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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Spacefreighters Lounge: Eva Caye's favourite character

Spacefreighters Lounge: Eva Caye's favourite character

How I Fell In Love With A Lady

I'm over at Spacefreighter's Lounge today, talking about Felice Sinclair, the central figure of my To Be Sinclair series.  Thank you, Greta Van Der Rol, for the opportunity to share my favorite character with your readers!

Come join us!

Spacefreighter's Lounge

Friday, August 14, 2015

Everyone, On Board! Eight Things We All Need To Do, Every Day

No big introduction, here; I'm just going to lay it all out like I see it.

1.  Recycle.

August 12th, 2015 was  "Earth Overshoot Day": that annual moment when humankind's use of natural resources exceeds the planet's ability to produce and replenish them.  See this post on Live Science, or the graphic-heavy National Geographic.

Slums of Mexico City
The absurdity, and the horror, of Overshoot Day doesn't even take into account the population explosion occurring.  What will the needs of an extra four billion people within the next twenty years do to our planet?

I blame two things:  our culture of incessant consumption, and that horrible economic practice known as 'planned obsolescence'.  Spending money, and spending it on poorly designed goods that won't last you a lifetime.

Antiques are good.  They were made before the 1950's, when 'planned obsolescence' really took root in manufacturing, so they presumably have more life in them than their original owners.  Acquiring a useful antique is recycling at its finest.

But what matters is that we all, each and every one of us, set aside a small fraction of our time to develop habits that will pay back in the future.  Even if all you do is crush up your eggshells and add them to your potted plants, those eggshells are not going into the trash.  There are hundreds of thousands of suggestions for ways you can recycle, from composting coffee grounds for earthworm farming to using old t-shirts for quilting.  

Atlantic garbage
Since you are reading this article, that means you are online, so run a search on recycling, and add just about any word you please after it.  Recycling paper?  Take up papier mache as an art form!  Recycling tires?  Use as a raised bed, or even as a small pond!  Recycling shoes?  Local homeless shelters!

Oh, and that photo is the Atlantic Garbage Patch.  Not the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, with an estimated 5.7 TRILLION pieces of plastic.

2.  Meditate.

Or pray.  Or breathe.  Or banish all thought.  I don't really care what you call it, but to sit while not-doing is a healthy thing.  To sit, deliberately planning not to throw yourself into your frenzied lifestyle for half an hour, is necessary for many reasons.

You can use the opportunity to expand yourself spiritually.  You can use it as an emotional 'time out'.  You can simply meditate by concentrating on breathing, especially if you sit hunched over a computer for any length of time.  Or you can just sit and relax after heavy activity.

Meditation is not 'wasted time'.  It's a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle, a retreat to recoup your thoughts, renew your physical energy, and recover your stamina.  It's good for what ails you!

3.  Educate yourself.

You may be God's gift to the world, but you don't know everything you need to know.  There's bound to be some skill, art, science, perspective, or social issue that you don't know everything about.

The internet is, currently, free, but that might change in the blink of an eye.  There are hundreds of free online university classes, either from individual universities or on aggregate websites, such as edX and Coursera.  There are undoubtedly millions of free websites and books.  Knowledge of all the ages is available to those of us wielding computers, cell phones, and tablets, if we only look for it.

So one day I may be researching free DIY greenhouse plans, and the next day I may be reading up on solar cookers.  That may evolve into finding free books on how to design a passive solar house, which helps me design The Perfect House.  This is a project I've been working on for twenty years because there's just so much to learn about what goes into a house, not to mention new materials being developed every day.

4.  Reach out.

I can personally attest to the devastation inflicted by the disease known as depression.  As a long-time sufferer, I have learned that very few friends will 'stick with you' when you find yourself constantly turning down their overtures to do things for which you have no energy.

As a result, one of the lessons I have learned is how important it is to reach out to people.  If I am in desperate need, I will reach out, but at this moment, I'm talking about reaching out to your family, friends, complete strangers, anyone at all.  For example, I have never understood why people avoid someone with cancer -- it isn't a communicable disease, for pity's sake!

You never know who might be hurting, who might be hiding behind a joke or a smile, or who might actually be contemplating their last moments on Earth.  Since I don't have a lot of energy to do social things, I try to make it a point to reach out to at least one Facebook friend, at least one a day, just a quick chat message:  "Hey, how are you doing?"  They know I will listen to them and try to help, so if they aren't doing well, they will unload.

