Blake ceased pacing the floor and leant against a wall. He stared at the display screen willing it to change the status from DOCKING to ARRIVED. He’d forgotten how long it took a shuttle to dock in the spaceport. Would she be worth the wait? He damn well hoped so. Since he’d put in his request weeks had passed and with the wait came the uncertainty about his choice. Picking a wife out of a catalogue was never going to be ideal, but how else did you find a mate when you lived on a mining colony on the Outer Rim?
“Blake, man, big day arrived, heh?” The punch landed on Blake’s arm, jerking him out of his thoughts.
“Yuri,” he greeted the other man with a curt nod. Yuri joined him and they both stood with their backs to the wall facing the secured port door. “Newcomers?” asked Blake.
“Yep. Next batch of newbies sent by the Corp. Seven eager men ready to drill holes in this God forsaken place. Do you remember arriving here?”
He did. It had been only four months ago and like many other miners, he’d arrived from Earth keen to start his three-year contract having earned the privilege of working on an Outer Rim colony. Hard work, long hours and lack of decent companionship had quickly dampened his enthusiasm. When he wasn’t sleeping, eating and lifting weights, he’d lay on his bed, dreaming of what life would be like once he returned to Earth, how much better everything would be. He also thought about sex a great deal.
He’d been determined not to bother with a wife, believing work and the comradeship of his fellow miners would see him through to the end of his contract. He hadn’t expected to be lonely or crave the company of women. He’d listened to his co-workers with increasing envy as they picked their brides, eagerly awaited their arrival and promptly married them. It was simple, they had told him, the Corporation vetted them first, picked the sexiest ones and shipped them out on demand.
Blake hated the idea. Picking a wife based on a few images and videos seemed ludicrous. Each time a new one arrived, he saw the excitement in her eyes and the swagger in her hips. Back on Earth women lined up for the opportunity to be a miner’s wife. If an off world miner was a privileged position, so too was the status of being his wife.
“What’s her name?” asked Yuri.
“You won’t regret it. My girl is amazing. Marrying a Corporate wife, what can go wrong? If you don’t want to stick with her after the contract finishes, you divorce, she gets her bonus and you have no penalty to pay.”
“I know,” growled Blake. He’d read the regulations. She, the bride, could back out too, except if she did, no fantastic bonus and she’d have to endure the humiliation back on Earth of being a failed wife. If he quit before the three years ended, he could pack her off home, but he had to pay a hefty fine, not a great incentive for divorce.
Yuri slapped Blake’s arm again. “You know you’re the last of the previous shipment to get married. We’d all given up hope on you. Of course, the offer is still—”
“No,” snapped Blake. Weeks earlier Yuri had suggested Blake might share his wife, Jen, in a threesome and solve Blake’s sexual frustrations. For Blake, a woman was not for sharing. Lysa, if he married her, would be his and nobody else’s. He lowered his voice. “Thank you, Yuri, but that isn’t for me.”
“Okay, man.” Yuri held up his hands and backed away.
The display flickered and changed. ARRIVED.
The round airlock door began to rotate, sliding slowly sideways and with it came a loud hiss of pressurised air being released. Blake straightened up and took a few steps forward. In a few seconds, he’d meet his bride and find out if he’d made the right choice. She was a gamble not just because of the limited information he’d been given on her but the way she appeared on the comms screen had caught his attention.
The other candidates smiled and beamed at him. They shoved their naked breasts out and ran their fingers around their nipples, their tongues licking about their open mouths as they happily strutted their nudity before the lens. Lysa had sat on a stool with her legs crossed hiding her sex and her eyes stared past the camera into the distance. She’d spoken slowly, expressing her desire to meet the right man and enjoy her time on the colony. It all sound scripted and lacked spontaneity. Why had he kept coming back to her profile? Several times a day he reviewed her short resume and her defiant expression lured him back to gaze upon her.
He recollected the moment he fancied she would be the kind of wife he’d prefer. He’d heard the boldness when he listened to her speak, the sharp tone of voice when asked if she would please her husband. “Of course, I shall be good company,” she’d snapped without looking at the camera. Blake didn’t want a dormouse, somebody who would bore him to death with droning chatter about inconsequential matters. He desired spunk from his wife, and yes, maybe it would land her in trouble from time to time, but he could deal with that as and when necessary.
The typical Corporate wives were like super-models, destined to please and be the perfect wives. He should have picked one like that, but he didn’t. Blake saw past her rigid pose and stilted speech. Lysa possessed natural beauty, the kind he preferred. Sharp hazel eyes, light brown hair, highlighted by golden tresses, which framed her unblemished face and a slender, but athletic build. Although she had tried hard to keep her other features hidden, Blake judged her straight back and curvaceous form to be perfect. He couldn’t resist her and he prayed she would be just as tantalising in the flesh as she had been on the digital display screen. She’d lit some kind of fire in his loins. The sensation returned as he held his breath.
