After dinner, the table was cleared. Evelyn's mind eased considerably since Lokal wasn't there anymore. What was it that made him so uncomely anyway? She couldn't put her finger on it. He just looked...rough. And to put it politely, his manners left much to be desired. She quietly snickered in her napkin as a mental image of Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice popped into her mind.
"Now that Commander Galan is here," said Amber, "You have a fourth player and you don't need me." She smiled and dashed off before anyone could say anything.
Galan looked at Benito. "A fourth player for what?"
"There was little to do during the occupation," he explained, "so the four of us began the tradition of playing cards to pass the time. Spades is our game of choice. Miss Evelyn was good enough to teach it to us. I don't think Miss Amber likes it very much, but she was good enough to oblige us."
Evelyn smiled. "You don't have to play if you don't want to, Commander. But we would enjoy having you."
"It is a game of wit and strategy," added Meldoch. "Probably right up your alley, Commander."
The Romulan considered their words for a moment. "I don't know how to play." He turned to Evelyn, "However, if you would be willing to teach me, Dr. Frost—or do you prefer 'Miss Evelyn'?"
Her face felt hot when his eyes met hers, and she giggled sheepishly. "Oh, that was just a silly game we started to get our minds off the occupation. But you may call me that if you want to. And yes, I'd be more than happy to teach you. It's quite easy, really."
"Then, Miss Evelyn, please begin the instruction."
It was a wise choice of his to call her that, she realized. Another gesture of his goodwill, no doubt. He wanted to put them all at ease with the situation, which was for the most part beyond even his control. Perhaps he wasn't going to be a dictator after all. In fact, her impression of him so far was that he was a man of duty and honor. Evelyn's heart was becoming less and less her own.
"Let's start an open hand game," she said as she dealt out the cards, "and I'll explain it as we go."
They played long into the night, changing partners after each round. Galan was a quick study, but he played best when he was partnered with Evelyn. What's more, he couldn't seem to win unless they were together, because he couldn't defeat her.
In the meantime, Corvinus returned after he changed his uniform. The others were so engrossed in the game that they didn't even notice him come back. He hadn't seen his commander enjoy himself for a long time, so he didn't dare interrupt. It pleased him, because he knew Galan had endured a good deal so far during the war.
When he noticed that 'Miss Amber' wasn't there, he decided to go have some of his own fun. He gleefully rubbed his hands together as he walked down the hallway to her office. It would be amusing to grill her on the subject of that invertebrate Terry.
Upon approaching the doorway, he heard the sound of sniffling coming from inside the room. He entered and found Amber slumped over her desk bawling her eyes out. On the computer screen was a man, who he immediately concluded must be Terry, with some blonde wench sitting in his lap. The man had a cigar in one hand, and a cocktail in the other, grinning like a clown at whoever was taking the picture.
Corvinus choked back a laugh. Humans and their fickleness...
Amber heard him and looked up. "You! What are you doing here? Get out!" She threw a book at him.
Corvinus quickly pulled the door in front of him to block the flying object. "I...Well, the door was open, and I heard...that is, I thought you might have injured yourself, and...Are you alright?"
"Noooo!" she erupted into another fit of sobbing. "It's Terry. He's such a jerk!"
"Is that him?" he indicated the picture on the screen.
The girl nodded dejectedly. "She's one of his students. I wrote a paper for him so he could get a job as a professor, and then he got a big head and started dating his students behind my back. He promised that he wasn't doing it anymore...I was so sure he meant it this time."
The centurion shook his head. "He sounds like a dishonorable man. If he can't appreciate you, you should find someone who will. In my opinion, he is not worth your tears."
"Yes," she agreed, drying her eyes. "You're right. I'll never speak to him again."
"That would be wise," Corvinus agreed, still amused at the situation. But he decided that it was probably best to change the subject. "Prime Minister Benito boasted of an extensive wine cellar. My curiosity is piqued. Would you show me where it is?"
Amber's countenance brightened. "Well, ok." Then she frowned again, "But you better not get any ideas, Centurion."
The Romulan raised an annoyed eyebrow. "While I am sure there are those of my race who would not object to...a human, you may rest assured that I am not one of them."
