First thing I did was disable the ship. No one was sneaking off planet with my prisoner. The removal of three key wires shut the electrical system down flat. Heading toward the Med Pod, I tried to ignore the explosion of glowing color on the other side of the dome walls. Kithran plants thrived on moonlight, soaking it in and turning leaves and flowers into luminescent hues that ignited the night sky. Nothing on any other planet came close.
Then I hit a tunnel I knew well.
Halting mid-stride, I held my breath and tried not to blink, suddenly terrified that if I closed my eyes, I’d see ghostly images of a six year-old me playing chase with my sisters through the tunnel systems. I slowly walked through the tube-like area and discovered I didn’t have to close my eyes at all.
Wisps of memories drifted past–spectral little girl giggles and tiny, phantom bells that we’d tied in our long, red hair. This time, I couldn’t help but squeeze my eyes shut tight. The ache in my chest turned white hot, spearing my lungs, stinging the backs of my eyes. I stopped long enough to pull up the section of floor that hid a compartment. I didn’t even look inside, just shoved the wires in, closed it and left the tunnel.
Lux was annoyingly smart. She’d find the problem, but hopefully, it would buy me some time.
My heart was pounding when I got to the Med Pod and I halted down from the open door because everyone stood inside the pod watching Kei. Everyone except Erik, who hovered in the doorway. He stared at the replicant, expression unreadable. My own recent upsurge of emotions strangled me as they clawed for release and I suddenly didn’t want to deal with any of these people. I turned and strode toward the living quarters, figuring I’d just hold my palm to each door panel until I found the one coded to me. I made it around the corner before I was grabbed, spun and pushed against the dome side.
I met Erik’s furious blue eyes as he leaned his body against mine and wrapped his hand around my throat. I poked him in the side with my gun before he could blink. “Strangling me isn’t going to solve the problem.”
“I’m not planning to strangle you, just keep you still long enough to hear what I have to say. Put the gun away.”
“Take your hand off my throat.”
He did, but he didn’t back off. I lowered the gun but kept it in my hand.
“Look,” I said, voice low. “You can be angry with me, but it doesn’t change the fact that your Maska is an escaped prisoner and it’s my job to find him and bring him in.” The heat from his body seeped into me with relentless determination. A raw, answering need built low in my body. My breasts actually started to feel heavy, to ache. My reaction to him was so powerful, too powerful. It didn’t make sense. But then, it was coming in on the tail of potent, emotional anguish. The strongest urge to spread my legs hit me.
I needed the distraction. I gave in.