The Journal Entries

Elenya, Urim 24, 00918

Pronouncing the Patient Cured

I sighed as I collapsed onto the bed, an act that served to jostle P'nyssa's shoulder as well, making it difficult for her to read. "You know, we've been awful busy recently."

She gave me a long glance downwards, her solid yellow eyes giving me her patented 'you're about to suggest something lunatic' look. Still, she played along, which, I suppose, is why we've been together for so long. We're into each other's thought patterns. "Yes, we have."

"We don't have any kids right now. What do you say we take a vacation?"

"What kind?" She closed the book and placed it down on the bedstand.

"Oh, I don't know. Someplace where I don't have to think about weddings and war, since those have been uppermost in my mind for nearly two years now." I took a big sigh, grabbing one of the pillows and placing it on my stomach, like a shield. "We don't even have to go far. We could take the boat."

"If it's still seaworthy after Skii got done with it."

"He's a good sailor," I said, looking up at her. Her face told me she disagreed. "Anyway, yes, the boat is fine. He treated it very well, and it's in perfect shape to go out and about again. I was thinking... we haven't visited Oenone in a long time."

"You mean, you haven't visited her," P'nyssa interrupted. "I've never met this woman."

I reached out a hand to stroke the dark-blue fur that ran along the outside of her thigh. "You know, you have the most beautiful ass in the galaxy. And I can say that after knowing you for over a millennium."

"You can't see it, I'm sitting on it. So you're in no position to judge. Ken, did you hear what I said?"

"I heard. I keep trying to convince her to come out here and visit, but she never does. Once in a while, she'll show up on the beach when I'm walking alone, but that's about it." My hands crept up her body towards her breasts. She grabbed my wrist in her mitten and placed my hand firmly down onto the bed.

"You can have some later," she teased. "I'd like you to get permission from her first before you decide you want us to come along. But if she wants three visitors, I'm very interested in meeting her."

"Then I'll see what I can do. I'll put a message in a bottle tomorrow."

People think that the phrase 'message in a bottle' is facetious, perhaps even a euphemism for something. In the case of Oenone it's the simple, honest truth. I wrote a note on yellowed paper, a lovely reproduction of a unicorn with wings in the upper right-hand corner. I rolled it, placed it in the special green bottle that Oenone and I used for these missives, placed a cork on it, and sealed it with wax paper. Then, with a careful throw earned from years of playing toss with the children, I dropped it into the Vinyare' ocean and sent it on its merry way.

Oenone has never told me how this bottle knows the way from my home to hers, but it does. I put my message, a simple request to visit her home, out to sea, and two days later one of the children, a young Vulpin boy, came running down the upstairs hallway with the bottle in his hands. "Ken! I found this in the lagoon and you said if anybody found a winebottle by the beach we were supposed to bring to you so I did and here it is and and and..."

I laughed and scratched him on the top of the head as I took it out of his hands. "Thank you, Mosha."

"What's... what's in it?"

"It's a letter, from a friend."

"Ring. I mean, couldn't he have just called you?"

"She's a little old-fashioned, Mosha. Now, let me read this. Privately."

He pouted, and I did too; I hate feeling as if I'm stepping on a child's curiosity. I just wanted to read it alone. Once he had left, I pulled the cork out and read the note. The reply was simple. "My home is for you and yours. You know the way. Love. O."

For Aaden's sake, we took out the little zodiac and drove from the beach to the Succubus. It's not that he hates water, but that his fur slows him down, and the kilometer or so to the trimaran once proved more than enough for him. Having the strength he does doesn't help him do long-distance stuff, especially not swimming. It's just not his sport.

We reached the Succubus and while I dropped in the power module he loaded the food onto the rear deck and then hauled the zodiac up and deflated it. P'nyssa began pulling out the sail and jib while I pulled up the deckplanks and made sure that the water supply was adequate. We had a water purifier that fed more water into the jugs, but 120 gallons of reserve was always a good idea. It also provided some ballast, not that she needed any. "We're clear!" Aaden shouted as I climbed out into the wheel well.

