Jovian led Ioana to the library, “You and your tape. It’s going to take a while to get it all off.” He pushed one of the black marked buttons that was nearly invisible against the bookshelf. “You were very thorough, weren’t you?”
“I’ve had too many accidental discoveries I didn’t want to make on other assignments. Now I make sure that Auberon gives me a full schematic of all buttons, levers, and secret foot pads.” Ioana glared at him. “If you’d followed the contract and picked The Lady up when you were supposed to I would have had time to remove it all.” She watched as part of the bookshelf moved and opened into a room that was even bigger than the one she had been staying in.
The bedroom had a stained glass ceiling that looked like glowing green leaves and vines. The walls were covered with dark wood carvings like the library, but these were in the shapes of massive tree trunks with the branches framing the two windows that looked out into space. The carpet was various shades of green with a subtle floral print. The room was darker than most of the other rooms to give it the sense of being in the middle of a forest. Ioana stood in the middle of the room and stared in amazement at everything. The sound of running water added to the ambiance, which came from a waterfall in one corner that looked like it was made of natural stone and was lit from behind with a blue light.
Jovian watched her as she turned slowly, taking it all in, “What do you think?”
Ioana couldn’t help but smile in amazement, the room was so calm and peaceful, “It’s beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.”
Jovian smiled, thinking the same thing about the awestruck look on her pretty face. Gods, he was pleased with this pilot. She seemed clever and had a code of integrity that he hadn’t seen in all his life in business. She may not trust him, but he knew deep down in his gut that he could trust her. She was also damn good looking. Not on par with the rich and famous, but she had a natural beauty that was difficult to find in the circles he ran in. The thing Jovian found most appealing about Ioana was that her face was honest and showed exactly what was going on in her head. He imagined she’d be terrible at poker, but he wasn’t looking for another devious follower that he had to keep tabs on at all times. If nothing else, she seemed like she’d be pleasant company once she was more comfortable with him.
“I’m glad you like it. You’re welcome to come in whenever the little light above the bookcase is green. In fact, I may just leave the door open if I don’t want privacy, since it’s just the two of us.” He smiled, “Do you want to see the bathroom?”
“If you weren’t the owner I’d be jealous. I think I’m jealous anyway.” Ioana looked at the bed as she followed him. It was a four poster bed like hers, but instead of vines and flowers, the posts looked like gnarly tree trunks that were rooted under the carpet and growing up into the stained glass ceiling, as if those branches were the source of the leaves. She bumped into Jovian when he stopped to see if she was following.
He chuckled, “You like the bed? I was rather proud of that design.”
“It’s gorgeous, just like the rest of the ship, but I think this room is the best.”
Jovian beamed since he happened to agree with her, “Here’s the bathroom. I continued the forest theme in here.” He motioned for her to precede him.
Ioana gasped. The bath was huge and shaped like a natural pond, but lit from below. The walls were covered in leaves and vines with an occasional yellow flower. The mirrors and view port were framed with more decorative branches. “How did you ever come up with all this?”
Jovian laughed, “I did research. I’m a bit of an amateur decorator. It’s a hobby.” He was practically glowing from all the compliments and was very reluctant to let her leave, but he also wanted to settle in. He was recovering from a slight bout of light-speed sickness himself, “Feel free to look around a little more, Ioana. I’m going to get my belongings, and then I think we both need a hot relaxing bath . . .” at Ioana’s accusatory look he amended, “. . . in our own bathrooms.”
Ioana nodded slowly, the suspicious look not leaving, “I’ll help you get your stuff and then I’ll go ahead and take a bath and go to bed.” She strode out and Jovian followed, liking his new pilot more and more. It was refreshing to be around a female that wasn’t trying to seduce him at every turn. Of course, that could be due to the fact that she probably didn’t trust him, or even like him. What a strange thought, a woman who didn’t immediately like him.
She was very efficient with his luggage and left after the last item was in the room. Jovian quickly put his things away, but couldn’t stop pondering this new living arrangement. He should be thinking of his next move, but a pair of golden-brown eyes kept distracting his musing. He finally couldn’t resist when he got into the bath and started the water, “M’Lady? What is our new pilot like?”
The Lady’s voice came through the hidden speaker, “She’s smart, protective, and suspicious of everyone. She likes reading and swimming, the latter she does naked, normally.”
Jovian’s eyes bugged out at that tidbit of information, “She does?” That was the last thing he needed to know right now. Images of her swimming in the pool with nothing on flashed through his mind, her dark skin complimenting the tile work nicely. He quickly tried to think of anything else.
