Click on image to enlarge.
by Cricket Starr
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: The last thing that synth and former pleasure slave Reyna wants on her asteroid belt prospecting claim is a partner, even one as sexy as Steel. She figures the man will quit but the claim is Steel's means to freedom and he's not about leave, particularly when he has a hot woman who doesn't know he's a synth sharing the work...and his bed. The pair has everything in common except the truth so when all is revealed it could be the end of their partnership -- or the beginning. To My Readers: To me partnership is defined by trust so the idea of having two people hiding who and what they are and yet becoming partners and forced into trusting each other made for an interesting story dynamic. Also there was a lot of humor in the idea of highly sexual beings trying to avoid being seen that way while still being highly sexual. But the big idea was that once love enters a relationship that becomes the real truth, and all the lies can end up irrelevant. I hope everyone enjoys my story as much as I did writing it.
eBook Publisher: Red Sage Publishing/Red Sage Presents, 2009 2010
eBookwise Release Date: August 2010
9 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [148 KB]
Reading time: 94-132 min.
Partners: Chapter 1
Reyna's knuckle itched and that was not a good sign. For all of her short life, the knuckle on the third finger of her right hand had reliably predicted impending change. Something--or someone--was coming, her life about to take another surprise twist. She didn't always like it, but that didn't matter. Interesting twists and turns were what life was about, and Reyna had learned to value her knuckle and its predictions.
She lowered the drill she was using to eat away at the asteroid wall in front of her and glanced hesitantly over her shoulder. Nothing but dark emptiness behind her. She switched off the machine and faced the nearly five kilometers of open space stretching between the drilling site and her tethered POD. Shaking her heavily gloved hand cleared some of the itch from her finger, but it did nothing to relieve her unease.
When her knuckle itched, something happened.
Not that all warnings were bad. For one, she'd shied away from certain customers at her first brothel because her knuckle warned her about their sexual interests. The synths who'd gone with those clients had sometimes not been quite right afterwards.
And there was the rock she was standing on. As soon as she'd seen this asteroid her knuckle had gotten so itchy she'd almost worn a hole in her glove. If only she could find the rich vein of hyperore that she felt in her bones, including her knuckle, was hidden somewhere on this asteroid. Other miners had struck it rich with a single find of the rare mineral which, when refined, powered the engines of ships throughout the galaxy, but so far her efforts had netted only small amounts of less valuable minerals. Even so, she knew there was ore here. She'd bet her knuckle on it.
But it wasn't ore she was being warned about this time. Reyna dug her boots under the wire cable grounding her to the rock and cautiously stared into the spacescape of the asteroid belt. Black and empty, as usual. Very distant stars provided pinpoints of lights. Dark shapes of rocks floated nearby, some so small they could hardly be thought of as asteroids, others big enough to tether a small ship like the one her POD was attached to.
Nothing seemed amiss.
After a long moment Reyna almost turned to re-attack the rock wall. But there--a flash of light. It came from behind one of the larger rocks and pulsed brighter than the stars behind it. It blinked steadily and grew larger, so it was headed her way. After a few moments it grew large enough to illuminate what it was attached to, a short-jump shuttle aiming to dock with her POD.
Company. She never had visitors these days. The logo on the shuttle was from Stanton Mines, the mining consortium which had leased her the mining rights and provisioned her with equipment, including her POD. She wasn't due for resupply, which meant this was a special trip.
Special wasn't likely to be good.
Better find out what was going on. Reyna packed her tools into the small storage container on her scooter. It was a few hours until her usual quitting time, but her supervisor, Jeramy Lawrs, had made a point of keeping a close eye on her. He visited often and sometimes stayed to share a meal and game of chess. Nothing else. More than once he'd said she reminded him of his little sister.
Reyna chuckled. She might look like a small, young, human female, but that didn't make her helpless. Her synth bones were stronger, her stamina better, and her lifespan at least as long as a naturally born person's. If anything she was better off than her human male counterparts in the asteroid fields, as long as she didn't think about the lack of sex.
A hyperactive sex drive was good when you were a pleasure slave, but not so great when living alone. She had long practice at it, though. Not that she didn't still crave it.
