What would it be like to react to the same person, time after time, knowing that -- each time -- they didn't recognise you? This is the agony facing Moon when, later on in the novel, she has to work with a Srin who keeps forgetting her, then appreciating her, over and over again.
She threw a quick glance up at Hen Savic’s imposing figure at the other end of the lab. He was obviously sharing a joke with Srin about something because his laughter boomed through the high-ceilinged space. It was morning of the third day. And Moon steeled herself for what to expect, taking a deep breath as she surreptitiously watched the two men.
It was ironic how she had worried about adjusting to the standard Space Fleet twenty-four hour cycle when she was now obsessed with one that lasted two days. One day to get acquainted and begin working together. Another to begin a deeper friendship. One night to destroy it all and send both of them back to the beginning.
She looked down again, blinking a few times and concentrating on inanities to stop herself from watching how Srin moved and talked. Even when he wasn’t looking at her, he captivated her. More so, in fact. When she didn’t hold his attention, she could observe more closely how he acted—the easy smile that often creased his face, the strength and calm of his expression, the graceful way he moved that belied the taut lines of muscle she had felt under her fingers when he kissed her. It pained her to watch him because it was a taunt, akin to telling her that she couldn’t have him because he was a man outside time, unable to even provide the foundation of a relationship on which to build.
I shouldn’t be thinking of this, of him, she told herself. I should be concentrating on work.
Plasma is ionised gas. Plasma is electrically conductive. The centre of a star is high in both temperature and electron density.
When she first heard it, she thought Savic’s voice was like the rumble of thunder over rolling hills. Now, it seemed to ring with hollow hypocrisy.
“I’d like to introduce you to someone you’ll be working with quite closely. His name is Srin Flerovs.”
How could Savic keep his voice so even, time after time? How could he disguise his duplicity so well for two decades? Moon didn’t want to meet Srin’s gaze, to see the friendly curiosity in his eyes, followed closely by a spark of masculine appreciation, but she had no choice.
Slowly she rose to her feet and offered her hand. “Nice to meet you.”
“Dr. Thadin,” he returned, squeezing her hand gently. “Hen tells me you’re working on stellar-forming.”
“Yes.” The word came out weak and wobbly and she cleared her throat. “Specifically, the re-ignition of dead stars.”
He smiled, and his eyes lit up. Moon held herself rigid to stop from wincing.
“Why the emphasis on re-ignition?”
How many times in the past few weeks had she heard that question from those lips?
“It’s more efficient,” she replied tersely, moving to the heavy-water simulation tank, then stopped. It was petty taking out her frustrations on Srin when the person she really disliked was standing next to him. Maybe the quicker she showed she was able to have a constructive dialogue with Srin, the quicker Savic would leave.