~ Lost Kingdom ~
J. M. Dragon
© J.M. Dragon 2007
e-mail: J. M. Dragon
This story features relationships involving women. If it is illegal in the state, province, or country in which you live; or if you are under the age of 18, please find something else to read.The events portrayed in this story are fictional and any resemblance to actual events and/or people is purely coincidental.
The events portrayed in this story are fictional and any resemblance to actual events and/or people is purely coincidental.
Acknowledgments - Thanks Teresa for the technical advice. Thank you to Teresa and Mel for helping with the editing.
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Janice Clark was pleasantly surprised to see her boss return within hours of leaving. She’d expected her to be gone at least until the morning. “Ms. Diamond is there anything I can do for you?”
Seera pulled at her lip inattentively as her thoughts were plainly elsewhere. “Can you work late this evening Janice?”
Astonished at the request, Janice nodded before she quickly said, “Yes, yes of course.”
This time Seera did give her secretary her full attention and was surprised to see the pleasure the question had brought to the woman’s features. Her skin emitted a glow that was attractive–something she hadn’t noticed before. “I’ll provide dinner. We’ll be working from my apartment. Now, I need to spend the rest of the day in privacy.” Seera left the shocked woman and went in her office.
“Wow, what was that all about? Her apartment, dinner…has an alien taken over my boss in the hours that she was away from the office,” Janice said to no one in particular. She sat up straighter and allowed a smile. “Maybe this is my chance to shine and prove I can handle sensitive details. Yeah, that’s exactly what I’ll do.” I must remember to set the VCR for the next episode of ‘Space, Are We Alone’ before I leave my apartment.
* * *
Darc dialed the same agency he used for several years to obtain information on the whereabouts of Tavia and Orin. It had taken years, but eventually they’d been tracked down and surveillance had been twenty-four seven ever since. “Jeffery, have you maintained the watch as instructed?”
Jeffery Macalister was a hard-nosed ex-New York detective who had to thrive in the underbelly of society to do his job–he was the best. Curiosity had gotten the better of him after he’d lost the couple several times and he began checking into their backgrounds–blemish free. The biggest puzzle for the detective was why Cimmerian paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars to watch the couple. He knew that if he were patient enough, he’d know the answer one day. “Yes sir. They haven’t relocated in over three years.”
“Good, that makes things easy. I need you to make contact and bring them here. You have forty-eight hours.” Darc had always sought a low-keyed approach previously but now he needed the traitors back with him and the Princess. He chuckled. For now, he would have to tolerate their presence, but once they were back home he would appraise the Queen their traitorous actions.
Jeffery rocked back in his chair at the request and after the initial shock had worn off, he grinned. “Ok, they might protest…I don’t condone kidnapping.”
“You won’t have to kidnap them. Just give them this message…There is news of home. They’ll understand and come quietly.” Darc ended the call and looked out at the people in the outer office of the accounts department. As he did, his eyes lingered on the pretty brunette woman who had joined the company several weeks earlier. A cynical smile formed around his lips. Soon he would be back home and no longer could make conquests out or the primitive earth women. Perhaps I’ll invite her for dinner this evening and we can have a little fun. He pressed his private line to the Princess.
Janice felt the fluttering sensation of nerves in the pit of her stomach, as the chauffeur took her to Seera Diamond’s penthouse apartment. The deed to the most luxurious building in the city belonged to her boss when an elderly relative willed it to her. It was the first time she’d been to the apartment and she was sure it would make her meager residence seem shabby. As the limo pulled up to the front of the building, the doorman opened her door and with a tweak of his cap waved her toward the building.
“I’ll advise Ms. Diamond that you are on your way up Ms Clark,” the concierge said.
“Thank you,” Janice breathlessly said–he made her feel like royalty.
Before she could press the elevator button, another employee pressed it and escorted her inside the penthouse elevator. He then ran a card through the reader and nodded. She smiled her thanks and watched the passing floor numbers until the door slid open and she entered the private corridor leading to the ornate door of the penthouse suite.
Janice tentatively knocked and waited nervously. When Seera herself opened the door, she was surprised.
“Hi Janice…you’re punctual…I like that. Come on inside and make yourself comfortable. I’ve a chicken in the oven along with some roasted vegetables for dinner. We can work while it’s cooking. Here let me take your coat.”
Janice was bug eyed as her boss helped her take off her outer garment. She blindly followed her boss into a seating area where the flames of a fire were blazing. The smell of expensive leather filled the room as Janice glanced around at the numerous antiques and paintings, adorning the floors and walls. When a group of paintings caught her attention, her eyes stopped their perusal of the room.
“Do you appreciate art?” Seera asked.
“I…I yes I do. Most Sunday’s I walk in the park and then to the art museum. They have a couple of Gainsbourgh’s on loan…I particularly like them.”
With a genuine smile, Seera nodded slightly before she placed the coat in a closet and indicated Janice should follow her. “You’ll like this artist then.”
Janice stared at several paintings that were in Gainsbourgh’s style, but more modern. “I don’t recall this painter?”
For a few moments, Seera was lost in thought then she smiled again. “No, you wouldn’t. I have all her paintings. She wasn’t well known and I…my aunt bought them as a total collection before the artist died in 1944.”
“What’s her name?” Janice was fascinated and concentrated on the pictures and missed the fleeting pain filled look in Seera’s eyes.
