Chapter 9, part 2

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Stepping into Ryker's house was like time traveling fifty years into the future

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Stepping into Ryker's house was like time traveling fifty years into the future. The exterior of his home had been impressive enough – A large white building with floor to ceiling windows and a roof that slopped downward, covered with solar panels. That portion of the house alone would fit ten of her apartments, but Ryker's home didn't end there. A walkway covered with a living roof led to another building about a third the size of its counterpart, but no less impressive. A second story balcony stretched from end to end and seemed to serve as a link between the garden below it and the green roof above. A long pool, drained of its water for the winter months, lay to the left of a small orchard that extended up and over a hill. On the other side of the house, ocean waves lapped in a constant rhythm against a rocky beach.

Then there was the interior, which looked like what Frank Lloyd Wright might have designed if he'd been a contemporary of Captain James T. Kirk. Clean lines with warm wood surfaces and a built-in table reminiscent of the booths at Iola's Eats comprised the spacious kitchen, which was complete with high tech appliances. When Ryker told her with a wink that his fancy computerized stove was one of his robots, she would have believed him, had he not burst out into laughter a second later.

An open floor plan led them from the kitchen area into a great room with ceilings Emmie imagined must be close to twenty feet high and modern furniture expertly placed to create cozy spaces while maintaining a clean, decluttered atmosphere

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An open floor plan led them from the kitchen area into a great room with ceilings Emmie imagined must be close to twenty feet high and modern furniture expertly placed to create cozy spaces while maintaining a clean, decluttered atmosphere.

Emmie couldn't help but be impressed. "I feel like I just landed in a deluxe moon colony.

"I don't know about that." Ryker ran his hand along a row of ferns growing next to a stone wall, water cascading down it into a rectangular pond complete with orange and red koi. "But it's home. And a smart home at that."

After throwing the koi a few nutrition pellets, he stepped away from the pond and tapped a partition around the corner from the waterfall. Emmie gasped. The wall came to life; a lulling yellow light emanated from it along with a melodic chime like something she imagined she'd hear when wandering past a heard of cows grazing in a pasture high up in the Alps, bells dangling from their necks.

"George, play Glassworks

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"George, play Glassworks." The room filled with a mesmerizing composition by Philip Glass.

"George?"

"After my grandfather. Iola named it that. She said George had always been used to her giving him commands, so it seemed appropriate she tell George to adjust the thermostat for her."

Emmie glanced around for any sign of Iola's presence. She couldn't imagine the older woman being at home in such a large space. Plus, she wasn't thrilled with the prospect of Iola discovering what she'd been doing with her grandson every night for the past four weeks. "Does... does your grandmother live here?"

"Not like how you're thinking. I built her her own space. It's accessible from the covered bridge you saw from outside, but it's a separate residence otherwise. Our tastes are pretty different." He laughed when he saw the look in Emmie's eyes. "Don't worry, she's not even home, remember? She's been at my Aunt Marilyn's up in Newport since yesterday."

"Right, of course. That's right. I've had a lot on my mind." This was true enough. Her doctor's appointment today had left her with a lot to think about. It had been her second time at the clinic since moving to Moon Beach. The good doc had told her that everything was going well. The baby's heartbeat was strong. Emmie was in good health and all Dr. Morrow had suggested was that she take an iron supplement in addition to her pre-natal vitamin. There had been no alarms raised, only a standard appointment with everything indicating that she was having a normal, healthy pregnancy.

Despite this satisfactory appointment, the relief Emmie felt upon hearing that everything was going as it should was fleeting. She had put on only five pounds of weight, which her doctor seemed fine with, but this would change soon and she knew it. A pregnancy "going as it should" meant that she wouldn't be just that single new woman walking around Moon Beach soon; she'd be that single new pregnant lady. People would identify her by the bump in her belly before they saw Emmie herself. Ryker would identify her that way as well -- he was bound to. She wanted this baby – loved it, loved the thought of mothering it. But she didn't want things to change with Ryker either.

She had not expected to feel this way.

There was only one thing to be done and that was to tell him the truth. Well, the partial truth, at least. Her past in Chicago could not be unearthed. Not now, at least. But the baby... he needed to know and she needed to stop harboring that impossible secret.

Emmie silently cursed and then thanked the day's storm for giving her this opportunity. If not for it, her power wouldn't have gone out and if her power hadn't gone out, they wouldn't have come to Ryker's home. Somehow it seemed fitting that she tell him here in his own space.

Ryker led her to a couch facing a floor to ceiling window beyond which was a panoramic view of the moon sparkling over the lapping waves of the Pacific.

She sat back and stared out at the expanse of softly illuminated water. Even inside, the roar of the waves could be heard, constant as a ticking clock. "Gorgeous."

Ryker sat down and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "I think so too."

His head pressing to her neck, he breathed in, long and deep. Then, as though he couldn't help himself, he began nibbling her neck. She leaned into him, her body already beginning to respond to his touch.

She couldn't do this. She had told herself she wouldn't dozens of times. Tonight was to be about truth-telling, not... this. Mustering all her self-control, she pulled back. "Don't you...don't you have robots to show me or something."

He raised an eyebrow. "Or something." Sliding his palm up her leg, he squeezed her thigh, then returned his hand to his own lap. "I'm sorry. I told you I wasn't bringing you here for sex, and I meant it. It's just... you're so damned beautiful, the way you're looking out at the ocean. I got carried away."

Emmie closed her eyes. She had been like an autumn leaf in the wind herself for a moment. She nodded. "Let's go see UMA's prototype."

A/N: What do you think of Ryker's home? Would you live there? My answer would be a big huge "YES

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A/N: What do you think of Ryker's home? Would you live there? My answer would be a big huge "YES." I would totally love to see my cats' reactions the first time the accidentally fall into the pond trying to chase the illusive koi! Also, Philip Glass' piece, Glassworks (the one Ryker has the house computer, George, play) is in the media box if you're interested.

We're gearing up to a big moment (after we meet UMA's prototype, that is). Not too much longer now... but first, some suspense-building!

Thank you for your support, once again! Votes will go towards getting everyone on the planet their own version of Ryker's house. Dare to dream, right?

Today's dedication is for Abhi8727 who gave me a suggestion for the casting of Emmie. Thank you so much!

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