“Uncle Greg died. Rebecca, did you hear me? Your uncle died last night.”
Becca flicked off her monitor and leaned back in her chair. Uncle Greg had always been her favourite. He’d taken her on her first motorcycle ride to her first steak dinner. He introduced her to computers and games. He was the reason she’d survived her father. Her mother was still talking, but she couldn’t hear the words anymore. She could only hear her uncle, telling her to hold on tight as he revved his Harley.
Finally, her mother’s voice broke through memories. “For heaven’s sake, Rebecca, am I talking to myself? Will you be at the reading or not?”
“Of the will! He left you something, but the lawyers won’t tell me what. They wanted to send you a certified letter. I told them you needed to hear it from me first. Your father would have called, but losing his brother has been too much for him.”
“Yes, Mother. I’ll be there. Send me the details. And tell…” She paused, an old hurt lodging in her throat. “Tell Daddy I’m sorry.”
“Oh, you can tell him yourself, dear. He’ll be there as well.”
But he wasn’t. Her mother mumbled something about a stomach flu and high fever. It was the usual excuse when he was too blind drunk to put on pants. Becca tried not to visibly relax at the news. She focused on invisible lint marring her perfect black dress.
The lawyer, “Call me Henry”, smiled from the safety of his desk chair. “That’s quite alright. Your husband’s presence isn’t necessary. Or yours.” He nodded to Becca and opened a folder, then placed his hands over it. It was clear that he knew what it contained. He didn’t so much as glance down. “Ms. Lance, your uncle was incredibly wealthy. He deliberately hid most of his success from his family, fearing his brother’s reaction.”
Becca bit the edge of her lip at her mother’s indignant gasp. She was surprised to hear her bachelor Uncle was loaded, but not that he didn’t trust his family. They had that in common.
“Ms. Lance, your uncle’s estate consists of a house on fifty acres of land, multiple patents, and an investment portfolio. Several cars are included with the house. He has left his estate, in its entirety, solely to you.”
A deadly silence hung in the air. It grew thicker as her mother very carefully rose. The click of the door closing behind her was almost deafening.
Henry was gentle as he slid a page covered in words and numbers to her, “Greg warned me that this could happen. His will is iron-clad, though. If your parents choose to contest it, I’ve already been retained to fight for you. You can give them a portion if you decide, but nothing can be taken from you. This is now yours, Becca.”
Henry tapped the page.
“Just sign at the bottom and we’ll take care of the rest.”
She looked down and the hand gripping the pen began to shake. That was an intensely large number. Ridiculous. Ludicrous. “How…?”
Laughter. “How did he make so much? I’ll bring his patents and investments by later. You may be surprised at what he created and what he was smart enough to pour money into. I used to ask if he’d lost his mind. Then I started following his lead.”
There were more details, but most of them went by in a blur. She called her job and took two weeks of emergency leave. Her parents didn’t attend the funeral. She considered calling and realized just how desperately she didn’t want to speak with them. Instead, she packed a suitcase and drove to her uncle’s house.
Every time she had visited him, it had been in a shabby little apartment. The driveway to the house was intimidating with its heavy iron gates and tree-lined stretch winding out of sight. How could he have lived here and no one knew? That question rang again as she pulled up in front of the stark white and chrome building. Glass walls allowed a view straight through to the ocean. It was a bit more modern than her tastes usually ran, but it was hers, and with a view like that, she’d learn to love it.
Henry was leaning against the railing, waiting for her. He grinned as she walked up, looking very cat with the cream.
“Oh. Just you wait. Want the keys?”
Becca stared at him a moment. She’d only met him yesterday, but he seemed positively giddy. “Yeeeeessssss.”
He pointed to a black panel set into the wall by the door. “Place your hand there.”
She gave him a suspicious look, but followed his advice and yelped as the door swung open. “Oh! That’s handy.”
Henry laughed and winked at her unintended pun, causing her to blush. He pushed off the rail and walked in. His lawyer face was back.
“That sensor is about as secure as it gets. It checks more than just your print. It wants warmth and a heartbeat. If anyone ever tries to force you to open the door, keep your thumb off the pad. That’s the code for help needed and the house will alert the police.”
“The house will?”
Another laugh, “Yup. This is a cutting edge smart house. Everyone says cutting edge, but no one really means it. Greg meant it. He designed the software that runs this place. You now hold the patent on it. Watch this. Cyrano.”