“ Susan Genister, she loved Gainsbourgh’s work…from what I recall of my aunt’s ramblings. Ok give me a couple of minutes to check what’s happening in the kitchen then we’ll get started.”
Janice didn’t know what was more surprising; her boss cooking dinner for them or how friendly and open she was. It was in total contrast to their normal working relationship. She realized why people fell for her–she was charming.
Seera returned from the kitchen and said, “Right Janice, the chicken is doing its thing and we can do ours. I expect you are wondering why I asked you to come here rather than the office.”
Startled, Janice quickly managed to regain her composure and nodded. “Yes, although I assumed that you didn’t have the details in the office.”
Seera chuckled at the words. “I guess you could say that. I need to have my personal assets catalogued and wondered if you would help me? I know that you run my office in a regimented way and it made sense to ask you first. Of course, I’ll pay you extra, as it would have to be out of office hours. Are you interested?”
Janice quickly glanced around the room as she considered the proposition, her eyes sparkling at the opportunity. “Do you have a time limit? Is it for insurance purposes?”
With a faint smile, Seera motioned for them to sit before she frowned slightly. “We will call it an insurance solution. Are you interested?”
Janice ’s eyes lit up. “ Ms. Diamond, I’d be happy to help you catalogue your possessions. Believe me, it will be an honor to be around them. You certainly don’t have to pay me anything extra.”
Seera saw the pleasure the prospect gave Janice and she knew she had made the right move in asking the woman for help. Her thoughts flickered to the only other human companion she’d allowed inside the apartment on a more personal level…
In 1941, Susan Genister, at the tender age of sixteen attempted to sell her paintings for war bonds on the street outside this very building. True talent, wasted on a street corner is something I’ve never been able to tolerate. It had been so easy and right somehow to take Susan under my wing. I provided her with a studio and access to a prestigious art exhibition to nourish her talent. For the first three years of our association, we became great friend’s filling the void Tavia had left in my life. When Susan turned nineteen in 1944, we became lovers. Our time together was the most satisfying with a human during my stay on this planet. Damn it, time simply ran out for us when Susan died under the wheels of a car, ten months later. I was devastated and vowed never to allow another close again.
Darc and I shut up the apartment left it with a custodian and traveled the world. For over fifty years we never stayed in a place long enough, to get to know anyone on that level again. I guess I was searching, yeah and don’t I know whom for, I needed to return to the place we last saw each other, I lived in hope Tavia would return to me - she didn’t.
Now, as Seera watched Janice, it was clear that allowing the young woman to complete the chore for her was the right choice. Then her thoughts turned to carnal wanderings as they often did since arriving on the planet. She’d never had a redhead in her bed before. There might be some merit in bedding her…it might be quite interesting. Seera felt the beginnings of sexual arousal but squelched the feeling. “I will pay you, when can you start?”
With shining eyes, Janice grinned before she said, “How about now?”
Seera laughed. “I was hoping you might say that. Here let me show you the whole place.”
Orin glared at the reflection of himself in the mirror located in the bathroom of his office before he grinned. The time there had taken the edge off his stance that normally intimidated people - he wasn’t at all worried. He liked what he’d become and he owed it all to Tavia. He recalled the moment vividly when, against all expectations, his dreams came true.
The sound of mortar rounds echoed all around them as the bomb damaged building shook with each barrage. He and Tavia had been working with the French Resistance for over three years and the final battle for the freedom was within reach. A dispatched code told them to blow up an ammunitions dump just outside of Paris. Unfortunately, German troops cut off their route for rendezvousing with the rest of their unit. Inch by inch the edged along a hedgerow in an attempt to escape the enemy. When they came upon an abandoned farmhouse, they bellied their way inside and took refuge.
As the mortar bombs landed close, the dust in the rafters fell and covered them. Orin held a finger to his lips and Tavia nodded her understanding. He pointed in the direction of the open doorway and motioned for her to stay still as his instincts told him that soldiers were approaching. He positioned himself between Tavia and the door. With a simple hand signal, reminiscent of their time in war torn Europe, both raised their weapons.
An eerie silence filled the once noisy air, as all activity seemed to come to a standstill. Both Orin and Tavia grasped their rifles tightly as they heard soldiers just outside the door speak German. The sound of footfalls that seemed to be running soon filled the still air.
The sound of vehicles making a hasty exit surrounded them until the silence ensued once again. Tavia relaxed her hold on the rifle and saw Orin do the same. In a low whisper she said, “Is that it? Maybe we’ve won at last!”
Orin’s soldier senses, honed to such an extent that he still bristled with an adrenalin rush, frowned. “Perhaps, or it could be the calm before the storm.”
Tavia smiled and shook her head. “Always the pessimist Orin…I think it’s safe to leave. I recall Andre promised real champagne once Paris was free. I for one am looking forward to that immensely.” She stood up and slung her rifle over her shoulder. “Come on Orin, let’s go. The celebrations await us.” Seconds later, Orin joined her as they stepped out of the ramshackle farmhouse.
Indigo eyes sparkled as they peered through the smoking debris all around them and Tavia sucked in, if not fresh, air free of German captivity. “Orin I think we can finally hang up our weapons and maybe concentrate on finding our way back home. Maybe the Princess will forgive us for leaving her like we did.” The euphoric feeling Tavia had dulled slightly when she thought of the Princess. She wanted to apologize to Seera. The Princess never stayed angry with her and she did miss her so. On earth, they had a saying, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and she hoped that was the case with Seera. I think I’ll even cross that imaginary line the Queen has enforced in my head and tell Seera I love her…really love her.
