Shaking her head at his comment, Laina went back up to her Cabin to think. Was she biting off more then she could chew? Was this whole venture the wrong thing to do? Could she actually pull it off? It was in this state of doubting thought that Wes found her in a few hours later.
“Hey Laina, the crew… what’s the matter?” Wes asked from the doorway. Laina was sitting on the window sill playing with a diamond ring on a golden chain; there were tears in her eyes and tear tracks on her cheeks.
“What? Oh nothing…” She said wiping her eyes. “What’s up with the crew?”
“The crew can wait. Why are you crying?” Wes walked over to sit opposite her on the window sill. “And where did you get that ring? You don’t usually keep any of the jewelry we steal.”
She laughed slightly, “It’s not stolen Wes. It’s my Engagement ring.”
“Engagement ring? When were you engaged?”
Laina looked at him, “Do you remember when Celia and I were talking last shore leave and she kept bringing up a guy named Josh?”
“Yeah.” Wes answered not getting where this was going, “Who is he?”
“He was my fiancé Wes. God why am I telling you this?” Laina said turning her face toward the window fresh tears streaming down her face unchecked.
“Because you have to tell someone and I’ll the only one here who knows you well enough. So what happened? Did he die or something?”
“No, but I wish he were.” She sighed. “I guess I’d better tell you the whole story if we’re going to talk about this.” She took a deep breath and started her tale, “I met Josh at a co-ed dance when I attended Ogoh’s Academy for Young Women on Zantos VIII. He was going to Grey’s Men’s Institute of learning. I was fourteen, he was eighteen and very charming. I don’t even know why, but I fell faster then a ten ton brick. Anyway about a year later he proposed and I accepted, I thought I knew who he was and that he was what I wanted. Huh. Anyway on the eve of my sixteenth birthday we still hadn’t set a date and Josh gave me an ultimatum; finally tell my parents about us or call off the wedding. I chose the first option.
“I told Hue first, he was so happy for me. Which is why he went to Zeon Alpha Omega, to tell Lady Augusta my good news. I told my parents at dinner on my birthday, and needless to say they reacted worse then I had originally anticipated. Apparently they had never planned for me to get married; in fact they had promised me to a nunnery on the day I was born. Because they wanted to receive a dowry, not give one. Well you know what happened next, I was disowned and disinherited, but before I was to be locked away for ever, I escaped. The first thing I did before taking off was find Josh and I told him what had happened. Do you know what that Gynzer said to me?” Wes shook his head silently and Laina continued with her story, “He said ‘Go home little girl and come and find me once you have money.’” She closed her eyes and let the tears continue to flow unhindered.
“Why did you keep the ring Laina?” Wes asked carefully once he was sure she was finished speaking.
“I keep it to remind me to never be that naive again. I was young and extremely stupid and I never want to let myself feel that low ever again.” She said clutching the ring tightly in her fist.
“Laina, you’re only eighteen, you’re still very young.” She scoffed at his comment, “No listen to me,” He gently nudged her chin so she was looking at him, “you may still young, but you’re anything but stupid. An idiot wouldn’t be able to run a ship of this size, with this many crew members. An idiot wouldn’t have been able to escape the traquese as many times as you did in a single run. An idiot wouldn’t have been able to find a way to escape the abuse that you dealt with the way you did. You, Laina Alexandra Washburn are one of the most intelligent people I have ever had the pleasure to meet.” Wes said wiping her tears with his thumb. “Trust me on this one.”
“Thanks Wes.” Laina said with a small smile.
“Any time.” He said returning the smile, then a thought occurred to him, “How did you escape, you never did expand on that point.”
“On the night that my grandfather’s Will was read, as I already said, my presence was required before the Lawyer could even read it, as my grandfather requested in the Will. After the reading was done I was filled with a new sense of… hope, there’s no other word for it, after all now I had a way of escaping for ever. Anyway as soon as the reading had concluded, my parents ordered a pair of guards to take me back to my room, where, as was the ritual, I was stripped down and rechained to my wall…” The look of surprise on Wes’ face threw her off her train of thought. “Oh didn’t I mention that part before?”
