Space 2315… Peace, Chapter 15

Just like how Lydris said, the Zaltaen Consulate had filed a lawsuit against the Free University of Berlin two weeks later. It had become headline news all across Germany.

And it wasn’t just Zaltaens that were involved in the lawsuit against that of the university, Colonials from all of human space to include students from Sirius were also invited to take part in the lawsuit and seek damages against the university for the university often made it much harder for them to apply there in recent months ever since a new series of people were appointed to the university’s Board of Directors. Still others came forward and said that simply admitting that they were a Colonial on their applications to the university caused them to be denied regardless of perfect academic scores.

After nearly a month, the details of a full investigation were released and the results of the lawsuit were made public and it was a scandal the likes of which the university wasn’t at all prepared for. The investigation exposed several members of the Board of Directors as members of the infamous Blue Earth Movement and other lesser-known xenophobic groups and that only served to bring even more shame and disgust down upon them from the average citizen.

This, of course, created a domino effect at several other universities across that of Terra and they too were found to have members of the Blue Earth Movement sitting on their Board of Directors. It seemed that the Blue Earth Movement had infiltrated society in ways that ran deeper than anyone had previously thought.

When the Human Federation government had found out, President Christina Crow vowed on national news that her administration wouldn’t stand for such racism and xenophobic responses to both humans who came from other worlds and aliens alike. She vowed that her administration would get to the bottom of just how the Blue Earth Movement had infiltrated so many aspects of life on Terra. Ultimately it was found that even her own administration wasn’t immune from such infiltration for several members of her own cabinet were found out to be members of the Blue Earth Movement as well and thus she demanded that they resign immediately. She said during a live news conference that she would not stand for such hate in her administration.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, several members of Congress were found out as well and they too were forced to resign in disgrace. CEOs and executives of several large companies were also outed as closeted members of the Blue Earth Movement which only led to many of the Blue Earth Movement to step up their activity and to spread even more of their hate, racism, and xenophobia to anyone who would listen.

During the height of the lawsuit against the university, the student newspaper had exclusive access to the hearings and results of the lawsuit against the university and subsequent resignation of several members of the university’s Board of Directors. Sofie, much to her disappointment, had been assigned to work with Marzanna because the editor of the school newspaper thought that the importance of the piece was too high to be only written by one person so she was voluntold to work with her.

As the article continued to be written by the two of them, they both soon realized that the editor of the newspaper was right. The depth of the article was far too much for one person to write, it had far too many details to remember. They were both constantly correcting one another with little details that they had gotten wrong in their writing. Sure, they were small details but if one of those Blue Earth Movement loonies had gotten a hold of it, they would’ve claimed it was nothing more than an unfounded smear campaign.

For weeks Sofie and Marzanna worked on the article and because of other academic realities, the article took longer than normal and that only meant one thing, less time spending with Lydris. Lydris often came by Sofie’s dorm only to find the two of them pouring over some minute detail and having to rewrite sections of the piece either because it was missing a crucial piece of information or just because the two of them disagreed on how it was written. Either way, it took much longer for the article to be written than both of them had initially thought.

They thought that they’d be able to get the article done in a matter of a few days but days drew out to weeks and weeks drew out to a whole month and the editor was getting antsy. He wanted the article to be an exclusive piece to be prominently shown on the front page of the newspaper for that weekend’s edition of the student newspaper. Why that was so? They didn’t know. Maybe it was a way to embarrass the university and those who were from the Blue Earth Movement even more so than they already were since most of the faculty would be out of office for the weekend. Either way, they needed to finish the article.

That only meant more hard work for the two of them as even more details came pouring in from all over the university as students who had been afraid to come forward during the height of the lawsuit and they had to include those details and student accounts which made them have to rewrite whole sections of the article again which only served to frustrate them even more so.

As the editor of the newspaper read the article that the two of them began nearly a month after the lawsuit was initially filed, they were anxious. They didn’t know what Professor Kris Wassermann who was not only the dean of the College of Journalism but also the Chief Editor of the university’s student newspaper would think.

Soon she put the datapad down and smiled. “Alright girls,”, she sat up and folded her hands on her desk. “This is good, this is very good. I knew that putting you two together on this article would guarantee success. This,” she pointed at the datapad, “is some of the best writing yet for the student newspaper. Pulitzer Prize worthy writing if you ask me. It’s hard-hitting, no holds barred. The amount of research and interviews you made of both students and faculty alike to get the first-hand accounts was second to none. You got to the bottom of the how and why things happened and just how the Blue Earth Movement had managed to slip several of their own into the university’s Board of Directors.

“I have absolutely no doubt you two would be sharing a Pulitzer Prize if you were out there in the commercial sector writing for a big-name media company. That’s,” she pointed at the datapad again, “how good this article is!” Sofie and Marzanna looked to each other and couldn’t help but to smile at the thought. “I’m going to put this article up the newspaper web site right now.” Kris picked up the datapad and pressed the submit button to push the article from draft mode to public mode on the student newspaper’s WordPress-powered web site.

“You two should be proud of the research and writing that you two have done. It’s one of the finest examples of journalism that I’ve ever seen in quite some time.”

“Thank you, Kris,” they both slowly bowed her heads. And with that she and Marzanna walked out of her office and as the door closed, Sofie couldn’t help but to shout ‘Yes!’ to which Kris heard her shout only to chuckle.

“Sofie,” Marzanna extended her hand, “it was an honor working with you on this piece. I have to admit though, I had my doubts that we’d be able to work together but we did and it ultimately our collaboration led to one hell of a fine piece of journalism.”

“I sadly, had my doubts as well. I’ve always found you to be my competition.”

“Me too,” Marzanna began walking, “I’ve always found you to be a roadblock to my journalism success as well but it just goes to show you, when two good journalists come together, good things come of it.”

“Yep,” Sofie put her arm around her, “we did good Marzanna, we did good.”

“Yes, we did.” It was then that Marzanna snickered. “Now what about that Lydris you keep talking about? And for that matter, isn’t it your birthday tomorrow?” Sofie hummed. “Do you have anything special planned with your sweetheart tomorrow?” Sofie blushed, she hadn’t told anyone on campus about the two of them. “Oh, come now Sofie,” Marzanna put an arm around her, “it’s probably the worst kept secret on campus that you two are together.

“I do have to ask something,” Sofie glanced at her out of the corner of her eye, “do you love Lydris?” Sofie nodded, she did love him. “And does he love you?”

“I don’t know,” Sofie sadly sighed as she continued to walk beside her.

“What do you mean you don’t know?” Marzanna asked.

“He’s a Zaltaen, for one.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” Marzanna asked as they walked out into the courtyard of the university. “What does him being a Zaltaen have anything to do with if he loves you?”

“Zaltaens generally only come together for the good of their Houses, in some way they’re like humanity before the modern age. At least, that’s what we’ve all be told.”

“Oh,” Marzanna stopped in her tracks leaving Sofie to look back. “I didn’t know that. I’ve not gotten to know a Zaltaen like you have.” Marzanna thought for a moment. “But Lydris has been around humans for some time now and not only that but, he’s been around you as well. He’s got to have at least an understanding what love is at least in the human sense and what it feels like, right?” Sofie shrugged, she didn’t know; or at least, she didn’t think about it. She was so wrapped up in her feelings for him to stop and think if he could ever feel the same way about her. “I don’t know Marzanna, I don’t know.”

