Seducing Stag Page 42

He finally turned, his gaze on Nala. He could have lost her.

He had a lot of thinking to do. But first, he’d do exactly what Maze had suggested. He walked into the expanded cleansing unit and got warm, wet clothes, and returned to the bed, taking a seat.

He washed the blood off her as gently as he could and stripped off her clothing, seeing the bruising on her lower back firsthand. The one higher on her back, the one he’d put there with his knee while he’d been injured, had almost faded away.

“What am I going to do with you, Nala?” He wished the answer was simple.

 

 

Chapter Fourteen

 


Nala opened her eyes and stared at an unfamiliar ceiling. Memory came back instantly, and she tensed. Stag’s ship had been boarded by the military.

Motion to her right had her jerking her head, staring into a pair of very familiar blue eyes in a handsome face.

Stag smiled. “I’m here, Nala.”

“The soldiers?” She wanted to sit up but he leaned over her, keeping her from rising.

“Disposed of.”

She let her body relax, understanding that the boarding party was no longer a threat. “How is your crew?”

“They are fine. Maze had the worst of the injuries but he’ll recover fast. A broken wrist, and the cuts along his arm were superficial.”

“What about you?” She glanced down, taking in as much of his body as she could, not seeing any tears in his uniform or signs of injury.

“I’m fine. They never stood a chance against my crew of cyborgs. The military caught us by surprise but it wasn’t enough of an advantage.” He took a deep breath. “Maze was the only one hurt, besides you.” He reached up and caressed her cheek. “How do you feel?”

“A little weird.”

“Maze gave you a shot to dull the pain.”

She shifted her attention to the ceiling, around the parts of the room she could see, then back to him. “Where are we?”

“The captain’s quarters.”

“Your ship was destroyed and you took me over to the soldiers’ ship?”

“No. We’re still onboard mine.”

She evaluated that in her head. “I’m confused. You’re the captain, right? So whose quarters were we in before?”

“Mine. I never stay in here.”

“Why not? It’s much more spacious.” She peered at the bed then met his gaze again. “Larger sleeping space too.”

“I felt it gave me equal footing with my crew.”

“By taking crew quarters instead of this one?”

“Yes.”

“Having the most comfortable living space on a ship is one of the perks of being the one signing their checks.”

“We don’t use a monetary system.”

“I still don’t understand. Why do your men work for you then?”

He smiled. “Cyborgs get free food, clothing, and living accommodations. We never ask for more than we need. Everyone in my society finds a job that they enjoy, and we provide for each other. My crew chooses to serve on the Varnish. We only use your credit system when we trade with Earthers. Credits are useless to us otherwise. Is there anything else you’d like to know?”

She swallowed. “Why are you being so nice and friendly to me?”

His expression appeared almost tender, and the way he looked at her…as if she were precious… “Why wouldn’t I? Are you thirsty? Hungry? Tell me what you need and I’ll get it for you.”

Fear hit hard. “Crap. I’m dying, aren’t I?”

He scowled. “No. Why would you say that?”

“Because you’re being so…unlike you. You’re answering my questions, you just told me the actual name of your ship, and you smiled without me having to try really hard to make it possible.” She reached up and pushed at his chest. “Move. Are my legs gone or something? Was I shot after that jerk punched me? Do I have internal bleeding Maze can’t repair since nobody probably has my blood type on this ship?”

He straightened. “You’re fine, Nala. A little bruised, and you sustained a mild concussion. Maze assured me you’ll fully recover.”

She sat up, shoved the bedding to her thighs, and stared at her naked body. That came as a surprise.

“I undressed you and cleaned off some blood. There was a fair bit. I attacked the soldier you distracted and his blood sprayed over you when I killed him.”

She ran her hands over her body, even kicked off the covers from her legs and made sure everything was there. “Ten fingers and toes.”

“Stop. You’re acting irrational, and it’s making me concerned about your mental state.”

She met his gaze. “How long have I been out? Did we reach your home planet? Is this the big kiss off, where you finally get to tell me good riddance and hand me over to some other cyborg?”

“No. We’re still tethered inside the mining core to avoid pirates locating us. I estimate we won’t reach Garden for another few days. And why would you say that?”

“Because you’re being so damn nice and…well, you said it. Concerned. That’s not you, Stag. Just give it to me straight. What horrible thing do you have to tell me that would make you pity me enough to act this way?”

His mouth twisted downward more.

“Just spit it out! I can take it. It’s got to be super bad.”

He inhaled and slowly blew it a breath. “I’ve decided not to let you go.”

“You already told me that. I didn’t know it was up for debate. You said you wouldn’t trust me not to tell the authorities that cyborgs are alive and actually roaming space. You’re also paranoid and don’t trust me one tiny bit.”

“I am keeping you, Nala. I’m not handing you over to Cyborg Council to assign you to another male. You’re mine.”

She could say a lot about Stag, usually, but at that moment, he’d left her speechless. She just gaped at him, astounded.

He reached up and ran his fingers through his hair. “I’m screwing this up. I’m not good at expressing myself.” He dropped his hand on the bed and sighed. “You saved my life.”

That made more sense. “So you feel grateful to me, or indebted, and you think keeping me with you is nicer than handing me over to some stranger?”

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