A Matter of Honor


Brian W. Antoine

December 1, 1993

Chapter One

I guess it's my lot in life to have other people always trying to run my life for me. I'd tolerated it in my Grandparents, I'd walked out on Penny to teach her to leave me alone, and now my mate was doing it both directly and indirectly. Well, it was time for her to learn the same lesson I'd had to teach Penny.

"I'll be gone for awhile. Watch over things for me please while I'm gone and get that link restored to Bob's place."

"But Kalindra told..."

I turned to look back at the monitor.

"I'll get the link restored. Please be careful."

I stopped at my library link to verify some information. My plan was to teach my mate a lesson using things she was familiar with. When I had the information I needed. I turned off the terminal, breaking the switch in the process. "Damn cheap equipment..." I mumbled as I headed for the gate.

I stepped from the light of the lab, through the gate, into a dark and overcast night. The night was so dark that the only light I could see by was what poured through the gate. The first thing was to adjust the way I was dressed. Custom said the offended party was supposed to dress in black. By the time I was done, my clothes weren't just black they absorbed light. They also matched my mood exactly. Seething with anger, I headed into town.

Even that late at night there were people out and about. The way I was dressed, most of them never even knew I was there. Most, but not all of them. About halfway through the town, one of the locals spotted me and pointed me out to his companions. Whatever their reasons, they fell in behind me as I walked and I started to gather a small crowd in my wake as I approached Kal's home.

<knock, knock, knock>

I could hear someone moving inside, but I was too mad to probe and find out who it was. When the door swung open, I was staring at Tan. He didn't recognize me for a moment, but his eyes went wide when he saw how I was dressed. "Is she in there?" and I pointed towards the back of the house. He nodded his head but didn't say anything. "I'd like you to find someplace else to spend the night. We have family matters to talk about." He nodded his head again and scooted around me to join the crowd.

"Tan, who is it?" came Kal's voice from the back of the house. A few moments later she appeared at the end of the hallway and walked towards the door. "Tan, who was at..." and she spotted me.

"Kalindra nal Kan. As required by custom, I do here and now claim grievance with thee in a matter of honor. You have shamed me..." and I was interrupted by her scream. Before I could say another word, she rushed up, grabbed me by clothes and dragged me into her house so she could slam the door.

Standing so close I could feel her breath, she screamed at me in rage. We made a good match. "You would do this to me!"

"For the dishonor you have given my name, you're damned lucky I don't kick your furry ass all over this planet!" I screamed back at her. "What the hell do you mean giving Penny orders to break all contact with Bob?"

"It was for your own good. I do not think..."

"You've got that right! You don't think before sticking your nose where it doesn't belong. Thanks to you, I'm without a pilot and the best partner I could hope to stumble across!"

"I am your partner and you can find another pilot. There was no honor in dealing with Robert. This is for the best. Now get out of those clothes before anyone else sees you." She obviously expected me to obey as a normal Velan male would have after being given an order by the family head. Turning her back on me, she started to walk away.

"Oh no you don't." I reached out and grabbed her tail to stop her from leaving. "You don't order me around like some live in creawhan. You and I are going to talk about this..." and I found myself flying across the room as she spun and backhanded me. I was trying to clear my head as she stalked towards me.

"You are my mate and you will do as I say!"

Reaching inwards, I kicked my glands into overdrive. The rush of adrenaline almost took the top of my head off as my vision narrowed to a tunnel with Kalindra as the focus. "It's time for Antoine's rule number one." I stood up and waited for her to approach. "You didn't take another Velan as a mate, you took a Human and I'm not your slave. You are going to learn to treat me as an equal, or I'm going to skin you and turn you into a fur coat!" This time I was ready as she swung at me. I was going to pay dearly for what I was doing to my body later, but for now we were on almost equal footing. Grabbing her arm as she swung. I managed to stop her from connecting and held her immobile.

I have no idea how many people were still standing outside. I hope none of them were hurt when every window in Kal's home blew outwards. Any of them that didn't run then, had to have scattered when we blew a twenty foot hole in the roof.

Having never been married, but having witnessed a fair number of family arguments over the years, I expect ours was about par for the course. We each yelled things that we would later regret, and felt terrible about the whole thing afterwards. At least I hoped Kal felt as bad as I did as I lay in the ruins of the living room the next morning. Sometime during the fight, we had collapsed the floor of the living room into the workroom one floor below it. As the sunlight peeked in through the hole in the roof, I lay among the rubble and quietly wished I was dead because I already felt that way. Every muscle I had was screaming in pain because of the overload I'd put them through. From previous experience I knew I'd be pissing blood for the next couple of days. I was still laying there when I heard someone crying someplace behind me. I did a little crying of my own when I struggled to get to my feet.



