“Do I call this love already? I am almost disgusted with myself. How pathetic to fall so easily. Perhaps I was the cause of my past heartbreaks. Not stupid schoolboys or an arrogant rich man, but a gullible girl from a flower farm who opens her heart too readily and expects too much.”
Sofia is en route to Planet Paradiso, ready to start a new life after her divorce. But when she accepts Alexei’s dinner invitation on her final evening, she realises she’s in for more than she bargained for. As the AMS Celestial Dream arrives at its destination, and their one-night stand draws to a close, Sofia must choose between a newfound possibility with Alexei and the freedom she so desperately craves.
The Only Question That Matters is an emotional examination of healing and resilience through sex and love.
Cover art by Chase Horan
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The word falls out of him between breaths. He is drenched in sweat, and the heat emanating from him ripples the air around the surface of his skin. He squeezes my wrist, forehead resting on his other hand, shoulders rising and falling.
The studio walls glow with a dewy light. It’s morning, almost my last. By this time tomorrow, the AMS Celestial Dream will reach Planet Paradiso, the end of my journey. Or rather, the beginning. But Alexei will carry on and circle back home, wherever his home is. The universe is a big place. We may never see each other again. This is my last chance.
And so, even if I wait for the answer to be no, I suppose I'm glad to have asked. I could have opened by asking, will you go to bed with me?But we barely know each other beyond light conversation and laughter, three times a week or less. A spin class here, a yoga class there—quips and commiserations, captured in forty-five-minute aerobic snapshots, and passing glances in amenities around the ship.
After one final, deep breath, Alexei looks at me. His blue eyes offer the smile that connects us before it travels to his lips. His hand moves to my hand. He gives me another squeeze.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t think that last hill would be so steep. I guess my cardio’s not that good.” He pauses, mouth open. I brace for a rejection, but he gets off his bike and continues. “I do find you attractive, Sofia, as a matter of fact.”