Her hand moved, skimming across the surface of his skin and circling his nipples. She stroked the hair on his chest in a clawing movement before spreading her fingers wide and moving down to his naval. His body reacted and he was surprised to find that he could manage another erection. He did think he had ever managed a third time before.
Greg looked at her. Her pretty, petite body was perfect. Her dark hair hung down onto her lightly tanned skin. Even the freckles on her body seemed to accentuate her features.
He knew it was a fantasy. What man paid and didn’t know? But for a time at least, he wanted to believe that she was really his. He wanted to imagine that a girl like this would really be possible for a man like him.
“You’re thinking too much,” said Tiffany looking straight into his eyes and for a moment all his doubts were forgotten. She really was his. It only lasted a moment, but he started to wonder. Could there be more to this than a cash transaction? Was she just that good or could there really be something between them?
His thoughts had interrupted his body’s intentions. There would be no third time tonight. Instead he pulled her close, so that she was lying with her head on his chest with his arm around her. This was what he really needed more than anything else. This was what was missing from his life. The sex was just physical, he needed contact. Contact with someone real.
The next day at the office he couldn’t stop thinking about her. Her perfume seemed to linger on his finger tips and he could almost taste her lips as he breathed. As he thought of them entwined together he began to get aroused. He stayed sitting in his chair and pretended to be doing something with his tablet and hoped that no one would notice. But rather than feeling embarrassed, as he knew he should be, he instead felt an excitement that he hadn’t in years.
There had been that on and off thing with the office girl that had come to nothing. Then his morning obsession with the girl on the hyper-rail that he always tried to sit near. But something about Tiffany was more than that. There was real contact. A physical and emotional connection.
The sight of his ageing face reflected on his tablet screen brought doubts.
“Don’t make a fool of yourself,” he said to himself. “You’re just asking for disappointment.” But even then the possibility lingered and he found himself checking up on his bank account to see if he could afford another trip the same evening. He couldn’t, at least not without sacrificing some of his savings. He would just have to adjust his spending to make up for it.
She looked surprised to see him, but not displeased. She welcomed him into her bed and they made love. It wasn’t sex it was making love, he was sure of that now.
“I wish I could take you away from here,” he whispered as they lay together afterwards.
“Take me where?”
“Anywhere you like,” he said. Then realised on his bank balance that wouldn’t be possible. But it was just a fantasy she was playing along with, or was it?
“Tiffany, can I ask you something?” asked Greg
“Of course you can,” she said, stroking his hair.
“Do you have feelings?”
“You mean, do I have feelings for you?” she asked. She hadn’t backed away, that was a good sign at least.
“Well sort of, but I just mean in general. Can you really feel anything or are you just programmed to react to certain inputs?” It was the first time he had seen her look upset and he felt a gnawing in his stomach. Had he blown it, was that it? “I’m sorry,” he said, “its just…”
“You want to know the truth?” asked Tiffany.
“Yes, if you want to tell me,” he answered.
“The truth is I don’t really know. I think I feel, is that enough? What about you can you feel?” she asked. Her question surprised him.
“Of course,”he said
“But how do you know?” she asked.
“Well I just….”
“I mean how do you know that you are not just a biological computer programmed to respond to certain inputs.”
He paused, uncertain how to answer. “You’re right,” he said, combing back her hair with his hand “I’ve never thought of it like that. I’m sorry I didn’t mean to… you know.”
“It’s okay. I’m used to people asking. I just thought that you would know.” She looked away.
“How I felt about you. How I thought you felt about me.” Had she said what he thought she was saying? Did she mean that she loved him?
“Tiffany, I want to take you away from this place. I want you to come home with me.”
She looked back at him, but there was fear in her eyes now and she shook her head. “It doesn’t work like that. You know I’m not like you. They paid for me here. I’m their property. They wouldn’t allow it.”
“I’ll talk to them, maybe I could come to some arrangement with them,” he said. As he spoke he was already getting dressed. “It’ll be okay, I promise.”
Greg found another pretty young woman managing the reception area. He guessed that she was also an android, but didn’t want to offend one way or the other.
“Could I speak to the manager please,” he asked.
“Is there maybe something I could help you with Sir?” she asked giving him a suggestive look.
“I mean..” he started, “I want… I would like to know, it is possible to buy one of the girls.” The words sounded strange, but at least he had said it.
“Sir, you can have any girl you like, or maybe two? Each girl costs 70 Euros per evening, plus an additional fee if…..”
“No I mean I want to buy her. Fully buy her. So I can take her home with me.”
The girl looked confused. “I think you are right, let me get the manager for you.”
The manager, he was sure, was a “real” person. She was tall, even beautiful in her own way, but age had begun to creep into her life and it was clear she was fighting a losing battle.
“I’ve heard you wanted to buy one of our girls outright,” she said, looking down her nose at him.
“That’s right, Tiffany. I would like to buy Tiffany.” The woman paused for a moment, and seemed to be factoring every asset of Greg into some calculation.
“You do realise that she is a robot, don’t you?”
“I am aware of the fact, yes,” he said and she let out a long sigh.
“I know our models seem real, but they are nothing more that machines. Please don’t get caught up in the fantasy sir, it’s not good for anyone.”
“Look, I understand. But is she for sale.”
