Touching Ice Page 2

Megan ran. She had to jump over a fallen chair but then she entered the corridor.

Smoke filled the air, an acrid smell that had her fighting a sneeze. She avoided the lifts, uncertain if they were working or not. Grateful to have gravity restored, she made it to a down hatch. Bending as she panted from her mad dash, she yanked it open.

As part of her job, she’d learned every inch of Folion, so she knew where to go. As the hatch opened, clean, smoke-free oxygen met her. She quickly climbed down the metal ladder and found herself on deck three. The pod was just two long corridors down. A bot walk at the opposite side.

Megan bolted for it and at the bend of the corridor she nearly plowed into a bot. It turned to face her, a cold smile on its features.

“May I serve you?”

“Move,” Megan panted at it.

She barely dodged the bot and ran around it, hitting the turn literally as her body bounced off a wall. She saw the emergency pod sign ahead, blinking red, fast flashes.

The alarms were still blasting through the ship and Clara’s automatic evacuation statement filled her ears as she ran.

An explosion tore through the end of the corridor with a flash of fire and a loud boom. Megan screamed, twisting around in mid run, and threw herself to the floor. A roar whooshed behind her as she lay there and threw her arms up as hot heat blasted above her. She turned her head, peeking up between her curved arms toward the ceiling. Flames licked along the ten-foot-high ceiling but then died. She turned her head, staring in shock down the hallway where the pod had been. Twisted metal and charred scars marred the wall, the light no longer blinking.

“Client has overridden pod.” Clara’s voice had become louder than the alarm, her annoying accent back. “He set a charge in the wall control pad and severed my connection to the docking clamps. Pod safely jettisoned.”

“Oh God,” Megan lay there, horrified. There were only two emergency pods so that had been her last chance at escape.

“Megan, proceed to section four of level three. I have locked the clamps of the ship still docked in that section. I am attempting to stall their ship from leaving. Hurry and attempt to board it. They are allowing bots passage. I negotiated with the captain to save as many units that could reach his ship before I lost the ability to communicate with them.”

Panic gripped Megan as she pushed up from the floor and ran. She turned down another corridor, running as fast as she could. Two more turns and she saw three bots walking calmly through an open docking door thirty feet ahead. A gray-skinned cyborg stood there, looking grim. He had black hair and wore an all-black uniform similar to the one the cyborg she had spent months watching always sported. It had to be his ship and there was more than one cyborg after all. She hoped her cyborg had safely made it back inside his ship.

“Wait,” she called out, pushing her tired body to press forward. Her side burned from running and she panted hard.

The cyborg faced her as she ran toward him. He frowned but he didn’t follow the bots into the docking sleeve to close the door and lock her out. He waited and moved back against the wall as she ran past him, through the docking sleeve, and continued the last ten feet it took her to enter their cargo hold. She stopped since at least twelve bots were standing there motionless, blocking her way.

Doors slid closed behind her and she turned to face the large cyborg who had sealed them. He reached up and touched a control pad. “Let’s go. I don’t see any more of them and I don’t want to be still attached when it blows up.”

“Affirmative,” a masculine voice answered. “Releasing docking clamps now.”

Megan leaned against the wall, bent, and grabbed her knees. The shuttle detached, letting her know that Clara was aware that she’d made it since she’d allowed them to release the clamps. The motion was noticeable but with her butt against the wall it just made her bump it. She slowly inhaled, trying to catch her breath. Her side still hurt.

She’d kept in good shape, exercised daily, but running wasn’t her thing.

“May I serve you?”

Megan lifted her chin to watch as one of the sex bots addressed the tall cyborg. He crossed his arms over his chest and a grin spread on his face.

“How long do we get to keep them?”

“I don’t understand your request,” the bot stated.

“At least four days,” a deep male voice answered from the other side of the room.

“We are to drop them off at the Hixton Station. We’re getting paid good money for saving them. I wonder how much each one is really worth if they are willing to shell out that much to us just to transport them?”

“Probably a hell of a lot.”

Megan stood, peering across the small cargo hold and she forgot to breathe for seconds while she stared at him. The cyborg she’d become obsessed with inched his big frame around the bots, working his way to the center of the room to reach the other cyborg.

A laugh burst from the dark-haired male. “I love the side benefits of this job if we get use of thirteen bots for four days.”

Her glance darted around at all the taller bots near her, counting them. There were twelve in all. The cyborg had said there were thirteen. She frowned, counting them again. Her attention returned to her fantasy man as he stepped near her, close enough for her to reach out and touch. He grinned at the other man.

“I won’t be complaining, that’s for damn sure, Onyx.”

“I bet not, Ice.”

His name is Ice, Megan thought, as she stared up at him. He was a foot taller than her, putting him at six foot two. He looked huge in person, bigger than he appeared on screen. If she reached her arm out straight, she could brush her hand over his molded, black leather uniform, which displayed his immense biceps. In person his hair was even more amazing—white with very light-gray streaks that were only noticeable from close up but she had discovered that already since she’d had the cameras zoom in on him a few times while she’d spied on him with the bots.

