Sojourn Home

The ring glinted on his left hand as he wrapped it around the case handle. Silver and turquoise, a little thicker than the one around my own slender heart-finger. I'd picked the pair of them out after he left for the first time—he'd barely been able to stay long enough for the wedding service, and I hadn't even been certain he'd come back. Every time I saw the matching ring on my own hand, it was a reminder Kanovan existed and was married to me, that the universe had room for something as strange and wonderful as that. Maybe he remembered me when he saw his and marveled at the same thing.

Not for the first time, I wondered if I would care this passionately if I had a husband who didn't live on other worlds half the days in the standard calendar. But thinking of Kanovan—of my husband—as a man who never left my side was a contradiction in terms. I knew it when I asked him to marry me; it was why I'd asked.

"You're thoughtful," he said as we entered the cab.

"You're a lot to think about." The words slipped out as I keyed directions into the cab computer. Kanovan's breath caught somewhere between a laugh and a sigh.

"I've thought about you, too."

"I should hope so."

His fingers toyed with the curls at the nape of my neck. "When we get home, I could use a long shower."

As soon as the door closed behind us, I pressed Kanovan against the wall and kissed him like he was oxygen. His lips were soft, and he tasted like sugared rose petals—musky and sweet. I dragged his lower lip between my teeth, drawing a frisson of pain and pleasure. Not normally my thing, but with Kanovan, my boundaries dropped. And there was something appealing about pinning him down and completely overwhelming him, not only physically, but with my knowledge of what he wanted and my willingness to give it. The power was heady, sexy—how could it not be?

His strong, violinist's fingers ran through my hair, massaging my scalp and neck. My own hands tangled in his curls, pulling his head back so I could deepen the kiss. I wound up taking some strands out by the roots on accident, though he certainly didn't mind. The hairs remained curled tightly around my finger like a brass ring. I left them there, even as I loosened his collar and brushed the sensitive skin at the sides of his throat. His pulse pounded rapidly beneath my fingertips.

We must have spent a quarter hour just kissing, relearning each other. Then Kanovan nudged me back, gently but firmly, and we made our way across the room, undressing as we went—stopping by the couch to undo the laces on my boots, a pause on the kitchen table where I unbuttoned his shirt, and then gave in to the urge for another snog.

Kissed breathless, he followed me into the bathroom and slipped into the shower stall, working with the controls while I took a second set of towels from the cabinet. I'm not ashamed to say that mine had looked lonely on the rack by themselves for the past five months. Now Kanovan had only been home half an hour, and things were already becoming pleasantly crowded.

He turned the water on and jumped with a shameless yelp. "Come on in," he said through gritted teeth. "It's wonderful."

I laughed, letting him pull me in and place me between himself and the showerhead so I provided a shield against the cold water. "It's warming up," I said.

"I think Ariesians are just bred to handle low temperatures."

"That, too. If you're ever here for a winter, we'll teach you a thing or two about—" I faltered, frowning.

"It's only been three years," Kanovan said softly. "I'll make it for a winter sometime."

"You're shivering," I observed. Before he could protest, I had wrapped my arms around him. Of course, warming him up was just the smallest part of my intentions.

Kanovan had stopped shivering—from cold, at least—and now he was moving around me, studying. It was an odd, but stable, habit of his, this way of going over me every time we reunited. Perhaps I really did change so much between meetings that he felt he had to relearn me. Or else he just knew how I liked it, especially when the close examinations began involving his hands and mouth. I closed my eyes, letting the sensations wash over me.

When I returned these attentions to him, he smelled like himself again, the antiseptic traveling-odor had washed away. I buried my face in the crook of his shoulder, breathing him in, and he laughed huskily, but before I could continue my inspection, his hand closed around me. It ran up my length, the grip light, more teasing than commanding, but the pressure of his fingers turned my arousal blindingly urgent. I reached for the tube of Sanigel on the rack above us. Leaning against the shower wall, he pulled me towards him with his other hand at my waist. In a moment, his leg replaced it, curling over my hip as he opened to me. His mouth was at my ear, gasping. I could feel his heart pound where my fingers stroked, where I pressed against him, inside him, everywhere. I wound a hand through his wet hair, my grip tightening as the climax rushed over me. His followed soon after, and I barely had time to steady myself to support him as he sank into my arms.