Redeeming Zorus Page 25

“Okay.” She eased out of his hold to smile at him. It melted him inside when she looked at him that way. “I’ll fix us lunch in about an hour. Think you’ll be back by then?”

“I should be.” He turned to leave but she suddenly grabbed his hand. He glanced at her as he paused.

“I love you.”

Warmth spread throughout his chest as he grinned back at her. “I love you too.”

Chapter Thirteen

Charlie had just started lunch for Zorus when she heard the elevator doors slide open. She entered the living room to greet him but instead froze in terror. Darius glowered at her from across the room. Her heart instantly started to pound painfully hard.

“My father has been hung up with the emergency meeting.”

She highly doubted Zorus had sent his son to relay a message to her. A sense of dread filled her as she remained in place, unable to move as a result of her fear. He tilted his head.

“That’s a beautiful expression on your face. I admit, I’m more than a little aroused by it.”

She found her voice. “You’re not supposed to be here.”

“I’m more than aware and it took me some time to hack into my father’s security system. The thing about knowing one’s father is learning how his mind works.”

“What do you want?” She had a sinking feeling that he wasn’t there to spread joy.

“How have you learned to control my father? Are you drugging him? Did your human colleagues put implants inside his brain that make him do as you order?” He started to walk toward her. “You are going to tell me exactly what has been done to him.”

“Nothing.” She backed up. “You need to leave. Zorus warned you to stay away from me.”

Rage twisted his features. “I knew it. You made him do that.”

“I didn’t. He told me that’s what he did.” She bumped the table, inched around it, and frantically tried to think of a way to escape. “Please don’t hurt me.”

“I won’t rape you.”

That didn’t comfort her. Her back hit solid wall and she knew how a trapped animal felt as her gaze darted around the kitchen. She had nowhere to go. The counters blocked her escape. She didn’t attempt to make a run for it since she doubted she’d make it past his big, bulky body. Zorus could move fast and the much younger Darius had to be even quicker.

“You are going to come with me peacefully or I will take you unconscious.” His hand rose to make a fist. He glanced at it and then her face. “You won’t enjoy recovering from broken bones.”

“Where are you taking me?”

“I have an acquaintance who is very good at perceiving lies when humans speak them. He owes me a favor. You and I are going to visit his home so he can ask you questions.”

“Your father is going to be furious if you hurt me. Please don’t do this, Darius. I’m not a spy and I’m not doing anything to your dad. We love each other.”

He snorted and came to a halt a foot from her. “My father could never love the thing he hates most.”

“I never hurt him and never would.” She hoped he could see the truth in her eyes since she made sure not to look away from him.

“Are you going to walk on your own or will you make me harm you?”

“If you want what is best for Zorus, you won’t take me. He really does love me. Please think before you do something you’ll regret. I’m assuming you want to make sure I don’t hurt him but you’re the one who is going to cause him grief. He’s already torn up over the fight you had over me. He loves you too.”

The large cyborg lunged at her. His fingers wrapped into her hair at the base of her neck. He tugged on her to propel he forward but it wasn’t painful. Charlie stumbled, in a panic. Darius refused to be reasonable. Zorus would come home to find her gone.

As they passed the table, Charlie hit the plate she’d used for lunch. It slid off the table and crashed to the floor. Broken glass skittered loudly on tile. It didn’t even slow Darius. He just shot her a dirty look as he forced her to leave with him.

Charlie didn’t fight though she wanted to. Zorus would come for her when he realized she’d been taken. The list of suspects would be short since she’d only been threatened by his son. She just needed to keep Darius from hurting her until she could be rescued. He shoved her into the elevator.

“Please, Darius. Don’t―”

“Shut up or I’ll hit you.”

She pressed her lips tightly together and they rode the elevator down six floors then, to her surprise, it stopped and the doors opened.

“Walk.”

“Your friend lives in the same building?”

He growled exactly the way his father did when he was irritated. Charlie grew silent again. She knew she just needed to go along with whatever Darius wanted, to prevent him from harming her. The idea of being hit or having another traumatic scene like the one he’d provided in the bedroom when he’d attacked wasn’t something she ever wanted to repeat.

The floor wasn’t one big apartment but instead opened up into a hallway with doors spaced widely apart on both sides. He walked her four doors down on the left before he halted. He waited and then the door beeped before it slid open. He released her hair when he gave her a rough push forward.

The male who waited inside scared Charlie more than Darius did. She tried to hide her reaction but knew she failed when icy blue eyes narrowed in anger. The guy had to be six foot seven, had jet-black hair that reached nearly to his waist where it hung free in silky waves, and he’d been damaged badly, judging by the scars on one side of his face. It looked as though something had clawed his cheekbone in two places, leaving thick, white lines to mar what would have been a very handsome face otherwise.

“Krell, this is the female I told you about.”

“Zorus will be angry. Are you sure this is a good idea, my friend? Of all the cyborgs you want to avoid pissing off, your father comes foremost to my mind.”