The air lock slid back and a rush of cool air shot out of the dock. A wall of men greeted Blake. Broad shouldered, bag wielding and boot stomping young men. The next batch of new miners. Blake peered between them, trying to catch sight of Lysa. As the men spread out, calling out their names to Yuri, he saw a pair of slender legs. He lifted his sight and stared straight into the face of the woman he’d selected to be his new bride.
The moment the shuttle launched into space, heading for the Outer Rim, nervous energy had filled Lysa. She was either about to make the biggest mistake of her life or enter an exciting stage of her long term plan. The journey had been tedious with nothing to do but wait for the interplanetary slipstream to catapult the shuttle across the solar system. It cut down travel time enormously but still meant two weeks stuck on the shuttle in cramped quarters with a group of miners and the crew.
She’d plenty of time to think, hidden in her bunk. At the top of her rambling thoughts—Blake. The man who’d requested her. She’d received the notification and presented herself at the Corporation’s spaceport on Earth, completed the final preliminaries, then set off for the mining colony and a new life married to a man she’d never met.
It wasn’t her goal—being a miner’s wife, but it was the short-term objective. Less than three years—that was all she needed to survive—then she would be free of him and able to pursue her dream with more dollars in her pocket and the credentials she required. There was no going back, no quitting, she was committed even if she had nightmares and woke up swathed in sweat.
The shuttle docked, a long process of regulating atmospheric pressure with the enclosed sanctuary of the mining colony. The outside air unbreathable and the terrain perilous. Nobody stepped foot outside the colony without wearing protective clothing and an air tank.
After one swift peek out of the window as they came into land, she’d ignored the bleak terrain. Now, her attention focussed on the rotating air lock. The miners charged out of the chamber and huddled around a tall man who waved his hand above his head. Next to him stood another man. She swallowed hard. This had to be Blake.
He didn’t look like his images. No, in real-life he was bigger. A powerhouse of a man and dressed in a short sleeved work suit, she could see his bulging biceps and what must be tattoos. She plucked up the courage to examine his face. Walking forward, she stepped over the rim of the air lock and edged closer. His hair was shaven to a crew cut, nearly clean shaven at the sides with short tufts at the top of his head. He possessed dark hair with matching eyes and thin lips, firmly set together.
Lysa froze to the spot and dropped her heavy bag on the ground. “Blake?”
He nodded and still his features didn’t shift. She held out a hand and it hovered in mid-air between them. He reached out and grasped her hand, squeezing her knuckles until they hurt. “Welcome, Lysa.” He smiled. At last, some kind of recognition. He let go of her and scooped up her bag as if it weighed nothing. “This way.”
They walked side by side, out of the docking area and into the dimly lit corridor. Lysa started. The floor moved beneath them, a travelator. In the distance, a bright light and what she guessed was the main complex. Colony 14 was one of twenty-six mining colonies scattered about the surface of the moon.
Blake cleared his throat. “Good journey?”
“Yes, I suppose. Long,” she replied. The ground rumbled underneath her feet. “Do you mind if we walked. I’ve been cooped up…”
“Sure, no problem.” He strode along next to her.
The light grew closer and she shaded her eyes with a hand. The awkward silence continued. Should she be throwing herself into his arms, expecting a hug and kisses? Apparently not, he’d not touched her. Her belly fizzed with nerves and with it came a wave of nausea.
“I’m glad you arrived safely,” said Blake. “I hope we can get to know each other over the coming days.”
The travelator came to an abrupt end and she stepped off, stumbling forward. Blake grabbed her arm, pulling her back. “Careful. Your legs have been under used for a few weeks. The strength will come back gradually.”
His fingers pinched, not painfully, but the man had a strong grip. “I’m fine,” she mumbled and he let go, they’d arrived at a junction of tunnels.
“Down here. I’ll take you to my habitat pod.” He pointed down another corridor.
“And then?” Lysa knew she had no more than two weeks to accept his proposal—if he intended to continue with the wedding. However, the coordinator of marriages had told her that the number of potential brides who returned unwed had been zero.
They passed several doors and other corridors branching off, forming a network of tunnels. Blake directed her down one. “There are some formalities to complete, then you can rest.”
“Formalities?” She expected some, but the word made her edgy, fearful of the unknown, the strange environment she’d entered, so different to Earth. Even the air had a humid heaviness to it, a reminder how everything was recycled or shipped in on cargo vessels, including herself—a requested bride.
