans, and most bitterly to those who until this latest election season, trusted them.

3. Endorsements of Trump from the likes of Bob Dole and Trent Lott don’t help. Seriously, the next party flunky who jabbers about the “unacceptability” of someone with principles, who has walked the walk, and demonstrated an understanding of the Trumanism “If you want a friend in D.C., buy a dog.” while extolling Trump’s “electability” should be given his or her walking papers. The mere utterance of the word by someone with Republican credentials is taken as confirmation that the label matters more to them than the content, that the win matters more than policy, and that is why “electability” has given us sterling candidates, like Romney, McCain, and Dole, whose great success in Presidential elections gives credence to this concept and the priority that the party put on it.

4. Condescension doesn’t work.

You can say that people don’t know the issues and don’t know what they are doing, and in many cases, you’d be right. But are those people going to listen to anything you say after that? Probably not.

Progressive philosophy and dogged determination have done much to dumb our neighbors down. There is no immediate miracle to reverse this. But what you can do is engage individuals and respectfully challenge their assumptions and conclusions, and when you win them with patience and a dogged determination all your own, they will do the same.

5. We are in a scary place right now…
…and the impossible choice between and inveterate liar with no regard for the lives of people who selflessly dedicate their lives for this country, self-proclaimed socialist who promises to make everything “free”, including things government has no business providing to anyone, while at the same time acknowledging that those “free” things have an enormous cost on one side, and on the other, an egotistical, brash narcissist who, like the man he seeks to succeed, also has no understanding of the limitations imposed on the Executive branch of government, by design, is frightening. Especially when this man’s exaggerated sense of self-worth impairs his ability to thoughtfully reflect on the actions of others and respond in a manner which is best for the country, rather in a fashion that would best assuage his outsized ego.

Anger, righteous anger, and a willingness that no mainstream Republican demonstrated to actually talk about issues unfiltered by the restrictions of euphemism and fear of offending anyone brought us to this point. We can talk all day long about how anger doesn’t win elections, but 2008 and 2010 are proof that this is wrong. Because of this, and the excuses and failure yielded by the trust placed in the party after the last two elections, the talk about anger not working will fall on deaf ears, closed by the empty past rhetoric of “electability” and “compromise” from suits festooned with the party label.

Until the party publicly declares ownership of this disaster, it won’t regain any credibility with anyone. And the longer we go on without this admission of responsibility, the more likely it is that we really will have to hold our noses and choose the least onerous choice on a menu of excrement, and if that happens, we will remember the people most responsible for this for a long, long, long time.

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Cooper and Lise walked behind the King as he entered the Library, stopping just inside the doorway, as the King announced “I’ve just been informed that dinner is served, but before we adjourn to the dining room, I have some good news to announce.  Commander Wilson has asked Major Philips to marry him, and she wisely and enthusiastically accepted.  I hope that you will all join me in toasting to the happy couple this evening, and that you will all join with me in congratulating them.”

Most of the men and women assembled in the room pressed forward to offer handshakes and congratulations.  Cooper tried to pay proper attention to the various words of encouragement, but felt swept up in the evening’s events, finally settling on the vain hope that he was not grinning like a fool in the onslaught of well-wishes.  The dinner was magnificent.  Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, two or three salads, gravy, creamed peas, and corn that was impossibly good, given the latitude and current relations with the south.  He sipped the wine at random intervals, but focused more on the water, sensing that the night was far from over.  Several toasts were called, over a pear brandy that was too sweet for Cooper’s tastes.  Lise was by his side, but frequently engaged in conversation by the Medical Corps Captain she had been speaking to earlier.  In a moment when the captain was otherwise engaged in conversation, she fumbled under the table for Cooper’s hand, and upon finding it, squeezed hard to get his attention from the King, who was regaling the front off the table with a story about a long-past dinner with his late Mother.  Cooper turned in her direction, just as she whispered in his ear “What did the two of you talk about?  What is going on here?”

Cooper pursed his lips, then whispered back “I’ll tell you later…just to do it proper justice.  But he was very adamant that any “lapse” in your judgment and integrity was his fault, and he couldn’t and wouldn’t punish either of us for it.”

Just then the King erupted with laughter, causing Cooper to turn his head back in the sovereign’s direction.  Lise looked down at the table, struck dumb at the turn of events before it really dawned on her that she was going to get to stay with this man who had come to occupy so many of her thoughts.  As she thought about how they spent the morning, she could feel her cheeks flush again, as she thought to herself “I hope he doesn’t think he’s sleeping alone tonight.  Actually, I hope he doesn’t think he’s sleeping at all.” and let a small smile come to her face at the last.  Under the table, she squeezed his hand again, more gently this time, and tried to send her intent through her eyes as he turned to her again and smiled, before adding a remark to the conversation taking place to his left.


