THE HONOURABLE MEMBER
Mal is the Member of Parliament for Harvest, representing also Greenleaf, Triumph, Silverhold.
Summerfair – a moon of Shadow
Terraformed (year): 2404
“That’s the last of the paperwork, Derry. You’re officially in charge of Alleyne Reynolds Transport.’
‘Except for Zoe and Perse, and Hope and Beege.”
Mal laughed. “Perse is more innerested in his pretty new wife these days and the women are all off in the Black often as not. You’re here, in the world at the centre of the web. An’ without yer dad lookin over yer shoulder.”
Derry grinned at his father.”‘S’okay, Capt’n. I’l cope just fine. You can go off and run the Verse and I’ll take care of the family fortune.’
‘Shiny. I go to Londinium and tangle with a bunch Core zang shang liu and folks in shiny hats. You get the fun stuff.’
‘Bills of lading. Ninety day receivables. Overdrafts. Insurance claims. And all that fuss on Hera about the value added taxes.’
‘I just wanna git one change. Makin salvage legal an respectable. There are more lost Arks out there ripe for plucking.’
‘Capt’n, you’re a pirate at heart, y’know?’
‘Pirate! I’m insulted , boy! Respectable family man, interplanetary businessman, homeowner, rancher.’
‘And Member of Parliament for Harvest; some change for a guy who spent most of his life opposing the Alliance.’
‘Still don’t think I were on the wrong side. It’s just time to start working from inside. Simon makes some good points. You can only fight injustice for so long before you have to start preventin it fore it gets entrenched.’
“He’s still looking for the people who hurt River, isn’t he?’
‘He always will. He loves Davy and Ziggy, but his first love will always be his sister.’
‘But she’s okay now.’
Mal sighed. ‘No, she’s not. She functions. She’s a ruttin genius an all she does is function. She’s our best pilot . We’re a successful company cause she can set up schedules better an faster than any other transport company. She can spot a bad deal from the people involved faster than you can from the numbers. An’ your real good with the numbers, boy, don’t ever think I don’t preciate it. But she’s not a whole person. She’s a real person, but she’s missing.’
“I know you wish she had a sweetheart — a steady man. She’s got a lot of followers.’
‘Her steady man is her brother. I ain’t criticizin.’
‘When do you and Mum leave?”
‘When she decides Serenity is ready. She crawled under that engine last week and I’ve barely seen her since.’
‘I can’t believe you’re not takin Big Boy or Inara Serra. They’re both newer and more reliable.’
‘Nuthin more reliable than a Firefly ,son. Keep her…..an she’ll ……….’
Derry sighed. ‘Yeah, okay, we got half a dozen Fireflies all runnin on the Rim and yeah, they keep on keeping on but what kind of impression with that old…’ he caught himself.’ will Serenity make in the Core?’
“The right one. Us Rim folk don’t drop something because it’s not fashionable. If it worked, we keep it. An it’ll remind them that not all the Verse is as pretty an rich an hygienic as their Core.”
‘And that some people still are Independent.’
‘And a lot of people still are Independent.’
At dinner that evening, Kaylee announced that Serenity was ready for her voyage to Londinium.
“Are you ready too,Kaylee?’ said Perse. “Do you have all the fripperies you’ll need as the spouse of an important Member of Parliament?’
‘River, Zoe and I went shoppin an got me a some nice dresses and suits, but I’m gonna shop when we get there’. The mechanic’s eyes glowed at the thought.”I know there’ll be lotsa fancy for me there. All kinds pretties.’
Perse’ little wife said,” I hear turquoise is the fashion this year.’ Every one looked at her in surprise. She blushed. ‘It was on the cortex. And very high heels on boots.’
She was the youngest at the table, with nearly 60 years between her and her husband. Even Ziggy, son of Simon Tam and David Chen was five years older at 25, and was due home from Academy later in the week. His fathers were working this week on Greenleaf, running a cosmetic surgery clinic as par of a burn unit there following volcanic eruptions. ART had done well transporting terraforming equipment to control the eruptions.
That work had led to Mal standing for Parliament. Concern over slapdash terraforming, from overlooked endemic bacterial infections like Bowden’s Disease on Paradiso, that Mal could remember from his real ‘pirate’ days , to the sloppy terraforming that had let to the volcanoes that killed thousands and maimed millions, the Rim was ready to pass over the deadbutts that had sat too comfortably in the Green Chamber too long. The Alliance parties had lost their Rim voters in favour of a loose organization of Browncoats, small business interests, landowners, and unionized workers. They had nearly as much in common as they had differences of opinion. The party formally proclaimed itself the Independent Party but was usually called the Herd o’Cats.
