Just another Friday night date. Gliding over the Chicago skyline, followed by dinner at the Olive Garden. And maybe the Olive Garden is nowhere near as fancy as when Jupiter had eaten on Titus’s clipper, but they make a mean seafood alfredo. And you can’t go wrong with unlimited breadsticks. Jupiter has surreptitiously stuffed the extras into her overlarge purse. Old habits die hard.
Weird to think that Jupiter Jones, Recurrence of Her Royal Highness Seraphi Abrasax and owner of approximately half the galaxy could be so happy doing something so mundanely human. What can she say? The company is great.
“Oh my God,” Jupiter moans, scooping up another piece of chocolate mousse cake. Going out to a restaurant without plastic menus – and getting dessert – is still a novelty, and Jupiter is eager to take advantage. “This is amazing – Caine you have to try this – ”
She offers him her fork, licking her lips to savour the taste. Caine’s eyes sharpen with interest and Jupiter’s breath catches.
“I would be honoured to try some, Your Majesty,” says Caine.
“We’re in public, you can call me Jupiter,” she reminds him. Then a concerning thought occurs to her. “Wait – can you even have chocolate?”
The corner of Caine’s mouth quirks up. “Yes, Your Majesty, I can have chocolate. I was designed to be resistant to most toxins. Soldiers who sicken easily are a liability.”
Jupiter eyes him speculatively, offering up her fork again. “So basically you have a resistance to Iocaine powder?”
Caine’s brow puckers in confusion, and Jupiter stifles a laugh with her hand, the cake threatening to slide off her fork. Too fast for her eyes to track, Caine’s hand whips out and straightens the fork. Meeting her gaze, he slowly guides the fork into his mouth. His lips close around the fork and Jupiter’s mouth goes dry. Caine’s eyelashes drift closed as he takes his time enjoying the taste. Jupiter feels warmth pooling low in her belly in response.
“I guess we found another movie to add to our watch list,” she says, leaning forward. Caine smiles in response. At first amused by Earth’s “primitive” 2D entertainment systems, he has quickly adapted to movie nights curled up together on his new loveseat. It’s oddly refreshing to have a boyfriend who doesn’t equate “movie night” with “groping on the couch.” Jupiter loves making out with Caine – God, who wouldn’t? – but she doesn’t take kindly to dudes who don’t understand how important it is to watch the whole damn movie.
Caine does have an annoying tendency to point out inaccuracies in sci fi movies, but Jupiter loves him anyways.
Jupiter magnanimously allows Caine to finish her dessert and waves the waiter over, sliding her shiny black space credit card over the table to foot the bill.
Caine has secured a small bachelor’s suite a short flight from her family’s house. As her personal security detail, Caine insists it’s critical that he be close by at all times.
Of course, this arrangement offers certain other advantages… privacy being one of them. Jupiter grabs the lapels of Caine’s space leather jacket and maneuvers him down onto the double mattress. Caine’s hands rest lightly on her hips as she straddles him. “Is this okay?” she asks.
“Yes, Your Majesty,” Caine says, causing her to shiver. The bastard smirks at her, stroking his hands up and down her sides and daring to squeeze her ass teasingly.
In retaliation, Jupiter sweeps her airy blouse over her head and unclasps her bra. Jupiter feels like royalty indeed as he looks up at her. “Your turn,” she says, and Caine obediently sheds his jacket and shirt. His gorgeous wings unfurl proudly behind him.
Jupiter bites her lip appreciatively. “Shoulder to hip ratio of a Dorito,” she says.
By now, Caine has learned to roll with the multitude of weird sayings that come out of Jupiter’s mouth. “Do I please Your Majesty?” he says, his voice low and rumbly.
“Very much,” Jupiter replies, guiding his mouth to hers. Caine follows easily. He’s a damn good kisser, as she has discovered from the many heated make-out sessions they’ve shared. And a perfect gentleman, which is so incredibly endearing. By their second official date, she had realized it would be up to her to take the lead. A nice change after a string of exes who were into her pants without so much as a “may I take these off?”
She eases herself off his lap and tugs him on top of her. Caine zeroes in on her pulse point, giving it a quick nip before moving to claim her mouth again. Jupiter melts down into the mattress, feeling crackles of heat wherever their bare skin touches.
“Wait – wait,” Jupiter says, leaning away from the kiss. Immediately, Caine pulls back and rests his forehead against hers, breathing hard. His wings flex in tandem with his breaths.
“Do we need a condom?” Jupiter asks. There might be some in her purse. God, are they expired? She racks her brains, trying to remember when she last bought some.
Caine pulls back, perplexed. “A what?”
Another information gap in Caine’s guidebook to Earth. Jupiter stifles a smile. “Birth control. Do I have anything to fear from your super soldier swimmers?”
Caine drops his gaze and sits on his haunches. “Ah – no. Lycantants aren’t designed to breed. Not without permission.” The corners of his mouth are turned down, and Jupiter leans forward and kisses the side of his face.
“Perfect,” she murmurs into his skin. “Because I can’t remember if I have any and that’s a real inconvenience when I’m five seconds away from tearing your pants off.”
Caine stills. “Your Majesty would – permit me - ”
“Your Majesty commands you,” Jupiter corrects.
Like a good solider, Caine obeys.
8 months later
Jupiter is late.
Okay, so punctuality in general isn’t one of her virtues. Until learning she was actually royalty, her mother and Nino had had to drag her out of bed by her hair. And this appears to be encoded in her genes, as she’s never had a regular cycle.
But. Her period has never been this late. And her boobs have been sore lately, and she’s been feeling so very tired. Despite having had a full night of beauty sleep for the past week. Caine has been called away on a mission with the Aegis and isn’t expected back for another week.
Jupiter hugs her middle, selfishly wishing she could go back in time and revoke her permission for him to go. They’ve talked a lot over the past months about Caine exerting his own autonomy. Jupiter is very clear that Caine be allowed to make his own decisions, even if they disagree. Even if it means he has to leave her on Earth for a while. Her royal guard was appointed a few months back, but it’s not the same as having him near 24/7.
To her annoyance, her throat and eyes sting with unshed tears. Mood swings – add another odd symptom to the list.
Gurit, captain of her royal guard and her current escort, clears her throat delicately. “Are you all right, Your Majesty?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Jupiter says, flashing a quick smile.
Maybe it’s stupid – impossible is a better word – but some niggling feeling in her gut is telling her this isn’t a coincidence. She looks up and down the family planning aisle in her pharmacy, making sure she hasn’t seen anyone she knows. She can trust Gurit to be discreet. A six-foot-tall lioness splice is intimidating enough to cause curious neighbours to swallow any awkward questions.
Hard to imagine anyone else being in a weirder situation right now. Grabbing a couple of pregnancy tests, she heads to the counter to pay.
Has it been a minute yet? Jupiter looks at the time on her phone. Fifty-four seconds remaining.
Okay. It’s not the first pregnancy scare she’s had. And she’s been lucky before, so who’s to say she won’t be again?
Jupiter picks up her phone, and sets it down. She rubs her sweaty palms down her jeans, then picks at a hangnail. A disgusting habit, but it always seems to get the worst of her at times like these.
Nineteen seconds. Jupiter forces her gaze away from the countdown and squeezes her eyes shut. Nausea swells and Jupiter swallows hard to force it down. Another sign, or just the sketchy donair she had for lunch?
“Don’t Stop Believing” plays, signaling the end of the timer. Jupiter’s hand trembles as she looks down.
Two pink lines.
“Fuck,” Jupiter says, eloquently.