She may learn to live for love...if vengeance doesn't kill her first.
Plix spends her lonely, gritty life trying to solve the mysteries her father left behind. Armed with a variety of cybernetic enhancements and a talent for getting into places she shouldn't be, she searches for clues to his murder--and who's responsible for poisoning her city.
Waking up on a street corner with her brain wiring fried to a crisp, she figures she must have gotten close this time. There's only one man she trusts to pull her back from the brink: a tuner who can retrieve the evidence hidden deep in the recesses of her mind. A man she dares not let too close to her heart.
When Edison downloads a secret SynDate schematic from Plix's burnt-out circuitry, he knows with dreadful finality that nothing--not even the fiery kiss he's been holding back for years--will stop her from pursuing her quest past the point of insanity.
All he can do, as he helps her plan her final mission, is ease her pain, watch her back...and hope one of them doesn't pay with their lives.
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December 13, 2011
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Excerpt from Unacceptable Risk by Jeanette Grey
The darkness this time was soft. More gray than black, it wrapped around Plix's mind like a blanket, and for a few minutes, she allowed herself to float along on it. Memories of comfort rose up through a waking dream, feelings of being small and safe, cared for inside loving arms. She could almost hear the soft, feminine voice that haunted her very happiest dreams speaking in quiet conversation with another, deeper one. She could feel the hand in her hair and the pressing of lips against her forehead.
Slowly, the voices and memories gave way, melting into more concrete sounds. Quiet tapping and the low hum of electricity. Soft music.
Music she knew.
Plix felt the corners of her mouth lift up into a smile, knowing exactly what she would see when she opened her eyes.
She wasn't disappointed.
As she blinked, she took in the endless shelves of electronics and gadgets, tools and lights. Even the old leather couch she was sprawled out on spoke of comfort and safety, the whole place infused with a familiar glow.
Or maybe it was just him.
As usual, Edison was sitting in his chair, hunched over his primary screen, all of his attention bent toward it. He was a warm, inviting tangle of red-blond hair, broad shoulders, and a trim, wiry frame, hidden always behind shapeless, colorless clothes. Unflattering as they were, they draped beautifully when he held still, molding to the lines of muscle Plix only had occasion to appreciate in moments like this.
Moments when he wasn't looking.
Moments when he was carrying her broken body from his floor up to his workshop, his chest warm beneath her fingertips as it rose and fell, his voice soft and deep in her ear.
Moments when, as always, he was trying to fix her, no matter how many times she told him she was far beyond repair.
As she studied the way the light fell on the edge of his face, the warm feeling returned. She smiled even wider at the sight of the brass armature that extended from behind his ear, holding a series of lenses in place in front of his eye. Unable to resist teasing him, she cleared her throat, breaking the silence with her weak, rasping voice. "You know an ocular implant would do the same job with a lot less hassle, right?"
If Edison heard, the only sign of it was the slight tensing of his shoulders. Plix's smile faded, something deep in her chest twinging in a way that was completely unrelated to the rest of the trauma she had experienced.
With heavy, deliberate movements, he put down whatever he had been working on and raked a hand through his hair, sliding the metal contraption through the parting strands before setting it on the table beside his other instruments. At the sight of his tense posture, Plix swallowed hard, and without entirely knowing what she was doing, she lifted one arm out toward him. It only rose a few inches before the pain became too intense, a sharp spasm forcing her to drop it back down to the couch.
Finally, he turned, his face slowly coming into view. There was the same sharp jawline and the full, serious lips she knew so well, the high cheekbones and the slight flush to his pale skin. But the lines around his eyes were new.
His gaze didn't meet hers.
Instead, Edison's eyes roamed over the length of her body. Plix gulped but looked down, too, grimacing at all the dried blood and exposed wiring. Her own white flesh stood in stark contrast against the dirty crimson and the dark fabric of her clothing, and she shivered as she recognized that her skin was paler than usual. Ashen, even.
Plix remembered ash.
Closing her eyes against faint memories of burning and of orange metal, smoking and hot, she sucked in a deep breath before looking up at Edison again, meeting the clear, gray eyes that always seemed to see straight through her. They were as piercing as ever as they stared at her, but they were hard, too.
Pinned by the force of his gaze, Plix searched her mind for answers. Explanations. Anything, really. But she had nothing. Nothing beyond the usual.
The same sad story that had haunted and driven her for her entire life.
At long last, his voice pierced the silence, his tone gruff but guardedly neutral. "You could have died. Again."
For a moment, the accusation hung in the air. Plix wanted to deny it, but the truth was hard to overlook. Instead, she tried to shrug, wincing at the effort and the pain that radiated through her arm.
"I didn't," she offered weakly, trying to force a smile that didn't want to spread across her cheeks. Beneath the intensity of his glare, she felt it wither.
His expression grew even harder, his chin jutting out and his mouth frowning. "No. Not this time." Swiveling in his chair, he put his hand to the table as he rose, the other rising to rub the back of his neck as he looked away. "Guess you'll have to try harder next time."
"Hey," Plix said. "Hey, don't--"
"No." He shook his head as he took a step toward her. "Don't you. Not when you--when you keep going off on this damn crusade of yours. When you just keep coming back here every time you need me to try to put you together again."
Her throat dry, she flexed her jaw, her mouth opening and closing, but the words refused to form. In the end, all she had was his name. "Edison..."
"Damn it, Plix," he swore, clenching his hands into fists at his sides as he stared up at the ceiling. "I'm sorry, it's just...you never tell me anything. So I never know if you're okay or if I'm going to come downstairs to find you bleeding out on my floor."
"You know I can't tell you--"
He snorted, his lack of patience for what she felt she could and could not do clear on his features and in his tone. But there was something deeper there too as he grumbled, "Of course you can't."
"Hey," she murmured, lifting a hand out toward him. She managed to get it a little higher this time, but her efforts to actually bring herself to sitting were futile. Unable to reach him with her body, she was forced to try to do so with her words.
"I'm fine," she whispered. "I promise. I'm fine."
Edison's eyes focused on hers, the cool gray of them shining. "You're not," he breathed. "You're so, so not."