Here I place the 'rough' finished chapters as they become available. Remember that I am likely to change or update these as the work progresses.
Finally got the chance to write this chapter by waking up earlier than usual. I hope you find it was worth the wait...
"Stars, Xav, you look like something the garagnar dragged in," said Reagan Storm as Xav stepped up to their table in the noisy lounge. Even at this early hour, the music was hopping, and the people were flailing to it like a pack of crazies. Perhaps another time he might have gone to join them, but right now his head was pounding, and unappreciative as a result.
"It was a rough night, but I did manage to get all the furniture delivered for the event tomorrow," Xav explained to Kurana and Reagan as the trio sat waiting for their meals to arrive. "Kurana, I know it's not your usual job, but in the absence of an acting secretary, I'm going to have to ask you to receive all the applicants in the waiting area and gather their resumes for me. If they have not arrived with resumes, just show them the door. Nobody who seriously hopes to get the job would come here without a resume and the proper credentials."
"Sir? Just exactly how many applicants are we talking about here?" asked Kurana with a worried frown.
"I don't know. It could be three, or it could be thirty. I just hope it isn't three hundred or they wouldn't even be able to sit down."
Reagan snorted. "Way to let us have the next few days to ourselves."
"I'm sorry, but Kurana's the only person I can trust to take the job seriously enough," Xav defended himself. "She's the only one who is going to boot out the people she knows I'd never want around. She's known me longer than every other member of my crew."
"You make a valid point," Reagan conceded. "But still, it's quite disappointing."
"You'll have plenty of time once we're in the transport, Storm."
Here, Kurana scoffed. "You know very well we won't have any private quarters for the week it takes to get back to the mother ship, sir. This station is the only chance we've got."
"Forgive me if I can't work up a whole lot of remorse," Xav replied.
While the music was blaring, he had not been paying a whole lot of attention to the stage. Xav doubted he would have looked over when the lead singer started talking instead of singing either, except that the waitress arrived with their plates just then, distracting him from the conversation.
"Hey there, it looks like we've got quite a lively trio of beautiful girls in the audience today," the man said. "Tell me, ladies, do you sing as well as you dance? Come on up and let's find out."
Three girls came up onto the stage. A blond, a redhead, and a third whose hair was black as deep space. All three were petite and curvy, and dressed in gold outfits. Clearly, they must have come up from the planet below, but Xav couldn't remember which industry there they must work in to be wearing the gold outfits.
When they began to sing, he became intrigued for a completely different reason. They were good—really, really good. Especially the black-haired beauty on the end. He didn't know if that observation was determined by his ears, or by his libido, however, because it didn't take long for him to realize he was staring at her, and his body had become far too aware of hers.
Dammit, he had just been callously dismissing Kurana and Reagan's physical needs, and now here he was allowing a distraction of his own. Nothing could be more important to him right then than to find a new assistant so he could get out of this sector and leave his best friend behind.
"Xav? I've asked you three times now," said Reagan with a chuckle.
"Eh, what's that?" Xav responded, his eyes still fixed on the dark beauty.
"Why have you not touched your food, sir?"
"Oh. I had forgotten it was there," he admitted sheepishly.
"If you like her so much, why don't you go over there and talk to her when she comes down?"
"Where would be the point in doing so?" Xav demanded irritably. "She's a local girl, probably up here on a holiday. She will be no more willing to leave her home than Mureen had been, and I'm certainly not going to quit my job to stay. I have too much responsibility to all of my crews, let alone this one. Do you think I would willingly abandon everything I've been working toward just for the sake of a girl?"
"I wasn't suggesting more than a quick go for the gusto," Reagan added with a smirk.
At this, Xav's annoyance got even worse. "Don't you see by looking at her? That little beauty is completely untouched. I'd stake my reputation on it that all three of them are virgins. Firstly, because it's generally true that the people in that colony save themselves. And second, they cannot be above twenty years old at most."
"Captain, if I might interject an opinion of my own here?" Kurana tried. At his nod, she said, "You can't live your entire life worried only about missions, and work, and all that. You need to loosen up and consider your personal life as well. I know, you've said that you want a woman who would be willing to come into space with you, but you never seem to try to find her. How do you know that girl wouldn't leave? You know nothing about her. And even if she wouldn't, you could probably persuade one of the others."
"There's no room on my ship for anyone who couldn't fulfill a purpose," Xav reminded her. "I don't need a woman who would just be there to fulfill her duties in a physical capacity. Are you going to tell me any one of those three girls would be useful in another way? They're practically kids, and just look at how silly they behave."
"To be fair, sir, they are on downtime," Reagan pointed out. "Having fun in the off hours is a pastime many of your crew members enjoy. Perhaps you would know that if you ever allowed yourself the luxury."
"Do you believe that running an intergalactic company comprised of a thousand ships and fifty worlds in forty sectors is easy, Reagan? I spend more time in virtual than I do in reality, just trying to ensure everything continues to run smoothly."
"Understood, sir, but it doesn't change the fact that you have a reality, and that you have been neglecting it abominably," Kurana scolded.
Xav knew that his friends were right, he should find some way to slake his lust while he had the chance. But not with that pretty little virgin local. That would be playing with far too much fire and could land him in a world of trouble with her parents. GalactiCorp had strict policies about paying retribution whenever they found out about their people interfering with locals in such a manner. If he refused to remain and marry such a girl, he'd have to put out a whole lot of credits he could ill afford to lose instead.
However, the idea of making use of a hired woman for such purposes was equally appalling. That was why Xav had not bothered indulging with any woman for a very long time. And while he appreciated the fact his friends were concerned for him, he did not foresee employing one of those women while he was here either. It just didn't appeal to him. He would rather remain celibate than demean himself, or the girl.
"Wow, you three are amazing," the band leader said when they had finished their song. "How did you get to be so good?"
"We were in music class together during our training," his dark beauty supplied. "There's no real use for the skill at the colony, of course, but at least it passes the time."
"I'd hire all three of you, if you wanted the job," he replied.
"Thank you, sir, but after so many years of training, I wouldn't want to let my skills go unused. I've personally got another job in mind."
Soon after, the three girls disappeared back into the crowd, but still Xav followed the girl with his eyes. It was preposterous to hope that she'd been talking about his hiring event at the time, but somewhere in the back of his mind he began to fantasize about her walking through the door for an interview.
But that was impossible, of course. What would a slip of a girl barely out of school know about helping to maintain the systems of his ships? Xav needed somebody who could help him maintain a whole lot of worlds. Someone who could think on their toes, and who was handy with a set of tools. He could hardly fathom the idea that this girl would be of any particular use in that regard. Still, as he headed off to his rooms for some much-needed sleep, his mind never let go of the fantasy, and he found the dark beauty visiting him in his dreams.