She flipped one leg over her scooter and the jet motor pulsated against the sweet spot between her legs. Yeah, like that. Ignore it, Reyna. She would save it for later tonight in her bunk when she would want more comfort than her hand could provide. Fortunately, she had more than one kind of tool at her disposal. Like mining, orgasms were easy with the right kind of equipment.
Reyna was doing all right and as soon as she made her fortune, she'd have access to all the men she could want. Men. Lots of men. Men who'd fulfill her sexual fantasies for a change.
Or maybe not lots of men. Her grin faded. Maybe just one man, someone who would treat her like a human being and not a pleasure doll with a beating heart. Now that would be a change.
In his own way her last master had treated her better than a synth, but she knew he'd never forgotten what she was. Even Lawrs knew she was artificial. For once she'd like a man to think of her as a real woman.
She was halfway to the POD when the visitor shuttle fired up and took off again. That was odd. It wasn't like Lawrs to leave without talking to her. What could be up?
When she slid into the POD's open-space dock she found a scooter similar to hers already secured there. A second scooter meant a second person.
That was why Lawrs had left. The shuttle had left someone behind, and her supervisor hadn't wanted to stick around and make introductions. Didn't want to cope with her objections to the newcomer, either.
Reyna's knuckle itched so hard she tried to scratch it through the thick glove. For a couple of months now Lawrs had suggested she needed a partner on this dig. She'd discouraged him, but the company had the right to assign someone to the other half. And now he'd dropped off the newcomer and left before she could argue.
Damn interfering, overbearing, know-what's-good-for-you man!
After passing through the airlock into the storage locker and the POD's artificial gravity, Reyna unclasped the helmet of her envirosuit, the flexible but durable suit that made it possible to work in space. She unfastened the suit's body and stripped down to her undersuit, grimacing at her body odor. Working for eight hours on a rock wall in an envirosuit made anyone a little gamey.
Reyna smiled grimly. Her visitor was in for a real treat, and it served him or her right for arriving without warning. Maybe her stench would convince her visitor to leave.
She glanced down at her outfit. Too bad she hadn't left a robe in the airlock. Close-fitting garments were needed under the tight envirosuit. Hers were essentially leggings and a long-sleeved shirt with built in support for her breasts. Her hands and face were the only part of her skin left bare. She should have felt covered, but the clinging fabric didn't leave any illusions about what was underneath.
Silly, though, for a former pleasure slave to want modesty. What she wore was no different than any other spacefarer's garb, other than the color. Other space rats might wear beige, grey, or black, but not Reyna. Her undersuit was a vibrant purple. And she didn't have anything to hide. Mining was hard work and her body was in perfect shape.
Reyna stowed her envirosuit and helmet on the racks next to those of her visitor's. From the size, the newcomer was a man, and a big one at that. A man. Imagine that.
What color is his undersuit? And what does he look like in it?
Reyna eyed the painstakingly arranged gear. He was probably ex-military or something else that required a strict adherence to discipline if his need for precision was that ingrained. Someone who was a stickler for neatness could be difficult to live with.
As a synth she was by nature a perfectionist about her equipment, but these days she was so tired coming in from the claim that she did well if her helmet made it onto the rack. Reyna adjusted her helmet to face it straight out, matching his. She started to head for the door but then turned around, went back and readjusted her helmet so it faced just a little to one side.
No point in letting the man know he had anything in common with her. Perhaps she should rumple her envirosuit rather than hanging it neatly?
No. She was just putting off meeting whoever was inside. He'd no doubt heard the airlock close and was waiting for her to show up. If she kept him waiting much longer he would think she was afraid of him.
Reyna scratched her knuckle. She might itch but she wasn't afraid.
Taking a deep breath, she left the storage locker. It was built next to stairs going up and down to the two levels of the POD. She climbed up to her living room.
As expected, her visitor was there, leaning against the wall that faced the entrance to the room. He was big and male, and, oh stars, how very, very male. Posed as he was he nearly knocked her breath away.
Dark cropped hair topped a face with lean, well-favored features. Her mouth watered over the way his black long-sleeved shirt hugged his arms, shoulders, and chest--especially his chest. She hadn't seen a man like him since she'd left the brothel.
His leggings clung tight, outlining his thighs and framing an impressive package, leaving no doubt as to size, shape, and interest. Definitely interest.
