"Prince Claude, I believe I have just what you need for your evening out on the rack right over here," Mr. Babineaux said as he led the now dressed again young men out of the dressing room. "I will only need to hem the pants just an inch or so and you will be all set. For the High Prince, I believe I know the perfect thing, but it is not mine alone to bestow."
"Would you be referring to the regency cut suit you were making for my Calvin?" PawPaw asked the other older man. "I knowed you would see the resemblance, Jean. The minute I lay eyes on Keagan it like seeing my Calvin all over again. That why I'm so happy to adopt him for my grandson. He look just like what I always picture if my Calvin had the baby."
"Despite the difference in their ages, the measurements are almost the same as well," Mr. Babineaux smiled. "I won't have to adjust the suit at all, except to add the LeVeau crest to the other lapel."
"Do it, Jean, Calvin would want it this way," PawPaw said with a smile. "When Calvin spoke to me about his burial, I wanted that suit, but he get this look in his eye and he just smile and say somebody else going to need that suit. He was just the model for it."
"Are you sure, PawPaw?" Keagan asked quietly. "I can have any old suit. It doesn't have to a special one."
"As special as you are, My Prince, no other suit in my shop would do you justice," Mr. Babineaux contradicted. "The greatest High Prince of all the Houses must maintain his image, My Prince." He disappeared into the back of the shop and reappeared a few moments later holding up a garment bag reverently. "This suit, by your grandfather's own words, was meant for you, My Prince."
The garment bag was hung on a rack just outside the dressing room and carefully opened by my Babineaux. The jacket was made of a layered black tapestry fabric, with luxurious black velvet lapels and a high collar with a tailored back, and traditional split tails. The sides of the coat were cut away in the regency style, and it was lined in rich black satin. Six ornate metal buttons decorated the front with two more at the waist seam in back. The next layer down was a shiny silver satin double breasted vest that had two rather small pockets, one on each side. There was a high collared white shirt to go under all that, accompanied by a fancy silk puffy looking tie. The pants were made of the same black velvet as the lapels of the jacket.
"Oh, PawPaw, I could never wear anything so fancy and gorgeous," Keagan gasped when he saw it. "I'm not even sure I should be going tonight. I've never eaten anywhere that needed more than one fork to eat with. I'm going to embarrass everyone."
"You will do no such silly thing," PawPaw said dismissively. "You going to wore that suit my Calvin had made for you, and you going to shine like the rare and delicate treasure you are, my little sunshine."
"And you're going to have Chay counting the seconds until your birthday," Claude added with a wink. "Now take the suit and try it on, bro. Show Grampa and Aunt Dixie how great you look in it."
"I'm going to look like a little kid playing dress up," Keagan complained but he took the suit and went back into the dressing area. Before he came out from behind the curtains again, he looked out first, just showing his head. "You guys sure you really want to see me making this gorgeous suit look bad on a scrawny kid?"
"I swear you won't make the suit look bad, little bro," Claude said seriously. He was wearing his new tux as well. It had purple, green, and gold fleur-de-lis on a black background for the jacket but otherwise was a perfectly normal tuxedo paired with a white shirt and black bow tie. "As for being scrawny, bro, you live and work in the best damn bakery in all of New Orleans. You'll fatten up soon enough, I'm sure."
Keagan stepped out from behind the curtain with a blush on his cheeks, but a smile on his face at his brother's teasing. "Your Grace," everyone in the shop except Aunt Dixie whispered as they dropped their heads in respect. Aunt Dixie just smiled and stepped forward to once again give the teen the kisses of her blessing.
"This my High Prince," she said simply once she had released his face. She then took a silver pocket watch out of her handbag and placed it in the left-hand pocket of Keagan's vest, draping the chain over to the right pocket where she tucked the fob. "This been in my family since old Marie herself. She have this made for herself to played her favorite tune from a boy she help bring in the world. You ever find youself feeling doubt in youself again, long as you live, you took this watch and open it up. Anybody from any of the Houses will know who you are and show you the proper respect, or lose their gifts right on the spot."
She touched the button and the watch popped open and one of the most beautiful tunes Keagan ever heard seemed to fill the whole shop even though it was just the tiny tinkling of the music box parts inside the beautiful watch. "What music is this, Aunt Dixie?" Keagan asked, his eyes wide in wonder.
"This called La Savane, and it from the composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk," the old woman smiled. "Old Marie, she like this piece a whole lot. Young Louis write that music he just the same age you now."
"I never knew that was the queen's favorite piece," PawPaw said softly. "I just knowed that the song my Calvin played in the recital he did when we just sixteen-year-old. I go there to hear my cousin play, but Calvin take that stage, I don't have eye nor ear for nobody else after that."
