The characters in the story are a product of my own imagination and hopefully have no resemblance to any living persons. But if it does it is entirely coincidental. Some of the places mentioned are either fictitious and or adapted to suit the plot of the story.
Sex: This story contains sexual content of a graphic nature between consenting adult women, thus if you are not 18 years old and not allowed to read content of this nature, please move on to other suitable stories.
Archiving : This work is copy written and should not be posted anywhere else with the writer's expressed permission.
Special thanks to my betas rleef and Steph.
Feedback: Constructive criticisms is greatly appreciated, so feel free to drop a line or two at email@example.com or sent me a friend request on Facebook .
Palmer was acutely aware of Hem's subtle scrutiny as she sat eating her breakfast. After last night and the way they'd left things, she had woken up this morning feeling drained and numbed. With the pain of loss came the realization that Hem was right on one account. Their priority should be the girls. She had glanced at the pillow noticing the indent of a head and smiled. Nael had stayed with her. No matter what she felt for Hem, she had raised their daughters well and for that the Pharmac had her utmost respect.
Soft footfalls sounded and looking over her shoulder, Palmer was surprised to see Ahalpa entering the dining hall with a small bundle in her arms. The Pharmac captain was smiling broadly as she walked over to Hem, who in the meantime had risen to her feet. Hem eagerly held her hands out to receive the bundle. Palmer remembered Ahalpa mentioning her daughter and she smiled warmly at the beaming mother.
“She has grown since I last saw her,” Hem said softly as she rocked the baby.
Ahalpa smiled proudly as she laid her hand against the wrapped bundle. “She is staying awake for longer now. Last night Dellni had to sit with her for almost an hour before she finally slept.” Ahalpa turned to face the rest of the table and bowed slightly. “Senator, Captain.”
“Captain Ahalpa,” Senator Keane greeted warmly.
“Captain,” Palmer greeted and pointed at the bundle in Hem's arms. “Who's the young lady?” Palmer almost laughed at the lovesick expression that came over Ahalpa's face as she glanced at her daughter. Her gaze shifted to the baby and found intense black and gold eyes studying her. Looking away quickly, Palmer focused her attention on Ahalpa. The Pharmac took her daughter from Hem and came to sit next to Palmer. With a gentle touch Ahalpa uncovered the face of the baby and Palmer smiled in pure delight at the sight of two midnight dark eyes. “She's a beauty,” Palmer gushed. She could see the Senator leave her chair to come and stand between Ahalpa and her.
“She is gorgeous,” Senator Keane said and brushed her finger against the baby's cheek. “What's her name?”
“Her name is Redla.” Ahalpa offered as she nuzzled the small fist with her lips. “We named her after our mother.”
Palmer's eyes swung to Hem and aback to Ahalpa. “Your mother? She's still alive?”
“Both our parents are still alive. They arrive today for the Yram ,” Ahalpa said without looking up from her daughter's dozing face. “They are eager to meet Redla and to support the girls.”
At the mention of the girls, soft laughter sounded. Elyst, Taffy and Mara entered the dining hall. Palmer smiled when her daughter's troubled gaze landed on her and stayed for a few moments. No doubt Nael told her what happened , Palmer thought.
Redla quickly manipulated the attention of the newcomers, giving Palmer a chance to slyly study Hem. The woman looked beautiful as always. The white tunic she wore this morning emphasized the darkness of her skin tone. It also made her look strangely approachable, less intimidating. But one shouldn't be fooled by the woman's appearance. Hem was too potent to be considered safe. The dark head was bent over her plate as she quietly consumed her food. Watching the powerful alien, Palmer couldn't help the flash of guilt. She had struck that magnificent creature…in the face no less. Even then Hem had showed absolute grace in the face of the insult.
“Good morning, Captain Middleton,” a soft unfamiliar voice addressed her. Snapped out of her reverie and her absorbing scrutiny of Hem, she turned her head to meet the dark, compelling gaze of Hem's assistant. Palmer was surprised. Not once since their arrival had the woman addressed any of them directly nor had she joined them for supper the evening before. Good manners dictated and Palmer nodded in the woman's direction.
