Redeeming Zorus Page 2

She stood when she finished, her gaze still on the image of the cyborg who stood in chains, his eyes closed. He appeared to be sleeping on his feet or perhaps he was in some sort of shutdown cycle. She hoped that wasn’t the case. He needed to be alert and ready to flee when she reached him. She headed for the door, kept a mental countdown as she opened it into the hallway, and turned in the direction of the holding cell. She felt down the front of her shirt to locate the small objects she’d smuggled past security, hidden under her br**sts inside her bra.

“Crazy,” she muttered softly. “I’m going to get killed and it’s your fault, Russell.”

The lights suddenly cut out around her and she figured the guards would give it about a minute before they grew alarmed. At that point they’d attempt to start lockdown procedure but would then realize she’d cut off all outside communications by jamming them. She jerked open the door to the cell she’d opened from the terminal before she’d restricted the power grid to the entire building. The emergency lights she’d programmed to stay on inside his cell worked. She could see him clearly enough to make out that his eyes were open and fixed on her.

“I don’t have time to explain a lot to you.” She spoke quickly. “I’m here to get you out. You need to do as I say, stay on my ass, and not pull any shit.” She gripped the shackle on his wrist, inserted the small lock pick, and had it open in seconds. “We have about three minutes before they come here to check on you but we need to be long gone by then.”

He grabbed her throat the second she freed his hand. Shock tore through Charlie when he forced her head up. She couldn’t breathe from his tight hold. He glowered at her in the dim light when their gazes met.

“I know a trap when I see one. Is this a test, human? I am not stupid.”

His unusually deep, husky voice startled her for a few heartbeats but then she gripped his fingers. She jerked on them while she struggled to get air into her starving lungs. His hold loosened just enough for her to breathe again. She drew in another breath and then spoke one word.

“Council.”

His fingers loosened more. “What did you say?”

“The council hired my brother to break you out of here. That is supposed to mean something to you. We could stand here talking but all you’re doing is wasting time we don’t have. You’ll get us both killed.”

He released her as quickly as he’d grabbed her. “Do it.”

She pushed down her anger over his attack and instead freed his other limbs quickly. She watched him roll his massive, muscled shoulders as he stepped away from the wall before he glared at her again. She decided his soft, dusky-gray skin looked better here than on the monitors. It was such a pretty silvery gray. The sweat beads on his skin even made him a little shiny. She guessed he’d been fighting the chains to have earned the signs of some sort of workout.

“The council really sent you? This isn’t a test by humans to see what I will do?”

“No test. We’re in danger so could you please shut up and follow me?” She spun away. “Don’t talk. Just stick close and stay on my ass. We need to book out of here.”

She ran across the room to make up precious seconds they didn’t have that had been wasted when he’d grabbed her. She stepped through the door to his cell, into the hallway. She figured he’d either follow her or he wouldn’t. Either way she had to leave the building quickly, knowing the guards would arrest her or even kill her. The second object she carried—her tiny flashlight—clicked on and its small beam of light gave her the ability to see a few feet in front of her boots.

“Where are we―”

She twisted around quickly, only to slam face first into a wall of hot, muscular chest. She jerked her head up to stare at his chin. “Shut up. We have to get out of here. Seconds count. Just do what I say. Got it? If you’re so damn smart, you should know we’re in deep shit. In about two minutes security guards are going to regain control of the systems, lock the building down, and if we’re still inside, you should be able to guess how bad that will be for both of us.” She turned away from his big body and took off at a jog toward the maintenance elevator to make up for lost time.

It opened as they approached, as she’d programmed it to do. She pointed at the suits that lay on the floor. She’d put them there on her way to her post.

“Get dressed fast. That’s the biggest size they had so make do as best you can. We’re going to be visible to the police security cameras. We don’t want to draw their attention. They’ll assume we’re just employees exiting the building as long as they don’t get a good look at you.”

She pushed the button to close the doors and turned to grab the other suit. Frustration filled her when the cyborg just stared at her. He wasn’t doing as she’d instructed. She shoved on the coveralls-type suit with jerky motions.

“You’re nearly naked, as big as a tree, and distinctive. Cover up or we’re never going to make it. Are you deaf? Dress now. It’s not going to fit properly and you’re far taller than I guessed you’d be so you’re going to have to hunch down a bit. Move, damn it. Don’t just stand there.”

Anger was an easy emotion to read on his strangely handsome features while he glared down at her but then he bent to grab the suit with one hand. She didn’t care if she made him angry as long as he covered his body. She zipped the front of her suit closed and reached for the helmet. The lift stopped but the doors didn’t open.

“Hurry up!”

“I don’t take orders. I give them.”

“Bitch about it later. Let’s get out of here first.”

He had dressed but the suit stretched taut over his freakishly large body. The pants didn’t reach his ankles and they gave him a wedgie. She smirked when she glanced at him and saw the material bunched tightly up his ass. Charlie really hoped it felt as uncomfortable as it looked. She didn’t like him one bit after he’d squeezed her throat. As soon as he put the helmet on, which effectively covered him from the neck up, she pushed the button to open the doors.

