Authors: Christine D'Abo
Tags: #Romance, #Erotica, #Fiction
An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication
The Bond That Saves Us
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
The Bond That Saves Us Copyright © 2009Edited by Briana St. James
Photography and cover art by Les Byerley
Electronic book Publication August 2009
The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of Ellora’s Cave Publishing.
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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
A trickle of sweat rolled down between Sean’s shoulder blades, an unneeded distraction considering the drama unfolding in front of him. The miner was shouting again, the laser rifle waving madly in all directions, the barrel passing briefly across Sean’s line of sight before returning to the growing group of security guards.
“Everyone just back the
Sean had been on Eurus colony long enough to recognize the signs of a dust addict when he saw it. The man’s eyes were bloodshot, his pupils blown wide, his skin ash gray. The man was a heavy user and the drug must have finally eaten through what remained of his sanity. Common problem amongst the old-timers, one that he’d helped many men deal with in his two years as head of the miners’ representation group.
Ignoring the headache thundering around his brain, he took a half step forward and made sure to keep out of the miner’s line of sight. He’d only get one shot at this and with any luck, no one would get hurt. If the man saw him, there was a chance he’d be recognized and that would screw everything up. Shuffling forward, he moved quickly to the right to be directly behind the man.
“I mean it! I want off this planet. Get me a fucking ship…and…and a thousand credits.
Shit, he hadn’t been topside long enough to deal with this. He needed at least a week of breathing normal air to detox his system enough to be back at full strength. The air in the mines had been heavy this last rotation, taking a lot more out of him than it normally would. He would have to play this careful if everything was going to come out all right.
One of the female guards, Becka, stepped forward, her hands up and her blaster still in its holster. “Buddy, we don’t want anyone to get hurt. But let’s face it, I’m just a peon. We need to wait until one of the big shots gets here. So you just keep that gun under control and we’ll all be golden.”
As she finished speaking, there was a mutter of voices as the group of security guards parted, making room for Taber. Sean felt a measure of relief wash over him. This whole thing would be a whole lot easier with the Briel security chief here than Sean trying to do this alone. Not that he didn’t trust any of the security staff with his life, but the chances of
walking away from this mess with all of their limbs had just dramatically improved.
“I think it’s time you put that down and we talk about this.” Taber spoke with a cool confidence, which underlined his position. “I’m authorized to negotiate with you.”
Sean shifted farther to the right, making sure he was now in Taber’s line of sight.
The large Briel’s gaze shifted ever so slightly to Sean’s, held it for a moment in acknowledgment, before returning to the miner. They’d worked together long enough for Sean to know Taber was with him on this. Now it was just a matter of working out a plan.
Taber walked forward and began to circle the miner to the left, having the deranged man spinning to follow. Sean moved with them, coming closer and closer as Taber spoke, keeping the other man distracted.
“What’s your name?” Taber asked, his voice calm and low.
The man sneered, wiping the back of his mouth with his free hand. “What the fuck do you care? You’re just going to kill me. You’ve been trying to for years!”
Taber pressed his hand to his ear and Sean watched as he reacted to someone feeding him information from the security link. It had been driving him nuts that he couldn’t remember who the man was. It was his
to know every man, woman or alien who set foot into the mines. Yet another thing Sean had failed in.
Taber’s lips twitched into something resembling a soft smile, which could only mean he’d gotten what he’d needed. Another quick glance at Sean and Taber took a half step forward. Sean knew what he had in mind and what his role in it would be. Sneak attack from behind, grab the man, hold on tight and pray for the best.
“Reggie, I need you to put the gun down. You’re not thinking straight and someone is going to get hurt,” Taber said, shifting his hands so they were now held straight out to his sides, showing he was unarmed.
Reggie shifted, jostling the gun in his hands as he took a step backward toward Sean. Perfect, now he just needed Taber to give the signal.