The scent of leather, masculine soap, and wonderful male teased her nose. One of the bots, nearly his height, turned to face him as it smiled. The bots were all between five foot seven and six foot one and sturdy bodied so they weren’t easily broken.

“May I serve you?”

Ice’s eyebrows arched but he grinned. “It’s a hard job but someone has to do it.”

Onyx laughed. “The men are going to be thrilled with this job.”

“We thought we were going to spend a lot of money using bots but now we’re getting paid for four days of unlimited sex. I’d call that a good day for us but a bad one for Folion. What the hell happened?”

“A ship came in too fast. We were monitoring their communications and it sounded as though they were drinking a little too much to celebrate time off and slammed right into it. Good thing we were on the starboard side. The damage was really bad when it hit. Damn. Do you know what this means? Folion won’t be available to us.”

The grin on Onyx’s face died. “Shit. I guess we’d better really make the best of the next four days. Maybe they’ll send out another ship to host these beauties.”

Ice turned his head and looked directly at Megan. She froze, her breath catching again while she stared into his beautiful light-blue eyes with silver streaks in the irises.

He tilted his head, his full lips curving downward slightly as his gaze left hers to slowly travel down her body.

Of all the days for this to happen, she thought sourly. She wore a light-blue tank top with black sweat pants. They were comfortable work clothes but she probably looked like hell. Her blonde hair was in an untidy ponytail, which never completely tamed her wild curls, and she knew she looked like a sweaty mess from running. She didn’t even have shoes. This wasn’t how she wanted to meet the man who occupied all of her late- night fantasies while she lay in her bunk. His gaze rose.

“What is she?” Onyx stepped closer. “A maintenance bot? Her smaller size and chaotic appearance would indicate so.”

She fought the urge to sag with relief. She started to silently pray that they kept mistaking her for a bot. Cyborgs had been deemed dangerous on Earth, the government had ordered their eradication, and if their continued existence was reported, Earth would probably send military ships to correct that fact. She’d always thought that’s why their shuttle visited a totally computer-controlled ship. No live beings were present to report their visits and it was well known that Folion kept no records—to protect their clientele. Computers had no interest in earning rewards for snitching to the government but humans, on the other hand, did. She worried that the cyborgs would kill her, but as a bot, she wouldn’t pose a threat to them.

Ice shrugged, looking away from her. “Maybe she’s a defective model they use for general purposes or maybe she’s a specialty item for some of the working human males who have fantasies about small females who have active sweat glands. I remember, while in training on Earth, that some of the human males would stare at human women and get turned on by their appearance during workouts. They indicated it made their dicks hard and they spoke of wanting to lick the sweat off those females.”

“Interesting.” Onyx inched closer to her, openly studying her. “I didn’t know they made bots that small. I wonder if the simulated perspiration is flavored.”

Ice’s broad shoulders shrugged. “Perhaps.” He grinned. “You have four days to find out.”

Apprehension spread through Megan as the large, dark-haired cyborg grabbed her h*ps with two big hands and jerked her against his leather-clad body. His head bent, moving to the side as he lowered his face, obviously going for her neck. She realized he intended to lick her skin to find out what flavor gel her supposed artificial body used for sweat. His hand slid from her ass to between her legs.

Megan’s reaction was instinctive as she brought her knee up, slamming it between the vee of his tight pants, hitting his solid body in the groin. His response was just as swift as he shouted and pushed her from him. Megan hit the wall hard enough that it caused pain to shoot from the back of her head where she impacted.

“Son of a bitch,” the cyborg hissed. “She kneed me.”

He cupped the front of his pants as his head snapped upward. Pure rage gripped his features. His hand shot out and Megan didn’t have time to avoid the blow. He backhanded her hard across the face, sending her sprawling to the deck. She lay there for long seconds, her face throbbing with pain, too stunned to move.

“Damn it, don’t damage their property,” Ice barked. “Maybe she’s not a sex bot and is programmed to defend herself. She didn’t ask to service you.”

“I think we should throw it out the damn airlock and say we didn’t get that one onboard,” Onyx groaned. “Fuck, that hurts.”

Movement from the corner of her eye had Megan turning her head. Ice crouched next to her, a frown on his handsome features, his gaze fixed on the other man.

“The computer running Folion probably recorded us taking it. You’d better hope it’s not damaged since it hasn’t gotten up.” He leaned closer, his attention going to her.

Megan met his beautiful eyes as their gazes locked and then she looked away from him. “Systems are fine.” She used her coldest voice as she forced her body to move.

Ice didn’t move for long seconds, she could sense him staring at her, but she refused to look at him for fear he’d see something that would give her true identity away. He lingered next to her long enough for it to be uncomfortable but he finally moved.

Ice stood and turned his back to her. “You’re damn lucky she isn’t damaged, Onyx.

They are only on loan until we deliver them.”

Her face hurt but she didn’t rub it as she got to her unsteady feet. A wave of dizziness hit her but then it cleared as she leaned against the wall, hoping they wouldn’t notice anything odd about her. If she could just pretend to be a bot for four days she’d be totally safe on their shuttle.

Prev Next