“Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Mariah never grew tired of looking out the glass wall of Alexa’s waiting room. The view from the window filled her mind with dreams as she looked out over the ocean. On the horizon, clouds lifted from the water and raced overhead on their way inland. Waves rolled on shore and seemed to come toward her like the movies where lovers run to each other’s arms. The scene gave her a sense of flight and freedom.
Alexa walked in and watched Mariah for a moment. She enjoyed the Cybrid’s quiet grace when Mariah lifted her head to look out the window. The Cybrid girl seemed such a nice person with no pretense of who or what she was. Becoming Mariah’s friend was the least difficult task she’d undertaken in a long time.
“Good morning Mariah. I’m glad you came.”
Mariah turned, smiled at Alexa and walked to her. The look of pleasure on her face relieved Alexa’s anxiety. Mariah halted in front of her empress and bowed. Alexa returned the courtesy and hugged Mariah to welcome her.
“I have good news to share with you today.”
Alexa’s warm greeting caught Mariah off guard. All she could think about was what Jon said about them failing their test with Alexa. She looked down and waited to hear what she had to say.
“Our interviews went well, and I wanted to congratulate you on your new job.”
“What new job, Ma’am?” Mariah’s eyes sparkled with interest, but her face showed she was unsure of how to react.
“Call me Alexa. We’re going to see a lot of each other from now on. I’m moving you to our special projects lab here. We’ll be working together along with Peter.”
Mariah’s heart jumped at the sound of Peter’s name. The rhythm increased as she realized she’d be seeing him daily. Alexa could see the shock her words had on Mariah.
“I’m not sure I’m, uh . . .”
“Oh, don’t worry. You are more than qualified, and it thrills Peter you are coming to work with us.”
Alexa watched her reaction. Mariah felt dizzy and struggled to keep her composure. Alexa took her by the arm and walked with her to the office.
“Come on, let’s have some coffee and talk about your new job.”
* * *
Peter sat in the control room of the DNA processing lab and watched Mariah work on his screen. She looked through the viewer of the microscope, turned to her computer and typed. The screen flashed as Mariah manipulated the computer with a machine like precision.
What captivated Peter most was how she sat on her stool with her legs crossed, exposing her thigh. Her lab coat draped down both sides of her hips like an open curtain revealing her to him. She leaned into the scope again and adjusted the controls. The small reveal of her cleavage and collarbone quickened his breath.
Alexa came in and looked up from her lab reports and started to speak. The words hung in her throat as she saw her brother watching Mariah on the monitor. She walked up and watched over his shoulder.
“She’s focused and efficient. It’s amazing to watch her work.”
“Oh, damn Alexa, you startled me.”
“How is Mariah working out in the lab?”
“I’m impressed. Mariah has good control of technique and knows the equipment well. You should see her data entry skills.”
“You’ll never win Mariah’s love studying her data entry skills.”
“What makes you think I want to win Mariah’s love?”
“When a man looks at a woman the way you look at Mariah, he’s in love, or he’s contemplating masturbation.” Alexa looked at Peter and raised an eyebrow.
“I’m glad I wasn’t contemplating the latter considering your tendency to come in here without knocking.”
Alexa gave her brother her best scornful look before she sat down next to him.
“Peter, when are you going to ask her out again?”
“I went out with her several times, already.”
Peter watched Mariah on the monitor, remembering those moments he felt drawn to her. The way she smiled when she saw him and looked in his face when he talked. She made him feel like he was the only thing on her mind.
He recalled how he leaned toward her to look out the window on her side of the car. She stopped talking and closed her eyes with a slight tilt of her head. He heard her draw in a sudden breath. That sound froze him in place and compelled him to kiss her.
Peter could feel the surprise in Mariah’s reaction as his lips touched hers. It felt like she wanted it but didn’t expect it. The car’s motion and her response jolted him as his lips closed on her top lip and their eyelashes touched. Her rapid blinks against his face and the taste of her kiss made him want her even more. He wrapped his arms around her as she reached for him.
The car dodging through traffic rocked them as their lips sent secret messages of their desire. He gave her passion. She gave him tender. Peter recalled her body against his felt soft and feminine, yet her kiss was wild and exotic. She made him burn with desire as she offered her neck to him.
“Peter, are you going to tell me or will you force me to pull it out of you?”
“Huh? Oh, sorry. We went out a few times. She captivates me. She’s brilliant and sensual in a sweet and innocent way.”
“Why did you stop going out with her?”
“I can’t break my vow of allegiance to the Dragons. Gloria is my pair bond, and it wouldn’t be fair or honorable to cast her aside for a Cybrid.”
“Do you love Gloria?”
“She is my pair-bonded mate. That is not an insignificant place in my life.”
“But, dear brother, what does your heart tell you?”
Peter looked at his sister. He sensed her concern for his feelings. She and Mariah were close friends and to hurt one, hurt the other. There were many hearts, including Gloria’s, to consider in this conflict of his emotions.
“I don’t know what to do, Alexa. I think it best to let my feelings and Mariah go.”
Peter’s resignation alarmed Alexa. She sensed Gloria still saw Peter after she told her to step aside. Disobedience brought harsh punishment, and Gloria was willing to risk it to keep her mate. She had to think fast before Peter convinced himself to walk away from Mariah.
“The Black Dragon Symphony is playing this weekend. I promised Lee I’d take Little Dragon. Mariah is going with me too. Why don’t you come with us? We can go and enjoy ourselves, and you won’t be alone.”
“Sure, I’d enjoy that.”
“Great! I’ll invite Mariah for a sleepover. We’ll get ready together while you and Little Dragon male bond over computer games.”
“If you keep talking, I’m going to change my mind.”
Alexa hugged her brother and left him with his computer monitor. She locked the door on the way out to keep Peter’s privacy safe.
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