“Best to get it over with.” Blake stopped at a doorway. “Don’t worry.”
She opened her mouth to enquire what he meant, but before she could speak the door of his pod unlocked. He nudged the door with his foot and pressed a hand to her back.
“This is what I call home, not much, but it’s comfortable.” He propelled Lysa across the threshold.
Small. It was to be expected, she’d come prepared for the lack of space. But privacy? One room with no partitions, nowhere to hide or seek sanctuary. The door slammed shut behind her and Blake drew across the bolt. Everything was rudimentary and lacked finesse or decoration. Having doors with hinges instead of automatic sliding ones seemed bizarre and archaic.
In one corner, the galley kitchen with a few cupboards and a stove. No food processor to prepare dishes and cook them. A small table and chairs for dining, a seating area for relaxation with a bank of screens, which made up the comms and entertainment systems—she prayed it had some decent music stored on it. A fair sized bed that dominated the quarters occupied another side. Behind it was a solitary window, thickly glazed and a metre squared.
She touched the cold glass and peered into the darkness. All she could see were a few stars.
“I’m lucky to have a pod on the outer wall of the habitat. Although, there is nothing to look at. The sun barely makes an impression and Jupiter isn’t visible from this side.” Blake rapped the glass with his knuckles. “Sorry to say, nothing to look at other than ice and rock.”
Blake pointed to another corner of the room. “About there. The asteroid crashed into Callisto hundreds of thousands of years ago, buried itself. The minerals inside it are rich and we’ll be drilling for centuries to come. Like all the other mining colonies, it’s not the moon itself which has the resources Earth so desperately needs, but the asteroids that crashed into it.”
Lysa was well aware of the reason the colonies had been built on such an inhospitable terrain. Back on Earth natural resources had been so depleted that off world colonies had to be constructed before there was nothing left. Water remained relatively abundant due to the erection of vast desalination plants, but precious minerals and iron ore were all but extinct on Earth. Technology couldn’t keep up with the loss of resources; new ones had been sought.
The impact on the planet had been far reaching. The rise of powerful corporations had led to the downfall of politics and government. Whoever had the mining rights on the Outer Rim held the power. With the Corporation firmly in control, they dictated the shape of society. Jobs were harder to obtain and the decision had been made—only men could work for the Corporation, no women could become miners, engineers, scientists, pilots… The list was endless. What was left remained the role of cheap labourer, or if lucky, a child carer, nurse or teacher. Women were forbidden from applying for employment at the Corporation, except as wives.
Lysa backed away from the window. The miserable sight of nothingness wasn’t what she wanted to see. What lay beneath the surface remained her interest.
He showed her the closet used for storage. Inside were clothes hanging up and weights for lifting and body building. “You can put your things in here. The other door leads into the bathroom.” He chuckled, “Although there is no bath, just the shower. Water is a premium here on the colony. Would you like a drink?”
Lysa smacked her dry lips together and nodded. “Please. Water will be fine.”
“It doesn’t taste great, all recycled.” He walked over to the kitchen and picked up a beaker. “I would suggest adding a taster.”
“Taster?” she enquired, following him.
“Mint or ginger flavour syrup.” He held up a bottle. “One drop is enough.”
He added a small drop of flavouring to the water and handed the beaker to her. Lysa sniffed the water and wrinkled her nose. It did smell of mint and something else. She took a sip, just enough to wet her lips. Thirst drove her to swallow more and she managed to gulp down the contents in one go. Only after it had slipped down her throat did she notice the brackish taste lingering on her tongue. “Thank you.” She handed the beaker back to Blake.
“You’ll get used to it.”
“I’ve quite a lot to get used to,” she remarked with a wan smile.
Blake stepped towards her and before she backed away, he snatched both of her hands in his. “You’re trembling.”
She couldn’t help it. Since she’d arrived on the colony, she’d been in a constant state of trepidation. He encased her hands in his meaty ones, which were cool and dry. When he pulled on them, she stumbled forward, almost landing against his broad chest.
“I’m going to kiss you,” he stated. He lowered his head and puckered his lips.
Lysa’s thrumming pulse deafened her ears as if all the blood had rushed into her head. Already tense, she waited with curiosity for his touch on her lips. What if he had terrible breath? Would he shove his thick tongue in her mouth? Those doubts seeped into her mind with ease, pushing aside other ones, those she used to help motivate her to comply to his request.
She sniffed, not quite a snivel, and she caught a waft of his masculine scent. She tingled about her nipples and sex, a slight reaction to his aroma and one she couldn’t ignore. It drew out an act of spontaneity. She tilted her head up, rose up on her tiptoes and met his lips.