Serenity stood out in the Londinium spaceport. As if they were dowagers pulling their skirts away from a filthy beggar in disgust, the gleaming ships of the Core left a wide space around the elderly tramp freighter.
Mal grinned in satisfaction.
Even the Independents had arrived in more respectable style, on passenger liners or small newer craft. They might represent the downtrodden Rim, but it cost money to run for office and most of the Herd o’Cats were prosperous traders, ranchers or merchants. And lawyers, lots of lawyers.
‘Stands to reason, Mal,’ said Kaylee. ‘You wanna write a law that sticks, you need someone who can put it down proper and legal. No mistakes.’
‘Unintended consequences, you mean? Okay, but those law guys are too weasely for my liken.’
‘C’mon, Mal, Derry took a bunch law at Academy.’
‘Mostly commercial! But yeah, he put a lot into my Bill.’
Mal was wishing Simon was on board to fix his tie. The loose bow was stylish on the Rim worlds, but he was not sure if it was still the fashion here on Londinium.
He shook his head, and felt a lock of his silver hair fall over his forehead. Why is the seven hells of Mithra did he care what was fashionable? He was here to work, not be a a pretty boy dancing for the lords and ladies of the Core. He checked his look in the mirror on the hotel door. Slim cut khaki pants with a red stripe up the sides, red and pink plaid silk waistcoat and red silk tie, gleaming white shirt. And an evening coat, in fine lamb leather, proudly brown.
He checked his teeth and ran a comb through his hair and beard.
“Good as it gets,’ he said aloud. He suppressed the thought ‘ruggedly handsome.”
There was a rustle from the bedroom, where Kaylee was dressing for the reception with help from a woman supplied by the hotel concierge. She had been out most of the afternoon having her hair done at a spa, returning less than an hour ago for a hurried supper, during which her expensively styled hair stayed wrapped in a light satiny bag to preserve its intricacies.
Mal grinned, thinking perhaps that he was not as vain as he feared.
The rustle was Kaylee, fully dressed and decorated for the reception. Mal was stunned.
She wore a pink gown, and the colour picked up the pink in Mal’s waistcoat. At fifty-eight, her shoulders and neck remained smooth as a girl’s. The dress was cut very low in the current neo-cretan style, soft folds starting below her shoulders just barely covering her nipples but baring most of her breasts. The sleeves of the gown by contrast covered even her hands, ending in fingerless gloves. The gown clung to her slim curves and Mal decided that he had never appreciated the perfection of his wife’s ass.
She wore her reddish brown hair up, with tiny pink and gold jewels holding the waves in place. There was no attempt in her maquillage to hide her age, and she bore herself with dignity.
Then she spun around and giggled, and Mal saw the half dressed teenager explaining the engine problem she had spotted while tumbling his useless mechanic nearly forty years before, her confidence just slightly marred by concern that she would not be taken seriously.
“Darlin’. Ain’t you just a vision.”
‘Ain’t we just.’ Kaylee turned to the aide. ‘Make a capture of us, please? I wanna show Zoe and Sou-fen when we get home.’
They posed and Kaylee gathered up her wrap, a chiffon confection that covered her hair and shoulders. It looked like a jeweled cobweb, but included a heating device that would keep the wearer warm in a snowfall if necessary.
Mal leaned in and kissed her. ‘Ni hao mei, xin gan. You smell wonderful too. Are you sure you wanna go to this shindig? We could just stay here.’
“Nope. I wanna show everyone how nice I clean up. An I wanna show you that I can be a lady, at least for one night.’
“Bring your meds, Mal. Show me a good time this evening and I’ll make sure your night is memorable.” She stood on tiptoe and licked his throat just below the beard on his chin.
Mal sighed deeply.” Damn, woman, you will the death of me.’
“An you will die with a smile on your face, Malcolm, But first take Cinders to the ball.’
At first they circulated together, speaking to other Herd Members and their spouses, but as Mal was introduced to influential lobbyists and possible allies from the six other parties represented in Parliament, Kaylee lost interest in smiling and being charming. With two other spouses, she escaped to the buffet table and was choosing pastries and fruit, when a tall, stout older man bowed to her.
