Built for a Billionaire published this week and I wanted to share the first chapter with you.
This story started out as a quick short for an anthology, but it had a mind of its own and blossomed into an almost novel-length work. The characters are a bit different, but I hope you enjoy their story.
It was the only word I could think of to describe the woman Dream Droids created for me. My eyes roamed all over her tall body, full of curves hidden beneath a simple gray dress that matched her eyes. And oh, those high cheekbones and deep red lips…
I schooled my thoughts and pried my eyes away, turning towards Dr. Pierce, my artificial companion’s creator.
“You’re displeased.” The doctor crossed his arms over his chest. Premature wrinkles appeared on his forehead as he seemed to try to read my mind.
I rubbed my palms against my Armani suit and restrained myself from catching another glance of my humanoid companion’s wavy blond hair and the dark-rimmed glasses I knew she didn’t need, but completed her sexy librarian look. “She wasn’t supposed to be so beautiful.”
“You asked for a trophy wife and only gave us a few specifications, so we did our best. We have a one-hundred percent satisfaction policy, so if you’re not happy, we can adjust her appearance.”
I shook my head. I had been waiting over a month for my Dream Droid, and I wasn’t a patient man. It was fine that she was gorgeous, in fact, it was a nice bonus, but I wanted to make her appear realistic, too. Nobody needed to know that the great Aiden Duggin, Billionaire, Owner, and CEO of Prism Pharmaceuticals, was soon to be engaged to a humanoid.
Not that it mattered to me.
Women threw themselves at me—for no other reason than my billions. Women were a dime a dozen, and I could have my pick of them.
But none of them interested me.
Marriage was nothing more than a way to satisfy a human’s desire for companionship of some type. Who cared if this companionship came from a human or a humanoid?
At least a humanoid wouldn’t pretend to be someone she wasn’t to get at my fortune.
All women seemed to want from me was my money and the prestige that came with it. I was a good-looking guy, charismatic, even. I had dark brown hair and trusting amber eyes—or so I’d been told. I inherited my mother’s genes, so I appeared fit, despite spending most of my time at the office. My head was full of information I had picked up from business school, being addicted to the daily newspaper (old-fashioned print format, of course) and having over ten years’ experience in running a multibillion-dollar company. You’d think the women I met would be interested in some of these details. Not quite. I had ex-girlfriend after ex-girlfriend to prove that they didn’t care. All they wanted was for me to tell them that they were beautiful and listen to their giggles, shopping habits, and gossip—never once offering me anything substantial in return, other than a dent in my wallet.
And the media only made the sea of money-seeking hormones intensify with photos of me month-after-month in the local tabloid, of being called a playboy in the business journals, and continuous calls from Maxim to be on their cover as the East Coast’s most eligible bachelor.
At thirty-six years old, I was done with all of that.
“What name have you picked out?” Dr. Pierce asked, running a hand through his already messy dark hair.
I turned back to my soon-to-be fiancée. I didn’t think too much about a name. I had chosen Jane, as something simple and plain. Average. But after seeing this woman in front of me for the first time, that name no longer fit. She was breathtaking and needed a name that matched. “Can I meet her first?”
“Of course.” Dr. Pierce shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his lab coat. “You ready?”
I swallowed a lump. “Yes.”
He briefly bent down over his desk and checked his computer screen one more time before crossing the room to where my humanoid stood. The woman was tall, probably five-nine or five-ten, but Dr. Pierce still had nearly half a foot on her. I wouldn’t have that much—probably only inches. “She has a hidden program button here.” His thumb brushed behind her right ear. “Wake up.”
The woman, who had been frozen in time, animated like she hadn’t just appeared like a statue. Her features softened, and she blinked. Her body shifted, giving her every illusion of being human. Technology really had come a long way in the past ten years. Dr. Pierce’s mouth opened, like he was going to do the introductions, but the way the woman’s soft eyes settled on me, I took over. Perhaps it was because I was used to commanding an audience in the boardroom.
I stood, crossing the room with my hand out. “Hello. I’m—”
“Aiden Duggin,” the woman said. “No introduction needed.” She took my hand and gave me a firm handshake. “I have extensive knowledge of you and Prism Pharmaceuticals programmed into my mind processor. I particularly like the work your organization has done with L-Power.”
“You know about L-Power?”
She nodded. “It’s the biggest charity your company contributes to.”
I waved my hand, self-deprecatingly. “Well, it’s just a charity my parents used to support—giving laptops and creating software to give the underprivileged an education with technology—and I continue to give for no reason, really.”
