OK, I think it's time for another Angel in "Training" roll call/thank you. There are fifteen angels now, so "Thank you!" to:
G.O., S.M., L.W., A.H., C.C., K.L., A.F., M.H., T.G., M.A.T., K.O., J.B., P.T., D.R., and (the other) T.G.!
If you have given, or told me you were going to, and you don't see your initials here, please contact me--I may have forgotten to write you down. Some of you later arriving angels may not be aware that I have some plans to show my appreciation more publicly and/or tangibly.
If you don't understand what I'm talking about, go back to "The Adventure Begins"
And now, another excerpt from Serpentine:
Eva had never experienced sleep, and it had crept upon her unrecognized. Her first awareness of it came as she awoke, and her inarticulate thought was that she was experiencing again the first moments of her life. She turned toward Aidan, expecting to find him watching her. What she saw instead was her mate, sleeping. He lay on his back with his hands behind his head, his chest rising and falling with each breath. His eyes were closed, and he smiled faintly in his sleep. Intrigued by his closed eyes, Eva reached out with one fingertip and gently stroked the lowered lids, ruffling the dark lashes. It must have tickled, because Aidan twitched and snorted, startling Eva in the process. He stretched and looked around, reorienting himself.
“Did you sleep?”
His words had no meaning for her, and she stared blankly at him, trying to decipher what he wanted. Aidan tried the question again, this time aided by an impromptu pantomime.
“Did you...” he pointed at her, “sleep?” He closed his eyes and mimicked sleep, curled up, with his cheek resting on his folded hands. He held the pose for a moment, then opened his eyes and tried the question once more. “Did you sleep, after....” His voice trailed off, at a loss to name the event.
The wordless reference to what had taken place between them stirred shared memories, and smiled at each other. Eva was lying on her belly in the soft grass, propped up on her elbows, while Aidan had rolled onto his side again: the same posture as when she had first seen him. Eva reached over and traced the length of his nose with her fingertip. She allowed her finger to trail down Aidan’s top lip, pause for a moment on his full lower lip, then trail on down his chin and neck until she came to his torso. She pressed her hand against his chest, spreading her fingers wide. Holding still, she could feel his heart beating against her palm.
“Hmmm....” She closed her eyes to focus on the rhythm.
“Ahh....” Aidan sighed contentedly.
Eva felt Aidan’s hand resting gently on her back, just below her shoulder blades. It glided along the furrow of her spine until it reached her hips. She sighed contentedly and relaxed even more, resting her head on her folded arms.
Urrr...gluck, gluck, gluck!
What was that? It didn’t sound like any animal she’d met so far! She looked at Aidan, who was watching her thoughtfully.
Eva felt as if her middle was twisting and turning in on itself. She placed her hand over the empty-feeling spot in the center of her torso, just in time to feel the vibrations made by the next sound.
Those noises were coming from her! It was her body making those sounds! Astounded, Eva stared down at her belly, then looked at Aidan with the question in her eyes, What’s happening to me? Sudden realization dawned on his face, and his mouth flew open.
“Oh, no! What was I thinking? You’re hungry!” He scrambled to his feet and held out his hand. “Come with me.”
She recognized the gesture now, and grabbed his strong brown hand. He tugged her to her feet, and immediately started briskly down a nearby trail, still holding her hand. Eva trotted along, trying to keep up, as all the while her midsection continued its odd monologue: Gurmmmm...blup. Blup. Blup. She wondered what this new word, “hungry,” meant, and why her middle felt all twisted.
Suddenly, the path widened, bursting from the shadowy canopy of the trees into an open, brightly lit meadow. Roughly circular in shape, it seemed to be divided into wedge-like portions. In each section was a different type of bush, and each bush appeared to be covered with small, brightly colored ornaments. Most of the decorations were round, or a cluster of smaller rounds. The late afternoon sun shining on the ornaments seemed to light them up with an internal glow in a wide variety of colors—flame-bright red, brilliant green, golden yellow, and a blue-purple so deep, it was almost black.
“Ooh, Aidan! How beautiful!”
Eva clapped excitedly at the view before her. She was still exclaiming over the scene when Aidan plucked one of the ornaments and, to her surprise, popped it in her mouth! Her teeth instinctively closed on it, and she felt a burst of juicy sweetness, followed by a pleasant, subtle tanginess. It puckered her lips and squinted her eyes and she gulped, startled. The thing—”berry” said Aidan—slid down her throat and stopped at the twisting, turning spot in her middle, which gave another complaining growl. Aidan paused and grinned at her.
“Hungry,” he said. “Your stomach is hungry.” He picked a small handful of bright green berries. “Eat,” he told her, popping one into her mouth. “Eat. Eat. Eat.” He popped another berry into her mouth with each repetition of the word.
Eva chomped enthusiastically on her mouthful of berries, and was rewarded with a gush of tart juice, flooding her mouth and overflowing her lips to drip from her chin. She gulped rapidly: trying to keep up, trying to master the flow that threatened to make her cough and splutter. The delicious, fruity mass slid down her throat, settling in that hungry spot. Eva laid her hand on her belly again. The twisting and turning had stopped, and she could feel the food softening the loud, angry growls to quiet, contented rumbles.