Red took a book that Norquay lent her back to her room to spread out on the bed to read. He went back to his office muttering about a mystery that he needed to solve.

She was reading an alien romance. The first thing she noticed was that there weren’t any humans in it. It was a shock to her system, to put it mildly. How could there be an alien romance without a human in it? Then she laughed because without realizing it she felt like she was, her people were the center of the galaxy. This romance was telling her differently.

Now that she was over feeling superior, she read on. The male was a porcoyan, of course, he was. The female was an altra. They had blue skin and a mystery about them. Rayca, the hot porcoyan in her book wanted to get under Ramal’s skirt. They met for the first time on a ship drifting in space. Rayca didn’t know the Altra’s existed. They fought the alien enemies and became friends. Eventually, Rayca allowed his byema to come out, and a fight happened that ended up with Ramal becoming his mate.

Red dropped the book for a minute to sigh. It was obviously a fantasy; males didn’t change into animals. It was sweet though. She was loving how Rayca cared about his mate. He took care of her and loved her. It made her want a porcoyan of her own. It made her want Norquay. That wasn’t happening. Why would an older guy want a mess like her?

Rolling over she went back to reading. Her stomach growling told her it was lunchtime.

“Hey,” she knocked on his open door before walking in. “I was thinking about lunch, you in?”

“Depends, were you thinking hamburgers and fries?”

“OMG we’ve made an American out of you!” she laughed walking toward the kitchen.

“So, that’s a yes?”

“Yes, but you have to help me cut the potatoes.” They worked in silence until she got the fries on. “I’m done with my book. I need another.”

“Did you enjoy it?”

“I did. It was funny seeing an alien romance from a different perspective. Not funny ha ha, just more of a mind-blowing funny. Are the altra people real?”

“They are. We haven’t had much contact with them. As far as we know, we are not compatible with them. The author your reading was into what you call speculative fiction. She swore that the chosen few were compatible with the altra.”

“I would have loved to talk to her.”

“You’re not the only one. She disappeared one day and was never heard from again. There are several books that I found published on different planets that sound like the author’s voice. They all proved to be dead ends when I went looking for the author of them.”

“She could have been alive using pen names.”

“It’s a possibility.” They ate in silence trading looks when hopefully the other wasn’t watching.

Red followed him back to his office/library. He handed her another book while she got comfy in an oversized chair.

She was reading another book, this time the porcoyan is a young woman meeting an altra for the first time. She stopped reading in the middle.

“Norquay, do you have a minute?”

“I do.” He was reading a book that was in front of him. It was floating in the air.

“I was wondering how much this book has deviated from the original meaning. You had to translate this into English.”

“It translates as each page loads on your reader.”

“That’s…” that was more than she could comprehend. “I was just wondering about the shield.”

“The shield, it was in the first book also. There is a reference about the planet being shielded. It also states that the shielding the porcoyan people enjoy comes from the royals. Then it asked if the planet gives the shield to the royals or do the royals give the shield to the planet? I don’t understand the shield she keeps referencing. Is this speculative fiction? Kind of like if only we could see a ghost?”

“You are absolutely amazing.” He got up slowly and approached her. “I am going to kiss you.” His voice dropped low making her stomach jump. “All you need to say is no.”

When she didn’t move, he lowered his head and kissed. The soft press of lips quickly becoming a game of tongues seeking and retreating.

“What you do to me,” she said softly.

“I’d love to do so much more.” He backed away not wanting to overwhelm her. He went to his bookshelves and pulled what looked like very old books down.

Red came close to get a batter look. They were done on paper or parchment. They sort of reminded her of what ancient scrolls looked like, but only until he opened them. Then they had more of a grimoire feeling that she had seen in many movies about witches and covens.

She took a step back. “I don’t believe in magic, but that book or whatever it is powerful.”

“You can feel this?”

“I can, can’t you?”

“Yes, but very few people seem to be able to feel the power that emanates from the book. That you can caught me off guard for a minute. This compound has a barrier on five sides. The barrier being between us and the sky. It’s clear which means it does not block the sunlight. It also has a repellant on it that reflects images back. This means that your satellites can’t get a look inside the compound. I’m sure your general, as well as his confidants, don’t appreciate that. The problem is that it is all generated with multiple centuries of knowledge.”

Red sat down not seeing the problem. Their tech was so far advanced from earth’s that they didn’t have to worry about humans infiltrating it.

“One day we will catch up with you.”

“One day.” He wasn’t paying attention as he flipped through the book on his desk. “We had a barrier around our planet. One that didn’t come from technology. As our tech grew so did the tech in the rest of the universe. Tech was meant to be broken.”

“Then how did you keep your planet safe?” Shit, she didn’t mean to ask that. They obviously didn’t keep it safe.

“That’s the question. How did our planet go from safe to destroyed?” He was pacing around the room now with one of the readers he had given Red. “Do you know what I love about fiction?”

“No.”

“You can find tomorrow’s answers in today’s works. I’ve taken some time to read some of your authors.”

“Are there any of them you like?”

“Stranger in a strange land, I found that interesting. The fact that that book has a cult following is also interesting.”

