Two hours later, Lexx was hunched forward over a game controller, pushing a dragon into rolls and spins in midair against Chel’s brother, Kalvin. The two had been at it on several different games the entire time. Chel had brought along her clothes to wash and was almost done. This time, they’d left the dice on the ship, thinking that would save them time.

Now, Chel was leaning against the door to the living room. She had her mother on the phone and had been speaking to her for the last half hour. A smile spread over Chel’s face, listening to Lexx being uncharacteristically competitive in a friendly way. Lately, he was a different person. Smiles remained rare for him, but he was more expressive in what he was feeling beyond anger. Still, there was a brooding reality that lurked beneath the surface.

He darkened without warning, closing himself off in thought. Chel had decided to leave him alone when he got into those moods. They were often, but she realized they didn’t last very long. Lexx had a lot on his mind.

There was one thing that was nagging on Chel’s mind, forcing her to rethink the situation. She was spending a lot of time alone with Lexx. He had made it known that he was attracted to her and she was having a difficult time denying that she didn’t feel likewise about him.

It had struck her that if Lexx were human, she wouldn’t have been so willing to be alone with him. What was she saying? He was human. It was hard to get past that with his wings, the color of his skin,.. his eyes and the strange alien accent to his voice, but he was human. She’d been going over that repeatedly. Guilt weighed heavily on her for a moment, but was brushed aside. The dice were always there. They were never truly alone.

“Bye, Mom,… can I speak to Dad now?” Chel returned to her conversation.

“He’s right here.” Her mother replied, then passed the phone to Chel’s waiting father.

“Thank you,.. Hi, Dad!” Chel looked away from the living room.

“Hello, Honey,…” He sounded tired. “Having a good summer?”

“It’s great,…” Chel responded, pushing the thoughts further back. Nothing had happened. Nothing would. She had everything under control. She could handle it. “I’m just not home a lot. I hope you don’t mind.” Lexx wouldn’t try anything without letting his intentions be known. He gave her a way out. She just had to say no. That was good enough.

“It’s summer. Of course not.” The voice of her father echoed over the phone line, edging into Chel’s emotions further. She didn’t want to do anything to disappoint her parents. That had always kept her out of trouble in the past. Don’t do anything that you could regret in the future. “We have the neighbors watching the house and we trust Kalvin and Andrea home alone.” Past boyfriends with only interests in getting into her pants had been easily dispatched of. Common sense for Chel told her that any guy who wanted to go too far too fast, had most likely done it before. She didn’t hold a lot of trust for them,… probably a standard too high to be reasonable.

Of course,… Chel had not loved any of these boyfriends. They had just been guys. She liked them, … some of them much more than others, but so far, six months had been the longest she’d had a relationship before the guy gave the ultimatum. If you love me, you’ll do it.

She was stubborn. ‘What did that mean? If you love me? IF you love me? That made it a conditional statement, putting love in the place of an act. If you LOVE ME? If you love me, you wouldn’t be asking me to give up something I didn’t offer to give you as a gift,…’ The thoughts ran off on their own. ‘And I’m not offering anything to some guy who’s most likely just saying what I want to hear to get what he wants until the ring was on the RIGHT finger.’ Chel tilted her right hand, glancing at the glint of gold that was on the ring finger,… if it were her left hand.

She had never loved any of them. For the first time, she questioned herself. What would happen, if it were someone she DID love and was afraid of losing them? Would she give in to that chance or hold firm to her standards? Some girls had it easier than others. If you never had the temptation, it was easy. She’d never really been one who had it. Guys that wanted to date her were few and far between. They were intimidated by the fact that she thought studying was more important than spending every waking moment with them. “Enjoy yourself and be careful.”

“You know me, Dad.” Chel shook her head, then giggled. It was all innocent right now. They were just friends. Why was she letting these thoughts come up? “Although,.. I did meet the most interesting guy,…”