"Good. The inside is fine. Skii even aired it out. Let's get this show on the road. Nyss, you steer. Aaden, let's haul anchor."

We went around the cabin and up onto the front prow, finding the anchor cable easily. We hauled up on it until the boat was over its sit and pulled; it came loose from the sand and we hand-over-handed until it was on the deck. "Nyss! Start the engine and head towards open water." I looked up at Aaden. "Mainsail, first."

"Right," he nodded. We unwrapped the protective sleeve and pulled the mainsail up until it was full. "A little to starboard, Nyss. Into the wind until we get this thing secured." The bright sun glared off the whitewashed fiberglass and wood construction, blinding me. I fished my sunglasses out of the pocket of my windbreaker while we tied down the end of the sail. The jib went up just as fast. "Okay, back to port, Nyss."

The sail rippled; a loud rattle of metal pulleys as the boom slid to its limit and shuddered in place. "We are go!" P'nyssa shouted as she killed the engine and pulled the prop boom out of the water.

Four hours later we were sailing into the range of Shipping SDisk P009 again. This time it was friendly; we slipped into it and seconds later the flat, end-of-of-the world horizon of Pandora replaced Pendor's crucis horizon. "Okay, Aaden," I said, indicating my lovely coimelin who had taken the till, "bring us around to 300 and head straight on until nightfall."

We did indeed sail onwards; the wind was light and by the time the island was in sight the sun was well on its way towards the horizon. It didn't help that there was a two-hour difference between the SDisks S111 and P009.

We worked hard to get the boat battened down, then inflated the zodiac and headed towards the beach. "I keep forgetting how heavy this thing is," I said as Aaden and I hauled it to the treeline and tied it down. "Hmmm," I said. "No note."

"Is that unusual?" Aaden asked.

"Sometimes she leaves one for me, especially if things are a little funny. Bringing you two along is definitely a little unusual, so I guess I assumed there would be a note."

"An assumption," Oenone's voice said, "is often the most inaccurate form of wish." I turned in the direction of the voice, and she smiled, laughing sweetly.

It's difficult to describe quite what it is Oenone means to me, does to me. She is unbearably beautiful, a creature of pale skin and long streamers of seemingly liquid, golden hair. Her heart-shaped face frames large eyes that seem to change color with her whim, a proud nose and full, rich lips, the upper lip a little thinner than is proportionate, giving her a 'quick' expression, except when she smiles. Her body is feminine, shapely, and soft. Right now all she wore was a blowing, white tunic that accentuated her gold hair, and the wind pressed it to her chest, emphasizing the swell of her large breasts.

But vision alone doesn't drive my love for Oenone. The common experiences we shared as the only man and woman alive on all of Pendor, once, a millennium and some ago. A millennium is not a long time, not when the memory is of the woman who made it possible to create the land we stood on, the beach we sailed, and the two equally wonderful souls behind Aaden, P'nyssa, and me. To say I owed Oenone everything is belittle the importance she once played in my world.

"He's doing it again," P'nyssa said.

"It's your turn," Aaden told her.

"I suppose." She reached over and placed her mitten under my chin, pushing my jaw shut. I blinked, looked at her with a glance that was part frustration, part smile. She gave a glance nightskyward, shook her head, and walked forward. "Hi. I'm P'nyssa."

"Oenone." She bowed deeply, and P'nyssa responded. "You must be Aaden. Ken has told me so much about both of you."

"Great," Aaden said, returning the bow. "I bet he told you all the bad parts first."

"He had nothing but love for the both of you. I'm very honored to meet you."

"Thank you," P'nyssa replied. Oenone gave each of them a strange glance, then walked around them to reach me, stopping a centimeter from my face. "Hi."

"Hi." I placed my hands on her hips, then pulled her closer, sliding my arms around her back and holding her close. "I missed you."

She laughed again, her soft voice reminding me of childhood sweets. "I missed you, too." Her arms wrapped around me, hugging me back, her hands caressing me through the material of my T-shirt. I could feel her breasts between us, the heat of her hips pressed to mine. I felt the rise in my shorts quickly even before we separated. "You look wonderful."

