horror

Sarah didn’t know why Lindie was standing in the hotel lobby with a bag full of her clothes. She didn’t care about why. She was just thankful she was there. Lindie explained that she had received a text shortly after Sarah sent her the picture of herself standing in the lobby. It said to bring a change of clothes, make-up, and toiletries today, and that she would be busy for a day or so, sorting out a contract dispute.



“I didn’t send you any text messages.” Sarah said as she sipped her coffee.



“Well, it looks like I showed up just in time, regardless.” Lindie said softly. She put her hand on Sarah’s arm and Sarah began to cry.



“I don’t know what happened. Was I drugged? How many times did they fuck me?” Sarah whimpered.



“There was no ‘they’ Sarah.” Lindie said. “It was just one. He fucked you forty-three times.”



“Holy shit. I swear there were at least three of them. I’m telling you, I had three of them inside me at once.” Sarah said, shaking.



Lindie pressed on her forearm more firmly. “Calm down, Sarah. You’re going to be alright. I made up a story for your kids, and assured Kenny you would be okay.”



“How did you know I’d be okay?” Sarah asked.



“I didn’t, but what else was I going to tell him?” Lindie said.



There was a short pause, and then Sarah asked, “Did you fuck him?”



“Kenny? No. I sucked him off about a dozen times, though. I thought I would wait to fuck him until you were home. With as busy as you’ve been, don’t you think he deserves a little two-on-one time?” Lindie smiled shyly.



“How do you know it was only one?” Sarah asked.



“Same as always. I just know. Don’t you trust me?” Lindie said as her eyes glowed slightly. She could see that Sarah was having her doubts. Lindie’s skin paled, and her rapidly forming claws cut into Sarah’s forearm.



Sarah was defiant, but respectful. “Let go, Lindie. You’re hurting me.”



Lindie relaxed her grip and withdrew her claws, but continued to hold Sarah’s forearm.



Sarah pulled a paper napkin from the dispenser and wiped the blood off her arm.



“It’ll heal before we leave here. Don’t worry.” Lindie said flatly.



“I’m not worried. You’re better than any doctor I know when it comes to healing people.” Sarah said, trying her best to not make Lindie any angrier.



It had been only two hours since they both hopped into a taxi at the hotel and road across town to get a coffee and talk about what happened. Sarah had changed her clothes in the taxi, stripping off her little black dress and heels and replacing them with plain panties, sweatpants, t-shirt, and jogging shoes. The taxi driver got an eyeful, and Lindie did not let his erection go to waste. He happily covered the fare.



The bruises on Sarah’s body were fading quickly thanks to Lindie’s healing touch. When she wanted, Lindie could just as easily kill someone with a touch of her finger, failing one organ at a time if the situation called for it.



Sarah hoped she would never have to witness Lindie’s completely dark form, as most everyone that did — innocent or not — perished shortly thereafter.



“Do you think he was like you?” Sarah asked.



“Yes.” Lindie said, matter-of-factly. “You’re lucky to be alive.”



“I wanted him to fuck me so bad. I couldn’t get enough of him. I’m still thinking about him.” Sarah sighed.



“It’ll pass. He fucked you, but he also fucked with you.” Lindie tried to explain. “I guess you were in too many guy’s pockets. Enough people complained, someone knew he could get in your head, and he did. Let it go.”



Sarah took another sip of her coffee as Lindie released her forearm. Sarah’s body was completely healed. No bite marks. No bruises. She even had an after-orgasm glow.



“When can we talk about me?” Lindie asked, looking innocent, pretty, and young.



“When we can be alone — all alone.” Sarah answered. “I don’t want to tell the story twice. I don’t want to tell the story at all, but I know you need to know. I don’t want us to be interrupted, and I don’t want anyone around just in case you let your temper get the best of you.”



“Are you afraid I might hurt you, Kenny, or the kids?” Lindie asked.



“I’m terrified.” Sarah said, before taking another sip of her coffee.



“I don’t blame you, sis.” Lindie said softly. Her innocence and youth left her face, and her face transformed from pretty to beautiful to sultry. For a moment, though, Lindie looked cold and lifeless, her skin fading to a white glow, and her eyes turning an unnatural light blue. Her teeth cut through her lips, but were gone in an instant. Sarah wondered if anyone else in the coffee shop had seen it, too. She figured if they had, they’d be dead before the sun set.



The fact that Lindie had allowed Sarah to see this much must have been a sign of trust.



Lindie walked to the cash register to pay for the coffee and the young man handed her twelve dollars from the till, and three more 20′s from under the drawer. Lindie smiled and signaled for Sarah to join her. They stepped out into the cool breeze and hailed a taxi.



“Do you pay for anything, anymore?” Sarah asked, amazed.



“Nothing’s ever free, Sarah. But to answer your question, I have no need of money.” Lindie said sternly.



Kenny was standing at the side door when they stepped out of the taxi. The kids were still at school, and Sarah still didn’t know what story Lindie came up with, so she was glad they’d all have a chance, just in case the kids became inquisitive.



“I don’t do kids, so get your story straight with Kenny.” Lindie had said earlier. She said it again when they were sitting in Sarah and Kenny’s bedroom. They went downstairs to the kitchen, and Kenny felt the tension between Sarah and Lindie.



Sarah was in better shape physically, but mentally, she was still a little shaken. Lindie went into the kitchen and started making tea. Sarah and Kenny thought it strange that Lindie knew exactly where to find everything, almost as if she had been there her entire life.



The three sat at the kitchen and talked quietly. Lindie came up with a simple story of Sarah helping a sick friend, and worked out the minor details so the kids wouldn’t think anything different. She also told Kenny that Sarah’s last job hadn’t gone as well as planned, and she wouldn’t be escorting again, or at least not for awhile. Kenny took it surprisingly well, and asked if Sarah had been hurt.



“She’s tougher than she looks,” Lindie said, rubbing Sarah’s shoulder. Her hand dropped to Sarah’s chest, and then one of her breasts where she paused and gave a light tug on her nipple. “We’re sisters, after all, right?”



“I’ll be alright, Kenny.” Sarah assured him. She made no effort to remove Lindie’s hand from her breast. Lindie pulled up Sarah’s shirt and gave her a quick kiss on the nipple she had just pinched, and then gave Sarah a kiss on the lips. Lindie pulled Sarah’s shirt back down, sipped the last of her tea, and then put her cup on the counter.



Kenny could see so many similarities between the two, and the same things that regularly turned him on when he looked at Sarah were turning him on as he looked at Lindie. He had seen Lindie in her other form months earlier. He had filled Lindie’s mouth with come over a dozen times in the last two days. Yet, he remembered none of it.



Erasing memories was just one of Lindie’s many talents, but she tried not to abuse the ability. She could go weeks or months without a drop of come in her mouth. She wasn’t sure what sustained her, as she only ate to be social. It had been months since she ate three meals in one day, yet her shape never changed. She maintained slightly larger hips and thighs, as one might find in a gymnast or figure skater, a narrow waist, and full yet firm breasts. Depending on what she wore, she could pass for a girl barely out of high school, or a woman in her early thirties.



Shortly after puberty, though, she had a sense of being much older. Not years, but possibly decades — or centuries.



“Now that I have your undivided attention,” Lindie stood before Sarah, “would you mind talking about something I’d like to talk about? After all, I came to visit, not rescue you from the downward spiral of executive prostitution and extortion.”



Sarah asked Kenny to leave the kitchen, and to keep the kids out, but Lindie recommended they go to Kenny’s study.



“Better idea, Lindie.” Sarah said. “Bring the pot of tea. This might take awhile.”



“Do you remember going to Sunday school?” Sarah asked Lindie.



“Yes. I liked it. But, I think they got some of the stories wrong. I went back and read the verses when I was a little older, but it still seemed like something wasn’t quite right.” Lindie said curiously.



“Well, there are stories they cover in Sunday school, and stories they don’t. What I’m about to tell you — I think it applies to you, but I don’t know for sure. Nobody knows for sure. I need you to understand that.” Sarah continued.



“Okay, anything is better than nothing, and all I know is what I feel.” Lindie stood and began to pace back and forth.



“About that.” Sarah stopped Lindie carefully. “You have to promise me that you won’t hurt the kids or Kenny.”



“Why on earth would I hurt the kids or Kenny?” Lindie asked, her skin paled ever so slightly.



“Because when you get angry, bad things happen.” Sarah said, her voice shaking. “You can turn on a dime, and I don’t know how you’ll take what I say, or if what I say will even be enough to satisfy your curiosity.”



“I promise I won’t hurt your family.” Lindie held out a clawed hand. Sarah opened her eyes wide and tilted her head.



“See? This is what I’m talking about!” Sarah stood with her hands on her hips until Lindie’s hand returned to normal. Sarah reached out to shake Lindie’s hand on her promise.



“Have you ever heard of the Nephilim and Elioud?” Sarah asked.



“Just stories. Nothing more. I thought it was just weird stuff people made up.” Lindie said, stopping her pacing as if something caught her eye and she needed to focus to get a better look.



“Are saying I’m the daughter of an angel?” Lindie asked smiling.



“Not exactly, Lindie. Angels weren’t the only ones to mingle with us humans.” Sarah said carefully.



“Aliens?” Lindie asked comically.



“No, Lindie. Not aliens. Do I have to say it?” Do I?!?” Sarah asked, her eyes welling with tears.



“Demons?” Lindie said with a slight lisp. Her teeth had already cut through her lips.



“We don’t know.” Sarah said quickly. “Dad was shooting blanks by the time mom was pregnant with you. And no, she didn’t cheat on dad. She never so much as looked at another man the whole time they were married.”



“So, how did dad handle it?” Lindie asked. Her teeth had retracted, but her mouth was still bleeding. Sarah maintained her composure, though.



“Dad was approached by a man about a month before mom was pregnant with you. He told dad that it would be hard to believe, and harder to accept, but you were needed to maintain balance. It was the way it was intended. It was the way it will always be.” Sarah found a picture of her parents and handed it to Lindie. “He said you would look like mom and dad, and you were every bit as much of them as you were of him.”



“How is that even possible? How do you know all this?” Lindie asked. Her heart felt heavy as she looked at the photograph. She missed her parents. They died before she finished high school, and there was so much she had wanted to ask them.



“Because the man talked to me, too.” Sarah said quietly. “He said the day would come when you would realize you were different, and you might question your own existence. Honestly, I thought we’d be having this talk sooner. But you’ve seemed to figure out quite a bit on your own.”



“I know I can kill people.” Lindie sniffled. A bloodstained tear ran down her cheek. “I know that I can smell someone’s entire sexual history with just one whiff of their breath or private parts. I can hear conversations miles away. I can heal others and myself with the touch of a finger. I know I can eat as much or as little as I want and never get fat or skinny. I know that when I change into… whatever I change into… I can break the sidewalk when I walk. I can grow wings and use them to fly or swim. Did you know they work underwater, too? I know I love the taste of a man’s ejaculation. I know that more than I know anything else, and it freaks me out. I know I’ve been fucked hundreds if not thousands of times and haven’t gotten a disease or gotten pregnant. I can cut my hair and paint my nails, and when I wake up, I’ll look the same as I do right now. What the fuck is that?!?!” Lindie’s skin paled instantly, but her teeth, nails, and eyes remained human. The faintest traces of scars covered her body. “I can’t even get a fucking tattoo!”



“I know,” was all Sarah could say. Lindie stood, motionless. Finally, Sarah continued, “Your body will continue to heal, but the scars will never completely disappear. Your body will no longer age, and you won’t require food or drink to live. You will require sleep, though. And, whatever fuels your passionate side… come?… well, that just helps the time go by that much better.”



“Am I a vampire… or succubus?” Lindie asked.



“There’s no such thing as vampires.” Sarah quipped.



“I wouldn’t be so sure. I know a werewolf, and he’s as real as you.” Lindie’s skin returned to normal.



“Really?” Sarah said with genuine curiosity. “I thought they were extinct. And he didn’t attack you? Your kind usually doesn’t play well with others.”



“Quite the contrary.” Lindie smiled. “He fucked me in a good way.”



“Like a wolf, or a human?” Sarah was on the edge of her seat.



“Both.” Lindie said.



“That’s really unusual, Lindie.” Sarah said. “Was he the tow truck driver?”



There was a pang of unexplained jealously taking over Lindie. “How did you know?”



“Lucky guess.” Sarah continued. “Anyway, they say the Big Guy works in mysterious ways. I don’t think you’re a demon, Lindie. Or daughter of a demon, despite your appearance when you change. You’ve done some gruesome things, but I think you mean well.”



“Either that, or I’m the daughter of a demon that’s not very good at her job.” Lindie smiled with glowing red eyes. Sarah was taken aback, as she only remembered Lindie’s eyes having glowed blue. Then she realized that that might have been all Lindie allowed her to remember.



“Well, there’s that, too.” Sarah said uncomfortably.



“Why me?” Lindie whispered. “Why have I been cursed?”



“Some might look at it like a curse, but I don’t.” Sarah consoled her. “It’s really more of God’s way.”



“Isn’t everything?” Lindie asked.



“Yes, I suppose.” Sarah said calmly. “But whatever you are, I think you have a purpose, and I think it’s for good, not bad.” There was a long pause where they both stared off, as if time were put on hold.



“I burned a priest.” Lindie said flatly.



“You did what?!” Sarah cried out, and then asked again in a hushed whisper. “You did what?”



