Haunting Blackie Page 26

The council member held his gaze and gave a sharp nod. “Agreed. They are just curious about her and wish to ask questions.”

“What do they want to know?” Eve jutted her chin out, a sign of stubbornness Blackie found endearing.

“Would you follow me? They’d like to see you in person.”

“We’re fine here,” Blackie protested. “She doesn’t need to feel overwhelmed. Ask their questions.”

“Is she anatomically human?”

“For the most part,” Eve answered. “If you’re talking sexual parts, yes. Strip me naked, which you’d better not consider really doing because I’d fight that since I’m not into show-and-tell, and I look completely human. I don’t have a tail or anything. I have the cool sliding teeth and fingernails.” She lifted a hand and peered up at the camera. “See?” She extended her fingernails, turning them so it was clear how long they were. “I can also deepen my voice. My larynx isn’t limited to human sounds. I’m also stronger than most Earthers and I don’t age the way they do. My line was created just weeks after cyborgs were. I’m the first in my line.”

“I asked Jazel if you could have children to establish they were already aware of that fact. Do your units have single births or multiples?”

Eve hesitated and turned her head to stare up at Blackie. “Um, I thought we’d discuss this part in private but the two of my line who had children when we were still on Earth had more than one. Barbra had three at once and Debbie had two.”

Blackie was stunned. He hadn’t considered that canines tended to have litters instead of just one child.

“You okay, Handsome?” She bit her lower lip, peering up at him with concern.

“Yes.” He’d adjust to the information.

“The council will agree to a family unit of only two if you agree not to limit the amount of children you have.”

“What does that mean?” Blackie didn’t enjoy the implications.

Zorus didn’t look pleased but he represented the council. “Your woman and her sister are unique.”

Eve growled. “You want to turn me into a breeder, in other words. Just expect my sister and me to…what? Drop a litter every year?”

“Could both of you do that?” Zorus appeared interested. “Your race was created female. Were they able to create male offspring?”

“We could probably have children that fast but we won’t.” Eve flashed her fangs. “I’m sure it is possible but I’m not going to allow you to turn me in to some kind of baby machine and neither is Danica. Only two of our line had children before they were executed. They delivered at full term just after twelve weeks of gestation since we heal so fast and our engineered genetics seemed to accelerate the pregnancies. I remember what happened to them when it was discovered they were pregnant. Both were taken away by security and locked up so they could test the shit out of them. Thanks, but no thanks.”

“Were the offspring all female?” Zorus wasn’t ready to let it go.

“Yes.” She frowned. “But there were only two pregnancies in our line so don’t just assume for a fact that we can only have girls. The fathers of those babies might have had something to do with their sex if it wasn’t by genetic design.”

Blackie reeled from that information, imagining Eve able to bear him numerous children in a short span of time. It also alarmed him a bit if she was only able to birth females. He took an aggressive step forward and glowered at the camera.

“Enough,” he demanded. “She and her littermate paid the ultimate price for what they did for cyborgs. You are not going to ask or expect them to replenish our population with females. The number of children we have and the timing will be decided between her and me. That is not negotiable.”

Zorus glanced at the camera and seemed to be listening.

“What are they saying?” Eve peered up at Blackie.

“I don’t know. I’m not linked into their conversation.” He wished he were.

“I wanted to tell you about the pregnancies privately but it never came up. Are you freaked out?”

He turned her so they had direct eye contact. “I am not freaked out, if that means what I think it does. It is a surprise but I already decided I wanted to have children with you. I just didn’t expect to have more than one at a time.”

“It might have just been a fluke.”

He arched his eyebrows, not believing that.

“Yeah.” She dropped her gaze to his shirt. “That’s what Cameron and his team came up with too. They encouraged more of us to hook up with some of the guards, hoping to do more research. Of course, that never happened.” She looked up with tears in her eyes. “Those babies were just weeks old when we tried to escape with you. The mothers had them ten days apart. Cameron said he had them killed along with their mothers.”

He hated to see her anguish.

“It was my fault. I was the one who talked everyone into helping cyborgs. Some of them were afraid. Our lives were shit but as long as we played by the rules, we would have survived. They listened to me, though, because it was the right thing to do.”

Blackie wrapped his arms around her and hugged her close. He glared at Zorus over the top of her head. The male’s sympathetic expression assured him he’d overheard their exchange of words when they studied each other.

“Your line lost their lives to save us. I’m so sorry, Eve. I know there’s no way to make it up to you or them but we will try.”

Zorus nodded. “Agreed.”

Eve tensed and pulled out of his arms. She wiped at her eyes before she turned around to face the camera and the council member in the room with them. “My ovaries are my business and that of my mate. The same goes for my sister. Am I clear?”

“Perfectly.” Zorus inclined his head.

Blackie assumed the council would agree to almost any terms at that moment. “I want to be removed from my breeding pact immediately.”

