Loving Deviant Page 51

much better than the skin patches we currently create to seal wounds.”

“You’re pale.” Deviant leaned in close. “Are you alright?”

“Yes. I’m just a bit squeamish when it comes to this stuff.”

He shot a look at the medical staff. “Stop with vocal assessments. You’re making her uncomfortable.”

“It’s okay.” She forced a smile.

Deviant’s mouth pressed into a grim line, and he clutched her hand a little tighter.

* * * * *

“How is she?”

Deviant took a seat on his couch, motioning for his father to do the same. “Brave; and she swears she’s fine. I brought her home from the medical center and she just wanted to go to bed. She’s tired. Thank you for bringing the food and for helping me put it away.”

“I apologize that I was delayed.”

“Is everything well?”

“Krell wished to speak to me in person when I contacted Cyan. I went to their home and then the food center.”

“Did he have questions about Venice? I know it’s his duty to assess threats. I hope you told him she doesn’t pose one.”

“No. We spoke of the Markus Models.”

“I spoke to Maze. He said the Varnish is leaving Garden tomorrow on a mission regarding them. Are you going?”

“I would, but Stag has made it clear you and I are no longer welcome to join his crew.”

It made Deviant feel guilt. “I apologize.”

“Stop. Krell is going over options of what to do if the trackers we’ve created work and we’re able to trail the androids’ movements. He’d invited other cyborgs to join our discussion, to create a plan on how to destroy the models. It’s highly probable that they’ve created some kind of home base they are using. We just need to find it before they discover the location of Garden.”

“I hate that we’re under threat.”

“We all do, but we will resolve this issue. It’s just a matter of time. Why did you take Venice to the medical center so soon?”

Deviant hadn’t spoken to his father in hours. “The council has ordered me before them in the morning.”

“We already knew that.”

“They updated the time and ordered me to leave Venice in my home. I fear Stag did file a report against me, and might have made them a little wary of Venice.”

“Shit. Everyone knows Stag, though. But I understand why you’d take her so quickly now to be scanned. You can present that information to them and explain her medical value to offset his complaints.” Mavo grinned. “My smart son. I’m proud.”

“She allowed them to take three skin samples instead of one. We had a disagreement about that.”

“Why three?”

“She healed so well and so fast that they felt it wouldn’t scar or injure her to take a couple more. The more tissue they have, the more it increases their odds of being able to replicate it faster. She agreed. I didn’t.”

“Was it painful for her? Did she lose a lot of blood?”

“No. They used local anesthetic. She doesn’t bleed from her artificial limbs; instead, a pinkish fluid comes from the wounds. They wanted to test that as well. I hated seeing them studying her. She’s special to me, not a medical test subject. It made me angry that she had to do this at all. She shouldn’t have to prove her value to our community.”

“I understand, but she wouldn’t have agreed if she wasn’t fine with it.”

“I’m not certain that’s true. She feels very obliged to me for rescuing her off that station. She knew it would help me get out of trouble. I worry that she might take that thankfulness too far and end up resenting me.”

“Deviant, don’t take this the wrong way, but you have a tendency to overthink everything. You always have. They didn’t harm her, did they?”

“No.”

“She’s healed now?”

“Yes.”

“Let it go.”

“But—”

“Let it go,” Mavo repeated. “Trust me when I say, women will tell you if they are upset or if something really bothers them. They will also show you in their actions, too.”

“Venice isn’t like any other females I’ve ever met. She’s selfless.”

“That’s an excellent trait but she’s also a survivor. We both know what she’s gone through. She wouldn’t agree to something unless she felt willing to do so. Have trust in her ability to make decisions, or you will insult her. That will start an argument. You don’t want that.”

“No, I don’t.”

His father stood. “I’ll leave you. I bought all the foods Cyan suggested are close to Earth ones, that she believes Venice will find familiar enough. What time is the council convening? I’ll be there.”

“You

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