“I’ll tell you one thing, anyone and everyone who’s seen the two of you together all agree that there’s something there.”

“I hope you’re right,” Sofie continued walking beside Marzanna, “I’ve not seen him in nearly a month. Between schoolwork and this article, I’ve not had the time for a date. I’ve barely had time to eat and sleep lately. I’ve lost weight because of this article and classes.” Marzanna frowned as Sofie had said that for she had done the opposite, she had put on weight.

“The joys of a college student. I know.” She looked up to the sky and suddenly she felt like a great weight had been lifted off of her shoulders. The article was done, now she, like Sofie, could finally have some personal time to decompress instead of going back to their dorm only to do more work.

Sofie heard a rather unique knock that could only mean Lydris was at the door. She pushed the button on the side of the door to open it and in stepped Lydris after which she quickly pressed the same button to close it.

As the door closed, she immediately hugged him which made him drop a box that was wrapped in rather bright red wrapping paper. “Lydris!” she exclaimed. “How are you doing? I’ve not seen you in weeks.”

“I know,” he looked to the floor, “between your schoolwork, your college newspaper article, and my schoolwork, we really haven’t had much time to meet up to be together in any meaningful way.”

“I know,” she frowned as she put her hands on his arms, “we’ve really only have had time to grab a coffee and walk each other to class. Like you said, we’ve really not done anything together lately.”

“I know,” he said as he looked up from the floor, “in the time that we’ve been apart, I’ve been doing some thinking about you and our potential future lately.”

“You have?” She had to wonder what he was thinking about when it came to her.

“Why wouldn’t I?” He asked as she saw the red box on the floor sitting next to his foot. “I’ve… missed you.”

“You’ve… missed me?” She gasped. She had no idea that he thought about her that way. In reality, she had hoped that he did.

“Of course, I have Sofie. Why wouldn’t I have missed you?” He took her into her arms. “You were the first person, besides my sister, who gave a damn about my wellbeing and made me feel like I was truly welcome. All of that thinking has led to some things and,” he looked down at his shoes, “I don’t know how to say this but, in the time, I’ve been away from you, the way I feel about you has changed.”

“How?” Sofie asked. She was worried that perhaps all the time away from him gave him time to find and be with someone else who’d be better for him. She didn’t want to hear those words but she wouldn’t have blamed him if he had moved on without her in his life. Perhaps Layla was right, trying to be with a Zaltaen was a bad idea.

“Like I already told you, I’ve missed you; I’ve missed you… a lot.” He paused in hesitation. “I’ve missed talking with you and generally being with you and if I’m being honest with you,” he looked back up at her, “I have feelings for you. I like you Sofie, more than anyone I’ve ever met.”

Her eyes went wide as he said that about her. “What are you saying Lydris?” She asked. In truth, she had been wanting to hear those words from him for a while but she never got her hopes up what with how her friendship with Matthew went and blew up on her and how Lydris was, after all, an alien.

“I’d like to get to know you and spend more time with you.” Again, Sofie was shocked. “And I’m not talking about spending time with you while Layla or my sister is with us. No. I want to start what I believe humans call… dating.”

“Are you saying that you want to date me?” He nodded. “Go out with me?” He nodded again. “And otherwise enter into a serious relationship with me?”

“I do believe I’m asking you for that.” There was a look of shock on Sofie’s face and she didn’t respond for quite some time which left him worried that maybe he was wrong in asking her if she wanted to date him. He was about to turn about when Sofie spoke his name. “Lydris?” she asked. “Where are you going?”

“I thought…” she cut him off. “Thought what?”

“I thought that since you didn’t respond, I may’ve overstepped my bounds and that I read you wrong since I’m an alien and all so I don’t…” He didn’t get a chance to finish that statement for he was stopped by her as she pushed him against the wall rather hard with all of her enhanced strength that she had from living on a heavy gravity world. “Sofie? What are you…?” He once again found himself stopped midsentence as she began to kiss him but unlike so many times in the past where she kissed him on his cheek, this time she kissed him on his lips. And it wasn’t just some kind of peck on the lips, oh no… it was much more than that. He could feel that for sure.

As the kiss continued, he felt his heart begin to race. It was like nothing he had ever experienced before. It was so intense and although he had never been kissed quite like that before in his life, he found himself figuratively melting into the kiss. He wrapped his arms around her as the kiss continued for what seemed like forever. He could feel her tongue slip into his mouth and brush against his as the intensity of the kiss ramped up to an unbelievable level. But like all good things, the kiss ended. He had to admit that if kisses could kill, that one would’ve flattened several small towns.

“Sofie?” he asked as he gulped as he looked to her. “What was that for?” He touched his lips and reveled in the idea that she had kissed him so passionately.

“What do you think?” she smiled back at him as she continued to have her arms around him. He stood there blinking his eyes in disbelief. “Yes Lydris,” she kissed him again, “I’d absolutely love to go out on a date with you. All you had to do was ask me and I’d be guaranteed to say yes. In reality,” she backed away from him and put him at arm’s length, “I’ve been hoping you’d ask me to go out on a date with you for a long time now.”

“If you were hoping for me to ask, why didn’t you ask me?”

“It doesn’t work like that among humans.” He just stood there in her arms with a confused look on his face. “It’s generally known that men are supposed to ask the woman for a date, not the other way around.”

“I… I get that,” he nervously bit his lower lip, “it’s just that you have to know that I don’t know a lot about how this kind of stuff works. I’m an alien,” he shrugged, “this is all so new to me.”

“I didn’t think about it that way.” Sofie regretted putting things off until he asked her. “Maybe I should’ve asked you earlier.”

“As I told you before Sofie, I’m flying by the seat of my pants here. If things are going to work between us, you’re going to have to take charge, at least… for a little while until I learn how human dating works.”

Sofie happily sighed. “Yeah,” she brought him close and rested her chin on his shoulder, “I get that.” She rubbed his back which he found to be quite soothing to his nerves. “I keep forgetting that you’re an alien and that you don’t know these kinds of things.”

“Isn’t it obvious that I’m an alien?” he asked as he once again put his arms around her. “I have purple skin, blue hair, purple eyes, and of course the pointed ears. It’s kind of obvious really.”

“Yeah,” she let go of him, “but you act so much like a human that I’ve forgotten that you aren’t one. In fact,” she shrugged her shoulders, “I don’t see you as an alien, I see you as a person.”

“And I’m grateful that you think that way about me but I am one and when it comes to things like this,” he shrugged, “I really don’t know what I’m doing so you’re going to have to help especially if you indeed want things to work out between us. I hope you understand.”

“Oh honey,” she took him into her arms again, “I do understand. And yes,” she took a breath, “I do want things to work out between us because like you,” she touched her nose to the tip of his, “I also have feelings for you. So yes,” she smiled as she rubbed his shoulders, “I’ll take the reins in our relationship. At least, for a little while until you learn about how all of this works.”

“Yeah,” he brought her close and hugged her which made her heart begin to race, “once I learn more about this kind of stuff, you know…” She nodded against his shoulder. He then let go of her, much to her disappointment. He stooped down to pick up the red box that he had brought with him and handed it to Sofie. “Here, happy birthday Sofie.”

