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Authors: Roxy Mews

Tags: #spicy, #m/m/f, #Robot, #Ménage, #m/f/m, #Scifi, #Coral-600, #Humor

Interlocking Hearts

BOOK: Interlocking Hearts
5.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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A human, an almost-human, and a more-than-human walk into a palace…

The DMA Files
, Book 2

After her husband threw her out, Paisley Compton drew her sexuality around her like a shield. She finds solid ground as a palace maid until, during a formal dinner service, she trips onto the lap of a man who takes her breath away.

Ben has always known Jon is far more than property, and he jumps at the chance to get the android his certificate of humanity. Paisley—whose abilities far exceed her job title—is a welcome distraction from the bureaucracy.

Used and abused by his former owners, Jon trusts no one—particularly the smartass woman who’s caught Ben’s eye. He might not be certified human yet, but he has all the right parts to get to the bottom of this sexy mystery wrapped in a maid’s uniform.

Their attraction sparks unexpected new conduits among them, but when they realize Jon’s certificate comes with a terrible price, they must risk everything to foil an Anti-Mech plot—and hope they survive to lose themselves in each other’s arms.

Warning: Overheating is likely. The mechanics in these pages require ample lubrication to perform at optimum levels. When possible, multiple system operators are recommended.

Interlocking Hearts

Roxy Mews

Dedication

For Jess. Paisley’s story happened because of your love for her character. Thanks for the push.

Prologue

She’d never really thought it could happen. People who were in love didn’t leave. People who were in love didn’t fight like this, and people who loved you didn’t pack your clothes in a suitcase.

Both her bright red bag and the mismatched purple one were only about half full. Paisley was anything but a clothes horse, but seeing her entire wardrobe and few makeup and hair supplies shoved into bags sent fear to her core. This was all she had left.

He
had been everything. She hadn’t needed anything else. She hadn’t needed presents or affectionate gestures. Apparently the woman replacing her did. The other woman got the presents, while Paisley had been happy with being held at night.

“Where am I supposed to go?” She looked up at Darius.

He
had promised her the world. Today he was ripping it away.

“I pay for this place. I don’t care where you go, but you lost another job. You can’t even pay rent here. I’d suggest finding somewhere with room and board included.”

The room spun and suddenly she lost the rose-colored glasses. Darius wasn’t the most handsome man in the world anymore. He had held on to her because she’d let him. She’d given him all the power in their relationship because that was what she thought you did with people you loved, but really, it had just been a way for him to control her. Now her warranty was up and she was being replaced with the newer model. The divorce papers were packed in the front pocket for her to get to when she could.

She thought for a moment about fighting, but lately all her strength had gone into begging. She thought about standing up and demanding her half of the savings, but her name wasn’t even on the account.
He
had insisted it made paying bills easier if everything was in his name. Really, it had just made it easier to get rid of her when he was done. So did the pre-nup she’d been forced to sign.

She could ask to take some of the electronics with her, or some of the photos, but those would hold memories. When she had thought this was the man who would be with her forever, she’d wanted to savor each moment. Now those smiling faces looked like sneers, and the latest technology made her realize how much she’d already given up.

Paisley had put everything in her life behind her when she moved in with Darius Price. He’d swept her off her feet and pushed everything else under the rug. All her former friends were gone. Darius hadn’t thought they were good enough. He’d changed her number and didn’t tell Paisley. When she had found out why they stopped calling, there weren’t any friendships left to save.

Paisley didn’t have any family. She’d thought, foolishly, she could have one with Darius. She wanted to lean on him, because he was strong enough to support them both. That was the way he’d wanted it. She could be the warmth he needed in bed and the maid he needed at the house. It was a small price to pay to be loved.

But it wasn’t love. Love didn’t end.

Paisley picked up the two small suitcases. “Did you ever really love me?” She had to ask. She couldn’t say why she thought his answer would help heal the hole in her chest.

“Paisley, you were a doormat. The only thing you can love about a doormat is that they don’t mind getting dirty.”

She walked out the door. She stood in the hallway and stared at the doormats in front of the other apartments around her.

Some had cute sayings, some were just decorative, but all of them were covered in dirt and footprints.

Paisley heard Darius through the thin door behind her. He was making plans with another woman. She wasn’t even down the stairs and the bastard had moved on.

She ran. For a moment, it was all about putting space between her and a situation she had no idea how to handle. Darius Price had been the one to take care of her—the one to hold her when she cried. Even when he was the cause of her tears, she’d found herself in his arms dying for comfort. She ran from him, because he didn’t want to hug her now. He wouldn’t let her come to bed or tell her to sleep it off. He wouldn’t have sex with her anymore, because she wasn’t worthy of the pleasure it gave her. She’d craved his touch. But she wouldn’t have that now.

As the chill of the outside air hit her face she froze. She was homeless. She had no friends, and she had nowhere to go. The only money she had was from her last night of waitressing. She hadn’t turned that over to Darius yet. It was enough for a night or two at a hotel, if she didn’t eat.

Her breath came faster. Her pulse pounded in her ears, and the edges of her vision began to tunnel.

She was losing it. But she had to calm down, because it was just her. There was no one to hold her tonight and tell her it would be okay. There was no one to make sure she didn’t get robbed walking the streets, and there was no one who would open their door and say, “Come in.”

There was a black emptiness where flowery doodles of love had been, but it couldn’t have been love. And if it had been…she didn’t want any part of it infecting her again.

Paisley leaned against the brick exterior of the apartment complex, pressing against the rough surface until it hurt. The pain brought her down from what felt like an impending panic attack and let her begin to breathe more normally. In and out. In and out.