‘I believe we met briefly many years ago on Persephone. I am Sir Warwick Harrow.”
Kaylee looked puzzled. ‘Oh! The cows!’
Sir Warwick laughed. ‘Exactly, my lovely cows, you remember.’
‘It took near on as much time to get Serenity cleaned out as it took to get them to Jiangzin. Yeah, I remember them. Cows is nice. They were dairy beeves, eh?’
‘Yes, my customers used them to set up a very profitable yogurt and cheese operation of which I was a partner. Captain Reynolds did me a great favour moving those animals.’
‘You done him a big favour, makin sure he weren’t killed. I owe you for that.’
‘Ah, because you married him. And then there were the cryopods.’
‘We don’t talk about that job much. Goin on thirty years now. The kids are all grown. You got family, Sir Warwick?’
‘A son with a wife and six grown children. Fourteen great-grandchildren so far. We expect our first great-great-grandchildren later this year. A daughter who is still arguing with her wife who will have babies. Neither I think, since they have been arguing for fifteen years.’
Kaylee laughed. ‘Best to just do it, if yer gonna. Are you here for the Parliament?’
“Yes, I am a Member of the Upper Chamber, by right of birth. We have very few elected representatives from Persephone here, and most of those are appointed by the trading Guilds.’
‘I guess you won’t have much in common with the Herd then.’
‘On the contrary, Ms. Reynolds, inheriting my Seat means I do not have to depend on the goodwill , money or opinions of others. I am a Border Lord, and while for the most part I appreciate the ‘peace, order and good government’ the Alliance has brought to the Border and to some extent to the Rim, I remain unconvinced that centralized authority is the best way forward.’
Kaylee knew that the nomination had cost Mal considerable, even though he was effectively acclaimed once he was chosen as candidate by the Independents. She could understand how an inherited position could mean greater freedom than the compromises Mal had so hated making to win his Seat. She nodded.
‘Of course, ‘ Sir Warwick continued,” Most of the Upper Chamber are brainless upper-class twits. I am an exception.’
It took a second for Kaylee to understand the big man’s expression. She burst into laughter. ‘You’re okay, Sir Warwick. Have one of these strawberries.”
‘I would enjoy the pleasure of a dance, if you would permit me, Ms. Reynolds.’
‘Please call me Kaylee, an it’s Kaylee Frye anyways. The kids got their daddy’s name.’
Sir Warwick led her onto the dance floor as the orchestra played a medley of ballads in the Taiwan Retro / K-pop style.
Mal was starting to relax. During his campaign,Kaylee and David had had a running bet on how long it would be before he punched a voter. Kaylee lost, not believing he would actually make it to Election Day. But he had learned how to nurse a drink and keep his head, though at last Mal got into a fight with an Vanguard Party scrutineer who had been rejecting workers at a linen factory, claiming they did not have proper residency. While the scrutineer was unconscious the entire factory staff were able to vote, and the poll went to the Independents.
Mal had spoken briefly with the Party leader, Felicia Hassan, a woman younger than Kaylee, with a ferocious legal mind and a background in Treaty Negotiation. She had earned her fame bringing Rim worlds into the Alliance as equals rather than the colonies many Alliance leaders thought they should be.
He had shared a glass with several colleagues from worlds circling Blue Sun, neighbours of Highgate. They were becoming a loose coalition within the Herd, perhaps even a caucus.
The Member from Eavesdowne on Persephone turned out to be one of the children from the polyamorous marriage of Mal’s old acquaintance, Badger. He was probably not Badger’s get, being too old at about forty, tall and blond. As they compared family histories, he explained that he was brother to Vicky Pollard, who had travelled with the Serenity crew nearly thirty years previously, and been kidnapped along with Emma Washburne by minions of the criminal, Adlai Niska.
‘What is lil Vicky up to these days? Emma and her lost track when Emma went off to piloting school.”
‘She’s still runnin the brothels for the family. Started out learning the business when she was still in primary levels. Took over managin a house on her own when she was thirteen. She finished her Twelve but really all she knows is the sex trade. Amazin how borin she can make it sound.’
A slim arm snaked around Mal’s chest and he breathed a cloud of rose perfume.
‘Hi Captain,’ murmured a tall redhead.
Mal smiled in delight. “Beege! What are you doin on Londinium? I thought you were researchin on Sihohn.’