“Aww,” she took hold of the box and sat down on the couch, “you shouldn’t have.”

“I know but,” he sat down next to her, “I wanted to. And yes,” he chuckled, “you probably already know what it is though.”

Sofie started tearing into the wrapping paper and immediately upon seeing the store label she gasped. It said Neiman Marcus, a rather fancy boutique store known for the fancy clothing and equally fancy high prices.

“Lydris!” she exclaimed. “You didn’t have to spend so much on me.”

“I know,” he smiled as he patted her knee, “but I wanted to. Please… continue.”

She lifted the top of the box off and found a white sweater much like the one that she had to throw away because of his blood. As she picked it up and thought about what he had bought her made what she had before look like it was from the bargain bin. She picked it up and clutched the sweater close. “Lydris,” she turned to him, “how could you afford this? This,” she held it up in front of herself, “it’s got to be expensive!”

“Oh, it is expensive!” he exclaimed. “But after all of what you’ve done for me and my sister in making us feel welcome here and being a friend and you losing that sweater that you said you liked so much, I knew that I had to get you something special. I do hope you like it.”

“Oh honey,” she put the sweater back in the box and put it aside as she put her hand around his neck and brought him in for a kiss that he once again found himself melting into and enjoying the passion that was in said kiss. “I don’t just like it,” she turned to the box once again held the sweater up, “I love it. Thank you so much.” She put the sweater back into the box. “What are you doing tonight?”

“Tonight?” he began to think. “I have a paper that’s due that I have to…” Sofie interjected. “Say no more, you’re busy.”

“Unfortunately, I am.” He felt bad about telling her that he was busy but it was the truth. He wasn’t going to put off schoolwork to hang out with his new girlfriend.

“What about this weekend? Saturday, perhaps?”

“There’s a Zaltaen thing happening on Saturday.” As he had said that, her heart sank and he could tell that just from the look on her face. “But I should be able to do something with you that evening, say around 1700 hours1.” She perked up as he said that. “What do you have in mind though? What do you want to do?”

“Well, you did say that you wanted to go out on a date with me.”

“Yes,” he hesitated, “I did. What about it?”

“How about we do just that?” She asked. “We’ll have our first date together Saturday evening.”

“What are your plans?” he asked. “Remember what I said, you’re going to have to take the reins here.”

“Well,” she thought. “How about we just stay here?”

“Here?” he looked about her dorm room. “You mean here,” he pointed at the floor. “Here… here? As in your dorm room?”

“Yeah,” she paused to gauge his reaction. “What’s wrong with that? You know two people can go out on a date without actually going out for it. Right?”

“I didn’t think about it that way.” He looked about the room. “I suppose that we can.”

“And because our first date would be here, there’d be less pressure on you to get things right.”

He thought for a moment. “Alright then, it’s a date and I look forward to it.”

“Me too honey,” she patted his knee, “me too.”

“I do have to ask though,” she waited for him to ask his question, “what do I have to do on this date?”

“Wear something nice and maybe bring a drink that we can share,” she shrugged, “I’ll take care of the rest.”

“Alright,” he smiled, “I’m going to look forward to our date. However,” he put his finger up, “what are you going to do about Layla? I mean, this is her place too you know. Is she going to have a problem with us having our date here?”

“Oh no,” Sofie shook her head, “she’s not going to have a problem at all. It’s not the first time that I’ve asked her to leave the dorm so that I can have some private time. She’ll understand.”

“Alright then,” he stood up from the couch, “then it’s a date. But meanwhile, I have that paper I have to write so I’ll see you then.” He quickly kissed her on her lips and stood up from the couch and walked out leaving Sofie quite happy with herself. “And now,” she said to herself, “I have to plan an outfit that’ll blow his mind.” That was when Layla walked into the dorm. “Hey,” she looked to Sofie who was smiling on the couch, “what was Lydris doing here? He looked rather happy.”

“I set up a date with him, or rather… he asked me.”

He asked you?” A smile came to Sofie’s face that was so wide that it looked like it would break her face. “Damn,” Layla sat down on the couch across from her, “I didn’t think he’d have the gumption to do that.”

“Yep,” she picked up the sweater that he bought her, “and look what he bought me for my birthday.”

Layla stood up from the couch and took hold of the sweater that Sofie was holding up and whistled. “Damn girl,” she felt the material, “this has got to be expensive.”

“It is,” Sofie took back the sweater from Layla, “it is expensive but he said that he wanted to get me something special after what happened during our first evening. You remember how my sweater was ruined, right?” Layla nodded as she sat back down on the couch across from her. “How could I forget? One doesn’t forget getting assaulted like that.”

“Yeah well,” Sofie held the sweater up again, “he said he wanted to get me something special after what happened.”

“And that he did Sofie, that he did.” Layla grinned. “You know what this means right?”

“I’m going to have to do something to thank him.”

“Uh huh,” Layla hummed, “you’re going to have to make his first date with you something special. Where do you plan on going with him?”

“Here,” she patted the cushion of the couch she was sitting on. “We’re going to have our first date together here in this dorm.” Layla had to laugh. “Come on Layla, it’s his first human-style date so I want to make it easy on him, a no pressure kind of thing. That way there’s no pressure for him to perform.”

“Perform?” she chuckled. “You said perform.”

“Layla!” Sofie exclaimed. “Get your mind out of the gutter. We’re not going to have sex.”

“You don’t know that. Who knows? He may want it.”

“I highly doubt that!” Sofie scoffed even though part of her was rather excited at the thought of taking him to bed like that. “I don’t imagine Zaltaens to be so quick to want to have sex especially since they’re rather conservative in thinking. Some people liken them to Catholics and Evangelicals in their thinking.”

“Sofie,” Layla chuckled, “did you watch him react to how we dressed a few weeks back when we first met? The poor guy was surrounded by women, including his own sister, wearing clothing that revealed parts of our bodies that were completely out of his normal element.

“And did you see how he kept looking at you?” Sofie nodded. “Like you even said, he couldn’t keep his eyes off of you. It was painfully obvious that he liked seeing how you were dressed though I seriously doubt he’d ever actually admit it to you.”

“Yes,” she looked down at her lap, “but it’s not like I’d actually do anything with him. I’m not that kind of girl you know. I have morals you know.”

“Keep telling yourself that,” Layla laughed. “I saw how you reacted to his touch when we were at the restaurant.” Sofie looked to her with a gaping mouth. “And don’t sit there and tell me that you didn’t like it because you did!” Sofie rolled her eyes. “Add an evening with just the two of you with you dressed like you were back then, a little food and drink along with a little romance, a movie, and some cuddling, and trust me… things are going to get spicy and you two will be in your bedroom before you know it! I guaran-fuckin-tee it!”

The next morning Layla walked into Sofie’s room to find Sofie still sleeping. “Good morning Sofie!”

“Damn it, Layla!” Sofie screwed her eyes shut. “Would you turn that damn light off?” She heard the familiar click of the switch on the wall. “I didn’t get to bed until late last night.”

“I know,” Layla laughed as she sat down on Sofie’s bed, “you and Lydris were up pretty late last night. You kept me awake.”

