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"On the sea: there's a nice little take-out joint on the beach. If we hurry we can be there before sunset."

Suzanna beamed up at him as they neared the valet stand. "Perfect idea. Too bad the sunset will be behind us, though."

Brad had his ticket ready when they reached the stand. "That's okay: we'll be able to see the first star all the better."

"I never thought of it that way," Suzanna confessed as the parking attendant called over his headset for a "space six-three-six."

"What exactly are you Colonists doing at the Cape, anyway?"

Now Suzanna was smiling and shaking her head at her date. "I could tell you...we're doing final run throughs: taking short flights in the John Glenn, taking final exams on our areas of expertise, that sort of thing."

Brad's Porsche zoomed into view from among the endless rows of parked vehicles, and his smile faded along with his companion's. "Something the matter about a guy who drives a Porsche?"

Suzanna looked away; looked for her friends among the crowds streaming out of the gate. "No, not at all." She managed a weak smile. "I just feel a headache coming on all of a sudden." She raised her hand to her forehead.

"I've got some Tylenol in the glove compartment--there she is."

"It's not a serious one." She rubbed her temple forcefully. "I need to get away." Without another word, and with a jerk of her wrist out of Brad's grasp, Suzanna was moving away from her date and into the oncoming tide of strangers, searching desperately for a familiar face.


First Star by W.R. Hammons:

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