Attalla is drop dead gorgeous. He is the kind of man that turns a woman's head. Over six-six if he is an inch, he makes me feel small. He has wavy, close cropped, jet black hair with just a touch of silver at the temples. Not white. Not gray. Shiny silver. He is clean shaven which makes it easy to see the dimples that appear so readily when he smiles. And he smiles a lot. When you first look at him you think he has dark eyes – maybe blue, maybe green, but when you get close enough you realize he is a phenotype. He has one sapphire blue eye and one emerald green eye. His gaze is mesmerizing up close.
When he came aboard my ship it was all I could do to keep my mouth from gapping open. His attire consists of tight black leather pants, knee high boots and a long tunic style vest, sans shirt. His skin was a lovely shade of bronze, but his well muscled chest, with a dense layer of curly jet black hair is the first thing I saw and could hardly draw my eyes away from it in order to greet him properly.
“Welcome aboard Ma-rye-a.” I extended my hand.
He took it in his and placed his other hand firmly, just above my wrist. I must admit I wished we had known each other well enough that he would have pulled me into a hug like Jake or Tim do when we meet. What would it be like to nuzzle into that mat of chest hair? Wow!
“Thank you for agreeing to shuttle me around for the next few months. I will try not to be a bother.” He released my hand. “I have a confession though,” he said dropping his eyes to a small leather pouch that hung at his waist. “I am so used to her that I forgot to tell you about my girl.”
I stood silently baffled until he reached into the pouch and pulled out a mahserg. It was curled into a ball and had been asleep until he touched it. When she uncurled I saw that she was a white tuffed, ringtail. Her hair curled up in long white swoops off the tips of her rounded ears, her nose was white and her tail ringed in black and white. The rest of her body was coal black.
“3su, this is Chee.” Her body wasn’t anymore than about 6 inches long, but her tail was at least that length again. She opened one huge, lazy, brown eye and blinked sleepily at the bright lights in the bay. “She’s nocturnal, so she is a bit lazy right now.” Attalla stroked her belly with his finger. She rolled in his hand to expose it further for his touch and her long tail fell over the edge of his palm. “She’s totally ship broken, quiet and doesn’t eat much.”
“She is adorable,” I said. “I have a friend who bought one for her son, but it’s brown. It seemed very affectionate.”
“She is,” he assured me. “The good mahsergs are hand raised like her and really want to be with a person. They become very dependent.”
“May I?” I asked as I reached over to stroke her.
“Sure.” He held her out to me in his palm.
I touched her head and ran my finger all the way down her back and the length of her tail. She was so soft. When I went to stroke her a second time she reached out and clutched my finger with her tiny, padded fingers. I let her pull it to her nose and felt her breath as she gently sniffed my finger.
“Once she has your scent, she will remember you always,” Attalla said. “I have had her since I was very young and she remembers all my friends and who carries the best treats.”
I patted the pockets of my jacket and found a stray Goo Chew. I held it up for Attalla’s okay. Kayo thought they were the best maybe Chee would like the treat too. I knew I had a left over bag in the galley if she took a liking to them.
“She will be your friend for life,” he said with a smile that showed those fetching dimples of his. “She adores sweets.”
"Like and sensible woman." I handed her the candy which she took without hesitation and immediately stuffed it in her mouth whole.
“So what does she eat besides red raspberry goo chews? I should take on whatever it is before we move out of orbit.”
“No need, she’s been with me so long that she basically will eat whatever I eat,” he explained as he carefully returned Chee to her pouch. “If we are planet bound for any length of time I usually let her hunt. Fresh insects are a treat for her. I think she likes the chase as much as the food though.”
Well, wasn’t this nice. He was not only good to look at, but he had a gentle, caring nature or he wouldn’t have a mahserg. They were a pet you didn’t take lightly. They lived very long lives and, as he said, became extremely attached to their owners. It was not unusual for the mahserg to die if its owner died. They were not a pet you could pass on. They were a commitment.
“Sam will take care of bringing your things to your room,” I said. “Let me give you a tour of the ship and introduce you to my crew.”
“Your NET ad said you were independent,” Attalla said “and sole owner of the Ma-rye-a.”
“That’s right, but I have an AI crew that you will need to interact with while you are aboard.” I turned toward the bay camera. “Sam, this is Diplomat Attalla,” I introduced.
“Welcome aboard, Sir,” Sam responded.
Attalla smiled and bowed at the camera. “Nice to make your acquaintance, Sam.”
“Sam is my security and maintenance man,” I explained. “Sam can you see that Attalla’s bags are moved to the guest room?”
“They’ll be there in a jiffy, Cap,” Sam snapped. A loader pulled out from the corner to start moving the bags unto its platform.
“Very nice,” Attalla said in admiration. “Thank you, Sam.”
“No problem,” Sam piped back.
“He is very interactive,” Attalla commented as we walked toward the bay door into the ship.
“Wait till you meet the rest,” I said proudly. My crew was the best. People were always impressed with them. I had to admit Daniel was a genius even if I was still pissed enough to kill him for his last prank.