“Sorry.” Sofie frowned as she thought about keeping her dormmate and friend awake into the wee hours of the morning. “I’m sorry Lydris and I kept you awake.”

“Don’t be sorry Sofie,” Layla patted Sofie’s knee through the covers of her bed, “I checked up on the two of you a couple of times last night and do you want to know what I saw?” Sofie looked to her wondering what she had seen. “I saw you happy, happier than I’ve ever seen you in months ever since Matthew went off to God knows where. And it wasn’t just you that was happy, Lydris was happy too. You were talking, laughing, and otherwise having a good time with him.”

“Yeah,” Sofie hugged herself, “that we were. I had a great time with him last night.”

“I’m glad you did,” Layla looked up as she heard a knock at their door. Layla stood up and began to walk out of her bedroom when she turned about. “I’m going to let you get dressed, in the meantime,” she heard the knock again, “I’m going to find out who it is at our door.”

“Alright Layla,”

With that Layla closed the door to her bedroom and began to get dressed. When she heard Lydris’ voice in the main room of their dorm, she hurriedly threw on just about anything that she could find to get dressed. She didn’t care if it didn’t match, she just wanted to get dressed fast enough so as to not miss Lydris.

As she walked out of her bedroom and into the main room, she found Lydris sitting on the couch talking with Layla who was sitting across from him. They too were talking and otherwise laughing.

“Hey there honey,” Sofie sat down next to Lydris and put her arm around him, “how you doing?”

“I’m good,” Lydris patted her knee, “I just came by tell you that I had a great time with you last night.”

“And this is where I’m going to leave,” Layla stood up from the couch, “I’m going to let the two of you have some time together.” With that Layla left the dorm leaving Sofie and Lydris by themselves.

“As did I,” Sofie rubbed his arm, “I had a wonderful time with you.

“I particularly enjoyed the meal that we shared. What was it called again?”

“It’s called Chicken Parmesan and Noodles, it’s a pasta dish.”

“Yeah,” he looked to her, “it was delicious. I hope we can have it again some time.”

“Oh, we will sweetie,” Sofie put patted his knee, “when’s the next time you’re available? I’d love to actually go out with you. You know, on a proper date; not just here in my dorm room.” He looked to her with a rather shocked look on his face. “You mean to say that you want to go out and let people see us together?”

“Why not?” Sofie asked as took hold of his hand. “I want to. This was a sort of practice run for you. You know,” he knew what she meant by that, “to get you to be comfortable in a human-like dating setting since I know your people generally don’t have such a thing. Right?”

“Yeah,” he nodded as he looked down at her hands that were holding his, “Zaltaens generally don’t date like humans. Our… courtship routines are much different than with humans.”

“I knew that, that’s why I wanted our first date to be here,” she looked about the room where they had their first date, “so that there wasn’t as much pressure on you to get things right.”

“I get it,” he nodded, “it was thoughtful of you to think that way.”

“But next time we have a date,” she squeezed his hand, “I want to go out with you, as in go out with you on a date to somewhere public.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea Sofie?” She may have been disappointed by that question of his but she knew why he had asked the question; it was because of how they had been assaulted the first day they all spent time together. “I know the reason why you’re asking; you’re worried about something similar happening to us back when we first met. Right?” He squeezed her hand ever so gently. “Something like that,” she could see the nervousness on his face.

“But you have to know that things are different now. Right?” He looked down at the floor. “My article changed things; it’s made most humans really examine how they think. Haven’t you noticed how there’s a lot less anti-alien crap happening now? Things are changing and changing for the better. People are re-examining what they’ve thought about your people. Haven’t you noticed that?”

“Yeah,” he looked up from the floor, “I have noticed that. People are a lot more friendly towards me and others like me. I see others being more open to be sociable with others of my kind. Take that one classmate of mine.” Sofie thought back to that night that his classmate came around to her dorm and watched a B-movie. “Yeah, I remember Alyssia. She said that she had no one to share a dorm with.”

“Yeah, and last time I chatted with Alyssia I heard that she has a dormmate now; her name’s Heather and they’re getting along great. I’ve seen quite a change with Alyssia since the first time you saw her. She’s now far more outgoing and have become more like my sister and I and I’m happy for her, she was always so…” Sofie spoke up. “Depressed? Sad?” He looked to her. “Yeah,” he looked at the floor, “I felt rather sorry for her, she lived such a lonely life.”

“I know.” Sofie frowned as she remembered how Alyssia had told her that nobody wanted to live with her and that there were quite a few times that she had crashed in Sofie and Layla’s dorm right on the couch that they were sitting on because, as she said, she wanted someone around instead of living in her empty dorm. “I felt sorry for her, she didn’t deserve to live like that. Hell,” she shook her head, “no one does. It’s why when I heard your story in the coffee shop about how others on campus didn’t want to talk to you and your sister, I reached out to the two of you and wanted to get to know the two of you.”

“I know,” he looked back up at Sofie and smiled, “and I thank you for reaching out to my sister and I that day. Who knew that moment would change my life forever?” He looked up at the ceiling. “I thank the Great Maker for that day,” he looked back at Sofie, “you changed my life Sofie.”

“Aww,” she reached for him and hugged him, “I’m glad to have been there for you and your sister like I’ve been.”

“Anyways,” he thought back to Alyssia, “as you already said, things are better for Alyssia. Hell,” he remembered how she looked the last time he had seen her and he did a double-take, “she’s even dressing like a human now much like my sister and I do. Last time I saw her she was wearing a skirt much like you sometimes do and how,” he thought back to what she had worn for their date, “you wore last night for our date. She’s even dating someone, she told me that his name is David and that they just went out on their first date together.”

“I heard,” Sofie smiled, “I heard too. Last time I saw her she Alyssia came up to me and hugged me. She told me that how Layla and I reached out to her and much like you and Acina said, we changed her life forever and that she’s so very thankful for what we did for her. I can tell that she’s so much happier now, I’ve often seen her on campus and she’s always got a smile on her face. Speaking about what I wore for our date last night, I never got a chance to ask you what you thought of what I wore.”

“Um,” he nervously bit his lower lip, “I liked it. You looked beautiful last night.”

“Thank you, Lydris,” she smiled, “thank you. I wanted to look nice for our first date and if I do say so myself, you looked quite handsome too.” He nervously looked to the floor. “Oh, but you did Lydris!” She hugged him. “I loved last night; everything went great. But I have to know, how did you get that beer? I can’t get any of my father’s beer on Terra to save my life. I’ve tried to have my father ship me some but the shipping companies say no, something about stupid shipping laws and how they don’t allow alcohol to be shipped from planet to planet.”

“I have my connections,” Lydris smirked. “I called up a friend of mine back on Zalta who has a friend that just so happens to work for your father on New Germany at his brewery,” he watched Sofie’s mouth drop open, “and so his friend shipped a bottle to my friend on Zalta, who then shipped it to someone at the Zaltaen Embassy. And that’s how I was able to get a bottle of it for you. Did you enjoy it?”

“Yeah,” she hugged him, “it was a wonderful gesture.” She began to tear up which made him think that he had done something wrong. “What’s wrong Sofie?” he asked. “Why are you crying? Did I do something wrong again?”