"You know what I think about how you look," I laughed.

"Come," she said. "You three must be both tired and hungry. I have prepared dinner for four. I hope it's for four; it has been a long time since I cooked for more than one, and even longer since I prepared food for more than that!" She began walking down the pathway cut through the tropical forestry, her bare feet kicking up sand slightly as she walked. "It's right over here."

She led us to a clearing at the base of a gently sloping hill, a small stream falling down the hill until it disappeared into the foundation of her home. Her home was just perfect. It had a circular construction with a domed roof that was supported on the outside with flying columns based on large cubes of granite. From overhead it might have looked something like an observatory, for there was a large wedge cut out of it to allow light into the atrium. Through the columns and then the main door into the house proper, in the daylight the wedge lit a large room with a shallow, four-sided pool and plants growing about the edges. The pool was not rectangular, however; befitting the circular construction, it was wide at the end where we entered, but tapered to a shorter span at the far end. It felt slightly chilly in here because of the stark, white marble construction.

She led us around the pool and to a room to the right. "Settle yourselves," she said, "and I'll bring food."

"Bring" was a rather loose term; it floated out, as if by gravitics, and settled to the table. Aaden's bushy eyebrows rose some as he watched the procession of food and drink land before him; he had never seen an actual exhibition of magic this extensive before. P'nyssa had, but rarely, and I'm sure she felt surprised by the display.

Oenone walked out a moment later, bearing a large jug of water on her shoulder. She placed it in the center of the table and took her seat. "I am not a good hostess; it has been too long since I had guests. Please, serve yourselves. I hope neither of you are allergic to fish, but that's the greatest extent of what I have." She lifted a large wooden plank that covered over the main serving tray.

My eyes lit up. "Fish?"

"Sushi," Oenone and Aaden corrected me simultaneously.

"Whatever," I laughed while they eyed each other, smiling. Then Oenone's expression fell. "Ken informs me that you are Entalie'."

Aaden nodded. "I am afraid so. It is fundamental to my nature."

"Understandable. Forgive me for being... disappointed."

"I'm sure Ken will more than entertain you."

"And who will entertain you?" Oenone asked.

"I am very self-sufficient," Aaden replied, laughing. P'nyssa and I giggled along, and finally Oenone overcame her blush and smiled behind her hand. "Besides, I don't miss him all that badly when he's out catting around. I do it to him, often enough."

As we passed around the various trays covered in raw goodies, Oenone leaned forward. "Ken, do you have a communicator with you?"

"Of course," I said. "It's in the little black bag there by the wall. It's only for emergencies."

"I understand that," Oenone said. "I want to ask one of your marvelous machines a question."

"Well, sure." I got up and retrieved it from the bag. A palm-sized PADD with gravitics generators for speakers and barely a centimeter thick, it was capable of accessing every publicly accessible scrap of data on three star systems, although the data from Terra and llerkin tended to be a few hours old. "David, I don't believe you've ever met Oenone."

"No, I haven't. My profound pleasure."

"Mine, as well," Oenone said. "David, tell me, how many children currently reside on the surface of Pendor?"

"At the mark, the population of Pendor will be 11 billion, 745,343,230." The pause took a little longer than expected before David said "Mark. Sorry, one took a little longer than anticipated."

I snorted.

"David, of those, how many are named 'Oenone'?"

"1 million, 458,210."

"Can you see me?"


"Of those numbers, in your judgment, how many look like me?"

"I would estimate between seventy and seventy five, depending on how close you want them to look like you. Although I must say that few would rival you for beauty."

She shot me a glance. "You teach your machines to flatter?"

"I think he just sort of picked it up from them general atmosphere," I replied. "It is that kind of household."

"So I imagine. Thank you, David."

"My pleasure." She handed the thick card back to me. "I have been thinking about wandering Pendor again."

P'nyssa gasped softly. "We would love to have you visit us," she said.

