"Lady Donna Vorrutyer, may I present my son, Ivan?" Ivan stared. Lady Donna had to be the most...womanly woman he'd ever seen in all his seventeen years. "Ivan!"
He jumped. "I'm so sorry, Mother. I'm pleased to meet you, my lady." He bowed over her hand, which was perfectly manicured and bejeweled. And then he felt her thumb stroke him, and he nearly jumped again.
"Oh, it's always a pleasure to meet handsome young men, Lord Ivan. Lady Alys, may I steal him from you for a moment?" His mother didn't look happy - Ivan rather thought she would've stared wistfully at the somewhat rare Vor daughters his own age if she could have.
"Of course, Donna, dear. Just don't keep him too late - he has to report back to the Academy in the morning."
"Eighteen? How wonderful! Why, Ivan, I could have sworn you were five years older." She tucked her hand into the crook of Ivan's elbow and led him away. "Now, let's get you something to drink, shall we?"
Five minutes later, he had a cup of something more powerful than he'd ever had, even when he'd robbed Uncle Aral's drinks cabinet with his dratted cousin. He pretended not to choke when he took his first drink. Luckily, Lady Donna didn't seem to notice.
Fortunately, the band began to play a waltz, something he did very well. He drew her into the dance, where he found that she took his lead perfectly - they fit together like two modular units. She was just the right size, too - just below his chin and beautifully curved. He knew he was the envy of all the other cadets.
And, unlike the Vor flowers, she even knew how to talk - drawing him out on his classes at the Academy. "Linguistics? I was fascinated by that - I do believe that if the Count-My-Father had permitted me to go university, I'd have studied that. Tell me more." She was also interested in mathematics (the only woman Ivan knew who was like that was Aunt Cordelia, but Aunt Cordelia was from Beta Colony, which was wildly different.) She wasn't just the most beautiful (older!) woman in the room, she was also the most interesting, and Ivan thought that he was In Love.
He thought that even more several hours later when she'd pulled him into her bedroom in Vorrutyer House and gave him an initiation he'd never, ever forget - even with all the drinking he'd done.
His head felt like it was stuffed with cotton wool the next morning when he traveled back to his dorm room, but that was of no matter at all.