I almost collapsed as the scream echoed within the link. Blocking it as best I could. I worked my way to where she lay. When I reached her, I could see one of her legs pinned beneath some rubble. "Hold on, I'll get it off of you." Reaching for the magic, and I was shocked at how little responded at first, as I levitated the rubble off of her leg. Except for a whimper, she didn't say a word until I bent over to pick her up.

"You are staying?" she whimpered in surprise.

Holding her in my arms, I began to work my way through the rubble as I worked my way towards where the door should be. "Kalindra, you have a lot to learn about Human honor and love." I looked at the ruins of her home above us. "I just hope we survive the lessons."

Chapter Two

It had taken most of the morning to get all the windows repaired. It hadn't helped that Kalindra refused to leave the house and help me. As I finished up with the rear door, I could see her peeking out of the door to her workroom to see where I was. *Still sulking?* She just glared at me and slammed the door. "I guess so" I muttered to no one in particular.

Off and on throughout the morning, her neighbors had wandered by to see what remained of the house. Given the way I was dressed, and Kal's insistence on hiding inside, they had never stayed for long. The only exceptions had been Wythdantis and Tan. They had both come by a few hours ago to see if we needed any help. I'd taken care of Kal's broken leg so I'd asked Wythdantis to watch after Tan for a few days while we worked things out. She'd agreed and nobody had been by since they had left.

With the windows fixed, the next thing on the list was the hole in the roof. We had actually gotten a little lucky there. When Kal had tried to break my shield so she could physically grab me, the shot had bounced upwards. Any other direction would probably had ruined the structural integrity of her home. As I walked through the house to the living room, I stopped and knocked on her workroom door.

"You have to come out of there sometime. Are you going to help me fix the roof or not?" I didn't get a verbal answer, but I felt the link we share waver with her indecision. She wanted to help, but her pride was still hurting along with her leg. "Ok. I'll be here when you're ready to talk to me," and I headed off to the front of the house.

The living room had been a disaster area this morning. In the better light of mid-day, it looked even worse. "Jesus... I wonder if Bob and Karen have this kind of trouble?" It took me most of the afternoon to get the floor restored. The furniture and the rest I was going to have to leave to Kal, since I didn't remember what all had been there. I did make one small change as I repaired the roof. Where the hole had been, there was now a small turret with wrap around windows and a small place for a chair.

I was tired to the bone when I got finished. Every muscle I had was screaming in protest as I moved. They definitely didn't appreciate being forced to move after I'd abused them last night. I'd had just about enough energy to cobble some dinner together and collapse into my chair in the turret. With the occasional bite of food, I sat and watched the sunset through the windows. As it got darker, I popped a witchlight in the ceiling that was just bright enough to see by. Knowing how Velans liked to keep things toned down. I didn't want the turret to blaze like a lighthouse in the night. I was just getting comfortable when I heard someone moving about below me.

"Hi," I said as I peered over the edge. "Decide to rejoin the world?"

"I was getting hungry" she said as she sniffed the air. "I don't suppose you made me any?"

I smiled. "Yours is in the oven being kept warm." She seemed faintly surprised by my answer and I could see her hobbling slightly as she went to see what I had left her. She came back a few minutes later holding a tray with her food.

"Give me a second and I'll be right down." Dousing the light, I slowly moved to the edge of the shelf and floated down to the living room. "I'm sorry there isn't any furniture. I didn't have a good enough image of it to try to recreate it."



She gestured around the room. "Why did you restore my home?"

"Why shouldn't I have? It's my home too and I figured since I helped wreck it that I should help fix it." Something told me we were talking through each other again. "Is there a reason I shouldn't have?"

Kal tried to curl up on the floor so she could eat her dinner. Her leg had other ideas and she hissed in pain as it objected. I just managed to grab the tray of food before it hit the floor. "Ok, off to bed with you. You can eat dinner there." Picking her up from where she was sprawled on the floor. I cast a 'follow me' on the tray and carried her to her bedroom. She didn't say a word the entire time, but I could see the puzzlement in her eyes.

"Ok, how's that?" I asked as I propped her up in bed with the tray by her side.


"Let's not start that again. What's wrong?"