‘I had to visit my publisher and get some contract detailth ssstraightened out. The cortex pubs were being under-reported and Black Pawn wanted to give me more money’.
‘You are a writer, miss?’ Badger’s son said, bowing over her hand.
‘I should introduce you. My daughter, Beege Reynolds, Mr. Sudir Pollard of Persephone. Mr. Pollard is in the entertainment business.’
‘My family is. I am the elected Member for Eavesdowne. Beege Reynolds. Your name is familiar somehow.’
‘I write as B. G. Rreynolds. Perhaps you have rrread some of my work.’
‘Of course, I read Elements of Honour and, umm, Purple Don’t Suit, which was completely different. But I liked them both. Will the book you are researching be like one of those?’
‘Not weally. Most people took Elements for science fiction and Purple as a cwime thriller. I’m working on a history of the Rrim rrright now, tracing the arrival of the Arrrks and how the emigres sprread from the Core outwards.’
‘Mr. Pollard, I ain’t seen my Baby Girl for goin on six month. Can I steal her away for her mum and me to talk?’
“Captain Reynolds, I understand completely. Please greet your wife on behalf of my father and our family.’
Pollard bowed gracefully over Beege’s hand, then turned off to speak to another MP, a tiny dark woman in a brown silk dress with a chiffon coat cut much the same as Mal’s duster.
‘I’ll have to talk to her in a bit, Beege.’ her father murmured,’ That’s Ada Wylie, member for Goldengrain and one of the few survivors of Sturges.’
‘Mum lost her bwother at Sturges, didn’t she?’
‘ Granpa Frye’s eldest boy by his first wife. Do you have some sort of wrap?’
‘Kaywinnet, I have a surprise for you.’
Kaylee felt her husband’s approach but did not turn. ‘Malcolm! You promised we could stay for at least two hours…OH!’ She squealed, seeing her daughter unexpectedly.
Beege was enveloped in Kaylee’s embrace, getting a face full of elaborately styled hair and jewellery, as she towered over her mother.
Grinning, Mal turned and bowed to Sir Warwick. ‘Good ta see ya, Warwick. Got any noisome and noisy cargo for me t’night?’
‘You’ve carried several scented and silent cargos since those cows, Mal. But we never forget our first, do we. Who is this lady Ms. Kaylee is attempting to crush?’
‘Our daughter, B. G. Reynolds. Beege, say hello to an old and valued friend, Sir Warwick Harrow. He saved my life once and our business several times. Actually, I think you met Beege when she was small.’
‘I remember your little boy. You brought him along once when we were planning routes for the peppers and herbs distribution. He would have been about eight and determined to stare down every man he met.’
‘That’s our Derry. We left him in charge of the planetary side of the business when I got sent here.’Beege was still toddlin’ then.’
‘And now you are full grown.’ Warwick gave the tall redhead an appreciative look.
Kaylee removed her pink gauze shawl and adjusted it around her daughter’s shoulders, covering her bosom, fully exposed in her neo-cretan gown. ‘You look cold, 女儿. ‘
‘Mummy!’ but she left the shawl in place.
‘Since the ladies seem to have a lot to discuss, I wonder if you know Ms. Wylie? I have some caucus business to discuss with her but she has been avoiding setting a meeting with me.’
‘I want to talk to her myself. Kaylee, Beege, we’re gonna go earn our fat government paycheques. Don’t talk to any strange men.’
The women snorted in unison.
‘Why don’t I get any respect from my women?’ Mal moaned with a grin of his own.
Pollard had left Ada Wylie’s company and she was heading purposefully for the buffet table, when Mal and Harrow caught up with her.
“Ms. Wylie,’ said Sir Warwick, ‘The hero of Sturges, I believe.’
She looked at him stone faced. ‘The survivor of Sturges.’
‘Mal Reynolds, m’am, late of the 57th Overlanders.’
‘Very late. War’s been over for near on fifty years.’
‘Yes, m’am. Not forgotten though.’
‘Sir Warwick Harrow, m’am. My apologies. No insult was intended.’
‘None taken. Just like to keep sentimentality out of it. If a soldier thinks nostalgically of the war, he weren’t in any fightin, ask me. What was your regiment, Harrow?’
‘I’m no soldier, then or now. I spent my war on the supply side. Farmer and rancher providing food for the troops.’
Wylie remained stonefaced.
