| “Tsk!” sniffed Eloia Rand.
“More of those greedy bloodsuckers, Kyra, can you believe it?”
Kyra glanced up from her
lunch, her gaze taking in the stern disapproving set of her mother’s profile
and beyond her, the thorny white ship descending to the docking gantry.
The outer wall of the First
Colonial Mall’s sustenance court was force-window from floor to ceiling,
making it seem as if nothing stood between the diners and the spaceport.
Dozens of ships, from the hulking Oullian freighters to the dart-shaped
interplanetary messengers, moved in computer-guided harmony. Beyond the
spaceport, several of Cahaldra’s other moons were silhouetted against the
ever-changing purple and gold swirls of the gas giant.
“What’s the matter, Mother?
It’s just a Bram craft,” Kyra said, with a shrug that wasn’t half so indifferent
as she felt.
“That’s my very point,”
Eloia said. “You’d think people would stay where they belong. Hmf. Isn’t
anyone’s homeworld good enough?”
“Wasn’t ours?” Kyra countered.
“That’s different, and you
know it. Your grandmother was --”
“On one of the first terraforming
crew from Earth ...” Kyra joined in by rote.
“Don’t be smart,” Eloia
said. “What matters is that we made Rannok what it is today, and
it’s being taken over by aliens.”
“We’re all aliens here,”
Kyra said. “They’re only looking for the same things we are. Homes, jobs,
good lives. They’re not that different from us, really.”
“Oh, and how do you know
so much about them all of a sudden?” Eloia’s voice took on the patronizing
tone that had so infuriated Kyra through the first twenty-five years of
her life, something that didn’t seem likely to change now that she was
into her second quarter of a century. “I can’t imagine many Bram come to
places like Sunspots.”
“No, of course not.” Kyra
shut herself up and went back to concentrating on her meal, though nervousness
had stolen her appetite.
“Good. And even if they
did, I’d hope any daughter of mine would have the sense to stick to her
own kind. Now, hurry up and finish your dinner. I still need to find something
for your sister’s promotion gift and be on our way before we’re swamped
by aliens. Why they built the spaceport concourse to deposit those leeches
smack in the middle of things is beyond me.”
“I’m done.” As she started
to rise, her foot bumped the bag resting beside her chair. It fell over
and sent her purchases rolling every which-way across the glassy-smooth
“Kyra, I swear, sometimes
you have all the grace of an Oullian block-lizard,” Eloia sighed in exasperation.
“Here, I’ll help --”
“I’ve got it, thanks, that’s
fine, I’ve got it!” Kyra dropped to her knees and began sweeping items
back into the bag.
Where was it? Where was
She saw it directly under
her mother’s chair, the black and white box with its red lettering.
Why didn’t those marketing
people use a little discretion? She wasn’t asking for a plain brown
wrapper, but did it have to have such bold and dynamic design?
Eloia bent to collect her
own parcels, and her hand brushed the side of the box. Kyra’s adrenal system
dumped panic into her bloodstream by the liter. She lunged for it, too
slow. Her mother picked up the box, glanced curiously at it, and began
to hand it to Kyra. Then Eloia froze, a statue in the shape of a woman.
Her complexion paled until she was nearly the shade of a Bram. Slowly,
ever-so-slowly, she looked back at the box.
“Kyyyyyyra?” She drew it
out into a wavering accusation that packed a galaxy worth of “this had
better not be what it looks like” into a single word.
“It’s not mine,” Kyra blurted,
rooted to the floor.
Her position instantly reduced
her to a child again, especially as her mother stood. Kyra had inherited
her height, or lack thereof, from her space-jockey father. Eloia was tall
and robust terraformer stock. As she towered over her abjectly horrified
daughter, she seemed a monument to some forgotten goddess.
She gingerly extended her
arm, holding the box as far from her as she could. Her face wrinkled as
if she smelled something nasty.
Kyra’s chagrin was not helped
by the fact that they had drawn the attention of everyone at the surrounding
tables. All of them could easily read what was emblazoned on the package,
and looked at her with knowing smirks or scandalized shock.
“It’s not mine,” Kyra said
again, with a little more strength and a little less blatant guilt. “Well,
I did buy it --”
“But it’s not for me,” Kyra
finished. “It’s for ... um ... one of my friends from work! She asked me
to pick one up for her when I mentioned our shopping outing.”
Inwardly, she was kicking
herself black and blue.