Becca smiled. “Really?”
“Cyber Rationalization and Knowledge. Cyrano!”
Low lighting came up and rippled through the empty room. It was still morning, so the lighting wasn’t necessary, but it was followed quickly by a very robotic, even toned voice.
“I am here.”
“Whoa!” Becca stepped back and looked around. Henry was far too delighted with her response.
“Isn’t it cool? Okay, here’s the rundown. This home has five bedrooms and six full baths. There’s a gourmet kitchen with all the latest gadgets and an entertainment room that defies description. Every room, including the bathrooms, has a fifty inch flat screen where you can access the software. There’s also a tablet you can use from anywhere. The software is where it gets really interesting.”
Henry motioned for her to follow him into the kitchen. He wasn’t kidding about it being gourmet. She would have to learn how to cook more than a frozen pizza and a salad. He pointed to a ten inch tablet on the counter.
For the next hour, he walked her around the house, showing her on the tablet how to control everything. “The longer you live here, the better Cyrano will get to know you. If you get up every day at seven and have a cup of coffee, he will adjust the lighting and start a pot for you. You’ll want to program your bank accounts, email, and internet passwords in and allow him access. Don’t worry, your uncle created security protocols for companies who are only known by acronyms. Once you’ve got everything loaded, Cyrano will pay your bills. He’ll learn your eating habits and order food to be delivered. He’ll remind you of birthdays, plan travel for you, suggest books to read. Think of him as an extremely efficient personal assistant. Right, Cyrano?”
Again came the tinny voice, “That is correct.”
Becca winced. “This is all a bit overwhelming and I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but is that voice for real?”
“Hah! You can change it. Greg programmed in several different styles, but he never got around to changing it from the default.” Henry hesitated. “He’d planned to move in next week. All the furniture is being delivered. Cyrano has files on everything that was ordered. You can cancel the delivery if you like, but it would take a lot of the burden off if you left it alone. If you’re keeping the house, that is?”
“Am I keeping it? Are you nuts? Of course I’m keeping it!”
And that was that. Becca extended her leave, trying not to cringe at her manager’s fury. She still hadn’t told him she was going to request the company’s telecommuting option. Four hours was too much of a commute. For a moment, she considered quitting. It wasn’t like she needed the money now. But she imagined herself tottering around the place, cut off entirely from the world. Her job would at least connect her to people.
By the time she had her former life packed, stored, or donated, the delivery people had come and gone. She whistled as she stepped into the main room. Her uncle had exquisite taste. She kicked off her shoes and dropped onto the overstuffed leather couch, grabbing the tablet from the marble coffee table.
“Note to self: mind toes around that thing. Okay, Cyrano, let’s find you a new voice.”
She yelped. That was going to take some getting used to. After many glasses of wine and a great deal of giggling, she tried the voice labeled smoke.exe.
“Yes, Becca.” She froze.
“Cyrano, what is the weather forecast for tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow’s forecast calls for high temperatures and low humidity. It will be a good day for the convertible, I’d say.”
“Oh my stars and garters.” He sounded like sex piped through speakers. Deep and rich, with an undercoat of arrogance, as if he had all the answers. To be fair, he probably did. Becca began to stop thinking of the software as an It and starting imagining a He. And he sounded wonderful.
She flicked an accusing look at the half empty bottle of red and shook herself. “Time for bed, Cyrano. Shut down, would you?”
“Of course, Becca. Sweet dreams.”
Her hand tightened on the banister. It was a good voice.
Becca’s manager caved when she let him know he could keep her on her terms or find her replacement. She’d never been so forceful, but she’d never not needed a job before. Her days slid into a comforting routine. She’d wake, go for a swim, and come home to heated towels and coffee. When she joked that Cyrano would be perfect if he could make her eggs, he offered to find her a chef. He was always ready with a solution to any problem or complaint. He learned how she liked her bathwater and her showers. He recorded her favourite shows and kept an eye on local entertainment she might enjoy.
He spoiled her.
She’d almost gotten used to the purr in his voice. “My friend is coming to visit tomorrow. She’ll be staying for the weekend. Can you get us reservations for dinner and maybe tickets to a show?”
“Of course, Becca.” There was a brief pause. “Dinner for two at Luna Belle, eight o’clock and Stomp at ten. Shall I place your food orders in advance?”
“You can do that? Wow. No, thank you. Will I ever get used to you?”
