Nikolas made a calming gesture.  “Did this angry gentleman say what he wishes to speak with me about?” 

Pavel shook his head.  “He would not discuss it with me.  He said it was a matter between the two of you.” 

“Very well,” Nikolas replied.  “Let him in.”  There was no danger from the stranger.  He had unknowingly passed through several levels of unseen security devices before even reaching Nikolas' office. 

It seemed that as soon as Pavel exited the office, Nikolas' door flew open once more.  A husky, weather-beaten man stormed into the room, his face red with anger.  “I suggest you get a hold of your anger,” Nikolas demanded softly.  He stood up behind his large wooden desk and met the other man's intensity with a quiet intensity of his own. 

“You are a fine one to give instructions on proper behavior!” the stranger railed.  He took a long look at the young prince, all of twenty-six years old and already possessing more power and wealth than he would ever know in his lifetime.  It only made his anger and determination greater. 

“Am I to assume that you believe you have some quarrel with me?” 

The stranger's chest heaved with the effort required not to punch the arrogant pup square in the face. He wheeled about and stalked out of Nikolas' office.   

“Here is my quarrel with you!” he yelled.  The stranger held a frightened teenaged girl by the collar of her dress and dragged her to stand in front of Nikolas' desk.  “My pregnant daughter!” he spat out. 

“Let go of her!” Nikolas commanded.  “No true father would treat his daughter so roughly.” 

The men stared each other down in a battle of wills.  The stranger might have been older, but Nikolas had the weight of his convictions to bolster him.  Reluctantly, after several moments, the stranger released his daughter's collar.  “We will see if your concern is as true when it comes time to make an honest woman of my daughter.” 

Nikolas almost hated to dispel the man's misconceptions.  If he was this angry about his daughter's unplanned pregnancy, he would no doubt be furious to learn that the young woman had lied about Nikolas' part in the entire affair. 

“I regret to say this,” Nikolas began, “but I have never seen your daughter before.  If she is pregnant, it is not possible that the child is mine.” 

“We are not claiming that the child is yours,” the stranger huffed. 

Nikolas was nonplussed.  “Then I am afraid that I do not understand the purpose of your visit.” 

“The baby she's having,” the stranger announced without hesitation, “is your younger brother's.”