Thursday, January 2, 2014

January 7




Oh shit.  I think I’m being stupid again.  No, I KNOW I’m being stupid again.  Idiot me.


After my conversation with the dads yesterday, I decided to mosey on over to Betra’s office to bend his usually sympathetic ear too.  I know he’ll be up front and honest with me, even if it goes against what the Empire wants.  I needed that, not the paternalistic advice of well-meaning but clueless Kalquorians.

When I got to his office, he was stepping out.  “Hello Shalia,” Betra said.  He actually seemed happy to see me.  Poor fool.  “What can I do for you?” he asked after a good look at my expression.

Only then did I note the time.  Betra is always on call for his ten wards, but it was the end of the regular shift.  I didn’t want him doing overtime because I was having a drama moment.  So I said, “Ah, it’s nothing that won’t wait.  Get out of here and eat your dinner.”

He cocked his head to one side.  “My dinner can wait, especially since I’ve gotten to know that look you’re wearing on your face.  What’s going on?”

“It’s just me being me.  Honestly, Betra, it’s not a big deal.  I’ll stop by first thing in the morning.  I promise.”

Betra blew out a breath and rolled his eyes.  “Shalia, we’re going to have whatever conversation you need to have now.”  Then he gave me a smile that softened the ragged edges of my poor worn-out heart.  “I can compromise, however.  Why don’t you have dinner with me and we’ll talk over that?”

That intrigued me.  “Somewhere besides the Matara dining room?”

He nodded.  “I’ll have whatever you wish sent to my quarters.  We’ll have a private meal where you can pour out whatever the burden is.  Though I can guess.”

I snorted.  “My baby daddy issues.”

“Of course.”

I slipped my arm in his companionably.  “Lead on, big guy.  And promise you won’t throw your food at me when I go through my old song and dance again.”

Betra gave me a shocked look.  “I never waste food.”

That made me laugh.  We went to his quarters, which are located right in the Matara section of the ship.  It makes sense with him being at our beck and call 24/7.

Over my beloved pilchok and ronka, I told Betra about my conversation with my dads.  I ended my tale of woe with, “Give me your honest opinion, Betra.  Forget how things are usually done on Kalquor.  Am I crazy to want my child to know his or her biological fathers?”

Betra thought long and hard about it.  I was glad to see he really considered my concerns and didn’t just brush them aside.  We ate in silence for some time, nearly clearing our plates when he finally spoke.

“Shalia, I’ve thought about this from every possible angle I can.  Disregarding the way our society operates, I’ve come to a few conclusions, some of which are in opposition to each other.  Some you won’t want to hear.”

I gazed into his purple eyes, eyes so much like those of my child’s father, whoever he was.  I took a breath.  “I asked for your honesty.  Lay it on me.”

Betra nodded.  “I can see the issue from your perspective.  You shared something incredible with Clan Dusa.  You love them.  They love you.  The child may be theirs, and that means something from anyone’s viewpoint, but especially yours since this was no casual encounter you had.”

“Exactly.”  I was so happy to hear someone got how it felt. 

My relief must have shown, because it made Betra grin widely at me before he sobered.  “Okay,  now here’s the part you’ll really hate to hear.”

“Oh boy.”

“I’ve put myself in the place of the men of Clan Dusa.  I have imagined it is me being told I may have a child on the way, being carried by the woman I love.”

I tried to imagine that too.  When I looked at it from that viewpoint, I started feeling a little ill.  “A child I know I may never get to raise.  That I’m not even welcome to see, given the way things work on Kalquor.”

Betra nodded.  “Even if you get your way, Shalia, and you do manage to include Clan Dusa in the babe’s life, they could be forced to allow another clan to raise it.  They might be able to watch it grow, but they do not get to make the decisions as to its upbringing.  They have to watch you be a part of another clan as well.”

“But if I wait—”

“Then they’re stuck worrying for perhaps years that their child and you are without the care and protection of a clan.  They will not see this as an opportunity to reclaim you, Shalia.  They will feel guilty that you’ve taken this course.  They may even attempt to clan another woman as soon as they can just to make you give up on them and find their child a parent clan.”

I scowled at Betra.  “You don’t know that.”

“It’s what I would do.”

I stared at him.  “You’re kidding, right?”

He shook his head.  “Not at all.  For the welfare of the woman I love and the child that might be mine, I would do what I thought best for them.  You have to understand, this is the way we were raised.  This is the belief that has been instilled in the men of Kalquor all our lives.”

“That is nuts,” I vented.

