... forward into my future, with him ~ as a couple. Sadly, we found that we could not have children of our own, so, when we learned that you needed foster parents, and that we would be the parents honoured with the task of caring for you, we were overjoyed. We loved you from the moment we set eyes upon you. We shall always love you ~ and we shall always worry, but we know that you have your destiny, just as we had ours."

"Thank you, so much" whispered Maia, as tears flowed.
They hugged.

Suddenly Maia looked up: "Mum, Dad, do you know Prince Rouark?"

They hesitated. Then her father spoke: "Why do you ask"

"He has befriended me and he seems so kind, yet I feel unsure about him."

"I think that you are right to be cautious", her mother answered. "As a member of your country's royal family, he is distantly related to you. We were told, by the king and queen ~ your parents ~ that they had been considering a betrothal between you and him, while you were still infants, but, when the rebellion took hold, it wasn't to be."

"I don't want an arranged marriage" answered Maia.

"I don't think that this would happen now, anyway, dear" said her mother, "but I want you to be careful. You were smuggled out, but he stayed there. I can't help but wonder how he remained safe, after the revolution against the royal family."

"Yes, that is something that has long troubled us" added her father. "Is he really your friend? ~ He may be, but I think that you are right to be wary. Please, Maia, please take care of yourself!"

Maia looked troubled, but resolute.
"Mum, Dad, I'm going to ...."

"The secret of success is constancy to purpose" - Benjamin Disraeli.