I wasn't quite so surprised; Oenone gets closer to keeping this promise every time I visit, and after a millennium I was glad to see that she was deciding to hold to it. To visit us at least, at the house. "Really," I said. "Of all the households in Pendor, we're one of the most over-exposed to the over-exposed, and I think you'd be safe there. We keep the paparazzi out, we should be able to provide you with a comfortable place to sleep. Zeus knows we have a few rooms equipped with every comfort a Dolphin could ever dream of."

"I appreciate that, Ken, I do." She smiled. "Change is hard."

"Listen," I said, "Do you have a friend here who helps you?" I gestured. "This place becomes more grandiose every time I look at it. Do you have a secret? Perhaps a Nixie who visits you?"

Oenone nodded. "His name is Kronos. He's nice, in his mechanical way. He is a mechanic, after all."

"Hmmm. I wonder if there's a network of Nixies and Magis that's out to make sure, secretly, that the hermits of the world are well-cared-for. So far, every hermit I've encountered has admitted to having one for a friend." I smiled, reached out and touched her hand. "I do miss you."

"I know," she sighed.

"Healing a goddess takes a long time."

"It does," she admitted. "And I'm frightened. I... When I left the world the first time, men were struggling to cross the seas on wooden boats. My life with you was one of sheer magic; it was like being a child in the home of Zeus. You cast about power as if you were born to it. I suppose you were." She took her hand out from underneath mine and picked up a kappa with it, eating the whole thing, rice and raw fish, in one bite, and chewing thoughtfully. "Now, I propose walking into a world where men no longer struggle between islands, because now they casually hop between stars."

"Not casually."

"Nonsense," Oenone said. "You yourself admitted that on Pendor your 'family wagon' can travel from here to Terra in under sixteen hours, most of that without intervention."

"Or without a piss break," Aaden said. "It's not as if there are rest areas between here and there."

"Maybe there should be. Three of them. One every four hours," I suggested. "Dave, make a note."

"Done," the AI replied.

Oenone continued. "What I am trying to tell you, Ken, is that I am... not sure. I feel that if I don't get out now, I never shall. The world will change faster and faster and I will never get a grip on any of it."

I looked at her carefully. "As I recall, Reah taught you the arts of prophecy, Oenone. Is that the source of your concern?"

She shook her head. "That's an art I haven't used in centuries. I fear it no longer works. The future changes so fast that there is no way to make a prediction. I just listen to what you tell me. And what I hear is two centuries of stagnation are coming to an end, just as I get a grip on what the changes before that were about. I need to get out, and I need to get out now, if it's ever going to happen." She sighed, sitting back in her chair. "Eat, please. We can talk more after dinner."

As I swallowed a chunk of roe, I smiled. "I suppose there are benefits to serving food that's meant to be room temperature."

Dinner led to dessert, a rich concoction of ice cream. When I asked her where she got it, she shrugged and said "Kronos."

Afterwards, as the table cleared itself, she asked, "Ken, would you walk with me?"

"Surely," I replied. She led me out of the building and down onto the beach sands. Overhead, the alternating dark and light bands of Pendor rippled and shone down, bright as any moon. And there was a moon, as well; Pindam orbited Pandora as ever while it served as home to the gene laboratories and biohazard centers that gave birth to the thirteen current Pendorian Species. Fourteen, I suppose, if I add in the AI's. Pindam put out as much light as Terra's moon and looked about as big, but it was much less massive than Terra's; it had a faster orbit, and was not locked one-face to Pandora, as Luna is. The two of them lit the oceans lapping at the sands of Oenone's island well enough to see clearly.

"I remember," she sighed softly, "that we teleported from Alexandria to North Point one afternoon, and you said 'make me a haven.' Then you added the 'please.'" I laughed. "And I did. And it worked. I sometimes think that the greatest tragedy in Greek mythology is that we don't have a concise Creation myth. Nothing so beautiful as the simple, 'Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life.'" She reached out a hand for mine, and I took it. We walked hand-in-hand down the beachside. "They both are so beautiful."


"Aaden and P'nyssa, you fool. They're not innocent, but they're not corrupt, either. They're beautiful inside, and not all of it is your doing."

