Numbers Page 11

’’They are good people.’’ He looked away. ’’What about se*?’’

That threw Dana. ’’What about it?’’

He cleared his throat. ’’A few of the females have offered to share se* with me. Will it heal some of the pain if I touch one of the Species females? They have said it might help me get over her.’’

’’You mean the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else?’’

He jerked his attention to her and scowled.

’’It\s a saying I\ve heard often. It means to have se* with someone new. I don\ know. I have gone on a few dates since Tommy died, but I haven\ gone to bed with any of them. It would have been too weird, and I wasn\ se*ually attracted to them. We discussed it in grief counseling. Some of them swore it helped, while others said it made them feel empty inside. I guess it depends on the person. What do you think?’’

’’It would be uncomfortable.’’

’’I agree.’’

The silence stretched between them. He finally spoke. ’’She was the only female I knew.’’

They had something else in common. ’’Tommy and I were together since we were young. He\s the only man I ever dated. He was my first kiss, my first everything. My last too.’’ Depression threatened. She shook it off. ’’But I have hope. That\s new. I think I\m reaching the point where I might want to find someone to date again. I\m lonely. At first I wouldn\ even consider remarrying. It\s progress. You\ll get there too. Give yourself time.’’

He seemed interested in the floor, studying it. ’’Have you found a male who interests you? Will he be angry that you\ e staying here longer than planned?’’

’’There\s no one. One guy at work keeps asking me out, but he\s totally not my type.’’

Mourn lifted his gaze and stared at her. ’’What is wrong with the male?’’

She smiled. ’’He\s kind of an office player.’’

His eyebrows drew together and he frowned.

’’Morgan hits on a lot of women. It\s his thing. He\s a flirt. I don\ want that. He\ll probably be the type who cheats.’’ She winced. ’’That\s a fear of mine.’’

’’Your mate was loyal? I hear some humans aren\ .’’

’’Tommy was special. He was pretty intense, and he loved me. He set a high mark that I fear no one else can reach. He also had germ phobias.’’ She laughed. ’’It kind of made me feel safe that he wouldn\ sleep with other women. I was the only one he would touch without fear. Do you understand?’’

’’You are worried no other male can treat you as well and be loyal?’’

She nodded.

’’I don\ think any other female will wish to be my mate. Species females resist commitment. They share se* with other males, and don\ allow us to stay with them to sleep in their beds. I miss having her next to me.’’

’’Tell me something about her.’’

He resisted for a long minute. ’’She was primate and tall.’’ He paused. ’’She snorted when she laughed. It was cute.’’

Dana smiled and stroked his hand, urging him to tell her more.

’’She didn\ talk much, but she always said important things when she did.’’

’’Intelligent.’’

He nodded. ’’We were young when they put us together. She was terrified of me.’’

’’You\ e a big guy.’’

Mourn didn\ look at her while he spoke. ’’I was the first male they\d taken her to, and she was my first female. They said we were a mated pair and told us we\d share the cell forever. We had to learn to live together. She kept far away from me, but I was curious. I kept trying to approach her. She\d make these funny noises so I\d back away. I didn\ want to frighten her.’’

Dana could believe that of Mourn. He was a nice guy.

’’I gave her the sleeping mat and would sneak onto it after she fell asleep. I liked to hold her. She\d wake in the morning and move away from me at first. It took a while for her to learn that I wouldn\ hurt her. We started to talk. Then she went into heat.’’

That tidbit surprised Dana. ’’Heat?’’

’’se*ual need. She smelled so good and I wanted her bad. I might not have shared se* before, but I hurt. My kon*** was constantly hard.’’

Startled, Dana stopped rubbing his hand, but then started again, encouraging him. It was a reminder of what he was. New Species did have animal DNA. ’’I take it you two worked it out?’’

’’She was suffering and didn\ know what was wrong with her.’’

’’I didn\ think primates went into heat that way.’’

Anger deepened his voice. ’’Mercile probably put something in her food. She didn\ eat the same things that I did. They wanted us to breed, and we weren\ doing it fast enough. I later learned how dangerous it would have been if they\d drugged me. Males grow very aggressive, and the pain is so intense that they suffer memory loss. 139 and I figured it out. I learned fast that if she enjoyed my touch, she\d allow me to mount her often.’’ He grew silent.

’’Her number was 139?’’ It made Dana think. ’’What was your number?’’

’’140.’’

She pondered that. ’’A number one off from yours.’’

’’I don\ know why we were given numbers close together. Mercile never explained things to us. They might have planned to make us mates from the beginning and only waited until we were old enough to breed before they put us in the same cell.’’

’’Do you know how long you were together?’’

’’No. There\s no sense of time at Mercile. It\s endless. A long time. Then we were taken from there to somewhere worse. They kept giving her injections, and it made her weak and sick. The humans kept promising me they\d make her better if I did everything they ordered me to do. They were using her to control me. I did it. Her life was all that mattered. The NSO freed us but she didn\ get better. They lied to me.’’

’’The NSO?’’

’’Mercile.’’ He snarled the name. ’’They couldn\ make 139 better. They were overdosing her with experimental ovulation drugs, hoping they would make her get pregnant. Our females can\ breed though.’’ His voice remained deep, his pain and anger clear. ’’It caused massive harm to her internal organs. The damage couldn\ be repaired. They wanted a Species infant bad enough to kill her in the attempt. I didn\ know what they were doing to her until we were freed. Doc Trisha said it poisoned her system and parts of her organs had suffered too much damage by the time she arrived at Homeland. The healing drugs kept her going for a long time but they couldn\ repair what was done. She just lingered longer.’’


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