Giselle lifted her head as her XO neared the table. “How’s our new friend?”

Dede popped into the chair next to her captain, surveying the wreckage of empty glasses and snack trays. Leaning forward, she started hunting for a leftover scrap of food. “He’ll live,” she reported. “He’s talking to station security. There’s been a rash of robberies in that section.”

“They should seal it up,” the Captain said, her eyes only half open, “and vent it into space. It’s the only way to be sure.”

“It’s the only way to be sure,” Dede agreed, her head bobbing. Spotting a half filled flagon on the table, she took a sniff before lifting it for  a sip. “Oh,” she sighed. “This is nice.”

“It’s a hangover cure,” Giselle remarked through a lopsided grin.

“But I’m not hungover yet.”

“That’s the magic.”

The XO thought about that for a moment. She had heard tales about the bartender here. Dede took another sip. The warmth of the drink embraced her, melting away the stress of the robbery attempt and the hour spent with security. Then wonder and truth of the cure sunk in.

Dede lifted her hand to signal the server. “Can we have another round here? One of everything.” Giselle chuckled quietly and lifted her glass in a toast.

“Look,” Dede began as another series of drinks were brought to the table. “I answered a post…”

“Captain Gili,” said the deep, resonant voice. Dede turned her head to look behind her. The man had crept up to the table while the two sat captivated by the incoming flow of alcohol and other intoxicants. Recognizing that face, the XO deeply regretting not stapling a bell to him when she had the chance.

That face. That face warmed hearts. That trim, athletic physique brought a tingle to other parts of the body; something about how it filled out that neat, sharply pressed officer’s uniform. That voice flowed like caramel, smooth and low with just enough sweet. What came out of that beautifully formed, round mouth inevitably reminded Dede of other brown, runny substances.


Not for the first time Dede daydreamed about wrapping her naked body around that man, then pressing her fingers to his full lips. “Don’t speak. You’ll ruin it. Just hum something. ‘Kay?”

“Military Intelligence,” Giselle said, ignoring the man near the table. “Can you really have one with the other?”

“We used to be in the military,” Dede replied with a shrug.

“Ug. Don’t remind me,” Giselle remarked with a flip of her wrist and a sip from another glass. “But we got out. We are intelligent. Ergo….”

“Our families are in the military. Still in the military.”

The Captain’s lips wrinkled into a frown. “OK. So it’s not a perfect… Oh! Alston. I didn’t see you standing there. Are you provoking or touring?”

“I’m pretty certain that’s not where that word comes from,” Dede mumbled.

“Captain Gili,” the handsome man repeated. “Mate Spivakovsky.” The thought of mating put a little color in Dede’s cheeks, at least until he started speaking again. “How surprising to find you both out of prison.”

Giselle’s red hair fell across her forehead as she tilted her head. “They couldn’t make the charges stick. Said it was sloppy information.” Dede nodded. “Poor intelligence,” she added.

Sub-Commander Alston Kildare surveyed the glasses on the table. “I don’t have any doubt you’ll be charged with something else, soon. Idle hands, you know.”

“Neutral ground here, Sub-Commander,” Giselle asserted. “Besides, we’re not doing anything illegal.”

“I can give it time,” Alston assured them. “In a bar. Jobless. I figure you have the constab…”

“We have a job,” Dede blurted. Giselle looked over to her XO, unable to hide the incredulous expression on her face. “Running medical supplies and technicians to Bothecarro. Totally legit.”

“See, Sub-Commander,” Giselle added. “We’ve got a job. Totally legit. In fact,” the Captain rose to her unsteady feet. Her fingers inelegantly gripped the edge of the table for support. “I’m going down to the ship right now to prep her. Dede, settle our tab.” The tall woman took a deep breath and started slowly for the door, one foot patiently trailing after the other.”

“Bothecarro,” Dede mentioned as she stood. “That’s not even in the Duchy’s space, is it? I guess it will be a while before we see you.” She pulled a pad from a pouch on her belt and started tapping. She considered trying to shift the considerable tab to Alston but decided the Gazelle couldn’t take off before he could pass charges.  She frowned as she watched the ship’s bank balance dwindle even further.

“I suppose not,” Alston agreed. Dede lifted her eyes and studied the Sub-Commander’s face. Something beyond his good looks held her attention for a moment. Something hid behind those dark brown eyes. “You have a job.”

Dede nodded, her lip rolling between her teeth. Her finger pointed towards the door. “Yeah, we’ve got a job.” She headed out, sparing Sub-commander Kildare one backward glance.

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