It was only a matter of time.

Though, from her standpoint time didn’t mean much. Not any more. Not since her last interaction with another human being, a man who died trying to save her.


Her tongue dove languidly through his lips, and her froth of pubic hair crushed into his, forcing his hanging prong between her legs. This time he embraced her for the kiss, if only tentatively. Then his palms flattened on her spine, adding pressure as he moved them. One hand slid up to her neck and the other pushed down, stopping just above her smooth rump.

He broke for air, gulped and stammered hoarsely, “I . . . I don’t believe it. This can’t be real.”

“Oh, it’s real all right.” Her whisper warmed his lips. “This time it’s real.” Eyes closed, she concentrated on the mash of her breasts against his chest. Yes, this time her skin shuddered almost painfully under the heat of another body, a real body. This time her nipples ached against a churning vigor no dream could match. “So real,” she sighed. “At last.”

Jerold cupped her bosom in his hands, forcing her back a step, next to the bed, and he rotated his thumbs on her nipples. “I’ve dreamt of this.”

Veronica squashed herself against him, trapping his hands. “Trust me.” She captured his gaze, his chrome-blue eyes, and licked the point of his lips. “Dreams don’t feel nearly as good.”

“But I never thought—”

Her lips covered his, silencing his admission, ending all need for conversation. He returned her kiss harder this time. And his hands, the hands of a mountain climber, came up to her cheeks and stroked her face to convince himself she wouldn’t vanish. All right, his hands seem to say. If this is how it goes, I’ll play along.

She sucked his tongue, tasting more flavors of the world. A faster world, a world with an attitude. A shameless, bold world. She’d witnessed some of it second hand, through images provided by her genies, but none of it could prepare her for this. She hadn’t been able to taste the holographic reflections, hadn’t been able to surrender to real teeth biting her lips, her neck, her nipples. All this time she feared her isolation had corrupted her, had turned her into a perverted deviate, but the world had evolved too. The world was as hungry as she was!

Jerold’s kisses on her breasts blazed with more confidence than any in her dreams, with far more skill than the any in the memories of her few real affairs. Those had been eighty years ago, with proper, “cultured” gentlemen, who made love politely, efficiently. Her own sexual appetite had changed since then too. Modesty and manners had become absurd concepts since those days.

Jerold’s hunger equaled her own, surpassed it by sheer strength. He pushed her backward, onto the timpani bed, and bent to kiss her navel. No one had ever tongued her belly button before, not even in her dreams, and his wet heat on her tummy radiated like a tiny sun, burning a tangle of paths to her breasts, little rivers of creamy magma to her weeping slice, to parts of her she didn’t know existed until now.

Then he stopped.


“Come to me.” A girl appeared through the veil of light, a student he remembered from high school. A coed he’d had a serious crush on. She wore a snug, fluffy sweater and a tight mini-skirt, with no shoes. Her pink toenails harmonized with the frosted gloss on her lips. Though no match for Veronica, she’d had a nuclear effect on teenaged Jerold.

“Cindy? What are you . . .” Was he speaking, or only thinking? What are you doing here?

“I’ve always been with you.” She stood so close he could see the pores in her skin, yet something was missing. Her image, like no dream he’d ever had, was far too real. No, not real . . . vivid. Ultra-vivid. Every honey-colored hair was perfectly defined, every blemish and wrinkle evident through some kind of super-clear focus, unlike reality and unlike dreams.

“You’re not real.”

“Does it matter?” She blew a puff of air in his face and he smelled her strawberry bubble-gum, though she wasn’t chewing any. “I’m better than real.”

She backed away and drew her skirt up with her palms, sliding the hem high along her tilted hips, until the silvery-white delta of her panties peeked from beneath the shadows of her thighs. “Didn’t you dream of this?” She dragged her hands across her thighs to the point of pure cotton, and massaged her snowy mound with her pink-nailed fingertips. “Of me?”

He couldn’t deny it. Before he’d become obsessed with Veronica, this image of Cindy had fueled more than a few daydreams.

“I was there for you, Jer.” One hand pushed her skirt higher while her other hand pressed a middle finger down the groove swelling under her panties. “Remember?”

Christ, how could he forget?

“I had my dreams too, you know.” She moved toward him, letting her skirt fall and floating her hands at her sides, wrists bent in dainty anticipation.

All around him, the crayon cosmos palpitated in rhythm with his heart as Cindy sank to her knees and closed her mouth over his rising flesh. And though he felt her lips and tongue, slick and wet on his thickening muscle, something was missing.

But his concentration staggered as her glossy lips slid from base to tip, leaving a smear of pink in their wake, smudging the boundary between reality and dream. So what if it wasn’t real? What difference did it make? Her hair felt real enough as he gripped her skull in both hands and guided her face along his rail, pulling her nose almost to his stomach.
She hiked her sweater to her armpits, freeing her creamy sand-colored breasts, rose-red nipples stretching bluntly for his thighs. Leaning into him, breasts flattening against his legs, she reached around with both hands and forced his hips forward, ramming him deeper down her throat as her head continued to rock, and even the sound of her slurping lips was too real to be real.

She scooted closer, her knees on either side of his leg, pushing her skirt up her thighs until his shin snuggled up against her mound, and the sight of it, the feel of her bare legs around his foot, was exactly as he’d fantasized it as a teen. And her pumping hips, dragging her silky knoll against his shinbone, transported him to a time within himself where nothing existed but carnal bliss, innocent and savage and hot and . . .


Her tongue curled under him, channeling his thrusts, her cheeks constricting until every plunge into her frosted mouth spewed spit down her chin, to her breasts, to her naked thighs grinding against his leg. Her hands tightened on his ass, fingers invading the split, and he countered deliriously, shoving himself deeper past those glossy pink lips, and . . .

He knew.

As she whimpered and whined and hastened toward her own holy roar, he understood. Still, it didn’t stop him from throwing his head back and cawing as she swallowed his seizures, his pummeling ruptures stabbing her tongue and throat. It didn’t stop her from clamping her thighs around his leg and bracing for the crystal crash of silk and skin from lip to toe, from nipple to clit, from wincing eye to cramping bottom, pinched tight against his leg. He knew, yet he didn’t care, it was that powerful.

They cringed together, heaving and croaking guttural, primal sounds with every spasm until the final shard of glassy abandon fell and shattered on a surface too remote to hear. And her lips slid away fulfilled, yet she remained on her knees, head bowed as though in prayer.