“I knew they would kill me when they found out, but…” He struggled for words, releasing a sharp breath. “I think I realized that I would rather die because I betrayed them, than live because I betrayed you.”
“A relieved grin filled up Thorne’s face. “We’re having another moment, aren’t we?”
“If by a moment, you mean me not wanting to strangle you for the first time since we met, then I guess we are.”
“A captain always knows where his ship is. It's like a psychic bond.”
“If only we had a captain here.”
“But you're the only one, Scarlet. You'll always be the only one.”
“I don’t see that her being cyborg is relevant.”
“We met less than a week ago and in that time I've done nothing but lie and cheat and betray you. I know. But if you give me a chance...all I want is to protect you. To be near you. For as long as I'm able.”
“Scarlet and Wolf are saying gushy things in the galley," Iko said. "Normally I like gushy things, but its different when its real people. I prefer the net dramas.”
“If you were a gentleman, you would offer to buy me one as well."
"If you were a lady, you would have waited for me to make the offer.”
“Wolf, are you asking me to be ... your alpha female?"
Scarlet couldn't help it - she burst into laughter. "Oh - I'm sorry. That was mean. I know I shouldn't tease you about this."
Still grinning, she made to retract her hand, but he was suddenly gripping it, refusing to relinquish the touch. "You just look so scared, like I'm going to disappear any minute. We're stuck on a spaceship, Wolf. I'm not going anywhere."
His lips twitched, his nervousness beginning to ease away, though his hand stayed tense over hers.
"Alpha female," he murmured. "I sort of like that."
Beaming, Scarlet gave a mild shrug. "It could grow on me.”
“He gaped at the controls. "Why is my ship talking back to me?”
“I lied to you about a lot of things....but I meant every apology.”
“Did you know that she was cyborg?” asked a woman in an unhidden tone of disgust.
Kai stared at her, appearing confused, then let his gaze dance over the crowd. He shuffled his feet
closer to the podium, a wrinkle forming on the bridge of his nose.
Cinder bit the inside of her cheek and braced herself for adamant disgust. Who would ever invite a
cyborg to the ball?
But instead, Kai said simply, “I don’t see that her being cyborg is relevant. Next question?”
Cinder’s metal fingers jolted.”
“I don't like to think of it as 'stolen'. They have no proof that I didn't plan on giving it back."
"You're kidding, right?"
He shrugged. "You have no proof either."
She squinted back at him. "Were you planning on giving it back?"
An orange light blinked on in the corner of Cinder's vision-her cyborg programming picking up on the lie.”
“She sighed, annoyed at her restlessness. “So,” she said, disrupting Wolf in another backward glance.
“Who would win in a fight—you or a pack of wolves?”
He frowned at her, all seriousness. “Depends,” he said, slowly, like he was trying to figure out her motive for asking. “How big is the pack?”
“I don’t know, what’s normal? Six?”
“I could win against six,” he said. “Any more than that and it could be a close call.”
Scarlet smirked. “You’re not in danger of low self-esteem, at least.”
“What do you mean?”
“Nothing at all.” She kicked a stone from their path. “How about you and … a lion?”
“A cat? Don’t insult me.”
She laughed, the sound sharp and surprising. “How about a bear?”
“Why, do you see one out there?”
“Not yet, but I want to be prepared in case I have to rescue you.”
The smile she’d been waiting for warmed his face, a glint of white teeth flashing. “I’m not sure. I’ve never had to fight a bear before.”
“Kai neared his desk again, seeing that the fugitive's profile had been transferred to the screen. His frown deepened. Perhaps not dangerous, but young and inarguably good-looking. His prison photo showed him flippantly winking at the camera. Kai hated him immediately.”
“But I'm a wanted fugitive, like Cinder." Thorne continued. "They do realise I'm missing, don't they?"
"Maybe they're grateful," Cinder muttered.”
“Cinder," Iko said after a few silent minutes of explorations. "I'm enormous.”
“I think I realized that I would rather die because I betrayed them, than live because I betrayed you.”
“She did not know that the wolf was a wicked sort of animal, and she was not afraid of him.”
“It would be easy to abuse a person when they never recognized it as abuse.”
“Thorne blinked at her, then down at the sewage he could barely make out in the darkness. "Don't you have some tool in that fancy hand of yours that can get us across?"
Cinder glared, light-headed from her body's instinctively short breaths. "Oh, wow, how could I have forgotten about my grappling hook?”
“Let me guess,” Thorne said. “Breaking and entering?”
After a long silence of examining the retracting mechanism, the girl wrinkled her nose. “Two counts of treason, if you must know. And resisting arrest, and unlawful use of bioelectricity. Oh, and illegal immigration, but honestly, I think that's a little excessive.”
“When she had gone, Thorne let out a low whistle. “I know, I know. She seems a little”—crossing his eyes, he swirled both fingers around his ears—“but it’s really part of her charm, once you get to know her.”
“I just think we shouldn't judge her, or anyone, without trying to understand them first. That maybe we should get the full story before jumping to conclusions. Crazy notion, I know.”
“Amusement touched the corner of his lips. "Animals love me."
"Oh, I'm sure they do," Scarlet said, beaming with fake encouragement. She shut the door before muttering, "What farm animals don't love a wolf?”
“Besides, if you are who you claim to be, that makes you my true queen. Therefore, you have my loyalty.”
“My net search is finding only a Cadet Carswell Thorne, of the American Republic, imprisoned in New Beijing prison on—"
"That's him," said Cinder, ignoring Thorne's glare.
Another silence as the heat in the engine room hovered just upside of comfortable. The, "You're... rather handsome, Captain Thorne."
"And you, my fine lady, are the most gorgeous ship in these skies, and don't let anyone ever tell you different."
The temperature drifted upward, until Cinder dropped her arms with a sigh. "Iko, are you intentionally blushing?"
The temperature dropped back down to pleasant. "No," Iko said. Then, "But am I really pretty? Even as a ship?"
"The prettiest," said Thorne.”
“But her grandmother had never suggested she could think the same of Scarlet. You'll be fine, she always said, after a skinned knee, after a broken arm, after her first youthfull heartbreak. You'll be fine, because you're strong, like me.”
“Cinder has a bit of crush in him", Thorne stage-whispered.
"Don't we all?" said Iko.”
“Her mind emptied of everything but the gusting wind and how fragile Wolf looked in that heartbeat, like one movement could break him open.”
“But a good novel is first of all an event; as distinguished from the continuous rush of many sensations and the messy overlapping experiences of our daily lives, it is a composed experience in which all sensations are tightly related, for which there is a beginning and an ending, within which the reader’s perceivings and interpretations are shaped for a while by the internal integrity of all the elements of the narrative.”
“Citizenship is more than an individual exchange of freedoms for rights; it is also membership in a body politic, a nation, and a community. To be deemed fair, a system must offer its citizens equal opportunities for public recognition, and groups cannot systematically suffer from misrecognition in the form of stereotype and stigma.”
“Is being burnt a requisite for the making of art? Personally, I don't think it is. But art is poultice for a burn. It is a privilege to have, somewhere within you, a capacity for making something speak from your own seared experience.”
“A good logger does not raze the forest, but only thins it.”
“He hissed and rocked his hips into her. “You like to bite?”
“I’m a cat, aren’t I?”
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