The intermingling sound of music and the murmur of voices filtered through the doors of the ballroom, a ballroom he didn’t want to enter. In fact, he would rather be on the road, completing a two-hour drive to his home in the lands, but as an Ambassador, he was required to attend events like these. Just beyond the doors was the private party of the Ambassador of the Zaiu solar system, it was an opportunity for the dignitaries of the planet of Ilon of the Sira solar system to meet a cultural group touring the system. It was also an opportunity for those in power to speak off the record on matters of state, planet, system, galaxy and universe. He didn’t want to be there.
With a sigh, he pushed open the ornate double doors and instantly was enveloped by the sounds and smells of an Oban party, but the sights were distinctly Ilonian. Before him were a sea of pale skin people, including the tanned Lunyans with brown hair and eyes, who’s personalities ranged from impassioned and gregarious to docile and slow, to the degree many believed they not only sold but partook in the illicit drug their region was known for. Also in attendance were the porcelain-skinned Triansu with platinum hair and icy stares that were a reflection of their continence. Then something caught his eye.
She moved gracefully through the crowd like a cenda but unlike the graceful, white birds that populated the ponds of the Hansol Gardens, she was dark and arranged in bright colors that his eyes followed what must have been an illusion and his body followed with no directive from him.
He dove into the crowd of his peers, ignoring their glances, their demure calls of his name. He only stopped when she stopped. Oh, no, she was not an illusion as she was speaking quite amicably with the Zaiu ambassador. And she was a sight to behold.
She was black, devoid of color, it was as if she absorbed the light, but somehow it was emitted in the way she laughed and smiled. She was not very tall, but her presence was that of a great person. Her body was not that of willows and reeds but of trees that stood sturdy against the winds. Her smile curled around full lips, filled out cheeks and created crinkles in the corners of her eyes.
In the darkness that was her shone eyes that flashed, and teeth that were beyond white. About her body were the colors of sunsets, warm yellows, comforting oranges wrapping themselves lovingly about curves that rose and fell like a man’s heartbeat.
His heart beat for her, his finger desired nothing but to touch her, he wanted to taste her brand of essence. Drink fitfully and yet he knew his thirst would never be sated.
As he stepped forth to discover who had gained control of his being simply by existing, he heard his name being called, called by a man he could not ignore.
“Thorne!” The name sliced a path before the portly man who had spoken it. At his back was a porcelain doll of a woman following him like a tail. “Ambassador Thorne, I would like a word with you,” Craeg Onz came to a stop before him.
“Of course, President Onz,” Thorne stood at an angle for fear of losing sight of the lady.
“My aide has briefed me on your report,” the politician began. “What is this talk of the Jensu’nan requiring an integration of our galaxy?”
With a glance at Onz, Thorne began an abbreviated explanation of what his report stated clearly. He knew he would have to give the lengthy version to the galactic heads, but he was aware that Onz had designs on higher positions in their system and further afield. And as Onz’s appointee to the Ambassadorial Corps, Thorne had to be forthcoming with information within reason.
“What are you looking at Thorne?” Onz asked once he had come to an end. He turned to see what had caught the ambassador’s attention.
“Helix is looking at the ambassador’s daughter, Father,” both men turned to Elyena, Onz’s daughter. A beauty by Ilonian standards with translucent skin, a whisper of a figure and golden hair that tumbled gracefully down and about her shoulders. A year ago, Thorne was taken with her, as many men on the planet still were, but that was a year ago. That was before he had journeyed to the Jensu’nan galaxy with a contingency of Ambassadors from each and every system. During that journey, he had grown to admire the different forms humans came in, so much so that his own people were boring in comparison.
“Oh,” Onz turned back to look at the dark woman. “Selassie Ousab is quite attractive for a Zaiu. Like you, Thorne, I was curious as we are normally visited by performers and dignitaries and she is neither of those.”
“Would you like to meet her, Helix?” The question was a taunt, a test, but Thorne didn’t care.
“Very much so,” he replied, meeting her icy gaze. Her pale blue eyes for a second were steely, it was this underlying continence that restrained Thorne from approaching the president’s daughter. Elyena possessed unsavory qualities that were spoken of in the private dwellings of Ilon’s eligible bachelors among their confidants. “I am quite interested in getting to know the daughter of a colleague and peer. With your permission, of course, Mr. President.”
“We have not finished discussing the demands of the Jensu’nan,” Onz directed his gaze at him.
“I am free to talk tomorrow before I am to speak with the system heads,” Thorne informed him. Then leaned in and added, “And I believe in your office, I will be able to speak freely.”
Understanding the words unsaid, the president nodded his head. “First thing tomorrow morning, Thorne,” he confirmed, then turned to his daughter, “Elyena, be so kind as to introduce Ambassador Thorne to the ambassador’s daughter. Sate his curiosity so he can return his attention to matters of galactic proportions.”
After a brief hesitation, Elyena said, “Yes, Father.” Slipping her arm into the crook of Thorne’s arm, she led him over to where the Zaiu ambassador was holding court. Once there was a break in the conversation, she caught the daughter’s attention, resulting in the dark beauty excusing herself and joining them.
“Elyena Onz,” she said as she approached them. “I am so happy that you could attend.” Her voice was not flighty but grounded, yet melodic.
“I would not have missed this party, Selassie,” Elyena said. Then she looked up at Thorne and said, “I would like to introduce Ambassador Helix Thorne. Helix, this is Dr. Selassie Ousab, the daughter of Ambassador Ousab.”
Extracting himself from the president’s daughter to her displeasure, Thorne extended his hand in greeting, “It is my pleasure.”
At first, the dark beauty just stared at him, she then shook her head and took his hand, an apologetic smile on her face, “Equally, I am sure.”
“How are you enjoying your stay, Doctor?” Thorne asked.
“Selassie, if you please, and I have only been here less than a week,” she said. “But from what I have seen, your world is quite…. urban.”
Thorne stifled a chuckle and he felt his fellow Ilonian stiffen, “That is putting it kindly.”
“Oh, don’t take it as an insult,” Selassie said, quickly. “It’s just I’m used to more vegetation. Trees, shrubbery, fields interspersed with buildings.”
“Well, there is the Hansol Gardens,” Elyena sniped.
“Ambassador Thorne,” Ambassador Daniel Ousab’s booming voice drew the attention of the three. “I did not know you would be back in time to attend my little party. I hear murmurings that the mission was not as successful as all would want it to be.”
Soon Thorne was surrounded by his peers wishing to hear of his time, negotiating with the Jensu’nan. Some envied him, others would have nothing to do with the types of missions Thorne went on, preferring intergalactic ambassadorial positions. Still, all were curious about the species that populated neighboring galaxies which possessed rich and diverse minerals underutilized by the inhabitants.
Effectively plucked from the company of Selassie and Elyena, Thorne answered the questions of his colleagues and peers, his eyes always returning to the ambassador’s daughter. A few times their gazes met and they shared a knowing smile, the smile of people who were at the service of others. To Thorne’s dismay, by the time he freed himself from the curious crowd, the evening had grown late and Selassie was gone.
Saying his goodbyes, Thorne wondered if he should delay his departure for his lands home that was scheduled the day after next. He could always visit Ambassador Ousab on some pretense with hopes of seeing Selassie again. Perhaps he would have the opportunity to ask her out. However he did it , Helix intended to see Selassie Ousab once more.