Diamond Star
linger on the glass, then slowly ran her tongue over the rim. "Go on," she coaxed. "Finish yours."
    Del stared at her as she drank. Then he lifted his drink and downed it in one swallow. She started, expecting him to choke, but he just set down the glass.
    "Well, that was impressive," Ricki said with a laugh.
    Del pushed her glass away from her. "You don't need that." He drew his finger down her hand, from her wrist to the tip of her thumb. It was only the slightest touch, yet that only made it more erotic. The hinge in his hand didn't look strange anymore. She wondered what he could do with it. She turned her hand over so he was trailing his finger across her palm. Then she curled her fingers, capturing his. It wasn't until Del's lips curved upward, slow and tempting, that she realized he had barely smiled tonight. He lifted her hand and pressed his lips against her palm.
    "My people say the moons of Lyshriol are more exquisite than any woman," he told her, his breath warming her skin. Softly he added, "The people who say that have never met you."
    Ricki sighed. This boy was going to get himself ravished. "Do you know," she said. "A person could live up here."
    "Hmmm." With his eyes closed, Del pressed her palm against his cheek. It was a curiously sweet gesture.
    "Would you like to know why?" she asked.
    Opening his eyes, he kissed the inside of her wrist. "Why?"
    "Prime-Nova has a suite here." She sighed as his tongue flicked across her skin. "For tonight . . . it's ours."
    Del's lashes lifted. "Does it have a bedroom?"
    "Oh, yes," Ricki murmured. She slid off her chair and stood by the table. Del stood as well, and his gaze traveled over her in the most satisfying manner.
    * * *
    Del knew he should have refused the drink. His meds would render it harmless, and he had taken no drugs for the alcohol to affect anyway, but that didn't matter. He had sworn never to take another drink. But he hadn't wanted to refuse and look even more unsophisticated than Ricki already considered him.
    Don't dwell on it. He pushed the thought into the mental recess where he hid the memories he wanted to forget.
    Ricki swayed in her slinky dress as she led him across the room. Reaching down, he took her hand. The room lights had dimmed, giving the place an ethereal quality, as if they were floating in the sky. Moonlight poured through the window-wall at their right.
    The wall ahead of them looked like blue crystal with silver spirals turning in it, soothing and hypnotic. As they approached, the wall morphed into a curtain of blue light. Ricki took him through into a dim room rippling in subtly erotic swirls of opalescent colors. On the right, another window-wall looked over the city. The covers on the bed to their left glimmered with holographic washes of blue and aqua.
    When Ricki stopped by the bed, Del turned her to face him. Even in her spiked heels, she only came to his chin. As he stroked back her hair, her exotic eyes widened. They had captivated him since the first moment he saw her today. It wasn't only that they were huge, with long lashes, but they were blue. Before coming to Earth, he had never seen that color. They made her look sweeter, innocent, glistening with youth. What he felt from her mind was anything but innocent; she had the sultry desire of an experienced woman. But he also sensed the vulnerability she hid deep within.
    Her contradictions fascinated him. Bending his head, he kissed her, taking his time with it. She splayed her hand against his chest, touching his skin where he had left his collar open. Such a simple gesture, but it sent a surge of desire through him. He pulled her closer. He wanted all of her, hard and fast, then sweet and gentle, then both at the same time. Mostly, he wanted to throw her on the bed and rip away that wicked dress.
    Except he couldn't get it off. He scraped at the seam that ran down her back, tugged, and pulled, to no avail. Ricki molded against him and walked her fingers up his spine. He

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