- Lunch with a Kingby davisr (Rhonda)
This work has reached the exceptional level
Echo eats lunch with the royal family while something brews.
Return To Concorde Valley
: Lunch with a King by davisr (Rhonda)

Years after a fire took her parents lives and devastated her home, Echo worked at a small town newspaper. She was rescued from danger by her old friend, Theo, who took her to a new life in his world.

End of last chapter:

"So Concorde Valley isn't paradise?"

"No, Echo, but it is pivotal and it is worth fighting for."

Theo took both of her hands and pressed them against his heart. He leaned forward and tapped his head on hers. A warmth spread throughout her body she suspected had little to do with his powers and a lot to do with his love.

Start of New Chapter:

"What do you think of my little garden?" Phoebus asked. He laid his fork on the oaken table and leaned forward in an attitude of attentiveness.

"I've never had an experience equal to it," Echo said, her posture matching his. "Your garden is a living work of art. It made me feel like a small child snuggled in the embrace of a loving adult. I wanted to remain there, protected from the cares outside its borders."

Phoebus nodded in appreciation of her assessment. "I've always said gardens aren't for hiding from the world, but they are good places to retreat to when the world overwhelms you."

"And that's exactly what life has done," Echo said, "...overwhelmed me. It has since I was a tiny girl, but your garden has gifted me with peace."

"Which is part of the magic my father weaves through it," Theo said.

Echo arched an eyebrow. "Magic?"

Diantha smiled, amber tresses gracing the neck of the queen. "It's said a true gardener is more magician than cultivator, Echo. The garden is amazing and begs you to stay, but there are no supernatural powers at work, just skill and love."

Phoebus tilted his head in acknowledgement. "I've found nature has magic of its own."

"My grandmother has a vegetable garden you could describe that way," Echo said. "She calls it her own piece of Heaven."

"Your grandmother must be a beautiful person," Diantha said. Her eyes lost focus as though searching for something in the distance.

"She is," Echo said, "do you know her?"

Diantha paused, still lost in thought, then turned to Echo. "I simply see her in your eyes and in the way she raised you after your parents' accident."

"She is special, as is my grandpa, and I don't know what I would have done without either of them. I really need to let them know I'm okay. They must be terribly worried."

"That's already been taken care of," Phoebus said. "I sent them, and your boss, a message as soon as you made it here safely."

"How? I thought you don't use phones or other electronics, and I know they don't speak bird."

"I have an uncle who's a talented courier. He delivered the message personally."

"And they were okay hearing the news from him?"

"Yes, rest assured. He's a great communicator."

Echo could only guess who the uncle was, but decided not to interrogate. For the moment, she just wanted to relax and enjoy her experience. How many opportunities does a simple orphan get to enjoy lunch with a king?

For a moment, there was a comfortable silence as everyone tucked into the delicious meal Dianatha had prepared. Echo wondered why a queen would make her own food, but was beginning to get the idea this royal family set their own standards.
After a bit, Hannah looked up and cleared her throat.

"Beautiful gardens aren't the only things Concorde Valley is famous for," she said. Large gray eyes accented fair skin and rosy cheeks, giving her the appearance of an innocent, fair haired kitten.

"Really, what else is there?" Echo asked. She smiled at the seven-year-old, ignoring the dark looks of her parents.

Hannah stopped twirling the food in her plate and focused on Echo. She seemed to be ignoring their looks as well. "How do you like the weather here?"

"It's great," Echo said. She squinted her eyes as the reporter inside arose and squeezed past contentment.

"Are you warm enough?" Hannah asked. Her eyes flicked up and made contact with Echo's, trying to transmit meaning beyond words.

Echo flashed her an encouraging smile. "As a matter of fact I'm quite warm, thank you. I have been ever since I got to Concorde Valley, which I find unusual for this time of year."

"Very unusual," Hannah said. She sighed dramatically. "Or so I've heard... almost magical."

Phoebus intervened with the patience given to fathers of precocious daughters. "That will be enough, Hannah. And, what's this I hear about you interrupting Theo and Echo's walk with your rabbits?"

