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Thread: Visions For The Future

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    TheHolo.Net Poster Elarys Amarank's Avatar
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    Imperial - Closed Visions For The Future

    The last two months had been a whirlwind and once again Elarys doubted she had got much sleep. She remembered at university how a few people thought that internships were more stressful than actual jobs. She had no idea where they got this warped belief. She had always given her everything especially as she had been lucky to have positions that aligned with her passion for education, arts, and nonprofits that furthered imperial culture.

    The selection process of the three artists in residence with the Museum of Fine Arts on Imperial Center had been a challenge, bringing in multiple experts to weed through the all very talented candidates. Curator Ekat Trosnan had been difficult to work with on multiple occasions; but she had soldiered through it and had eventually earned his respect, and managed to win him over for one of the finalists. The artist hadn't been selected as one of the residents but it was nevertheless opening new opportunities for them, and Elarys was glad.

    She wasn't an art expert but had nevertheless been learning a lot during her time with the nonprofit Neran's who financed the three residencies. She was curious to see what next project she would work on for them; but before she closed this chapter for the time being - as someone else would stay in touch with the resident in the upcoming year and monitor their progress, she still had to be present for most events during the opening week of the residency.

    A section of contemporary art had been set up for the three residents: Kelitan Vorak, an architect from Cirrus, Laya Morin, a digital painter from Salin, and Crossa Ferl, a fashion designer from Tibro. They would add to their work in the upcoming months, but the opening gala and various talks and smaller events in the opening week showcased pieces they had used in their portfolio to earn their residencies.

    Tonight was the opening reception, and she was hoping that everything would unfold as smoothly as possible. The curator had been extremely fussy in the past few days and she had had to diffuse tension with several of the museum employees who had been doing a stellar job in getting everything ready. The artists themselves had felt like a handful, except for Morin who had taken everything in stride and been a gem to work with.

    After having made sure of a last few details behind the scenes, Elarys was finally able to step among the guests, and was able to take in the setup as they experienced it. She felt a little uncertain about the vibrant flowy dress Shana had insisted on gifting her for the event. The young professional would have been happy with a more discreet outfit but Shana had been adamant about spoiling her.

    She exchanged a few words with the some members of the Museum administrators, and kept herself in check from not looking around in hope that a certain person may show up. It was a long shot; but she couldn't help it. She was still surprised they had stayed in contact after the educational fundraiser a few months ago. Meeting her and getting to see her passion for the imperial youth had been one of the best parts of the event.


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    Neran's charity organization was in its infancy and truth be told, Lady Tarkin would not have attended the event as it conflicted with a dinner engagement with Admiral Josiyah Walker, a dear friend of her late husband Andron. They both served together for the longest time until they became officers. Then orders forced physical separation but they always corresponded at least weekly, as long as service permitted.

    After Andron's death, Josiyah was her support and over the years he was not at all subtle with his intentions to court her. He knew she was not interested and remained a good friend but every now and then, he'd gamble that Lise would come around. She was sure that this dinner was just pretense and not at all about new programs for the Sub-Adult Group.

    However recent correspondences with Elarys were illuminating! She was overseeing the event and it gave her a fabulous excuse to reschedule and give the new organization a chance. If Neron was intelligent enough to use Elarys' services, then Lise may have been too quick to judge. Josiyah was understanding as always and would reschedule their reservations.

    Security had increased at the event since a member of the royal family was in attendance. Plain clothed guards mingled with the guests but Lise Tarkin had two formally garbed Imperial Guard walking just several steps behind her. At least she didn't have to navigate the room, it parted for her.

    Plucking a flute of champagne off a carried tray, Lise paused and sipped, eyes gauging the room for a group that may interest her in conversation.

    Or maybe just someone...

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    TheHolo.Net Poster Elarys Amarank's Avatar
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    Making sure to give attentive words to various guests, Elarys remained oblivious to how the crowds parted for Lise Tarkin's arrival. As much as she wanted to look around, which made her feel like some silly adolescent, she remembered the importance of this night, and she wanted to make sure that her employer as well as the museum and its new artists were celebrated as they should be. Having developed great fondness for the aristocrat and always feeling flustered when they got to correspond was a private matter and shall not interfere with her duties.