From what seemed like far away, she thought she heard Orin scream, “Get down,” before she was flying through the air. With a thud against the broken wooden door jamb, she landed on the dirt outside the farmhouse. Her brain tried to remain lucid as she tried to remember what had happened to her. She stared down at blood seeping slowly from a wound that she thought had ripped open her stomach. To her it was surreal as the blood, in remarkable tranquility, oozed faster as pain finally shot through her numbed senses. “Oh no, I can’t die, not now…I never told her,” she whispered as her ears heard a barrage of machine gun fire. Then, silence closed in around her. Have I died?
As soon as Orin stepped out of the farmhouse, all his warrior alarms sounded. In one split second, Tavia was by his side before gunfire ripped her open and propelled her away from him. His reaction was automatic as he took the sniper out. He felt the weight of the world on his shoulders as he rushed, teary eyed, to Tavia’s side. He cradled her bleeding body to his chest. “I’m sorry Tavia I’m so sorry for not protecting you. Don’t die please don’t die.” He buried his face into her dust-matted hair and whispered into her ear, “You can’t leave me. I love you so much…you’re all I live for.”
From the depths of her pain and kaleidoscope of reactions to her predicament, Tavia heard the plea and said, “I love you too Seera. I promise I’ll never leave you.”
He’d heard the reference to the Princess and sucked in a resigned breath then picked up her feather light body and, with long strides, ran to the rendezvous point where he was certain a medic would be. Luck had been on their side for a doctor was there. The wound appeared worse than it was for the bullet that had ripped Tavia’s stomach only pierced the wall of the organ. He volunteered his blood immediately and once she began to heal, he took her to the safety of the underground where they’d lived during the last few years of fighting. However, it turned out to be the end of their time in France and the face of war.
Orin heard that Paris was liberated but that didn’t matter anymore. The Princess was right…was far too dangerous. He understood the folly of their actions and mentally beat himself up for not making Tavia understand the danger.
When they returned to the United States and found their way to the town where the Princess lived, they observed her from a distance. They worked on the assumption that the rift between Tavia and her childhood friend still existed. During their observations of the comings and going of the Princess, they found that a human, who was an artist, had moved in the apartment as Seera’s lover. The pain Tavia felt from that knowledge was more heinous than any gunshot. For Orin, the woman he had loved since he first saw her leaned on him for comfort. Though he had the knowledge that would reassure Tavia, he chose to keep that a secret. The promise he made to Seera long ago on their home planet finally worked in his favor. Tavia would never know the depths of the Princess’s love for her or that once they returned home, Seera planned to ask her to become her consort.
While Tavia suffered and was at her most vulnerable, he took full advantage of the situation and became her lover. He had no illusions that she loved him as he did her, but he knew he could make it work in spite of the specter of the Princess. A part of him would never forget that Tavia’s love for the Princess would remain between him and her heart always.
The voice of his employee Sung, who flew planes with him, calling him from the outer office made Orin try once more to look more menacing - he failed. He opened the door and gave the Asian man a smile. “What is it this time Sung?”
Sung ignored the question and nervously gave him the receiver of the phone. “Tavia boss…she sound upset.”
Orin grabbed the instrument from the man and quickly spoke into the mouthpiece. “Hi, what’s wrong?”
“You’re not going to believe this Orin, but we have a message from the Princess.” Although Tavia tried to prevent panic from surfacing, she failed miserably and let her tears course down her cheeks.
Orin pursed his lips at the emotional comment. After all this time, she turns up again! Why? “Take a minute to calm down then tell me what she said.”
Tavia counted to ten before speaking and drew in a deep breath. She knew that undue stress wasn’t good for the baby. “Orin do you remember I said I thought someone was following me yesterday?”
“Yes, but we decided that it was nothing.”
“It was something. That same person followed me home today.”
Orin could hear her sobs and it tore at his heartstrings as he closed his eyes. It was a good time to go home. “Tavia, please darling, calm down and tell me about today.”
“Today…today a man came to the door and asked me if I knew Darc Cimmerian.” Tavia finally said.
Orin’s mind was racing as he thought of an exit strategy. “Tavia, you told him no didn’t you?”
“Yes, but I know he didn’t believe me. He wanted to come inside…said he had a message for us.” Tavia cried in earnest as her hormones kicked in.
Orin turned to Sung and mouthed, “I’m going home.” The Asian man nodded in understanding. “Tavia I’m coming home. I’ll be with you in fifteen minutes. If he returns tell him to wait. Don’t worry darling everything will be ok I promise.” When he was satisfied, she was somewhat calm he finished the call.
He turned to Sung and gave the man a shrug along with a wry smile. “Women…sorry to do this to you Sung…will you complete my runs for me. I promise to make it up to you.”
Sung gave his boss a genuine smile. “Go boss, I do that, no worries. Tell Tavia the baby will be upset if she is. I tell my wife all the time not to worry, not to worry but she no listen, go, go.”
Orin grinned, picked up the keys to the helicopter and ran toward the aircraft waiting on the tarmac. If the winds were with him, it would take him ten minutes to reach the private seclusion of the island they had bought years earlier. What the hell do they want after all this time?
Fifteen minutes later, Orin crashed through the door of their bungalow style home and wrapped Tavia in a loving hug. “Hey darling it’s ok. I promised right. Everything will work out.”