‘Ms. Wylie, I’ve been wantin to talk to you about a Bill I intend to introduce once we sit. I understand that your support can make a big difference in how a Bill is received by the Party brass.’
‘I have friends. I have followers. And I have an audience that listens and votes.’
‘I’ve heard your wave programme from time to time. I find I disagree with you as often as not, but I like the way you make your arguments.’
Wylie grinned. ‘Well, that’s better than flattery. Too many suckups ’round here. Why should I support your Bill?’
‘I want one simple thing, to make it legal to salvage abandoned ships, whether in the Black or dirtside. Salvage was a respected and normal part of marine law on Earth That Was. I believe that making it legal again, especially when the wreck is one of the many Arks still not found, will benefit mankind more than chasing off salvagers as pirates.’
‘You have a transport company, Captain Reynolds. I assume that you have done a few salvage operations yourself? ‘
‘That would be illegal as the law stands now, Ms. Wylie.’
‘And pirates don’t get elected to Parliament.’
‘Do you see a parrot on my shoulder?’ Mal’s cocky grin had its usual effect. The small woman smiled back.
‘Do you dance, Captain Reynolds? I believe they are about to play a jitterbug. Wo nen qin ni tiao wu ma…? ‘
Mal bowed and led Wylie to the dancefloor. The dance was freeform and they quickly found how to communicate. Wylie was small and slim and Mal found it easy to lift her in some of the more athletic moves of the dance.
Both were breathing a bit heavy when they returned to Sir Warwick’s side.
He presented each with a glass of shimmerwine, it’s rosy sparkle as pretty as it was refreshing.
‘You youngsters looked as if you were enjoying yourselves,’ he remarked.
Wylie looked confused.
‘Warwick is a Border Lord,’ explained Mal. ‘Don’t let his youthful complexion fool ya, I reckon he has a good twenty years on us.’
‘Closer to thirty, Mal.’ sighed Warwick. ‘ I missed some treatments during the War, and look older than a Core resident would at my age, but I caught up afterwards.’
‘Using the money you made supplying provisions, I take it.” said Wylie.
‘Yes. I will not apologize for that, m’am.’
‘Good. Better to be straight any time. And thank you for the wine.’
‘Do you have a project for this Session, Ms. Wylie.?’
‘Call me Ada, both of you. Yes, I’m Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. I hear there is a move afoot to take pensions off the indexed list.’
‘What does that mean?’ Mal asked.
‘When the War ended there were a lot of troopers, on both sides, who needed continuing care. More on the Independent side than Alliance, because, well, because we lost and usually primary care was not available.’
Mal remembered again the troops who died waiting after the ceasefire and before the Peace. He only thought of them once or twice a day now, and was ashamed that it was so little.
Ada was still explaining.’ Soldiers could get on the pension rolls for about a year after the Peace, if it seemed that even with medical intervention, they would be unable to support themselves. Again, a lot of Independents were overlooked, either because they would not take money from the Alliance or because they never heard of the programs.
‘But a lot did sign up. They have to submit to examination every five years or on demand. Another reason why Browncoats are under-represented. Not enough doctors to do the exams. But there are a lot of Browncoats on the pension. About 16% of the pensioners, actually.’
Sir Warwick said, ‘The pensions for Browncoats can’t be popular in the Core.’
‘Most of the taxes that run social programs come from the Core. Not only are they more prosperous– no blood from a stone–but it is easier to collect taxes at the Core.’
Mal and Sir Warwick smuggled a glance over the tiny woman’s head.
‘And the Government has decided that the pensions, which have been pinned to the cost of living since the War ended in 2511 , will now become a fixed amount. And this will also apply to new pensioners.’
‘New pensioners? We’re not at war,’ said Sir Warwick.
‘We are.’ said Ada. ‘The battle to bring the Rim worlds further into the Alliance continues. Most of it is commercial, economic. Making sure that Rim worlds get the infrastructure they need to become self-supporting in the first instance and then to export their special products as they find outside markets.
‘But the Alliance , the Government no matter what party holds office, still needs troops for police actions against rogue governors, criminal cartels and of course, pirates.’
” I can see how my salvage Bill could work with your pensioners’ needs, Ada.’ said Mal. ‘I’ve just thought of it, so it’s pretty rough, but there would be fewer wounded personnel if there were fewer criminals to chase. And one way of reducing crime is to make the criminal action legal. So turn those pirates into salvagers, by making salvage legal, and you cut down on the number of police actions with casualties.’
