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Authors: Lee-Ann Wallace

Tags: #Erotic Romance, #Science Fiction, #Adult

A Perfect Bond (8 page)

BOOK: A Perfect Bond
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“Why aren’t you making copies of your research, Ellie?”

He frowned at me, his grey eyes looking more serious than I’d seen them so far. My heart sank a little. I didn’t want to get in an argument with him on our second day together. Somehow, I had to make him understand.

“Manik, I can’t. The research and all the notes, my device and the designs for it, it all belongs to Cyakt Ralt. It’s in my contract that he would own the results and all the material pertaining to the development of and research into my device. His people were the ones who discovered the man the nanites come from, so in a way, they also own the nanites as well.”

“Why would you sign a contract that took away your rights to your research, Ellie?”

I could hear anger in his voice and see it flashing in his grey eyes. “Because it was the only contract I was offered, and when I tried to negotiate, I was told it was the
only
contract I’d be offered and if I didn’t take it, he’d find someone else. It was the opportunity I’d been looking for to create my Health Pod, and nobody else that I’d approached would give me the funding to create it without having the nanites active and usable. Cyakt Ralt had the money and the time to allow me to spend on developing my Health Pod to its fullest potential, and he had nanites that I could have unrestricted access to.”

“So you gave one of the most ruthless and dangerous men in the universe all the rights to a device that could make you a very wealthy woman.”

He didn’t understand. I wasn’t explaining to him what it meant to me to be able to work on this project.

“I wanted my knowledge to help people, Manik. I wanted those who are sick and dying, or hurt in accidents to have access to a device that would save their lives. Was that wrong?”

He curled one hand around my neck, the warm skin of his palm, against my cooler skin.

“No, kitten, it wasn’t wrong, but Cyakt Ralt will sell your device to those who can afford to have one, to those whose interest is only in themselves, and those who need it most will never know of its existence.”

Anger started to burn inside me, a fierce heat in my chest, “You can’t know that.”

“Yes I can. I know Cyakt Ralt, and I know how men like him run their businesses. By forcing you to sign this contract, he’s ensured that he has complete control of every aspect of its creation and what happens to it after. Your device will be sold at a price that ensures only the richest of people will be able to afford it.”

I stared back at him. How did the medic on a ship and a man who I suspected stole things know a man like Cyakt Ralt? And how did he put into words something that had worried me from the moment I’d read the contract, but that I’d chosen to ignore? I’d been so desperate to work with nanites again. To have someone fund my device, I’d put my misgivings aside and jumped at the chance being offered to me. Now, I was losing all my hard work, I was losing my device, and unless I did something crazy like steal all my research and the schematics for my device, I would be back at square one.

“How do you know Cyakt Ralt?” I asked Manik, curious how he could have had contact with my employer.

He stared back at me for a long moment. I could see something working in his eyes, but I didn’t know him well enough, barely knew him at all, and I couldn’t read what it was.

“You’re going to find out sooner or later, so I might as well tell you now.”

His eyes had become serious with his words. The hand he had at my neck flexed, his fingers digging into me before he relaxed again.

“Cyakt Ralt needed something that he couldn’t purchase, so he employed us to steal it. He’d approached the person that this information belonged to repeatedly, and had been rebuffed every time. We guaranteed we could get the information he wanted without the person it belonged to, knowing who had stolen it. He’s the kind of man, Ellie, who always gets what he wants one way or another. I can almost guarantee if you hadn’t signed his contract, he would have found another way of ensuring you worked on this project even if that meant kidnapping you.”

Everything he’d said made my eyes widen as I stared back at him. The suspicion Prixy and I had that he was involved with Vrentis’ stolen research crashed into my mind. Vrentis had been offered an exorbitant sum of money to sell his development, but he’d refused, and then it had been stolen from him. They hadn’t just copied his research notes—they had wiped all data from his system and taken everything. Years of hard work had been lost.

“Did you steal Vrentis’ research?”

“Yes, we did.”

My mouth dropped open at his complete honesty. I was shocked he’d admitted it to me. I was a scientist, and if someone stole my research, I’d be absolutely livid. I couldn’t understand why they’d want to steal someone’s research. Credits had to have been the motivating factor.