"Why are you helping me? If the dishonor I have brought your name is as you say, you should have abandoned me. Why do you stay?"

I grabbed and chair and set it down beside the crazy circular pillow Velan's call a bed. "Kalindra," I said as I took her hand in mine. "Do you believe that I love you?" My question had caught her off guard. As she thought about it, I poured everything I felt into our link and hoped she understood.

After a few moments, her face lit up and I felt the fatigue wash from my mind as I looked at her smile. "Yes, but I don't understand why. Any male who had survived an attack by his mate should have run for his life."

"Attack?" I nodded towards the front of the house. "That was just a minor understanding. If that had been enough to scare me off, then I didn't love you in the first place."

"You humans are a strange people."

"Yep, no argument there. That's one of the things I hope you learn about us. Tell me something. Why did you not expect me to stick around afterwards?"

"No male would have stayed with a mate that had disgraced either his name or the name of the family."

"He would have just left? No attempt to straighten things out?" No wonder these people have such a low population. They never stay together long enough to have kids. "Sounds kind of stupid to me. How could he walk out on someone he loves?"

"Because he would. That is the way it is done."

I grabbed a tidbit from her tray and leaned back in my chair. "Not on my world. Any male who truly loved his mate would stick with her no matter what the problem. Together, they would work to restore the honor to the family. THAT," I said as I stared her straight in the eyes, " is human honor, and that is part of what I want you to learn." As I talked to her, I could feel the flood of emotions she was radiating, and she was starting to cry as she tried to speak.

"I may not understand Human honor, but I think I am beginning to understand Human love. Please teach me?"

I reached over and wiped a tear from her muzzle. "Silly vixen, your food it going to get cold." I'd been given my chance. Now it was time to become a teacher once again.

Chapter Three

I woke up to the sounds of birds in the trees around our home. Vel was just peeking above the tops of the trees and streaming in the windows of my little turret when I heard Kal moving around below me.

"Good morning, how's the leg?" I asked as I leaned over so I could see her through the opening in the floor.


Even as fuzzy as my eyesight is when I first wake up. I could see she still had that look in her eyes. "Didn't expect to find me here this morning did you."

"No I didn't," she answered as she stared up at me. "You confuse me and I'm not sure I understand the real reason for it."

I hopped over the edge and floated down beside her. "Good! Maybe you will be easier to teach if you're off balance." I headed for the kitchen with her trailing behind me. "What do you want for breakfast?"

I could see her nose wiggling as she thought about it. "An omelet?"

"With peppers of course," I said with a chuckle.

"Of course!"

I grabbed the utensils and started mixing the ingredients. As I mixed I took up the conversation we had been having the previous night. "I'm still puzzled by one thing. If I understand your explanation, it would have been fine for me to walk out on the family because it was you that screwed up. Correct?"

"Correct. The Klizach and Klizan of the family are the focus of the families honor. A breach by either of them frees the other, and the rest of the family from all obligations."

"So if you screw up. I'm granted an instant divorce?"

"If I understand the word, yes."

"But in a larger family, we would have been expected to take the blame for the actions of the other family members. Sounds like we get the short end of the stick." She had trouble translating that. When she figured it out, she screwed up her face like she'd just bitten into a lemon.

"Sounds painful, but you are basically correct. We would have to make amends for the breach of honor caused by family members."

I slipped the first omelet out of the pan and onto her plate. "So by your rules, Karen would have every right to leave Bob because he screwed up in his dealings with us. He has no one else to take the blame for him and so that makes him the Klizach."

"Yes. Your small human families do not leave much room for error in that regard."

I started mixing my own breakfast as Kal began to devour hers. "But if he had been part of a larger family, and had not been Klizach, you would not have been nearly as annoyed at him."

"With Bob, no. I would have taken the matter up with the Klizach of his family. It would have been his responsibility to see that Bob was taught of his error."

I just shook my head. "You people sure don't leave much room for error. Remind me some time to tell you how many times I've screwed up that you've never heard about."

"You have not brought dishonor upon yourself that I know about."

"Oh? Try letting my curiosity about space nearly turn loose something that would have vaporized my world. If you guys hadn't helped my destroy that damned guardian, I might have been responsible for the death of my race. Now THATS dishonor..."

I was scooping my omelet onto my plate when I caught the look on Kal's face. She hadn't seen our last adventure in quite the same way I had. Now that I'd pointed it out, I could feel her emotions tearing at her. "You want me to get you a black outfit? We'd make a great pair walking around town together." I just ate my omelet and watched her war with herself.

