Numbers Page 80

’’Tell them if they are going to beat on you. It might make them stop.’’

’’I don\ think so.’’

He stepped closer and gripped her hand. He curled her hand into a clawed position. ’’You fight like this. Use your nails. You don\ have the strength to hurt them with a fist.’’ He yanked her hand to his face. ’’Go for the eyes.’’ He positioned her hand lower. ’’The throat next.’’ He released her hand and leaned forward and gripped her leg behind the knee and bent it, bringing it up to his groin area. ’’Do that as hard as you can to males. It will take them down.’’

She nodded.

’’I\ll teach you.’’ He wanted her to be able to defend herself if she had to. It frightened him, thinking of all the times she was taken from his cell for tests or if they wanted to ask her questions when Dr. C ordered it done.

’’Thank you.’’

’’It won\ be easy,’’ he warned, backing up to the mat they slept on. ’’Come over here. I don\ want you to fall on the floor. Are you certain about this?’’

She followed him and curved her hands into claws. ’’I need to know.’’

She was brave for one so small and weak. He respected her inner strength, but that was his Candi. She always amazed him. He crouched a little and swatted at her with one hand, making sure not to make contact. ’’Block me. Use the backs of your hands and wrists to knock my hands away and prevent me from touching you.’’

She threw up her arm and did it. He swiped at her again and she managed to knock his hand away, avoiding his grasp. He grinned. She was cute as she scrunched her nose to concentrate. He moved faster and actually grabbed her that time, fisting her shirt. He pulled, yanking her right off her feet and dropping her onto her back. She landed hard and he instantly regretted it when she gasped. He crouched, worried he might have hurt her.

’’Are you well?’’

She smiled. ’’I\ll get better. Don\ treat me like a baby.’’

He wanted to. He never wished for her to need to use anything he taught her. He straightened and pulled her to her feet. ’’Come at me.’’

She did and he knocked her flat back onto the mat. She landed but rolled, coming back up. He admired her for that. She launched herself at him and he had to twist to prevent her from slapping his face. She tripped on his leg, and he grabbed her around her waist to keep her from falling to the floor. She twisted in his arms and grabbed hold of his jaw.

’’Pow! I could have hurt you if I\d done that hard.’’

He chuckled and opened his mouth, licking her fingers near his lips. She yanked her hands away. ’’I could have bit a few of those fingers off.’’

’’Technicians don\ have sharp teeth.’’

’’Good point.’’ He grabbed her with his other arm and eased her to her feet. ’’Are you sure you want to learn? This won\ be easy, and you might get bruises when we work harder to teach you how to defend yourself. I don\ ever want to hurt you, Candi.’’

She nodded. ’’I know that, but I need to learn. I\m tougher than you think, 927. You aren\ always with me when they take me from our cell.’’ She got that determined look he knew so well. ’’Don\ baby me.’’

’’You are my baby,’’ he teased. ’’My short one.’’

She took a swing at him and caught him low on his abdomen. He grunted and rubbed it. It caused her to laugh.

’’See? I\m getting better.’’

He nodded. ’’We will do this if you insist.’’

’’I do.’’ She clawed her hands and backed up.

He crouched a little and she mimicked his stance. He took swipes at her and she blocked them. He grew more aggressive once he felt her reflexes were improving. He touched her a few times, but she never flinched, even when he knew it hurt a little. She just kept coming at him.

She was tougher than he had believed. He finally tackled her and twisted in the air so she would land on top of him when they hit the mat. She was out of breath. He chuckled, holding her close. ’’That\s enough for today.’’

She turned her head and kissed his cheek. ’’I\m wearing you out. Admit it.’’

He laughed. ’’You are the one panting.’’

She reached back and dug her fingers into his side, wiggling them. He laughed louder and rolled, pinning her under him. He tickled her instead. He finally stopped when he knew she\d had enough. He stared into her face, and knew without a doubt that it would destroy him inside if anything ever happened to his Candi. He wanted to protect her at all times, but Mercile made that impossible. He\d just do everything he could to make certain she was strong and could fight when he wasn\ with her.

Chapter Nine

Candi watched Breeze leave and felt a large burden lift from her shoulders. She\d told the female everything. The door opened a few minutes later and Hero entered. He looked furious.

’’Why was she carrying a video camera?’’

’’She asked to film some of my answers and I agreed. They are going to play it for the humans.’’

’’I don\ like that.’’

She stood and approached him. ’’You\ e being overprotective.’’

’’Humans could use your image in bad ways.’’

’’There\s an active manhunt under way for me right now, and some photo the hospital took is being shown on the news. My image is already out there. I\d prefer they have the truth instead of thinking I killed Penny because I\m insane and dangerous.’’

His gaze traveled down her and he snorted. ’’Humans are idiots if they see you as a threat.’’

She grinned. ’’They aren\ like you.’’

He grabbed her hand and tugged her toward the kitchen. ’’I\m feeding you.’’

’’Okay.’’ It had been a few hours since they\d seen each other and she was a little hungry. ’’I\m fine though.’’

He stopped and lifted her up on the counter, gazing into her eyes. ’’I hate that you had to go through that.’’

’’I\m grateful. Do you know how many years I wished someone, anyone would listen to me? Now the NSO will get my story out there. Everyone will know that Dr. C killed my mother and that Penny kept me locked up so I couldn\ expose Mercile after I was taken from there. The police will stop believing I\m a deranged murderer.’’

He leaned forward, resting his forehead against hers. ’’Did you have to agree to Breeze filming you?’’

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