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The Glory Star Project: Finished Chapters

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SIX

The whole day, Xav had been wishing his assistant was already found and he could be anywhere else. He was completely unimpressed by the group of people who showed up. He’d just sent another one packing and was bracing himself against the idea that this last candidate would be every bit as— well, wrong – as the others had been.

Pulling up the resume and glancing at the age of just nineteen, and the female checkboxed. He barely paid attention to it and tried to ignore the niggling little flame of hope that this might be the girl from the surface after all. If he’d been sure of it, he might not have continued on to read about this candidate being at the top of her class, with some of the highest test scores he’d ever seen.

He tried to convince himself otherwise, but a large part of him knew it must be her. Then, the dark beauty stepped in, confirming it. His jaw dropped open briefly, but his was quick to shut it again and attempt to compose himself. It didn’t work, of course. He’d laughed, and then invited Miss Glory Star to impress him some more.

As she sat down, Glory worried at her bottom lip a little with her teeth. “Before we go too far with this, I should probably warn you that I’ve never done a job interview before. Well, except a practice one in preparation class.”

“So, you’re nervous,” Xav said, smiling. “Duly noted. It says here that you managed to build a specialized harvester, even fabricating the parts, and it is currently being used in the main agridome to bring in a wheat crop?”

“Yes,” she said, nodding with expectation and leaning forward. “I also do stuff like repair the garbage compactors or food replicators too, if that’s of any interest. I’m pretty confident in my skills.”

“That’s good, that’s good,” Xav said, nodding. “Knowing your job like the back of your hand always helps. And you even sound a bit passionate about it, too.”

Now Glory smiled. “I suppose you could say so. But I’m more passionate about getting out there among the stars and seeing what all the fuss is about. I mean, until this trip I’ve never even been off the planet of my birth. I don’t want to go through my entire life doing the same thing every day like everyone else. I can’t help thinking I’d be more useful somewhere else.”

“If I do hire you, Miss Star, you must understand that we’ll be leaving this galaxy and returning to Gamlin quadrant. That is a journey that takes a long time, and it’s unlikely that I’ll be coming back to Regulus Prime for years, if ever. You will essentially be leaving all your friends and family behind.”

“I’m prepared for that, sir,” she said, though he didn’t miss the hard swallow she gave right after.

“I hope so, Miss Star,” he said on a more serious note. “This is decidedly not a practice run. I’m looking for someone who intends to stick by my side. You know that Jardan was my assistant for eighteen years, right? I’m hoping whoever I choose this time will last even longer if I’m being honest. Looking for a replacement sidekick is—well, it’s not something I enjoy, to put it in as polite a manner as possible.”

She giggled. “Captain Richards, I don’t expect you to go to the effort of putting everything into the politest terms possible. I’m sure you’re hoping that you and your assistant could talk together like normal people.”

Xav smirked. “Some of the things Jardan and I talked about would make your ears burn. I don’t think it would be wise to mention any of them until we’ve already left the port, so you don’t get tempted to run straight back home.”

“So, then, have I got the job?”

“If you really want it, yes.”

“I do, sir!” she exclaimed, practically jumping out of her chair to surge forward and shake his hand. “You won’t regret your decision. I’ll be the best damned assistant ever. So what happens now?”

“Now, I imagine you’ll want to return home to get whatever items you want to bring along and say good-bye to your folks,” Xav said. “Let’s say three days?”

“If I go back there myself my parents will have a cow and never let me out,” she said, frowning. “I planned to send my friends in to get the bag I have waiting to go.”

“I don’t know if I admire the confidence you had in your departure, or if I think you’re trying to sneak off without saying a word will be something you’d regret forever,” he said, frowning now. “Do you need me to come with you and let them know it’s what you really want to do?”

Glory scoffed. “Believe me, if you met my parents you’d be in a world of trouble. My mother would scold you for taking me, and my father would lecture you to behave yourself on pain of death. The whole ordeal is best left well alone.”

Xav chuckled. “Actually, it sounds rather enjoyable. It’s been a long time since I had to deal with normal people.”

She grinned. “Nobody said my family was normal.”

“They sound about as normal as they come,” he said. “But I’ll leave it up to you, of course. You can send in your friends instead if it’ll make you feel better.”

“We—um, maybe I should just call first and simply test the waters,” Glory said reluctantly. “If they sound resistant, I will send in someone else. I don’t want my last memory of my folks to be an argument, you know?”

He nodded. “Yeah, I get that. I know just how you feel. But tell you what, I’ve been at this for a lot of hours, and I could really use a meal. Why don’t we talk about this in the mess hall?”

“I should really go and tell my friends the good news,” said Glory.

“They can meet us there, if you want,” Xav pressed, reluctant to part company from her while she was feeling so insecure. “Then we could all decide your exit strategy together.”

Glory nodded. “Okay. All right. That could work,” she agreed. “Thank you.”

Xav stood up to join her, but she didn’t follow him when he started for the door. He turned back to look at her, one brow raised in inquiry.

“Captain, you went through all those applicants – so many people who must have more experience than me, but you didn’t pick one. Why’d you hire me on the spot like this after a whole day of saying no?”

Xav took her hand, giving it a little squeeze. “Because, sweetheart, life in space moves pretty fast. I’d be a fool to let you walk out that door without hiring you first, or you might just disappear and leave me stuck choosing one of them after all.”

*****

In the end, they decided to all go back to Glory’s house together in Xavier’s private shuttle. Mr. and Mrs. Star were overwhelmed with the notion that their daughter had chosen a job off-world when they’d expected otherwise, but they were much more reasonable than any of the young women gave them credit for.

“Glory, all I’ve ever wanted was for you to find a job and take your place in society,” said her mother. “Did I hope it would be our own society? Of course I did. But I know how much you long for something more. I’m proud of you, baby, and I hope you find what you’re looking for. And don’t worry, if things don’t work you will always have a home here when you return. Maybe it’ll be with your brother’s son who is already thirty when you’re still thirty yourself, but hey, family is family. You’ll be remembered and loved. I do love you, baby, so much!”

“Thanks, Mom,” Glory whispered.

“It’ll be so boring without you around, kiddo,” her father added. “You’re the only one around here who seems sensible.”

Glory laughed, and both her mother and brother glared, but then they laughed too.

“I’ll take good care of her,” Xavier told them. “We won’t go out looking for danger. Everyone on my ships tend to do things by the book. She’s been trained to handle anything I could throw at her and more. I’m confident I’ve made the right choice, and that Glory’s made the right choice too. I can leave her here a couple days if you want, and you could deliver her back to the moon after.”

“No, sir, it’s fine,” Glory told him. “I’d rather just return with you.”

“Great,” he nodded. “Do you need help packing?”

“My bag is waiting in my closet,” she replied. “I’ll just go and get it now. Lacey, Venus? Thanks for being here. I’ll miss you; I hope you guys find great jobs too.”

After a bit of hugging, including a reluctant-looking brother and sister hug, Glory turned and stepped into her bedroom, retrieved her bag, and returned with it a moment later.

“Ready?” Xav asked her.

“You have no idea,” she said, smiling. “Come on, Captain. Let’s go explore!”

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