Haunting Blackie Page 20

“Take my bunk,” Gene offered. “I’ll take the first shift.” He checked his weapons. “I’ll wake you in six hours to relieve me, Blackie.”

“Thank you.”

“What about food?”

Eve frowned at her littermate. “Later, Danica. We have enough to worry about right now. It’s way too early for breakfast anyway.”

“Fine.” The woman stretched out on her bedding. “You can sleep with me when your shift is over, Gene. Just keep your pants on and your hands to yourself. No groping my boobs or poking my ass.”

Gene gasped. “I wouldn’t do that.”

She chuckled. “Pity. I might like you better if you were the sort to molest me in my sleep.”

“Danica.” Eve shook her head. “Quit trying to bait the cyborg.”

“He makes it too easy,” she admitted, burrowing under the covers. “Night, John Boy.”

“Who is that?” Gene tensed.

“It’s a joke,” Eve smiled. “Whoever owned our freighter had a thing for very old television shows from Earth. We watched the vids when we were really bored. It was about a family with a lot of kids. John Boy was the name of one of them.” She approached the bunk, kicked off her shoes and climbed on it. “Night, Mary Ellen.”

Danica snickered as she covered her face to block out the light.

Blackie glanced at Gene again. The male looked frustrated as he studied Danica’s form. He understood why her saying another man’s name had upset the cyborg. He appeared to be attracted to the woman. He approached Gene, motioning him to move closer to the door, out of hearing range.

“She makes me question my sanity,” Gene whispered. “I don’t understand her.”

“She’s human.”

“But not.”

“She acts human.”

Gene blew out a breath. “Does she want me to touch her or not? She just said it was a pity I wouldn’t molest her. Why would she say that? That is bad. I’m confused.”

“I don’t know.” He reached out and gripped the male’s shoulder. “Let it go for now. Our priority is safely reaching Garden with them.”

“Danica is going home with me.”

“She agreed?”

“I won’t allow another cyborg to claim her.” Gene’s tone hardened. “He’d probably kill her. The things she says are insulting.”

Blackie knew the male too well. “You’re attracted to her, regardless.”


“Then take her home with you. I trust you won’t harm her. She needs protection. They aren’t designed to take more than one male into a family unit.”

Interest raised the other male’s eyebrows.

“My mate said it goes against their nature when they mate a male. They develop an aversion to the touch of anyone else.”

Gene turned his head and stared at Danica.

“She also told me they are attracted to a dominant male. Perhaps you are being too civil and sensitive, traits you think she’d be attracted to in a human. Be what you are.”

Gene faced him and smiled. “Cyborgs take what they want.”

“Exactly.” Blackie smiled. “Wake me in six hours.”

“No one will get past me to harm her.” He paused. “Them. They are ours to protect.”

“Yes, they are. Parlis isn’t about to lose his seat on the council without attempting to silence them but it’s too late for that. He might not understand that yet but I’ve taken measures to assure he won’t succeed. Zorus will follow the plan once we reach Garden but we need to survive long enough to get there. Varion will test our food to prevent us from being drugged and bring it to us. I believe we can trust him.”

“He dislikes you but I consider him a friend. I won’t shoot him when he arrives at the door.”

“We have a common goal right now.” He turned his head, meeting the gaze of his mate. She patted the bed next to her, scooting against the wall to make room for him. “I’m going to rest with my mate.”

Gene blocked his path, retaining his attention.

“How are we going to prevent Fleet from changing course if he gets orders to keep us from Garden? That would be my plan if I were Parlis and my attempts to stop the women from reaching Garden and speaking to the council had failed.”

“Zorus handled that. The Vontage is scheduled for a crew change. It’s in the vicinity and he has contacted it by now. He is ordering them to meet up with us and provide an escort all the way home. He estimated they should be able to make contact within a few hours and Fleet hasn’t been warned.”

“The Bridden is impossible to locate if they go stealth once they realize the Vontage is heading right at us. We’re also much faster than the large vessel and impossible to catch even if they were able track us.”

Blackie smiled. “Varion is equipped to handle that.”

“What does that infer?”

“His eyes.”

Gene appeared puzzled for long seconds. “How is a medic going to be useful in that regard? He can execute scans with them and perform minor laser operations.”

“I asked him to use his abilities to disable the shuttle in that event. He can bypass Control with direct access to the engines. I explained what to look for and how to shut down the power. It will take them time to figure out what has been done and who is behind it. The Vontage will just open a cargo door and maneuver our shuttle inside. At that point the crew will breach the Bridden and make certain no repairs are made until after we return to Garden.”

“Won’t we lose life support as well as engines and the ability to go stealth?”

“I calculated how long we can survive with life support inoperative. We’re in no danger of suffocation.”

“What if you miscalculated the time between when the long-range sensors alert Fleet to their presence and the distance he can put between both vessels before Varion is able to stop him?”

