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.“I’ll be right here if you need me.”Reluctantly she released his hand.Hers hovered over his, ready to grab him again but she kept her balance and started feeling comfortable enough that she risked pulling her free hand back a little.“See? You’re going great.”“Thanks.” She smiled back at him.“I think this is fun too.”He blinked.His glance darted around the empty rink then his smile came back full force.“Good.Ready to try again?”Still wobbly, she followed his instructions on how to push off and move by alternating her feet a little.He even got her to lift one foot then the other.On the next time across the rink he convinced her to try on her own.She lasted less than three seconds and gasped as she lost her balance.Jolar caught her in his arms.Enfolded against his broad chest, his smiling mouth only a few inches away from hers, Arissa could do nothing but look wide-eyed up at him as they floated slowly across the rink.It felt so good to be held against him and she was so aware of his body, the warm male scent of him, her skin tingled.“You okay?” he asked, bending down a little more to look into her face, his blue eyes amused.Her hands were resting on his strong shoulders and she wished more than anything he would lean down just a little bit more and kiss her.Gods, I’m going to make a complete fool of myself.“Yes,” she said, quickly dropping her gaze.But that had her looking right at the hollow of his throat and she had an impulse to touch her mouth to the warm golden skin there.She twisted her head away.“I think,” she began, unable even to meet his eye, embarrassed at how breathless she sounded.“I’ve had enough airskating for today.”He laughed.“Okay.”He got her steadied and helped her out of the rink.He took his airskates off and knelt down to unfasten hers.“We should probably go get ready for dinner now anyway.”“Right.” She was nervous about having to eat with strangers, having to hold a conversation without revealing herself.“You did much better at lunch today,” he assured, accurately reading her expression as he helped her get the skates off.“You were perfect.”“That was different.That was just you.”“You’re going to do fine.” He stood.“Come on, we don’t want miss our seating.”The dark clothes he changed into were more formal tonight and she wore one of the gowns he’d chosen for her.This dress showed more skin than the green one she’d worn the night before but she liked how the shimmersilk went from orange at the hem, then subtly changed in color up the skirt to a light, then dark blue, reaching indigo near her shoulders.Dozens of tiny jewels decorating the low cut bodice caught the light and sparkled like stars.She put her hair half up and half down and clipped some tiny stones into her curls to continue the sparkle effect.She took her time to apply the shadow to her eyelids and was pleased how much better it looked this time.Jolar smiled when he saw her.“You look wonderful,” he said and offered his hand.In her mind she suddenly saw him pull her against him, his warm, broad palm against her bare back to press her closer, his mouth hot and hungry on hers.The image came out of nowhere and was so unexpected, so vivid, it sent a tightening rush of desire through her center.Her face felt hot.“I’m think I’m pretty steady now that we’re out of the rink,” she managed.His surprise pulsed and he dropped his hand.“Well, let’s go then.”She wasn’t supposed to look impressed but it took a lot of effort to appear jaded as she took in the Queen’s Light dining room.The room was done in dark colors but elegantly so, with little pools of light over and around the tables.The musicians played softly enough that she could hear the murmur of conversation, the clinking of glass and silverware.Located in the bow of the ship, the transparent plexisteel walls rose three stories above her head and swept outward to give an absolutely breathtaking view of space.“Wow,” Jolar murmured, craning his neck to see the view.She shot him a narrow look.“Legan,” she said to the hostess.The woman nodded and led them into the dining room.There were eight already assembled at the table—she and Jolar would be taking the last two seats.Jolar held her chair for her and then took his place on the opposite side, farther down the table.The slender woman beside him instant brightened, vibrating with interest.Jolar gave the woman a slow smile and Arissa pushed down a sudden impulse to hurl her soup spoon at the woman’s head.“I’m Lian,” the man at her side said, offering his hand.He was an attractive man, with dark hair and eyes to match.He nodded to the striking redhead across the table.“That’s Kemma.” The woman gave her a friendly smile.“That’s, uh—”“Kelm,” the young man said with a smile and nod.“Hi, I’m Sona,” the dark blonde girl next to her offered.She couldn’t be more than seventeen with a pert, freckled covered nose and a cute overbite.She nodded to the man on Kemma’s other side.“That’s my Dad.”“You can call me Parlen,” the man said dryly putting his napkin in his lap, his thinning hair very obvious even in this light.“Rather than ‘Dad’.”The group was friendly, smiling back at her expectantly.“Oh! I’m Arissa,” she said suddenly realizing what they were waiting for.“Legan,” she added then flushed.No one else had offered their last name.“First time to Sertar?” Kemma asked.“Or have you been before?”“No, this is my first time.” There was a pause and Arissa quickly asked, “What about all of you?”She scarcely heard their answers and took a quick sip of water against the sudden dryness of her mouth.She was too open and it left her feeling like she was lost in a tumultuous sea of emotion.Their conversation was buzzing around her.Focus.Just pick one of them and focus.Arissa looked up to see the redhead, Kemma, regarding her with a puzzled look.“That’s a lovely gown,” Arissa said, narrowing her attention to just Kemma.“Thank you.” The woman oscillated with surprise.“I just said the same about yours.”“Oh.” Had she? The whole conversation was proving hard to follow around the jumble of emotions she sensed and nervousness knotting her stomach.Kemma smiled kindly.“I guess we both have great taste.”“I guess so.” She let her breath out when the waiter handed her a menu, happy to have something to do with her hands.It also occupied everyone else at the table and gave her a few moments to collect herself.The waiter was taking drink orders and Arissa wet her lips.“Niman wine, uh, sweet.”“I’m from Nima,” Kemma said, then gave a self-deprecating shrug.“As if it weren’t obvious.”“I’ve never been there,” Sona put in.“What’s it like?”Her father threw her a disapproving look.“I’m just talking about the weather, Dad.”Kemma’s smile didn’t falter but her green eyes cooled a little.“Lovely.The beaches of the southern continent are the most beautiful in the Realm [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]