...I stepped into the airlock of the station, grinding my teeth. Sharnil would recognize me, at least. Lilin had put me in my raid clothes and added what bits and bobs she could find around the ship to the outfit. Tight black synthleather pants and high red boots of the same were topped with a scarlet ruffled shirt and a black velvalon coat that rattled with buckles and buttons. She’d swiped J’thawn’s favorite hat, the big black one with all the plumes, and Deeg’s earring. I felt supremely ridiculous with those additions. Somewhere she conjured me up a mask, a black thing with one eye covered and lots of red scrollwork.
“Great. You’re sending me into unknown territory with no depth perception.”
“Hush,” Lilin said and tucked an economy-sized canister of barrier foam into my coat pocket. I scowled at her. I wasn’t going to need lubricant until I was back aboard with Sharnil and barrier foam to protect us both should be unnecessary. She raised an eyebrow back. “Orgy, remember? You’ll need it, Cap.”
I waited for the station to admit me. What if it didn’t? What if it left me standing here and then evacuated me with the air when the next ship docked?
I tried not to think about it. Sharnil was somewhere on that station, with big green eyes and soft black hair and the sweetest mouth in six systems. And he wanted me here.
The airlock cycled and I stepped into the cool corridors of the station. Music pulsed from the speakers, a low rhythm that got into the deck-plates and came up through my boots, making me want to stomp around to get it out or let it go higher and set the pace for my hips as I fucked. That had to be the idea.
Men—I knew they were male from smell, not dress, since they seemed to be dressed in everything from body paint to elaborate women’s clothing to monstrously male fantasies—filled the station, drifting past in the corridors in twos and threes. Low voices formed a dull roar that left the music more of a sensation rather than a sound.
Now came the fun part, finding my boy in all this. And not fucking him silly until I got him safely aboard my ship.
A tall man, going soft in the middle, in long gold robes with a gold mask greeted me.
“Hello, darling.” I took a good smell and realized it was the Shelm. He was much more composed than the last time I’d seen him, and much, much friendlier. He gave me a peck of his gold-plated mask lips on my black leather cheek. “Come in, and do have some fun.”
He didn’t even ask who I was. He’d probably invited so many men it didn’t matter. “I’m sure I will,” I said. “Thank you for inviting me.” I didn’t laugh, but it was near thing.
“Oh, not at all.” His hand roamed down the front of my pants and stroked the Rogue. When he woke up under the touch, the Shelm nodded. “Indeed, we’re happy to have you.” He gave me an extra squeeze. “Very happy. I’ll be looking for you in the days to come. I do want a taste of that wicked cutlass you carry, my nicely built pirate. I’d love to be plundered.”
I just gave him a wicked laugh and twirled my mustache. “Hunt me down when you’re free.”
He patted my butt and sent me on my way.
Before I left the ship, we had intercepted an order for a certain sort of booze and I’d considered leaving Lista with orders to make the run. It would give them an excuse to pick me up. I’d changed my mind and they were still in opposing orbit around the gas giant. I wanted them handy. Now, all I had to do was find Sharnil, endure a station full of non-stop orgy, and get us out to the delivery docking ring before anyone noticed what we were up to.
I swallowed hard against a dry mouth. This was the most dangerous thing I’d ever done. The Great Houses don’t much like independent operators like myself. They’d prefer all shipping was under their control. And they sure don’t like folks who steal their ill-gotten pretties, be it money or only sons. I imagined the price on my head, which wasn’t much, glowing like a jackpot holo over a slot machine, and clicking upward by the second just like those holos, too...