The Gifted (Star Girl, Book 1)
by Linda G Mooney
||Music and Press
Linda G Mooney
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After being banished from her own world because her people deeply feared the scope of her powers, an anomaly shoots Sah'Reena toward Earth and the one man in the universe meant to be her mate--Dr. Robin Dickenson.
No one, least of all Dr. Robin Dickenson, expected what they discovered when they opened the alien craft captured by the space shuttle Liberty while on a routine space mission. But from the moment he first sees the star girl, Sah'Reena, Robin is captivated.
Near death, and never expecting to see anything again beyond the endless void of space, Sah'Reena isn't certain, at first, that her mind isn't playing tricks on her. But the handsome face of the stranger she sees gives her hope for life when she'd thought all hope was gone.
Peter slammed the door behind them the moment they entered the room.
"What the hell are you thinking?" he yelled. "No, wait. Don’t tell me this is a fame and fortune, self-promotional thing, because if it is . . . But, no, that’s not you."
"It’s not," Robin tried to assure him. "I don’t even know if I can explain."
"Then why on God’s green earth are you doing this?"
"Hey, do you think I deliberately woke up one morning and decided, ‘What a beautiful day. I think I’ll fall in love with a girl from outer space.’?" Robin snapped back. He immediately regretted his heated response, and he walked away in irritation. He removed his jacket and tossed it at the couch.
Peter withdrew to the other side of the office. His stunned expression was a mute accusation. Robin realized he’d gone too far. Perhaps said too much.
"You’re . . . in love . . . with this . . .?" Several seconds passed as he tried to get his thoughts in order. Anger was coloring his rationale. Emotions were riding high in the wake of what he’d just witnessed.
"The word I think you’re looking for is ‘alien’."
Peter turned on his heel and strode over to the wall of windows behind his desk. Common sense was conflicting with his fatherly instincts, all of which was battling against his urge to strike out at his adopted son both physically and verbally.
Robin was well aware of the turmoil going through his father. It was something he’d tried to prepare himself for, knowing there was no way he could have predicted the man’s reactions. "Peter, look, let me explain something."
"Explain? Rob, there’s no way you can explain it." He took several more deep breaths in an attempt to further calm himself.
"You can’t believe I did this deliberately," Robin said.
Deliberately? No, not when it came to Robin. The child had been mature at age five when Peter had first met him. Anyone could see the old soul living in the body of a starving little boy. Eons of wisdom were reflected in the saddest green eyes he’d ever seen. If ever a youngster had the intellect and drive to become somebody, that child did.
If Robin said he had fallen in love with the alien woman, then he had. He was not one to bandy about the word. Even when it came to his job, which he was passionate about, the most he would exclaim was that he "thrived" on it. "Cared" about it. Was "deeply fond" of it. But "love"? No.
Sometimes Peter wondered if the word was in the young man’s vocabulary. On the rare occasion when he had told his son that he loved him, the most he would get in return was "Same here, Dad", or "Me, too".
"Do you even know what love is?" he muttered aloud, then started. He hadn’t meant to be vocal with the question.
Robin ran a hand through his hair, a familiar, nervous gesture, and sighed deeply. It was then Peter noticed the extra lines etched on the young man’s face and the circles under his eyes. Suddenly he realized just how much of a burden all of this had become for his son. What had been hurt and anger after seeing the two of them kissing immediately became concern for their safety and well-being.
"Yeah, I know. Answer the question."
The young man made his way over to the sofa against the far wall and literally fell into it. The leather cushions puffed noisily upon contact.
"I can’t explain it, Pete. I can’t describe it. I can’t examine it within myself. Hell, I can’t even tell you when I realized it for what it was." His voice dropped almost to a whisper. "All I know is that I love her. It eats at me little pieces at a time. When I look at her, I feel like I’m falling down a deep, black, endless hole . . . and I can’t wait to reach the bottom."
"What’s at the bottom, Rob?"
The young man looked up at him. "I don’t know. But if she’s there, I don’t care. She does something to me and I’ve racked my brain trying to figure out what."
"Maybe you’re in love with the ideal," Peter tried to reason.
"I don’t know what you mean."
"I mean . . . your life has been the stars, the universe. Ever since I took you to Griffith when you were ten, you’ve dreamt of nothing else but learning about what lay beyond this planet. Maybe that’s why you think you love her. She’s part of what is out there. She’s a product of everything mysterious and unknown. Maybe you love her for what she stands for."
"That’s where you’re wrong," Robin stated bluntly.
Peter leaned back against his desk and waited to hear his son’s side. He gave a small wave for the young man to continue.
"I don’t need to explain myself further to you," Robin remarked. "I know what I’m doing."