    The moment she turned her head as a waiter offered a tray of flutes, she picked one and then caught sight of Lady Tarkin. Elarys would later give herself a pat on the back for not having dropped her drink at the stunning sight of the blonde aristocrat. She always had impeccable style but this dress complimented her beyond measure.

    Elarys's smile could light up the whole room and she cared little as she curtsied without dropping her glass. Shana had made sure to help her sister-in-law improve with such things, which had been years in the making.

    "My Lady, it is wonderful to see you."

    She understood the difference of social status between them; but since their first collaboration during the fundraiser, she had nevertheless been genuine with Lady Tarkin, and their exchanges had always been quite enlightening.

    "May I interest you in a personal tour of the exhibition?"

    While the Curator had obviously done evident work on the project, she dared say she was the one with the most comprehensive knowledge of all three artists' current portfolios.

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    And that particular someone was delighted to see Lise with that infectious bright smile. She couldn't help but respond in kind, offering a polite nod in acknowledgement as customary for her station.

    "As it is to see you, my dear." Lise stepped closer and greeted her with a kiss on either cheek. She stepped back and squeezed Elarys' free hand, looking pleased. "And I'd be honored. Also ... honest. Art galleries like these I'm rather ignorant on. Historical pieces are what I indulge in, but ... perhaps your insight can sway my mind, hm?"

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    TheHolo.Net Poster Elarys Amarank's Avatar
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    Elarys was internally gleeful about seeing Lady Tarkin, and she was comfortable with her enthusiasm showing. She was passionate by nature and had often worn her heart on her sleeve, something that ran in the Amarank family. Losing her brother a few years ago had definitely made her show appreciation and go after her dreams more than she would have before to this loss.

    She didn't know if she had blushed at the other woman's warm greeting; but she didn't spare many second thoughts about it. And she definitely squeezed the blonde's hand back.

    The brunette grinned at Lady Tarkin's admission. "Honest? I have been learning a lot thanks to the various experts brought on board during the selection process. They mostly chose me in because I love logistics and event planning, and it was a scholarship-based project."

    She led the way towards the first section where Vorak's architectural designs were displayed as holo projections. "He's the one I probably understand least about the structural approach; but he has lots of ideas, especially for urban areas such as Imperial Center."

    She pointed at a building concept that had inner gardens and open spaces with details based on older styles. "The Curator and I mostly agreed on his work because he has an eye for historical trends and modernizes them well."

    She grinned as she continued.

    "I heard he's thinking of some ideas for new school buildings, and I can't wait to see what he comes up with."

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    She lifted the flute to her lips when Elarys stopped at the first part of the exhibit. Ironically Lise was well versed with what Vorak was accomplishing.

    "I like the open space and gardens. It helps freshen up the exhausting urban existence we have here and the planet could always use more." She tucked the flute close to her chest as Lise rounded the table, eying one of the holoprojections that caught her interest. "This is a fantastic example of the simplistic ways Coruscant used sharp angles and basic metal frames to secure a foundation for the first skyscrapers. Though ..." she scrutinized the decorative windows and spires, "... clearly there's Old Republic inspiration throughout to elevate the structure."

    Lise pursed her lips in thought, looking past the blueprints into what children would like. "If Vorak does go forward with school plans, he needs to move up his interests to at least early Republic. Planetary works and the school governors want educational buildings that blend, not stand out, in public." She all but clicked her tongue with a tsk in her assessment.

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    TheHolo.Net Poster Elarys Amarank's Avatar
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    Elarys watched Lise Tarkin as the other woman began to inspect the design and discuss it, obviously well-versed on the topic. Taking a sip from her drink, she then looked around quickly to find a place to place it but found none, so she finished it quickly and returned it to a nearby waiter.

    Not skipping a beat, she brought out the datapad she kept in one of her dress's pockets - she had told Shana she was fine with a fancy dress but it required pockets!

    "I promise I am not trying to be intoxicated, but I must jot some notes thanks to what you're sharing!"