She pushed off the wall and strapped her two bags together so she could pull them behind with one hand.

She was grateful for her tennis shoes as she walked down the street. She had bought them
used
to save money. Because the
new
television Darius had wanted would use up most of their paychecks, she couldn’t spend the fifty dollars she’d asked for on shoes. She’d used duct tape to cover the sole for a few days until the thrift shop got something in her size. They had been in pretty good shape, though. And she was thankful they were on her feet.

No one came near her as she walked through the city. Either she looked crazy or in a violent rage, whatever it was, people steered clear. Even as the sun went down and the temperature dropped further, Paisley kept walking.

Her foot hit the road instead of the sidewalk now. The buildings were spaced farther apart as she left the neat and tidy part of town. Cars and pedestrians were replaced with haulers and shipping pods. This wasn’t a place people were supposed to be without a car or a helmet. Drones flew overhead with their next-day delivery shipments. Without people around her, Paisley’s panic subsided. Every time her foot rolled from heel to toe, she got stronger.

She had no idea where she was going, but she was moving away from where she had been. She probably could have called her old friends. They were good people and they would have helped poor pushover Paisley.

But as her feet continued to carry her away, she knew she would never call anyone from her former life. Layers formed around the hole in her chest, and she decided that she was going to take what she wanted from now on, because having people give things to you put you in their debt. She wouldn’t owe anybody anything anymore.

The light of the day was gone. As the sun set, the outdoor lighting was clicking on around her with a pop and a buzz. It was her beacon to keep walking. One group of lights in particular caught her attention.

Food. Gas. Showers.

She was hungry, dirty, and she was definitely running out of gas. Paisley walked toward something instead of away from it for the first time all day. As her feet went from the hard cement onto the tiled truck stop floor, they tingled until she adjusted to the new sensation. She wobbled a little as she went toward the gas station attendant.

“How do I take a shower here?” she asked.

“It’s right through there.” He pointed. “If you need help, I’m more than happy to lend a hand or two.”

The old Paisley would have been offended or scared, or told this man that she was already taken. She wasn’t the old Paisley anymore.

The new Paisley looked at the man behind the counter. He had strong, corded forearms beneath the uniform shirt. She hadn’t even let herself look at another man in years…because she had been in love.

She didn’t want love anymore. She realized that this guy would give her something entirely different than love. Anything that was the exact opposite of what she just left sounded good to her.

“I need more than hands. I want you to come back there and fuck me. Are you up for that? Or are you too busy?”

The guy behind the counter had a patch on his shirt that told Paisley his name was Tom.
Poor Tom
. His mouth couldn’t form words. He sputtered until he finally got out, “I’m working.”

“Well, I guess you were just full of shit when you said you’d help me out.”

“Fuck you, lady.”

“I offered. You were the one that couldn’t follow through.”

Her own mouth fell open at her brazenness and she couldn’t believe the rush that went through every cell of her body. She wasn’t that type of girl. And that was exactly why she felt energized. She had to bite a lip to keep a smile from splitting her face wide open. Maybe what other people thought wasn’t as important as she’d thought it was.

Paisley went back to the shower rooms. She paid to get the water to run and turned it on hot. The lockers were too small for her suitcases, and cost as much as a hamburger she desperately wanted. A garbage can nearby had extra bags at the bottom so she wrapped her things under the plastic and took them in with her. She knew better than to leave her only belongings out of sight.

She tucked her dirty clothes under a garbage bag with her suitcases to keep them dry, before stepping naked under the stream of scalding water. Her skin burned for a second before she adjusted to the temperature.

Then she started washing. She washed away the friends she used to lean on. She washed away the man she had given up her life for, and she washed away the walk here. Paisley had always adapted and molded herself to fit in and be a part of other people’s lives. It was time to break the mold.

Paisley dried off with the hand dryer the best she could. She hadn’t packed any towels. At least she had something clean and comfortable. She got dressed and put her sneakers back on. Whatever happened, she needed to be able to move fast and withstand walking for long distances. Taxi fares were out of the question.

The attendant was still behind the counter when she emerged an hour later. Every part of her that had been scared or beaten had washed down that drain. She was sick of everything she used to be. Under the blast of that hot water, it had occurred to her she didn’t have to be any of those things anymore.

Paisley smiled at the man who eyed her like she was a little crazy. She smiled because whether he liked her or not didn’t matter. If he didn’t want to have sex with her, it was his loss. Because she wouldn’t be going after men to please them any longer. She would be going after whatever would please her.

She just had to find out what that was. While she figured that out, she needed some food. There was a burger joint inside the station and the smell of the grease was heaven.

Darius had told her she shouldn’t eat fattening foods. She’d had the occasional burger while at work, but only while hiding in the back room. She couldn’t risk being seen by Darius’s friends, who had helped her get the job in the first place.

None of Darius’s friends would spy on her now. Paisley ordered a burger and fries and a milkshake. All off the dollar menu. Slipping into a booth big enough to fit her luggage and herself, she dug in.

She finished the fries in seconds and was sucking down the milkshake after her first bite of burger when she saw a sign pinned on the corkboard by the bathrooms.

Palace cleaning staff now hiring. Must be able to work well with robotics. Training provided. Must be able to stay on site. Apply in person.

The hiring date was tomorrow. Paisley looked up at the clock and calendar the rest stop had digitally displayed on the wall. Actually, it was today now. In six hours.

Paisley wiggled her toes inside her shoes. She could make it.

BOOK: Interlocking Hearts
5.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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