Alsten Sarden didn’t look like a man about to die. The corpulent executive celebrated his promotion within the ranks of the Xucphra Corporation’s higher management in grand fashion. His trophy wife hanging on his arm, Alsten greeted his guests without even trying to hide his pride. He’d earned his promotion. He was important. He was going places. He was… a pompous ass.
Diva Aidenne looked around the well attended party with a small sense of pride. Though tonight’s concert had quickly grown from small private performance she’d first been contacted about, she was nothing if not flexible. The concert itself had gone flawlessly; of course, she demanded nothing less then perfection from herself in all facets of her work. It was that drive that brought a smirking smile to her gold painted lips. This simple job had become slightly more complicated and she found herself reveling in the challenge. After all, it wasn’t every day that she got chances to prove to him exactly how good she was at this.
Their gracious, and boastful, host was working his way through the crowd, shaking hands, clapping shoulders, and pinching backsides when his wife wasn’t watching. As he made his way closer, Aidenne dropped her gaze demurely, long lashes brushing across her cheeks. She had no desire to be fondled this evening, so instead she looked up at him with her best lost little girl expression. “Mr. Sarden, this party is incredible. People are going to be talking about it for years to come.”
Drawing himself up proudly, Alsten couldn’t help but agree. “And your presence here adds a luster that only a Diva can bring. I’m so thrilled you were able to make it all the way to Thyferra.”
Blushing slightly, Aidenne lightly placed her hand on his. “It’s been a pleasure and an honor to be here, Mr. Sarden.”
“Please, call me Alsten.” His meaty hand covered hers for a moment… until he spotted his wife approaching.
“Thank you, Mr Sarden.” The Diva’s blush deepened as she gently pulled away from his grasp. “I mean, Alsten.”
“Darling!” The extremely well-endowed Mrs. Sarden began pulling her husband away. “You simply must come talk with the Penexs. They’re dying to congratulate you.”
“And turning green with envy, I dare say. Don’t go anywhere, Diva. There are still a lot of people I want to introduce you to.” With that, Alsten let his wife lead him away to mingle with his rivals.
“I wouldn’t dream of leaving,” Aidenne murmured, watching the couple as they moved through the crowd to shake hands with, and brag to, the Penexs.
As the night wore on Aidenne alternately made small talk and suffered from bouts of boredom. She half wished she hadn’t been so convinced that she didn’t need Bralor’s presence tonight. It wasn’t any fun to show off without anyone to witness it. And besides, Bralor was one of the few people who would have appreciated how exceptional her work tonight really was.
The thoughts about her work must have given a silent cue. Suddenly a commotion erupted from the far side of the room where Alsten Sarden had been talking with a small group of contemporaries. The rotund host of the party clutched at his chest, fingers curling into claws as he gasped repeatedly. No words came from his lips as he abruptly pitched forward, thrashing about on the floor while his friends and rivals watched in shock.
“Alsten!” His wife was screaming. Aidenne found herself instantly grateful for that one. She hated to scream; it was a horrible noise, but sometimes necessary. Thankfully, it appeared that she could simply stand back and look horrified tonight.
The man on the floor was quickly turning a deep shade of purple, the crowd around him doing their best to help. But it was too late, by the time the medics burst into the room Alsten Sarden was dead.
There had been questions. There were always questions. But with a room full of potentially jealous rivals, a Diva with a perfectly respectable reputation was quickly overlooked. Slowly sliding the black opera gloves back up her slender arms, Aidenne graciously declined the offer of an armed escort back to her personal transport. “I’m sure you have far more important things to do than to ferry me about,” she murmured, placing a now covered hand on the official’s arm. “I thank you for the offer but Mr. Sarden’s family needs you more than I do.”
Properly charmed, the official nodded and gave in to her wishes. Hurrying to get out of the sultry night air, Aidenne almost smiled as she neared her current home. Though it was a far cry from her loft on Coruscant, it was a relative bit of freedom and she was already quite fond of it.
“Ures? She waited in the silence for a moment. “Trey? Arden? Anyone home?” With a shrug, she made her way to her own room, idly stripping off her expensive gown from the night’s concert. Living on a ship had done little to break her tendencies toward casual nudity; so far she’d received few complaints. And now it was something of a tradition, coming home, whether to ship or loft, meant casting off everything from the evening’s work.
There were no reports to be submitted. Success wasn’t newsworthy, only failures needed to be reported. And though tonight had been a stretch of ingenuity, it was done. After all, dead was dead. And dead with growing seeds of mistrust and accusation growing among his former contemporaries was even better. She doubted he would would find any room for complaint.
Her arms were full and her skin was bare by the time she reached the privacy of her room. At least tonight hadn’t been messy; there was nothing to burn. Instead she was free to simply relax, to enjoy the feeling of relative freedom… for as long as it would last.