His soothing words had little impact, but the strength of his arms around her and the rapid beating of his heart caused her body to respond favorably. Her tear drenched eyes peered up into his concerned ones and she gave him a wan smile. “Why do you think she wants us now? Do you think she still wants us to…?” She was unable to finish for the next words were abhorrent to them both.
Orin heard the weariness and resignation in her voice and digested the unsaid sentiment before answering. He knew she didn’t want to leave and neither did he, but what other choice did they have? Another confrontation with Darc would only harm Tavia and the baby. The Princess’s personal aid was like a rabid dog with a bone. A rabid one at that. He scrunched his eyebrows in concentration. In truth, Darc was more in line with a choice the Queen would make…not Seera.
Three months earlier, Darc had personally tracked them down and made it abundantly clear that they had to return to the Princess and serve her as they always had. That meant they would have to reject their lives together and work toward an answer to their energy problem and going home. The incident flashed into his mind…
Darc gazed in astonishment when Tavia stood up from the coffee table to leave. When he finally digested the fact that Tavia was pregnant, his face took on that deep burgundy color of inner rage. He glared at them and announced, “That is an atrocity, and the Princess demands that you terminate the abomination now!”
Tavia’s eyes glowed with horror as she heard the man’s words. Seera surely doesn’t expect that. “We don’t have anything to do with you or the Princess Darc for she no longer has dominion over us.”
“You ignore her Highness’s wishes Tavia? Then it will be on your head. I shall relay your impudent stance to her and we shall see who relents.” He glared at her. “Our finding a way to get back to Corinthian overrides everything else. Have you forgotten that? It is your duty to help in that quest instead of whoring around with him.”
“Get out!” Tavia screamed. “We owe Seera nothing.”
Orin watched Tavia take a stand on behalf of their unborn child and inwardly applauded her. Then he did the only thing any father-to-be would in those circumstances…he released a forceful punch to Darc’s gut. As the man was reeling, he took Tavia’s hand and they left him with pain etched on his sallow features…
“Do you want to leave Tavia?”
“No. I want my child to live more than anything else and to do that we can’t allow Darc, on the pretext of a message, to take us to the Princess.”
Orin smiled and felt considerably happier. Tavia sounded like her old self–full of a rebellious spirit for what she believed in. They were defying the one person they both made an oath to obey and defend. “Where did this man go Tavia…the island isn’t that large.” They only allowed people to use the south side of the beaches where the only boating jetty was. The only aircraft landing space was near their home and he knew the man hadn’t arrived that way.
“He headed toward the path that would take him toward the jetty. The next tourist boat isn’t due for another hour, unless he has a private charter.” Tavia hugged Orin close to her and buried her face in his strong shoulder taking comfort and strength from his presence.
“I’m going after him and hear this message. If this guy hasn’t communicated he’s found us we might not have to move on yet.”
Tavia gave him a long look and shook her head. “No Orin, I won’t have bloodshed on your hands for our baby. We will move on if the man cannot be persuaded by peaceful negotiation to forget he ever saw us.”
Orin kissed the top of her head for he understood her logic. However, for her and the baby’s safety, he would do anything and that included murder if the situation demanded that of him. “Let me talk to him first. I’ll be back soon.” He stood and at the same time relinquished his hold on the woman who shared his life.
“Promise me Orin that you won’t hurt the man.”
Orin merely winked and left, ignoring her plea. I will not lie to her.
Tavia watched him leave and take the motorcycle that was leaning against the barn where they stored the grain and other perishables. She had finally accepted the baby’s role in her life and would do whatever was necessary to keep it safe…even if it meant murder. Her eyes filled with tears once more, not for her baby but for the Princess. The woman she knew so long ago never would have demanded the sacrifice of an unborn child. Have you lost your way? There was always the hope that if they met again Seera wouldn’t be so harsh. At best, it was a long shot and one she didn’t dare consider for it was too dangerous and she couldn’t risk breaking her heart again.
Seera arrived home from the gym she used most mornings, except for Sundays when she preferred to meditate and chill out in readiness for the week ahead. When she’d opened the door to Janice Clark Saturday morning, she almost thought of giving up her gym hours. The woman had spent the majority of the evening before cataloguing her personal possessions. Seera discreetly watched the woman work marveling at Janice’s child-like joy in touching the treasures strewn around her home. Over time, Seera had become used to the antiquities around her that they became forgettable. Antiques and objects to adore from a distance she guessed some would say, but she preferred to use them for the purpose they were bought. Pictures to gaze upon and decorate rooms, furniture for everyday use and books to read when she had the time-no glass cases or don’t touch stickers in her home.
When she finished at the gym and was on her way home, Seera passed by the same delicatessen she always had. Unlike other days, she stopped and considered how Janice would react if she brought lunch for them to share. Seera grinned when she realized that she was willingly sharing her private hours for something other than for sexual gratification. A melancholy tried to settle in her mind as she thought of the only woman ever to evoke that emotion in her –Tavia. She snorted as she reflected that every woman she took to bed always reminded her of Tavia. For Seera, they were all poor replacements…even Susan didn’t measure up. She held Tavia on a pedestal in her heart and no matter what she did or how debauched she became; Tavia remained as her beacon of hope that she could love someone enough to want to change. She chased her thoughts away as she open the penthouse door and called out for Janice. When a face wreathed in a stunning smile greeted her. Seera realized that in all the years they had worked together, she had never really seen Janice.
“Hi, how was the gym today?” Janice eyed her boss and marveled at how charming and approachable she was away from work.
