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A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure
Reynold Michaels might not be the smartest man in the city, but he knows a beautiful woman when he sees one. The lovely creature he watches disembark from the steam tram every morning simply cannot be a prostitute…or an automaton. Yet at the high-priced bordello where she works he discovers she’s not only a hybrid mechanical, she’s funny, vulnerable, and quite possibly the missing piece of his heart.
Lily Landry understands that as an automaton she isn’t entitled to make her own choices. She must do as instructed or face the ultimate horror of being shut down. But when she forms a bond with Reynold, she quickly learns what it means to desire a life of her own.
In a city conflicted over automaton rights, can they hope for a future together?
Page Count: 304
Word Count: 69743
She smiled at him. “How would you like to begin?”
“I don’t rightly know.”
She reached for the buttons on the front of her dress, sewn of pearl-colored silk. “Most of my clients like to see what they have paid for. Would you like me to strip?”
He swallowed convulsively. A dull flush rose to his cheeks.
“Have you ever visited with one of Landry’s Ladies before?” Maybe he did not know what to expect, thought she would not look or feel like a human woman. Unless he touched her in certain places, he should not be able to tell the difference.
“No. No, I haven’t.”
She wondered how to put him at ease. She abandoned the buttons and reached for her hairpins instead. “Would you like me to take my hair down?”
“I would. I’d like that very much.”
A scratch came at the door, and then it opened to admit the little mechanical maid with a tray holding whiskey and one glass.
The client leaped away, but as soon as the maid left, he filled the glass with whiskey and gulped half of it down.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” He extended the glass to Lily. “Will you take some?”
“I cannot drink.”
She shook her head. Her loosened hair fell down around her shoulders in separate tendrils, and he took a step closer.
“My God, you’re beautiful.”
“Would you like to tell me your name?” Some clients did; others liked to remain anonymous. Many expected her to call it out at the moment of climax.
Not that she ever climaxed, but they did.
“Reynold. You can call me Rey.”
“Thank you, Rey. I hope you enjoy your afternoon. I am instructed to provide any pleasure you require. Would you prefer the bed or the floor?”
He took another big swig from his glass. “Neither.”
That did not make sense. Lily put her head to one side, searching her intelligence.
“I’ve seen you before, you know.” His voice, low and gravelly, sounded breathless. “You get off the tram up the street every morning. I can see you from the alley that leads from the place I work.”
“Where do you work?”
“McMahon’s. I… But it doesn’t really matter what I do, does it? I couldn’t believe you worked here. I mean, you look so untouchable and perfect. Yet here you are, after all.”
“Everyone must be somewhere, Rey.” Most humans could not comprehend her sense of humor—only the other girls understood.
But he smiled. “I guess that’s so.”
“If you would like to remove your clothes, we will get started. Or would you prefer me to remove them? Some clients do.”
“Or you can perform with your pants open. In this room, your word is law.”
“Don’t you mind?”
“I beg your pardon?”
He lifted both hands, one still holding his glass. “I still can’t believe it. I’m standing here looking at you—hearing you offer to take your clothes off for me—yet I can’t get hold of it. How can this be the only way for you to make a living? Why would you let men, strangers, put their grubby hands all over you? And worse.”
Did she mind? That question again. She had been created for the purpose he described and no other. Yet lately, just lately…she had noticed some things displeased her.
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