“Why would you steal something for someone like Cyakt Ralt?”

“Because we’re pirates, kitten, and stealing is what we do.”

I didn’t get a chance to respond to his completely shocking statement because the door to my lab slid open and Stadden walked in with a laser weapon in his hand.

“I thought I’d find you here.”

Stadden’s voice was hard with anger. I could see the emotion in the tense line of his jaw and his fist balled by his side.

“How did you get in, Stadden?” I demanded. I’d had him blocked from entering my lab when he wouldn’t leave me alone after we’d broken up. The computer should have recognised his face and kept the door tightly shut.

“I over rode the security protocols.”

He looked from me to Manik, his lip curling with disgust.

“It took me all night, but I finally figured out where I’d seen you before.”

My heart dived towards my feet. If he’d figured out who Manik was, we were in a lot of trouble. I didn’t want Manik thrown in a cell. I wanted to be able to leave with him on his ship and spend the rest of our lives together.

“Stadden, I—”

“Shut up, Merty. I don’t want to hear anything you have to say.”

My back stiffened at his tone. Manik made a noise low in his chest that sounded suspiciously like a growl and stood up, pushing me away from him slightly.

Stadden raised the weapon he had in his hand and pointed it at Manik. My heart leapt in my chest. Being thrown in a cell might be the least of our worries. Stadden was pretty quick to anger—volatile and moody. He could also be unpredictable. He could change his mind in a split second and decide he wanted Manik dead instead of in a cell, and there wouldn’t be much I could do about it.

“It took me hours of searching the database to find you. I knew I’d seen your face somewhere before and there you were, disembarking from a shuttle exactly three hours before you left as quietly as you’d come. When Vrentis notified me of his stolen research, I knew you had something to do with it, but had no way of tracking you. But I’ve looked into you and the other people on that shuttle, and you match the descriptions of a crew of pirates wanted in almost every galaxy between here and Merchon. The only thing I haven’t been able to figure out is why you’d steal a scientist’s research. What he was working on wasn’t all that important.”

I hadn’t had a chance to process the fact that Manik was a pirate, but as I looked back at Stadden, I decided it didn’t really matter what he did. He was my mate. We were bonded, and that was all that mattered to me. I could learn to live with the fact that he was a pirate and stole things for a living. I could learn to live with a lot if it was for him.

“Stadden—”

“Merty, I told you to shut up.”

Anger flared to life inside me, rising up like a wave of heat in my chest. “I will not shut up, Stadden. You’re making a mistake. Manik is not a pirate. How could he be, and why would he risk coming back here if they’d stolen Vrentis’ research? The risk wouldn’t be worth it.”

He stared at me, his eyes flat and hard. “Yeah, I haven’t been able to figure that out. Why would he risk coming back here? Surely, he didn’t risk being captured for you?”

His words cut me to the quick, but then I reminded myself that Manik
had
come back for me. He’d just needed a strong reason to convince his captain that he needed me. Manik’s hand wrapped around my arm and pulled me to the side, out of the line of fire.

“You obviously missed it if you believe Ellie isn’t worth it, but then this is what it’s all about, isn’t it?” Manik said.

Stadden’s hand tensed on the weapon he was holding and my heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest.

“You know, I was going to bring you in and call it in to whoever was paying the highest price for you, but I think I’ll just kill you now.”

Time seemed to stand still as I yelled, “No!” and threw myself in front of Manik as Stadden squeezed the trigger on his weapon. Searing pain ripped through my chest, pain so intense it pulled a scream from me and darkness crept into the sides of my vision. Manik grabbed me as I fell back, strong arms holding onto me as the darkness took over.

 

Chapter Nine

 

 

“Fuck!”

Manik eased Ellie down to the floor. Damn it! He didn’t have a scanner. He didn’t have anything with him that could tell him how badly she was hurt. He glanced about her lab, looking for anything he could use to scan her, but there was nothing. The acrid scent of singed clothing and burned flesh assaulted his nose.

