Murder Beyond The Milky Way

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Chapter Thirty-Seven

Diana led him through the door at the end of the dining platform and into a hallway as nondescript as all the other hallways he had seen on the planet. It was as if everyone agreed that on Magnum-4 a hallway was merely a necessary space that allowed someone to travel from point A to point B. The recessed lighting cast a universal twilight glow the length of the short corridor. Harry noticed the ubiquitous dun colored carpeting. It was thicker than the carpeting in front of Keith’s office and allowed them to move silently. The walls were red-ore block. Half way down the hall way, Harry noticed six doors, three on either side of the hall. Diana walked up to the middle door on the left side and placed her hand on an ID pad. There was no light, no sound, but a moment after her hand touched the pad, the middle set of doors opened. Harry smiled. It was an elevator with floor to ceiling mirrors on three sides and a long bench against the back wall.

“I’ve been looking forward to tonight,” Diana said. “I was hoping you would come back to me.” As she spoke she gently steered him into the elevator and touched the only button on the pad.

“I’ve been thinking about you since the moment I left with Quincey last night,” Harry said. Harry smiled. Let the games begin.

“You have?” Diana laughed a throaty laugh. “I doubt that. You’re involved in trying to find the person or people who killed the most influential man on this planet. I doubt that Quincey gave you a minute to yourself.”

“I don’t think you realize just how mesmerizing you are,” Harry said. “Ever since I saw that blonde hair of yours last night, I couldn’t get it out of my mind.”

“Do you like it?” Diana asked.

“Like it? It burns your image into a man’s brain and doesn’t let him think of anything else,” Harry said.

“I love the way you lie,” Diana said.

“I’m not lying,” Harry said seriously. It was too soon to play the hurt feelings card. “Did you have it altered genetically or chemically?”

“If you’re trying to find out how old I am,” Diana said, “don’t worry. It’s chemical and not genetic. You and I are probably the same age within a year or two. I’m nowhere near having a Youth Treatment.”

“No, of course not. I could see that by your eyes,” Harry said.

“You could?”

“Sure. Women who’ve had a Youth Treatment or two have a certain look around their eyes. All you have to do is look at Lydia Thompson to see what I mean.”

“I think she’s beautiful,” Diana said. “I only hope that I can look as good when I get to her age.”

“Well, you’ll certainly be able to afford the Treatments,” Harry said. “And I think that you’ll look way better.”

“You do?”

“Sure. Look at you now. You’re gorgeous... naturally gorgeous. You have what I consider to be a perfect body; your breasts, waist and hips are in total symmetry. Your lips have a little bow to them... I just can’t tell you how magnetic you are to me.”

“I’d say that you are doing a very good job,” Diana said leaning in and kissing Harry lightly on the cheek. As she leaned in, she allowed her breasts to brush his arm. “If you keep talking like that, I don’t know what I’m going to do with you.”

“Everything, I hope,” Harry said.

The elevator stopped. The doors opened on another corridor. Diana stepped in front of Harry and turned around. She ran her hands through his hair and pulled him to her. She kissed him long and hard on the mouth. After she slowly pulled her lips away from his, she said, “You have no idea.” She took him by the hand and led him down the hall.

She stopped in front of an unmarked doorway. The doorway looked sealed. Harry couldn’t see a way to open it. Diana put her hand in the center of the door and it opened automatically. She led Harry inside.

Harry looked around. He had never seen another place like it. Words like ‘bower’, ‘lair’, ‘retreat’, ‘sanctuary’ and ‘refuge’ all came to mind. Diana had covered the walls with tapestries to hide every square inch of the red-ore block walls and any other doorways. The tapestries were all jungle scenes: trees, vines, exotic birds and many mythical animals. She also had canopies and muted, soft-light glow globes hanging from the ceiling giving the room an ethereal feeling as if in this place, she could tune out the entire universe. Harry was enthralled. He didn’t know if he were up or down. Literally. Once the elevator doors had closed, he had not felt the room move. But from the length of their conversation, he guessed that they had headed down.

“Do you like it?” she asked.

