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Guest Laarell

"One-Hundred Twenty Days, Pt. VIII"

Day One Hundred-Eight


It was hot -- in all the best of ways. The lightest zephyr ruffled palm trees, white marble, neatly-hewn paths led out of the landing port, and, right where it was supposed to be, a shuttle to the resort waited.


Kahrak spared absolutely no expense choosing the resort. Or the private line they took from Earth to Risa. Then again, the Horta's biggest daily expense came when he bought higher grade chopped marble for lunch than usual. He had credits to spare.


It was heaven on Earth -- or, well, just heaven. Everyone looked so happy -- absolutely nothing on Risa could ever go wrong, it seemed. Perfection at its finest.


They checked in -- apparently a room with quite the perfect lagoon-view and balcony. More under the heading of "perfect", and, a little travel-case for Citrus in one hand and light-luggage in the other, Laarell made her way to the glass-lift, looking down on the fountains and gardens of the lobby, then toted with her odd entourage to the room.


"This is perfect, Kahrak," she thanked, voicing her happiness aloud.


"Yes, yes it is!" he agreed. "But no Hortan females yet."


"You have all the trip left," Laarell reminded, and unsuspectingly opened to the door to their room, and stopped dead in her tracks.


The beds were unmade. There was... some kind of goo all over the carpet, and Laarell shuddered to think what it came from. The sink was overflowing in the bathroom, and...


"You look like you're about to cry," Kahrak remarked, sighed. "It's not that bad."


"I'm going back down to get this taken care of. You go to the gardens, and keep an eye on Citrus." Whirling around, she fairly stalked back to the lower level.


* * *



"I want to speak to a manager," Laarell complained, tiredly. "My room should have been ready an hour before check-in, and when I finally got up there, the bed was a mess, the bathroom was beyond a mess..." She glowered. "This is not what I think of when I think 'Risa'."


The desk clerk was highly apologetic, and disappeared into a back office for a moment. He emerged again accompanied by a tall man with the same good looks and sun-bronzed skin that seemed common to Risans. The new man approached Laarell, wearing a sympathetic smile. "Commander," he greeted her. "I understand there was a problem with your room?"


"Yes. It's..." Laarell lost her train of thought for an embarrassingly long moment, and smiled widely. "Just a bit of mess and such. Likely the maids somehow missed it."


"I'm terribly sorry," he said, managing to sound sincere. "I'll send a cleaning team at once." A motion of his hand made the clerk jump to. "I hope you'll accept the resort's apologies for the oversight. I'll see that they're made in a more tangible fashion, of course. In the meantime, since you can't use the room until it's in order, allow me to buy you a drink in our lounge?"


"Drink? Oh yes. Thank you." Another flash of a smile. "That'd be wonderful."


With old-fashioned gallantry, he offered her his arm, leading her to the elegant lounge off the lobby. "Your drink of choice, Commander?"


Arm slinking around his, she smiled. "Margarita on the rocks. With salt, please."


He guided her to a seating pit, settling her comfortably on the curved couch. A discreet lift of his fingers made a waiter materialize as if by transporter, and he ordered for them both. The drinks appeared nearly as instantaneously as the waiter, who made himself scarce after delivering them.


Laarell curved comfortably into the plush seats, leaning vaguely towards Karjal. "Thank you so much. I hope you didn't think I was complaining back there..." Perish the thought.


"Certainly not," he replied with a disarming smile. "You have every right to expect your stay on Risa to be perfect -- we do pride ourselves on providing."


"Do you?" Her thoughts wandering, she forced herself to concentrate, and nodded. "Oh yes. It is Risa, after all -- of course you do."


"Precisely." He sipped his drink, watching her with dark eyes. "How shall we make it up to you, Commander? I would like to offer you some sort of voucher, but I don't know what sort of vacation you prefer. Shall I make it for a boat rental? A tour? Our spa?"


"Hmm." Laarell considered, and smiled. Decision made. "What would you recommend?"


"We do have an excellent spa," he replied. "And I would imagine, in your line of work, relaxation is at a premium.


"Ahh. Indeed. And well-cherished when it is stumbled across. I dare say that sounds like a fine choice."


"Then it shall be done." He made her a little bow where he sat, smiling.


Slowly she sipped her cocktail, smiling. "So Risa does live up to its reputation of fine service after all. "


Karjal smiled more widely. "I should hope so, Commander."


"Please," she interrupted, smoothly. "Call me Laarell."


"Laarell, then." He sipped his drink. "I trust the rest of your stay will be more pleasant."


"It seems so," she remarked, looking over him more pointedly than she realized. "With the spa, of course, and... such," Laarell clarified, hopeful he hadn't caught the undertone of her words.


"And such," he repeated, his eyes twinkling.


"I don't believe I caught your name."


"Karjal Ivanas." He offered her a hand.


She shook it cordially, fingers lingering on his just an instant too long. "A pleasure, I'm sure."


His gaze was clear and direct. "Most certainly."


"I'm sure you know all the best places for a first-time visitor -- though I think drinks are taken care of, hmm? A lovely lounge, this is." Laarell peered curiously at him. "Owner, or manager of this establishment?"


"Owner," he answered with a smile. "And I'm glad you like it."


"Owner? How delightful!" Laarell attempted an innocent look, which usually failed and ended up seductive despite her work to perfect it. "Do you stay here, at the hotel, or have another home?"


He laughed lightly. "I have an apartment here," he said.


"Do you?" She considered. "I'm sure it hs a lovely view," was her benign comment.


"Why, Com... Laarell," he corrected. "Are you trying to flirt with me?"


"Trying?" She grinned.


That made him laugh. "Succeeding, then."


"So it is working." Laarell shrugged, took another sip. "You can't blame me. What would a trip to Risa be without..."


"Shall we find you a horga'hn?" Karjal teased.


"Oh, most definitely. Couldn't go home without it, after all." She grinned. "Do I need one, now, though?"


"That depends," he replied. "Are you seeking jamaharon?"


Laarell downright blushed. "I... don't think jamaharon, precisely. Not yet, at least," she clarified.


"Something less intense."


"I think that would be fair to say, yes."


"Well...." Suddenly he smiled brilliantly. "We do aim to please."


"I have a feeling that I like the sound of that..."


"I get off work at eighteen hundred," he told her.


"My room?" Laarell leered. "Or yours?"


"Perhaps I could show you some of our beaches," he offered. "They're lovely at sunset."


"I'd like that." She nodded. "Meet here, later?"


"I look forward to it." He glanced past her, and smiled. "And I do believe your room is ready," he added, nodding to the employee that had just caught his eye.


"Thank you," she said, standing, and offered her hand. "A pleasure doing business."


"Likewise." He held her hand just a moment too long.


"Eighteen-hundred," she repeated, grinning before walking away, headed for her room.

Edited by Laarell

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