I adore this image to represent depression.  Despite being on a beautiful beach on a beautiful day, this person doesn't have the energy to experience any of it.  I would have weeks of 'white noise', where I couldn't perceive anything more than a couple of feet away.  Depressed people cry because we don't understand what is wrong, or why we can't DO anything.  

Reach out, even if it's only to talk while they listen, or hug them, or snuggle in their blankie-fort with them.  Or reach out to the elderly -- bring them a meal, or take them out to dinner.  Listen to their stories, because in our youth-oriented and self-centered culture, we have lost the precious wisdom of so many elders.  Reach out, because we're in this all together, and you can never have enough people watching your back.

5.  Downsize.

We all have Too Much Stuff.  Maybe that stuff was useful, once.  But now, it clutters our lives and, even worse, reminds us of who we WERE.  So my question is:  have you grown beyond it?

It seems to me that poor people have more stuff than wealthy people.  They cling to it, because they might need it someday.  I'm sooo guilty of that thought:  "Hey, I could use that in a project!"  But if I haven't used it in the three years since I acquired it, then what is the likelihood I'll get to that project within another three years?  So there it sits, taking up space, and especially, taking up my energy by reminding me that I'm Not Good Enough to get to all those projects I want to do, an insidious self-deprecation most people never realize on a conscious level.

I have taken to getting rid of, or recycling, one item a day. Today I threw out two yogurt tubs, half-full of yogurt that I didn't like very much.  They had been in my fridge for perhaps three months.  A small thing, but I don't need any more plastic tubs, and I haven't figured out how to recycle milk products yet without attracting rats.  (Time for #3 -- Educate myself!)

If you would like to be free of your stuff, there are many excellent articles out there to help you with the who-what-where-when-why's.  Jumble sales!  The Salvation Army!  Consignment shops!  My general rule-of-thumb is: if my house were to go up in flames, would I cry over this?

In addition, downsizing means: a healthier atmosphere (less to dust, polish, and clean); a greater appreciation for what you have (left); money from yard sales, consignments, or auctions; room to display collections you really love; ability to find what you need when you need it (important documents); less to move when you're redecorating or moving; a smaller house or apartment (smaller bills)....  All that, as well as less stress over worrying about your stuff!  Possessions possess US as much as we, them.  Heaven forbid a thief might steal my stash of crochet yarn!

6.  Document.

In this modern age, there are so many ways we can document our lives.  I think about how little we know of humans in the past, and how much archaeologists in the future will know of us!

I do admit that not everything is worth documenting.  I have a notebook for all those little business things that pop up of a day.  But what I really think we should do is document our real selves, so we can see how much progress we have made.  And that documentation should be unique to each person.

My friend Lisa Weston explains it well:  

Lisa and Emily Weston
There are many moments when we avoid having our photograph taken, with numerous excuses. My hair is a mess, I look horrible, I don't have makeup on (girls), I am too busy, I'm not in the mood...... How you view yourself is not how others see you, keep that in mind when your child, spouse, family or friend ask to take a photo with you. They don't see your gray or messy hair, wrinkles or clothes. What they will see is a wonderful memory with someone they love. Don't cheat them out of those moments.
I don't have the patience or talent for photography, so I write.  Each book says a great deal about me, but what I truly look for is my growth as a writer.  In addition, I have notebooks in three significant places -- by my bed (for dreams), by my computer, and in my purse.  These notes may not end up being significant literary documents for future fans, but like Carl Jung's Red Book, I am certain they reveal my inner gods and demons, my hopes and fears, my archetypes and symbols, to whoever might read them.

7.  Contemplate.

Or, as I would say if I threw all manners out the window, "Fer pity's sake, THINK, people!"  

Thinking is the only way to solve a problem, for example.  You may want to invent something that will take the world by storm.  In order to do that, you have to figure out how to fulfill a need people have.

But contemplation shouldn't stop there.  Think about how much you appreciate everyone and everything that surrounds you.  I KNOW the 'law of attraction' is indeed a law, and that everything in my presence exists because I deliberately thought of it.

My favorite, however, is to think about the future.  I will sit in my yard and contemplate what changes I might make.  Or I will sit with my computer and think about the book I'm writing, and how to present the next scene.  

Thinking is the key to success.  People don't just come up to you and say, "Hey, I like you, I'll pay you $80,000 a year to be my accountant," if you haven't put some thought into going to school and getting a degree in accounting.

