“Help! We’re stuck in here!” I shouted one last time, banging the door.
My hand hurt and my throat was already raw. It had been at least an hour or so, and the temperature of the freezer was still dropping. Ryan sat passively on the ground, staring at me with his emotionless eyes. Fortunately, there were enough clothing in the freezer that I was able to get out of my wet swimsuit and into some warm clothing. It was a shirt and pants from Rune’s bag. Both were very baggy on me, but it provided a little bit more warmth than nothing. Although as the temperature continued to decrease, even that wasn’t enough.
“It will be okay, someone will check on us eventually,” Ryan reassured me.
Eventually might be fine for a robot, but that didn’t make me feel any better. I had already missed the rest of my swim time. Everyone should have been back at the stand by now. One of the guys should have checked on Ryan and me. In another hour, as hypothermia set in, we would be in serious trouble.
I turned away from the door with a huff. Always up in my hair when I want some privacy, but as soon as I need them they are nowhere to be found.
“Can’t you like rip off the door with your robot strength or something?” I demanded.
“Would you like me to destroy the freezer?”
I sighed; Ryan wasn’t speaking with any malice in his voice. He was genuinely asking if I wanted the door destroyed. If I asked him to destroy Uncle Max’s freezer it would spit in the face of the hospitality the old man was providing. It wasn’t fair to do that to him.
“No…” I answered, sitting down beside him, “I just don’t want to freeze to death.”
“I have been told that in cases where hypothermia is a threat, humans conserve body heat by snuggling close to others,” Ryan explained.
I snorted, “Yeah, but do you see anyone here? No offense, but I don’t think a robot is loaded with body heat.”
“No offense taken, but I was built with a large array of talents. For example, I can uncouple my energy consumption with my energy expenditure allowing me to release heat exothermically.”
“Can you say that in normal people speak?”
“I can adjust my body heat at will. Right now, I am warming myself to 101 degrees. It should be able to keep you warm if you remain close to me.”
“You want me to get close to you?”
“The greater the contact, the greater you can benefit from the released heat.”
“I suppose that makes sense.”
Ryan wasn’t making a move on me. He was being sincere and trying to help. It still stuck up my pervert flags. Ryan was now only in Rune’s swimsuit. Should I be in my swimsuit for this? I was overthinking it again. Besides, there were no blankets in the room, and I wasn’t going to remove any clothing for any reason in this cold.
I scooted over to him. The metal floor was chilly, but I tried to ignore it. Instead, I pressed myself up against Ryan’s chest. It felt similar to the night that I had slept in the bed with Daniel. Ryan wasn’t nearly as muscular as Daniel was, but he did have smooth, hard, and chiseled skin. I had to remind myself that the skin was prosthetic. At will, Ryan could pull the skin off like a rubber mask. However, I couldn’t see him that way no matter how much I tried. He felt real. His body buzzed and moved and rippled. He felt toasty warm to the touch, and my cold hands wrapped around his body before I could help myself, his familiar citrus scent filling my nostrils.
“Thank you,” I mumbled into his chest, warming my cold nose on his skin.
“It is fine,” Ryan responded.
“You said something about using energy, does this mean you’re going to lose all your power soon?”
“I have an adequate charge for the moment. I should be able to last another eight hours. If we are stuck in here longer than that, my functioning may cease.”
“What happens if you do that?”
“I won’t be able to charge myself, and I will remain dormant until recharged.”
I frowned. “You’re supposed to stay on. Isn’t that your duty? Remain active until your mistress retrieves you?”
“I didn’t order you to keep me warm. Why would you risk your duties?”
Ryan remained silent for a moment before responding, “I… don’t want to see my friends hurt. You matter to me. Plus, I trust you. If my power runs out, you will charge me.”
Ryan put his arm around me, and the warmth felt good. I hid my blush in Ryan’s chest, which had the unfortunate side effect of making me blush even more. I had to stop acting that way. Ryan was just helping me because he was programmed to help. It didn’t mean anything to him. He didn’t really have emotions. Of course, I didn’t really believe that. Did I?
Sometimes I would look into Ryan’s eyes and see emotion buried beneath. Yeah, he rarely showed any expressions on his face that I could notice, but there was always something hidden in those eyes that meant something more. He could feel something, I just knew it.
“You’ve mentioned your mistress a few times, but you’ve never really talked about her. What is she like?”
“My mistress is strong, capable, and generous,” Ryan stated after a moment.
“You said she made you?”
“Yes, she said she created us.”
“Us?” I asked in surprise, “There are more than just you?”
Ryan smiled to himself, “As far as robots, Mia was the only other like me.”
“Mia? So it’s a girl robot?”
Ryan nodded, “My mistress created us together, but she never made any more of our kind. Of course, there were others. Mistress kept many servants. Mia and I were unique though.”
I looked up into Ryan’s eyes and gave him a smile. “You sound fond of her.”
Ryan nodded. “It is a shame that Mistress sent her away.”
