The story is based loosely on the epic Cleopatra, with events stretched to the imagination of the writer with plot twists to align with events of the lives of 'Pat' and 'John', conveys how Pat managed the news of his alleged death and the effort she made to go on, eventually finding love again. John and Pat are finally reunited in "Denied". And on their honeymoon a bit of misfortune finds them. Pat is sickened with fever, and dreams of a time where her life closely parallels the Queen of the Nile, for whom she was named.
Cleopatra 'Pat' Charles-Santi/Queen Cleopatra
John Bernardino Santi/Julius Caesar
RIP Dr. Steven Chauncey Maxwell/Mark Antony
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Cleopatra...Remember the Time© by SPAC
Kissing his bride and relishing in the glow that they were finally married. John Bernardino Santi lifted his glowing bride Cleopatra 'Pat' Charles-Santi into his arms and hoisted her over the threshold of their honeymoon suite. Dinner awaited them. Pat was starved. She hadn't eaten anything for hours, fearing it would form a knot in her stomach. She had dined on freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices. She was sick to the core, but chalked it up as nerves. She loved John and knew he loved her, sans their long absence in the seal of a lie.
She was as pensive this morning with her two best friends fitting her in her dress and crowned her head with floras, as she was the day they first made love, thirty years ago. She knew the moment their child was conceived that she was facing a huge weight. She hadn't met his parents or anyone of his family except his older brother Tony. She wondered of course if he was ashamed of her. But John kept her close because he didn't want to share her with anyone. He was still trying to like this family he had been born into. He didn't want Pat tainted by them. She was perfect, his queen.
She couldn't even make love with him on their first night as man and wife. Her stomach still held the contents of her dinner and refused to digest it. She felt sick. Before her feet gave up their travel Pat rushed to the bowl and spilled the contents of her stomach, retching, cramping and dry heaving.
John heard her gut wrenching cries.
"Baby...you ok? Pat!"
47 B.C.An eighteen year old Cleopatra is in exile...her brother and sister have stolen the throne. Egypt is part of the Roman Empire and is in debt to Rome. The Great Julius Caesar and his army go in to Alexandra to claim its debt. Cleopatra waits at the borders, plotting her return.
"I want a man to fall in love with me..." Cleopatra asked the courtesan, whose powerful visions made her well renowned in spite of her long lost virtue.
"I see...but there is so much to tell."
"Is there an art to it...making love?" The exiled Queen continued. Love had not found her as of yet. She was beautiful of course. But she wanted to be loved for her substance, and not just for her physical beauty and prominence in Egypt. She believed she was the incarnation of the Goddess Isis, claiming to be the deity's daughter and therefore worshipped at her altar.
"Oh yes...men like to be touched. But every man is different." The courtesan conveyed.
"This man is a conqueror." Cleopatra qualified the man whom she'd most admired, wishing to make him her own. This man was unique, virility immense! A magnanimous one such as he likely had many women crouching to his feet, calculating their efforts to measure themselves above reproach. Cleopatra was still unsheathed, virginal. This gift she would offer to the one she adored. But the line of ascension was long, quite long to be exact. You see Cleopatra was an Egyptian, and the man her heart was bound to was a Roman, and Roman law only recognized marriages between Roman citizens.
"Such a man is easy to take to bed, but it is harder to hold his interest. You must always make him believe, no matter how much you've given him there's still more to conquer."
"What news on Ptolemy's army?" Julius Caesar requested to know the progress of his improbable defeat at the hands of the opposition.
"They haven't moved, still at the border, guarding against Cleopatra sire." Replied his trusted advisor.
"How many men?" Caesar stared out into the open horizon. His worry wore true. His army was impressive, but its size immeasurable to that of Ptolemy's.
"If he turns on us, we'll be outnumbered 5 to 1." The emperor surrendered to the stark reality.
Enters another senator.
"We've loaded six ships of grain..."
"Well done...that should be enough to cover Ptolemy's debt to us for the moment. We don't want the people to starve." The emperor was often lauded for his compassion to the human element.
"Most of the grain has been taken by the Royal Army for its war against Cleopatra. What's left is being plundered."
"Bring me the royal store master." This angered Caesar. He had no patience or sympathy for those who stored food while the rest of the land starved.
"Mighty Caesar, you must believe me. I had no part in stealing that grain." The store master pleaded his life.