8.  Grow food.

You don't have to have a big, complicated garden.  But you should know how to grow food, because you might desperately need that skill someday.  You can have a container garden, or you can re-grow from scraps.  I usually have sprouts of some kind growing, and I'm contemplating putting in a pear tree beside the elderberries.

The point is: you should have at least a small portion of your food supply under your control.  Why?  Because the environment is going crazy.  We are currently suffering the sixth mass extinction event in the history of the planet.  You can 'argue' whether 'climate change' is 'real' or not, you can even laugh at those who try to legislate the mere mention of it away, but you need to be prepared to grow your own food, regardless.  And also be prepared to share that food, preferably bartering for foods you don't grow on your own.

Oh, by the way: you may wonder why I wrote this article.  I was inspired by Inhabitat's recent post.  I plan to survive an apocalypse by doing every single thing in this article.  Daily.  I hope to see you on 'the other side'.

 ~ Namaste ~

Eva Caye, author of the To Be Sinclair series, can build a rocket stove, tat lace, handle a gun, design book covers and permaculture garden plans, and teach teenagers critical thinking, although her favorite activities include writing science fiction romances and playing with her doggies.  She currently lives in a tiny, century-old farmhouse with her magnificent husband and two marvelous mutts in Louisville, Kentucky.

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Free for May: Evan's Ladies!

Give science fiction romance a try with four free novellas from the To Be Sinclair series!  All formats are available at Smashwords!

Science, sex, sorrow, solidarity, scandal, sympathy, and sense deprivation are hallmarks of this add-on novel to the To Be Sinclair series!

Prince Evan Sinclair may be a brilliant stargate scientist, but his love life has soared to incredible heights and plunged to unbelievable depths. Who will stay by his side forever?

Is true love more than attraction? More than compatibility? More than fascination? More than friendship? Prince Evan finds out the hard way, with highs beyond high and lows beyond low!

These four novellas chronologically take place between Loyalty and Nobility, books six and seven of the To Be Sinclair series.

Part I: The Cremian Dance
Part II: Good Enough
Part III: Breathe
Part IV: Treasure Your Words

Note: this book describes sexual situations

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Fools For Love @ the SFRStation!

Why is it that love makes us into fools, anyway?  I submit that love launches us into a new reality, and thus skews our internal logic compared to the rest of the universe.  Here are two excerpts to prove that love doesn't have to mean we've lost all our marbles!

From Loyalty, book six of the To Be Sinclair series, in which Princess Anne and Lord Andres Encino discuss marriage:

“Wow,” Anne finally said. Andrés laughed soft and low, voice muffled in the pillow, and moved just enough to snuggle up beside her and caress her breast. “Now I know why people make fools of themselves over love.”

“Mmmm.” He nibbled her ear. “I am your fool, that’s for sure.”

“I don’t want a fool. Just a....”

When she didn’t continue, he propped himself up on his elbow to search her face. “Starts with an H?”

She couldn’t suppress the bleakness in her voice. “How would we arrange ourselves, though? You are so often in the Encino Duchy, and I’m positive Mother wouldn’t want any of the stargate work done outside the Palace lab. Plus the weeks of travel, although there probably wouldn’t be more than two stargates a year.”

He kissed her temple and snuggled in, head sharing her pillow. “Well, most of my work should be done by Father and Emilio. They do a lot of politicking together under the guise of ‘training’ Emilio. I always figured I could turn it back over to them someday.

“Grandfather has been generous with me, and since I don’t have a lot of personal expenses, I’ve saved almost all that money. Then there’s my design business, which supplies me with three times as much money as Grandfather’s stipends and bonuses. I’m certain money will be no problem, unless you plan to throw extravagant parties… why are you laughing?”

Anne turned to face him. “Darling, if I do one stargate a year, I am looking at five billion dollars. Each year. It would be $6.4 billion, except Mother lays claim to the difference as her so-called licensing fee, which she uses to pay for the Palace staff and maintenance. Money isn’t the problem.”

As Andrés’ look of awe grew, she continued, “I must admit, Josef has this idea. The four of us are thinking of forming a corporation, and there will be years of experiments before we have a marketable product, but when we do, it will leave us set for life, even if we never produce another stargate again.”

She toyed with his hair. “The problem I was thinking about was children. How do we raise children if we are constantly being separated by circumstances?”

