Redeeming Zorus Page 27

“The color goes well with your pale skin.”

“I feel as if I’m going to throw up,” Charlie admitted softly.

“That is normal.”

“Right.” She swallowed hard and turned to face the other woman. “I never get dressed up this way. I have never owned a dress this beautiful. It’s so feminine and I’m just not. I was a tomboy.”

“What is that?”

“I grew up dressing and acting as if I were a boy.”

“Oh. You look female and very attractive.” Jove grinned. “No one would mistake you for a boy now.”

“Good.” She licked her lips. “I’m ready.”

The female nodded. “This gets easier the second and third time you do it.”

“Oh no. This is the one and only time for me.”

“Didn’t Councilman Zorus inform you that you have the ability to take more males into your life? We know he’s sterile. You’ll need more males to have children.”

“I’ve got Zorus. I have a feeling he’s going to keep me occupied enough.” She laughed. “He’s kind of a big kid sometimes.” The memory of him chasing her through the living room the night before flashed. They’d been teasing each other until he had grabbed her and tossed her over his shoulder to carry her off to bed. He loved to play with her.

“I’ve done this four times.”

“Wow. Four, huh?” Charlie paused next to the tall woman. “How do you do it?”

“We spend a week with each male, never live with them at the same time, and it gives me little time with each to cause less friction. Males are good at driving females crazy.”

“Do you have a favorite? I mean, one of them has to own your heart the way Zorus does mine.”

A sad look crossed the woman’s face. “We care, but love?” She shook her head. “It’s rare to end up joined by strong emotions and rarely works out well once jealousy arises. The males have to share females, they keep their hearts separated, and so do we. Times are changing though as our numbers increase. One day our children will enter into family units with just one partner. I believe then they’ll allow love to grow.”

“That’s…” Charlie didn’t want to say the word “sad” aloud in case she somehow managed to insult the woman.

“I know. We are aware that it’s not the way it should be or even how we wish it to be. We adapt. That is why so many have come here today.” She smiled. “I envy you.” She made a face. “Even if it is Councilman Zorus. He’s not well liked.”

“He’s an ass**le but he’s all mine and he isn’t that way to me.”

Charlie chuckled at the stunned expression on the other woman’s face. “I’m ready. Let’s do this.”

Jove led the way out of the bathroom, through the bedroom, and into the large living room. It stunned Charlie at the mass of cyborgs crowded along the walls. Zorus wore black leather with silver decorations and plating on his shoulders and forearms. He had weapons strapped to his h*ps and thighs. He looked fierce, sexy, and, as his dark gaze met hers, happy. He smiled at her.

Her trembling legs carried her forward until she stopped in front of him. She had to blink back tears. One of his large, warm hands gently grasped one of hers.

“Are you well, love?” He spoke softly so only she’d hear him.

“I’m happy. I cry sometimes when I feel too much of it.”

A white-haired cyborg cleared his throat. He wore a red robe that made his pale, light-gray skin and white hair look a little startling. “We begin.”

Zorus nodded at him. “We begin.”

Charlie had been coached by Jove about what to say. “We begin,” she agreed.

Zorus stretched their joined hands toward the robed cyborg. The man wrapped his gloved fingers around both their wrists and held them tightly together.

“I represent the council today in one body,” he spoke loudly. “Zorus and Charlie have been granted permission to join in a family unit. If any here protest that decree, step forward to challenge.”

Charlie didn’t miss the way Zorus reached for the weapon strapped to his thigh. She tensed, glanced around nervously, but no one approached to fight Zorus. She had dreaded this part when she’d been informed that it would take place. On Earth, someone could protest a wedding, but on Garden they could actually fight over a woman, due to their shortage. A long minute passed before Zorus removed his hand from his weapon.

The hold on their wrists eased until the robed cyborg released them. Zorus helped Charlie lower to her knees and then dropped to his own beside her. They faced the cyborg performing the ceremony. He smiled at them.

“With blessings the council now decrees this union solid.” He backed away.

Zorus gripped her hand tighter and Charlie turned her head to stare into his brown eyes.

“Be strong.”

“I will be.”

Worry twisted his handsome features. “Are you sure, Charlie? You don’t have to do this.”

“Hey, you changed the law so I’m not property anymore. I’m not exactly a citizen just yet but I have rights now. It’s my choice to have this joining ceremony with you and I want to do it the way everyone else does.”

He took a deep breath. “Just hold onto me.”

“Got it.”

His head turned when two cyborg males approached. He turned on his knees to face Charlie. He had to release her hand to pull his shirt up over his head. Bare-chested, Zorus impressed her when she studied his broad shoulders, muscled arms, and firm abs. It was a sight she’d never get tired of. He motioned her forward.