    Canting her head to the side, her eyes moving back and forth between the small screen and the aristocrat, she loved the feedback.

    "Some of the reviewers pointed out he could be a little ostentatious in some designs that were meant for public institutions."

    She couldn't help grinning at the blonde's barely-there tsk.

    "Also you're the one more savvy on this topic, but that was round one out of three, so I may still sway you with other pieces," she teased.

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    Elarys finished her drink so fast and ran off with such fervor, Lise couldn't formulate a clue as to what had gotten into the young woman! She returned as quickly as she left and seemingly produced a datapad out of her dress, which Lise found clever.

    She laughed at how passionate Elarys was, finding her thirst for feedback quite charming. "Ostentatious is being polite. Vorak's being a pretentious prat."

    Then she winked and took a sip. "His earlier work suits Imperial architecture quite well ... leaning on Republic work that transitions into modern society. He needs to stop being flamboyant just to shock beings. It's dreadful."

    With a polite shrug she offered Elarys to lead the way. "Well... I'm sure it's only up from here. Let's see what's next."

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    Elarys tried to chuckle.... She failed and burst out laughing, catching some nearby patrons' attention. She cleared her throat and looked poised again, offering an apologetic look to Lady Tarkin, only speaking her next words when close enough so she wouldn't make a scene should the architect or the Curator walk close by.

    "And I'm the one who has to face him for the rest of the week. I can't disagree with your statement though."

    Vorak had become insufferable since he had been accepted as one of the new artists in residence and organizing his section had been difficult and very last minute because he kept changing his mind and being fussy. Yet she was still in public and she wasn't going to badmouth him too obviously.

    Hiding her datapad away after adding a last few notes, she gestured for Lady Tarkin to walk with her again.

    "I may be keeping my favorite for last though," she explained as they headed towards Crossa Ferl's section, where various fashion designs were either fully displayed on mannequins or as concepts via holo projections, the latter promising the designer's next pieces.

    "Ferl's choice of fabrics and attention to little details is what I like best about her work. The Curator and various judges were adamant about her creations, although I confess I find some of the color choices and some of the very bold cuts are peculiar."


    She gave a conspirator-like look at Lady Tarkin as she leaned slightly closer.

    "I like knowing which way a dress is supposed to be worn, without requiring assembly notes."

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    Success was hearing Elarys' laugh and she waved off the apology. Lise understood Elarys' predicament all too well. Being in the middle of polite criticism and wanting things done proper to elicit donations or attention while dealing with idiot stuck ups was dreadful.

    "If you want to quote me, you've my permission," she offered, reading between the lines. "Just make sure to do it when it really counts." She leaned in and spoke quieter. "Always keep your weapons on hand and ready at a moments notice, but never show your hand too early or openly. The idea is to rope them in thinking they've the upper hand when you're really in control."

    Lise stood upright after imparting some wisdom and looked intrigued at what the last exhibit held to gain the young woman's approval.

    Though the next one was elevated in many ways because the clothing looked exceptional, the follow through was left to be desired.

    "Is it a dress? A puzzle? Does it create a map to some buried treasure?" she huffed playfully and quietly. "I thought we were funding promising adults ... not grade schoolers that were excited to see that pieces can fit together like link 'n logs."

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    TheHolo.Net Poster Elarys Amarank's Avatar
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    Lise Tarkin's frankness and sass only made Elarys appreciate her more. It also made dealing with some of the final choices that definitely hadn't belonged to her a little more palatable. At least she felt less alone in her puzzlement over certain favorites of the judges and experts.

    She listened intently to what the aristocrat shared and she nodded. "I'll remember that," she simply replied.

    Some people had pried into her good interaction with Lady Tarkin after the fundraiser at the school, but she hadn't played it up and kept details to herself. She would indeed quote the blonde's if need arose but she wasn't going to waste their exchanges for nothing. Yet she knew that improving at playing some political games even in the world of education and art, heck, even nonprofit, was something she needed to work on. Shana was a natural at that, which was why she had been a perfect partner for her brother. Both Amarank siblings easily got lost into their passions and fared not as well in terms of power games.

