Touching Ice Page 13

The guy she’d gone to great lengths to have sex with, the cyborg she’d spent months having sexual fantasies about, had just rejected her outright over the concept of having a longer relationship with her.

“The sex is good between us, Ice.” It is for me anyway, she thought, hoping he could say the same. If it hadn’t been, he was a world-class actor because it had sure sounded as though he enjoyed being inside her . “Why don’t you want me now?”

He backed up more and leaned against the wall next to the door. “It was one thing to spend a short period of time with you but you’re asking for a lot more than that. I prefer bots to real females. As much as I would wish to spare your life, it wouldn’t work between us. I’ll come up with another way to protect you.”

Her eyebrow arched in disbelief. “I thought you only visited Folion to use them because they weren’t a risk to telling anyone you existed.”

“Bots do as they are told, there is no emotional connection, and they don’t expect things from me. Humans and cyborgs are not a good match.”

“Why not?” Curiosity had her asking. She’d seen him have sex plenty of times, had sex with him, and he didn’t do anything a human guy didn’t. He’d never damaged a bot and hadn’t done her any harm. She wasn’t about to mention any of that to him but maybe he didn’t know those things. “You are bigger than me but you’re not going to break me unless you’ve really been restraining yourself every time you’ve touched me or a bot.”

“How would you know if I’d ever damaged a bot?”

“I told you that I’m the programmer, and though I rarely do hardware repairs, I read the reports. You’ve never so much as scratched one of them.”

She hoped that was a good enough answer because she sure wasn’t admitting her voyeurism concerning his sex life on Folion. He’d get pissed off over that violation.

“My concern is not damaging you.” He pushed away from the wall. “You don’t understand my dilemma.” His expression showed emotion…anguish.

“Tell me what you have against ha**ng s*x with me.”

A frown marred his lips. “We discovered a ship of ours that had been thought lost forever and with it, a large group of cyborgs who had survived.”

“Okay. And that means what exactly?”

He took a deep breath. “My coloring is unique.”

She stared at him. “I can see that. You have those beautiful eyes and your hair is just gorgeous. I’ve never seen someone with streaks like yours without them putting them there. I assume it’s natural to you?”

He nodded. “I’ll make this simple so you can understand.”

Megan arched her eyebrow at him. “Okay. You know I’m a programmer though and not a nitwit, right?”

“I am not questioning your intelligence, Megan. Cyborg laws are complicated.

When we escaped Earth, we stole ships to flee to safety and one of them contained the majority of our females. Their ship was lost. When we settled on our new home world the council’s first priority became instilling laws that made sure that the much larger population of males had equal opportunity to the limited supply of females.”

“You make it sound as though women are objects.”

He frowned at her. “Their number-one objective became setting up family units and making sure we had a future as we began to build Cyborg City. That meant that our females had to form family units with multiple males. Every cyborg was given the responsibility of having a child each to make certain our race continued to thrive and grow. Two children were preferable but having at least one per adult is mandatory.”

Children? Megan gulped. She didn’t want any of those. Her life wasn’t stable enough, she had never stayed in one place for long, and it wouldn’t be right to drag a child around in her nomad way of life. She knew from firsthand experience how messed up they could be. Her father had been a traveling salesman, home had been a space shuttle, and she’d grown up really lonely.

People didn’t stay, everyone left her, and she’d learned to never get too attached to people after having her heart broken time and time again when she’d allowed herself to care for someone. Her mother had abandoned both her husband and her child and her father had ditched her the day she’d been old enough to fend for herself since he considered her a nuisance. She’d sworn off any future that involved marriage or kids.

Ice continued. “Most male cyborgs were created sterile but we found a way around that with drugs that reverse the process temporarily but it isn’t effective for all males.

With that factor added into the numbers, breeding pacts with a dozen males in each one was implemented.”

“What is a breeding pact?”

“Will you let me finish without interrupting?”

“Sorry. Go ahead.”

He took a deep breath, blowing out air. “It meant that if a male wasn’t able to impregnate the female in his family unit to have that one mandated child, he could call upon one of the other males in his breeding pact who had viable sperm to donate it.”

He paused. “Before you ask, artificial insemination proved highly ineffective so the males actually have intercourse with the female to get her pregnant. It is less stressful on her that way and more enjoyable.”

Megan had no words, too shocked to speak. Ice didn’t have that problem. He watched her closely though, his eyes narrowed.

“I avoided joining a family unit because I need to be in control of my own life as much as possible. Cyborg females tend to be very aggressive because of their value— they are aware of it. They are…” He paused. “Assertive with males.”

She understood. “They rule the roost.”

“I don’t understand that wording.”

“They tell you what to do and you have to do it.”

