The high commander sports a classic black suit. But, his headdress is a beautiful feathered display.
“The tailors did a wonderful job.” Alaya joins in. “I’ll have to tell Mister Drake how well Xuna looks.” It’s an aside, aimed at Henrietta, who observes Xuna as he pauses.
Surveying his domain.
Those piercing eyes scan the room. Until they alight on their group. At Henrietta’s little hiccup, Isabella chirps, “Oooo, goody.” Alaya looks her way, sharply.
The leader stares; directly. Then comes a curt, imperious wave.
“Someone is being summoned,” Kalapati announces. William dips his head. Not happy.
“I think it’s me.”
“Shall we all go?” Kalapati suggests.
Henrietta realizes how each person attempts pleasant expressions. Alaya and she are the worst actors. Isabella, unconcerned, does a better job. Probably not worried about anything, except that headdress dipping into some drink. The quintet make their way across the broad room as the crowd parts smoothly for them. Henrietta knows, on paper, the Librarian’s the top authority in this region. Reality is different.
“Ah, Librarian.” Xuna bestows a smile, which is not mirrored in his dark eyes. “So glad we can share time at this fine event.”
“Thank you, High Commander. It’s a great party.”
“Yes. These girls have put together an excellent gathering.” Turning to Alaya his smile reaches closer to his eyes now. “I apologize for the limited resources I gave you young ladies.” The high commander studies her a moment, then quickly glances between father and daughter. “You are so good at this.”
Alaya obviously struggles with this compliment, and her response is a bit pinched. “We enjoyed doing it.” She shakes her head, blushing.
“I would like you to do it full time.” Xuna raises his hand, preventing a reply. As this is not a request. He looks intently at Librarian Way. He’s threatening him?
“My daughter is working hard on her studies, at the moment.”
“Of course.” With mock sincerity, “I won't interfere with Alaya's education. But, she, and Miss Castellano could be—ah—guests. At my home. They could work to get it ready for parties.” Henrietta’s sure Librarian Way isn’t swayed.
William looks ready to strike something or some one. “I’m Isabella’s guardian. I wouldn’t feel right letting either of the girls out of my sight.”
Xuna keeps poking. “But, they will be under my protection.” Under Xuna's suit, muscles shift, and bulge. “Everyone tells me I have no social skills. I’m sure you have all heard that. A new lie slips from him smiling face, "I want help to improve my social relations with my people. Our people.” Henrietta notices William’s fist clench.
William forces a strained looking smile as he resists. “It would probably best not do disturb the girls' living aranagments, with all the changes happening this month.”
“But, I insist.” Xuna's offers that smile again, and his last warning, “If my mansion is more genial, that could reduce hostility in Silver City.”
“I think it’s a wonderful idea.” Alaya steps between the two. “Isabella, won’t it be fun to redecorate that big house.”
Isabella hops closer and grabs Alaya’s sleeve. “Oh, absolutely. I have fabric ideas already.”
“Excellent.” The high commander's winning smile falls beneficently on all. “That is decided. Please, transfer over to my house tomorrow. All requests will be granted.” He looks around the room then. “You’ll have as many servants as you need.” A settled matter. “Where is the guest of honor? The Maori sub-commander? I must greet Tangaroa.”
With no further word, he strides off toward the center of the room.
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