"That is so sweet, PawPaw," Keagan said as he walked over to hug the old man. "I thought about learning the piano when I was younger, but it came down to a choice of piano lessons or learning more about baking and cooking. I picked food over music because it reminded me of the times I would help my grandmother in her kitchen."
"Dis piece he say was inspired by the stories and songs he hear as a bebe in New Orleans, how the runaway slaves disappear into the swamps and turn into oak trees for to help other runaways hide," Aunt Dixie explained as she closed the watch and the music stopped. "Now you tuck this in you pocket and you go meet your man at the restaurant. It nearly time now."
"Yeah if we leave now, we'll be just a couple of minutes early," Claude agreed. "That will give us time to settle our nerves before we join them."
"Long as you nerves don't get settled with the alcohol," PawPaw warned. "You set the good example for your little brother, you hear me, Claude?"
"Yes, sir, PawPaw," Claude vowed. "No alcohol for either of us tonight. We both have classes and work tomorrow."
"That's my good boys," PawPaw smiled. "Go on out and get in the car with you Aunt Dixie while I pay Jean for his time and skill."
"No, you don't Henri," Aunt Dixie contradicted. "You go took the boys the restaurant. Me and Jean, we got some discussing to did. I'm sure Jean can put the boys' suits on your tab."
"Well, you heard the queen, young'uns," Henri smiled and bowed to Dixie. "I'll be back tomorrow to settle this bill with you, Jean. I might have the need for the new suit myself soon."
Within a few minutes, PawPaw was pulling his Lincoln Town Car up to the entrance of the fanciest looking restaurant that Keagan had ever seen. "I'm nervous, Claude. What if I pick up the wrong fork to eat with or something? I don't want to embarrass any of my new families," the teen said after his new grandfather had driven away.
"First off, let me order for us both," Claude whispered to him as they walked up to the doors. "It's not that I think you can't choose for yourself, but if we eat the same thing, you can just copy me. Will that make you feel better?"
"Thanks, bro," Keagan smiled in relief.
"Let's go make an entrance, little bro," Claude smirked. They stepped inside and Claude asked the host if Chay had arrived yet. He was told that Chay had indeed already been seated at their table, but that Uncle Cassie had not joined him as he was still in the kitchens. "Well, so much for my grand entrance to impress Prince LeVeaux," Claude pouted a bit.
"You don't have to strut your stuff to make me notice you, Claude Guebert." Keagan and Claude both startled and spun around to see Cassius standing behind them. He looked very imposing and regal in his black tuxedo with a purple bow tie and cumberbund. "Especially not after I walked in on you in Chay and Prince Sunshine's kitchen."
"OH MY GOD! You are never going to let me live that down, are you?" Claude gasped and squeaked as if he were years younger and just starting puberty. "I mean you can say anything you want to me of course, Prince LeVeaux."
"None of that Prince LeVeaux sh… stuff from you," Cassius said, changing his wording as he glanced at Keagan.
"Really? I'm not like 5 years old, you know. I have heard the word…. Well I have heard THAT word before."
"You can't even say it, can you, little bro?" Claude asked with a grin.
"And it's best he don't," Cassius scolded. "That language is not befitting the most powerful High Prince the House of LeVeaux has ever known."
A woman wearing an offensively overpriced ball gown clearly meant for a much thinner woman who had just entered the building with her escort, presumably her husband. "Now see there, Rafe. I told you we had to eat here while we're on vacation. Oooh, just wait until Inez Billings finds out I ate at a restaurant with an actual prince. She's gonna bust her gusset."
Keagan, Claude, and Cassius were all three still chuckling when they walked up to the table where Chay was seated. He was looking out at the river until he heard the laughter approaching. He turned to look at them and his eyes fell on Keagan and had he been a cartoon, they would have jumped out of his head to the sound of one of those old fashioned car horns. "Chipper is that really you?" he finally gasped out in a whisper.
"I told you he wouldn't like me all dressed up like this, Claude," Keagan complained. "I look like some little kid playing dress up."
"Oh, that is the last thing you look like, My Prince," Chay said as he stood up and bowed reverently to the teen. "You look like exactly what you are, Keagan. You are a divine blessing to the human race right out of the heavens above."
"Chay, stop," Keagan blushed intensely as he sat down and quickly hid his face in a menu.
"Way to flirt with your man, little bro. I told you that you'd melt him into a puddle of goo," Claude teased.
"Shut up, Claude," Keagan hissed blushing even more.