Thursday, February 11, 2016
August 25 (part 1)
In the company of Katrina and Candy, I emerged from Resan’s training room ready to punch someone. Okay, ready to punch Resan. No particular basis for my ire except he gets under my skin. All I have to do is see that bastard’s sneer and I want to commit crimes against him. Crimes that leave him in big, bloody chunks.
I hate that man.
Katrina winked at me as she went in the direction of the ship’s officers’ wing where she’s setting up housekeeping with her clan. “Just remember, he’ll be dead someday.”
“Unfortunately I probably won’t be around to enjoy it,” I groused, but I gave her a smile anyway. Training was done for the day. I wouldn’t have to look at him again until tomorrow, and I had plans with Oses and Betra tonight. Live for the moment, that’s my motto.
Candy grinned at me. “You have to give him some credit, Shalia. Check this out.” She flexed her arm, showing off a toned upper arm. Impressive.
“All I’m giving him is a swift kick up the ass,” I said, my voice light. “But you are getting some amazing results. Looking good, woman.”
“You too. Resan’s an asshole, but it’s paying off.”
As we rounded the corner on our way to our quarters, we nearly walked into Oses. He instantly went into an attack stance. Without hesitation, Candy and I crouched with our bodies bladed and fists up. I didn’t even have to think about it.
Oses straightened with an approving nod. “Excellent. Done with today’s training?”
We nodded. “Blades tomorrow,” I told him.
“How’s that offensive reach issue going? Did you hear from Nobek Larten yet?”
“No. I’m hoping to get a message today.”
Candy gave a little wave to excuse herself. “I’ve got to hit the shower before Ama and Mihi get here. See you two later.”
Oses gave her a quick short bow as she moved along. He gave his attention to me. I stilled to see a frown cross his face.
“Did I give you that during practice today?” He grabbed my arm to puzzle over a big bruise darkening my wrist. “Or maybe during yesterday’s more exciting activities?”
I snickered at the gleam in his eye. “No and no. The only marks you left were on my ass, and they faded already. This one came from Dramok Ass-of-the-Universe. He didn’t like how I held the grav-bell. Apparently my form left a lot to be desired.”
I swear my heart stopped beating for an instant at the deadly look on Oses’ face. In a voice that would freeze Satan’s pecker off, he growled, “Resan did this?”
Man, was I going to have to defend the man I despised above all others? The temptation to let Oses slaughter Resan was almost too much to resist. Then again, I didn’t want Oses in trouble over that waste of skin.
“It was an accident. He said he didn’t intend to grab me that hard, and I believe him.” I snorted and then grinned. “I think he almost apologized. That got him flustered. Before he could stop himself, Resan told me he’d momentarily forgotten that I wasn’t just another stupid, ugly Nobek he was forced to train.”
Oses relaxed. His justification to pound Resan to a pulp was gone. He knew I’d love to find any reason not to defend my antagonist.
A smile quirked a corner of his lips. “He forgot you weren’t a Nobek? That’s a hell of a compliment.”
I laughed. “No kidding. I thought he’d choke when he realized what he’d said. An apology would have been less embarrassing.” I shrugged the matter off. “My hand-to-hand training with you has resulted in a few marks of honor too. Do you see me crying over them?”
Oses measured me with his gaze. I warmed to see pride shining in his eyes. “You have come a long way in a short time, Shalia. But I might still warn Resan that if he leaves another bruise on you, I’ll leave several on him.”
Hmm, my form might suffer a lot tomorrow. I feel clumsiness coming on.
I went to Betra’s office to fetch Anrel. There was a crowd of giggling, cooing women gathered at his door. They let me through, laughing when I asked, “What’s going on?”
I found out quick enough. Betra lay on the office floor, holding Anrel up in the air and swooping her down so he could kiss her nose. Every time he made her ‘dive’, she erupted in a stream of bubbly giggles and squeals that was too precious for a mortal to withstand. Oh my gosh, I love to hear her laugh.
Betra grinned up at me as I laughed too. “Darn, your mom is back. I guess that means I have to go back to work.”
The other women booed me. I heard calls of, “Go away, Shalia,” and “Party pooper”.
“Sheesh, feeling the love,” I said, pretending hurt. “Excuse me for wanting time with my kid.”
That got good-natured laughter. Betra gave me an appealing look. “Wouldn’t you like to take a few minutes for a shower? Anrel’s wide awake and I’m sure she won’t settle down for quite some time.”
“And you’ll keep playing with her and ditching duty out of the goodness of your heart,” I snorted, but I hoped Betra was serious. After training with both Oses and Shithead that morning, I was pretty ripe.
“We have to make our sacrifices,” Betra said with exaggerated bravery. He made Anrel swoop in the air again, setting off too-adorable laughter once more.
“Bring her to me in twenty minutes,” I told him.
“Or thirty. Maybe an hour.” He earned cheers from the doting women who couldn’t get enough of Anrel’s cuteness. I wanted to stick around and watch Betra play with her too, but when else would I get a chance to shower in peace?
I shook my head as I walked off. “Jeez, Betra. Does the fleet know how little work they pay for?”
It was just as well I had a little extra time to myself. I discovered Larten had left me a message when I got to my quarters.
The dark, dangerous face of the Nobek wore a grumpy expression when I played his video. “Matara Shalia, I received your message regarding your difficulties with blade training. I agree it would be difficult for you to make a frontal attack on a much larger enemy. Therefore I insist you grow longer arms.”
He winked, and a slow smile spread across his handsome visage. “Goofball,” I said to the recording with affection. “I’d like to give you a frontal attack.”
He showed me a couple of variations on how to duck down low and lunge at an imaginary foe with a knife. The first time I watched him, I was too mesmerized by his graceful, fluid motions to take note of what I was supposed to do. Plus he wore the shortest shorts I’ve ever seen on a man. Oh my gosh. The way his muscles rippled on that dark body made me cross-eyed. The agile elegance of his attack looked more like ballet than combat. Larten was heart-stoppingly gorgeous as he instructed me.
The vid ended and I shook myself free of the spell. “Whoa,” I croaked. “Better than porn.”
I got my knife and replayed the message. Somehow I made myself listen to his instructions this time. I tried the moves he demonstrated, though I was considerably more clumsy. “How do you move like that?” I asked the lethal man who couldn’t hear me. “Jeez, talk about limber. I’m going to have to stretch an extra hour a day.”
I kept at it despite my obvious shortcomings and slowly got a little better. Then I realized I still needed to get my shower while I didn’t have a baby to mind. I sent a copy of the training to Nobek Idow for our practice tomorrow and quickly cleaned up.
I’d just gotten dressed when Betra showed up with Anrel. She gurgled to see me. “Thanks, Betra,” I said.
He grinned and gave us both pecks on the cheeks. “My pleasure. Is Tep’s clan still keeping her tonight?”
“Last I heard.”
“Great. See you then if not before.”
I was ready for a little mommy-daughter time, but Betra had tired Anrel out with the playing. She was asleep less than five minutes after he left. Darn him.