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HE STOOD BY THE OPEN TRAPDOOR. Wide-spaced cobalt eyes, cold as stone. Adonis look, ginger curls, tall frame, arrogant shoulders, all in perfect symmetry. She watched him with slanted glance from the U-belly of the queue. He waited his boarding turn at the crowding Station Pod, one hand holding a boarding magnet, the other a briefcase. Mesmeric eyes fell upon her as he turned squarely, sizing her back fully, without shame. A swift blush caught her cheek and Snow dropped her gaze.
She hadn't planned on speaking to him. It just happened.
The morning had started out normal: a fight with Amellon. Snow nearly drained her caffeine consommé on his head, the way he was impossible--this time about Shannon's martial conscription.
Only Shannon's terrified eyes peeking from under the kitchen sink calmed her rage. "Shannon is barely nine months old," she said to her husband. "The child believes in Care Bears and fairy twinkles. Can't martials wait?"
"You enrolled at four months," he said.
"But Amellon, those days were different--"
"Different nothing!" he said angrily, popping his eyeballs. "Lessons start tomorrow."
"You have no idea how hard I have worked to engineer it," he said. "Major Blade--"
"You're right. I have no idea."
"Don't do this," he said.
Snow broke it first. "And how do you plan to pay? For these lessons?"
"You'll see," he said.
"Amellon, maybe it's skipped your notice or perhaps you don't care to think about it much--if at all. But it's only my third day at The Enclave. I haven't compiled enoughgoth-hours--"
"Don't clog your head with worry. Major said I could do light duty."
"Light duty? Do you know the meaning of the words in Major's context? The graft on your skin is barely silk-thin, the sight in your left eye not a finger long! You need to properly heal before even thinking of going back to work."
"It will be fine, you'll see. Major--"
"Major this, Major that! One more syllable of that name," cried Snow, "and I'll break your groin."
"At least breaking it you'll touch it. Do you know the last time we mated?"
"And rubbing the Major in my face again will score you a mating?"
"Snow," he touched her shoulder. "Calm down! I don't know why you feel so threatened. Keena's been amazing since the accident."
"Keena? Now it's Keena! First name basis? Since when did Major Blade drop to Keena?"
She shrugged away from his touch, moved one length backwards. "I am overwhelmed," she said.
He folded his arms. "Hopefully, you will tell me why."
"Is this a joke to you? I'll give you truth, Amellon, if that's what you want."
"Nothing but," he said grimly.
"Good," she cracked. "I've just about had it up to here."
They bickered about everything and nothing. Red bills mostly. Living in a high rise area with a rooftop balcony, since Amellon's accident at Lunar, when his shuttle burst into flames and corroded half his face, they struggled. Not just financially. Physically. Intimacy had dwindled, and Snow blamed it all on Amellon's Major Blade, now tenderly called Keena.
Snow had found a job. Third day at The Enclave, a few goth-hours sorting galaxy signals so they wouldn't fight over money. She was beginning to like it, the independence of working life, and now Amellon was talking of going back to Lunar before he was fully healed. Like hell he'd want to go back--to olive skinned Keena Blade.