Using Fejo: Chapter 10

Vanessa woke with a start, bolting upright. Her gaze darted around as she waited for the fog of sleep to clear. Eventually she recognized where she was, although she couldn’t remember falling asleep. She lifted the covers and was relieved to see she was still fully clothed in her outfit from the day before.

As quietly as she could, she snuck out of the bed and tiptoed to the ledge, then angled her body over the railing, trying to see the couch below. She couldn’t quite make it out.

She pricked her ears but couldn’t hear anything at all. Had he left? Was he working again? Memories of the previous night seeped into her mind. He’d massaged her. And she’d let him.

At the time, she’d convinced herself she had to let him do something so he wouldn’t get suspicious, and a massage had seemed innocent enough. But in truth, she liked it when he touched her. Liked it far too much.

It’d been the best damn massage she’d ever received too. Not that she’d had very many in her life. The man knew how to work those hands. They’d relaxed her right into the deepest sleep she’d had in a while.

No noises sounded from anywhere in the room, so she tiptoed to the lower level and peeked at the couch. Empty. Disappointment had her nibbling on her lip. As soon as she recognized the emotion, she pinched herself. No! Bad Vanessa!

Only a couple of days left. She couldn’t let herself start to actually like Fejo. If she’d kept to a normal schedule and had fallen asleep at night, that meant she had two days until she disappeared from his life forever.

Last night he’d tried to get to know her like she’d asked. Fat lot of good that plan had been. Keeping his sexual advances at bay by asking for them to talk more had seemed like a good idea at the time, but the more she talked to Fejo, the more she softened toward him. And the guiltier she felt.

The urge to admit her plan clawed at her insides. He was a nice guy. He’d understand. They could part ways as friends with mutual respect.

But what if he didn’t take it well? Just because she hadn’t seen the cutthroat captain side of Fejo yet didn’t mean it didn’t exist. What if she told him and he decided to keep her here? Vanessa sank onto the couch and nibbled her thumbnail. No. She had to keep lying to him. She couldn’t take any chances.

She jumped when the doors slid open.

“Good morning, gorgeous,” Fejo boomed, his boisterous tone grating on her conflicted brain. “I’ve brought you food.”

Although normally that sentence wouldn’t interest her much, she spotted the same pastry she’d had the night before and, despite herself, her mouth watered. She joined him at the small table set into the left wall and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. Fejo poured her a steaming cup of some forest-green beverage and set a heaping pile of pastries in front of her. She glanced up at him with a raised brow. “Are you trying to fatten me up?”

He took a sip of his own steaming beverage and grinned over the rim. “The more of those you eat, the more often I get to see you lick those delectable fingers.”

She smothered a grin and shook her head at him before taking a tentative sip of the beverage. It wasn’t bad, but it was interesting. She couldn’t decide if she liked it quite yet. It was like a very strong chai mixed with…salt. The combination of sweet and salty evened out the flavor, but it would still take some getting used to. She liked it better paired with the pastry.

“So how do I wash up?” she asked after doing her best to not lick her fingers.

He nodded over his shoulder to a corner of the room that was oddly empty. He pressed a few buttons on a control panel next to him, and a toilet and shower enclosure slid out from the wall just before two walls extended from the floor to the ceiling, creating a small yet functional corner bathroom. “Would you like me to unpack for you while you shower?”

Her heartbeat picked up speed, but she somehow forced herself not to gasp “No” right away. “That’s alright. I’d like to unpack later.” She hadn’t yet decided where the best place to hide her letters would be.

Fejo shrugged and stuffed three of the pastries into his mouth, one after the other. She didn’t think she’d ever seen a person eat so much. He did have the bulk to burn it off, though.

“Would you like to get that tour of the ship today?” he asked after swallowing an impressive mouthful.

“That’d be great,” she said, trying to sound upbeat. She should find some excuse to stay in the room alone instead, but nothing sprung to mind. Pleasant and distant.

He stared at her for a long moment as though he wanted to say something, but kept his mouth shut.

“What?” she asked while standing and crossing to the enclosed bathroom.

“I have a few chores to get done first, and I was going to offer to give you an orgasm or maybe a kiss before I left, but you don’t seem to want my help in that department.”

Since she was already facing away from him, she felt safe rolling her eyes. “You’re right. I don’t want your help with that.”

“Yet,” he added from right behind her. She jumped and spun, and he threw an arm around her waist. “You’re already bottled up so tightly. I’m confident you’ll need to pop soon. And I’ll be there when you do.”

