Stealing Coal Page 21

He closed his eyes. “This is why I wish to delay your answer. I’ve upset you.”

She turned and her knee bumped his inner thigh as she gripped his leather shirt. She didn’t like the outfit all the cyborgs wore. She preferred him walking around shirtless in ill-fitting pants. She wanted to touch his hot, bare skin rather than the thick leather her fingers clutched.

“Yes.”

Dark eyes snapped open to stare at her uncomprehendingly.

“Yes. I’ll marry you or be a family unit with you, whatever you want to call it, but yes!”

A grin slowly spread across his handsome face. “Yes?”

She nodded, grinning back. “Hell yes. Is that better?”

He sucked in air, his chest expanding. “Are you sure? It is a lot for you to give up for me.”

“It’s not. You said I could keep the Jenny and my guys. Trading?” She snorted. “I hated that job and I sure won’t miss dealing with all the lowlife creeps I’ve had to put up with. I have no idea what I’ll do now to help support us on your planet but a year ago I never saw myself in this line of work. I’ll adjust and we’ll have each other. That’s all that matters to me.”

Coal’s body slid forward until his knees hit the deck. “You’re one hundred percent certain? I don’t want to feel this happiness only to have it torn away if you change your mind.”

Jill lifted her boot over one of his thighs and scooted off her seat, right onto his lap, her legs wrapping around his hips. His hands gripped her ass, holding her in place, and she grinned at him.

“I’ve never been surer of anything in my life.”

“I’ll fill out the paperwork immediately and transmit it to Garden.” His grin widened even more. “They won’t refuse my request to form a family unit with you. Because of my history of abuse at the hands of the cyborg females I am permitted special consideration.”

“I don’t know what that means but as long as they allow it, great.”

He chuckled. “They will allow it.”

“So do we have a ceremony?”

“We could if you wish but it just involves putting in a request, being approved, and then I need to sign the agreement. There’s no need for you to worry about a job. I will take care of you and your way of thinking in terms of financial issues is irrelevant with my people. We don’t have a monetary system on Garden.”

“Coal, I have something to tell you.”

His features froze and the smile died. “What is it?”

He braced for bad news. It was so obvious that Jill had to resist grinning at the humor of the situation, considering what she wanted to share with him hopefully would be the exact opposite.

“I’m in love with you.”

He gaped at her and then, to her utter surprise, tears filled his eyes, slid down both cheeks, and his hands slid from her ass. If it wasn’t for her fingers gripping his shirt and her legs secured around his h*ps she would have hit the deck. His body seemed to totally go lax until he swayed where he crouched on his knees.

“Coal?” Alarm gripped her. “Are you all right? Did I say something wrong? Speak to me.”

He suddenly moved, his arms wrapping around her, and she gasped when her body ended up smashed tightly against his when he roughly jerked her against him. He clutched her so firmly she could barely breathe, his face pressing tightly into the cradle of her shoulder and neck. His hot tears wet her shirt.

She clung to him, had to fight to free her hands, trapped between their chests, to wrap them around his ribs to his back. Her arms held him as hard as she could, hugging him.

“Coal?”

He just held her for a good minute until some of the tension left in his body and his fierce hold on her eased slightly. He lifted his head, his dark eyes still swimming with tears when she met his gaze.

“I didn’t mean to upset you, honey.”

He slowly smiled. “You love me.”

Jill studied him closely, seeing happiness through his tears, and nodded. “I really do love you. I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

One of his arms released her and he tentatively touched his face, wiping at the wetness that he discovered there, seeming shocked at the tears. His cheeks seemed to darken slightly and then his smile widened.

“I’m happy.”

Jill blinked rapidly. “I’m so glad to hear that.”

“I believe I’m in love with you too. I’m not sure exactly what love is but you are everything to me, Jill. My chest hurts right now and I can’t stop the tears. I feel that much joy.”

“Oh hell,” she muttered, letting her own tears fall. “That’s love, honey. We’re in love with each other.”

“I’m never going to let you go.” He leaned closer until his nose touched hers, staring into her eyes deeply. “I am going to make you as happy as you make me. I will die to protect you.”

“What the hell?” A familiar male voice interrupted. “Is everything cool here? What happened? Is someone hurt?”

Coal turned his head and grinned at Sky, who had entered the cargo hold from the Star without them hearing him. “She loves me and I love her.”

Jill blinked back more tears, turning her head to grin at the gray-haired cyborg who gaped at the both of them. He put his hands on his h*ps and then flashed them an amused smile.

“I’m glad to hear it. You’re a cute couple though a little wet at the moment. It’s a good thing I didn’t wait another minute from the way you’re wrapped around each other.” He chuckled. “I came to tell you that Flint is on his way. We’re approaching the edge of the solar system and Jill’s contact has been hailing the Jenny for the past few minutes. Onyx tried to reach you but you weren’t answering your com, Coal. You may want to break it up before Flint thinks he’s interrupting you two about to nail each other on the deck there.”

Coal frowned. “Why would we do something painful and unusual? I’d never harm Jill.”

