“Annabelle, what is happening here? I was away to change my dress and coming back I've met the pilots, complaining you didn't allow them to take a picture with me. Why?”
With a fake pleasant smile, Miriam B was eyeing Mrs. Corbin. The latter began explaining the situation, but nothing she said did appeal to the singer.
“Oh, honey, that's a nonsense. I'm here to enjoy the company of young heroes who fight bravely against Plantarians. Have you ever consider my position here? To refuse a photo will ruin my reputation. Just imagine the title: Miriam B supports Space forces, but not all of them."
"But Miriam, you said yourself we need to encourage girls to join the military."
"Not by discriminating the men, though, especially those who put their lives on stake. They deserve our tender attention, don't you agree? Like this, you see..."
The singer put her hand around the waist of baffled Gromov.
”Smile, please."
One of her companions got on one one knee, raised up the camera and flashed a photo.
"More smile, please."
"No, thank you," Gromov refused bluntly. He tried to push Miriam B gently away, but she kept sticking to him, one leg entangled around the man's stiffened body. He could smell the spicy perfume, surrounding them like an invading jungle.
Having no related experiences with the world of show business, he was mildly irritated and excited at the same time. With the stone face on, he found himself hugging the singer, almost a cheek on cheek, which required him to hunch down as she was two heads smaller.
"The smile, gentleman. You are with the beautiful lady. Don't frown at her!"
With the third remainder from the photographer, Gromov had enough. He hated the part of himself that was enjoying the presence of attractive woman, the sensation of soft skin pressed against his.
For several years since Samara's wedding he has been avoiding relations with other women. The voluntary celibate possessed no challenge as with passing time he learned to suppress or neglect his sexual desires - unless someone awakened them like Miriam B did right now.
He hated it. Not just because of Samara who might have been only a convenient excuse, although he certainly had feelings for her and Samara's picture in wedding dress still revokes sweet bitterness in his heart - the truth was he was never giving the promises he could not fulfill.
Had he died, the death was permanent. Having never signed the agreement, mandatory for performing backup, he balanced on the verge of complete disappearing every time he fought a battle.
Not that he was popular with women anyway. Recently, Akane Anbi gave him a bold hint, but he did not react as he considered it just childish whim, not to say this tomboy did not attract him much.
Rather clumsily, yet with a firm resolve, Gromov released himself from Miriam's embrace.
"Let me introduce you to my colleagues," he said and led the singer to Schubert and his friends. All of them had already prepared blocks with pens, hungry for an autograph. With a remorse and a relief combined, Gromov used the opportunity and walked away to the hotel lift to get some sleep.

It was a


About the author

Pavel Morava

Bio: Born in the Czech Republic, Pavel Morava is not a native English speaker. Having been twenty-two years old, he published his first book, which did not become an international bestseller. After a few other attempts, Pavel Morava abandoned the literary career for over twenty years, during which period he has been focusing on processing of plastics, programming, and raising of children.
Recently, with more time at his disposal, he returned to the forgotten ambition, fighting a futile battle with English language, procrastination, and the tendency to give up too early.
Being vivid reader of not Anglo-Saxon origin, Pavel Morava was fortunate enough to experience books from different countries, including Czech, Russian, Polish, Chinese, Swedish, Dutch, Japanese, French, German, and English. Such a vast literary variety heavily influenced his own work, which typically relies on an one-point-of-view narrative, consecutive storytelling, and elimination of unnecessary details.
Web novels and online publishing made him reevaluate his approach to style and building blocks of the text; the result should be, hopefully, lighter, shorter, and more intelligible for reading on electronic devices.

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