Betra smiled.  “I know it is alien for you to contemplate not having Clan Dusa as a part of the baby’s future.  However, it is alien to most of us that you would want such a thing.  Why wait on a clan you aren’t completely sure of when there are other men who will love you, men who would accept your child to protect, guide, and cherish as they would their own?”

“This is normal for Kalquorian men?”

“It is for the few who find themselves in such a situation.  We’ve been in decline for centuries, Shalia.  The Empire concentrates on what it feels is best for the few Mataras and children we are blessed with.    Men who have the best to offer step up and take on the roles of fathers.  Men who have sired but can’t give their children the time, finances, and stability needed ... they know to get out of the way when it grants a better opportunity for mother and babe.”

I felt stunned.  They really thought that way?  Would Dusa and the others really go to such lengths to make me do as they felt best?  Even to the point of clanning another woman when their first year was up?  I didn’t want to believe that, but there was no subterfuge on Betra’s face. 

Seeing that I was getting the gist of the argument, Betra added, “You’re also forgetting a major issue in all this.”

I thought he’d given me enough bad crap to think over.  “Which is?” I said with more than a little force.

“The child may not be Clan Dusa’s.”

I couldn’t hide from that.  I pulled a face and propped my chin in my hand.  The suckfest just kept rolling on.

Betra reached across the tiny table in his quarters to stroke my hair.  “I know, I’m wrecking everything in your happy scenario.  But you have to understand how much you’re complicating things, especially for the child.”

I sighed.  I didn’t want to hear anymore, but I’d asked for this.  “I guess it would be tough for a kid to have two parent clans, huh?”

“Especially if one of them has no business in the child’s life.  That’s the other angle I looked at this from:  the babe’s.  Think on it from the worst-case viewpoint, Shalia.  Your son or daughter is raised by one set of men.  There is another set he’s told are his actual blood fathers.  They flit in and out of his life, confusing his loyalties.  Then he discovers they may not be related to them at all!  What do you think that does to his head?  How would you feel in his place?”

I knew how I’d feel.  The scenario Betra painted was pretty fucked up, not to mention unfair to my child.  My choices were to be wrong on the baby’s behalf or wrong in that Clan Dusa would never know their maybe-child.

“Damn it,” I said.

I’d been staring at my dinner plate.  It blurred.  Doubled.  Trebled.  I blinked and tears rained down on the few scraps of food left on it.

Betra leaned over.  He plucked me from my seating cushion to cuddle me on his lap.  He held and rocked me, holding me tight and keeping me warm and safe while I cried out my confusion.

I’d made a mess out of everything, making my unborn child a victim of my bad decisions.  The only way I could right any of it was to either give birth and find it a good set of fathers or to give up the embryo to someone else and never see it again.  None of those options included Dusa, Esak, and Weln.  My selfish heart cried out against it.

I’d never felt so alone.  Unfortunately, when I feel this way, I look for support in the worst way imaginable. The way I had with Commander Nang back on Earth.  True to form, I did it again.

I lifted my face to find Betra looking down at me, his face tender with compassion.  I let my need for the shelter of someone strong overcome my good sense.  I strained upward so my lips met his.  I kissed him.

He stilled, his entire body going rigid with tension.  It made me realize what I was doing, but it was too late to back out.  Even as I started to break the kiss, Betra’s lips moved against mine and he kissed back.  My lips parted instinctively, and his tongue found mine.  We melted into each other, giving and taking, clutching hard and kissing even harder.

We seemed to come to our senses at the same time, tearing ourselves apart.  Thank goodness we’d been sitting on cushions on the floor, because I sprang back like I’d been confronted by a bear.  Had we been on chairs, I would have busted my ass.

I crab-walked backwards to put space between us.  We stared at each other, scarcely believing what had just happened.

I knew what had happened.  I had screwed up yet again.  Or was about to.

“I’m sorry, Betra,” I finally managed to say.  “That was terribly inappropriate of me.”

“My apologies as well, Matara,” he said.  “I should have better control than that.”

I got awkwardly to my feet, and he jumped up to help me.  “I’m going to return to my quarters,” I told him.

“I’ll walk you.”

“No.  Please don’t.”

“Shalia—”

I held out a hand to stop him.  “I’m okay, Betra.  I am.  I need to have my space right now, though.”

He swallowed.  “I am so sorry, Shalia.”

“I know.  Me too.”  I turned away from him and headed out the door.  I needed to get away from Betra.  For the seconds we’d clung to each other, he’d felt too damned good.  I needed space so I didn’t try to make more out of that kiss than it had been.

