"We better call Andrew before he thinks we're going to be late," Anna told Charlee when she straightened after buckling her sandals.
Charlee looked over at her. "It probably wouldn't be proper if we showed up late at the High Commander's invitation to dinner. Instead of trying to call Andrew's room, why don't we just go knock on his door?" She shrugged a bare shoulder at Anna. "Since we are both ready to go anyway."
"Lead the way." Anna waved her hand toward the door just as knuckles rapped.
"I bet that's probably my dear brother now." Anna smiled at Charlee. "To anxious to wait for us to come to his room." She walked over and opened the door. When she saw Andrew, she looked back over her shoulder. "What did I tell you?" she asked, laughing.
"What did you tell her?" Andrew quizzed his sister, before he glanced behind her to Charlee. His breath caught at how stunningly beautiful he found the young woman who stood behind his sister. Unable to take his astonished eyes away from her, he continued to gaze at her in disbelief. The sleeveless dress she had on had a low neckline that clearly let him know she was perfectly sized to fit just right in his hands. The dress also followed the slender curve of her waist and hips. He glanced down at trim ankles and slender feet in the sandals she wore. She had always, just been Anna's gangly friend that had hung around their home for years. He had never paid her any attention while they were all growing up together. The first time she had caught his eye was earlier that day, when she and Anna had been sorting through Anna's music recordings. He had found her attractive then too. Tonight though, this ugly duckling of gangly youth had turned into a beautiful swan, words he remembered from a storybook Molly used to read to Anna as a child. Andrew lightly coughed into his hand, and firmly pulled his eyes away from Charlee before he started to drool. "Come on you two, let's go before we're late."
Wondering why he had looked at her so funny, Charlee glanced down at the dress she wore, and made sure it was properly buttoned, before she followed Anna out into the dimly lit corridor.
Wordlessly, George, Molly, and the three young adults walked down corridor one to the High Commander's private dining quarters. Each lost in their own personal thoughts.
Anna felt her apprehension build the closer they approached the High Commander's quarters. This is crazy. What in the world made me change my mind about coming on this journey? she thought.
George indicated for Charlee to push the intercom button on the corridor wall when they stopped outside the entrance of the High Commander's door. All stood silent as they waited admittance into the room.
Anna shifted uneasily. If I didn't know better, I'd pinch myself, just to check to see if I'm really sound asleep in my bed. I'm probably in my room back on earth just having a strange dream or nightmare. As she watched the door slowly begin to open, Anna quickly reached up and gave her arm a hard twist with her fingers. "Ouch," she gasped out. She realized what she was experiencing was no dream.
"What is the matter with you, Anna?" Molly asked looking over at her.
"Nothing, just needed to check something out," Anna replied rubbing the tender spot on her arm.
* * * *
Traun absently swirled the dark golden colored liquid around in the glass he held. Staring down into the swirling liquid, he waited for his aunt and uncle to show up with his future lifemate. He missed Avreen and his home planet.
When his door opened, he glanced up and watched, as an attractive young woman walked into the room. She reminded him of the women on Garr. Having the same color of dark hair, the women of Garr kept throughout their lifetime. She glanced his way. Turning her head, she whispered to someone who stood directly behind her blocked from his view.
Anna leaned forward, toward Charlee, when she whispered to her over her shoulder.
"My God, if that's not your future husband standing over there, I want him." Charlee stepped aside, so Anna could come into the room and see the tall, dark haired, muscular man.
Traun quietly watched the attractive, dark haired young woman step aside to admit whomever she spoke to into the room. The glass of liquid, he absently raised to his mouth halted in mid air. His eyes riveted on the slender, blonde woman whose curves were outlined by a dress that loosely skimmed her body. The dress stopped short about five inches above her knees. Her long slender bare legs seemed to go on forever. Feeling a jolt hit him low in the abdomen, he realized he could easily span her waist with his hands. Unbidden, a plea raced across the inside of his mind. Please let her be the chosen one!
Standing close enough to the two girls to overhear what Charlee had whispered to his sister, anger sliced through Andrew at her comment. His gaze unerringly found Charlee's, stabbing her with the aggression, he felt at her comment.
Feeling her neck and face flush with embarrassment, Charlee swiftly jerked her eyes away from Andrew's hostile glare, confused over the anger she saw directed at her over her teasing comment.
Anna missed their exchange as she looked past Charlee to the man who stood across the room with a drink in his hand. When their eyes made contact, she felt as if she couldn't breathe for a moment. Now, I know why I was never interested in a relationship with anyone on earth. I have unconsciously been waiting for this man all my life, she thought.
Reluctantly, Traun pulled his gaze from the woman when his uncle approached him to greet him in the age-old custom of the men of Garr. Traun extended his arm and grasped his uncle's extended forearm in greeting, their fingers clasped firmly around each other's elbows.
George turned back to the young people who still stood in the doorway, he motioned for them to come forward. "Traun this is Anna, Andrew and Charlee."