“Good morning.” With her emotions still raw after her confrontation with Hem, Palmer wasn't sure she wanted to socialize with the woman who had driven her close to the brink with jealousy. Her mouth fell open when the beautiful woman reached out for Redla, a look of love and pride softening her beautiful features.
“Would you not like to eat something first before you return to your duties?” Ahalpa said softly, her deep voice slightly concerned. “You didn't eat much last night.”
Palmer was too shocked to form a coherent thought as she witnessed the interaction between the beautiful woman and the virile Pharmac captain. It would seem as if her jealousy had been targeted at the wrong woman.
“Listen to your wife, Selit. You didn't share supper with us last night and I know for a fact you were busy in your unit with the final arrangements for tonight's event.” Hem said in an authoritative tone. Her tone softened just as quickly. “By the way, I don't want my mother berating me for working her daughter-in-law into the ground.”
Sweet heavens , Palmer muttered inwardly as she focussed her eyes on the plate before her. She recalled Ahalpa mentioning yesterday that her wife had given birth two weeks ago. The woman seated next to Ahalpa did not look like someone who had given birth recently. In fact, the woman looked absolutely gorgeous. A deep blush climbed up her cheeks as she recalled the ‘beautiful cow' remark she had mentally directed at the woman. She thanked her lucky stars that the Pharmac were not telepathic. She chanced a quick glance at Selit, which was what Hem had called her. The woman had a knowing smile on her lips as she returned the quick look. Palmer shuddered slightly. They couldn't be telepathic. She would've known. It would've been on the list of their extraordinary powers, right next to ‘shooting laser beams from their eyes'.
Approaching footsteps sounded and Kalt and Nael entered the dining hall. The two girls looked troubled and Palmer could pick up on a slight tension between them. At the head of the table, she noticed Hem coming to her feet. When Palmer looked at Hem, there was worry etched on the beautiful features.
“Please excuse us,” Hem said in a strained voice and left the dining hall. Nael and Kalt tracked their mother's towering frame with wary eyes. With slightly stooped shoulders, the girls followed their mother out, Elyst straggling behind. Palmer hesitated, before she too came to her feet.
She was so intent on getting to her daughters that she missed the pained look that crossed the Senator's face as the sharp green eyes followed her.
Hem stood on the balcony overlooking the spectacular city of Moser . She heard a soft creaking noise and looked down at the balustrade to see clear indents of her fingers on the strong lead-based material. She rubbed her eyes. She felt like she was losing control over everything. Palmer was angry at her. The Senator was in love with Palmer and if her little display when they were chatting about Redla was anything to go by, the Senator was getting ready to stake her claim. Then there are her daughters and the ill-concealed discomfort they are trying to keep from her. She sensed their presence behind her and turned to face them, resting her back against the dented railing. With sharp eyes, she studied her daughters. Not one of them could meet her eyes.
“What are you hiding?” Her voice was soft, but she could see them flinch, most probably from guilt. She wasn't completely clueless. Her girls were no saints. She knew of the fights and dares…everything. But not once had they been so reluctant to confide in her.
Palmer suddenly appeared behind the girls, making Hem blink at her presence. The blue eyes touched on Hem before Palmer came to stand next to her. Hem wondered if she was imagining it but she could swear she'd seen a fleeting look of relief on the girls' faces. She would've been hurt by them feeling slightly comforted by their human mother's presence if she herself hadn't felt exactly the same way too.
“What is wrong? Are you okay?” Hem saw Palmer's eyes roam frantically over the girls. When they still played mum, Palmer turned to Hem. Her eyes were dark with concern. “What's happening, Hem?”
At least she was calling me Hem again instead of Principal Hemheri , Hem thought as she shrugged. “I don't know…yet.” She put a lot of emphasis on the last word and watched the girls grow paler. What could be so bad that they couldn't tell her?
“Kalt,” Palmer said softly. “What is this all about?”
The eldest of the girls swallowed nervously before she cleared her throat. “We've been deceiving you, Mother.”
“Me?” Both Hem and Palmer echoed.
Kalt cleared up the confusion by pointing at Hem. Hem felt a shaft of pain at the thought of her daughters having been dishonest with her. She couldn't keep the hurt from her voice when she spoke again.
