When they arrived at school, she watched kids whisper and gawk at them.

She gawked back.

One of the strangest parts about being on Earth was how alike the human teens and kelarians looked. Two eyes, a nose and a mouth. Hair in different lengths, and limbs long and lanky or short and stubby, same as kels. Sure unchanged kels were silver and white, but that almost seemed tame when compared to what some of the kids here did to their faces, bodies, and hair.

Piercings in all sorts of places—eyebrows, lips, cheeks, noses, even tongues. Hair the color of the sun, or purple pansies. Their nails were all sorts of colors, and some even had jewels on them.

Zaren wrapped a hand around her arm. She leaned into him, thankful again for his nearness, his coming after her so she wasn’t alone on this strange planet. They were in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The West. Home of cattle, wide-open spaces, and Frontier Days . . .

“Where are the cowboys? The hats? The horses?”

Dervinias snorted. “This isn’t Earth Studies, V. These kids do everything they can to avoid the mold. But if you must see a cowboy, check out the group over there, yonder.”

She turned and sure enough, there were cowboys! They had on cool hats and large belt buckles, jeans that looked too tight, and fantastic boots. “So they do exist.”

“Well, of course they do. One of the kids over there—the tall one with the black hat—he’s the calf roping champion of the state. And see that girl with hair the color of hay and the turquoise belt buckle?” He paused and waited for Venus to acknowledge she saw her.

“Yes.”

“She’s an amazing barrel racer.”

“Barrel racer?”

“Are you sure you took Earth Studies?”

Venus frowned.

“It’s when the horse and rider race around two barrels . . . You know what those are, right—”

She smacked him on the arm.

He continued, “In a figure eight.”

“Oh, that’s fabu.”

“Yeah, right. Fabu! You’re a dork.” He laughed and winked.

She looked away and noticed a few girls whispering and pointing in her direction. One even called her a name—tramp—whatever that meant. 

“What’s their problem?” Venus asked.

“They’re angry at you, V.”

“Why? What did I do?” Her body gravitated closer to Zaren.

“You’re a girl and he’s fresh meat.” Dervinias inclined his head toward Zaren.

“What?”

“They want him. But they think you’ve already got your scrawny claws in him. It ticks them off.”

“Oh.” She realized she could feel their anger, like pointed daggers in her flesh. 

“Cret! Zaren, you’d better let go.”

Both of the guys chuckled. But Zaren dropped his hand.

She couldn’t blame them for desiring the guys. They were both incredibly handsome, especially Zaren. Perhaps it was that they were kelvieri, but in contrast to the other boys (actually all humans), it was as though Zaren and Dervinias were in complete focus while everyone else was blurry. She especially liked the way Zaren looked in human clothes. He wore a long-sleeved, brown shirt and a dark pair of stone-washed jeans (that’s what Dervinias called them), with Dr. Marten boots. His black hair and lime green eyes made him breathtaking.  

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