“Sarah’s really rude to me,” you mention as you slide into the big comfortable double bed just a few feet away from Terra.
“I know,” Terra agrees, turning back her own covers. “I don’t think that’s going to last much longer now that Grisham has appointed herself your knight in shining armor.”
“Shouldn’t…” you hesitate before finishing the sentence, then do it anyway. “Shouldn’t you have stopped her? In the beginning?”
Terra’s brows rise in your direction as she sits on her bed, facing you.
“I’m just saying,” you say. “Sarah’s been rude from the beginning, but she got a free pass until Grisham joined. You’re kind of… you’re basically letting me get picked on.”
An expression of concern furrows Terra’s brow. “Is that how you feel, Cadet? Picked on?”
The more you think about it, the more upset you start to feel. Sarah’s ribbing has never even been good natured. She’s been rude and disrespectful and she’s denigrated you at every turn.
“Yeah, that’s how I feel,” you say. “She harasses me. She bullies me.”
“Why did you run away with her then? Why did you leave the fort and steal an aircraft with her?”
“Because she said she had answers for me.”
“I see,” Terra says. She leans back a little, her robe falling open just a sliver. “We haven’t really talked properly, have we, Cadet?”
“No, ma’am, we have not,” you agree, pulling the blankets up around yourself as you sit cross legged in bed. “You’ve kind of… you’ve kept me in the dark about a lot, and you’ve left me behind when it suited you and now, now that I’ve got someone who likes me. Really likes me, you’re getting in the way of it. ”
You weren’t planning on calling Terra out when you got into bed, but it’s all just kind of pouring out.
“I’m… in the way, Cadet?” Terra’s left brow rises on its own, making your stomach quiver.
“I don’t mean it like that, you know what I mean. It feels like you want me alone. You don’t want to be with me. You don’t want to… you don’t want me. I’m just some stupid little cadet to you.”
“You are not stupid,” Terra says sharply. “I’m glad Grisham was and is there for you. If you want to be with her, I won’t stop you, but we have a job to do first. As for Sarah, you’re right. I have been too easy on her. That’s one of the reasons Grisham is going to be so useful to me. She’s physically impressive, she has impeccable leadership skills and she’s able to defuse Sarah in a way I cannot…” a look of admiration comes into Terra’s gaze and tone as she lists Grisham’s many positive qualities.
Something’s beginning to dawn on you. You’d thought that Terra’s desire to have Grisham and you not engage in intimacy was about you. But maybe it wasn’t about Grisham and you. Maybe it was actually about Grisham and Terra. It would make sense. They’re closer in age. They probably have a lot more in common… your heart sinks as you mumble:
“You like Grisham.”
“Of course I like Grisham,” Terra replies.
“No, I mean, you LIKE Grisham.”
“I don’t think that’s a useful conversation to have, Cadet,” Terra says, shutting the question down.
“Well, Grisham likes me,” you smirk, as a spark of defiance lights itself inside your heart. “Not you. So there.”
“Is that right, Cadet?” Terra is plainly amused. Her lips curl up into a smile as she cocks her head to the side, giving you an indulgent look. Her sybaritic beauty has always been intimidating to some extent, her poise and elegance making you feel clumsy and small.
“Yes, it is right,” you say. “I’ve already slept with Grisham. She’s mine. First in her pants, first served. That’s how it works.”
“Territorial little thing,” Terra purrs, her eyes dancing with some emotion you can’t quite place. She doesn’t look angry, but she does look somehow intense. You feel a little zip of excitement between your thighs as Terra becomes more than an object of desire. She’s potential competition.
Terra’s entire being seems to suggest that she doesn’t see you the same way. Of course she’s not acknowledging that she wants Grisham. She probably thinks she could have Grisham if she wants her. She probably doesn’t think you’re competition for her. Maybe you’re not. Maybe…
“You want to know the truth, Cadet?”
“Yes ma’am, I do,” you say, trying to maintain your composure.
“The truth is, I am not one of your little friends you fight over girls with,” she says, drawing herself up to her feet. She closes the distance, taking one slow step toward you after another as she speaks in a soft but dangerously dominant tone. “You are not my equal, Cadet, and you never will be. So even though you may be sleeping in my room, we are not having a sleepover. I am your commander, you are a soldier in my unit and…” you shrink back as she draws closer, taking hold of the front of your shirt with her elegant long fingers… “unless you pick your next words very carefully indeed, you are about to be incredibly sore.”