Seera returned the smile and held up the paper bag containing their lunch. “Pretty much routine…I brought lunch. I hope it isn’t too early because I’m really hungry.”
Janice smiled warmly as she glanced at the French eighteenth century clock on the mantle. “Perfect timing. Shall I make coffee while you change?”
“Go for it. I’ll be back in ten minutes. I really need to wash my hair…I dislike the feeling it has after being wet with sweat,” Seera said with a shrug before heading for the bathroom.
Ten minutes later Seera entered the room where Janice was deep in concentration as she cataloged a Tiffany lamp. As she toweled her short chestnut colored hair dry, Seera watched the woman work until she felt her belly rumble. “I’m back, let’s have lunch. I’m starving.”
Janice , surprised by the voice of her boss, jumped back and stepped on the woman’s toes.
“Hey there, I didn’t realize I was that scary…must be the towel huh?” Seera smiled as her hands automatically dropped the towel and held onto the slim shoulders of her secretary. The feel of the woman that close to her affected her senses sexually. She liked Janice but initiating an affair with her would be cruel. Not that it would stop her. However, t hat side of her life was for the more superficial women she met. I’m not going to compromise the work place…not at this late stage anyway.
Janice closed her eyes as she wondered what to say or do after nearly bowling over her boss. When she turned slightly and found herself close to Seera’s body, she felt a ripple of excitement - she blushed. “I...I…I’m so sorry I didn’t know you were standing there,” she said as she moved out of the woman’s arms. The last thing she needed was for her boss to think she was coming on to her.
“No harm done. Let’s eat shall we.” With a wicked thought of seduction hovering inside her mind, Seera turned and headed for the kitchen with Janice following close behind.
Half an hour later, after finishing off their tuna and Swiss on rye sandwiches, they sat in awkward silence. Janice began to speak but stopped when she saw that Seera seemed lost in thought. She recalled a large framed photo in the hallway that had fascinated her and took a calming breath before she said, “I see you enjoy dressing up for events.”
Puzzlement filled Seera’s features.
Janice grinned at the perplexed expression and pointed in the direction of the hall. “The monochrome photo on the wall…it has you dressed in the old fashioned flying leathers of the thirties or thereabouts.”
Seera gave the woman a tight smile. “Ah that, yes I guess you could call it that.”
“It must have been taken recently. I noticed Mr. Cimmerian is in the photo too.” The picture depicted Seera, Cimmerian along with two other people all with arms crossing over shoulders and smiling happily in genuine camaraderie.
Seera considered the comment. Yeah…seventy years ago recent. “Yes, Darc was there we had a good time.”
An even bigger silence ensued as Seera walked over to the sink and began rinsing the crockery they had used. For her part, Janice wanted to disappear into the woodwork. For some reason the mention of that picture hit a cord in her boss and it obviously wasn’t a good one. “Thanks for lunch. I’ll get back to the cataloging.” When she received no response she quietly left the kitchen and returned to her job.
Seera heard Janice’s tentative words before she left the kitchen, but they hadn’t registered. Her thoughts were firmly entrenched in the past and the last days of happiness, they had all shared as a group. She knew that her demand that Tavia remain with her was idiotic and bordered on megalomania. As the remembrance of the time settled firmly in her brain, she sighed heavily.
“I prohibit it Tavia!” Seera’s eyes glittered dangerously as she folded her arms across her ample chest. She scowled as she waited for a response from the woman who was rigidly standing opposite her.
Tavia squared her jaw and replied, “You know you don’t mean that Seera. Besides, you could always join me you know. Where’s that adventuresome spirit that gave us this opportunity in the first place?” Her eyes pleaded for understanding. “You know I’ll miss you. We do most things together don’t we?” A wicked thought taunted her. Except one…sex.
Seera shook her head. “Adventuresome talk about a dreamer and you’re the goddamn scientist! You aren’t listening Tavia. Our main mission is to find a way home not find adventure. That’s why I told you that I forbid this madness. The war is dangerous…even more so than the last that we were fortunate to avoid by landing on this continent rather than in Europe. Go out and fund raise if you must but I forbid you to involve yourself on the frontline of that mess.”
“What are you afraid of Seera?” Tavia relaxed her stance and crossed the few feet between them before placing a hand on the Princess’s arm.
For a few seconds Seera allowed the invisible bond they shared to reach out and place its tentacles around her again. Damn you Tavia, I will not allow you to cajole me into accepting that you are leaving me. “You forget who I am Tavia. I’m the next in line to the throne of Corinthian we Diamonds are never afraid. It is my decree that you stay here with me. There should be no descent. We have no business in the wars in which these humans surround themselves. Do you want us to fight over this?”
Tavia gazed into the tempestuous grey eyes that had taken that obstinate sheen. “You do not have dominion over me Seera! We agreed that we were equal in our friendship when we were children. I will not fight with your Highness.” Tavia bowed slightly, turned away from Seera and lowered her head to avoid the Princess’s piercing look.
Seera sighed at the formal title. “Good, we agree then. They will probably have this war over before you could get into the thick of things anyway.” There was a stony silence as she continued. “I’m sure you will find another outlet for your compassionate stance where these humans are concerned. War isn’t our way Tavia. We have to keep a low profile, especially you and I. What will they give you to do in this war anyway? A nurse…a driver…it will be nothing to suit your skills. Have you forgotten you are only a woman,” the Princess spat. Her anger aimed indirectly at Darc's status. Because of the inferior role that women played in the primitive society, she had to appear as Darc’s assistant in public. She’d never felt so unclean in her life. Tavia must understand that getting home is paramount.
