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Saved by Venom 3 (Grabbed)(10)

By:Lolita Lopez



Venom rubbed his jaw. “He’d be the first amputee on an SRU team. Our work environments are less than ideal. Do you think he’d be at a disadvantage?”

Raze shrugged. “Everyone on the team has strengths and weaknesses. I don’t think Mayhem would put us at risk if that’s what you’re asking. He’s a damn good soldier. He’s fought like hell to get cleared for active combat duty again and should be given the chance to show what he’s capable of doing. He proved himself at Sendaria. I wouldn’t think twice about having him on the Alpha squad.”

“I wouldn’t either. I worry about the others in SRU. They might not be so accepting. The competition is fierce to make our teams. Mayhem will have to meet or exceed the standards of every other man who tries out for a spot. We can’t have the men whispering behind his back that he got special treatment because of his leg.”

“He won’t,” Raze promised. “He’ll understand that we’ll be riding him harder than the others. He knows what’s at stake for all the other injured soldiers suing to be allowed back into combat duty rotations. I have no doubt that he’ll excel at every level of the tryouts and training.”

“Then let’s put him on our shortlist.”

Movement near the entrance of the medical bay caught Venom’s attention. He spotted Pierce pushing a janitor’s cart. Dressed in green coveralls with his cap pulled low, he was easy to overlook—and that was just the way these Shadow Force guys liked it.

Because of his SRU work Venom knew most of the operatives working this sector. They often overlapped on missions and shared intel but their identities were a secret he closely guarded.

Venom picked up an empty coffee cup that had been left on one of the tables in the waiting area. He carried it to the trash can in the corner but purposely dropped it. When he bent down to retrieve it, he swiftly pulled the memory device from his pocket and tucked it into the empty paper cup. He dropped it in the trash and returned to his seat. Briefly he met Pierce’s gaze before glancing to Raze.

“So what do you think about increasing our team sizes by two men?” Raze stretched out his legs and carried on their conversation. There were enough medics and other soldiers filing in and out of the infirmary to require them to keep up appearances while Pierce cleaned the lobby.

“If we’re going to be handling crowd control or heading off riots, we’re going to need the extra bodies.” Venom ignored Pierce’s progress and turned his full attention toward Raze. As the second-in-command of the SRU in this sector Venom’s opinion mattered. “After what I saw today I’m concerned about the next Grab. There were enough citizens outside that flimsy fence to cause serious issues. Zeph and his ship’s crew would have been able to cover us from above and provide a place for retreat but it would have been tense until more ships arrived.”

“It may be time for us to take control of security at the Grabs.” Raze looked less than excited by the prospect.

“It’s going to agitate them. It’s probably what the Splinters want.”

“Probably,” Raze agreed, “but we can’t put innocent women in harm’s way and our soldiers and airmen too. They need to know they’re protected. And frankly I don’t give a shit what the people down there think. They’re getting a hell of a lot more out of our treaty than we are. Think of the small number of brides they’ve sent to us and the huge amount of resources we’ve sunk into protecting their backward little planet.” Raze shook his head. “To hell with their feelings.”

Venom eyed his friend with some surprise. “No, no, no, Raze. Tell me how you really feel.”

Near the trash can, Pierce snorted while changing out the bag and wiping down the silver can. Venom had to give it to him. When he played a part he played it well.

“All I’m saying—” Raze stopped as Risk entered the waiting room.

Venom leapt to his feet. Even though Dizzy’s procedure was probably considered minor his stomach clenched like a fist. He hated that her first experiences with him were so miserable. “Doc?”

“The procedure went perfectly,” Risk said with a reassuring smile. “We inserted some drains to keep fluid from building up again in that area. We’ll want her to come in periodically for scans to ensure that she’s not forming new calcium deposits.”

“Is she still sedated? She’s not feeling any pain?”

Risk shook his head. “She’s out like a light. We’ll keep her sedated until it’s safe for her to sit up and move around.” He checked his watch. “Probably eight or nine hours. Feel free to grab lunch or run errands. We’ll take care of her.”