"Good," she turned up her nose. "Follow me then-" She ran into the door. "Ugh! This way!"
The next morning, the two human women got to work on their documentation, tying up all the loose ends. By lunchtime there was nothing left for them to do on Benzar in a professional capacity.
Amber deleted everything virtual related to Terry, then she gathered up all the tangible mementos, put them in a box, and made her way down the hall. When she passed Commander Galan's office and went outside, Corvinus figured he'd better see what she was up to, since it was his job to accompany the humans. When she reached the palace gardens, she set her box down on a spot that had been scorched during the conflict. Corvinus watched from a distance as she set the box on fire with an antique cigarette lighter.
She was putting an end to her frivolous past and turning over a new leaf. Good. A philandering failure didn't deserve any woman's affection. And burning the mementos? He never expected the wretched little female to do something so…commendable. It showed finality, courage and resolve. It was something a Romulan woman would have done.
As Amber watched the last nine years of her life go up in smoke, she shed a few tears. What a waste. Things had started out so well, and she remembered it all: highschool…college… He used to be so sweet and thoughtful. She remembered their first date, senior prom, the rose petals she saved from her first Valentine's bouquet…Then her thoughts turned sour. The first time he forgot her birthday, the first time she caught him going out with someone else, the first time he said he was sorry, and the next time, and the next time. Cormack was right. He was a weakling and a loser, and he didn't deserve her tears.
When the box and its contents were reduced to ashes, she kicked a heap of dirt over the smoking embers to snuff them out. Then she took a deep breath and marched back to her room feeling like a new woman.
When she got back to her room she went to her computer and started browsing through subspace for a new desktop picture to replace the one she had deleted. Then the computer alerted her about an incoming call. It was him. She ignored it.
"Now where was I? Desktops. Ancient Egypt? Nah. Tropical fish? Nah. Flowers? Definitely not. Hmmm…"
Ring, ring, ring. She didn't care how many times he called. She was NEVER going to speak to him again.
"Maybe comic book heroes. Superman, Fantastic Four, Martian Manhunter…nah. Maybe the villains… Oh here we go! Perfect!" It was a picture of Magneto soaring through the air with a caption that read "chick magnet."
Ring, ring, ring. On second thought, maybe she would answer it – just to tell him how much of a loser he was and that it was over. Permanently!
Two hours later, after the Commander dismissed him for the day, Corvinus decided to stroll past the Terrans' office to see what they were up to. As he approached the area, his Romulan hearing picked up an unfamiliar voice.
"But those other girls don't understand me like you do, babe. Just give me one more chance."
"I wanted this to work, but I just can't trust you anymore."
What? She was talking to that wimp again! The Centurion flung the door open and stalked into the room. "Have you lost your mind?"
The infamous Terry gawked. "Who's that?"
"Get out of here!" screamed Amber.
"I thought you said you were never going to speak to him again," said Corvinus, pointing his finger at the monitor.
"Who I talk to is none of your business! Now get out!" She screamed, throwing everything she could reach at him.
"Who is that?" asked Terry again, with a distinct note of suspicion.
"Don't pay attention to him. He's just a pointy-eared pest," said Amber.
Corvinus grinned wickedly. "That's not what you said last night."
Amber was stunned into silence. How dare that imp say something like that!
"You're cheating on me with a Romulan?" gasped Terry. "And here you are preaching at me and you're doing the same thing!"
Before she could answer, Corvinus pushed Amber's chair away from the monitor and looked Terry dead in the face. "Listen well, weakling. I've chosen this woman for myself. So if you value your life you'll stay out of our business. If I ever discover that you've spoken to her again, I'll find you and kill you."
The spineless Terry panicked and ended the call. The Centurion took a seat on the desk and began to congratulate himself. When Amber recovered from her shock, she started screaming again.
"You creep! Do you know what you've just done? HOW DARE YOU?"
"Humph. You should be thanking me. Now you can move on to something better."
"Oh, like you?" she snapped, breaking down into tears.
The Romulan blinked, then sneered. "Tch. In your dreams." With that he hopped off the desk and strode back down the hall. "As if I'd waste my time wooing a wretch like her."
For obvious reasons, Amber's theme song is "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" by Taylor Swift. :) This is fun. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as we do writing it.