By her rules, she had every right to throw me out of her life. Her heart however was throwing a wrench in the works. After all the years we'd been together, and what she'd been forced to learn about humans. She was hesitating just long enough to think rather then react on instinct.

"I get to finish my breakfast then?"

"Yes. Of course I will have to kill you and bury the body where no one will ever find it."

I blew omelet all over the counter before I saw the corners of her muzzle wiggling. I'd been gotten good when I wasn't expecting it. I guess that's the sign of a good joke. I waggled a finger at her. "I owe you for that" I warned as I cleaned up the mess. She just sat there and giggled.

When we were both finished, we headed to the front room and got ready for another day of repairs. Kalindra would describe a piece of furniture, give me the mental image of it, and I would whip up something close. I didn't always get it right.

"It's the right shape, but that it the worst color I have ever seen." We were both staring at my attempt at an easy chair. I had to agree with her. Bright orange was a little hard on the eyes. With a wave my hand, it vanished back into random energy.

"Time for a break I think" and I sat down on couch.

"No thank you. I've already had one" as she sat down beside me and propped her leg up on the table.

"Just for that, you get to fix dinner."

"Just for that, you have to eat what I fix."

I wasn't sure I came out ahead that time.

"You promised to teach me about human honor. When do you wish to begin the lessons?"

I looked over at her. "You already learning the first one. Rule number one; Deal with people as you would have them deal with you. It's a very old idea among my race, I just wish more people used it."

"That is why you stayed?"

"Part of it, yes. So you screwed up. I wouldn't want you to run out on me the first mistake I made and I don't intend on leaving you."

"And the other part?" I wrapped my arm around her and drew her to me. "Oh..." and she smiled up at me.

"How does this relate to Bob? He is not family, so does the rule still apply?"

"Yep, it does. Being family might mean you are a little more forgiving, but you don't write someone off just because they aren't perfect."

"But how can they be as important? They are not family."

I gave a small sigh. Try as I might, I couldn't convince her that the family wasn't all there was in life. Then I had an idea. It was not going to show my race in a very good light, but it just might show Kalindra why putting the family above everything could be harmful. "Come with me. I've got something to show you" and I stood up and held out my hand.

"Show me what?"

"What your idea of family above everything means in human terms." With a clear picture of the gate, Kalindra and I were soon standing in my lab on Earth. "Stay here for a moment, I need to look something up." While I was searching through some old pictures, I heard Kal and Penny talking behind me. It sounded like they were discussing ways to dismember Zorac so as to cause the most pain.

"Ah, true love is never appreciated..." They both made dirty remarks about my ancestors. "Come on, I've got the next fix." I turned out to be harder than I'd thought to make the jump. The spot I'd picked out was not much like the image from the Olympics Photo book I'd scanned. It was mid afternoon when we appeared cloaked in Sarejavo by the ancient Olympic Stadium.

"What happened here?" Kal was looking around with a vague sense of horror.

"Humans don't have the group families Velans do, but we have a close equivalent. When enough people believe and think the same way, they form a group. Sooner or later that group needs to find a reason why they are better than other similar groups and they form a religion. Keep it up long enough and you have this" and I waved my arm at the surroundings.

"You once told me Velans hadn't known war in thousands of years. I'm sorry to say the Human record is never more than a couple of days." We had started walking through the town as I talked and stopped to watch as various people darted between buildings. "Those people all believe that they are better than the group they are fighting. Most of them probably don't know how this all started years ago. All they know is that they have been taught that their group, or family, is the only thing that matters. Everyone else is of lessor importance, and those in the wrong family are of no importance at all. Now the strong on both sides slaughter each other in the name of honor. The weak just die.

Kal was looking sick as she stared at the people shuffling around the area we were in. I wasn't playing fair, but I had to show her how her idea of honor could be perverted. When she buried her head in my chest and started to shake, I took her back to the lab and then home. "Now you see what Bob and I are afraid you could mean when you talk of honor and family. Those people place their family and group above everything. Nothing outside that family is considered important for anything except what it can provide to the family. Bob, and I suspect Karen, are worried that you might think the same way about them."

"That is not what I meant..."

"But it's what they are afraid of." Even safe back home, Kal was still shaking lightly. As I held her in my arms, she looked up at me with questions she wasn't sure she wanted answers to.

"So that is Human honor?"

