The ambassador strode out of the room, leaving the dealer to grin and rub his hands together. He turned to his workforce.
“Is there any damage?”
“No. I don’t understand what this one is made of. She should have been damaged badly the way he hefted that whip.”
“She’s a special order. No expense spared.”
The foreman shrugged. “And all for the enjoyment of one spotty teenager…”
“Yeah. But remember he’s a teenager who will one day become the most powerful man in the western world.”
The foreman looked puzzled.
“When his grandfather dies, won’t there be an election? I thought that lot over there elected the big guy.”
His boss lifted a bored shoulder.
“Used to, but not any more. It’s hereditary now. Like our king, only with actual power.”
It took a month, but the deal was eventually done, and when the only scion of the First Family arrived in England to continue his education (in the only country in the world where it was deemed safe for him to live without at least a dozen secret service operatives in attendance), Bella was part of his household.
Five thousand miles away in California, the richest man in the world rolled his wheelchair to a vantage point from where he could both see and hear the ocean. He was painfully thin, and it was obvious to even the most casual observer that he was sick unto death.
He sat lost in a reverie for a long time, unmoving until a graceful and beautiful woman walked out onto the terrace. He turned his head to give her an effortful smile.
“It begins, my darling, our revenge will be devastating.”
She crossed to the railings on silent feet and only the way the bones stood out in her hands as she grasped the wrought iron gave a clue to her internal tension.
“Do you promise me?”
“Oh yes. The family whose arrogance brought about the suicide of our only child will pay in full. Starting with the President, his blustering blowhard of a son, and his grandson.”
She held his gaze for a long moment.
“If we are not betrayed.”
“I have no worry of that. The lines leading back to us have all been severed. Those who built the weapon chose to meet their own deaths, secure in the knowledge that the First Family would feel the pain of loss such as they have inflicted on so many other families.”
“And will you live to see our vengeance, my love?”
He smiled a twisted smile.
“I can but hope…”
Back among the dreaming spires, Earl proved to be the antithesis of his blustering and aggressive father and grandfather. He was a quiet, studious young man whose preferred mode of operation included politeness to everyone. His Oxford home was comfortable and unpretentious, and staffed only with androids. A lot of his fellow students used the house as a sort of an impromptu cafeteria cum clubhouse, and Earl smiled on their excesses without actually joining in.
There was very little the young American wasn’t willing to share, except Bella. Some of the better-off among his fellow students also had sex dolls, which they passed randomly from hand to hand. At first, these young men were inclined to be contemptuous of Earl’s refusal to share his doll. But then a few of them saw her, and as one guy put it: “Hey, if you had a Rolls Royce would you want to share with a guy who had a Chevrolet Spark?”
As time went on Bella became more of a companion and sexual partner than a toy. It began when Earl discovered just how much intelligence lurked under the blonde curls, and began talking about what he was reading as he lay in bed with his head pillowed on her ample breasts. She listened intently, before making a suggestion in her slow southern drawl.
“If you didn’t deactivate me during the day I could read it myself, then I’d know what y’all are talking about.”
“You could indeed. And I think that would be a big help to me.”
Thus it was that Bella remained ‘awake’ at all times. She learned a great deal about English literature, and an even larger amount about the young man who owned her. Being programmed to crave approval, the android toned down the tartiness and started to dress in a much more genteel manner. It took a while for Earl to notice the change, and when he did he wasn’t sure how to react.
So he said nothing, until one afternoon when he returned home to find his bedmate studiously cleaning his walking boots. It seemed odd to him that a doll programmed for sex should be capable of caring for his other needs as well. He coughed, and she jumped.
“Hey” he said gently “isn’t that somebody else’s job?”
She flinched, and looked at him with what would have been fear in her eyes if she had been human. He put that thought to one side and smiled reassuringly.
“It’s okay, honey. I was just asking.”
She ducked her head as if still expecting reproof.
“The valet is supposed to do it, but it don’t do a proper job. Needs direction but nobody don’t have the authority to make it do its work properly.”
Earl looked at her thoughtfully. “You saying I need a housekeeper?”
“I guess. Though I know it ain’t my place to say.”
He picked up one of her muddy little hands in his big, clean ones.
“You want the job?”
“Master will have his joke,” she said woodenly.
“Look at me Bella” his voice was firm and commanding.
She raised her eyes to his face, to see him looking as angry as she had ever known him to be. She shrank under his fulminating gaze and he sighed before speaking quite crossly.
“When have I ever treated you in a way that gives you the idea I am a cruel man?”
He stopped sounding angry.
“Please don’t call me Master. I hate it. My name is Earl. Please use it. And please will you manage my household for me?”
The sincerity in his voice penetrated the circuits of her brain and she essayed a smile.
“I would love to keep house for you, Earl. But how can it be?”
“Easy. I just tell the rest of them to take their orders from you. My mother’s household is run by a droid and it goes like clockwork.”
And that was pretty much how it fell out. By the end of his first year of study Earl depended on Bella for intellectual stimulation, physical gratification, and a comfortable lifestyle.