"Yep. But you are going to get at least three estimates. Right now, we should get paint for your downstairs bathroom, and look at all the stuff you're going to want for the torture chamber. You'll need a list. With manufacturers and model numbers."
"Whoa. I had _no_ idea." Dina admitted, staring at all the bathroom faucets. "The brass and chrome ones are pretty, but, maybe a bit upscale for me, now. Even the old house didn't have them."
"They're not that new. Your old house was more _big_ and _located_ than palatal, you know?"
"Well, it was certainly big." And Bruce had expected it to be immaculate. My job.
Cabinets, every sort and style. Floor tile. Countertop tile. Around the bathtub tile. As old King Bruce had been wont to say in her books, "Oh Gods, large and small! How much is this going to cost?" And why the Hell had she married someone with the same name as her insipid hero? Why hadn't a Claudius come along and kidnapped her?
"Stop channeling The King of the Western Lands." Audrey poked her, "And decide what color scheme you're going to want.
Bruce, her husband Bruce, had wanted everything in Black, white and grays, with occasional brilliant reds. Her bedroom and bathroom had been very noir.
"Earth tones with blue accents." she decided. That suite of colors, and the other five, for that matter, had all been assembled by Audrey. Left to herself, she'd have probably agonized between fifteen shades of white. Or more.
Arizona (fake) slate tiles for the floor. Dina carefully wrote down the maker, the name, the stock number . . . The countertop she'd do in deep red brown swirled glass tiles, and a row of the same around the bottom of the walls instead of baseboards. "Are you sure, Audrey?"
"Positive. Trust me."
Name, rank, serial number . . .
Marvelous whirlpool tub. Almond.
Wall tiles, glass like the countertop, but with lighter colors, tans, and creams.
The molding. The wall texturing, the paint.
And, of course, the Throne. A new Kobe, ultra flush. It looked dangerous. Definitely right for the torture chamber.
Faucets for sink and bath. Dina caved and went for the brass and chrome.
Cabinets under the sink, and if she added the closet, half of that could be shelves and cabinets.
The list was humongous. Detailed.
"I'll type this all up and have it ready for the remodelers. For estimates." Dina said. "Now, what about that downstairs bathroom?"
"Strip the paper and paint it to match, umm, all you have a black, white, and gray towels?"
"Yes." Dina frowned, "And I never want to see another black and white bathroom."
"It'll look great, trust me. And the floor is a neutral beige, so it'll do for now. You need some shelves, too."
Dina followed along dubiously, as Audrey ordered two colors of paint, and selected brushes and drop cloths. And shelves.
"Did that man leave you any tools?"
"I've got some in the car. I don't know what."
"Hmm, well, we'll come back if we have to."
Three trips later. . .
"You are a wizard! I declare you the Court Magician." Dina looked at the bathroom and shook her head. The walls were a pink so pale it was more of an off white in the pinkish direction, and all the baseboards and a stripe around the ceiling were a pink so deep it was practically maroon. The plain mirror had two stripes of maroon framing it, the outer with an odd geometrical offset. The two new shelves were likewise accented. The grey towels were perfect.
And she had a desk to place her computer upon. And an appointment with the cable company to install her internet connection. And three calls out to remodelers.
"Audrey, you are also hereby awarded the 'Get the Usurper off her Butt' award."
"Ha! Are you back living in the Kingdom of the West? I remember what you used to be like in High School. Totally _Not_There_, and then you'd ace all the tests because you remembered everything the teacher said while you were just sitting there doodling – drawing horses and knights and whatever."
"I was a pretty strange teenager." Dina admitted, "I got better as an adult."
"No. Bruce drove you into compliance with community standards. Upper level business manager class standards, at that.." She punched Dina's shoulder, "It's been good to see the old Dina today. You call me and keep me up to date on what the remodelers says."
Alone again, Dina dug out her list. It was huge. The bottom line was horrendous, and that was before all the labor and profit were added in.
She wandered back into the horrible bathroom. Poked the tile on the wall above the tub. It wasn't _that_ ugly. In a slow motion creep the entire grid leaned away from the wall. The structural strength of the grout then failed and the whole mass cascaded into the rust stained tub.
"Well, now that I think about it, it really is _that_ ugly." She looked at the list in her hand. "Right."
The unfinished computer desk was bare. Should she stain it first? But she ought to do the list right now. She picked up the tower and slid it into the slot designed for it. Monitor here, printer there, cables everywhere, and plug it all in.
She sat back in satisfaction, and while it was booting trotted downstairs and grabbed a kitchen chair and dragged it up to her new office.
The Restoration of the Throne
She looked at the title, grinned.
King Lucian had inherited the title of Usurper from his father, but the name was the only sign of any resentment from his subjects. The Kingdom flourished.
Yet he knew too well that only luck kept the tile of his reign secured to the walls of the
"No, no, that will never do."
Yet he knew too well how insecure his claim to the crown, how easily it could collapse at the faintest touch --- if the Old King returned.
His father had done his best to restore the well being of the kingdom after the disastrous mishandling of the Old King. Honor, fame, reputation, and respect had all been defended with an Army. Gracious nobility had been displayed with balls and pageants, politics with trade agreements and occasional wars.
The taxes and confiscations had driven the kingdom to near bankruptcy. Lucian remembered it from his childhood. Beggars and whores on every corner, children starving. It had been an dreadful civil war. Wretched peasants against the Army. Only his father's troops, following him in his rebellion had prevented a bloodbath. It must not happen again. Twenty years ago the king had backed down, and entered exile with the remnants of his loyal army.
Dina jumped as her cell phone started beethovening at her.
"I wanted to inform you," Speaking of the Old King, here he was. "Monica and I are marrying." Bruce rattled on with times and places.
She finally interrupted. "It doesn't matter to me. I won't be coming. I'm sure the kids will be, umm, thrilled." she disconnected, and turned back to the computer.