Month 1, Day 30
Beth grabbed Bugalu's hand as it started up her thigh. "I actually want to see the movie," she whispered. "You don't mind, do you?"
"Whatever makes you happy," he replied. "Plenty of time." He pulled her closer, and she settled her head on his shoulder.
Sometime later, "Bugalu!" came a feminine whisper as someone sat down on his other side.
"Double dating, Bugalu?" Beth teased.
"No," he answered, and craned his head around to see the newcomer. "Abdulla? I thought-"
"She flunked," Abdulla stated. "Thought you should know." She started to get up.
"Blast!" he swore softly, and grabbed the dusky woman's arm. "Where is she?"
"I don't know. I stayed behind, trying to convince Mr Smythe she has potential."
"She still has 5 months."
"Exactly what he said! Except he said 'only'!"
"Let me guess, you need to go look for her," Beth suggested.
Bugalu hesitated for a long moment. "No," he decided. "It's her uncle's turn. Anyway, she knows where I am, if she needs me. Thanks, Abdulla." He turned back, wrapped his arms around Beth. But it wasn't the same. His body's here, but not his mind. All the sexual tension is missing. There's no teasing caresses. She hasn't meant to, but Mac's messed up another date.
If it was anybody else, I'd be well on my way to hating her.
Pruning the Bud
Month 1, Day 30
Lt Cmdr Anna Humara, Head Chef, studied her reflection in the mirror as she brushed her wet black hair. She briefly considered the menus for the next few days, then dismissed thoughts of work. I'm more than a cook. It's time to remember that.
Her doorbell rang, and she frowned slightly at her reflection. After that hot shower, I was going to read and go to bed. Who'd be coming here, anyway?
Slipping the matching lounger over her nightgown, she answered the door, to find Lt Cmdr Smythe waiting in the hallway. "Anna," he greeted her.
Despite his smile, he was tense. He's as bad now as he was an hour ago. She glanced at the clock. Okay, slightly more than an hour ago. He might even be worse now. "We need to talk," she stated, gesturing for him to enter. He stepped forward, raising his arms to embrace her, but she moved away quickly, settled in an easy chair. "I said talk."
"I just wanted-"
"You want sex," she stated. "Which we've already had today. You've never wanted seconds before. Not even when we were young and wild, before Michael."
Troubled and thoughtful, Smitty sat on the sofa, stared at the floor. "I'm sorry. I've been-"
"Using me," she finished, and he blanched. "I suspected it last week when you called me by another name. You did it again, earlier this evening."
"Oh, Black Space," he swore.
"Don't get me wrong," she told him gently. "We've been friends a long time, and I don't mind helping. From time to time. But I don't want to be a sex toy - again - so asking for that favor twice in one day is too much. How did you deal with it before?"
"Cold showers and... self manipulation," he admitted.
"Hmm. Bummers. Still, if I hadn't come out of hiding, those would still be your means of coping, so be thankful I'm offering any relief at all."
He shook his head, but seemed unable to look at her. "No, Anna. It's not right. I never should have asked it of you, and certainly can't expect you to continue."
"Smitty, we aren't kids any more. We know better than to confuse lust and romance. You wouldn't have gotten any last week if I hadn't put the idea in your head. And you still give as good as you get."
He thought about her words for a few minutes. "Then how often-"
She chuckled. "Let's not get tied down by some arcane timetable for sex. I'm not ready to clip my wings again. I expect freedom to date others, and you should, too."
He sighed. "There's not many of our rank aboard for us to choose from."
"True, so why deliberately narrow our options by looking only at each other?" she asked. "We weren't right - as a couple - years ago, and we still aren't." Our rank isn't completely hopeless, and there's some slightly junior men who look pretty good, as long as I'm careful.
Smitty nodded. "I suppose you're right. I am sorry, Anna."
She smiled. "At least I'm considered a better choice than a cold shower."
"That's a ridiculous comparison, and you know it." He stood up. "Perhaps, another time, then."
"Some other time," she agreed, but didn't stand up. No sense giving him any ideas, like kissing me.
He took a step toward the door, then stopped. "I called you by her name?"
That has him worried. "You did, but you weren't very articulate." Sounded like he wanted Colleen. "Weren't sure what you said, except that it wasn't Anna." Don't recall any Colleens aboard ship, but it's a big ship, and I've been out of touch.
"You haven't asked me who she is."
He wouldn't tell me if I did. "None of my business, Smitty," she answered softly.
He gave her a quick look of thanks and left.
I wish I'd fallen in love with him, instead of Michael. Even now, I almost wish I was Coleen. I hope it's for real between the two of them, that she's good enough for him. He deserves happiness. She headed for her bedroom, unfastening her nightclothes. To space with staying in. Another form of hiding. I need to get out there and see what might be available.