“Before that mess with Pam,” Lindie said quietly. “I was sitting in church and a priest put his hand on my shoulder. I think he contracted frostbite on his fingers. He must have been in shock because he didn’t cry out or anything.”



“Did you try to hurt him?” Sarah asked.



“Not at all. I didn’t even know he was there.” Lindie answered. “I didn’t even know what happened until days later as it replayed in my mind.”



“I trust you, Sarah.” Lindie looked deep into Sarah’s eyes. “That’s why you’re still alive this second.”



Sarah stepped back as Lindie began her metamorphosis into something only seen in nightmares. Lindie’s skin paled and shined like marble. Her teeth cut through her lips and blood momentarily poured from her mouth. She inhaled and her clothes ripped and fell to the floor. As she exhaled and inhaled a second time, wings unfolded behind her, knocking over a lamp. Her breathing sounded labored, and her eyes glowed a deep blue. Her fingers looked more like claws, but were not disgusting. Lindie’s skin glistened in what little light that passed through the lined curtains, almost to the point of glowing.



Sarah shook uncontrollably as Lindie stepped towards her. In this form, as frightening as she may have been, she also appeared angelic. Maybe more than angelic.



Lindie turned, as if modeling for Sarah.



“Pretty?” Lindie asked with a hiss. As Lindie had done to her victims so many times before, she sniffed deeply along Sarah’s body. She could smell the history of twenty-three men, and three women. And something else.



“Oh my Gggg…” was all Sarah could say before Lindie collapsed both her lungs with the spear-like tips of her wings. Lindie carefully calculated the speed which would snap Sarah’s neck, or possibly rip her head from her body, and reached for Sarah’s throat slightly slower.



“I want you to remember this moment, Sarah.” Lindie hissed, tightening her grip around Sarah’s neck. “Remember this until the day you die, but don’t tell a soul or that day may come sooner than you think.”



Sarah mouthed words, but only blood came out. She would have looked like she was crying if there had been tears, but instead, only looked to be in agony.



Lindie retracted her wingtips from Sarah’s body, and the wings were gone. Lindie changed her grip on Sarah’s throat, bringing her hand to the back of Sarah’s head. She tilted Sarah’s head and kissed her deeply. As Lindie’s tongue found Sarah’s, the holes in Sarah’s lungs closed and healed immediately. Lindie exhaled in Sarah’s mouth and it smelled and tasted like come.



Lindie’s other hand, which had now returned to a soft, small, woman’s hand, untied Sarah’s sweatpants.



Sarah was too shaken to speak, but her eyes showed the fear.



“Relax, Sarah.” Lindie said in her normal, young woman’s voice. She looked like a beautiful young woman again. “I’m going to try to find out more about your last client, but don’t worry. You might actually like it.” Lindie pulled Sarah’s sweatpants and panties down to her ankles and waited for Sarah to step out of them.



Lindie guided Sarah to sit on the desk in the study. She stood between Sarah’s legs and kissed her again. This time, the kiss was soft and gentle.



“Relax, sis.” Lindie whispered as she ran her soft hands up and down Sarah’s legs and thighs.



“What are you doing, Lindie?” Sarah finally said as Lindie brushed her fingers over Sarah’s clit.



“I can find out more if you’re turned on. When it’s wetter, it works better, right?” Lindie said as she knelt between Sarah’s legs. She softly kissed from the inside of Sarah’s thighs to her pubic mound. “You like that, don’t you?” Lindie asked.



Sarah just looked at her.



“It’s okay if you come, by the way. I lick pussy just as good as I suck cock, so don’t hold back.” Lindie said before burying her face between Sarah’s thighs.



Sarah leaned back, and eventually laid back. Lindie lifted Sarah’s legs and pushed them back so she could lick every inch around Sarah’s pussy and asshole. She kissed Sarah’s feet, lightly kissed her calves, and then returned to her sister’s very wet pussy.



Lindie’s technique was suspiciously perfect. She knew exactly where to put her tongue and when. She gently slid two fingers inside Sarah’s slit, turned them slightly, and held them there. Sarah bucked her hips, rubbing her G-spot on Lindie’s fingers. Lindie’s face was covered in wetness, but she continued to lick through her sister’s orgasm. As she licked, Lindie’s tongue stretched and probed the inner walls of Sarah’s pussy. It was uncomfortable at first, but the discomfort was soon replaced with a surprising orgasm. Sarah’s thigh muscles tightened and she covered Lindie’s face with more wetness.



“You go girl.” Lindie said from Sarah’s pubic mound. “Just one more thing I need to do.”




***There’s always the point where a man has to, … I mean uh, … gets to meet the parents.



Remember that this has gone on in a single freaking day. They both know that they’re needy. They just seem to be on a roller-coaster made of it and it presents some interesting moments of introspection.



Taela comes off sounding a little immature or at least very young in this chapter. In fact, it’s because she’s had no one, though inside of her, she’s really hoping for something magical to happen between Ryan and her. In human terms, she’s about 28, long on hope and painfully short on experience by her own admission.



Oh, and there are some reeeaaally odd things about her family, just saying.



0_o



****




—————-



He stared all around him at intervals of a few seconds as she led him down a gently sloping hillside. They were inside a volcanic crater on the back side of the mountain, below and out of sight of the flat peak. He hadn’t seen any of this when he’d landed. It was very warm and a little humid. The black soil of the crater supported countless forms of plant life.



It took him a couple of minutes to notice some details. Their feet crunched in the loose particulate which made up the soil, but every once in a while, they made no noise as they walked, and looking down, he saw that there were pathways here through and around the vegetation. What he noticed after that was that he could see groups of plants, in bunches which looked a little orderly to him.



“This looks like a garden,” he said.



“It is, “she nodded, “in many ways. We care for what is here, and remove what is not wanted or what chokes the plants that are wanted. In return, we have this place to enjoy all year. There’s heat from the volcano, and a spring and stream. The water is warm and that helps the plants to grow. Look up,” she said, and he watched her raise her face smiling to the rim and the sky above.



When he did, he saw the meshing of countless wires across the opening of the rim. The spacing allowed the small birds and the insects to pass through fairly freely, but nothing large could enter.



“My father made this roof,” she said, “It keeps things out which shouldn’t be here. It took him years, but this place feeds us in winter. We always have fresh greens to eat because of this. Even if it’s howling outside and laying down enough snow to cause half the jungle to fall down, it’s warm here, and the snow that falls just melts before it hurts anything.



If you look, you’ll see that the plants which like the most sun are arranged in a long wide line. That is where the sunlight follows for most of the year.



Here’s your place to wash,” she said, “I’ll be back in a few minutes. I’ve got some things to do before I forget.”



“What about the others?” he asked.



“You’re safe here, Ryan,” she smirked, “A warrior like you? I think you worry too much.” She walked away with a chuckle.



He looked at the ledge on the rock face above him and saw the steam rise from the hot spring there. The water fell from that in a thick cascade to a pool before it wound away out of his sight as a warm stream with wisps of fog rising from it. A look around showed him that he was alone, so he took off the rest of his clothing and stepped in.



It was all that he could do not to groan in pleasure.



——————



Taela found her mother on her way back to the crater. “Why are you wearing that?” she asked.



“I heard you coming up the passageway from the stream outside, and I was pretty sure that you weren’t talking to yourself. It’s alright to be running around without anything on while there’s just us here, but if I might be seen by a human, then I want to wear something, at least.



Humans are just like that with each other, I can’t just hide myself like you can. I don’t think that you ought to, by the way. I’d really hate the thought of you suddenly developing the shame that humans have always had about their bodies and from a practical side, there’s no real need for clothes here at this time of year, and we’d only be wearing out the little that we have left.” Her mother grinned as they whispering while they watched Ryan shower in the cascade.



Taela related what had happened.



“Well that’s my girl,” she smiled, “I tell you to go have a look, and you come back with what’s just got to be the best one. He’s something, honey, I’ll give you that. You picked out a cutie.”



“It wasn’t a choice,” Taela chuckled, “He’s all there is. The others are all dead. He landed the craft by himself. There was only the pilot alive on the main ship when it crashed. He says that she tried to leave him here.



I wanted to ask you something.



He has writing on his face — little letters right here,” she said, pointing to her own cheekbone. “It’s only on one side, but I saw the same thing on his arm, the same small size. It’s hard to read, and there are tiny symbols too. Here,” she whispered as she drew what she remembered in the dirt with her finger, “I think this is what I saw. I can read human as you taught me, but this makes no sense to me.”



Her mother looked and nodded, “It makes sense,” she said. “He’s a soldier alright. They mark their ground forces this way so they’ll know who they were when they’re dead. It’ll be on his body in a few places. His left cheekbone and his left arm, as you saw, and likely there’ll be another one at least on his right leg.”



“Why so many places?” her daughter asked.



“In case he gets blown up with some others and they have to figure out what part belongs to which body,” her mother said. “I was never a part of that part of the service, so I never got that. I guess they must have figured that when somebody like me crashes, the pieces tend to be too small to leave ID tattoos on.”



“He has three names, “she said, “That’s normal for humans. His name is Ryan McCallum and his middle name begins with a B. It might be Bertram or Barton or something like that. The rest is his blood type and his serial number.



If he can fly that shuttle, then I’d guess that he’s a warrant officer at least, or he’d never have been allowed near the front of that big bird to even see the controls, never mind learn to fly it. By what you have here, he’s a little above that, since he’s a chief warrant officer — or he was once. If you say that he’s handy with a battle rifle, then he was a line trooper once and he transitioned to flight training. It shows that he’s got more than just rocks in his head and can probably count down from a hundred backwards,” she smiled.



“He can speak Morgaron,” her daughter said, “He took lessons in the war to learn because he wanted to.”



“Do you like him?” she asked Taela.



“Him?” her daughter asked, before making a dismissive little snort as she put up a proud front.



When her mother said nothing in reply, Taela looked over and shrugged with a little grin as her shoulders slumped a little, “Yes. I can’t help it.



I want to say what they say in those stories that you always read to me, about how I’ve never met anyone like him, the way that it sounds so silly in those books.”



The older woman chuckled, “Well it’s true, isn’t it?”



Taela nodded and they both knew why.



“What can I do to help, honey?” The older woman asked, “Do you want me to make an appearance? Talk to him? Invite him to dinner, or just hide?”



“I do not know,” her daughter replied, “What is a bi-bik, … a bikini?”



Her mother stared for a moment, “Where in the world did that come from?”



“He mentioned the word twice,” Taela said, “as a joke, I think.”



———————–



Ryan didn’t think that he was particularly stressed, but from the good that this was doing him, he surmised that there sure must have been something building up in him. Well, he thought, it’s a little hard to wake up out of cryo, find everything messed up beyond belief in a place where normal carries the soundtrack of the average tomb.



Add to that a pilot who might have gone cracked, a crew who’d been ghosted by somebody, and an off-course condition pulling the whole thing down into oblivion with not a peep out of the alarm system — the very same system that he was supposed to check and that had worked and tested out flawlessly for the six years that they’d tested it. He smelled a rat, but wasn’t sure who it might have been, not that it changed anything.



Then to get dumped here on a world where things either didn’t much care or they were wanting to eat you or at least scream at you in the darkness. That might add a bit, he reasoned.



And then there was Taela. He shook his head as he stood up to his waist under the stream of very warm water. This was looking as though it might get interesting pretty soon.



He tried, but for the life of him, Ryan couldn’t come up with a reason why somebody like him could ever deserve something like this. He knew that he liked her, and was about to wonder why he did — as much as he quite obviously did.



It came to him that he’d liked Morgarod females from the very first one that he’d laid eyes on. That didn’t make much sense and he knew it — he’d just liked them. The circumstances were beyond awful then; given what was going on at that base when they’d attacked it, but other than feeling the horror of what had been there, he’d found that he liked the way that they looked.



Something brushed against his calf and Ryan froze, looking down. There was something there, but then it seemed to be gone and he felt nothing. He wondered what sort of life form could survive in the almost hot water here to make it a home. It didn’t make sense and he wondered if it had just been a plant, one of the ones bobbing at the edge of the pool and the steam. Maybe something had come loose and been swept downstream or something.



He felt it again, this time against his knee, but with the turbulence in the water from the cascade and the mist which rose from the surface here it was impossible to see what was going on.



He lunged for the edge to get out, but found himself under water. Ryan fought off the sense of panic which came to him as he tried to get his head above the warm water. As he did, he felt something just brush against his genitals for a second before whatever it was squeezed there gently for an instant.



He planted his feet on the bottom and scrabbled to the edge, his hand reaching down. There was nothing now.



He pulled himself out and looking back, he saw something rather large move downstream under the surface, but that was all the information that came to his vision. He thought of the creature which had made off with his fishing gear.



Ryan’s head spun around when he heard her laughter. A little way off downstream, he saw a section of ripples which didn’t seem to fit with the rest, as though they’d been cut and pasted into the scene.



“Only me,” she smiled as she faded chuckling into view.



Ryan let out the breath that he’d seemed to have been holding. He felt a little lost as he looked at her, so different, and yet a little familiar. Now that he knew, he could see a little more human in her, though she was by far much closer to a Margaroth. He sat down on a flat rock at the edge of the stream.



“What is wrong?” Taela asked, misinterpreting his expression.



“Nothing,” he said as he began to smile, “I guess that I’m just a little blown away.”



She rose out of the water to stand up and approach him, but she stopped when his mouth fell open. “Something is wrong,” she guessed, but he shook his head.