What is with me?  Am I so weak that I can’t stand to be without a man in my life?  No sooner had I acknowledged that I might really and truly have to let Dusa, Esak, and Weln go than I jumped on the first convenient man I could find.  I immediately tried to fill the emptiness that threatened.  That I found Betra attractive, that I consider him a friend, only made me quicker to the false shelter of his arms.

Crap.  I haven’t got any sense whatsoever.

11 comments:

  1. Oh boy this is a shocker Shalia needs a clan to come in her life to T sweet. I think Betra likes her

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  2. It didn't shock me. I could tell she was starting to hero worship Betra and Betra is a hetersexual male stuck in Kalquorian society. And here comes Shalia, vunerable pregnant woman with thoses good smelling pregnacy hormones. She is literally tripping all of his Imdiko switches.

    If Shalia were capable of just enjoying the warmth and caring Betra has to offer, I would say go for it but I think a casual affair between her and Betra may only make her more confused.

    I am glad Betra laid it all out for her, she should also talk to that older lady on the ship who has had kids and grandkids. I think her name is Katrina, she takes her meals with Shalia and Candy. She can give her an opinion from someone who was married happily and who did have children.

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  3. I will have to agree Cmarchese. much as I would still like to see her with Dusa's. she is letting herself in for even more heart ache. and to be honest Much as I would love to see Some love tossed Betra's way, I am not sure it would be healthy for either of them. And I agree as well I think Betra may be having stranger feelings for her. The fact he is Heterosexual, and will not clan with males. does not allow him to claim a matera, well not in the usual manner. I think he could really end up hurt And I would hate to see that, She does need to really make a choice, hard as it may be, Rebounding can not be healthy for her nor is it fair to others. And To be honest She may need more then just someones shoulder to lean on. perhaps she needs some serious counseling, I do not mean that in a bad way. aside from all her hormones going crazy do to the pregnancy. She has been threw a lot and might need a more professional approach to treating her anxiety and depression. If that makes any sense. Still Lovin it Tracy. hugs and happy new year to everyone.

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  4. First of all I'd like to say that I hope Ms. St. John does not take this post as a criticism of her work. She writes erotic fiction, and quite entertaining erotic fiction at that, which nobody with any sense at all would look at as a blue print for a healthy relationship. It's fantasy escapism, which is exactly what it is supposed to be, and as such the characters engage in behaviors that would not be likely and/or acceptable if they were real.

    That being said, some of the discussions posted here speak about Shalia as though she were a real person so I will respond in that vein. I don't think Shalia should be seriously considering any kind of relationship with any man or men at this point in time. She is ridiculously co-dependant (not surprising given the environment in which she was raised, her absent father and emotionally unstable mother, and the events she has lived through but that doesn't make it healthy). At the beginning of this story (when she was caring for her mother before the Kalquorians found her) she showed an excellent capacity for independence and self-reliance but ever since then she seems to turn to any man who is convenient for emotional support. Obviously I am not suggesting it would be healthy for her to close herself in entirely, but she really needs to stop seeking out a man at the first sight of trouble. At this point it seems she looks to sex to escape from the difficulties in her life in the same way an alcoholic looks to alcohol. What's worse, in some ways, is that the Kalquorian culture seems to encourage this.

    Much has been made about the need for many of the Earther women to undergo extensive therapy to undo the damage done to them by the totalitarian Earther government so that they can fully accept and enjoy their bodies and their sexuality, but very little, if any, of this therapy seems to focus on teaching these women to be complete within themselves. It's impossible, in a healthy relationship, to be a full partner and an equal if one is dependant on the other partner (there is a difference between wanting and needing). The Kalquorian government seems to believe it is desirable for women to do as the men in their lives tell them to do without question. While this may be healthy and desirable for Kalquorian women (as they are not real I guess that would be up to Ms. St. John to determine), it is most certainly not healthy for human women. In this way the Kalquorians are almost as abusive as the Earther government was. Not in the violent physically damaging way that the Earther government was, but in a patronizing dismissive way. It is no more desirable or acceptable to have your opinions dismissed and ignored than it is to have them beaten out of you. For men to make the assumption that they know what is best "for the greater good" and that women are not able, or cannot be trusted, to make decisions for themselves is misogynistic in the extreme and completely unacceptable. The excuse that they were "raised" with that attitude and so it must be accepted is no more valid than the excuse that the Earther men were "raised" with the attitude that women are inferior and so may be physically abused at their pleasure. Yes, I realize that women are given far more educational opportunities (and other outlets for self expression such as painting) by the Kalquorians and that there is far less censorship and more tolerance as far as speaking and personal interaction, but so are children in our society (right now, in reality) that doesn't mean we treat them as adults (nor should we as they are not adults).

