I know, he said sadly.
He watched her walk away, then went back into his office, sat down behind the desk, and ran his hand
through his hair. Things were complicated enough, uncertain enough, without that unexpected welling
of emotion hed felt when she walked into the room and when she shook his hand. He had his Jackie
a wonderful, beautiful womanand there were still a few unattached men left among the single
It would be best for Mandy to make a new attachment, once a suitable period of time had passed, for
the needs of the colony made personal loss and unhappiness secondary considerations.
He had a job to do, and he would put Mandy Miller out of his mind in order to get it done. He had so
decisions to make. At the moment his inclination was to concentrate on the important task of
accumulating enough fuel to send the ship back to Earth. That was the overriding priority, but it
presented problems. When the ship was ready to leave Omega, how could he leave with it, knowing
that the mystery of the Great Misty River still hung over the colony?
In his mind there lingered a picture, a carving from the dead city in Stoners Valley. Among the images
of the sticklike Whorsk, there had been one other humanoid representationa winged creature with
full, muscular limbs.
Although Theresitas baby showed all indications of being a normal human fetus, would it also sprout
wings? It was beyond logic.
That one inescapable fact was to dominate his thoughts for hours, until he joined Jackie in their bright
and airy home overlooking Stanton Bay. Jackies warm kiss of greeting caused a moment of sadness,
but it didnt last long as his hands went to rest on her hips and he drew her to him.
How was the meeting with Mandy? Jackie asked with no apparent guile or suspicion.
Interesting, he said. Events are pushing me to make a decision Id rather postpone.
Its not like you to be reluctant to face anything, Jackie said, pride in her voice. I know youll make
the right decision at the right time.
He grinned. It was heady to have a woman who felt that he could do no wrong. With support like that,
he would make the right decision, and even as she took his hand and led him into the dining room for
the evening meal, he knew which decision he would make.