“No.” Venom’s hand brushed the pocket holding her collar. “I’m staying with her.”

“I’ll grab some things for you from your quarters,” Raze offered. “I’m your emergency contact, right? I have access to your new space so it’s no problem. I’ll get Cipher to bring you lunch so you can stay with your bride.”

“Thanks, man.”

“No problem.” Raze backed away. “I’ll be back in an hour or so.”

When Raze was out of earshot, Risk stepped closer. “When we scanned your wife’s neck we found some of our synthetic blood vessels in place. They’re all in perfect working condition so don’t worry about that. We ran the serial numbers. It looks like she was patched up on the Indefatigable.”

Venom frowned. “That’s the warship we replaced when we were deployed here.”

The surgeon nodded. “They were the ship in orbit when the bombing happened. One of the medics working in the OR was on that rotation. He remembers about two dozen citizens of The City being brought onboard for treatment. He didn’t remember her but it was a mass casualty incident so that’s not unusual.”

“I’m surprised the officials in The City allowed their wounded to be evacuated and treated.”

“That’s the thing,” the surgeon’s tone grew almost conspiratorial. “All of the victims who were brought here worked at the embassy or had a connection to some of our men stationed there.”

“But Dizzy would have been just a teenager. She couldn’t possibly have worked there.”

“Exactly,” the surgeon said. “When we ran her blood samples, the computer kicked back a rather surprising result.”

His heart sped up as he feared the very worst. “And what was that?”

“Half of her DNA is Harcos. She’s one of us.”

Venom stared at Risk as he tried to process that information. “But that’s—”

“Impossible?” Risk shrugged. “Before today I would have agreed. I mean, she’s much too old to have been part of the current Grab scheme on her planet. Clearly her mother had access to our men two decades ago. The Harcos blood in her comes from her father’s side.”

Did she know what she was? Surely she would have mentioned it in the woods. He had glimpsed her passport and the photos of her parents. The man in the picture didn’t look anything like a Harcos male. He had the smaller, leaner stature of these Earth-descendant humans.

“Her things were on the stretcher. We’ve got them in the private room they’re prepping for her stay tonight. Maybe there are some answers in there. It’s possible she has a father among our active ranks or our retired servicemen. He might not even know she exists. She might even have property rights.”

The doc’s statement caused a flutter of panic in Venom’s core. What if she wasn’t eligible for the Grab? Any man who had served could exempt his daughters from the ritual. Would her father—if he was still alive—try to break their union  ? Venom’s gut soured.

“Obviously I won’t say anything to anyone, Venom. The confidentiality of the medical branch protects the two of you. She’ll have to be told of the results of her blood test but that doesn’t meant the two of you have to share it with everyone else.”

Venom nodded and thanked Risk for fixing Dizzy. As he waited for a medic to escort him back to the recovery area, Venom tried to make sense of this new piece of information. He didn’t know what to do about it. Dizzy had said she had nowhere else to go but if she had a father out there somewhere…

He couldn’t bear to think about the possibilities.

The squeaky wheels on the janitorial cart made him wince. He lifted his gaze to Pierce’s and saw a great deal of interest there. No doubt Pierce had heard everything. So much for secrets.





Chapter Four




Dizzy came awake to the strangest beeping sounds. A little woozy and shaky, she blinked rapidly and tried to figure out where the hell she was. Before her mind cleared away the fuzzy thoughts preventing her from making sense of her surroundings, a familiar face appeared above her. Icy-blue eyes, so dark with concern, peered down at her.

Venom.

The memories of her strange morning came flooding back. She remembered the frigid cold, the deep snow and the panic that had gripped her as she rushed into the forest. The phantom sensation of those muscular arms of his wrapped around her and his tongue insistently dipping between her lips caused her belly to wobble. Still a little confused she reached up to touch her neck, fully expecting to feel his white collar there, but encountered only naked skin.

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