The Falleen extended a green-scaled, claw-tipped hand. “Mara.”
“Yes, My Prince?”
If there was a vainer creature in the empire besides the emperor himself, it was Prince Xizor, the head of the criminal organization known as Black Sun. He bathed twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. He wore only the finest shimmer-silk clothes tailored precisely to his measurements. Xizor dealt weapons, but kept the finest and the best for himself. When he went out to eat, it was only at the most expensive restaurants, he ordered the most expensive, and sometimes the most dangerous meal on the menu. When he had dinner at his palace, he ate the finest imported or home-grown foods, prepared by the finest chefs on Coruscant.
Xizor pushed water droplets off his scaly-skin with an expensive absorbatton towel that he would only use once before discarding it. He stood naked before a full-length mirror, extending his arms behind his back, allowing Mara to slip the sleeves of his purple and gold-thread embroidered robe onto him. He rolled his shoulders forward, allowing her a shameless glance of his member before tying the robe shut. Mara Jade had been his Second for three years, and the thought of taking her to his bed always tempted him, but that would be bad for business. Mara was the best Second who had ever worked for him, yet he knew he could never look her in the eye after knowing her intimately. Once a woman has been used for his sexual needs she was of no use to him. It was the instinctive Falleen nature within him that told him so, and Mara had proven she was far too useful to simply discard.
“Your dinner is ready, My Prince,” she said.
Xizor looked down at her bowed form, her red-hair and deep cleavage accentuated by her blue and gold livery. He groaned inwardly. Pity, what a waste. “What news from Parisson?”
Mara led him to the dinner table. “Sad news, I’m afraid. There was evidence that the Emperor’s Hand beat us to the facility.” She lifted a golden carafe and poured its contents into the golden chalice next to Xizor’s plate. “It was empty.”
Xizor’s jaw tightened as he offered the chalice to Mara. “Again, the Emperor’s Hand foils me; the fifth time in as many months! This thorn in my side is becoming a rather painful irritant, Mara.”
Mara tasted the wine before returning it to Xizor. “I’ve questioned two suspects, operatives that have worked on the Parisson assignment and three others. I have learned little.”
Noticing that Mara was showing no ill effects, Xizor downed the rest of the wine in one gulp. “To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement.” He watched as Mara sampled a tangangy-fruit, the juices dribbling down her chin. If she wasn’t able to get any useful information from the suspects, she would be finished being useful to him. He was aroused by the possibility, ignoring the disappointed noise coming from the business side of his mind. “Feed it to me,” he ordered before Mara could return the fruit to his plate.
She hesitated briefly before bringing it to his lips. “Of course, My Prince.” Her voice was husky, a sure sign she was feeling the effects of the powerful, seductive pheromones emanating from his pores. He bit into the fruit and smiled as she moaned when he licked the juices from her fingers. Tonight would be her last meal with him, he was now sure of that.
“You look a bit pale, my dear, would you care to sit?” he said, offering his lap.
“I’m sure I do,” Mara answered as she took a step back. “But you are not looking very well yourself, Xizor.”
Xizor blinked. Her resistance amused him. “Me?”
She nodded. “Yes, Xizor. In fact, you look like you are about to die.”
He tried to reach for her, but failed, unable to even lift his arm. “What? What have you done?”
“Poisoned you, of course,” she answered. “First the wine, then the fruit; alone they are benign, but together….”
“What?” He was unable to turn his neck now.
“If I don’t work fast, I may die, too, but the poison works far quicker on Falleen than it does on humans,” she said from out of his line of sight.
“You don’t know what you’re dealing with, Mara,” he was able to growl. “With me gone, the Emperor will pounce and destroy Black Sun and you with it.”
She tilted back his chair, slamming him to the floor so that he had to look up at her as she spoke. “It is you who don’t know what you’re dealing with, Xizor. You thought the Emperor’s Hand was just a thorn in your side, but the truth is that I am the dagger that is being plunged into your heart.”
Prince Xizor finally understood as Mara did exactly that.
End part 4