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Tikaya turned and spotted Rias. A clean Rias, the first time he’d appeared so in more days than she could remember. She flung herself into his arms with enthusiasm that would have knocked over most of the men on her island; he caught her with ease. His six-and-a-half feet complemented her annoyingly tall six-foot frame nicely. But that height, along with those broad shoulders and the dense armoring of muscle beneath his shirt, reminded her how unmistakably Turgonian he was. For the eight- or nine-thousandth time, she worried that none of her ideas for inspiring her people—her family—to accept him would work. Even getting him past the port authorities could prove challenging.

The basalt cliffs rising from the eastern side of the island told her they had a few more minutes before the ship reached the harbor. She could worry then. For now...

Tikaya rose on her tiptoes, kissed Rias, and wriggled deeper into his embrace.

Catcalls and whistles floated down from the ratlines.

Someone yelled, “Ain’t pass’gers s’posed to have cabins for that?”

“Give ’em a blanket, so’s we got a show to watch!”

Most of the sailors’ comments were easily ignored—especially considering how little of Rias she had seen during the three-week voyage—but the surly mutter of “traitor” from a passing man stole her ardor.

Tikaya broke off the kiss. “Sorry.”

The sailor had spoken in Kyattese, and she wasn’t sure if it was one of the words Rias knew, but he had to have guessed the nature of the comment. He merely raised his eyebrows. “I hope that apology is for stabbing me in the neck with your pencil—”

She blushed and adjusted her hands.

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