Mel smiled at the man next to her. “So, why are you leaving?”
“It is a chance for something new.”
“What do you do for a living?”
“Up until this point, I have worked in construction. You?”
“Customs. I worked in inspection. My name is Mel.”
He laughed and extended his hand. “So is mine. Melvin Harcourt.
She shook his hand, feeling the calluses on his skin. “Melia Geller.”
He smiled, his dark hair drooping over one eye. “What are you going to do?”
“Probably inspection officer again. You?”
“I am thinking courier, but they will test my aptitude.”
“Mine too.” She sighed and sat back in her seat, watching the world fall away on the monitors.
“Would you care to go for coffee when we land?”
She gave him a flirty look beneath her lashes. “If they have coffee.”
He blinked with his eyes wide. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
“We are off to worlds where we might accidentally eat something that will melt us from the inside out. It will be strange and dangerous and wonderful, even when it sucks.” She smiled.
He shook his head. “I am guessing that you are right, but I hadn’t thought beyond having sex with aliens.”
They looked at each other and burst out laughing. A few heads turned and other Volunteers smiled while some looked like they wanted to hurl, but Mel and Mel chatted away until the shuttle landed at Luna base and they were separated for their basic training.
One week after she began her etiquette training, Mel was in the common room when Mel came by. She smiled and he walked over, the flowing white trousers and open vest didn’t leave much to the imagination.
She poured him a coffee and smiled. “They do have coffee up here.”
He sat next to her on one of the couches.
She looked him up and down. “So, not a courier?”
He grimaced. “What was your first clue?”
She laughed. “I have done my research. That isn’t a uniform used by couriers.”
“Bravo. I am going to be a Companion.”
“Well, you have the body for it.”
He looked pleased. “Thank you. My instructor is pleased with my progress.”
“Will you be completing your training at one of their centers?”
Mel blinked. “Yes, how did you know that?”
“Every woman on this base that found out renting a guy for the night was legal and safe if there was a Companion available made a procedural list of how to acquire one when we are posted.”
He looked stunned. “You are kidding me.”
“Nope. If you are near a human when it comes down to your practicum, have the test organizer approach her for your final exams. No one will be harder on you than a woman who has already had a man trained to please her.” Mel winked.
Mel laughed at him. “Don’t worry about it. Companion training takes quite a while. By the time you complete it, you will be ready for anything or anyone.”
He smiled shyly. “I have already been asked if I have an objection to my own sex.”
“It is a good thing to know. I know they won’t make you interact with someone you object to.”
“How do you know so much about it?”
She sipped at her coffee. “I told you. Research.”
Melia is a customs agent on Earth, and when she volunteers to go to space her skills translate well there as well. But when she meets an alien that finds her a viable mate and her body agrees, she finds herself out of control and she doesn’t like it. And when her success at finding contraband leads to several attempts on her life, her mate must step up his game not only to protect her from death, but also against her body’s reaction to his DNA. However, will he make it to Melia before it is too late?
Manifest by Viola Grace is fifteenth in the Terran Times Second Wave series. I loved this story by Ms. Grace. Melia was funny and smart. She was compassionate even as she was confident in both her job and her needs. Her skill was intrinsic and somewhat normal and I enjoyed that about both her and this story. She had a job to do that translated from her old life to the new. She embraced what being in space could be, until her body betrayed her (at least in her mind). I loved that Ms. Grace gave a small twist that felt real and believable. I could understand and even empathize with Melia’s angst and determination, but I also enjoyed Dronin-tah’s willingness to give Melia time, even if she didn’t realize it. I enjoyed what he provided to Melia both physically and emotionally.
This was a wonderful addition to this series. Ms. Grace gave us a well written story. I thoroughly enjoyed Melia, Dornin-tah and their friends and family. And if you are looking for an enjoyable quick read, you will not be disappointed with this story.
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