First Chapter Book One, Three and Four

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BOOK ONE

One

Didri was bored.

Her world was just too…perfect. By far not an origi­nal thought, she stretched and yawned, mouth fully open turned to the blinking flashes overhead. Damn! Her shift about to begin, she was still in bed, despite the wake up system having switched on half an hour ago. The soft lights she had ignored, so the intensity grew a notch for every minute of loafing until they became too harsh to endure. And the blinding effect always got her out of bed, scrambling to her feet, then dragging them to the coffee machine.

Buzz, buzz, buzz.

Now what? She was sure she had turned off the fastidious NetConnect before collapsing, yet here it was, bright and alert to remind no one was allowed to be off-line, not even during sleep. Reluctantly changing direction, she went to the opposite side, first looking for the remote…but who knows where the heck I buried it last night…then brushing a small sensor half hidden behind the glass-like wall of her tiny living quarters—a bed turned couch during the daytime, a closet, a stove and an essential bathroom all there was to it for Shindera wasted no space.

“Don’t tell me you just woke up!” A handsome young man smiled from the giant wall screen.

“Markay, what do you want?” Half exasperated, half pleased, Didri shuffled back to her first target. “Don’t you have anything better to do than wake people up at this ungodly hour?”

“Particularly before they had their coffee.” He chuckled.

“My point precisely.” With two steps, Didri reached the coffee machine. The lid stuck as usual, it required a brutal act of persuasion or a careful sliding back and forth to unscrew. Still no technologically advanced dispenser would ever re­place her trusted old-fashioned trapping, found at the bottom of a useless pile of junk in a so-called antique store, at least not until it made the best coffee in town.

“Just thought I’d keep you company while you got ready, since tonight we’re working the same shift—”

“Which doesn’t give you the right to barge in.” Too late she realized the words had gone out of her mouth before she had time to think them through.

Her friend since always, Markay had been something more at one point, and though it had not worked out for her, like a true Shindera gentleman, he never pressed it. His obvious disappointment notwithstanding, he accepted the fact women had the right to choose their sexual partners, free to change their minds even at the last minute. Politeness and respect being the rule, no man dared take a woman against her will and Markay was no exception. Besides, she liked him better as a friend—funny, kind, understanding, the perfect shoulder to cry on, a sympathetic ear in which to pour her frustrations during their numerous lunches or dinners.

“Hey, baby, only wanted to be friendly. That’s all.” His hazel eyes became suddenly darker and she knew she had hurt him. “What’s eating you lately anyway?”

Wish I knew!

“I’m sorry, Mar­kay.” She stopped fidgeting with the unruly machine to send him an apologetic look. “It’s just…” Her hand waved aim­lessly in midair. “I’m bored,” she finally admitted. Or rather she had no taste for a perfect life without excitement, nothing new to discover or experience, everything meaning­less.

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