Author: Findswoman Title: Feel Safe at Night Era: Saga—PT (ca. 18 BBY, pre-Siege of Lasan) Characters: Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios, Shulma Trilasha Orrelios (OC), other OC mentions Genre: Mush, romantic vignette very short story Contents: 1 (below) | 3 Summary: So, I thought I would try my hand at Zeb and Shulma’s wedding night on their honeymoon trip to Moonflower Springs... Notes: Another previously written Lasan Series story coopted for Monday Mush Mania and specifically for MMM challenge #3, because the prompt (romantic vacation) fit. May eventually become part of a longer story about Zeb and Shulma’s wedding and honeymoon. This is also one of my first attempts writing, well, this kind of scene, and it may be just a smidge PG-13. Thus I ask you all to be gentle, and if I cross any lines, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Once again, I gratefully acknowledge the beta-reading assistance of @Raissa Baiard. 1 Gleaming moonlight bathed the forested cliffs surrounding the mountain retreat of Moonflower Springs. In the bridal suite overlooking the steaming, waterfall-fed pools that gave the place its name, a High Honor Guard dress uniform hung in the closet beside a flowing, draped gown of gold and red. Atop the dresser lay a variety of jeweled necklaces, earrings, anklets, and hair ornaments, among them a shamanic ring-medallion; nearby, on a footstool, lay several pieces of finely polished ceremonial armor. A large, inviting bed dominated the room, made up with sheets of red-purple satyn and strewn with colorful flowers. And lounging on that bed, in a dark purple velvoid dressing gown with the light gray of a standard-issue Honor Guard microshirt peeking through, was Zeb, sipping Hoth chocolate from a large purple mug bearing the words HELLO HONORABLE in big gold letters—and waiting. Waiting for Shulma, of course. She had now spent several minutes in the curtained dressing alcove at the far corner of the suite, “getting ready”—or so she said. Zeb was becoming impatient. Why the ever-living Bogan was it taking her so long? Was this one of those female things? Why did she even need to “get ready” for this, anyway? Karabast, I’ve been ready, he thought to himself. For years, now... He took a deep breath and another sip of chocolate. Then he heard her voice from behind the curtain: “Oh no… ai karabast’aka, no...” “Shulma, what’s goin’ on?” he called over. “Aren’tcha ready yet?” “Well…” Zeb put down his mug and went over to the curtained alcove. “Well, what? Everything all right?” “Yes, everything’s fine, Zeblove… it’s just…” He heard her sigh. “You know how Yhazi packed that… that bag for me?” “What, the one with the pink pittins all over it?” “Yes, that one.” “With all the hairpins an’ headache pills an’ funny little... bottles an’ tubes o’ stuff?” Zeb grimaced slightly. “Yes.” “Well, what about it?” “Well, she said she was going to throw in, er, something special for me to, um, wear for you tonight, and...” “And?” “And it’s… oh, Zeblove, I’m not even sure I want to come out in this…” “Then come out not in it! Heh, heh!” “Dearest, please…” “C’mon, now, darlin’, what’s wrong with it? Funny color? Too much lace an’ ruffles? Too skimpy? Nothin’ wrong with skimpy…” “No, no, it’s not that… it’s just… oh, I wish I hadn’t put my own nightgown in the other suitcase down in the speeder—” “Aw, just come on out, won’t ya?” Zeb grumbled, crossing his arms querulously. “I’ve been waitin’ long enough out here.” Shulma sighed again. “All right, fine... but you’ve been warned.” The curtains parted and Shulma stepped out of the dressing alcove. Her long purple-black hair fell loose over her shoulders, and most of her figure was concealed by an oversized, knee-length white nightshirt that read: Feel Safe at Night SLEEP WITH AN HONOR GUARD At first Zeb’s eyes and mouth gaped in astonishment. Then he erupted in raucous laughter that lasted several moments. “AW KARABAST! ’S ABSOLUTELY PRICELESS! LOVE IT!” he roared at last, slapping his knee. “Zeblove…” “An’ it’s true, y’know, heh heh!” He slid his arm around her and pulled her close. “Because this Honor Guard’s ready to sleep with ya… hey, what’s wrong?” he added as he saw her sigh and lower her eyes. “Oh, I don’t know… I mean... I guess I’d just hoped to be more... beautiful and alluring for my Zeblove on our first night. And instead I look like… this.” She looked down resignedly at the baggy nightshirt, then sighed and hid her face in his shoulder. “Oh love, I’m sorry...” “Don’t feel bad, darlin’. Y’know, like I said...” He leaned down and spoke in her ear. “...it doesn’t have to stay on ya, heh heh.” Shulma slapped her husband on the upper arm. “You are a tease, ai Garazeb.” “Who, me? I wasn’t teasin’ at all.” He said it with a chuckle and with one hand starting to push the nightshirt upward at the hem. But Shulma sighed again, her eyes remaining wistfully