Numbers Page 64

He lowered his chin, resting it on top of her head. She fit there, as she always had. ’’You hurt my ears with all that sobbing.’’ He pressed a little closer. ’’You looked up and saw me crouched in the corner.’’ He smiled at the memory. ’’I believed you\d start screaming or make louder sounds but you didn\ . You just crawled off my mat and right to me. I thought you might attack and I tensed, prepared to knock you away since I\d been told I couldn\ hurt you. Instead you threw your arms around me. You held on so tight.’’

She turned her face a little, pressing her cheek against his chest, nuzzling him. ’’You let me. You even took me back to the mat and curled up with me. I was cold and you were warm.’’

’’You needed me.’’

’’I\ve always needed you, and I always will.’’

He stopped pushing his fists against the door and eased them back, opening his hands. He hesitantly placed them on her waist. Her skin, where it was bare, felt cool to his touch.

’’You were my one weakness,’’ he admitted.

’’I never meant to be. You were always my greatest strength.’’

He tightened his hold on her just above her hips and backed up a little so their bodies were no longer pressed together. He opened his eyes, looking down at her. ’’I\m going to lift you up to take the pressure off the belts. Slip them off. Don\ do this again. Do you ever listen to me? No one wants to be restrained to a wall.’’

’’I\ll do it over and over again until you stop avoiding touching me.’’

’’What am I going to do with you?’’ She made him feel so much at once. Frustration, irritation, pain, but also good things. Amusement, warmth, and the need to get close to her and keep her there.

’’Anything you want.’’ She blinked back tears. ’’I\ve always been yours and nothing can ever change that.’’

He lifted her and his anger surged. He snarled. She didn\ flinch at his sudden outburst. She just kept looking at him as if she had nothing to fear.

’’You should weigh more.’’ It infuriated him. She felt so frail. He hoisted her higher and adjusted his hold, wrapping one arm entirely around her waist to anchor her in place. It freed his other hand to tear at the tight belt to loosen its grip. The red marks on her wrists where the leather had indented would probably leave bruises.

’’Silly female,’’ he growled. He got her loose and backed away, carrying her over to his bed. ’’You\ve hurt yourself.’’

She tugged her wrists out of his hold before he could set her down on top of the mattress. It startled him when her legs came up and wrapped around his waist as she threw her arms around his neck. She clung to him tightly.

He lowered his face, burying it against her throat. He breathed her in. The scent wasn\ quite the same, but it was familiar enough that there was no denying she was his Candi. He just stood there, holding her and allowing her to hold him. He remembered the first time he\d claimed she was his...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The cell door opened and one of the technicians shoved Candi into their space. When she nearly tripped and went down, 927 shot to his feet and snarled at the human male. Tears streaked Candi\s face and he could pick up the acidic odor of her pain. He also picked up the scent of fresh blood. Hers.

He snarled louder and glared at the technician with rage. The male snorted, pulling his weapon to keep him from attacking.

’’I didn\ hurt her. Dr. C is to blame if you want to kill someone.’’ He slammed the door.

927 went to Candi and grabbed her around her waist. He lifted her off her feet and took her to their mat. He sat, putting her on his lap. He sniffed to find the source of her pain. It didn\ take long. He grabbed the shirt she wore and pushed the material up her arm. A bandage had been placed just under her wrist and the white gauze was soaked with bright-red blood.

’’What did Dr. C do to you?’’

She lifted her tear-filled gaze. ’’He took blood because he thinks I might not be his daughter. He\s going to test it against his own to see if I am. He said horrible things about my mommy.’’

He spotted bruises that were forming on her wrist and upper arm. ’’You fought?’’

’’He was so mean, and the needle hurt.’’ She sniffed. ’’He said I might be a bastard. That means I don\ have parents since he killed my mommy.’’

She was so little and harmless. It infuriated him that Dr. C would be so cruel to her, but then again, he\d locked her in a cell with him. ’’It doesn\ matter if you are from his blood or not. I don\ have parents. They call me a bastard.’’ He reached up and gently wiped away her tears. ’’It doesn\ make me cry.’’

’’You never cry.’’ She turned her face into his chest and wrapped her arms around his middle, hugging him tightly. ’’What if I am a bastard? I don\ belong to anyone.’’

He rested his chin on top of her head and held her more firmly against his body. ’’You belong to me. He put us together. I would cry if they took you away and never brought you back. It would hurt me.’’

She stopped crying and tipped her head, staring at him. ’’Really?’’

He nodded. ’’Yes. No more tears, Candi. I care about you.’’

’’He told me the date. It\s my birthday today.’’ Tears welled in her eyes again and spilled down her cheeks. ’’My mommy invited all my friends to my party. Do you think they are looking for me?’’

’’I don\ know.’’ He wiped her face again, hating to see her in so much pain. The concept of having friends or a party was foreign to him, but it mattered to her. ’’You\ e not alone. I\m here.’’

’’We don\ have cake and my mommy promised me she\d bought me the doll I want.’’

He didn\ know what either of those things were. ’’They will feed us soon and you can eat it all.’’

’’I can\ eat that much. I\d get sick. I don\ want you to be hungry later.’’

’’I would let you if you could.’’ He pushed the hair away from her face, studying her features. She had grown on him since they\d brought her into his cell. He did care and it would hurt him if they took her away. ’’We will have fun.’’ He got an idea. ’’It\s your birthday. Sing to me. You like to do that. I\ll try to learn the words and do it with you. That will make you happy.’’

Her smile warmed him inside. ’’You\d do that for me?’’ She turned her head to peer at the camera, and then back at him. ’’They are watching. You don\ want them to see that.’’


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