Abbie and the alien offi.., p.5
Abbie and the Alien Official (Intergalactic Brides 14), page 5
Larimar nodded. “I’ve heard Earth has doctors called psychiatrists. I believe they studied the human mind and personality. Perhaps we could use one of those to help us get the process to run a little tighter. We could try it at one Terran Station and see how it works.”
Borgoz nodded and made some notes. “I think we’ve done all that we can for now. I know you’re all tired of sitting on those chairs. Let’s end the session for today and reconvene tomorrow.”
The council members stood and filed out, with Larimar at the back. He paused and turned to Borgoz.
“Would it be possible to take a short break from my council duties while I court Abbie? I think things are going really well between us, but I’d like to spend more time with her.”
“And you’re worried another male might take her if you’re here working?” Borgoz asked.
“It crossed my mind. I know we work long hours, but you’ve cut back on how long our sessions run now that you have a family. Maybe we could cut back a little more in the future as more of us pair off. Alrian has two children I’m sure he’d love to spend more time with, and Helio and Faltz are still looking for mates.”
“I’ll take it into consideration. I know Charlotte wouldn’t complain if I were home more. Take tomorrow off to spend with your Abbie and we’ll meet again day after. In fact, I’ll give everyone tomorrow off. A day at home with my mate and daughter sounds wonderful.”
“Thank you, Chief Councilor.”
Borgoz smiled and motioned for him to leave, following right behind Larimar. As they exited the building, the suns nearly blinded Larimar. He hurried home, hoping Abbie was waiting for him. His cook had been asked to remain at the house all day so if she’d needed help with the Vid-comm or anything else, Shariz would have been able to assist her.
As Larimar entered his home, he listened for any sound that might tell him where Abbie was, or if she even remained in the house. The place was too large and he began searching the lower level, finally locating her in the living room, asleep in front of the Vid-comm with a movie playing. He knelt beside her, brushing her hair back from her face and smiling at how beautiful she looked even in sleep.
Her eyes slowly opened and she stretched. “You’re home,” she said softly.
“The session is over for the day, and it seems I have tomorrow off as well. I don’t suppose you’d like to spend some time with me, would you?” he asked.
“I can’t think of anything I’d like more.”
“Did you request lunch from the kitchen yet?” he asked.
She shook her head.
“Then why don’t I take you to the human restaurant? It’s run by one of the human mates and she has all of the ingredients imported from your world. You might like something that reminds you of home.”
“I’d love to go.”
“Once you know where it’s located, you can walk there anytime you’d like. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They’re open from morning until after the evening meal.”
She smoothed a hand down her wrinkled clothes. “I should change. This is all wrinkled from me falling asleep.”
“You look beautiful,” he murmured. “Don’t change unless you really want to. No one is going to care if you have a few wrinkles in your clothes.”
Larimar helped her stand and he stopped by the kitchen long enough to let Shariz know they would be dining out. He wasn’t certain if Abbie would be with him for the evening meal or not, and didn’t want to ask just yet. As much as he wanted to spend the entire day with her, he didn’t want her to feel like he was monopolizing her time either.
The human café wasn’t very busy when they arrived and Larimar escorted her to a table near the window. He liked being able to watch passersby and feel the warmth of the suns. The café was set up the same as the Zelthranite restaurant he’d taken her to before, with the digital menu and payment system. All restaurants on his world came equipped with them, regardless of what they served.
Aside from that, the café looked very much like something you would find on Earth, with its black and white checkered floor and red leather booths. Everything had been brought over from her world to make the café as authentic as possible. He’d been to Earth a few times on business, and had enjoyed dining out while he was there. If Abbie became his mate, would she want to return home every once in a while? As much as he’d liked his time on Earth, he much preferred being at home.
They placed their order and Larimar paid for their meal. Abbie fiddled with the napkin dispenser, pulling a handful out, placing a few in front of each of them. There were four sets of silverware already on the table, and music played from a jukebox that stood against one wall playing music.
“If you don’t have outlets like we have on Earth, how is that thing playing?” Abbie asked.
“I believe the owner of the café asked one of our inventors to find a way to make it play here on my world. If you have one of those smartphones your world is so crazy about, there’s a store that just started selling solar chargers for them. I’ve heard some people download books, movies, and music to their phones.”
She nodded. “I don’t have any movies on mine, but I do have some music stored on there. Maybe I can pick up one of the chargers and see if it will work with my phone.”
“We can stop by there when we leave here.”
“How was work?” she asked.
“Busy.” He smiled a little. “I don’t think I’ve ever had someone ask me that before.”
“Did you talk to them about the lifeguard idea?” she asked.
“I did, and we may have a possible lifeguard lined up. One of the councilmen was going to speak with him soon. They liked the idea of added safety to the pool area, not having realized your kind don’t always know how to swim.”