“The camera won’t see your feet. Chin up and walk slowly.” An alarm sounded throughout the building the second the doors completely opened. She raised her voice. “Just follow my lead.”

Charlie strolled down the hallway to the back door and shoved it open. She’d implemented the fire alarms to go off when the elevator doors parted. Every exterior door automatically unlocked to allow them access to the area behind the building. She moved toward the alley next door to put them out of camera range, glanced back at the cyborg, and prayed he didn’t weigh as much as she now estimated. She gritted her teeth and had to rethink her plan. The alarm grew silent inside the building.

“Are you as strong as you look? I didn’t think you’d be so big when I planned this.”

“I’m very strong,” he confirmed, his dark-brown gaze narrowing with suspicion.

“Good. Move over here and put this harness on.”

He hesitated. She grabbed the leather straps and snapped them around his waist. He tried to take a step back but Charlie gripped the front of his suit with a fist.

“Hold still. I planned to have you wrap around me but no way can I do that. You weigh at least a hundred pounds more than I thought you would. The cable will hold the extra weight but it’s a long way up. I’d never be able to hold on to you for that long.”

He tilted his head up to stare toward the roof of the building. “Why there?”

“We don’t have time to discuss this. The security guards have realized by now that you’re gone and patrols will hit the streets. The last place they will look is way up there. Now, do you want to argue over this until we’re arrested or do you want to get to safety first?”

He growled a word she didn’t catch but he finished harnessing the straps. She bent, removed the small control from her shoe, and then straightened. “Grab me and hold on tight. If you drop me, you won’t get outside the city. You need me.”

He stared down at her, his eyes still narrowed with suspicion, while his mind obviously worked to ponder his options. Charlie’s opinion of him lowered even more. She clenched her teeth and then opened her mouth.

“Look, ass**le. I don’t like you, you obviously don’t like me, but we’re in this mess together. If you leave me here to be arrested, you will never make it outside the city or off the planet. I know the escape route and I’m the only chance you’ve got to reach the council. Stop stalling, quit being a moron, grab me, and let’s get the hell out of here before they show up.”

He actually growled and Charlie gasped when the cyborg lunged at her. Two massive arms wrapped around her middle, yanked her against his rock-hard body, and mashed her against his suit. She nearly dropped the remote but even if she couldn’t see with her face smashed against him, she could hit the button by feel.

Pain crushed around her waist from his strong hold when their feet left the ground and the pulley picked up momentum. The rapid ride made her feel sick and not being able to see only made it worse. Fear gripped her when she slipped an inch down his body. Panicked, she clutched the remote and wrapped her arm around the back of his neck as her leg entwined around the back of his thigh. If he dropped her, she’d plummet to her death on the alley floor. Her brother would have gotten her killed and she didn’t want that to happen, out of spite alone.

It seemed like forever, but in reality, Charlie knew it only took about fifteen seconds to reach the roof of the building. She said a silent prayer of thanks when the winch slowed as it had been programmed to do and then they hovered for a second before being swung to the left a few feet. The cyborg’s hold on her tightened painfully when he cursed under his breath after his body bumped into something hard enough that she felt it too. He struggled to stand upright when the motion stopped.

Charlie would have landed on her ass on the rooftop if it weren’t for her hold on him when he released her as quickly as he’d grabbed her. She jerked her head up now that she wasn’t crushed against his chest, shot him a silent promising look of retribution, and unwound her limbs to stand.

“Asshole.”

He glowered at her in the dim light. She backed up to give him a once-over. Because she’d thought he’d be shorter, his feet had dragged along the roof floor when they’d been pulled away from the edge of the building. She could see where it happened since there were two faint wet lines from the side of the roof to where he stood. She bent to get a closer look and realized he’d gotten hurt.

“Blood?” She straightened, shocked by the fact that he had organic tissue at all. “How bad is it?”

“My heels dragged and it abraded the skin.” He started to tear at the harness to free his big body. “I’ll survive and I can walk.”

Charlie should have felt terrible for the miscalculation, but then again, he wasn’t exactly nice to her. She’d never imagined a cyborg to be so tall. Android work units stood less than six feet high and she’d just assumed he would be about the same height since both had been created by the government. She shrugged it off and turned to head toward the center of the building and hoped he’d follow. For a cyborg, he seemed pretty dense to her. She’d assumed he’d be as smart as a computer.

She halted by the elevator shaft to tear her helmet off and tossed it into the open air vent. She’d previously removed the cover in preparation for their escape. She turned, nearly bumped into the annoying male, and peered up at him. She had to give him points for following but she didn’t enjoy how he hovered so close to her body.

“Strip and toss it all inside this vent. We need to change into street clothes.”

She gave him her back and half expected him to delay them more with questions but instead an arm extended next to her to drop his discarded helmet down the shaft. She blew out a relieved breath, bent to tear her suit down her legs, and had to struggle to get the pants over her boots.

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