Numbers Page 94

Her gaze traveled down his body. ’’So do you.’’

’’Stop looking at me like that. We are going out.’’

’’We don\ have to.’’

’’We do. I thought about something today and I made arrangements. Now wait in the other room.’’

’’You\ e so bossy.’’

’’I always have been.’’

’’I know.’’ She left the bedroom and waited.

He came out wearing faded jeans, a gray tank top and a pair of shoes much like hers. He held out his hand. ’’Come on.’’

She was excited. They walked hand in hand out of their apartment, and took the elevator to the ground floor. He waved at the males they passed in the living room, and she smiled at them. He took her outside. The sun was low in the sky. He bypassed the carts and just walked down the sidewalk.

Hero led her inside one of the buildings. A lot of Species were inside and music was playing. She grinned. ’’What is this place?’’

’’The bar.’’ He had to raise his voice. ’’We hang out here, eat, dance and socialize.’’

’’Are you going to dance?’’

He grinned. ’’Perhaps, but first we\ e going to have birthday cake. I called today and made sure they would get a carrot cake just for you. It\s for all the birthdays you missed.’’

She threw her arms around him and hot tears blinded her. It didn\ matter, because no one could see her with her face pressed against his shirt. He remembered.

He held her tightly, leaned his head down and put his lips against her ear. ’’It\s not exactly the party you missed out on before you were taken, but it\s the best I could do, Candi.’’

She tried to pull herself together but it was tough to do. Her sixth birthday had been approaching before that horrible night her mother had been killed, and her world had changed forever. She\d told him all about how she\d looked forward to playing with her friends and having carrot cake. It had been her favorite. They never celebrated birthdays at Mercile or at the asylum.

’’I love you.’’

He kissed the top of her head. ’’I love you too. Come on. You have friends here and there are even presents.’’

She finally pulled herself together and peered up at him. ’’The females knew?’’

’’I got them involved.’’

’’They didn\ say a word.’’

’’It was a surprise.’’

He kept his arm around her and turned them, leading her to a big table at the back. At least ten females and six males waited. They\d even decorated the table for her and there were colorful balloons. She was touched that Jinx and Torrent were there. Kat and the male who had to be her mate were there as well. Pretty, wrapped presents were stacked next to a big cake. Hero pulled out her chair and she sat, glancing at all the happy faces around the table.

’’Thank you.’’

’’It\s was all Hero\s idea.’’ Sunshine pointed at him. ’’He plotted it out with Darkness, and he called Kat, and then she whispered it to us while you were busy. Happy birthday, Candi. More of us would have come but they were on duty this evening.’’

’’It\s not really my birthday. At least I don\ think it is.’’

’’It doesn\ matter.’’ Hero took a seat next to her and scooted closer until they touched. ’’We\ e celebrating you being home and us being mated.’’

’’This is wonderful.’’ She reached up and wiped at tears. She glanced around again and saw a few alarmed looks. ’’I\m happy. Right before my mom was killed, we\d been planning my birthday party. I told Hero all about it when we were young. Sometimes when I\d eat carrots at Mercile, I\d try to describe to him how my favorite cake was made of them.’’ She held his gaze. ’’You are so wonderful to do this for me.’’

’’We have a lot of time to make up. This is one of the good memories we\ll share.’’ He looked away from her to frown at the white cake. ’’I still don\ believe a cake made of carrots will be good.’’

She laughed. ’’You never did like them, but cake is sweet.’’

’’Will it be crunchy?’’ He wrinkled his nose.

’’Let\s find out!’’ Sunshine stood and started slicing the cake, putting pieces of it on colorful paper plates. She gave the first one to Candi.

Two males arrived at the table, carrying trays laden with glasses of milk, and passed them out. Candi smiled at them. ’’Thank you. Are you joining us?’’

’’We\ e on duty, but thank you for asking.’’ One of the males winked. ’’Happy birthday, Hero\s mate.’’

She waited until everyone had cake in front of them and cut a piece with her fork. It looked delicious, and smelled even better. It stirred a few childhood memories and a flash of her mother\s smiling face filled her mind.

’’Candi?’’

She focused on Hero and offered him her bite. ’’Try it.’’

He lowered his head, but paused. ’’I just hope it tastes as you remember it. The most important part is that you enjoy it.’’ He opened his mouth and accepted the small bite. He chewed and smiled. ’’Ummm.’’

She cut another piece and popped it into her mouth. It tasted as delicious as she remembered. They stared at each other, forgetting the people around them.

Darkness leaned back in his chair and put his arm along the back of Kat\s seat. He looked at her and she drew close. ’’What\s up?’’

’’Did you call your contacts at the FBI?’’

’’I still have a few friends there. They assigned the case to Mona Garza. She\s tough but good. I never worked directly with her, but she has a ball-buster reputation. It\s tough being a woman in a man\s career field.’’

’’That doesn\ bode well.’’

’’No. That\s great news.’’

’’A ball buster is good?’’

’’You bet your ass. She\s not out to kiss ass. She won\ mind making waves, regardless of how deep she has to dig for information. I also learned she\s got two dogs.’’

’’So?’’

’’She loves animals.’’

He scowled, narrowing his eyes at her. ’’Is that supposed to be a joke?’’

’’It means, if any of those good ole boys don\ like Species, she\s going to get highly offended if they say anything to her like my boss did to me. He thought women might as well bend over and take it from their dogs if they were willing to f*k a Species. Imagine how well that went over with me. She\s going to want to f*k up their day as much as I did Mason\s. That means she won\ leave any rock unturned to look for evidence that supports everything Candi has said.’’


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