Never, never buy
things like that with your mother! Don’t even go into that aisle! You thought
you were being so tricky, that she was too involved with the new ficvid
releases to notice, and you lucked out there, but did you really think
you could pull this off, Kyra? Now look! Just look!
“Not for you,” Eloia said.
“Not for me,” Kyra assured
her as fervently as she could.
“For a friend.”
“A friend from work.”
“She ... does this sort
“She said she met someone
at a club. I didn’t ask for details.”
Her mother, with a grimace
of distaste, let the box fall into Kyra’s open shopping bag. She wiped
her fingers on her napkin. “I hope this isn’t a person you spend much time
with, Kyra Jane.”
“We barely know each other.”
She crammed everything else into the bag, hiding the offending article.
Eloia held her spine stiff
as a titanium rod, her manner as imperious as a queen as she proceeded
toward the lifts that would take them to the shopkeep levels. Kyra trailed
after, not daring to speak.
Well, Donovan, she
thought, after all this, you’d better be worth it!
“Tonight’s the night, is
it?” Vinkiri asked, hopping onto the corner of Kyra’s console. Her bronzed
skin gleamed, her hair shined like a spill of rubies in the solar spa’s
“Shh!” Kyra hissed. “I don’t
need the whole planet to know!”
“But everyone here already
does,” Vinkiri pointed out. “You’ve done nothing but talk about him. Donovan,
Donovan, Donovan. Is he picking you up here?”
“No ... we’re meeting at
She lowered her voice to
what she probably thought was a conspiratorial whisper, which would only
have carried to everyone inside Sunspots. “Did you get it?”
“I did. But, Vinkiri, I
“Honey, if you’re going
to do it, you’ve got to be protected.”
“What if it’s too soon?
What if I’m rushing things?”
“You like the guy, don’t
“He’s great. Sweet, charming,
“Gorgeous,” Vinkiri added.
“Gorgeous,” Kyra agreed.
“But we’ve only been out three times. I don’t want him to think I’m ...
“Oh, come on, Kyra! That
way of thinking went out four hundred years ago!”
“But this is different.
“That’s why you use protection.
“And what if he’s not attracted
to me that way?”
Vinkiri rolled her eyes
expressively. “Would you listen to this woman? Not attracted to you that
way? Those big brown eyes, that golden skin, hair like a selkie’s mane,
those darling titties ... Kyra, I’m attracted to you that way! If
he isn’t, get him to the medics, because he needs help!”
Kyra laughed. “Thanks, Vinkiri,
I think. I just want this to be right. It’s bad enough knowing what my
mother would say. She still won’t admit that I’m an adult.”
“This isn’t about your mother.
It’s about you and Donovan. You’re prepared, you know what you’re getting
into. Enjoy it!”
Kyra’s shift ended, leaving
her with two hours to get ready before Donovan arrived. She’d been able
to put her edgy excitement away while she was at work, but now, on her
way home, she gave in to the thrill of hopeful anticipation.
Would tonight be the night?
Was she ready? Were they ready?
What she’d told her mother
hadn’t been a complete fabrication. She’d met him in a club, having been
dragged there by Vinkiri when the vivacious redhead was in one of her experimental
Kyra had been expecting
to have a dreary time, spending the evening alone in a corner nursing a
Nebula Blue while Vinkiri took to the dance floor with one partner after
another. Men, women, nats, alters, aliens ... didn’t matter. Hers was a
freedom that Kyra, having grown up under her parents’ strict instruction,
found unnerving and enviable.
She’d been sitting there
for almost an hour when she’d become aware of the man at the next table.
In nearly the very same pose as her. Nursing a drink, watching a more outgoing
companion writhe to the music.
He’d sensed her looking
at him, caught her eye with a marvelous ice-green gaze, and tipped his
drink in a rueful shared toast. And then, though she’d never done anything
like it before, Kyra had gone over to him and introduced herself.
They’d hit it off at once
despite their many differences. He’d only just arrived on Rannok, while
she had been born here -- grandmother one of the original terraforming
crew, yes, right, never could forget that. She was a solar spa technician,
he was an artist.
And the other differences ...