Andrés gripped her tightly. “No. No separation. I would return my duties to Emilio and stay here with you, or wherever you choose to live. I assume you would want it to be here, given your mother’s laboratory is so secure.

“And our children would grow up with all their cousins, to the delight of your parents.” He kissed her with a loud, firm smooch. “There. Sealed with a kiss.”

Anne sighed. “I’m going to miss you this week.”

“Yes, but two weeks after, just for us? We can pretend we’re already married,” he crooned, groping her firmly as she giggled.

And from Daring Decisions, the Easter egg of Morality, final book of the To Be Sinclair series, in which confusion over the nuances of language as used on two planets results in a fight, and Jenna Johnston Sinclair discovers in Lord Vic Bradley her true love:

They sat in silence a long time before she said, “When we visited your house and spoke about how important I was to you personally as a Sinclair, I thought you were using me to emancipate yourself from the duchy. I was willing to be used for that purpose if it kept you with me.”

Vic choked. Heaving a few heavy breaths for self-control, he moaned, “I don’t understand. You know I love you and that I would never use you. Why would you even think that is possible?”

“Because of the way you phrased it. You said you had to convince people you mattered in the lives of the Imperial Family.” She turned to see his utter confusion.

“Could you explain, please?” he asked cautiously.

Jenna tilted her head. “I’m not sure what you need me to explain.”

“The part where convincing people means using you.”

“As an excuse.” His expression grew even more puzzled. “If you are doing what you want and love to do, why would you need excuses? An excuse is a rationalization for behavior, correct?”

Vic’s lips twisted. “Correct.”

“So, if you are doing what you want to be doing, why would you rationalize it to anyone? If you love me and want to be with me, you’re with me. You don’t need any excuse.

“Whereas if you need an excuse to convince people of your importance, and I’m the most convenient excuse, I can accept that. But then you make me feel like you really love me, and then you make me feel as if I’m just an excuse. I’m so confused, I figured I had to do something drastic to figure it out,” she offered apologetically.

He made a strangling noise. “I’m sorry, I’m trying not to laugh, but I can’t figure out exactly what you're saying.”

Settling back against the couch, she looked him over. “Let’s say I have an apple, and I enjoy eating apples. Would I have to convince you of that? No, I simply eat my apples, perhaps sharing them with you.

“So if you love me, why would you have to convince anyone of anything? If you are my lover and Matthieu’s best friend, what exactly are you trying to convince people about?”

Face growing enlightened, Vic’s tentative smile grew firmer. “Ah, convince as in influence or persuade, not as in changing someone’s belief system, although there is that element to it. After all, they have to believe a new truth before they will act upon it.” He suddenly burst out laughing.

“What?” Although she felt she understood better than before, she still felt she didn't understand the full meaning of the words they were using with each other.

Vic swept her up into his lap with a huge grin. “If I show Harold the ripped-up bank notes and clipped credit chip, he will understand to his bones just how pissed off you were that my duties made me neglect you. And to see my identification cut in half will definitely convince him not to assign me to the duchy unless it's a critical issue.”

“So, that’s good, right? That's what you wanted all along, right?”

“Yes.” He gave her a silly smooch on the lips.

“So, do you forgive me?” That was all Jenna cared about.

Breaking into peals of laughter, Vic rocked her back and forth, arms crushing her to his chest. “Yes, I forgive you.”

As he smiled beatifically into her face, Jenna recalled the first night they were together. Talking in her suite, she had mentioned she still felt uncomfortable in the dance. He had turned on some music and taught her some informal dances.

She had nearly tripped over her own feet at one point, and had burst out laughing. He stopped, staring at her with the most dumbfounded expression she had ever seen before admitting that he had never seen anyone laugh so beautifully. That adorable smile then wreathed his face as he leaned in for the most romantic kiss of her life....

“Oh,” she said.

“What?” His eyebrows drew together in immediate concern.

Astonishingly, she felt no cavorting butterflies, careening giddiness, or bright fireworks, just a clear, calm sense of rightness, utterly unafraid to pronounce the words that had always given her grief before. “I’ve gone and fallen in love with you.”

That earned her more beautiful laughter before Vic twined his fingers in her hair. “And I love you. Penniless, nameless old me has found the love of his life.” He punctuated that statement with a kiss. “After years of searching, I’ve finally found an honest woman who doesn’t care about anything but the real me, the one beyond all definitions.”

