Book 17. Part Three. 8

And here I am, ten days later. Been thinking a lot while prepping Daughter #1 for her Hokkaido internship then getting Daughter #2 installed in her 5th-floor flat, two hours away. And it’s a 5th-floor with no elevator for an old man with hypertension. But I’m getting back into the story and realizing revisions are going to be as important as new material.

Below starts with a bit of a re-write of the last post as I thought of the “write a letter” thing a few days later. It happens. I’m also thinking about moving the entire “imperial family back six months late” to the end of Part Three. I’ll know more when I get there.

Enjoy my content? Buy me a beer! 

“Patel?” The Regent asked halfway out the door.  “Write a letter.”

“What?  To who?”

“To Robbie, you stupid human…” she called from down the hall.

“We’ll be taking our leave, as well,” Johnston said with his hand out to her.  “My boy here needs to get back to his studies and training.  Even under these circumstances, it has been a pleasure to meet you, Eloise.  I’d like for you to visit our family home, outside of Mobile, someday.”

“I would like to do that.” She paused.  “If I live that long.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s,” she shook her head, “just something the Regent told me right before this meeting.  I’m in trouble back home.”

“Then stay here,” Julian suddenly spoke up.  “That’s obvious.”

“I’m not wearing my uniform right now, young sir,” she smiled down to him, “but am still an officer in my nation’s army.  I have my duty.”

“No one has a duty to be murdered, Miss Patel,” Johnston said with some heat.  “While I have no power in the imperial family, I was briefly governor of the Gulf Shore Province.  And I meant what I said:  my home is yours, if you want it.”

“Thank you.” She bent down to hug and kiss his son, who hugged her right back.  “I’ll think about it.”

The two left without another word.  Eloise looked around the empty room.

“Now what?” she asked to the air.  She shrugged.  “The Regent told me to write a letter.  Guess I’ll see if there’s pen and paper in my quarters.”

It turned out there were.  These people think of everything.  It’s creepy.  Nicer outside, Eloise walked until she found a table shaded by some trees.  A man in a suit was at the other end, typing on a laptop.  She could just see part of his badge.  “Engineering.”  I wonder what he knows?  She uncapped the pen and began.

Dear Bob… she scratched that out and tried again.

Dearest Bob.  I’ll get to the point:  I love you.  There.  Yes, we’ve known each other a short time, but it is what it is, even with you being a crown prince and me an officer in an adversary’s army.  I’ll admit even that first night, when I got drunk – but isn’t that every night for me? – was a little rough once I came to.  You offered me aspirin, remember?  That’s stupid; given your family, I bet you remember everything.

Wait.  What was is Henge said?  “We only know what we know?”  I’ve already scratched one line out.  I’ll keep going.

Between Flemingsburg and when our paths crossed again in Owensboro, I thought about you a lot.  I also thought about what my immediate and higher command might say if I ever got you in bed.  Didn’t worry about my folks; being mixed race, they are kinda open about things like that.

Speaking of, you are what, one-quarter Chinese?  I know the Empress is half, so that makes sense.  Well, I’m half Indian, so I guess we can hate one another twelve percent of the time?

Okay, bad joke.  Since you re-rescued me from the Russians who rescued me from the Spetsnaz, I’ve never not been thinking about you.  Even when I realized you had abducted me from my unit after that buffet, I was happy to be locked on a ship with you.

Eloise thought about a word Bob’s step-father used.  She fished around in her jacket pocket, taking the jacket off in the process as it was getting pretty warm, and waited to see if there was any signal she could use.

Lots of different secure ones, she thought, scrolling with her thumb.  The Regent seemed to think our Canadian security to be not even worth the trouble.  Does that mean they have total access to all of our secure…!

In thinking of warning General Burghy, in the same thought she thought about not warning him.  Am… am I already turning in my loyalty?  Ah:  AEC_Guest.  She thumbed that then searched for “concubine.” Hmm.

“Concubinage is an interpersonal and sexual relationship between a man and a woman in which the couple does not want, or cannot enter into a full marriage.  Concubinage and marriage are often regarded as similar but mutually exclusive.”

That doesn’t sound so bad…

“In ancient Rome, the practice was formalized as concubinatus, the Latin term from which the English “concubine” is derived. It referred to any extramartial sexual relationship, most often that between a wealthy or politically powerful man and a woman of low social origins kept for sexual service. The marital status of the man was irrelevant and the concubine’s children did not receive an inheritance.”

“That makes me little better than a whore!” she breathed, getting a look from the engineer at the opposite end of the table.  Perhaps hearing that, he closed his laptop and left without a word.

Eloise recalled the very rude, two-word phrase her youngest brother had used when talking about girls who are easy.

But these two definitions are almost mutually exclusive!

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