Loving Deviant Page 29

heard you say he would be punished if I were a spy. I’m not. I die if I’m recaptured.”

“You don’t mind being my son’s property? Earthers hate that term.”

“I hate to break it to you, but nobody is free.”

“Explain.”

“Earth Government tells us where we can live, what kind of jobs we can have, and they decide who can live or die. That was a government-run facility where I was kept prisoner. It wouldn’t even shock me if I were to learn they’d rigged my vehicle to crash.” It was something she’d contemplated. “They keep track of everything we do, and of every detailed medical scan. For all I know, they did this to me on purpose because of my rare blood type. They thought nothing of stealing my life away from me. With Deviant, I made a choice. I offered to belong to him. See the difference? I do. And no, I don’t mind. He’s a good man.”

“You’re wise.”

“I wouldn’t go that far. I agreed to be a deep-space bride out of desperation and it landed me on that station. Deviant saved me from a fate worse than death.”

“You believe death is better than being a sex worker? You made an agreement to have sex with my son. What is the difference?”

“The difference is I’m attracted to Deviant.”

He frowned.

“What? You find that hard to believe?”

“Our women only see his flaws.”

That pissed her off all over again. “He’s not flawed. What in the hell is wrong with your people? So his skin is darker than yours? So what? Mine is very pale. It’s just skin. People should be judged by what’s inside instead, and he’s an amazing person. As for his eyes, they glow. So what? I think they’re the prettiest eyes I’ve ever seen.”

A smile curved Mavo’s lips. “You don’t see him as defective.”

“No. I don’t.”

“Good. I don’t see him that way either. He is a good man. He has honor and heart.”

“I know. He saved me from hell. I’m never going to forget that or stop being grateful.”

“I’m certain the station owner would have kept you alive.”

“For a while, until I grew sick. A lot of his clients are pirates. We all know what that means.”

“I don’t.”

“Pirates suffer from long-term exposure to radiation. I’m sure you’ve seen them. The sores. The disfigurements. About ten years ago, a group of women were rescued in deep space. They’d been captured by pirates months before.” Venice abandoned her food, hugging her chest. “They’d been turned into breeders.” She held his gaze. “It was all over the news. Earth Government wanted to use them as an example of why you don’t leave the safe zones in space, which the military patrols. The women had been repeatedly raped by pirates…they suffered grave injuries because of the secondary radiation exposure through sexual contact. Do I need to go on?”

He shook his head. “No.”

She nodded. “That would have been me. The reports kept everyone updated on their deteriorating conditions. I think the longest one survived for almost two years. She’d lost her hair, and her teeth had fallen out…you get the point. I doubt they were given treatment, just so EC could really scare the hell out of the public by showing vids of those poor women. I didn’t see any high-tech medical facility at the Colton Station. Darbis would have used me to make money until my body gave out. Tell me that’s not worse than death.”

The cleansing unit opened and Deviant stepped out fully dressed. He put on his boots and studied her and his father. “Are you two on good terms?”

“We are,” Mavo answered. “Start your shift.

Deviant hesitated, staring directly at her.

She rose and approached him. “It’s okay. Your father is being very nice to me. I feel safe. Go do what you do. I’ll be here waiting for you when you come back.”

He reached out and gently brushed his thumb down her arm. “I’ll be thinking of you.”

That made her smile. “I’ll be thinking about you too. You didn’t eat,” she reminded him.

“I will on my way to my shift. You eat what my father brought.” He dropped his hand and spun, marching to the door. He hesitated then glanced back. Mavo stood and moved between them.

“Go. I’m blocking her if there’s someone in the corridor.”

Deviant left and the door sealed behind him. Venice felt a moment of uncertainty being left alone with his father but the cyborg turned around, holding her gaze.

“You should finish all the food. I need to make

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