Tavia eye’s glittered. “Don’t you realize what it means Seera? If you came with me, you might understand your own people better. What if this should happen on Corinthian?”
Seera wanted to strangle her friend not out of hate, but sheer frustration. “It will never happen on Corinthian for the Queen would not allow such a situation to develop, and, when it is my time to rule, neither will I.”
The autocratic intonation caught Tavia by surprise and it should not have. “You sound just like your mother the Queen. I appreciate your concern your Highness. However, I have decided to go because living here hiding away all the time and not being able to be me is driving me crazy. If this world is in chaos then perhaps I will blend in better and who knows I might be of some help.”
Seera saw the belligerent stance of her friend and replied, “I am my mother’s daughter Tavia never forget that. Why aren’t you listening to me? Here it is a man’s world and women are little more than slaves. Do you think it will be any better in a battle zone? You could die...invincibility is not an option here.”
Tavia, unconvinced, only folded her arms tighter and closed her eyes for a moment. “I want to go and help out. Is that so bad your Highness?”
Seera felt the wall between them grow wider. Her persistent use of the honorific term was annoying. “I’m sure you will find another outlet for your compassionate nature for these humans. If you need to feel compassion for someone what about me for I do not belong here and long for home. Right now we must focus on that task.” Her voice softened and she raised Tavia’s chin. “I’ll make the burden of this planet more conducive for you. I promise you that Tavia.” She gazed into the Indigo eyes. “Why don’t we go to the coast and catch a whale hunt?”
The words rattled Tavia for the part of her that hoped she and the Princess would move their relationship further saw a glimmer of hope. Then she digested some but not all of Seera’s words and felt rage building. “I’m going your Highness…if you don’t approve then so be it. You once told me that I could always make my own decisions and now when it doesn’t suit your Highness you relegate me as a subordinate. I don’t accept your rule over me here on Earth, Seera. When I leave this room it will be the last time you and I will see each other until the war ends.”
Enraged by the mortal wounds Tavia’s words caused, Seera moved quickly and caught her friend’s elbow in a vice-like grip. Through a clench jaw she hissed, “If you go Tavia I never want to see you again. You will be dead to me. Is that what you want?”
Tavia eye’s glittered.
At the silence, Seera shook her head. “I am the sovereign that you swore eternal loyalty. If you no longer wish to do as I bid then be gone and don’t come back.”
Tavia heard the quiet words and closed her eyes before Seera’s hand slipped away and she turned back on her best friend. The death knell on their friendship hovered all around until the sound of the door closing brought a finality neither woman had anticipated or wanted.
Seera straightened her back and sucked in a breath. She wiped an errant tear from her cheek as she felt the fatal injury to her heart.
Now, after the decades on the strange planet without Tavia by her side the defections no longer had the bitter taste they once had. They needed each other to rid themselves of the planet and return where they all belonged. With the help of Darc, who she dispatched to seek them out, she held onto the hope that they would reunite once again. “Whatever it takes, my priority is that we will be together again.” She knew they would never be as they once were for that was now impossible. “Maybe we can at least be close…closer than we are now. The most important thing to me is to have Tavia back in my life” She sucked in a deep breath. “Without her I’m not whole. What better way to get her back than the need for her talents in interpreting the data. It doesn’t take a genius to know that I miss you my dear friend.” A thin smile formed around her lips. “And to a lesser, a much lesser, degree I miss Orin. I wonder what my mother would make of all this!” A derisive expression crossed her face at the thought of her mother with a tight laugh she replied to her own question. “She’d be livid and certainly wouldn’t tolerate the insubordination. You and I mother might never have been in accord, but sometimes I miss your autocratic advice. It grounds me, as sad as that makes me.”
Seera shook her head as she realized that she’d been speaking her thought aloud. Then she remembered Janice laboring away on a collection that had no real meaning. In a short space of time, it would be just a collection of memories. When the opportunity arises, you must take it! The words floated in her mind again and irritated her immensely. She left the kitchen and walked down the hallway toward the room where Janice was cataloging when her eyes focused on a portrait of Susan.
Her eyes tracked to the clock on the wall. She’d been engrossed in memories for over an hour. She sighed as forlorn feelings tried to envelope her. With decisive steps, she marched toward the penthouse door and the elevator that lay beyond. Janice who had exited her room at the same time cannoned into Seera. As she held the woman by the shoulders, she steadied her before a seemingly sheepish smile filled her face. “Sorry Janice, guess we’re even.”
Janice caught her breath until Seera’s eyes captured her causing the breathless feeling to multiply a hundred times. She transfixed on the woman as a slim finger with perfectly manicured nail ran down her cheek sensuously.
“Are you ok Janice? Did I wind you? I’m sorry. I was going out for a walk in the park.” Seera felt a pull to the woman that she had been trying to ignore ever since she began cataloging the antiques. She placed the feelings back in the box marked overactive libido and need for sex. Nevertheless, she felt the familiar stirrings of arousal and the sensitivity of nipples reacting to the closeness. I need to get laid soon…this itch definitely needs scratching. She chuckled inwardly. Nevertheless, she couldn’t squelch the feelings of arousal Janice’s body caused her to feel.
Janice swallowed hard before she managed to speak as she felt her knees grow weak. “I was going to tell you the same…a little fresh air that is.”
