The Man Trap
When Prince Avery accepts Lady Charlotte Leydon as a patient, he has no idea what sort of salacious secrets she's about to reveal.
An Adhara Space Station Story
by P. Candice Goddard
|Charlotte, Lady Leydon|
“If you want this marriage to work, you’ll need to go and get some help for your problems. That’s what my husband said when he booked this appointment for me,” Charlotte, Lady Leydon explained as she relaxed into the armchair. She had come to the counsellor’s office solely to placate her husband Lord Leydon. Their marriage was on the verge of collapse and if she was honest with herself it was all her fault.
Prince Avery of Ajna looked at his notes. As Lady Leydon had said her appointment had been scheduled by her husband. Checking her status Avery saw that unlike so many of the other people living on Adhara, Lady Leydon was not a registered eccentric. As a person who was thus supposedly sane, she was the only person who should have been able to make an appointment for herself with a psychiatrist such as himself. “What sorts of problems does your husband believe that you have?” Avery asked at last.
Charlotte shrugged, she was not sure where she should begin and she didn’t know what good her husband thought seeing a counsellor would do. “Honestly I don’t know,” she said.
Avery did his best not to sigh, if the issue was marital problems it would do no good to see the wife without the husband. He was just about to say as much when Lady Leydon started speaking again.
“The real problem is that ever since he found out some things about my past, my husband has made it clear that he wants to divorce me.” Charlotte explained lowering her gaze in shame. Divorce was almost unheard of amongst the upper tier of Alliance society. Once married it was usually for life, even if there were issues.
Avery’s ears pricked up, he had heard a little gossip about a scandal involving a human woman and her Varunian husband. Something about an old episode of a chat show, some lies, a little intridge and more than enough seduction to make it worth any true gossip’s time. Avery put his notes down on the side table next to him to hide the fact that he was pressing a button on the rim of the table. “Perhaps if you tell me about the events of your past I can help you to work your way through them.” Avery said, blinking the single eye in the centre of his face in what he hoped looked like a friendly wink.
Charlotte took a deep breath and began to tell her story.
“It all started about 17 years ago whilst I was still living on Algol Space Station. I don’t know if my records mention it but I was raised on Algol after my parents sought refuge there along with my aunt, uncle and younger cousin. Anyway about 17 years ago I was living on Algol and running my own small repair business. By that time my parents had died and my aunt and uncle had their hands full trying to make ends meet and have my cousin trained so that one day he could take part in the Devil’s Dance and get himself off of Algol.
Well one day whilst I was working, a Rodenian called Tobias came into the shop and asked if I would be able to have a look at his ship which was badly in need of repairs. After inspecting the ship for damage and meeting Tobias’ crewmates Mattias and Vincenzo, I agreed that I could do the repairs but warned the Rodenians that it would take a while.
Whilst I was working on the ship I developed a friendship with the three men. They were all handsome and friendly and if I’m honest I don’t know which of them I fancied more. There was tall, dark and handsome Mattias, slender, pale and enchanting Vincenzo and last but by no means least, the tanned adonis Tobias. I thought that they liked me too but none of them ever made a move. It was only later that I discovered that as best friends they had all made a Brohallian like pact not to betray their bros by dating me. “Bros before hoes or something like that.”
“Ah yes! I know the pacts of Brohalla. The female equivalent is “Chicks before dicks,” Avery cut in excitedly. He and his best friend Fox were members of the Brohalla club.
“Indeed?” Charlotte asked rhetorically, she didn't have a best friend and wasn't a member of the club. “Anyway at the time I thought that they weren’t interested in me romantically so I contented myself with being one of the guys and our friendship grew so strong that the Rodenians stayed on Algol even after I had repaired their ship for them. Algol became their base of operations and we spent most of our time together when they were there. To save money I let them move in with me and that’s when things started to go wrong.
One day, I don’t really remember how it happened or who started it but I ended up sleeping with both Mattias and Vincenzo just a couple of hours apart. Neither of them knew that I had been with the other or that the other had broken the pact which I learned about for the first time that day and soon afterwards they left Algol on a transportation job which would take them away for at least three months. Tobias was supposed to go with them but he was unwell and so remained on Algol with me.
