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Authors: Eve Montelibano
Punto Fiamma.”
    “Who’s the artist?”
    “They say this island is actually the home of Akiko Hara and her house is located in Punto Fiamma.”
    That got me really excited.
    Akiko Hara happens to be one of my great influences, if not the greatest. I worship the woman! She was a highly acclaimed artist, the toast of New York back in the eighties and nineties for her shockingly gritty artistic performances. She has staged shows at the MoMA many times, at the Empire State Building, at the Statue of Liberty, at the Grand Canyon, at the Eiffel Tower, on the sand dunes of Sahara, on the Great Wall of China and was on the cover of Time once. Then she suddenly vanished from the scene and hasn’t been heard of since. Her mysterious disappearance remains an enigma to this day.
    However, she left a legacy in the form of an extensive body of work caught on videos that are periodically shown at the MoMA and other prestigious art museums all over the world. Akiko Hara is one of the most enduring icons of modern art and her influence is seen in the works of many artists in today’s generation, including me.
    “And where did you get this info?”
    “When I was in France a few years back covering the Cannes, I spoke to this old art curator who used to work at the Louvre and he had many interesting stories about European royalty he’d met. This story circulated in Europe maybe two decades ago and many believe it’s true but they’re like Voldemort who cannot be named for fear of getting slapped with a royal lawsuit. So, don’t tell anybody and it didn’t come from me,” he teases me.
    “Is it about Akiko?” I hate gossip and the rags, especially if they’re talking about my perpetual love for XL clothes, but if it concerns my long-time idol, I’d gobble it like my favorite pasta. Oh, this is so juicy! “What happened to her?”
    “Take this. The old man claimed that King Pierre and Akiko were lovers.”
    I gasp, my eyes growing like saucers. “King Pierre?! Of Monte Franco?!” I exclaim.
    “Whaaaat?!” I whisper, still shocked. “I haven’t heard of this rumor ever and I’m Akiko’s biggest fan! I can’t believe I missed this!”
    Tom shrugs. “You know, royalty gossip.”
    I grin. “Incredible and uber-juicy! Deets, please!”
    “They allegedly met when Akiko was invited by Princess Antoinette on her birthday. Antoinette was a huge fan of Akiko’s. The king indulged his eldest daughter’s love for the theatrical arts. The queen was already very sick at that time.”
    “They had an affair?”
    “A brief one that allegedly left Akiko pregnant.”
    “Oh my god, I can’t take this! And here I thought all along he loved Queen Katherine until his death. They have such wonderful, beautiful children and grandchildren. The Darcy sisters are my valued clients and even Princess Antoinette. I regularly make couture gowns for them.”
    “Well, he sure did, I think, in his own way. The Queen died on the same year he had an affair but he didn’t see Akiko again until after the Queen’s third death anniversary. He and Akiko never went out in the open, so as not to tarnish the memory of the Queen, but it’s said that they’d been inseparable until his death. King Pierre became a total recluse after his wife’s death, leaving his monarchial duties in Monte Franco for Princess Antoinette to exercise. He’s been holing up somewhere with Akiko apparently. Maybe here in this very island.”
    I sigh. “Wow, that’s some fairy tale of the most scandalous kind.”
    He chuckles. “Yeah.”
    King Pierre, the youngest and most celebrated European monarch in the 50s married Katherine Kline, the United States 2-time Olympic gold medalist in figure skating. Theirs was a modern day fairy tale that has endured decades after the Queen’s death from Lymphoma.
    “But if this comes out, people will be disappointed and hate Akiko. Queen Katherine is revered all over the world.”
    “Yeah, but everybody deserves a

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