Datapads hosting information about the tower in Saikamon and the ongoing investigation about the disappearance of its caretaker, Orion Sakakibara, were strewn across Reginald’s desk. He had long since fallen asleep among the mess using his arms as a pillow.
The sound of footsteps echoed into his subconscious, sitting precariously between the realm of dreams and sleep. He opened his eyes wearily, surprised to see Kat looking at him.
“Kat!” He exclaimed, jumping to his feet, a look of surprise on his face “Why are you here?”
Kat frowned back at him, “You just sent me a message.”
He furrowed his brows as he checked the corridor to see if anyone was there, before securing the door. He turned back to her, his expression one of puzzlement, “I… I didn’t send a message.”
He added, thinking about social protocol, “Did anyone see you come here?”
Kat frowned, her expression tightening, “Then you have a big security leak, and at least one of the servants on the grounds isn’t your man.”
The words sunk into him like lead weights. Even more things to worry about now.
He sighed, “That’s just what I need. More headaches. First a tower goes offline and then the estate gets infiltrated.”
He walked to his neocom and shot a message to security. He was too tired to deal with another issue personally. And all of these interruptions were pulling him away from Kat. He wanted to spend more time with her. At the very least, he was relieved she was with him.
“All the same, it’s good that you’re here,” He pulled her into an embrace, “I’m glad you’re safe.”
Kat smiled at him, “Don’t worry about me.”
He laughed, then checked his neocom, “Security is checking the staff now, but they haven’t found anything out of the ordinary.” He glanced up towards her emerald eyes, “But where are my manners? Can I get you anything?”
“I’m alright, thank you.”
“Okay, if you say so,” He nods, being pulled away to his neocom again. So many distractions. He sighed, “Oh, fantastic. My family is riddled with incompetence.”
He turned back to Kat blushing, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t speak ill of them like that.”
“Maybe not, but now that you’ve said it, it wouldn’t hurt to tell me more?”
He nodded, accepting the company without question, “I’ll have someone bring up tea.” He motioned to a sitting area, finding a seat on a sofa, “Today, during your presentation, I got a message that a tower in Saikamon went offline. Ashessa’s son, my cousin, was in charge, but now he’s disappeared along with a large amount of ISK. No one knows where he is and he hasn’t been responding to messages. It’s strange because he has no reason to betray the family. By the look of everything, he’s probably off in some pleasure hub somewhere.”
He slumped into a sofa, looking defeated, “I’m sorry. This whole affair has been ruining a weekend meant for you.”
Katerina chuckled, “You worry too much! I know the world hardly waits for getaways.”
He drew Kat in to join him on the sofa. He kissed her hand softly as if to apologize for the entire weekend. He added softly, “The family loves you, though.” He blushed, “I know that I said we shouldn’t spend the night together, but given the circumstances, I couldn’t in good faith… that is… Well, I mean…”
Kat provided a severe expression, “Lord Sakakibara are you suggesting what I think you’re suggesting?”
“I can sleep on the sofa!” He responded quickly, holding his hands up defensively, “You can stay in my bed. I’d just feel safer if you were nearby.”
He blushed, rambling on, “I haven’t the slighest of what you may have thought I was implying…”
Kat burst out laughing, “I’m sure you don’t. However, sofas are uncomfortable.”
He glanced away, “It’d just be for a night.”
“Do your family or servants ever barge in without knocking?”
“No, of course not.”
She smiled, “See? No reason for anyone to be uncomfortable.”
“I… I suppose. But, it’s improper, isn’t it?”
“We’re not doing anything, you know.”
“No… that’s not what I meant, I swear!”
“Oh I know. We’re merely sharing a bed.”
Reginald’s mind was racing. If his family learned that he had spent the night with Kat not only in his private room, but in his bed, the weekend could be completely ruined. He could already hear the machinations grinding into motion from the rest of the family, each one slowly chipping away at his relationship with Kat. He desperately wanted them to like her.
“It doesn’t bother you? We’d be interacting with the family tomorrow and I don’t want to jeopardize your position.” He put his arms around her, “I want them to keep liking you.”
Kat smiled, “Well, it’s not like they’ll know, after all.”
The realization hit him like an Iteron Mark V. No one knew she was with him. And sending her away was unthinkable–he’d never want to put her in danger on purpose. He started to calm down a bit, embarrassed at how frantic he must have sounded.
“You’re right. I’m sorry, I haven’t been thinking clearly.” He confessed, “I always feel like the walls are made of glass when I come here.”
Katerina shrugged, “And even if they find out, so what? We can just blame my cursed commoner roots.”
Something stirred inside of Reginald. He hated thinking about Kat as a “commoner.” She was more noble than the majority of his family and wealthier than most of them as well and they still looked down at her. He hated that.
“Don’t say that!” He let some anger slip out.
Kat frowned, “What?”
He replied softly, “You’re more ‘noble’ than most of the family.”
Katerina smiled, “I’m sure you know nobility has little to do with actions, and all to do with blood.”
Suddenly–he wasn’t sure where the words came from, but they had been swirling inside of him as they talked about her “commoner” heritage–he asked a question.
“Would you like to stop being a ‘commoner’?”
He hadn’t meant the question to have such heavy implications, but when he said it, he meant it with all of his being. He wanted to make her happy. He waited on bated breath for her reply. He felt like he had just jumped into a pool of icewater as he waited. It felt like an eternity.
“What?” She asked, her face looking as if she had been hit by lightning.
He deflated a little, feeling the resistance growing. He re-stated the question, “If you had the opportunity, would you want to stop being a commoner?”
Kat sighed, “Regi, you know I love you. But it’s a little soon to ask that isn’t it? What will the family think?”
His heart skipped at the word “love.” He held her a little closer, blushing at the idea. But she was raising logical objections.
He recovered after a few moments, a little crestfallen, “I suppose you’re right.” He tried salvaging his position, “As for the family, most of the ones present adore you.”
He added, hoping he wasn’t misreading her, “And… I love you too.”
She had said that simple three-letter word quietly after a smile. It took a moment for it to sink in, but within moments the cold sensation at the base of his spine melted away into warmth. He could barely believe his ears.
“Really?” He asked her with wide eyes, “I mean, I agree that that was the worst proposal in the history of New Eden and I don’t even have a ring…” He trailed on, rambling through details and trivialities.
Kat placed a finger to his lips. “Details later, when the time is right, okay?”
He calmed down, his eyes shining, and nodded obediently.
“In any case, we should get some rest for tomorrow.”
He glanced towards his bed and smiled, “All right.”
“It was just tea.”