The most famous astronaut on earth discovers hyperspace has interesting consequences when he is marooned with his alien shipmate.
When Earth joins forces with the friendly Teneran aliens to gain access to their hyperspace drive, Josh is the first human to copilot with a Teneran commander. On the Marco Polo, a Terran ship equipped with the alien drive, he and the enigmatic Teneran Paris explore distant worlds no astronaut from earth could have visited without help from the aliens.
Not until a blinding sandstorm maroons Josh and Paris on a desolate planet does Josh realize the implications of the Teneran drive. He finds himself unaccountably attracted to Paris. Will his travels through the portals of space change his life forever?
Paris sat for hour without moving, his eyes fixed on the view screen. Josh glanced at him. "Can I do anything?" he asked, speaking softly so he wouldn't interrupt his copilot's concentration.
It looked like an effort, but Paris turned to face him. His face didn't change. "I'm fine."
When they focused their attention, Tenerans could go for long periods without sleeping. Josh gave him what he hoped was a reassuring smile. The crew was getting restless.
"Why don't you rest?" Paris said. "If I make progress, I will call."
Josh saw nothing on his face but the remote air of concentration that had settled over him when they left the planet's orbit. Josh had spent several hours in his cabin the first day they returned, at his scheduled sleeping time, but he spent it dozing and waiting for Paris to join him.
This was the second twenty-four hours and he was due for another rest period. With his crew, he strictly enforced rest periods, but now he was reluctant to leave the bridge. To leave Paris. In the cave, they had come so close to intimacy. Josh remembered the heat of the Teneran's embrace, how he tasted, how he had shivered under Josh's hands.
He had been sure Paris would come to his cabin. If not to finish what they started, at least to acknowledge it and let down his mask for a few minutes. Josh stretched his shoulders. "Maybe I will. For a couple of hours anyway. It might help if you took a break. Come back fresh."
Paris did not acknowledge the opening. "I'm fine," he repeated. "It's best I do not sleep until after the jump. Enjoy your rest. I will advise you if anything changes." He spoke in a monotone. Face impassive. Of course he would behave no differently now. Not a Teneran.
Josh unbuckled his seat belt. "I'll be in my cabin." He rose from his chair, checked in with his other officers, none of whom had anything significant to report. Not even Steward, the geologist, who was working on the samples they recovered from the planet.
"Nothing remarkable," she said when Josh entered the lab. "I'll have a full analysis in twenty-four hours, but no unknown minerals so far."
"All right," Josh said.
It seemed the only benefit from their trip was mapping another uninhabitable planet and, of course, the cave. He shook his head, squared his shoulders, and marched to the mess where he inhaled a plate of reconstituted eggs, bread, and coffee. Ten minutes later, he stretched out on his bunk, staring at the bulkhead, wishing Paris would knock on his door.
No one knocked. His comm did not buzz, and Josh spent four hours tossing from one side to another, half aroused and miserable, wondering if he had seriously misinterpreted what happened in that cave.
Paris had kissed him back. He had undressed without prompting. Josh got a good look at his velvet black genitals before the comm screeched at them. How would he look fully aroused? That question kept waking Josh from his fitful sleep. That and dreams of hot fingers trailing down his spine, leaving bright spots of flame on each vertebra. His dream changed to Paris staring at him with eyes that blazed brighter and grew larger until they filled the galaxy.