Saved by Venom (Grabbed 3)(5)

By: Lolita Lopez

Years earlier, Raze’s parents had used a well-respected matchmaking service to find him a pureblooded Harcos wife from Prime, their home planet. Unfortunately Raze and his bride had been miserable together. As a last-ditch effort to save their union    , Raze had taken her on a vacation to one of the colonies but she had met and run off with an Earth-descendant scientist. Raze hadn’t fought her on the divorce so they had parted amicably enough. Still, the many years since that rather humiliating experience hadn’t dulled Raze’s embarrassment.

With a loud grunt, Raze finally remarked, “You’re probably better off jumping into a Grab, I guess.”

“I hear the Grab next quarter still has some slots open.” He eyed his friend carefully over his beer. “I know you’ve earned enough points to replace the ones you lost after your divorce. Your rank is high enough to push you to the top of the list.”

Raze scrunched up his face and rubbed the back of his neck. “Do I look stupid to you? I need a damn wife like I need a hole in the head.” He slashed his hand through the air. “I tried mating once. It clearly wasn’t for me.”

Venom experienced a pang of sadness for his friend. “That’s not true. You and Shelly weren’t mean for each other. It was a matchmaking mistake. You’d be a good mate.”

Raze snorted. “Is that a proposal, Ven? Hell, why don’t we ask Menace and Naya if we can throw in with their wedding and do a double ceremony?”

Glaring at his friend, Venom pelted him with pretzels. “That’s the last time I try to be nice to you.”

Raze snatched the broken snacks from his shirt and flung them at Venom’s head.

“Boys!” The grizzly old bartender Brand shouted over the noisy din in the officer’s bar. “This isn’t a damn barn. Clean that shit up.”

“Yes sir,” they answered and quickly swept up the mess with their hands. Even though they both outranked the old man, they respected him for the decades of service he’d given to the land corps. There weren’t many enlisted men who stayed in for life—or survived long enough to make that choice.

Still laughing, Venom settled up his tab and left the bar with Raze. While they waited for an elevator, Raze pointed to the news screen mounted on the wall there. “That is going to keep us busy.”

Venom glanced at the scrolling images and the news ticker running along the bottom. His chest tightened at the announcement that the plans to build a base on Calyx were moving forward. It had been a rumor for the better part of five years but no one was sure it would ever happen.

Harcos’ presence in the orbital space around the planet had grown over the last few years. It made sense to put in a ground installation—but the extremely pacifist and closed-off society down there on Calyx wasn’t going to like it.

“Shit,” he said softly. “We’ll have to start training for policing protests and putting down riots.”

Raze agreed with a grunt. “Maybe now Vicious will find me the funds I need to open a fourth SRU team for the Valiant and a third for the Arctis. We’re going to need the manpower.”

The elevator arrived and they stepped inside. Raze tapped the button for the floor housing his small apartment in the bachelor section of the officer housing wing. Venom, however, tapped the key for his new quarters on a floor for mated officers.

“How are the new quarters?”

He detected the tiniest hint of envy in his friend’s voice. “Spacious. Quiet. The neighborhood’s nice,” he added. “Menace is right across the hall.”

“You lucky bastard! The new guy who took your old place is in the sky corps. I swear he looks to be about ten years old and he is noisy as hell.” They both laughed at his description. “I suppose I’ll get used to him eventually. I got used to having you and Cipher on either side of me.”

Venom snorted. “I don’t know how you deal with Cipher’s damn video games all hours of the night. When we shared quarters onboard the Retribution, I nearly strangled him over it.”

“I thought about buying him headphones but I worry about damaging his hearing. He keeps that volume turned up so damn high.” Raze smiled wryly. “I’d send him down to the surface to Grab a wife to keep him busy at night but I doubt she’d be much quieter.”

Venom tipped his head back and laughed. “Probably not, boss.”

The elevator arrived at Raze’s floor. He stepped out into the hallway but turned at the last minute. Holding his hand against the door, he held Venom’s gaze. “Look, I know I’ve been giving you so much shit about going down to Grab a bride but I really do hope you find the right woman tomorrow, Venom. I hope you find someone who will make you as happy as Hallie and Naya have made Vicious and Menace.”

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