“Yes, I do,” Harry answered. There was no bed, but there were numerous, large, soft-looking, pillows scattered around the room on a very thick, very soft-looking carpet. There were tables against the walls with goblets and what looked to Harry like silver decanters.

Diana took off her shoes and walked over to the nearest small table and filled a goblet from one of the decanters. She returned and handed it to him. “Wine from the vineyards in the Pleiades. Even the leaders of the Directorate have to fight among themselves to drink this.”

Harry took a sip. He was no stranger to wine on Earth Prime, but this was like nothing he had ever tasted before. A fruity bouquet teased his nose and for a moment he felt light-headed. The wine went down his throat smoothly and within seconds, sent a radiating heat across his chest and down his abdomen. “You’re not trying to get me drunk, are you?” he teased.

“That would defeat the whole purpose,” Diana said. She poured herself a goblet, drank some, then stepped in closely to Harry and kissed him again just brushing her lips against his.

Harry smiled and reached out to touch her hair. It felt soft. He ran his fingers through her hair. It left a tickling sensation on his flesh. He wondered what she was up to. He knew enough to know that women in her line of work did not kiss their customers on the mouth, at least not on their first meeting. She was sending him the message that he was special, that he counted more than anyone else. He wanted to ask her if she kissed Steve Somerset that way, but he knew that if he did, he might as well turn around and try to figure out how to open the door.

Diana led him to a group of strategically placed cushions and had him sit down. After Harry had located himself comfortably amid the cushions, Diana took off his shoes and messaged his feet. She rubbed them slowly paying special attention to several pressure points located just beneath his toes and on an arc across his instep. Harry felt himself relaxing. He put his wine goblet down and rolled around until he could do the same for her.

“Most men wouldn’t think to do that,” Diana said.

“What? Give you as much pleasure as you are giving me?” Harry asked.

“Most men are just takers,” Diana said. “You’re different. You like to give as much as you get.”

“And just how much can you take?” Harry asked.

“I don’t know,” Diana said. “I’m not used to being on the receiving end.”

Harry smiled. Did she just give up a little secret? he wondered. He decided to explore the opening. Harry slowly twisted himself around and came up behind Diana. He gently forced her face down on the cushions and began messaging her back. The fabric of her tunic was cool to his touch and soft.

“It unclips at the shoulders,” Diana said.

Harry reached up and found the clasps. He undid them and peeled the back of her tunic down past her buttocks and began stroking and messaging the entire length of her back. Diana made little cooing noises. After a few minutes, she rolled over allowing the front of her tunic to float away to the floor. The sight of her naked breasts, their shape, the way they moved as she moved, how they felt as they brushed against his arm as she unbuttoned his shirt aroused him like he had never been aroused before. It was painful.

Diana looked down. “Let’s get you out of those,” she said releasing the clasp that held his pants up. She slid his pants off his hips and before they were to his knees, her mouth began exploring his abdomen and thighs. She teased him. He teased her. And when he entered her it was out of a maddening necessity that her ministrations had caused him.

They rolled around on the floor. Harry on top of her and then she on top of him. He took her from behind holding on to her platinum blonde hair and moving her around as if she were some kind of doll. With every thrust or move, Diana moaned or sucked in her breath or contracted her muscles as if she were loathe to let him slide out of her. She matched his energy with her own. He rolled her over. She bit his neck, pulled his hair and dug her nails into the muscles beneath his shoulder blades and held on to him. The pain rocketed Harry to a higher state of arousal than he had ever known.

Harry was totally surprised by his performance. The stimulants that Quincey had had him eat kept him aroused long after he thought it physically possible. The fourth time he entered her, even Diana expressed disbelief.

Finally, when they were both spent, Diana stood up and walked to a small cabinet along the back wall and returned with a basin of hot water and a sponge and slowly wiped Harry down and toweled him dry. Then, she did the same to herself. When she was done with herself, she put the basin back and came and cuddled next to him.

“That was amazing,” she said.

Harry wanted to ask if that’s what she said to all the boys, but he realized that if he wanted to get any information out of her, he would have to play the game a little longer.

“It was all you,” Harry said. “I’ve never met anyone like you. You almost make me want to stay here.”

