“So what happens now?” Angela asked Exalon. “I hide in the apartment until the ball? I mean, if there’s actually going to be a ball.”
“There will be one. News of it has already spread, so Mother can’t afford to cancel it and cause a scandal,” Exalon said assuredly. “Now, originally, I had planned on taking you on a few outings, having people get used to seeing you. Dinners, entertainments, that sort of thing.”
“Dates, Ex,” Angela said, laughing. “Humans call those dates.”
“I thought that was a food,” he frowned.
“It is. Well, was. I know some of the colony planets with high human populations still grow them. Anyway, dates are when two people who like each other and want to get to know one another better go out, talk, have a good time, that sort of thing. A meal is usually involved, but not necessary.”
“Hmm…”, Exalon hummed, thinking over Angela’s explanation. “That sounds similar to what we would be doing. Except titled families never let their daughters out without a family member to chaperone unless she is matched.”
“That’s absurd!” Angela cried. “What do they think will happen, the woman will lose all control and throw herself at the first available man she’s attracted to?”
Exalon glanced away, blushing, but didn’t deny Angela’s theory.
“Okay, wow,” said Angela, utterly shocked. “This planet needs rights for women, like, now. How on Triford can you have a Queen, a female ruler who decides what is right for the planet, but your titled families can control their daughters like that?”
Exalon laughed, kissing Angela.
“Well, we’re not on Triford, my love, but your point is valid. Perhaps I should have you start sowing seeds of discontent among the younger Axion women.”
“Ex, believe me, that discontent is already there, whether they talk about it or not. Besides, all the young titled women probably hate me, since I’m sure my presence has been reported to the entire planet by now, titled and not.”
“You’re not wrong,” Exalon replied dry. He gently brushed back some of Angela’s hair, making her shiver. He smiled at that.
“You must be exhausted after everything that’s happened.”
“Well, it has been a bit overwhelming,” Angela said teasingly.
“Your ability to understate the obvious is going to serve you well. I, um…”. Exalon paused, blushing. He looked uncomfortable, something Angela hadn’t seen before.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“No, nothing, nothing’s wrong, it’s just that… Well, you know we cleared out part of the apartment for you, but I would feel more comfortable if you were closer. I’m, I'm not expecting anything, of course, we still need to get to know one another, but I was hoping you’d stay in the guest room right, um, right next to the master bedroom. In case you need anything, I mean.”
Angela didn’t even bother trying to hide her grin at his stumbling and adorable attempt to ask her to stay near him.
“You know, that’s probably a good idea,” Angela said with a lilt of humor in her voice. “You never know what I might need, sleeping in a new place and all.”
Exalon broke out into a huge grin, grabbing Angela and passionately kissing her. Angela felt herself melt into Exalon, her arms wrapping around his neck. Exalon’s tongue traced the seam of Angela’s lips and she opened her mouth. Exalon took full advantage, sliding his tongue inside and almost battling with Angela for supremacy. Before either of them realized it, Angela was on her back on the sofa with Exalon lying over her, his hands tangled in her hair to keep himself from crushing her.
Exalon slowly slid a hand down Angela’s body, tracing her shape from shoulder to hip. She held onto his massive shoulders, her fingernails digging into his jacket as they continued to kiss. Exalon began to undo the belt at her waist, finally freeing it and dropping it to the floor, causing her robe to fall open and only her dress and his clothes separating them.
His hand traced its way back up and settled on Angela’s breast, causing her to gasp and stiffen as she had earlier that day. Exalon immediately stopped kissing her and removed his hand, sitting up and pulling her with him. They were both breathing heavily. Angela clutched her robe tightly against herself.
“I apologize,” Exalon said sincerely. “I wasn’t thinking. I’ve never lost control like that before.”
“Me neither,” Angela admitted. She touched her lips, finding them swollen, and she smiled slightly as she remembered Exalon’s taste.
“Angela, are you…”. Exalon paused, scratching the back of his neck, trying to find the right words. “I mean, it wouldn’t matter to me either way, I would never judge a woman for freely expressing herself, a woman’s body belongs only to her, of course, so if-”.
Angela placed a gentle hand on Exalon’s mouth to shut him up.
“Yes, I’m a virgin,” Angela answered his unasked question. “And no, it’s not because I was saving myself for some incredible, monumental, life changing partner. But I wanted to give my virginity to someone who actually meant something to me. I just, I never had time to date, what with my mother’s death and my father’s…issues.”
“Ah,” Exalon mumbled, looking incredibly nervous. “I, uh, I see. Well, I, um, I never want to make you feel pressured, so if we’re ever doing something and you being to feel uncomfortable-”.
“I’ll tell you,” Angela gently cut him off. “Thank you. For being so understanding.”
“Oh, my love,” Exalon said, smiling, and reached out to cup Angela’s cheek. “You’re too precious to ever be mistreated.”
Angela’s eyes flicked down, remembering her father’s drunken rants and his low-life friends who never had a problem grabbing or groping her if she was near them. Exalon gently raised Angela’s chin so he could look into her eyes.
“That life is behind you now. You, me, and whatever the future brings, that’s what’s in front of us.”
Angela nodded, blinking away tears as she tried to process how she could feel so much affection for this man she had just met today and how quickly he had become the most important part of her life.
Exalon stood, offering Angela his hand. She took it and he led her to a door she hadn’t been through before, walking together hand in hand.
“I’ll show you to your room and let you get some rest,” Exalon said. “I have a feeling a very enthusiastic Princess will be accompanying an equally enthusiastic fashion designer here early tomorrow. I’ll also inform Mrs. Cotterhill your things are to be brought to this wing in the morning.”
“She is not going to like that,” remarked Angela, making Exalon chuckle.
“Mrs. Cotterhill is a rather staunch traditionalist, but she’s extremely loyal to me,” said Exalon. “I trust her not to report anything that happens here back to my mother.” He stopped in front of a light blue door with jewels depicting birds inlaid into the frame.
“I’m right next door if you need anything,” Exalon told Angela, before leaning down and giving her a chaste kiss on the lips. She smiled up at him.
“Good night, my love.”
“Good night, my Prince,” Angela replied, causing Exalon to laugh as she gently closed the door behind her.
The excitement of the day suddenly seemed to hit Angela all at once, and she barely had time to shed her dress and robe before stepping into the auto-cleaner, which used strong bursts of air and different spectrums of light to clean someone, instead of water. It was the first time she had used something like it, as no one on Triford could afford such luxuries.
Angela rifled through one of the closest, curious about who all these clothes belonged to, but too tired to try and figure it out. She found a nightgown softer than anything she had felt before and quickly slipped it on, holding back a moan as it slid over her skin. As she climbed under the covers of the most comfortable bed she had ever been in, she shook her head and smiled, barely believing the events of the day, and knowing it would just become crazier tomorrow.