Arriving at the infirmary, I walked first to Dr. Halé’s office. She was writing something on her tablet. She looked up immediately, smiling softly. “Empress, come in.”
“How is Maralice?” I asked, sitting down across from Dr. Halé.
“Her wounds are healed and she’s resting comfortably,” she explained. “Well, not comfortably. I still feel a great deal of shame and sadness around her.”
“I don’t know how much of my people you know, but we are mated to one person and our bodies are for our mates only,” I said. “Maralice’s mate, Jamel, was killed in the war and she has been alone ever since.”
“So, she’ll never remarry?” Dr. Halé asked.
“No and in her mind, she has shamed her family and the family of her imprint,” I explained. “I know it was against her will and I believe she is a strong female. In her heart, she will need much healing.”
“The only time she wasn’t upset was when Commander Whitlock came to check on her,” she murmured. “Her spots glowed slightly.”
“Yes, but once he was gone, the guilt and shame came back tenfold,” she frowned.
“Perhaps Maralice is connected with Commander Whitlock? I am hesitant to say that he’s her mate, but they obviously share something,” I shrugged.
“Is Captain Cullen your mate?” Dr. Halé questioned.
“Yes and according to one of my people, our bond is very rare,” I smiled softly. “You were married to him?”
“Yeah. It was a spur of the moment decision that was brought on by our physical attraction and lust for each other. Don’t get me wrong, I love Edward. Like a brother,” she laughed. “Well, now, like a brother. When we were married, it was all sex and arguing.”
“Sex?” I asked, arching a brow.
“Um, making love, bonding physically, mating?” she responded, her nose wrinkled.
“Right,” I blushed.
“This isn’t weird that I was married to him, right?”
“Marriage is not what we use to describe our unions. It’s much deeper than that. A marriage, as you have seen and experienced, can be broken. With our imprints, our mates, most Cygnarians share a soul and it’s that connection that bonds them together. It’s what allows to feel what they feel, hear their minds as we can be inside of theirs. Touch and time strengthens the bonds and mates physically cannot be without the other,” I said, smiling softly.
“What happens when a mate dies?” Dr. Halé pressed.
“There is a time of great mourning. Maralice’s mate died nearly a decade ago. She is only now allowed to go out among people. Since she was such a high-ranking member of my staff, she was able to interact with me and the Cygnarians who lived in the royal palace. She couldn’t have gone on this mission a year ago, though. I’m grateful she’s here. I couldn’t have gotten this far without her,” I sighed. “She helped me with the death of my mother, filling her shoes at times when my father was unable.”
“But, she didn’t die despite her mate dying?”
“No. However, that might be different for Edward and myself. Like I said, our bond is very rare. Our connection is very strong, even without fully completing the mating ceremony,” I described.
“And his being married doesn’t affect that?”
“Ideally, I’d prefer my mate to be…” I trailed off.
“A virgin?” she giggled.
“What’s that?” I asked. “I’ve never heard that word.”
“Never had sex,” she explained.
“Yes, but my heart knows what it wants and it wants Edward. Only Edward,” I smiled softly, pressing my hand above my breast.
Dr. Halé’s communicator chirped. “Cullen to Halé,” came the voice of my ti’ane.
“I’m here, Captain,” she replied.
“I need you and the Empress to come to my conference room. We’ve received word from the Federation Council,” Edward said, his voice deep and resonant, warming my soul.
“How did you know that the Empress was here?” Dr. Halé asked.
“I felt her there. I knew she was talking to you,” he chuckled. “Gossiping, ladies?”
“I was telling her how you never get your socks in the hamper,” Dr. Halé smirked. “He’s notorious for leaving dirty laundry everywhere.”
“ROSALIE!” Edward boomed. “Stop it. I’m still your commanding officer. Don’t make me confine you to quarters.”
“Promises, promises,” Rosalie giggled.