At last the four women began to talk sense to each other, the first burst of exhilaration easing back enough to do so. Jessica wasted no time in chortling and tugging on one of the belt loops of Cissy’s jeans.
“There’s my rough and ready tomboy cousin! You haven’t changed one bit, Cissy!”
Cissy snorted, her face ready to split from its grin. “Well, you have. When did you get so fat and ugly?”
Jessica shrieked with laughter. The years since Cissy had last seen her cousin had actually agreed with her. She was almost thirty now, and maturity, along with a few extra pounds, had softened her elfin features. Jessica was still tiny, especially compared to the Kalquorians standing nearby, but at least now she didn’t look like a breeze would blow her away.
Elder sister Lindsey planted a kiss on Cissy’s cheek. Bigger boned with classically lovely features, Lindsey looked almost exactly the same as when Cissy had last seen her. “We’ve missed you two so much!” she exclaimed. “I can hardly believe you’re here.”
“Can I join in?” came a melodious and calm voice.
Cissy and Tasha turned at once to see an older, shorter version of Jessica beaming at them. “Auntie Tara!” they simultaneously cried. They wrapped their father’s sister in a hug between them, kissing and exclaiming with abandon once again.
When they’d calmed once more, Tara jerked her chin towards the three men coming towards them. “Here are the emperors, whom I believe you’ve already met via vid communications.”
One of the three emperors did not have the typical black hair of the Kalquorians. Instead, his shoulder-length locks were the color of dark steel. Cissy was amused to have an emperor bow before her and her sister before he shook a warning finger at them.
Blue-robed Dramok Emperor Clajak gave them a mischievous grin. The expression lit his broad, handsome face and crinkled the skin at the corners of his eyes. “Don’t you dare bow to us, you two. I am so glad you made it here safely, my cousins. Welcome home.”
The heart-stoppingly gorgeous Nobek Emperor Bevau also bowed to them, his red robes doing little to hide the equally perfect body beneath them. “ And if half the stories Jessica and Lindsey tell us are true, the Empire will never be the same.” His perfect features grew even more impossibly stunning as he grinned.
His comment brought laughter from everyone, including the often aloof Imdiko Emperor Egilka. As staid as the eldest member of the Imperial Clan often was, his smile was pure warmth as he added his welcome. Cissy thought Egilka should smile more often. It made his sharp features soften.
Apparently, he was loosening up these days. He even hugged the twins, wrapping them in the softness of his emerald green robes. Leaner than his clanmates, Egilka’s body still felt like granite to Cissy. Nice. She had to remind herself not to grope her cousin’s Imdiko.
No release date set.