“Yes. ‘Beyond all definitions’. I like that.” Jenna kissed him back.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

SFR Brigade Showcase: Excerpt from DYNASTY

The Science Fiction Romance Brigade is a fabulous group of authors who work to promote this science fiction subgenre's potential as the best niche in the galaxy!  The SFR Brigade Showcase consists of excerpts by up to 20 authors to give you an idea of our work.  Please visit the SFR Brigade Showcase for this month's excerpts.  And here is mine....

...in which Prince Stefan Sinclair dares to declare himself to Lord Kurtis Adamov, after a trip to a gay nightclub....

SFR Brigade Showcase:  Excerpt from Dynasty, Book 5 of the To Be Sinclair series by Eva Caye

“Not as bad as I was expecting,” Kurtis acknowledged. “All in all, a very nice place.”
 “Hm, yes, though I rather think the Sentinels and my presence might have had something to do with it,” Stefan mused. “What say you, Captain?”
 “Yes, it appeared everyone was on their best behavior,” Captain Hanover agreed. “I’ve definitely been there on rowdier nights. It made for a pleasant change.” He was looking out the window so didn’t see Lord Kurtis’ eyebrows shoot through the roof at his admission.
 “I must admit, though, I’m more curious than ever. Even about the women,” Stefan realized with a laugh. “Although the performers made exceptional women.”
 “Indeed. If I hadn’t known, I would have asked one or two of them out myself.” Kurtis chuckled ruefully.
“How about you come in for a drink? It’s early yet, and I wonder if you can remember enough details about which company scaled that desk for Prince Matthieu so I can see if it’s on our list of manufacturers.” The Adamov district was known for its quality woods, and Kurtis not only represented the Adamov’s ducal production, he had received extensive training from his grandfather’s master woodsmen.
 They arrived at the Adamov Manse and went straight to Kurtis’ suite. He retrieved his computer and settled beside Stefan on his couch so they could both see the screen to search for the manufacturer.
With that accomplished, it came as no surprise to either of them when Stefan kissed Kurtis after he shut down the computer. It came as a surprise to them both, however, when Kurtis kissed Stefan back.
As the kiss progressed from passionate to lascivious, however, Stefan grew more uncomfortable than aroused. Breaking off abruptly, he stared into Kurtis’ eyes; they reflected as much hesitant, speechless curiosity as he himself was feeling.
His disorientation finally resolved itself into words. “I… don’t want to be drunk.”
Kurtis blinked at first, and then smiled at all the assumptions behind Stefan’s statement. “That has to be the most profound compliment I’ve ever received.” He squeezed Stefan’s shoulder. “Thank you.”

Explore the future of love and the galaxy!  Visit the Science Fiction Romance Brigade for excerpts by many authors!

The Science Fiction Romance Brigade Home Page

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: from Undying Dawn, a Work-In-Progress

Time for a Teaser Tuesday excerpt!

From the second prequel of my To Be Sinclair series entitled Undying Dawn, in which Kyan Sinclair rethinks his principles:

