My hopes lifted as Shar’ae told me that she had news for me. I leaned forward, anxious to hear what she had to say.
“Well, it just so happens, that your missing Mandalorian was here, just last night. There was a Twi-lek girl with him and a couple of Czerka employees. One of the waitresses remembers, because Vel was hitting on her and making a lot of noise, over the fact that she was ignoring his advances. The little Twi-lek was asking him to calm down and my waitress friend heard her use his name. By the description she gave me, I’d say that it was definitely your man.”
I wondered what Vel was up to.
“Did your friend happen to hear any of the discussion between the Czerka employees and Vel?” I asked, hoping the answer would be yes.
“I asked her that same question,” Shar’ae replied.
“She told me that all she heard, was something about him doing a job for them in the lower levels and collecting a handsome reward. She also said, that she thinks she heard the Czerka employee say, that they needed it done tomorrow night.”
I nodded thoughtfully. Tomorrow it was then.
I thanked Shar’ae for all of her help and offered her credits. She refused.
“Hun, I don’t want your money. You were my friend when I didn’t have one. I can get all I need right here. You just go on and get your ship back. I wish you luck. Be sure and stop back by here when you get your business taken care of. I would like to know you made it back safely.”
I smiled at her and nodded. She was as good a friend ,as I could ever hope to have in my line of work. We stood and Shar’ae walked me out of the room and back to the edge of the stage. As I turned to leave, she touched my arm.
“Be careful, Na’sha.”
She quickly leaned over and kissed me on the cheek, before joining the other dancers on stage, for their next number.
I slipped through the crowd and back to my table. Aiden still sat, sipping a drink. He cocked an eyebrow at me and smiled mischievously as I sat down.
“Well, that kiss on the cheek she gave you was quite an unexpected, yet pleasurable thing for me to witness. I take it you two have a private history?” I shot him the dirtiest, meanest look I could muster.
“What did I say?” He laughed playfully.
I ignored the question and told him about the information I had received.
“I guess that means we may as well enjoy the rest of the evening and then get some rest.” Aiden said, as he finished his drink.
I agreed with him. I didn’t need to have too much fun, I would have to be up tomorrow, planning what to do and securing us a guide to the lower levels. Still, a little relaxation and entertainment wouldn’t hurt. It may be the last relaxing I would get to do for a while.
After a couple of hours at the cantina, Aiden and I went back to the Inn and asked about our room. Luckily, Mallaorral had held it for us. She said she had figured I would be back. So, Aiden and I went upstairs and got ready for bed. Sharing a room with him didn’t seem as unnerving tonight, as it had been. I don’t know if it was because I was becoming use to him being around again, or if it was the fact that I had been drinking. Either way, I slipped out of my armor and under the covers, next to Aiden, glad to have him there. I immediately closed my eyes and waited for sleep to come. I felt Aiden next to me. I could tell he wanted to talk to me, but he kept silent. After a few moments, I eased my breathing, so he would think I had fallen asleep. I knew I should have talked to him, let him know I was still awake, but what good would it do to talk? We both knew that He and I were too different, we could never be what either of us wanted the other to be. The best thing to do, was forget the past and keep the future on professional terms, so I just lay there and feigned sleep. I felt Aiden rise up in the bed and easily, carefully lean over me. I tried to keep my breathing regulated. He leaned down and ever so gently, kissed me on my forehead. I heard him whisper something, so softly that I couldn’t quite make out what it was, but it sounded like “I love you.”
He eased back under the covers and a few minutes later, I heard the soft sounds of his breathing and knew he was asleep. He couldn’t have said he loved me, could he? I lay there, eyes closed, thoughts racing. Fat chance I would get any sleep now.
The next morning, I avoided looking at Aiden as we readied for the day. I was sure that if I looked at him, he would know that I had heard him last night. Then again, maybe he already knew. We left the Inn and quietly made our way along the walkways, watching as the city slowly came to life with the dawning of a new day. I decided that since neither of us knew anything about the lower levels of Kashyyyk and you had to have special clearance to even get there, we would need to find a guide. I guessed that the best place to start looking for one would be Slaova’s outfitters. It was on the edge of the city and it took several minutes to get there. Once we arrived and walked inside, I knew I was in the right place. The walls and shelves were covered with supplies and weapons, anything and everything a person would need to go exploring in the lower levels. Aiden and I approached the counter. Several Wookiees and a few other species, milled about, eyeing the merchandise. Aiden signalled for assistance and I stood by, deciding to let him handle the situation.
“Good day travelers,” The rust colored Wookiee, known as Salova greeted us warmly. “How may I be of service.”
Aiden looked at me and then, seeing that I was leaving this up to him, redirected his attention to the Wookiee trader.
“Yes. My friend and I need a guide to the lower levels tonight. We are willing to pay whatever it takes.” The Wookiee looked thoughtful. “Only Czerka employees and Wookiee hunters are allowed down there. I am sorry. I can not help you.”
Aiden sighed, as if he was debating what should be done. I wondered if a Jetii mind trick would work on a person such as this. I doubted that it would. Aiden must have come to the same conclusion.
“Look, it is of the utmost importance that we get down there tonight. I will pay you double your usual fee, half now and half when we reach our destination. Do we have an agreement?”
Salova thought hard about the offer. I could see him silently calculating the money in his head. In the end he nodded in agreement.
“My son Liakkat can take you. We must be careful not to be seen. A party of Czerka employees are going down just after dark. He can take you after they are on the ground.”
Aiden and I nodded at the Wookiee and handed over the first half of the credits. Salova gave us directions to the lift we would be using and the time we needed to arrive.
Aiden and I walked out of the outfitter’s and back toward the diner. Time to grab a bite to eat and to formulate a plan. I was willing to bet, that the group going down ahead of us, was the group that Vel was with. That would mean that he would only have an hour head start on us at the most. We were almost on top of him now.