Excerpt: Stand A Lone Girl

From the latest short story to be featured in Bold Curves, an excerpt of “Stand A Lone Girl”:

Favors. I don’t need favors. There was a catch in my shoulder I needed my favorite—and only—tech to grind out, but he was busy offside having the corners of his head filed down by some Crown military officials for daring to step outside the lines. Reggie didn’t want to give me a favor; she was too preoccupied asking for one.

You cleared for somethin’ like this, Ms. Jade Fawn?” Reggie Castlegar threw a hand over her face, and I grinned briefly, tucking it away before she recovered. “What’s it you’re asking for?”

She glowered at me, fingering through a purple-green shoulder bag by L. Faust. It was worth half the retainer she’d dropped on my desk a minute ago. One thousand credits … enough to cover some legal fees for Stargazers or buy dinner for a while. With a sigh she looked up at me and said, “It’s not Fawn anymore. I have to be more aggressive now.”

Sure you do,” I agreed, but in no way sympathetic. I shrugged pointedly at her.

I have to come out and say it?” Reggie’s probably shorter than me; of course I’m saying it like that out of respect. She’s dug me out of a few holes and we’ve been friends, I mean really, friends, since rushing the shield was a fun way to risk your thread.

She didn’t pay for it like me, though, all limbs and wits intact. Could be my sister, but doesn’t have my curves, just jewel-green eyes and a pretty face. No one escapes toxin exposure unscathed, and hers resulted in the barest unevenness of skin tone.

My office was sealed tight, protocols wound up and unleashed, or so Greg assured me. I leaned forward in my chair and thumped the desk with my palm. The tactile feedback was a little faint, but the timing was accurate. I leaned forward in my chair.

Reggie was expectant and ill at ease, shifting in that little uncomfortable chair. Maybe it would break under her, but I didn’t think so. The struggle for eye contact was getting annoying, so I talked instead: “If you want to borrow a pen just reach into my desk. You want me to investigate a pimp you think is breaking the rules … that’s when you have to ask.”

She rolled her eyes. Of course I knew. I imagined her crossing out at least two paragraphs of preamble in her head. “Shards, Aaran. All right, then. You remember Denise.” I glared at her, tapping the credit stamp on my desk with my idiot cyborg forefinger. She raised her hands in submission. “You do. How is she?”

There was a whiff of trelic in the air, and I stifled a sneeze. “Neck deep in pizza orders, last I heard. She’s a natural in the kitchen. Stalfos owes me again. Staying with Masurani. Finals were last week, her marks were good.”

She digested this, but one point rose out of the noise: “You put an eight year old in a pizzeria?”

I put an eight year old where I trust her to be safe. No parents, what d’ya suppose Stargazers is about?”

Reggie flicked a stray bang. “That’s cute. Stalfos takes an interest in her well being?”

The question was mildly puzzling. “He takes an interest in everyone he hires. The felor carries an extra twenty pounds ’round the middle, but he’s stable as the shield and about as clever. Masurani’s a good judge of staunchness, and they work the same shifts.”

How’s he stay in business?”

I smirked. “I bet you wonder. Gallant Slice is his franchise. What’s this about? I talked to Denise just an hour ago. It’s not about her.”

No, she’s the proximity alarm.”

Read the rest at Wattpad!

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