As Cooper, Lise, and Rick were taking their leave for the evening, the King thanked them for coming, then said “Gentlemen, I need to speak to this young lady for just one moment.  She will join you in the car presently.”

After Cooper and Rick left the room, the King looked at Lise and said “I know you’re worried about your career.  You shouldn’t be.  Yes, you violated rules and a professional code of conduct…and I let that happen.  I asked Cooper to convey that message from you, but this night was as frantic for him as it was for you, and when I thought more about it, I realized that you should probably hear this from me.”  He could see that she was searching for words, and decided not to give her a chance, opting instead to continue with his royal deference, and add to the joy of the evening.

“I am also withdrawing the electronic surveillance from Cooper’s bedroom and bathroom.  I know all I need to know, and that is that the two of you belong to together.  While the world around is chaos and tumult, I expect happiness for the two of you.  You both deserve it, and frankly, we all could use more examples of this in our lives.  But you should go now.  They are waiting, and I suspect that neither you or Cooper will be sleeping much tonight.”  He allowed himself a knowing smile as she said “Yes.  Thank You, Your Highness.” and hurried to the waiting car.

As the car door shut, Rick Gearheart started to chuckle quietly.  Cooper, sitting opposite him, suspected he knew the  source of his friend’s amusement, but decided to bite anyway.  “What’s so funny, Old Man?”

Rick shook his head. “You’re the only guy I know who gets invited to his own shotgun marriage in the same day he has sex with the bride to be.”

Cooper searched for a witty retort, but all he could come up with was “Hey, I’m just a guest here.”

Both of them smiled in the silence.

As they could Lise approach the car, Cooper said quietly “Besides, I think I’m actually getting a good deal here.”

Rick suppressed a laugh as Lise sat down next to Cooper, turned to him, and said “I’m ready to go home.”  Her eyes said considerably more when they met Coopers’, however, and he realized that she was going to thoroughly interrogate him when the two were alone behind closed doors later.

As the car pulled away from the residence, the thought sprang into Cooper’s head “How am I going to tell Jake about this?”


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Cooper Wilson took a deep breath, and wondered if he could still get a drink before he went in to see Lise.  “Probably not,” he thought “I’m sure they’re holding dinner so the King can make the announcement.”

He walked in, and saw Lise talking with a Medical Corps Captain, and instantly realized that this was going to be far easier than he’d allowed himself to imagine.  She turned her head and saw Cooper smiling in the doorway.  She excused herself and walked across the room to where he stood, grinning at her like an idiot.  “Are you ok?” she asked.  “C’mon, ” he said, taking her hand and pulling her down the hall.  “Why?” she asked, “What’s wrong?”

He opened the door to the study, and pulled her in.

“I don’t think we’re supposed to be here.” she said, looking around nervously.  Cooper was looking down and fumbling in his pocket.  “It will be fine, Lise.” he said, followed by an “A-ha!”

As he knelt down and took her left hand into his hands, she brought her right hand to her mouth.  “Lise Philips, I can’t promise that a life together will always be a bed of roses, and I’m afraid I don’t have many prospects, but I would be honored if you did me the honor of being my wife for however long that life together might be.”  Unable to speak, she nodded her assent, eventually squeaking out a “Yes!  Absolutely!” He slipped a band of white gold, with a half-carat marquis-cut sapphire, bordered on either side by a quarter-carat princess cut diamond on to her ring finger and stood before her.

When she finally tore her gaze away from the ring, he took her in his arms, kissing her passionately. When their lips parted, she rubbed her cheek against his and whispered in his ear “Don’t have many prospects…HA!”

“Is everything alright in here?”  The King’s voice interrupted their quiet embrace.  Lise jumped away from Cooper, smoothing out her jacket, and skirt, and blushing as she said “Yes, Your Highness.”  Cooper tried not to laugh as he watched his wife-to-be squirming in the presence of the King.  “Is that true, Cooper?  Is everything “alright” in here?”  Cooper laughed as he smiled at Lise and replied “Yes, Your Highness.  You were right.”

“Of course I was right!” the King exclaimed, sporting his own smile at Lise’s confusion and discomfort.  “Miss Philips, I intend for us all to be toasting to your nuptials and your happiness many times this evening.  And although it will be short notice, I expect an invite to the wedding you’ll be having later this week.”

At the last, she turned to Cooper with a questioning look, and he muttered “Later.” through a smile…the only response he would offer at this time.  Her nervousness about their future melted away, only to be replaced with a million questions and little prospect of a chance for answers for hours.

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