[READING] [V & A Shipping] Chapter 79
Part 3: Payoff
Joey popped a piece of fruit into his mouth. He could have eaten any of the food on the table, but he started with something that looked a lot like melon, but tasted more like butter. The smooth, creamy delight slid down his throat like taking in a bit of heaven.
He looked back at the table, certain that anything he tried next would taste just as good. Since he’d arrived in this new reality, he’d only eaten a scant amount and his stomach demanded he eat.
“What next?” he asked himself. The reddish meat? The yellow and blue vegetables? Some cream or sauce? He took a swig from a glass of green wine and grabbed a chunk of the meat.
“Hey! Where are your manners?”
June walked into the room wearing only a thick, pristine-white robe and drying her hair with an equally white towel. It had been her decision for the two of them to share a room. Vic and Argmon shared an adjoining room — that door presently closed and locked — and Dexter had taken up residence in a third room. The hotel rooms had been provided to them while they waited for the ship to be repaired. Vic said it would take at least a few months for that to happen with the extent of the damage both from the landing and the stress of skirting two black holes.
“I didn’t think anyone was watching,” he replied, wiping his hand on his robe and leaving a streak of gravy across it.
“What am I going to do with you?” she asked, shaking her head. She tossed the towel onto the maroon couch and took a seat across the table from Joey.
“So, feel better?” Joey hadn’t realized how bad all of their conditions had been. They all arrived back on Planchar with torn clothes and covered in black grime from the fires on the ship, not to mention the multitude of cuts, scrapes, and bruises each of them had suffered. A doctor had been dispatched and done a patch up job on each, all save Dexter who escaped with little more than a bump on the head.
“Much. It’s been weeks since I last had a shower and didn’t have to worry about how long I took.” She heaved a heavy sigh and leaned back into the chair. “I just hope everything turns out alright.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean we’ve still got to bury Joop-Nop. None of us even know where his home planet is, so we were going to bury him here on Planchar.”
“Not to mention the computer for the Iron Butterfly and Tootsie and even SPX-39 are all gone. Plus we’ll all be interviewed regarding Mike and what happened with him. There’s still so much we need to talk about.”
“Wouldn’t they split us up if they were going to interview us about Mike?”
“Why?” June looked confused for a moment then she laughed. “They can tell if you’re lying. Remember, you’re not on Earth anymore.”
“Oh. Is that why they let us collect all our things from the ship.”
“Well, that and they also did a complete scan of the ship. Anything they needed they already got.”
“Oh.” Joey felt silly for having asked. He hadn’t even considered that in a place where space ships are common, why wouldn’t the criminal investigation equipment be equally superior.
June sat up and scooped a serving of meat onto her plate followed by some of the blue vegetables. “Argmon may be a good cook, but he’s limited by the variety on the Acid Rat.”
Joey joined in the serving of food. “Why aren’t we all eating together?”
“Well, both Vic and Argmon were given sedatives. The doctor didn’t want Vic up and about for the rest of the day and light duty if any for at least two weeks. He also gave Argmon a sedative because he’d been awake for nearly three days and his body couldn’t take anymore. He gave them each a vitamin shot and said they’d wake up hungry. So we’ll just save them a bite to eat.” June’s smile faded and she ate.
They exchanged few words during the repast. The flavors of the food and the feeling of his stomach swell put Joey on a food high that couldn’t be beat.
When June had finished, she got up and went to the bed. She flopped down onto it. Joey, not knowing if he should join her, said, “I’ll just sleep over on the couch.”
“The hell you will. You deserve to sleep on this bed as much as I do. Get over here.”
Joey flushed. He’d never shared a bed with a girl. Girl hell, June was a woman. He felt the food inside his full belly shift around unnervingly. He took a long draught from his wine glass, finishing it, and went to the bed. He laid down, trying not to lay too near June.
“What are you doing way over there? This is a king size bed and I’m not going to bite you.”
“Well.. uh… I just…” Joey scooted over slightly.
“Oh for Christ’s sake.” June grabbed him by the robe and pulled him toward the center of the bed. “There.” She put his arm around herself and nestled her head on his chest. “Just relax. I have the feeling we won’t be waking up until some time late tomorrow.”
Joey smiled a wide, boyish grin and gripped June’s shoulder. Leaning his head into her hair, he could smell her, just her, for the first time. The clean, fresh scent of her hair and her body lingered in his nose and as his heavy eyelids fell, he slept.
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