Haunting Blackie Page 10

Eve turned her head, breaking the intense stare with Blackie.

“Talk to me, damn it. You’re freaking me the hell out. I love you and I’m really concerned.”

Eve licked her lips. “It’s him. Handsome.”

“Oh,” Danica said, her voice soft. “Shit. No wonder you’re acting this way. Carry on. I won’t get in the way.”

“What does that mean?” Gene met Blackie’s gaze. “I guess she thinks you’re attractive.”

Danica shook her head. “He’s the one.”

“What one?” Blackie wanted to know what was going on too.

Danica met his curious stare. “We are mostly human I guess but we have bonus features added.” She released Gene to lift one hand. Her fingernails began to grow. “Our claws and fangs are triggered by fear or anger when we feel threatened or protective. Over the years we learned how to force the change the way I’m doing now. It helped us survive but it takes a lot of practice.” She retracted the claws. “Our larynges are different from yours, adapted to speak both normally or in canine mode. It gives us the ability to growl, snarl, and our voices deepen as you heard. Our canine DNA embedded certain behaviors as well. They messed up though and Eve found the flaw.”

“What was that?” Varion decided to speak and get involved in the conversation.

Danica hesitated. “As I told them,” she nodded toward Blackie and Gene, “no male canine units were made because Cameron feared we wouldn’t take orders from him or his people if there were males in our line. A bonded mate would become our natural leader and someone we’d blindly follow. He thought we’d be loyal as, well, puppy dogs to him since he made us. We were designed to defer to those we love, instinctually doing anything to please them, needing that sense of…” She paused. “Shit. It’s hard to explain but the bottom line is that she was hacking into the mainframe computer, searching for cyborgs to free, and located that one.” She pointed at Blackie. “They forgot to sever his link to the computer when they brought him to the center. His pain was transmitted through that connection when he was beaten and Eve picked it up. She rescued him but something happened when they actually met.”

“What?” Blackie wanted to shake Danica and make her just tell him. She was dragging out giving him the information he wanted then she stopped talking.

Danica dropped her hand. “She bonded to you. Like obsessively. You became her total alpha and someone she’d do anything for.”

Varion gasped. “Why him? He’s an ass**le, not an alpha.”

Blackie wanted to punch the son of a bitch but that would mean releasing Eve, something he wasn’t willing to do.

Danica shrugged. “I don’t know. She could feel his pain when he hurt. It was stupid to rescue him because he’d be missed. We told her to sever the link so she wouldn’t touch his mind and that it was too dangerous to go after him. It didn’t matter to her. We felt a kinship to cyborgs and helped them because all of us were created to be used by Earth Government. We were smart about it though and protected ourselves in the process. Cameron screwed up when he designed us to be so loyal.”

Danica bit her lip and then sighed, staring at Blackie. “She was willing to die for you. She thinks of you as a mate. At least, that’s what I believe. She lost you and could never muster any interest in other men. You were it for her. The one.”

“A mate?” Blackie reeled from the implications.

“For life, I’m guessing.” Danica glared at him. “It’s the flaw in our design. Eve found it when she bonded to you. It scared the shit out of me and I’ve never allowed any man to get too close for that reason. You ruined her life. I hoped she’d get over it but she never did. All these years, decades, she snubbed all men. They weren’t you.” The other woman raked him with her gaze. “Now she’s interested. You hurt her and I’ll gut you, cyborg.”

The threat didn’t bother him. He was still trying to make sense of the term “mate”. Some animals did that for life when they chose one partner to breed with and stayed with each other until death. He stared at Eve as she locked gazes with him.

Emotions were easy to read in her eyes. Fear. Concern. Hope. Then her gaze dropped to his chest and her hold loosened. She seemed to crumple in his arms.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

Chapter Four

Eve learned a new kind of pain. It was clear that her cyborg was stunned but beyond that, his emotions were hard to read. She was pretty sure he had to be horrified. Danica had just told him her secret, something she had hoped she could explain to him over time. Any chance she had of making him fall in love with her before she confessed to the bond she felt toward him had been blown to hell.

She feared he’d reject her. Cyborgs had been designed differently than canine units. Their feelings weren’t always boiling close to the surface. They kept them highly guarded, partly because they had chips implanted inside their brains that allowed them to suppress their emotions and partly because they were so tough. It went beyond their physical superiority.

She’d had her heart broken once when she’d watched those shuttles fly out of sight and had known he’d left without her. It had been tough to survive when all she’d wanted to do was die. Her sisters had forced her to go on until Cameron had deemed the canine unit project a failure and made the decision to execute the entire line. He wasn’t willing to allow Eve to die with them though, intent on punishing her for betraying him. Her suffering became his sick form of revenge after it came to light that they’d helped the cyborgs gain freedom.

She glanced at Danica, the only sister she’d been able to save. Humiliation still burned when she remembered dropping to her knees at Cameron’s side to clutch his thigh. She’d begged him not to kill her sisters, sworn to do anything to prevent their deaths. She’d even told him she’d die if she were left alone, the truth because they were all that kept her going. He’d looked at her with hatred and had said she could save only one. The bastard had smiled, thrilled that she’d given him a way to hurt her more.

