Stealing Coal Page 27

A red light blinded her for an instant and then the pad beeped again. Varel laughed, giving her a vicious push forward. Jill stumbled, nearly collapsed to her knees, but managed to stay on her feet. She walked to the other side of the quarters, as far as she could get from the vile man. Once there she glared at him, put her back to the wall, and tensed to attack him if he came at her.

Varel’s full attention remained on the electric pad while he punched in commands. He grinned widely and looked super pleased at whatever the device displayed.

“Sweetheart, you’ve made me a happy man.”

“You got what you wanted. Please leave.”

“Don’t you enjoy my company?”

Jill rubbed her throbbing thumb. “No.”

“Do you know what I’m going to call you?” He didn’t wait for a response. “My bitchy little banker.”

Jill held her tongue. The guy had gone from anger to being annoyingly happy now that he’d gotten what he wanted from her. She didn’t want to anger him again. She just wanted him to leave her alone in the room.

“Want to celebrate with me?” His grin widened and his gaze lowered to her chest. “I always wanted to f**k your mother but Jim would have killed me for touching something of his.”

Heart pounding, Jill fought fear and nausea at the idea of him wanting to have sex with her. “You’re a sick, perverted psycho.”

Blond eyebrows shot up. “Me?” He gave her a cold look. “At least I didn’t let one of those metal heads screw me. That’s perverted. He’s not even attractive. I don’t know how you allowed it to put its hands on you.”

“Coal isn’t a metal head. He’s twice the man you are.”

“Built them with big dicks, did they? Wait until you see mine. You won’t be disappointed.”

“I meant he’s not a lowlife scum.” She paused. “I know you’re a big dick already and if you open those pants, I’ll try to rip it off.”

“You better start learning to be nice to me. We’re going to be together for a very long time.”

“Coal is going to come for me.”

“That stupid metal head thinks you dumped him. Right now he’s probably two solar systems away and happy to be rid of you.”

The doors opened and Captain Varel cursed, curling his lip at Rune.

“I brought food for Jillian.” She walked toward a table with the tray she held.

“Get out,” Varel ordered her. “I didn’t tell you to do that.”

Rune ignored him, placing the food down, and pulled out a chair. “Sit, Jillian. It’s warm. You should eat it soon before it cools.” She calmly stared at the captain. “If you persist to harass Jillian I will escort you out of the room to rethink your ill-advised plan.”

“Goddamn androids. I’m going to dump you in open space, Rune. Do you hear me, you useless pile of synthetic skin?”

Rune waved to the chair. “Sit, Jillian.”

“Fuck!” Varel spun and stormed out of the room.

Jill relaxed. “You have good timing. Thank you.”

“Timing had nothing to do with my bringing you food. I monitored the room and noticed your accelerated heart rate, indicating fear. I also listened to Captain Varel’s conversation with you by accessing the coms. You don’t want your body spoiled with male fluids. You aren’t strong enough to stop any attempts males make to use your body, the way I have been designed. No one should be forced to endure boredom. I may not harm humans but nowhere in my programming does it state I am unable to physically move them to another location. When the males have attempted to touch my body I have secured them in cabinets in the cargo hold.”

“You what?”

“I lock them in cabinets. Eventually I release them before they suffocate if another crew member doesn’t find them. Harming a human is against my programming. Please eat before your food cools. I have been told it tastes better heated.”

“I think I adore you.”

Rune cocked her head. “Adore? I don’t understand why you would feel that emotion where I am concerned.”

“If we get out of this, do you want to come with me? I have three androids on my ship. No one would try to touch you.”

“I am the property of Captain Barney Varel.”

“He illegally traded to get you.”

Rune’s gaze drifted to the left, something Jill realized the android did when she processed information. “An illegal transaction is null and void.”

“Exactly,” Jill agreed, sat down, and started to eat. “You don’t belong to that ass**le.”

“I will leave with you until a proper owner for me has been established.”

“You’re free, Rune. No one owns you.”

“You wish to own me?”

Jill hesitated. “I consider the androids on my ship friends. They are free too.”

Rune’s gaze drifted to the left and stayed there while Jill finished her meal. The android focused on Jill finally.

“The probability of you leaving the Cutter and obtaining permission from Captain Varel to take me with you is not in your favor.”

“I’m not going to ask him if I can take you. I’m asking you. You’re programmed to make decisions, right?”

“Affirmative. I take facts, process them, and decide accordingly.”


“Hold.” Rune’s eyes drifted left and she frowned. “Incoming shuttle approaching. Processing specifications.” She paused. “They are ignoring hails.” She paused again.

Jill’s heart raced. “Could it be my ship? Is it the Jenny?”

“They used the moon to come closer to hide their signal before the sensors picked them up.”

“Is it the Jenny, Rune? Answer me.” Jill rose to her trembling legs. Please let it be Coal, she silently prayed.

Rune snapped out of her trancelike state. “Visual confirmed. Brace, Jill. The Jenny has just opened fire on the Cutter.”

