Saragus closed the comm channel and leaned against the ornate desk in his study. He wiped a hand across his face. Damn those Jedi! Why did they have to make things so difficult and why did his little brother insist on being one? He raised his head as the study door opened. He watched his sister sashay into the room.
“Ever heard of knocking, Nuala love?”
Nuala’s melodious laughter filled the vastness of the room. “Knock? In my own house, really brother, you are hilarious!”
Saragus snorted. “Some of us need our privacy.”
Nuala walked over and planted herself in the nearest chair, feigning deafness. “Was that Aiden on the comm?”
“Indeed. He is sending Na’sha’s crew.” Saragus’s expression grew concerned.
Nuala crossed her legs and raised a brow. “I sense a but in there somewhere”.
Saragus nodded his head slightly. “But… He won’t be joining them.”
“And why not?”
“He doesn’t want the council putting a trace on him and finding us. I understand his logic but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
Nuala’s expression darkened. “Whether or not he comes here is not the issue. He needs to leave that place. We have allowed him the freedom to choose his own path, but now, with all that has transpired, surely he sees it is time to come home?”
“We can’t force him to leave the Jedi, sister dear. He has to want to leave. I feel that he wishes to go but he thinks that by staying there, he is protecting us. I would have thought that Na’sha being here would be enough to bring him home, it would be enough for me.”
Nuala smiled mischievously. “Don’t tell me the little vixen has bewitched you as well, she only just arrived.”
Saragus rolled his eyes. No. Na’sha has not bewitched me. I simply find her charming and besides, Aiden has expressed his devotion to her.”
“Relax, Saragus darling, I was merely teasing, though I must say, even I find her appealing.”
Saragus’s eyes softened and crinkled into a smile at his exotic tastes. “Why am I not surprised?” He stood and started for the door. “Now, enough banter, my dear, I have the unpleasant task of informing our bounty hunter that her Jedi won’t be joining us at present.”
I pressed my hand to the window of what the servants called the summer room. I could feel the cold of the outside and see the snow on the distant mountains, but in here, one would never know it existed. I wondered what planet we were on. I gazed around at the large indoor fountain and the lush greenery growing in every nook and cranny. It was a small utopia and I could stay in here forever. I turned as I heard footsteps against the stone floor of the garden paths. Saragus came into view, or I should say, Lord Saragus, but somehow he didn’t seem Sithy enough to have that title. I saw a wealthy, well groomed, family oriented man when I looked at him, not a Sith. I saw some of Aiden’s mannerisms in him, but the strength and charisma were all his own. He reached for my hand as he neared.
“I trust you are enjoying my home?”
“Yes, it is lovely. I appreciate your hospitality, but when are you going to explain what you need me to do? I would assume it is time sensitive, isn’t it?”
“It is, but don’t be in a rush to go to work just yet; enjoy yourself until your friends arrive.”
“My friends are on their way?” I glanced at him, my heart in my throat as I asked, “What about Aiden?”
Saragus looked at me for a moment before he spoke. I still held the hand he had offered me, somehow, his strong fingers made me feel safe. I wasn’t in a rush to remove myself from his grasp. He led me to one of the cushioned seats near the window and motioned for me to sit. I sat close to him and waited for him to speak.
“Aiden can’t get away at the present time. He has to be certain that the council doesn’t suspect his evolvement with us. We can’t afford the Jedi sticking their pompous noses in my family’s affairs.”
I couldn’t hide the disappointment in my eyes as he spoke. He looked as if he were searching for words of comfort. I felt his fingers absently move across my knuckles as he chose his words.
“He will come, when the time is right. I spoke to him. He misses you.”
I sat straight and questioned him. “You spoke to him? Is he alright?”
“Yes. Our call was brief but he expressed his desire to be with you.”
“I hope you are right, my lord. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever mean more to him than his beloved Jedi.”
I hadn’t intended to blurt that out, but I felt that as Aiden’s brother, maybe he would understand. Saragus tighten his hand on mine slightly as he spoke. His expression becoming more engaged.
“Aiden knows how important this mission is; how important family is and he would be a fool not to know how important you are. It is those narrow-minded Jedi! They teach that it is dangerous to love, to feel. Aiden may have been taught by them, but his sister and I have tried to keep him from following that particular Jedi guideline. I believe you have shown him the reason why they are wrong about love.” His gaze softened. “Give it time. These things always work themselves out.”
I hoped he was right but part of me was afraid that Aiden’s loyalty to the Jedi would trump whatever he felt for me, it had happened before. My eyes fell to Saragus’s hand in mine; such a sweet gesture and I felt his gaze follow my lead. He cleared his throat and quickly moved his hand as if he had been bitten.
“Aiden cares for you, little one. You are safe here and you are safe with me.” He spoke those words with such conviction as he stood and faced me. I was puzzled at the strong statement. I knew that I was safe with him, so who was he trying to convince?
His tone became more abrupt, distant. “Your friends will join you in a few days and we will discuss the details of your mission. Aiden will join us when he is able. Until then, all that I have is at your disposal. Enjoy it.”
He walked away, leaving me with a lot to think about. My hand was still warm from his touch. Once he realized he was holding it, he had dropped it and run like a scalded Nexu. What a strange man. I again looked out the window at the snow. I had forgotten to ask him where we were.