“Sent her away?” I lifted my head, “What do you mean, sent her away?”
Ryan looked down at me, his face unreadable, “She was always less… obedient than I am. My mistress decided to send her on a task. She has yet to complete it.”
Does that mean that Mia ran away? Or that the mistress sent her away just to get Mia out of her hair. What kind of person was this mistress? Something about the way he described her gave me a sense of dread. I would have to meet this woman myself and give her a talking to. I imagined some nerdy scientist who just liked being in control of people. It was wrong of her.
“What did she send Mia to do?” I asked.
“I do not know; Mia has always moved from place to place on her journey. Although of recent, she hasn’t moved much.”
“You say that like you know where she is.”
Ryan nodded, “I have a transponder that can locate her, and she has one for me. I imagine the fact that Mistress has sent her away may have something to do with why she hasn’t recovered me. It was always easy to find one when the other was present.”
“So you know where Mia is?” I demanded excitedly.
“She is actually very close to here. In this city, in fact.”
“Well, then why didn’t you say anything?”
Ryan had a look of confusion on his face, “I wasn’t ordered to, and I didn’t want to trouble anyone.”
“Ordered to? Don’t you want to see your friend?”
Ryan nodded enthusiastically, and there seemed to be a light in his eyes. Ryan had never really wanted anything before other than to return to his Mistress. It was nice to see him wanting something else. Maybe I could learn a bit more about Ryan from this Mia girl.
“Then let’s go!” I said, standing up, “We don’t want to-“
My voice stopped as I turned to the door. That was right, we were still caught in the cooler. I had lost track of time since we had been here. I checked my watch and gasped. It was already passed six at night. The beach closed at six on Sundays. That would mean the guys were already closing up shop. We weren’t going to end up staying the night in the freezer, were we? I’d die here. I supposed Ryan was going have to tear the door off the hinges. I would have preferred he didn’t, but it was better than dying.
I turned to Ryan, but before I could open my mouth the door clicked and swung open. I spun back to the door to see Allan standing there. It wasn’t the first time he had freed me from a prison, a girl could get used to this. I ran forward and hugged him without thinking.
Allan seemed panicked for a second, “My glasses are on, aren’t they?”
I pulled away to look up at him as he adjusted his glasses. They were not his typical glasses, but a pair of cheap sunglasses he must have bought at the nearby surf store. Of course, he didn’t need the glasses to see, so I supposed anything that covered his eyes would work.
“No, it’s just that we have been trapped in there for hours and I was starting to worry. Where have you guys been?”
Allan’s mouth twisted. “I don’t know where the guys are. I’ve spent half the day running from girls who saw my eyes. I finally managed to find some sunglasses and some clothing. When I came back here the place was quiet.”
I gave him a frown. That didn’t sound good at all. I let go of him and then moved out of the kitchen back into the dining area. The lights were off and the front door was closed and locked. At least they had shut down the place. However, why would everyone be gone? We had planned on staying the night here. Allan and Ryan joined me in the dining room and I looked at them with questioning eyes.
“I detect a life form behind the counter,” Ryan spoke up.
I raced to the counter and glanced behind it. Uncle Max was on the floor unconscious. I gasped and leaped over the counter, racing up to him. Don’t tell me he’s been robbed or attacked. I reached down, grabbing his shoulder. Uncle Max pulled away and rolled. His hands shot out and wrapped around me before I could stop him.
“Hey baby, why don’t we get a little more comfortable,” He mumbled, pulling me on top of him and grabbing at me with his hands.
“This is highly inappropriate, sir,” Allan explained, reaching to free me.
“Ooo, you too, sweetie?” Uncle Max reached out and grabbed Allan with his other hand, both of us now on top of him as he grabbed us with his bear sized arms.
Ryan moved forward, wrenching the pair of us free. Uncle Max didn’t give up without a fight. Ryan grabbed a pillow off a nearby chair and dropped it on Max’s face. He let go of us and his hands grabbed the pillow instead. He pulled it close to himself and began kissing it.
“What the hell?” I growled straightening my clothing out and glaring down at him.
I realized that Uncle Max’s eyes were closed. His movement finally stopped and I heard a loud snore come from him.
“It would appear that he is asleep,” Ryan offered.
“Yeah, well that still doesn’t stop the fact that he grabbed my ass,” I snapped.
“Mine as well,” Allan readjusted his sunglasses.
I sighed, why would Uncle Max be sleeping behind the bar? He did have a bed upstairs to sleep in. There were two rooms upstairs. One of them was Max’s, the other would be for Samantha, Alex, and me. The boys would sleep in the dining room in sleeping bags.
I backed up and my foot crunched on something. Leaning down, I picked up an empty water bottle. Allan looked at what was in my hand and made a sound. He lunged forward and snatched the bottle.
“What? What is it?” I demanded.
Allan sighed, readjusting his glasses before turning to Ryan and me, “I think I know what happened to our friends.”
A sudden boom from outside caused the ground to shake. What in the world was going on?