Seera smiled knowingly as she saw a flicker of lust in Janice’s eyes. “Why don’t we go together? Centenary Park is rather beautiful at this time of year?”
As he rounded the corner, Orin saw a figure, barely fifty feet away, boarding a boat at the jetty. With luck, he could nail the bastard ensuring that Tavia and the baby come to no harm. At the top of his voice he shouted above the engine noise, “Hey, you there…wait up I want a word with you.”
The figure looked back in surprise but didn’t desist as he quickly tried to untie the knot of the rope holding the boat to the side of the jetty.
The motorcycle skidded to a stop as sand drifted in a cloud behind it. Orin ran at full speed toward the jetty and closed the gap between them. It was fortunate that he was quicker than the man thought and he launched his body onto the boat almost capsizing it.
“What are you trying to do drown me?” the man yelled. His hands held onto the rocking boat in an effort to steady him and the boat from the sudden impact.
Orin spat out, “Not a bad idea considering what you’ve just done.”
Dull blue eyes stared at Orin not in surprise but curiosity. He knew who he was for he’d seen the photos. When he glanced at the muscled physique of the man, he rather wished he had left sooner. “Exactly what’ve I done?” he said in an innocent tone. “From your expression you’d think I’d killed someone.”
The larger man sighed for he knew that the man’s words were almost the truth. “You scared my wife,” Orin said through gritted teeth. “What do you want with her?”
With a calculated look, the man shrugged and reluctantly said, “I’m a private detective. I was hired to give you both a message that’s it…that’s my sole mission.”
“Who are you working for?” Although Orin already knew, but he needed his suspicions verified.
“The Macalister Agency based in New York. All I know is that if I found you and gave you the message there’d be a very big bonus in it for me. Look, I don’t want any trouble and I’m sorry if I scared the woman it wasn’t my intention.”
To Orin, the private detective looked genuinely aggrieved that he’d upset Tavia. He didn’t want to harm the man, but if he had to choose between silencing him and having Tavia and their unborn child safe, he knew where he’d wager his money. “How much are they paying you?”
This time the man shook his head. “Look why don’t I just give you the message and I’m out of here,” he said as he pulled out a business card and handed it to Orin.
“I can’t allow you to leave, you know that…don’t you.” Orin’s voice dropped an octave as a seam of menace ran through his words.
“How are you going to prevent me? I‘ve done nothing wrong,” the man said. Then he leaned toward the bow of the boat and began to untie a knot of the rope holding the boat to the dock. When a hand gripped his shoulder like a vise, he wished he hadn’t taken his eyes of the other man. When he turned and saw the glittering anger in the man’s eyes he knew he was in serious trouble - he would not be leaving.
“You trespassed on my land.” Orin’s teeth sparkled in the sun as he barred them with menace. “This is my island and right now I’m the only law there is.”
“You can’t seriously expect me to believe that you can detain me. Let go of me and let me get on with my business.”
This time the man struggled for release and their tussle caused the boat to rock violently. As Orin lunged at the man, the boat rolled causing them both to fall into the water. The struggle continued as one man, in a desperate attempt to flee, tried to swim away. Orin was a much strong swimmer and in only a few strokes caught him.
As a large hand grasped his shoulder, the man closed his eyes sure that he was going to die.
Janice marveled at her boss when she allowed herself the luxury of relaxation. Seera’s whole demeanor changed as she frequently smiled and even laughed. It happened mostly when something or someone caught Seera’s eye seemingly making her happy. Janice found it remarkable that some of the people in the park knew her boss and greeted her in a warm friendly manner. The people with children greeted her and Seera responded by tossing a ball or tickling the children under their chins.
“Have you ever considered having a family?”
Seera gave Janice a thoughtful look then she returned her gaze to blackbirds fighting over stale popcorn. “No, not at the moment…there’s lots of time yet.”
The ambiguous statement caused Janice’s forehead to crease. “Do you mind if I ask how old you are?”
Seera shook her finger at Janice and laughed before she winked. “My, you are inquisitive Janice.”
Janice’s cheeks colored at the remark and she realized that she had felt so relaxed in Seera’s company that it seemed ok to ask such a question. “I’m so sorry Ms. Diamond I really didn’t mean to pry.”
Seera stopped walking and her hand slid down Janice’s arm as she gently pulled her to a halt. Seera’s piercing eyes caught Janice’s as she seductively lowered her voice. “First, there is nothing to be sorry about, secondly, since we are both on our leisure time, call me Seera. To answer your question, there are times I feel ancient, but I still have time to have a family if I so chose. There, have I disclosed enough for you to understand me a little better?”
For Janice, her jaw sagged open but words refused to accompany the action. Although she knew it was happening, there was simply nothing she could do to prevent it. With her gaze transfixed by Seera’s, Janice finally said, “Yes, thank you.”
“Great, I’m pleased we have that covered. Incidentally, I could ask the same question of you.”
“Me?” she said pointing to her chest. “What exactly do you want to know about me?” “There isn’t much to tell really. I am an only child and since both my parents are gone I really have no one to call family.”
Seera dropped her gaze and looked toward the darkening skies. “Are you interested in a family of your own?”
“One day I hope. If I meet the right person who wants the same things I do.”
For a few seconds there was silence between them before Seera said, “Interesting way of looking at it…however, what happens if you loved that person and they didn’t hold the same views?”
Janice considered the question carefully before answering. “I guess compromise would be the answer.” She smiled warmly and their eyes locked again.