    Elarys had to chew on her bottom lip as not to howl in laughter at Lise Tarkin's observations.

    "I was hoping for buried treasure; but apparently it will be in season during the summer. I was hoping at least for pockets somewhere, especially with all this...."

    She gestured at the intricate design, "but I was told they would ruin the cut."

    She shrugged although she had a spark in her eyes.

    "Now, I promise - or at least I hope - that the last one will be more pleasing."

    There were more people gathering around the last section, and the moments it took for the patrons to make way for Lady Tarkin, Elarys couldn't help mentioning something else.

    "I believe you mentioned having an interest in chamber music, especially reconstructions from early Republic. Am I remembering correctly?"

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    Elarys held better composure at Lise's barbs towards this collection. Though Elarys was just as quick with the sass.

    She stifled a chuckle and gently nudged her escort. "What cut? The whole thing is held together by straps and some industrial strength velcro." Clear disgust was heard even with how soft spoken they were. "Unlike your dress which is not only bold with the color choice and how it hugs your figure, but it's functional with pockets! That's art."

    Lady Tarkin never had issues speaking the truth but it was unclear exactly what the art was - the dress on Elarys or the pockets on the dress.

    As they moved onto the last exhibit, Lise hide her surprise that Elarys remembered that. It was mentioned once and never again in their messages. "Why yes," she confirmed with a smile. "You are."

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    "I've taped faulty cables during internships with velcro that held tighter," she couldn't help quipping under her breath. She had caught glimpses of Lise Tarkin's snark in their previous exchanges but the exhibit was cause for some gems!

    And then she blushed, feeling her cheeks turn as red as her dress when the aristocrat complimented her, or the dress, or the pockets. Regardless, Elarys's face felt very hot at once.

    "Aren't pockets fantastic? When done well the folds of the dress just conceal them without altering the silhouette."

    She smiled when Lise Tarkin confirmed what she recalled about chamber music.

    "One of the finalists, whom had been my favorite since the beginning, is a most promising reconstruction composer and they are currently in the process of finding an institution to host them and some of their creations. I agreed to go to listen to one of their recitals, and I was wondering if you would be interested in hearing their work as well."


    It was a bold move, one she didn't realize how bold it might look until it had escaped her lips. She didn't take it back though.

    "Of course, if your schedule permits it, Lady Tarkin," she added for she understood that the aristocrat had many duties.

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    "Pockets need to be incorporated into fashion more often. Sometimes I'd like not to carry a purse or force my guards to carry any items of mine in their own pockets. I mean, really." She had no issues rolling her eyes ever so slightly despite etiquette. Proper protocol be damned. Women needed pockets in their wardrobe that was functional and fashionable.

    Fucking men and their spoken and unspoken standards. Thank the Empire a woman was finally in charge.

    Elarys continued to have Lady Tarkin's rapt attention to why the question was asked about her musical inclinations. She was positively delighted that one of the finalists would provide something worthy of her attention besides the company at her side. Though as savvy as she was with the art of verbal and physical cues, Lise had been utterly blindsided by Elarys' offer.

    This situation occurred in past moments once the proper period of mourning ended after Andron's funeral. Lise was from a noble house and married into a great one - she represented power and that only grew together with her daughter's. When Miranda became Moff, it didn't happen as often since the Tarkins were shaking up expectations of women within the Empire. As Miranda bounced back from the confrontation with her twin Jedi during the assassination attempt and courted more favor in the military and political arenas, then Lise's clout became more favorable to attain once again. She was now a direct link to the Empress and her trust was not easily won over. It was why she remained single and rarely trusted anyone's motivations.

    But this was unexpected!

    She slowed to a stop, the guards behind them taking position to ensure the crowd continued to give Lady Tarkin and her escort room to speak. Their imposing visage helped to keep their conversation private but it did not go unnoticed. Tarkin and Amarank were moving through the exhibits at a brisk pace so the pause was like a spotlight on their presence.

    "My dear," she began gently but her words were bold, "are you asking me out on a date?"