"Execute him." The emperor commanded. Nothing more said on the matter.
"No...no please! I can return it...it was Pothinus." Too late.
"Pothinus...he's probably selling it to our enemies in the east." Caesar's trusted officer Rufio suggested.
"Man castrating human." Caesar was crushed at the thought, his humanity showing as usual. It was one of the very things that Cleopatra hoped to appeal to. Now all she needed was to gain access to him. But with her brother Ptolemy's army guarding the borders, there was no way she'd gain entry to the palace at Alexandria where Caesar temporarily stayed while on his mission to collect taxes.
A loud commotion disturbs the sire from his meeting.
"I must go in there...I must!" The lead messenger of three pushed intensely through the strong arms of Caesar's guards.
"I'm sorry sir, but this man Mardian says he has a gift for you."
"A beautiful rug sire." The portly chief counselor to Cleopatra smiled graciously. "...from Queen Cleopatra." He begged, eyes of fear abound.
"From Cleopatra? Leave it there." Caesar nodded, attention to the map plotting his campaign.
"But you haven't opened it yet..." Mardian resisted the dismissal.
"Tomorrow!" Caesar demanded for the delay. Nothing was more important now than defeating the army of Cleopatra's brother. She was in exile, and her importance was now diminished.
"Sire, Queen Cleopatra insisted that I unroll it in your presence at once." Mardian held his position, determined that he be allowed to unwrap the precious gift and do so immediately.
"Then do so." Caesar winced at the impulsive man. His attention spun back to his immediate task, as Mardian went to work severing the bindings that held the rug in its rolled form. "Now...how many men do we have guarding the hollar?" Caesar deflected to Rufio.
Mardian shed a dagger from his turban; cut the ropes...one...two. Out rolled the beautiful exotic beauty Cleopatra. Caesar, the messenger Mardian, and Rufio laugh, at the unveiling, neither could have predicted the outcome of this intrusion, though Mardian prayed it would be pleasing to the emperor. And so it seemed he would not refuse her. Caesar takes her hand aiding her to her feet. He walks around, peering about her studying her form.
"Cleopatra?" He spoke.
"Caesar?" She flirted. She was now in! What would she do with the opportunity? First order, regain her position as the rightful leader of Egypt.
"What brings you to Caesar?"
"My father named me queen before he died. I am the true leader of Egypt. I am my father's successor. The people will support me."
Cleopatra did as Caesar suggested in claiming the thrown, and taking her rightful position as queen of the Nile. She gave herself to him in exchange for his help. Although he insisted that this gift of her sex wouldn't change his heart, he remained in Alexandria romancing her. By the time he was to depart she was with child, unbeknownst to them both.
"I thought you had used the elixirs and essences that I gave you to prevent this?" Olympus the physician inquired.
"I did...but perhaps it is the God's, the mighty Isis smiling upon me." Cleopatra wasn't as confident as her manner suggested. The young queen caressed her abdomen. Indeed she was with child. Her consorts would be happy, but her advisors considered her obligation to the people would die on her quest to rise to the Roman Empire with this birth. A short while had passed since she'd lain in his arms, taken him into her body, converging their sex in an ever so glorious dance, spent for hours. Caeser had business to attend to back home. There were armies to defeat; he had to restore Rome to its proper footing.
Word had spread throughout all of his empire that his country and their leaders-slaughtered, while naysayers wondered where was their Caesar? In Egypt with his foreign queen of course. They chided, believing Caesar was no longer fit to rule as long as he was aligned to Queen Cleopatra. And he was indeed aligned to her, as a tree planted near the river Nile.
"What are you going to do? Will you tell Caesar?" Queried both Charmian the wardrobe mistress and Iris her servant.
"I shall. But there is a delicate nature before him in Rome. He cannot come to Egypt at this time." The Queen ardent, but adequately spoke.
"If I know Caesar, he will leave at once. Your majesty, send him word. And he will be at your side." Iris suggested.
"Do you think so?" The Queen asked.
"I know so..."
As the interlude fell dull, the Queen grew hopeful at the excitement of her chief counselor Mardian.
"Greetings...exalted queen. I have news for you."
"Is that from Caesar?" Inspired.
"Yes! I have news."
"Well give it to me..." She paced the parlor, fists clinched with anticipation.