“We’re in the cargo hold.” His gaze traveled to the far wall. “The six space suits located in that locker have oxygen to assure the four of us survive. It would be unfortunate for most of the crew since there are only two suits in the command center. We’ll fuse the doors to the interior if the power fails. The welding torches work independently with their own power sources for exterior repairs. The crew won’t be able to breach this area to gain access to our suits.”

Gene grimaced. “What about Varion?”

“He assured me he has oxygen tanks in Medical. He was willing take that risk.”

“I never thought I’d see the day we were willing to kill our own.”

Blackie turned his head and stared at Eve. “Priorities change.”

“What is it like?” Gene drew his attention.

“To have a mate or to love?”


“I’m whole for once in my life. All the emptiness is gone. She makes me happy.”

Gene gave a sharp nod. “Go to her. They are safe.”

Blackie removed his boots and lay on the bunk with his mate. He rolled to his side as Eve curled her back against his front. Holding her close was heavenly as she rested her head on his arm.

“I love you,” she whispered.

“I love you too.”

“I just wish we were alone. I’d show you how much.”

His body responded but he used his implants to block the ache that made him want to do more than hold her. “We’ll reach Garden soon and lock ourselves inside our bedroom.”

“That sounds good.”

He’d need to get his home location changed. He refused to put her in the same building as Parlis, Fleet or Jazel. Those three had been there when he’d been freed and he could not trust them when it concerned Eve.

Chapter Eight

Eve woke when Blackie’s big frame eased away from hers. She turned her head, watching him and Gene walk to the far corner of the cargo hold. The other cyborg had obviously woken him. She strained to hear their words while faking sleep should they glance her way.

“What is the trouble?”

“I’ve been monitoring communications. They were unaware of my presence in the system. The Vontage showed up on the long-range scanners two minutes ago,” Gene whispered.

“Time to interception?”

“Twenty-three minutes at current course and speed.”

Blackie ran his fingers through his hair. “What are Parlis and Fleet thinking? It’s not logical. The council knows we have two women aboard and we’ve been ordered to bring them to Garden.”

“That was the debate they had. Parlis suggested we shield our signal to await further orders but Fleet argued it would appear suspicious if we disappeared off radar and changed our heading. He recommended it would be more believable if the women were killed in a failed attempt to escape.”

“Fuck,” Blackie hissed. His hand dropped to his side. “That doesn’t make sense. Their freighter was too large to tow so where does he imagine they’d try to go if they managed to escape the shuttle?”

“Humans can be illogical. He might try to argue that point.”

“That means Fleet will have to kill all four of us. He thinks he can take us down before we realize the danger. He will have to stage it to appear that the women deceived us, made us think we could trust them and then they killed us. With everyone dead, there doesn’t have to be a logical plan. There are only unanswered questions.”

“It’s a decent plan.” Gene handed Blackie one of his weapons. “The women are from Earth. It’s reasonable to assume they’d attempt to harm us. It’s a known fact that most of them fear cyborgs.”

“Fleet will have to act fast if he wants the Vontage crew to believe that’s what happened.”

“We should wake the women and alert them to the situation.”

“No need.” Danica threw off her blanket and rose to her feet, knife in hand. “You two suck at keeping secrets if that’s the lowest your voices go. We have damn good hearing, don’t we, Eve?”

She gave up the pretense too. “Yes, we do.” She rolled off the bunk. “What’s the plan of defense? Fleet will obviously be coming for us.”

Blackie scowled. “You and Danica need to barricade yourselves behind the crates in the far corner. Weapons will not penetrate the metal contained inside the crates.”

“You expect us to just cower behind your building supplies?” Danica turned her head to roll her eyes at Eve. “Are they for real?”

“Yeah.” Eve turned her head to glance around the cargo hold before advancing toward the lockers marked equipment. “Let’s go with thinking it’s cute and get irritated later, if we survive.”

“I’m not dying after a battle with a shitload of pirates.” Danica trailed her. “Whatcha thinking? Do you have a plan? I want to hear yours because it’s got to be way better than theirs.”

“I want you out of the line of fire. Get behind the crates,” Blackie demanded.

Eve regarded her mate. “Your plan is going to get both of you killed. You’re two against eleven, if the rest of the crew gets involved. Those odds aren’t good. They could blow the doors to get inside and you’d be massively outnumbered. I refuse to watch that go down.”

“You have so little confidence in my ability to protect you?”

She’d injured his pride. His tone said it all. “You don’t need to die for me, Handsome. I refuse to lose you after finding you again.” She spun away and marched to the opposite wall.

Eve jerked open the thick doors and examined the contents. She grinned, reaching for one of the handheld grappling cannons used to attach and tether space junk. She winked at her sister, who stepped next to her. “Find some cable to attach to this thing. There’s got to be some around here. I need about twenty feet.”

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