“I’m not stupid.” Reggie wiped his face on his arm, muzzle of the blaster swinging up. “I put this down and you’ll kill me.”
“I’ve never shot an unarmed man. But if you
put it down, I can pretty much guarantee you
Sean watched as Reggie’s head swiveled around, looking at the scene before him.
He still hadn’t picked up on Sean’s presence, which was a small favor considering how shitty he felt. His head pounded harder and his lungs refused to pull in the air he needed just then. Shit, he needed to stay focused, to help his friend take the fucker out before he hurt or killed someone. He couldn’t let them down, not again.
Taber straightened, catching Sean’s eye for a moment before turning to face his security force. “Everyone move back. Let’s give Reggie some space.”
The circle around them widened, leaving the three men alone in the middle. Sean blinked hard, trying to keep himself focused. Taber smiled, but made no move toward the miner.
“See, lots of space. Now just put that blaster down and we’ll talk. Okay?”
There was a brief hesitation. Reggie pressed his hand to the side of his head, letting out a low moan. “Okay, okay. Fuck.”
As Reggie bent low at the waist, dropping his rifle on the ground, Sean saw the second blaster sticking out of the back of his pants.
“Taber, he’s still armed!”
Reggie whipped his hand around, fingers curling around the butt of the weapon.
What Sean hadn’t counted on was Reggie turning around and pointing the blaster straight at him. The stunned look on the miner’s face only lasted for half a second as he swung the butt of the laser toward Sean’s face. Ducking, he landed a solid blow to Reggie’s stomach, even as the man managed to connect the gun with the top of his head, sending Sean’s vision spinning.
His head was on fire, lungs screaming as he tried to fight through his body’s weakness. Fuck, he wasn’t going to go down like this. Not taken out by some stupid dust addict when he’d survived so much over the years. No fucking way. Closing his eyes, he focused all his strength into keeping himself conscious.
Shouts and grabbing hands tried to pull him from the death grip Reggie squeezed around his head and neck. Pain lanced through his body, making his breath come out in short, sharp gasps. It wasn’t enough—the air wasn’t making it to his lungs. He felt his eyes go wide as his vision began to gray out around the edges. He was choking, slowly being strangled by the drug-enhanced strength of the miner.
Gods dammit, no!
Then he felt it.
The worn handle of the knife, standard issue for anyone working underground, placed in the utility belt exactly where it should be. Sean’s last chance. Fingers now numb, he reached out, swiping at the handle, only to miss it. A rapid succession of blinks to try to clear his vision didn’t help—he was losing the fight.
Another sharp pull, then the hands at his waist fell away. He heard shouts and realized that Taber and whoever else was trying to get Reggie off him had backed off.
The sudden release had Reggie stumbling, loosening his grip on Sean’s neck, allowing for a quick gasp of air. It was enough to give Sean a sudden burst of strength. Another lunge and he had the knife handle in his hand, yanked it out and stabbed it into Reggie’s stomach.
They both fell to the floor as Reggie screamed in pain. The blaster rattled off away from the miner’s grip, leaving the knife the only weapon handy.
“You stabbed me.” Reggie looked more confused than in pain, unsure of what it was he was seeing.
“Yes I did,” Sean managed to croak, his voice strained from the pressure on this throat. “And if you move the knife you’ll bleed out. You need a doctor.”
Reggie blinked slowly, as if he were trying to make sense of the words being spoken to him. Sean pressed a hand on his shoulder, holding the other man in place.
Taber was quickly by his side, placing his hand beside Sean’s.
“You are injured,” Taber said to him, his voice even and steady as always.
“I’ll live, but he might not.” Sean looked down at the stomach wound. “The drug 6
will prevent clotting. He’ll bleed out if we don’t get him to med bay.”
“Sara is on her way with a team.”
Thankfully, Reggie was content to lie on the floor, his gaze shifting between the two men on top of him and the knife in his stomach. It gave Sean a chance to get his breathing back under control, but did little to clear his vision completely. He felt his body sway forward, putting additional pressure on Reggie’s shoulder.