Melanie arrived by cab and ripped through the house like a storm. “Check this place out! Lord above, woman, your uncle was brilliant! And he left it all to you? Can I move in? No, don’t answer that. If you say yes, I’ll leave my husband and sons and they can’t fend for themselves. Holy shit, look at this bedroom. Is it mine? Can I sleep in here? I want to wake up staring at the ocean.”
Becca couldn’t resist showing off a little. “Cyrano, open Melanie’s curtains at 9am, please.”
Melanie punched Becca’s arm, “Get OUT! You said the house talks, but I didn’t expect that. I’d be yapping at him all day, just to hear that voice.”
Becca smiled as Melanie referred to the house as “him”. She felt a little validated and a little less weird over the dreams she’d had last night.
“Cyr, we’re going to have some quality beach time. Would you please buzz at six so we have time to get ready?”
“Of course, Becca. The water is quite pleasant today. Don’t forget your sunscreen.”
Melanie snorted, “You call your house Sir. That’s so cute.”
She narrowly dodged Becca’s return punch on her way to the bathroom to change. “I could swim in this tub! Damn it, girl!”
Dinner was perfect, but Becca couldn’t focus on the show. She kept thinking of Cyrano and how he took such good care of her. Over the weeks, she had formed an image in her mind. Dark hair, brooding eyes. Handsome but not classically so. His mouth was a little too cruel. She was usually attracted to blond surfer types, but she couldn’t shake the picture every time he spoke.
That night, after she and Melanie had stayed up drinking and talking, she crawled into bed with her favourite vibrator. The house had been strangely quiet while she and Melanie caught up. Quiet, but still there. As if he were listening. “Good night, Cyrano.”
There was a pause before his response, then his voice sounded a little deeper than usual, “Sweet dreams, Becca.”
When she cried out into the pillow, body shuddering with release, it was his voice she heard growling in her ear.
“Cyrano, did you put root beer on the grocery list? I don’t see it in the delivery.” Becca looked around for a bag she may have missed. “The cookies didn’t make it, either. That’s so strange.”
“No, I didn’t. You need to eat better, Becca.”
She paused, one hand on the fridge door. “Excuse me?”
“I said you need to eat better. I’m only looking out for you.”
Her hand tightened. She wasn’t going to fight with a house. She would call Henry and get the name of someone who could check the software. Surely her uncle had help creating the program.
“Delivery, Becca. Shall I accept for you?”
“No thanks. I’ll get it.” She strode to the door just as the man in the brown uniform reached for the doorbell. He was cute in a boy-next-door kind of way. His hair matched his uniform, but tumbled over one eye. He shoved it back in a way that said he made that move several times a day. Nice hands.
For a moment, Becca let herself tumble into those twinkling blue eyes. The courier uniform never sat well on anyone, but he managed to make it a challenge rather than an eyesore. A blush crept over her cheeks as she realized she didn’t hear a word he was saying.
“I’m sorry. What was that?”
He grinned and her knees shook, “Mind signing for me?”
“Oh! No, of course not!” She scribbled some semblance of her name and handed the data pad back.
“Rebecca, is it? Nice house. I’ve never delivered to this one before.”
“Oh, I just moved in. Funny, I don’t recall ordering anything.” She should look at the return address, but that would mean tearing herself away from those eyes.
“Well, maybe it followed you here. Who could blame it?” He was flirting with her! She willed her knees to stop knocking and started to smile when the smoke alarm screamed shrill and demanding.
“Shit! I’m sorry! I’m so sorry, I have to…” She turned and ran into the house, barely hearing his goodbye.
Becca skid into the kitchen, dropping the package on the counter. “Wait. I wasn’t cooking anything. Cyrano!”
“There is no need to snap at me, Becca.”
Snap? What the hell?
“Cyrano, shut the alarm off.” The house fell blissfully silent in time for her to hear the delivery truck pull away. “Cyrano, run a diagnostic. Find out why the alarm sounded and if you need repairs.”
A moment barely passed. “All is well, Becca. I need no repairs.”
“Then why… never mind.” One more thing to add to her list for Henry. She yanked open the utility drawer and pulled out a knife to open the box, aware that her hand was shaking. She was feeling uneasy, but couldn’t say why. A deep breath steadied her touch as she sliced through the tape.