“No,” he smiled, “nothing’s wrong. I can’t believe what’s happened to me, that’s all.”



She felt her relief as a palpable thing. “I was afraid that I’d done something wrong. I only wanted a little fun. Now I see that it would have shocked you. I didn’t think about it from the other side,” she said as she waded over to him.



She put her hands on his shoulders and looked at his face, wondering now why she’d seemed to have found so many faults there earlier. “I don’t know if you can understand, but I’ve never had any sort of a friend. To find you was a surprise, and I’m a little afraid to say or do the wrong thing.”



She’d done her best to change what she’d wanted to say — that it had been a surprise to see him looking as he did, when she’d seen only pictures of weakened prisoners. To find that he knew something of Morgaron speech, and that he obviously liked her were huge surprises for which she had no words.



“Don’t worry about it too much,” Ryan smiled, “I’m just happy.” He placed his hands on her hips and pulled her a little closer. “I guess that I’m expecting to wake up out of cryo any time now and find that I’ve imagined you.”



He leaned forward, sliding his hand to one of her breasts to caress it as he kissed it and felt her hands on his head as a sigh escaped her throat. Her skin tasted so good to him.



“You should put your pants and boots on,” she said with a lot of regret in her voice, “I don’t want to stop, but I’m confused and many other things as well. My mother wishes to meet you.”



“Oh crap,” he said, pressing his face against the swell of her bosom, “I knew this little dream couldn’t go on forever.”



“There is something wrong now?” she asked.



“No,” he sighed, as he pulled his head back after a last kiss against her breastbone, “I’m trying not to think of how much I feel like I did when I was a kid.



Meeting a girl’s parent’s,” he groaned, “always a treat.”



She stepped away and Ryan got to his feet to get dressed. She tried not to look too interested, but she did notice that he had to be a little careful when he closed his pants.



“Can I ask you something, Ryan?”



“Yeah, “he said, “ask me whatever you want to, ” he said as he looked over.



“I feel foolish, but that,” she nodded, “does that mean that you were hopeful to mate with me, or that you were preparing to? I don’t know much about human males. You’re the only one that I’ve ever seen, other than from some pictures.”



He chuckled, feeling a little self-conscious, “No, Taela, it doesn’t. It means that I like you and I was feeling that. That’s all that it means. What you saw was just my body reacting to yours being near to me. It happened all by itself, and there wasn’t a thought to it, really.”



He grinned, “I think I understand what you’re saying, though. I’ll just say that if you like the idea, then you can take it as a compliment. It means that I like you on a physical level, how’s that?”



She tilted her head a little, “So it means that I am attractive to you?”



It made him laugh to hear it like that, “Yes,” he said, “It means that you’re very attractive to me, though maybe it’s not the best sort of way to offer the compliment, and I didn’t do that for that purpose. It just happens to human males. A lot of the time, it’s not what we’d want to happen, or it’s not the right time or place for it, or sometimes we have a thought, even when we’re alone and it happens, or, …” he shrugged, “it just happens for no reason at all. I don’t have much conscious control over that.



But just now, it was because I like you and you were against me.” He frowned for a second and then looked at her, “Was that a good answer?”



She nodded with a smile, “Somewhere in there, it was. I heard what I wanted to hear,” she said honestly, knowing no other way to say it. “I am attractive to you, enough at least.”



He swung his pack on and picked up his rifle, “Enough, huh?”



She looked up and he just couldn’t understand the conversation from the viewpoint of any conversation that he’d ever had with a female before. Just for the innocence that slipped by the front that she was trying to affect, he wanted to hug her right off her feet.



“It is not enough? “she asked, suddenly a little confused.



It made him laugh as he placed his ball cap onto her head. She looked out from underneath the peak with a smile as he nodded, “Come on, Taela, take me where I have to go now. It’s enough to make my knees weak just to look at you.”



————————



Taela led Ryan up the slope and into a different corridor. After some twists and turns in the steadily rising hall, he was ushered into a long chamber. To him, it seemed more like a gallery, a long hall with rather crudely shaped walls and along one side, there were windows set at irregular intervals through which the afternoon daylight poured in.



There was furniture, some tables and chairs here and there, some of them upholstered and some bare, all of it well-made, though a touch rustic, as though it had been fashioned more out of a desire for function rather than form, though the simplicity and unsophisticated nature of it was the form or theme all on its own. It was all well-made and sturdy, it just wasn’t fancy.



At the opposite end near a doorway, stood two forms. The smaller one, about five feet in height, looked to be a bit of a demonic thing with clawed feet and hands, sand-colored rough skin and a worried expression on its face. It was watching Taela with a friendly though worried expression because of her proximity to Ryan. When it looked at Ryan, it looked really worried and seemed to be trying to get the other person’s attention.



That other person was a tall female human, about five feet ten inches or maybe a little more. She stood with her back to Ryan as she looked out through one of the windows. She seemed to be ignoring the efforts of the smaller one. Ryan noted that she had quite a figure, standing in old-looking and faded jeans, wearing a scuffed and ancient-looking flight jacket with many patches sewn onto the back and sleeves. Her long straight hair was almost white.



Ryan wondered if he ought to clear his throat to get her attention.



“That’s a hell of a bird I’ve got standing out there on my terrace,” she said, not looking back. “Very impressive entrance you made yesterday too, Mr. McCallum.”



The woman turned and walked to Ryan with a smile. He could see a lot of Taela’s features in that lovely face. “I’m Betty Rawlins, Captain, 134th Exploration and Mapping Wing.



Well,” she smiled, “I used to be. A long time ago, I ended up here and I met Taela’s father. He called me Ru’Bett. I used to like that, back then,” she smiled for a second.



“But he’s been dead for a while now and I’m back to being Betty in my head. Of course, I’ve always been ‘Mom’ to Taela,” she smiled at her daughter warmly.



Ryan stepped forward and shook the offered hand, “Ryan McCallum,” he smiled, “as I guess you already know. I got some mapping data from a beacon as I got close to here yesterday. Whose beacon was that?”



Betty seemed surprised, “That old thing still works?”



“Yes,” Ryan nodded, “It’s not very strong, but the data sure helped. If you don’t mind my asking, – “He looked a little uncomfortable.



Betty smiled, “How is it possible that a twenty-five year-old mapping probe ship pilot crashed on this rock eighty-three years ago — in earth time – and is still alive all this time later?”



She shrugged, “Damned if I know. I guess all that I can offer you is to say that I sure hope that we can get along. You won’t last long in that tin can out there.”



She turned to the creature who was peeking out at Ryan from behind her with a smile, “Hey, come and meet Ryan.”



The thing looked very shy and worried about being too close to something so tall, from his point of view, but after a few seconds of uncertainty and a little quiet coaxing from Betty, he emerged and stood beside her. She put her arm over his small shoulder so that he’d stay put.



“This is Shorty,” she said, “He’s a screecher. He’s one of the thousands who would eventually smell your blood right through the skin of that shuttle out there. It would take them a while, I’ll grant you, but they would get through to you one night.”



“Are they after blood or something like that?” Ryan asked as he looked at Shorty. The face wasn’t pretty if you looked at it from a human view and applied the points of reference which humans use for this.

But there was a look to it which Ryan found that he could admire. He supposed that back on earth, there were species of sharks which might be called beautiful in their way.



Shorty was like that as he stood with his smile on and … the mouth was full of teeth which spoke of a predatory nature. A pair of dark eyes with yellow centers regarded him nervously.



Betty shook her head.



“They’re just hungry,” Taela said, “They’re strictly nocturnal, though Shorty is used to the daylight through the windows and he can stand being outside on a dark day for a few hours.”



“What’s he doing here?” Ryan asked, watching the way that the screecher kept looking him over.



“He’s a prisoner here like the rest of us, in a way,” Betty replied, “He broke his wing, and he can’t go home unless he walks. His kind lives in trees and he knows that they’d kill him in a heartbeat as soon as they see that he’s damaged. They’re like seagulls back on Earth in that regard. They kill the weakest of their own kind. I guess you could say that he’s like a pet.



They’re not all that bright,” she said, “but Shorty’s a lot smarter than the rest. His looks aren’t all that representative of his kind, either. By the way, don’t mind the way that he’s staring. He’s a little freaked out by your size, is all. He’s very shy, almost like a girl.”



Seeing Ryan’s look made Betty laugh, “Ok, I oughta explain that a little. There’s not much of a society to it, but among screechers, the females are dominant, mostly because they’re larger and stronger. They’re also pretty murderous. Shorty’s actually a bit large for his kind, but he couldn’t hold his own against a female screecher in a fight. The males know their place if they want to live a little longer, so they tend to be submissive.



Shorty is more submissive than what’s normal, since he’s had his own troubles. He likes to hunt the little things that get in here once in a while and we keep him fed and happy. He’s very thankful and devoted, which really surprised me.



We’d love it if you’d stay for dinner, and I think that Shorty’s cooking will surprise you.



They don’t do anything like that normally, but not long after I took him in, he just picked that up like it was nothing. He doesn’t understand human speech too well as far as details go, but he understands the feeling and the intent really well.



The point is, that I’d recommend that you don’t sleep out there again. We’ve got loads of room and we lock down tight at night.”



“That’s very hospitable of you, Betty,” Ryan said, “but –”



Betty shook her head, “Look Ryan, I’m gonna try to spell this out for you as plainly as I can. We can live here. There’s food and game to feed us, lots of it. I’ve been here forever, and just so you know, unless that thing out there’s got big-assed thrusters and the fuel cells to feed them, you aren’t leaving here either.



You stay in your bird out there, and they’ll beat it to a wreck in three days trying to get to you. They’ll be through the skin in five at the outside. You might be able to find places to hunker down in like everything else around here at night, but one night they’d find you. That’s what they do to stay alive.



If you value that shuttle out there, you’ll also see that it’s practical to stay here. With you in it, the screechers will die as they beat it apart to get the prize inside,” she pointed to him, “If you’re in here, they’ll leave the ship alone.



I hate to break it to you, but unless you’ve got some kind of allergy to Morgarods, you could have a pretty good life with my daughter here — and I can see that the two of you are already sweet on each other in just hours. What’s there to fight here?”



She looked at them both, seeing that she’d managed to embarrass them. “I’m sorry if I didn’t say it better,” she said in a much softer tone, “but that’s the way it is. I can see that you’re not an idiot, Ryan. That shuttle out there tells me that, and while I can’t read them from here, the list of campaign markings down your left arm tells me that you’ve learned how to fight and stay alive when it hits the fan. My little family here could use a man like you.



Unless you’re an asshole and a fool, …” she said leaving it in the air between them.



Her eye had been on his survival pack for a while. Seeking to make the others a little less uncomfortable now, she smiled, “Does that thing on your back have survival gear in it? “Do they still pack any instant coffee in them? Any tea bags in there?” she asked a little hopefully.



“Yeah,” Ryan nodded, “All the crap you can lug around, hoping that you’ll find a use for it before you ditch everything and wish that you hadn’t later on, why?”



“Oh, because I’d about sell my soul for some of that,” she chuckled, “if I’ve even still got one to sell.”



“It’s in here someplace, “Ryan grinned a little, “along with the other little vices of mankind, a really cheap little disposable lighter and a pack of six cigarettes.”



“Cigarettes?” Betty moaned in joy, “Ryan, you sweet, handsome boy, marry me.”



She looked at Taela’s shocked face with a chuckle, “Just ah, kidding, honey.”



———————-



Taela stared up into the shuttle as the loading ramp whined down.



“Come on,” he smiled as he led her onto it to walk inside.



“Ryan?” she said, her voice sounding uncertain, “I’m sorry for my mother’s words. I could tell that she embarrassed you.” She rolled her eyes, “I know they embarrassed me.”



“It’s ok,” he said as they walked up, “I get the feeling that your mother is the kind that says it like it is, and since she was a military pilot, that would come out even more. I’m used to that. It was just the subject matter of the sermon that got me, I guess. Facts are facts, and have to be faced.”



“I meant about what she said about us,” she groaned a little, “I know that humans and Morgarods have needs for others. I’m both, aren’t I? But I don’t want you to think that you have to — MMmmpf.”



Her voice changed to a soft sigh as she stood in his arms, yielding to his kiss for a minute. He pulled back and smiled.



“Stop,” he said ,”I’m not upset or unhappy. I don’t care what your mother said or the way that she said it. I like you. If we weren’t here, I’d still like you. If Morgarods and humans have found a way to live together and we were there, I’d still want to know you. Your mom was just being really blunt about it all.”



Her relief showed in her face after a moment and she began to smile, “I would still be attractive to you there?”



“Hell,” he kissed her again, “yeah. I’ve never met anyone like you. Come on, let’s get this stuff out of here.”



Taela smiled to herself, wondering if Ryan had read the same sort of books to have used those words.



There were four other survival packs in total. Ryan helped her shuck one on and grinned as she wobbled a little on her feet from the weight, never having anything like that to deal with from the way that it affected her balance until she adjusted to it. “Are you ok with that?” he asked.



She nodded, “It is different, just lower down than I am used to,” she said, “I am used to carrying meat on my shoulders when I’ve, … hun … ted.”



There it was, she thought, that idea again. She looked down at the checkerplate pattern of the floor sections. She didn’t want to look at him for the moment until she could force the thought away.



“What’s the matter?” he asked, seeing that something was.



“Nothing,” she said, “I just need a moment to get the balance here.”