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    TheHolo.Net Poster Elarys Amarank's Avatar
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    To say she felt mortified and wished for the ground to swallow her at once would be an understatement. Had she meant to ask Lady Tarkin out? Like out, out? Not exactly, although she couldn't spin it any other way. Was she out of line? Probably. Was she going to make a major embarrassment of herself? The odds were pretty good.

    She paused before the aristocrat, having noticed the halt they came to. What the hell had she just done?! Shana would get out of it with a gracious and formidable pirouette but Elarys didn't have the experience and wits of her sister-in-law.

    When Lady Tarkin asked her plainly for clarification though, it felt better. She had always appreciated the other woman's frankness and in a way it was easier. More comfortable? Certainly not, but the lack of mind games was welcome.

    "I apparently just did, my Lady," she replied, fidgeting with the skirt of her dress. At least she managed to Lise Tarkin's gaze.

    "While I am not taking it back, I realize it was not only bold of me to assume; but probably out of bounds as well."


    She had no reason for being dishonest with Lise Tarkin. "Next time instead of history and art experts, I may be lucky and consult with etiquette ones."

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    "Hm." That noncommittal sound was all Lise said as her eyes took in the young woman before her.

    Clearly Elarys was embarrassed - the tinge of pink coloring her cheeks, fingers playing with her dress, and how her eyes dilated with fear certainly confirmed it. So this was unplanned. That made this very curious because Elarys kept herself in check when they first met and all through their correspondences because not much got passed Lady Tarkin. Yet the young woman was plain to read and her emotions dangled off her sleeve - proof by the uncontrollable laughter at their first exhibit and afterwards she was being mindful of her manners. How did Lise miss any attraction toward her? A woman younger than her own twin daughters?

    The only plausible explanation was simple interest in Lise Tarkin the woman, not the Lady of House Tarkin, mother of the Empress and wayward Jedi Heir. To be fair, so was Josiyah's but his constant pressuring was a turn off and plain as day. Elarys was genuine and it just happened with natural conversation.

    "You know, truth be told, I rearranged a dinner date with an old friend to be here," she offered with a twinkle in her eye before sipping from the flute. She hummed in approval of the taste and to pause so Elarys could read between the lines. "A date, to paraphrase your own words, that was not out of bounds and quite full of etiquette."

    She coaxed Elarys to follow her with a slight nod towards the last exhibit. "I adore him as a close friend but I'm entirely uninterested. As I've been for years. Yet he still tries. As do others. All full of handsome Imperial charm and lineage."

    Lady Tarkin chuckled, her lips curling upwards before gently parting as she looked towards Elarys. "And then there's you. A gifted graduate that got where she was by talent and drive. Everything that I strive to give the children of our great Empire you used to become successful. Success that should continue to grow. You're honest. Perhaps a bit too honest in these pretentious circles, but you'll learn to navigate in time. I was also quite plain with my assessment of how lovely you looked tonight and have yet to gravitate to anyone that tried to get my attention as we walked. So ... tell me then ..."

    Again she stopped and eyes challenged Elarys. "... why do you feel any less worthy of my attentions than anyone here or the man that I declined to see tonight? Worth is through actions. Not necessarily what family you're from."

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    Past the fear of embarassment, Elarys relaxed just a tiny bit as she listened to Lise Tarkin's words, watching her reactions. One thing she had valued form their first meeting was how the conversation had always flown and that they had spoken their minds about various subjects. It was why, as unexpected - even to herself - as things had just turned out, she believed in being honest and face the music as her brother always said.

    She had had a few short-term relationships but they had fizzled out due to her focus on school and then work. Her parents always kept their noses out of their daughter's personal business. They had always been like that but after Giu's passing they just wanted Elarys and even Shana who was a second daughter to them, to be happy.

    The brunette rarely gave much thought about her personal life, but the connection she had unexpected forged with Lise Tarkin apparently demanded to come to life given how she had instinctively asked her out.

    She normally just had jitters about work, not about someone, but here she was, drinking in every one of the blonde's words, hoping it would turn out well. If not, well she would understand and planned to behave properly.