About two weeks after Vincenzo and Mattias had left I started to suspect that I might be pregnant and the results were confirmed immediately. I was excited at the prospect of becoming a mother but unfortunately I had no idea who had fathered my child. I agonised over the decision for minutes before I decided that rather than risking my child being rejected, I would get it a father who would have no reason to question it and thus I made a plan to seduce Tobias at any cost. I knew that he was more sensible and reliable than either of his two friends.
Through our friendship I had learned that Tobias had been engaged but his pregnant fiancee had been killed during the evacuation of Rodens just a year before. His commitment to her and sorrow at losing his family was one of the main reasons why I respected him and why I hadn’t made a serious play for his affections before but when I discovered that I was pregnant, the need to get a reliable father for my child outweighed any qualms I had about not encroaching on his grief.
I tried my hardest to seduce Tobias and although I could see that he was interested in me sexually, he never once responded to my efforts. After about two or three days of trying to woo him, I knew that there was only one way that I could get what I wanted. I called in a few favours with some of my "friends" and was able to falsify an alliance report that mentioned the destruction of a ship similar to the one which had belonged to Tobias and his friends. I made sure that the report was vague enough to be overlooked if and when Mattias and Vincenzo did return but made sure that it was convincing enough to fool Tobias if only for a few hours.
To make sure that he didn't suspect me, I got a friend of mine who worked in Algol security to break the news to Tobias. He was devastated by the loss of his friends and I took full advantage of his devastation. That night we had sex and it was amazing. I knew that I had made the right choice.
About two weeks later I broke the happy news to Tobias that I was pregnant. I was about 5 weeks along but I told him that I was only two weeks pregnant. The news of the coming child brought hope to the depression that Tobias had fallen into and we planned to get married.
“So didn’t you have any qualms about lying to him and making him believe that the child was his?” Avery asked, the mask of indifference slipping from his face for a moment before he recovered himself. “What I mean is, weren’t you afraid of the consequences of your lies?”
Lady Leydon studied her beautifully manicured fingers for a moment before looking up and gazing straight into Avery’s astonished eyes. “No,” she said matter-of-factly, “I did what I needed to do for the survival of my child and I was right to do it.”
“I see,” Avery said nodding his head as he made a note on his Com-D. “Please continue.”
“As I was saying,” Lady Leydon began, making herself comfortable once again; Tobias recovered a little from his depression when he found out that I was pregnant and a few months later when I found out that I was carrying twins and his two friends returned from their mission, he was more happy than I had ever seen him. Vincenzo and Mattias were genuinely pleased for Tobias and I. They both gave our union their blessings. I thought then that my life would be perfect but it started to go downhill from there."
Charlotte sighed heavily as she stopped speaking and Avery looked at her questioningly. "Would you like to end things there?" he asked, silently praying that his patient would continue with her interesting story. It was actually time for their session to end and for the next patient to be sent in but Avery had already sent a message to his secretary asking him to cancel his next appointment.
"No, I'll continue," Charlotte said with a sigh, "Now that I've started I might as well finish."
Avery nodded, expertly hiding his excitement. "Please do."
And that’s when it happened, a woman turned up at my shop looking for Tobias. I couldn’t believe my ears when she told me who she was. It was Carmen, Tobias’ dead fiancee, except she wasn’t dead. She was very much alive and she had a baby, not even two years old with her.
Carmen explained that she had managed to escape Roden at the last possible minute and had been searching for Tobias ever since. She had traced him to Algol and finally to my business. Carmen had heard the rumours that Tobias was engaged to me and she didn’t want to take him away but she just wanted to let him know that his child, a son whom she had called Thaddeus had been born. She wanted Tobias to be a part of Thaddeus’ life. That was the moment when I did the only thing I regret in my entire life, I lied to Carmen telling her that Tobias was dead and had been killed months before alongside Vincenzo. I explained that I was in a relationship with Mattias and that must have been who she had traced.
At first Carmen didn’t believe me, Tobias and Mattias looked nothing alike after all. But when I showed her the report that had been falsified to trick Tobias months before and took her to the Lesser Cemetery of I-Am and showed her the small memorial we had brought, which lucky didn’t mention any names, she finally believed me. Carmen left Algol that night and I became sick with guilt over the lies I had told her.”