"No! That is a perversion that I am forbidden to do anything about." We had spent quite a bit of time looking around and it had been early evening when we had gotten back. Neither one of us was hungry after what we had seen, so I hustled Kal to bed to let her rest.

"So what is Human honor?"

I made sure she was comfortable and then I sat down in my chair beside her. "Understand that this is what I consider honor to be. If you ever ask another Human, you'll probably get a different answer. I will say that I think my idea of honor and Bob's are similar. It's part of why we get along so well."

"Honor, and in my case pride are tied together. For me, pride is what I feel when I know I did my best at the task I was doing. Honor, was what those people who knew I'd done my best felt about me. The more people who know me, and like the work I do, the more honor I have." I sat back and watched her think about what I'd said.

"And it doesn't matter whether they are family?"

"Only in a way, but not the way you might think. Human families tend to overlook faults in the members. I tend to think that non-family members good opinions give more honor to my work."

Several times I thought she was going to ask something, but she never quite got the words out. Finally I decided to call it an evening. She might be use to 27 hour days, but I wasn't. "Think about it and I'll see you in the morning." I wandered off to my turret to collapse. Unless I missed my guess, I got a lot more sleep that night than my mate did.

Chapter Four

I was up the next morning before Vel had even started to rise. There was just a hint of light on the horizon to show that it was on its way. After a quick peek at Kalindra to make sure she was ok, I headed to my lab to catch up on things. I'd have a least a couple of hours before she got around to getting out of bed.

"Hi boss, you getting anyplace?"

"I think so" I said as I scanned the logs for the last few days. "I'm fairly sure she understands that her idea of honor and mine are different. The next move is up to her though. I can't force it." Running through the logs, I spotted Bob's plans for his new home. He'd been hit on all sides the last week, but when handed lemons he'd just decided to exchange them for something else rather than grouse about it. "Looks like one hell of a construction job. Has Jab figured out how to build it yet?"

"Actually, he wanted to talk to you. He's hoping he can talk you into doing some 'wizard shit' and creating it for him."

"Sounds like Bob." I scanned the plans and didn't find anything too bizarre to handle. Then I spotted the location of the Earth side gate. "He's got to be kidding. Put it in his ex-wife's house?"

"That's what he said. He wanted to give the kids access to both places and she agreed."

"She agreed? He told her about me?" I mentally added Suzanne to the list of people to mind wipe if the time came.

"Actually, he took her up in his ship and showed her around."

Jesus... "I'm glad I specified that his last ship was to be built using non-magical components. At least it will be easier to duck if she ever decides to turn on him." Oh well. It was his life now and he had to live it as he saw fit. I had to get out of the habit of trying to cover for him. I thought about the gate for a while and then dictated a reply to him.

"Tell him I'll handle the construction and the gate on one condition. Everyone who knows about the existence of the gate has to be safeguarded so they are incapable of telling anyone about its existence. That one gate would be enough to spill the beans if he ever has someone get curious about him."

"I'll pass it on. Anything else?"

"Yeah. Ask him if he wants his home gate tied to the one in the lunar lab. He might not be going on trips with us any more, but I'll still let him have access to the lab. If he actually lives in space, he's going to need the occasional repair or spare part."

"Noted. I'll pass it on the next time I talk to him."

I spent the rest of my time checking on the work going on with the station. We'd managed to stop its fall into the star, but the repair of the ring was slow going. Penny was having one hell of a time translating what information she had managed to save before the guardians' destruction. That, and Zorac still wouldn't leave her alone. I was so engrossed in the reports that Penny had to remind me about the time.

"Boss, you had better get moving. It's getting kind of late if you want to be there when Kalindra gets up."

I looked at the clock. "Shit, she's probably already awake. Ok, stack the rest of this stuff and I'll get to it later. Wish me luck!" and I ducked back through the gate. When I walked through the door, I found Kalindra up and about.

"There you are. I was afraid you had changed your mind and left."

"Not likely. How are you feeling this morning?"

She bounced on her bad leg. "Much better, thank you."

As I watched her bounce, I caught a look in her eye that I'd learned to watch for long ago. "Ok, ask me." I got a sheepish grin in reply.

"Now, or do you want breakfast first. It's my turn."

"Ask while you cook. I'd like waffles if you remember how to make them." She nodded and together we headed for the kitchen.

"I have one last question about honor for you."

I was watching her to make sure she didn't goof making the batter. "Ask away. I'll try my best to answer."

"How do you use the honor you hold for other people."

