[India: Goa. December 1, 2030]
“Welcome to the Leela Palace my lord.” the hotel manager said to the Shotar and his party. “We are much honored to have you stay at our resort.”
“My family and I are most pleased to be here.” Sharr replied.
Leaning on the Shotar, Aria smiled finding the luxurious hotel to her liking. Opposite her stood the Queen, Nadia frowned – she still wasn’t speaking to Sharr. He had hoped to use this little vacation to patch matters up with his wife. The Queen was only just beginning to show signs of her impending baby, the slightest bulge in her bared tummy gave away the secret that Nadia was pregnant.
Hotel staff guided the Falcanian entourage to a suite of rooms including two of the resort’s royal villas as well as the Presidential Suite for the Shotar himself. Sharr saw to it that Nadia had her own accommodations.
“Priya!” Nadia called out, turning to find that her aide was paying rapt attention to her husband’s Majordomo Ch’Kran Trakan. There was a blossoming romance there.
“My Lady.” Priyanka Surai came over blushing still from whatever the majordomo had whispered into her ear.
“Looks like my mate is trying real hard.” Nadia frowned looking over at the Shotar his hand around Aria’s waist.
“If I might speak honestly my lady?”
Sighing Nadia said: “Go on Priyanka. I do not keep you around to ‘yes’ me to death.”
“The Shotar didn’t ask for that reboot, for Aria to be here…” fearing that she had overstepped her place the aide trailed off.
“You think I’m being too hard on him?”
Sitting on the bed in the Presidential Suite Aria smiled. “This is great. Have you been here before?”
“Goa? Yes when Nadia and I first moved to India.” Sharr told looking at a complementry bottle of wine.
“So” Aria began her voice filled with mischief. “Are you staying in this big old room alone?”
“I hadn’t planned on it.” admitted Sharr Khan. “At least not all the time.”
“You brought Kitana so I had figured you were considering having sex, at least once during this trip,” observed Aria sounding amused. “And there’s Frederika – I’m not sure Nadia’s going to let you touch her though. What about me?”
Each time she came onto him Sharr backed off. She was already pregnant with his human child, a son from what the tests had shown. This was part of the issue with him and Nadia. Aria a ghost from his past, resurrected thanks to his half-brother had been inserted into their lives. Aria was his weakness and Nadia was angry with him because of it.
Standing Aria put her arms around Sharr kissed him. “I think this would be a perfect place for a wedding.” Since her return and finding herself in the Shotar’s court the clone had been pushing him to wed her. She had quickly understood that Falcanians lived in a polygamist culture. Sharr though was reluctant to do this. Best now to just keep her as a mistress, a role Aria DeFalco was very familiar with.
Kissing him, nudging against his neck Aria said: “On our way here I noticed a church up on a hill. I know you’re not a Catholic but if we do wed please may we have a priest perform the ceremony?”
“I’ll consider it.” the Shotar told her diplomatically. Ah that would nail it, marry this clone and Nadia would truly be pissed at him.
“I cannot believe Sharr brings us all out to this fantastic resort and you’re sitting there reading!”
Frederika, now Arshira Hol looked up at Aria who sat dangling her feet in the pool, a colorful drink sitting next to her.
Arshira reclined back on a chair wearing nothing but a tiny green bikini, her opalescence mother-of-pearl wings folded behind her. She held a goatskin bound book on her lap. “Don’t you read Aria?”
“Sure but not on vacation.” She sipped from her drink. “What’s that book?”
“The Telchar Shanral – Falcanian myth.” Arshira told her sounding somewhat dismayed at the clones complete lack of interest in the culture around her.
“Boring.” Aria exhaled displaying all the attention of a teenager with ADD.
“Aren’t you at all interested in –“
“Ladies.” Interrupted Sharr coming down to the pool behind him followed the concubine Kitana and her younger daughter Fallon.
Sharr Khan was shirtless, dressed only in a pair of black drawstring pajama pants – The Shotar didn’t swim but he would sit by the pool watching his wife and concubines.
Reaching down Sharr took Aria’s glass, drank from it. “Good” he remarked liking the coconut flavor. “But you’re not supposed be drinking alcohol.”
Aria sighed waited for the lecture.
“Ch’Kran please see to it that the hotel staff do not serve anymore alcohol to Aria and remind them that seafood is out of the question for both she and my wife.”
“As you command my lord.” The majordomo nodded. Trakan held the waist of Priyanka Surai and in his free hand he held his own beverage.
Turning to Arshira for sympathy Aria bit her lip pouting, hoping that a word from Arshira might soften Sharr’s edict.
