Redeeming Zorus Page 15

“I promised you no harm.”

“I’m not talking about you hitting me or killing me. Sure, I’m apprehensive about that a little but mostly I’m worried about getting attached to you and then you figuring out I’m just a passing itch you wanted to scratch.”

His body relaxed again over hers and his weight settled down. “I am not experiencing any physical irritations when we are together.”

A laugh came from her easily. “It’s another saying. I don’t mean I’m giving you a rash. I meant that sometimes physical attraction fades and then what would we have? You’d move on to someone else. You’re asking me to go live in a world that I’m pretty certain isn’t going to be friendly to a woman from Earth. I’ll be stuck there without a way to leave. What am I supposed to do when you dump me?”

“I’ve estimated the odds and the cyborg males who have joined with humans haven’t lost their attraction to each other.” He licked his lips. “If anything they seem to grow closer and get even more attached to one another.”

“What if we don’t?”

“There are no guarantees I can give you accurately. I could lie to you by doing so but I don’t want deceit between us. The odds for survival of a long-lasting relationship built on distrust and falsehoods are very low.”

Charlie had to admit that his total honesty drew her to him even more. “You won’t lie to me then?”

“You have my word of honor. I will always tell you completely honest answers if I’m able to.”

“What does that mean?”

“As a councilman there will be information I learn that will be labeled classified. I won’t be permitted to share that with you even if we ever become joined in a family unit. I won’t lie to you but I will tell you if I’m unable to answer.”

“I can deal with that.” She smiled. “I meant about the things between us.”

“I give you my word of honor. You can depend on that always.”

She believed him. “What is ‘joined as a family unit’?”

Zorus remained silent.

“Is that classified information?”


“Then what does it mean?”

“It’s our version of marriage.”

“And why don’t you want to talk about it? I don’t expect you to marry me now. We barely know each other. I just want to know what it is since you brought it up.” A horrible thought struck. “Are you married?”

“No.” He didn’t look away from her. “I was joined in a family unit but no longer.”

Charlie barely refrained from wincing. The idea of Zorus married to someone else wasn’t one she enjoyed imagining. He’d said he wasn’t married anymore. “She died or you divorced?”

“We mutually ended the contract.”

“She couldn’t take how cold you are, could she?” It was a good guess on Charlie’s part.

“My emotional disconnection had nothing to do with the dissolution of the contract.”

“Then why did you divorce?”

“I’m sterile so I didn’t feel the need to remain with her after it became clear we didn’t enjoy spending any time together.” He glanced away from her and then back. “I mentioned that to you before. I will never be able to give you children from my sperm. The only way for you to breed would be if you accepted another male into our family unit with active, viable sperm.”

“Come again?” Charlie gaped at him.

“You want sex already? I thought it best to give you a reasonable resting time since you’re not as physically resilient as cyborg females.”

His misunderstanding of slang wasn’t funny to her this time. “What do you mean, accept another male into a family unit?”

He didn’t speak.

“Zorus? Talk to me.”

“I don’t wish to give you that information.”

“Why?” She tensed. Their rules and his world were different from Earth’s. She didn’t need to be a scholar to get that. Whatever he wasn’t saying had to be something so bad he feared she’d bolt. “I need the truth here.”

Anger flashed in his eyes. “I don’t want another male to touch you.”

“I don’t want that either.”

He studied her carefully, seemed to look for something, perhaps trying to tell if she was lying. He finally spoke. “There are far less female cyborgs than males. We had to make adjustments to form family units accordingly.”

“Speak English or expand on the explanation because I’m not getting it.”

“Our males share a single female when they form a family unit.”

Shock rolled through Charlie. “Then we sure as hell won’t be getting married.”

“That wouldn’t be an issue unless you demanded children. Even as my property, you could force the issue by demanding another male enter into our family unit to provide them. I’m unable to breed children with you, which would mean a viable male could be brought into our family unit if you asked. All cyborg family units must produce at least one child per each member—cyborg member—and given that law, if you agreed to be a breeder for a male it would override my rights to sole ownership of you in a family-unit situation.”

Charlie knew her mouth hung open but for the life of her she couldn’t close it. Zorus frowned down at her with a decidedly unhappy grimace. The astonishment started to fade and she cleared her throat, licked her lips, and managed to stop gaping at him.

“I’m not a slut. I don’t cheat either. I’ve never done two guys at once and never would. That’s just wrong. My parents raised me not to be immoral.”

“It is not considered promiscuous on Garden for a woman to have many males in her family unit.” He paused. “That term I am familiar with. A female is not a slut if she has multiple males in a family unit. She’s giving the males the opportunity to create life, give our race a future, and she is revered.”

