Redeeming Zorus Page 19

An uncomfortable silence stretched. “Didn’t I? I raised him to hate humans—all of them—and should have immediately spoken to him when I brought you into my home. I just didn’t think of him. I had been told he’d returned to Garden after I was taken to Earth and I should have contacted him to warn him that I planned to live with you. I needed to make it clear what you mean to me, that you aren’t the enemy. I should have ordered him to stay away from you if he couldn’t accept you as an important part of my life.”

She finally lifted her head to study Zorus. His handsome face looked ravaged with anguish, regret, and sadness. Hot tears blinded her until she blinked them back. “I’m going to be okay.”

A muscle near his jaw twitched. “What did he do?”

She lowered her gaze. “I’m going to have some bruises and I may have some bald spots on the back of my head.”

Zorus leaned closer until his body gently brushed against her knees while he examined the back of her head. “I don’t see any.”

“It feels like it. He pulled me around by my hair.”

A soft growl came from him that made Charlie jerk her head up to stare at him. Anger darkened his features.

“I’m sorry.”

“You didn’t do it.”

He opened his mouth.

“I know,” she whispered before he could repeat taking the blame. “You feel responsible. Let’s not go there, okay? I’m trying really hard to keep it together. I was terrified,” she admitted. “If you hadn’t walked in when―” Emotion choked her.

“He would have raped you.”

She looked away from the rage burning in his dark gaze. “He tried.”

Zorus moved closer to her again. “Let me wash you. It helps. You’ll feel better once you clean away his touch.”

She glanced up at Zorus, remembering what Darius had told her about his past. She didn’t tell him what had been said but she had the sad insight that he knew from experience that bathing would help. No one had saved him from the humans who’d attacked him, raped and tortured him. She’d been spared the fate of being sexually abused.

Gentle hands helped her ease off the counter. She stood on trembling legs while he turned on the water inside the large tub located in one corner of the bathroom. She had longingly looked at it when she’d showered but hadn’t wanted Zorus to return home to find her being lazy inside his bath.

“Dinner! There’s a roast in the oven. It’s going to burn.”

“I’ll remove it.” He hesitated. “I’ll return quickly.”

She waited for him to leave before she faced a mirror. Red marks marred her skin on her upper arms, wrists, and shoulders. Her face looked red and her lips swollen from the gag that Darius had used. She turned then, lifted on tiptoe, and looked over her shoulder to get a view at her ass.

A red, angry mark showed on her ass cheek from where Darius had forced his hipbone against her there. A shiver ran up her spine at how close she’d been to being raped. A few more seconds and he would have entered her.

Zorus returned as quickly as he’d promised, stepped into the bathroom, and tested the temperature of the bath water. He turned and slowly started to undress. Charlie tensed.

“I’m not exactly in the mood now.”

That drew an irritated look from him. “I don’t wish to have sex. I want to go into the water with you, hold you, and wash you. Afterward I’ll feed you dinner while you rest.” He paused. “I just want to hold you. I need to. I could have lost you and I just—” His voice broke. “I want to hold you.”

Hot tears blinded her but she blinked them back. “I’d like that.”

He closed the distance between them in just his pants and boots, his strong arms pulling her against his chest in a tight hug, and she wrapped her arms around him.

“This will never happen again. I swear it to you, Charlie.”

She nodded against his hot, bare chest. His body heat soothed her, warmed the cold places inside her that the attack had created, and she did feel safe.

“I will deal with my son.” His tone turned icy.

Charlie suddenly shivered again. She didn’t think Darius would enjoy whatever Zorus would say or do to his son. Not that she cared. Darius had shown no mercy for her and she wouldn’t be broken up if he got his ass kicked by his father. Her only regret would be not watching as Zorus beat on him.

Chapter Ten

Zorus waited impatiently at the door to the apartment, three buildings from his own. He’d tried to calm the rage inside him. It had been difficult. He’d washed Charlie, cared for her, and she’d slept after he fed her the delicious meal she’d prepared.

Darius opened the door with a grim expression on his features. “Father.”

“Son.”

“You’re angry.”

“Furious.”

Darius cocked his head and backed up. “Enter.”

The apartment had a female’s touch to the décor. Zorus glanced around. “Are your female and children of your family unit home?”

“This is her week to live with Urgo.”

The thought of sending Charlie to live with another male made Zorus clench his fists. His son shared the woman of his family unit with two other males and whichever breeding-pact males were needed to conceive children if they needed outside help. He turned to face Darius when the door closed behind him.

“You had no authority to touch my female.” His voice deepened. “Your female would be very angry if she knew you tried to have intercourse with another female.”

Darius hesitated. “Not with a human. They are nothing but slaves for our use. My female understands that I have needs she isn’t always around to fill.”

“You are never,” Zorus ground out each word, “to attempt to harm Charlie again. I don’t even want you near her.”

“She’s just a human.”