"It's an invitation for you to come to the palace in Rome, be his guest in waiting."
His guest in waiting? "I think not! If Caesar will not be there when I arrive, I shall not be there to greet him. Who does he think I am?" The Queen took offense to the suggestion that she drum her fingers while he sported and frolicked with his cohorts.
"Perhaps you shouldn't upset your condition Your Majesty. You should still go, tell him in person! He will be ecstatic! I know he will be. It's just a small while, and then he will rendezvous with you soon." Charmian appealed on Caesar's behalf.
"...when he decides to descend upon the palace, and grace me with his presence? I think not! Scribe for me, that I have declined his invitation." The queen frowned in disgust. "I will not wait with nerves in knots while he rolls around at Olympus. I am after all carrying his child!" The queen stamped her foot.
"Pardon my intrusion, your majesty...but Caesar doesn't know you are with child. Perhaps if you tell him he will show you favor." The gay Mardian fell numb. The nerve of the queen! Women!
"I'm not sure I should. He has affairs to attend to. I have yet to meet his family. I fear he is ashamed of me." Discouraged. She was unmentioned of likely fearing her ancestry detached his love for her.
"Not...your majesty. I have seen the way he looks at you. It is love. He feels nothing for that interloper who keeps his shadow company." Reference to Calpurnia, the interloper.
"I have said my peace! But I will send him word as you suggest, and only then when I come will I confess my maternal way."
Cleopatra had sent word of reply to her dear Caesar, that she would meet him at his palace. As she was preparing her departure, another courier arrived.
"...love say you? He is breaking our covenant so that he may marry? I don't understand this..." The Queen's tears poured out openly.
"Let me..." Iris seized the scroll, and began to read.
'My dearest Cleopatra, it sickens me to convey that I am advised to marry Calpurnia, to make this child she carries legitimate. I have dishonored you and myself. But maybe with my hard work, I shall make this world a better place by showing my self approved. I am going to be a father. And I will wear that honor with great pride. You were without a doubt the best thing to have ever come unto my life. In you I found a semblance of the man I hope to be. You are now and forever will be my queen. Some day, you will make some man and country a great queen, wife, and mother. Forever-Caesar.'
"Very well then..." She cried. "Very well...am I now to be his mistress? How dare him! "Of course, there is no point. She is the fairer, the adored. His family accepts her porcelain skin to my darkness. After all I am the blood of Egypt. And to Egypt I will be true. My attention has been too focused on his lofty world. I...I...oh Isis, hold me nearer to thee."
"Your highness...your highness...I have more words from Caesar!"
"Throw it in the fire pit. I have nothing left in me. My tears are dried..."
"...Your highness...you will want to see this. Oh my queen, in spite of your moment of introversion, your love for Caesar is abounding. I fear that in all of your grief, you must know that he was slain...in battle."
"Caesar, he is dead?" The queen lost for words.
"Word has come, indeed." Mardian spoke as he read the words.
"It is not his words, I am sure. Then who scribed it? Who scribed it..." She demanded to know, crouching to her knees, defeated in love and cheated with death.
"I am sorry...so sorry my queen. I know your heart was sewn together with Caesar."
"Oh my god, no!" She wept, tears choking her and sickness strewn throughout her being. Her servant wiped her tears.
As the months passed, the young Queen dodged the finger pointing shame that was sure to come. In her womb lay the seed of Caesar, the hope that someday her young Caesar would rightfully claim the head of Rome. For now, she accepted the fate of the gods, who chose to take away her love. She cursed the words of hate searing his flesh like spears. Her love would prevail and all of the love she held she'd bequeath it to his son, whom she would name Caesarion, after his father.
"What will you call him?" Olympos the physician asked.
"Ptolemy Caesar...his father was a strong man. And I want him to carry-on like his father. When he is old enough, I will share with him all of my love and adoration for his father. And he will know that greatness lives within him. My precious Caesarion, you are my king now...the hope of Egypt and someday Rome."
Cleopatra and the young prince sat graciously upon the throne. All who had suspected the young prince was of hybrid birth faired well in the obvious. His skin was light, his hair curly, and his features keen. Strangers believed him adopted. But she'd declare he was her own, born of her womb.
A young general medic in the Royal Army named Mark Antony came a calling. He was indeed awestruck by her beauty. He considered her countenance worth pursuing. He came upon her and the young prince. She stepped down from her seat, laying aside her royal emblems.
