Sylvi noticed the set of his jaw. “Proud of yourself?” she asked, shifting her own jaw into a grin that nearly matched Valla’s own. She bounced a clear pebble of his forehead and gave him a little shove.
He let out a small chuckle and picked up a black chunk of glass from the bank. He held it up in his fingertips to overlap Sylvi’s right eye. She had elected to keep the black irises she had been built with, but had gotten the rest of her eyes plated with gold when she turned sixteen. With the golden light of the setting sun reflecting from them, they were absolutely stunning.
“Your eyes look like gemstones,” said Valla quietly. It was a line he had read on a disk somewhere, but he really did mean it. From the way Sylvi’s innerlight glowed, it must have done the trick. She leaned in close, reaching out to stroke his cheek and dialed her eyes half closed. She was wearing her long blue hair today; it cascaded over her shoulder struts in a sparkling flow, a reflection of the shining lake behind her. Valla loved the way it framed her polished brass cheeks and the way she idly pushed it away from her eyes. She was truly beautiful, without even trying.
He dropped the stone back to the sand and reached out to run his hand through her shimmering hair. No matter how many criminals he arrested or how many promotions he received, it seemed less significant than what Sylvi thought of him. He wanted to tell her so, but she put a finger to his mouth before he could speak. As she leaned in close to him, he could feel a static charge building up between them. Just as she was about to share a spark with him, a claxon on a post right over their heads blasted out three alarms, ruining the moment. It wasn’t going to be their first kiss, but it was certainly going to be special. Not anymore.
“A Grand Assembly will be held tonight in the Great Hall at High Moon,” the announcer said. “All non-essential personnel are required to attend. Repeating.”
Sylvi sat up from the beach and wrapped her arms around her knees, but Valla fell back, his mood going from sky-high to the pits in an instant. “I guess you’re going to have to be there,” she said quietly.
He slapped a hand to his face and muttered “yes” through his fingers.
“All dressed out in your uniform?” she asked, tapping his life lamp with her fingertip. Valla moved his hand away and looked up at her. She was grinning shyly.
“Oh yes. Dressed and polished,” he said, smiling back. Sylvi was a sucker for a man in a uniform. Well, for him in a uniform anyway.
“Good!” she said and leaned down to let a small spark pass between them before jumping to her feet and dashing away. “I’ll sit up close!” she shouted as she vanished down the shoreline.