Anya didn’t leave her room for breakfast while Sherdan was about the following morning. He went over to the compound with a sad weight on his heart. He’d have to hope she was more open again that evening. Women were so fickle.
There was plenty of work to do, however. The shelters at all the newest occupied houses were being built and installed. Sherdan also expected some kind of response from the UN after Anya’s news the day before.
He had a live link to the BBC news just after six that evening so he could get a full days work in before he needed to be back in his own study. He hoped Anya wouldn’t stray out of her room while it was happening. There wouldn’t be time to tell her about it before hand.
The morning passed uneventfully and he soon took a break to grab some lunch. Hitchin joined him, a little unexpectedly.
“I know you don’t like being studied Sherdan, but we really need to do some more tests. People are beginning to wonder why you don’t come and identify the new abilities in the growing number of residents who still don’t know what they can do.” Sherdan sighed but knew his friend was only telling the truth.
“I’ll come next week, I promise.”
Hitchin stayed where he was sat despite not saying any more. Sherdan waited, not sure he wanted Hitchin to say anything else but not wanting to offend him either.
“How’s everything going with Miss Price? Has she agreed to marry you yet?”
“Not yet. I think things have improved but something holds her back. Her beliefs I think.”
“Hmmm… that would be tricky. Can you not get her to see that it’s in her best interests to do as she’s told?”
“She’s a headstrong girl,” Sherdan said, “I’m sure it won’t be much longer. If anyone can succeed I can.”
“I’m sure she’ll see sense soon as well. After all, it’s a definite result.” Hitchin finally got up and left. Sherdan hadn’t been entirely truthful with him. He didn’t want Anya to just ‘come to her senses’ but to actually love him. He wanted more than he’d ever wanted from a woman before.
The first conversation they’d had regarding Hitchin’s vision sprang to mind. His presumption of winning Anya had been so arrogant. He thought he’d be impossible to refuse and hadn’t really known what it was to love someone. He was learning.
He’d just wanted her to do as he demanded but it no longer seemed enough to have a woman do as he wished. Now he wanted a woman who really though similar things as important as he did, who wanted to be at his side.
Sherdan went back to work. Hitchin hadn’t cheered him up at all. Instead Hitchin had only shown him how different falling in love had made him. He threw himself into his work with more energy than normal, practically making Graham’s job obsolete. Two hours later he’d given himself a headache.
Shortly after four that afternoon a phone call came through for him. The UN had decided to approve the request for recognition as a separate country. While officially, the Queen of England owned the land, it was an old law and the UN thought there was enough weight behind Sherdan’s request to disregard that problem.
They added that they felt it was important Sherdan not just take any more land, however, saying it only weakened his political position with his neighbours. Sherdan didn’t particularly care. He had what he wanted. The UK would be forced to treat him with more respect than they had recently.
Less than ten minutes after he got off the phone to the UN they announced their decision publicly. The whole world knew he had succeeded. Sherdan immediately addressed the whole country.
“I have brilliant news for you all. Utopia has officially been recognised and accepted as a member of the United Nations. In celebration of this, there will be a street party and ball a week today. Congratulations.”
There was a sound of applause from the command room when Sherdan took his finger off the intercom button. This was another very important day for his country. So far, with the exception of Anya, everything was pretty much going to plan.
Sherdan had another phone call before he could do anything else. The President of America, who had ignored him after his first attempt at opening diplomatic relations, now wanted to speak with him.
“I’ve only a moment but I wanted to say congratulations on achieving membership in the UN. I think we should talk about trade and other such things between our countries.”
“Of course, Al, I’m sure we can discuss things like that over the coming weeks. Shall I have someone get in contact with one of your cabinet to begin discussions?”
“That sounds good. I look forward to hearing from you.”
Sherdan smiled as he put the phone down. He was highly unlikely to trade them any of the things they probably wanted, but they didn’t need to know that yet.
Many similar calls rolled in from various diplomatic figures across the world. All of them congratulatory with an undertone of visitation or trade. He had something they all wanted.
He had to cut short all the calls and request Graham take any more as he headed back to his house for his live news interview. He’d only just sat down where Anne had set up his satellite link when he was introduced.
“Sherdan Harper, you’ve become quite the icon today. How does it feel to gain recognition as the leader of a new country?”
“It feels very good considering the opposition we’ve faced. We’ve also been working hard on relations with other countries and are in the beginning of all sorts of agreements with many of them.”
“What do you plan on doing next?”
