CHAPTER FIFTEEN (draft)

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CHAPTER 15

"Bad does not even begin to cover it," Aeson replies. "Now you see why Gwen and I need to get some sleep."

"Go!" Oalla says with a frown. "Get to bed right now, both of you! In the name of all that's holy—"

"What did I miss?" Xelio returns inside from the balcony, carrying a small hand-telescope, while Anu and Chiyoko trail after him, holding their own units and arguing quietly.

Keruvat nods at him. "We'll tell you in a moment, but Kass and Gwen need to get some sleep before they collapse."

"You mean, try to get some sleep," Aeson says with bitter amusement, pointing at his tone-emitting wrist comm where the hologram band is going nuts with data and messages.

"That's it—I am going to take that bashtooh thing away from you, Aeson!" I exclaim, using the Atlantean swear word to really capture his attention. And then I grab his hand and pull my Bridegroom toward the door.

* * *

We make it upstairs, and quickly get ready for bed in our respective adjacent suites. And then of course we can't stay away from each other. Having brushed my teeth and used the facilities, I'm wearing a relatively demure long nightshirt, but I wander into Aeson's open bedroom like a shameless hussy.

Yes, I'm shameless hussy Gwen. . . .

"Aeson?" I say shyly, peeking deeper into his room, then hear water running in the sink around the corner. Aeson must be in his bathroom, washing up. Or—doing whatever else you do in the bathroom.

A sudden hot blush rises, and my neck and cheeks start burning.

"Yes," he says, coming into the bedroom, and oh my lord, he has no shirt on . . . and his middle is wrapped in a towel.

My breath catches.

His naked chest and muscular arms, toned abdomen, tapering waist, long powerful legs, richly bronzed skin, the mane of golden hair. It all hits me at once, and I'm completely silent, mouth parted at the sight of him.

Im amrevu is a perfect male specimen.

He sees me looking at him, and for a moment I have a crazy feeling that he is about to drop the towel that's wrapped around his middle.

Instead, a slow wicked smile curves his lips, while his gaze caresses me with sensual intensity. "Gwen," he says in a thick voice, then comes toward me. "Shouldn't you be in bed?"

"That's a bed," I say, with unexpected boldness, nodding with my head toward his own.

Shameless hussy Gwen Lark. . . .

His smile deepens, and he slowly turns his head sideways, looking me over with a relentless gaze, then glances back at his bed. "You are welcome to get in bed with me, but my personal unit—the 'wrist thingie,' as you call it—is going to keep you awake with all the ring tones and incoming data. I can't turn it off for tonight."

"That's fine, I don't care," I say. And then I recall, "Oh! Gennio is supposed to give me my own, and I forgot. We left before he returned—"

"Tomorrow," Aeson says, taking my hand gently and leading me to his bed. "If anything happens, I will wake you up. Now, are you sure you don't want to be in your own bed?" And then he grins. "It might get a little . . . difficult for us."

"You mean you won't be able to keep your hands off me?" I grin back at him.

His face reddens with a sudden blush, but he says in a controlled voice, "Precisely."

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