Taela was fine a second later. “Would you do something for me?” she asked as they turned to walk back out. Ryan had a pack on himself, and he was carrying some clothing that he’d removed from a pair of lockers.



“Sure,” he said, “what do you need?”



She chuckled a little nervously, “Nothing,” she replied, “but if you get a chance, I think that you should ask my mother about hunting here. I can’t, … I can’t say what I would wish to say, and I do not want to say more. Sometime, can you ask her?”



“Yeah,” he said, wondering now.



They made a few trips back and forth before Ryan motioned for her to sit in the co-pilot’s seat while he checked a few things. She looked around in wonder. Ryan caught it as he worked, and he turned on the head’s-up display for her.



Taela gasped as she saw things; symbols and text and mapping there on the inside of the windscreen.



Ryan smiled, “I’m going to have to come back here tomorrow and light off the APU for a little while to top up the batteries a little.”



She nodded absently as the display disappeared and she was looking through a blank windshield again and the covers slid up to cover everything up. “Come on,” he said, “Let’s go make your mom happy.”



Betty gasped in happiness when she saw it all. “God-DAMN,” she laughed, “Honest to God flightsuits! Oh, I’m in heaven,” she said, “I wouldn’t give you a nickel for the finest Earth fashions anywhere, compared to these.”



“I’ve got two of mine,” Ryan said, “and the other pilot and my co-pilot were about the same size. I’m sure these would fit you. The other co-pilot was about Taela’s size, maybe a bit taller.”



“What are these?” Taela asked, “Why are you so happy, Mom?”



“They’re just flightsuits,” Betty smiled, “but they’re perfect for here,” she said, holding up one of the earth tone garments. “They’ve got a million pockets, and they’re just right for when it’s not this hot around here. Thank you so much, Ryan.”



When he began to lay out the contents of the four survival packs, Betty thought that she’d gone to Heaven. He pushed one of the PDW’s toward her, “You know how to use one of these?” he asked.



“Honey,” she said, emphasizing her background in her manner of speech, “I’m an old girl from Texas. What the hell do you think?” she winked. She took the stubby rifle, picked up a magazine, looking at the round which she could see in it for a second, before she fitted it and then removed it right afterward. She held it up and looked through the sight for a second. “Some kind of 5.56mm round and a Tritium reflex sight,” she said. Pointing to a feature on it, she looked at Ryan, “Cocking handle?”



He nodded and pointed to the safety.



“Shorty!” Taela said, seeing the creature cowering in the corner whimpering softly.



“Oh, Shorty,” Betty said, setting the weapon down to go to him. She sank to her knees and reached out to caress the frightened face, “Oh, I’m sorry, Shorty,” she said softly, “Nobody’s going to hurt you, baby. It’s ok, honey.”



The creature looked up at Betty from behind the arm that he’d raised in front of his face. Betty leaned in and kissed him softly. Shorty looked as though he got the idea that his number wasn’t up yet and a second later, he was in her arms as she hugged him tightly. Ryan noticed that he was crying with his eyes squeezed shut over her shoulder while she tried to reassure him.



“Come on, honey,” Betty said as she pulled him to his feet. He hugged himself tightly to her for a moment, “Let’s go see how your fine dinner is coming along.”



She turned to Ryan and her daughter, “We’ll be back in a minute,” she said as she led the sniffling creature from the chamber.



“He is terrified of any sort of thing which he thinks might be a weapon,” Taela said quietly. “I saw him just now. He was fine and curious about everything that you have brought. All of the screechers that I have ever seen are stupid, but Shorty is much smarter than they are. Until my mother raised the weapon to her shoulder, he was fine. It was then that he grew frightened.”



She looked at Ryan, “They are all just animals,” she said, “but not Shorty. He is like a boy of about eleven or thirteen Earth years in his mind, my mother said. But I do not think that it is correct. I do not know his exact age, but we have had him for fifteen years and he was at least four then.



He is not stupid, or even the way that my mother said it. He is only different from us in how he thinks. He will surprise you with his cooking. You tell me if you think that any thirteen year-old Morgarod or human could do what he can. He cannot speak much, but he knows a lot and we love him. He is not really what she said. He is not a pet.”



Ryan looked at the things that he’d taken out of one of the packs. “Do you think that he’d like one of these?” he asked, “It’s just a bar of chocolate. I’m hoping that at least it will still be good. They’re made to last a long time in storage.”



Taela smiled, “I would like to taste it once myself, but it is sweet, yes? Shorty would love that.”



“Well, there are four to each pack,” Ryan smiled, “I don’t see why you can’t have one.”



A minute later, Ryan grinned at the look on her face. “I wish that your craft was full of these,” she laughed.



He smiled back, at least a little thankful that it wasn’t.



———————



Shorty’s culinary skills were wasted, he told them all, “He really prepared all of this?”



“He did so,” Betty smiled proudly, watching as Shorty deftly worked with his knife and fork, “I told you, he’s really bright. He even knows how to lay out and use the appropriate cutlery. He knows what’s what, and what it’s for, too.”



“He’s brighter than I am, then,” Ryan grinned, “He’s needed on Earth, or maybe on one of the mining posts. He could make a good living at this.”



There was no dessert, but Ryan was prepared for that. He got up and walked around the table setting out small tins of fruit salad and little plastic spoons. When he got to Shorty, he smiled as he crouched a little.



“Here,” he said, trying not to look at the creature’s wide eyes as they regarded him, “I’ll help you, Shorty.”



He opened the tin and pulled the lid off, handing over the tin and one of the spoons. Shorty stared at the pieces of fruit and tried some of the syrup with his spoon. He gave out a soft hiss of pleasure and began to eat.



“Eat it slow, honey,” Betty said, “Ryan likely doesn’t have any more to give us, so you ought to be thankful that he’s sharing with you.”



Shorty looked up as he ate to stare at Ryan. His eyes were still large, but at least Ryan couldn’t see any fear there anymore. It had bothered him a little to see that.



Shorty was nowhere near finished, but he set the tin down next to his plate with a great deal of care before he slid from his chair. Ryan was surprised to find Shorty hugging him for a second before he backed away with a shy smile and quickly climbed up to return to the treat.



“He’s very affectionate,” Betty smiled, “that was his way of saying thank you, since he can’t talk.”



“You’re very welcome then,” Ryan nodded with a smile as he walked back to his own chair. Now that he knew a bit more about the creature, he was getting used to the way that he looked. What he hoped that he wasn’t showing was the surprise that he felt when he’d seen that the little guy was sporting an erection as he’d climbed back up onto his chair.



——————–



Taela was with Shorty to help him with the dishes. There was a type of plant which grew everywhere, Betty told him, the leaves of which produced large amounts of a soapy substance. A few of these crushed into a dishpan, she’d said, and you had your dish soap.



“Can you tell me if the war is still on?” she asked him.



“I don’t know about now,” he said, “but it had died off before I left. There hadn’t been a peace declared or anything like that, though. I think it was more that both sides had gotten what they came for and went elsewhere. I’m sure that if they met up again, there’d be more killing. I kind of hope that they could just work something out. It would save a lot of lives, suffering, and fuel.”



Betty nodded. “People look at Morgarods and think that they’re these bloodthirsty things. They’re no more bloodthirsty than we are,” she said, “they just look different, that’s all. Humans have nothing to be proud of.”



“I know that,” Ryan said, “Whenever I had to fight them, I never thought about it any differently than I would have if it was other humans that I was fighting. I kind of grew to respect them, too.”



“And you do seem to have eyes for the pretty ones,” Betty smiled, “I’m sorry for the way that I said it earlier, but I know that Taela likes you an awful lot and it’s easy to see that it’s mutual. You’re stuck here with us, that’s all, “she smiled, “so you two go ahead on and do what comes natural, if you need my blessing — and you don’t — as long as there’s a lot of love in it between you. That’ll come anyway, she’s just a little confused, and with her being both human and Margaroth, there’s bound to be a little more confusion, that’s all.”



“She asked me to ask you about hunting,” he said, “I haven’t got a clue about what she was talking about.”



Betty looked a little uncomfortable for a moment as she gathered her thoughts.



“Morgarods — when they’re someplace civilized are not much different from us — just like they’re much the same as us in many other ways. No matter what we try to tell ourselves, humans are an aggressive and warlike species. So are Morgarods.



Now, I don’t know what our ancestors did when they found some game and went out to hunt it down for food. I have the feeling that once that was done, and whatever it was that they’d killed and butchered was brought back to the village or wherever they lived, well there must have been feasting and some sort of communal joy over the news that they’d all cheated death by starvation one more time. Especially if they lived someplace where there was winter, since they couldn’t get any nuts and berries then, so meat was pretty much all that there was to eat.



Well it was the same way on Morgaron, I was told, except for one big difference. For the most part, on Earth, the females didn’t go out with the males to hunt, depending on the culture, I guess. But on Morgaron, it was part of the process of proving yourself as a female that you could hunt just like a male. From that, their early culture evolved the concept of the hunting pair — a male and a female who hunted together well. They weren’t necessarily mates, and could sometimes be paired to others, but when they were hunting, they belonged to each other.



Once the game had been found and killed, they’d fuck each other pretty senseless, and I can tell you from personal experience that Morgarods, when they’re hunting in pairs, they love pretty violently, both sexes. Taela’s father sprained my arm badly one time. I’m pretty sure that I loosened a couple of his teeth for him over it, but in the moment, well, I can tell you that it’s another thing that we have in common. We still screwed like bunnies, me with my arm smarting like hell and all.



In fact,” she smiled a little as she remembered it, “I think that was one of the best hunts because of it. He was very sorry for it afterward, and I hurt like hell for a while. But it brought us closer. I miss that. When I need to, I just hunt alone now.”



She looked at Ryan and smiled, “If she mentioned it, well I’d say that she’s looking at you as a mate, that’s all. She’s wondering about if you can hunt. We need to around here every so often. We both like the things that our great big garden provides, but there isn’t the protein in it that we want. I’m sure a vegetarian could make out alright here, but neither Taela or I can and be happy. Looking at you, and how you sawed through that steak, you’re probably the same.



One day, maybe soon, Taela will ask you to hunt with her. I’d say that she’s feeling a little hopeful over the idea — since she’s Morgarod enough to have the want in her, and if there were a lot of them here, you’d be feeling a lot of pride to be asked by a female like her. Hell, you’d likely have to fight a few of the other males just because she’d asked you and not them. I’ve never met a Morgarod female, but I’ve seen the files on the system that my husband built up for her use. Morgarods and humans make pretty children, I’ve decided.

“If it’s not too close to you,” Ryan said quietly, “What happened to Taela’s father?”



Betty looked even more uncomfortable. She looked away for a moment, and Ryan was about to apologize and try to change the subject. He wanted to kick himself over his nosiness now.



“You’re going to have to see a few things differently here,” she said sadly, “My male was the leader of a squadron of fighters. They were either towed behind the large ship, sipping fuel from it, or they flew nearby if there was a threat, sort of like a combat air patrol does around a base or one of those old aircraft carriers way back when on Earth.



To have that job and it’s responsibility, he had to demonstrate a lot of prowess, skill, and ability. He was a superb warrior among them. They’d gotten lost and were running out of fuel. They chose this planet and he was here with his fighter craft to oversee the landing of the large ship.



As the weeks went past before they arrived, the other fighters either never returned from their scouting trips to look for better places, or they just cut the unmanned ships all loose, one by one to conserve fuel for the entry burn into this atmosphere. He’d warned them that it was important to have enough, but they’d used up a lot of the little that they had left.



The crash wasn’t too bad, but almost everyone else had been injured in some way — the ones who’d survived. Ru’Torgh did his best for his people, but they all died off, either from their injuries or they were killed off by the creatures here. Soon, he was all that was left, and he was alone here for maybe twenty Earth years before I came along, nursing a probe ship with engine troubles.



So we met and we fell in love and lived about as happily ever after as you can on this rock, him and me. My daddy taught me how to shoot the eyes out of a snake at a hundred yards, and I always liked to go hunting with him back home anyway, so it wasn’t that much different with Ru’Torgh here, other than what would happen if we actually killed something. I could shoot better than he could – a lot better, since his way got us a lot of scorched meat. We’d hunt together and once whatever it was had been butchered, well I knew what was coming next. We’d screw until we just couldn’t anymore.



We tried to get me pregnant a lot. It sounds funny that way, since we were screwing like crazy all of the time anyway, but we did want to have children. It’s an amazingly powerful urge in all creatures. I managed to get pregnant a few times, but I’d usually spontaneously abort. The two which were born alive at all were the ones which would break our hearts to see them die.



I’d already given up. Not on making love like nuts, but I really didn’t want to get pregnant anymore. It was just too hard to live through when my baby died. But then it happened, and Taela was born. She tells me that you know Morgaron, so you know what her name means.



You’re here now,” she said, “and believe me, I look at you like something that Santa Claus never was at Christmas, because you’re so much more. Taela will fall in love with you and may already be a lot of the way there. I hope that you’ll be as good for her as I think that you will be. Today, I heard her laugh over something that you said or did. I only heard it in the passageway, but I can tell you that I haven’t heard her make a sound like that in years. It’s a hell of a thing to be the only one of a kind that requires sex and love to flourish. I’m beginning to think that you’re the hope that she didn’t know that she had in her.



I know that she’s different from human girls, but she’s also more than that, and I hope that if there comes a time when you both want children that it’ll be more possible than it was for me.