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  5. The women in these stories are not treated as thinking, mature adults whose thoughts and opinions should be treated with the same consideration and respect as any other adults', they are treated as cherished children who should be humored and allowed to grow but from whom it is acceptable to withhold information and for whom decisions must be made by those with more wisdom and experience. This paternal attitude is completely unacceptable, but it seems that Shalia is criticized any time she doesn't go along with it by some people on this discussion board. Maybe she is selfish, maybe she is wrong, maybe she makes a lot of mistakes. Who isn't selfish or wrong at times? Who never makes a mistake? She's entitled to her mistakes. It would be different if the Kalquorians were sharing all of the information and offering advice, but this tendency to just tell her what they think she needs to know and then make decisions for her is not at all okay. Frankly, it would drive me to bloody murder if someone tried it with me. What I'll allow, and even enjoy, from a man in the bedroom is very, very different from what I would accept in any other aspect of my life. In fact, speaking as a single gal, there are few faster ways for a man to be kicked completely out of all aspects of my life than for him to start trying to control me in any way I haven't given explicit permission for.

    As for "what's best for the child" that will depend on the child. Some people who are adopted are content with the mystery and are willing to simply accept that the people who raised them are their parents and they have no other parents, other people who are adopted obsess over who their biological parents are. One thing is for certain, children seldom suffer from having too many people who care deeply about their well being. Having multiple clans involved in the child's life might require more maturity and flexibility from the adults in the equation, but sometimes that's a consequence of having children. If Dusa and his clan would truly clan another woman as soon as they are able for the sole purpose of "forcing" Shalia to choose another clan then they are unspeakably selfish and immature. Think of how the other woman would feel when she found that out (and if there were any intimacy in the relationship at all she eventually would unless she were dumb as a brick)! What a horrible thing to do to another person, especially with Kalquor's refusal to consider divorce (something else I take issue with, people change over time and people who might be compatible at one time might be completely incompatible later in their lives, but that's another rant)! Nang might be a separate issue, he seems like he might become violent and be a danger to the child and to Shalia if not given his way, so (depending on a psychiatric evaluation) he might need to either be kept away from the child or only allowed supervised contact.

    Sorry for the long, long rant but this has been building for a while. In my opinion, at this point in time Shalia should be focusing on building her coping skills and becoming more independent. If she decides to have the child I think she should be a single mother and see about getting a job (just because she doesn't have men to support the child or herself doesn't mean she has to live on the government dole). She already has skills that the Kalquorian government could use to help them with their interactions with the Mataras in the lottery and the Earther governments on the colonies. She could also look at expanding her skills by going to school. There's my 10 cents. ;-)

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  6. Very much what I was thinking in my post. that She and likely many other women could benefit from counseling, not just to learn to move on but to be more self reliant, to not rely completely on any one, which I agree tends to be what the Kalquorians want humans to do. it has been stated that Kalquorian women though cared for and cherished are also on the dominant side. And as stated it is no longer just Kalquorian culture any more. Jessica is now empress, she was not nearly as scarred by Earths fanatical regime as so many others having been a Buddhist, and it stands to reason she may hopefully push, that human women are seen as more then just someone to be sheltered and coddled, that they can stand on their own two feet. Cassidy had shown that she has exceptional mind, and her clan was nurturing that, Hopefully more will be willing to. I am hoping that we will see the Kalquorians be willing to compromise more, after all, though they are in part saving what is left of the human race. The humans are saving theirs, and they needed humans more then humans needed them. I think that warrants that they should get a bit of consideration. This is as well in no way a critique on Tracy's writing. I am loving the story and still biting my nails waiting for each post. I know it is all fiction, and I enjoy every bit of it.

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  7. You both make valid points for our society but this is fantasy fiction. The whole point is to be entertained. If I wanted thought provoking educational life changing and self improvement I'd be reading Oprah current book selection. Here I love the fantasy.

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  8. Everyone has valid point, but as Yvonne states this is entertainment not real life. More the pity. Wish I could find one man willing to act as the three Kalquorian males! Would diffently make life interesting. Plus would be a total turn on.

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  9. Could not agree More Virginia. :-) Smiles and sighs wistfully at the fantasy.

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  10. Yvonne, Virginia and Kathy I have to agree with you. This is fantasy and yes, I wish I had 3 men that loved me as much as these young clansmen love her. We have all had a crazy or slightly "off" lover. Ms. St.John allows us to live and love through her female Earthers. Each one is different, each is strong, each is weak just as we all have been.
    If you cannot see where she is going with the story or you can't enjoy her writings as just fiction / fantasy why continue reading?

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