And on the heels of Valentine’s Day, it’s time for a romantic interlude…

HMB Impulsive in the heart nebula

Loreli walked into her quarters singing to herself in the language of her people, which was more of a swaying of the thick aloe-like leaves that served as her hair and a motion of the skin that made sounds only the most sensitive ears picked up. Despite the morning’s prank, the shift had gone surprisingly well. Everyone seemed to approve of her new coloring and once she got over the disconcerting surprise at seeing her own skin a totally different part of the spectrum, she actually enjoyed the change. Like Ellie said, it was not dissimilar to a human dying her hair.

It offered new opportunities as well. As ship’s sexy, she was not limited to standard HuFleet uniforms. She has several styles and colors to choose from, ranging from gray to pastel green. Most, however, clashed with her natural colors, so while she had a few alternatives for specific occasions, she seldom wore them.

She decided her nails needed to be a different color, as well; while their current blue matched her uniform and had gone well with her normal shade of green, it was too bold against the pastel pink. She wanted something more suitable for the party.

I have an hour. I can try several colors. Perhaps pearl, she thought, though a stem green might be nice, especially if I’m to be Enigo’s orquidea.

She felt a thrill move over her at the thought, and she paused at her nail station to close her eyes and indulge in her happiness. After discussing with the Captain, they’d agreed on a 3-month extension to their secret romance contract; if things did not work out, they could cancel out quietly; otherwise, they’d apply for public reveal.

She felt a warmth blow across her hair just as hands slipped over her waist.

“Enigo!” She spun into his embrace. When she could at last pull herself from his kiss, she said, “How did you get in here? What if someone saw you?”

“You kidding? No one was going to see the way I came.” He jerked his thumb over his shoulder to where the grate to the ventilation ducts was ajar.

“You learned how to get to my quarters through the air vent?”

“I’m Chief of Security. I know how to get anywhere on this ship through Jeffries tubes or air vents – and so do my people. I keep telling the Captain you should all know it in case Pulsie gets invaded, but he says there’s too much potential for invasion of privacy.”

“I can understand that.”

Non te preocupara. Pulsie would alert you – and Security – if anyone was using them to be a peeping tom. I mean, unless his sensors are down, in which case, we’re probably invaded, which is the point.”

“So why didn’t Pulsie alert me?”

“Secret romance clause! Besides, it’s part of my culture. On the Hood, it’s the height of courtship for the guy to crawl through the vents of enemy territory – or the overbearing mom – to see his woman.”

“I offered to play the overbearing parent,” Pulsie said, “but Lieutenant Loverboy didn’t think it was necessary.”

“Hey, Pulsie? Go run a diagnostic or something.” When the ship did not reply, he took Loreli’s hand and led her to the couch. “I figured we had a little time before the party.”

The couch was tempting, but she couldn’t let their romance interfere with her duties. “I have to do my nails first.”

“I can work with that,” he teased.

She set the nail station to pale green gel and enjoyed the sensation on her fingertips while Enigo stood behind her, breathing into her hair. That was a sensation to be enjoyed as well.