Warwick interjected, ‘And if the salvagers are then reporting their finds and allowed to keep a claim to the wreck, they can salvage the wreck more thoroughly and carefully, than if they are doing a cut and run illegal operation. And the salvagers would be registered…’
“They are now, ‘ said Wylie.
‘The few legal ones are, but the fees are high,’ said Mal, thinking of the Ark that Serenity had found and plundered before being chased away by more vicious crews. That loss still rankled twenty years later. ‘I’d want to have the salvage licenses a lot cheaper, making up the revenues with a larger number of salvage ships.’
‘And tax on the salvaged goods,’ added Wylie. ‘There are still hundreds of wrecks at Sturges. Too many even for the bodies to be recovered by federal crews. But I’ve seen reports of bodies being found floating free. The federal forces believe they were jettisoned by pirates chopshopping the wrecks.’
‘Then a bounty for those soldiers. Perhaps higher if the trooper is identified and tied to a particular ship. ‘
‘The graveyard for the fallen is on Sturges. The Alliance held true to their promise that all soldiers would be citizens, at least to the extent that the Browncoats are buried with the same ceremony and memorial as the purplebellies.’
‘They’re still dead.’ said Mal. But he remembered his old friend and adversary Shepherd Derrial Book, saying,’ It’s how we treat our dead that marks us as human.’
Ada Wylie smiled thoughtfully. “You’re right. For an off the cuff idea, it may have legs. I would like to discuss this further with you. How is your schedule so far?’
‘ We have the caucus meeting tomorrow.’
‘A breakfast and a lunch meeting,’ added Harrow.’ Never promising.’
Wylie laughed. ‘You of the opinion that long meetings are progressively less useful?”
“Anything over an hour is time wasted.’
‘Well, tomorrow is not helpful, and both of you have given me some food for thought. Why don’t we plan to meet on Thursday at my offices? Do you have your office assignment yet, Mal?’
‘No. I just got in today.’
‘You missed the jockeying for prime real estate then. Exile to the farthest reaches of the Hill seems inevitable.’
‘Why would it even be important? Long as I have a place to work.’
Both Harrow and Wylie smiled at the new Member’s naivete.
‘Takes longer to get from the New Block to the Chamber when division bells ring. Further from the Parliamentary Cafeteria and a lot of important talk happens there.’ explained Harrow.
‘More important, being physically close to the centres of power gives a cachet. If you are chosen for the Leader’s shadow cabinet, you will find yourself moved closer to her Office.” added Wylie. ‘But don’t fret. Your constituents won’t notice if they come to visit, and the New Block offices are actually larger than the West Block ones. The Alliance friendly parties are mostly in the West Block while the Government is in the East Block.’
‘Those are the high-rise buildings on the Parliamentary Campus?”
‘There are 179 inhabited worlds in the Verse, Mal. And there is a Member for every 50 million voters. More than a thousand Members, jockeying for space and attention.’
Mal looked exhausted by the strains of polite society. Kaylee slipped under his arm and held him close.
‘Perhaps it’s time to get back to the hotel, capt’n. Shall I call us a cab?’
“What happened to the mule?’ he asked.
“Beege asked for it. She wants to go on a daytrip with some friends tomorrow. Since you were liftin a few, I figgered we’d be cabbin it home, anyways.’
‘Yeah. Okay. I’ll just go wash my face.’ He saw Kaylee’s slight disappointment. ‘And take a purple for you, xin gan.” He kissed her ear.
Kaylee’s smile returned.
At the door, they found the Centre had called a small self drive limousine. The doorman set the controls for their hotel and wished them a good evening.
‘Haven’t ridden in one of these in years,’ said Mal. ‘Lotta times I’da been glad of one too.’
‘We usually stayed within walkin distance if we planned to be partyin’, though.’
‘I was thinkin of times when everyone was wounded one way or another. Like that time on Whitefall, when that bitch, what was her name? set us up after I dropped a horse on her.’
“Patsy, I think. You was unconscious and Zoe had a shoulder wound. Jayne was gutshot, too. Yeah, that was nasty.’
‘Damn, all that , and not the first time we had run-ins with her and I can’t remember her name.’
‘Doesn’t matter. She’s dead long since and we ain’t.’ Kaylee snuggled under his arm. ‘And we’re alone and you been lookin real good to me all night. Hard work bein so prim and proper around a stud in nice tight pants.”