downturned. “Aw, c’mon, darlin’, cheer up. It’s our night, y’know. Here, er… um… try this.” He took off his robe and draped it over her shoulders instead, watching her as she wrapped it around herself, felt its softness against her, inhaled the manly scent that clung to it. “There you go. Now you look like a queen.” He nuzzled the edge of her ear. “My queen.” He kissed the stripes at the edge of her face. “My beautiful, alluring queen.” Each word was a kiss on her neck as he coaxed her over to the bed and sat down with her, his hand stroking her waist. “Now how ’bout my beautiful, alluring queen comes to bed so her Honor Guard can keep her safe all night long… AH HA HA ha ha ha… aw, karabast…” He burst out laughing again but quickly quelled it. “Sorry, darlin’, sorry. But really, won’tcha? Please?” “Of course I shall… dearest...” She trailed off, her eyes widening at what she noticed beside her. Zeb felt warmth fill his face. He had forgotten that he had been wearing nothing under the robe except his standard-issue microshirt and shorts—austere light gray, each stamped with the seal of the Honor Guard in a lower corner. And rather form-fitting, too, outlining all his muscular, masculine features... “Aw, karabast, heh heh… y’see, I’m—I’m not wearing anything special either, darlin’... just, er, standard-issue Guard stuff… guess my, er, sleep pants got left in the other suitcase too, heh… er… ” Zeb trailed off as he felt Shulma’s hand glide across his chest and down his side, tracing the landscape of his musculature. Though her touches were gentle, each of them sent blazing heat into his core, as if he were being pierced in the gut again and again with a bo-rifle. He’d felt it before: off and on during the wedding ceremony, during the feast afterward, during the drive out to Moonflower Springs—and all right, fine, pretty much every time this incomparable woman had ever given him the slightest touch, but now, now… He shifted a little. “Er… whatcha doin’, darlin’...?” “Just admiring my exquisite warrior. If he doesn’t mind, of course.” “Yeah! I mean no! I mean… of course I don’t mind…” Zeb drew his bride closer, his hand moving on her too. “Good. Because I was just going to say”—here she slipped a finger inside the waistband of his shorts—“that those standard-issue microgarments of yours don’t need to stay on, either.” “Aw, you’re teasin’ me, now…” “Not in the least, my mighty bristlecone…” Shulma’s lips brushed his cheek-stripes as her hand crept lower onto his thigh. “My Garazeb…” What was it about the way she called him that, about the way she said his name? “Right...” It was less a word than a low, chuckling growl as Zeb pulled her down onto the satyn sheets and into the most passionate embrace they had ever shared, the most passionate kiss they had ever kissed. The robe slipped off her shoulders, once again revealing the baggy, silly nightshirt. Not that she now seemed to mind. Neither did he. How could he, now that she was melting and blooming and yielding in his arms as his bride, her spicy-sweet scent flowing over him? Aw karabast, does it matter what she’s wearin? What I’m wearin’? “Heh, right,” he grunted again as his lips parted from hers. One strong hand guided her hand downward, the other peeled her nightshirt upward. “Fine by me.” * * * Her lovely stripes really did go all the way down. Wreathing around the tender, shapely breasts that had so often pressed against him, swirling down the graceful sides he had so often held close, wisping and dancing all... over... her... “Karabast, you’re so beautiful,” was all he could say as he began to kiss them one by one. And he intended to kiss them all before the night was out. * * * He truly was a most exquisite warrior. His magnificent figure loomed over her like a mountain, like an ancient rock formation with its finely chiseled crags and vivid striations. He was like the Warrior in the days when it had towered over Lira Zel like a protector and lover. That Warrior had fallen, but hers would not. Stalwart and fragrant, he was a bristlecone amid the shrubs of the timberline. He would stand tall through storm, wind, and disaster, and she would lie down in his shade and feel safe at night. She drew him down to her, saying what she had said on the day he had plighted his troth to her beneath those rocky ruins: “I am yours, last warrior of Lasan!” * * * And there, twined in union in each other’s scents and stripes, they both felt much more than safe that night. ¶ Spoiler: Notes Yhazi: OC, Shulma’s mischievous friend and fellow shaman who appears in Calm after the Storm and Light of Lasan; also mentioned a few times in Shaman, Traveler, Oracle. “That Warrior had fallen” and “on the day he had plighted his troth to her beneath those rocky ruins”: references to the events of Romance among the Stones. The rock formation called the Warrior was created by Raissa Baiard and first appeared in The Beginning of Honor.