    She knew she blushed again with the slightest tinge of jealousy at the mention of all that "handsome imperial charm and lineage." She couldn't help it. And then she blushed yet again - did it ever stop? - at the offered compliments. She briefly lowered her eyes when told she likely was a little bit too honest and nodded, before looking at Lise Tarkin again. She was the first to agree with this statement.

    "When you put it that way, I shouldn't feel like that. I easily have imposter syndrome, and I can be a klutz out of my job."

    She chuckled but took one tiny step towards the other woman. "And yes that was me being maybe a bit too honest, but in this case, I think it's the way to go."

    She relaxed her shoulders a little bit and grinned, raising a quizzical brow.

    "So, would you like to attend this recital with me?"

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    If Elarys blushed any harder, then she would never need anything to accentuate those lovely cheeks.

    "Imposter syndrome is an erroneous statement. You're meant to be here because you deserve to be," she argued, though was enchanted by Elarys' laugh. A brief flash of a flirtatious smile appeared. "In this instance, I'd agree that honesty is the best course."

    When Elarys stepped forward with some confidence, Lise mirrored her companion's arched brow while finishing her champagne. After a light lick of her lips to remove any traces of alcohol, she held out the flute and a guard immediately stepped forward to pluck it from her hand. Once a member of the wait staff passed by, he deposited it on the half full tray.

    "A simple question. Not a simple answer." Gracefully Lise lowered her hands and clasped them before her with perfect poise. "Because I'm pondering the implications of accepting your invitation. I'm concerned how this would affect you. I'm used to the galactic spotlight."

    Her eyes challenged Elarys once again. "But will you be able to? Then there's the significant age difference the tabloids would love to spin. You're younger than my daughters."

    Age was irrelevant. Lise had a variety of would be suitors of varying status and age, but now Miranda was Empress. Locking arms with a woman she could have birthed was irresponsible and may damage, or hinder, Elarys' career depending how the columnists and galactic anchors were feeling on a daily basis.

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    Elarys couldn't argue with the fallacy of imposter syndrome. Shana had been on her case about that multiple times and would probably do that again. She was working on it though. She sigh in relief when Lise Tarkin agreed with keeping things honest about what had unexpectedly cropped up in the conversation.

    She watched the blonde intently, wondering what the answer would be. She swore she'd accept any answer. She dared hope for a positive one based on their conversation, but she knew better than to assume. That was one thing she had appreciated about Lise Tarkin from the beginning: if she had something to say, she would do so. She registered the guard retrieving the flute but her attention remained on the woman who had piqued her interest to greater lengths than she had admitted to herself until this evening.

    What Lise Tarkin brought up next was a very good point though, even though Elarys knew that she was willing to deal with it, even though she knew it might not be easy. But the Amaranks had weathered several storms over the years and the woman before her was worth it.

    "I realize it isn't the same situation; but in terms of age I am fairly sure I'm walking into one of my grandmother's footsteps. As for tabloids, damaging gossip and outright intrigue, I've not been the direct target of them yet; but I've seen my sister-in-law deal with it after my brother's passing a few years ago. It almost cost her her career but she's made it through."

    She wasn't boasting and recognized her lack of experience about certain things. She appreciated Lise's consideration more than she could tell; but Giu had taught her that nothing was guaranteed in this life and making the best of it was important, even with the challenges it could present.

    "I didn't plan to ask you out but I don't regret doing it, and if this means more scrutiny and trouble coming my way, I'll deal with it as best as possible."

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    A quick, sharp laugh came out of the blue after Elarys finished making her case. "Dear ... do you really think speaking about your grandmother's helping your case?"

    A few more heads turned in their direction. Already they were were the focus of gossip just nothing official to cause a scandal.

    Or ...

    "But ... the analogy's not lost on me." This time she took a step forward and with a small inclination of her head, Lise continued. "Your family's gone through great pain. But in the next breath, you've found strength. I can empathize."

    Tarkins and Vandrons had generations of suffering.

    Her eyes grew soft as she gazed into Elarys'. "And respect your determination. I hope you truly don't regret it."

    With an unladylike sigh, Lise coyly smiled. "Nor I in accepting your invitation."

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