“You’re not supposed to be drinking Aria.” the Shotar chastised.
“I’m pregnant not incapacitated.” Shot back the clone keeping her tone level but not pleased at being treated like one of Sharr’s daughters.
During the dispute Nadia had slipped into the water, burst up and began watching Sharr and Aria with great interest.
“You are pregnant and human. My human DNA gestates in your womb. Do not endanger it.”
Annoyed the clone turned in a huff. “May I at least swim?”
“Certainly!” Sharr told her touching her cheek with affection.
Pulling off her sarong Aria waded into the pool moved over to where Nadia had been watching them.
“Has he always been such a chauvinist?” Aria asked not hiding her aggravation.
Nadia blinked, managed to smile. She restrained herself from appearing too pleased by what had just taken place.
“He sure has been…” Aria hesitated watching Sharr speak to his young daughter Fallon. “…Prolific!” she could not help but sound judgmental about the whole thing. Sharr was so blatant about his sexual affairs. Though she knew it was hypocritical on some level it disgusted her.
Aria gasped, Nadia’s hand had sprung at her so fast she hadn’t a chance to realize what was happening. The slap did not so much hurt her, as it had taken her by surprise.
“It is not your place to judge him.” Nadia told the clone in a low, dangerous voice. The reboot had ventured into an area she had no business passing judgments on. “You of all people do not have that right.”
Mad Aria walked up out of the pool, she started to storm off headed for the hotel but stopped lingering as if she were waiting.
“Fallon” Nadia called out from her place in the water. “Come join aunty in the water.”
The Shotar walked over to where Aria waited, he put a hand on her arm but she pushed it away.
“Go back to your wife!” it came out in an aborted cry.
“Nadia is going to need to deal with the fact that you’re part of this family now.”
“Am I?” she sniffled.
“That is what my brother intended. It’s what I want.” Sharr told her hugging the clone.
It was a huge piece of juicy, rare beef. Grill marks made the cut of sirloin look all the more appetizing. Candied carrots and onion-cheese potatoes waited with the cow flesh on the perfectly white china.
“Thank you very much.” Aria said to the server, her mouth watering at the sight of the steak. She hadn’t seen steak since coming to Vanguard Island and was pleased to see it offered at the resort. She would have rather had the seared tuna, but guessed that Sharr wasn’t about to allow her that so she settled on the beef. Besides there was one other benefit aside from the taste of the meat at work during this dinner, no one else had ordered beef and for very good reason.
Nadia’s nose scrunched up seeing the steak across from her on Aria’s plate, just looking at it made her stomach ill. She was beginning to lose her appetite for her chili-orange chicken.
Arshira could feel the tension at the table. She thought it very uncouth of Aria to go out of her way to offend the Queen’s religious sensibilities. She had been raised amongst typical Germanic meat eaters who loved their sauerbraten. Had Oberon been here he would have loved to devour such a succulent cut of beef as oozed its clear juices on the clone’s plate. However even he would have recognized that to pick that meal would be an insult to Nadia’s Hinduism. Despite what Aria thought, knew Arshira, the clone was not Nadia’s equal and certain matters of protocol must be followed.
Sharr began to eat his caramelized lamb shank and all at the table took up their own forks at the signal, the Shotar’s Queen however hesitated watching the reboot cut into the steak.
Reaching out Sharr put a hand on Nadia’s arm she looked at him wide-eyed.
“Are you okay?”
“Fine.” Nadia responded by putting a piece of chicken in her mouth. She chewed on it slowly looking at her husband.
Feeling his Queen’s almond eyes bore into him Sharr put aside his fork to gaze back at her. She was watching him almost like she’d never seen him before faraway and distant. The Shotar got the impression that Nadia was fighting an urge not to storm away from the table.
All this managed to cause Sharr to lose his own desire for food. He exhaled and leaned back in his chair catching a knowing look from Arshira – at least she was behaving herself, he was waiting any moment for Nadia and Aria to rip into one another. They never did. Sharr ended up not eating and the two bickering women both completed their own meals.
This was meant to be a bridge story between novella #1 and #2.
- Krishna: The Sexiest Man in the Universe (Conclusion of “Philosophy in the City”) (bhagavatambybraja.wordpress.com)
- Character Profile: Nadia Korelia-Drakonis (T’kara) (raptorsclaw.wordpress.com)
- Lunch Date (raptorsclaw.wordpress.com)
- Falco Invictus: On the Forge of War (raptorsclaw.wordpress.com)