Turning to Joshua, he stated, “I want to buy you out.”
“What?!”  Joshua was so startled, he even dropped his soft drink bottle in the sand.  “Why?”
Heart breaking, Kyan tried desperately to keep his face neutral.  “I have so many reasons, I doubt if I could even count them all.  Whenever I think about one, corollaries pop up so fast and furious that I don’t....”  He hung his head.
It hurt even worse that Joshua didn't get angry with him.  The true, loving concern of his best friend felt completely undeserved as he rattled off questions.  “What’s wrong, Kyan?  Are you working too hard?  You’ve hardly PAL’d me for years, now.  What happened to all your enthusiasm?  You’re living in paradise, for pity’s sake.
“Do you just need to get out more?  You should come with me on my next recruiting run.  Experiencing a new city, new scenes, and new people will energize you again, I’m sure.  Why don’t we go see Takeo soon?  Maybe some of his people would want to join us.”
Kyan turned his head to watch the parasailer, now near the harbor of Sainte Maxime, descending to Earth once more.  He was unsurprised and untouched when Joshua ultimately pleaded, “For God’s sake, Kyan, talk to me!”
After riffling through the top dozen excuses he had manufactured in his mind to explain to Joshua, he surprised himself by saying, “I just... feel dead.” 
As Joshua gasped, Kyan tried to analyze the feeling.  “Whenever I think of any part of the plan anymore, my brain goes numb, like I know it’s not going to work.  Like some part of me knows there’s some kind of flaw, and I have to start from scratch.”
Looking Joshua straight in the eyes, he concluded, “And I know how much thought and work you've put into the plan, how much passion you have for it, so I know you will resist changing anything at this point.  So I either buy you out, or you buy me out.  Since I’m so heavily invested in the equipment anyway, I might as well buy you out.”
Joshua’s brow curled in confusion.  “What kind of changes were you thinking about?”
“No.”  Kyan shook his head.  “I don’t even want to get into it.  You’ll want to reanalyze the plan, but we did such a good job on it that it would all fall to pieces if we tried to re-tweak all the little details to fit the major tweaks.  I want to start from scratch.”
Bewildered, it took Joshua a full minute to respond.  “But I want off Earth, too.”
Kyan sipped his drink.  “I’m not saying you can’t join me, or even contribute.  I’m just saying I want to redesign the entire strategy with completely different goals, and I don’t want to have to fight you to set things up my way.”
Gazing at a distant yacht, he sighed.  “We've been best friends for ten years.  You know I love you, man.  But I need to find my passion once again.  My values have been changing in ways I can’t even describe to myself.  I need to find a deeper meaning to dedicate my life to.”
Joshua sat up on the side of his lounge chair, picking up the bottle and digging his feet in the sand.  “Like what?  Can you at least give me a clue?”  He wiped off the bottle and leaned forward, elbows on his knees, ready to listen with every care in the world.
Kyan considered everything he knew about Joshua.  Born into affluence, he had nevertheless worked hard to learn everything MIT’s Sloan School of Management could teach him.  While multiplying his grandfather’s fortune by investing in Moehrke Jump Drives and setting up new interstellar shipping lines, Joshua’s passion for the expansion of humanity into the galaxy led him into taking multiple science courses at UC Berkeley after earning his first degree.
After noticing they were both taking the same three unique subjects in biomedical engineering, environmental engineering, and the newest terraforming course the university offered, Kyan struck up a conversation with him.   That led to a most remarkable dinner, ending the evening at a bar where they clinked their glasses together to toast their new friendship and potential partnership.
Bankrolled by Joshua, who was earning a heavenly salary and options from his grandfather, Kyan had tweaked the basic design of a wormhole navigation headset so heavily that it qualified for its own patent.  The PsyActive Link he had created took the planet by storm as the most efficient social utility ever devised, replacing most phones and datanet sites, and used extensively by business for teleconferencing.
By the time he had repaid Joshua with interest, Sinclair-Edwards Limited became the Sinclair-Edwards Corporation with a minimal common stock offering.  Overnight, at ages 23 and 25, they found themselves christened as two of the top 100 wealthiest people on Earth.
Just over a year later, the scientists of their new private company S-E Discovery and Development, Ltd., had finished exploring one of the wormholes leading from Rendel’s volume of space, determining that the fourth planet of the new system was the closest planet to Earth-like conditions ever discovered.  Despite the frenzied newscasts and dozens of interviews, Kyan and Joshua were unable to find enough qualified people willing to sign on to their charter as colonists.  Joshua the ebullient businessman focused on that element of the plan, while Kyan the scientist stuck to the practicalities of setting up their new world.
Then Joshua had met Julia.  Kyan found himself inviting Monique to share his life just so he could have regular sex with someone beautiful enough to distract him from thinking about Julia.  It was almost more painful when the two ladies developed a fairly strong friendship, though it was nowhere near as strong as Kyan and Joshua’s.  Still, Monique was unthreatened by Julia’s intellect, and Julia, she of the Italian curves, luscious breasts, softly rounded belly, and loving, generous ways, was completely unthreatened by Monique’s slender, statuesque, standoffish goddess beauty.
