Designed to be a weapon, trained and programmed to follow instructions without question, SETH was not meant to develop willpower, emotions, and desire. Falling in love with a human is unacceptable, and faced with the threat of termination, he is forced to choose—kill or follow his heart.
Alyna Satara sat behind her desk in the basement of the largest electronic intelligence corporation in the city, E.I. Synthetic. She was one of two hundred employees working at an entry-level position. As luck would have it, she was one of fifty interviewing for the first promotion available in over five years. The company didn’t offer many chances to advance, so when an opening became available, every person qualified tried out for it.
Yes, she worked for the company thought to be the best in the city, but those people had never seen her paycheck. She was so far in debt, she wasn’t sure if her two jobs were going to be enough to continue making ends meet. The only problem was she didn’t have the time to work a third one. Alyna worked here all day, and sometimes late at night when overtime became available. Then on weekends, to bring in extra money, she worked in another department doing data entry; yet, she barely scraping by. She really needed this promotion. Otherwise, getting out and doing something else would be preferable to going back to live with her grandmother. That was out of the question!
She worked hard. Hell, she was one of the company’s top workers. Any file that was needed she could bring it up in the system in a flash. If the hard drive crashed, she could repair it and, most of the time, save all the data. When it came to computers, she could do anything. Her personal life, now, that was a different story. She didn’t date. She got too damn shy.
Sure, she had been asked on many occasions to go out, but the guy couldn’t hold her attention while talking or his gaze wouldn’t leave her breasts. Either way, around the office, she was considered a bore. All work, no play, that was Alyna’s way, or so the rumor went.
Alyna didn’t feel herself to be the drop-dead gorgeous type of girl that most of the guys wanted these days. She was sort of short, standing at five-five with heels. She wore her long, sandy brown hair in a ponytail. Her green eyes, at one time, sparkled with life. When she started working here, she had been young and impressionable, and she so excited to be working at E. I. Now, she felt the twinkle in her eyes had dulled from all the long hours she spent looking at the monitor. With so many hours working, she didn’t have the opportunity to go to the gym to work out very often. Consequently, she now had a slight roundness to her stomach. It didn’t bother her wearing a size sixteen in jeans or a large shirt. What bothered her more than anything was that she didn’t have a boyfriend like some of the other girls in the office. Hell, she couldn’t even get into the “I need to get laid” conversation. At twenty-three, she was still a virgin, and it embarrassed the hell out of her.
Taking a deep breath, Alyna rubbed her eyes and sat back in her chair. The clock on the wall, directly across from her, read only one. She still had three hours left on her shift, but her stack of papers had been finished by noon. Trying to look busy was starting to become a full time job.
Your system is idle which could only mean one thing. You have finished today’s quota. The message came up on her screen, shutting off everything she was working on.
Alyna smiled as she sat up in her chair and typed, Hi Seth.
How is my favorite person in the office doing today?
She looked around to make sure that no one was paying any attention to her. As always, since she was in the back, no one noticed her. Bored and ready to get out of this place.
Ah, so the work is done for the day. Good for you.
Yes, but one does not get paid to be fast. I can’t afford to go home again. Rent doesn’t get cut in half.
You worry too much.
She shook her head and bit on her lip to stop the laugh from slipping out. It’s what I do. What else is there? I won’t go back to my grandmother. She would want me to take care of her and quit my jobs. Still holding her lip with her teeth, she frowned. She said the word jobs. Alyna didn’t want Seth to know that she had taken another job. He hated how much she worked now with this one.
Jobs! When did you take another one?
I got to go, boss coming.
She stopped the chat, not because someone was coming, but because she didn’t know how to tell him. Hell, she didn’t know how to tell herself at times. Having two jobs was hard, and she had only been at it for two weeks.
I know you are still there.
She took another deep breath and looked around. I shouldn’t be chatting, Seth. I could get fired.
Only if you get caught.
That is possible. There are cameras down here.
Why did you take on another job?
She thought about what she should tell him. She had been talking to Seth now for five months and felt as if she had known him for a lifetime. One day she was working away then poof up pops this little box with a hello. Sad to admit, but talking to Seth on the computer was the highlight of her day. Having no boyfriend, he was the only contact with the male race she had.
You still there?
I tapped out of my savings and the rent was due. She rubbed her eyes again. I might have to look for a better full time job. I’m not making it here, Seth. The city is slowly killing me.
Time passed slowly and she thought he had left. With what little experience she’d had with men, she figured he was through hearing about all of her problems. After all, who wanted to listen to the sorrows of someone you’d never met face to face?
I’ll take care of you.
He signed off, leaving her sitting there with a frown on her face. Take care of her. How the hell was he going to do that?