"I hope not," I said. "I love them both, but they are their own people. Aaden's self-sufficiency extends to more than just his bedroom, and to more than just himself. But both of them give me things I need. It's hard to explain it. But I do need both of them around me, to make myself feel complete."

"I am starting feel that too. I have more friends than just the Nixie. There is a pod of youthful dolphins that sometimes swims near to shore. They change from year to year, and always they're different. They don't know who I am, they think I'm just some lonely femDolphin. They always telling me they don't understand why someone as beautiful as I am swims alone." She stopped, turned, and looked at me. "I'm starting to wonder myself."

I pulled her a little closer and said, "I wonder the same thing." She hesitated, our eyes not quite meeting. I understood, really; so much had changed between us in the past thousand years. When we had first met, I had been in the grips of love, obsession, and madness. Nothing and no-one would stop me from building Pendor, and she had gone along with that mad vision. I had been, as she had called me, "a godling." Then, when the full significance of what I had wrought had hit me, when I had become aware of the future enough to be disturbed by its implication, we had changed places, and she had been the one in control, this time not from passion but from maturity. She had been the one to give me protection, to understand what I was undergoing better than anyone. Now, though, our roles were changed again, since this time she was the one uncomfortable with her future, and I was the one who had a vision of what the future held and I thought it would be a good one.

But the hesitation ended as our lips met, and I took her lower lip between mine and my upper lip between hers, as our mouths opened and our teeth knocked softly against each other, as tongues reached out and tasted one another, sliding slickly over each other. Her hands held my waist, her grip tightening as we kissed.

Her kiss grew soft suddenly, as if she were distracted, and then she pressed me down onto the sand. Except I didn't land on sand; instead, I fell onto a blanket that had magically appeared behind me. "Very nice," I laughed as we tumbled onto the rough cloth of thick, woven fibers.

She gestured out over the water. "There are few better places for me to make love, Kennet, then here, on the beach. There are no other nymphs and godlings to challenge and check me here, and my mastery is absolute."

"Over water, yes. Over people, no."

She nodded, leaning against me, her head against my chest. "That is what I fear the most, being somewhere with no control over what happens next."

"Life is like that," I said, caressing her down her side, reaching down to her beautiful buttocks and closing my fingers, feeling the softness of her there. "Kissing changes everything. I was so... worried, when we came out to the beach, because of the way you and I have always been, and I was afraid for how much we had changed. Then we kissed and everything was okay, because no matter what changes between us, Oenone, we will never 'master' one another in bed."

"Or on a blanket on the beach," she replied. Her fingers grabbed the trail of my shirt and she began lifting it, pulling it over my head. She kissed my stomach, her nose against the small patch of hair that started a few cents above my navel. "Oenone, you're tickling me!"

She didn't say a word, but instead her fingers reached up and began caressing the sides of my stomach, tickling me earnestly. "Hey! No fair!" I grabbed her and tickled her back, and fortunately, unlike my two coimelin, she was ticklish. The laughter I got out of her was satisfyingly loud, almost screeching in places. Although she never did quite manage to wash out the sound of the waves crashing against the shore.

We gave up by mutual agreement; neither of us was in much of a mood to wrestle. In the process her tunic had become a little disheveled. I reached for her belt and untied it, opening her robes as if I were unwrapping a present. As each cent of skin was exposed, I caressed her with my left hand, touching her lovely, pale skin and feeling the warmth of her body. Passing the end of the toga around her head, it came free and I tossed it onto the sand next to my shirt. "All that's left is your shorts."

"True," I replied, grinning. "But you'll have to take them off if you want them off."

Naked, she knelt on the blanket and leaned over, her ass high in the air and just out of my reach. I could not take my eyes off it until she had my pants all the way open and was pulling them down. I pushed up with my hands just enough to help, and she soon tossed the shorts aside with the rest of our clothing.