The murders of her sisters had destroyed her but she’d always been the closest to Danica. They had trained together, shared a room, and bonded the tightest. She’d chosen one name out of hundreds. She’d never regretted it but the guilt of every other death rested squarely on her shoulders.

Now Danica had betrayed her by telling Handsome—no, Blackie was his name now—the truth. It burned a painful hole in her heart. She’d confessed everything to her sister over the years, including knowing how, if she’d been given the chance, she would have shown him how happy she could make him before telling him of the bond she formed. Danica had listened many times as Eve expressed her fear of his instant rejection.

The big hands gripping her h*ps slid around to her spine and she held back a whimper, guessing he would set her down, put distance between them. Cyborgs were solitary beings. The idea of a woman attached so intensely would naturally be distasteful. She didn’t cling to him despite wanting to.

He lifted her higher instead of shoving her away and her head snapped up to stare at his face. He wasn’t looking at her but instead glowered at another cyborg—the medic.

“We’ll be in my quarters.” He shot a marginally friendlier look at the cyborg with his arm around Danica. “Gene, find somewhere else to bunk. I’ll pack your belongings and put them outside the door.”

Her heartbeat stuttered when he stared into her eyes. She didn’t want to hope but it was hard not to do.

“Hold on to me, Eve. We’re going to our quarters. You can walk on your own or I can carry you. Your choice.”

The tingling sensation at the end of her spine was embarrassing. If she’d had a tail, it would have wagged.

“Where am I supposed to sleep?” Gene sounded outraged.

Blackie broke eye contact to glance at him. “We have space in the cargo hold. I’ll disassemble your upper bunk and leave it in the hallway. I won’t be needing two.”

Her arms wrapped firmly around him as she buried his face against his neck. He hugged her tighter and walked away. She inhaled his scent and excitement made her aware of how every step he took rubbed their bodies together. He’s not rejecting me!

“You hurt her and you’re dead, cyborg.”

She snarled at Danica’s threat. It came out muffled against Blackie’s skin. He didn’t wince, seeming to know he wasn’t the one who stirred her anger.

“Ignore them,” he rasped close to her ear. “We’re almost there.”

He let go with one arm to open the door to his quarters. It made a slight sound and he paused inside until it closed. She wanted to look at him but fear kept her still in his arms. He might have wanted privacy to reject her without witnesses. She had once saved his life and he could feel a sense of honor and wish to spare her that humiliation.

Big, strong hands slid to cup the curve of each ass cheek. He grasped her firmly enough to dig into her flesh. It didn’t hurt but he had her full attention. Her body responded instantly to having his fingers so close to her sex.

“Eve?”

It was time to face him. Don’t reject me. Please. She didn’t say it but she wanted to. It took courage to lift her head and peer into his handsome features, which completely masked all emotion. His gaze seemed a little distant.

“Is that true?”

“What?” She knew though. He wanted her to admit to feeling a strong bond to him.

Muscles tightened along his jawline in irritation. “Do you think of me as your…” He paused and cleared his throat before finishing. “Mate?”

“The human side of me knows that’s not reasonable.” That was a safe answer.

“What about the canine side?”

“It’s a flaw in my design.”

Anger sparked in his eyes. “Is that how you see it? Do you resent being so drawn to me because genetic coding made it possible?”

“No.” She wouldn’t lie. “It scared me at first. I knew what was happening when I met you, could guess, but you’re a cyborg. Emotional bonds aren’t part of your makeup.”

“I just want the truth. Do you see me as your mate?”

“Yes,” she rushed on. “But I won’t stalk you or anything. I get it that you probably are put off by it. I’ve survived all these decades without you. I will handle it well.” What a liar. “It’s okay if you don’t want me. You probably already have someone in your life.” Ouch. God, that’s going to hurt if he tells me he hooked up with another cyborg.

“I am not contracted to a family unit. My career is paramount and few understood that. No one has interested me enough to join in a long-term contract with them.”

It sounded so cold. “You have family units that are based on contracts?”

“Yes.”

They were night-and-day different. She wanted to curl into a ball and cry. Whenever she’d daydreamed about the kind of life they would have shared, it had involved lots of touching and laughter. She’d imagined him more friendly and loving in nature. It was tough to face reality. It hurt.

Blackie studied her gaze. “What do you require?”

“Require?”

“What details are involved with being a mate?”

She decided to look on the bright side. He wasn’t seriously involved with anyone. That was one huge hurdle down and he wanted to know what she wanted from him in a relationship. His curiosity indicated that he held interest in her needs.

What would make me happy? She debated the answer while those intense eyes of his regarded her. “I just want…” You to love me. “Someone who cares about me and who I matter to. I need lots of physical contact.” Hugs and you putting your hands on me all the time. The prospect of him claiming her body heightened her senses and reminded her that she was wrapped around him.

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