Monday, October 24, 2016
This morning I gave a class on baby care to the group in charge of the complex’s nursery. Assistant Director Nosdu was on hand as well. He was adorably awkward when he approached me.
“Matara Shalia, it’s regarded unprofessional for my Matara to take advantage of the complex’s amenities now that she is clanned,” he said, his sweet face reddening. He pulled his handheld off his belt. “Yet she – all of us in my clan – have a lot of questions and worries. I have a vid recording program on my handheld, if you don’t mind? We are all feeling overwhelmed.”
I restrained the urge to pat him on the head…a difficult proposition anyway since he towered above me. “Not a problem, Imdiko. In fact, feel free to give your Matara my contact information. Any questions she has, I’ll be glad to answer as best I can. You can talk to me any time too.”
His face lit in a smile that would make an angel weep. It was no wonder the Imdiko was flirted with shamelessly though he was taken and devoted to his Matara. He was too adorable.
With Anrel as my cheerful prop, we went through feeding, napping, diaper changing, and even how to hold an infant. I showed them how important it was that Anrel be allowed to have floor time so she could practice rolling over and pushing up. I was asked a ton of questions, which I answered to the best of my ability.
Some of the children watched by the staff were still in diapers, but none were younger than toddlers. Anrel was their first real baby. Nosdu looked particularly terrified that he might drop her, but once he had Anrel in his arms, he got the same blissed-out expression Cifa often showed. Had the women of the complex seen Nosdu in that moment, they would have hit the floor in adoring faints. There’s something about a handsome man joyfully cuddling a baby that makes you want to drop an egg.
After that, I went to Katrina’s office. Candy was in there too, yapping with our pal as she entered data into the computer system.
“Yay, paperwork,” I cheered for her. “They wasted no time giving you the exciting tasks.”
Katrina snickered and reached for Anrel. “You bet. In his delight of handing this drudgery over, Dramok Firef is probably skipping around the complex like a five-year-old with a new doll.”
The idea of the older director doing such a thing cracked me up. I have a visual imagination, and it included pink bows in the Firef’s long, graying hair.
“So how are things?” I asked Katrina. “Are you holding up okay without your sweethearts?”
“About as well as can be expected, I suppose. I try to stay busy so I’m not dwelling on missing them. We’re comming every day, so I miss them anyway.” She rolled her eyes and gave me a tired smile. “It’s the worst at night. I hate sleeping alone.”
I knew what she meant.
Trying to rescue us from too much depression, I turned to Candy. “How’s the big Stud Man?”
“Gorgeous,” she smirked. “Planning for our little Haven getaway.”
“Lust on the farm,” I laughed. “Have you picked out your sexy overalls yet?”
We hung out with Katrina until lunch. Then Anrel and I went back to our quarters. I was about to settle her for a nap when I saw I had a message waiting. It was Betra’s frequency, so I postponed putting the baby down so she could be a part of our conversation.
I was so happy to see not just Betra but Oses on the vid transmission. The part about not being able to touch them hurt like hell, but this is life now.
“Hi!” I beamed at the pair. “How are you?”
“We’re good. What about you?” Betra smiled back. “Hi Anrel! How’s my other sweetie?”
She squealed at him and held out her arms. That made my stomach lurch. Poor baby wanted her Uncle Betra and couldn’t have him.
“We’re okay,” I told him, ignoring the stab of hurt. “How’s the ship? Back to its former glory?”
“I don’t know that it was ever glorious, but it’s running fine. We have a few upgrades that are nice.”
I looked at the silent Oses. His smile was as gentle as his fierce face would allow it to be. “Hey, big guy. Is everything good with you?”
“As good as it gets,” he said. Such a non-answer, but chatting is not Oses’s strong suit. It was enough to see him.
“So what have you been up to since we left?” Betra asked.
I filled them in on training the childcare staff on how to handle babies, plus the upcoming surgery for Mom. I rolled my eyes at Oses as I told him about Jaon’s reticence in finding me trainers while I was with his clan.
The Nobek’s face darkened a tad. Or maybe I imagined it. At any rate, he wasted no time in looking out for me. “Let me know if he doesn’t come through with the training. I’ll look into who can work with you while you’re on that side of the world.”
Even out in space, the man has my back.
“What about you guys?” I asked. “Still in Empire space, no Earther girls to take care of – you must be bored to death.”
“Not quite,” Betra said. “We have safety and fighting drills. We’re dropping off some supplies to Haven Colony and Rel Station since they’re on our way. It’s not all boredom.”
“Plus they fixed the pleasure club,” Oses added with a wicked grin. “It’s up and running just fine, isn’t it, my Imdiko?”
Betra turned beet red. “Shut up,” he muttered through clenched teeth.
“But you were such a hit with the audience last night.” Oses looked like he was doing his best to not fall apart in laughter. “I heard two Dramoks were making inquiries about Betra after that. Along with about a dozen Nobeks stupid enough to think they can mess with what’s mine.”
Betra rolled his eyes. “Idiots,” was all he would say.
“Don’t let anyone push him,” I warned Oses. “I’ll tell his mom on you.”
“Neither he nor Matara Elwa have anything to worry about.” The Nobek continued to tease. “If I can’t touch him, no other man can.”
Betra pretended offense, but he was fighting a smile. “So it’s all about jealousy and nothing to do with protecting me?”
We all cracked up. Anrel crowed along with the rest of us, delighted with the laughter. Betra gave Oses a playful shove and the weapons commander pretended to stagger. They were in good spirits.
I had worried a little that without me serving as a sort of go-between for the men, Betra and Oses would drift apart. It seemed I’d been concerned over nothing. Thank the prophets I’m not that important. I don’t mind the universe…or at least the men I care about…not revolving around me. I just want Betra and Oses to be happy. It’s looking good for those two, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.