Sleeping Prince

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Summary

Set in the deep future, Gage is a pilot transporting models for hire between the Jovian moons. The girls are sold for a year or two doing everything required of them in their contracts. Gage is a sold man himself, having sold himself to Sleeping Beauty Inc. until he turns 30, but that might be a while as he spends 26 days out of 30 asleep on his ship. That is until one of the models he transports, Iona, has a contract for him. Looking over the contract, he can't believe his eyes. She can't really mean to buy him!

Genre:
Romance / Scifi
Author:
StephanieVanOrman
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
23
Rating:
3.3 3 reviews
Age Rating:
16+

Chapter 1

“How’s she doing?” Tanya asked over the speaker.

“The pickup went fine if that’s what you’re wondering,” Gage replied, his voice husky in the lunar light.

He was sitting in the cockpit of his Cannonball III starship. Blinking lights and screens registered colorblind readings all around him. His seat was comfortable. The artificial gravity was a few ticks lighter than it had been on Earth. It was meant to mimic the gravity common to the four large moons in the Juno system. He was orbiting Callisto while he waited for the instructions Tanya was going to relay from head office.

Gage had said that the pickup had gone fine and it had gone fine. Tickety boo, but there was something wrong that he couldn’t put his finger on.

The model he had retrieved was Iona Stirling. She was the third most expensive model Sleeping Beauty Inc. had on offer on Callisto. Ninth most expensive for the Juno region. In truth, she was the most expensive model that Gage escorted on a regular basis.

It wasn’t because she was the most expensive that she was Gage’s favorite. At least, he didn’t think it was. He had seven models regularly assigned to him and then any oddball assignments that came his way. Those seven were very expensive and they often had assignments between moons. Since it took months to transport them, it was his job to oversee their transport.

It was his duty to pick them up from their job, bring them on board the Cannonball III, and reset them. They weren’t robots. That wasn’t what a reset meant. It was his job to look them over for any damage, ensure that they were properly washed, fed, and put them to sleep on his vessel. Five Jovian moons had divisions of Sleeping Beauty Inc. on their surfaces and sometimes they were returned there. However, there were some models that had requested travel in their details, so they were never reassigned to the same moon twice.

Iona was one of those models. She was his favorite because she never fussed. She didn’t come aboard the ship crying about what her last owner had asked her to do. If she had a medical problem, she had already had it seen to it while she was still under contract because she was just too valuable to herself not to speak up about what she needed. However, even with that attention to detail, she usually had a cold when she returned.

Looking over her body was one of Gage’s favorite things to do. Sometimes, he thought of ending his contract with Sleeping Beauty Inc. and finding some other way to kill time. However, hauling space garbage and rescuing starships were really the only things he was qualified to do in space and if he switched jobs, he wouldn’t have the joy of giving Iona her quarter physical.

A quarter physical was nowhere near as thrilling as he’d hoped it would be when he went in for training. During it, he looked in her ears and tested her hearing, checked her eyesight, looked at her teeth, took a swab of the inside of her cheek, checked for rashes and other skin problems, tested her for allergies, and gave her a device that checked her internal health without giving him a free peep show. Sleeping Beauty Inc. was very serious about that. If you wanted to see up a model’s skirt, you were going to pay for it.

Liking Iona especially was a little secret of his. She was entirely too famous and valuable for a self-respecting handler to admit to liking. She wasn’t like most of the models he escorted in that she was always purchased for commercial use.

The other models were rented out to individual men who needed help in their lives. A model from Sleeping Beauty Inc. would help her client organize his life, give him style, flair, show her client how he could improve his situation, and sleep with him if that was how he needed his life improved. For a cost, of course. And if all he wanted was sex, there were better places to get that. The more awkward the man was, the better his money was spent on a model from Sleeping Beauty Inc. Most of the clients were rich enough that some women would put up with him for his money, but there was something really special about that specific dollar sign amount. She isn’t trying to screw him out of his money. She’s very upfront about what the deal is. He gives a specified amount of money, she enters his life and finds ways to improve it by working with him, and when the time is up, he can renew his contract, get a different model or try his luck again in the real world with women who were ‘free’.

Iona wasn’t one of those girls. She was a commercial model, which meant that she was hired by a company. For the last year, Iona had worked in a showroom for a helocarrier company called Excalibur Helocarriers. The people buying those transports were not lightweights who would buy one and leave. They were company presidents who were going to buy a fleet of carriers.

Gage knew exactly what was asked of her. He had read the contract when it was transmitted to him. As the captain of his vessel and Iona’s handler, he read it with her, with a visual transmission of a lawyer back at head office. It was Iona’s job to lead customers through the showroom and give them all the information required to make the sale of a helocarrier. The reason she was hired instead of a normal girl was that the customers kept grabbing the sales girls. There were lawsuits. It was crazy, so the deal with Iona was that she was hired to tolerate those incredibly inappropriate touches. If she got grabbed, she was to laugh it off, but tell the man very firmly that not only was she a temporary asset of the helocarrier company, but she was also a model of Sleeping Beauty Inc. Therefore, if he was interested in bedding her, he was welcome to put in an offer.