“You wouldn’t like it,” Diana said burying her face into his chest. “If you stayed, you’d have to share me, and I get the distinct feeling you are not the kind who plays nicely with other boys.”

Harry laughed. “Who says I’d have to share you? Why couldn’t I buy your exclusive services just like Steve Somerset did?”

“That would take a lot of money,” Diana said.

“I’m Directorate,” Harry said playing a card he really didn’t own. “You’d be surprised at what I can do.”

Diana crossed an arm over his chest and rested her chin on it. “What can you do?” she asked. him.

Harry recalled from his memory all of Diana’s messages to her brother and his to her. “How would you like to see your brother on Aldebaran again?”

Diana sat up quickly. “You can do that? Hey, how did you know I had a brother at Aldebaran?” A coldness returned to her voice.

Harry decided to go on the attack. “Don’t be stupid. You had a message from Steve to meet him on the night he was killed. When I was checking on who sent messages off planet, your name was at the top of the list.”

“What if I told you he was innocent?”

“Yeah, all the men on Aldebaran-2 are. I don’t care. Did your meeting with Steve have anything to do with your brother?”

Diana sat back and poured herself another goblet of wine. She took a long drink. “Yes,” she said.

There was a long pause. Harry sat back against a cushion. “I can’t match an offer if I don’t know what it is,” he said.

Diana took another drink and looked long and hard at Harry. Harry felt the intensity of her gaze. He recognized that she was on the verge of a decision. He knew that if he so much as moved, he would spook her. He froze without appearing to do so.

After a moment, Diana said, “Steve was going to get my brother out.”

“No one gets out of Aldebaran, alive, that is,” Harry said.

“They do if you have enough red-ore to give them,” Diana said. She took another long drink.

Harry thought about it for a moment and it seemed logical. Steve Somerset had access to a vast fortune, a fortune so large that he probably could have bought whole worlds, not just the complacency of some minor official in the penal system. “I didn’t think you were supposed to be in contact with him, Steve,” Harry said.

“I wasn’t,” Diana said. “Jane was our go-between...”

“... Jane?”

“Sure, why not,” Diana said defensively. “While I was living with her father, we got along like two sisters. I really like Jane and she likes me. When Steve left me for Lydia, Jane kept in contact. When I told her about my brother, she went to her father for me. He offered to get him out for old time’s sake. Said it was the least he could do for all the pleasure I’d given him.”

Harry took a sip of wine and recalled to mind the data stream of Steve/Jane messages that he had read at Keith’s and the messages that Steve sent to the ghost ship. “Son-of-a-bitch,” Harry said picturing her itinerary.

“What?” Diana asked.

“She did it,” Harry said. “Jane’s little lost girl sojourn with Fitz-Porter took her right by the Aldebaran penal colony. That’s why Steve was having her followed. He wanted to make sure that she was going to be all right. All the time, we thought it was because Steve didn’t want Jane and Fitz-Porter getting together and all the time Jane was using her romp with Fitz-Porter as a cover. What happened?”

“I don’t know,” Diana said. “Jane was supposed to tell her father what she had negotiated for my brother’s release and Steve was going to smuggle the red-ore to the proper people.”

“Why smuggle red-ore? Why not just arrange for them to suddenly become rich?”

“Oh right, a penal colony officer suddenly becomes rich and one of his prisoners disappears... that’s a sure way for that guy to take my brother’s place. No. Steve felt that you guys at the Directorate would bite on one of their minor officials getting rich by finding a seam of red-ore on an asteroid or something.”

Harry thought about it for a second. “He was right. A lot of people comb asteroids for what they can pick up. But what was going to happen when your brother got out?” Harry asked.

“Steve said that he had a job all lined up for him on some ship or other. I don’t know the details. All I know is that Steve was going to get my brother out and then help him disappear.” She put her goblet down. “Can you do the same?”

“I’m Directorate. I’ll have to work more within the system, but, yes, I can get your brother out and make him disappear,” Harry lied.

Diana threw her arms around his neck. “I swear I’ll be your slave if you can,” she said. “You can do anything you like to me.”

Harry found himself hard again. “I think I’ll take you up on that offer,” he said.

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