Chapter Two

"You're working too hard."

The voice was female and I immediately identified it. However, I ignored my assistant's comment, which had originated from the doorway to my office, maintaining my focus on closing the communiqué I'd just had with Senator Iblis.

She was probably right, but time was growing short. The vote for the Military Creation Act was coming up next quarter, and I had to garner as much support for its opposition as I could. Spending a few extra hours in the office seemed a small price to pay in light of such a devastating decision, should it pass.

"Just a few more minutes," I promised, checking the list of potential supporters and whom I needed to contact next.

"You said that an hour ago when I contacted you from home."

I recognized the slightly scolding tone, but I honestly didn't have time for one of Dorme's rants about my stress levels and how it was affecting my overall health. I was a public servant, and this is what I did, regardless of my occasional elevated blood pressure.

"You've left me no choice, Senator."

I chose to continue avoiding the all-too-frequent criticism. There was the matter of the recently obtained report of possible separatist activity in the Bothan system I hadn't yet gone over, besides the stack of datapads on my desk requiring my immediate attention.

"I've contacted the Chancellor," Dorme continued undeterred, "and he agrees that you need to take a break."

"I'll take a break," I chimed in, "when there is peace throughout the galaxy, and the threat of war has been eradicated."

I hadn't looked up when I made the comment, but I knew Dorme's eyes had just rolled skyward. She obviously didn't believe me, and I wasn't so sure I believed myself. Even without the separatist rumor, there always seemed to be something going on which kept me busy, and working in the office late into the night.

"That's why you've been granted a leave of absence. Chancellor Palpatine insists upon it."

I did look up then, my deep frown a direct contrast to the idiotic grin upon my assistant's face.

"Happy Naming Day, Mi'Lady," Dorme announced, producing from behind her back a stack of what appeared to be brightly colored brochures.

It was my naming day? Surely not. How did I not know that? Why would I know that, I argued with myself, when I didn't even know what day it was! Had I really gotten so wrapped up in my work I had lost complete track of time?

Perhaps Dorme had been right. I wasn't taking good care of myself. I couldn't even remember if I had eaten mid meal today. It might not be a bad idea to call it quits for the evening and return early in the morning. See? Problem solved, and it didn't involve taking any time off work, or leaving the system - which is what I had a bad feeling those brochures involved. They had the suspicious appearance of vacation flyers, advertising some remote holiday planet somewhere I never seemed to have the time to visit.

"Tell me, he didn't," I pleaded, rising from my seat to grasp a hold of the documents and look them over. What they displayed were beautiful sunrises, suntanned bodies, and exotic locations.

I hated to admit, but the first one piqued my interest with its photos of clear waters and white beaches. I flipped open the flyer and quickly read the information inside: Tasuna Beach Resort and Spa – Providing the newest and most luxurious relaxation experience in the galaxy.

"He didn't," Dorme answered my previous question, interrupting my thoughts. "I did."

"This," I hesitated, holding up one of the documents, which ended up being a ticket with my name, Senator Padme Amidala, stamped upon it, "is a five-day pass to Tasuna Beach! On the Planet Tranquility! Dorme! This must've cost you a fortune!'

She smiled sheepishly, then shook her head. "Don't worry about it. It's not like my cost of living has increased in the past few years."

As she spoke, Dorme walked about my office, switching off my comm station, the lamp on my desk, and grabbed my cloak, although I hadn't completely made up my mind to leave yet. My previous argument, however, was becoming more and more transparent – not unlike the waters of Tasuna. Five days at a high-end spa might do me a lot of good after all, I decided.

"I've already packed your bags, your shuttle leaves in about an hour. I want you to have a good time. Try to forget about all your political responsibilities. Relax! Surely, the galaxy can wait five days to destroy itself."

I playfully smirked at my aid, not only seeing my personal assistant, but my best friend. I could feel the stress which had been building in my shoulders all day beginning to subside. Just thinking about taking a holiday was making me feel better. If the Chancellor had insisted, how could I say no? And besides, I didn't wish to hurt Dorme's feelings. The trip was a gift after all, and the Tasuna Resort was supposed to be spectacular. I'd heard nothing but rave reviews about it from anyone who'd ever been there.

"Thank you," I finally managed, once the shock had worn off.

"You're welcome," she answered, before placing the dark blue velvety cloak about my shoulders. "And who knows? You might meet some new people."

I joined her on our walk to the lift, which would take us to the upper parking level where my private transport awaited.

"I meet new people all the time, Dorme," I reminded her.

"Not those kind of people, Mi'Lady. I meant interesting, good-looking people."

"Oh," I replied, taking my friend's arm. "Those kind of people. I might." I teased in agreement.

"And perhaps it will take your mind off you-know-who."

Dorme didn't need to explain herself. She had made it quite clear in the beginning how she felt about my personal interest in Anakin Skywalker; an interest, I hadn't quite yet figured out.

The Jedi Padawan's awkward flirtations told me his interest lay in a romantic relationship. I hadn't responded to his advances mainly because I hadn't decided what my feelings were exactly. For the time-being, I was pleased to call him a friend, and that's where our relationship would stay until I was persuaded to think otherwise. Perhaps, time off would give me an opportunity to figure out that part of my life as well.

By the time we had arrived at the shuttle, I had convinced myself this trip was a good idea, and I was truly grateful to Dorme for gifting it to me. I couldn't wait to get there!