“Good answer Janice. Now, I think we need to get back before it rains.” Seera lifted her hand and pointed in the direction of the ominous clouds. “Look over there.”
“Sounds good to me, I was feeling that chilly wind a little.” What happened next had Janice smiling all the way back to the apartment. Seera removed her jacket and laid it over Janice’s shoulders. No words were exchanged, just an acknowledging smile, as they quickly walked back to the apartment in companionable silence while dodging the light rain that began to fall.
* * *
Darc Cimmerian received an interesting call from the detective agency he had hired to relay the message to Tavia and Orin. Jeffery Macalister said, “I received the following message from the man… arrange a meeting tomorrow AM with Seera at her apartment. There will be no other contact until that time.”
The message from Orin was terse to say the least and Darc knew he should have expected that of Orin. The question then became should he allow the meeting to take place as he spoke aloud to the empty room. “We need Tavia’s expertise that’s true. If it means I will garner some dissension for my previous behavior then so be it…I only did what was best for the Princess. I wonder what her mood will be when she knows that her beloved Lady Emerald is sleeping with a man! I could have told her years ago when I found out, but some things are better left until required.” He stroked his goatee in deep thought. “Should I or should I not contact the Princess and inform her of this new situation? If I follow protocol, I should-immediately. No, there is time enough to call her later and advise her of the potential of solving our problems. Yes, later, much later, tonight I have a date with that tiny creature from accounts.” His tongue traveled over his lips in anticipation as he considered all the ways to seduce the young woman.
Tavia closed her eyes as she settled into the seat next to Orin in their private plane. She was thankful that she convinced Orin to heed her words and let the private detective take a few days of relaxation in their home until they returned. There was no reason to disable the man permanently for doing his job. It had taken some convincing but the detective reluctantly agreed to their proposal. The one proviso he had was that when they called his superior with their message for Darc they also told him the detective’s location. Soon, they activated their plans and began to travel toward their first meeting with the Princess and her aide in over seventy earth years.
Tavia knew that the meeting would no doubt be fraught with anger and hard feelings. A part of her hoped that when Seera found out about Orin and her, she’d save her from making a horrible mistake - she never came. The only thing Seera did was send Darc out to do her dirty work by asking us to terminate the child. I wanted that once…almost went through with it too. Does that make me any better than Seera? Her hand tenderly touched her bulging belly and she marveled at the miracle of life growing inside her. She pulled a face as the baby kicked, a subtle reminder that she was living in a fantasy world. She knew their home would never tolerate her association with Orin and that her baby would be classified as an abomination just as Darc implied.
Why hadn’t Seera seen the remarkable opportunity and gone with me all those years ago? Perhaps things would never have become as screwed up as they are now. She realized that if fate hadn’t intervened she and Orin would never have been together. Tavia felt an acute sense of loss as she realized that the one thing she wanted had been out of her reach long before they came to earth – Seera.
She opened her eyes and shot a cursory glance at the profile of the man at her side as he concentrated on flying the plane. She had grown to love Orin as a dear friend…only a cold hearted person would not have reacted to his tenderness and love. The majority of her heart would always belong to another as it has from the first moment she saw her. Why couldn’t things have been different for us, my Princess?
She smiled indulgently at her memories as she reflected on her relationship with the Princess. Seera, had been her best friend from childhood and they shared so much together, but why didn’t she wait for me…why did she forget me as if I didn’t exist she knew I’d be back. The vision of Seera and the young artist flashed before her and she felt the acute ache once again. I wonder if they’re still together.Yeah right that was sixty years ago the human would be a shriveled up hag or probably dead by now. Knowing Seera’s passions, she’d have long moved onto another body to quench her sexual appetite. She knew that now although she silently loved the Princess and always had with an all encompassing passion and commitment it could now only be as a friend.
Tavia wondered if Seera ever cared for her as something more than a friend. I always hoped for more but it never transpired. She recalled telling Seera she was leaving and the thunderbolt that charged her into a frenzy of irrational words and behavior. Was that how you truly felt or was it only a dream?Sometimes, during the war when things were so bleak I ungraciously called you the female version of Hitler…you would probably have laughed. She felt certain that if Darc hadn’t told them, in the Princess’s name, to abort the baby, she would have made contact again. The words he spoke on her behalf effectively doused her plans and put an end to any faith she had in Seera or their friendship. She wondered if Seera was the same or had she changed. What will you be like now? I wonder how the years have treated you Seera… really treated you. I’ve read the reports from your protectors but they only see the outward persona…I want to know the inner one too.
Orin took his eyes off the console for a moment and gave Tavia a concerned glance. “Hey, you ok? You’ve been kinda quiet.”
She immediately felt guilty for her thoughts of Seera. When she saw the deep love that Orin showered on her she put all other memories carefully back in the box marked what might have been. “I’m fine. The baby was kicking like a mule. I think I’ll take a nap.”
With a wide smile, Orin winked and placed a tender hand on her bulging stomach. “Ah,” he said with a knowing nod. “Is junior giving you problems again? We can turn around and go back if you want.”
Tavia’s brilliant smile seemed to calm the edginess that was building in the cockpit. “No, I think its time junior had a one on one with our resident member of the Royal Family don’t you. After all, at some stage he or she will be her subject.”
Orin grimaced for a few seconds. “I’ll wake you when we are close. I love you Tavia.” He caught hold of her hand and held it in his strong grip as she clasped his in acknowledgement.
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