“Please allow me to clarify this point; you felt guilty about lying to a woman you didn’t know but you had no qualms about telling lies to a man who you considered a good enough friend that you wanted him to raise your bast… your illegitimate children as if they were his own?” Avery cut in.
Seeming not to have noticed the incredulity in his voice Charlotte replied, “That’s right. Carmen only came looking for her child’s rightful father. She had no plans to take Tobias from me, I’m certain of that from the way she behaved. Unfortunately I knew something she didn’t. That Tobias’ relationship with me was based on deceit on my part and a sense of duty on his. Tobias fancied me but he didn’t love me as he had loved Carmen. If he discovered her existence before our marriage I would have been left out in the cold and my children would have had to play second fiddle to Carmen’s son.
“I see,” Avery said nodding his head as if in sympathy with Lady Leydon.
“The boy did deserve to have his father in his life.” Charlotte said, “That’s why I had planned to tell Tobias about Carmen after a few years when our family was settled and I also had a child by him. If I had his child then even if he found out about my other deceptions he wouldn’t be able to escape.”
Avery’s eyebrow rose high on his head in surprise but he didn’t say anything. The cold, methodical calculation behind this woman’s actions was truly sinister.
“I was sick from the day I lied to Carmen until the end of my pregnancy when at last I gave birth to my twin daughters and things went even further downhill from there. I had neither seen nor heard of a human-rodenian hybrid before so I had stupidly deluded myself into believing that the children would look like me but when my girls were born they looked more Rodian than human. Veneen the elder had very pale, white skin and pink eyes like Vincenzo, whilst Momo, the younger twin had Mattias’ grey skin and pink eyes. All the girls had inherited from me was their red hair.
Tobias didn’t seem to question anything at first. Apparently he had people of both colours in his family but as time went on and Mattias and Vincenzo started making any excuse they could not to be around the children he started to notice that something was wrong and then he began to suspect me.
One night I was able to get my hands on Tobias' Com-D and I found out that he had been researching heteropaternal superfecundation meaning that he suspected my daughters had two different fathers. From then there was little I could do to stop myself from being taken on to the Jorge Show where it was proven without a doubt that he wasn't the father of either of my daughters.
Tobias contacted the show which is filmed on Cygni space station and we were flown there and put up in a decent hotel with all expenses paid. It was the first time I had left Algol since my parents had sought refuge there many years before.
We went on the show the next day. All the time I was begging Tobias to reconsider and telling him that we could work things out. Mattias and Vincenzo were there as well and tried to convince him to go back to Algol and forget about his doubts but he wouldn't listen to any of us. My poor children were too young to even comprehend what was going on and how Tobias was about to ruin their lives.
Jorge and his staff were very nice and encouraged me to tell my side of the story I said all the things that guests usually say and I made all of the excesses. I even said that I was 1000% sure that Tobias was the father and that the children looked just like him. Looking back I think Jorge had put an enchantment on me, I'm not usually that ignorant and he is from Thoth after all. Finally it came to the results, I still remember the moment when Jorge said, “Tobias you are not the father.” It was the worst moment of my life.
Everything from then on is a blur. All I can remember is waking up the next morning in bed with a Varunian man called Laurence Leyden, the man who would become my husband.”
Avery's eyebrow raised in surprise yet again but this time he couldn't hide his disbelief. “So you slept with another man immediately?!”
“Yes,” Charlotte confessed with a nonchalant shrug. “I don't remember much of what happened but apparently Laurence found me crying outside of the hotel’s crèche where I had taken little Vineen and Momo after filming. Laurence was staying at the hotel and he was there to collect his daughter Lorraine who was just a little older than my girls.
Laurence was on Cygni on business but he had seen the show. I don't remember saying this of course but apparently I told Laurence that Tobias had been my fiancé before I became pregnant and one day his friends had raped me at the same time and then threatened to kill me if I ever told anyone the truth.
Terrified of their threats I had gone along with it and when I discovered that I was pregnant, I had no idea which of the three men was the father of my children although I had managed to convince myself that their father was my beloved fiancé Tobias.
When the children had been born Tobias began to have his doubt and insisted on getting a DNA test. After the results were read and at the instigation of his friends, Tobias had turned against me and vowed to abandon me as soon as we got back to Algol.
