“I’m going to help her,” I spit the words out.
Chance steps into my space, towering over me. “Your ass will stay right here.”
I take a deep breath, trying to calm down, but then I remember what Kenzo did. “Did you just stand by while Kenzo undressed me?”
“I fucking undressed you,” he admits, not an ounce of guilt in his voice.
“I need to help Ruth. She’s not as strong as me.”
He shakes his head at me. “You’re playing a dangerous game.” His eyes glint in the dark.
“I’m not playing any games!” I shriek. “Why? Why do you do that to people?”
“It’s their way. I didn’t make the rules. I follow them. I also woke up on the nest, and had to lie there for three days before Idris took me down.” He leans closer, his features tense and making him look dangerous. “No one told me the sun wouldn’t burn the skin from my body or that the rain wouldn’t freeze me to death. I found out the hard way.”
Holy crap. That must’ve been terrifying.
Chance is too angry to stop as he continues, “I was taken down by Idris and chased straight to the drill zone. I had to jump those scaffolds wet. Do you know how hard those balls are when you’re fucking wet?”
He lets out a frustrated growl and reaches for me, his fingers wrap around the back of my neck, and I’m yanked so close his breaths fan over my face.
“It’s their way. It makes you strong, so you’ll fucking survive this dangerous world.”
I swallow hard and lift my hands to his chest. I want to wipe his memories clean, but then I know he wouldn’t be the same man I’ve learned to care for. He'd be like every other man in the ecocity.
“Please, take her down,” I plead with him.
Chance turns his head away and stares into the darkness. “No.”
I close my eyes and drop my forehead to his chest. “Please.”
“Look at me,” he demands.
My eyes burn with tears for Ruth as I look into his eyes.
“I can only carry you.” His hands frame my face. “I can only catch you. I can’t fight a war with her on my team. She’s fucking weak, Jai. Every second she demands my attention, it will put you and Raze at risk. It can only be the three of us. I know our team can work.” He presses his forehead to mine. “I can’t claim three women.”
What. The. Hell?
“You claimed Raze?” I gasp, yanking free from his hands.
“Not the way I claimed you,” he answers quickly. “Raze is… the rebels tore her apart. She’s broken.”
I frown at him. “Why is she on your team?”
He shakes his head, looking exhausted. “I took her to keep her safe.” He shrugs. “Plus, she’s fucking fast and doesn’t talk my ear off.”
I need to know for sure. “So, you haven’t had sex with her?”
There’s a flash of anger on his face. “What part of she’s broken, didn’t you understand? The rebels fucked her until she almost bled to death.”
Oh, my soul.
The realization hits hard.
Chance lets out a deep breath. “Raze is a survivor, and I know she’ll have my back the way I’ve had hers.” He shakes his head at me. “You worry me, though.” His eyes lock with mine. “Can I trust you, Jasper.”
“Of course,” I breathe.
“Then you better fucking start showing me you’ll have my back and not run off to save everyone else.” The expression in his eyes darkens. “And you better start fucking listening to me. Don’t make me punish you.”
My frown deepens. “What kind of punishment?”
“You’ll run the course until you pass out, then I’ll tie you to the nest.”
Okay, no disobeying Chance again.
I nod, still feeling bad for Ruth. “Is the war worth it? All of this brutality?”
“It’s worth our freedom.” Chance reaches for me, wrapping his fingers around the back of my neck. Yanking me against him, his mouth hovers over mine. “It’s worth this.” His lips press firmly to mine.
I grab hold of his shirt, my stomach fluttering and my heart skipping a beat.
It’s a quick kiss, but it still carries a punch. When he lifts his head, I feel his breath on my lips, then he says, “It’s worth the freedom to feel, Jai.”
He lowers one of his hands to the small of my back and pulls me into a hug. I inhale his scent as I wrap my arms around his waist.
“Just do as I say, and everything will be fine,” he murmurs.
We’re silent for a while, then he points at the sky. “Look there.”
It looks like the sun has been dimmed, and someone took a bite out of it.
“It’s called the moon,” he explains. “It’s shape changes as the sun moves behind it.”
“The moon.” I love the soft yellow glow and stare a while longer before I turn to Chance. “What’s going to happen now?”