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What she had felt from Andrew, when he entered the domed area where her pool was housed, made her swallow a mouthful of the pool's water. He was one of the people in Harrington House whose mind glow she was always aware of - at least when he was in any sort of proximity to her. His was normally a comforting warm mind glow; she understood why Nimitz had liked him almost from first meeting far better now.

It was unexpected.

She knew - on an intellectual level - that she was beloved by Grayson. A traitorous voice whispered that it was more than just being beloved - rather adulation something akin to deification. She'd once punched up the 'net's definition of living Saint and it had fitted to a Tee the mould they were trying to fit her into.

But this wasn't that worship, that adulation. Instead it was something almost heretical, a brief flash of the desire to bring a deity down to earth again and make them into something closer to human. It was something she already started to crave - her young officers had started to look at her as is if she was superhuman, and she was quickly growing to hate it. Even Scotty was occasionally succumbing to the tendency.

Andrew looked at her like he wanted to knock her off the pedestal that the rest of the world had placed her on. Or rather, he didn't look, but it was there so clearly for her to feel. And he was one of the few who knew she could do just that. He was perfectly capable of obfuscating his emotions most of the time, but chose not to, happy to act as one of her two anchors in amongst everyone else’s tangled mind glows. That meant that she knew him. Knew him inside out, and yet this had blindsided her.

It wasn't a destructive feeling, but rather an honest sort of lust - a similar sort of lust, at it's core, to that which she'd first felt from Paul when Nimitz had insisted on linking her to him. It was sweet and gentle and innocent, rather than the stomach turning desire to dominate she'd gotten from North Hollow every time the two of them had met that had made her teeter on the edge of reliving those moments in the showers at Saganami Island. It had taken all of her will power not to do - or say - something she’d regret at the time. She almost wished she had done what she'd wanted to; Paul might have survived.

Everything she could feel in Andrew’s mind glow - even his desire - made her feel human again. More than that it actually made her feel something akin to the way Paul had made her feel. Low heat curled in her belly around Andrew, and his dry wit coaxed smiles from her more readily than almost anything else had in the days since she’d taken a second death ride in the defence of her adopted home world.

The differences in the way they made her feel were in the men - they had been shaped in very different ways by their birth cultures and experiences (and of course, Paul had been closer to her equal than not, whilst Andrew was very much her knight errant) - but also in her. She was older, wearier and her empathy - the sense she shared with Nimitz - was far stronger than it had been prior to Paul's death. It seemed to grow by leaps and bounds every time she and Nimitz were put under near-lethal stress.

She'd found it was accelerating her personal relationships, in both positive and negative ways. She'd grown close to Benjamin and his wives in what felt like record time, though that had also been catalysed by the assassination attempt, and to Howard Clinkscales since he'd become her regent. Both were very paternal towards her, despite the fact that Benjamin was younger than her, but it didn't grate. Her developing empathic sense had however driven a wedge in other relationships, such as White Haven's fledgling attempt at being her mentor. She'd thought that it was his deep friendship with Raoul - Raoul who she still missed like she'd miss a limb - was what was driving his attempts to protect and mentor her. Underneath that though, was something that made her recoil from him, a trace of hunger wrapped in guilt and frustration that could so easily become toxic.

Honor' lips quirked into a sub-conscious smile, as she flipped through another turn. The pool was her indulgence - it made little to no sense to the average Grayson to swim, given how poisonous the natural bodies of water on the planet were. It was one of the ways that she relaxed, though, and her armsmen had adjusted remarkably well. (Okay, so her swimming costume was significantly less revealing than any costume she'd have worn on Sphinx - let alone Manticore or Beowulf. For a moment she contemplated pulling one of the Manticoran ones out of the boxes her mother had forwarded to Grayson, just to see how her senior armsman's mind glow responded.)

But what she really needed to do was talk to someone. Mike would be her first choice - after all her best friend had talked her through how to deal with her attraction to Paul - but Andrew wasn't a Mantcorian and Mike wasn't here. Perhaps Miranda? She was starting to realise that despite her first impressions that Grayson's women were the aggressors, or at least they were the ones that did the chasing and there was an etiquette to their hunting. Then again, Miranda had taken the opportunity created by Honor's offer of employment to opt out of that particular game - and she was considering "chasing" her maid's much loved older brother.

Which left her with Katherine or Elaine. And Katherine had "selected" Elaine (not that Benjamin and Elaine weren't a love story, but rather it had been a very pragmatic love story), it probably meant that Benjamin's senior wife was the one that she needed to talk to.

Damn.