Monday, July 25, 2016
I woke to the sound of happy baby laughs. Betra was on the lounger playing with Anrel while Oses watched. Her bubbly giggles made the Nobek’s face stretch in the biggest smile I’d ever seen him wear. He barely looked like himself with that huge grin.
I stretched, luxuriating in the feeling of having gotten enough sleep. “What time is it?”
“Not quite afternoon,” Oses told me. “You must have been tired.”
“For heaven’s sake,” I said, standing up and heading for coffee. I didn’t care I had no clothes on. I have my priorities.
A little while later while I worked on my second cup in a halter top and shorts, Betra judged me sufficiently awake to spring a surprise. “We have a beach party to attend tomorrow.”
“We do? Who’s throwing the festivities?”
“Oh.” I wondered if the alarm I felt would be considered an overreaction.
He snorted at my expression. “They want to meet you and Oses since you’re important to me. It will be nice for you to know them since they live nearby. If anything comes up, they’ll be able to help.”
I could see his point. Still, meeting your boyfriend’s parents for the first time is never a comfortable proposition. All I could think about was how likely I was to be a disappointment. Maybe they’d be as enthralled with Anrel as everyone else is and ignore me.
I noted Oses’s smile had disappeared. He looked as uneasy as I felt.
Before I could get the scoop on how I should prepare myself, my com went off. I checked the frequency and tried not to look to happy. “It’s Clan Aslada.”
I answered and Imdiko Meyso’s soft but deep voice teased my ears. “Hello, Shalia. How was your first day on Kalquor?”
“Great,” I said. “I’ve been meaning to com, but things have been a little busy so far.”
He didn’t sound upset that I hadn’t contacted him or his clan yet. “I imagine settling in is taking up a lot of time. I wanted you to know my clan discussed when we can meet with you, and we thought you’d like a little more time to adjust.”
Well, at least I wouldn’t have to explain to his clan my need to spend the next couple of weeks with Betra and Oses. Though Clan Seot had taken that pretty well … but how many clans had that kind of consideration?
“That’s understanding of you,” I said. It was funny that I’d appreciated Clan Seot showing up at my door as a surprise, but I also appreciated Clan Aslada giving me a chance to gather my wits. A clan for each of the two sides of Shalia, ha-ha.
“Actually, it’s kind of selfish too,” he admitted, his tone sounding a touch ashamed. “We want to see you sooner, but your arrival has coincided with unavoidable demands on our time that have disrupted all our intentions. I’ve had a couple of surgeries come up that I must attend to in the next week. The territorial council is arguing some legislation that Aslada has to oversee, and Jaon has been called off-planet to chase down some dangerous men who must be apprehended right away.”
I had to smile in sympathy. “You made plans and then life happened. That’s the way it usually goes.”
I heard the relief in Meyso’s voice. “Unfortunately, yes. So now I must thank you for being understanding.”
“No problem. I have friends from the transport to show me around Kalquor while they’re on leave anyway.”
If Meyso assumed my friends were men I might be banging, he didn’t think twice about it. “Oh good. I’m glad you won’t wait on us to have fun. Though we are hoping you won’t have too much fun without us.”
I grinned at the teasing note in his voice, as well as Betra’s whispered, “Oh, she’ll have plenty of fun.”
Meyso’s voice turned serious. “We also have to get together to discuss your mother’s procedures. There’s no big hurry. She’s perfectly safe in stasis here at the local hospital.”
“It would be nice for her to get back to living her life,” I said. The knot of guilt I felt over determining the course of that life had appeared in my stomach. I’d made my decision though, and I would stick with it.
“Give me the date when your friends’ leave is up.”
I did so and there was a pause as Meyso consulted his schedule. “Well, that’s perfect. Even if Jaon isn’t back and the clan can’t meet in a suitor capacity with you, you and I can have our consultation. I’m going to book our talk for two days after and tentatively schedule your mother’s first surgery the week following. Does that work for you?”
“Sounds great,” I said. I made a note in my handheld.
“And of course you and Anrel will stay in our home. Send me a list of favorite foods and whatever you’ll need while you’re here. There’s no need for you to deal with a lot of packing and worrying over forgetting anything.”
Boy, my potential clans were generous to a fault. Meyso shored up that assumption by adding, “And if there is anything that you need right now or before you get here, you have only to ask. We want you to know we are thrilled that you are considering us. Please don’t think we’re not looking forward to spending all the time we can with you.”
“Thank you, Meyso,” I said warmly. “I’m grateful that you’re taking care of my mother. Also, I haven’t forgotten the help you gave me when Anrel was sick.”
“I am happy to be of any assistance.” He sounded like he meant that.
A few more pleasantries, and Meyso had to ring off to meet with a patient. I switched the com off feeling pretty good about things.
As soon as I was finished talking with Meyso, Oses held out his hand. “Handheld, please.”
I gave it to him and he opened the calendar function. He entered a couple of names and frequencies, putting them in about five days after the estimated date for my mom’s first procedure. “These are the fitness and offensive training experts I’ve lined up for you to continue working with. These are men both Nobek Larten and I are acquainted with. They are aware that you need a little while to get everything in place for your new life here, but I wouldn’t put off contacting them any later than this. They are excellent trainers and in high demand. Taking you on is a personal favor to me,” he added, giving me a look that said quite clearly, ‘don’t disappoint me’.
“Thanks, Oses. I’ll probably contact them sooner just so they know I’m serious,” I assured him.
Betra smiled at both of us as he fed Anrel the creamy grain mash now supplementing her formula. “So. Hopefully we’re done with all the dull tasks of the day. Who wants to go for a walk on the cliffs?”