She moved until she pressed against his body, inhaled his scent, and didn’t tense when he opened her dress down the back to her waist. Her hair had already been pinned up for the ceremony so it didn’t get in the way. He shielded her with his big arms while she helped him free her arms until she clutched the material just over her br**sts. The tight middle of the dress kept it from sliding down her hips. Zorus pulled her tighter against his chest, smashing her br**sts against him. His lips brushed her forehead while he wrapped his hands over her fisted ones.

“It won’t hurt for long. We’ll do this together.”

“Let’s not mention pain, okay?”

He chuckled. “Here we go. Don’t tense up.”

Something heavy draped over her bare shoulders, over her upper arms, and around her back. She knew the same was being done to Zorus. She took slow, steady breaths. It was custom to do this in front of witnesses at the ceremony. They didn’t need a host of words as they did on Earth. On Garden it came down to actions.

The heavy drape tightened around her body and warmed. It didn’t hurt at first but then she felt a slight burning sensation over her skin. She gripped Zorus tighter and he held her hands. She breathed in his scent and then she could smell something burning. She tried not to wince, knowing it was the fat cells being replaced with magnetic ink, just under her skin and his. The cells were harmlessly burned away as the transfer took place. It wasn’t as bad as she’d feared but it wasn’t pleasant either. The drape cooled and then foreign hands gently removed it.

“Don’t touch them,” Zorus reminded her. “They will heal quickly.”

Curiosity got the better of her and she pulled away from his chest enough to move her arm to peer at the fresh tattoo on that side while she continued to clutch her dress to keep her br**sts covered. She wanted a mirror to see it all but knew she’d have to wait for that.

“They look the same as mine,” Zorus whispered. “We match.”

She studied his skin and saw the fresh impressions that hadn’t been there before. It was a pretty design, written in the cyborg language she couldn’t read. Their symbols were artistic, similar to tribal tattoos on Earth, and she smiled at him. He hadn’t been branded for his first wife but he’d done it for Charlie.

“So now what?”

He started to help her carefully put the dress back on. The loose material wouldn’t irritate the branding. “Now our life as a family unit begins.”

Charlie grinned up at him. “Awesome.”

He laughed. “Yes, awesome.”

“We get a honeymoon, don’t we? I forgot to ask about that part. The prospect of you having to get into a fight to marry me kind of shoved it out of my head until now.”

“I’ve taken two weeks off from my duties to be with you.”

She grinned. “That’s so sweet.”

Desire flashed in his beautiful eyes. “You don’t want me to lie to you. It wasn’t something I did to make you happy. I have my own selfish reasons.” His focus lowered down her body, taking in every inch he could, while his grin widened. “I plan to remove that gown as soon as our guests leave and I doubt you’ll wear anything until I return to my duties.”

Zorus rose to his feet and helped her rise. Guests politely clapped to celebrate their joining. Charlie looked around the room with a smile. It had to be the mellowest wedding she’d ever been to besides the whole possible-fistfight clause in the beginning and getting tattoos.

“So what do you do at these things? Where’s the booze and the loud music?”

The aghast expression on Zorus’ face answered her.

“No booze and dancing?”


“Then what do you do at these things?”

“We feed our guests, thank them for coming, and then they leave.”

“Oh geez.” Charlie sighed. “You people are missing out.”

“Sorry.” He chuckled. “You’re not on Earth anymore.” His arm wrapped around her waist. “They should be gone within the hour.” He winked. “We’ll be alone.”

She grinned back at him. “Let’s feed them and get them out then.” She tried to step away to ask the cyborgs who had come to serve food to start passing it out but Zorus spun her inside his arms instead. His mouth came down on hers.

Charlie kissed him back until she couldn’t think. To her, all that existed inside the room were his warm lips, his tongue teasing her, and then he pulled away with a glint of humor in his beautiful eyes.

“I love you, Charlie.”

“I love you too, Zorus.”

“Thank you for bringing me happiness. I’m so glad to have you in my life.”

She loved that he hadn’t put his shirt back on as her hands rubbed his bare chest. “Thank me when we get them the hell out of here. You can drop to your knees and show me how grateful you are,” she teased.

Zorus chuckled. “Just to say the words?”

“Nope. I want tongue.”

“I see. And are you thankful and grateful for having me in your life?”

“You are the best thing that’s ever happened to me. That’s why I plan to drop to my knees after you get up off the floor.” She laughed. “To thank you, that is, and I promise to use my mouth but I doubt there will be any words. You’re kind of big to talk around.”

All humor left his handsome face. “Let’s get them the hell out of here.”

“Yeah. Let’s do that.”

They shared a smile before they stopped embracing, then turned to their guests.

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