That was how she had become the third most expensive model on Callisto. She made contact with a lot of really powerful men. The individual men bidding on her drove up her cost. The companies had to outbid the individual purchasers. Except Iona had graduated from being rented by individual men and never entertained those offers. Sleeping Beauty Inc. ran confidential auctions where the exact offers were kept secret, therefore it was completely possible for a man to outbid a company in numbers, but would be told that he didn’t win the auction because the company had added some benefits that the individual man had not offered.

The benefit was always that Iona didn’t have to sleep with a single person if she was purchased by a company. True, she had to tolerate the somewhat revealing uniforms they gave her, the pinches and the pats, but she did not have to go to bed with anyone. That was the benefit an individual buyer could never offer.

It was also worth it to the company not to piss her off. Because she worked in the showroom, it was in her power to cause a serious dent in their business if she decided to turn on them. She knew all their best customers. Sometimes it was even her job to wine and dine them, take them out for entertainment, and show them a good time while they considered how large and long their helocarrier contract should be. She was close friends with some of them as Iona had a personality that was both warm and cool. She could cause more damage to their company than she had done good if she had a complaint with enough gunpowder behind it. Since she had them by the balls, they treated her like a princess.

And so did Gage.

That morning when he picked her up, she looked too ravishing for words as she dropped the Sleeping Beauty Inc. bracelet in his hand. It was his job to remove it when her contract was complete. She smiled at him and he smiled back at her, knowing that even though he liked her in his own little way, she was not for him. Her grand beauty had nothing to do with him. Her pinkish hair was swept to the side in a cascade of curls that covered her shoulder. Her white dress was made with thick, expensive fabric, yet had intentional windows to show tiny views of her creamy skin. Her heels were too high, but her balance was as steady as if she was barefoot. Her eyes and lips were where the true beauty was. Her eyes were honey brown and her lips were painted coral pink. No man could keep all that warmth to himself.

Gage took her inside the Cannonball III, which was a step down from the transports she had been selling, but she said she liked getting picked up in the dark brown starship that had seen a dozen too many reentries. She said it made her feel like she was being picked up by her badass boyfriend.

Gage had smiled at that and stroked the stubble on his chin. He didn’t dare hope that he looked like her badass boyfriend.

Inside, he locked the doors up tight and took her to the medical room, where he left her alone for a few minutes to undress and wash. She’d call for him when she was ready for him.

He would wear a lab coat and a stethoscope to help him feel like a professional as he went through the health checklist with her. He was always especially proud of how collected he looked and acted when they were alone and she was wearing nothing but a paper dress.

When she called for him, he entered the room with a smile. In the tray next to the medical table was enough jewelry to fill a jewelry box. He eyed it. “Good haul?” he asked, his disposition utterly friendly.

“Yeah,” she said dryly like she didn’t care. “Please look at my throat. I think I’m coming down with something.”

It was completely normal for Iona to get sick as soon as she finished a job. All the stress was gone and her body just stopped fighting whatever viruses it had been fighting before. It was almost a usual routine for Iona to spend a week awake on the Cannonball recovering from an illness before Gage put her to sleep.

“I’ll have a look,” he said, intentionally under-eager.

She opened her coral lips and let him look at her throat. He was having the best time, but it was imperative that he didn’t show it.

“Yeah, it looks swollen. Enough to give you a tickle in your throat.”

“Have you got anything you can give me? I’m having trouble swallowing.”

He nodded. “Yeah, I’ve got a few things, but let’s finish the rest of the physical.”

The physical went smoothly and it ended too soon as far as Gage was concerned. He gave her the pills for her throat and excused himself. He took off his lab coat and returned to the cockpit. Since she was fine, it was time to get them back into orbit, so as soon as she was dressed, she’d come to the cockpit as well where she would strap down for liftoff.

That had been uneventful as well. Iona didn’t scream or cry when they went back into space like some of the other girls did. If he had to guess, they screamed because they wanted him to comfort them, but he was always bad at that. He didn’t want to comfort them. He wanted them to grow up. With them, he always felt like their angry older brother who could not be seduced by any application of puppy-dog eyes or pouty lips.

Iona asked for nothing. She was quiet, resigned, and completely professional. That day, even with her sore throat, she said nothing. Once they were in orbit, she got herself a water bottle, took her pills, and retired to her room.

Gage snapped back to the present, Tanya from head office on Ganymede was saying something. “I’ve just sent you a contract to review. Have a look at it and get back to me.” She signed off.

Gage licked his lips and loaded it onto his main screen. He’d have to go over it again later with Iona, but he didn’t want to bother her now. She needed a rest. She was true to form and feeling sick after pickup.

Gage looked at the contract with squinted eyes. What was he looking at? It was entirely more sexual than the contracts Iona usually entertained. Why, in the heck, was head office sending this to her? It wasn’t even for that much money and it was only for three months? Iona wouldn’t sign a contract like that!

He was about to get all snarky and call Tanya back when he realized that he had been reading the contract wrong. It wasn’t a contract for Iona. It was a contract for him… and the buyer was Iona.

He glanced at the door, toward where she was sleeping. What was going on?

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