Lady Claudia Part 2Mature

He sniffed his cup, and then placed it to his mouth. He caught her rolling her eyes.
                “We can swap cups if you are so worried,” she offered it out but he shook his head. Warren took a sip. It tasted pleasant.
                “What is this?” he asked.
                “Tatalia Tea extract from the Epimetheus system. It naturally soothes the muscles and relaxes the mind,” she took another dainty sip, “When in my chambers, I like to deal with my clients on a most simple, relaxed level. This way, our meeting becomes almost instinctual.”
                “So basically,” he shook his head, “you’re drugging me?”
                “See it how you wish, but must we talk of such things?”She sighed. “Could not we speak of something less troublesome?”
                “Not when I know what you’re trying to do,” he felt his lids droop slightly and slapped himself awkwardly. “I will resist it though.”
                “Resist what?” she rose from her seat and moved across the room to the archway. For a while she looked out to the ocean, and then turned slightly. In his state, with the light shining on her, she looked like an angel. “You speak of resisting, of drugging and you smell your drink, looking for goodness knows what. What are you trying to find, why will you not let the waters flow where they will?” she looked sad, although Warrick couldn’t tell the sincerity. His mind was fogged up. “Regardless of what you think, I feel a connection between us. She swooped down, kneeling before him so that she was a foot from his face. “We do not believe in coincidence. The Maidens of Aphrodite do not simply choose, we feel our clients. A more intelligent force binds the worlds together and makes connections when connections must be made. Our connection is real.” She placed a hand on his heart. It felt warm. Something in him stirred. He clutched her hand tightly and for a moment, kept it at his heart.
                Then he moved it away.
                “You’re trained to say that crap. Don’t lie to me.” She looked down for a moment, turned her face. If she wanted some sort of pity, she wasn’t getting it from him.
                She returned to the arch and this time didn’t speak.
                What was he supposed to say? What was he supposed to do?
                Everything about the Maidens of Aphrodite was a lie, a smokescreen creating false love. How could he believe anything they said when it was all designed to create the perfect occasion for the client. For the client to get their money’s worth. Warrick had not come here by choice, it was an accident. He hadn’t asked for this waste of time. But then neither had she, had she? Sophia had chosen. So he shouldn’t give her too hard a time. Sure, he could play along for now.
                He got up, staggering a little as his centre adjusted itself. He walked up behind her and clasped her shoulder.
                “I’m sorry,” he whispered. Her face looked at his and there was another sad smile there.
                “You’re not, not yet,” the smile faded a little, “but you will be. One day you’ll look back on this and I hope you finally see what we really are.” She reached up her hand and caressed his face. Her thumb tracing faint scars and the deep lines. She stopped at his lips and seemed to hesitate. She dropped her hand and looked away again. “Seven years ago when I was sixteen, I ran away from home. I would go anywhere, with anyone just to get away from my mother. I happened across a soldier, tall, strong and most beautiful. He offered to take me to the stars where I had always dreamed to go and so I followed him onto his ship. Up, up into the sky we went so that the moon was bigger than I could see and all the stars bright as a summer day. Looking through the window of my room was the most magnificent thing. I’m sure you’ve seen it many times Captain, but do you remember your first time?”
                “Hm, I suppose.”
                “Please, Captain, everyone always remembers their first. Well as I stared out into true space the door opened behind me. I saw his reflection and knew something was wrong, but I was too young and knew not what.” Her chin still remained high as she looked out but her eyes had dropped down. “He was drunk as he came over to me and grabbed my wrists. I managed to kick him away and he stumbled into my mirror, shattering it. Then he got angry. With more force, he grabbed me. And refracted through broken glass, I saw myself...” her breath caught in her throat for a second and she had to breathe deeply to speak, “he took me there whilst I had tried to fight him off once more. But the most curious thing happened. He started crying. You see, he was an ex-soldier who had been discharged. Afterwards, despite what hatred I had felt for him, he had told me of the torment he felt. He had lost everything, running for his life. At night he had terrible visions of war, explosions, and deaths before his eyes. He hated sleeping alone.” Warrick almost couldn’t hear her, lost in his own terrible visions. “I felt only pity for the man who had... done what he had done.” Her chin was still held high, “do not mistake me, part of me could have killed him that day. But the next day, he came here and let me go. Lady Sophia took me in. She nurtured the side of me that was good and exorcised my demons.”
                “That’s a...” Warrick coughed, not sure how to reply. Suddenly his hand felt awkward on her shoulder. He lifted it, not knowing what to do with it. “...well a sad story.” The hand dropped to his side.
                “You wanted truths Captain, so I gave them. You’re so tense,” she took his hand and this time, she sat on the chaise-longue and made him sit at her feet facing away. She placed her own hands on his shoulders and massaged him. “Tell me a story of your own,” she urged.
                It was getting harder to think, and every time her hands rubbed his skin he felt an electric shock run through him. He couldn’t even move. “I—I was a soldier once.” Her hands stopped, only for a fraction of a second, and then she continued. “The hardest thing is, knowing exactly what that guy was going through, even why he did what he did. I was lucky though, I had some very close comrades to help me through.” He stopped, not wanting to go on, but soon he found himself doing so anyway. “I remember what it was like on the front lines. There were women in the army but a lot of the time... people did things. Even me. Just once and—“
                “You’ve felt guilty ever since,” she stroked his hair, then physically turned his head. She didn’t look unhappy, “that is why you are angry when you come here. It reminds you. I bet you haven’t touched a woman since have you?” Warrick breathed deeply and shook his head. She moved his head back and continued working on his shoulders. He wanted to get out, to be on his own ship. Something was telling him to run away, far away from this planet. But he still couldn’t move. “Then I am here to help you.” Her arms closed around his shoulders and her face moved to the side of his. One of her curls tickled his chin. Her hands ran down his chest and she whispered in his ear, “I am here for you, however you need me.” Warrick couldn’t explain the series of emotions churning in his stomach.
                “I guess... I just...” slowly, Warren faded into a deep, dark sleep.

The End

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