Just the thought of him
brought a twinge of yearning deep within Kyra. She closed her eyes and
imagined sinking her fingers into the coarse silk of his hair, which was
of a color her mind could never satisfactorily name. Blond, he called it,
with a shy grin. But calling it ‘blond’ was like saying that Cahaldra was
clouded. Donovan’s hair was buff-tawny-white-beige-platinum, long and manelike
She wanted to know what
it was like to feel that hair loose and brushing over every inch of her
body. To caress his milky-fair skin, comparing its softness with the lean
firmness of his flesh. To twine their naked limbs together and elicit low
cries of pleasure from him ...
Kyra gradually realized
that she had stopped in the middle of the skybridge, with a wide dreamy
grin on her face. People were parting to go around her, a few with scowls
but most with amused glances.
She collected herself and
hurried onward, disembarking the skybridge at the connection to her building.
It was nothing special, one of the countless residential complexes that
surrounded Colonial City’s main business district, but it was the first
place she’d lived on her own.
Kyra tidied up and adjusted
the environmental controls, dimming the lights to make the room more intimate
and comfortable for Donovan.
She paused when she picked
up the small box containing her precaution. What to do with it? Couldn’t
leave it sitting out in plain sight. Donovan might be flattered, but then
again, he might be offended that she was so cautious about his status.
What if he thought it would
ruin the mood? She’d heard that sometimes happened ... that they resented
having to stop in the heat of passion and put those things on. Or that
it dulled their sensation, made the encounter less enjoyable.
Well, that was just too
bad. If it was going to happen, Kyra was going to take steps to keep herself
safe. She had a responsibility to herself that went beyond worrying about
hurting Donovan’s feelings. He had to understand that.
She tucked it away in a
table drawer beside the lounging platform, out of sight but within easy
reach. Closed it. Opened it partway. No, too obvious ... closed it again.
The comm signal beeped as
she was putting the finishing touches to a romantic dinner provided by
the kitchenette’s food dispensers.
She checked the mirror one
last time. A simple clip held her hair back from her face, letting it tumble
in rich brown waves nearly to her waist. Out of deference to Donovan’s
acute senses, she wore no perfume and only the merest hint of cosmetics.
The hem of her silkweave dress swirled around her thighs in fluttering
panels of violet, sapphire, and deep green. A matching scarf was bound
around her neck.
Satisfied, Kyra went to
the comm and activated the incoming video component. The reception was
fuzzed with lines of interference, through which she saw the entryway of
the building, a few of her neighbors coming and going in the background.
A hissing buzz emanated
from the speaker, and then a synthvoice said, “Caller for Unit 1801, K.J.
“Approved,” Kyra said. “I’ll
see you in a few minutes, Donovan.”
The speaker spat a feline
burst of static by way of reply.
Kyra turned the comm off
and activated the firestars, tall tapering crystals that shed a flickering
glow across the carefully-arranged table. She started to program some music,
then paused, wondering if that might make it look too much like a stage
set for seduction.
“But isn’t that what it
is?” she murmured to herself, and selected a haunting Tynevan melody that
floated through the room like eddies of cool smoke.
The proximity light began
to blink. Kyra opened the door.
“Enter freely,” she said.
Donovan took one step into
the apartment and stopped, slowly pulling off the black-glass visor that
shielded his sensitive sight. “Kyra ...”
She resisted the urge to
shift position self-consciously, though she couldn’t help fiddling with
the trailing ends of her scarf. Many times in her life, she’d heard phrases
like he drank in the sight of her, but this was the first time she
really felt it was happening.
Fair enough, for she was
drinking in the sight of him. His long coat was unbelted, flaring casually
behind him like a cape. Beneath it, he wore a high-collared vest in a shade
of green so dark it was almost black, relieved by the pearly shine of its
double row of buttons. The somber shades made for a startling contrast
to his white skin and that glorious hair.
“Do you like it?” she ventured
needlessly, gesturing around the room.
“How could I not? You are
perfection!” He shook himself slightly and drew a breath. His ice-green
eyes gleamed with pleasure as he sampled the air in tiny sips. “Do I smell
“I made dinner for us. If
that’s all right with you.”
“What a wonderful surprise,
Kyra! I would be delighted.” He brought one arm from behind his back, offering
her a bouquet. “These are for you.”
The flowers had tissue-thin
black petals traced with delicate veins of red, the white stems as slender
and graceful as a nebula dancer. Kyra gathered them close to her face,
inhaling deeply. The scent was very faint but evocative, as if the night
wind had its own fragrance.
“How pretty! What are they?”
“They’re called bathory,
named for an ancient queen of our world.”