“Oh no sweetie,” he blushed as she once again called him that term of endearment, “it’s just that,” she wiped her eyes, “the beer you brought last night has made me feel a little homesick. That’s all. I miss home. I miss my planet. I miss my dad. I’ve not been back home in nearly two years. Tasting the beer reminded me of home.”

“I understand,” he patted her knee, “I could get some more for you. I could arrange to have some more to be shipped in if you’d like.”

“Really?” Sofie was shocked. “You’d do that for me?”

“Of course, I would!” he exclaimed. “Say the word and I’ll work my contacts and by the end of the week, you’ll have more of your father’s beer in your fridge.”

“I’d like that,” Sofie looked down at her lap, “I’d like that very much.” There was a moment of silence between the two of them. “So, would you like to go out with me on a proper date?”

“Yeah,” Lydris hugged her, “I’d love to do so Sofie. I’d love to go out on a date with you. But as much as I’d like to stay here and talk with you some more, I have a Zaltaen thing to attend to this morning.” He stood up from the touch and leaned over to kiss her on the top of her head. “See you later Sofie.”

Later that next week, Lydris was looking at himself in the mirror fussing over every little detail of what he was wearing. “Acina?” he asked as he turned about to see his sister standing in the doorway. “Do you think I should wear a tie?” he asked as he held one up in his hands. “Or do you think that wearing a tie is too much?”

“I think wearing a tie,” Acina took hold of the tie and took it from him, “is a bit too much. You’re going on a date, not a job interview. And as for this,” she reached for his collar, “this can be left unbuttoned.” She unbuttoned the top button of his dress shirt. “I believe it’s appropriate for the top button to be left unbuttoned when not wearing a tie.”

“Oh yeah,” he looked down at himself, “human fashion is so much more complicated than Zaltaen fashion.” He looked back up. “I never know what to do or what’s acceptable.”

“I get it,” Acina sat down on the side of his bed, “it’s not like Zaltaen fashion where all we wear is robes.” He nodded. “That’s for sure.”

“Are you sure you want to go out on this date with Sofie?” Acina asked for she was worried about whether or not Sofie was going to do the same to him that Calyssa did. “Are you really sure about this?”

“I… I think so,” he said with some hesitation in his voice as he turned back to the mirror, “I like her sis. She’s… I don’t know, she makes me feel things that I thought was long dead in me after Calyssa dumped me in front of my friends.” Acina nodded as she remembered how crushed, devastated, and embarrassed he was; so much so that it made her heart ache for him.

“I know,” Acina came up to him and put her arms around her brother, “you’ve been much happier lately since Sofie came into your life. Sofie’s been good for you if I do say so myself.”

“Thank you, sis,” Lydris turned around and hugged his sister. “Wish me luck.”

“I don’t think you’ll need it brother.”

With that Lydris stepped out into the hallway and walked down to Sofie’s room. He was about to knock on her door when Irida walked up to him. “What are you doing all dressed up like that sweetie?” He once again blushed as he heard her call him that term of endearment again like she often did when she met him in the hallway. “Rumors around campus are that you and Sofie are dating. Is there any truth to those rumors?”

Lydris sighed, he could never understand why humans engaged in such gossip and rumors. “What is it about this campus and rumors? Can’t anyone have any privacy here?” Irida shook her head. “Can anyone do anything without everyone knowing about it?”

“Nope,” Irida shook her head, “it’s a college campus. Rumors spread like wildfire, I thought you knew that already.” He shook his head. “It’s just the nature of things on a college campus. People like to talk.”

“Back on my world, we don’t talk about people like…” As he was saying that Sofie’s door opened to reveal Sofie standing in the doorway. “Hey there Lydris. Are you ready for tonight?” He turned to look at Sofie and as he visually took in her appearance he gulped. Sofie was wearing a woolen red and black plaid miniskirt that hugged her hips and backside and not only that but it barely came down to mid-thigh, a white sweater that he would recognize anywhere for it was the same one that he had bought for her birthday to replace the one that was ruined with his blood, black opaque tights (it was obvious that they weren’t just a pair of leggings like she and so many other women her age often wore), and a pair of black tall high-heeled boots that came half-way up her shins that made her appear to be taller than he was. He had to wonder how she even managed to walk in her high-heeled boots for they had such a tall heel yet as she walked up to him and put her arms around him, it was obvious that she made it look effortless to walk in them. She was also wearing makeup even though he often told her that she didn’t need it but he had to admit, as she once told him, the makeup enhanced her already beautiful appearance.

“Sofie…” he gulped again as he looked her up and down again. He had never seen her look so stunning.

“Yep,” Irida grinned, “you’re definitely going out on a date with her. A woman doesn’t wear that kind of outfit just for any old thing.”

“Are you ready?” Sofie asked as she held him close.

“Um,” he gulped as he tried to find his voice. “I’m as… ready… as I’ll ever be.”

Good,” Sofie reached around and closed the door behind her, “I glad you’ve been able to make time for us in your busy school schedule.” He nervously nodded. “How’s your music class going my dear?”

“Good,” Lydris nodded he felt her arm around his waist and otherwise pulled him along, “it’s going good.”

“I’m glad,” Sofie pulled him closer. “Now, do what I tell you to do.”

“Ok,” he wondered where she was going with that.

“Take your left hand and put it on my back.” Lydris nervously put his hand on her back as he was told. “Lower.” She could feel his hand go further down her back. “Lower still. Put your hand on the small of my back.” Lydris looked to her confused for he didn’t know what she meant by that. “Sorry,” she quickly blushed but it went away just as fast, “I didn’t realize you didn’t know what that meant.” She paused for a moment as she thought of a way to describe it to him. “The small of one’s back is usually right above a person’s um… backside or butt, at the place where the spine curves inward.” She could feel his hand slide down her back. “There,” she said as she felt his hand at the right spot on her back, “right there. That’s called the small of one’s back. Keep your hand right there.”

“Oh,” Lydris nervously breathed out, “ok then.” He paused in thought. “But why would you want me to put my hand there?” he asked. “I thought that place is a rather intimate part of a woman’s body and that one normally shouldn’t touch?”

“Yes, it generally is,” she put her arm around him, “but in this case, I invited you to do so and not only that but usually it’s something a man does in situations like this with his woman.”

“I see,” he thought, “human dating is so much more complicated than on Zalta.”

Meanwhile Irida shook her head as she watched the two of them walk down the hallway. “Oh Lydris,” she laughed as she turned about and went back into her room, “you have a lot to learn about how human dating works but I can’t imagine a better teacher than Sofie.”

“What did Irida ask you?” Sofie asked as they reached the end of the hallway and Lydris pushed the button for the elevator. “I know she asked you something before I appeared in the doorway.”

“She was asking me if there was any truth to the rumors that you and I were dating. That’s all.” He shrugged. “I told her that I couldn’t understand why humans were so interested in what people did in their otherwise private lives.”

“That’s just the way it is among humans, especially on a college campus like,” she raised her hands in the air, “this. People always want to know what others are doing. People are just nosy like that.” Just then the elevator door opened and someone walked out.

“Hey there Sofie.”

“Hey there Jessica,” Sofie answered her as Jessie looked at Lydris. “And hey there too Lydris. Are you going out of a date with Sofie?”