What killed Ru’Torgh finally wasn’t old age — since that doesn’t seem to happen here for reasons that I can’t figure out. It wasn’t a fall down a cliff or a lightning bolt or even one of the things that would love to eat us.



It was his woman.”



Betty looked over at Ryan, seeing the shock spreading across his features. She nodded, “It was me. He was near to losing his mind and I put him away before he could do any more damage.”



She looked out of one of the windows for a moment. “Remember what I said about looking at things a little differently here.



Being on a world by yourself tends to change your point of view with regard to how your society looks at things — since that society is not here to look down on you and all. Something happened one day that took me a little while to work out. But once I put it together, I guess that it sealed my male’s fate.



Screechers aren’t all that strong all alone, most of them. But they’re very cagey. They’re impossible to fight off if there are a lot of them all trying to get the meat off your bones while it’s warm, but by themselves, a human or Morgarod male is stronger than almost all of them. The trouble is that while you’re holding their arms, they’ll use their longer necks to lean in and rip your face right the fuck off.



When I made my mapping and observation passes over this world, I saw them from above on the night side of the planet. I thought that they were some sort of birds. They look like that from above, and I was a good way up, so I classified them incorrectly. They’re mammalian, some very primitive flying sort of humanoid.



Every once in a while, they get it into their little heads to attack us. It never works, but like I said, they’re not all that bright. They bash their tiny brains out against the shutters and the rock of the mountain. In the morning, we go out and toss their half-eaten bodies over the steep edge. I say half-eaten because they do that to each other. As soon as one of them injures themselves, the rest rip him or her apart before they go back to trying to get in. They leave an awful mess.



Sometimes, there’s one or two outside who are still alive and suffering, mostly. We just kill them and toss them over like the rest. But one day, early in the morning, a few of them stayed. Dawn was just about to catch them all in the daylight and they get disoriented as anything and can’t fly worth spit then. They crash into everything because they’re blinded by the sunlight.



I opened one of the shutters a little and there was a very small one of them with a busted wing and a female over top of him trying to keep the others off. The rest were trying to get to him, but he’d wedged himself into a niche in the rock and until she died, that female was doing her damndest to protect him. I went out and shot the shit out of the others before I looked at them, thinking to put them out of their misery.



That one screecher is scared to death of weapons and has been ever since. It was Shorty and he was flickering right there in front of me. He was trying to disappear, he just didn’t know how.



I got my gun up, but I just couldn’t do it. I thought that he must have been along with the others on his first feeding flight, since he was very young, more like a little boy compared to the others. I just suddenly knew that the female was his mother. She was dying with most of her insides on the stone all around her. She looked at me in the strangest way and then she died.



Shorty was crying like a baby about a minute later when he figured out that she was dead. It was his face that got me, and the way that he wasn’t shrieking out his fear and hatred of me. He didn’t even try to bite me as I helped him out of that little place, he just cried hopelessly.”



Betty looked at Ryan for a long moment. “I’ve seen them die before, Ryan, lots of them.



Screechers don’t cry. They can’t.



Their tear ducts are only to keep their eyes wet when they fly. And for damn certain, Ryan, they can’t hide themselves like Morgarods. His wing was busted and there wasn’t anything that I could do about that at the time. Ru’Torgh came out because of the noise of my shooting and as soon as he saw the female, I could see that there was something in his face like horror. Ru’Torgh wasn’t afraid of anything and he’d never been.



He told me to kill the young one, but I told him no. He got furious with me and went inside for his own weapon. When he came out, he found me on my knees, holding Shorty as he cried and shook against me. Ru’Torgh bellowed at me to move away so that I wouldn’t get shot.



I drew my sidearm and pointed it at his face.



I didn’t ask. I told him that I was going to care for this young screecher, and that if anything happened to him, then Ru’Torgh had better be prepared to kill me right afterward. He stared at me for a moment and then he turned and left to go hunting.



When I got Shorty cleaned up and had a good look at him, I was almost sure of what had happened. I just didn’t know how it was possible. I put him in my bed when he finally fell asleep and I covered him with my blanket so that he could smell me on it. I asked Taela to watch over him for me and to keep him in the room if she could.



Then I loaded up and I went after Ru’Torgh.



It took me half a day, but it was my proxalert that pointed me to him. I was red-hot over the way that he’d threatened and yelled at me and though it went against all of the things that I knew about genetics, I finally found what else he’d been hunting for. He eventually told me that some years before, he’d found a female screecher and he’d dragged her out into the sunlight and tied her down so he could fuck her. I couldn’t believe it.



I asked him how long he’d been at this little hobby that he had going. He glared at me and he told me that he’d been doing it for years, that he liked to do it very much and that he usually killed the things afterward.



But he said that he didn’t kill them all. He told me that it happened now and then that he’d set them free because sometimes they liked it and he let those ones go, hoping to find them again sometime.”



Betty fought back a sob, willing herself to go on, “I’ve never told Taela any of this,” she said, “She doesn’t know it, but I’m almost sure that little Shorty is her half-brother somehow. That’s why he looks just a little different from the rest. That’s why he can hide like she can. He grew up to be bigger than most males, and that’s why he’s smarter and he knows what love is.



I was in shock and so upset that I was shaking, but Ru’Torgh wasn’t done yet. He told me that we couldn’t expect for things here to be the way that society dictated it to be when there are groups. Since we were all alone here, he told me that he’d raise his daughter to be the perfect huntress and that he’d take her hunting alone with him. He said that in this way, there would be children, since I couldn’t seem to make them with him.



It was the worst day of my life, Ryan. None of this was the person that I’d been living with for all of our time together.



As he spoke, I realized that he’d been acting a little more oddly every day. I assumed that he’d been truthful about the screechers that he’d used.



No matter what else, I also had to assume that he would do what he said he intended to do. In all of the time that I’d known him, he’d always done what he said that he would. Taela was just a girl then, about ten years old. There was no way that I’d allow any of the shit that he was talking to happen, not while I was breathing.



Betty wiped her eyes with her hands and she looked out of the window again. Ryan watched her face as it hardened.



“I emptied my weapon into Ru’Torgh. I blew his legs to shit so that I’d get the chance to stay out of his reach, and then I loaded up again. I worked my shots until I had only two left in it and one more magazine in my pocket.



I killed my male myself.



The horror wasn’t over for me yet, though. As soon as he was dead on the ground, something long and black slithered out of his ear. I shot the shit out of that too before I threw up.



So I killed my husband. I wish I’d have known before what the problem was — then again, I don’t know if I could have done it then.



I took Ru’Torgh’s hunting gear and I left him there while I still had some daylight. I went back to finish raising my daughter and to care for Shorty. Not long after, I found my supply of morphine and after a lot of calculation, I gave it to him and then I tried my best to fix his wing. He still can’t take off from a standing start, but he can go a ways if he runs a little for a takeoff, and he can glide really well. He just can’t ever go home, and he knows that. He can fly, but not as well as a healthy screecher.



Like I said,” Betty nodded as she looked at Ryan, “things are different here. That’s why I’m really happy that you’re here for Taela. I hope I haven’t shocked you with the tawdry little background that she knows nothing about. She thinks that her father was killed while he was off hunting, and she doesn’t know about Shorty.”



She shrugged, “I guess I may as well tell you the rest. Screechers are very prolific. They fuck like little demons or something. Unlike a human boy who discovers his little toy pretty early on in his life, a screecher male only thinks that it’s for peeing or something until he’s hit puberty.”



She sat down and leaned forward to look Ryan in the eye as she spoke. “Shorty wasn’t there yet when I took him in. Taela was just a young girl at the time, and I wasn’t about to have any of that going on between them.”



She looked at the table and saw the pack of cigarettes lying there with the little lighter. “May I?” she asked.



Ryan nodded, “Of course,” he said.



She took one and looked at it. “I haven’t had one of these in so long,” she said with a smile, “I was about ready to rip the hoses out every time that I came out of cryo, dying to have one. You know how cryo makes you want things when you come out, … Some girls can’t keep their hands away from themselves then and need a good rub. Guys are the same, aren’t they?”



“Yeah,” Ryan smiled, a little self-consciously, “The deep-space pilot and I used to get together then for that, though there wasn’t anything else between us.”



Betty nodded, “Well I used to be like that too, but I’d wake up alone on a ship. I’d need to masturbate AND have a smoke, along with a cup of coffee, and a whole box of preservative-soaked pastry. It was just awful.”



She lit a cigarette and smiled, “I doubt that I’ll get cancer from the few that you’ve brought, and frankly, I don’t give a shit.



So what I want you to know, Ryan B. McCallum, who has come out of the sky like a mother’s dream, is that in my view of things, something wonderful is almost bound to happen between you and my daughter — the one with the hope in her heart. Don’t you dare fuck this up and break that heart, because I’m sure that you’ll find that she’s not like any girl that you’ve ever known, aside from the appearance that I know you like.



She’s more like a Morgarod on the outside, though she’s pretty human in many ways as well. She ovulates like they do, and that’s a long cycle, more than five times longer than human females, but that’s not the important thing here.



What you need to know is that I’m almost sure that Taela will handle this thing between you in their way. That means that at some point, she may choose you as a mate. I know that sounds stupid out here, since there aren’t exactly a dozen males for her to choose from, but that doesn’t matter. If she chooses you, that means that she’s come to a decision.



Unlike humans, Morgarods mate for life, and I don’t mean in the human way. From what I know, there aren’t any divorce lawyers on Morgaron. Once they choose, they devote themselves to each other, so you ought to think about that.



And by the way, you can ask her to show you the files on her system about their mating habits if you want, but I can save you some time.



They know what they want, and they want a lot of it, so don’t step up if you can’t keep up is all I’m saying.



I’m not going to be like any other girl’s mother. If and when it happens for you both, you’ll find that I’ll be happy to just love the two of you to death and do anything to help while keeping my nose out of things between you. Of course, you know that she’ll come to me for advice and all, that’s just the way that it goes, but for damn sure; I’m not going to look down on you for anything, unless you start screwing the wildlife around here too.



The garden out back in the crater is a wonderful place to make love,” she said, “It’s nice in the daytime and it’s very romantic at night. But if you go there for that after dark, you ought to stay in the little hidden places that Taela knows about there and you can’t go there too often, or the screechers will try to get through the wire.



Oh, and I ought to tell you so that it’s not too much of a shock. Taela knows this part, just not who I’m sure that Shorty is to her. I’ve always told her that it’s forbidden to mess with him, either to play a joke on him because he’s so innocent and trusting, or in any physical way. She’s always been good about that, because she asked me why one night and I just told her that he’s mine. I used to take him to my bed so that there wasn’t any sneaking around on his part. I knew that the idea would come to him at some point.”



She picked up one of the empty fruit salad cans for an ashtray before she drew on the cigarette again and exhaled. “And speaking of screwing the wildlife around here, it wasn’t true at the time that I told her that, but one night, when I’d been feeling really lonely and needy and he was as mature as he was ever going to get, I just let it happen.



Before that, when he’d get excited at some point every night, I’d help him with my hands. From there, I began to take him with me for a bath, and that’s when I found out that screechers have amazing tongues. He can buzz his tongue while he licks and it just shakes me to pieces.



Once we’d gone that far, well I just started using my mouth on him, since I’ve always loved to do that anyway, and the next thing I knew he was fucking me. We’re lovers, Ryan. I seem to have aged really well for whatever reason, but I’m long past having any more kids. I’m well into menopause, but I’m not dead yet. I fuck with that sweet little guy far, far more than I ever did with his father, and that’s saying something. He’s not as big, but he’s hard and he can last a good while, so we’re happy with each other.



I guess that it serves a bit of a purpose,” she smiled, “It means that Taela doesn’t know about how to make love to somebody like you, other than the mechanics of it. She’s not a virgin, since she’s had a toy to help her get to sleep for a few years and I know that she’s gotten it into her deep enough.



Since she’s honored what I asked of her with respect to Shorty, I’m going to make a promise to her that the human male who has come here suddenly is all hers, though you probably wouldn’t dream of it any way else. Like I said, she doesn’t know, so I’d appreciate it if you could keep that little secret, and you’ll find a friend in me for it.”



Ryan sat across from her, thinking. It was the strangest thing that he’d heard in a good long while, but he knew that Betty had been telling him the truth of it.



“It might be that he was just happy that I gave him the can of fruit salad, “Ryan said a little carefully, “But when he hugged me, I uh, … I guess that it excited him a little.”



She looked at him and nodded, “I saw that. I wouldn’t worry about it if you just discourage him gently. He does know in a strange way about what’s right and wrong here in this screwed up little family. But there’s something else that I guess I should have told you.



Morgarods, when they’re faced with their own certain deaths, well they tend to get a bit cold and spiteful. They like to toss out a taunt before they go — an insult or two, something like that. Ru’Torgh told me that the female that had protected Shorty was one of his favorites. She liked to look for him sometimes, he said, and if she saw him coming, she’d drop down out of the tree that she was in and wait for him in some shade.

I guess that I can’t really blame her for that if she enjoyed him, and she sure didn’t know the other consequences of what they did. It was beyond her ability to recognize. But I guess there was no way to be sure that the others wouldn’t attack her son because he’s different while his mom was busy. Ru’Torgh told me that she always brought Shorty along. When he told me the rest, it made pulling the trigger the last time a whole lot easier for me. I’d already shot his dick off.”



“I was always a very active girl sexually,” Betty said, “And I’m obviously not shy over talking about it. I’ve always wondered why a girl like I was would find her calling as a probe and mapping pilot, since I was always alone for so long in between stops. I accumulated quite a collection of toys that I’d pick up here and there.



