Touching Ice Page 11

“I’m fine. I can walk.”

“Good. Follow me. It is just down the corridor.”

Megan started to follow behind him as he moved toward the door but then she paused, giving the medic a small smile. “Thank you for being kind to me and treating me.”

He froze, his dark gaze locking with hers. “You are welcome.”

“Come with me, Megan,” Ice urged softly.

Four doors down he paused, placed his hand the scanner, and they entered his quarters. Megan was glad to be back in a familiar setting and moved to his bed. She sat and faced him, only to realize he stayed far from her, just inside the door. The grim set of his lips had her feeling ill at ease again.

He said nothing for long moments and then he took a deep breath. “You said you knew of our existence for months?”

She nodded. “I’m not normally allowed to see the clients on Folion but you came onboard with a weapon so it triggered the alarm. When that happens I have to monitor the situation visually on the security cameras. That’s when I saw you.” She didn’t mention that she’d ordered Clara to deem him a high-security risk so that every time he returned to the station she’d be informed. She really didn’t think he’d meant to bring a weapon onboard or that he was dangerous, it being just the only way she could see him again. “I only got to monitor verbal interaction between the main computer and incoming ships unless there was a problem that arose.”

“We were unaware that there were any live employees aboard.”

“The company wants people to believe that. They had an incident where someone tried to hijack Folion once. The hijackers who grabbed the programmer tried to use him to steal the station. They murdered him when he refused to order Clara to move the ship into deep space. It keeps me safe from the same fate if no one knows I’m there. I’m a programmer and I’m permitted to override the main computer for emergency situations, making it possible to move Folion in case something happens that it wasn’t programmed to respond to. As an example, I ordered Clara to move when that freighter didn’t slow as it came at us because she’s not programmed for that kind of situation but it happened too fast for us to totally get out of the way. If it had been a meteor she would have automatically moved to avoid the hit. No one foresaw a drunken captain not reducing his speed, and since Clara had already given him clearance to dock, her automated collision alarm wasn’t triggered as it approached. Normally when the alarm is activated it would have her start the engines to avoid it.”

“Clara?”

“She is the main computer that runs and oversees the ship and the bots. She’s got artificial intelligence and can learn from interaction with the clients just as the bots do but after a few problems arose with the bots, they knew someone needed to monitor what they were learning. Clara couldn’t do that.”

“What kind of problems?” He shifted his weight and his body seemed to relax.

A grin curved Megan’s lips. “Well, as an example, one of the clients happened to be into a little rough sex.”

“And you find this amusing?” His eyebrow arched.

“He taught one of the bots to spank him and told her what a turn-on that was so when the next client came, she grabbed him, bent him over the bed, and spanked his ass. She thought that would arouse him.” A laugh escaped her. “He wasn’t amused. He became really angry about the whole experience and wanted the company to pay for the bruising he suffered from her smacks. Now I have to go over what they’ve learned from clients and delete some of it so that doesn’t happen again.”

A muscle in his jaw jumped. “You have reviewed everything my men and I have done with your bots?”

“No.” She shook her head. “Not exactly. The bots are programmed to ask questions if a client does something outside of their programming parameters and I answer their questions. Now they would question if it were acceptable to spank a client. I tell them no and they delete that information.”

“Have you ever had to review anything I’ve done?”

She shifted her weight on the bed, fidgeted, and her gaze lowered to his chest.

“Um…” Heat flushed her cheeks.

“What did you review?” His voice deepened.

She glanced up at him, seeing his tense expression, and she found his black boots suddenly very interesting. “It was just once and you didn’t teach her anything I had to have her erase from her programming.”

“What did I do?” He took a step closer.

Wow, is it hot in here? No, it’s just me, she thought. She forced herself to meet his gaze and just open her mouth. “You have a preference that the bots weren’t programmed for.”

“What did I do?”

“You examined her vaginal area very closely when you had her pose with her lower region exposed to your view. Clients don’t do that normally. It had her questioning if she should use that with other clients to turn them on or if it should be deleted.”

Megan could have sworn the man blushed as he glanced away, the color in his cheeks darkened just slightly. He moved slowly to his bed and he sat down on the edge of it hard, making it creak under his heavy weight, just a few feet from her. He didn’t look at her.

“I’m curious by nature.”

“No need to explain. I find them fascinating myself.” She shrugged when he met her gaze again. “I’ve had to repair a few of them. They are very lifelike.”

“You’re a programmer and you do hardware repairs as well?”

“Minor ones. We have a maintenance bot onboard Folion that does it but she goes offline for upgrades from time to time so I handle repairing units for that day when it happens. I’ve actually only had to repair two of them. They don’t get damaged often.”

“What happened to them?”

“One had skin damage from a client who scratched her and the other one a breast problem when one of the gel packs under her artificial skin ruptured. I had to replace it.”

