'REALLY, WHAT DID you think I would do,' I demanded, feeling my annoyance grow. 'Fawn over you because of your title? I'm a Kiwi, Alek. Titles have little meaning to us.'

Alek looked confused. Oops, he won't have a clue what that means. Oh well, I'm sure the inference is the same. I crossed my arms while waiting for his response. Those dark blue eyes stared down at me with little expression.

ALEK CONTINUED TO study Cat, mentally berating himself for acting like a child. Then he noticed her eyes looked red. Forgetting the silly argument in an instant he stepped closer and caught her chin with his fingers, tipping her face up. 'Cat, have you been crying?'

OH MAN, WHY did he have to say it like that? I went to turn away but he kept a firm yet gentle hold on my chin.


Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry. Dammit! A tear escaped and slid down my cheek. 'No.' Gulp. 'A little.'

Alek pulled me into his arms. 'Why? What's wrong?'

TEARS BEGAN TO pour down her cheeks and he hurriedly grabbed a seat with her cradled in his arms. 'Cat, tell me. What's wrong?'

She gave a big sigh and shifted on his lap, her forehead pressed to his chest. In a choked quiet voice she replied, 'Elena told us we can't go home. It's not possible.'

Alek froze, unsure of what to say. Two conflicting feelings flooded through him; relief that she wouldn't leave, quickly followed by guilt. How could he be so selfish when she'd literally just lost her world. Not wanting to put his foot in his mouth with the wrong response, he hugged her close pressing a kiss to her head.

'I'm sorry, Cat.' The words felt wholly inadequate. It brought him back to losing his father and the useless comments people had made. Remembering what she'd said to him before he changed the subject. 'What's a Kiwi?'

Cat blinked and looked up in surprise. 'Oh. Umm, a Kiwi is a little brown bird that can't fly and has feathers that are long and hair like. They have long thin beaks to dig up grubs. And they lay enormous eggs in comparison to their body weight.'

Whatever answer he'd expected it wasn't that. 'Why did you say you're a Kiwi?'

She grinned at him, green eyes dancing in amusement at his confusion. He felt a thrill of delight at the smile.

'The Kiwi only lives in New Zealand which is the country, or realm as you call it, that we come from on Earth. So I'm a New Zealander, but we are known as Kiwis for short,' she announced proudly.

ALEK GAVE ME a funny look after my explanation so I just gave him a wide, cheesy smile. He chuckled and the sound pleased me. I threw my arms around his neck and pulled his head down to mine; might as well distract myself in the best way possible.

ALEK WAS HAPPY to oblige and pressed his lips to hers. Feeling her tiny sigh of pleasure, he tightened his arms around her. Finally, with no one around to disturb them he could kiss her thoroughly.

MY HEAD DID some serious spins by the time Alek pulled away and I'm pretty sure I had one of those silly grins plastered over my face. He chuckled at the expression and stroked my cheek. 'I've been waiting for a good moment to do that.'

I laughed and felt my cheeks flush. 'Worth the wait.'

'What was it you came here for?' Alek asked with a sudden look of confusion.

'Oh. You're supposed to give me the grand tour and we only have two days 'cause then Elena is setting us to work,' I announced, feeling a twinge of nervousness at the idea of this sort of work. Though again, it would be a distraction from reality. I swallowed hard when a feeling of despair threatened to loom and shook my head, forcing a smile as Alek stared at me with penetrating eyes.

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