Disclaimer: Do NOT own! I repeat I DO NOT OWN! It all belongs to George Lucas, I just borrow from him...without asking.

Again another part of the 'Hidden Souls, Smuggled Hearts' Series. This is set immediatly after 'Mutual' and is a missing scene from 'Vision of the Future' by the wonderful Timothy Zahn.


Karrde waited patiently by the closed doorway, hands behind his back and posture rigid. His dark hair was newly washed and pulled neatly back behind his head, and he was clothed in the smartest clothes he owned for the strictly black tie event he was to attend that evening. An event to celebrate the end of years and years of civil unrest; an event many were branding a miracle, the holonet going so far as describing it as the 'Dawn of Peace'.

But the man could not help but be sceptical. However much he wanted to believe that this Treaty would pave the way for a united galaxy, there was an ache in his bones that would not let him rest. If it wasn't the Imperials it would be something, or someone, else.

Yet his thoughts were quickly diverted from his pessimistic and cynical theories by the hissing sound of an opening door.

He glanced up. ...and had to clench his jaw, (and every other muscle throughout his body), to stop it dropping embarrassingly open as he looked upon his partner for the evening.

Silver silk swished elegantly around her long legs, the practical slit up the side of the skirt revealing a portion of perfectly-formed, flawless flesh that left his mouth feeling like sand. Moving his eyes up her body, he noted how perfectly the clingy fabric moulded to her hips and waist and breasts and how the string of diamonds on her neck sent a thousand rainbows dancing across the walls.; until eventually they came to rest on her slender face, framed with faintly curling strands of ebony hair, the rest of which was fastened in a complex mass with her infamous zenji needles.

Her dark eyes were narrowed accusingly, his probing look making her feel bad-tempered. It was not that she was unused to being looked at in such a way; her cover as an empty piece of arm candy often earned her the lustful leers of males; but his cool, blue eyes were sending shivers through her taunt muscles that she had rarely felt before, her skin was coming out in goose-bumps. Tensing up she scolded herself silently, she was getting soft.

The sudden strain in her shoulders was clear to the observant smuggling boss. He smiled at her, trying to ease the tension that surrounded her like a shroud, but she only stepped forward with a hard expression and locked the door of her room behind her.

Pausing again she pulled back one edge of her skirt, tucking her lithe hand inside.

Karrde averted his gaze quickly despite his initial instincts, but did not fail to notice the tell-tale shimmer of a vibroblade between the expensive folds of fabric. Clicking her tongue contentedly the female withdrew her fingers and straightened her back, coming to stand beside him.

Looking down at her he raised one eyebrow, lips curling into an amused smirk.

"A knife Shada? Do you really think that's necessary?"

She scowled at him, black orbs spitting venom. She did not even bother to reply, choosing instead to walk ahead.

If he was going to waste time with stupid questions then she was going to ignore him, particularly after he had gawked at her so evidently back there. Shada D'ukal was not one to suffer fools gladly, even if the fool was her boss.

As she strolled easily along, heels clattering on the metal flooring, the dress he had recently bought her hugged her damp flesh awkwardly, she hadn't worn something so formal for ages and her body yearned for the familiar caress of her standard-issue, grey jumpsuit.

Half-way down the passage he caught up with her, shortening his strides to match hers and keep them at an equal level. When they reached the narrow doorway that joined onto a larger hall Karrde stopped, stepping aside and letting her go first. The gentlemanly action, so common from him, made her anger abate just a tad. Her face softened momentarily.

Then something cool and refreshing eased onto the hot, bare skin of her back. For a split second it traced the contours of the base of her spine, then once more vanished as swiftly as it had appeared. Yet still the trail lingered, her flesh tingling hot and cold with a wonderful yet unwelcome sensation. Pulse rate gradually returning to normal she continued to walk forward, battling against the overwhelming desire to kick him in the gut. The man had a dangerous tendency to touch her without permission, it was the second time in two days that he had done so and if he wasn't careful the tenuous self-control she was managing to cling to would snap. She kept her face passive despite the way her insides were squirming and churning sickeningly within her body, instead she tried to think only of the pleasure she would take in wiping the smirk he was most definitely wearing off of his face with her fist.

Occasionally she would flick her eyes to her left when she knew he wasn't watching, observing his smart attire as he stayed close at her side, light eyes fixed ahead, hands swinging loosely at his side. And he most certainly was not wearing a smirk. She studied his sturdy fingers, surprised that such large hands had felt so gentle. Suddenly they disappeared, plunging deep into the pockets of his trousers where she could no longer admire them. Glancing up, she found his demeanour had not changed; his eyes were still staring intently ahead, if anything the lines in his face were only sterner than before. If anything he looked tortured…depressed even.

Odd, Shada thought, and it was making her even more uncomfortable.

They passed a few people in the main corridor, crew members who had finished their duty on the bridge and were now heading off to galley or their bedrooms for rest, food or a good old gamble. But Karrde did not stop and rarely spoke, though he did nod at each person and returned any greetings with a brief hello. Shada nodded too but remained utterly silent; she forced a smile onto her face in a way that was so familiar, even if the reason for it was different from what she had felt before.

Stepping through another doorway in an identical way to before Shada half-expected to feel his hands once more, but released a quiet breath when they made it into the landing ramp without a trace of contact. Unsure whether she was exceedingly glad or vaguely disappointed Shada followed his lead towards the speeder that was waiting to whisk them off to the celebratory party. Now that he was before her, she allowed her hands to drift to her back and wistfully trace the line that was she could still feel burning upon her soft skin. So lost was she in the task, she did not notice him halting at the edge of the landing platform and then turn to face her, his eyes critically observing her movements, head tilting a half a centimetre to one side. Stretching her arms back as if that was what she had been doing all along, Shada stared back, her posture rigid, arms restrained by her fingers, which she had knotted tightly behind her back.

As the two stared hard at each other through the thick air with uncompromising expressions, ignoring the electrical mix that stirred within, the female swore to herself that the next time he took the liberty to place his hand anywhere near her without receiving her sincere say-so she would break his fingers one by one. Just because he was paying her did not give him any privileges, and if he thought it did she was going to teach him different.

Hope you liked that. You can leave me a note with ANY feedback whatsoever, or any ideas. I'd be thrilled to hear from you.

And THANK YOU to everyone who is reading this series, particularly:
Miranda Aurelia, AzureFalls, The WineGlass, NiGHTxRECONNAiSSANCE and not forgetting Sweetdeath04.