“I’m not from Garden and I sure as hell don’t need more than one man in my life.”

“Do you give me your word of honor on that?” Hope flared in his gaze.

“Yes,” she promised with all sincerity. “I’m not a cheater and in my book that’s what it would be. I wouldn’t ever want more than one man in my life.”

“Good. We’re in total agreement that no other male shall ever touch you regardless of my inability to breed children with you.”

She nodded. “We are.”

He hesitated. “I have a son.”

The shocks kept coming for Charlie. “You had a kid and then decided not to have any more? You asked to be sterilized?”

“He was created before I escaped Earth. He’s the product of the testing the scientists forced on my people to see if we could breed. I got a female cyborg pregnant. I told you that once it had been established that it was possible, they sterilized the males to prevent our future breeding. Some of their options were medically reversible. In my case the damage is permanent. When I escaped, I took my son with me.”

“Where is his mother?” Jealousy surfaced though she tried not to feel it. The idea of him having a son with another woman didn’t sit well with her.

“I took her to Garden as well. I wasn’t about to leave her behind. We formed a family unit for the sake of our child but we did not tolerate one another in the least. It is why we mutually ended the contract.”

“How long ago was that?”

“Fifteen years have passed since the contract ended.”

She let go of the green-eyed monster. Fifteen years was a really long time and he hadn’t said it but she got the feeling that he and his ex-wife hated each other. “Do you see her often?”

“No. We avoid common meeting areas.”

“Even better,” she muttered.

Zorus suddenly smiled. “You do not enjoy the idea of me spending time with her?”

“No and I don’t see what is so amusing to you about that.”

“Jealousy is a first-level emotion of a growing attachment.”’

“I’m so happy that you’re thrilled over that.” She didn’t roll her eyes but she wanted to. “Note my sarcastic tone.”

He had the audacity to chuckle. “You are feeling deeper feelings for me than just sexual gratification.”

There wasn’t a reason to deny it. “Yes but I’m still really confused. I don’t know what I’m getting into and I’m not sure this is such a hot idea. What happens if we don’t work out? I’ll be stuck on this cyborg planet of yours, correct?”

“I’m determined to make our relationship a solid, happy union that will last.”

“Relationships aren’t that simple.”

Zorus kept his smile in place. “You will learn I am a very stubborn male who has little to no sway in my directives.”

“That’s what scares me.”

Chapter Eight

Charlie couldn’t stop staring at the buildings and how uniform in shape they were. It appeared as if they’d used the same blueprint to construct each one. The streets were so clean, she guessed someone could actually eat off them. She also didn’t miss the way heads turned to openly study her. She inched closer to Zorus to grab his hand in a tight grip.

He paused, his gaze lowered to her hand clutching his. He met her gaze with concern. “There is no need to be afraid. No harm will come to you here, Charlie.”

“I don’t see any humans,” she whispered, not wanting anyone nearby to overhear her. “Please tell me I’m not the only one on this planet. When you said humans were slaves I assumed I’d see a bunch of them.”

“You are not the only one but there are very few.”

“That doesn’t reassure me at all. Does every cyborg hate me for being human? I’m not seeing any happy faces.”

Zorus peered around them. “It’s irrelevant what their personal opinions of humans are. You are safe with me. No one would dare attempt to harm you.”

“They are staring at me.”

“You’re a rarity.” He paused. “It might be the surprise of seeing me with a human that holds their fascination more. It’s well-known that I abhor everything from Earth.”

She inched closer until her body pressed against his side. “You mean you used to feel that way.”

“Yes.” He grinned. “You are the only thing from Earth that makes it a relevant place. Would you prefer I carry you? You could turn your face against my chest and not look at them if they frighten you. I could easily do that without straining my body. You’re quite light to me.”

“I’m not a baby.” Her chin lifted and she stepped away. “I’d like to keep hold of your hand if you don’t mind though.”

He gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “My home is just two buildings down on the right side. We’ll be out of their sight soon. You’ll be more comfortable without their scrutiny.”

“Good. Lead the way.”

It took a lot for her not to ask Zorus to carry her. She couldn’t miss how many cyborgs openly watched her with grim looks. Some came outside the buildings they passed to do so, and she didn’t see any sign of welcome when she dared glance at faces. With every step, she bumped into Zorus. She remained that close to his side.

He entered a building, nodded to a guard, and led her to an elevator. The second it opened, Charlie nearly leaped inside the empty lift. Zorus frowned at her but followed her in. The doors sealed them inside.

“You are safe, Charlie.”

“Safe but really uncomfortable. I think I know how a dangerous animal at the zoo feels now. Everyone out there looked as if I were a snake, or something equally as unpleasant, about to strike out at them.”

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