She arranged them on the
table, aware that he was admiring her every move. Then it was her turn
to admire his, as he slipped off his coat and turned to hang it on the
rack. The width of his shoulders tapered to a narrow waist and hips, and
long, lean legs ... just watching him made Kyra want to forget dinner and
pounce on him.
He was no mind reader, but
his enhanced senses let him detect emotions. Donovan turned back to Kyra,
his head tilted questioningly. Cream-gold strands fell rakishly over his
forehead, giving him an aspect at once boyish and irresistible.
But there was something
else about him, too ... that inescapable hint of danger. It stirred her
desire and her fear at the same time, and she was finally beginning to
understand what was so compelling about him. It was the razor’s edge between
life and death, the ultimate chance.
“I thought we could stay
in tonight,” she heard herself say, marveling at the newly husky quality
to her voice.
“I’d like that.” He advanced
toward her, his uncanny grace making him seem to glide without touching
Before she was quite sure
how he’d gotten there, he had taken hold of her hands and raised them to
brush his lips across the backs of her knuckles. She shivered at the cool
The timer in the kitchenette
chimed, breaking the dreamlike spell that had begun to fall over Kyra.
She reluctantly freed her hand from Donovan’s.
“Pour the wine while I serve?”
She was glad she’d splurged
and bought the food dispenser expansion set, which included recipes from
nearly every known culture. His appetite wasn’t hearty, but it was discerning.
They dined on tender cuts of meat in a variety of spiced sauces, a fruit
dish popular on Oull, the savory lissite broth with shavings of briarnut
and herbs floating on top, and ended with a cream-filled flake pastry for
Over the meal, they talked
of this and that, but Kyra’s mind couldn’t linger long on conversation.
The table was so small that she was constantly aware of Donovan’s knee
against hers, and all it took was a single glance at the firestarlight
reflecting in the twin jewels of his eyes to send a melting thrill down
“Shall we take the last
of the wine and sit for a while?” Donovan asked, indicating the lounging
“I have a new scenevid,”
She took her glass and led
him to the platform, where they sat side by side on the padding that molded
itself to support them. Her hand trembled a little as she reached over
to set her glass on the table. The scenevid showed images from around the
system and the outlying worlds, scenes of unspoiled beauty and cultural
majesty, blended together to music. She let herself relax into the cushions
as she finished her wine.
“Kyra.” The sound of her
name was like a caress. She turned to him, and he stroked the side of her
face from cheek to chin. “May I kiss you?”
“Please do,” she breathed.
He leaned closer, cradling
her head in both hands. It was a featherlight kiss, gentle and testing.
Kyra sensed the tension in him, the readiness to pull back if she reacted
“I’m not afraid, Donovan.”
“But you know what I am
... you know my status.”
“I know you, and
I like you. Very much.” She finally did as she’d been yearning to do all
day, sinking her fingers into his hair. “I want to get to know you better.”
He smiled, and she caught
the briefest glimpse of the whiteness of his teeth before he brought his
mouth to cover hers again. This time the kiss was longer, more sure. Their
lips parted, tongues and breath mingling, sharing the sweet flavor of the
“So lovely, Kyra, so alive,”
Donovan murmured, slowly rubbing her upper arm. “I feel the warmth of your
skin, the vitality of your flesh.”
She drew him down until
they were half-reclined. He was cool as marble, even through the fabric
of his clothes. The rest of the scenevid went unwatched as the fervor of
their kisses intensified.
“Aren’t you uncomfortable
in that tight vest?” Kyra asked. “Let me help you with it ...”
She undid the pearly buttons
and removed it. Underneath, he wore a black silkweave shirt, loose and
billowy, open in a deep V. Kyra bent and kissed her way down the edge of
the V, resting her hand lightly on his hip.
Donovan sighed and rolled
onto his back, pulling her with him. She acquiesced willingly, snuggling
atop him with a sigh of her own. Her head rested on his chest, hearing
the silence within him. It momentarily gave her pause, truly bringing home
to her that he was not one of her kind.
“But your heart,” he said,
working a hand beneath her to cup her breast, “beats fast enough for us
“I’m sorry ...”
“Don’t be ... does it disturb
“Sort of, but it intrigues
me, too. The differences.”
“I assure you, in many important
ways we’re not so different.”
She shifted her legs and
grinned down at him. “I can tell.”