“I have to assume that Ru’Torgh was telling me the truth just before I blew his ass away. It might have been a lie to hurt me with, but I sort of doubt that. So I’m assuming that I’ve been having sex with something that’s like my stepson in a way, though he’s not a blood relative to me. I don’t care, Ryan.



Other than you, there’s nobody to judge me for my actions, is there? I’ve loved him with everything I have, other than my love for my daughter. I’m like a second mother to him, but I let him do whatever he wants to do with me. I think that he’d like a male, but just discourage him, as I said. I take care of that little need of his too with one of my toys.”



She took a last drag from the smoke and then she ground it out in the little can. “That was wonderful,” she smiled, “but I know that there aren’t enough to get used to. I’ll bet that you must think that I’m a pretty evil sort of woman,” she said in a slightly challenging way.



“No,” he said, shaking his head, “I can see the way that it all happened. And you are right. There’s nobody here to judge you. We’d need a society for that, and there really aren’t enough of us here for that, are there? I think that you’re a remarkable woman.”



“Ah,” she smiled, “by that you mean wicked.”



“Maybe, but in a nice way,” he said, “Who am I to judge you, Betty? Who’s to say that if I was all alone here and I figured out what Ru’Torgh did, that I wouldn’t be doing the same thing myself. I doubt it very much, but that’s here and now, not all alone for years. You’re happy and so is Shorty. What more is there to say?”



“There is more to say, Ryan,but first you’ll need a little time to think things over,” Betty smiled with a bit of relief, “Say that you’ll keep my daughter happy, and that’ll be better than good enough.”



Taela walked to them, holding Shorty’s hand and Ryan was a little amazed at how they looked together, “What’ll be good enough?”



“That you’re happy,” Betty said as she stood up and stepped around the table.



“I am happy,” her daughter said.



“Then that’s good enough,” her mother smiled, laughing at the way that what she’d said had caused her daughter to laugh in confusion.



“Come on over here, Shorty. It’s bath time and Momma wants to wash you. Taela, make sure that you lock up the windows and everything before dark, ok?”



Her daughter nodded. The creature looked over with a shy smile and he took Betty’s hand to walk away.



“I have to tell you something,” Taela said, looking very nervous and reluctant. Ryan wondered just how much more if this there was to hear and why he was the one who had to listen.



“Shorty and my mother are, … they, …” She exhaled, wishing now that she’d kept her mouth shut.



She tried again. “I don’t know how you will take this, but, … she mates with him. That’s where they are going now. Shorty is always so — excitable. I always tell him no and he is good about it, but I know what they do when they are alone. They are going to the garden.”



“I know,” Ryan said, “your mother told me so that I wouldn’t be too shocked if I found out sometime, I guess.”



Taela heaved a huge sigh of relief. “I wanted you to know for the same reason. Does it change anything?”



“You mean between you and I?” Ryan shook his head, “No.”



“Will you wait while I lock everything up?”



“Sure,” he said.



While she was gone, he checked out one of the PDWs from another pack. She came back after a few minutes and he watched her close and lock the windows shut. Before she was finished with the last one, he asked her where he was going to sleep that night. She looked very surprised and she stepped over to him after locking the last window cover in place.



She was very surprised when she put her arms around him to pull herself closer. Each time that this had happened, it felt so good to her and it felt better every time, the astounding part was how right it felt to her.



“I thought that we could sleep together,” she said a little hopefully in the dim light, “I don’t know if it is possible, but that’s what I would like. One day soon, we will need more meat. The hot season is ending and soon it will grow cold. You and I should go together, so we should be a pair before that. I don’t want to mate with you yet, but I really want to hold you and, … I don’t know how to say it, play together in bed? Is that right?”



“I think I know what you’re trying to say, Taela,” he smiled, “I can think of a few things that we can do. Anyway, I’m sure that we’ll figure something out. I’m just very surprised. I have the feeling that this is supposed to happen between us. I don’t feel any reluctance on either side. We just seem to be a little nervous.”



“I am the same,” she whispered as she put her head against his, “I feel like I have gone from nothing to having someone for me in a day.” She looked up at him and he could still see a little of her nervousness there.



“What else?” he asked and he supposed then that if it was possible for her to blush, then she must be doing that now. He could feel the heat from her face.



“Sometimes, when I know that they are going to the pool, I go to, … I like to see, and, …”



“You like to watch them?” He asked with a smile.



“Y-yes,” she replied, “They know that I do this. It is nice to see and I would go to watch and wish a little that it was me. I wanted to know if, … you wanted to, … go with me to watch, and, … and then, when we are alone, …”



She knew that she’d have a tough time saying it — but she somehow needed to see if this dream of a day for her might hold something of a final step — or at least the beginnings of it.



“… I think that I want to know if … sometime soon, … if you would want to, you know, .. try …” Why was this becoming so hard for her to say?



He smiled a little; waiting for the end of the long pause, “Try to guess what it is that you want to say?”



She looked a little nervous, “Try to mate with me a little.”



“I’d love to try to mate with you a lot. It depends,” he grinned, “I think that I can see that you’re not really sure, and you know, we did only meet today. I’m a little nervous myself. I think that I’d be thrilled just to be near you.”



“I would be thrilled to have you against me,” she admitted, “You do not want this tonight?”



“Ok,” he nodded, “Same answer, bigger thrill. But I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do, and you don’t look all that decided either.”



He smiled, “I’ve never watched somebody else do it.”



“Do you want to go with me there now?” she asked a little nervously.



“If they know that you watch, I guess I wouldn’t mind,” Ryan smiled, “I’m a little curious how they, you know, manage it.”



She took his hand, her good humor back instantly with her relief, “Oh, I’m so glad. I didn’t know if it would be wrong to ask you,” she said, leading him into a passageway.



———————



“There you go, honey,” Betty smiled, “all clean.”



Shorty smiled happily and turned to close the last of the distance between them. He slid his thin arms around her waist and laid his head on her shoulder with a sigh. She held him close with her arm over his wings and she stroked his head softly with the other. He lifted his head and looked up at her with a lot of affection. Betty looked down and she began to kiss him.



From where they’d hidden themselves, Ryan could see that Shorty responded to it and a minute later, their tongues danced in the air between them for a little while before Betty pressed her mouth against Shorty’s lips as she took command of this. Betty’s hand reached down to take his hardness into her hand as she began to stroke it. His hand reached for one of her breasts and she groaned softly, “That’s it, baby. Ohhh, Momma likes it so much when you do that.”



They stood like this for some time as Taela and Ryan watched through some leafy plants on their knees. He felt Taela’s hand trying to hold his masculinity. She was having a bit of trouble since it was a little between his thighs, so he moved one knee farther away and reached to help her by guiding her hand.



“I have never done this,” she whispered, “Is this right?”



He kissed her shoulder and told her that it was fine.



“Sit down on the edge there, honey,” Betty sighed, “so Momma can make us feel good.” Shorty was out of the stream in an instant, sitting on the edge. She walked over to him and placed her legs on either side of his as he reached for her. While he began to squeeze and suck her breasts, Betty reached down and guided the tip of him to her cleft. She couldn’t do much more that slide the tip of him against her like this, but they both liked doing it. She told him to slide backwards and lie down.



The watchers saw Betty come out of the stream on all fours to him. When she was over him, she smiled down, “I’m so in love with my boy.”



The words seemed to excite Shorty more and he began to stroke himself, but she stopped him, “Uh-uh,” she shook her head, “Momma wants some of that.”



He stopped immediately and took his hand away as Betty eased herself backward, lowering her hips as she did so that she could begin to slide her wet vulva along his straining erection.



“Ohhh,” she sighed, “Momma’s needed you all day long, sugar. We’ll need to be a little more careful now, that’s all.”



She groaned as she worked along him for a few minutes.



“It’s one thing if Taela catches us now and then, but, … I don’t want Ryan to see us doing it around the house. I don’t think I’d mind it if he saw us here, but not everywhere else.”



Ryan turned to Taela. She looked at him and nodded, “They do this everywhere,” she whispered, “One day she just started doing it with Shorty. I see them all the time, it’s why I leave to go somewhere else a lot. I don’t mind seeing them like this, but, …”



He noticed that she’d spread her knees and was reaching for herself as well.



“Get on your knees and watch like that, Taela,” he said.



“But I don’t think that I can help you like — “



“It’s ok,” he whispered, “just let me help you, that’s all. You just need to be quiet.”



She moved onto her hands and knees, and sighed as she felt his fingers begin to caress her. Ryan pulled her back so that she was squatting in front of him and he reached to toy with her mound while his erection slid under her. She got it right away and found a way to move herself against him.



Betty’s movements had begun to get a lot quicker. Finally, she stopped to lean down to Shorty and kiss him for a moment. “Momma needs more of your sweet thing, baby. Just hold still and let me do this for us now.”



She reached back as she straightened up and she had him inside of her in seconds. Shorty hissed his pleasure as she rode him. They noticed that she stopped several times to push herself down onto him and she groaned louder at those times. Whenever she opened her eyes after that, she always whispered her thanks to Shorty.



“I’m so glad I’ve got you, Shorty. I know we’re not the same, but I just love you to pieces, baby. You’re so good for your Momma.”



After a while, Betty rose to get off her diminutive and adoring male to lie on her back beside him.



“Come on, sweetie,” cooed, “Come on and fuck Momma just as hard as you want to. I need you now, Darlin’.”



He was on her in a flash. It took him no time to slip inside Betty and he began to fuck her at a speed that Ryan doubted was possible for him. Betty cried out and bucked, but there was no way that she could keep up to that frantic pace. She didn’t seem to mind at all, though, she just pulled her legs back and let him go.



Taela kept her sounds to whispered sighs, but she wanted to show Ryan that she appreciated what he was doing. “So good, Ryan,” she whispered. He understood and smiled at her face as she’d turned her head back toward him.



Out by the stream, Betty raised her head to look at Shorty’s face as he worked. “I love you, baby,” she said a little breathlessly. Shorty just grunted.



He was doing a lot of that, with his face moving from one breast to another. Suddenly, he reared his head back a little and bared his teeth. Ryan was shocked and he worried for Betty, but the older woman just coaxed him on more until he clamped his teeth onto one nipple gently.



Betty screamed and began to buck again, so hard that it looked as though she might throw her lover right off, but he hung on and kept at it. Betty finally threw her head back and screamed out his name, and it brought the screecher to his climax an instant later. As her cry died away, Shorty hissed loudly and thrust himself in as far as he could get to freeze there, moving only a little, a few seconds later.



“That’s it, honey,” Betty said hoarsely, “give it to me. I just LOVE it when my boy comes into me.” She caressed his head and groaned as she wrapped her legs around him, “Give me all you got, sweetie. Momma loves you so much.”



It looked as though his exertions had caused Shorty to go catatonic. He didn’t move for a long time after that. Betty waited for him to recover before she rolled them onto their sides.



“Momma saw you looking at Ryan today,” she said quietly. “I’ll bet you want him, don’t you, Shorty?”



The watchers froze, staring. Taela turned to look back at Ryan with an open mouthed smile of surprise. He didn’t know where to look.



“Well,” Betty smiled a little sadly as she stroked Shorty’s wings, “I’m afraid that you just can’t have any of that, honey. That male will belong to Taela really soon. I can see that they’ve got it for each other.”



She reached over her head to stretch for something there on the bank.



“Momma knows that sometimes you want a man, darlin’. It’s ok. I’ve brought your favourite toy along if you want to pretend just a little. I don’t see any harm in that.”



From where they hid, they could see how large Shorty’s eyes had grown as he stared at Betty. She pushed Shorty onto his back again as she reached past him for an old cloth bag. She pulled out a bright blue dildo.



“Here honey,” she smiled, “you just close your eyes and have a little suck on this for a minute while I get ready for you.”



He reached for the toy and a second later, his eyes were closed as he slipped the end of it into his mouth. From where they were, Taela and Ryan could hear his breath.



Betty stood up and reached into the bag. She pulled out a harness and slipped her legs into the openings before she looked into the bag again. “Momma’s gonna make her boy so happy tonight,” she said as she looked around inside, “that is, if she can only find a couple of those green berries with the greasy juice in them. I just know I had a few left in here from the other night. Ah, here they are.”



She watched him for a minute before she smiled, “If you want that, Shorty, you’ll need to hand it over.” His eyes opened and he held it out to her in his fist, the tip of is standing up in the air between them.



“Well wait a minute,” she chided with a chuckling grin, “You’ve gotta give me a chance to get some of this on a couple of places, sweetie.”



She pulled an old knife from the bag and with that, she cut into one of the berries and rubbed it between his legs. She attached the toy to her harness and then she added a lot more of the juice to that.



“Do you want me to fuck you a little bit?” she smiled.



Shorty nodded emphatically and it was obvious that he was excited at the prospect.



“You gonna need my fingers first tonight?” she asked him, but he shook his head with a hopeful smile.



“Well alright, you tough little thing,” she smiled as she helped him to raise his knees higher, “You just close your eyes now and pretend that some big male is gonna have you now.”



Shorty looked up and grinned.



Betty smiled, “It’s Ryan, isn’t it?”



Shorty nodded, still smiling.



“You’re a beautiful boy, Shorty,” Betty said as she positioned herself, “Any male who likes this would be happy to love somebody like you. I don’t think you’ll ever get that one, though, so just keep your eyes closed and pretend a little, baby. Momma’s gonna do all the work for you now.”