So here he was, staring at Joshua staring at him, wondering what he could possibly say to make Joshua realize that being a brilliant, obscenely wealthy scientist was just not enough for him anymore.  “Do you think Monique loves me?” he finally blurted, unsure why he had asked in the first place, since he already knew the answer.
Joshua’s lips parted; he blinked heavily before offering a mild response.  “I’m not the person you should ask.”
“In other words, no.  I don’t think so, either.”  Kyan turned his face away.  “So the reason she’s with me is because I’m wealthy, or good in bed, or a status symbol.  The odds of her being with me for who I really am are slim, wouldn't you say?”
Joshua remained silent, though he did run one hand through his blond American surfer curls before sighing and looking at his bottle.  Kyan decided to ramble on for a while, since his subconscious had already generated two items of interest thus far.
“Our plan was predicated on the thought that normal, everyday people are tediously boring, as well as too stupid to live half the time.  Yet look at Manuvia’s founder.  Leah Marie Fischer originally signed on as a domestic servant to Corona Segundus.
“Although she admits to no genius, at least to no advanced intellect, nevertheless she had a brilliance to acknowledge her strengths and get trained as a courtesan.  She surrounded herself with loving people who could help her make decisions, she fell into an unexpected inheritance but learned to manage it by the seat of her pants and in non-standard ways, and now she has 50,000 colonists signed up to build a new society.  That tells me three things.
“First, intelligence doesn't get the loo scrubbed.”  Kyan was grateful when a burst of nervous laughter erupted from Joshua, because he still felt uncomfortable letting out so many of his deepest thoughts, even to his best friend.  Smiling briefly at his own joke, he grew serious once more.
“Although we've been concentrating on getting the most brilliant people we can to sign our charter, we haven’t really thought much about why they are living the lives they do.  They are undoubtedly immersed in comforts too numerous to mention, such as their support staff.  To think they might have to suffer the privations the original scientists did on Corona Segundus is a negative incentive.  Corona Segundus is the object lesson, and the people you have been approaching have learned it by proxy.”  Joshua nodded deeply, brown eyes searing in intense thought.
“Second, Leah Fischer’s investments revolved around one thing: the comfort and support she could give to people.  And not just brilliant people; I hesitate to say ‘average people’ because it doesn't sound like there is such a thing on Corona Segundus.
“But consider her two main investments, a nourishing and delicious food product, and compounds for the maintenance and pleasure of the bravest men on the planet, the wildlife bounty hunters, who lived in virtual squalor before because they had never had the time to attach themselves to women.  Somehow she internalized a vision of the expansion of the colony so well that she pinpointed the exact way to attract new colonists who could guarantee the colony’s health and welfare.”
Kyan put down his bottle and shifted in his chair to sit across from Joshua.  Staring intently, he declared, “The third thing is so astonishingly subtle that it took me two years to understand it.  Manuvia isn't going to be a successful colony because of what apparently sounds like free sex for people in any way they can manage to achieve it.  It didn't get 50,000 people signing on just because Leah Fischer is famous, or talented, or charismatic or an equalist or a political minimalist.
“It was because she deliberately established the tenets of a new kind of society that invited every single member to contribute their own creativity and talents toward its success.  She took the craving for love and understanding, and made it the theme of the colony.  Love.  Pure and simple.  Expressed right in the charter.  ‘That each citizen is granted leave to pursue love and gratification with no threat of onus or censure.’  How simple is that?”
He slumped.  “And what do we offer our potential colonists?  Patent rights and intellectual rivalries.  Surely we don’t even understand ourselves, if that is the limit we place on intellectual gifts.”
“What kind of tenet or goal do you think would inspire people to want to join our colony?”  Joshua at least seemed to realize why Kyan thought their whole plan should be scrapped.  Usually he would have offered half a dozen counter-arguments and derivative ideas before asking Kyan for his own.
Kyan sighed.  “I don’t know.  I've been thinking a lot about motivation.  I almost feel like I should....”  He blinked as if he could navigate a PAL fog.
“What?  You know I’ll help, in any way I can.”
Kyan shook his head.  “I don’t know if I will ever figure it out.  I’m not the people-person you are.” 
He stared into Joshua’s eyes.  “That’s why I think one of us should buy the other out.  You’re the businessman, so figure out a price you wouldn't mind either taking or paying.  If I can’t figure it out, I’ll sell out to you.  If I do figure something out, I’ll buy from you.  How does that sound?”
It took Joshua a full minute to respond.  “Fair.  But I’ll have to get back to you on it.  It’s not like I could just take the annual bottom line of S-E D & D and cut it in half.  I have to make projections and talk to some industry analysts, that kind of thing.”
Kyan nodded.  “That works for me.”  As Joshua glanced past his shoulder, he knew their ladies were probably approaching behind him.  “I’m going to take a swim, then head back to the house.”  He headed for the gentle surf without glancing toward Julia at all.