Jill suddenly laughed. “He means ha**ng s*x on the floor. Nailing each other is slang for that.”

“Yeah. What she said.” Sky shook his head. “I swear, I’m going to give a damn class to teach them how to understand Earth lingo.”

A chuckle escaped Jill. “Don’t. I think it’s adorable.” She winked at Coal. “You’re so cute.”

Coal smiled at her. “Really?”

“I think I prefer you grunting and groaning over listening to the lovey-dovey crap.” Sky turned his head. “Here comes Flint. I hear his boots. The guy really needs to learn how to walk instead of stomp.”

Jill moved first, struggling to unwind her limbs from around Coal. His strong hands gripped her, easing her to her feet before he rose. She wiped at her tears, turning and reaching for Coal’s face. He leaned down enough to let her use her thumbs to brush away his tears too. The sounds of something striking the ramp made the three of them turn.

“What is going on?” Flint frowned, coming to a halt just inside the cargo hold, his gaze darting between the three of them.

“They just realized they are in love.” Sky chuckled. “And I interrupted them about to have intercourse right there where they are standing.”

A blush warmed Jill’s cheeks but she met the dark-haired cyborg’s gaze without flinching. “Sky said that David has been trying to reach me?”

Flint cleared his throat. “Yes. I had Onyx respond, pretending to be you since you use a voice modifier when speaking to the human males. He’s acquired a team to break Councilman Zorus from where he’s being kept. They have already located where he is and have hatched a plot to rescue him. Onyx allowed me to listen in on the communication and it sounded like a more reasonable, safer solution than sending cyborgs to the planet surface. I had Onyx agree to the plan and the payment they demanded. By tomorrow, Councilman Zorus should be free. The mercenaries hired to retrieve him will meet up with us on your shuttle in two days at the outer edge of the solar system where we’d originally agreed to meet David.”

“That’s fast.” Jill nodded. “I told you David would have contacts on Earth to get stuff done. He probably knows all kinds of thugs. He’s got to buy his wares from people who are skilled at stealing stuff to sell the illegal crap he offers. I’ve even heard of slavers kidnapping women from the surface to sell to the floating whorehouses and it wouldn’t surprise me if David sold people too. Paying someone to kidnap a cyborg shouldn’t be that much of a stretch for those kinds of creeps.”

Flint nodded. “You were correct. He asked for half payment up front but I remembered your warning not to pay until the mission is complete. He wasn’t happy but he agreed to the terms.”

“Right.” She nodded. “As I said, these guys aren’t real trustworthy but when money is involved you can count on them until they are paid.”

Coal took a step toward Flint, smiling. “I wish to contact the council to formally request forming a family unit with Jill.”

The instant grin softened Flint’s normally harsh features. “I’m happy for you and I’m certain they will agree.” His gaze flicked to Jill. “Coal has been given special consideration and, as such, there is no breeding pact in his case. That’s one big obstacle you will not have to confront.”

Confused, Jill glanced up at Coal. “What’s that?”

He shook his head, smiling at her. “Something you never have to worry about. You are the only female for me for the rest of my life. I vow total monogamy.”

Her eyebrows rose. “I’m glad to hear that and later I’m going to have you explain that to me in detail.” She didn’t want to have that discussion in front of Sky and Flint. She glanced at the latter. “Is it going to be all right with you to haul my shuttle to your planet? I’d like to keep her. I know she’s outdated and slow but she’s special to me.”

“Humans become attached easily to objects,” Sky said softly. “That’s normal.”

Flint shrugged, glancing around the cargo hold. “We have the room. I don’t see why not.” His gaze fixed on Jill suddenly. “If Coal wishes to return to Garden with you, they will not allow you to fly this back into space. You’ll know the location of our home world and therefore pose a risk if you were ever captured by Earth Government. Your shuttle would be flown to the planet surface and the engines decommissioned.”

She had to adjust to that little bit of news. Coal moved behind her, his arms wrapping around her waist, and she easily leaned back into his body. She nodded.

“That’s okay as long as we’re together.”

“Good.” Flint grinned suddenly, taking another look at the inside of the Jenny. “It is probably safer if you don’t continue to fly this thing for much longer. It’s very outdated.”

“I have a question.” Coal hesitated, glancing at Jill and then Flint. “Jill mentioned that she used to live on a farm on Earth. Do you believe the council would allow me to have some of the undeveloped land near the north wall of the city? They’ve started growing food in that section but it is vast enough that they may not need to use all of it. I don’t know how happy Jill will be if we live in the center of the city.”

A grin spread across Jill’s lips as she tilted her head up, gazing with love at Coal. “Really? I think I’d love that. I miss trees and fresh air.” She paused. “Does your planet have that? We haven’t really talked about it. I’m hoping it’s not a biodome similar to the ones on the moon and Saturn.”

“It’s very similar to Earth,” Flint offered with a smile. “There is more water content and less land mass but it’s still beautiful where Earth has been overdeveloped. The air is good and the vegetation is lush. The only city on the planet is the one we’ve built.”

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