Book 17. Part Three. 9

Aurie being Aurie decides to “turn it up to eleven.” She does seem to personally like Eloise but it’s just as obvious she is using her. The next installment will show just how much.

Not really sure what Aurie is up to, here. Just because she thinks fast and has access to vast information, that doesn’t mean she always makes the right decision. I’ve already had Bob point out in that meeting that she seems flustered in a way that Faustina never was. It may be she’s not suited to rule. We’ll all just have to wait and see.

Enjoy my content? Buy me a beer! 

Because, a chat bubble appeared on her screen, you do not understand how things change over time, Eloise.  And looking up concubinage?  That must have been Stephen’s work!  He’s an exceptionally clever man, which is why I think my cousin married him.

Cousin?  Is this Aurelia? she typed.

Yeppers.  You are the only one on the Guest net and it toggled a corner of my mind.  I thought you’d be looking up complex sex positions to share with Robbie.  I admit you caught me flat-footed with this search, Eloise.

It… yes.  Your mother did mention it to me.  Feeling on thin ice, she went formal.  I really didn’t know what it meant.

And you are mentioning that in the letter I ordered you to write?


Keep at it.  Get a snack if you need.  I’ll find you in the afternoon.  You need to talk to your General before we leave.

Eloise froze.  We’re leaving?  For where?  They won’t tell me.

Understood, Regent, she typed.

I said it’s Aurelia.  Stupid human.

So rude!  Eloise took a breath to clear her mind before picking up her pen.

Just so you know, I’m not suggesting anything here – in fact, it was the Regent’s mother’s suggestion – but she taught me the word concubine.  If you are forbidden to marry me, politics, I suppose, happens to all royal families, they can you at least keep me around?  My Dad’s curry recipe is the best, but I can also make a Tandoori Chicken which I know will make you mine!  From Mom’s Norman side, I know I can win your heart with Pork in Mustard Cream Sauce; it has Calvados in it!  We both like to drink, after all!

She wondered if that was a little too over-the-top?  No; as soon as the bizarre girl gets him to Mars and back, I’m confessing to him.  This schoolgirl crap of mine has gone on too long.  Eloise let her eyes come up to look north.  The ice and snow is coming.  We’ve so little time.

It was even warmer and she thought about going to get something to drink.  Their tea is awful… just water.  But first, she moved to rest her head on the paper.  For just a few minutes…

Breath on my neck.  A young woman’s soft laugh.  Eloise sat up to bump her head against Aurelia’s face, who had bent down to look at the letter.

“That is a little rude, Regent!” she said formally.

“I never had read Colour’s mail.  Not once.” She shrugged.  “She’s my friend.  You’re a dangerous spy…”

“Please stop…”

“And, I honestly wanted to see if you’d propose, after a sort, to Robbie.” Aurelia leaned her left cheek to Eloise’s right.  “Proud of you.  Let’s to the Comm Building before your general leaves for the day.”

Eloise glanced at her watch.  Just out over two hours.  I’m more stressed that I thought.  She stood and followed.  It was not unusual for her to see any man in uniform salute someone like Aurelia, but that even civilians either gave a wave or a semi-toss of their right hand to their shoulder.  Where have I seen a gesture like that, before?  She was a little surprised when the Regent held the door for her.

“You’re coming down?” she asked this most powerful of women.

“What nasty thing did you just suggest, human!” she demanded with her hands on her hips.  The man and woman behind the desk stood, hands on their sidearms.

“What?  What?” I don’t know anything about her!

Hands down, a smile broke onto her face as she led her guest past the guards, returning their salutes.  Elevator down, she opened the door Eloise had been in twice before.  The woman at the right didn’t seem to be doing much and jumped to her feet, right hand high.  The man behind her was speaking quietly into his microphone on his headset, oblivious to the commotion. 

“Very good.  Arnold Engineering out.” He leaned back and stretched his arms over his head.  “Shift’s almost over.  What’s your problem, Betty?”

“Attention!” the woman called Betty shouted.

With his arms still up, the man looked at the door and nearly fell out of chair, dropping his left arm in the process.  Their boss, a centurion in the back of the little room just smiled.

“Your duty comes first, young Hamilton,” the Regent said, returning their salutes.  “You serve my family well and I shall write you up.  Favorably.  Now, however, the Canadian officer and I have something most secret to do.  If y’all would please to leave for a few minutes…”

Still shaken, Hamilton held the door for the other two before leaving last.

“Most secret, Aurelia?” she asked now that they were alone.

“I’m going to at very least start you down the Conveyor if not actually a war,” she replied, pushing her guest to the far chair on the right.  “You phone home.  Now, please.”

Eloise lifted her hand to begin the connexion process, but paused.  “Conveyor?”

“Very old, very nasty term for when intelligence organs torture and execute failure, Leftenant Patel.”

“I…” her hands still didn’t move.  “I don’t want to die.  And not like that, Aurelia.  If this is a joke…”

“Nope.” She reached with her right hand to turn Eloise’s head just a little left to her.  A tiny kiss to her cheek.  “I am doing this for a reason.  A reason I think will keep you alive.  You must trust me.  Please.”

She asked.  With a please.  After a shuddering breath, Eloise completed her actions and asked to see General Burghy.

“Waiting for just the right moment to make a splash?” she asked without taking her eyes from the screen.

“Of course.  Most politics is play-acting.  When you feel a tiny push from me, scoot right just a skosh.”

“A what?”

“Old Southron term.  Means a little.  And you’re on.”

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