Outside the entrance to his home, he stopped, fingertips against his brow. He lifted his head, straightened his shoulders, and opened the door. The scent of polished wood and fresh flowers greeted him. A hint of baking bread beckoned and his stomach growled in answer. He should eat.
Instead, he headed straight for the bar.
As usual, McDoth lay in wait. The attentive butler was as predictable as his immaculate tuxedo uniform. With his graying hair and wrinkles, most people mistook him for human. A kindly, aging grandfather who still worked for a living. Like James, the android was firepower mixed with grit. More tyrannical than a nagging wife and more tenacious than a steel weed. No matter how far Luc went, McDoth would follow, protecting him, serving him, while refusing to let him forget a single detail, rule, or obligation.
Were it his choice, Luc would fire McDoth tonight. In truth, the android deserved a medal. His tolerance and patience knew no bounds. Their relationship had lasted centuries and would for a thousand centuries more.
If their king had his way, Luc would never be rid of the human-shaped ball and chain. Which was the point of a referee. They kept you honest. At least…as much as they could.
“Welcome home, sir.” The refined accent programmed into McDoth for this lifetime fit the look of a staid butler.
The android dropped a few ice cubes into a tumbler and set it on the bar. “For your whiskey, sir. Do try to limit yourself to one this evening.”
And there it was. The daily lecture. You drink too much. You eat too little. You work too late. You never stay home.
Luc reached past him and picked up a fresh bottle of his best whiskey, a Kelthian brand from a distillery he’d bought a few years prior.
“Allow me to take your overcoat.” The butler reached for it.
He turned to give his servant access, changing the bottle from one hand to the other as he slipped off the garment.
“It’s quite late, sir. You must be tired.” McDoth folded the coat over his arm. “How was your day?”
“Same as yesterday. Busy, but I accomplished nothing.” He darted toward the stairs.
He halted, gripping the banister so hard he expected to see marks when he let go. The promise of solitude in his chambers above beckoned, but there would be no ignoring the interrogation. He checked an impatient sigh and turned back. “What?”
McDoth came to even sharper attention, his habitual passivity giving way to concern. “It is good to have you home, sir. We see little of you. Shall I bring you dinner? No records show you ate today, unless the earlier visit to your club included dining on someone else’s account.”
“I’m capable of asking for food if I’m hungry and I don’t need a reminder you keep electronic tabs on me. I have no illusions about being your true employer. I’m not hungry. I’m fine. So stop fussing over me.”
“As you wish, sir.” The butler brought him the tumbler. “Remember, just one.”
Luc lifted the bottle of whiskey and wagged it right in the android’s face. “I will.”
Here’s how you can discover Kayelle’s new book releases: 1) Sign up for her newsletter. You’ll get a five book starter set and other exclusive perks. You can unsubscribe at any time. 2) Follow her Amazon Author Page and get one alert from Amazon when a new story is available. 3) Sign up for AuthorAlarms and the app will send you one email when she releases a book. You can add and remove authors on this app at any time.
Kayelle Allen writes Sci Fi with misbehaving robots, mythic heroes, role-playing immortal gamers, and warriors who purr. She is the author of multiple books, novellas, and short stories. She’s also a US Navy veteran and has been married so long she’s tenured.
Sign up for her newsletter and free Sci-Fi stories, book recommendations, and other reader exclusives https://kayelleallen.com/reader-groups/