Joy seized Jill and she made a fist, pumping air. “YES!”

A loud noise filled the room, followed by rapid repeats of the same sound. The lighting flickered, the gravity stabilizers cut out, and Jill’s feet left the floor as the emergency lights turned the room an eerie pale yellow as power failed. The weightless sensation had her crying out in fear, her arms and legs flailing. She tried to grab something and then the room around her violently moved. Jill hit the wall hard, bounced off, and realized she hadn’t moved, it had.

A hand gripped Jill’s upper arm, tugging at her floating body, and she turned her head. Rune had grabbed hold of a bulkhead beam to keep them from being batted around the room while keeping hold of Jill to tether her there as well.

“The computer is down,” Rune stated, a baffled look on her face. “I’m unable to get any readings.”

“We need to get to the cargo hold now. Coal will try to force dock to get to me.”

“All power is out. I have no way to open the doors or locate the whereabouts of the crew to avoid them if we attempt to escape to the cargo hold.”

“You’re strong, right? Can’t you force the door open?”

“You are correct. I’m able to do that.” Rune pulled Jill closer to the bulkhead beam. “Hold on.”

Jill had to move slowly without gravity, but she managed to get a good grasp on the metal. She watched Rune turn her body slightly, push one hand against the wall, and propel her body toward the door. The android moved gracefully as she floated down the wall to the door as if she did it every day.

“I can do that,” Jill muttered, knowing she needed to reach the door when Rune got it open. She mimicked the move but when she pushed against the wall, releasing her grip on the beam, her body started to twist in circles as she floated.

“Damn it!” She fought dizziness after a few spins. “It looked easy.”

* * * * *

“Ready?” Coal gripped the weapon. “If any humans attempt to breach the Jenny from that shuttle I want you to use lethal force unless it’s Jill. You remember her, don’t you?”

“Affirmative, Sir. Lethal force unless it is Jill.”

“Kill those ass**les if you see them. I plan to.”

Anger propelled Coal forward with a determined purpose. He unlocked the door to the docking sleeve and stormed through it to the other ship. He had to shoot out the lock pad to destroy it and reach a hand inside to find the safety release. He got the door to the Cutter open.

He took a step inside only to discover he had an unforeseen problem. He’d knocked out their engines but he’d also managed to make them lose power. A growl tore from his throat as he realized he needed gravity boots to move about the ship faster to search for Jill. He turned, moving quickly, and entered the cargo hold of the Jenny again.

The doors to the interior opened, startling Coal, and his weapon rose instantly, training on the other male’s chest. He stared at Sky. The cyborg froze upon spotting Coal. Sky blinked, staring back at him.

“You should be unconscious.”

Sky hesitated. “I enjoy swimming on Garden. Working for Councilman Zorus pisses me off and the only thing that cools my temper is icy water with vigorous exercise. I can hold my breath for a very long time. I fooled the android into believing the gas put me to sleep.” Sky swallowed. “What are we doing?”

“I attacked the Cutter and I’m going after Jill.” Coal didn’t look away from the other male. “Arm? Do you have more avarios-gas balls? Sky is willing to take some deep breaths now so I may complete my mission.” His voice became threatening. “He has that option or being shot.”

“Affirmative, Sir.” Arm turned toward them.

“You could knock me out but wouldn’t you like some help?” Sky smiled. “Everyone is unconscious except Zorus and the human but I see you fused their door sealed. You also took the computer offline to prevent him from taking control of it.” He paused. “No one is going to know if I help you get your girlfriend back.”

Suspicion narrowed Coal’s gaze. “Why would you do that?”

“Why the hell not?” Sky chuckled. “Besides, I like Jill. She’s cool. You two are cute together. I’m all for getting her back for you but this time don’t lose her again.”

“It’s not logical for you to risk punishment if you’re caught helping me.”

“Logic is overrated and I’m already in deep shit with Zorus over trying to warn the human he bought about what a prick he is. He said when I get to Garden he’s going to make me sorry for interfering. You want my help or not?”

Coal took a deep breath, lowering his weapon. “We need gravity boots. They have no power.”

Sky strolled into the room, still grinning. “Awesome.”

Shaking his head, Coal moved to the cabinet that contained them. “You’re a unique cyborg.”

“I could say the same thing and I like that about you. Now let’s go get your woman. I suggest using some handcuffs to keep her in your bed when you get her back. Women tend to find trouble when you let them out of one.”

Coal stared wide-eyed at the other male. Sky shrugged and accepted the gravity boots handed to him.

“What? I’m the expert on all things human. Take my word, my man. Chain her to your bed and keep her there. She won’t protest too much if you keep her happy while she’s in it.”

* * * * *

Jill slammed into another wall, wincing as her shoulder took the hit the hardest. Rune turned her head.

“If you would just do as I do, you would glide instead of bumping into things.”

“I don’t have your coordination.”

“That is true. I will guide you.”

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