"No, you don’t. There are a lot of people out there, a lot of people who have put their lives on the line to protect this secret while you’re willing to risk the exposure."
"I haven’t risked anything," he started to protest.
"Oh, no? Well, that’s where you’re wrong. What do you think’s gonna happen when the press get wind of her existence? Do you think we can keep her here at the Center once the government, hell . . . the world! . . . finds out?"
"I know what I’m doing, Pete," Robin reiterated.
"I just hope to God you do," Peter said. "Something else, too, I wish you’d think about tonight. Think about your life. Think about how much it’s gonna change if you stay on this course. Do you think the Center will want to keep you on if you’re found to be responsible for exposing her? Do you honestly believe things will remain the same? Are you willing to risk everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve, your position here, and all you ever cared about in this world? Are you willing to risk them just so you can have a few unguarded moments with a space girl?" He stared for a long moment into a pair of clear green eyes and saw there was no hesitation in Robin’s response.
Throwing up his hands, Peter stood and walked over to the coffee maker on the wet bar in the corner of his office. Without asking, he poured two cups. He handed Robin one of them before joining him on the couch. They took a sip together.
Robin made a face. "Ohhh . . . that’s bad. How long has this stuff been regurgitating?"
Peter also waved off on the brew. "Since last month, from the taste of it. I either have to get myself an assistant who can fix a decent pot of coffee, or learn to make it myself."
"Dad, you’re sixty years old. Are you capable of learning anything new?"
"Shut up before I beat you senseless with my cane."
They drank a little more in silence. Outside the window they could see the space center complex going about its normal business as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened to the world, much less the discovery of an actual sentient life force from another galaxy. Robin sighed heavily and looked down into his cup. "To paraphrase Tom Hanks, all my life I’ve been waiting for her . . . and when I find her . . . she’s a little green man."
"She’s not little. She’s not green. And she’s definitely not a man," Pete muttered, and took another sip of his coffee.
Finally Robin got to his feet and dumped the rest of the contents in the little sink in the wet bar. "Okay, now that we’ve had our little father-son talk, I need some advice."
"Shoot," Peter said.
"What am I going to do?"
"I take it you’re not wanting me to lay odds."
"No. I want your honest opinion. Do you think there’s any way Sree and I can have any kind of life together?"
"Outside of a remote village in South America, no," Peter offered.
"So am I. Serious as a heart attack. You know as well as I do that once she’s discovered she’ll be a celebrity. And nothing you do will keep those news hounds and camera jocks off your butt."
Robin stared at his father. "You need to meet her," he said in a gentler tone. "You need to speak with her, get to know her, get to see the kind of person she is inside. Dad . . . she’s been through something traumatic that’s scarred her forever. I’m beginning to think we’re the first kind and decent thing she’s ever encountered in her life."
"You may very well be right."
"She has a right to live her life."
"That’s right, but she’s rarer than the Hope Diamond. She’s an alien. She’s proof there is life out there, and damn good-looking life, too!" Peter smiled humorlessly. "You’re gonna have crackpots trying to reach her for one reason or another. Crackpots who’ll try to start new religions because of her, and other’s who’ll try to kill her out of fear and ignorance. You’re gonna be a very busy boy."
Robin sighed, bowing his head. "I can’t walk away," he admitted softly.
"I know. And I don’t expect you to."
"I can’t stop loving her."
"Which brings up the question . . ."
"Does she love you?"
Robin paused. Peter could tell at once the young man was hesitant, but he didn’t press for an answer.
"I think she does."
"She hasn’t told me."
"Then how can you be sure? My God, she’s another life form. Maybe she has as much interest in you as she does taking out the trash. Maybe to her you’re nothing more than a pet. Or a science experiment."
Robin shook his head. "She doesn’t have to tell me. I just know. Let’s leave it at that."
"Yeah, let’s leave it." Peter walked over to the sink and washed out his cup. Turning to leave, he gave his son one last look. "I pray to God you’re right, Rob. That’s all I can say." Sighing heavily, the older man scratched the back of his head. "Okay, you win. I’ll talk to her. I’ll try and keep an open mind."
"Tonight. I was thinking about going to have a last look-see at my potential alien-in-law before heading back to the house. Lock up when you leave, okay?"
He closed the door behind him, leaving the young man alone with his thoughts.
Robin walked back over to the couch and lay down, using an arm to cover his eyes against the glare of the street lamp coming through the windows. He fell asleep, exhaustion unexpectedly overtaking him as, outside, the winds picked up and prepared to drop a film of ice over the city. No one knew it, but a brutally cruel winter wasn’t the only thing about to occur.
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