“You deceived me? How?” The girls hastily lowered their eyes. “What did you do?”
“Kalt?” Palmer prodded again and the girl looked up.
“Elyst and myself, we…we wanted so badly to meet our other mother.” Kalt took a deep breath. Hem's heart broke at hearing that. “We've been talking about it since we were small and especially when people commented on our unique features. We…” Kalt stuck out her hand and took Elyst hand. “We made you believe that we wanted to take part in the Yram knowing that you would contact our mother.”
For a moment it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Hem's eyes roved over her daughters. Three sets of troubled blue eyes looked back at her. They suffered gruelling training for six months just to trick her into bringing their mother to Pharm. How was it possible that she couldn't realize their yearning for their human mother? Did it have to come to this? To deceit?
“Have I failed you so greatly as a mother that you didn't have the courage to talk to me about this?” Her tone was even and inquisitive, instead of accusative. The girls so attuned to her moods, moved like one person as they pressed against her from all sides.
“Never, Mother. We couldn't have asked for a better parent,” Elyst said in a voice heavy with emotion. “You were so busy raising us and making so many sacrifices that we felt it would be selfish of us to burden you any further.”
Hem pressed soft kisses on the girl's heads as her heart melted at the impassioned words. She could never be angry with her babies. They were too important to her. “What you label as sacrifices, I call acts of love, duran. I was blessed with you and every little thing I did for you was done out of love. If I had to do it all over again I won't change a thing.” Hem tightened her arms around them. “Next time, talk to me and we'll find a way together to solve problems. No more going behind my back.” The girls nodded quickly, their faces turned upwards to look at her. Hem smiled tenderly. “Besides, I should've known something was up. It bothered me slightly that Elyst and Kalt wanted to go through the warrior initiation rites when they so obviously favoured other interests.”
Palmer snorted drawing Hem's gaze to her. “That should've clued you in from the start.” They shared a quiet look before Palmer looked away. “But then they are so incredibly smart and convincing. You probably didn't even stand a chance.”
Thrown by the intimate look she'd just shared, Hem quickly focussed her attention on her daughter. Sighing deeply she winked at them. “Your mother's right, I wouldn't have stood a chance.” Their solemn expression made way for bright smiles. Hem glanced over at Palmer and found her looking at them with a peculiar look in her eyes. “Your mother's here, so what now?”
Nael stepped back, scratching her head. “We cancel their participation.”
“Easier said than done, dura. What do I tell your grandparents? They are expected to arrive any minute now.”
Kalt bit down on a lower lip, and in typical Kalt-style waited for somebody to draw the information from her. Palmer came to stand next to the girl. Hem smiled inwardly at Palmer's handling of the girl. Kalt was not much of a talker and Hem had learned a long time ago to leave the girl until she felt she was ready to disclose whatever she had on her mind. Palmer will learn that soon enough unless she was planning for the rest of her life to keep on coaxing information out of the taciturn girl.
“Come on, Kalt. Out with it,” Palmer said in a slightly bored tone.
“Mother Redla knows about the plan. She actually came up with it.”
“What?” Hem thundered.
Having grown up with an interfering mother seeing Hem's annoyance directed at her mother and her meddling wasn't new for Palmer. It was rather flattering to hear Hem's mother was instrumental in the plan to draw her to Pharm. Had she known she had such a powerful ally she wouldn't have acted so hastily to give up on Hem. An intense wave of regret pounded through her, but Palmer quickly squashed it and also mentally strangled it to make sure it wouldn't surface again soon…especially not while she was around Hem. She watched with barely concealed amusement as Hem raked her fingers through her hair causing the ink black tresses to stand upright, giving her a comical Mohawk. The black and gold eyes burned with frustration.
“How could she go behind my back and do this?” Hem actually sounded more shocked than angry.
“She…she said…” Elyst was red in the face as she looked from Hem to Palmer and down at the floor.
Hem slowly leaned closer to her daughter. “Don't let me drag it out of you, Elyst. What did your grandmother say?”
“She said since you were not interested in anyone on the planet, getting Mother here would probably get your jets firing again.” Nael quickly held up her hands. “Her words, not mine.”