“Um,” he looked to Sofie and she nodded to indicate that he could answer her question. “Yes, I’m going on a date with Sofie. Is there a problem with that?”

“Oh no!” Jessica exclaimed. “I’m just asking but anyways,” she was about to turn to walk down the hallway in the direction that they had just come, “have fun you two. I hope your date with Sofie goes well sweetie.”

“Sofie?” he asked her. “What’s with all of this… sweetie stuff?” Lydris asked as they walked into the elevator the door closed. “I’ve been called that by women who before I met you, they wouldn’t… as humans say, even give me the time of day.” Sofie began to laugh as he pressed the button for the ground floor. “I mean seriously… I’ve had more human women flirt with me than I ever thought possible ever since I started dating you. But why?” he asked. “Don’t they know that I’m dating you? Don’t they know that that I’m with… you?”

“It’s human nature Lydris,” Sofie rolled her eyes, “people want what they know they can’t have.”

“Well,” he shrugged, “rest assured that you won’t be seeing me doing the same.” He turned to her as the door opened only to have a person standing on the other side of the elevator door. “I won’t do anything of the sort as long I’m with you, Sofie.”

“I get it,” she brought him close, “I’m happy you think that way and I agree with you.”

As the two of them walked up to the front of the restaurant, Lydris reached for the door and let Sofie walk in first like he had learned of human custom for it was said that a gentleman was to get the door for a woman. As he walked in with her by her side, he noticed that the waiting area was rather full.

“Sofie?” he came up in back of her. “It’s busy.”

“That’s why I made reservations before we came here. Come,” she took hold of his hand, “come with me.” He began to follow her and as she led him through the rather busy waiting area, people gasped as they noticed that the two of them were together. “Sofie?” he gently squeezed her hand. “People are looking at us.” He nervously looked about the room full of people.

“I know,” she looked back to him, “I know they’re looking at us.” She put her arm around him. “Let them look for all I care, I don’t care.” She approached the front podium. “I have a reservation for a Sofie and Lydris.” Just then Lydris spotted another Zaltaen who appeared to be much older than he and Sofie were and she was sitting next to a human male. “Sofie?” he asked. “Look at that Zaltaen woman over there,” he pointed at her while trying to be as discrete as possible, “I wonder what’s going on with them.”

Just then the person behind the podium coughed to get their attention. “Your table will be ready in fifteen minutes. In the meantime, please take a seat in our waiting area.” Lydris turned about only to find the Zaltaen woman who he had been looking at across the room standing behind them.

“Hi there,” the Zaltaen woman said, “what are you two doing here? Are the two of you on a date?”

“Yes,” Sofie spoke as she put her arm around him, “Lydris and I are here on our second date together.”

“Aww,” the unknown Zaltaen woman cooed, “that’s sweet. I’m Amysa and I too am here on a date but,” she motioned for a human male to come over to her, “but things are a little different for me and David for you see, David and I,” he walked up carrying a child in his arms, “are married.”

“You two are married?” Sofie asked, completely shocked that the two of them were together in such a way. It was then that Sofie began to think about if they too were going to be married one day.

“Yep,” Amysa put her arms around David, “David and I got married two years ago, a few months after us Zaltaens dropped their disguises.” Lydris nodded, he had heard how his people had dropped their disguises on many human worlds but he and his sister weren’t on a human world yet so they didn’t have to go through such things. “I had been with her for years off and on and at the time I had known her by her human name, Monica. However, one evening instead of the Monica that I had been seeing for years,” he touched her shoulder, “Amysa came to my home that night.”

“How did that situation go?” Sofie asked. “I don’t imagine that it went…” David interrupted her. “If you’re asking me if I felt betrayed, lied to, and God knows whatever other kinds of negative feelings I had when I found out that the woman who I had feelings for was lying about who and what she truly was, then yes… the situation didn’t go well at all.”

“We fought, we yelled at each other, we…” he shook his head. “There was a lot of crying that night and I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried too.”

“I cried as well,” Amysa spoke up, “I felt so badly for having to lie to him about who and what I truly was. He didn’t deserve it and I know it. I loved him but I knew I had to give him some space and time to process things regardless of how much it hurt me.”

“A week later,” David continued, “I called her up and apologized. I told her that I didn’t mean to hurt her like I did, it was just that, as I said before, I felt betrayed.”

“And do you remember what I told you?” Amysa asked. “I told you that I was so very sorry that I had to lie to you like I did. I apologized profusely, I even started crying on the video call while I begged you to forgive me.”

“I know,” David kissed her cheek, “I remember. I also remember driving over to your place and that’s when we decided that we’d start over. What made things difficult for the two of us at first was that I knew virtually nothing about her, her people, her customs. She was a blank slate. Talk about a culture shock. Yet, she knew everything about me.”

“Trust me,” Sofie brought Lydris close, “it was a culture shock for both of us too. Lydris knows virtually nothing about how human dating works. He’s asked me to take the reins, that is, until he learns more.”

“Well, it certainly looks like you two are off to a great start.”

“I’m still very much flying by the seat of my pants here.”

“And do you know what I told you?” Sofie took hold of his hand. “You’re doing good, better than good even; you’re doing great.”

“What’s your name young man?” Amysa asked.

“Lydris, Lydris Stormfeather.”

“Oh,” Amysa slowly nodded her head, “I’ve heard of your House. It’s a lower House if I recall properly. In some ways,” Amysa looked down at the floor, “you’re lucky to have come from a lower House. You have far less crap to deal with. I came from the House of Duskmoon.”

“Whoa,” Lydris whispered, “you’re from one of the ruling Houses.” He was shocked. “If you’re from one of the ruling Houses, why are you here? Why aren’t you back on Zalta serving your House?” A pained expression came upon Amysa’s face as he had asked that question. “What’s wrong?”

“I,” she swallowed hard, “I was cast out. I’m no longer part of my House. I was cast out because of my relationship with David while I was under disguise. When they heard that I was dating a human, they severed all ties with me and told me that I had brought great shame upon the House and well, I don’t think I need to tell you how things went from there.” Lydris shook his head, he had heard of many of his people being treated like that by some of the more prominent Houses. “I’ve been here on Terra ever since. It’s why my relationship with David meant so much to me and why when he had told me that he needed some time to process things, I felt so bad knowing that I hurt him like I did.” David put his arm around her and as he had done so, Sofie watched Amysa’s whole emotional state change by the look on her face.

“To get back to our story… we settled things and we soon started dating with Amysa being who she really is and eventually after almost as year, I asked her to marry me. Sometime later,” David came around to the front of her and took the child that Amysa was holding in her arms, “Lanne came into our lives.” He hugged the child that was obviously a human and Zaltaen hybrid. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Lanne here,” he hugged her against him, “has been the light of our lives ever since.”

“Lanne?” Lydris asked. “That’s a Zaltaen name. I’m surprised that you didn’t name her a human name.”

“Yeah well,” Lanne looked Lydris’ way and instantly he could see that the child appeared to be more Zaltaen than Human but he could also see some features from David. Her eyes were blue instead of the usual purple and her hair was brown much like the color of David’s eyes and hair. Her skin, however, was still purple and she still had the pointed ears that all Zaltaens had. “She’s more Zaltaen than Human, as you can see.”

