SECOND THOUGHTS? In the dark. In bed, thinking about Madelya, beside me, so warm and silky soft and smooth. I lightly stroke. The darkness hides her smile. Or maybe she isn’t smiling; perhaps she frowns, or regrets. And me? What do I think? Well, there’s a first time for everything. Or first few times, I suppose. A couple – at least – last evening in the euphoria. Certainly, sometime in the depth of night, when the air had been so still and quiet; not a murmur from anywhere. And again just now as we awoke. Or had she been awake already? I have no idea what her sleeping routine is. Not that this liaison is routine for her, either. Does she usually lie in? Or sleep briefly before starting work around the home? My hand seems to roam where it will, unbid. Am I feeling a little shy or awkward now? Is she? Why? We were perfectly open last night, and in the afternoon and evening, as things developed and we both understood more… about each other, and all manner of mutual things and interests. ‘Jeems, you do have such wondrous breasts. Would you… er?’ ‘Mmm, yes…’ Her hand – such long, delicate fingers – came to me. Her higher breasts so superbly full and rounded. The middle pair so pert and firm… the lower ones not yet matured. Her infinitely fine fur had retracted as she slept, her skin now so ivorine. As I touch, I gaze blindly in the blackness to where her cute snub nose must be, scarce a span away, and those eyes – the front ones so green as a rule; the rear ones, more inclined to see in UV light than visible, probably monitoring the room now. The lack of external ears isn’t ever noticeable, not visibly. But, as I stroke through the cascading beauty of her long, zebraic-striped hair, it occurs to me that her skin-flush aural membranes must be there somewhere. ‘Second thoughts?’ she quietly asks. ‘No.’ Sure, I’m aware of the momentousness of the occasion – a first for both of us, and much more than one night together implies. No, implies is a wriggle-out word. It was stated and agreed: we are committed to giving it a go – no second thoughts. After working together for more than two deccadays – nearly thirty days now – Madelya and I know each other’s thinking and abilities fairly well. Very much the same vein of humour, too: we laugh at the same things, and at the same people around the complex. We work well together; and have mentioned setting up as independent operators a couple of times. I know it seems a mite precipitous, but each of us knows the ins and outs of the business: she’s bright in mind and outward in attitude, and we’ve been planning and preparing to team up for a decca. Actually setting it up for four days. And bed? Well, since sometime post-noon yesterday, I suppose. We’d both known we would. Yes, this whole thing is pretty momentous: inter-species partnerships aren’t unknown in business matters. They’re rare in personal lives, though. Maybe a first in this part of Shiruki: it’s one of the more conservative planets in this sector. A noise outside distracts me. I pause to listen. ‘Ignore them. It’s just the humans across the hallway. They do quite a lot of this, too.’ I uncoil my tail, and wrap it around her body – her back responding divinely as her light down eases out of her silken skin. So delicate on the down-stroke, so arousing against the nap. Oh yes, life’s good. No second thoughts for me. Now… Which penis should I use this time?