Ice smiled. “That’s what is under there?”

She nodded. “They feel pretty close to the real thing.” A grin split her lips again. “I never thought I’d have to grope br**sts but I had to so I could get them just right. They have to be perfectly aligned with each other.” She paused. “There I was, hand on each breast, squeezing to make sure they felt and looked the same. I had to adjust the gel a few times.”

“You must enjoy your job.” He still grinned, looking really handsome.

“If I were into girls, hell yes, but I’m not. I’m kind of uncomfortable with that aspect of my job, actually. I had her shut down because it was just too weird having her blinking at me and asking me questions while I messed with her girls.”

A deep, wonderful chuckle poured from Ice’s mouth. His eyes lit up with amusement as he stared at her. He got the slightest little laugh lines on his temples. It amazed her and before she gave it a thought, she leaned over, inches from him, and her hand reached for his face. His eyes widened with shock and he stopped laughing as his hand shot out, wrapping around her wrist to halt her from touching him.

“What are you doing?”

She backed away immediately. “I’m sorry.”

He stood quickly, frowning down at her, still gripping her. “What were you doing? Answer me.”

“You get laugh lines. This is the first time I’ve ever seen you really laugh.”

“That surprises you?” His voice deepened.

“A little, yeah. I don’t know much about cyborgs but I thought you’d have a lot in common with the bots. They have certain limitations on their expressions and I assumed you would too.”

“I’m made of flesh and blood.”

“Oh. I wasn’t sure if you had real skin. I thought you might have synthetic because of the color of it. It feels the same as mine does but they’ve come so far with technology.” She glanced at his hand gripping her wrist, studying the gray color. “Do you know why they didn’t make you human-flesh toned?” She looked up at him.

“They didn’t want us to be mistaken for human.” He paused and then slowly sat back down. His fingers unwrapped from her wrist as he locked gazes with her.

“Proceed. You may touch me.”

Now that she thought about what to do, she hesitated before lifting her hand. She barely brushed her fingertips along his cheekbone. His skin was soft, smooth, and warm, just the way she remembered from exploring him while he slept. Now he was aware of her touching him and she told him what she thought.

“You’re so warm, more so than I am.”

“I’m not a bot.” He took a deep breath. “Cyborgs were cloned and genes were altered. All hereditary diseases were filtered out, only the strongest genes were used, and they added in some artificial ones to help us heal faster and live longer. I have implants and stronger bones than you do. I also run slightly higher in temperature but only by a few degrees.”

“I noticed that you have tattoos. I’ve never seen anything similar to them. Do they have meaning?”

He hesitated. “It’s the cyborg language we created. All cyborgs have them but I didn’t like the idea of being branded. It’s our way of identifying each other so it was necessary to have it done. I just had them put my information on one arm and in smaller writing so it wasn’t as irritating to me.”

“Oh.” Megan nodded. “What do they say?”

“My name and what I do. When we first started to build our city on our new home world, the work was very harsh. Some of our people died and since there were many of us, it was hard to keep track of names. It’s why they decided to brand us this way. They could identify those who were injured or dead.”

Her gaze flickered down his leather-clad body. “What kind of implants do you have?”

He tilted his head, moving away from her touch so she let her hand drop, then he straightened his head again. “There are some inside my head to help me communicate with technology. Emotions were not expected when we were created so they installed chips to shut off sections of our brains in an attempt to block them. I also have a heart monitor in my chest so, in case of failure, it will shock it back into functioning.”

Her gaze flicked down to his broad chest and then back up again. “Why the backup system? Do cyborgs have weak hearts?”

“I’m designated to be a mechanic and work with electronics. If a strong current is ever introduced into my body during an accident, it could stop my heart.”

“Hence the backup system,” she guessed aloud. “Well, I guess that’s handy.”

“Yes.”

“So your emotions are blocked? That’s weird. I figured you had them since you have a need for…” Her voice trailed off and her mouth slammed closed.

His eyebrow lifted. “Sex?”

She gave a sharp nod. “Yes. The bots don’t have a sex drive. They just do what they are programmed for. They recharge when they aren’t in use and just stay at their docking stations inside the rooms. They couldn’t care less if they are activated or if they stay dormant for months.”

He stared into her eyes. “I have a very active sex drive but I do have the ability to shut it down if I wish. I don’t. I enjoy having access to everything that I am.”

“Oh. I would too.”

“You have had sex with me and you still believed me to be more bot than humanoid?”

She hesitated. “You taste really sweet.”

Astonishment widened his stare. “Sweet?”

Megan knew her cheeks were warming from the blush spreading there. “When you come, it tastes sweet, which made me think that perhaps they made you flavored that way and that got me to thinking that maybe you were more artificial than not.”

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