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The Glory Star Project: Finished Chapters

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Xav told Glory that she could use the bed to get some sleep for the couple of hours it would take to launch into space, orbit the planet one time, and then come up on the moon, drawn into its orbit by the magnet. Their shuttle landed near the top of the turret, and they took the glass elevator down.

"I've kept the suite that my friends and I paid for another twelve hours," Glory told Xav as they regrouped beyond the identity scanners.

"Excellent, though you should only need it for ten," he replied. "But we haven't eaten in several hours, Miss Star. You must be hungry. Perhaps we should share a meal before we retire for the evening."

"Uh, yeah, sure," she agreed, feeling shy suddenly. The feeling was strange considering that they'd already shared a meal together, but that time Venus and Lacey had been with them, and they were so busy trying to make plans on how to deal with her family that there'd been little time to speak of anything else. Now, this felt different. Now, they'd be alone, and it would be more about getting to know each other. Glory felt butterflies in her gut just thinking about it, but she'd never backed down from a challenge in her life and she wasn't about to start.

"Do you want to change clothes?" Xav asked in a lower tone. "We could – well, we could go eat in the lounge if you want."

"Okay," she said. "Isn't that place fancy? Should I dress up a little?"

"Only if you want to," he said with a shrug. "I'm sure no matter which outfit you choose you'll look beautiful."

Glory giggled. "Why do I think that's not something you ever told Jardan?"

His grin slightly wicked, he asked, "Are you sure?"

She rolled her eyes at him and shook her head. "I spotted you and your friends together while I was up on the stage the night before we met. You sure seemed to like girls."

Xav chuckled. "Yes. Now go get ready. I'll expect to see you in half an hour."

It took Glory about ten minutes to pick an outfit and put it on, but she didn't want to seem too eager and show up much too early. She also didn't want to seem as though she didn't care at all, so she spent another ten minutes trying to decide how best to strike a balance. In the end, she showed up at the lounge precisely one half-hour from the time Richards had left her at her door.

Looking on the strong, handsome man who waited for her literally took Glory's breath away. He had chosen to pull out the long braid at the top of his head that had been holding the golden mane back and it now circled his face in wave after wave of tantalizing strands. Her fingers itched to discover if they were as soft as they looked.

Gone, too, was the leatherlike coat he had been wearing earlier, though the white shirt remained. He now had it untucked from the leather pants, and he'd also removed his gloves, opting for comfort since they were not currently expected to blast off into space anytime soon.

The man looked decidedly more like a first date than a first boss.

"You went for precise punctuality, I see," he teased her as she stepped over to the table to join him. "An excellent choice, Glory. How long did you have to wait to make it happen, so I know how many minutes you'll need next time?"

Glory giggled. "Am I that open to read, sir?"

He waggled his eyebrows at her as he picked up the pitcher of water and poured each of them a glass.

She giggled another time. "Oh, so this is how I'm going to assist you? By letting you do all the work?"

His smile didn't diminish, but he shook his head at her. "Not hardly. There's no way I'm the one getting my hands dirty with repairing a harvester, nor am I inclined to be the one to prepare a list of which of them is functional and which of them will require parts. Not my job at all."

"Sounds like fun," she replied. "When do I start?"

"Once we get back to Gamlin, of course," he told her. "I've been tasked with the job of updating the equipment on all ten of the inhabited worlds in our sector, and the only way we can do that is to go down to each settlement and look everything over by hand. Jardan picked one hell of a time to fall in love."

"So, Gamlin's where you normally work?" she clarified.

"That, and here in the Corsana System, though I don't expect to return to it for a good ten years unless we get a specific call, since we just finished up the maintenance project we were working on here. It takes two months to travel between the two systems even using the wormhole because you have to travel out to where the wormhole is before you can pass through the thing, and then travel again to reach Gamlin from the other side. Did you study anything about the wormhole during your schooling?"

"A little," she said with a shrug. "Enough to know we're usually in cryotanks when we go through it."

"There are certain situations when that's not true," he told her. "Like illness or pregnancy, when the patient would not want to go through the freezing process. But yes, in most cases that's correct. It takes two weeks of travel inside the wormhole to reach Gamlin from here, and it can do some pretty weird things to your body if you're awake for it."

"Well, I can at least guarantee you that I won't be pregnant," Glory replied, blushing.

"Good to know, good to know," he replied, blushing slightly himself.

Somehow Glory found it amusing to find a topic that would fluster a man who was in charge of a fleet of starships tasked with delivering parts and supplies to numerous worlds. She'd come to imagine that a guy like him would always be standing tall and businesslike, ready to bark orders and take names later, but Richards didn't come across like that. He seemed a lot more low-key and friendly. It made her curious to see how he would act while he was actually doing his work.

"The wheels are sure turning in there," he commented, leaning in a little to look into her eyes.

Glory blushed another time. "You're not quite what I expected, sir. But then again, we're not in a work-related situation right now. Sorry, I tend to space off into my own world sometimes. And go off on a few tangents. Like, why would a pregnant person be going through a wormhole in the first place? It seems like a good idea to stay home."

