“Please, just don’t...go too far,” Marta said, tremulously. “These people are clients,
not friends, not strangers. Some of them wouldn’t understand.”
“We’ll see,” I said, fully intending not to go too far, but I couldn’t help ratcheting
up her anxiety another notch.
We went back in to the party and found a knot of people gathered around the door
where Darlene Collins had entered the room. Someone had put a glass of champagne
in her hand, and servers moved through the room handing them out to everyone present.
Marta and I took one each, and when the toast was spoken, Marta held hers up, shouted
“Prost!” and downed it in one go.
Once the furor had died down, we finagled our way through the crowd and managed to
get close enough to Darlene to get a few words in. “Congratulations,” I said, offering
my unadorned right hand for a shake. “You’ve done some amazing things with that material.”
“Ah, yes, well, I couldn’t have done it without you two. Speaking of which, Marta,
have you given Mr. Sarenti his bonus?”
Marta nodded, a little too enthusiastically. “Ja, ja. He is wearing them.”
The exchange puzzled me for a moment, until I realized she was talking about the
suit. “It was very generous of you,” I said, giving her a nod. “I know how much they
“Use them in good health.” She gave a wink. “And be sure to have Marta show you everything
it can do.”
“No doubt of that,” I said.
Marta let out a whoop of laughter that was cut short by a hiccup.
“Are you alright?” I said, quietly, as we drifted away from the knot of people surrounding
“You seem a little tipsy. Maybe it’s time we go?”
“But you haven’t done anything yet!”
“I don’t want to take advantage of you. Come on.” I led her to the door and out to
the elevator. Once inside, the mirror-polished surface of the door allowed me to
see her pout.
“Are you getting bratty on me?” I asked, turning to look her in the eye.
“I thought you were going to use the controller again.”
“What...like this?” I made a gesture over the controller and her blouse started sliding
up her arms and into her corset as if there was a reel inside, winding the fabric
together. She gasped and put her hands over her chest where the corset was barely
covering her nipples. The blush that had been only playing over her cheeks now came
out in full force. I pulled a floppy, rubbery square out from the back of her corset,
rolled it up, and stuck it in my suit pocket. That square had been her blouse, but
now it was just a lump of inert nanomachines in their “at rest” state. “Keep up the
attitude, and you’ll get more of the same,” I said.
“Ooh, do you promise?” she asked with a giggle. The doors opened, letting us out
into the hotel lobby.
“I thought we were going to your room?” she asked, starting to pout again.
“No, you need a little air, I think, and a little exercise. Burn off some of that
alcohol.” I steered her out the door. It was only a bit past sunset, and the sidewalks
were still busy with tourists and late commuters. We walked down to the corner and
across the street into a beautiful public garden full of broad walkways lined with
As we walked past a little carousel whose clientèle included children and adults
in equal measure, I leaned in and spoke softly. “I don’t want to take advantage of
you while your judgment is impaired. I want you fully awake and aware of what I’m
“Ach, I’m not that drunk.”
“I’ve never been drinking with you. I need to be sure.”
“Alright then, let’s just walk—hand in hand, as if we were lovers.”
We weren’t alone. The gardens were full of couples out enjoying the dusky evening,
watching the city come alive with light and sound. Marta’s hand was soft and warm
in mine, if a little sweaty, and I realized as we were walking that the simple action
prevented me from accessing the controller.
When I slipped my hand out of hers to scratch the back of my head, I heard a slight
gasp, and I knew that she’d been holding my hand on purpose to prevent me from using
the controller. She tugged on her corset, trying to keep it from slipping down.
She was giving me a brave face with her teasing and bravado, trying to show me that
she wasn’t afraid of what I could do with her little machine, when in fact she was
turned on by the risk. I decided to remind her of exactly where the equities lay.
I moved my hand to her hip and steered her in the direction of one of the sculptures
surrounded by a grassy lawn, and stopped to admire it. I dropped my hand to her posterior,
eliciting another sharp intake of breath. Using my own body for cover, I lifted the
back of her skirt and sought out the slit in her panties, and the sensitive skin
revealed there. Her high heels and leggy build made it easy for me to reach without
having to bend down.
She clamped her legs together, pinning my hand in place, but then relaxed as I twiddled
my fingers between her thighs. “Frank,” she said, in a voice so faint it was no more
than a breath, “I’m not drunk anymore.”
“That’s good,” I said. I could hear it in her voice; she was, indeed, sober again,
or at least sober enough to judge rationally what we were about to do. “Do you still
want to do this?” I asked.
I gave her another stroke with my finger. It wasn’t really fair but it seemed like
the thing to do. “You trust me?”
“Good. Then I want you to walk back to the hotel. I’ll be behind you a little ways.
Don’t look back, don’t run, just walk straight to the hotel.”
She nodded and gave me her purse, but didn’t move until I withdrew my hand from her
skirt and gave her a little pat on the backside. “Go.”