His cock stirred behind the dark fabric and Reyna tore her gaze back to his face. His eyes were beautiful and the expression in them was almost enough to make her forget about what she'd seen in his crotch. Interest was in his face. Interest in a woman.
He thought she was a woman.
A thrill ran down her spine.
She couldn't tell what color his eyes were. They seemed to change from brown to green to a near gold. The irises grew wide as she stepped toward him. Pure sensual interest was in them, and a knowing look, the look of a man who knew what he wanted and already figured he would get it.
Reyna had seen that look a hundred times in her past, a past she'd just as soon not be reminded of. Irritation tempered her reaction to him. He was just like every other male, arrogant without reason.
But then she took a deep breath and caught his smell, spice and something else, like sand on a beach. She breathed out and stepped back, shaking her head to clear it. Sand on a beach, when she'd not been on a planet with an ocean in how long? Where had that come from?
Reyna closed her eyes for control. She'd been without sex for a long time, but she had to stay calm. This was not how normal women behaved. A normal woman would not want to peel a man's black undersuit off of him and impale herself on his impressive cock without even knowing his name.
Or if she did, she wouldn't let him know it.
She didn't have to look at his crotch to see he had similar thoughts about her. She'd read it in his face and heard the way his breathing picked up as he pushed himself off the wall and moved toward her.
But this wasn't going to happen. She wasn't going to give in to her urges and he wasn't going to know he affected her this way. She wasn't going to let him know she was a synth. Reyna opened her eyes and forced an indifferent smile.
The man smiled back and held out a hand. "My name's Steel. I'm your new partner."
"Partner?" Reyna took his hand and Steel's face froze into an expression of disbelieving horror. His breathing turned short and shallow, and when she glanced down, even his cock had lost some interest.
Wow. She must really stink to get this reaction. But his wide-eyed horror was funny enough to help her gain control of her overloaded libido.
She laughed. "Sorry about the odor but that's what eight hours of hard work smells like, pretty boy."
The horrified look on his face disappeared and Steel's eyes narrowed.
Reyna waved a dismissive hand at him. "That's right, pretty boy. You're really easy to look at. What are you doing here, anyway?"
"What am I doing here?" His voice rose.
Reyna folded her arms across her chest. "That's what I asked. This is my claim."
"Yours and mine. I'm your partner," he said shortly. "You only bought a half-claim on this segment. I own the other half."
"Did Jeramy put you up to this?"
"The big man who left me here? He didn't." His voice broke off for a moment. "The deal was made with his superiors."
Reyna narrowed her eyes. What he had intended to say? Was someone else involved? With a frown she took the contract he handed her, similar to hers, with Steel's name and all the appropriate wording and signatures. Lawrs hadn't signed it, but he'd initialed the appropriate places to show he'd seen it.
Well, that was that. Her fleeting hope a mistake had been made collapsed into a black hole. The contract was perfectly legal and it appeared she had a co-owner in whatever they found on the asteroids in this segment.
"We're partners." Steel took the paper back from her. "We'll share these quarters and work the same rocks, and anything we find from here out gets split."
Split after she'd worked so hard. She knew she was close to a find. "That's not fair! I've been working this claim for nearly six months."
"And you've found virtually nothing. I checked the records."
"I could hit ore anytime now. I've removed a lot of covering rock."
He flexed his considerable muscles. "If you're looking in the wrong place, you could be as far from finding ore as when you started. If there is ore on that asteroid, it could be deeply buried." Steel shrugged. "Look at it this way. There's a lot of rock out there to move. We'll work faster with my help." He gave her an appraising look that for once was more than sexual, and she knew what he saw.
She looked about twenty-five human years, with a slight build, blond hair cut short and shaggy, and height barely topping five feet. Compared to his six-foot height and bulk, she must look unequal to the task of mining.
"You need someone else to work this claim," he said, confirming her thoughts.
"Well I don't need you. Have you ever prospected an asteroid before?"
"No. But I have done space work and I do know tools. I'm strong and have stamina."
She had stamina, too, and she was far stronger than she looked. Being made rather than born did have a few advantages once she'd escaped slavery. But as far as she could tell, he didn't know she was a synth. No point in bringing that up.