He laughed. "Because sometimes home is on the spaceship, wherever it might be going? I suppose if she wanted to be away from her man most of the time, and only see the guy once or twice a year if she was lucky, a girl might choose to stay home. But my mother was pregnant with me and went through the wormhole, and I seem to have turned out just fine."

Glory was about to say that she couldn't argue with that as her eyes traveled over his handsome face and strong shoulders, trying to appreciate what she saw without being blatant about it. Instead, she asked, "So, where is our waiter? Do they not know we were hoping for food?"

"Smooth save, Miss Star," Xav teased her, and then pressed a little button under the edge of the table. A call-light lit up above them, and a waiter showed up almost a moment later. Xav asked for a couple of dinner specials rather than bothering with a menu, and then continued to talk. "I grew up among the stars, though we do own an ancestral home on Gamlin Prime itself. It's a world made up of mostly water, and the houses usually float. There's a landing pad to fly there, but it can also be reached by boat."

"That is so cool," she said. "I've never seen water standing on the open ground before. For that matter, I have never been to a planet that didn't have domes. It'll be weird to finally breathe a real atmosphere."

He nodded. "I look forward to witnessing all these firsts of yours. Ah, here's the food now. We should eat and then get some sleep while we still have rooms. We'll have plenty of time to swap stories during the trip out to the Nautilus."

"You named your ship after Captain Nemo's?" she asked with a chuckle.

"I named all twelve of my ships Nautilus, each with a different number," he explained. "That's not the name of my company though – that is just Richards Holdings. When my father owned and operated it, he delivered parts and supplies locally to just three of the Gamlin planets, but I guess I'm a bit of a control freak at heart. I've built my business up astronomically since he died."

"I'm sorry about that, but I suppose it's to be expected that people might pass on during your lifetime when it becomes unnaturally long after all the cryo. What about your mom?"

"She lives at the ancestral home, and she's now about ninety years old," he told her. "I told her she could always freeze herself whenever I'm gone, but she thought it was too much of a hassle. She'll be gone long before I reach old age."

Just then, Kurana and Reagan spotted the pair of them and stepped over, each sitting to either side of Xav.

"Sir, what goes on here? Is this your new assistant?" Reagan teased, waggling his eyebrows at Glory. "Say, you can sing, too. That might come in handy during the down time."

Glory snickered. "I'll have you know I'm a whole lot more than a lounge act. I've got top marks all across my education sheets. I've got stellar recommendations from several of my professors. I'm confident I can do the job I've been hired for."

"Yeah, when I first read her file I was sure Glory would be a bit geeky, but she seems like a level-headed young woman with a lot of talent. And unlike all those other applicants, yes, she's also got talents that might be helpful beyond just doing her job. I, for one, won't mind a little bit of singing during down time. But I'm glad to see you two. You know that I can't possibly train Miss Star on all the different jobs I'll need her to do, so I'm going to need help from both of you."

"Sir, of course we'll help," Kurana told him. "But I sure hope you made your choice using the right appendage, or it could completely screw up the next few cycles. We've still got to revisit twelve more colonies in and around Gamlin and make sure their needs have been serviced. And this girl is the one who will be holding all those cards."

"Okay, gang, can we just play nice here? Because before we take off tomorrow I need to get on holo to speak with the five pilots who are headed to intercept Ross on the Nautilus II, and we need to coordinate a meeting near the wormhole so both ships can pass through it together. That means I can't go make sure Glory is awake later or lead her to the shuttle, so I'll need one of you to help her out."

"Sure, I'll do it," Kurana agreed. "I'm sure she'd rather have another female for that sort of thing. But right now we should all get some rest. Just give me your room number, Glory, and I'll sort you out at the proper hour."

After they'd eaten, they each returned to their own rooms, but the last thing Glory could do was get some sleep. Not when her mind and her body were filled with thoughts of Captain Hotstuff and everything she'd just learned about him that evening.

She felt scattered, even shattered, and she knew the reason. She had found Xavier Richards arousing to every one of her senses – including the ones that she'd managed to ignore up until now. Of course, she knew the mechanics involved in relieving sexual tension, it was just that she'd never met anybody that had her tense enough to try it.

But as she exited the shower and contemplated donning her gold-colored nightgown, she set it aside and settled onto the bed completely nude. It was liberating to know that for at least these few hours she had a place completely to herself, and she intended to take full advantage.

She ran her fingers over her peaked nipples, and then one hand slid down lower, her fingers smoothing over her flat belly, then catching in the curls, and finally discovering the throbbing nub of pleasure that was demanding her attentions.

It felt good in a way she'd never imagined, like sneaking a big scoop of chocolate ice cream while nobody was looking, or diving into a pool of lava, thanks to spending the last hour in such intoxicating company. She continued to rub, curious but also expectant as the tension in her built up, visualizing herself running her fingers through golden hair and kissing a manly chin.

She didn't know what she was doing, but what she was doing seemed to work as her entire body suddenly filled with heat and she felt that ‘little explosion' she had read about. The description didn't do it justice, but it worked. She finally managed to drift off for a while.