“What’s wrong, Sie?”
High Council aide Sie hesitated, staring at Leora Smith. Over the course of the last month, she had gotten to know – and to like – Premier Theus’ fiancée. But could Sie trust her with the idea that had started percolating in her head on the way here from the premier’s office? Would Leora think it foolish, or worse, outright crazy? She threw a glance at the door of the utility closet located just inside the apartment’s entrance.
“The premier has asked me to arrange the transport of his Beautiful Doll sex robot to our robot factory.”
Leora’s gaze went to the door as well. “I know. We’ve been discussing it. It’s sort of creepy to still have it here with us.”
Sie walked over to the small closet and pulled the door open. Keira was standing there, eyes closed, obviously in hibernation mode. She wore a sheer silk sarong that did little to hide her perfect physique.
The sight of the Doll made the idea germinating in Sie’s brain grow larger. She turned back to Leora.
“I wish to speak with you about something…personal. And ask that you keep our conversation confidential.”
“Of course, Sie. You can trust me.”
Sie took a deep breath, then let it out slowly. “I am a virgin.”
Leora’s eyes widened. This was obviously not what she’d been expecting to hear. “A virgin?”
To her credit, Leora wiped the surprise from her face and laid a gentle hand on Sie’s forearm. “You’ve never had a serious relationship?”
Sie shook her head stiffly. “I’ve dedicated my life to my work here. And that’s a problem. I’m twenty-four, and I need to become an expert at sex.”
Leora frowned. “An expert at sex? But… why?”
“I have observed that sex gives a woman power over a man. Since Theus has been with you, he’s changed. You have power over him.”
“Sie,” Leora said gently, “sex isn’t about power, it’s how two people show their love for one another.”
“I have no wish to love anyone.” Sie bristled. “All those I once cared for – my entire family – died in the Great War. I couldn’t survive that kind of pain again.”
Leora paused, her face softening. “I know. You’ve told me. I’m sorry.”
Sie shook off Leora’s pity. “I only wish to find someone who will protect me. Sex will help me secure that man, convince him to marry me. The Beautiful Dolls addicted men with no emotional attachment on the Doll’s part. I can do the same.”
“That sounds rather cold and calculated,” Leora said, frowning. But why the urgency to find a man right now?”
Sie hesitated. “I feel the premier is losing confidence in me. He no longer relies on me as he once did.”
“Of course he relies on you. He’s entrusting you to arrange delivery of his Doll to the robot factory. Very few people are aware that Theus even had a Doll. Plus, you are one of only a handful of people who know that Theus and I are marrying. So how can you say he no longer needs you?”
Sie’s jaw set. “I know how I feel. And you’ve promised to keep this conversation private.”
Leora frowned, but then sighed. “Very well. Did you have a particular man in mind you want protecting you?”
Leora’s eyebrows rose. “Our weapons manufacturer?”
“Yes. He has power. He can safeguard me. And of those with that kind of power, he is the only unwed man I know.”
Leora tilted her head to the side, as if considering Sie’s choice. “Zan is a good man. My brother Marque would never have trusted Zan as his second-in-command if he weren’t. So, you want to secure a powerful man to protect you, and you think to use sex to do it. I suppose it's possible that strategy might work if you were very good at giving a man pleasure, but you’ve just said you’re a virgin. Are you coming to me for sexual instruction?”
“Not you.” Sie shook her head and turned toward the utility closet. “Keira can teach me all she knows.”
At the mention of its name, the Beautiful Doll opened its artificial starburst blue eyes and scanned the room. “Hello, Sie.”
“Keira, I am here to inform you that you will be transported to our robot factory. Theus has finished with your services.”
The Doll showed no emotion at this news. “Yes, Sie.”
“Keira, out of curiosity, how many sexual positions are you programmed for?”
“I am capable of one-hundred-fifty primary positions, plus twenty advanced techniques.”
The sheer number almost made Sie’s jaw drop. How would she ever learn more than a hundred different sexual positions? She cleared her throat self-consciously. “Um, in your experience, are there a few positions in particular that are favored by men?”
“Certainly. There are approximately a dozen postures that most men prefer.”
Sie let out a short sigh of relief. Twelve. Sie could certainly master twelve sexual techniques in a week, couldn’t she?
My future depends on it.
She nodded. “Very well. Return to hibernation mode.”
The Doll dutifully shut its eyes. Sie closed the utility closet door and turned back to Leora. “My intent is to deliver the Doll to Leith Wyatt today but convince him to delay reconfiguring Keira for one week. I will claim it is because I am studying the Doll’s intricate programming, and don’t wish to lose this opportunity before it’s turned into a mindless robot soldier. In reality, I will visit Keira every day for sexual lessons.”
“Why delay the conversion for just one week?” Leora asked.
“Zan Taliesen will be at your wedding in seven days. I will know how to seduce and secure him by then.”
Leora rolled her eyes. “I’m not at all convinced this plan of yours will work, but let’s deliver the Doll and then go search for my wedding dress.”
Copyright © 2022 by Jenna Ives