His moist mouth pressed on her own. A light caress of his lips and nothing else. By the time she registered his presence on her flesh, he’d released her mouth. Inadvertently she sighed. For what little contact she’d experienced, he tasted good. Minty, like her own breath.
He squeezed her hands—she’d forgotten his grip on them. “I’ve made you tremble even more.” Blake grinned.
The heat of blood bloomed across her cheeks. She needed to compose herself. “Would it be all right to freshen up? The shuttle had even less water.”
Blake freed her hands from his trap. “No problem. A good idea, in fact.”
She rummaged in her bag and found a clean set of clothes, sticking to her choice of pants and T-shirt. The bathroom contained a small sink, a toilet and a glazed shower cubicle. To call it a shower was laughable, because unlike on Earth where she would stand under a drenching spout of water, this showerhead sprayed a mist. She undressed and stood in the cubicle, shutting the door behind her. She flicked the switch and a vapour mushroomed about her body.
It took time for the water to condense on her skin and form a sufficient number of droplets for her to cleanse and rinse. Her hair went damp, rather than wet and clung to her face. The glass fogged over and she could no longer see her reflection. It came as a relief, because the sight of her bare mound still made her uncomfortable. She’d shaved it prior to departure and managed to keep it hairless throughout the journey. A compulsory requirement for all Corporate wives—keep themselves naked of hairs ready for their prospective husbands to inspect them.
Inspect. She knew it would happen soon, perhaps today. He’d want to see her in the flesh and not on some screen. She didn’t feel ready, she needed more time to come to terms with her decision. Seeing him, having him touch her, filled her with dread. However, she needed to talk to him and get to know her future husband.
She flicked the water off and pressed the button for the dryer. A blast of cool air hit her body, swirling about her limbs and fluffing up her hair. She rotated, allowing the air to dry her skin. Towels didn’t exist on the colony, what with limited resources for washing clothes, everything had to be dry cleaned.
She dressed, combed down her wild mop of hair and tied it back into a ponytail. Staring in the mirror, she sucked in a lungful and chanted her mantra—you can do this, Lysa, think of your future.
She stepped back into the living area. Blake lay on the bed, reclining. Not now, not yet, please. He sprung up and sat on the edge. “Better?” he asked.
“Cleaner,” she replied. She wasn’t sure about better; that implied something else.
“We need to go.” He stood up.
“Your medical assessment.” Blake grasped the door handle. “Lysa?”
She’d frozen to the spot. “Medical, but I’ve had one, back on Earth before I left.”
“Yes, that was to check you were fit for travelling and not carrying any diseases. This examination is for your sexual health.”
Sexual. Her legs jellified and she wrapped her arms about her chest as if to add an extra layer of protection. She’d pushed aside all thoughts of sex and what was required from her the moment she’d signed up to be a Corporate wife. While others she’d met during briefing sessions spoke eagerly about pleasuring their husbands, she’d kept quiet and ignored the lurid discussion. “It has to be done today?” She sought an escape route.
Blake let go of the handle and walked over to her. “Lysa. This is a compulsory requirement. If you don’t, you’ll be sent back and fined for wasting time. I can’t fuck you until you’ve been given the all clear by the medic.”
Her eyes widened into spoon shapes. How calmly he referred to her impending role in his life. Reality sunk in and smashed its way past her barriers of denial. This marriage wasn’t about love. Not that miners were forbidden from bringing wives to the colony, but love wives were not common. Most miners were encouraged not to marry back on Earth and wait to be provided with a wife, as it guaranteed the Corporation remained in control, and keeping emotions out of relationships made for a less volatile workforce. She knew all of this, yet, she had hid the truth from herself. Fucked. That was all she was to him—a sexual plaything.
He held her chin between a finger and thumb, raising her face and forcing her to look at him. His eyes twinkled under the lights. “Don’t be afraid, Lysa. The sooner we address this the quicker we can get to know each other and marry. You do still want to marry me?” He spoke in a soft tone, almost a low growl. It made her belly fizz and she couldn’t understand why it had that effect on her.
Lysa nodded, unable to articulate the word yes.
“Because if you don’t, you can go back to Earth, but I would be disappointed. I picked you for a reason. There is something about you and I want to know what it is that makes my cock go hard every time I look at you.” He snatched her hand, dragged it lower, past his waist and shoved her palm against his crotch. She felt the hardness under the clothing, the bulge of a cock growing in size—neither inert nor fully erect. What lay there had the potential to be huge. Her skin prickled with fresh perspiration and she rammed her thighs together. He let go, reached out and stroked a finger along her cheek, a caress, almost affectionate in nature, then he snatched it away.
“Let’s go, then,” said Blake.