Monday, March 27, 2017
December 8 (early)
While I can help myself with stim tabs and coffee to adjust to the time change between the capital city and Aslada’s home, I do not want to screw with Anrel’s schedule via chemical means. It’s going to take some time to put her to rights naturally, so I anticipate suffering for at least a couple of weeks. Case in point: she woke up in the deepest dark of the early morning. I think I slept two hours. Groan.
I hauled my pathetic carcass up and dosed myself with a stim tab and coffee after changing and feeding my early bird. She was so sweet and chirpy that I couldn’t be grumpy. With the world outside still fast asleep, I played with her to make her giggle. Peekaboo was a big hit. I laughed as hard as she did when she went wide-eyed to see me suddenly re-appear from behind my hands. The look on her face was hilarious.
I set about opening the presents Clan Aslada had sent along with us, starting with the goodies for Anrel. Toys, toys, toys. She was delighted with them, more for their bright colors and musical noises than anything else, I think. And chewability. Let’s not forget that. That child loves to exercise those two lower teeth she’s sprouted.
One gift item made me particularly happy. It was a kind of handheld-like device, but made super durable for children. It would read from a huge trove of stories, both in Kalquorian and four Earther languages. It also played songs, presented counting games, and displayed floating vids from a vast library of other educational files. I was impressed with the teaching device.
Other boxes held more clothes for her, no doubt lovingly chosen by Imdiko Snoy. I made a note to com him later so he could say hello to Anrel. I had no doubt he was at a loss as what to do with himself this first day of her absence.
With Anrel happily occupied with her toys, I opened the gifts with my name on them. The larger items, I had the sneaking suspicion would be gowns. Yep. A dozen Kalquorian-style gowns, the fabrics rich and flawless and impeccably embroidered. Goodness, when would those men learn such things were impractical for someone like me? Once in a while it’s fun to dress up…but I just can’t seem to pull off wearing gowns on a daily basis with the same ease that Kalquorian women do. Ah, but they were stunning dresses. I can’t say I didn’t imagine myself in each and every one of them, preening before adoring men.
Ha! I am such a ridiculous thing sometimes.
Smiling as I thought of how Aslada, Meyso, and Jaon’s eyes would light up to see me gliding about in the sumptuous frocks, I opened a smaller box. I damned near yelled in my shock at what I found. I only just stopped myself from crying out for fear it would upset Anrel.
A necklace of red, blue, and green gemstones glittered at me, set in gold filigree. It was stunning. Utterly spectacular. Magnificent.
I thought, no way those were real rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. They couldn’t be. Because if they were, I was looking at what would have amounted to a fortune back on Earth.
I admit I haven’t been lucky enough to have seen a lot of pricey jewels. So maybe it’s just really exquisite costume jewelry. But as rich and extravagant as Clan Aslada is, I worried it might be the real thing.
I worried more as I saw five other similar-sized packages waiting to be opened. My heart pounding, I opened them, one after the other.
Earrings. Bracelets. Another necklace, this one a two-inch wide choker covered in what looked like diamonds. I shook my head, still trying to convince myself they had to be fakes. Splendid, exquisite fakes. They had to be. Right?
“Please, please don’t be real,” I whispered to the dazzling array. I thought my head might explode.
Why was I so overwhelmed? It wasn’t like I’d asked Clan Aslada to buy me a wearable treasure trove. This gesture was entirely their making. Maybe I’m a bit of a gold digger in that I’m looking for a clan suitable to raise my daughter, but that’s the long and short of what I’m after. Good, solid men to share our lives with is what I’m digging for. Love has to be the main ingredient, not money.
Sure, jewelry is nice. I freely admit to sighing over a particularly pretty bauble or two in my time. But this—if this was the real thing, it was over and beyond what I could imagine someone giving to me.
I rubbed my eyes. “Your bumpkin background is showing again, Shalia,” I told myself. Okay, maybe this was the genuine article. Maybe I was looking at an outrageous amount of money—to me. Clan Aslada had shown that for some people, money was not that big a deal. They had plenty of it, so they lived extremely well. Hadn’t I seen what I was sure to be priceless art in their mansion? The finest furnishings? A huge staff to wait on every whim of three men? I’d spent weeks surrounded by opulence that made me uneasy, but Aslada, Meyso, and Jaon hardly seemed to notice at all. They’d been born to privilege and had lived in its easy luxury their whole lives.
What seemed excessive gifts to me might be nothing more than trifles to such men. The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. I was flipping out over nothing.
I really need to get a grip on myself and stop making mountains out of molehills.