Ellie sat blinking at the door, her body immobile and her mind racing with a hundred thoughts.

What just happened?

It wasn’t fair! She hadn’t wanted to talk tonight. She’d wanted to kiss Todd until her brain exploded and then sleep until she couldn’t sleep anymore and then do her mental exercises, twice. Then she wanted to talk.

Who told him about the puppets? Even more, did whoever tell him about the puppets tell him about the Eh?! It’s risky. It’s… What were the latest risk levels?

She went to her computer and pulled up the latest tables from the Actuaries, a race of beings that lived for doing statistical analysis on threats of any kind, including visits from pandimensional superbeings. Her eyes took in the latest numbers on the Eh?! Her fingers included the statistics in their calculations. Her mind dredged up memories of the wonderful feelings of Todd’s hands on her body—all the things she’d wanted to feel tonight.

Why do I keep being so passive in my romantic relationships? 

Ellie rose from the computer and started to pace.

I need lessons from Leslie. Leslie lessons. I’d have to adapt them. Be Less Leslie and More Me. Did Leslie tell him about the puppets? No, she’d know he’d freak out.

Was Mom right about Todd? About us? How can Mom just look at someone and know? 

Were Mom and Dad safe? Can’t think about that now. Have to keep the ship safe. Keep Todd safe. Maybe I should have been in Security.


Ellie jerked to a stop. Clarity came with white-hot anger.



Enigo had just spent the last two hours with his officers and the captain going over mission logs. The assassin had been good, but they knew they could have been better. Enigo would make sure that they were. But tomorrow. Tonight, he had gathered his team in the rec lounge. They were going to play games, tell funny stories and generally relax. A good number of the crew had had the same idea. The room was quickly bustling with people having a good time. He felt his team’s spirits lifting, and his did, too.

So when Ellie walked through the door and made a beeline to him, he didn’t notice until she shouted his name and an epithet that the translator refused to translate. Not that he needed it to; her Hoodian was perfect, including the little inflection that put his manhood to question. He nearly toppled out of his seat in surprise.

Instinct made him rise up ready to fight, but he took in her wild, hurt expression. “Ellie, you okay?”

Leslie, too, regarded her friend with concern. “I thought you were having a quiet evening with Todd.”

“I might have!” she snapped. “Except someone told him about the puppets.”

Enigo suddenly found himself pinned by the shocked and angry glares of everyone within hearing distance—and Ellie’s voice carried.

“You told Todd about the puppets?” Gel sounded aghast and disappointed.

“Did you mention Eh-heh?” Lt. Sisco asked, panic edging into his voice.

“Eh?” one of the VR players asked as he pulled off his helmet.

“No, Eh-heh,” someone corrected and was promptly shushed by her companions.

Enigo ignored them. “Ellie, I’m sorry. We were talking. He was stressed about you almost dying. It slipped. I didn’t think he’d freak out.”

“We all freaked out!” Ellie shrieked.

“For gobb’s sake, Boss,” Gel whined. “He turned me into a Jello mold.”

Leslie had covered her mouth with both hands. She moved them enough to say, “Enigo! Todd was in a fragile state. He was worried out of his skull. How did you think that would help?”

He almost said, “Tequila?” but he’d only had one shot.

“A. Jello. Mold. I still get nightmares.”

As Gel muttered about having felt marshmallows for eyes – “which was wrong on so many levels” – Ellie stomped up to Enigo.

Her gaze was hard and her voice low. “We all agreed. Need to know. It was not your place to decide when Todd needed to know. That was my choice. My responsibility.” She poked him in the chest as she emphasized her point. Her finger no longer wore an engagement ring.

A red haze flooded his vision.

Just then, Todd walked into the room.

With a roar, Enigo charged.


I still laugh thinking of poor Gel as a Jello mold.