Numbers Page 34

’’At the women\s dorm. They are watching movies this morning. She would have taken you with her to meet everyone, but someone didn\ come home last night.’’

Dana entered the kitchen and poured herself a cup of coffee. She took the time to add creamer before she faced him. ’’Mourn told me you had a talk with him. Really, Paul? I\m an adult.’’

’’I don\ want you anywhere near him.’’

’’At least he\s not like that base tramp you brought to my wedding and dated for six months. How many of your service buddies had she slept with before she sank her hooks into you? She was looking for a soldier to marry. Any soldier. Didn\ they warn you about those kinds of women when you signed up?’’

’’I wasn\ going to marry her. I made that clear. That has nothing to do with this.’’

’’It does. I didn\ ride your ass for dating her or threaten her about what I\d do to her if she hurt you. You were an adult and knew her history. I gave you enough credit to be too smart to fall into that honey trap. Mourn actually cares about me.’’

Paul cursed. ’’I knew he\d tell you that I threatened him.’’

That pissed her off. ’’Actually, he didn\ . I was just using that as an example of what I wanted to do to that woman but I resisted. You threatened him? Paul!’’ She glared at him.

He shrugged. ’’I\m trying to protect you.’’

She sipped her coffee so she wouldn\ round the island and punch him. It was tempting. She set the mug down on the counter and took a few calming breaths. ’’I don\ need you to do that. I appreciate it, but stay out of this.’’

He slid off the barstool. ’’I\m worried about you.’’

’’I get that. It\s why I haven\ smacked you. I can\ believe you threatened him.’’

’’I had to talk to him about something important. You don\ understand.’’

’’You mean about using condoms so I don\ get pregnant?’’

His jaw dropped.

’’He told me the truth. I won\ repeat it, and only brought it up because we\ e alone in the house. Mourn is a good guy, Paul. I know what I\m getting into with him. I\ll say it again. I feel things for him, and I want to see if our relationship can work. Cut me some slack. I get enough shit from our mother. I don\ need you trying to run my life too.’’

Paul seemed to recover. ’’I can\ believe he told you about the babies. It\s classified.’’

’’He trusts me. I wish you would.’’

’’I couldn\ tell you. I swore an oath of secrecy, Dana.’’

’’I\m not talking about NSO classified information. I wish you\d trust my judgment. I\m falling in love with Mourn. I know more about his past than you do. He didn\ have anyone he could talk to and open up with. Now he does. He was self-destructive, but not anymore. I understand exactly what he\s going through, and guess what? We\ e good for each other.’’

’’You deserve someone who is going to love you first and foremost. He had a mate.’’ Paul lifted his hand and scrubbed it over the back of his head. ’’They aren\ like married people. I don\ know how to get my point across, but I\m terrified you\ e going to be unhappy in the long run.’’ He dropped his hand to his side. ’’I don\ want him to break your heart because he expects you to fill a dead woman\s shoes.’’

She sighed, all her anger gone. ’’I had the same fears, but guess what?’’

Paul waited, watching her.

’’We both discovered that our marriages weren\ all that perfect, okay? He told me about his problems with his mate, and I told him about my issues with Tommy. Neither of us wants to duplicate that. We both want better than what we had.’’

He frowned. ’’What? But they were mated. I\ve never seen an unhappy mated pair.’’

’’Were you around 139 and Mourn?’’

’’Not much. They were moved into couples housing after they were freed. We wanted 139 to be more comfortable in a home setting instead of having to live at Medical. Destiny was the nurse assigned to check in on her since she wasn\ comfortable with me, because I\m human.’’

’’They weren\ that happy,’’ she confessed. ’’I\m not going to give you details, but I\ll say that much so you\ll back off.’’

’’What problems did you have with Tommy?’’

She sipped her coffee. ’’It wasn\ all roses, okay? We had rough patches.’’

’’You never told me that. You always seemed so happy.’’

’’Do you call me to bitch about something Becky has done to piss you off or hurt your feelings?’’

’’No.’’

’’Exactly. I\m not looking to replace Tommy. Mourn and I are totally different together than we were with Tommy and 139. That\s one of the things that attracts us to each other.’’ She set down her cup and walked up to her brother. ’’Stop being such a butthead and back off on the big-brother routine, okay? I\d like for you to give Mourn a chance. No more threatening him or trying to break us up.’’

’’I just wish you\d chosen someone else.’’

’’Get over it.’’

Paul nodded. ’’I\m just worried.’’

’’Don\ be. Mourn would never hurt me. He\s really sweet, Paul. I wish you could see him the way I do. He makes me happy. He makes me feel alive.’’

’’I take it you\ e going to keep seeing him no matter what I say?’’

’’Yes. Do you want me to go stay with him instead of here? I don\ want to put you out if you\ e uncomfortable with me seeing Mourn.’’

’’I wish you wouldn\ live with him. You can stay as long as you want.’’

’’Thank you.’’ She reached up and patted the side of his face. He flinched away when she did it a little too hard the second time.

’’Ouch. What was that for?’’

’’Don\ threaten him again.’’

He rubbed his cheek. ’’You\ e mean.’’

’’It could have been worse. I was thinking about going for the shorthairs on the back of your neck.’’ Dana turned around and returned to her coffee. She lifted the mug to take a sip, but Paul\s next words froze her in place.

’’Mom called this morning. You\ e not going to like what I\m about to say.’’

She lifted her gaze. ’’What did she want?’’


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