The meeting with the President of The United States was set at one of the grandest of ballrooms located ten blocks from where they were staying. Susan rode together with Tark Luda in the limousine sent by the President. Several more black sedans were sandwiching theirs, both front and back. Men dressed in black tactical gear dotted the streets and building top. Thousands of people took the street sides, cheering and waving for the arrival of Tark Luda.
Despite such monumental visits often happened in the White House, with so many countries watching every movement of Tark Luda, the president simply couldn’t afford to hazard an invitation of such to him. It would be seen as a secret collaborative meeting by the other countries and that would spell unrest to the world. In fact, the US made sure that every facet of news agency, ranging from local to international news reels, was invited to report on the meeting to ensure complete transparency.
“You sure you are fine?” he said. His hand cupped hers. “Your body temperature is higher than normal.” he observed.
“Yes. I’m fine.” she lied and pulled her hand away.
She was far from fine. She thought the strong coffee would have given her enough caffeine to leverage some strength out of her sick body. She had never been more wrong. The coffee didn’t do anything. Her head ached as though her brain was throwing a tantrum inside her skull. Her joints were sore and painful to move. Her chest hurt like a bitch every time she breathed in. No, she was not fine. But that still didn’t change anything. His needs came first! Period.
“Look, we are almost there.” she tried to change the subject.
“I have a feeling that you are lying to me.” he sighed. “I shouldn’t have dragged you here.”
“Maybe we should cancel the meeting.” he suggested.
“No!” she shouted and unleashed a torrent of coughs. “You have to go to the meeting.”
“Why do you keep insisting that I should go to this meeting?”
Because if you didn’t, World War III might happen. The world was already at a breaking point. Everyone was eager to get something from the Jovi Nithrakians. Even if it meant killing the competition. Absence from the meeting would only make things worse. She wanted to tell him that. But she wasn’t allowed to. This was something domestic, something that should and would be solved by humans. This was something that the UN was clear cut about that the Jovi Nithrakians shouldn’t be involved in. From the outside, humans might seem peaceful to the aliens, but on the inside, they were fighting among each other. Trade proposition, new technology, power, and the ability to travel beyond our solar system in warp speeds. These were prizes that the humans would fight among themselves to get their hands on.
Furthermore, there was a whole other faction that speculated of the ill-intentions of the aliens. Even if most countries’ leaders might seem more than welcoming of their arrival, deep down, everyone still had reservation on the threat of a full scale invasion. The humans weren’t retarded. Everyone knew what happened to the Indians when Columbus landed on America. The aliens could very well have planned to take everything the humans had and leave them to their eventual demise.
But Susan didn’t want to believe that. She had seen Tark Luda charmed his way into women’s knickers. He was no invader. If anything, Tark Luda wanted friendship with the humans. The aliens were more than just another invasive species like the humans. Susan really believed that. But her views weren’t shared by everyone on the planet. Not even her boss, who insisted her to be vigilant at all times.
Susan closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Just…go. Please. For me.” she said.
“Alright.” he sighed.
The limousine stopped right in front of a strip of red carpet. A footman came and opened the car door. Tark got out of the car and Susan followed behind. Camera flashed and reporters screamed above the noise to get words from him. This was something Susan was quite accustomed with. The camera flashes, especially, was never a problem for her. Until now. She shielded her eyes against the scintillating flash as she shuffled behind Tark.
“You are not fine.” he came back and guided her by her waist. Her stomach cringed at the contact.
He nodded and waved at the cameras, all while keeping Susan on her feet as the two walked into the building. By the time they were inside, Susan was already blushing. She told herself repeatedly that the fever was to be blamed, that it wasn’t his touch that had her heart fluttered and her face glowed like a beet.
“Mr. Tark Luda.” a polite gentleman dressed in a black tuxedo called out with his hand stretched forward. “It’s a pleasure having you.”
“The pleasure’s mine.” he said and shook the gentleman’s hand.
Tark never let go. He held her waist tighter as they followed the gentleman. The possession she felt in his grip was palpable that she almost yelped. The gentleman brought them through a large door in which inside was filled with seats. Hundreds of people droned around to find their seats. Camera crews were diligently setting up their equipment at the corners of the ballroom. Journalists were preparing notes and questions that they would ask at the question and answer session.
Tark guided Susan to one of the empty chairs at the front. She took the opportunity to pull out from his embrace and sat on the chair. She couldn’t stand being held by him like that. It was too possessive. And she liked it. She liked it too much and she afraid that if he held her any longer, she might not want him to let go.
“I suppose you will stay here until I finish?” he smiled.
“That’s the plan.” she returned a wry smile at him.
“Sit tight then.” he patted on her shoulder.
