Chapter Eight

Although the time they’d taken in Anchorhead had delayed their start that morning, with the two of them working together they finished their tasks slightly earlier than Luke would have if he’d been working alone.

As they put their tools back into the landspeeder, Lisa tucked some strands of hair that had escaped the braid behind her ear and brushed some sand off her tunic. “So, if water is a scarce resource here, how do you clean up?”

“We have a refresher at home. The sonics work.” The image that appeared in his head looked a lot like a shower stall. “I’ll show you when we get back.”

The suns were just beginning to lower as they headed back to the homestead. Luke parked the landspeeder in the garage and, as they put the tools away, they could smell something cooking in the kitchen.

“What’s that?” Lisa asked, wrinkling her nose.

“Giju stew,” he answered. “It tastes better than it smells, trust me.”

Since it didn’t smell too good, she would have to. The pair finished putting the tools away and then went into the main part of the house so Lisa could store her purchases in her room. Luke then showed her where the refresher was – it really did look like a shower stall – and how it worked so she could clean up and change.

The refresher used sonic pulse vibrations to remove dirt and grime from her body and she could feel it massaging her muscles. She didn’t really need it due to her healing factor, but the sensation was nice.

It felt good to get out of the grubby clothes she’d been working in all day and put on something clean. She took off what she had been wearing, shook out the dust and dirt, and then sprayed them with her newly-purchased bottle of the same fabric sanitizer she’d used on the ship’s mattresses the night before. Luke had told her that the solution would dissolve the sweat and dirt from the cloth while leaving the material itself alone and the outfit would be ready to wear again within a day or so.

After cleaning up, changing, brushing and re-braiding her hair, she left her room to find Luke waiting for her, informing her that dinner was ready. They walked to the eating area together and sat down at the table in front of the bowl of the foul-smelling stew. Luke’s uncle was conspicuous by his absence and he asked his aunt about it.

“He’ll be along in a moment,” Beru informed him. “You don’t need to wait for him. Go ahead and eat.”

As Luke spooned the stew into her bowl, Lisa privately wondered if she were undergoing some kind of secret test to prove she was willing to endure anything to keep up her end of the deal to stay at the homestead. She didn’t sense anything of the sort – Beru’s surface thoughts tended to steer more towards farm life and tending to the house and her family – but she wouldn’t back down just in case it were true.

Lisa picked up her spoon and dipped it into the thick soupy liquid. It had chunks of what looked like mushrooms floating around in it and there was some kind of spice underneath the smell; she tried not to look hesitant as she brought the spoon to her mouth and sipped the broth.

It was utterly remarkable that something that smelled so bad could taste so good. Upon seeing her not-well-hidden expression of surprise, Luke gave her a sly grin and, knowing full well she could hear him, thought very clearly: I told you so.

She gave him a good-natured roll of her eyes and continued eating her stew. After a few moments, Owen arrived. As soon as he stepped into the dining area, Lisa could sense he was simultaneously pleased and annoyed. He was grumbling under his breath and mentally swearing, both of which intensified when he looked up and saw her sitting there calmly eating her soup. He frowned at her and simply nodded to acknowledge her presence, then sat down to his own meal.

“Where were you?” Luke asked his uncle.

“I was checking on what you did today,” he answered. “You started so late and finished so quickly I wanted to make sure you weren’t being negligent in your chores.”

Luke frowned, upset that he would think such a thing. Unable to think of a snappy comeback, however, he just returned his attention to his bowl of stew. Lisa sighed to herself, wanting to comfort him but not wanting to cause a scene at his family’s table. She was the outsider, after all.

For a little while no one really spoke while eating so Lisa took the opportunity to scan any thoughts and feelings that came through. She eventually realized that the reason Owen was so upset was that because he was trying to find fault with the work they did today and could not come up with any critique. It was as if he was trying to find a reason to continue to not trust her and couldn’t. Beru, on the other hand, had no reason to distrust her. In fact, she was thankful that Luke had met someone nicer than the others he called his friends and, having met at least Fixer and Camie and seeing the way they treated him, Lisa was inclined to agree. As for Luke himself…

Luke’s feelings were interesting. Despite only knowing her for little more than a day, he trusted Lisa completely and, like his aunt, he had no reason not to. He was intrigued by her powers and fascinated by where she came from and what adventures she’d been on in her very long lifetime. She also knew very well that he was developing an interest in her that just might grow beyond friendship if allowed and, if she were to be honest with herself, she was starting to feel very protective of him and wanting to defend him against his uncle and his so-called friends.

After supper, Luke walked Lisa to her room to bid her goodnight. Leaning on the doorway, he said, “Thanks for your help today.”

She shrugged. “It’s what I do.”

He chuckled softly. “I’ll see you in the morning. Good night.”

“Good night, Luke.”

End chapter eight.

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