“She’s mine!” Zorus snarled the words. He stepped back after he realized that he’d lunged forward a step when Darius backed up. He fought his fury, gained control of his emotions, and nearly flinched at the astounded expression on the face that so resembled his own.

“You care what happens to it?”

“Her. Charlie isn’t my enemy, nor is she yours. Do you understand me? I plan to form a family unit with her.”

Astonishment quickly transformed into anger on his son’s face. Darius glared at his father. “She’s somehow influenced you. You always said they could corrupt our people if given the opportunity. She has fooled you into believing she will not cause harm to you or our people. What did she do to you while you were a prisoner on Earth? Drug you? Torture you?”

“No. She rescued me and makes me happy.”

Darius just gaped at him.

“I never believed I could care for a human either.” Zorus paused to construct his thoughts into words that would allow his son to understand. “She was a grunt on Earth, irrelevant to Earth Government. Do you understand? She is similar to us in the way she has been treated by them all of her life. She has as much value to humans as we have on Earth. She’s part of their disposable workforce. She risked her life to save mine numerous times.”

“It’s a trick you fell for.” Darius spat the words contemptuously. “You have been deceived by the human. I understand the physical appeal. It must bring you much pleasure to have her under your control. I enjoyed her terror and the feel of her soft flesh. Give her to me and I’ll kill her for you after I’m done using her.”

Zorus would never have believed that he’d actually hit his son but that’s exactly what he did in a blinding moment of rage. He watched as his son hit the carpet on his ass, his fist throbbed from the impact it had made with Darius’ face. Zorus cursed under his breath.

“Don’t ever touch her again. I realize this is my fault. I conditioned you to hate all humans but Charlie is different. You had better never speak of her in that regard again.”

Blood trickled down Darius’ chin from his busted lip. He defiantly stared up at his father. “You hate humans.”

“I hate most humans but not Charlie.”

“They abused you. Humans did horrendous things to you when they held you prisoner on Earth.”

“You are correct.” Zorus paused. “She didn’t harm me in any way. She doesn’t deserve your disgust or your need to seek vengeance on my behalf for what other humans once did to me.”

“They are animals.”

“Most of them are but not Charlie.”

“You’ve been deceived. She will kill you while you sleep or she is a spy Earth Government sent to obtain information to exterminate us.” Darius slowly rose to his feet, wiped away the blood from his lower face, and nodded at his father. “I will prove it to you. I’ll make her confess the truth if you only allow me to interrogate her.”

“You will not go anywhere near Charlie ever again. I have changed the codes that gave you access to my home. You are no longer welcome there. If you wish to see me, I will come here or we shall meet somewhere we both agree on.” Zorus watched his son, his body tense. “You will never touch her again, son. I will do anything to defend her, even if that means protecting her from you.”

Darius was clearly outraged. “You―”

“I mean it.” Zorus hoped his son saw the sincerity in his serious gaze. His chest hurt over the fact that he’d had to take this strong position but he’d never allow anyone to hurt the woman he’d come to love. Not even his only child. “You go near her and I will consider you a threat to her life. I will defend her against an attack. I plan to form a family unit with her. Have I made myself clear on this matter? I didn’t come here to debate the issue with you but to inform you of the serious nature of my relationship ties to the human.”

Darius straightened to his full height, his body tensing. “I’m going to call a council meeting immediately. You have been compromised, your logic is no longer sound, and you are a traitor to all cyborgs if you choose a human over your own son.”

Sadness crept inside Zorus to the point that he actually had to blink back tears. “You’ve never loved a woman, have you? You’ve never experienced true emotion or allowed anyone to mean so much to you that you will do anything to protect them.”

“I had those emotions for my father but he must have died when he was taken to Earth.” Disgust twisted his son’s features. “Get out of my home. I will not stop until you are stripped of your position and your human is killed. I will save you from whatever she has done to you.”

Zorus would not argue with someone who obviously refused to hear reason. He strode out of the apartment and tried to get control of his emotions. Ever since Charlie had come into his life it had spiraled out of control. He didn’t regret it though. For once in his life he had something to live for. Charlie gave him contentment.

When he returned home, he placed calls to a few of the supportive council members who had either taken a human into their family units or backed the right to be with one. He hated to admit that his own son planned to bring charges against him but he knew Darius wouldn’t make empty threats. When he finished the last notification, he walked quietly into the bedroom. Charlie had left the bathroom light on to keep the bedroom from total darkness.

She hugged his pillow, her body curled into a fetal position on her side in the middle of his bed, and his anger abated over the embarrassing situation his son had forced him to deal with. He quickly stripped and climbed onto the bed with Charlie. The moment he touched her, she jerked awake, gasped, and her terrified gaze flashed to his.

“It’s just me, Charlie. I’m home. You’re safe.” He inched closer to her under the covers and rolled onto his back. He hated the fear she now had to deal with over what his son had done to her. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”

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