I had to think about it for a moment, but it was an easy question to answer. "To decide how much to trust the person in question and how much to listen to them. I've run across my share of twits in my time that didn't have enough honor to waste my time on. I usually make sure they know that they are wasting my time and send them on their way. The rest I deal with depending upon how much honor I have for their opinions and skills."

"You trust Bob a great deal then."

I waggled my finger at her. "That's another question, but yes, I trust Bob. If I didn't, I'd have wiped his memory just after Penny first told him what I really was." She didn't say anything for awhile as she finished fixing our breakfast. Then she seemed to make up her mind and I could feel the change through the link.

"I believe I have misjudged Robert," she said. "I may not understand all of what you Humans consider to be honorable, but I am forced to believe that by your rules he acted honorably. It is also truth that I cannot judge him by my races standards. In dealing with Humans, I am going to have to think of them as a mixture of Kli and other family members. I still have a problem though."

"That being?"

"How do I apologize to him and restore honor between us?"

"Don't ask me. I'm just here because you're a good cook." I learned to regret that remark as I got held to the floor and tickled into submission. When she finally released me, we sat down and salvaged the remains of our breakfast. "So how can you demonstrate to him that you are sorry and are willing to treat him with honor in the future?"

"I also have to find a way change my reaction to his trying to give me orders. I am afraid that problem will not be as easy to solve. He is not family and my first reaction will always be negative to anything he says as an order rather than a request."

"Ok, so how do you fix that?"

When she told me, I almost fell out of my chair. When I had time to think about it though, it made an odd sort of sense. Or at least it did if you thought about it from the Velan point of view. I had no idea how Bob and Karen would react to it.

Custom dictated that we do the work ourselves so for the next couple of days Kalindra and I were buried in her workroom. As I viewed the results of our work, I felt a small amount of pride with what I had created. The next part was going to be a little trickier. Kalindra insisted that we not hide our actions from anyone. To do so would invalidate all she wished to show of her feelings. I just hoped that the neighbors were asleep when we got there.

* * *

<knock knock> The two of us were standing on Bobs front porch in full formal attire. Robes, staves, the whole works. I'd tried to arrange to do this early enough in the morning so that we stood a chance of not scaring the hell out of the locals. That all went out the window when the nursing home across the street from Bob decided to change shifts at the same time. As we stood on his porch and listened for someone moving inside, I could hear the remarks from the nurses across the street as they walked out to their cars. Finally, Karen came to the door. She did a double take when she saw us waiting to talk to her.

"Christ, are you two nuts? Get in here!"

We stood our ground and Kalindra spoke up. "Would you ask Robert to join us please. We have something to ask the two of you." Karen made one more attempt at getting us inside, then gave up and went to get Bob.

"Ok, what the hell... Jesus, it's Halloween already?" He stood there in the door and looked at us in a mixture of surprise and awe. When we needed to, we could make quite an impression and this was one of those times. "What the hell is going on Brian. Have you lost your mind?" I just smiled as Kalindra began to talk.

"Robert and Karen Kirkpatrick. I have learned much the last few days and have discovered that I have made a terrible breach of honor. I have discovered that it is I who have acted without honor and I am ashamed of my behavior. I also find that I have little way of correcting this breach, but hope that my future actions may help restore your faith in me."

We each reached into our pockets and pulled out a small case. Kalindra handed hers to Bob and mine went to Karen. "One way I have to express my regret for my actions and to show the honor I hold for you I now perform. You may not accept, but I hope that the offer shows you how I feel."

While Kal had been talking, Karen had opened her case. She didn't understand what it meant, but Bob went pale as he opened his case. Inside each was a single earring of pure gold that was set with a perfect ruby. In deference to Bob, his was a clip-on instead of the stud that I wore.

He was still in shock as I spoke up for the first time. "Take your time and think about it. You are under no obligation to accept and either I or Penny will try to answer any question you have. If you decide not to accept, just return them." We were turning to leave when Bob went true to his nature and teased the two of us.

"So, you decided to give her another chance huh?"

Kalindra answered before I got the chance. Turning, she smiled in a way that showed every one of those needle sharp teeth of hers and said, "Yes he did. His comment was that I was a good cook and I gave great head."

For the first time since I'd met him, Bob was speechless. Karen just fell backwards into a chair and howled in laughter. With a wink at him, my mate turned and took the arm I offered as we headed to my car. Whatever happened now, I'd tried my best to hold things together. The next move was Bob's and I snickered as I tried to picture him with that ruby in his ear.