This is the third part in a serialized story. If you’ve missed any of the rest of it, you can find it here.
Avdonina smiled at York Miggs, trying to hide her discomfort. She’d never done anything like this before. The truth was, with Quenden, she’d had no time for dating of any kind. She leaned down to let him see the swell of her breasts through the thin gauze of her blouse. Miggs was a second-level engineer. He was one of seventy-three single men in Bob Shihs’s organization. Most importantly, he was slated to go on Shihs’s mission off world.
She gritted her teeth. She was desperate to save Quenden or she wouldn’t have resorted to this kind of prostitution. This was her last chance and Miggs didn’t even look at her. He kept his gaze fastened to the gyrating bodies on the dance floor. Heady drum-beats and bass guitars filled the room with music so thick that normal conversation was non-existent. He shouted, “What do you want?”
“Excuse me?” She shook her head, concentrating on the movement of his mouth to help hear him better.
Leaning into her, Miggs pinched her right breast as he spoke directly into her ear. “Do you think I am so stupid as to believe you intend to sleep with me for no reason?”
Avdonina said nothing. The CDA had shoved her poor little boy into a camp with hundreds of other children. He had no one to comfort or take care of him. It was the only thought that kept her standing in front of the table.
Miggs waved his hand toward the crowd, still twisting her nipple. “Look around. I’m king. I can have any girl I want. Why would I want someone as plain as you?”
She sat in the empty seat beside him; the action pulled her breast free from his mauling hand. “Yeah, you can have any girl you want. For now. But what about once you get off the ship – ”
“Palindrome. Shihs renamed it after himself. His name is a palindrome: Bob Shihs, the same forwards as backwards. He’s going to rename the planet Shihs.”
Of course. Nobody had an ego like Shihs. Miggs came close, though. Avdonina continued, “Are you so stupid to believe those beautiful babes won’t dump you for someone higher up the food chain? Have you looked in the mirror? Checked your wallet? What do you have that will keep a woman like that? Even the whores Shihs packs on the trip will be selective. Give me one good reason you don’t want someone like me along?”
He sneered at the fluid crowd. “What’s the catch?”
“I have a four-year-old boy who will come with me. That’s it. No other qualifications.”
A seductive blonde swayed past and Miggs swiveled his head to follow her rotations, speaking to Avdonina at the same time. “What guarantee do I have that you won’t leave me too?”
The blonde had just stopped and looked over her shoulder at Miggs with a promise in her smile.
“The kind of man who will take her, won’t take me. I would have nowhere else to go,” said Avdonina. Not entirely true, but he didn’t need to know that.
Miggs turned his full attention on her. “You’re not the only marginally decent woman to make a play. Stand up; I want to see your merchandise better.”
She stood and turned slowly, her face flamed.
Abruptly, Miggs stood. “I gotta get with as many good-looking women as I can before I’m stuck with something like you. Leave your name and number on the table. I’ll put you in the lottery with the other skanks. If you win, I’ll make the arrangements and call you.” He walked away.
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If you don’t want to wait to read the whole story, it’s available in “Sunlit Night, Coffee and Sweet Dreams“.