UnlikelyNot a chance. A number of other snarky remarks sprung to her lips, but she ground her teeth together to keep them from falling out of her mouth and instead forced a smile and said nothing.

He furrowed his brows and tipped his head, studying her. “You are a delightful mystery, Vanessa from Earth.”

“Yeah, that’s what all the boys back home say. I’m so mysterious, they can barely keep themselves from offering up orgasms whenever I’m around.” She slammed her mouth closed with an inward groan and awaited his reaction.

He threw his head back and let out a wonderful rumbling laugh. Her irritation at his cocky personality lessened and a smile pulled at her lips. He was just so damn likeable. And she was having a harder and harder time reminding herself to be annoyed by him.

Before she had time to react, he leaned forward and pressed a quick kiss to her lips, then crossed to the doorway. “Wash up. I’ll be back soon.”

Licking her lips, she squashed the lingering disappointment at the briefness of his kiss. Then she recalled her need to hide her letters, and her skin prickled with anxiety. Scanning the room, she tried to calm her mind. Where could she stow them that he wouldn’t check? How much time did she have left anyway?

“When is our first stop by the way?” she blurted, making him pause inside the doorway. It was a natural question, right? She sounded natural asking it, didn’t she? Vanessa tried to keep the anxiety and eagerness making her palms sweaty from showing in her expression.

“Tomorrow,” he answered, leaning against the metal frame of the door and sliding his gaze over her as though pleased to have another moment to admire her.

What? That was too early, wasn’t it? Or had they been in space for longer than she’d thought? What if they arrived too early and Vitash wasn’t prepared? Panic tightened her throat. She rubbed her slick palms over the rumpled fabric of her pants. “Where are we stopping?”

Fejo peered at her face. His nostrils widened. Shit. Could he smell how much she was sweating? Did fear put out a scent?

“Innaka Port.” He lifted a brow and took a few steps toward her. “Are you alright, lovely?”

Not the right port! Not the right port! Her head was spinning, and with a start she realized she wasn’t breathing. Sucking in a large breath, she pleaded with her mind to get over the shock faster. “Yes. Sorry. That drink made me feel a little weird. Hot.”

She locked her knees to keep them from shaking and tried to control her breathing. What the hell was happening? The schedule had clearly said the Lentri Port was their first stop. She had to get it together. This was just a snag in the road, but if she fell apart, he’d figure out something was wrong.

What if they were merely making an extra stop on the way? Lentri Port might still be on the schedule, and even if she didn’t show up on time, Vitash might wait a few days for her. All she had to do was calm herself down, act like a normal person for five fucking minutes, and get some answers out of Fejo.

His brows furrowed in worry and he took another step closer. “Should I take you to the doctor? Do you feel sick?”

“No, no. I’m fine. Just felt off for a minute. Sometimes it happens when I drink coffee too. Was there caffeine in that?” She crossed to the table and sat down again. Why was it so hard to act casual?

Fejo crossed to her, sitting down opposite her, taking her chin in his hand. He angled her face this way and that, inspecting her pupils the way a doctor might. Were they dilated?

An idea struck. “And, to be honest, going to an alien port makes me nervous. But I really want to push past it and see some of the cool things you mentioned. Is there any way for me to learn about all of our stops? It might help me feel better if I knew more about each place. I could decide which ones I want to visit and which I don’t, you know?”

He gave her gave her chin a final squeeze and smiled gently. “I don’t see why not.” He rose and rummaged through an ornately carved cabinet on the far right wall. “I had to change our itinerary yesterday. One of the clients I’m working for needs their goods more urgently than they originally planned. I’m sorry to say we had to cut a few stops. Including Renchuth Port. I apologize if that’s one of the ones you were excited to see.” He straightened, pulling a reading glass and small screen with him. He held up the glass. “Can you read our writing yet?”

She shook her head, trying to swallow and lubricate her dry throat. He typed something into the screen and handed both devices to her. Quickly setting the items on the table to conceal how shaky her hands were, she stared at the scrolling script.

He hunched over her back, placing one palm on the table, and pointed at a horizontal list with his finger. “This is a list of our stops. If you press on one, it’ll give you more information about the port and what kind of things are offered there.” He showed her what he meant by pressing a short name on the screen. Lines of text lit up.

She held the reading glass over the text, and the words transformed into English.

“I can’t wait to hear which ones look the most interesting to you. I should be back in just a few hours.” She heard him say a few other things, but she was too focused on the list of stops to comprehend his words.

For long moments after the door zipped closed, she sat frozen, unseeing.

Their stop to Lentri Port had been cut.

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