Chapter Four

Emily was not an easily persuaded young woman. In fact, she self-described herself as Cara's backbone. She loved Cara, as a younger sister; as a girl that needed a strong, but friendly guidance. She would be there, always to guide Cara. She would protect Cara's mind from Julian Gross and her will from General Mart Gresham.

There was just some times that Emily wished Cara would actually give her some legal power. She hated to simply be at Cara's beck-and-call, subject to her will and when she wanted advice. If she had her will, she would be as constant as Julian Gross.

"Emily?" Cara's airy voice drifted down the corridors of their resistance on the out-lying planet of Maro.

Emily rose instantly and made her complaints and worries disappear. Cara was, after all, her friend. "Yes?"

Cara's form appeared in her doorway in one of her exquisite outfits. At least this one wasn't a dress. "I need you to look over this proposal Mr. Gross has constructed for the Chambers."

"You haven't seen it yet?" Emily frowned. She wasn't Cara's proof-reader.

"I've seen it, but I want a second opinion." Cara handed the slim data pad to her.

Emily took it and reviewed it with a critical eye. As usual, Julian was too strong in his words and far to rash in pushing for more power on the young Supreme Minister. If he wasn't careful, he would be tried for treason against the Alliance.

"You should rewrite it. In your own words, of course. It should be from you, not Mr. Gross." Emily handed it back to the other woman.

Cara nodded almost sadly. "I thought so. I remembered when I didn't have to do this."

"You were lazy," she smirked, trying to gain a good natured smile.

A bit of Cara's old, careless smile drifted across her face for the briefest of moments. "Yes, well, I suppose I can't be anymore. Mr. Gross is becoming a…" She drifted off.

"He's becoming a hazard these days," Emily finished frankly.

"I would have used a different term." Cara looked down at the data pad.

"The man's a hazard, you know it; I know it; and so does everyone else." Emily ventured.

"Mr. Gross is a trusted advisor, a friend to my father and to my mother. He wants what is best for me." Cara remarked, sounding less confident than she pretended to look.

"Maybe," Emily replied cryptically.

"Hello?" A man's head popped in from the corridor. The handsome Minister of Advancement, Keith Norris, exploded into the room. Keith had been a friend to both Emily and Cara for at least five years. Emily remembered confessing one night to Cara how much she had a crush on this charismatic man.

"Keith!" Cara's eyes brightened as she turned to face the man. "What are you doing here?"

"I heard your speech and thought, hey! I'm visiting family friends out here, I should drop in on Emily Opal and our angel." Keith took Cara's hand and kissed it before doing the same to Emily.

"How are you Keith?" Emily smiled and signaled for them to sit down and waved to a maid to bring in some tea.

"Shouldn't you be busy with your job, Keith? I cannot be expected to understand advancement all my myself." Cara remarked with a hint of amusement.

He made a point of saying," Oh, I am very well, my angel."

Emily had to force herself to keep her polite smile and not whither with hurt. For a bitter moment, she reflection that Keith Norris would never call her his angel.

Keith waved off the tea as it was offered. "Something a bit stronger, my girl."

"You've shaved off tea? How very unlike a Norris." Emily commented, hoping to turn his attention from Cara; from the maid; from any other woman who would enter her office.

"Yes, well," he wrinkled his nose. "The Norris' and I are not exactly speaking, but that is what family friends are for, right?"

"You're trying to get back at your father by drinking bad Maro brandy?" Cara frowned. "I need you sober, Keith."

"Tsk, tsk, dear angel. You're always so tense. Miss Emily, you really ought to take her out to a club." Keith nudged Emily playfully.

Emily laughed forcefully. "A club? What is she to do there? That's no place for Cara."

"Flirt, of course. Both of you need a night out to flirt." Keith chuckled.

"Cara flirts plenty." Emily teased, watching Cara shift uncomfortably in her seat.

"Really?" Keith's interest peeked. "With who?"

Emily smiled giddily inside. She would dissuade Keith from Cara and for once her friend wouldn't get everything. "Terrance Holding, that's who."

Cara shot her a glare meant to melt her. "Well," she rose to her feet. "I should be off. Thank you for your advice, Emily."

"Cara, wait," Keith rose to stop her. "That's a dangerous game you play. Trust me, I know the consequences." His happy nature was gone.

Cara smiled her quiet smile. "I don't play games, Keith. You know that."

Emily watched as Cara left as she could with grace. Keith made to follow her, but he stopped short. Emily sighed, she had only made Cara more desirable. She looked at her tea in the cup and set it slowly down.

"Emily," he turned to face her, "you need to keep her away from that man. It isn' good for her. She needs someone, someone like-"

"Like who, Keith?" Emily stood to her feet, anger getting the best of her. "Like you?"

He frowned and set his glass down with a clang. "Why not? I could advise-"

"Stop!" Emily walked back to her desk and sat down. "You couldn't, Keith. That's not your job; to be her personal advisor. You're a distraction; Terrance is a distraction. You're not what is best for her."

Keith came to stand before her desk. "Again, why not?"

"Because you're not, Keith! You're not! No one is, not right now, especially you! You're unstable. You just confessed your drinking to get back at your family. You advised her to go to a club! Keith, come on."

"That was small talk. You know I can advise better. You know that I do." He argued irritably.

"Keith-"

"I can make her happy!" He shouted.

Emily let out a long breathe. Her heart was taking a beating and it was too sore to continue. She didn't need to hear Keith profess his love for Cara to her.

"You can't make her happy. You can't make her happy because you are not happy." She told her quietly.

Keith straightened himself to his full height, insulted. He seemed, thoroughly put off by Emily's words. "I'm happy enough."

"Fine, Keith, fine. I don't need to hear more. You don't need my permission." Emily took out her work, determined to put her mind elsewhere.

"That's right. I don't." Keith raised his chin.

Emily wince, stung my his lack of care toward her authority. So, not only did Cara not realize her worth, but Keith as well.

"Goodbye Keith. I have a lot of work to be done."

Keith's jaw strained, but he said nothing. He just turned on his heel and strode back through the door he had come in. Emily closed her eyes once everyone was gone and sat back in her chair. She ran a hand through her blonde hair and swiveled to stare out the window at the fading light.