"You're being watched," Ambassador Vrill whispered to Amelia.
Of course I am. I'm the guest of honor and the only Earther here, the redhead thought. Still, Vrill's excited tone raised goosebumps on Amelia's bare arms. She checked the fiery red and gold gown that had been custom sewn for her there on the planet Plasius. It managed to cover her where it should -- barely.
She still couldn't believe Vrill had convinced her to wear the almost non-existent dress. The Plasian must have snuck something in Amelia's drink. There was no other explanation.
The neck of the sleeveless gown plunged to below her navel. It was bad enough the fabric was whisper-thin; she had to be careful her movements didn't shift the barely-there bodice to expose her entire breasts to the crowded room. Since she was amply endowed, the meager bit of fabric was constantly endangering Amelia's modesty.
The halter of the dress would have left her entire back naked but for her hair. Her tresses were caught back from her face in glittering combs to flow in a waved auburn river all the way to her waist. Amelia found the feeling of her hair on bared flesh wickedly seductive. It was an unfamiliar if titillating sensation; she usually wore her hair in a ponytail. With a shirt on her back.
Beneath the waterfall of hair, the shadowed cleft of her buttocks disappeared into the intricately laced train, which made up ninety-five percent of the gown's fabric. It was made of heavier material that swept the floor. When Amelia walked, the drag of the train pulled at the dress, making the front stretch taut against her torso. She felt sure no one was guessing how she looked naked. Every curve of her body must be blatantly obvious.
The worst part of the dress was its scrap of a skirt. The hem in the front was barely a scandalous inch below her sex. Her long, golden-hued legs were framed by the cascading scarlet and gold fabric.
Things here were definitely different from morality-driven Earth. The seductive Plasians knew much about allure and cared little for modesty.
"Who is watching me?" Amelia whispered back to Vrill. Her eyes darted over the crowd assembled in Saucin Israla's home. High-ranking Plasians of the government and art guild swarmed the ballroom, flirting with one another. In darkened corners where overstuffed couches lined the walls, movement Amelia dared not watch too long indicated coupling had already begun for some lovers. Their soft moans provided a background hum to the other partygoers' easy conversations. An occasional cry informed anyone who cared that bliss had been realized.
The room was for public functions but still managed to create an aura of seduction. Amber colored fabric swathed the walls, and golden lighting globes drifted across the ceiling, giving the room a soft, dreamlike quality. The gentle illumination provided shadowed areas for amorous activity.
The globes also highlighted the fantastic but pornographic mural on the ceiling. Amelia had snuck many a glance at the painted figures cavorting overhead, each passionate scene more explicit than the last.
Despite the subject matter, there was no doubting the talent of the unknown artist. If Michelangelo had painted orgy scenes, Israla's ballroom ceiling might have been his work.
Amelia's scan of the room met many eyes, and all nodded in respect. The party was for her, Plasius' first Earth artist-in-residence.
Vrill's eyes, streaked like black marble, smoldered. Amelia recognized her friend's arousal with amused embarrassment. The willowy Plasian's bronze skin glistened. The thick olive mane on her head, more like fur than hair, moved as if in a breeze. Her body heat released the perfume globules woven in her scant gown's ice blue fabric. The air grew heavy with the sharp scent of spice, Vrill's preferred aroma. Her voice rose to its usual husky tone.
"You've caught the attention of a Kalquorian clan. If stares could burn, you'd be on fire now."
Kalquorians! Amelia froze. For a moment she forgot to breathe. "Are you sure it's a Kalquorian clan?"
"I'd know and want a Kalquorian if I was blind." Vrill's dark gaze ran over the Earther's face. "That puts you in a spot, doesn't it? I mean, since Earth refuses to treaty with Kalquor. Your people speak against them at every galactic council."
Amelia swallowed. Her voice sounded defensive to her own ears. "Our leaders consider them a threat, especially to Earther women."