“Aww,” Sofie cooed as she gently touched the child’s back, “she’s beautiful.” Lanne hid her face in David’s chest as he rubbed the child’s back. “She’s just shy, she gets nervous around new people. That’s all.”

“I get it,” Sofie caressed the child’s back. “Hey there sweetie,” Sofie smiled as the child looked back her way, “I just want to say hi. I’m Sofie and I’m happy to meet you. How old are you sweetie?”

“Mommy?” Lanne asked as she turned to her mother Amysa. “Can I tell her?”

“She can talk?” Sofie was absolutely shocked to hear not only words come from Lanne’s mouth but a full coherent sentence. “Most human babies don’t really start talking using full sentences until around two or three years of age.”

“That’s the more advanced Zaltaen brain that’s at work here,” Amysa gently ran her hands through her child’s hair, “Zaltaen babies mentally develop much faster than human babies. She’s got a Zaltaen brain in her head which if you know anything about Zaltaen brains,” Sofie opened her mouth to speak. “Yeah, I know all about that. Lydris here,” she turned to him, “told me all about how the Zaltaen prefrontal cortex is much more complex than with humans.”

“Then you already know,” Amysa nodded, “Lanne started talking using simple sentences as early as six Terran standard months,” Sofie’s brow raised in shock, “by the time she was one, she was already speaking using full sentences.”

“Wow,” Sofie was shocked, “that’s amazing. So,” Sofie touched Lanne’s back, “how old you are you sweetie?” Lanne turned to Sofie. “I’m a year old.” Once again Sofie was absolutely stunned that a child as young as Lanne was able to form a complex sentence and not only that but understood the passage of time.

“Aww,” Sofie cooed, “you’re such a cutie.” Lanne smiled.

Just then Sofie heard her name called. “Party for Sofie and Lydris. I have a table ready for Sofie and Lydris.” They heard over the speakers of the room.

“I’m sorry to cut this short but that’s us,” Sofie looked to Lydris and then back at David and Amysa, “I’m happy to have met the three of you.” Sofie turned about and took Lydris’ hand and began to walk away from them. “Well, that was nice. I’m happy to know that we’re not the only interspecies couple.”

“I’ve heard of quite a few in the area but seeing is believing.”

“I see,” they approached the podium, “Sofie and Lydris. You have our table ready?”

“Yes Miss Sofie,” the hostess motioned for them to follow her, “if you two would follow me, I’ll take you to your private dining table.” Lydris mouthed the word ‘private’ to which Sofie nodded. “I wanted us to have a private time together. You know, for us to get to know each other and spend an evening together. I hope you don’t mind.” He shook his head as he put his arms around her. “There you go,” she took hold of his hands while others in the dining room gawked and otherwise looked at them, “now you’re getting the hang of this.” He couldn’t help but to feel quite good about himself as she told him that.

“Here you go,” the hostess came up to the booth, “your table. Lisa will be your waitress; she’ll be along soon.” With that the hostess walked away leaving the two of them standing by the table. “Sofie,” he motioned for her to get into the booth first.

“Thank you Lydris,” she climbed into the booth and scooted herself all the way to the back of the U-shaped booth. “Come, sit down next to me.” She patted the cushion of the seat. “Don’t be shy.” He climbed into the booth and sat down next to but gave what he felt was an appropriate amount of distance between her and him but as soon as he made himself comfortable, she had other plans in that she moved closer to him otherwise snuggled up close to him. “We are on a date, you know. Dates are how people learn to be comfortable being close with one another.” She took hold of his hand and put it atop her nylon covered thigh which surprised him for he didn’t expect her to be ready for him to touch her in such a close and intimate way quite yet, especially since her skirt was so short. “Being close to one another is part of the dating experience.”

“I see,” he looked down at his hand.

“What do you think so far?” she asked as she took her hand off of his hand and put her arm around his shoulder. Meanwhile, he kept his hand on her thigh where she had put it. He figured that if she put it there, she must have had a reason for it even if he didn’t know what that reason was.

“Uh,” he nervously breathed out, “I have to admit that I… I like this Sofie. I find it to be rather exciting to be here with you like this. I hope you don’t find that to be…” Sofie interjected. “Oh no,” she patted the hand that was still on her thigh, “I find it to be rather exciting too. You’re my first serious relationship too you know. As for us being out together like this, I like this too.” He could hear her heart to race in excitement due to his enhanced hearing, that and he could feel her pulse through her hand that was atop his.

“Sofie,” he was about to say something about it when the waitress came to their table. “Hello,” she paused for a moment as she noticed that the two of them were a human and Zaltaen. “Are you two together?”

“Yeah,” Sofie brought him closer, “we’re on our second date tonight.” The waitress’s eyebrow raised. “We’ve been friends for much longer than that though.”

“Well then,” the waitress smiled, “you two definitely look like a happy couple.” Sofie and Lydris smiled at each other. “In the meantime, what do you want to start your evening off with? Perhaps a bottle of wine to share together?”

“Lydris?” Sofie asked as she once again patted his hand resting on her thigh. “Do you want to share a bottle of wine?”

“Why not?” Lydris asked as he nervously caressed her thigh during which she thought that he was finally getting comfortable around her in the way she had wanted him to be. “Let’s do that,” he turned to her, “let’s have some wine together.”

Later that evening, Lydris and Sofie walked down the hallway to Sofie’s dorm. “Good night Sofie, I hope you had a good time with me tonight.” Sofie put her arms around his neck and drew him close. “Yes Lydris,” she quickly kissed him, “yes I did. Do you want to go out again next weekend?”

“Sure,” he shrugged, “but it doesn’t have to be fancy next week.”

“Ok Lydris, what do you suggest?”

“I was looking at a pizza shop in town a few weeks ago and I thought that would be nice. My sister and I ordered pizza in from the place two weeks ago and they’re great. Maybe we can go there instead. We don’t even have to dress up for it, it’s a rather informal place.”

“But don’t you like it when I dress up like I am right now?” she asked hoping that he would say yes.

“Well yes,” he looked down at her as she continued to have her arms around him, “I do but that doesn’t mean you have to all the time for me. I know you own a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt; you can just wear that to the place.”

“Oh alright, I’ll tone down a bit on the dressing up as long as you do the same.”

“Got it.”

“Great!” she held him closer and hugged him. “It all sounds good to me; I look forward to it. But I do have one question.” He shrugged. “What do you think of that couple we met?”

“You mean the Zaltaen and human that were married and had a child together?”

“The one and only.”

“What about them?” He asked wondering where Sofie was going with her line of inquiry.

“Do you think we have a future like that?” Sofie asked.

“I don’t know,” Sofie cast her eyes down as he said that, “I… I certainly hope so though.” She looked back up at him. “I like spending time with you and I have to admit that I enjoyed our time together this evening so maybe we do have a chance at that kind of relationship. And if I’m being honest, I’d certainly welcome it if it happens with us. However, it’s getting late,” he gently took hold of her chin and closed in for a kiss, “have a good night Sofie.”

“Have a good night as well, Lydris,” she whispered as he walked away and waved to him. She breathed out and happily sighed as she walked into her dorm and fell onto couch across from Layla.

“So how did the date go?”