‘That dress of yours is pretty distractin, too , Kaywinnet.’ He pushed the neo-Cretan bodice a few millimetres down, exposing her nipples to his hungry mouth.. Kaylee moaned in delight. He kneaded her other breast with his big hand and she lay back on the leather cushioning of the cab.
‘You took your meds, bao bei?’
‘I’m tired of yammerin, an I figger we both need some exercise.’ He returned to her breasts. ‘Been wantin this since I saw you all dolled up. ‘
‘I’m not stopping you, am I?’ Her hands were twisting in his silver hair. His soft beard tickled as his hot tongue stroked her nipple. ‘We got about fifteen minutes before the hotel.”
“I’m tryin to work out how to get to the prize under all that candy floss. It’ll take the whole time and we’d be arrivin’ nekkid.’
Kayless giggled. ‘Not the best introduction for the Honourable Member an his Lady.’ Her clever hands had opened his pants and the meds were definitely making a difference. She stroked his cock firmly, feeling the smooth movement of velvety skin over a rapidly stiffening core.
‘The dress has a secret.’ she said. ‘Reach to the left side at my waist. ‘ Mal found a button. ‘Flip it open and……’
Kaylee was suddenly undressed as the full skirt opened and was pushed aside. Her slim waist and legs were exposed clad in a lacy belt with ribbons holding up her stockings.
‘Kaywinnet! Were you walking around all night with no panties and didn’t tell me?’
‘Course not. I stopped into the ladies’ fore I left and put my gotchies in my purse.’
‘Good thing. If I thought you was nekkid like that, I’da been fuckin you on the buffet table, between the chocolate fondue and the strawberries.’
‘You’d better show me how that would work. Yen duh sh tyen tsai.’
Mal teased at her clit with the tip of his cock, He was wet and slippery already, but she was wetter. He slipped in, and she moaned in pleasure. Sliding down on the taxi seat and wrapping her legs around his waist. He pushed deeper and she made the sexy grunt that he didn’t get to hear as often these days, when he needed a little assistance for what they used to enjoy two or three times a day when they were first together. But he was still just as thick and long as ever, filling Kaylee and finding her sensitive spot with ease and long practice. She ground her clit against his pubic bone and shivered, grunting again. His thrusts were deeper with her legs elevated, and she moved one from his waist to his shoulder, allowing him even deeper.
He was lost in her heat and in the velvet clasp around his cock. Moaning into her ear, he felt her grasping him with each stroke and his own need rising. ‘I have to come, bao-bei, I can’t stop.’
“Do it Malcolm, I want it now.’
He spent, his balls tightening and his cock pulsing as he spilled deep inside her. He gasped, not realizing that he had held his breath when his orgasm took him. He rested his full weight on her. Kaylee took his head in her hands, soft clean hands, smelling of her floral soap and the cinnamon pastry she had been eating earlier. She kissed him, her sweet tongue tracing the cupid’s bow of his upper lip, hidden below the moustache he had grown years past.
They gazed into each other’s eyes, seeing both their silvered hair and crow’s feet and the reckless smiles and pink cheeks of their youth.
The car announced the name of their hotel and they felt it braking. Giggling , Kaylee grabbed a napkin from the minibar and wiped them both quickly. The single button that had stripped off her wide skirt refastened, she smoothed herself and pulled up her bodice. Adjusting the jewelled net of her wrap, she was suddenly respectable, except that her smooth neck and chest were deeply flushed.
Malcolm was flushed too, and was scrambling back into his clothes before the cab stopped in the hotel portico. Kaylee’s hazel eyes twinkled as she handed him a glass of shimmerwine from the minibar, and when the valet opened the door for them he saw only a handsome couple in late middle age, laughing and sipping wine.
“Member Reynolds, Ms. Frye, ‘ he said, ‘I believe the concierge has some messages for you at his desk. Will you need anything from Room Service this evening? Or would you like to order breakfast now?’
The Honourable Member considered, ‘Anything you want, darlin?’
‘I gotta copy of the Firefly class parts catalogue upstairs, capt’n. I think I have a few things we can discuss from that.’
The valet looked bemused as the pair, almost old enough to be his grandparents, dissolved in laughter.
‘Thank you sir, madam. And would you like some more of the shimmerwine to take up with you?”