Palmer could only blink in shock as she stared at Nael. That was the last thing she'd expected to hear. Hem's mother lured her to Pharm to get Hem to copu…to have sex with her. An intense heat wave moved from her neck to her cheeks as she recalled that she had been…was probably still hoping for the same thing. Clasping her hands over her heated cheeks she stole a quick glance at Hem. Had the situation not been so dire, Palmer would've laughed at the dumbfounded expression on Hem's face. The woman looked like a statue where she stood staring at her daughters. Her face was set in an unstable mask of shock, disbelief and acute embarrassment. For a brief moment Palmer forgot about her own embarrassment and felt sorry for Hem. She's been deceived by her mother and her daughters, set up to have sex with a person she hadn't seen in eighteen years and have to hear about it in Palmer's presence. Palmer wondered if she should attempt contact, but before she could make up her mind, Hem blinked…once.
“She actually said that?” Hem croaked as she eyes stared unblinking at the girls. Three heads quickly nodded in the affirmative. “We will get back to that. What I'm really interested in now is why my mother talks to you about sex?”
The girls drew closer to each other and gradually moved over to where Palmer stood. Palmer knew Hem had noticed the move. Hem's eyes flared.
“Hem, maybe you should calm down a little. It's not encouraging to intimidate them if you want some answers,” Palmer said slowly. She was relieved when Hem, after giving her and the girls a long, penetrating stare, backed away from them. She went to stand with her back to them, her large hands gripping the hand railing. Taking to her position as meditator like a fish to water, Palmer turned to the girls. “Your mother requires an answer.” Palmer's eyes touched upon each other girl's faces. I have met someone,” Kalt said quickly.
Palmer heard Hem growl. Maybe she should get Ahalpa to help her restrain Hem. She had only met the girls yesterday, but it was disconcerting thinking of them being with someone.
“Me too,” Elyst added softly.
Palmer waited for Hem to erupt. Instead, Hem slowly turned away from her perusal of the city to face them. She stared at them all in silence. As the silence stretched the tenser Palmer got. Hem's face was expressionless as she regarded them. After a while she took a deep breath and pursed her lips.
“Who are they?”
Palmer was slightly disturbed by Hem's sudden reserved attitude. She looked closer and realized her mistake. The alien was seething, but her rage was concealed and confined to the balustrade which sported deep finger imprints.
Elyst and Kalt threw each other quick glances before Elyst spoke up. “It's Ignul.”
Palmer never took her eyes off Hem, waiting to see the irate woman's reaction to the name. Hem slowly lowered her eyes and stared at the floor. Elyst on the other hand looked at her mother with dread. After a while Hem raised her head.
“Are you sure you want to be with her. Her reputation is even worse than Nael's. And then there's the fact that she walks around with ill-fitting outfits and uncombed hair.” Hem's gaze was intense as she looked at Elyst, but Palmer wasn't even paying further attention to the conversation. Nael's reputation? What were they talking about? She looked at Hem, aching to ask what she'd meant by that. As an alternative she looked at Nael, who had a shell-shocked look on her face as she stared at her mother. Intrigued, Palmer made a note to get to the bottom of this a little later.
“I really like her, Mother,” Elyst said in a small voice as she blinked up at her tall mother before she glanced Palmer's way. As much as she loved the girls Palmer knew that interfering now would be a bad idea. Hem raised the girls and it was her decision to make when it comes to such a sensitive topic. Anyway she had no idea whom they were talking about. She'd hate to support Elyst only to have her daughter date a mad woman with violent tendencies. She shuddered slightly thinking of her beautiful, bright girl, her strong, vibrant spirit broken. Unconsciously she shook her head to dispel the image. When she looked at Hem it was to find her watching her. Palmer raised an eyebrow and Hem looked away.
“You should bring her over to meet your mother,” Hem said softly.
For the umpteenth time since meeting Hem again after all these years, Palmer was stumped by the woman's graciousness. She could only stare at Hem who pointedly ignored her eyes as she glanced at Kalt. If she hadn't been looking at Hem, Palmer would've missed the brief look that crossed Hem's face as she turned her full attention on her firstborn. Hem had made it abundantly clear in her interaction with the girls that she favoured none of them above the other. But the scant look of fear and tenderness that she had given her shy daughter, gave her away. Palmer couldn't fault Hem. Compared to Elyst and Nael's dynamic personalities, Kalt was the gentle one always trying to fade into the shadow of her two more illustrious siblings.
