He was nervous. He had been nervous since he had returned to Amamake from Tzvi with pastries for breakfast; he had been nervous since since they had left Amamake for Myyhera; he had been nervous when the shuttle touched down at the landing pad; he had been nervous when they got into the car that would take them to the Manor.
And as the car pulled to a stop in front of the Manor, he was still nervous.
“Are you nervous?” He turned to Kat as a small contingent of servants started making their way towards the vehicle.
She smiled back at him, “Why would I be nervous?”
He liked that about her, her calm demeanor. The car came to a complete stop and then the driver opened the rear passenger door. Reginald squeezed Kat’s hand, managing a laugh, “Good, I’ll be nervous for both of us then.”
He stepped out of the car into the late autumn sunlight of Myyhera IV and offered her his hand politely. She took his hand graciously as she stepped out, her green eyes and copper hair vibrant against the grays and browns of the estate.
She laughed, “It’s not like anything bad can happen, you know.”
He wished, in that moment, he had been more thorough preparing her. He looked over at the servants distractedly, then said, “I suppose. Do you have any questions?”
She returned a puzzled expression, “About what?”
She shrugged, “Is there anything I should know before I meet them?”
“They’ll have questions for you. Um, you should assume all of the smiles are fake. And, when we’re with family members,” He hesitated, then continued, “I won’t be able to hold your hand or display affection in general.”
“In fact,” He shot a glance towards the Manor windows, “I’m sure they’re watching us right now.”
Kat chuckled, “Alright, I’ll behave.”
Reginald smiled, then couldn’t help but laugh a little, “You’re a natural.” He offered Kat his arm, “If you would be so kind, my lady?”
She accepted his arm graciously, then the pair started to make their way into the Manor. The Manor was modest as far as Holder properties went–it was a two-story brick construction in the countryside, outside of Myherra IV, District 2’s population center. The air was crisp around the temperate forests of the estate. In addition to the Manor, servants’ housing was set up in the east of the property, while gardens and a chapel adorned the area behind the Manor. The servants looked nervous as the pair entered the antechamber–non-familial guests were a rarity.
After stepping inside, he inquired with one of the servants about the family gathered there for Kat’s presentation. He had requested it be kept as informal as possible–the family having gathered in the parlor as a result. As he scanned the list of names the servant provided, he breathed a sigh of relief. Although most of the names were members of the family that supported his claim, there was one name that was missing entirely.
“My sister isn’t here, the Lord be praised,” He muttered to Kat as he led her down a corridor towards the parlor.
Kat smiled slightly in response, “I guess that’s good.”
Her response was puzzling, but he chose not to pursue it–one engagement at a time. He stopped short of a pair of wooden doors that led into the parlor. He turned his head towards Kat, who was still on his arm. He took a deep breath, “Are you ready?”
He looked around the corridor to make sure it was empty. Satisfied, he gently caressed Kat’s cheek, turning her head gently towards his own. Once their eyes met, he closed his, then lightly brushed his lips against hers. After a moment, he broke the kiss then said softly, “Whatever happens in there, I’ll be with you every step of the way.”
Kat smiled, “I know, don’t fret.”
He took a deep breath, then opened the doors. As expected, his family was arrayed inside, made up of assorted relatives across various ages. The youngest present seemed to be close to twelve, their expressions polished for the occasion by their parents and guardians. At the same time, the immeasurably old watched through careful, conniving glances as Reginald entered the parlor with Kat. What had he brought her into?
The conversations in the parlor became quiet as his relatives examined them through their false and well-rehearsed smiles. Into the foreboding silence, he walked Kat, introducing her to each family member in turn. To her credit, Kat maintained a smile on her face throughout–he wondered if she had dealt with nobility in such a capacity before.
Finally, one of the older members present, his great aunt Ashessa, gave a long, drawn-out sigh, “Goodness gracious. Is this my funeral wake or a presentation?”
She reached out with wrinkled hands towards Katerina, smiling warmly, “Welcome to Myyhera, my dear.”
He caught Kat grinning impishly at the funeral wake comment, “Thank you ma’am, it’s a lovely planet.”
Ashessa continued to smile, “That boy’s arm will still be there when you return to it.” She pointed to a chair near her, “Please, sir. We have much to talk about.”
The atmosphere relaxed considerably, light conversation slowly returning. Kat laughed a little and sat in the indicated chair, looking like an obedient puppy for all gathered.
Reginald meant to say something, but Ashessa pre-empted him, sending him away towards a number of Sakakibara men. Of course, it would be about the finances regarding the POSes. He cast a worried glance over his shoulder to Kat, though she seemed to be in good hands as he was whisked away towards the opposite end of the parlor.
“Ashessa seems to like her,” A cousin laughed as he poured himself a drink in between comments on profitability in Saikamon.
Reginald kept glancing back towards the pair, distracted, “Yes, it would seem so.”
A distant uncle asked, “I’ve seen noble girls that carry themselves with less pride than that woman.”
Reginald glanced angrily towards him, starting to say, “Her name is–”
“Excuse me, my lord?”
Reginald stopped mid-sentence and turned to the source of the query–a servant.
“A matter of importance, my lord.” The servant provided Reginald with a hand-written note.
Reginald took it with an annoyed expression, then his eyes widened. It was from one of L’s men–the family member in charge of a starbase in Saikamon had disappeared and the tower had gone dark.
Not here. Now now.
“When did this happen?” Reginald asked the servant, completely expectant he would shoot the messenger.
The servant merely shrugged.
Reginald turned to the men around him–at short notice, he would need their help. It placed him at a massive disadvantage in regards to Kat, but there were few alternatives. His corporation was embroiled in the defense of Amamake and the siege of Huola. He’d need his family’s help to resecure the starbase.
“Gentlemen, please give me a few moments, then let’s move to my study.”
A few of the men voiced their assent as he brushed past them towards Ashessa and Katerina.
“… And I certainly hope Reginald is treating you properly. If he isn’t, let me know, and I’ll beat some sense into the boy.”
Kat laughed, “He is extremely proper, don’t worry.”
Reginald bowed in respect, “I’m sorry to interrupt Aunt Ashessa. Miss Tzestu, I apologize, but a matter requires my attention.
She smiled back at him, “Attend to it then, I will be quite alright here.”
He bowed again, “Thank you. I should be back shortly.” In reality, he didn’t know how long a private military action could take. He couldn’t let his anger or frustration show–he was the head of the family for a reason and he needed to demonstrate control.
“You see?” He heard Ashessa’s voice cut through the small gathering, “But I suppose it can’t be helped. His mother wasn’t finished preparing him when she left the family.”
Reginald stifled a response as he led the men towards his study. Even though the last thing he had heard was Ashessa’s voice, his mind echoed with his own.
“Whatever happens in there, I’ll be with you every step of the way.”