Saturday, February 11, 2006

3. Pillow Talk

"Still depressed about Earth?" Bliss inquired.

Pelorat smiled beside her. "My dear, after all the effort you've just expended, I couldn't be depressed about anything. I suppose I shall become reconciled in time. And now that I've found you, of course, I have a new goal in life."

"And that is?"

"Trying not to die of exhaustion."

Bliss returned Pelorat's smile and kissed him, and the two were silent again for a time. Then Pelorat said, "I wonder where Trevize will ultimately go, after he drops us off at Gaia?"

"He seemed eager to return to the arms of Mitza Lizalor on Comporellon," said Bliss tartly.

"My dear, I must tell you that I've always found your attitude concerning Golan's personal life to be rather disquieting."

"I know it made you uncomfortable, but I assumed it was simply your dislike of seeing friction between two of your friends."

Pelorat shook his head. "There is that, but it goes deeper. I can't help feeling that there's a touch of jealousy on your part."

Pelorat had the satisfaction (and he had to admit, it was satisfaction) of seeing Bliss rendered speechless. He couldn't sense emotions as she could, but he could guess that surprise and indignation were warring within her mind. Finally she answered, "That's ridiculous!"

"Oh no, my dear, it's far from being ridiculous. You've shown all the venom of a woman scorned."

"But I'm not even attracted to Trev! Why should I be jealous when he chooses to fall into the arms of some --" Bliss had the presence of mind not to finish the thought. It didn't matter. Pelorat was looking at her like she had just confirmed his analysis, and she had the sinking feeling that she had.

"Now, I know you and Golan have a tendency to think of me as an innocent in matters of the heart," said Pelorat, "but I assure you that a man who has been married and divorced as often as I have can't help but gain a certain practical knowledge of the subject."

"But I have no reason to be jealous of Trev," Bliss said -- quite reasonably, she thought. "I'm not even attracted to him," she repeated.

"That doesn't matter," said Pelorat. "What matters is that he is not attracted to you."

"I fail to see what difference that makes."

"Do you?" Pelorat asked skeptically. "A woman as attractive as you is bound to gain the attention of any man she meets. I imagine you've come to expect it. Golan, however, was completely indifferent to your charms. I saw it, and I'm sure you felt it. Now it seems to me that ever since then, you've been going out of your way to find fault with Golan's taste in women as a way of proving to yourself that his indifference was his fault and not yours."

"Do you really think I could be so petty, Pel?"

Pelorat shrugged. "I've noticed that being part of Gaia hasn't made you into a flawless superbeing. You seem to have your share of minor quirks, just like any other human." He chuckled. "That's why I find Golan's assertion that you might be a robot so amusing. A robot wouldn't be so emotionally irrational."

Seeing Bliss frown, Pelorat said, "I wouldn't make too much of it, my dear. It won't be too long before we return to Gaia, and then you won't have to worry about Golan's poor taste in women any more."

Bliss shook her head. "If I really am being so petty, it can only be because I've been away from Gaia for too long. It's always easier to see your own flaws when you can see yourself from others' perspectives." She sighed. "I'll have to apologize to Trev. Now that I think back, I can see I have been overcritical." She shook her head again. "If this is how Isolates interact with each other, it's a wonder you can put up with each other."

"There there, my dear, don't worry about it. We've had more practice at it than you have."

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