Numbers Page 22

’’Yes.’’

’’You talked to him about us?’’

He nodded. ’’I didn\ have a choice. He knows we\ve been meeting at night, and wanted to know why. He threatened to send me to Reservation if my intentions weren\ good.’’

’’Why would he do that?’’

’’He worried I would do to you what Vengeance has attempted in the past.’’

’’What\s that?’’

’’He has tried to grab human females and take them.’’

She gawked at him. ’’Take them?’’

’’Ven\s mate died at Mercile. He\s considered unstable too. He just wants a female to love and care for. He needs purpose in his life. Darkness was concerned I\d steal you from your brother and take you home with me by force. I told him I\d never do that.’’

’’Did this Vengeance do that to someone?’’

’’He has tried to grab a female a couple of times but the males stopped him. He\s very lonely. He just wanted to take one home and keep her.’’

’’Has he had counseling? It sounds like he needs it.’’

’’We\ve all had to speak to head shrinks, but they don\ understand us. They think the way humans do, and not like a Species.’’

She let that sink in, pondering what it meant.

’’The head shrink I spoke to grew angry with me when I told him about how 139 became my mate.’’

’’Why was he angry?’’

’’Kregkor said it was akin to rape when we mated, and asked Justice to keep me away from 139. Justice refused his request and banned him from going near us. He tried but the officer at the gates of Species housing refused to allow him to come to our home. Kregkor no longer works for the NSO. The US government assigned him to work at Homeland but Moon\s mate got him fired. Joy is a head shrink too, and said he was an asshole. She spoke to me after someone told her what he\d said to me, and the accusations he\d made about how letting me care for my mate would damage her more. Joy understands Species much better.’’

’’He does sound like an asshole.’’

’’Thank you for taking it well when I told you how 139 became my mate. I understand that\s not how humans form bonds.’’

She closed the distance between them and took his hand. ’’You\ e an amazing man, Mourn. You\ e sweet and kind. I\m so sorry for what Kregkor said to you.’’

He smiled. ’’Why do you always apologize for other humans?’’

She grinned. ’’I don\ know.’’

’’It\s adorable, but not necessary. I didn\ take it personal. He thinks human. Our history is vastly different. We didn\ have choices, even once.’’

She had the urge to kiss him but wasn\ that forward. ’’We should get to Paul\s before he really freaks out.’’

’’I want you to live with me.’’

’’I know, but I need to think about that.’’

’’May I ask Darkness to get us couples housing so we can go there at night? I\ll move into the cottage and you can visit me so we have privacy.’’ He glanced around the shed, and then at her again. ’’I want to take you somewhere nicer than this.’’

She nodded. ’’Do you think he can do that?’’

’’I do. I get off at four today. May I pick you up at around four thirty? I\ll get takeout food for us, and we can eat at the cottage together. It will be like a date, but no one will try to intervene.’’

’’I\d like that.’’

’’What do you like to eat?’’

’’I had their fried chicken dinner when Paul took me to the bar. I liked that a lot.’’

’’I\ll order it for you.’’

Mourn stepped around her and opened the door. The bright light blinded her for a moment, but she followed him. Mourn spun and she wasn\ surprised when he just scooped her up into his arms. He seemed to enjoy carrying her, or maybe he thought her walking on grass wasn\ acceptable. She wrapped her arms around his neck as he closed the door.

’’Let me do the talking when we get to the house.’’ She felt better prepared to handle Paul. ’’I have no idea how to make my brother understand why I spent the night with you, but I\ll do my best. Just promise me you won\ deck Paul. No picking a fight with him. He\s not going to react well when we show up there. He\s probably already discovered that I\m not in the guestroom.’’

’’I have no desire to fight with males anymore, especially one who matters so much to you. I\ll restrain him if he attacks me.’’

She winced. ’’I don\ want you two to fight.’’

’’You\ e a fully grown female. It\s your decision to sleep with me, not his.’’

’’You don\ understand big brothers.’’

’’That is true. I have no family.’’

The park seemed abandoned. They approached the back of Paul\s house. It was the first indication of what waited inside. Two uniformed New Species officers were on the patio, one of them talking into a cell phone.

’’Shit. Paul must have called Security.’’

’’It will be fine,’’ Mourn murmured.

The guard on his phone hung up and slid his cell into his front pocket. Mourn stepped over the divider wall and carried Dana to them. He lowered her gently to her feet. The guard shot a glare at him but addressed Dana when he spoke.

’’Are you harmed?’’

’’No.’’

The slider opened and a tall, black-haired New Species stepped out. The harsh expression on his face made him kind of scary. He wasn\ wearing a uniform though. Instead he wore jeans and a black button-down shirt.

’’Darkness.’’ Mourn stepped closer to Dana and put his body between her and the other man.

’’It\s ten thirty. Paul woke and was very alarmed when he realized his sister wasn\ in her room. He called for a full-scale search of Homeland to find her. I intervened and have kept him here. I did, however, have to inform him that you two have been spending your evenings together.’’ He swept his gaze over Dana a quick examination. ’’I promised him she\d be fine. She looks it.’’

’’We slept too long. I apologize.’’ Mourn reached back and took her hand. ’’I\ve asked Dana to live with me, but she needs more time before she feels at ease with that. I\d still like to request a place at couples housing so she can visit me there. Would you speak on my behalf and make it happen?’’

Darkness hesitated, apparently thinking it over. ’’What\s wrong with the men\s dorm?’’


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