He indicated the pile of boxes stacked neatly in the corner. It was at least twice as high as what she'd brought with her. "You don't have to worry about my not pulling my weight either here or at the claim. I'll work hard and I have my own tools and supplies. Plus I've studied hyperore and how to locate it. I've got special equipment not on the usual list. I'll be an asset."
Steel would be an asset with at least some of his equipment.... But no! She couldn't think wicked thoughts like that. With a shrug, Reyna headed for her room.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"To take a shower." She indicated the door on the opposite wall. "There's a second bedroom that way. Anything in there can be moved to the workroom downstairs."
Her POD, Portable Off-planet Domicile, was built as temporary housing, a kind of mobile home in space, towed to wherever it was needed. For the same money, a POD provided more enclosed space than a ship because it didn't need fuel tanks or engines.
Her POD--now hers and Steel's--consisted of two levels with life-support, artificial gravity, and hot and cold running water. Downstairs past the entrance to the airlock was a workroom that took up the entire lower level, doubling as storage space.
The top level consisted of two small bedrooms, a single shared sanitary between them, and the main living room where they were currently. Along the inner wall of the living room ran a galley with a counter and attached stools separating it from the rest of the space. Reyna took most of her meals there.
Since the second bedroom hadn't been in use, Reyna had been storing her extra stuff there rather than below. As far as she was concerned, Steel was moving in, and Steel could transfer her gear.
The knowing look returned to his face. "Are you sure that's necessary? I don't mind sharing a room with you. After all, we're partners now."
Reyna closed her eyes for a moment. Her body locked with his, skin against skin. What a good...no, bad idea that would be.
She opened her eyes and gave him her best libido-dampening glare. "We're not partners. You're here to work the same claim I am. So be it. You work your part of the rock and I'll work mine, we'll use our own tools and techniques. We'll share the POD but there will be nothing else between us."
She was halfway to her door before she heard him mutter.
"We'll see about that...partner."
Steel watched Reyna go and resisted the urge to chase after her. This was not the moment to push things with his new partner, even if giving her a good push was about all he could think of.
A real good push. Like pushing her against the wall and pushing his cock inside her.
He closed his eyes and took deep breaths, forcing control over his body. The need had come hard and fast in a way it hadn't for a long time.
In part, that was why he was here. He'd had trouble getting excited by Mistress Melissa's demands, and his performance had suffered. He'd done his best to satisfy her, but she hadn't been pleased, and as she'd put it, there were only two good uses for a synth like him.
Sex and strength. If he weren't good for one, she'd use him for the other.
But that had given him an idea. Being her pleasure slave had been a nightmare, so he'd studied books on hyperore mining in what little free time Mistress Melissa had given him. After her last set of threats, he'd proposed she set him up as an asteroid miner. If he hit a rich claim, she'd be able to afford any number of pleasure slaves to replace him.
She'd made him sign a new contract, but he had a year to succeed. If he could find ore within that time he'd be free of Mistress Melissa and all other owners. He'd be a free synth and could pursue any activity he chose.
In the meantime at least he didn't have to try to satisfy Mistress Melissa, and that alone made being here worth it.
Steel opened the second bedroom door and eyed the few items lined up along the wall. Her things.
Now there was his new partner with all her obvious charms. Funny thing. He hadn't wanted sex in so long, and now that was all he could think about. But not with any woman, and certainly not his owner.
Steel wanted Reyna.
She was petite and slim but she had curves her undersuit couldn't hide. Her short hair shone like a cap of gold, and her gray eyes flashed silver when she was irritable. She'd been irritated throughout most of their first meeting. Steel grinned. Reyna was really cute when she was all worked up.
Stars, she probably didn't even realize what he was. When had that happened last? When had he been near a woman without her knowing he was a synth, made to pleasure her? Never.
In fact, if he could keep her from knowing the truth, Reyna would be the first woman to see him as a man. That had a lot of appeal. But she wasn't willing to have sex? That was new.
In spite of her words, she did want him. Her arousal had been obvious from the moment she'd walked in the door. But she wanted to play hard to get. Okay, he'd play as well. After six years as a pleasure slave, being at any woman's beck and call, a man could enjoy playing that game.
Steel grinned and hoisted a box. He and Reyna were going to be working and living together for a while, probably even months. Plenty of time to give them both what they wanted.
* * * *
* * * *