Heart of Steel
By Elizabeth Einspanier
When reclusive cyborg Alistair Mechanus meets his captive, ER Doctor Julia Parker, it is love at first sight–for him. While he eagerly drops his plans for World Conquest to woo her, ten years of solitude have left his social skills badly rusted. When his misguided act of kindness spirals out of control, however, Julia is forced to trust the mad genius with her life, and she discovers the vulnerable side under his armored plating. She has the skills he needs to unlock his forgotten past, but learning who he used to be may come at the cost of his remaining sanity.
Julia stopped in the doorway, pulling her hand out of Mechanus’. He turned to see what the matter was, and saw that she was looking past him, openmouthed, at the collection of plants on display. Mechanus followed her gaze in momentary confusion; he’d seen the flowers a thousand times before, and could easily look up the scientific name of every single specimen here and in the other two dozen greenhouses he had. He had detailed files about each specimen, after all.
It occurred to him that he ought to say something.
“This is…” he began. No. Not quite right. He cleared his throat. “Welcome to Greenhouse Fourteen.” There. Much better.
“I’m just… surprised you have something like this here,” Julia said. “I mean, everything else has been so…” She fell silent.
“So…?” Mechanus prompted.
“Well, food has to come from somewhere,” he pointed out. You can only do so much by replicating proteins and complex sugars, and my chimeras don’t seem to like the nutrient slurries at all. I grow fruits and vegetables in greenhouses like this one, as well as grains and medicinal plants that I’ve gathered from all over the world.” He took her hand and led her on into the greenhouse. “For example, did you know that there are over 200 species of plant that have the potential to cure cancer?”
“I was talking about the flowers, but cancer cures are impressive, too.”
Idiot. Of course the flowers. Women liked flowers. “If you enjoy them,” he said, recovering with what he deemed sufficient grace, “I could give you one of my greenhouses. They’re self-maintaining, each with their own crew of maintenance drones who will ensure that they will remain healthy and green for the foreseeable future.”
Elizabeth Einspanier is the self-published author of the Weird Western novella Sheep’s Clothing and the upcoming sci-fi romance novel Heart of Steel. Her short stories have been published in Down in the Dirt and Dark Fire Fiction. She is a member of the St. Louis Writer’s Guild and an associate member of the Horror Writers of America. She lives in St. Louis, but frequently spends extended periods in worlds of her own creation.
Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/elizabetheinspanier
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