My first week at the Black Star Casino had been… interesting, to say the least. Especially after my training ended and they put me on the “night” shift, not that day and night really meant much on a space station.
I met more interesting characters than I ever could’ve imagined.
Most significantly, my boss, Laux.
I heard story after story about him in training. By all accounts, he was an intimidating Vinduthi who was used to getting exactly what he wanted when he wanted it. A boss who would snap and yell at you at a moment’s notice, regardless of whether or not you did anything wrong.
Luckily, Laux was hardly the first asshole I’d ever encountered. I knew to stand firm and not give them the reaction, the fear, they were looking for. But he was certainly the most interesting asshole I’d met in a while.
“Good evening, Lila.” Laux approached me almost immediately after my shift started on my third night. His voice was smooth and deep, sending an involuntary shiver down my spine.
“Good evening, sir. What can I get for you?” I asked politely, ignoring my body’s reaction.
“Oh, nothing yet. I just came to talk with you because I like to get to know all of our new employees when they start.”
Somewhere down the bar, I heard another bartender scoff. Laux shot them a deadly glare, and the scoff went silent. Judging by the fact that they weren’t immediately fired, it was probably Gwak. Even I could tell that guy was useless, but I heard his dad was powerful on the station or something.
“I’m afraid I don’t have anything interesting about me to know.” I kept my tone light despite the uneasy feeling in my stomach. Something about the intensity of his gaze unnerved me.
“I’m sure that’s not true.” He stared deeply into me, as if he was trying to intimidate me into spilling my guts, but it wouldn’t work.
Because it was mostly true. There really wasn’t much to share. At least nothing that would be interesting to some rich and powerful Vinduthi.
Even if that wasn’t the case, why would I tell him anything? I’d only known the guy for three days. It’d take a lot longer than that to get me to say anything more.
At first, I found it odd how often he’d come to me to put in orders rather than the other bartenders. Then he asked all these questions and clearly flirted with me. His motives became pretty clear.
I tried to keep from reacting to his antics as much as possible. But as much as it annoyed me, he was handsome. His piercing red eyes stood out from his luminous gray skin and drew me in. I ended up flashing him a smile here and there despite my better judgment.
But I needed to stop myself from doing that. Laux was a Vinduthi after all, and my boss. That was not something I dared to start.
Why would I ever trust a Vinduthi? When had their species ever been anything but disinterested in humans like me? We were on the ground floor of the hierarchy around there while they got to live high above us in their towers.
If being a Vinduthi wasn’t enough, Laux was also my boss. That was even more of a reason not to respond to his advances. I wasn’t exactly working here of my own free will.
But, fuck, he was handsome. His always finely tailored attire clung to his body perfectly. He may have been fully clothed, but every inch of his muscular and toned body was not hard to find. I couldn’t help but check him out when he wasn’t looking, biting my lip.
Then his charm came into play. Watching him switch tones so competently between scolding Gwak, flirting with me, and schmoozing with guests presented a compelling side of him that all the stories seemed to miss.
When he would pace around the casino out of sight, I had no doubt ignoring his flirtation was the best course of action. He was my boss, he was a Vinduthi, and by all accounts, he could ruin my life if things went wrong. By some accounts, he would gladly end it, depending on who you asked.
But then he’d appear at the bar again, and my sense would all fade away. It was like I was at war with myself and my better judgment. There was just something about him that pulled at me.
“I imagine you’ve lived quite a fascinating life before ending up here. A beautiful girl like you must have some stories.” His voice was like velvet, caressing my skin. I suppressed a shiver.
As much as I hated it, a warmth grew in my chest when he called me beautiful. I wished I could ignore it or be disgusted by it. But the best I could do was hide the fact that I was blushing.
“You’d be wrong,” I said, ducking below the bar to pretend to look for more glasses. “I lived a pretty boring life, just barely scraping by. That’s why I decided to sign the indentured contract. ‘See exciting new places. Meet exciting new people.’ That’s what the advertisements used to say, I think.”
I couldn’t believe I just accidentally told him some stuff about my past. It wasn’t much but still more than I wanted. He just got me so flustered!
I took a few deep breaths to calm myself. When I was confident my face had returned to normal, I stood back up. Laux was still there waiting for me, a hint of a smile on his lips.
“Well, you’ll definitely get both of those here…with me.” He gave me a big smile, showcasing his disturbingly sharp teeth.
I pretended to ignore him, but I felt my face getting red. Before he could comment on it, some Fanaith with a huge entourage entered the casino floor and Laux was back to work. I exhaled in relief.
As I watched him walk off, I noticed that I wasn’t the only one who was wrapped in his spell. A group of young Vinduthi women watched Laux move from across the casino and giggled. When he passed by them, they tried to pose their bodies in a sensual manner to get his attention, but he paid them no mind.
“There were worse places you could have ended up,” I reminded myself as I turned away and wiped down a glass. It was true, but this was hardly a paradise for a human. All night, every night, these other races flashed their wealth and carefree lives to us workers, while I just prayed to someday get a little bit of freedom.
Euge, an older human man working in the stock room of the bar, had been there twenty years. He was only supposed to be there for five, originally, but he’d gotten sick, couldn’t afford medicine, ended up with his contract resold to the casino, plus a new debt for his medbay time. It made me nauseous every time I thought of it.
“You can’t take any chances,” I reminded myself for the millionth time. I couldn’t risk learning what the outcome of an affair with someone like Laux would be, no matter how attractive I found him.
I had to walk a fine line. If anything went wrong, who knew what my punishment would be? I needed to play nice to all the creepy customers hitting on me. I needed to not openly reject Laux’s advances, but I also couldn’t give in like I wanted. I just had to smile.
The next few days were more of the same. Laux flirted with me at every spare moment. Meanwhile, I tried to act like I didn’t notice in the hopes that he’d eventually get bored and move on to someone else. I hoped this wasn’t a sign of what the next few years of my life were about to become.
Late that night at the casino, everything had died down, and Laux disappeared into some meeting with the other Vinduthi in charge. I expected the rest of the night to be quiet.
Then, two Nazok approached the bar. “Ales, now.”
They barely glanced at me long enough to toss money on the bar. To some species, humans were basically invisible, except for workers or as sex toys. At least these two weren’t trying to flirt.
As I poured, the two Nazok kept talking to each other in the worst attempt at whispering I’d ever heard.
“We could place them anywhere in here. The initial blasts can claim a sizable number of lives. Then the rest will die in the ensuing chaos,” the first said.
Uh, come again?
“True. But that’s not what Munk wants, that was made very clear,” the second added, taking his mug of ale from me without a second thought.
“Whatever. Regardless, this will be a Luminance Day to remember.” They both unleashed a pair of ugly laughs as they walked away with their drinks.
I couldn’t believe they just said all of that in front of me. I knew Nazoks were arrogant, but I’d never guessed they were that arrogant.
I had no clue who or what a ‘Munk’ was, but I needed to find Laux.