It came to her suddenly that she was standing on an alien world holding a carved cock looking at a man who seemed more interested in her than a vendor should.
"Thank you, Natalia. Your little brother has an excellent eye." Nesh nodded at the carving she held in her hand. "It is some of my best work."
Rey smiled and elbowed Tal aside. "That means that negotiations have begun."
Nesh raised his hand, "Not at all. I give it as a gift to the lovely alien in our midst. I hope that you use it and think of me fondly."
The images that that conjured in Tal's mind brought the blush back full force. "Thank you?"
His grin made his deep amber eyes glow in a way that made Natalia distinctly uncomfortable. She realized at that moment that she was clutching a blue erection staring at the man who made it and he was sporting a tent under the wrap skirt he was wearing.
"You are welcome."
She squeaked and stumbled off down the lane until she was out of his field of vision. A number of men looked at her speculatively, one brow raised and she groaned as she remembered the object in her hand. Rey came to her rescue with a square of cloth that concealed the detail of her purchase but left its shape fairly obvious.
Laughing, Rey led the way to a small cafe. She gestured for Tal to sit while she placed an order.
Tal thumped her prize onto the table and hooked the cane over the back of the chair. Three men were watching her intently and she simply closed her eyes and prayed for a crevasse to open under her. Pakor perched on the chair back next to her and opened his wings to draw attention. Claw marks on the back of the chairs told Tal that this was a common occurrence.
Rey slid into a chair across the table and sat grinning at her. "That was a little funny, you have to admit."
"Me sprinting down the street with a rod in my hand? Yes, I would have to agree."
"Ah, the cool distance is back. Well, I am glad we touched your emotional core at long last." Rey sat back as the server brought them their order.
A selection of meats, fruits, sandwiches and teas were in front of her and Tal tucked in. She still felt the gazes on her from the other table but tried to enjoy herself.
"Why are they staring?"
Rey didn't even look up, merely spread some soft cheese on bread. "They are assessing you for mate potential."
Natalia almost choked on her fruit. "They don't even know me." She held out a strip of meat to Pakor and he took it delicately.
"Doesn't matter. The moment the little brother over there picked you, you were firmly within their purview." Rey's twinkling golden gaze dismissed her discomfort.
"Don't worry about it. The Solray allowed you to come here with the express purpose of having you join our genetic pool as soon as you are well. You are not well yet, so it is not a matter for concern."
Natalia's mouth opened in shock and Pakor screamed with his wings raised and extended. She was suddenly the focus of every eye in the cafe.