“What is that?” Eve glanced up at him.

Blackie opened his mouth but no words came out. There was no explanation she would like.

“Not all cyborgs are able to breed,” Zorus answered. “I am a prime example of that. I had viable sperm when I was created. One of the doctors used me to discover whether we were capable of having children. Then he decided to sterilize me.”

Eve appeared horrified. “I’m sorry.”

“It is done. I’m not the only male unable to produce offspring. We place those men on a list with others who have healthy, productive sperm. It’s termed a ‘breeding pact’. It gives women access the men who have active sperm if someone in her family unit is unable to provide children. It’s our duty to safeguard the future of our race by providing at least one child per person.”

Eve paled. “You mean another woman could ask for my mate’s sperm and he’s supposed to just hand it over in a cup so she can have his babies? Hell no.”

Blackie had known she wouldn’t react well. “That’s why I want out of mine.”

Zorus smiled. “We don’t have a good success rate with artificial insemination. The woman would borrow your male for intercourse.”

“Fuck that!” Eve’s temper exploded. “Take him out of the breeding pact. If any bitch tries to lay a finger on him, I’ll bite it off. He’s mine!”

It seemed to infuriate her more when the council member had the audacity to look amused. Blackie wanted to punch Zorus.

“I’ll kill her. Blackie is my mate.” She growled, showing teeth.

“Fascinating,” Zorus mused.

“Zorus,” Blackie warned. “Enough. I know you’re purposely being obtuse just to witness her reactions. Remove me from the breeding pact. The number of children we have is a personal matter between Eve and me. I do understand why you wish us to have more than what is required to safeguard Eve and Danica’s line for a future generation but now isn’t the time to discuss this. She’s been through enough.”

“Agreed.” Zorus stepped back. “A team was sent to secure your belongings and move them to your new home. Krell will escort you both there and give you a short walking tour of the city for Eve’s benefit while they stock it with food. The council requests you both return tomorrow for an appointment with them.” He stared at Eve. “We would also like to meet your sister.”

“I’ll inform Gene and he will bring her.” Blackie paused. “I would like our family unit to be officially granted.”

“We’ll take care of that in my office tomorrow morning right after the council sees them. It won’t be a problem. Do you wish a ceremony?”

“Uncertain.” Blackie looked down at Eve and smiled. “We’ll discuss it tonight.”

The doors slid open and Krell entered. “This way.”

Chapter Eleven

Eve decided the city was one of the cleanest she’d ever toured. The curious stares of cyborgs didn’t frighten her as she grinned widely at anyone who took an interest in her. She’d helped free some of them and a sense of pride at her accomplishments arose. The bitterness caused by Freedom and his betrayal to her canine line wasn’t going to ruin the rest of her life. Her future was with her mate on Garden.

“You know Danica is going to howl when she wakes up on Gene’s ship. I almost feel sorry for him.”

Blackie’s deep chuckle drew her attention as she glanced up at him. “I think he can handle her.”

“I don’t know. She bites and doesn’t fight fair. We might want to cut this short and send a vid to him. He can play it for her so she can actually see me when she comes around, otherwise she’s going to assume the worst. My guess is she’ll think he kidnapped her to have his wild way.” She grinned. “Not that I think it would be a bad thing if he did. I believe she likes him more than she’s willing to admit. It might take that kind of wake-up call to get her to admit it to him.”

Blackie didn’t look amused as he turned his gaze on the other cyborg. “Krell? Do you think they’ve had time to prepare our new quarters?”

The tall, broad-shouldered cyborg shrugged. “We could go find out. I want to get home to Cyan.”

“She’s due to have the child soon, isn’t she?”

“Yes.”

“Thank you for everything you’ve done.” Eve grinned at him when he glanced back at her.

“Threat assessment is my job. I do it best if I’m present to calculate every move the enemy could make, to counteract it. Zorus requested that I be there.”

They entered one of the buildings and rode the elevator to the top floor. The doors opened once Blackie placed his hand on the panel and Eve guessed he sent signals through it to prove his identity.

Cyborgs met them inside. One of them didn’t appear too happy when he faced off against Blackie. He was tall, with silver-blue eyes and his hair was a glossy, silvery color. “Your belongings have been transferred, food has been delivered and a clothing coordinator will arrive within the hour to measure the woman for outfitting.”

“Thank you for all your assistance, Steel.”

The tense way her mate spoke stiffened Eve’s spine. She was instantly alert for trouble.

“I followed orders. Rena was glad to return to Garden, tired of space. We’ll be here for a few weeks.” He paused. “We were assigned a floor below you.”

Eve searched her memories for every reference she’d heard about Steel. “You are married to a human.” She released Blackie and offered her hand. “I’m Eve. Blackie and I mated. I’m a canine unit. That’s, um, human with canine genetics added. Thank you for the save on the Bridden.”

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