Roxelena has inherited her family talent for cold. On Earth, it is useless, but there is a request for a woman with talent on a world she has never heard of.
Marriage is a condition of her travel, so she agrees. She has yet to find a man who can withstand contact with her, so his unconditional agreement to her comes as a surprise.
When she meets her husband for the first time and feels the heat of his body and his talent for fire, she understands why he doesn’t feel the cold. He craves her cooling as she wants his heat, and they exchange their talents gladly.
She dropped her tools inside her mudroom and rolled her shoulders. She kicked off her boots and scrubbed her hands before entering her home.
Someone was already inside. She could feel the heat signatures in her living room.
Julian was sitting and prodding at a fire. “Come in and sit down, Rox. This nice man is here to take you away from all this.”
She scowled at her brother and smiled quickly at the newcomer to her home. “Welcome to my house.”
“Thank you; your brother has been most hospitable. I am Recruiter Norz and I have an offer for you.” The small man’s silvery skin and huge black eyes marked him as one of the new arrivals on Earth. A Volunteer recruiter.
Julian handed her a cup of coffee and gave her a serious look. “Sit. Listen. You need to hear what he has to say.”
Roxelena took a seat and sipped at her coffee. It cooled rapidly in her hands but the first sips were nice.
The recruiter shivered. “Is it always so cold in here?”
Rox smiled. “Is it cold? I don’t feel it. I only keep enough heat on in the house to stop the taps from freezing. Even I like warm showers in the morning.”
“So, it is true? You have a talent for cold?” The recruiter leaned forward eagerly.
“If Julian said so, then it is true. Around here, no one even bats an eye. I fix their air conditioners and then come home to where I don’t have to watch my temperature all the time. What have you come here to discuss with me?”
The recruiter leaned forward and put a flat tablet on the coffee table. He tapped it and a projection filled the air in the centre of the room. “This is Irudan, a planet in the Nyal Imperium. It is a world covered with gardens that range from research to ornamental. They have need of someone with your skills.”
Rox blinked. “That doesn’t sound like a good idea. I can’t always control my effect on the environment.”
Norz smiled. “That is where the Alliance comes in. We can fit you with a suit that regulates your body temperature and supplies to assist in your ability to not only project but focus your power.”
“Why me and why Irudan? I thought I would just be a bit of a disaster around growing plants.” She smiled and held up her cup as Julian filled it. All of her carafes were thermal to allow the hot beverages a fighting chance. She drank quickly and smiled at the splash of heat that flickered in her for a moment.
“Irudan is a world where new species of plants and fruits are being designed every day. They are under scrutiny and have a stringent policy about accepting newcomers. You meet the criteria we have been seeking.”
She looked at him with narrowed eyes. “What criteria?”
“You are female, attractive by general standards, talented and single. The Irudan do not allow strangers to enter their space. You would have to be bonded to a citizen in order to take this position.” Norz looked uncomfortable.
Julian sat next to her and looked serious. “Consider it, Rox.”
Roxelena looked to her brother and cocked her head. “Why, Jules? Why should I consider this?”
Julian sighed and put his hand on her shoulder. “Because you hate being alone and the man selected as your match can actually withstand your ice. I have read his file; he is a solid match, and after all, Grandma and Grandpa both had an arranged marriage. You would be upholding a family tradition.”
Rox snorted. “Marriage? He never said anything about…”
Norz was looking intensely uncomfortable. “The bond I was referring to was being married to a citizen. He has volunteered to take you on as a bride. You would be the second Terran female placed on Irudan. The first is a horticulturist who is enjoying her life with her arranged husband. He is very pleased with the bond and states that she is adapting well to Irudan society.”
His rushed speech was designed to convince her. She knew that kind of frantic exposition. It happened every time a man spoke to her after a first date. They always had a dozen distracting comments that hid the one she was looking for. They didn’t want to see her again.
She was the epitome of an ice queen. Her blood refused to heat no matter how intense the cuddling got. Human men just couldn’t counteract her cool body temperature.
“Can his body handle the cold?”
Norz smiled. “I can safely say that, yes, yes, he can.”
She looked around at the empty house that she had once dreamed of filling with children and a husband. Julian had his family and she wanted hers. If she had to head to the stars to find it, so be it.
“Where do I sign?”