The Lady continued, unconcerned about Jovian’s reaction, “She’s very by the books, does her job reliably and well. She’s focused on the quality of her work and is genuinely concerned about my welfare. I feel safe around her. We had a run in with pirates and she dealt with them very impressively.”
“Oh?” He grabbed onto this piece of information to try and distract himself from the thought of Ioana in the swimming pool, “What happened?”
The Lady gave him a complete report of the incident, finishing her tale with, “We left them flying in a circle.”
Jovian chuckled. “She is incredibly clever. Tell me more. I want to know as much as possible. Habits, favorite foods, and anything else you can think of. ” He started scrubbing himself, “The more information I have, the better.”
The Lady continued her narration about Ioana’s habits as Jovian relaxed in the hot water and liked his new pilot more with each tidbit of information he received.
Ioana sighed as she sank into the hot water. The painkiller had done its job, but the bath helped to relax her tense muscles.
She was tense for good reasons; the most prominent reason was that she was in the worst trouble she’d ever been in in her life. She was not the type who went against rules; if anything, she followed them to a fault, annoying many of her coworkers. Although, if she hadn’t been such a by the books employee, she would never had been the one to deliver The Lady in the first place. She shook her head. Here she was, on the run from the government for being in possession of possibly illegal technology. She was also in the company of Jovian de Rugehala, owner of said technology.
That was the other thing that was making her tense, her potential new boss. Ioana knew nothing about him other than what the news vids that talked about; he was a notoriously private person. Even the information mongers and vid tabloids had a hard time getting information about him that he didn’t want people to know. There wasn’t even a good picture of him anywhere that she knew of, she certainly hadn’t expected him to look the way he did. All public appearances were in disguise, his thumbprint and iris scan being the only way to identify him.
He wasn’t old, his father had passed away not that long ago and the reports called Jovian young at that time. Inexperienced was actually the phrase she remembered, along with concern that he wouldn’t be able to run his father’s business properly. He’d gone on to increase his father’s holdings, much to the delight of his stock holders and company managers. So, he was successful, private, and apparently into interior design. She tried to remember if there was information of him with women or men. She sunk deeper into the bath and finally remembered reports of him with one or more women on his arm at any given special event, but never the same ones twice.
I’m stuck in a ship with a rich womanizer. Great. She grumbled and dunked her head backwards into the water. Exactly what she needed, an employer who was used to getting his way. She needed this job, especially if something truly drastic had happened to her previous employer. She didn’t want to get dumped out on some uninhabited planet for slapping her new boss for being inappropriate, but she also didn’t want to end up sleeping with him as the fling of the moment. Contract. Remember to get a contract tomorrow. That way if anything did happen her supposed job would be protected.
Either way, the situation was uncomfortable and stressful. She did not like the mystery of Jovian de Rugehala. Ioana got out of the tub, drying herself off as she walked back into the bedroom. “Her” bedroom, he said it was hers.
“It really has been a very strange day.” she sighed.
“Yes, it has.”
Ioana screeched at the unfamiliar feminine voice, her heart racing in panic. She looked around frantically until her brain reminded her that it was The Lady. She attempted to calm herself, “Don’t do that, M’Lady! I’m not used to you talking back!”
The Lady’s voice modulated to a softer tone, “My apologies, Ioana. I will not respond unless you speak directly to me in the future. That is, until you get accustomed to my presence.”
“That would be appreciated. I’m still used to the quiet.” She flopped down on her bed and looked up at the ceiling, “I never did ask, are you alright after getting free from the Hub? I was concerned about your exterior when we blasted out.”
“That is kind of you to be concerned, but I am fine. My exterior may be ornate, but it is far from fragile.” There was an interesting bubbling amusement in her voice. “Not a scratch, but I appreciate the concern. That’s why I’m happy you’re going to be my pilot.”
Ioana smiled in spite of herself, “You are?” She’d never talked to a ship like this before. Most of them had little personality, or if they did it was what Ioana would describe as “synthetic sexpot”. The Lady seemed to not only have a gentle and polite personality, but a sense of humor; or at least a sense of amusement. She knew such AI existed, but she’d never heard of anyone putting one into a ship. It was just another sign that the owner was on the peculiar side.
“M’Lady, what are you allowed to tell me about Jovian?” She doubted she’d get any useful information, but any information was better than the amount she had. She relaxed against her pillow with a sigh.
The Lady’s voice was very pleasant, and seemed to be coming from a speaker near the bed, “What would you like to know, Ioana? I’ll tell you what I can.”
“Well, can you tell me about his personality? I don’t know anything about him other than what I’ve seen on the vids.”