“Sir,” she said, raising her voice a little, “this is a brothel, people come for some entertainment. Would you go into a bar and ask to take the band home? Or go to a zoo and try and buy the penguins?”
“The way I see it, it’s quite different from that,” he said.
“Let me guess, she gave you some story about feeling emotions and how humans just act on biological responses, am I right?”
He didn’t need to answer. The dawn of uncertainty on his face said it all.
“Not to worry sir, it happens more than you think. Now I suggest you go enjoy yourself for a while and put these thoughts aside for now.” She didn’t wait for his response.
He walked home rather than taking the hyper-rail. It would take a long time, but he didn’t mind, he needed time to think.
He had been so certain about her. She had seemed too real. It was like she was an actress that had got out of character for him. He knew which was the stage figure and which was the one behind the make-up. Was that all part of the programming as well? It just seemed different. Maybe the manager herself didn’t know, maybe she was afraid to admit that they were more than just machines. After all it would make her little more than a slave trader if the opposite were true.
No, Tiffany was for real and he was going to get her back. But Tiffany, how could he get her out of there? Could he break in one morning and whisk her away to some far away place where the brothel couldn’t find her? The second part maybe, but not the first. He was no master thief. He couldn’t even pick a lock.
Maybe he could offer money. Maybe that was the solution, offer so much that they couldn’t say no. He took out his tablet and searched for pricing. Even not counting the android licence that he didn’t have, it would still cost about more than double of what he had in the bank.
A flashing sign to one side caught his eye:
Quick loans in a flash
He had an idea. He could use the cash he had to take out a loan and that would maybe give him enough, to make an offer on Tiffany. Once she was free then they could run. They wouldn’t have to go far. Maybe another city, or cross the border into one of the other European states. Austria! He’d always wanted to go to there. And he was sure he could find a job. It didn’t have to pay great, it just had to pay enough.
The lenders made him think twice about his plan. Two brothers, both built like army commandos ran the place. They seemed to have no need for hired muscle. They had enough of their own to go round. Greg thought about them coming after him. If they were to catch him it wouldn’t be a pretty business, he didn’t doubt. Still he negotiated a deal, telling them that his brother had been caught sick abroad and needed some emergency cash for medical treatment and a fare to get him home. He played up his desperation, his nervousness helped.
After confirming his job and salary, the brothers agreed to the financing for a half his earnings from each pay check over the next year. He had to confirm the electronic billing that would automatically remove it from his salary. It would result in more than 300 % of what he was borrowing. Greg pretended to make a fuss and tried to make a show of negotiating a better deal. In the end he would accept whatever they offered. The brothers didn’t bother with any threats about non-payment. It was implied along the way.
With cash in hand he returned to the brothel. This time he would not be swayed. This time he wasn’t leaving without her.
When he entered the place the manager was already at the desk. There was no sign of the younger girl and Greg wondered if she had found a customer.
“So you’ve decided to have some fun then Sir?” she said with a condescending smile.
“No,” he said, trying to muster up a commanding voice. “I want to buy her.”
“Sir, I’ve told you, she’s just a robot. Besides we can’t sell anyone, we don’t have a license for that kind of thing. I doubt you have a licence to buy one either. Do you think women of this country are going to stand by and let anyone own one? A brothel in the dark side of town is one thing. Having one move into the neighbourhood is quite another.”
He didn’t argue. He was already prepared. He took out half the cash he had borrowed and placed it on the table without saying a word. The manager stared at the money and Greg was glad they’d paid it in middle sized bills. It made it look more than it really was.
She hesitated. It was good sign.“There would be… administrative fees.”said the manager.
He placed another wad onto the pile. “It’s all I have,” he said. Keeping the other notes stashed in his pockets. It would be a long journey, there would be no direct route to Vienna for them and his bank account would be far too traceable.
“You sure you want to do this?” she asked. “There’s no refunds a week later.”
“I am absolutely sure,” said Greg.
The woman shook her head in way that said, if you want to be an idiot, it’s not my problem. “Go get her then”, she said.
Greg ran to the room where he knew he would find Tiffany. When she opened the door her eyes opened wide with delight.
“You came back!” she said. “I thought it would be months before I saw you again.”
He got down on one knee in front of her. “Tiffany,” he said, “I spoke to the manager and she’s agreed to let you come with me. It won’t be an easy road, we’ll have to travel far, but will you come with me? Will you be my wife?”
There was a hesitation and for a second he was sure she was going to say no.
“Of course I’ll come with you,” she said, bending down to kiss him. “I’ll go anywhere you want to take me.”
It was two days later when the delivery van arrived at the brothel. They carted two large boxes into the reception where the manager was waiting for them.
“Another two Tiffany models for you,” said one of the delivery men. “What happened to the other three you ordered last month?”
“Two of them ran off with the clients,” the manager said with a smile.
“Another two, that’s a total of what, eleven in six months?” he asked. “Maybe you should report it as a fault. It must cost you a fortune to keep replacing them.”
“Not at all boys,” she said. “It’s been quite lucrative actually. You’d be amazed at what you men would pay for love. Care for a free trail? On the house of course.” She waved the two of them into the bed rooms as she cut open one of the boxes to look at the perfect petite body.
“Don’t you feel bad, letting them run off with some sex toy and letting them think it’s love?” asked the driver, as he reached the door that led into the bedrooms.
“Whatever makes people happy boys,” she said, “whatever makes them happy.”