Intense satisfaction coursed through Traun, when the blonde gracefully walked forward after his uncle introduced her as Anna. "Anna," he repeated in his deep voice, as he nodded his head at her. He then glanced at Andrew and Charlee who stood beside her. "I am glad to meet you all three."
"Aunt, as always, I am happy to see you again." Leaning down Traun embraced Molly when she walked up to him. Her strong resemblance to his mother tugged at his heart strings.
He turned back to include the whole group. "Why don't we all sit down at the table. The food is prepared and ready to be served."
Walking over to the table, Traun took a seat at the head of the table. His uncle sat down at the opposite end.
Realizing she would have to sit directly across from Andrew, Charlee wished she had moved quicker. Then she could have taken the seat where Anna currently sat. Reluctantly, she pulled out the chair in front of her and sat down beside Anna, next to the man Anna was suppose to marry.
Charlee, her eyes downcast, placed her cloth napkin in her lap.
Once they were all seated, Anna noticed that Charlee was awfully quiet and had been since her teasing comment to her when they entered the room.
Anna looked over the table to where her brother sat directly across from Charlee and saw that he watched her closely. Could it be? She wondered. This was the second time today she had caught him staring at her friend while he seemed to be unaware of the action.
"The food may not be what you are used to. However, it is the best we can expect while we're on the ship," Traun commented. His gaze circled around the table. "It is edible and nourishing, I guess that is what counts." He smiled down at Anna at the other end of the table.
Anna felt her insides tighten at his slow, drop dead gorgeous smile directed her way. She nodded her head at his comment concerning the food. She looked down at her plate and picked up her eating utensil, wondering what it was she was about to eat. Spearing a green looking vegetable, she decided it was probably best not to know. Cautiously, she placed her fork in her mouth. Not too bad, she thought, as she slowly chewed, a little bland tasting, but as he said, edible.
"Uncle, I am glad to see you have recovered nicely from the wasting disease," Traun commented.
George nodded at Traun's statement and swallowed the bite of food he had just placed in his mouth. "Yes, once I received the proper treatment, I was back in fine form in no time. Has the transfer of knowledge that was agreed upon begun yet from our planet to planet earth?"
"Our High Commander started the process as soon as I had time to pick up my passengers and leave earth. Although, I hope they didn't expect to receive the complete workings of our spaceships and how we travel through space. We want a new beginning without the worry of being invaded in the future and our own knowledge being used against us."
George agreed with him.
"How long will it take before we reach this planet we are supposed to inhabit?" Andrew inquired.
"It will take a month," Traun replied, after taking a drink. He glanced at his future lifemate and noted that she seemed caught up in their conversation. "There are three other spaceships we are scheduled to meet with at the wormhole passage. There are passengers on board those ships who are from Garr, as well as the supplies we'll need to be able to survive on the new planet."
"Exactly what is this wormhole opening?" Andrew asked.
"A wormhole is a tunnel in outer space that leads from one universe to another," Traun explained. "Some stay open continuously, others open and close periodically. We have traveled for centuries through a wormhole tunnel from Garr to earth at our leisure, as it stays open continuously. The one that leads to the planet we plan to inhabit opens only briefly, once a millennium."
Nodding his head at Traun's last statement, Andrew looked down the table at George. "George told us about the wormhole opening only once every one thousand years. With the rush in getting prepared to be ready when you came to pick us up, I never did get around to asking him to explain the whole wormhole thing." He reached out and picked up the glass in front of him.
While Anna listened to the men talk, she noticed what she and the other women had to drink was different from what the men had in their glasses, and she wondered why. She watched Andrew take a drink from his glass then look questioning at its contents before he sat it back on the table.
Molly laughed when she noticed Andrew's behavior. "Traun, what are you men drinking?" Traun looked over at his aunt as she continued. "Are you drinking that awful beverage that's a specialty of the Palace city?"
"Yes, aunt, why? It is my preferred drink, and as I remembered, Uncle used to enjoy it occasionally, when he was on Garr. I made sure he had some and figured Andrew might like the drink also."
"The girls might like to try it." Andrew spoke up, smiling when he noticed Anna and Charlee bristle that they had not been offered the drink same as the men.
"Andrew, I don't think that's a good idea," Molly said frowning. "As I remember it is pretty potent."
Reaching over, Anna grasped George's tumbler with her fingers. Quickly, she raised his glass to her lips and took a large gulp of the contents, then gasped, when she felt the raw burn after the golden colored liquor hit the back of her throat. Head spinning, Anna worried if she was going to be able to catch her breath. Tears collected in her eyes. She slowly, handed the glass toward Charlee, who quickly shook her head. She didn't want to try it after observing Anna's reaction.
Anna turned from Charlee and set the glass she held back down. "I think that's all I want," she gasped out as her eyes still watered.
George and Andrew roared with laughter. Molly shook her head, lips twitching.
Traun watched Anna with a slow smile. She captivated him. An unexpected surprise, this half earthling he was expected to breed with.