“Is your council only made up of men?”
“Yes. The females of our world have never shown an interest in joining. They seem content to take care of the house. Will you want to work after you’re mated?”
Her brow puckered. “I’m not sure. I like the idea of being home whenever my husband gets off work, but if today showed me anything it’s that I’ll be bored just sitting around the house. I’m used to being gone eight hours a day working a full-time job five days a week. There’s only so much time I can spend at the pool or out shopping.”
“You worked in human resources, but I’m not certain I understand what that is.”
“The company I worked for hired me to oversee job applications, employee benefits, and if anyone was disgruntled I had to defuse the situation.”
“I’m afraid we don’t have anything like that here. Most shops are family-owned and the council oversees the majority of the jobs here. Any position that benefits our people as a whole, we select the proper person for the job. Like the lifeguard position. Our scientists and inventors are selected based off their innate abilities and their love of discovering new things.”
“So your jobs here are aptitude-based and not necessarily something one would apply for just because it sounded interesting.”
He smiled. “Exactly.”
“Maybe I could take up some hobbies then, because I don’t think I’m qualified to do much on your world. For that matter, I wasn’t qualified to do much on mine either.”
“There is a place here that has opened in recent years called a craft store. The human females seem to like it a lot. Perhaps you will find something there for your new hobbies.”
She nodded. “It’s something to consider. I don’t know how to knit or anything, so if I picked up one of those hobbies, I’d have to have someone teach me.”
“A few of the mates offer crafting classes two days a week. What they teach depends on how many people are asking for a particular course. The craft store will have information on what’s being offered now if you’re interested.”
Their food arrived and Abbie asked more questions about his world. He was happy she was showing an interest in the place she would call home. Her words
Most seemed content to start families with their chosen males, and he hadn’t heard any rumblings of discontent, but it didn’t mean there wasn’t room for improvement. He’d studied Earth extensively before they ever reached out to Earth’s government. Females on Earth had a lot of freedom. They didn’t require males to take care of them. But what more could they offer? They had installed the pool and set up the park based off things they’d seen on Earth. More shops had opened, carrying human items, and this café catered to humans.
When he really thought about it, a park, pool, one restaurant, and a bit of shopping didn’t really seem like much. They had an entire planet of males needing mates and they weren’t offering enough to these women in return. Why hadn’t anyone brought it to their attention before? Hell, why hadn’t they realized it sooner? It wasn’t like they were stupid males. Change took time, and any ideas he came up with could take months or years to put into place. So how did he fix the immediate problem?
Once he had some ideas in place, he’d have to take a meeting with Borgoz, or ask the full council to convene to discuss the matter. Normally only a few were present each day. They prided themselves on taking excellent care of their mates, but it seemed they had failed them in a big way. While Abbie didn’t have family she wished to associate with, others did. It wasn’t right for them to ask their mates to give up their parents or siblings. Yes, they gave them money for being accepted into the program as a way to ease the burden of leaving their world for the unknown, but was money really the solution? He knew some of those families needed the cash, but others, like Abbie, had no use for it.
“You’re thinking hard,” Abbie said.
“You’ve just made me realize our system is faulty. I was contemplating how to fix it. Your world is full of ways to keep you entertained, and ours offers nothing. We’re a society that revolves around hard work and taking care of our families, and while those things are important, humans are used to so much more. I feel like we’ve punished our mates by asking them to give up so much and getting so little in return.”
“So, now that you know there’s a problem, maybe you can come up with a way to fix it.”
He frowned. “I’d have to do more research on Earth to come up with ways to improve our society. It isn’t a simple fix that will take place immediately, but something that could take a while.”
“When mates have children, do the women always take care of the children? Are they with them every hour of the day?” Abbie asked.
“Yes, except for those who are school-aged, then they’re gone a few hours learning science, math, and other things that will help them in our society.”
“Are the girls taught the same things as the boys?”
“Well, no. The girls are taught how to keep a home and raise a family.”
“Barbaric,” she muttered.
“I don’t understand.”
Abbie sighed. “You’ve studied our world, correct? So you know we have female doctors, lawyers, politicians, scientists… the majority of your offspring are half-human. Doesn’t it stand to reason those female children will be just as adept at those subjects as a male? For that matter, who’s to say your Zelthranite females aren’t capable of the same?”
Larimar’s food settled in his stomach like a weight.
“We are a male-oriented society, but I see that perhaps we need to change. What you’re asking isn’t an easy thing to accomplish. Many will believe a female’s place is at home, and to ask them to accept otherwise will cause great strife on our world. There are a few who have the support of their mates to open businesses, like the human cuisine place. But most will want their mates at home.”