“No, no you failed to mention that fact. Now when you say stripped what are we talking about here? Nude?” Wes asked his anger rising.
“No, not quiet nude, but down to my bra and panties. My father’s brilliant idea, apparently if I was going to act like a Rowen Gamma Strip-Dancer, then I would be treated like one. So over that two month period I managed to weaken one of the chain links almost to the point of breakage. The night of my grandfather’s Will reading I posted a proposition to one of the guards put in charge of my torture, after they had finished smacking me around. I said ‘Give me a sword you hurein kos, if I can out duel you then you’ll let me walk out that door and away from this God forsaken hell hole no questions asked. If I can’t then I’ll do what ever you want.’ You can imagine how eager they were to see me fail, so they accepted my challenge. They thought they had the upper hand, but they were wrong.”
“What do you mean?” Wes asked slightly confused by her wording.
“I let them believe that they had won the duel. The one I was dueling, a particularly grotesque Sharpezien, stabbed out with his sword, I let my self fall to the floor, which snapped the chain, which I was thankful that my parents didn’t care enough to replace the damned rusty thing. The moronic guard leaned over me and whispered nice and soft ‘Now you’re mine crag, and trust me it’s not gonna be pretty, and you’re not gonna enjoy it either.’, and that’s when I grabbed the sword I was given and swung it as hard as I could.”
“What happened then?”
“I had decapitated him. Then the other guard held up his part of our little arrangement and let me walk out my bedroom door, and even though I felt like I was going to fall apart, I walked out that door with my head held high. I collapsed shortly after I managed to walk out of my parents Palace, a ‘peasant’ farmer found me passed out on the edge of the palace grounds, he took me to his wife and she dressed what wounds hadn’t already healed. When I came to about an hour afterwards they lent me some clothes and I left. I think that they thought that I was an escaped convict or a slave or something; they asked no questions and I told no lies. Anyway when I left I went straight to the ship port and prayed like hell you guys hadn’t left the planet yet, I knew you had stayed to hear the reading. I never would have guessed that you’d be pissed at me or that my grandfather would have told you my Secret.” At this comment Wes looked very uncomfortable. “It turns out that the guard waited two full days to tell my parents that I was gone, and I still can’t figure out why he had given me a two day head start. Maybe he had heard about my first escape attempt.”
“Damn, Laina I had no idea. Celia was right by the way, this was something you needed to talk about. Hell I’m surprised that you haven’t just locked everyone out. I can’t believe you didn’t fire me either.”
“Well I thought about firing you in the first few months, you know when the men would look to you before doing anything I ordered; let me just say that was very annoying. And I did lock you people out; I spent close to three weeks locked in this room. It took a call from my brother to get me to finally reemerge and move my furniture.”
“That and about six consecutive raids.”
Laina laughed a little bit, “Yes those helped to. Thank God I had found my grandfather’s journals; those first couple of raids would have gone a hell of a lot worse other wise.” She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and realized that
she was still clutching the ring. “Keeping this ring is kind of foolish isn’t it?”
“I wouldn’t say that necessarily. You keep it as long as you feel you need to Laina.”
“Thank you Wes, really thank you.” Laina said giving him a hug.
“Like I said before, anytime Laina, I’m never that far away.” He said hugging her back.
“So what did you want to tell me about the crew?” Laina said pulling away from the embrace and getting up to find a towel to dry her tear stained face.
“Oh that. You remember that hovercraft I was talking about earlier?”
“Yeah…” She had found a suitable cloth and walked back over to the window ledge. “What about it?”
“Well apparently they found where I had stashed it and completely trashed it; Bruser’s throwing another fit over it.” Wes said laughing.
Warning! This one is kinda long… about seven pages in word to be exact! Be happy I didn’t post the whole chapter… ;p Anywho this is a little tender moment between Laina and Wes. I hope those of you who bother to read it enjoy it! Don’t be afraid to comment! Oh and I’m debating wheather or not to post my glossery of words and terms used through out the novella… So at the moment if there is a word you would like explained feel free to bubble me, or post here and I give it to you!