"Uh, oh," said Manx, giving Drusilla a nudge. "Take a look. She's not writing... I think she's--"
"--blocked," Drusilla finished for him. "Don't worry. She gets like that from time to time. I've seen it before."
"Well, I haven't," Manx argued. "She never had this problem when she was writing about us."
"Oh, yes, she did," Drusilla insisted. "You just weren't in those scenes. You didn't see her debating over what names to use for the Baradan villagers, or struggling with the wind directions and location of the house vs the spaceport."
"And you did?"
"Yes," Drusilla replied. "I think I'm more a part of her than you are."
"That's not too surprising," Manx said with a wry grin. "She claims to have no idea what men think about."
Drusilla eyed her husband curiously. "Is she right about that?"
"Not really," admitted Manx. "She had me spot-on from the very beginning."
"Maybe so, but, trust me, it wasn't always that way."
"I guess she's gotten better at it," Manx said with a shrug. "So, tell me, if, unlike me, you're in her head so much, why isn't she writing Renegade?"
Drusilla peered at her creator, who was busily typing away at her computer. "She's blogging. Don't you know what that does to a writer?"
Manx chuckled. "Gives them Blogger's Block?"
"Something like that," Drusilla said reflectively. "It's a distraction from the WIP--kind of disrupts the creative flow, you know? She just finished Trag's book, Hero, and she'd already started Renegade when our blog tour began. Now she has to go back two books worth of thinking to write our blogs. Face it, big guy, as far as she's concerned, we're ancient history."
"But she couldn't forget us!" Manx exclaimed. "We were her life for so long! She ate, drank, slept, dreamed--"
Drusilla shook her head, favoring him with a rueful smile. "She hasn't forgotten us, it's just a mind-set thing. She'll get it straightened out eventually. She always does."
Manx looked doubtful. "Some people are saying that ours is their favorite in the series. We have to have made some kind of impression on her."
"And we did," Drusilla said, placing a soothing hand on Manx's bare chest. "You certainly did. I mean, you can do things the other Zetithians can't do, and you're the sexiest thing since. . . " She broke off there, at a complete loss for an apt comparison.
"Since what?" he prompted.
". . . time began," she said finally. "Believe me, she remembers you."
Manx sighed. "I can sure remember it! That scene by the lake when you painted my entire body, the moonlight swims, making love on the boat. . . "
Blinking hard, he shook his head, an action that set his long black curls in motion and reminded Drusilla of the first time she'd laid eyes on him. She'd been swimming in the lake with Zef, the eltran, who was trying to convince her to meet his friend. Zef's matchmaking efforts hadn't interested her at first, but catching that fleeting glimpse of Manx's tall, tanned form wearing nothing but a knife belt and a bow slung over his shoulder had changed her. He had haunted her dreams ever since--whether she was awake or sleeping. Painting portraits of him had come naturally, unlike before when exotic birds had been her chief inspiration.
"Until the Nedwuts came and you left me," she said, a lump welling up in her throat and tears stinging her eyes. "That nearly killed me, but I sure got a lot of painting done."
Manx slipped his strong arms around her and held her close. She could feel his heat and hear the comforting sound of his heartbeat. What if she'd lost him forever, as she'd feared she would? Shuddering at the thought, she hugged him fiercely, burying her face in his hair.
"Leaving you was the hardest thing I've ever done," he said. "I should have known that losing you would end my life, rather than save it. You are what keeps me alive, Drusilla. You know that, don't you?"
Drusilla nodded. The tears she fought against had already won the fight and were now streaming down her cheeks. Manx took her face in his hands and kissed them away. Locking his glowing green eyes on hers, she could see the love shining from them and knew that he meant every word. When leaned in for the kiss, Drusilla's bones turned to jelly, just as they always did.
"I think she'll be all right now," he whispered. "Let's leave her to the writing and you and I can get back to what we do best."
"Loving each other?" Drusilla suggested.
Purring softly, Manx nipped her neck with his fangs as his hands trailed down her back, sending thrills racing across her skin. "Oh, yes," he replied. "In every possible way."