“Perhaps you should examine
me thoroughly before reaching a conclusion.”
“That’s the best idea I’ve
heard all day,” she purred.
He started in surprise as
she began undressing him, but when she mock-sternly admonished him to hold
still and wait his turn, he did.
In the dim light, against
the dark upholstery, his paleness made him seem to radiate with a soft
inner light. He was somehow more elegant without clothes than he’d been
with them. The lines of his body were long and lean, as artistically sculpted
as any alabaster statue of a god in repose. Not a scar or mark anywhere
marred the smooth perfection of his skin. He was utterly hairless aside
from his lustrous white-gold mane and a darker tawny patch at his groin.
If she’d had any worries
about their physical compatibility, they were dashed away. He looked ...
oh, yes ... very compatible. And very ready, not urgently so but
most definitely attentive. Like the rest of him, that part was long and
lean, and elegantly shaped.
“Donovan ... you’re beautiful!”
He opened his arms to her.
“Come to me, Kyra. Let me hold you.”
A swooning dizziness rushed
through her head, and for a moment she thought she would ruin the evening
by fainting from an overload of sexual desire. He tenderly took the clip
from her hair and spread it in a sable fan over her shoulders.
An instant later, they were
entwined and she was feeling the coolness of his flesh all over her body.
The thin material of her dress did not provide much barrier, even had it
not ridden up to her waist and slid off one arm to bare a breast.
His loving hands sent streams
of white fire flowing through Kyra, spiraling inward from every point of
contact to meet in a single growing blaze of sweetly unbearable heat at
the base of her belly. She ended up supine, as Donovan knelt on the floor
between her parted legs. He leaned over her, looking down adoringly.
“Kyra,” he whispered, tugging
at cloth. “May I remove this? I just want to see you, to touch you here
... I promise you I will not penetrate.”
A spark of hesitation flared,
and just as quickly died. “All right, Donovan ...”
She sat up, holding her
hair out of the way as he gently unwound her scarf. He did it with the
breathless anticipation of someone unwrapping a long-awaited present, and
as each layer peeled away to expose more of the column of her throat, his
breathing quickened. When the last of it was gone, leaving her bare from
collarbones to chin, his eyes went half-lidded in appreciation.
“Oh, Kyra ...”
Kyra raised her chin and
slowly turned her head to each side. When she swallowed, causing the muscles
of her neck to flex in a rippling series, Donovan groaned his helpless
She felt a single cool touch
as his fingertip traced from her earlobe behind her jaw and down, stopping
on the drumming pulse. He closed his eyes, and though he did not move,
it seemed as if his entire body throbbed in time with the steady tide of
His mouth had fallen partway
open, and Kyra could see the proof of his arousal. His fangs were at full
extension, the canines descended into twin glistening curves.
“Donovan, can I ...?” she
ventured, reaching out.
His eyes flickered open
and focused on her. She saw a mixture of emotions in them, lust and hope
but mainly a sweeping relief at the realization that she was not afraid.
He nodded mutely.
Kyra used her first and
second fingers to touch his fangs, sliding them down. They were sleek and
hard, satin and ice. She pressed the pads of her fingertips lightly against
Donovan shuddered and drew
back. “We’d better stop now,” he said, his voice thick. “Or I won’t be
“I have ... protection,”
Kyra said, suddenly shy as she saw incredulity suffuse his expression.
She fumbled at the drawer, which conspired against her by coming halfway
out at a slant and wedging stuck. Still, it was enough for her to dig out
the box. She showed him the red lettering -- VEIN-GUARD, it read. “If you
want to, I mean.”
“If you do.” He spoke as
one who couldn’t believe his ears.
“Yes, Donovan. I want to.
And I know that you can’t ... you know ... without giving in to the instinct.”
“Will you put it on for
She took the molded clearplast
device from the box. It was designed on a principle similar to the mouth-guards
that kept slap-disc players from losing their teeth, but made to accommodate
the dental structure of the Bram.
“I heard they dull the sensation,”
she said apologetically. “But ...”
“You’d rather be safe, of
course. Do not be concerned, Kyra. I understand.”
His fangs had retracted
a little, but as she leaned toward his open mouth, they twitched and elongated
again. Kyra fitted the blunted device over them.
“Is it all right?” she asked.
“It’s somewhat strange,”
he said, his words muffled. “But not disturbingly so.”
“Good.” She let her hands
slip down, over his chest and taut stomach, and lower yet.
