Monday, December 16, 2013
Aw hell. I made yet another colossal mistake. Who, you Shalia? Naw. Couldn’t be. I never screw up.
Well, fuck. It’s another boo-hoo day. And why not? I’ve lost Dusa, Esak, and Weln. For good, maybe.
They could tell something was wrong when they vid-commed me. I wish I had it all to do over again. I wish I could have kept my mouth shut, at the very least. But then again, what was I supposed to do? Lie?
We’d barely gotten past our hellos when Dusa’s sharp eyes looked me over. “You’re pale. You don’t look like you’ve been sleeping. You’re miserable, Shalia. What’s going on?”
I tried to wave him off. “You know how I am. When is there not drama where I’m concerned?” I chuckled, trying to sound bright when dread filled me. “I’ve been a bit under the weather. No big deal,” I said.
“Shalia.” With one word, Dusa fit a wealth of displeasure into his tone. I so didn’t need to hear his disapproval.
The next thing I knew, the words “I’m pregnant” fell from my lips. Just like that.
I knew I'd fucked up before their eyes widened in shock. But I couldn’t take it back. I’d opened my big mouth, and now it was out.
It was Weln who managed to speak first. “You – you are going to have a child?”
I nodded my big dumb head. I couldn’t say another word. I was so shocked that I’d confessed it that I didn’t feel a thing. I didn’t feel dread or grief or relief or anything.
Esak and Weln looked to Dusa. They seemed as stunned as me. Meanwhile, my first Kalquorian sweetheart looked like someone had just punched him in the stomach.
“When?” he finally managed to say.
“When did I find out?” I asked, having recovered the ability to speak.
“When did you become pregnant?”
“The same week you left,” I whispered.
He heard me anyway. “You’re not happy about this.”
I had to tell him the whole truth then. I’m not sure how I managed it, but I even looked him in the eye. “I fell apart after you went to Atlanta. That very week I took comfort from someone I had no business being with.”
Dusa’s jaw tightened. “Nang.”
Esak growled. “I already want to choke that bastard every time I see him on site. Now I have another reason.”
I was startled. “He’s there? In Atlanta?”
Weln nodded. “The Academy site was closed down. He’s only a section commander now.”
“Not our section, fortunately.” Dusa continued to stare at me.
I finally dropped my gaze from Dusa’s. “I’m sorry. I wish I knew for certain the baby is your clan’s. I’d give anything for it to be. It would make the decision on whether or not to have it easier.”
Dusa finally sighed, his shoulders drooping. “You have nothing to be sorry for, Shalia. We’re not clanned. We knew we wouldn’t be. You were always free to explore.”
“I’d find that easier to believe if you didn’t look so damned miserable.”
He managed a smile. “I know you love me and my clan, Shalia. If our timing had been better, we would have been able to make it work. But it wasn’t. We were not meant to be.”
That’s when the tears finally started. I didn’t want to cry. I didn’t want to make them feel worse than they already did. I couldn’t help it, though, not when I heard the finality in Dusa’s tone.
“My little pretty, don’t. It makes me feel ill when you get upset.” He shook his head. “Damn it. I should never have let this go this long. We should have made a clean break of it when you left Earth.”
“How can you say that?” I asked. “I hate the thought of not talking to you three.”
“But look what it’s doing to you.” For all his youth, Dusa sounded so mature right then. I was able to appreciate it even as he shredded my heart. “Shalia, you are going to Kalquor. You are going to join another clan. I am not going to fight that, not when we won’t be home for so long. It could be years before we get back.”
“But this baby—” I started.
“The baby is yours. Has no one explained this to you? It doesn’t matter if the biological parent is in this clan or not. None of us have a claim to it, not in this situation. And you certainly don’t want Nang involved.” Dusa's lip curled as he spoke the other Dramok’s name.
“No. Not in a million years.”
Esak smiled bitterly at my adamant tone. “I am glad you do not hold him in your heart as you do us. I have that to enjoy, at least.”
I felt sick. “I wish I’d stayed clear of Nang. He was such a huge mistake.”
Weln shrugged. “He kept you safe when none of us could. He helped rescue your mother when she was abducted.”
Esak snorted. “You’re right, my Imdiko. I guess I’ll have to let the bastard live.”
We all managed weak smiles at that.
Dusa looked at me. His expression was pained, but there was love there too. He didn’t let me bask in it for long.
“Have your baby and don’t worry over its paternity. That part is not important anyway. What matters is the child has you for a mother and a good, caring clan for its fathers. Find the best clan you possibly can for the babe and you. And be happy, Shalia. By the ancestors, that’s all I want for you.”
I knew what was coming. I couldn’t stop it, but I tried to. “Dusa, I don’t want to lose you three. We can figure something out.”
“We have to say goodbye now. We have to let you go. I fear you’ll never find your lifemates as long as we don’t. We will not contact you again.”
Weln bowed his head to keep me from seeing his tears. Esak closed his eyes, but the tough Nobek kept his expression stony. And me, I just kept begging it not to happen.
“Please, Dusa. It doesn’t have to be this way.”
He smiled and blew me a kiss. “My pretty. My Shalia. I thank the ancestors for every moment I had with you. You will always have my love.”
The vid winked out. Just like that, they were gone. I know they believe it was for my own good, but it sure as hell doesn’t feel good. All I feel is empty. Lost.
Dad was right. I should have kept my mouth shut. When will I ever learn?