Thursday, June 9, 2016
September 14, part 2
Straight from my meeting with Tep and Feru, I dropped off Anrel with Betra. My next stop was to work with my new physical trainer, Nobek Surech. With Resan out of commission from his injuries for the rest of the trip, the duty of keeping me in shape fell to this guy.
Surech has an amazing body, always a good sign from someone who’s supposed to get others into their best physical shape. His face was attractive enough I suppose, but in an unremarkable way. Average, certainly no Nobek Stidmun. He had a few scars on his arms and legs, left bare by a pair of workout shorts, so he’s seen some fights.
He’s a Nobek and one who has obviously seen action in his time, and yet at first I likened him to a ray of sunshine. Compared to Resan, Surech is a sweetheart – an absolute vacation. Okay, so I exaggerate. He put Katrina, Candy, and I to work with jogging, lifting, and stretching. Yet there was a noticeable lack of vicious insults and screaming. No attempts to humiliate me. He was downright friendly with encouragement. We heard a lot of “Good job!” during our workout.
Yet I noted he didn’t push us nearly as hard as Resan did. When I told him that I didn’t feel as much strain as usual during deadlifts – something Resan would have caught right away without me saying a word – Surech asked if I wanted to add a little to the load. He didn’t insist I work harder or even suggest it. He asked if I wanted to work harder. I’ll admit to being taken aback by that. Wasn’t he supposed to make sure I didn’t coast?
Plus he kept trying to start conversations with me and Candy. Resan was always about concentrating on the workout. “If you’re running your big mouths, you’re not working hard enough!” he liked to yell. Yet Surech kept asking all about what we did when we weren’t training, if the dance club would be up and running before the trip was out and he expected an invitation, and my least favorite subject of how I went all commando on the Tragooms when they boarded the ship.
It didn’t take long for me to figure out Surech was more interested in flirting with us single gals than training us. We pretty much ended up coaching ourselves and keeping an eye on each other to make sure no one slacked off.
No, I do not miss Resan. I am more than happy he’s in his own physical rehab hell right now, far away from me. Still, it would be nice to have a trainer who treats me like a serious project. Oses and Idow are prime examples of that.
With keeping fit and fighting ready heavy on my mind, I made it a point to research the Matara Complex’s exercise classes. I hoped to find something on the menu to continue the path I was on. I may never have to face Dramok Nang in a physical situation, and heaven knows there’s not much likelihood of me having to take on Tragooms again, but I like the confidence working out and weapons training gives me.
I was chagrined but not really surprised to find no such classes being offered at the complex. Bouncing Anrel on my knee as she amused herself by blowing spit bubbles, I commed Larten.
He picked up almost immediately, his dark face already smiling. His grin grew larger yet when he saw Anrel on the vid. “Two beauties! How did I get so lucky?”
“You big charmer,” I said, pretending I wasn’t squirming inside with pleasure at his greeting. “I bet you say that to all the girls.”
“You’re right. I say it to the mothers of my clan as well.”
I laughed. “And I bet they eat it up.”
“Indeed.” Nobek through and through, Larten didn’t do small talk too well, so he went straight for the heart of whatever my matter was. “What can I do for you, Shalia? Name your heart’s desire so I can make it happen.”
Ha, he might be to the point, but he still does it as a flirtatious scoundrel. “Training specialists. The Matara Complex doesn’t offer anything I want. Even their strength workouts look a little light for my tastes.”
Larten nodded. “I will be delighted to take up your blade instruction for as long as you’ll have me. If you think it would be too awkward should my clan not win your heart, I can find you someone else with exemplary standards.”
A part of me wanted to refute his statement that we wouldn’t end up being compatible, but wasn’t that just me being nice? Larten was being sensible about the matter; his pride didn’t need to be led on by a promise I might not want to keep later. However, I thought having him as a trainer for the immediate future would be fine and said so.
“Good. That leaves finding you a physical trainer, along with an offensive specialist. I might know someone who can do both. Let me look into it.”
“Thanks Larten,” I said. Anrel blew foaming bubbles at him, which he seemed to find amusing.
After telling her how gorgeous and wonderful and brave she was, Larten turned his attention to me once more. “Cifa was talking about us taking a cruise once you get to Kalquor. Should I call him in to discuss it, or is now not a good time?”
Is there ever a bad time to talk to Imdiko Cifa? I can’t imagine it. “Sure, I have an hour for him to lose his mind over Anrel before talking about taking me on the vacation of a lifetime.”
Larten chuckled and called for his clanmates. “I have Shalia and Anrel on com!”
Cifa and Seot were in view within seconds. As expected, Cifa gushed over the baby for as long as we let him. He did give me a sweet greeting before getting lost in Anrel worship.
“She’s growing so fast!” he said, his expression registering some disappointment over that. “By the time she gets here, she’ll be a young lady instead of a baby for me to hold.”
“In a little over a week? I don’t think you have to worry about that,” I snorted. “She’ll still be small enough for you to cuddle by the time you meet face to face.” Especially since Cifa is a couple inches over six-and-a-half feet.
“It feels like forever,” he groaned. Cifa’s more baby-happy than a first-time grandmother.
Devastatingly handsome Seot chuckled over his Imdiko’s desperate need to get at Anrel. “You both look to be in perfect health. I’m glad to see it,” he told me in that spine-shivering deep voice of his.
“Yeah, I’m glad to see how healthy you three look too,” I said in a meaningful voice. Clan Seot never fails to wake my libido up and get it hopping in an instant.
I earned some snickers for that. “Glad you’re not bored with the view yet,” Seot joked.
Was he kidding? His clan is a triple threat for panty-dampening. They’d already won that round.
“What’s this about a cruise?” I asked to distract myself from thoughts that would have me rubbing up anything that would stand still for it.
“I – I mean my family’s company – has a new ship we’re launching in a few weeks. We’d like to take you on its inaugural cruise,” Cifa said.
“Oh, the latest and grandest of the fleet?” I asked. I’d looked up Cifa’s sea-going cruise line. The company belonging to him and his siblings had the finest ships on Kalquor’s largest ocean, offering luxury on a scale that would make a trillionaire salivate.
“Actually, it’s the smallest vessel we’ve ever had,” he said. “Just big enough for four full clans. But each voyage features the finest chefs of the Galactic Council’s member planets, a team of stewards assigned exclusively to each guest, famous entertainers, and stops at the most luxurious locations on the planet. It’s all the grandeur of a high-end cruise without the crowds.”
“Wow,” I said, impressed by the sales pitch. “It sounds amazing. I’d love to go.” Then I remembered the r-word, as in responsibility. That hideous monstrosity reared its ugly head. “But my mom is having surgery pretty soon after we arrive. I don’t know how long her recovery will be.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Cifa urged. “If you can’t make the first trip, we’ll take you as soon as you can go.”
Seot nodded. “Your mother comes first. Please take all the time you need to care for her. You will let us know if there is anything we can do to help?”
I smiled at the offer, so quickly voiced. “Thank you.”
When it’s the four of us, we end up talking for ages. However, Anrel was there, and babies don’t enjoy long conversations when they get hungry and wet. Much sooner than any of us wanted, we had to say our goodbyes.
“I’ll try to have some potential trainers lined up by the time you get to Kalquor,” Larten promised. “But with only a few days until that happens, there might be a delay.”
I felt a jolt in my guts, but I hid it with a grateful smile. “I appreciate it.”
We clicked off, and I set about taking care of Anrel’s needs. My stomach churned as I did so.
Just a few days until the trip was over. Holy shit, we’ll be on Kalquor in seven days.