“What? That’s ridiculous. Besides, not telling her probably makes her assume the worst. What, is he a hundred years old?”
Ezo’s eyebrows go up.
One eyebrow inches up even further.
“I do not know Shak’s exact age but I’m happy to tell you that I am three hundred and thirty-six.”
I choke a little, staring at him. “But you don’t look any older than thirty in human years. Did they try to make you look younger or something?”
“No,” he shakes his head. “My age is accurately reflected in human years. I am still far from middle age.
I keep walking out of the airplane hangar but I have to admit I’m going on autopilot. Ezo’s more than a quarter-millennia old. Holy shit. I mean, I knew we were dealing with a more technologically advanced race…but this is just nuts.
“Will we go to King Shak directly?”
“No,” I say abruptly. I’m not ready for Juliet to know that I volunteered myself as Ezo’s mate. Myself and only myself.
“I just mean,” I try to say more smoothly, “don’t you want a little tour? Shak and Juliet are locked up behind the walls of the compound. I thought you might like to see a little bit of what Earth has to offer before we head to check in with them.”
“Yeah, you know. I’ll take you to the best pizza joint in town.”
“Pizza?” Ezo’s face immediately transforms and he looks like a little boy on Christmas morning. “I have greatly desired to try this Earth delicacy.”
I sputter out a laugh. “I don’t know about pizza being a delicacy, but it is damn good. Especially Tony’s. It’s the best in town. Authentic Italian.”
Ezo nods with his brows furrowed like he’s taking in my every word as gospel.
“Okay.” I gesture towards the car. “Jump in.”
But now that we’re outside, Ezo is spinning slowly, looking up and down and all around. It’s empty out here, there’s nothing to see. Sacramento is dry and flat and dusty. But you’d swear by looking at Ezo’s face that this is the most fascinating place on Earth.
He bends over and rubs some dirt between his fingers, watching in fascination as the wind stirs the dry topsoil and a flock of birds take flight in the distance.
He’s licking his lips almost constantly. If I didn’t know it was the aliens’ way of smelling things, I’d think he had some weird oral fixation.
But as it is, he’s so damn cute. And sexy. He’s only wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt but hot damn, he’s so built and muscled he pulls it off.
Everything about him is enticing. Especially since I remember the way he took command earlier in the shuttle. How he lifted me so effortlessly and then fucked me against the wall. He’s not some immature boy-man like all my exes.
No, Ezo is something else altogether. Something new.
And I feel new when I’m with him.
I grin and lean over, hooking my fingers around his wrist. “Come on, silly, or will be here all day. I promise, the city has even more to explore.”
He looks reluctant to go but follows my lead. I take him around to the passenger side door. Again, he’s endlessly fascinated by the car door and how pulling on the lever opens it.
Like a kid in a candy store, he wants to investigate everything by touching it. And then, more often than not, by tasting it, too.
If his childlike curiosity weren’t so endearing, him licking my dashboard might wig me out a little. But as it is, it’s hella endearing.
His hands are glued to his window as we enter Sacramento proper and he’s so wide-eyed his eyes might just about pop out of his head.
“It is so strange…” he whispers. “All this time we knew there must be others out there like us.” He shakes his head. “But to see a city again, buildings stacked into the sky so high…it’s a wonder.”
I glance over at him and his face is full of both awe and sadness.
I can’t imagine leaving an entire life behind. Leaving my planet behind. It must’ve taken such courage.
I reach out and squeeze Ezo’s leg. “I’m so glad you’re here. I can barely believe it. I mean, I always dreamed about meeting someone like you, but now that you’re here… It’s the most amazing thing. You’re the most amazing…”
I break off before I embarrass myself, but Ezo’s huge smile tells me he doesn’t think I’m embarrassing. And that he might just think I’m amazing, too.
I’m tempted to say that all of it was worth it for pizza. The years of uncertainty. The long voyage. The cold nights.
Because as the hot, salty cheese and tomato explodes on my tongue, the only thing better in all the universes I know of is sex with my mate, Ana.
And to have experienced both of them in the same day?