Numbers Page 9

Dana resisted rolling her eyes. The couple may have been married for years, but they acted like newlyweds. She was pretty sure what Becky\s look meant, and why her brother suddenly seemed so eager to retire to his room. She didn\ care if they were planning to have se* as long as they stayed there all night. Mourn didn\ want anyone to know they were talking, and she respected that wish.

’’I\ll see you two tomorrow.’’ Dana hugged them both and fled to the guestroom. The living space separated the bedrooms so she pressed her ear to the closed door and waited. A full minute passed before silence reigned. She flipped off her light, eased the door open and peered into the dark living room.

She went to the slider, opened it and entered the backyard. Dana glanced around, hoping Mourn had already arrived. She didn\ see him, but it took a moment to adjust to the darkness. Movement near the tree closest to the patio table drew her attention and she smiled when Mourn stepped out of the shadows. She waved and approached him.

’’Hi.’’

He didn\ appear as happy to see her as she did him. He was a handsome man despite the facial differences that marked him as a feline New Species. The color and shape of his eyes never ceased to fascinate her.

’’You\ e wearing shoes.’’

She glanced down at her outfit. Part of her had wanted to dress up a bit, but it might have made her brother or his wife suspicious. She wore comfy, cream-colored cotton pants and a baggy black sweater with matching slip-on canvas shoes. ’’I am. Do you want to stay here or go sit in the park again?’’

He swung his head around, searching the area around them. ’’Why don\ we go somewhere new?’’

’’Okay.’’ She was aware that New Species never left Homeland so he couldn\ take her anywhere far.

’’Don\ be startled.’’

The warning did nothing to prepare her for when he bent and scooped her into his arms. He straightened, spun and strode to the wall. She wrapped her arms around his neck, expecting it when he jumped over the three-foot divider since he\d done it before.

’’Why are you carrying me?’’

’’You have short legs and I want to move fast.’’ He kept looking in all directions as he quickened the pace. He wasn\ exactly running but it was close.

’’What\s going on?’’ Dana knew something was wrong.

’’Darkness keeps patrolling the area. He\s watching for me.’’

’’The guy you fought with? The one who put you in the clinic?’’

’’Yes.’’

She felt a little fearful as she glanced around as well. It was too dark to see much, and Mourn moved fast. ’’Are you going to get into another fight?’’ she asked, worried.

’’Possibly.’’

’’Put me down. I can run.’’

He ignored her request and began to jog. It was a little jarring, but his arms cushioned her for the most part. She clung tighter until they came to a small building. He paused, turned and studied the area.

’’Do you see him?’’ she whispered.

’’No. It\s windy again, and it will be difficult for him to pick up my scent. That\s another reason I carried you. I rubbed my shoes in the grass to make tracking me more difficult. You would have left a trail for him to follow.’’

’’Wow. New Species can do that?’’ She filed that information away. New Species had to have a highly advanced sense of smell.

’’He\s feline like me and we\ e not as good at tracking as the canines, but he could call one here to assist him.’’ He shifted her weight, opened the door to the shed-sized building, carried her inside and placed her on her feet. He closed them in.

It was pitch dark. Dana held very still, afraid she might run in to something or trip if items were on the floor. ’’Where are we?’’ She kept her voice low.

’’It\s a storage building for our sporting equipment. I\ll turn on the light. Close your eyes so it doesn\ cause you difficulty. It can take a second to adjust.’’

She lowered her head and did as he asked. She heard the soft click of a light switch and peeked, blinking a few times. It wasn\ a bright overhead light, but it was enough to see by. Shelves had been built along one wall and a long bench ran opposite it. Under the wood seat were boxes filled with various balls.

’’It\s private, and warmer than outside. You may sit if you wish.’’

The wood slats weren\ the most comfortable seat but she sat. Mourn hesitated and then joined her, a few feet away. He didn\ look at her, but instead stared forward at the cupboards. The silence grew a little awkward until Dana spoke.

’’How was your day?’’

’’Fine. How was yours?’’

’’I got a tour of the offices, the Security building, and we had dinner at the bar.’’

He looked at her, and his mouth curved downward in obvious distaste. ’’You danced with Species?’’ His nose flared as he sniffed. ’’I don\ smell any of them on you.’’

’’No. I watched a lot of them dance though. A few men asked me, but I\m not at ease with that.’’

’’You don\ dance, or you don\ like males touching you?’’

’’I\m not social, and I didn\ want to draw that much attention to myself. I know how to dance, but I don\ like to do it with strangers. Paul and Becky went out on the dance floor a few times. I just stayed at the table.’’

He relaxed, the straight line of his back easing somewhat. ’’I don\ dance. I would be afraid others would laugh at me. We didn\ have access to music before freedom. It\s new.’’

’’What about your wife? Did she dance?’’

’’My mate was ill when we were freed. She spent all her time in our home, hooked to machines. She didn\ want to stay in Medical so they set her up inside a home to accommodate her needs.’’

Dana nodded. ’’I understand. We did that with Tommy too, near the end, but he wanted to try one more treatment that had a very slim chance of success. He was admitted to the hospital ten days before his death. We thought he\d last longer, or I would have insisted that he be taken home.’’ Sadness rose but she tried to push it back. ’’I think he planned it that way so I wouldn\ have the memory of his passing in our bedroom.’’

’’I moved into the men\s dorm after I lost my mate. I couldn\ stand the constant reminders at the home we shared.’’

’’It is tough,’’ she admitted. ’’I probably should take that step too, but I love our house. There are so many good memories there that they outweigh the bad. We were fortunate enough to buy our dream home the first time.’’


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