◊ ◊ ◊

The third night of Joshua and Julia’s visit, Monique started in on him.  “Don’t you realize we haven’t gone anywhere together for four months?  With the exception of the beach, I don’t think you've even been out of the house for three weeks.” 
She finished oiling her legs before bringing the bottle of emu oil to the bed and turning away from him; Kyan sat up against the headboard and began moisturizing her back.  “How about we spend a nice week in Milan?  Fashion Week is coming up.  I could wrangle a stint from Vicente, I’m sure.  You could publicize your colony then, too.”
Anointing her spine perfunctorily, Kyan murmured, “I notice you didn't say ‘our colony’.”  She stiffened in surprise, but he kept applying the oil as if he hadn't noticed.  “If you want to go to Milan for Fashion Week, feel free.”
“Yes, but people always ask where you are.  I always get uncomfortable regards,” she complained.  “I feel vulnerable when I go places by myself.”
“That’s why we have bodyguards.”  He capped the oil and set it aside.
Monique turned to straddle his thighs, though she was still wearing her thong.  Reaching for the oil, she began slicking him up in turn.  He stiffened quickly, wondering why her beauty wasn't enough to get him aroused anymore.
While she played with his balls and gave him a glittering smile, Kyan swept his hands up her thighs and sides to cup her breasts briefly before lightly grasping her shoulders.  “Monique.  Why are you here?”
He could tell by her appalled look that she was ready to bolt.  They had never had a serious, soul-searching discussion before.  “Because I love you,” she finally whispered.
“Funny.  We've never said that to each other before.  I wonder if it’s really true?”  Kyan slid his hands down to take her hands.  “Or if it’s just a set of words to us both, without real meaning in the first place, so we've never used them before.”  He kissed one of her hands.  “Do you think we've just been using each other all this time?”
He was surprised to see tears in her eyes.  “I've given you three years of my life, and you can ask that?”  Her lip was trembling now, too.
“Well, I've given you the same three years.  I've given you a place to live, I've purchased you more clothing and jewelry than you have even worn, I've taken you on trips.  You have not needed to spend a single euro on yourself.  I would say we have exchanged gifts of equal value, including time.  I did not force you to come live with me, after all,” he made sure to point out.  “You accepted my offer, and we've had a good time, or so I thought.
“But you want to get out in public, and you don't seem to plan to move with me to my new planet.  You've never criticized my goals, but they seem to mean nothing to you.  That’s why I asked.  I’m simply curious as to why you are still with me.”
“What do you want of me?”  Monique appeared to take his gentle honesty seriously, for although she had asked this with wholehearted intent, she was no longer upset.
He stared into her eyes for a long moment before gripping her hands for emphasis.  “I want you to be happy.  Your presence here has been a great blessing to me, but if you don't see yourself as my life partner, that’s okay.  I just want you to be happy.  That’s all.”  He kissed her other hand.  “What do you want of me?”
She sat beside him and held his hand.  “I've always wanted your love.  You’re a perfect gentleman and an interesting lover, always willing to act out my fantasies.  But I've turned myself inside-out for three years now, trying to get you to love me.  Although you've gone through all the motions, I wonder if you’re even capable of love at this point.”
He slid down in the bed, put his arms around her, and encouraged her to snuggle in.  With a kiss to her forehead, he gazed into her eyes.  “I love the fact that you exist.  I love your beauty.  I love your public coolness and your private vivaciousness.  I love knowing I've given you some much-needed stability after your last lover hurt you so badly.  I love knowing that you've enjoyed living with me.
“But I have never been a publicity hound, and I know you crave that, you need that.  I've tried to be a gracious host to your friends, but I've never been able to relate to their lifestyle.  All the possessions I've given you have never meant much to me, because I don’t understand why they mean so much to you.  I’m glad if they've made you happy, but since we don’t share the same core values, I truly don’t think you are happy here with me.”
Caressing her face, he planted a simple kiss upon her lips.  “Feel free to stay with me, if you wish.  Feel free to move on, if you wish.  If you do, come back to visit as often as you like, or even visit me when I move to my new planet.  But otherwise, I don’t think I can offer you anything I haven't offered before.  I’m sorry.”
Eyes luminous, Monique kissed him back.  “I’m sorry, too.  I do love you, especially for understanding me so well.”  Running her hand across his chest, she let it rest over his heart.  “I just hope you find whatever it is you’re looking for someday.”
Kyan gave her a wistful smile.  “So do I.”