"Why are you here General? To steal grain, spices, and treasures?" The queen accused Antony with pointed stares.
"On the contrary...but to taste Egypt's pleasures, and to bear you a fine gift...myself. I have not come to conquer Egypt, but to surrender to her charms. I have not come to steal, but to restore."
"Egypt doesn't need you! Egypt doesn't trust you! Your allegiance is to war, and war has taken more than she has given. Be gone!"
"Your Highness, you are Egypt and I can love you first and foremost. I give myself to you, my queen. I will not abandon you, or burden you. Allow me the chance and I pray Egypt will never be lost as long as I am alive. Marry me...war isn't my first love. Every thing I could ever want is right here with you and your son. In the eyes of the gods, we are already one. I give myself to Egypt." He prostrated at her feet. Her heart wanted love. It was seven years passed since she had held her dear Caesar in her bosom. Seven years since the birth of her Caesarion, and the boy needed a man to show him how to be king.
"He wants to marry me, be a father to Caesarion."
"Oh your majesty, that is wonderful. Love has come, please do not push it away." Charmian clenched the robe of her queen.
"The gods have shown me that I am cursed, with a broken heart and broken land. I have much to lose for my fathers transgressions." Her memory drew to her plight, an inherent curse.
"Perhaps, they will show you favor now..." Iris shadowed Charmian's appeal.
On the eve of the Queen's wedding to her betrothed Antony, she entered the altar of her dear Isis and prayed to the spirit of Caesar.
'My dear Caesar. My heart is and will always be with you...first. I feel I am betraying you and our love. My heart does goes on. There is a place carved just for you. Marc Antony will not cover or replace that love, but I birth a new heart and soul so that you may forever retain your place in my forever.
Egypt needs Antony, and Caesarion needs a father's strength and guidance as well. Forgive me, my heart. It will always be with you first. Someday, I will join you and take my place at your side. But for now, forgive me...forgive me...'
"Forgive me Caesar...forgive me. John..." Pat tossed and turned in the blinding euphoria of the fever.
"Oh...my head." She whispered, eyes still closed in a sea of nausea.
"Wait...don't try to sit up. Take it easy." John, her new husband urgently assisted her need to incline.
"You've been out of it for hours. One moment you said your stomach was upset and you were bowed over in pain. I went to get the hotel's medic, and you were passed out on the floor when we got back to the room. My god Pat, you scared me! Are you trying to give me another heart attack?"
"No...no..." Her voice cracked through parched lips, throat like sandpaper. Frugal attempts to moisten her throat were in vain. "I am a little... thirsty."
"Yes...sure of course allow me. There. How's that Mrs. Santi?" John placed the straw to her lips. Still a spiking fever, the cool water was sure to give her some comfort. He wrung a cold towel and placed it on her forehead.
"Better...thank you." Cleopatra 'Pat' Charles-Santi smiled. She would never tire of hearing her name, the new one. The lies were shot to hell. John was not dead. He didn't die in the Vietnam War as the letter was scribed, likely by his ex-wife. They were together, finally married.
"You said...forgive me, and you kept saying it. Forgive you of what? Of getting sick? Baby please. We have the rest of our lives together. And we still have another week of our honeymoon. I want you to rest. Food poisoning is nothing to play with. I don't care about anything else, just that you're ok...so glad to see your eyes opened, baby." John kissed her temple. "My queen."
Pat shivered to queen, which urged her new hubby John to hold her even closer though virus infection remained a constant lag on their honeymoon. John's idea to return to the place they'd met thirty years ago to confess their unity to each other. He wished he could take the burden of her aches and pains, nausea, and dysentery.
"I love you John...my king." She curled her head back to the pillow, as he continued to apply a cold towel to her head and neck. Pat had been littered with guilt that she had married some one else, Steven...loved another despite John's absence. Her feet went stiff under the sand. She assumed it was a case of the jitters. Her best friend and Maid of Honor Jessyca wondered if it was fear to claim finally the love that had been denied to her all of these years. Jessyca stood at her side over twenty years ago when Pat married Steven, who died five years later in Nicaragua on a medical mission to deliver health care to a war torn nation. Twice it seemed, she had witnessed the lost of love. But John wasn't dead. He was alive, very much alive and holding her in the comfort of his strong arms.