“Kalt?” Palmer could hear the faint note of panic in Hem's voice.
For the second time that morning, Hem turned to stone. Her face registered utter disbelief mixed with a healthy dose of horror. “You are not serious! That…that girl exhibits disturbing suicidal tendencies.”
Palmer blinked at Hem, but her attention was quickly diverted by the sound of giggling. Elyst and Nael were both trying not to burst out laughing.
Kalt smiled good-naturedly. “She's just misunderstood.”
Hem looked like she was in pain as she gaped at her Kalt. “Misunderstood? How? When? The girl got mauled four times by a Juilkler. Who in her right mind would allow herself to be masticated four times by a dangerous, carnivorous predator?”
Palmer's mouth formed a perfect ‘O' as she too stared at Kalt. Hem was once again raking her fingers through her hair, razing the quirky Mohawk of earlier.
“It's not her fault that she's fascinated by the Juilkler and wants to study them,” Kalt said but Palmer could pick up a sliver of amusement in the girl's voice. “She likes working with them.”
Hem snorted. “I'd say it's the other way around. I think they like how she tastes.”
Hem's remark would've been funny had the alien's voice not been soaked through and through with honest concern. Apparently she was the only one who considered the situation carefully before giving into hilarity.
A loud guffaw prompted Palmer to throw a stern look at Nael and Elyst who were now doubled over unable to contain their amusement anymore. Hem also gave them a severe look, which caused the two to laugh even harder.
Kalt's face fell a little and both Palmer and Hem moved as one to comfort the girl. When they realized their mutual intent, they both stopped abruptly. Kalt seemed to have other ideas, for she pulled them both into a sloppy group hug. Palmer's breath caught when she was pushed against Hem's virile body. She almost swooned when the familiar waft of sandalwood teased her nostrils. She had her work cut out trying to resist this woman. The thought of Hem's mother hoping to get them to have sex again just made her mission so much challenging.
“She's wonderful and I like how I feel when I'm around her.”
The stiffening of Kalt's arms around her made Palmer realize that she'd spoken out loud. Kalt began pulling away. Drawing on years of restraint and training, Palmer quickly schooled her face into a mask of indifference before she had to face the others.
Hem was glad she wasn't mortal, for she was sure that she wouldn't have survived the past hour had she been. The strain she was under was almost too much for her to bear. In the space of two days her world seemed to have shrunk so quickly it felt like only her feet and neck were sticking out. She felt left-out, discarded and betrayed. Every person she'd ever loved seemed to have been scheming behind her back. Her mother, who knew how difficult it was for her to get over Palmer, had set an unstoppable ball in motion. As if having Palmer in so close and not able to claim her fully, wasn't enough. She had to find out that her darling daughters were harbouring notions of affection for the most incompatible mates to be found in the known universe.
The only highlight in her hellish morning was Palmer's accidental admission. She'd known immediately whom Palmer had referred to. Senator Rebecca Keane may be in love with Palmer but it seems Hem still, miraculously, stood a chance of winning Palmer back. She knew that the girls also made the quick connection, but was trying to ignore Palmer's slip. From Palmer's reaction it was evident that the human wanted to forget her own words too. Granting Palmer her wish now, Hem turned her attention back to Kalt.
“I want you to do the same as Elyst and invite her to the palace to meet your mother.”
Kalt smiled broadly and Hem simply shook her head. What were the odds of her sanest daughter falling in love with a Juilkler chew toy? Now it only leaves Nael and Hem was horrified to delve into the vortex that was her daughter's love life. Like it was their habit the girls immediately banded together. Since they were smaller, they would do the same when they suspected the other was in need of protection. In this instance Nael seemed the lucky one as she was the one boxed in between her blonde sisters.
Palmer's head swung from the girls to Hem and back to the girls again. The expression on her face was quizzical. Hem could almost see the question form in the blonde's mind.
“Excuse me, but what were you talking about when you referred to Nael's reputation earlier?” she asked slowly as she looked at Hem.
