Monday, April 6, 2015
May 12, part 1
As crappy as yesterday was, it ended quite well. I’m still wearing a smile on my face, in fact, even though I had a nasty nightmare last night.
I’d prefer to bask in the happy parts. I was ready for dinner with a few minutes to spare when the door announce went off. “It’s Oses,” the deep, thrilling voice informed me.
I was equal parts delighted and chagrined to hear the Nobek had dropped by. Delighted, because I’m always happy to see Oses. Plus I could show off my pretty blouse and bracelet. I’d balanced out the shiny bling with a simple long cream skirt. Forever stupid when it comes to up-dos, I’d still managed to sweep my hair into a easy chignon Candy had taught me. I felt pretty and wanted Oses to see.
Yet I felt a stab of concern, since Betra had arranged for dinner. I didn’t like the thought of Oses feeling odd man out. He’d been through so much recently, and I worried over it.
Fortunately, I hadn’t been fully informed of what the night was to entail. I opened my door to find Oses looking spiffy in his uniform. “You’re back on duty?” came out of my mouth by way of greeting.
Oses looked me up and down with obvious appreciation. “Betra told me to report to your quarters for dinner, and to look like a gentleman. Since my uniform is the nicest thing I wear, I put it on. You look gorgeous, Shalia.”
“So do you,” I said, thrilled Oses was part of the party. “Come in. What is – oh my goodness.”
I was cut off by the arrival of an Imdiko I recognized from food services showing up at my still open door with a hovercart. On top of it were sealed meal trays. Apparently a feast was in the making.
On his heels came Betra. My liaison was dressed in a silky-looking shirt and well-cut trousers. Oses and I both looked him up and down with appreciation. He grinned at us in return. “My timing couldn’t be better. Go ahead and set the meal up on the table,” he directed the food service worker.
Betra turned to me and Oses. “Weapons Commander, I’m glad you made it.”
“As if I have anything better to do,” the Nobek grumbled. His grumpiness lasted only a moment. “Thank you for the invitation, Betra. I’m not quite sure what a ‘romancing dinner’ entails, so you’ll forgive me if my manners are lacking.”
The Imdiko grinned at him. “It’s a romantic dinner. My research says Earther females love this kind of thing. All that’s required is treating our Shalia like a queen.” He looked me over, his smile growing brighter. “You are certainly as beautiful as an empress tonight, Matara.” He bowed to me.
I had the absurd urge to curtsey in return. “Thank you, Betra,” I said. “This is nice of you. But what’s the occasion?”
He chuckled. “I felt bad that you two missed out on shore leave. It was a nice one, which I’m sure you’ve heard all about. I thought you deserved something special to make up for it.”
Aw, what a sweetie. I got a lump in my throat over Betra’s gesture. Darn hormones were making me emotional again. “This is so nice of you, Betra,” I said. My voice had a catch in it.
“Indeed it is.” Oses gave Betra a rare smile, one that had no sign of his usual feral personality. It had sincere warmth in it.
The Imdiko blushed. He was saved further embarrassment by the food service worker stepping away from my sitting room’s table, now set for dinner.
“Will there be anything else, Liaison Betra?” the younger man asked.
“No, thank you. It looks wonderful. Your handheld, please?” Betra pulled his portable computer from his belt.
The other Imdiko did likewise, and the two men tapped their handhelds together. The food service worker’s eyes widened at whatever appeared on his screen, and he bowed deeply to Betra. “Thank you, Liaison. Let me know if I can be of further service to you.”
He left, his smile as wide as his face. I guess Betra is a good tipper.
Betra swept his hand towards the table. “Have a seat, my friends.”
We gathered around the table. It wasn’t that big, and our plates crowded against each other and the floral centerpiece that had apparently been brought in with the food. A spray of pink and white flowers sent a lovely perfume in my direction. The man from the kitchen had also placed my few seating cushions around the low table, rather than have us crunch together on the lounger. It was still a cozy situation with us rubbing knees as we all sat crosslegged on our pillows. I’m not complaining. I love being close to my guys.
Betra further impressed us by taking a bottle of leshella out of a cooling cylinder and pouring everyone a glass. “It’s safe for the baby,” he reminded me.
“Isn’t it also expensive?” I asked, admiring the deep sapphire of the beverage before taking a sip. Delicious.
The Imdiko shrugged as he plucked a morsel of pilchok off my plate to feed to me. “This isn’t just because you missed out on shore leave. I’ve wanted to celebrate a lot of things. You two have understandably not been up for it, but things are getting better.”
Oses eyed his massive ronka steak drowning in a thick red sauce with undisguised appreciation. “What are we celebrating, exactly?”
Betra took a bite of his own braised ronka strips tossed in a bed of herbs and greens. After chewing and swallowing, he replied, “Everything. Getting you and Shalia back alive. The two of you getting past the trauma of your imprisonment. You and I finding common ground to explore our relationship options. Shalia’s little girl. Shalia’s birthday. I mean, it feels like there is a lot to be happy about and I am. I hope it’s not too soon?”
“Not for me,” I said. “I’m feeling good about a lot of things.” I took another bite of pilchok, this time from Oses.
Oses nodded. “I’m a bit frustrated by not being able to resume my duties yet, but yes, overall I would say things are much better. I think Feru is going to push for another trial separation from Shalia soon though, this time for two days. I’m not looking forward to it.”
“We’ll just have to make tonight an extra special celebration then,” I said, giving him a wicked look.
He answered with a growl and “Let me get my strength up,” before shoving a huge chunk of ronka in his mouth.
The dinner that followed was romantic all right. The two men made sure of that. They fed me, petted me, kissed me, made sure of my every comfort. The compliments were copious with my various attributes lauded: beauty (yeah right), warmth of personality (ha-ha), strength (ha-ha-ha-ha), and anything else they could come up with to honor me for. By the time we finished eating, I was Goddess of the Universe.
It was silly and over the top, but those two men made me feel so good. There was genuine regard in their eyes. One minute I would beam, the next I was wiping tears away. Betra’s dinner surprise was wonderful.
“And now for dessert,” Betra said after we’d emptied our plates.
I groaned. “I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I have to beg off. I’m stuffed full. I couldn’t eat another bite.”
He snickered as he reached to open one of two small bowl containers that had remained covered throughout our meal. “Actually, my sweet, you are the dessert.” He uncovered the bowl with a flourish.
Oses growled at what looked to me like a thick yellow liquid. “Rasgrul sauce?”
Betra’s grin was an evil thing as he nodded to the weapons commander. “I thought you might like it.” He turned to me. “It’s a sweet but spicy sauce. And when I say spicy, I’m talking a serious kick to the tongue. Most Earthers don’t care for it, but we Kalquorians love it.”
I raised my eyebrows at him. “I assume I’m wearing rather than tasting it.”
“You would be correct.”