Clajak groaned. “Egilka, every time I see you, you have work to do. Every time we’ve gotten together in a purely social setting, you tell me you have work to do.”
“That’s not true.” He rubbed the bridge of his nose.
Clajak’s voice beyond his closed lids wouldn’t shut up. “Really? I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard, ‘Clajak, if you just wanted to sit around and drink, you can do that on your own. I’ve got work to do.’ Or even, ‘My prince, this meeting wasn’t so you could show me vids of Plasian girls having sex. If that’s all we’re going to do, I’m leaving because I have work to do.’”
“Those meetings were meant for us to get to know each other, not get drunk and watch porn.”
The disgusted sound Clajak made spurred Egilka’s eyes open. Clajak had settled on a matching chair across from him and glared at him with temper. “Maybe all there is to me is booze and sex.”
“I know better than that. If you believe it, you’ve been listening to your detractors too much.”
Clajak barked a harsh laugh. “I listen to them just to repeat the behaviors they hate the most. It’s childish, but I like to rub their noses in it. You plug along, doing what’s expected, and they still criticize you too.”
He was right. However, Egilka had no interest in what men like Councilman Pwaldur and his ilk thought of him. “I am committed to doing all I can to benefit the Empire.”
Clajak nodded. “That’s right. And your epitaph will be, ‘Here is the life of Imdiko Egilka. He had work to do.’”
“I have a promise to fulfill.” One he should be working on even now, if only Clajak would cooperate for a change.
Clajak’s eyes flooded with sudden sympathy. Unable to face it, Egilka averted his gaze. He hoped the other man wouldn’t pursue the subject. It had already brought them to blows once before. That time had been because Clajak had been utterly thoughtless and Egilka had reacted before he thought. Seeing the compassion in his intended’s face assured Egilka that the lesson had been learned. He still didn’t want to talk about it. After all this time, it continued to hurt like hell.
He needed to get home. He needed to get back to work.
Releasing mid-December 2015