Lillian Simpson has already made a favorable impression on her Sargent. Smart, capable and sassy, she’s shown him she can be relied on to excel–if she can survive.
“See you after chow,” he whispered.
Lill stared after him, confused. Had that conversation been what she thought? Was he hitting on her? Though she had to admit that Sargent Tab Stevens was the tastiest thing she’d seen since getting to this backwater, she wasn’t sure she wanted to risk military prison, or worse, just for a romp.
She put away her belongings and made her bed. By the time she’d finished, the first recruit reported to her. The 20 minutes until chow were spent in a whirlwind of inspections. When the sargent came back to take them to the mess hall, he flashed a pleased eye around the room, nodding to Lill. She led the group, following the sargent.
“Twenty minutes,” Stevens announced as they hit the door. “Hold up, Simpson.”
She stopped, waiting for him to speak.
“You’ve got a lot on the ball, Simpson. Most of these folks can’t find they damn ass with both hands and a flashlight. You stick with me, you’ll get that promotion in record time. You copy?”
“I hope so, Sargent.”
Flashing a seductive smirk, she strutted into the mess hall, swinging her hips for his benefit. Once more, his booming laugh followed her inside. She ate as far from the other recruits as possible, ignoring most attempts to make friends. One other off-world recruit joined her. The tag above his pocket said, “Hershey.”
“Hey, Simpson. Mind if I sit here? I don’t think I can stand another minute of that crew.”
“Sure, Hershey.” She smiled at the tall, dark haired, olive skinned man.
Hershey was slender of build, wiry muscle. He moved more like a dancer than a soldier.
“I know why I’m here,” Lill grinned at him. “What brings you here? You aren’t like the others.”
“I’m a dancer by profession – was,” he amended. “I got caught after curfew in a compromising position. Apparently they take such things seriously on Wercha.”
“You lady didn’t like what she ended up with?”
“Not exactly. The man I was with seemed perfectly happy. It was his wife who found our antics objectionable.”
“Oh!” Lill choked, trying not to spew crumbs as she laughed. “I’m sorry. Honest, I don’t have a problem with that. Didn’t know he was married?”
Hershey shrugged. “Subject didn’t come up.”
“You could have invited her to join you.”
“That’s what got her riled. And the fact I’m prettier than she is. Most native Wercha females aren’t what you’d call attractive.” He winked, dark eyes dancing with mirth. His face clouded suddenly. “The judge said I was a sexual predator and would have thrown me to the perverts in the prison if my lawyer hadn’t appealed, rather desperately, on my behalf.”
“You were lucky.”
“I suppose. I’m here for life. No chance of redemption. You?”
“Four years for loitering.”
“There ought to be a warning beacon on that planet. I don’t know why there isn’t.”
“They probably tried and got arrested for something.”
Both tried to laugh, but it wasn’t easy under the circumstances.
They finished their meals in silence. Walking back to the barracks, their compatriots walked in pairs, planning to meet after lights out. Lill and Hershey walked together, huddling against the moist chill of the wind.
“If I’ve got to listen to a night of these buggers porking I might be ill,” Hershey looked disgusted. “Mind if I move down by you?”
“I’d love your company. I don’t suppose you like girls, do you?”
He grinned, cocking his head to one side. “I don’t know, I never tried girls. But I’m willing to make an exception if it means we can have some fun and ignore the others.”