Hannah's eyes widened as she dropped the subject. "It wasn't my fault, Táta. Mama sent me to get herbs for the spaghetti she was making and Neptune ran after me."

"Just Neptune?" he asked.

"No, Saturn and Venus followed, too."

"And that's it?"

"Yes, Sir, I promise."

"Did you try to call them back?"

Hannah looked down at her lap as though in disappointment. "They ignored me," she said, then turned and looked at Echo. "Rabbits aren't very obedient."

"And neither are daughters," Phoebus said. He drummed his fingers on the table and looked straight into her big eyes. "I know good and well those rabbits wouldn't think of disobeying you. Out with the truth."

"I only wanted to see Echo," Hannah said, "and tell her Sunny was doing fine...uh, he still is."

"Thank you," Echo said. "I'm so glad you're taking such good care of him, and thank you for the weather report." She winked at Hannah and Hannah winked back.

The momentary awkwardness was broken by the appearance of four young people, who, by their looks, had to be Theo's siblings.

Phoebus rose to his feet. "Ah, here you are kids. Echo, these are my other children, Rebecca, Adam, Phillip and Helen."
Each greated Echo with a warm smile and a word of welcome. They were a handsome bunch, she thought, strong and healthy. She wondered if they really were immortal like Theo told her, and if so, what might such people do with their time when time was no longer an issue? She would have to ask later.

"I'm sorry we're late." One of the children, tall and dark haired with the family trait of green eyes, walked over to his father. "We were detained. When I got to Mary's house to collect Rebecca and the others, I was met by a messenger."

"From whom?"

"Georgios. He sends his regrets to Echo and to you, Father, for his absence. He says he'll see you both later."

"It must have been important or he wouldn't have missed." Phoebus said. "What about Henry?"

"Georgios called him in for duty, which is why Rebecca is here without him."

"Thank you, Adam. All of you sit down and eat, please."
One by one, the royal offspring took their places at the table. Two empty spots stood as mute reminders of the ones called away.
"Where's Caitlynn?" Diantha asked. "I'd hoped to show her off to Echo."
"I left her with Mary," Rebecca said. "She was sleeping and we didn't want to wake her. Plus, I think Mary wanted an excuse to come visit Echo."
"Mary is Rebecca's mother-in-law," Diantha explained, "and a very dear friend of mine. She needs no excuse to visit. I suspect her true motive was to spend more time with the baby."
"I agree," Phoebus said. "She does love children and it's been a long since her own were that young."
"I know it makes me sound terribly overprotective," Rebecca said, "but she's only three months old, and I don't like leaving her with anyone, not even her grandmother. She’s my first child and I feel lost without her.”

“I was that way with Theo,” Diantha said. “It’s a wonder any firstborn survives new parents.”

“And visa versa,” Phoebus said. “Anthos hated being a baby and often expressed his frustration by crying. He wanted so much to be grown, I think it physically hurt him. That's when we started calling him Theo, which means, gift from God. It was clear the boy had an important mission and was anxious to get busy doing it.”

"What does Anthos mean?" Echo asked.

"Blossom," Diantha said. Giggles erupted around the table. "My own name came from the flower Dianthus," the queen continued. "I asked Phoebus to give him a strong name that had something to do with flowers. I mean, there are gardens everywhere here. It seemed fitting at the time." The giggles grew louder.

“Well, I think his name is great, and that he’s the best big brother in the world,” Rebecca said. She reached over and ruffled his hair, “Even if he is way too serious.”

“I am not,” Theo said. With the speed of a whirling Dervish, he spun around and thumped an English pea at his sister's face.

For just a moment, everyone froze, and then Rebecca thumped one back. It landed on his forehead with an audible splat!

“Food fight!” Seventeen-year-old Phillip sailed a piece of garlic toast at his ten-year-old sister, Helen.

“Stop it right now,” Phoebus ordered. He raised a dark eyebrow. “We have company and besides, your mother spent a long time cooking this meal. You should appreciate her hard work.”

“That’s right,” Diantha said. She picked up her bowl of spaghetti for dramatic effect. “You see, it’s important to never waste... at least not until you can get a clear shot.”

Diantha tipped the bowl, dumping the entire contents into her royal husband’s lap. His eyes widened in surprise.

