I followed Lord Saragus into the parlor. Dak and Shorcuk were seated in the lavish chairs,looking nervous and somewhat out of place. They both arose as I entered. I smiled and walked toward them. My heart leapt with happiness at the sight of them. I hadn’t realized until that moment, just how much I had missed them. I held out my arms to Dak, who upon taking them, brought both of my hands to his lips and kissed them. Shorcuk growled low in his throat, seeking my attention. I turned to him and before I could blink, he had picked me up and squeezed me against his fuzzy chest, smothering me in his embrace.
“Whoa there, big fella, she might need to breathe again sometime soon!” Dak laughed at the Wookiee’s enthusiasm.
Shorcuk eased his grip and gently placed me back onto the floor. I laughed as Shorcuk gave me a sheepish look.
“It’s ok, buddy, I missed you too.
All this time our host stood quietly by the fireplace, watching our little reunion. I could feel his eyes on me, his gaze burning into my back. My skin tingled between my shoulder blades, as if it knew exactly where his attention was focused. I cleared my throat and turned to him.
“My Lord, I would like you to meet my crew.” I motioned to Dak with a flourish of my hand. “This is Dak. He is the best mechanic in the business and can charm the wings off a Flewt. He is also damn fast on a swoop bike.” Dak bowed to the Sith who politely returned the bow. I moved on to the Wookiee. “And this is Shorcuk, pilot extraordinaire. His loyalty is unmatched. I would trust him with my life, and have on many occasions.”
I waved a hand toward our host. “Boys, this is our gracious host, Lord Saragus. Without him and his lovely sister, I don’t know where I would be. I owe them a debt of gratitude.”
Saragus smiled slightly at the statement. “Your beautiful boss gives me far too much credit. I merely gave her a place to stay, nothing more.” He turned to me with a lasting look, that made my skin tingle again. “And you have more than repaid me with the pleasure of your company, little one.”
As swiftly as the words were said, his mood again shifted to abruptness. “Now that the formalities are out of the way, please allow my servant droid to show you to your chambers, where you can rest and freshen up. I am certain you three have a lot of catching up to do. I will send someone for you when dinner has been prepared.”
With that, Saragus summoned his servant and we were led out of the parlor and toward the guest quarters. We walked without speaking, the only sound was the clicking of the droid’s footsteps reverberating off of the shiny floors.
Saragus had placed them in rooms on a separate wing from my own. The furnishings were equally as lovely, the colors as vibrant, but the lack of any fountains or gardens made me more appreciative of my room’s location. The droid stopped before a set of adjoining rooms and pointed toward them. “Here we are, sirs. Please enjoy your stay. I will have your bags brought in shortly.” With that, he bowed and shuffled down the long corridor.
Shorcuk nodded to Dak and me and slipped into his room, leaving us alone. I wondered at the look that passed between them. I smiled at Dak and started to speak. He cut me off.
“Don’t go just yet. I need to speak to you in private.”
I nodded and followed him into his room. Once inside, he slid the door shut and pressed the lock on the wall panel. I followed him to the plush couch in the left corner of the room. We sank into the softness of the cushions and I sat there, waiting for him to speak. He pulled a small holo communicator from his jacket and placed it in my hand.
“He will call you late tonight. Keep it hidden until then. The frequency is secure,so you should be okay.”
A lump formed in my throat and my stomach felt queasy at the thought of finally hearing from Aiden. I wanted so much to hear his voice, but part of me was afraid of what I would hear when he called. I raised my eyes from the object in my hand and carefully placed it in my pocket.
“How is he? Is he okay?”
Dak nodded. “The last time I saw him, he was fine, just sick with worry over you.”
I could feel the waves of my doubt, my fear, my loneliness threatening to spill over, regardless of how hard I fought to hold it back.
“Is he, Dak, is he really? Then where is he? Why isn’t he here? Why didn’t he come for me?” My voice sounded husky with emotion, even to my own ears. I was angry, confused and hurt. The reasonable, rational part of me knew that Aiden had a reason for staying behind, but I was in love and love never could see reason.
“He had to, Na’sha, I don’t understand his reason, but he has one and I am certain he will explain it to you when he calls.” He sighed and brought me close to his side. I lay my head on his shoulder and we just sat there for a moment. He squeezed my hand. “I promise, we will figure this out and I promise to be here for you until we do. I will always be here.” Dak laid his cheek on the top of my head. “And, hey, look on the bright side, if you don’t get back to him, I am more than willing to take his place.”
I sat up swiftly, swatting him hard across the thigh. “Dak, you cad!”
“Ouch!” He playfully fought off my attack. “There she is, there’s my girl. I was afraid I had lost her to sadness.”
I looked at him then, really looked at him. I had always seen him as a big brother with an eye for the ladies. He teased and flirted with me, but all in good fun. At that moment though, I realized that I had been stupid not to see it. He loved me. I felt the bottom fall out of my stomach. How could I not have known? Oh, he’d never come out and say it. He respected Aiden and me too much, but it was there, I could see it in his eyes. From now on I would have to be more careful with him. I never wanted to see him hurt, I cared to much about him.
“Is there something on my face? Why are you looking at me like that?”
I smiled at him, trying to ease the tension I felt building.
He cleared his throat and started to speak, just as the droid knocked at the door. I felt a wave of relief that we were interrupted. I didn’t want any awkwardness between Dak and myself. Maybe a nice dinner would settle us down. I hoped the beautiful Fionnuala would be joining us. A sexy Sith might prove a great distraction for Dak’s amorous attentions.
We grabbed Shorcuk and followed the droid out into the corridor. I reached into my pocket and touched the communicator as if to reassure myself that it was still there and hadn’t been just a figment of my imagination. Tonight! I would hear from Aiden tonight!Time couldn’t move fast enough in my opinion.