Marla: Zuannis, Nice to meet you—I don't believe I've ever met a Twilanan before.
Hatul: Ugly, aren't they? Tall, bald-headed, and a nose like a rhino—horn and all. *snort* If it wasn't for the earrings, you'd never know she was female. Now, Bonnie, on the other hand makes me want to—
Zuannis: Look who's talking about being ugly! You Norludians are the strangest creatures in the galaxy! (shifting away from him slightly) Don't know why I agreed to do this with you around.
Hatul (waving his sucker-tipped fingers at her suggestively) What's the matter? Afraid I'll taste your essence and not like it?
Zuannis: You just keep your sticky fingers to yourself, you skinny little pop-eyed freak!
Hatul: (turning to Marla) Perhaps you might indulge me?
Marla: (horrified) Thanks, but I think I'll pass. We're here to talk about Outcast, remember? Zuannis, tell me a little bit about Bonnie.
Zuannis: What a sweet girl! She's a good friend of mine, you know—aside from the fact that we trade with each other. She gives me eggs and flour and I give her bread. Works out very well! But she's been in a bad way lately, and she works much too hard.
Marla: How so?
Zuannis: Her damned boyfriend took all the money, the good speeder—and her grandmother's priceless engagement ring—and left her with a farm and vicious animals to look after and a baby on the way. Really! He should have been deported!
Marla: (soothingly) I'm sure you're right, but—
Hatul: I would have helped her. She had only to ask. . .
Zuannis: Humph! Like Lynx wouldn't be more help to her. You'd just creep her out.
Hatul: (indignantly) Bonnie and I get along perfectly well, and I wouldn't have stolen from her!
Zuannis: No, you'd have just sampled her “essence” and that would have creeped her out!
Marla: (attempting to regain control of the interview) Zuannis, would you tell me a little bit about Lynx, please?
Zuannis: Lynx hasn't had it so good, either. He's not like any other Zetithian man I've ever met. I may only know two of them, but believe me, they are nothing like Lynx! Cat and Leo are friendly and charming and just looking at them gives me—well, better not say what!—but Lynx is surly to the point of rudeness. There's a lot of anger in him—and he doesn't like women.
Marla: A Zetithian male who doesn't like women, huh? I've met Cat and Leo, too, and I find it hard to believe—
Zuannis: So did I at first. I told Bonnie there was something wrong with him—turns out I was right, too.
Marla: How so?
Zuannis: (shaking her head) I'd better not tell you. It's rather . . . personal.
Hatul: (eagerly) I know, I know! I'll tell you!
Marla: I'm not sure I want to hear it from you. . .
Hatul: He was a love slave to fifty women for ten years! Imagine the fun he had. . .
Marla: I thought he didn't like women.
Hatul: (slyly) Maybe not, but he probably knows more about pleasing them than any man alive. It'll come back to him. Now, if I had been the love slave of all those women, I'd have—
Marla: I don't think I want to hear this.
Zuannis: (firmly) Trust me, you don't. I'm going to tell your wife, Hatul!
Hatul: (snickering) She would be the recipient of all the knowledge I would have gained, so I don't think she would complain.
Marla: (grudgingly) You may have a point, there, Hatul.
Zuannis: (shuddering) No, he doesn't. Hatul could learn everything there is to know about pleasuring a woman, but no Norludian could ever be as handsome and sexy as a Zetithian—not in a million years!
Marla: Well, you're right about that much . . . they are pretty hot. . .
Hatul: I'd be better than that scrawny little husband of yours, Zuannis. You're just jealous.
Zuannis: I am not! Joachen is a very handsome man!
Hatul: Well, if you want to delude yourself, you go right ahead.
Zuannis: You'd better watch your mouth, Hatul!
Hatul: Interesting choice of words. . . . (sticking out his tongue at her)
Zuannis: And you just keep that tongue in your head! I don't want to see it, let alone—Oh, God, Marla, don't let him touch you!
Marla: (shrieks) I think we need to wrap this up now. This has been Marla Elkhorn reporting on the upcoming release of The Cat Star Chronicles: Outcast, by Cheryl Brooks. Look for it June 1, 2009!