We fell upon one another in the moonlight, mouths hungrily tasting bodies. The spray from the ocean had collected on our skins and it blended with the sweat of a hot night to make both of us sexy collections of salt and wet. I licked the offering from her flesh, tasting the organic origin of all life in that blend. As my tongue quested over her belly and sought the soft, padded mound, covered in a light smattering of public hair that had collected more than one kind of moisture like dew, her own mouth was seeking towards my own, denser pubic hair and her lips caressed the root of my cock.

She parted her legs further as we wriggled, side-by-side, and I came to face her sex, her pink lips swelling slightly between her fuller outer lips. The smell was heavenly; I absorbed it as I stared, felt it winding its way around my cerebral cortex, making itself at home. I inhaled deeply, partially in worship of her beautiful cunt but also slightly gasping at the feel of her mouth closing about my cock, sucking down on it until she had all of it in her mouth. I pressed my tongue forward, tasting the flesh and heat of her cunt.

She was wet, her own juices sweet and as salty, like the night air. I buried my mouth between her lips, sucking at her cunt and clitoris. She moaned gently, and her teeth seemed to rub against the base of my shaft as she did so. I reached around and gripped her buttocks, pulling her over until she was on top, her cunt bearing down on my mouth, dripping her juices onto my tongue. Her own mouth stroked like a reliable piston over my cock, sucking strongly. We stayed locked like that, pleasuring each other. It couldn't last forever; someone had to come first.

From the sensations, it was going to be me. I could feel the tightening bands of lust wrapping themselves about my cock and groin, announcing their intentions to my lust-blinded mind. She kept sliding, up and down, up and down, the wetness of her mouth dripping down the sides of my cock and collecting in my pubic hair. I tried to concentrate on what I was doing but finally I gave up, dropping my head to the blanket to moan as I came, shooting a stream of come into her mouth.

I took three deep breaths to recover, then reached around her thighs again to pull her down and give her what she had given me. I attacked her clitoris like a fireman after a fire, pressing on into those final moments. She was gasping hard, and when she came it was a quiet thing, her body shaking and a soft moan breaking her lips the only signs.

She rose off me. "Aw," I pouted.

"I just want to rest," she said, reaching up with one hand to rub her jaw. "That takes a lot of work, and it's not something I get much practice in."

"If you want me to come around more often, I can, you know."

"No," she smiled, "That's okay. I just need to get out."

"Promise?" I asked.

"Soon," she promised. I pulled her close and we arranged ourselves, watching the moon climb in the night sky overhead. "So desolate," she sighed, pointing up at it. "So important to all of us."

"I could have put it anyplace, you know," I said. "The lab didn't have to be on Pindam."

"No," she agreed, "But Pindam had to be on Pindam. Without it, you wouldn't have the fluctuating tides that give us life, and without those tides and the constant, sensitive cycling of Pendor's and Pandora's biospheres, we wouldn't have life here at all."

I nodded as I caressed her breasts. "Without you, Oenone, we wouldn't have life here at all either."

"You would have found a way, Ken." She nuzzled my neck, her hand around my cock, stroking it unconsciously. "You didn't need me. You would have found a way without me if you couldn't get me."

"Probably," I agreed. "But I'm glad I didn't have to."

"Me too," she sighed. I bent to kiss the nipple on her breast, caressing the other with my hand. The small pink nub hardened under my tongue's touch, wrinkling and poking upwards. The encouragement of her rising excitation inspired my own cock, because I began to feel her hand stroking it more clearly. I tried to ignore it, licking at the soft swell of her breast, licking more of our exertion from her skin, but my cock just wouldn't be ignored.

I pressed forward with my mouth, pressing her down until she was on her back, her knees bent and legs spread. Her arms reached up and wrapped around my neck as I slid between her thighs, pressing my cock against the tangle of pubic hair that surrounded her opening. "Yes," she sighed. "Do it."

I watched as my cock disappeared into the wet swamp of her cunt, felt her lips grasp my cock as it tunneled its way into her body, stopping when my groin pressed against hers, her legs parted as wide as lewdly possible to allow me into her depths. I inhaled deeply, then let out a deep breath through my nostrils, looking down at her face. "Good?"

