*One year later*
During the year after I left home, not much changed. Our group of four had become three, Jean left when she turned eighteen. One morning we woke up and she was gone. Pepper thinks she ran off to join a vampire gang. It doesn’t sound like something Jean would do, but I guess it was the only explanation we could really come up with.
Now that we were all eighteen, we needed a plan. We couldn’t stay in the park forever. Our days were spent planning out what we would do, or job searching. It wasn’t easy, not a lot of places were interested in hiring homeless transgender people.
“Guys, we’re running out of options here.” Rose sighed after one of our million brainstorming sessions. “I think it’s time for desperate measures.”
“Rose, no. We’re not going to let you do that.” Pepper protested.
“Why? Sex work is really the only thing I can do right now.” She said, mindlessly playing with a blade of grass.
“It’s not, we’ll find something.” Pepper responded forcefully.
“Pepper. You can’t shelter me forever. It’s dangerous, I know, but I can handle myself. We need the money.” Rose argued, turning to him.
“I know, but we’re not that desperate. I’m not gonna let you put yourself at risk like that.”
“What do you think, Thorn?” Rose asked me the dreaded question. I was hoping I wouldn’t be pulled into this discussion.
“I agree that it’s dangerous and I wouldn’t want you selling yourself on the streets like that. I would hate it if something happened to you. But, we really do need the money and that pays really well. I don’t think we need to result to that just yet though, I think we can wait and try a little more before we go there.” I offered, hoping I didn’t piss either one of them off.
“Thorn, would you really want Rose going out and doing that with randos who could kill her? Things aren’t exactly great for us trans people.” Pepper crossed his arms.
“I know. It’s dangerous. But it could also get us out of this situation. It wouldn’t be permanent. Just until we can get a place, then we can actually apply for real jobs.” It wasn’t exactly a perfect plan, but it could work.
“I think that’s a good idea.” Rose agreed. “I wouldn’t do it forever, Pepper. Just for a little bit. Wouldn’t you want to have a place to stay? An actual bed, with real, warm food?”
“I mean, I guess. I just don’t think it’s worth risking your life.” He sighed. “But I guess I can’t stop you.”
“Thank you, Thorn.” Rose cornered me in the bathroom later that night.
“Don’t mention it. I’m not too thrilled about it, but we’re kinda desperate.” I shrugged.
“I know. But I want to get us off the streets. As soon as we have a stable place and jobs, I want to help you track down your father.”
“Wait, really?” I was stunned. I knew she was interested in my family, but I didn’t think she’d actually be interested in tracking my father down.
“Yea really. You deserve to know your father and he deserves to know his son.” She smiled at me.
“But I thought you thought he was dead?” I questioned.
“He might be. But at least you’ll have some closure.”
“Thank you. That would mean a lot to me.”
“Of course, Thorn. You’re my friend, and I’m also really interested in meeting him.” She chuckled.
“What about Hawk?” I asked, apprehensively. It’d been a year since I’d seen him, but I’d been thinking about him ever since I left. I wondered how he was doing, how he was coping with the loss of his mother and me.
“Sure. We’ll have to be careful about it though. We don’t want anyone else from your old life finding you.” She warned. We’d found out that Aloe had framed me for the murder of Nutmeg, so I was fairly wanted. I wasn’t worried about seeing Hawk though, I knew he’d trust me over Aloe.
“Good, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t at least try to reconnect with him.” I smiled sadly.
“I know, Thorn. We’ll do our best.”
“Camera guy, get the hell over here! We’re on air in one minute!” I yelled towards the incompetent man we had to hire. After our daughter ran off, our assets had been frozen. We couldn’t access anything if we didn’t have the heir in our custody.
“I’m sorry, your highness.” The squirrely man rushed to the camera to start setting things up. I pinched the bridge of my nose, the stress of trying to get my rightful place back on the throne was exhausting. All of our efforts to get Clementine back to us were for naught. She hadn’t been seen since the night she fled and we were at a standstill.
Aloe and I had been given a time limit by the council. We needed Clementine back in our custody before her nineteenth birthday, or else we’d completely lose our places. We’d be forced from the castle, dethroned and we’d have to hand everything over to Stone. I couldn’t imagine the horror that would arise with a gay man in the throne.
“Sweetheart, you know what you’re supposed to say, yes?” My darling husband chimed from behind me.
“Of course. everything we have is riding on this working. I would never forget.” I purred with a smirk. I wouldn’t give up my kingdom without a fight.
“We’re on in five, four,” The camera man starting counting down, both aloud and with his fingers.
“Hello, this is Queen Ginger Fae, along with my husband, King Aloe Fae. We’re here to speak about my daughter, Clementine. She is still missing. It’s been a year now since the disappearance of my daughter. All I want is for her to be brought home. I just want to see my baby again, to hold her in my arms. Please, if you have any information, let us know.” I faked a sad expression.
“As a little more incentive to find my daughter, we’re upping the reward money. Instead of a million, we will now offer the person who brings her back to us five million dollars. And, if you’re a young, suitable male, I will give you my daughter’s hand in marriage. Making you next in line for the throne. So please, bring her back to me.” I gripped the edges of my podium, trying to look like a grieving mother, not a woman protecting her throne.
“As usual, the phone number to call if she’s spotted is down below.” Aloe added, making a downward pointing motion with his hand.
“Thank you. I really hope we can bring my daughter home. Clementine, if you’re watching this, you’re not in any trouble baby. We know you only did what you did out of self defense. We promise, if you come home, we’ll give you whatever you want.” I promised, emptily of course. As soon as she was returned to me, she’d be locked away until I could arrange a marriage.
“Thank you everyone, that is all for today. I am looking forward to seeing my daughter again.” I bowed my head and the camera lights shut off.
I pulled my husband away from the camera and the camera man.
“Do you think this’ll work?” I asked him quietly. My hands were shaking, I knew how much was riding on this broadcast.
“I do. Five million dollars and a chance at the throne is too much for anyone to pass up. Anyone out there who knows where she is will bring her back to us. We just have to be patient my dear.” He grabbed my hand and gave me a reassuring squeeze.
“You mean, ‘my queen.'” I scolded, pulling my hand away from him.
“You’re right, I’m sorry. My beautiful queen.” He gently pulled my hand towards his again. He gave me a small kiss on the back of my hand and I couldn’t help but grin.
“Thank you my king. Now, we wait.” I sighed. It would be so hard to wait while so much hung in the balance.
“Let’s just hope she, or someone she knows, was watching.”
A/N: I am so sorry for the long break, this year has been hell for me. I went through some stuff, but I’m in a really great place now. I have great friends, an amazing job, and I’m starting college in the spring. I finally feel ready to jump back into this legacy full-force. I hope I still have readers out there, and if I do, thank you so much for being so patient and I really hope you enjoyed the chapter!