Right Where We Left Off

The fusion heat from the lander’s touchdown rockets sent scorching wind gusts down the nearby alleyways of Sky City, and for a brief moment the intense light cast long shadows in the direction of the falling sun. Shopkeeps and patrons raised their voices over the tumult, but the lander was otherwise met with indifference. There were landings every hour of the day; it was background noise. But Leslie waited near the pad, pulling down the brim of her hat to shield her eyes, and her long brown hair rode the blast like a cape in the wind. The ramp ratcheted down with a sound like singing chrome.

“Leslie Widler, you devil, you don’t have a single cell of restraint in that whole body of yours, do you?”

She looked up with a wicked grin that she nearly managed to contain and tipped her hat. Sam’s eyes were the color of granite, and his body looked like it was made from the same. His clothes were a mess; best to get them off. “Couldn’t say for certain,” she said. She took a few slow, confident steps toward the ramp, swinging her hips and biting the tip of her thumb. “Maybe you should check me over.”

Sam drew his hand down over his sweaty oil-streaked face. “Kee-rist, woman, I haven’t even set foot planetside yet. I’ve been up 38 hours and I’ve got to get unloaded yet before I lose my dock time. How about I come find you after I get cleaned up? Let’s say the Alpha Dog in a couple hours, yeah?”

Leslie rolled her eyes with extra emphasis and flashed a cockeyed smile that showed her disappointment. “Probably best to wait for the sun to go down anyhow. The daylight never did you any favors.” She turned and headed back toward the city streets and took satisfaction from the sound of Sam cursing to himself before he stormed down the ramp and caught up to her. She turned rapidly on her bootheel and stuck her face close to his before he could get a word in. “I haven’t heard from your ass in a season. How come all of a sudden you’ve got something to say?” She bared her teeth and breathed heavily.

Sam looked down and away. Up close he smelled familiar, like hard work and moon dust. “Here,” he said, and he slipped a tin of red paste into her hands. “Save some for me, huh? I’ll catch up with you later.”

Leslie ran her tongue over her teeth. “Don’t keep me waiting; you know how I get.” She unscrewed the lid, got a glob of paste on the tip of her finger, ran it over her tongue, and smiled. The world exploded into neon ecstasy. She winked, tipped her hat, and walked off.

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