"Yes," she nodded. I began to make love to her slowly, feeling her body's heat underneath my own. I could look down and in the mixed light of moon and ring watched my cock withdraw from her reddened labia, each single strand of moist pubic hair valiantly failing to keep my cock from leaving, then sliding inwards to slicken my path even more as I penetrated her fully, nestling my cock up within the full depth of her cunt.

She wrapped her legs around me, encouraging a harder thrusting with every stroke. I pushed against her harder, watching with every thrust as her hair waved and responded to my strength. I leaned down, trying to distract myself from my second orgasm.

I played with her hair as we made love, looking down her and smiling. My hips continued their up-and-down fucking of her beautiful body, her legs pulling me in and then letting me go. I held myself up on one hand while I trailed the other down her face, trying to distract myself from the climax that was already coming. She laughed and licked at my finger; I reacted by pulling it away, losing the delicate balance I had and needing both arms to keep from collapsing atop her. But she didn't want me away; she pulled me close to her, until I was pressing down on her, pressing my body against hers, pressing my chest against hers, kissing her mouth madly, wetly, as I began an almost frantic final rise to climax, moaning into her mouth as I came inside her.

We stayed like that, locked together, my cock within her cunt, our mouths pressed together, as we rolled to the side and she dropped me onto the blanket. "Yes," she gasped. "Yes."

I kissed her mouth again, and she responded, hungry as before. This time just for kisses. We made love with our lips for a long time as my cock shrank and slid out of her, our combined fluids flowing down onto our thighs. Her arms held me close while my hands explored her body. "You're so beautiful."

"As are you, my lord," she gasped. The phrasing bothered me a little, but I decided not to question it. It wasn't important to me; a moment of passion, perhaps, a term of endearment.

The ocean continued to spray us gently, and in the dark I felt a little chilled. Without the motion and distraction of our wild lovemaking, I was starting to realize just how much body heat I had lost. "Oenone?"

"You're cold, I know." She pulled me close. "Right now, Ken, I don't want to let you go. Even though I know that a few minutes from now we'll be in my bed again, I can't imagine letting you go." She sighed, then loosened her arms. "Leave the blanket. It will care for itself."

I nodded and stood up. She did too; now naked, her body was more visible than ever, more desirable than before. I pulled her to my side and said "Let's make our way back." She nodded, and we returned to her home, and to bed.

"It was wonderful to finally meet you," P'nyssa was saying to her as Aaden inflated the boat again. Something in the way she said it made my eyes rise, as if there was desire in her voice. "I hope we can meet again, soon."

"I would like that too," Oenone replied. "And you," she continued, addressing me, "I will see you again soon."

"I promise," I said, taking her hand and kissing it. "Good bye, Oenone. Until again."

She nodded. "Until then." She waved. "Good-bye, Aaden. A pleasure talking to you! I would like to see your garden!"

"You will if you come visit us!" he replied as we boarded the boat. A chorus of "good-bye!" arose from all three of us as the little inflatable took us back to the Succubus.

After raising anchor and heading back to sea, P'nyssa handed Aaden the till, which gave me an ample opportunity to pull her aside. "Nyss? Where do you and Oenone disappear to this morning?"

"Just into her library. We wanted to talk about something."

"Like what?"

"Oh, you know." She grinned. "Girl talk." The idea of P'nyssa identifying anything she did as "just girl talk" was about as stunning as Aaden announcing he was going to "find a nice girl and settle down." Impossible, if not simply outright absurd. She must have seen the disbelief in my face; she leaned over and said "It was personal. If you ever need to know about it, we'll tell you. Okay?"

I nodded. "I was just surprised."

"So was I," she admitted. "But we have something in common... loving you... and she just wanted to talk about it. Okay?"

"Okay." I leaned over and kissed her cheek. "I trust your judgment."

"That's good. Sometimes I'm not so sure." She wrapped her tentacles around my back and kissed my neck.

"With wind like this," Aaden shouted over the cabin, "We should be at the SDisk by five!"

"Excellent!" I shouted back. "Best possible speed, Mr. Satpulov! We have a life to attend to!"

"Aye, aye, love!"