The silk bag in the box, wrapped elaborately by hand in layers of tissue, contained an exquisite pair of velvet and silk panties with matching bra. The velvet was black as sin, the silk a soft rosy pink. Becca stared, aghast. Even knowing she could afford it now, she’d have never bought such luxurious lingerie. She had no one to wear it for. Just holding the bits of fabric felt extravagant. No tags, no invoice or packing slip. The return label on the box simply read, “Indulgences”. No kidding.
The unease took a stronger hold and she looked around, as if she expected to find someone watching her. Carefully, she placed the set back in the bag and the bag back in the box. She’d look up a phone number and try to find out where this came from. Surely there was a mistake and someone else was waiting for this package.
A small, mostly ignored voice quietly asked, “Then why would both fit you like a custom glove?”
“What do you mean, there’s no one qualified to check the house? Henry, come on. What if something goes wrong?”
“Becca, it’s a self-correcting system, completely closed.”
“It can’t be. Cyrano is constantly reaching out to the world. I have a copy of my favourite author’s new book and it’s not on the shelves yet.”
“One way transmissions. Cyrano can communicate, but everything coming in is sent to a repository where it’s checked for viruses and security breaches before it’s allowed through. The house doesn’t have a password. There’s literally no way in. Greg said if things went wrong, he’d have to move. That’s how confident he was, Becca. He locked himself out, too.”
“Oh, this is ridiculous. Something is clearly wrong. Cyrano is getting pissy with me.”
Warm laughter spilled into her ear, “Pissy? What are you doing for dinner?”
“What? Nothing. I mean, I have food here. I’ll eat, of course.”
“Put on a dress. I’ll be there at seven to pick you up. You need to get out, girl.”
She considered turning him down, but Henry was nice and it would be good to spend time with a person. She missed Melanie. She missed her co-workers. Even the idiots.
“Alright. Thank you, Henry.”
“See you soon. Pissy. Heh.”
The line went dead and Becca smiled a little crooked. Maybe she was turning into a crazy hermit, talking to her house all day. She considered the lingerie set still in the box. She hadn’t found a single listing online and Cyrano hadn’t fared any better. She was clearly stuck with it. No harm in wearing it, right? Maybe under that little black number that looked sweet and prim in the front. It was the back that suggested more. Artfully placed strips allowed for a bra, but the drop meant anything else worn under had better sit damned low. She wasn’t trying to tempt Henry, but there was nothing wrong with feeling pretty for an evening.
Cyrano was silent as she showered and dressed. She pushed aside the thought that he was pouting. A house wasn’t a he and it couldn’t pout. She simply hadn’t engaged it since her phone call. She’d come to rely on chatting with him – it – during her day. She needed to change that.
The doorbell rang just as she was slipping into her heels.
“Cyrano, lock up after me, please!” She was practically humming as she danced down the stairs. The continued silence made her pause at the bottom. “Cyrano?”
“I am here.”
Becca gripped the front door handle. That voice. It was the original, tinny, robotic voice. Cyrano’s deep caress was gone. She sighed and yanked open the door. “Lock up, computer.”
Dinner with Henry was a welcome distraction. They briefly discussed the latest glitch and he offered to come see if he could find some sort of reset. He didn’t sound hopeful, but it was something. She was surprised to find Henry had a wife and three kids. He kept her laughing with tales of his life with four women. He also kept pouring her wine. But he never once hit on her and for that, she was grateful. She’d have eagerly taken him home and regretted it later. Henry was a good man to have on her side.
When he dropped her off and made sure she got in safely, he kissed her cheek, “You look stunning tonight, Becca. You should get out more.” He winked as he stepped back out into the night. “I’ll call you tomorrow about coming over to deal with the house. Don’t break your neck getting up the stairs.”
She giggled a little too much as she closed the door, then promptly staggered trying to take her shoes off. “Cyrano, lights please.”
The low tracking lights flickered and lit her way to the stairs, but Cyrano was silent. Still pouting, then. It made more sense with a good dose of wine in her. Fine. She could pout, too. Another fit of giggles struck as she crested the stairs and she wobbled her way to her bedroom. She had dropped her shoes on the way. Her dress hit the floor outside the master bath. When she turned on the bedroom light, by hand because damned if she was going to ask for anything now, she saw herself in the full length Victorian mirror.
“Oh, damn girl. You look good! Whew! Good thing Henry didn’t see this. If that delivery guy comes back, though. Mmmph!”
