Zelia lives a predictable life until she helps some of the members of the Volunteer Centre avoid a gunman. Her reward is a one-way trip to the stars to have the child that she wants with the freedom to raise it in a safe and quiet environment.
She is altered to make a suitable host for the new life and deposited on the surface of a nameless world where a home and supplies are waiting for her. Her days are relaxed and comfortable, and her nights are filled with alien songs.
Rad has been waiting for centuries to meet his mate, and to have her arrange to carry his child before they had even met goes against Drai customs. He is willing to adapt as long as she will accept his protection in a world chosen as her home.
“Clear the table, Zelia.”
She tucked her hair behind her ear and continued to bus the tables. “Yes, Dad.”
The diner door chimed, and she grabbed two menus.
“Go bring menus to the customers, Zelia.”
Zelia brought the menus to the newcomers, and she filled their glasses with water. “Good evening. Today’s special is a BLT with fries and a bowl of tomato soup.”
They nodded and opened their menus.
Zelia moved around the diner, clearing tables and tending to customers. It was what she did every day and every night.
Her parents left at eight, and she was on her own with Dave manning the grill until two in the morning.
Midnight arrived, and she lifted the receiver the moment that the phone rang. “Thimble’s Diner.”
“Good evening, Zelia. I would like the usual, please.”
“I will deliver it in thirty minutes.”
“Thank you. I will meet you at the front door.”
She smiled and headed to the back. Dave had left for his usual hooker break, so Zelia was free to put together dinner for the evening shift at the Volunteer Centre.
Every night, she delivered a meal to the agents who were going through all of the applications. It was routine, but she always waited until she was called.
She prepped jalapeno and bacon macaroni and cheese, three cheeseburgers, a platter of nachos, four salads and a pie with a side of ice cream.
Everything was ready to travel when Dave came in through the back door.
“Another evening call out?”
Zelia smiled. “I am going to deliver it.”
Dave sighed. “You know how your father feels about that place.”
“I know, but he just said that their staff couldn’t come in here, he never said I couldn’t go there.” She picked up the bags and headed out to the front, flipping the sign to say that she would be back in ten minutes.
Everything but the float was in the drop safe and the float was in her apron. There was nothing in the building to steal. She wasn’t risking anything but the glass.
Zelia walked down the street and counted her steps. Two hundred twenty steps brought her right to the front of the Volunteer Centre.
Domas smiled at her through the glass. He opened the door for her. “Please come in.”
Zelia nodded and walked past him, setting her bags on the counter. “There you go. How is the haul today?”
Agent Domas chuckled. “It is slim pickings this evening. Many Terrans seem to consider this as some sort of vacation and not a lifestyle. Around the globe, there are several centres that have been forced to close with not enough interest. Even their governments can’t make them apply.”