A smell that shouldn’t be coming from his Ellie. Should never be coming from his woman. He looked at her wound. It was high up on her chest on the right side. She was lucky it had missed a direct hit to her heart. If it had hit her heart, she would have died instantly. As it was, the wound was serious. She could have damage to her lungs and the muscles of her chest.

“Fuck it, Ellie. Why would you do that?” he demanded.

Her eyelids fluttered, but she didn’t speak. She stared up into his eyes, yellow-green orbs hazed over with pain, the pupils large and dilated. He couldn’t even give her anything for the pain. He had nothing. He touched her cheek gently, a light stroke that had her eyes closing as tears slid from the corners.

She coughed, a wet sound that told him all he needed to know. Blood wet her lips, dark blue and shiny in the lights of her lab.

He searched her lab again, almost desperate for something,
anything
that would help. She needed to be in a medical bay with equipment and pain relief. His gaze landed on her Health Pod. She’d said it was untested, but from what he’d seen, it was ready to go. At least the scanner was, though he didn’t know about its regeneration capabilities. If he knew anything about Ellie, she would have made sure it was far superior to the regeneration units that were already available.

He glanced at Stadden to see the man standing, staring down at Ellie, wide eyed and shocked, his weapon still pointed towards them. He wasn’t going to be any help and if Manik didn’t do something soon, she would drown in her own blood.

Lifting her as carefully as he could, he walked towards the Health Pod. It was the only chance she had. Her breath rattled in her lungs, the sound wet and liquid.

He looked down at her to find her eyes closed and her head hanging limply. Fear slithered down his spine, cold and vicious. He couldn’t lose her now, not when they’d just bonded.

Holding her tightly in one arm, he lifted the lid on the Health Pod. This had better work. Glancing back, he saw Stadden coming out of his shock. The man was watching him, his weapon lowered to the floor.

Lifting Ellie as carefully as he could, he lowered her into the deep well of the Health Pod. Settling her limbs gently, he brushed a hand over her short hair before stepping back and closing the lid. Pressing his finger to the control panel as he’d seen Ellie do just the day before, he waited impatiently as the machine started. Small pictures slid across the screen, the same small pictures that had been on the screen inside. He didn’t dare touch anything in case he changed an important setting. He couldn’t read the writing under each picture and could only guess at what each one was for.

He wanted to know what the machine was doing, but had to satisfy himself with the knowledge that it was on and would be scanning Ellie and checking her for damage. The machine beeped, and writing scrolled across the screen. Writing he couldn’t understand. Frustration balled his fists as he stared down at the screen, frustration along with anger. Why would Ellie do that, why would she step in front of him?

A movement behind made him turn to look at the security officer. The man still looked a little shocked, but he had his weapon aimed at Manik’s chest and determination was in his eyes.

“You can either come with me quietly or I’ll shoot you,” Stadden said.

Manik stared at the security officer. His hand was steady as he held the weapon pointed at him. Manik didn’t see that he had a lot of options. He could try and fight his way out, but he’d have to make a run for his shuttle—if he did that, he’d be leaving Ellie behind. There would be no coming back if he escaped this time. Ellie would have to find some way to get off the station and meet him. The dangers to a woman travelling alone through space were high, and even if she convinced her friend Prixy to go with her, they still ran the risk of being sold to slave traders.

If he went with Stadden, Tor’Arr and the crew would come for him, eventually. There would be a fight—but there was always a fight. It was nothing new to them.

“I’ll come with you,” he said, sure that his stay would be much shorter than Stadden was expecting.

 

The cell Manik ended up in reminded him of another time and another place. A single hard metal bed took up most of one wall. A toilet and a sink sat in the opposite corner, and the whole front wall was an energy field. This one was red. The one on his home planet had been green. He’d hoped never to find himself in a cell again, but life had ways of repeating on you. The same situations happening over and over again if you didn’t sort out your life.

He’d known the risks when he’d decided to come back for Ellie, and now here he was. Every time he thought about her, a little trickle of fear shot down his spine. He couldn’t believe she’d jumped in front of him. He was spitting mad at her and had every intention of putting her over his lap and giving her a spanking for doing something to get herself hurt.

BOOK: A Perfect Bond
8.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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