Hem watched the girls avoiding eye contact. It was obviously not news for the other two. For the past two years Nael had been working her way through the sexually matured population of Pharm and no one thought it was important that she should know. She took a deep breath and met Palmer's eyes. “Nael's renowned for her intimate knowledge of many women on Pharm.”
Palmer blinked a few times as she looked from Hem to Nael and back at Hem again. The next moment she burst out laughing. Hem could only stare at the change it brought to Palmer earlier taciturn countenance. A faint red blush colored the human's soft cheeks and her blue eyes were wet with tears of mirth. Hem chanced a quick glance at her daughters. They too were staring at their mother, utterly stupefied. The four of them waited in patient silence for Palmer to pull herself together. When she did, Palmer waved at Nael.
“Nael?” Still smiling broadly Palmer's gaze swung between Hem and the girls. Something must've clued her in for she slowly turned back to Hem. “It's a joke, isn't it?”
Hem pursed her lips as she skewered Nael with a stern look. The girl had the decency to lower her gaze. “I'm afraid I'm not. I only found out quite recently.”
By this time full-blown shock had set in and Palmer was staring at her daughter, her jaw hanging open. Realizing that she owed it to Nael not to dress her down in front of her sisters, Hem signalled for the other two to leave. She was once again struck by the united front the girls showed. Usually when she dismissed them they followed immediately, but not today. They reluctantly stepped away from their sister and as they dragged themselves to the door, they kept throwing troubled glances over their shoulders at their sister. When only the three of them were left on the balcony, Hem dared another look at Palmer. The blonde was still staring at her daughter. The worst effects of shock had cleared up, leaving the woman slightly pensive.
“Are you sure there is no misunderstanding?” Palmer asked as she walked closer to Hem. She lowered her voice. “I mean it's Nael we're talking about here. She doesn't exactly scream ‘approachable'.”
Hem shrugged. She recalled the incident with Namte and the girl's shy admission that she'd lost count of how many times she had copulated with Nael. Hem grimaced as she forced the memory to the deepest darkest corner of her mind. “Well, she has apparently lain with sixty women on countless occasions.”
Palmer's face paled so suddenly that Hem was scared that Palmer would collapse. As a precaution she placed her hands on the blonde's shoulders to steady her.
“Sixty women?” Palmer croaked. Her blue eyes were misty. “Hem?”
Hem had noticed on two occasions now that every time Palmer was faced with a situation she struggled to process she called upon Hem to fix it. She was warmed by the trust the blonde placed in her. She gently rubbed Palmer's shoulders.
“I know, dura. It was a shock to me too.” Hem looked at Nael. “You have upset your mother, dura. What do you have to say for yourself?”
Nael looked so uncomfortable that for a brief moment Hem felt sorry for the girl, but just as quickly she strengthened her resolve. Nael had purposely omitted telling her about her sexual activities knowing that she would've chided her about it.
“I have no words to explain why I did what I did, Mother,” Nael said softly. The blue eyes were contrite but Hem wasn't going to let the girl off so quickly.
“Did it cross your mind that I might find out?”
This time Nael looked almost sick. “I dreaded the day you would find out?” Nael swallowed hard. “I regret my actions, mother, but I regret disappointing you more than anything.” This time Nael sounded so close to tears that Hem felt her heart constrict. Before she could react to comfort her distraught daughter, Palmer was already in motion. Standing on tip-toe, she hugged the hulking girl to her as she made soft shushing sounds.
Hem watched in fascination as Palmer cradled and stroked Nael's neck. Was this perhaps what her daughters have missed all this time? The human touch of their mother? As much as she loved her girls and had showed them through many physical gestures, she doubted she could ever do what Palmer was doing right now. The way she held Nael was like she was dragging the girl inside of her, wrapping her body around the girl's pain. Hem never felt so much like an outsider as she did right now.
“It's okay, honey. We'll sort it out soon, okay.” With a soft kiss to Nael's cheek, Palmer stood back. “Let me talk to your mother for a while.”
Nael's eyes were large and bright as she looked down at her mother, the expression in them close to hero-worship.