Meanwhile, in Lydris’ dorm he walked in to find his sister sitting on the couch in the common area of their dorm. “Hey there brother,” she looked to him as he sat down next to her, “how was your date with Sofie?”

“It went great but there’s something I have to ask.”

“And that is?”

“Do you have a problem with me being with her? With Sofie.” She was about to speak when Lydris continued. “Because I want her in my life, I want to be with her and after what I saw tonight, it proves that Human and Zaltaen relationships can and do work out.” Acina was about to speak up but once again, Lydris continued. “Sofie and I met a Zaltaen and a Human who were married in the restaurant that we had gone to.”

“Married?” Acina asked. “As in, they were actually married?”

“Uh huh,” Lydris hummed. “And from what it sounds like, she, the Zaltaen woman, had been on Terra for a long time now. She was one of us that were under disguise for years on this world and during her time on Terra under disguise, she had fallen in love with a Human named David.”

“Oh,” Acina nodded. “I take it that things changed when she was ordered to drop her disguise by the Queen like I’ve often heard among our people.”

“Yeah,” Lydris nodded, “they nearly broke up but they eventually worked things out which honestly gives me hope that Sofie and I can be together like I want us to be. They even have a child together,” Acina was shocked, “and she’s the cutest little thing I’ve ever seen. Her name is Lanne. You should’ve seen her sis; she was so cute. You could tell that she was a Zaltaen but she also had human-like features like her father’s brown hair and blue eyes instead of the usual blue hair and purple-colored eyes. She still had purple skin and pointed ears like we do though.” He looked up to his sister. “If you want, I’ll open my mind to you and let you see her.”

Lydris opened his mind and felt the familiar touch of his sister’s telepathic abilities inside his mind.

“Aww,” Acina clasped her hands together as she exited his mind, “she sure is cute.”

“So, I have to ask, do you have a problem with me being with Sofie like I am? Because, like I said before, after seeing what I saw with the two of them and their child together, I can’t help but to want what they have together with Sofie.”

“If that’s really what you want,” Lydris nodded, “then I have no problem with you being with Sofie. Our matriarch, however, may have a problem with that but as humans say, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

“Speaking of that Zaltaen woman,” he shook his head, “I feel so incredibly sorry for her. Her name is Amysa and she told me that she was once part of the House of Duskmoon.” Acina had a feeling where that was going. “Apparently when her House had found out about her relationship with the human named David, they…” Acina spoke up. “Let me guess, this Amysa… was cast out of her House.”

“Yeah,” he looked down at the floor, “David and their child, Lanne, are all she has left in this life and I feel so sorry for her. She didn’t deserve to be cast out of her House like that; all because she fell in love with a human. And after hearing what happened to her, I can’t help but to think that that’s going to happen to me.” He put his hand to his chest. “It makes me never want a thing to do with our people again if this is what we do to our own. If these last two years have taught me anything about humans, it’s that they have freedom to choose their own path in life and I want the same thing.”

“Like I said before Lydris,” Acina sat down next to him and put an arm around her brother, “if you truly want to be with Sofie, we’ll deal with the repercussions if and when it comes to pass. But in the meantime, think about the good things that’ll happen with Sofie; don’t think about the bad. OK?” She patted his knee and smiled to hopefully put her brother’s fears to rest. “Don’t let the potential bad things that could happen to you be the reason why your relationship with Sofie falls apart. I’ve never seen you so happy in a long time when you’re with her.

“Besides,” he laid his head on her shoulder, “I’ll do what I can for you brother.” She patted his knee, “I’ll shield you as best as I can from any and all fallout because that’s what I’m here for; to protect you. What are sisters for?” She stood up from the couch. “Now I want to hear about your date with her. What did the two of you do with each other?”

Just as she said that, Acina’s datapad buzzed. She picked it up and read the message that had come in. “Holy fuck,” she gasped, “our matriarch is dead.”

Good!!!” Lydris exclaimed. “About time that old hag died.”

“Lydris!” Acina shouted. “Have some respect for your matriarch.”

“I’d have given her respect if she gave me,” he pointed at himself, “respect. I like what Humans often say, respect is earned and she definitely didn’t earn any from me.”

“Lydris,” his sister shook her head, “what am I going to do with you?”

Nothing,” Lydris huffed, “I’m not going to change my mind about that. I’m glad she’s dead.” Then he thought. “But the question now is, who’s going to be appointed the new matriarch by the council?”

Good question.” Acina sighed. “We’ll just have to keep a closer eye on what’s going on back home.”

Home?” Lydris asked. “With Sofie in my life I’ve been lately looking at this place as home.”

“I get it,” Acina sighed. “Me too brother,” she patted his knee, “me too. Sofie and Layla have been great to the two of us.”

“Yes, indeed they have. I couldn’t ask for better people to know.”

In Sofie’s room Layla sat down across from Sofie. “So?” Layla asked. “How did it go? How did your date with Lydris go?”

“It went great,” Sofie looked up as she unzipped her boots, “we had dinner together, we shared a bottle of wine,” Layla’s eyebrow raised at that, “and we walked back to campus. It was so romantic; I’ve never had anyone treat me like that. He was perfect. We have a great time together. But what was really surprising about our date was that Lydris and I met a Zaltaen and a Human that were married.”

“Really?” Layla sat forward on the couch. “An actual Human and Zaltaen couple that were married.”

“Uh huh,” Sofie hummed, “they were married alright and from what I heard, she, the Zaltaen, was one of her people that were under disguise for a number of years and while she was still under disguise, she had fallen in love with a Human.”

“And I take it that when she dropped her disguise, this Human man that she had been with took an issue to her lying to him like she did.”

“Yeah,” Sofie sighed, “my heart broke for her when she told Lydris and I that after an evening of fighting, she went back to her place and sobbed. It just goes to show you that really, when you get right down to it, Zaltaens really aren’t much different than us Humans. They want the same things in life, they want to love and they want to be loved just like us Humans.”

“I suppose so,” Layla smiled as she thought about a relationship with Acina.

“Oh, and you should’ve seen their child!” Layla looked up. “Lanne was the cutest little thing. She had purple skin and pointed ears much like Zaltaens do but she had blue eyes and brown hair like her father. I’m telling you Layla,” Sofie couldn’t help but smile as she recalled the image of the little one in her mind, “she was so cute! I swear to God Layla,” Sofie looked up at the ceiling, “I want what Amysa and David have together with Lydris. I know we can make it work between us.”

“What did he say when you asked about that?”

“Lydris told me that he’s not sure, however, he seems hopeful about our future together. I guess,” Sofie shrugged, “I guess that’s a good sign.”

“That’s called being a realist Sofie; you never know what life will throw at you.”

“I get it,” Sofie sighed. “I just have to enjoy what I have in the present.”

“That’s right Sofie, enjoy every moment you have with him.”

After that evening, Sofie and Lydris went on many… many more dates and of course, grew closer to each other. They were nearly inseparable. Every moment they had they were with each other; so much so that Layla often joked that they were already married. And others on campus noticed that too.

Soon he realized there was no question, he had to have her in his life. So, without her knowing, he began looking into how to ask for her hand in marriage. But then something changed that threatened the future he wanted with the women he loved.

Continue to Chapter 16…

  1. 5 PM.[]