It might have been intended as a joke, but he wasn’t laughing. Determination firmed his jaw, making him even more handsome. Uncaring of anything, Lill stood on tiptoe, planting a soft, lingering kiss on his lips.
“I’ll help you with this. Not to further my career, but because you’ve asked me.”
“I’d move seven kinds of hell to be with you.”
The next kiss was fierce, primal. He left her tingling with the imprint of his body on hers, blazing through her clothing. Leaving suddenly, he walked away from her, motioning for her to go the opposite direction. They arrived at the target range separately, within moments of one another. Tab was completely professional, not showing any sign of how he felt about her. Lill followed suit, treating him with distant respect.
That night, two couples disappeared. A team of six came in and carried them out with their possessions. Lill felt cold fingers of doubt crawl up her spine when one of the team members walked in her direction. She was careful to keep her breathing normal, though she wanted to scream. She appeared relaxed, feeling anything but, especially when the person walked closer to where Ché and Shauntay slept.
The leader of the team hissed, motioning for him to come. That was the first sound she had heard them make. None of them spoke as they walked out the door. Lill listened a moment longer, then rose to follow them. With her weapon in hand, she crept silently out of the barracks. They had, for some reason, left the door unlocked.
They carried their burden to a waiting vehicle. Still not looking around, they didn’t see her as the piled in the front of the transport. The back was covered by a canvas, so Lill climbed in. It didn’t occur to her until they took off that this was probably a seriously bad idea. Stevens had said to follow them. He hadn’t told her to be stupid, though. And this, she decidedly was being.
The truck stopped not far away from her barracks. Lill slipped out, hiding under the truck before the men got out. They carried their human cargo into the long, low, unmarked building just as silently as they’d carried them out. Once they were inside, she crept out from under the trunk, scampering back to Stevens’ quarters. She could only imagine the kind of trouble she’d be in if she were caught out after curfew on the military base.
The light was on under Stevens’ door. She scratched lightly against the surface. The light went out and the door opened silently. He pulled her into his quarters, holding her close, both of them trembling. He kissed her hungrily before he let her speak. Lill told him everything she’d seen. When she described the building, he paused.
“Forget you know those people.”
“Tell me,” she insisted, her volume rising slightly.
“Will you shut it? That’s owned by the Council,” he whispered desperately.
The Council was a secret, governing body that operated outside galaxy rules. They subverted, assassinated and bribed their way to power. They were the nameless men no one spoke about. If they were behind the abductions, no one was safe.
“I need to get back to my bunk.”
“Not yet. I don’t give a damn if they kill me.”
His embrace was almost painful, his lovemaking torrid, fierce. Lill was completely swept away by the experience, knowing that no other man would ever compare to him. They made love twice before he escorted her quietly back to the barracks, locking the door behind her.
“No matter what,” assured her softly before parting. “They can’t take that away from us.”
That morning, not only were the four people gone whom Lill had followed, but three others as well. During her absence, Lill’s friends had disappeared without a trace. Furious with grief, she went to Stevens’ quarters before chow.