As she began to press the dildo against Shorty, Ryan looked at Taela’s grinning face. “He can pretend if he wants to, I guess. But that’s never going to happen.”



They heard Shorty hiss loudly and Betty froze. After a minute, she asked him if he was alright. He nodded with a gasp and she fed more of the toy into him. Ryan asked Taela if they could leave.



“You don’t like this?” she asked, “Is it the idea or is it Shorty?”



He shook his head, “It’s not Shorty. I like him, “Ryan whispered, “I’m just not a big fan of seeing –”



“What?” Taela asked, “What is wrong? He is so happy. Look at him there. I like to see him happy like this.”



“I think that I probably would hate to watch two males doing this,” he said, “I probably wouldn’t mind if she hadn’t told him to imagine that it was me doing him. I think that’s what bothers me.”



“But he does the same thing to her sometimes,” Taela whispered, “I’ve seen it and I have asked her. She told me that it feels good to her and it is another way to enjoy a male without thinking about little ones coming from it. I wanted to do this with you, Ryan. Don’t you want me like that?”



He looked at her and he saw some disappointment there. It made him feel like an ass.



“You’re right,” he whispered, “and I’m sorry. I’ve done that before with a girl and I liked it. This has nothing to do with you, Taela. It’s more that I’m having trouble thinking about doing this with him.”



“It is the same thing in the same place,” she said.



By now, the lovers on the grass had changed positions. Shorty was on his knees as Betty fucked him gently, though they could see that she would likely increase the pace very soon.



In only a minute or so, Shorty whined a little and Betty knew what he wanted from her. She began to really rail him then, her hips slapping against his skinny backside a little loudly.



He had his mouth open as he gasped, but his eyes were closed in bliss. The one time that he opened them, he was turning to look back at Betty. From where they were, the pair froze for that instant.



Shorty was looking right at the plants where they’d hidden themselves. He looked for a moment, and then he looked back at the woman that he loved so much.



“I think we’d better leave,” Ryan whispered.



Taela nodded and they crept away.



They were halfway inside the opening of the passageway when they heard Shorty’s shrieking cry. Taela froze and stared at Ryan.



“What was that?” he asked, “Is he ok?”



She grabbed his hand and pulled him inside the opening as they began to walk.



“That was Shorty,” she said, “but that is the first time that I have ever heard him use his voice to call out a word. That is the sound that he makes when my mother finishes him like that, but he never said a name before, not like that. He sometimes can hiss ‘momma’ to her, but he has never made this sound before. That is the sound that screechers use to find their way in the dark. Come on, walk faster. They will leave the stream very soon now.”

“Wow,” Ryan said, “I guess that he must have been feeling it.” She looked over at him and in the dim light of the glowing plants, she saw his face.



He shrugged, “I suppose that it must have been a moment for him. I just wish that it had been another name, that’s all.”



“I want to do that with you,” she said.



It wasn’t a request and Ryan picked up on that.



“Listen,” he said, “There’s a reason why it feels so good to males who like that. They can finish like that, Taela. It’s supposed to feel really good to them, and they can finish — because they’re males. I think that the best that a female who likes that can get is that she can use that as well as everything else. I think it might make everything better, but they can’t finish from only that.”



“I don’t care,” she said as she stopped suddenly. He almost tripped.



“Maybe not tonight,” she said, “but I want that from you.” She turned and began to walk briskly again, leading him until they were inside her chamber. She closed the door and reached for him. Her kisses almost drove him to his knees.



I — I want to be your mate, Ryan. If that is so for you, then I wish to know something.”



“Ask it,” he said, “Ask me anything, Taela.”



“My full name is Ru’Taela,” she said, “Only Taela for you, until we are mated. What would my name be if that happens between us?”



“Do you mean if we were on Earth?” he asked, “and it became, um, … permanent between us?”



“Yes,” he felt her nod a little, “What would I be called there?”



“If we weren’t married, you’d be Ms. Taela Rawlins or Taela Ru, depending on whose name you took as your maiden name, or you could always keep it as Taela” he said.



“If you mean that we’d be married, then you’d be Mrs. Taela McCallum. The first part means that you’re married.”



She stepped back and took his hand to lead him to her bed. He could tell that she was having one of the deep thought moments that he was coming to love about her. He even knew what was coming. He only waited for it.



“Humans are strange,” she said.



“Uh-huh,” he replied.



“What are these?” she asked as her fingers traced the lines of letters on his arm.



“They’re uh, …” he looked down to where her fingers were before he looked into her eyes in the darkness, “They’re my combat record. The places that I’ve been, battles that I’ve been a part of.”



“They’re so little, but they cover a lot of your arm,” she said, squinting as she tried to read a little.



“Well I’ve got small arms,” he smiled, “I can’t help it if I’ve got small arms.”



It made her laugh, “Your arms are bigger than my legs.”



“Well that’s good,” he chuckled, “you’re always telling me that my legs are too thin. I think I’m getting a complex or something.”



“I don’t know what that is,” she smiled, “but now I am a little confused myself. I am beginning to like your legs, and that means that my legs are wrong.”



“No they’re not,” he chuckled, “I like your legs. Mine are the wrong kind.”



She pressed herself against him, breathing in his scent.



“You smell so good,” she sighed.



“Well, no sunscreen and no bug spray has to be an improvement,” he grinned, “Give me time to shave, and I’ll probably manage to smell a little better.”



“No,” she said, inhaling a second later, “I doubt it is possible.” She stretched up a little to kiss him and she opened her mouth to let his tongue in, groaning quietly as she exhaled because she loved the way that his hands felt on her body when he held her close to him.



Taela lowered her head a little to kiss his throat for a little while. She knew that it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that she’d decide to choose Ryan for her mate, but for a good part of what she was, her body had a vote in it as well. She let her tongue slide past her lips to lick his neck and when she brought it back to wet it a little more, the taste of him caused her heart to pound a little.



She moved her kisses down to his collarbones. She began to kiss along one and the thought came to her that it was a good distance from the middle out to his shoulder, a sufficient distance, she thought, wanting to smile.



She worked her way back in toward where they met, and found that she just couldn’t resist licking him in the little hollow in between them as her left hand slowly found its way down to the bulge in his combat pants. She pushed it out a little to the side so that she could try to squeeze it a little. When she felt how firm it felt, she moaned quietly.



She felt Ryan’s hand on her head and she wrapped it with some of her hair, knowing that the ability would shock him a little but she didn’t care. She kept it moving slowly to caress his hand as she lowered her head so that she could kiss his chest. Her intent had been only to kiss him over his heart, but before long, she found herself kissing and licking there for the taste and the way that it made her feel almost light-headed.



Taela was a little amazed. She’d never done anything like this before, but it surprised her how much of this she was feeling, her pubic hair told her that she was already wet and she tried to suppress her urge to move her thighs so that she could feel the thrill of that, and of course, she failed at it completely.



She knew the inevitability of what would come next and she just let it happen, opening her mouth to suck in the nipple that was under her lips. She just wasn’t prepared for the way that they both groaned at that together, and as she turned her head to lay it against him while she held that nipple, she opened her eyes and saw the other one there, not far off. It made her regret that she didn’t have two mouths, but at last she forced herself to release the one that she’d attached herself to so that she could begin the journey to the other one.



By now, Ryan had the fingers on both hands in her hair, loving the way that it felt to him. His eyes closed, but he felt it when her hair relaxed on his hands while she moved a little lower. The first of her little bites on his abdominal muscles caused him to gasp and hiss between his teeth.



Taela worked her way down, guessing that she wasn’t doing this too badly, but as she began to squat down before him, she was faced with the conundrum of his pants. She wanted to rip the damn things open, but she finally managed to get the button undone and he helped her with the rest so that she could pull the garment down.



Ryan watched as her eyes opened wide and she smiled at what she was looking at. She knew that her mother was right, and she wondered how it would fit, but she knew that it would somehow. She reached to hold his thigh high up at the top and she slid her hand around toward the back, loving the feel of his body.



That mysterious part of him was already large and now that it had been freed, it rose toward her. With no conscious thought to it, she watched her hand go right to it, grasping the hardening firmness and while she was wondering about just what she ought to do next, now that she’d gotten this far, her hand already seemed to know what to do. She’d watched what her mother did with Shorty often enough. It felt so good to her to stroke it back and forth a little.



Taela decided that she was at another watershed moment, but she didn’t spend too long in wonder. She leaned forward a little and kissed him there for a moment, and before she knew it really, she licked her lips and opened her mouth to take him in, and for the second time, they both made a similar sound at the same moment. Taela found that she liked it as she sucked it in and out.



Her hand slid back toward his body and she felt the swell of his scrotum against the heel of her hand, just where her forearm joined it, so she reached a little lower to feel there carefully. After a moment, she pulled her head back and began to slide her mouth along the side of that shaft until her lips found new territory to explore.



Ryan looked down and saw Taela open her mouth wide. She was looking right into his eyes and she couldn’t help the chuckle of delight when her tongue found that skin against it. She knew that this part of a male was sensitive, so she just enjoyed moving the lumps inside slowly with her tongue as she pet his erect hardness against her cheek with her other palm.



She thought about it for a moment, wondering if something was possible, but finally, she decided that it might be, so she opened her mouth even wider and took the entire sac inside.



Ryan was shocked.



In his whole adult life, he’d had maybe a dozen partners or so.



None of them, not one had this ability. He could feel her teeth against him here and there, but he already knew what was beginning here from a Morgarod perspective.



If you were forming a hunting pair, then there had to be trust. He smiled down at her as she closed her mouth over it.



Taela worked it slowly and as gently as she could, finding that he seemed to enjoy it if she sucked just a little bit. She knew that because whenever she did that, it caused him to close his eyes. But she knew that doing this wouldn’t get him to his release, and that was what she wanted to do for him now. What surprised her was that, while it was a desire in her to please him, it wasn’t something that she wanted to do for him as a favor or a gift. She felt that, but what drove her was a need.



Taela was beginning to feel what her father’s people called the need of the pair. It was doing something for the other person, while needing to do it at the same time for both. She’d enjoy it, but she wouldn’t feel her own release just from this. That one of them finished was the achievement of both.



Just like what happened during a hunt. It didn’t matter who brought the game down, it was the same achievement then.



She went back to sucking him, doing the best that she could do for him as she learned by watching and feeling his reactions carefully. She had to give up taking him in quite so deeply as she tilted her head backward a little and leaned even farther into him, wanting to try something for a moment.



She worked the underside of him with her long, and very Morgarod tongue. She suddenly realized that she had an ability to do something which she doubted that he’d ever felt and she just had to try it.



She didn’t know, and she wasn’t sure where it might have come from, but there seemed to be just one thing about him that she wasn’t absolutely crazy about and that was his apparent phobia about one part of the male anatomy – whether human, Maragod, or even screecher.



If she could have her little wish, she’d have liked to be able to get him past it.



Drawing her tongue back to wet it, she thrust it out again, sliding it along under his scrotum and then between his thighs until at last she caused him to almost go to his toes as she used the tip of it to toy with his anus.



Ryan gasped, but Taela wasn’t done yet. She forced her long tongue to complete the sharp upward turn and she drove it in just a little as she tightened her hand and stroked his shaft near the tip a little more forcefully.



Her efforts got him to swell and harden even more and she knew somehow that she had to be quick now, so she withdrew her tongue and replaced it with the pad at the tip of her index finger.



She pushed just a little and then she pulled her head back to seize that fat thing of his with her wide-open mouth and she found herself swallowing something faster than she could taste it. She forced herself to slow down as his urgency began to fade and she found the time to try what she had in her mouth.



When there was no more from him, she made a point of showing her affection to that part of him before she let it go to smile at him.



Ryan thanked her, telling her quite honestly that he’d never experienced it in quite that way.



“So I was good then?” she asked, as she found a few drops on herself which had escaped her somehow. She brought what she could get to her lips and licked her fingers



“Wonderful,” he smiled.



“Thank you for your gift,” she said as she stood up, “I enjoyed it very much.”



She wasn’t certain just what she’d expected as a response from him, given that she was playing this from her Morgarod side, but she was startled when he responded by picking her up and placing her carefully on her bed.



She looked up at him and wanted to caution him about what it was that he could do and what she wouldn’t allow from him, but he seemed to know anyway and he moved himself to kneel over her. She felt his hands move over her body in the most wonderful ways and had a thought that she’d found that she liked his fingers, even as unlike her own as they were. He kissed her and she wrapped her arms around his neck to pull him down. It was far too soon for that and she knew it, but it was what she wanted to do.



But he didn’t allow it. He just continued to move one hand over her body at a time and then he began to kiss her everywhere. Taela thought that she’d lose her mind. It felt so good and she was a little surprised to hear the soft little sounds that she was making as he went.



He’d been working at her breasts for long minutes already. His lips on her nipples and the way that he squeezed and kneaded them made her arch her back in happiness.



“They are sufficient?” she asked, suddenly needing to know.



He chuckled, “Now there’s a word,” he said.



He looked up, “They’re fantastic. I love the way that they feel against my mouth and the taste, … oh the taste, Taela. I love your skin.” He held his eyes right on hers for a long moment. “I love your skin,” he said purposefully.



She yanked his head down to her breasts again for the way that he’d said it and how it made her feel.



Eventually, he eased himself down onto her, but that was when he felt something else, something that moved on her subtly and he felt odd little caresses against his manhood.