Shivers ran down Charlie’s spine at the raspy, harsh tone of the cyborg’s voice. He flickered his gaze from Darius and then back to her, where his attention remained.

“She’s attractive. I can see why your father wants to keep her. She’s too small for my personal tastes but I don’t have the ego Zorus has.”

“Just get her to talk.” Darius crossed his arms over his chest, his body planted behind her to keep her from running away, and sounded bored. “If you have to inflict pain, so be it. I want answers as quickly as possible.”

Krell moved his head to indicate that Charlie should take a seat in the chair nearest to her. She needed to sit anyway, she reasoned, since her knees wanted to collapse under her. She tried not to gawk at the white scar lines on the man’s face. His skin was a pale gray, probably the lightest shade she’d seen on the cyborgs so far. She dropped into the seat.

He wore black breeches with a high-collared, black, soft, long-sleeve shirt. When he drew near, he did it with panther grace. A sense of danger nearly radiated off him. Charlie trembled when she stared up into the coldest eyes she’d ever seen in her life. The ice-blue color wasn’t just the cause of her reaction, but they possessed a deadness that lurked in their depths, as if he held no compassion at all.

“I’m Krell,” he rasped. “I see you noticed my face.” He crouched before her, almost touching her knee. His hand lifted to his throat to peel back the material, to expose the skin there.

Charlie’s mouth dropped open and then slammed closed at the sight of the jagged, ugly scar slashed along his throat. She was certain someone, at some point, had tried to slit his throat. It suddenly made his harsh, scary voice understandable. He probably had damage to his larynx from where he’d been cut.

“Humans did this.” He released the material and his hand lowered to his waist. He jerked up his shirt to reveal a washboard stomach with muscled ridges. She also noticed more scars but those were thinner lines, at least six of them marked his belly. He dropped the shirt. “And put those on me. I could show you more but I believe I have made my point. I’m not a fan of your kind. You do not want to anger me.”

“Okay. I have nothing to hide.” She knew her voice had to clue him in on how terrified she felt if her expressions weren’t. “I won’t lie.”

He blinked and then his hand rose. She noticed more scars on the back of his hand, on some of his fingers, and then his warm fingertips brushed her throat. She jerked a little but then forced her body to remain still. His touch returned to gently rest against the side of her throat.

“Are you an Earth spy?”

“No.”

“Tell me what you are.”

She remembered how important Zorus seemed to deem her status on Earth. “I’m a grunt. I was raised in the Parkway section of the states. I drew the attention of some of the upper class and they donated a scholarship for me to get some schooling. I became a programmer. I’m good at it.”

“How did you come into contact with Councilman Zorus?”

“My brother was hired to rescue him from the medical facility where I install security upgrades. He talked me in to helping him. He left me with no choice but to rescue Zorus. I’m a fugitive from Earth now. If the government finds me, they’ll execute me.”

Krell rubbed her throat gently and his gaze seemed to warm slightly. “Do you love Zorus?”

“Yes.”

“Are you plotting to harm or kill him?”

“No!” She glared at him. “I’d never do that.”

“I find that very hard to believe. We don’t even like him. How is it that you have found something to love about him?”

She drew in a shaky breath. “I know he comes off as a total ass**le, but deep down, he’s really sweet. I hated him right off the bat when we met. He was rude and full of himself but he grew on me.”

Full lips curved slightly upward and he glanced at Darius. “She’s telling the truth.”

“No,” Darius ground out harshly, his temper flaring. “She’s using him. She’s drugged him or they implanted him.”

Krell’s fingers continued to trace her skin. He locked gazes with Charlie again. “Are you drugging Zorus?”

“No.”

“Is there some way you are able to control him to make him do as you order? Tell me how you would do it if you could. Don’t lie to me. Tell me what options you have to do this.”

“Why ask her that? Just make her tell what she did, not what she could do.”

Krell shot Darius an annoyed look. “Silence. The more she talks the more I can read her.” He paused. “Also I enjoy the sound of her voice. Shut up or leave. Your choice. Continue, Charlie.”

“No, I’m not controlling him in any way. Is that even possible? At first, I thought he had programming and, trust me, I wanted to hack into his systems to change a few things. That growling he does when he’s pissed—” She paused. “Forget that part. I’m not doing myself any favors by admitting that, am I? Anyway, he’s more than convinced me that he’s got his own mind and is nothing similar to an android. I thought that’s what he’d be when I got him out of that holding cell. It nearly messed up the escape I had planned since he was so much bigger than any of the droids I’d ever seen before. The clothes I brought him didn’t fit and I had to have him hold me instead of the other way around when we had to be lifted up the side of a building by a cable. There wasn’t any way in hell I could have kept hold of him and I sure wasn’t about to let him drop to his death. I can only hack into computers and Zorus has a mind. I’m just a programmer, a grunt, and I’m not a spy.”

“Is that what humans from your younger generation believe us to be? Androids?”

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