Early morning, and Lance was hurrying to his bedroom after another date with the woman he’d been seeing for nearly a year.
He didn’t need to hurry because on his date nights (he never dated the woman during the day) a Palace Guard who faintly resembled him watched over Ambra while she slept. He wanted his own face to always be the first one she saw when she woke up so that she wouldn’t think that he had left her alone during the night, but just in case she woke up during the night – and occasionally she did – the Palace Guard’s face and a few soft words were good enough for her to quickly fall back asleep.
He still resented being her bodyguard, but he hated tricking her even more. But the joy she showed whenever she saw him made it bearable.
“Lans-pa!” she say, then show him a small version of Allura’s beaming smile before reaching out to him for a hug. But did she know that he really was her father? Not Keith, her “Daada”? Did “Lans-pa” reflect her sensing something of their unique bond? He didn’t know. But all this was the minor problem in his life.
Once in his room he hurried to take a quick shower, leaving the bathroom door open just in case a situation happened – his cordless headset wasn’t waterproof, so he had to take it off. Normally he’d wash up in Ambra’s child-oriented bathroom, change his clothes quickly and lie on the “man-cot” next to her bed, but this date had been an especially hot one and he didn’t want Ambra to smell the evidence.
The major problem in his life was that Allura refused to accept or even respect that he wanted to keep his private life private. There were people who knew that he was dating someone and some even knew who, including Keith of course, but they kept quiet about it. But not Allura. Instead of at least appreciating that his job performance wasn’t affected by his dating, she kept trying (and failing) to break through the “wall of secrecy” that was between her and himself with spies and threats. Occasionally she confronted Lance directly, and it always led to arguments. Even worse, sometimes the arguments almost led to sex. Their chemistry was still there, and once he had suspected that possessive jealousy was why she was so upset about him seeing another woman – hadn’t she once said that she’d never give him up? Good grief, she’d tried to confront him while he was visiting her after she’d borne Keith their son, “Baby” Alfor, the previous year! How audacious and stupid was THAT?
But her persistence was too insistent. If she was fueled only by feelings of threat she might already have become murderous. But her schemes and plots were concocted by a relatively rational mind.
Lance groaned as he turned off the water flow.
Allura had made the “mistake” of founding New Arus on a planet even more rich in resources than Arus, and Lotor occasionally attacked because he wanted the resources. But those who knew him weren’t fooled, and those who didn’t know him quickly figured out his true intentions. The Drule Empire didn’t new any extra resources now, but when it did, there were planets overflowing with resources for Lotor to plunder.
He was an idiot if he thought that his still-present desire for Allura wasn’t obvious. But Merla had married him anyway…Well, she’d been pregnant with his son then, and he needed someone capable to mind the Empire when he wasn’t home. And she had given him twin daughters the previous year, so with three children he now had to prove his Kingly prowess or something like that.
So why didn’t he make more children instead of trying to get Allura? Merla certainly needed the distraction. Lance had heard stories of her continuing bisexual extramarital exploits. And he knew her well enough to know that this was partially because she missed Allura, who seemed to have gone back to completely hating the Drule Queen.
If I asked her, she would deny that she misses Merla too. But I know she does. No one gave it to her like Merla did. Not even ME.
But hadn’t he once not wanted to let Allura go either?
He refused to consider the possible answers. He and Allura had had their fling. It was over now. No more. DONE-
Someone had just walked into the room. He grabbed a towel and secured it around the waist of a physique frequently featured in fitness publications, hoping it would stay put if there was trouble.
“Lance? You in there?” Keith called out. He sounded calm, but Lance knew him too well. Also, he wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t a serious situation.
“Give me a minute,” Lance called back.
“Yeah,” Keith said, and a few seconds later Lance heard the soft sounds of his bed being sat on.
This wasn’t strange. In the Space Academy the two of them had often sat on each other’s beds when they wanted to discuss something. They had stopped doing that on Arus because the other “V-boys” had felt excluded; this was the first time this was happening on New Arus, and Lance was glad that the tradition had started again because it gave him a sense of normalcy.
But it also meant that Keith wanted to discuss a very serious matter.
Lance refused to speculate on what matter Keith wanted to discuss. But he had an idea. Because Keith wasn’t an idiot. Already being well-suited for duty, Keith’s new life had made him bloom. Like Lance’s physique, Keith himself was constantly high on popularity lists, and the two men liked to tease each other about it.
