When She's Lonely (Risdaverse) - Page 7

I want to laugh at that show of attitude. It's adorable, for all that she's constantly shouting at me. "Not at all, colonist." I keep my tone nice and easy. "Just doing my job." I smile even wider, determined to throw her off. "Besides, I should probably see if you burned down anything else."

Her face screws up in a scowl. She gives me one last glare and then finishes her shopping while I wait, watching her. I could say I'm just doing my duty as a peacekeeping custodian, but I'd be lying. I'm going to escort her, not only because I want to make sure those praxiians don't come back, but because I want answers as to why she can't hear and she's trying to hide it.

That, and my presence clearly irritates the spit out of her. That part's rather fun, too. I'm more of the type to flirt with a female than to try and get under her skin, but there's something about Ashley that makes it far too enjoyable to tease her. Maybe it's that she doesn't tease back. She just goes straight to angry. There's nothing flirty about it, and a lot of these females love to flirt. As one of the mesakkah and a custodian to boot, we're safe in the eyes of these women, and so some of the more husband-minded ones are constantly inviting us to have a drink or to have dinner.

I suspect that if I had dinner with Ashley, she'd poison it.

She shoots me another withering look as she grabs her packet of purchases and heads out of the shop. Almost immediately, I hear the sound of an air-sled flying too low and snag her by the arm before she can step into the street. She snatches her arm out of my grip. "What are you doing?"

Kef. The number one rule is not to grab at the colonists. They're all traumatized from their experiences and we've been trained not to grab them or make sudden moves. She has me forgetting all the keffing rules. I gesture at the sled that flies overhead in the next moment. "You were going to walk out in front of that," I bellow, making sure to speak loud and clear so she can hear me.

"No, I wasn't," Ashley hisses. "I know you think I'm stupid, but I'm not that stupid." She looks up at the sled that's disappearing from sight. "And she wouldn't have hit me. She would have swerved."

"I don't care," I say sternly, and then remember to speak up again, enunciating my words. "You are going to stand right here, and you are going to wait for me to return with my sled, and then I am going to follow you out to your farm. Understand?"

"Fine."

"You'll wait right here?"

"I said I would, didn't I?" She clutches the purchases like a shield in front of her.

Right. Why is it I don't believe her? I wag a finger at her and then point at the walkway. "Here. Don't move. I'll be back in a moment." I turn and jog up the street, back to the custodial office, heading for the air-sleds assigned to us. I climb into mine, activate it with a press of my hand to the control panel, and then swing it—delicately, of course—toward the Main Street, where Ashley should be waiting.

She's not there.

I'm not even mad. I just laugh, because I expected as much. "That female does not like to be told what to do," I complain to my sled as I grin. I tap the communications panel and send a message back to the office. "I'll return soon. Following a colonist out to her farm."

CHAPTER 5

ASHLEY

I don't know which is worse—the fury I'm experiencing right now or the fear.

I'm so mad at that arrogant custodian that I could scream. The moment he figured out that I was hearing impaired, he started treating me like I was an idiot. Like I don't know how to take care of myself. It's infuriating because it makes me feel far more foolish and stupid than I ever have before, even when I was pretending that I'd simply “forgotten” the instructions that had been painstakingly told to me seventeen times already. There's nothing I hate more than being treated like I'm a problem by someone who's figured out that I don't hear well.

And that's the thing that's terrifying me right now—Custodian i'Yani, my most hated person on this planet—has figured out my secret. I don't know what he's going to do with it, either. He could blackmail me for anything and I'd have to give it to him. All the way home, I drive my air-sled at top speed, trying to figure out what he's going to ask for. Sexual favors? Credits? Both?

“Both” seems likely.

Fuck. Not for the first time since I arrived on this planet, I feel helpless and trapped. I'm tempted to drive my sled right past my stupid farm and just keep on going. To drive as far as I can and hope Custodian i'Yani gets bored and decides not to follow me anymore. I imagine sailing over the horizon, off into the sunset. Wishful thinking, I know. If nothing else, he'd come and retrieve the sled and confiscate it for the next owner of the farm. None of this stuff is truly mine. I'm just borrowing it until the next person takes over.

Tags: Ruby Dixon Fantasy
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