Jupiter returns to a changed household as she turns over the deed of Cathane to Aleksa. Thrilled to find her mother is dating, she's even more surprised when she learns who the lucky gentleman is. She spies Moltka playing hide and seek with a mysterious cat creature. As the family relays the events of the past week, everyone has to jump in front of Gizmo to stop Caine from killing him before they get to the part with his vindication. Poor Gizmo faints.
Stinger proudly remarks about his lady's accomplishments, "Your mother's become somethin' of an overnight sensation…first an important mathematical discovery, avoidin' an assassination, then makin' a historic alliance with a rival house."
Commonwealth news reports the 'divorce' of Greylocks daughter from him in a minor emancipation. Portentia has gone to live with her 'more reasonable' grandmother. Greylock only has to give her a mere pittance of her inheritance - because her grandma will offer her so much more.
A week later a fully crewed ship arrives — a courting gift for Aleksa from Lord Greylock. Which brings a whole new set of problems for Aleksa to deal with. To Stinger she laments, "Why didn't he take the hint when he was here?"
His response, "I'm goin' to have to get used to everyone fallin' for you, aren't I?"
The following week the ever persistent and charming Lord Haversham Greylock visits Cathane again. Having convinced himself Aleksa was just playing coy when she said she was already being courted, he proceedes undaunted. But Stinger joins them and holds Aleksa's hand protectively.
Utterly deflated and confounded, the dapper Greylock shares the source of his trouble. "But the stars indicated that I would meet with someone special today. It was foolish to assume."
"You follow astrology Lord Greylock?" Aleksa verifies.
"It's one of the sciences, Lady Jones. Of course."
Aleksa turns to the servant attending them, "Please have my sister join us. Tell her to bring the horoscope for the day. Oh and let my sim-in-waiting attend her."
As the trio waits and admires the reflection pool, Greylock shares a bit of the latest discoveries in the sciences of the wider 'verse. They're discussing new theories on how to extend the life of failing commonwealth planet suns, when Nino enters shyly in a purple low necked button up frock with a green under dress. Her curls are loosely tucked up in an ivory ribbon that ends in a bow above her ear.
Greylock is the first to notice, "Speaking of the sun...Lady Jones, who is this vision before us?"
As he's introduced to Nino, she offers her gloved hand and he not only heartily accepts, but places a kiss on the back - not taking his eyes off her. "Call me Haversham, dear lady."
The blush he induces on Nino's face, makes him excitedly chatter and they hit upon the day's horoscope that brought him here today.
Aleksa and Stinger excuse themselves to hear the state reading of Aleksa's discovery being accepted into the Orus Scientific record.
Soon Nino and Haversham are absorbed in the different theories of astrology and how meanings can vary from planet to planet as they walk together around the grounds. They're so absorbed, Haversham realizes that he's late for a business engagement. Rushing off, he promises to return so they can continue their discussion.
But that's a tale for another day…
Thanks for reading! I'd love to know your thoughts on the story. Aleksa/Stinger is a pairing I'd been pondering for a while. But his past always stopped me from writing their story. Hopefully, I've done it justice.
Should anyone wish to podfic this one - I won't mind a bit. Eventually I plan to, but it's going to be quite a while before I can get to it. And I never mind another version of anything I've already done. Different readers bring out new aspects in a story.