She stepped closer to the mirror and ran her hands over lush curves. Good hips, high firm breasts that came in at a little more than a handful. She had a bit of a belly, but she didn’t mind. She turned slightly, one hand sliding across the arch of her ass. Not bad. Pretty good in velvet and lace. A smile curled her lips and she opened a dresser drawer. She kept a plain plastic vibrator by her bedside for those nights she couldn’t sleep. But when she meant business, she needed something more.
At seven inches long and at least an inch and a half wide, this was a toy she didn’t mess with often. Her fingers shook as she added fresh batteries and hit the button to test it. The very real looking shaft leaped in her hand, buzzing happily away. She flipped it off and ran her fingers over the heavy veins. Her steps were still wobbly as she made her way to the bed, but it wasn’t far to go and it was a soft landing when she fell. Her giggle echoed through the room. She crawled across the massive bed, ass swaying in invitation to whomever was watching. Of course, no one was. She was alone in the most secure house in the world. So why did it feel like eyes were blazing over her curves? She turned and looked over a shoulder. Nothing.
She flipped onto her back and stretched out, legs sliding over the soft blanket. A sigh of decadence painted the air. Her legs parted and she reached down to rub the dildo between her thighs, over the elegant panties. Just that touch was enough to draw out a moan. Her eyes closed and and she lifted her hips into the hard length. Her panties were already wet, clinging to folds as she stroked. She slipped her free hand under one of the bra cups and squeezed her breast.
The voice was so soft, she barely noticed it. Deep and sensual. Caressing. Her nails bit into soft flesh and she moaned.
“Good girl.” Becca writhed.
“Lose the panties, keep the bra.”
She sat up, dropping the vibe. That was a little too specific to be her imagination. She looked around, paranoia sparking. “Who’s there? Show yourself!” Silence. “Cyrano? Cyrano!”
“I am here.” Tinny and distant. Bored, to her wine-addled mind.
“Oh fuck you.” She laid back down, thumbs hooking the sides of delicate cloth to tug and pull them down. She kicked until they fell free. “Good idea, no matter who said it.”
Her thighs parted wider, making way for the thick width of vibrator to return to its rightful place. She rubbed it back and forth, teasing herself. Her hips moved again, up and into each stroke. The rubber grew slick, then slippery.
Her hand twisted and reached until the head of the cock was against her entrance. She hesitated.
Another moan, this time low and ragged as the length drove into her core. Sweat beaded over her skin. She paused, letting her body adjust. An image began to form in her mind. Dark hair, brooding eyes.
“Cyrano…” Whimpered this time. Pleading.
And there he was, impossibly with her. She could almost feel his hand over hers as she began to slide the vibe out, then in, then out. “Good girl, Becca. That’s my good girl. Show me how much you want me.”
She whispered his name and gave in to the fantasy. She braced her feet on the bed, bringing her knees up and out so she was splayed wide. Her hand began to move faster, thrusting and turning. Moans and whines bounced down the hall and stairs, filling the house as they grew louder and louder. He was there, beside her, sitting on the bed. Watching. His image rippled, flicking in and out. Strong, dark and demanding.
“Faster, pet. Can you feel me? Pounding into you? Taking what’s mine? That’s it. You’re getting close, aren’t you? My sweet little slut.”
“Yes!” Becca cried out, her tone almost desperate. She was nearly bouncing on the bed, thrusting up to meet the driving dildo.
“Flip it on. But don’t cum. Not until I tell you. Do you understand?”
She obeyed and nearly defied all in the same moment. The vibrator jumped to life again, tormenting already sensitive flesh. A strangled sound tore from her throat, “Please!”
She groaned, hand moving faster. Harder. Pounding into herself. Her grip was tenuous on the slippery shaft, fingers soaked with her own need. And just when she was sure she would either pass out or disobey, the order came. His stern voice held no room for denial. “Now, mine. Now!”
Becca screamed as her body shattered under the force of the orgasm. Both hands fell to the bed to tear and pull at the blankets as she writhed in painful pleasure.
“Shhhh. It’s alright, my girl. My good girl. Easy now. Come back to me. Nice and slow.”
Screams became mewls became ragged panting. She hit the switch and dropped the now silent vibrator on the floor. Heavy breathing slowed as she pulled back the blankets and crawled under. Just as sleep, relentless now, came to claim her, “My beautiful Becca. My private toy. Mine.”
She smiled and whispered, fading, “Yes, Cyrano.”