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"It's not so bad."
"No. You'll probably be going back to the home planet now."
"I can't go back," Lors mused. "I have to stay and see this through.
It's personal, now."
"Personal?" Narvi was clearly puzzled. "What can be personal about a
Spacer and an alien race?"
He looked at his friend levelly. "I can't leave this planet, Narvi,
because of Beth Danson. I'm in love with her."
"Love!" Narvi exploded.
In the heavy silence that followed, the two men stared at one another.
Lors regarded his friend with matter-of-fact calmness, but Narvi's mouth
was open in astonishment. The situation wasn't covered in the manual.
"Love," Narvi choked finally. "With an alien? You must be joking."
"That blow on the head must have been solid as a rock."
Thesa just stared, without speaking.
"Beth is a wonderful woman and I'm in love with her. If the blow on the
head did that ... well then, I'm glad the ship cracked up."
"But, Lors! She's an alien! It's like a farmer, falling in love with his
stock! It's crazy! You couldn't live on this planet the rest of your
life, and she couldn't live with you!"
"What about Jela," Narvi demanded swiftly.
He didn't answer him. Memories of the blond woman with the trim ankles,
the slim waist and the large breasts floated back to him; memories of
the many evenings they'd shared walking along the sand under the stars.
He sat there fingering the thoughts as they rolled past, without feeling
anything. He was aware, finally, that Narvi was speaking to him.
"... know how you feel, Lors, but forget it. You could never work
anything out. Go on back to Jela and forget about this alien. It doesn't
matter how wonderful she is; probably nothing short of killing her
husband would gain her for you."
Lors smiled thinly. "We can do that, too." He paused and looked
thoughtful for a moment "What did Imry do with Danson?"
"Nothing. He lives better than most spacers. Since we are minus prisons
on starships, Imry installed him in your quarters, under guard, of
course. Commander Zark hasn't been able to figure out what to do with
him, yet. That's what he wants to talk to you about."
"Have you a scout ship here?" Lors asked.
"Certainly. We use them to make reports. The Terrans would pick up the
radio waves otherwise."
"How about a uniform?"
"You can borrow one of Thesa's. You'd never get into one of mine."
"Fine. As soon as I'm properly attired, we'll go see Zark." Grinning at
Narvi, Lors followed Thesa into the bedroom for the uniform.
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