The Lady paused for a moment, almost as if she were collecting her thoughts, “He’s a very private person, Ioana. He doesn’t like to share with people. He can come across as aloof and disinterested in most situations. But, I can tell you he is more open around you than I’ve seen. Perhaps it’s because he came to you instead of you approaching him.” There was a sound that seemed like a chuckle, “You have a bit in common; you both like your peace and quiet, and are reluctant to trust. Jovian is a bit more of a rebel, he has a tendency to break the rules if he doesn’t feel they apply to him. But he is genuinely concerned about my welfare, and yours, Ioana, so I believe you can trust him in that.”
Ioana didn’t miss the qualification, “But there are things I can’t trust him about?”
“I’m not at liberty to discuss whether or not you should trust him. I trust him to keep me safe and to take care of me, that’s all I need to know as his ship. I don’t know what level of trust you need to have in him, so I really can’t tell you to trust him. That’s for you to decide.”
“M’Lady, you have an amazing grasp of abstract concepts. I’m impressed.” She decided she’d ask the question that popped up when she started thinking seriously about Jovian and what he was like, “Is he a gentleman? I mean, should I be concerned about being alone in a ship with him?”
“He is absolutely a gentleman. He prefers his partners to be willing, that I’ve seen.”
“No history of coercion or drugging?” Ioana admitted to herself that she was being paranoid, but she’d heard stories about the excessively wealthy and how their desires tended to counteract their morals.
The Lady made that strange bubbling sound that Ioana was starting to associate with the ship’s laughter. “No, Ioana, he would never do anything of the sort. He has a great respect for people. I promise, you are safe from unwanted molestation.”
“Good to know.” Ioana felt a little of the tension in her shoulders release. “How is it that you are so familiar with his habits if you’ve just been built?” That was confusing her, it seemed as if The Lady were talking about Jovian as if he were an old friend.
“Ah, well, I existed long before I was put into this ship. In fact, I helped with the design. I started as a personal assistant of sorts for Jovian, keeping his appointments and such. I’ve always been “The Lady” to Jovian, but now I have a whole ship as my body as opposed to a small tablet.”
Ioana blinked, “Wow, then you do know a bit about him.” She yawned, surprised that she felt so exhausted.
“Ioana? Are you hungry? It’s been a while since you’ve eaten.” The Lady sounded concerned.
“You sound like my mother. I’m far too tired to eat now and if I wake up hungry I have snacks in the desk.” She yawned widely then snuggled into the bedding.
Ioana woke up hungry and feeling like she had a hangover, even though she hadn’t had any alcohol. She opened her eyes slowly; the lights in her room were dimmed. “Ugh. Is this going to happen every time that drive is used?”
“The side effects grow less over time and use of the drive. Jovian hardly has any reaction now.”
Ioana jumped slightly, still not used to the fact that she was going to get answered. It had started as a rhetorical question. “Well, isn’t that nice for him.” She grumbled.
The Lady’s voice modulated to one that was a little softer, “You’ll feel better with some food and fluid in you. Are you able to get up or should I send Jovian in?”
“No, I can make it to the dining area.” Having him in her bedroom once was enough, she wasn’t going to give him any more opportunities until she knew a little bit more about Mr. de Rugehala, despite his ship’s assurances. She got up and looked at the clock, rubbing her eyes, “I’ve been out for 15 hours?”
“You needed the sleep, Ioana. I know you haven’t been getting the recommended amount and what happened yesterday was stressful. I apologize.” The Lady replied gently.
“Oh, it wasn’t your fault.” Great, a ship that could feel guilt. What else did she not know about The Lady? “How are things? Where are we?”
“We’re still orbiting. Jovian didn’t want to go anywhere without you at the helm. He went to sleep soon after you did. He’s been awake for a while,” The Lady paused, “I believe he’s feeling guilty about what he’s put you through.”
“Good. He should. It’s mostly his fault.” She stretched again and started getting dressed. “Let him know that I’m not angry, I just don’t like unpredictability and Jovian is -”
“Highly unpredictable. Understood. I can see how this is going to be a difficult adjustment. But, I hope you stay. I would miss you if you left.” The Lady’s voice took on a pleading tone.
Ioana paused in astonishment. A ship that not only felt guilt, but could induce it?! What next? “No worries, M’Lady, I’m not going to leave you, no matter what your owner is like.” She smiled at the speaker where the voice came from. “I promise.”
“Thank you, Ioana. I really do like you. I think we will work well as a team once you know all the ins and outs.”
“I’m glad you think so. What’s for breakfast?”
“Your favorite; pancakes and strawberry syrup.”
Ioana laughed, “You really are trying to make it up to me.” She finished dressing and headed to the dining area, wondering where Jovian was.
Her question was answered when she entered; he was sitting at the table waiting for her.