“It depends on the British government really. At this point we’d like to negotiate a ceasefire with the UK and concentrate on forming a working political system. We will continue to retaliate as we have been if things stay as they are, however.”
“Do you intend to give the homes you’ve taken back?”
“Possibly. Some of them. Definitely not all. A lot are now inhabited by my own citizens. As I said, I wish to negotiate a ceasefire and giving land back is something I expect to be a part of that.”
“And what about the soldiers that are considered ‘missing in action’?”
“All of them are safe and will be allowed to return home as soon as we’re at peace with the UK.”
“Do you intend to divulge any of your technology now?”
“We intend to keep as much of it as possible to ourselves. For the most part, we just want to get on with our lives in peace.”
“Thank you again Dr Harper.” Sherdan nodded before he was cut off. He looked up to see Anya in the doorway. She’d been listening to the whole thing. She smiled.
“So are you a Prime Minister or a King?” she asked. He smiled and chuckled.
“Neither, yet. I have my views on the best form of government. You already know about that, however.”
“I do. I happen to agree with them in principle.”
“Only in principle?” He noticed she had her kitten curled up in her arms again.
“I’m not convinced you’d be as benevolent as required.”
“What would you prefer to be?” he asked, changing the subject back to her first statement.
“I don’t understand.”
“I want you to be my wife. Which would you prefer? Queen perhaps?”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“I can make you anything you want to be right now.”
“The only thing I want is to be free.” Her eyes flashed in anger. He shook his head.
“I’m not trying to upset you Anya. I love you. I want you to be happy.” She sat down, all the anger dissipated from her. She let Antonio go and watched him play on the floor for a moment.
“Can I come to the party and ball then?”
“You can, if you are staying. It would be dangerous for you to be seen with me and then to leave here.”
“I don’t see how.”
“It just would Anya. Please can we not argue about everything?” She looked away from him. He’d upset her yet again, but he felt hurt too and she never seemed to see that.
“I’m sorry. I don’t really want to argue either. I’m just fed up of being stuck here.”
“No one is keeping you here. If you’re really not happy with me then please leave and go somewhere you are.” She turned her face back towards him. A tear slowly ran down her left cheek. It pained him to see her like that.
“I can’t leave. I’m… I don’t even know if I want to. I just feel like I’m trapped in limbo. I can’t live properly here and I don’t feel like I can leave.”
“I don’t understand what’s forcing you to stay.” Sherdan continued to watch her cry. “I want you to stay and be my wife, but above that I want you to be happy, wherever you are. Will you let me try and make you happy here, at least?”
She wiped away her tears and shrugged. He got up, went to her and took her by the hands, pulling her to her feet. As soon as she was standing he embraced her in the biggest hug he had ever given anyone and didn’t let go for some minutes.
When they finally parted she appeared calm again and even gave him a small smile. He took her hand and led her to the sitting room. He went to the kitchens and got Anne to bring their dinner through to them there.
Having meals in the dining room was something he normally insisted upon but lately he had been slack. He wanted Anya to feel relaxed more than he cared about such concepts any more.
He kept conversation focused on small things, like up coming films, while they ate. By the time they’d finished dessert she seemed a lot brighter again. She evidently liked talking about films and actors. She knew much more about them than he did. He didn’t usually have time for them, although he enjoyed them when he did.
After dinner the topic progressed to books which had been made into films. Sherdan felt on more familiar ground. He often read, especially since purchasing a kindle.
They talked for ages, comparing their opinions. She preferred the Narnian books to the films. He preferred ‘Lord of The Rings’ as a book and she as the films. There wasn’t much they agreed on, as usual, but it was an amicable conversation.
The ended their evening together much happier than they had began it. Sherdan felt relief when Anya left him to sleep, although he still felt confused about her indecision. She acted like she didn’t want to be here but didn’t leave, even when offered the opportunity.
For the next few days Sherdan avoided all serious topics of conversation with Anya. He didn’t think it would do either of them any good. She allowed Sherdan to get closer to her again but if it felt like they might kiss she soon retreated. No matter how hard he tried he couldn’t get past that final wall she’d put up.
There were no more attacks on Utopia either and diplomatic relations were beginning with many countries. Although, the UK had not spoken up yet. Sherdan had called the Prime Minister again a couple of times but, just like Anya, the walls were still up. The army still patrolled all the borders and they still had an active arrest warrant out on him.
There was nothing Sherdan could do but wait and keep trying, hoping both Anya and the Uk would thaw soon.