Morgen sat in a swivel chair backwards, curled with her feet hanging out from the front of the chair, looking out over the land and water before her. She rested her chin on one of her arms, lost in thought.
In the background, Myrlina and the Guard chatted and went through the terran clothes brought for them by the tailor and seamstress. Morgen wasn’t that interested in them, so Myrlina picked out a few things for her as well.
Riku pulled up a chair and sat beside her. “You okay?”
Morgen forced a smile. “Sure, I’m good.” Riku saw right through her as he always could.
“It’s the past. Can you let it go?”
She picked up her head and rested her chin on her hand, then wrinkled up her nose and scrunched up her face at him. “Riku, I let go of those dark things in our past ages ago. We…” she pointed to him and back at herself as her face returned to normal, “we are good in my eyes, better than good. I’m also fine with Corinna. We live in different worlds now, and that is the life she chose. It was just the shock of seeing her in the same place as you, that’s all.”
Morgen looked down at the marble floor, then back up to Riku. “Are we alright?”
Riku still looked perplexed. “Why wouldn’t you trade rooms with me, or stand up to her?”
Morgen sighed. “Some things are better to fight for than others. Right now, I’m here to do a job for you and if Corinna is a key to getting the goal, we have to let her feel she has the upper hand or she’ll go on the defense. Sometimes, we lead by saying nothing unless it is absolutely necessary. She thinks she’s one up on me, but it is a competition only in her own head.”
Riku looked at her intently. Was she a quiet mermaid avoiding conflict, or was there some strategy to her actions?
Myrlina spoke up from a distance. “Sunset is approaching. Should we dress for dinner?” She dragged out the word dress as she spoke it.
Morgen twisted around in her chair and walked over to the clothes. She found an emerald green knee-length sheath dress on the rack and pulled it off. “What do you think?”
Riku and Myrlina nodded in approval and everyone separated to dress. They had learned quickly why the Terrans’ sought privacy when dressing.
The team headed up on the lift to the 103rd floor. Corinna greeted them at the lift door. The suite was another level of opulence. The walls shimmered as if they were coated in Bioluminescence. “A touch of home,” Corinna pointed out as they walked through a long hall to the dining room. The table was set with fine terran china, silk napkins, and silver utensils.
The Guard sighed in the background and a mumble of thanks came from them to Myrlina as they were escorted to the table for 10. She had reviewed terran dining practices with them all before heading up for dinner.
Edward VonTith entered the room and greeted Corinna with a gentle kiss on her cheek. He was a tall man, with dark hair and piercingly sharp features. “Introduce me to our guests!” Edward was a gregarious host, easy and outgoing.
Corinna made introductions then guided everyone to their seats. “Yarl Riku, you’ll sit at this end of the table. Myrlina and I will sit with you. Edward will sit in his normal seat and next to him, our daughter Renee. Morgen, please have a seat to Edward’s right. Jon, come sit next to me,” as she patted the seat next to hers, “and the rest of the Guard, feel free to take whichever seat suits you.”
Morgen felt isolated from the rest of the table, nothing new there. But she smiled at Edward and Renee. Corinna’s daughter was a cute girl with her mom’s blond hair and her father’s square jaw. Edward spoke to Morgen kindly, asking about life under water and her interests. Small talk seemed to come easy for Morgen with Edward and Renee.
Little Renee told Morgen a story about a mermaid who lived in the mountains. Interested, Morgen asked “How does she do it?” Renee then shared elaborate details about a lake, a waterfall, a magic potion, and something called a cabin. It intrigued and entertained Morgen. Edward chuckled at his daughter’s story telling capabilities and gave her a high-five at the end of story.
Riku watched the exchanges on the other end of the table and finally relaxed. Corinna made small talk at their end of the table. They kept the liquids going, including water, wine, and liquor along with a beautiful bounty of seafood called Sushi. Corinna swore by it to the mermaids and mermen as the next best thing to their own food.
Little Renee headed off to bed as the adults continued to enjoy the evening in the living area. Edward continued to supply Morgen and the rest of the party with drinks. Morgen enjoyed the sweet taste of one drink, but started to feel light headed, so she nursed that last drink for the rest of the night.
Together Corinna and Edward made lovely hosts for the evening. As the evening wound down, the Guard recommended to the team to return to their suite. Yarl Riku nodded in agreement. The Guard headed toward Myrlina who stood up and thanked Corinna for a lovely evening.
Riku walked over to Morgen and offered her his hand to stand up. But, Morgen was not able to move. Her legs were unable to hold her up. Riku and Edward both helped her up to her feet. She finally found her footing, but was a bit unstable. Riku helped her to the lift as they all thanked the VonTith’s for a lovely evening.
Once in the lift, Morgen held on to the bars to steady herself. The rest of their party exited into their suite. Riku turned to Morgen. “Let me help you.” She waved him off and took a step forward, but started to collapse. Riku caught her. “You’re a lightweight on the alcohol, aren’t you.”
Morgen smiled. “What’s alcohol?” and passed out.
Riku swept her up in his arms and carried her into his bedchamber. He laid her on the bed and closed the door behind himself as he walked back out to the living area. He spread out on the couch to catch some sleep of his own.
Myrlina watched the events between Morgen and Riku from her room and then quietly shut her door, smiling to herself.