So Min gripped Hyun Joong's hand tightly as they stood before his father. The King frowned at the two of them, his bushy eyebrows meeting in the center of his forehead.
"And tell me why I should grant your request," he said. "Why should I extend my deadline another month?"
"It took a year for me to find a woman I love with all my heart." Hyun Joong looked at So Min, and in the warmth of his gaze she felt his love. "This is the woman I've been seeking, and she owns my heart. I love her, father. I love her as I've never loved before."
"And what does this have to do with my deadline?" King asked.
"We can marry here, before a justice of the peace," Jung So Min said. "I'll marry Nicholas wherever, whenever, in whatever kind of ceremony he wants. But we think it would be better to marry in Gojoseon."
"Where our countrymen can share in the celebration and the joy," Hyun Joong added.
King stared at them for a long moment. "There are some men born to duty, and others born to love. And there are a few very lucky ones who are born to have both. It would appear, my son, that you are one of the lucky ones. You will make a good king. Permission granted," he said, then waved his hands in dismissal.
Hyun Joong squeezed So Min's hand as they turned to leave.
"So Min." The king halted them and they turned back to face him. "I command you to give me a grandchild within a year."
"With all due respect, sir. There are some things you simply can't command, nature being one of them. However, I can promise you this." She smiled at Hyun Joong. "We will do all that we can to try to adhere to your command."
King stared at her for a long moment, and So Min wondered if she'd somehow offended him. Then, one corner of his mouth curved upward and he nodded to his son. "You have chosen well." The half smile disappeared. "Now, go."
They left the suite and when they stepped out into the hotel hallway, Hyun Joong gathered her into his arms. "You were wonderful," he said.
"I was scared to death," she confessed. "He isn't exactly the warm and cuddly kind of father, is he?"
"No." Hyun Joong frowned thoughtfully. "For so many years I've rebelled against him because maybe someplace inside I wanted him to be a warm and cuddly father. But what he is, is a good and wise king."
"And he said you will make a good king." So Min smiled at Hyun Joong.
He pulled her closer, more tightly against him; his eyes darkened with desire' and love. "I will be a good king, but you will make me be a wise king because I'll be a king who knows love."
He kissed her and So Min responded with all the love she had for him inside her. She had not only found herself a prince, more important, she had found her happily-ever-after, and it was right here in Hyun Joong's arms.
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