President Razalle Bosa closed her eyes and exhaled, reviewing her mental checklist for hopefully the last time. Today of all days, everything had to be perfect. Today Libara gains the Mordena's protection. And I meet one of the most powerful men in the universe.
She straightened her dress. It was one of her favorites for these sorts of encounters, a tight white business suit with a surprisingly low neckline, custom tailored to accentuate her own sensual curves. This may be the only time I ever meet with him alone. She checked her hair in the reflection from the window, her meticulous curls still bound in place by a single ribbon. The streetlights from the city twinkled below.
Razalle had become enraptured with the thought of Grand Navarch Shane Lawrence ever since his efforts to found the Mordena had begun to overtake her newsfeed. He was the epitome of raw, effortless power, a larger than life figure of confidence, resolve, and masculinity, and she had been dying for a taste. Just a bite, she ran her finger across her lips. Or maybe two.
She surveyed the room again, a smaller more intimate meeting space instead of her usual grand office, lit tonight by candlelight spread strategically throughout. The candles are probably too much. They were popular with her usual fare but likely a bit obvious for tonight's special guest. She reached out to replace them with the more traditional lamps but in that moment her secretary ushered in her visitor, sending an exaggerated wink at Razalle before closing the door behind her.
He's even sexier in person. She fondled her necklace while taking a moment to admire him, a fierce figure of muscle and willpower wrapped in a sharp pressed military cut suit of stately black. His intense orange eyes flickered in her mind like the candle flames reflecting off his burnt ochre skin.
He raised an eyebrow. "Are you having trouble with your lighting?"
She felt herself flush. "It's, uh... A cost savings."
"I understand now your desire to hold this meeting on such short notice. Although I prefer not to perform this kind of negotiation in the dark." He held his hands outward in front of him, closing his eyes, and Razalle watched as the fabric of reality twisted to reveal a high powered illumination lamp now cradled in his arms. He fixed her with a flat stare, holding out the offering. "A gift. I have many more. You can keep this one."
She blinked in the sudden sterile brightness of the room. Did he just cast a targeted hyperjump into my office? For a lamp?
Regaining her composure, she wafted to him to accept the present, her fingers gently brushing his before walking to the opposite side of the table. Carefully bending to ensure the lamp illuminated below her already generous neckline, she placed it on the table and looked back to him suggestively.
The Mordena founder was still standing just inside the door, hands clasped behind his back as he politely diverted his gaze out the window.
Damn. He's going to be a challenge. Perhaps a shift in tactics. She straightened her dress again, gliding back to him with a nervous smile. Reaching his side once more she tapped him lightly on the buttocks, indicating an available chair with her other hand. "Would you like to sit down? I..." She bit her lip and averted her eyes to twist her dress nervously, the fabric rising to reveal her entire leg, before shyly meeting his gaze again. "I've never negotiated anything of quite this importance before." She flashed him a hopeful smile. "Not quite sure how you prefer to do this, so I'll just follow your lead?"
The Grand Navarch pulled in his chin, shifting his weight before claiming the offered chair. Avoiding her gaze he pulled out a data pad and pushed a few buttons, revealing a holographic document projection and setting it to a double display for visibility from both sides of the table. "It's quite simple, really," he explained finally, his eyes still on the pad. "This is our standard agreement, with the variables filled in for what we believe to be Libara's most useful exports. I have filled in some starting estimates for a fair contribution to our stores in exchange for our military protections." He turned back to her, verifying he still held her attention. "These numbers are open to regular renegotiation depending upon our needs and your available supply. We-"
He frowned as Razalle traced her fingers down his shoulder and arm, sensually caressing his muscles with her fingertips before sliding into the chair beside him rather than accepting the seat he had prepared for her. A reaction! Finally! Elated, she leaned her head on his shoulder to watch the document scroll, nuzzling his arm with her cheek. "What are these bits here?"
In response the Grand Navarch shifted his chair away from hers, canceling the second display before sliding the data pad toward her. "Due to the nature of this arrangement we require all member planets to agree to basic non-aggression requirements with each other." He pointed to a portion of the document, and Razalle thought she caught a slight tremor in his finger. "Upon completion of tonight's negotiations Libara will be acknowledged as a provisional member, reaching full membership status in three galactic months if there are no complaints from our other members. At that point–"
The Mordena founder stood abruptly as she playfully nipped his ear, her fingers lightly brushing his thigh.
"Is everything okay?" she asked innocently, looking up at his brooding brows from her chair. And now we're finally getting somewhere!
He scowled. "If you're hungry, perhaps you should eat before we continue this discussion."
She deflated. Perhaps his son was telling the truth when he suggested I be direct. She licked her lips, slowly and deliberately, watching the Grand Navarch squirm. Hadn't honestly expected a teenager to help me seduce his own father... But I've got nothing left to lose.
Gathering her courage, Libaran President Razalle Bosa slowly rose from her chair in one smooth motion, pulling the ribbon from her hair to let her curls glide to her shoulders. She sashayed toward him, summoning her lust into her hazel eyes. "I'm only hungry for you," she purred. "I want you to make me yours."
He scratched the back of his neck, shifting his weight. "You've already made that abundantly clear." He licked his teeth, grimacing. "But these terms are not acceptable."
She soldiered on, in too deep to back out now. "And what would make them acceptable?" she pouted sweetly, running her finger down his chest.
"Perhaps I'll leave the contract here for your review, and my team will finalize it later." He closed his eyes, swallowing hard, and Razalle felt space bend around him, leaving her alone in the illuminated silence of the room.
Well, damn. That was mortifying. She pressed her back against the door, slowly sinking to the floor. Never failed that spectacularly before. She sat up with a jolt as another realization hit. How in Void's name am I going to explain this to the Senate?
"Back so soon?" Jake checked his timepiece as his father stalked past. "Don't these things usually take a few more hours?"
Shane fixed his son with a steely glare. "I've been thinking about our conversation earlier, and perhaps you are right. Perhaps I'm not always the best person for everything, and perhaps I do need to delegate more." He looked away. "It's been brought to my attention that in certain situations I cannot consistently provide my full negotiation skills, and I won't allow my shortcomings to negatively impact what we are building."
"In other words...?" Jake prompted. He has to say it out loud or he'll never stick with it.
"From this point forward I'm placing you in charge of the Freehold Planet Negotiations." Shane stood stiff and formal watching Jake, emotionless. "I am, of course, still available for any assistance you require."
"I'm grateful for the trust you've placed in me, Father." Jake whispered thanks to the Libaran President, along with an apology and a mental note to grant Libara particularly generous terms when he resumed negotiations. "And relieved. You have enough work to do, and people to help with the rest. Stop trying to do everything."
Jake gifted his father's glare with a smile of youthful innocence, holding the gaze until Shane sulked away, apparently finding no proof of his suspicions. He felt his grin deepen. If you won't take care of yourself, Dad, then I will. And I learned from the best.
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