“Oh, Gregor, it’s just perfect!”
Laisa’s smile warmed Gregor to his toes. She turned his latest gift over in her hands – a Vor-femme knife, brilliantly enamelled, the design picked out in tiny diamonds and sapphires.
“Gregor, you give me too much!”
He was getting better at smiling now, she thought – he’d had a great deal of practice since they met. “You’re going to be a Vor woman, you need a Vor-femme knife. It’s tradition.”
“And traditions are so important.” She giggled at him, “What’s the traditional way to thank someone for a gift?”
The answer kept them busy for some time, until an armsman started shuffling and coughing outside the door. The armsmen had learned not to walk right in on them any more.
Laisa frowned, any minute now Gregor was shepherded away by his armsmen, off to another round of tedious meetings. They just never got enough time together.
“Gregor, it’s beautiful. I feel like I’m really a Vor woman now!”
He was so generous, he just loved surprising her with small gifts. Well, actually, he loved surprising her with very large gifts, but Laisa and Aunt Alys had managed to persuade him to show some restraint. Although Laisa had a sneaking suspicion that he had something special planned for tomorrow. On their wedding day he’d be allowed to be as romantic as he pleased. And she had something special planned, too. For an unforgettable wedding day.
Their wedding day! She’d never imagined all this when she came to Barrayar. She thought – hoped – she’d meet the Emperor. It was likely, with her background and contacts, that she’d be invited to the Residence for one of the more public occasions. As a lobbyist for her Komarran trade group she expected to meet with powerful men in the government, and the top is always a good place to start.
But Gregor – she’d never expected Gregor. The Emperor, yes, but not Gregor. She hadn’t expected him to smile like that. And to love her. She’d never expected love at first sight.
It was all so perfect.
Laisa checked the time, soon she’d have to hurry off to a final fitting for her wedding outfit. And the backup outfit, in case anything happened to the first one. Aunt Alys was leaving nothing to chance.
Her wedding would be nothing like her girlhood imaginings. This would be a huge, fairytale, romantic, busy, political, whirling, totally insane spectacle. With her and Gregor in the middle of it all. But later they’d be alone together. Emperor and Empress, Gregor and Laisa. She kept saying it over and over to herself as the world around her went completely insane
Fittings, flowers, family, fairytale… Laisa tried to think of more ‘f’ words, but the only one that came to mind was very unladylike. UnVorladylike. Although most of the Vor matrons she’d met were actually quite surprisingly matter-of-fact about certain things, especially those Vor matriarchs who had large families. And the ones who bred horses or dogs. Breeding was a popular hobby for Vor women, it seemed.
And tomorrow she’d become a Vor woman. THE Vor woman, the Empress. Gregor’s empress.
Tomorrow her world would go completely insane for a while, her diary was timetabled to the minute, and even Lady Alys might look slightly tetchy for a few moments.
But tomorrow night… that’s when she and Gregor would be alone together, at last. Really alone, with no Impsec surveillance – Gregor had promised that – and all the armsmen and security at a discreet distance. Outside the building. Gregor was taking her to one of his more remote properties, something he regarded as a simple little country home. Of course, compared to the Residence, anything smaller than the Vorbarr Sultana Stadium was little. But it would be remote, and EMPTY of everyone but themselves – it would be perfect.
Tomorrow night she’d be really, truly, finally, absolutely alone with Gregor, with nobody at all within earshot.
Privacy – the ultimate luxury. They’d have real privacy together at last. Just Laisa and her Gregor, curled up together in a truly impressive old-fashioned bed. He’d take her in his arms and …..
And then she’d take her Vor-femme knife and slide it gently into his heart. And Komarr would finally be free.
Laisa Toscane, heroine of the revolution, smiled at the last emperor of Barrayar and caressed her new Vor-femme knife, “Oh, Gregor, it’s just perfect!”