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The door beeped uncompromisingly once again.

“Problem?” Romana asked, finally turning over and opening her eyes. The room was in darkness, Narvin a deeper shadow by the door.

Yes. This damned security system. It won’t let me out. What is that Castellan of yours doing?”

“He says it’s system-wide and he’ll -” Romana yawned “ - need to run a full diagnostic sweep. Come back to bed then.”

“Romana -”

“Narvin, I’m too tired to argue with you. I’m not going to call up Slyne and explain that my Chancellor has found he can’t sneak out of my quarters in the middle of the night. That might be counterproductive as far as subterfuge goes, don’t you think? So do as your President says, or spend the rest of the night where you’re standing, your choice.”

She turned back, affecting disinterest, smiling to herself as she heard him move about the room. His outer robes hung over the back of a chair, his shoes tucked underneath, the rest of his clothes folded neatly and placed on the seat — on cue the bed dipped beneath his weight.

“Too tired to argue?” His breath stirred her hair as he put his arms around her. “We should do this more often.”

She shivered and pressed back against him. “Right choice, Chancellor. I knew you wouldn’t betray me.”

“Speaking of that, was it really necessary to -”

“Yes, it was.”

“I thought it was a little over the top.”

She turned in his arms to face him. “Well, maybe, but I admired the gusto you put into it.”

“Me? Escort me away from this creature, you said.”

“It worked, didn’t it?”

“I almost believed it myself.”

The silence stretched for several microspans, deep and warm, lengthening as their breaths and heartsbeats slowed.

“I wasn’t really jealous of Allora, you know.”



“You’re a much better actress than I gave you credit for, then.”

“Politics requires it.”

“Of course.”

“Now get some sleep.” Romana curled in closer. “We’ve a meeting in the morning.”

“Have we?”

“That’s our story.”

“We can discuss changing the prison chefs.”

“Allora’ll like that,” Romana said, her voice muffled against Narvin’s chest.

Narvin pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “A very good actress.”