“Sean?” Taber spoke, his voice not sounding right.
“Dizzy. I’m fine.”
“You don’t look fine. Sara will be here in a moment, so just hold on.”
“Sara is here now.”
Sean looked up as the blonde doctor came into his line of sight, a large medical kit slung over her arm.
“What did you two do to this guy?” Sara’s gaze flicked between them and Reggie.
“Single stab to the gut. He’s lucky that’s all he got. I think he’s high on dust,” Sean said in a clipped tone, ignoring the growing ache in his head.
Sara nodded, her hands flying over the wound as she tried to work around them.
“You two can move now. Let me work.”
“And explain to Davin why his wife got injured when her patient lost control in a drug-induced haze?” Sean snorted. “I don’t think so.”
“Work around us until you’re ready to move him, Doctor,” Taber said, leaning a bit more on Reggie to hold him still.
Sean knew that despite outward appearances, the Briel security chief cared as much for the female doctor as he did his own wife. They mirrored his own feelings, though Sean knew things were different where he was involved. Taber had never betrayed her.
Shoving those thoughts aside, Sean frowned and forced his concentration on Reggie. The pain in his head was growing from a dull ache to a hard throb and he was forced to give it a shake to try to clear his vision. That was a mistake. The world around him spun and he lost his grip on Reggie’s shoulder.
“Whoa! Sean, hey there, hon. Don’t black out on me.” There was more than a single note of worry in Sara’s voice. “Taber, keep an eye on our boy there.”
“Sean?” Taber’s voice now. “Did you hit your head?”
“Think so.” There had to be more to it than that. “He hit me. Didn’t think that hard though.”
“How long have you been up from the mines?” Sara pressed a hand to the back of his neck. “You’ve got the shakes.”
The muscles in his jaw ached, and he tried to relax them. “Few hours.”
“God, you’re such an idiot some days. You should be in bed.”
“Just look after your patient, Doctor. I’m fine.”
He was able to keep his wits about him until Sara and the other medics moved 7
Reggie to a gurney to go to med bay. When he tried to walk away, Sara’s arm looped with his and pulled him along with her.
“Sara, I’m fine. I just need to rest.”
“No, you need to come get checked over by me. Then
determine if you are fine.
A blow to the head after you haven’t properly cleaned your system from the mine fumes means a nice trip to med bay.”
Sean closed his eyes and sucked in a calming breath. The last thing he needed was for Sara to go into one of her overprotective moods. He was about to protest when Taber silently took up position at his flank. Looking back at the Briel from over his shoulder, Sean sighed as his friend cocked a questioning eyebrow at him. If they were both in agreement, there was no place they’d let him go except med bay.
“Fine. But there won’t be anything seriously wrong. Minor concussion at worst.”
“Then I’ll make sure it’s fine and then you can go to bed. Until then, shut up and listen to your doctor.”
Sean allowed himself to be led to med bay, fighting off the dizziness as he went.
Taber was close by his side and he’d occasionally bump into him as he walked. The Briel didn’t say anything, but a few times his hand came up to steady Sean. He hated this weakness, hated needing others to help him. He simply didn’t deserve their kindness.
“Careful,” Taber said quietly. “I can request assistance for you if you require it.”
“No. If you do, Sara will tell Davin and I’ll never hear the end of it,” Sean muttered.
Despite the fact he’d developed a friendship of sorts with Taber and Davin, the Raqulian captain who’d crash-landed on their colony a few years ago, Sean still didn’t feel like he was truly their equal. He had so much to make amends for and he knew that despite what the others said to him, his actions would never be enough to put things right. Shit, he was amazed he’d been allowed to stay on the planet let alone remain close to them.
Taber, oblivious to Sean’s internal struggles, chuckled softly. It was a sound Sean still wasn’t used to hearing, but one that happened on a regular basis since the Briel had married Fallon.