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bed's control panel, which wasn't much different from the cockpit of the starfury John had once snuck her into.

The bathroom had some odd appliances, for the styling of the male Centauri's hair, her bellhop explained, and a huge golden bathtub that seemed to be in the shape of a six-tentacled octopus-type creature. The bellhop explained how the tub could be filled with a variety of liquid substances while Anna nodded her head gravely. She thanked him and showed him to the door, as soon as he left bursting out into laughter and making a running leap at the bed. She landed with an incredible bounce, the springs-or whatever they were-sending her nearly into the ceiling.

Anna threw out her arms for balance, riding the declining bounces with bursts of laughter until the bed at last became still. She decided not to try the bathroom until John showed up. She knew a lot more about dead civilizations than living ones. Out the window Centauri Prime came into view as the station rotated above it. The blue water and tan-colored land masses, strewn with wispy clouds, reminded her of Earth. The communication console rang out a short, grandiose flourish. Anna ran over to answer it. The controls were similar to those she was used to, and she quickly saw how it worked. She accepted audio and visual.

"Hi there." It was John.

He had his military face on, which meant a tensing of the brows, a tautness to the cheeks, and a slight downturn to the lips. Seeing him instantly made her smile, and her expression was mirrored in his. The smile lit up his face. For a few moments they simply took each other in.

"How was your trip?" he asked.

"Well, if your sister hadn't gotten me drunk the night before I left, it would have been better. But after the first day it was fine."

She slipped
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