His features tightened into a grimace. “Yes. If a male joins a family unit and he doesn’t make that female happy, she can file charges with the council and have that male deemed unsuitable. No other female will touch a male with that on his record. I probably would have been dismissed from all breeding pacts which tempted me because I found it difficult to donate so many times but I didn’t want all my options to be forever closed in case I ever did want to form a family unit sometime in the distant future.”

“You had to go to bed with a lot of women?” She wondered how many cyborg women he’d slept with but didn’t ask.

“I’m considered a rarity with my hair, eye color, and strength. I was called upon many times by males in my pact to donate when their females requested my DNA.”

That’s a big yes, she thought. Not that she could blame cyborg women for wanting Ice in their beds. If someone wanted kids, he’d make some damn cute babies.

“I bet that was tough, having to sleep with a lot of women.” She held back her snort. He was male after all and what guy would complain about having to nail a lot of women? “Poor you.”

He crossed the distance between them in seconds, grabbed her and jerked her to her feet while anger clearly twisted his features as he glared down at her.

“It wasn’t the sex I minded but do you know how many times those donations took? Twenty-eight times the results were successful.” He took a ragged breath.

“Twenty-eight viable children who were born healthy, mostly male, and I am not permitted to see them, talk to them, or ever be a part of their lives.” He took another harsh breath. “I told myself the same thing all males do when called upon. It is just a donation and I did my duty for the good of our future, but then…”

He went silent, shoving Megan onto her ass on the bed, and spun away. He put distance between them, running his fingers through his hair. He stood there.

Megan regretted her words. “Then what?” She spoke softly since she’d seen pain in his beautiful eyes before he’d turned away from her. “Talk to me, Ice.”

When he spoke, his voice softened, nearly a whisper. “I was off duty for a week on Garden, my home world, and I needed to do some shopping. I saw a woman I recognized in the store. I had been bred to her a year before and in her arms she held…my son.” He turned to stare at Megan, his eyes suspiciously wet looking before he blinked rapidly to dissipate the tears. “I’m certain of my assessment of him being my son since he shared my rare coloring and he smiled at me.”

Her heart wrenched for the raw pain she couldn’t miss in Ice’s features.

“He is my son, my blood, and yet I am not permitted to speak to him, to touch him, or to claim him in any way. Twenty-eight children are on Garden and they are mine but I have no rights to them. Can you imagine in your human mind how that feels or how difficult it would be to have that reality slam into you? It did me. It wasn’t just sperm donations anymore for duty. Pieces of my soul were being given to couples and I would never know my own offspring.”

She pushed off the bed, stood, and inched toward him. “I’m so sorry.” Tears filled her eyes. She hated to see him hurting that badly, to see how deeply it affected him.

He looked away, his gaze going to the floor. “That ship with most of our women was recovered recently. They’d bred mostly female children while they were lost and they were recently returned to Garden. The council took the new numbers into account and changed the laws. Now their first priority since women aren’t such a shortage is to watch the DNA matching of the children born so that our males aren’t overused in breeding. They removed all males who have had over twenty successful donations from breeding pacts so future generations don’t face a higher percentage of unsuitable breeding choices with DNA conflicts from the male donors used for their conceptions.”

“So they can’t make you have more children.”

He spun away, his back to her again, and suddenly punched the wall hard. It stunned Megan as she watched him shake his fist a little and then it fell to dangle at his side. He’d left a mark on the bulkhead wall from his fist and a small sound drew her attention to the floor. Drops of red blood started to stain it.

“You hurt yourself.”

She reached for his arm, moving closer, but when her fingers touched his wrist he jerked away, putting distance between them again. He stopped by the door, keeping his back to her and just bled on the floor.

“I was called upon by a breeding-pact member when we first arrived at Garden on our last trip there a few weeks ago. The council decided to change the law two days after the mandatory donation.” He snarled the words and then spun back around. “Do you know what I read in the same order that stated you were to die?” He glared at her.

“They gave me notification that my donation was successful. Another child will be born, mine, and they changed the law two days too late to prevent me from creating yet another life I will have no right to know. Why couldn’t they have done that when we first arrived with those women and children? Why did the damn council wait those days?”

“I’m so sorry, Ice.” She hurt for him, hated to see him suffering, and realized how much that had to mess with his mind.

“I’m finally free from ever being called upon to breed by force but they activated my sperm for that last donation.” He continued to glare at her. “Every time I touch you I am risking a pregnancy with you, Megan. I knew I could pull out of you for a few days but I can’t do that long term. I could only locate one medicondom aboard this shuttle and I used it that first time with you. I have no access to more until we can visit an Earth-based station for supplies. Cyborg pr**cum isn’t effective so the risk is in my not removing myself from inside your body before I release active sperm. That is difficult to do for me because the pleasure is too great between us at times and I nearly lost my control. I could impregnate you while my sperm is still active for the next two months.”

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