He gasped as she curled
her fingers around his length. That, too, was cool to the touch, but there
would be no mistaking it for anything artificial, not ever. The texture
of him was slick and velvety. She stroked him with a firm pressure, watching
his face in fascination as she brought him to the brink of his bite reflex.
His lips pulled back from his teeth, jaws chewing fitfully at the air.
They fell across the lounging
platform together, Donovan’s weight pressing her pleasantly against the
cushioned surface. He bent his head to nuzzle at her breasts, lips teasing
her nipples until they were tight rosebud nubs.
“Your dress,” he said.
“My dress.” She wiggled
out of it with his help, somehow doing so without ever breaking their embrace.
Her underwear quickly followed suit, joining the pile of discarded clothes.
He cupped the dark-furred
mound between her legs, probing exploringly at the warm, moist folds. She
cried out as fierce quakes shook her to the core, a sudden orgasm that
made the white fire burning in her burst into an inferno. Donovan echoed
her cry with a low needful wail, lowering himself onto her.
“Now, Kyra, I need you now.”
“Enter freely,” she sighed,
reaching to guide him as the tip of his erection nudged her opening. Her
thighs scissored his hips. She raised her buttocks to meet him as he entered
her with a long, slow push.
The overwhelming rush of
that intimate connection drove her into a frenzy, triggering a second climax
so close on the heels of the first that it was as if she never subsided,
but rode the firestorm higher than she’d ever thought possible.
Kyra surrendered. She let
her head fall back, arching her neck to him, vulnerable and exposed.
Donovan moaned with joy
and relief. He clamped his mouth to her throat as his instinctive compulsive
need seized control of him.
She felt the smoothness
of his lips and the hardness of his teeth beneath them, the blunt push
of the device on her skin hard enough to leave a bruise, but in that instant
she didn’t care if it left a brand large enough to proclaim to the entire
galaxy what she’d been doing.
The pace of his thrusts
sped into urgency, taking Kyra with him as he rushed toward his conclusion.
She clung to him, writhing and aflame, knowing only that it had never been
like this, she’d never thought it could be like this, that nothing could
possibly be better --
And then something was!
A piercing shock shot through her like a silver arrow, every nerve suddenly
alight and awash in a sheer ecstasy that dimmed her third orgasm into inconsequence.
She heard her rapturous shriek without realizing she’d voiced it.
With a painless twinge,
her mind meshed with Donovan’s, fused with his, and his sensations were
her own just as hers flew to him. She knew the scent/feel/heat of her body,
felt the explosive outpouring as he emptied himself into her. It was as
if she were doing it herself, emptying into him, but with no sense of being
drained, only of giving ...
Kyra knew the taste of her
own blood, just as Donovan knew it.
They collapsed together
with a final shudder, neither of them immediately capable of movement.
He was warm against her.
The thumping of her heart was mirrored by his.
Donovan shakily raised his
head, and brought his hand to his mouth. When he took it away, it was dark
with the rich crimson liquid that stained his lips.
Kyra looked numbly up at
him. “What ...?”
He spat the device into
his hand and stared at it, aghast. “It broke!”
“What?!?” She found her
strength and struggled out from under him, snatching the clearplast from
There was a hole in it,
a hole through which one of his fangs had been driven.
She touched her neck, and
winced as she found a solitary, seeping wound.
“Kyra ... I’m sorry! I should
have pulled out, but by the time I realized, it was too late.” He pleaded
with her with his eyes. “I swear to you, I did not mean it.”
“I know you didn’t,” she
said. “But what do we do now?”
“It was only once,” he said
in apologetic shame. “And it was only a half-bite. You’ve hardly lost any
“You mean, maybe we’ll luck
“It could be. The chances
against anything happening are very slight.”
“But what if it does,
Donovan? What if I get ...” She couldn’t even bring herself to say the
“If it does, Kyra, I’ll
do the right thing,” he promised, clasping her hand. “I would not run out
on you, no matter your condition.”
She managed a weak smile,
which he tentatively returned. They lay quietly as their senses returned
to normal, and then Kyra ventured another question.
“What I felt ... is it always
like that? For the other person, I mean.”
“No, not usually.”
“Oh,” she said, more wistfully
than she meant to.
“It was only a half-bite,”
he added, flicking the empty VEIN-GUARD box with his fingernail. “As I
told you ... these dull the sensation.”