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Blurb:

Matthew Aurelius planned on remaining a battle General for his career in Space. He worked hard all his life, sacrificed a personal life, and stayed focus. He kept himself away from love.

Rosemarie joined EarthSeekers to follow Marcus. Her parents started the program after exposing how humanity formed in the first place. She kept her crush silent, until one day when she bought make up.

Rosemarie put on the make up assuming that like all make up, it made a woman feel beautiful. She didn’t believe the story that this make up makes a man fall in love.

Chapter 1

What’s a Little Fairy Dust

Planet Persia

Second Lieutenant Rosemarie Mortlock thanked her new acquaintances again for the personalized tour of the city. Brigadier General Aurelius had granted her request for the tour earlier today, when it was offered to her at the first-contact meeting on ship.

The people of Planet Persia were advanced. And Brigadier General Aurelius said meetings were both a nice gesture to show the aliens that they came in peace, and to allow the senior officers a chance to indulge in fresh air. Meeting aliens who looked, smelled, and talked like humans struck a deep chord within her.

When her shift on the ship ended, Rosemarie raced to the planet for the tour with her guide, Aladenia. Rosemarie had talked to Aladenia for days and days, and already thought of her as a friend. Now, finally, they were meeting. They’d hugged when Rosemarie made it to the planet, although the beginning of the day had to be formal.

Aladenia had led the tour. Rosemarie followed along with her shipmates, including Brigadier General Aurelius, who she’d had a secret crush on all her life. The Earthlings were shown some museum pieces, and other antiquated communication attempts that Aladenia’s people had created throughout the years.

When they finally left the museum, the groups split up. The men decided to go off together, and Rosemarie had freedom to talk to her new friend without interruption.

Aladenia had promised her some girl time. Once they said their goodbyes, they headed to the marketplace. Shopping became fun, especially since she was on an alien planet.

“You are the only female on your ship not married, correct?” asked Aladenia.

Rosemarie felt like she was talking to an old girlfriend from her hometown, Splendid. “I’m not the only one,” she answered with a smile. “But I want a career.”

“No one man interests you?”

“I want a man. But I’ve yet to find one who likes the idea of me being on a space ship for years without him.”

Adadenia led her to a store on their left. “Then marry someone on your starship.”

Rosemarie refused to let her mind wander. “There are rules against fraternization.”

“That didn’t seem to stop Majors Peter and Grace Newman.”

Her married friends on the tour with them. Rosemarie nodded. “True, but I’m not equal in rank to men that I’m interested in. And besides, the men on the Zoastra lack a certain ‘bad-boy rule-breaking’ mentality.”

“So there is someone on your ship that you wish would break a few rules for you?”

 Yes, Matthew Aurelius. Rosemarie quickly quashed her silly daydream. It’s not going to happen. So why wonder when she’ll only make herself unhappy in the end?

“You need Dilorithum Dust,” Aladenia said.

“Dilorithum Dust? What’s that?”

“I apologize. Dilorithum Dust is a topical cosmetic many of us put on our faces. It promises that an interested man will make himself known to the girl. It’s supposed to drive men crazy. Unfortunately for us, the product doesn’t actually work as promised. It makes the face sparkle very nicely, though. Would you like to try some?”

Rosemarie nodded yes. “The cosmetics companies on our world used to promise women the same thing.”

“Our worlds have much in common.”

“If my father is right, we’re all from the same ancestors.”

“Our legends also speak of star people.” Aladenia added. “Your people look very similar to us, except that Earthlings have a variety of skin colors.”

Rosemarie glanced at her alien friend. Aladenia looked white, but the Persians had no coloring under their skin. No olive or pinkish undertones. They seemed more like ghosts. Rosemarie felt glad to be human. Her Asian and Irish ancestry gave her dark hair, and a temper to match anyone’s.

Rosemarie bought a package of Dilorithum Dust, because the smell made her feel heavenly.

*                      *                      *

That night Rosemarie met Brigadier General Aurelius and Majors Peter and Grace Newman back at the shuttle landing.

She had the distinct feeling that someone was looking at her body. She looked up at the tall Brigadier General Aurelius. Did he like what he saw? She shook off her feelings as ridiculous, and let the moment pass.

She strapped herself in, before letting her eyes take in the show. Matthew Aurelius always walked in last on a ship. His tight butt was eye level with her when he passed her seat, and she always waited to watch.

At six feet, he towered her five foot two frame. His broad shoulders made her feel like swooning and falling into his arms. Matthew’s arms could crush her if he tried, but he never would. And his golden brown hair was highlighted from his Scottish ancestry even if, unfortunately, he didn’t have any accent.

However, he shocked her this time when he stopped at her seat and adjusted her safety belt. “Just wanted to make sure my best communications officer is safe for the ride home.”

Rosemarie hesitantly smiled up at him. “Thank you, sir.”

As soon as he walked away she berated herself as a fool. She commanded her heart to stop beating absurdly. Matthew didn’t want her. She was just one of the team members.

Once the stars became a familiar black background, Peter remarked, “You look a little different from this afternoon, Rosemarie.”

“I bought some makeup to make my face glitter. Can either of you see it?”

She moved her head slightly, in hopes of the glitter catching the light.

“It’s barely visible,” said Grace, “but your face is shining brighter. You shouldn’t use alien topical treatments without a scientific evaluation first.”

Rosemarie shrugged her shoulders. “Well, my face seems fine so far. But here…take one of the samples to study, if you wish.”

Matthew must have heard their conversation because he turned around to stare at her. “You look nice, Rosemarie.”

Her heat index rose from his smile. She’d joined the ship to be near him. He’d assumed she wanted adventure. But she wanted him. Shaking her head, she told herself to shut up as she was fishing for compliments. Matthew was just being nice. He wasn’t trying to make her heart thump faster in her chest.

After a few more minutes the shuttle landed without incident. Rosemarie found her backpack. But before she could pick it up, Matthew took hold of it and began carrying it for her. “Let’s go. What time will I see you on the flight deck?”

He’s not being romantic, fool. He’s being himself, nice and polite, thought Rosemarie. She reminded herself to not be a harpy, and rip the bag back from him. Matthew was, after all, her commanding general.

Oh, her crush needed to stop. “My shift starts in three hours.”

He let her leave the shuttle first. “I’ll have the pleasure of your company there, too. It’s my lucky day.”

He was sincere. But could he be flirting? She assumed that Matthew must want something. He probably wanted her to do something that wasn’t in the job description, like make him more of her family coffee.

She didn’t voice her thoughts at all. “Iso is always my favorite part of away missions.”

“Why? I assumed you loved using your tongue to…I mean, communicating in new languages.”

“I do. I love letting my tongue get tied up in a new position when learning a new language. But Iso is the closest we have on board to a personal sauna.”

Why did she let herself say stuff like that aloud? She made a note to herself to never mention tongues in a sentence to Matthew, err, Brigadier General Aurelius again.

He put his warm hand on her lower back. It was his way of telling her to walk. He’d done it before, and it didn’t mean anything then. Her heart skipped from his touch, which was inappropriate and foolish.

Once they reached the changing room, she swore someone was staring at her. Undressing for Iso felt a little more exciting than usual. The hairs on the back of her neck definitely felt like someone was watching her. She wanted to wear sexy underwear for Matthew.

Then she shook her head. He’s not interested.

Rosemarie walked into the isolation pod to ensure no alien bacteria entered the ship air.

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