“What are you doing?” he asked.



She looked at him curiously, “Nothing. Why?”



Ryan pushed himself up and ran the tips of his fingers down her hard belly. When they reached the top of that triangle, he gasped as something touched his fingertips softly.



“Oh,” she said, hoping that this wasn’t anything to upset him or put him off, “That’s only my hair. Is this wrong?”



“No, it’s just new to me, that’s all, Taela,” he smiled, “I guess I might have thought of this if I had a brain, but if the hair on your head can move the way that it does, it shouldn’t be such a big stretch to think that this hair has the same ability. I like it.”



He moved himself onto his side and began to kiss his way down her front. Taela felt a little apprehensive, knowing now that this was something else about her that was different to any other women that he might have been with. But Ryan didn’t even hesitate when he got to that place. He pressed his face there and groaned before his tongue came out of his mouth.



The tiny tendrils of her pubic hair moved against his skin softly. “Is there a purpose for this?” he asked from below her field of view.



Taela sighed, liking the warmth of his breath, “I think it is to encourage the male.”



“It’s not really long enough for that, is it?” she heard him ask.



“If you were inside all of the way, it might be,” she sighed as she reached for his head.



They ended up after a long while with Taela feeling a little hoarse and rough in her throat.



Ryan loved the way that she sounded to him now. There had been some very challenging moments in it for him as he’d made love to her with his mouth, and he loved that even more. She’d bucked like a mad thing at times and they’d finally ended up with her more than half on her pillows — and they hadn’t begun that way.



She was lying along them almost a little sideways. He’d kept up with her wild excursions though, feeling a little proud of himself for managing it. He’d never known one single human woman who’d thrashed quite like that.



Where he was at the moment, his head was still buried between her long thighs and she was sighing softly, though every other breath or so, she seemed to allow her vocal chords to drag along and to him, it was the sweetest cooing sound that he’d ever heard.



He licked on, very softly now, mindful that she might be a little sensitive. After a minute more, he began to lick farther back and she sighed very deeply as she reached back to caress his head in encouragement.



“So you do like me there too,” she smiled with her eyes closed.



“Mm-hmm,” he groaned quietly.



“I think that I want to … let you do it there to me,” she whispered, “Only let me tell you something first.



I do not know what happened to my father, but I did see his body months after he disappeared and my mother told me that he must have been killed hunting. I could not tell by then what had killed him, but I saw that his weapon was gone.”



She paused then, savoring the sensation of his tongue for a minute.



“I know that my mother had it, and so I think that it must have been her who killed him — and though I have never asked, I am almost certain why.



He acted differently to me a little while before then and it made me very, … nervous to be around him then. I didn’t think about it much afterward because I was happy to not have him near to me anymore then.”



She paused again, stroking Ryan’s hair.



“Also, I had Shorty to look after a lot of the time. He learns quickly and it was not long before I knew that he could understand things that I said to him.



I would find him playing with that part of himself — where you are now on me — if I left him in the bath for more than a minute. I asked him about it one day, and I was careful to ask slowly to make sure that he understood. From that, I had another reason to be happy that my father was gone.



My mother does not know, but when Shorty was grown up, …. “



She sighed and was silent for a moment as Ryan kept teasing her with his tongue. Finally, she just decided to tell him.



“When my mother is out hunting for food for us, Shorty and I, …



I let him do that to me — what she was doing to him in the garden. I have always liked that.



Please tell me that you might want to try with me, Ryan.”



He stopped then, and Taela was almost terrified that she’d ruined everything with her confession to him, but he lifted her leg and looked at her, “I’d love that.”



She moved then and produced a few of the berries and a blade, teaching him how to slice one open and apply the greasy juice to them both.



It went a lot easier than he’d feared and he was very gentle — which seemed to be just what she wanted from him then, so they just did it slowly on their sides until he came, though he kept his hand busy on her front and she shuddered through three of her own orgasms very gently.



“You have a way,” she smiled back at him as they rested, “And I love it about you, Ryan. That was so good for me. I want to sleep with you just like this. Can we?”



He leaned forward and kissed her softly before he hugged her to him a little tightly for a moment, “What do you think? He smiled against her shoulder and they closed their eyes.



Ryan tried to think back to the last time that he’d felt this way, falling asleep with a woman.



Aside from when he’d been certain that Sarah loved him more than anything, he had no answer. But then he remembered the first woman that he could say that he’d ever really been in love with and he knew where the feeling came from in him.



Lovemaking between that woman and Ryan had always ended with them tired, happily sated, and lying together as closely as possible.



It was never spoken about. They might end up far apart in the bed by morning, or they just might wake up still in some sort of human heap, but their best times were when they finished and actually slept together, as though the sleep bonded them better.



Her name was Penny and he still missed her in a way. They’d only parted because her job had taken her across the country.

She was in town for the summer, and he wanted her more than he ever wanted anything before, even more than the high school football championship ring on his finger, which had been the most important thing in the world to him.



There were those who thought he had it all together. A handsome, muscular quarterback of his high school’s football team, in a small town in Alabama where high school of football was the most important thing in the world, and the teenage boys who played it walked around like kings of that world. And, if that was not enough he had the certainty of having God on his side.



“Dad, can I ask you about something?” Josh Gibson asked his father. “I know it’s a sin to have lustful thoughts, but what do you do about it?”



“You pray and you concentrate on other things,” his father instantly replied, more like a rote answer than a deeply held religious conviction.



Josh knew his father was not as devout as his mother. What he did not know was that years earlier, when he was the high school’s quarterback, he personally deflowered every pretty girl in the school. He continued the partying and the easy supply of women as a college quarterback.



But, then, something happened. A girl he had done one night and all but forgotten about within days, accused him of raping her. For the first time in his life, the swaggering, brash Michael Gibson felt fear. The police threw out the case and Michael vowed to avoid those sexy and easy women and go for a good church girl.



“When those thoughts come like demons, how do I fight them?” Josh asked.



Michael did not know what he getting himself in for when he married that good church girl, did not know years later he would have a son as devout as his mother, who he could barely speak to if they about anything other than football .



“What kind of thoughts are we talking here, son?” Michael asked. “They’re about normal stuff, right? With a girl?”



“Yes!” Josh exclaimed, shocked by the question, but, then, he felt a painful irony.



Cyndi’s father was a gay man, a writer from L.A., where Josh knew such things were more acceptable than in his small town.



“If there’s a girl at the church youth group you think is pretty and you want to take her out, that’s OK,” Michael said.



“What if I think a girl is pretty who isn’t a Christian?” Josh asked.



“You mean she’s not a good Christian girl?” his father asked. “Her family just goes to church on Christmas and Easter?”



“Do I have to tell you?” Josh asked.



“No, son, you don’t. It’s that Bennett girl isn’t it?”



Cyndi Bennett, the Latina daughter of the gay writer from California renting the house next to the Gibson family for the summer, seemed to Josh to combine every attractive trait of Salma Hayek and Selena Gomez.



Josh looked away.



Michael puts a hand on his son’s shoulder.



“What religion is she?”



“She doesn’t have a religion. She just likes yoga.



She said her spirituality is from that.”



For a moment, Michael was his younger self, talking about girls the way he once did.



“I’ve seen that yoga stuff on TV. Whoa boy!”



It was then that Christabel Gibson crarged into the room.



“You will not go anywhere near that little harlot!



That Jezebel!” she yelled at her son.



She realized something, and it made her even more upset.



“That’s exactly what she is! Jezebel was a princess! The daughter of a Pagan king who did her father’s evil bidding! A seductress who led godly men astray!”



“I was handling it,” Michael meekly replied. He could command men and boys, but could never stand up to his wife.



“You were not handling it since you did not tell him he would never talk to her again no way, no how! You want to be the nice parent! You want to be easier on the kids! But, this time it’s my son’s soul at stake!”



She broke down crying.



“Mama, I don’t want to hurt you,” Josh pleaded.



“Hurt me? This is every Christian mother’s nightmare! She’s the daughter of a homosexual who writes filthy, sinful novels!”



She grabbed his hands.



“Listen to me,” she implored. “That yoga stuff is from Hinduism, which is worshipping devils they call gods. They meditate and look inside to become one with the universe. We pray and look to God and pray to be reconciled with Him.”



Christabel’s emotions again ran hot.



“She’s a succubus! A seductive demon sent to tempt a godly man and lead him away from God!”



“Mama, she’s not a demon. She’s just a girl.”



“I know I must sound crazy for saying a perfectly nice-seemingly girl is like a demon. You’ll understand when you get older. The Devil doesn’t have horns and a tail. He wears a nice suit and drives a nice car. The demonic whores of Babylon who serve him do not have fangs and bat wings like in a movie. But, their little skirts and little bodies are all an illusion to lead men away from God.”



As if with strategy and by calculation, she again adjusted the emotional temperature of her words.



“This is hard for me, talking to my son about sex,” she began. “Every thought you have of her is a sin. But, you are a Christian warrior. You can resist those wicked thoughts.”



“I will, Momma,” Josh replied. “I promise.”



She embraced Josh as Michael sighed. His son was growing up thinking his normal teenage boy desires were sins, and his desire for the girl next door was an even worse sin.



The next day, Josh pushed a lawn mower to his backyard. He saw her Cyndi in the yard next door.



What Josh did not know was that Cyndi was terribly near-sighted. Without glasses she could not see more than a very short distance from herself. With them on, she could not read. And, her plan for her Saturday was to put on her bikini, lie back on a deck chair and read Nabakov’s “Lolita.”



Josh forced himself to look away from her.



Cyndi reached for a nearby bottle of suntan lotion and rubbed it on her legs.



Josh again made himself look away. He reached down to the lawn mower’s ignition. He pulled it, but it did not start. He tried it again. He fumbled with it.



Cyndi rubbed the lotion on her stomach, then lower, as Josh continued to struggle with the ignition.



She rolled over as his eyes moved to her against his will. He pulled the ignition again, with his attention almost purely on the little line of cloth between her butt cheeks and the flesh near it. Sparks exploded from it, and he jumped back, startled by them.



As he mowed the lawn, he fought his desire to not to look at what he wanted to know to the smallest detail.



Finally, he finished mowing the lawn and rolled the lawn mower back into the garage. He headed straight to the kitchen, where he tensely grabbed a glass from the cabinet and got ice from the door of the refrigerator. He pushed the glass hard against the water release. The water shot out and covered the ice, instantly melting what was moments before cold and hard.



Then, he poured it on his head.



The doorbell rang. His eyes went wide with alarm.



He went to the door and saw it was Cyndi. He exhaled forcefully and tried to compose himself before opening the door.



She smiled at him.



“Hello, Josh,” she said.



“Uh, hi,” he stammered. “Are you going to tell my parents?”



“Tell them what?”



An awkward eternity of seconds passed as his thoughts ran faster than he could control them.



“I locked myself out. The glass door slides and…”



“The people who rented us the house said you do,” she replied. “For emergencies.”



He darted through the house to the kitchen.



In a panic, he shuffled through a messy drawer, filled with coins, keys and rubber bands, grabbed the house key on a ring and rushed back to her.



“Why are you… sweaty?”



“I was, um, mowing the lawn.”



He handed her the key.



“Thanks.”



As she turned to walk off, he struggled to pull his eyes off of her and quickly closed the door to prevent himself from looking at her.



Josh jumped into a shower. As he scrubbed himself, he felt his hands go lower then…



He slammed himself back into the wall.



“No!”



He pulled his hair in frustration.



“James 1:14: When a man is tempted by his own sinful desires, he is enticed and led astray.”



He turned the hot water off and the cold water all the way on.



“Then, after desire has formed, it leads to sin, then sin leads to death.”



Michael returned to his room wearing a towel.



Cyndi, in her bikini, lied on his bed.



His jaw dropped.



“How did you…?”



“You know your neighbors have a key to your house in case of emergency, just like you have one for theirs.”



” Get out!” Josh yelled.



He reached for a shirt with one hand while grabbing his towel tightly to himself with the other.



“If you try to put any clothes on that sexy body of yours, I’m going to hurt you.”



She reached for his towel. He grabbed her arms and accidentally let the towel dropped. She looked down and smiled.



“I knew you liked me!”



He looked mortified for a moment, then had a look of PAIN. She pulled her leg back from a kick between his legs and laughed. He pushed her away and back on the bed.



“You pushed me!” she accused with mock outrage.



Still pained, he stood up. She crawled on the bed towards him with lust in her eyes. He grabbed her arms and pinned her down. She smiled and tilted her head. They struggled. She maneuvered on top of him. She licked the side of his face. Her head went lower and lower…



“Stop!”



He tried to push her away. To prevent this, she grabbed him so hard around his buttocks he felt her nails pierce his skin.



“Just relax,” she purred, “and enjoy this.”



He feared that if he struggled further with her that he could cause her to accidentally bite him where he was most sensitive. So, he stopped.



He groaned with pleasure. She stopped what she was doing to prevent herself from gagging. She smiled lustfully at his surrender.



Then it happened.



Josh saw her eyes flash a demonic red. She lowered her head again.



“No!”



Blood gushed from her mouth.



With a delicate touch, she traced the corner of her lips then sucked his blood from her finger.



Josh woke up, breathing heavily, like his father, the football coach, had been running them for hours in the hot Alabama sun, drenched in his own sweat, as if he had been baptized again by his maternal grandfather, the preacher.



He then noticed a spot even wetter than the rest of him as he looked down at his boxer shorts.

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