But not tonight. No, tonight Lance was trying not to fear for the worst.
When he came out of the bathroom, Keith’s dead-serious eyes watched as he sat near the carelessly arranged pillows on the bed.
“I understand,” Keith said in a tone that was softer than his expression.
Lance didn’t need to ask what he understood. He nodded his appreciation.
Keith exhaled, then continued: “And I know you want to move out. Don’t. That’s a Royal Order.”
“Oh PLEASE, I expect to hear that crap from Allura,” Lance said with a rolling of the eyes.
“Don’t worry about Allura,” Keith said with a mixture of evil and ease that made Lance’s eyebrows go up, but Keith either didn’t notice or care. “I’ll put her in her place, now that I know for sure how you feel about the situation.”
He then took off his headset, surprising Lance.
He doesn’t want anyone else to hear what he’s going to say. Oh SHIT.
“Unfortunately,” Keith continued, “there’s not much that I can do about her and Merla.”
Lance sagged with relief. He’d known that Keith knew about that situation. He hadn’t known how to approach him about it.
As though he knew what Lance was thinking, Keith nodded slowly.
“I don’t blame Allura for still being crazy about you – don’t protest, you forget how well I know you. And you always had a crush on her. Sooner or later something was going to happen with you two. I’m glad you’re rejecting her efforts and advances now, not just because I’m her husband but also because she’s the Queen and always needs to behave accordingly. And I’m glad that you have someone who accepts you. But damn it…”
“Yes. I mistakenly thought that bearing Lotor’s children would end it. She sends Allura notes, did you know that?”
Lance’s eyes widened. He’d had no idea. But it was definitely something that the shameless Merla would do.
“Coded little notes from a false secret admirer easily deciphered into disgusting come-ons and demands. I throw them away, Allura never sees them. But Allura’s dreams…the things she says sometimes, like she works in a brothel…things that she would never normally say…Merla must somehow be getting into her dreams.”
“And she likes it.” Lance winced and tried not to remember what he’d seen of what Merla and Allura mutually liked.
“And she likes it,” Keith confirmed. “I need your help here, Lance. You know women. Tell me what to do. That’s not why I want you to stay, of course.”
“Of course.” Lance was glad for the distraction. He hoped it didn’t show in his face. “But couldn’t this have waited a few hours?”
“No.” Now Keith had an evil grin on his face. “Because Sven will be here any minute now.”
“You wicked bastard. You expect him to jump right back into it.”
Keith waved this concern aside.
“He’s a soldier. He’ll jump right back into it.”
“You’re still a wicked bastard.”
Keith laughed a little, then got off the bed. “Come on. Ambra needs her bodyguard. But join us five minutes after she wakes up.”
Lance groaned. He usually got ten minutes. “Oh MAN.”
“Everyone has to suffer now,” he said.
Lance side-glared at him.
“And what is the King of New Arus giving up?” he wanted to know.
“My wake-up call.”
Lance fully glared at him. What man didn’t like a good, rousing “wake-up call”? But Keith woke up “bright and fresh” around 5 AM, so the “wake-up” had nothing to do with the “call”.
“Bastard,” he said again.
Keith just grinned.
A very annoyed Lotor tossed a pile of papers into an industrial-sized paper shredder – another set of “love letters” that Merla had been going to send to Allura.
He’d done everything he could to make her stop. Well almost – she was still alive with her body intact, but that was only because she was carrying their fourth child. But once she bore that child…ahh, who was he kidding?
Her lustful obsession with Allura wasn’t as bad as her sex addiction though. Gods! He couldn’t contain the stories anymore and it was weakening his standing more and more every day. But he couldn’t divorce or exile her because she was the Crown Prince’s mother and besides she would demand huge monthly sums of money from him “just because”.
It was too much. He went to the Harem more and more, which he knew wasn’t helping to solve his problems but the Ladies were the only people who could make him feel better about the situation.
Ahhh, his Ladies.
Then he got an idea. Why hadn’t he thought of it before? He didn’t have to divorce or exile or kill Merla. He could simply slightly diminish her importance and the mess she was creating by marrying his Ladies. ALL of them. Whether they wanted to be married or not. Amazingly, some would resist being married to their Master. But too bad.
And soon all would REALLY envy the King of the Drules.
He tapped his cordless headset to activate it.
“Send me a Drule marriage lawyer,” he commanded.