Diamond Star
wasn't sure what he did, but the dress finally fell open. He pushed it off her shoulders until it slid down to the ground, and she stood in front of him, her long lashes lowered, her skin flushed with health. Well, well. Naughty vid producer. She hadn't worn a shred of underclothes.
    "Gods," Del muttered. He ran his knuckles down her cheek and over her lips. She stayed there, letting him look at her. A dusting of gold hair showed in the triangle between her thighs.
    "Your turn," she murmured, and stepped closer.
    Del helped her pull off his jacket and shirt, but she wouldn't let him do any more. She undid his belt and dropped the rings in a pile on the ground, their metal clinking together. It was maddening the way she unfastened his pants and peeled off his clothes with slow deliberation. When he couldn't take it any more, he yanked her against his body, one arm around her back, his other hand tangled in her hair, pulling her head back as he kissed her.
    "You're killing me," Ricki whispered. Lifting her knee, she tried to mount him right there, while they were standing.
    "Patience, sweetheart." Del laid her on the bed and pulled off the rest of his clothes. Lying down, he took her into his arms. She had a startled look, like a doe, but he felt how much she wanted him. As he stretched out on her, she wrapped her legs around his waist. With a groan, he buried himself inside of her. Ricki gasped, her desire rushing through his mind. She took what he had to give, matched his rough intensity, and reached for more. He took her up, closer to her peak, to the edge--and stopped, holding her there, keeping her from that final burst of pleasure.
    And then he did it again and again, until she cried out with frustrated desire. Finally he took her over the edge and she moaned while he exploded inside her, his mind blanking with ecstasy.

    "Hmmm?" He stirred, trying to wake up. Ricki lay under him.
    "We should get under the covers," she said drowsily.
    He kissed her nose, feeling tender now. "Pretty vid producer."
    She smiled like a satisfied cat. "You're something else, babe." As he slid to her side, she curled against him. "I could get to like that."
    "Get to?" He worked the covers under their bodies and then pulled the silky cloth over the two of them. Blue and green holos rippled as if the bed were part of the sea.
    Ricki didn't answer, but he didn't care. He knew she liked what they had done. More than liked. Being an empath could be excruciating in the city when he was trying to shut out all the emotions, but with intimacy it had advantages. He cradled her against his body and rubbed his cheek on her head.
    "You're so affectionate," she mumbled. "Commanding as a dom when you're hot and as sweet as a sub afterward." She yawned as her voice trailed off. "What a combo . . ."
    "Dom and sub?" Del asked. "What does that mean?"
    She didn't answer, having already drifted away.
    Holding her in his arms, Del relaxed into the airbed, and it shifted as it eased him asleep. . . .

    Ricki stroked his hair. "I'll see you later."
    Del managed to open his eyes. He was sprawled on his stomach, alone in the bed, his legs splayed across the mattress. No lights shimmered in the room except the silvery moonlight pouring in from the window-wall. He was vaguely aware of Ricki's kiss on his cheek. Then he slipped back into oblivion.

    Del awoke slowly. Opening his eyes, he gazed at the ceiling. Although sunlight diffused through the polarized window-wall, the temperature remained cool. He reached for Ricki, but he was alone. After a while, he remembered she had left while it was dark.
    Stretching his arms, Del sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. He had slept better tonight than in years. As he stood up, he looked around for his clothes. When he realized they had disappeared, he smiled, his mind spinning scenarios of why Ricki would hide his clothes. When he walked around the bed, though, he saw them neatly folded on a chair by the

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