“Oh, I'm so sorry, dear,” she said. “Are those your good clothes?”

“Not any more,” he said. He countered with an herbal drink down the front of her dress. 

Echo sat with her mouth agape as a full scale food war broke out. She watched and wondered what to do. She had grown up as an only child and had no experience with such behaviors. It didn't take long before she figured it out, though. Helen, a child she has just met, nailed her on her shoulder with a bread stick.

Echo laughed and counter-attacked with part of her antipasto salad, then ducked as Phoebus, reigning god of horses, threw a meatball at her from the spaghetti dumped in his lap. She hesitated just a moment before throwing it back. He grinned and the melee went on.

Echo wasn't sure how long the foodfight continued, but she had fun, they had fun, and then it just stopped. As though on signal, they arose and cleaned the mess. Once they were finished, they returned to their seats and ate what food was left in dishes. 

A deep smile welled up inside Echo's heart and spread onto her face. She guessed she knew the answer to what immortals do with their time when time is no longer a factor.



Author Notes
A special thanks for the artwork, "Sorting Fruit" by Daphne Oberon on FanArtReview.

tata: Ancient Greek word for "daddy"
pater: Ancient Greek word for "father"

Book Summary so far:
Young Echo Jones is overlooked by First Responders as she hides in a wheat field during a house fire. Both parents killed in the fire, she escapes into an ancient forest behind her home. Alone and afraid, she meets up with a young boy, Anthos, nicknamed Theo, from mysterious origins that tends to her while searching for help.

20 years later, Echo is working for a newspaper called the Taylorville Sun. Among other duties, she investigates a serial killer who has now struck in her small town, and covers the opening of a new mega-store, Super Handyman.

After gathering all she needs on the store opening, she meets up with Bessie, an elderly columnist from the Sun who has an inside scoop on the death of the woman killed in their town. Bessie tells what she knows about the night of the murder, and sends Echo off to go back to work.

Echo arrives at the Newspaper, where the Christmas party has already begun. Before going in, she finds an envelop addressed to her. In it are pictures of the dead woman and Echo. The newest member of the police department, Tony Bradley, shows up to take her statement. He is, immediately, suspected of being the serial killer Echo is investigating.

At the end of the party, a parade of her friends set out to follow her home and keep her safe. After a series of unfortunate events, she ends up fleeing across ice and snow to trees she hopes to keep her safe. She's confronted by Specters who try and take her hostage. Theo, her childhood acquaintance, shows up to save the day.

After a battle outside Echo's apartment complex, Echo and Theo have fled through the trees toward his homeland, Concorde Valley, an undisclosed place near or within the Great Forests of Southern United States.

Theo takes Echo into Concorde Valley where she is tended to by Phoebus, Theo's father of many roles. He patches her up and sends her with Theo to meet the family.

There, she is taken on a walk through a magnificent flower garden Phoebus planted long ago and tends. Afterward, she joins part of the family for a luncheon.


Echo Jones: Young girl left stranded by a fire that took her home and parents in the first part of the book, then as an adult, she's an investigative reporter for a small town newspaper.

Theo: Named Anthos by his parents. Protagonist of the book, and Echo's love interest..

Specters/men in dark clothing: Minions of the Enemy. Have eyes that turn red when they're angry. Can appear as normal humans, serve the Enemy.

Kitty Sunshine, aka Sunny: Echo's Russian Blue cat

Theo, A nickname for Anthos: An 8-year-old, of mysterious origins, who finds young Echo in the forest and tends to her needs. We see him later as a grown man who rescues Echo once again.

Georgios: One of Phoebus' Captains. Theo's half brother

Phoebus: King of Concorde Valley, Theo's father
Diantha: Queen of Concorde Valley, Theo's mother
Poseidon: god of the Sea, Theo's grandfather

Rebecca: Theo's 25-year-old sister. She's married to Henry and has a baby Caitlyn
Henry: Rebecca's husband.
Adam: Theo's 21-year-old brother
Phillip: Theo's 17-year-old brother
Helen: Theo's 10-year-old sister
Hannah: Theo's 7-year-old sister who loves animals and can talk to them in their own language.


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