A Greater Infinity — An Excerpt
"Come on in, the water’s fine."
The sun was warm on my body as I lay on the outcropping of ochre granite that overlooked the forest pool. Haret was a flesh colored streak in a pool of amber green as she kept herself afloat by treading water and taunted me to return to the icy stream.
I raised my head from my arms, admiring the way her figure shimmered beneath the surface of the pond. "No way," I said. "Too cold. You come out."
I grinned. "Sticks and stones will break my bones —" My taunt was interrupted by a cloud of icy spray propelled with unerring accuracy by Haret’s strong right arm. The freezing droplets splashed across my toasty warm back, sending chills clear down to my toes. I launched myself in a flat racing dive. Within seconds I had grappled her flailing arms, pinned them to her body, and pulled her head beneath the miniscule wavelets of the pond.
We surfaced in a sputtering fit of laughter and swam leisurely for the shore. I helped her climb up the slippery mud bank and we stretched out side by side on the outcropping I had so recently vacated.
Haret Ryland was a native of the Gestetni Republic, one of the Confederation’s three oldest timeliness. She was on the Academy Staff, and like Jana, an expert in paratime anthropology. She had asked to interview me about Europo-American my second day at the Academy. That had been the first of many such sessions. We had become close friends over the last eighteen months. Recently, our friendship had drifted into intimacy.
I reached out and idly traced the curve of Haret’s naked spine with a finger, caressing each vertebra in turn until I had worked my way down to the swell of her hips.
"Stop that," she giggled as she turned over to allow the sun a chance to dry her front. "It tickles."
"I thought you liked being tickled," I said, reaching out once more.
She intercepted my questing hand with a playful slap. "Don’t you primitive types ever get enough?"
I put on my most theatrical leer. "Never!"
She hoisted herself to one elbow, her violet tinged eyes staring into mine.
"What’s the matter?" I asked. "Is my nose on crooked?"
She fell silent, letting her eyes roam freely. Her full mouth was pursed in concentration, and her normally wild mane of silky blonde hair framed her face in a wet tangle.
"Why the sudden quiet?" I asked, reaching once more to take her in my arms.
"I’m contemplating an enigma."
"Huh? What enigma?"
"You. What brings you to the Time Watch, Duncan MacElroy?"
"You know damned well what brings me to the Watch. I was drafted!"
She grinned. "That isn’t what I meant. Don’t you ever miss your former life?"
"Sometimes. But if I'd stayed on Europo-American, I would never have met you." I leaned toward her as I spoke and brushed her soft lips with mine.
Haret took my cue. She closed her eyes with a sigh and stretched out on the flat rock as I pressed close, intent on pursuing the emotion of the moment.
The sky above us lit up with a light brighter than a thousand suns.
Haret’s eyes snapped open in wide-eyed fright and I began counting softly to myself. "One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi —"
I was up to fifty when the rumble of deep-throated thunder rolled over us.