She tipped her chin at me. “Your parents bowed out of the picture years ago…and yet, your contributions since then have increased. In fact, when you sold your parents’ company, you continued to give at your new business. I doubt your donations are not intentional. I believe you have a very good reason.”
She got me. I did have a reason, and it was in relation to a friend I had made in childhood who always had to use the library computers. This woman was sharp and saw right through me, but what did I expect from a humanoid? “Maybe you can help me with your name. I was thinking of Jane, but you’re so much more than a Jane.”
“And you’re so much more than an Aiden, but what does a name matter?”
Would I be the same person if my name wasn’t Aiden?
What if I was a John?
Would I be more average?
I had known this woman for only minutes, and she was already challenging my thoughts. Dream Droids had outdone themselves. “A name only matters if you let it.” I said. “How about Danika for no other reason than it has punch, and I don’t know anyone else with that name.”
She smiled with her red lips parting to reveal the whitest teeth I had ever seen. “Danika it is.”
I was lost for a moment, feeling the same sensation like after I’d shook hands after closing a big business deal. My insides were giddy with the excitement of what was to come and filled with the satisfaction of knowing that I had won—whatever it was I was going after.
I stepped away, bringing Dr. Pierce back into our circle.
He spoke equally to both of us, like he truly saw Danika as a person. “I know we’ve gone over all of this in our previous sessions, but let me show you a few things now that Danika is complete. Feel this button here,” Dr. Pierce motioned for me to place my finger behind Danika’s ear. I took a deep breath as I lifted my hand, wanting to trace her jawline with my thumb, but I settled for feeling the little bump beneath her skin. “That’s the program button. If you need to adjust anything, push that button. The one command you should know is to tell her to hibernate for however long you need. Try it. Press the button and say, hibernate.”
I did as Dr. Pierce requested and Danika went from lifelike to a statue once again.
Dr. Pierce continued. “Now if you need to, you have time to look up commands in the full manual here.” He held up a key chain containing a thumb drive. “Or on the quick-start guide.” He handed me a pocket-sized booklet.
“Or, I can hibernate her when I don’t need her?”
Dr. Pierce shook his head at me. “That’s not necessary. She’s as alive as you or me, just made a different way. Danika will find things to do. She’ll develop hobbies. She can even get a job or help you at your company.”
“I don’t need any of that. I only need her to attend public events with me. She’s purely for image.” And to shut everyone up about me being the most eligible bachelor on the East Coast.
Dr. Pierce’s eyebrows narrowed, but he caught his little display of disappointment and righted himself. I had seen his expression on others many times when I come out on top of a shrewd business deal. “Yes, I suppose you could have her hibernate, but you’re missing out.”
I ran my fingers down my power-red silk tie. “Do you have a humanoid at home?”
Dr. Pierce laughed and shook his head. “No. I’m a bit old-fashioned. I still think that I’ll stumble upon love when I least expect it.”
“This has nothing to do with love. You might think I’m a fool and know nothing about love, since I’ve made myself a Dream Droid, but that’s not true. I just have no time or desire for emotions in my life.”
Dr. Pierce looked down at the monitor sitting on his desk. “Sometimes, you can’t pick who you love.”
I laughed at the contradiction. “Last week, you warned me that a Dream Droid is programmed never to say they love you.”
“That’s true. But it doesn’t mean you won’t love them.”
I shook my head, but my eyes wandered to the inanimate Danika. “I won’t love her.”
“Like I said, sometimes, you can’t pick who you love, Mr. Duggin. Just know, if you pick her, she won’t say it back, but that doesn’t mean she won’t love you in her own way.”
“She won’t love me. I won’t allow it.” I twisted my wrist over, glancing at the face of my Rolex. “I have to get going. I have a meeting in two hours, and I still need to get her home. Is there anything else I need to know?”
Dr. Pierce went over a few more instructions, and in ten minutes, my head was full and my hand touched the soft button behind Danika’s ear once again. “Wake up,” I said.
She smiled at me. “I hibernated for fourteen minutes and twenty-seven seconds. What did I miss?”
“Nothing important,” I said. “It’s time to come home. Are you ready?”
“Like I was built for this.” She smiled.
And I couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped my lips.
She was clever.
I liked that.
Even if I had no intentions of getting to know her much more than I already did.
Thanks for reading chapter 1. You can find the entire book on Amazon HERE.