“I’m not asking you to change your entire society overnight, but perhaps you can change small things here and there, build on one idea so the changes are subtle and easier for everyone to accept.”
He smiled a little. “You’re very smart, Abbie. Perhaps there’s something that could occupy your time after all.”
“What’s that?” she asked.
“You could be an ambassador for the females on our world. You could be their voice.”
Her mouth opened and shut a few times. “I don’t think I’m qualified for something like that. I mean I have some ideas, like letting the girls take the same classes as the boys in school. But I don’t know anything about your world and how it works. I’m likely to piss off a bunch of males and that’s the last thing I want.”
“Would you at least consider meeting with some of the mates and find out if they’re happy with the way things are now? We’ve always assumed they were content to adapt to our way of life. But if they want something more, then we’re obligated to see that they get it. You’re giving us so much by giving us the families we sorely want and need. It only stands to reason that we give something back.”
Her fingers tapped on the table. “I don’t think your world needs to become the new Earth. Things are far from perfect on my world, and at least you don’t have crime here, right? There’s a balance here that seems to work for your people, but you’re right. You’re asking a lot of us and there are some small concessions that might make life on a strange planet happier for the humans, and possibly even for the non-human females.”
“So you’ll consider it?”
She nodded. “I don’t have the first clue how to call a meeting with the female population, or where we’d even meet. Maybe the fastest way to get the knowledge we seek is to ask them to complete an anonymous survey. If they aren’t happy, they won’t want their mates to know. There would have to be a way to collect the data without it giving away anyone’s identity.”
“I think there’s a way to do it through the Vid-comm units. I’ll consult with our communications expert on the matter, but I’ll need you to create the survey questions. It will take time to build it in the system, as we would have to offer it in different languages to make sure all of the females could take part.”
“I think giving them a voice is the right thing to do,” Abbie said. “I haven’t seen anyone who looks unhappy, and they may be perfectly content with the way things are run now, but if they aren’t this is the perfect opportunity to find out.”
They finished their meal and Abbie easily fell into step beside him as they walked back to his home. He knew he should return her to the small apartment in the Tower, but he liked having her around. As they entered his home, he stopped in the front entry and took a good look at his house. He’d thought he had everything he needed, except a mate, but her words at the café were making him question what he really had to offer her.
She’d fallen asleep watching a movie, and she’d probably watched more than one. He had nothing here to keep her entertained except the Vid-comm unit. If he wanted to claim her as his mate, he needed to start the changes to his world by changing his home. They were still learning about one another, and he didn’t know her likes and dislikes. What had she done on Earth when she wasn’t working? Was there something he could add to his home that would make her feel more welcome here?
As much as he loved having her here, it was time to send her back to the apartment until he could figure out exactly what he had to offer her. If he’d been worried about their age difference before, that paled in comparison to his worry over making her unhappy if he claimed her. She watched him with a furrowed brow, and he tried to smile at her reassuringly.
“Larimar, what is it?”
“You should return to your apartment this evening. I’ll come get you for the morning meal and we can discuss what you’d like to do for the day.”
He winced. “No, I’m not throwing you out. I want you here, more than anything, but…”
“This house isn’t ready. Maybe I’m not ready to claim a mate just yet. There are changes that need to be made.”
“Is this because I said I’d be bored?” Abbie asked.
“In part.” Well, it was mostly that.
“Larimar, I enjoy spending time with you regardless of what we do together. Why waste a single minute apart if we don’t have to?”
“My people have felt entitled to have mates and children. I’ve felt that way. Until I’m certain that I can give you what you need, I won’t claim you as mine. It isn’t fair of me to ask you to remain here while I figure things out.”
She sighed and he could have sworn she rolled her eyes.
“Are all of the males on your world the same? Will they all be able to offer me the same things you can right now?” she asked.
“Then what’s the difference in me sitting in an apartment by myself instead of staying here with you? Is everything going to magically change overnight?” she asked.
“Do you expect me to wait months or years for you to feel like you’re better prepared to have a mate?” she asked.
He hesitated a moment. “No?” he asked uncertainly, not quite sure what the proper response was.
“Damn right the answer is no. I want you, Larimar. We’re good together. I don’t give a crap if there’s an age difference between us. I don’t care that you’re a workaholic. And I damn sure don’t care that you don’t feel ‘prepared’ for a mate. You have the same thing to offer me as every other male on this planet, so unless you’re going to suspend the bride program and send everyone home, there’s no reason for me to return to my apartment.”
He stared at her a moment.
“Are you always this feisty?” he asked.
“Only when you piss me off.”
He smiled a little. “If you truly wish to stay, I won’t make you go. But if you don’t plan to return to your apartment, we should probably have your things delivered here.”
by Jessica Coulter Smith / Romance / Young Adult / Science Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes