Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Shore Leave Needs

Shore Leave Needs
Day 3
0707 Hours

Whistling, tuxedo jacket slung over his shoulder, Bugalu left the turbo-lift, walked down the corridor, and entered a living room that looked much like his own. An alarm clock sounded in the bedroom and was silenced. "Mac?"
She emerged from the bedroom, her arms full of clothes. She looked him over as she walked toward the sofa. "Looks like you didn't make it back to your place."
He grinned. "We used hers."
She dumped the clothes onto the sofa. "And you came to tell me the details?" She paused to open and refasten her uniform, which had been sloppily closed.
He pulled his gaze from the revealed uniform shorts and mandatory bra; it landed on the untidy stack of clothes. "You need help with that?"
She giggled. "I figured out how to dress myself long ago." She started sorting the clothes into random piles. "Speaking of clothes, how come you never told me not to wear mine?"
Because that would make it damned hard to keep being a brother. "Who told you not to wear clothes?"
"Silly. He didn't say to wear no clothes. He told me to change what I wear off duty."
Why can’t she stay on one subject? "Who he?"
I should have known, I guess.
"He wasn't very helpful about what I should wear, though." She contemplated the clothes on the sofa. "Well, not the exercise suit." She picked up a brown unit and stuffed it down the recycling chute.
That looked like the suit issued at the Academy. He studied the remaining clothes more carefully. Most of these items she had at the Academy, I think.
Mac took a deep breath. "Might as well get to it," she muttered. She picked up the clothes item by item, then tossed them into the recycler with a comment such as, "Too short, too tight, too small, low neckline-"
What’s she doing? He watched in horror as she rapidly approached the last few items on the sofa. Doesn't look like she's going to stop. She picked up a pink shirt, frowned at it, and got ready to toss it out without any comment. "What's wrong with that?"
She looked up in surprise. "This?"
"Yeah. What's wrong with it? Too small, too old, wrong color, what?"
She frowned in disgust. "It's the right size. I haven't had it long." She hesitated. "What do you mean, the wrong color?
"Every woman has some colors that don't look good on her. But if it's not your color, why did you buy it?"
"I didn't!" she hissed, and balled it up for the recycling chute.
She whirled, the pink shirt still in her hand. "Why not?"
He indicated the items left on the sofa. "That's the last shirt. Throw it out, and you'll have nothing to wear with these pants off-duty. The ship replicators only supply uniforms."
She frowned. "Alright. I guess I’ll keep it. Until I get it replaced." She began folding the shirt and remaining pants.
"When do you expect to do that?"
She blinked, picked up the folded clothes and started back for the bedroom. He followed. "I hear there's a shore leave coming up."
So she has been thinking. "That's right. Space Station B27, in three days. Should be plenty of clothes to choose from."
“Good.” She tossed the items into a drawer and fussed with curls that had already escaped from her bun. “I’ll give you my measurements and my payment card, and you can bring back whatever you think I need.”
She wants me to shop for her? "Why in space would I do that?"
Another alarm clock blared. "Because I need clothes." The alarm stopped, and the woman in the other bed rolled over, but made no effort to get up.
"Obviously, since you just threw all your clothes out," he returned, but she had turned to frown thoughtfully at the other bed. "What's wrong?"
"That's the third time her alarm's gone off," Mac muttered. "I don't know how she gets to work on time."
"She often doesn't," he returned, and turned to pull the blankets off the other woman, who was wearing a very skimpy excuse for pajamas. "Della, if you're late again, Mr Smythe will be all over you!"
"He's too busy being all over the new girl," she returned, still half asleep.
"You know better than that. He keeps tabs on all his people. If you're late-"
"All right, all right," she groaned, and laboriously rose to her feet, her eyes still mostly closed. She lurched for the bathroom door, would have fallen if he hadn't caught her. Taking a peek at the world around her, the dark-haired woman slid her arms around his neck and kissed him. "Morning, Bugalu."
"Morning," he got out before their lips met again. Oh, why not? He pulled her close, and let one hand slide down to her buttock. Blast, now I want her. That's why not.
"Thank you for a lovely time," she murmured as she untangled herself from him.
"I wasn't your date."
"Really?" She tossed her tangled curls, yawned and stretched. "I wonder who was?" She turned and stopped, seeing Mac.
The redhead smiled. "I'm Mac, your new roommate."
"Hey, I'm sorry. Was Bugalu your date?"
Mac shook her head. "No."
"I was with Ivy last night." Bugalu tossed Della’s blankets back onto the bed.
"Oh, that's right," Della stated. "I got to console LaPour." She stepped to the bathroom door, rolling her eyes. "I don't know what Ivy sees in him."
"That's good to hear," Bugalu muttered as the bathroom door closed. He turned to Mac, who was grinning. "Where were we?"
"For a minute, I thought you’d show me what all this sex fuss is about."
"Very funny. Don't change the subject. I might decide to discuss last night's clock incident."
She shrugged. "We were discussing clothes."
"That's right. You threw all of yours out."
"Not all of them."
"Close enough. And for some reason, you expect me to get new ones for you."
"Well, somebody has to," she stated.
"Yes," he agreed. "You."
"Don't be silly. I can't shop from shipside."
"Why would you still be shipside?" She’s suddenly tense. Uncertain. And blushing. "What's going on, Mac?"
"Do you ... think I wouldn't be? Shipside?"
"It's shore leave. You know, a chance to get off the ship. We don't get them nearly as often as a tug, so they're a big deal." She won’t even look at me. What has her so upset? "Why do you think you’ll be shipside?"
"Oh, well." She turned back to the mirror to fuss with her hair. "I've only been aboard a couple days, and someone's got to man the ship, so I figured-"
She's lying. Something has her spooked. If I push, she'll skitter away. And she doesn't have Matt to go to. "It doesn't work that way here," he told her. "Everybody gets shore leave. It's a 3-day stay, so everyone gets 2 days. Even new people. You should have plenty of time to shop."
"Well. We'll see," she answered, and suddenly stopped fussing. "Then I'd have to figure out what to buy!"
"You find something you like, and-"
"No, no, that won't work!" she exclaimed, whirling. "It's got to be stuff that men won't find sexy! I don't have the foggiest idea what that would be!"
Can't be done. She'd be sexy in a- Whoa, got to stop thinking like that. I should have spent more time with Ivy this morning. "Mac, you always make things so complicated. Just take someone with you when you go shopping."
"Right," she agreed. "You."
"Not me." That's the last thing I want to do on shore leave.
"Why not?" she asked. "You could tell me if something was sexy or not."
I wouldn’t dare think about it. "Mac, brothers never think their sister looks sexy. I would not be any help."
"But I don't know any other men to do it!"
Why not MacGregor? He got her started on this. On second thought, he couldn’t manage it, either. "Don't take a man. Take a woman."
"How would a woman know-"
"Believe me, they know. Well, some of them. So pick someone who looks nice, and ask for help. She’d probably jump at a chance to go shopping, even if it isn't for her. Abdulla, maybe."
Della emerged from the bathroom, a towel wrapped around her, and stopped to consider them. "Bugalu, if you weren't my date last night, and you weren't hers, why are you here?"
"I'm taking Mac to breakfast," he answered.
"No," Mac told him.
"What?" She’s never told me that before!
"No time," she explained. "You might barely have time to get into uniform."
"I‘m off today. But we must hurry, or you won't have time to eat. Come on." He slipped an arm around her waist as they left. All these years apart, and she still lets me put an arm around her, but wants to deck anybody else who taps her shoulder. She's a bundle of contradictions, like always.
Something has her upset about shore leave. After breakfast, I'll figure out what.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fashion Pointers

Fashion Pointers
Day 2 (cont)
2048 Hours

 Why am I at the gym? Everybody’s entitled to a day off, time to time. Oh, I’m like this every time shore leave looms on the horizon. Boredom? Anticipation? I guess I just get eager for a change of pace. Any change of-
“Keep your hands off!”
Drake turned his head, and saw a short redhead glaring at a leering man. Here we go. He changed his direction and headed toward her.
“Stop playing hard to get,” Jones told her. “It’s obvious you want to be noticed by the way you dress. I’ve noticed! Now it’s time to move on to the next stage.”
“Only if the next stage is where I beat you to a pulp!”
“Very funny,” he responded. “Look, my roommate works midnights, but if you don’t want to wait, we could-“
“No, I don’t want to wait,” she returned hotly. “I’ll just start hitting you now!”
“Mac, how’s your brother?” Drake asked as he approached them.
Her head whirled, but her fist remained cocked, her muscles tense. “Fine. Why?”
“Just wondered if you’d had a chance to ask him that question yet.” She blushed.
“Hey, the lady’s with me,” Jones protested.
“The lady’s not with anybody,” Drake stated. “Certainly doesn’t sound like she wants to be with you. But if you insist, I can let her heavy-world muscles reduce you to a smear of slime.” Hmm. A real idiot might take that the wrong way. He leaned toward the other man. “I’ll be happy to explain the situation to Mr Smythe and the Captain once she does.”
“I saw her first!” Jones insisted.
And here we have an idiot of the first order. “Mac, the choice is yours. I can let you and Jones continue your ... conversation, or you can come with me for a drink in the officer’s lounge.”
“A drink?” There was uncertain interest in her voice. “That sounds ... okay.” Her fist uncurled, her body relaxed, and her face was its normal color.
“Good.” Should I offer my arm, or would she take offense? “Maybe you haven’t found the officer’s lounge, yet. It’s on—“
“I’ve been there,” she stated, and turned for the door. “I saw—“ She broke off. “Well, I saw Bugs and Ivy there, earlier.”
Drake fell into step beside her. “So that’s where he’s at tonight. I thought he might make some time to be with you. You did just arrive.”
“Unannounced. I can’t expect him to turn his life upside down just because I’m in it again. In a week or two, he’ll have time for me.” She shrugged. “I just have to be patient, try to stay out of trouble.”
“By beating Jones into a smear of slime?”
“He keeps touching me!” she hissed as they started down the hallway.
“That reminds me. Last night, when I lead you to weight station C, were you ready to hit me?”
She turned red. “I resisted.”
Resisted? “What about tonight? If I had offered you my arm, like a gentleman does with a lady, would you have taken it, and then hit me?”
“Of course not. That’s different.” The lift door opened as they approached and they got on.
“Officer’s lounge,” Drake instructed the lift and returned to his human conversation. “Different how? None of it makes any sense to me.”
I would be touching you. Pa never said I couldn’t touch a guy.”
An extremely fine line. Could be an interesting line, if the guy could manage not to touch back. “Why not?”
“How could I beat them up if I couldn’t touch them?”
Sounds like pa is a weirdo. If this is the way he feels about men touching women, how did he manage to create Mac? And, what did she say? Eight brothers? I may have to ask Ludwig some questions to get this figured out.
The lift door opened. They stepped out, and he steered her to a table in the middle of the room. “What would you like?”
“I only drink Irish.” She clasped her hands on the tabletop.
She looked up, eyes wide in surprise. “Whiskey!”
Strait-laced in some ways, but opts right for the hard stuff. Strange woman. In a moment, he returned to the table with her whiskey and his scotch, to find her staring at the clock, a soft smile on her lips. “Penny for your thoughts,” he told her.
“What?” She turned perplexed eyes his way.
“It’s an old saying that means, What are you thinking about?”
She grinned and told him how she had changed the clock to make Bugalu think he was late for his date.
He laughed. I can imagine his chagrin.
Across the room, a scowling Smythe emerged from a privacy booth and left the lounge. He sure looks unhappy. Wonder who he was with. He eyed the opening of the privacy booth, but no one else emerged. None of my business. He’s a grown man.
He turned his attention back to his companion, found her fussing with her zipper, and cleared his throat. “At the risk of getting hit, I have to admit that Jones had a point.”
She looked up with a frown, zipper forgotten. “What do you mean?”
“Just how quick is your temper?” he asked. “I don’t want to be a slime smear.”
She canted her head and considered him. “I learned a long time ago not to hit people because of what they say. If I still did that, I’d never get out of the brig.”
“I don’t blindly follow all my father’s dictates anymore, Mac.”
It is obviously going to take more than one night to figure her out.
“What point do you think Jones had?”
Mentally, he took a deep breath. Well, here goes. No woman ever likes to have her clothes criticized. “About your clothes.”
“What about them?”
“Everything I’ve seen you in so far shows off every curve you’ve got. Downright slaps a man in the face with your—Doesn’t let him think about anything but sex.”
“That’s all men think about anyway,” she returned.
“Well, up to a point. Most of us are able to concentrate on other things, at least part of the time. But not when you’re there, dressed the way you dress.”
She sipped at her drink, savored the flavor with her brow furrowed, then swallowed. “If that’s not the effect I want to have, how should I dress?”
“Well, you should—“ He stopped to rethink the glib answer.
She was patient, but eventually asked, “Well?”
“I’m thinking.”
“It can’t be that hard to figure out what you wouldn’t want to see me wear.”
“Actually, it is. Because it’s not just me you’re worried about. And every time I think of something you could change, I immediately think of at least one man who would think it even more appealing.”
“I don’t understand.”
Can’t blame her. How did I get into this impossible conversation? “For instance, take a low neckline, like you’re wearing tonight. And every time you wear your uniform.” She looked down at her cleavage, was blushing when she raised her head. “I like it,” he quipped. “And a lot of other men, too. But raise the neckline, and some men will find the lack of a view a big turn-on. Mystery or something. I’m not sure I understand it, I just know it happens. The same goes for short skirts, tight pants, sleeve length, hair style-“
“You make it sound impossible not to dress ... sexy.”
“It might be. For you.”
“Then why bring it up?”
He thought about that as he sipped his drink. “I thought maybe you could try to avoid that kind of reaction from every man by changing what you wear. When you’re off-duty, at least.”
“To what? A floor-length dress with long sleeves and a high neckline? Something that hides everything?”
She glided toward him, her long dress flowing around her, its swirling movements hinting of the curves she had no hope of hiding. Her moist lips curved into a smile as she approached and asked, “Mac, what’s wrong?”
He realized he was staring at her, sweat rolling down his forehead. He sighed and leaned back, to put a few more inches between them. “Forget I said anything.”
“No, I can’t. There’s got to be something I can do.” She sighed. “I never thought about my clothes before. Can’t you think of anything I could try?”
“Well—“ His eyes involuntarily traveled down her, until the tabletop blocked his view. “Maybe. Take that work-out suit, for instance.”
“This old thing?”
Exactly. “How old is it? Four years?”
She grimaced. “More like eight or nine. But it gets the job done, so-“
“Barely,” he interrupted. “Your body’s ... matured since you got it. It’s too small. That’s why you have to keep fussing with the zipper, isn’t it?”
She pulled her hand away, blushing. “I guess so.”
“Exercise suits get used hard. They don’t usually last more than a couple-“ Eight years? Wouldn’t that make it- “Is that the exercise suit you were issued at the Academy?” That deep blush says yes. “And it’s equipped to accept ballast to make your workout harder, isn’t it?”
“Is that important?”
“The Academy listened to specialists on adolescent psychology more than they listened to fitness specialists when they had those suits designed. The ballast inflates a girl’s chest and hips. Which would make you look-“
“Over ripe,” she whispered, and nodded.
Sounds like somebody actually called her that. “So I would suggest you replace it with a suit that actually fits. If you want the ballast option, get one that puts the ballast into the waist.” Such a tiny waist! Must be because she’s a heavy worlder. “If you’re lucky, adding ballast might make you look, uh, overweight. Slightly.” Well, if she really doesn’t want to turn the men on-
Her smile lit up the lounge. “Would that help? I could actually put on weight-“
“As a doctor, that’s not something I encourage,” he said hurriedly. “But as long as it’s only your suit looking like you have, that’s okay.”
She stared at him thoughtfully. “If I were Della, I could kiss you.”
Who’s Della? “Is this another thing you can do to men, but they can’t do to you?” I could live with that. If I could remember not to kiss back.
“I don’t know. I’ve never tried.” She tossed her drink down her throat. “Thanks, Mac. I still have to study before bed, so I’d better go.” She stood up and turned for an exit.
She faced her bed, and he heard her zipper slide down. The brown exercise suit slid off her shoulders, revealing her white back. “About being friends-“ he began, his throat dry.
“Oh, didn’t I tell you?” She grinned over her shoulder at him. “Bugsy says it’s fine. See ya.”
He watched her walk out, his mind full of visions of flowing long dresses and brown exercise suits being removed. What in space have I got myself into?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Time to Joke

Day 2 (cont)
1922 Hours

Smitty took a taste of his gin and slid into one of the privacy booths along the edge of the officer’s lounge. I don’t feel like talking. I’m just going to have one drink before I go to my room and break open the technical magazine that came in last night’s mail. He hunched over the table, toying with his glass.
The tip of her bright tongue moistened her strawberry lips. “Well, I really should be clinging as I do you now,” she stated, her hands on his chest. She knelt and opened the panel in the front of his uniform. He felt her—
Footsteps clicked in the officer’s lounge. Smitty jerked out of his daydream and peeked out at the brown-haired woman crossing the room. Wilson, he realized. Why isn’t she on duty? His eyes finally noticed her long slinky dress. Must be her day off. And she’s obviously got a date.
She sat near-by, exchanged greetings with others who were filtering into the lounge.
A flurry of activity raced into the lounge. When he peeked out again, the newcomer had paused to look around. MacDowell! I should be clinging as I-“ She headed for Wilson’s table, and he stiffened. Trouble. The old girl friend confronting the new one. That’s never a good idea.
“Are you Ivy?”
Wilson turned to face the redhead. “Yes.”
MacDowell took her hand and pumped it vigorously. “Hi, I’m Mac, Bugalu’s puppy. Look, there’s not much time before Bugs gets here; you know how punctual he is. But I have a joke to pull on him.” She hurried across the room, jumped on a chair along the wall, and began fiddling with the clock.
Hey! Smitty’s objection was over-whelmed by the question of what tools she was using. His eyes traveled up and down the form-fitting over-stretched exercise suit she wore. There’s no place for her to keep any tools, but I didn’t see her carry them in.
The clock was out of the wall and in her arms for half a second before she put it back in place. She hopped down, swiped at the chair seat, and hurried back to Wilson. Smitty stared at the clock. Surely it’s not that late! How long was I ... daydreaming?
“I need your help,” Colleen told Wilson. “When Bugsy gets here, act mad!” Wilson grinned. “No! Don’t smile! He’s late! You’ll never get to the concert on time! And you’re mad about that!” The girl was grinning as she said it.
Wilson wiped the grin off her face. “Right. Now hide.” She glanced around the lounge. “Anybody else going to the concert, please hide, or you’ll tip him off.”
Two other couples ducked into privacy booths. Not wanting to be seen, Smitty sat back, was surprised when Colleen backed into his booth and tried to scrunch her curves to one side of the opening. He wrapped his hands tightly around his glass, to keep from reaching for … anything else.
“You look beautiful, Ivy,” came from the main lounge.
“It’s about time!” Wilson returned hotly. “If this is an example of how much you care, Bugalu, by being late when you knew I wanted to hear this concert, then-“
“Late! I can’t be late! I left in plenty of-“ Smitty leaned forward to see the negro staring at the clock. It hadn’t changed since Colleen had put it back in the wall.
MacDowell tried to stifle a giggle, and the slight sound caused Wilson to grin. “Mac!” Bugalu called angrily. “Mac, you get your butt out here!”
Colleen stood up straight and walked out of the booth. “What’s up, Bugs?”
“Don’t pretend this isn’t your doing! I know you too well to believe that.”
Wilson laughed. “Take it easy, Bugalu. It was a good joke. You should have seen your face!”
The negro glared at the redhead for another moment, until Wilson lay her hand on his arm. His face began to soften. “I can’t let her get away with this!” he protested. “Life will be so complicated, if I don’t keep her under tight control!”
“Well, of course!” the redhead agreed readily. “Why else would I be here?”
Bugalu looked exasperated, but Wilson leaned closer to him. “I still say it’s a good joke, but we should leave now, if we want good seats for the concert.” She placed a peck on his cheek.
The navigator turned toward the brownette, and his face went completely soft. “Okay, let’s go.” He turned back to the redhead, and his eyes went hard again. “Later, Mac. Don’t think you’re going to get off easy.” He pointed toward the non-functional clock. “Fix it.”
“I know,” Colleen agreed readily.
“Let’s go, Bugs,” Wilson urged.
“Oh, don’t call me that!” he pled as they moved off. “It’s bad enough she calls me that!”
“Then don’t let her.”
“You don’t know Mac.” They were gone, other couples following.
The redhead laughed silently for a minute, then skipped across the lounge and stepped up onto that chair, still chuckling. In a moment, the clock was in her arms again. She can’t muck with that! Smitty got up and drank half his gin as he crossed the lounge. The closer he got, the more he frowned, thinking about broken clocks. Then she slapped the clock back into place, and he saw the setting move backwards as the ship’s computer corrected it. She began to tighten the fittings. He heard the clatter of a tool falling to the floor. “Drat!”
He picked up the small item from the floor. As he stood up, his eyes traveled up her thighs, past her abdomen to her cleavage, where the fingers of one hand fumbled with two other diminutive tools tucked between her—“Here,” he said hoarsely, tapping the searching fingers with the retrieved tool.
“That’s the wrong size,” she muttered without looking. “Where did that 1/8 go?” Her fingers dug deeper, pushing the strained zipper down a bit before she pulled out the missing driver. “Here it is.”
Smitty forced his eyes higher, watched as she tightened the fastenings. She stepped down, tucked her tiny hardware into her cleavage and pulled the zipper up. Her face was red as she took the tool from him, and drained absolutely white when she raised her green eyes to his face. “Oh, dear,” she breathed.
He tossed down his remaining gin. “Would you care for a drink?” he heard himself ask.
“N-n-no,” she stuttered, still white. She whirled and left. Once her gorgeous rump disappeared around a corner, Smitty went back to the dispenser and dialed himself another, larger drink.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Brief Reassurance

Brief Reassurance
Day 2 (cont)
1624 Hours

Bugalu had just pulled off his uniform tunic when he heard his bedroom door open. Now what? He turned in time to catch Mac as she threw herself against his chest. I’m going to have to start changing in the bathroom. Locking my door would hardly slow her down. Once more, hot tears fell on his skin. Why’s she upset now? “Mac?”
“He’s right!” She sobbed. “I never should have come! I couldn’t even answer his first question! He was so disgusted, he didn’t bother to ask any more! What would he think if he knew I got the answer from Abdulla? Well, obviously, he couldn’t think any less of me! What made me think I could pull this off?”
Bad day at the office. Smythe gave her the opening salvo, I suppose, and she’s taken it hard. She never could accept criticism. He rocked her back and forth, made shushing noises into Mac’s fraying topknot. She cried a long time, but eventually started to wind down. “He kept saying that every detail is important, and he’s right, it could have been my forgotten detail that got Matt killed!”
He stopped rocking. An icy chill slid down his spine. “Mac, you had nothing to do with Matt’s death.”
“I know, but what I meant was, he might have died because somebody forgot some tiny detail, and I don’t want to be the cause of anybody else’s brother dying. I was an idiot for coming here!”
“No, you weren’t,” he told her firmly, sitting her down on the edge of his bed. “Look, maybe you’re a little rusty.” All her assignments have been tugs; she could be a lot rusty. “The regs give you six months to prove yourself. Whatever questions he asked you today were just a kind of preliminary test; they weren’t official. We’ll just go to Abdulla and ask her to help you review—“
“Oh.” She held up a small disk. “She is. She’s really very nice, Bugs. Is there anything between you two?”
When did she have time to ask? “Good. Yes, she is. Nothing in particular. Don’t change the subject.” He tapped her skull. “I want to be sure we get this straightened out in your head. You have six months to relearn whatever you haven’t used these past four years. But you did know it once, or you wouldn’t have graduated the Academy, so it’s merely a matter of refreshing your memory, Mac. Just focus on review. You watch, you’ll pass probational on first try.”
She rolled her eyes. “I don’t know about first tr-“
“Tut, tut,” he interrupted, wagging his finger. “Your first try. You have more brains than you give yourself credit for, Colleen MacDowell. Now, you have your disk to study, and that’s what I suggest you do, just to ease your jitters from today.”
She eyed him wonderingly. “You have a date tonight, don’t you?”
“I do,” he admitted. “An eagerly awaited date with a special woman named Ivy. So if you are done with me-“
“Special how?”
“Special in that she works swing shift, and I’m not the only one she dates, so I have to work hard for the few dates I do get to have with her. We’re meeting for a drink in the officer’s lounge at 1930-“
One drink?”
“Just one,” he confirmed. “Then we’re going to recroom 2 for a concert by some musically-talented crewmembers, and I hope to bring her back here, afterwards. She’s insisting that we dress for the concert, and I need to eat, so if you are done with me--?”
“Back here?” She glanced at the bed she sat on, stood up quickly, and headed for the door. “Okay, bed. I mean, bye.” He had already unfastened his pants and was preparing to push them down when she suddenly reversed herself. “Oh, speaking of bed-“ She whirled again, to face the door, while he hurriedly re-fastened his pants.
“What?” He tried to keep impatience out of his voice.
“I need to ask you- Someone has asked to be my friend, and I need to ask you about him. What you think of him.”
She wants to be friends with a man? That hasn’t happened since ... well, since me, and look where it’s gotten us. “Who?”
“Dr Drake MacGregor.
MacGregor? “Is he your molehill, Mac?” Look how pink the back of her neck is.
“No, not Mac.” She’s already shortened his name. He’s doomed. “It’s just that— He said if we couldn’t be friends, he’d have to bed me, because he couldn’t ignore me.” Sounds like the Doc. But I don’t know of any man who can ignore her.
“Then you’d better be friends, don’t you think?”
She sighed in relief. “I didn’t want to hurt him.” As in hitting him. But she would, if he tried to bed her. “Thanks, Bugs.”
She stepped forward to leave, and the door opened so she could. As she stepped through, she stopped as a mass of copper nearly ran into her. “Oh, sorry, shorty,” Tall Bear apologized, and yawned. “Didn’t see you. You should try growing a foot taller.”
“You should try waking before walking,” she returned. “Even the dictionary knows that.” She scooted past him.
Tall Bear stepped into the open door, leaned against the doorjamb, arms crossed. With the AmerInd in the way, the door wouldn’t close. “What are you looking at?” Bugalu asked.
Bear grinned. “You don’t usually try to fit two women into one day.”
Bugalu snorted. “If you listen to Ryan, I already did that this morning.”
“Yeah, I heard. I can’t blame you. If shorty gave me a second glance, I’d sure fit her in whenever I could, too.”
“It’s not like that. I roomed with her brother. She adopted me as a brother.”
“Oh, a case of ‘vice is nice, but incest is best’?”
“Bear!” But Bear had stepped back into the hallway, allowing the door to close. He had been teasing, of course, and would not be spreading any rumors about Bugalu and Mac. Tomorrow he would need to think of a suitable response.