“I read that when I was younger. I don’t think I was old enough to understand everything, but the book fascinated me.” It still fascinated her even though she hadn’t read it in many years.

“There is a book I read well I’ve read lots of books, but this belonged to my grandfather.” How long had it been since she thought of her mother’s father? “I don’t remember the name of it but in some ways, it reminds me of today. Remember I was young, so I was looking at it through the eyes of a child. I remember it was science fiction. There were three people, they seemed like kids to me, fighting against the tyranny of what was happening on their planet. They demanded to see the person in charge but were always told he wasn’t in. The last time they demanded to see him. The three children merged, and the shock was they were the person they were fighting against. It had a profound impact on me. The realization that I could grow up to be what I hated.”

“That’s it.” Norquay fell into a chair. His legs refusing to hold him.

“What’s it?”

“What if we grew into what we hated?”

She scratched her head trying to keep up with his jumps in logic or was it, pseudo-logic. He was an alien male. How was she supposed to follow along? That wasn’t fair to him. He was a male and most days he made much more sense than the ones she grew up with. Some of his concepts were high, that was because he came from a different world.

“Let me see if I can keep up.” She was the one up and pacing now. The walls were almost beige. Why hadn’t she noticed that before? His office was built for comfort, not like she was used to in offices. Even the general’s office didn’t make her feel as comfortable as this.

“When do your royals take over the throne?”

“We are a very long-lived race. They take over the throne around their zenith.” He was up and pacing again. “That has always been as long as I can remember and in all the history books I have read. There was only one couple that took over the throne younger.”

“Their zenith? So, you’re saying when they reach a thousand years. As in a year like we consider a year?”

 

“No, not in your time frame.”

She took a deep breath. For a minute she almost lost it. So, what was their measure of a year? A month two months.

“What is a measure of a year using our calendar?”

“Eighteen months.”

Her breath got caught in her throat choking her. It was Norquay’s hand rubbing and lightly tapping on her back that made her choke then draw in a huge breath of air.

“You’re serious?” How did you beg someone to be lying to you? If they lived that long what good would it do for them to be with a human woman? Jade would be dead long before she could be any real use.

“Not what you were expecting.”

“Not what I was expecting. Who were the royals that took over before their zenith?”

“The last king. His parent’s ship was lost in space. It was reported as a malfunction with the ship being blown into pieces. Several parts of the wreckage were recovered, but most was assumed to have drifted off into unexplored space.”

“How old was he?”

“Half a century by our calculations.”

“He was still young?”

“Still learning what it meant to be a king.”

“Did he not make it to his zenith?” That was the most delicate way she could put it. She didn’t want to imply because he hadn’t made it to his zenith his planet was destroyed.

“He hit his zenith before I was born.”

“What is considered grown for you?”

“Most children don’t leave their parent’s houses until they are around three hundred. There is no need to.”

“When did you leave?”

“I was… when I was a hundred.”

“You know the longevity of the life you live amazes me. Do you think that being on our world will decrease your life span?”

“If we were to settle here permanently and have children with abraza’s from earth, maybe.”

“Maybe?”

“Ten or twenty thousand years in the future.”

“Aww maybe,” her lips trembled until a laugh escape. That was all it took. Norquay was laughing with her and the tension that was building in the air popped like a balloon taking a pin. “Would you like to play a game that has absolutely no reason or rhyme to it?”

“Maybe?” His eyes were wide the blue of them reaching out to seduce her. Without thinking she grabbed his hand and led him back to the laptop on his desk. She typed Poppit on the search bar them watched him pop balloons.

“Red this is not relaxing.”

“I know, right? I hate it when I get all the little presents accept one. So very frustrating. You know what?”

“What?” She waited until he finished popping balloons and looked at her

“There is no secret code, no conspiracies to figure out just balloons.”

“Balloons that we didn’t have on our planet.”

“You were deprived!” They sat together playing computer games that didn’t matter for the next couple of hours.

“Thank you, Red.” Playing games with her had been fun. “Since Lyrek met Jade, I’ve been working hard to try to understand what happened. The realization that we could relive the past without meaning too was haunting me. I needed this.”

“Next time I’ll introduce you to Mario Kart. You need to understand I am a vicious player. I play to win.” She told him from the doorway.

“I’ll take it easy on you.”

“When did the historian slash super soldier become so sassy,” she grumbled with his laughter following her. “I’m going to watch a movie, coming? Teak should be home soon, or should we start dinner?”

Home, the word caught her making her trip on her way to the living room. She hadn’t had a home in a very long time, just a place to lay her head. There was a desire deep in her soul to make this home, to make Norquay hers. She had a thing for the sexy blue-eyed historian slash super-soldier.

“Are you okay?” She asked when he joined her on the couch.

“He should have been back by now.”

“He still has fifteen minutes.”

“He said five I expected him at four. The fact that it’s past four-thirty and I haven’t heard from him…”

“Call him.”

He picked up the phone putting it on speaker while it rang. When it went to voice mail, he got up.

“I need to go look for him.”

“Not without me.”

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