Nin, Ferrix, and Xavi finished up around six, and they all came inside, sweaty and tired.
Ferrix poured himself a glass of water. “I’m glad we figured out what was wrong with the engine.”
“Yeah, and it was a pretty easy fix.” Nin was shirtless as he stretched his arms overhead.
Rae found she couldn’t keep her eyes off him. Nin had given her raw sexuality without all the aggression she was used to from her ex. She still couldn’t believe they were pair bonded.
“Thank you for helping us.” Xavi glanced at Caprice.
Caprice smiled. “I couldn’t let you guys struggle to fix the problem without lending a hand.”
“It’s always nice to have an extra hands on deck.” Nin walked over to Rae and wrapped his arms around her waist.
“Does this mean that you’ll be leaving soon?” Kat asked, her voice sounding small. It was like the final drop of rain hitting the surface of a lake.
Ferrix’s eyes grew dark, like the night sky or a deep well of longing. Kat was fiddling with the fabric of her sundress, not meeting his gaze. Rae wished her friend would take a chance and come with them, but it wasn’t up to her.
Nin cleared his throat. “We need to return to Erion soon, but not until we have what we came for—we still need to find mates for Ferrix and Xavi to return to our planet, but it shouldn’t be that difficult.”
Caprice shook her head. “What are you going to do? Walk up to someone and go, ‘Hey, baby, you want to see my spaceship?’”
“You’d be surprised at how well that works.” Xavi’s expression was deadpan.
Caprice’s laughter erupted, confirming her love for the world and its goodness with each laughing breath. Her sister loved life as if she was open to all the possibilities and beauty of the universe. Caprice lived each moment as if it were the last, and she’d been that way since they were kids. Xavi was unable to tear his gaze away from her.
Ferrix frowned. “Tomorrow, we’ll go into the city and try the Philly Tacos that F.U.C.K.D.E.E.P. declared we must try before we leave your planet, and we’ll find two women willing to go with us to Erion.”
Kat glanced up, and her gaze settled on Ferrix. His eyes were stormy, and jaw clenched, but he never took his eyes off Kat. She was living half a life with a man who didn’t love her. Kat would have to decide, and Rae knew it wouldn’t be easy for her.
Kat was still looking at Ferrix when she whispered, “You’re going to find a mate. I’m sure of it.”
“I hope you find one too.” His gaze held so much intensity that the room filled with emotion. The heat of attraction, the heat of passion, and the warmth of love combined. All his fear, longing, hope, and sadness flickered across his features. “Kat, I hope you find what you’re looking for.”
Ferrix looked at Kat like she was the most beautiful thing in the universe. Nin’s eyes flickered back and forth between them. It was as if her mate could read their minds. It was strange, yet it felt right that Rae knew Nin felt sorry for them through the pair bond. It was unique in a world where everything was brand new and strange.
“I hope you find someone who loves you.” In those eight words, Kat told Ferrix that she wouldn’t be with him, but it was a softer way of rejecting him. Perhaps it wasn’t, from the anger that flashed in Ferrix’s eyes. Maybe it was the difference between a swift kick to the balls and a backhanded slap.
Nin glanced at Rae. “I’ll see you later. I’m going to get cleaned up.”
“Me too.” Ferrix strode out of the room after Nin, his eyes focused on the ground in front of him. He didn’t look back, but Kat watched him go.
“I’ll put together a care package for your trip,” Caprice called out as they left the room.
Xavi’s eyebrows almost met his hairline, twisted together in a knot. One side of his mouth raised a fraction in a smirk. “It’s not necessary. F.U.C.K.D.E.E.P. can materialize what we need.”
Caprice playfully smacked his arm. “It won’t be the same. Let me make you a care package with some things from Earth.”
Xavi shrugged. “If you insist.”
Caprice’s smiled brightly, like a rocket ship burning through the atmosphere. “Oh, I insist. I’ll pick up a few things and stop by tomorrow. Besides, I want to help my sister load the ship.”
It was an odd reversal because Rae had been the one to help her sister when she’d moved into the dorms at college.
Rae sighed. “I’m going to have to pack, but I don’t even know where to begin.”
Caprice shrugged. “I’m sure if you forget something, they must have what you need on Erion.”
Rae nodded. “True.”
It occurred to her that she had no idea what Erion would be like, but she was going to write a resignation email and pack various clothes because she didn’t know the climate. Excitement bubbled in her belly. It was like she was on the verge of flying, except Earth’s gravity was pulling at her back, but that wouldn’t be the case once they launched into space on Nin’s ship.
“I’ve never seen you so happy.” Kat’s mouth set into a firm line.
“Sitting at my desk the other day, I was thinking, ‘What am I doing with my life?’ And now I feel like I know what I’m supposed to do. I’ve finally found my place, and it’s by Nin’s side. I’m starting a new life, on a new planet, with the man I love.”
Kat sniffled. “I’m happy for you. I am, but I’m still going to miss you.”
Rae held a hand over her heart. Kat needed to decide if she would leave with Ferrix or if she wanted to stay with Rick. Kat always went for guys like Rick. She always set herself up for temporary and fleeting situations, even if it was subconscious. It would be hard, and it would be painful for everyone. Kat would probably break Ferrix’s heart and feel terrible about it, but it seemed like she wasn’t willing to leave life on Earth.
A long silence stretched between the two friends, and Rae tried not to cry. “I’m going to miss you too.”
Caprice was sniffing into a tissue, but she smiled widely. “I’m so glad the three of us got to spend time together before you leave.”
Her eyes filled with tears. “I am too. I love you. You know that?”
Kat nodded. “I love you, and you deserve all the love in the world after everything you’ve been through. I’m glad you found Nin, and I want you to be happy.”
Rae squeezed her best friend in a hug. “You’re going to be happy too. I know it.”
Kat pulled away, her eyes wet with tears. “I hope you’re right.”
“You’re going to be okay.”
Kat shrugged. There was doubt in her eyes, but it was better not to dwell on the uncertainty of the future.