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The deep voice is familiar, and I let my gaze travel from the blue hand up the white uniform sleeve to a broad shoulder. I suck in a breath at the sight of a handsome blue face with large, dark eyes. Tazhio. I remember hearing this voice over the speaker on the shuttle when our pilot introduced himself. He’s even more attractive than I remember.

Hand still on my back, he guides me toward the lift platform, joining two other couples. One pair is making out like teenagers and the other is exchanging glances that drip with lust. Embarrassed and slightly aroused, I keep my gaze on the floor as the lift descends. The lust-filled couple exits first, then the kissers. Now alone in the lift with Tazhio, I look up to find him staring at me.

Whoa, Nelly. There can be no mistaking the desire in his eyes.

My heart rises into my throat and my nipples get all prickly feeling inside my too-tight bodice. I hadn’t had a partner that didn’t require batteries since my last boyfriend left me two years ago, and the idea of Tazhio’s hands on me is irresistible. Should I invite him for a nightcap? This is a singles cruise, after all, and Suzanne had insisted on stashing a pack of condoms in my room “just in case.”

Before I can second-guess myself, I reach over and twine my fingers with his, trying to smile in invitation.

His weight shifts away from me, and a lump fills my throat. My fingers turn icy. Shit. I misread him. What was I thinking? I loosen my fingers, ready to pull free when he pivots to face me. He’s close enough for his breath to fan my cheek, and his fingers curl around my hand.

Heat sweeps through my body like I just stepped out of an air-conditioned building into the full force of a sunny day. I tilt my chin to look up into his face. His dark eyes glitter with an intensity that makes me weak in the knees.

Sure he’s about to kiss me, I tilt my chin up and close my eyes, trying to be brave and embrace the moment. The softest caress brushes my lips, a whispering touch that sends a jolt straight through my center. I can’t breathe. I can’t think. It’s like I’m floating on air, and every cell in my body feels inexplicably alive.

I’m still processing these feelings when the lift chimes and the door spirals open. Tazhio’s low voice hums in my ear. “I believe this is your deck.”

I open my eyes and see a familiar, fuchsia-carpeted hallway. Yep, this is my floor. My heart is racing. I just met this guy, and I’m about to take him back to my room. I’ve never dared have a one-night-stand, and I can’t believe this is actually going to happen. With an alien! Suzanne will be so proud.

Still holding his hand, I step off the lift.

Tazhio’s grip tightens briefly around mine as I tug him after me, but he stops at the threshold and gently extracts his fingers. Keeping his gaze on mine, he bows his head. “Have a good rest of your evening.”

I blink, suddenly confused as I watch the lift door iris closed between us.

For several heartbeats, I stare at my own reflection in the metal, trying to understand what just happened. But he kissed me…

Oh, God. Had that been a pity kiss?

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