“Mother,” Nael murmured as she placed her forehead against her mother's. They stood like that for a while. Hem could actually see an invisible bond weaving tight around the two.
“You did the same for me last night. Thank you for spending the night with me.”
Hem eyes widened slightly as she looked from Palmer to Nael. Before she could warn the girl, Nael spoke. “It wasn't me.”
Hem saw the surprise on Palmer's face. She also saw when the blonde made the connection as to who else it could've been. By that time Nael was already long gone, having used the opportunity to make a quick escape. Hem held her breathe as Palmer turned slowly to face her. The look in the blue eyes was indecipherable.
Palmer hated feeling like this. As a trained and respected Starship captain she was expected to exercise rigid control over her emotions. And she was good at it. It had saved her crew and ship on countless occasions. Being around Hem, her reputation as the ‘Iron Maiden' was ripped to shreds.
Every time she thought she had a grip on her emotions with one small, considered act Hem dumps her back in the maelstrom of unstable, inexplicable emotions. The more she learns about Hem the more confused she became. She vaguely remembered lying cradled against a large warm body. Thinking that it was Nael, she hadn't given it much thought when she woke this morning. But finding out that it was Hem, made a slight tremor run down her spine. She made a quick decision before her hormones interfered.
“Thank you for including me in this…the girls' choices. I know I wasn't there for them and…”
“You're their mother, Palmer.” Hem interrupted softly. “I have noticed earlier how they draw strength from your presence. They need you to feed the parts of them that are human. I just wish I'd figured it out earlier.”
There was a faint trace of guilt in Hem's voice that made Palmer reach out and take Hem's hand. She stared up into Hem's eyes. “You had to do what you could without me around. The girls are happy and they love you unconditionally. They are absolutely perfect and that's all thanks to you.”
Hem lifted their joined hands to her lips. Palmer drew in her breath when Hem's lips brushed over her knuckles. Hem's eyes darkened slightly as she leaned closer and unconsciously Palmer's tongue slipped out to lick suddenly dry lips. She's going to kiss me, her mind screamed as Hem's face came even closer. Unable to break away from Hem's hypnotic stare and what she knew was coming, Palmer closed her eyes. Her heart thudded in her chest and she shivered slightly when she felt Hem's warm breath on her lips. At that moment she couldn't remember wanting anything more than Hem's lips on hers. Oh, Hem…
Shocked by the unexpected voice behind her, Palmer's eyes jerked open. Realizing what was about to happen she hurriedly pushed away from Hem. She blinked a few times to clear her mind, avoiding Hem's eyes, before she turned away.
Senator Keane stood in the archway leading out to the balcony. Palmer pulled her shoulders back as she looked at the Senator.
“Senator, how can I help you?” she asked briskly. Her heart was still pumping furiously in her chest as she walked over to the Senator. The petite woman smiled faintly at her before looking past her at Hem.
“I didn't mean to interrupt. You all left so abruptly and I was wondering if there was a problem.” Palmer noted at the Senator's green eyes were hooded. “Is everything fine?”
Palmer risked a quick glance at Hem. The alien stood as still as a statue. Her face was stiff and her eyes looked flat and cold. She reminded Palmer of THE day Hem had appeared on the Concorde . She couldn't tell why, but it hurt to see Hem so distant and cold. Palmer turned back to the Senator.
“It was nothing. Everything is fine.”
Senator Keane smiled. “Good. Principal Hemheri offered to take us on a familiarization tour of the plant. I was hoping to get your input on which areas of interest you would like to visit.” The Senator's gaze returned to Hem. “Thank you once again for accommodating us.”
Standing with her back to Hem, Palmer moved so she could face the woman. Hem's eyes bored into hers, but when she spoke she addressed the Senator.
“You are most welcome, Senator. I will inform my assistant immediately. Please excuse me.” Hem didn't look at her she walked passed them and Palmer felt a heaviness settle in her chest. As soon as she was done with the Senator she had to find Hem. They had made such good progress and it would be detrimental to everyone to leave things the way they are now. For a brief moment she considered asking the Senator if they could meet a little later so she could catch Hem.
“Shall we?” the Senator said next to her and Palmer gave her quick smile.“Of course.”
To be continued...
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