I leaned on the gentlemanly Lord Leydon whose wife had died just a few months before and in our mutual grief we sleep together in his hotel room whilst Lorraine's nanny bot looked after the three children in an adjoining room.
“So you lied to him too?” Avery asked rhetorically.
“Apparently!” Lady leydon said raising from her seat. “Listen councilor. I didn't come here to be judged.” with that she threw back her shoulders and stick out her chest as she walked haughtily towards the door.
“Wait!” Avery said desperately, “I didn't mean to imply any judgment, I was simply asking for the facts of the case so that I can better understand the situation and make an accurate diagnosis of any problems you might have.”
“Any problems that I might have?” Charlotte repeated slowly. “So are you saying that thus far you haven't found any evidence of mental illness?”
“Not so far, no. For now you seem perfectly sane to me,” Avery said.
“I see,” Lady Leydon said taking her seat once again and looking at her watch. “Well I'll continue to relate my life story for a little while longer if you don't mind but I must be going soon.”
“Very well,” Avery replied trying to feign professional detachment but eager to hear what else Lady Charlotte had to say.
“Where was I?” Charlotte asked genuinely confused.
“You were just saying that you in your grief you had slept with Lord Leydon whilst the three children were being looked after by a nannybot.”
“Ah yes, well the next morning when I woke up, I was planning to simply collect my children and leave but Laurence begged me to stay, a bit like you did just now. He told me that he would be very grateful to be allowed to assist me with my problems.
Laurence informed me that whilst I had gone to check on my daughters he had made a few calls and had Mattias and Vincenzo arrested. He said that they would be sent to the prison station Fornax to await trial. Apparently the warden Desmond was a personal friend of his.
I argued that I didn't want my daughters’ fathers to be imprisoned but Laurence insisted that they deserved to be punished for their crimes and I didn't feel that it was my place to contradict him.
Later that day, after we had enjoyed a lovely breakfast and another romp, Laurence said that I should go to Tobias and tell him what his friends had done promising to back me up if he refused to believe me.
I agreed and went to Tobias’ room, asking Laurence to wait for me outside. As you can imagine Tobias wasn't particularly pleased to see me but he told me that his friends had suddenly been arrested and he had no idea why. Knowing that Laurence was listening I explained that Mattias and Vincenzo had raped me and that's why they were arrested. The DNA test results were the proof. Tobias was shocked and he refused to believe me calling me all the names he could think of. Laurence came in and threatened to fight him but I managed to calm the situation and asked Laurence to wait for me in his room.
When Laurence had left the room, Tobias said that he now understood the situation, I had a new man and had lied on his friends to get him. I was in no mood to humour Tobias’ accusations after his insults and I decided not to justify his comments with an answer. I simply relieved my conscience by telling him the one bit of information that I was ashamed for withholding, I told Tobias that Carmen was alive and had come to look for him. I didn't mention anything about his son because I didn't want to die on the spot, but I explained that I had sent Carmen away because he wasn't at home at the time.
Tobias flew into a terrible rage and pulled a laser pistol out of nowhere pointing it right at my face, screamed that he would kill me.
I begged Tobias to consider my children and he was just lowering the gun when Laurence rushed in with a security officer and had Tobias arrested for attempted murder. As Tobias was being carried out of the room kicking and screaming insanely, I pushed a note into his hand which contained Carmen's contact details that I had always intended to give him.
After that I went back to Laurence's room and we fell into each other's arms from the trauma making love again. A month later we were married and I became Lady Leydon. Oh look at the time. I really must be going. Can we continue this next time?” Charlotte asked standing up and walking to the door.
Avery nodded, “Yes of course, but please make an appointment with my secretary to see me as soon as possible,” he all but pleaded.
“I will,” Lady Charlotte promised winking at Avery and blowing him a kiss. “Thank you for your time and good afternoon.”
“Good afternoon,” Avery replied as Lady Charlotte left the room.
No sooner had the door closed behind her than Avery pressed another button on his side table and the monitors on the wall behind him flashed on. A group of people were sitting around a long table having what appeared to be a formal tea party.
“Did you hear all of that?” Avery asked and on the screen his friends began to laugh.