“Hi.” Jovian’s face was an interesting combination of guilt, apology, and pleading. “I’m sorry for yesterday. I really didn’t conduct myself very well.”
“You’re right. But, I’ll live. I’ve already promised The Lady that I wasn’t going to desert her, so you’re stuck with me.”
“Am I?” He beamed, then quickly composed himself, “Well, that’s very good news. Here, have something to eat, you must be famished.” He set a large plate of pancakes in front of her with the syrup nearby. “What do you want to drink?”
She poured on the syrup, “Coffee. You know, I’m at a disadvantage. I’m sure that The Lady knows all my favorite foods, therefore you know them as well.” She gave him a sly look, “What are your favorites?”
He chuckled as he got her coffee, “You mean, other than chocolate? I’m fond of spaghetti with cream sauce and meatballs.” He handed her the cup, “Anything else you want to know?”
“I have a million questions actually, but my head doesn’t really want to hear the answers right now.” She took a careful sip of coffee then started on her breakfast.
“Still feeling the effects of the jump?” Jovian asked.
“Guess so.” Ioana looked down at her food as she ate. Breakfast was not one of those meals where she felt talkative. She was too hungry.
“I would suggest a swim after this, it will help get your equilibrium settled. Always helps me.”
“I’ll think about it.” She looked up at Jovian. “What’s on the agenda for today?”
“Nothing except recuperating and this.” He slid a tablet across the table to her.
She looked at the device, her eyes widening when she saw what it was. “You actually wrote out a contract for my employment?”
“Of course! I was serious yesterday. This,” he tapped the screen lightly, “should prove how serious I am about keeping you as an employee.”
“You’ll need to give me some time before I sign it.”
Jovian blinked then shook his head in amusement. “Of course. I’ll need some time to work out how to get you up to speed on all of The Lady’s systems anyway.” He gave her a sheepish grin. “Besides, you deserve a break.”
Ioana rolled her eyes. “You’re right, I do.” She finished her breakfast in silence, feeling a bit better. “I’ll think about the swimming. Thank you.” She got up, picked up the tablet, and headed back to her room.
Jovian watched her, wondering if she’d ever feel comfortable around him. “M’Lady, let me know if she looks like she’s going to go swimming, would you? I’d like to join her.”
I. Want. Jovian's. Bedroom. For real. As my own. Stupid characters having more money than me.
Not much happening here, next chapter will be a bit more interesting, I hope.
If you see any problems, let me know!
Ioana Metaglio, Jovian de Rugehala, and The Lady belong to me!
Not much happening here, next chapter will be a bit more interesting, I hope.
If you see any problems, let me know!
The Lady - Part OneAuberon Searle, owner of Searle Custom Yacht Crafters, breathed a sigh of relief.
It was done.
All that was left was to call the owner of the new ship and arrange for transport. It was funny; the most exciting times of an order were always the start and the end. The beginning because you never really knew what a client was going to want for the enormous deposit required to just look at the blueprints and decide if you were willing to make the thing. It was the thrill of the unknown, the potential challenge, and the giddy anticipation of making something new and exotic. The end because you were tired of the project and ready to move on. The troubles and hitches that plagued you in the construction phase were over, no more deadlines to meet or contractors to keep in line, and, particularly with this project, no more secrets to keep. He held the plans in one hand and activated the communicator with the other, punching in the numbers for his client.
The baritone male voice on the other end
The Lady - Part FourThe Purple Ring was impressive. Ioana considered the Blue Ring luxurious for a docking bay, but the Purple Ring out-shone anything, other than The Lady. She chuckled despite her anxiety. Coming back to reality after all this fancy living was going to be tough. She checked in with the security, which was quite complete in their examination of her gear. They requested, politely but firmly, that she leave her weapons. She relinquished all but her small phaser, which the guard didn’t seem to mind, but being mostly disarmed made her more nervous. He called another security officer to guide her to the correct dock, which irked her beyond measure. She was in an untrustworthy situation, and she was the one being treated like a suspicious character. She entered the dock in a completely uncharitable mood, and didn’t return the smile of the man calling himself Jovian de Rugehala as he stood there looking smug.
“Well, I’m here. Against all my better judgment.” S
Ioana Metaglio, Jovian de Rugehala, and The Lady belong to me!
Loved this chapter! I really like the Lady, there's just something endearing about her And Jovian... of course he wants to go swimming with Ioana
In some ways, The Lady is my favorite character in this (probably why she gets title billing )
Jovian no. Bad. Go swimming some other time
Excellent chapter!! I really like how you gave us information but it's SUPER interesting!! It's not dry at all and I'm excited to read the next chapter