The Shell and the Star - Part 15 is my post today, but with it I'd like to offer an observance of what today stands for for those of us who live in the USA.
A friend posted a meme that showed a man standing at the gas pump with the current astronomical prices listed, pausing to give a grim look at a row of headstones with the names of many of the wars or major conflicts our service members have served in or died for in defense of our freedoms. The caption read: "I'm not going to complain about the high cost of anything this weekend."
Point well made. Some have sacrificed far more and suffered far worse than we can begin to imagine for the sake of this country. This is a time to look beyond the current state of the country and the world, and honor their memory and their sacrifices. Happy Memorial Day.
Returning to the story, we ended last week's episode with Jinn inviting Trey into her quarters to ask him a question in private. I'll recap the closing paragraphs before launching into this week's except. If you're just tuning in today to read this serialized aquatic science fiction romance, you can catch up with ALL the parts posted to date at this link:
Jinn didn’t know if it was the tash or her heart that dared her to make such a bold invitation, but she wasn’t willing to let him go without expressing…what? If only she could find the words. Sharing her heartfelt thoughts had never come easy. So often she’d been laughed at, ridiculed for putting her feeli
ngs on display. “You have made a bid...” Jinn dropped her gaze to her clutched hands. “And there is something I need to ask you.” She raised her face. “In private?”
She backed her sphere far enough into her quarters to allow room for him to slip inside. Would his honor or his curiosity prevail?
His curiosity, it was.
He followed her in, his blue eyes going dove gray in the muted light. His dark bodyveil swirling slowly with the quiet movement of his arms.
“What do you want to ask?”
Jinn’s gaze dropped to his mouth when he formed those words. She stared at the perfect bow of his lips, now stained a delectable shade of red by the flute of tash that he’d sipped.
She couldn’t speak. Her throat worked hard just to swallow.
She gestured to the ceiling and took her sphere up. He followed a moment later, ascending from the waters exhaling a cloud of bubbles. Jinn opened the top hatch of her sphere and propped herself up on her pilot’s couch.
He smoothed back his raven hair and gave his head a shake to sling a stray lock from his eyes. He opened those blue-grey orbs and looked up at her in question.
Or was it expectation?
She wasn’t sure if it was the tash, or primal curiosity that inspired this streak of audacity, but she knew exactly what she ached for. What she needed right now.
The vision of his body, stripped bare before the game, came to mind and her fingers twitched. Her skin flushed with heat.
She’d only just met him today, and yet...
They’d shared a lot, but it hadn’t been enough.
The dim lights shown from below, silhouetting his body and casting a soft shimmer over the domed walls. “When we were talking in the cove today. When you leaned so near. Did you want to kiss me?”
There, she’d found the words. Little more than a breathless bleat, but spoken aloud, at least.
He snapped his mouth shut and the muscles flexed in his jaw. This wasn’t the soft acquiesce of a gentleman that she’d expected. Was he insulted by her question? Angered?
“Yes, I wanted to kiss you,” he admitted, his voice throaty and low.
“Do you still?”
Her heart gave a mighty kick. He did! How would it feel to have his lips mate with hers? How would he taste? How perfectly would their mouths meld together? “Would you please?” she asked.
In a single movement he whipped off his handfins and launched from the water. His fingers hooked over the hatch opening and he hauled himself high onto the curve of her sphere until barely a breadth separated them.
She reached for him, drawing his mouth to hers until she felt the heat and press of his lips. She cradled his head and drank him in as eagerly as she’d downed the last of her tash.
Never breaking contact, he levered his elbows into the hatch opening and thrusted his hands into her hair. Joined to him only by mouth and hands, she reveled in the wild sweetness of their connection and the deeper stirrings it incited.
Too soon—eons too soon—Trey unlevered his arms and after a final, tender sweep of his fingertips along her cheek, slid down the slope of her bubble and back into the water with a splash.
Jinn leaned over the side, reaching after him. “Trey?”
“I should go,” he rasped.
“Have I done something…?” Shameless? Brazen? Had the tash made her too forward? Had she overstepped a line? Or, worse yet, had he not enjoyed her kiss? “…wrong?”
She understood the acts of intimacy, the nature and mechanics of a kiss, but not how to properly initiate one. Or how to artfully receive one.
Or what to do when it ended.
“Your request was…unexpected.” He passed a palm slowly over the curve of her bubble, his fingers gently brushing the surface, as if he were stroking…her body? Jinn was sure he had no idea what desires his gesture roused deep inside her.
He must have caught her watching, because he stiffly withdrew, his hands going still at his sides. “It’s time I retire. Rest well.”
She had done something wrong. Had her kiss repulsed him? Offended him? Confused at his sudden aloofness, she blurted, “Would it be better if I leave?”
His long silence nearly brought tears to her eyes. She closed them tight and turned her head away, refusing to let them fall.
Then his voice came through her translator. Soft. But sure. “No Jinn, I don’t want you to leave. Not tonight. Not tomorrow.” He reached out again to just graze the surface of her sphere. “Not ever.”
He turned and swam out of her quarters, closing the water seal tight behind him. Leaving her alone and mystified by his hasty withdrawal.
The differences in their two worlds -- and Jinn's society's intentional withholding of information about their two cultures -- is beginning to come into play in Jinn's and Trey's growing relationship. What's that phrase? Buckle your seat belt, it's going to be a bumpy ride?
Hope you come back next week to see where Jinn and Trey navigate from here.
Enjoy your long weekend, and have a great week.