She shuddered at the innocent contact and quickly reminded herself that it was just the cool temperature of the air-conditioned room.
Tark followed the gentleman and disappeared to the back of the large stage. Susan took the time to report to her boss of the development. After the short call of informing her boss that Tark Luda was safely in the ballroom, she called the ECCEC officers and told them they were inside. The ECCEC officers acknowledged and told her they would be there to take him should a problem arise.
“You are Susan Mayers of the ECCEC.” said a male voice behind her.
When Susan turned around, a audio recorder was shoved to her face, causing her to jerk away.
“I’m a journalist from New York Times. Would you mind answering a few questions?”
Susan contemplated for a moment. She wasn’t prepared for any interview; not that she would since she was never approached by a reporter until now. She couldn’t just leave as it would most likely come across as though she had something to hide.
The British girl who had sworn secrecy for Tark the Alien.
She shuddered at the headline. Not that she had anything to hide in the first place. So, she took a deep breath and told the reporter that she would only answer three questions.
“What is your relationship with Tark Luda?”
“I’m his confidant. Personal aide.” Susan said calmly.
“There are substantial reports of his promiscuity. Have you known about that?”
“Yes. I’ve known about it. It’s more like a casual gesture to the Jovi. It’s by no means romantic. More like a handshake to them.” Susan explained.
“Have you engaged such ‘handshakes’ with Tark Luda?” he emphasized the word handshakes.
“No.” Susan snapped defensively.
“But will you do so in the future?” he pressed on.
“That’s more than three questions.” Susan said.
“Come on. Just one more.”
“Fine. The answer is no. Our relationship is strictly professional in the human sense.” she said. But until just now, she wasn’t so sure anymore if she wouldn’t want to sleep with him.
By then, the journalist had gathered the attention of the rest whom were sitting nearby. With the flipping of pages on their notebooks and fumbling of their respective audio recorders, Susan could tell that they were about to ask her more questions.
“Susan Mayers, a few questions please.” one of the journalists rose from her seat.
Susan jumped up and practically ran away from her seat. If she stayed there, she would be pulverized by the talons of the inquisitive journalists. Her head still hurt and answering more questions certainly wouldn’t help.
“Susan Mayers. How often does Tark Luda have sexual intercourse?” another one shouted as he shoved his recorder to her.
“Susan Mayers. Have you slept with Tark Luda?” another lunged forward with her recorder.
Why the fuck were they asking such questions? How about world views and political agenda or business strategy and future trade agreement? Why was she only asked about sex? Susan kept quiet while struggling away from the journalist. The relentless pushing by the horde of journalists had her virtually trapped. She quickly regretted her decision to answer that journalist. Questions were thrown out in loud succession. The next more blatant than the other.
Susan felt suffocated. Her lungs were already working painfully hard to get her breathing through the high fever that now plagued her body. Her chest hurt and her head ached. She wanted to shout, to scream at them, but she couldn’t find her voice.
“Let her go.” Tark bellowed.
The crowd of journalists parted as Tark pried his way towards her. The journalists didn’t stop their incessant questioning. Instead, they shifted their focus and began asking Tark questions. Actual, legitimate questions. Talk about gender equality.
“I will answer all your questions during the questions and answer session. You have my word.” Tark said above everyone’s voice. “But I do hope that you will not cause trouble for my personal aide.”
He tugged her away by her wrist. Susan followed the open path Tark had formed through the crowd. She managed to keep up with his pace even though her chest was burning with pain. He brought her to the back of the stage and into the powder room. Then, he sat her down on the leather swivel chair.
“I’m sorry.” he said.
“It’s not your fault.” Susan panted. She could feel the burn of her own fever.
“You sure you are fine?” he frowned.
“I just…need some rest.” she heaved and laid her head back on the headrest. “I’ll be fine.” she added.
“I shouldn’t have come for the meeting.”
“Please. You must go to this meeting. Promise me.” she looked into his eyes directly for the first time. They were the most beautiful set of brown eyes she had ever seen.
“Why is this meeting so important? I’ve been through dozen meetings. Why can’t I just skip one?”
“Please. Just go. I’ll be fine.” she said, not wanting to explain why exactly he couldn’t skip this meeting. In fact, he couldn’t skip any of the meetings.
“Alright” he sighed dejectedly and walked out of the door.
When he left the room, Susan leaned back and closed her eyes. Every inch of her body was trying to kill her with pain now. She needed rest alright.
With only two hours to rest before she would have to attend the dinner with Tark, she didn’t have much time to rest. She set her alarm on her cellphone to wake her up at 4pm. She would be up and kicking after a short nap. Yes. That’s what she needed. A short nap. Or at least that’s what she thought.