He rubbed at his wrists, then exhaled before letting Gian take one to sooth the ointment into it. His ankles had been left shackled together and secured to the chain on the floor. Gian gave him a concerned look. “The ropes are nicer if you don’t fight them, my lord.”
Simply fleeing would do him no good. He might have gotten away with killing Durante, but there was the duchess to consider. The king’s niece. Killing her would make him an outlaw if he wasn’t simply executed, and alive her word was worth far more than his own. She’d laid the trap clearly, and he’d still stepped inside. “Fighting them seems to amuse her.”
“Oh, yes, my lord.” Gian nodded. “She was praising you at breakfast, telling all who would listen how she had to put you in irons. She feared you’d break the ropes.” Gian soothed the ointment into his other wrist. “She’s instructed special restraints be made for you my lord. Something that can hold her magnificent beast.” He gave Ruarc a shy smile. “You frightened me a little when you threw Durante off the bed. I thought you were going to break free and I’d be punished for not tying you well enough.”
“If…” Ruarc took a deep breath. “You’d be punished if I broke free?”
“Of course, my lord.” Gian gave him a confused look. “Or if the ropes injure you. It means I did not perform my duty adequately.” Gian stood. “Do you have other injuries, my lord?”
“I’m fine.” Ruarc nodded.
Gian shifted from foot to foot. “Are you certain, my lord?”
Ruarc looked up at him. “I’m fine.”
“I…” Gian hesitated. “Are you certain, my lord?”
“Gian…” He exhaled. “What concerns you?”
“My lord, Durante did not prepare you before he took you.”
“Prepare…” He caught on to what Gian was saying and felt his skin start to burn. “I’m fine, Gian.”
“If my lord would like, I can prepare you before they wish to use you again.”
“I don’t…” Ruarc shook his head. “I don’t even know what you mean by that.”
“Oh.” Gian started nodding. “I can put oil on my fingers and —”
“Gian.” Ruarc stared at him and then started shaking his head. “No, I don’t want you to —”
“My lord.” Gian put a hand on Ruarc’s shoulder, then crouched slightly so they were eye level. “If you are not prepared, you could tear, or…” Gian took a deep breath. “It is a very painful injury to have, my lord.”
“I…” Ruarc frowned. “You know this from experience.”
“Yes, my lord.” He nodded. “I would have to prepare well if I were to take you, my lord. You are bigger than Durante.”
“I won’t be taking you, Gian.” Ruarc shook his head. “I have no interest in either defiling you or doing you harm.”
“I…” Gian smiled at him. “I wouldn’t mind, my lord. I like you.”
“Just…” Ruarc took a deep breath. Then another. He had to take a third before he could speak. “Tell me if you think I am going to need to be…” He winced. “Prepared, and I will consider your offer.”
Vitalia would be lying if she claimed she felt no trepidation at entering the room with him, even if she had left his ankles chained. Rather than reach for the stick, she offered up the carrot. “I have instructed your family’s stipend to be increased to fifty gold a month.”
“I see.” Ruarc folded his arms. “Is that it, then? Each day I…” He shook his head. “Play your game the total goes higher?”
“Until it reaches three hundred.” She nodded.
“And when I refuse?”
“It drops back to the original rate we discussed on the trip here, and you will have the opportunity to earn it back.”
“Meaning if they take credit or…” He exhaled. “That’s part of why you’ve banned me from travel. I’ll not be permitted to know how much trouble a refusal may mean for them.”
“Naive…” She nodded. “But not a fool.” She straightened. “Well, now that you understand the ground rules…” A smile came to her face. “Kneel.” The look on his face was anger and defiance, but he went to his knees. She smiled as she walked over to the bed and sat down on the edge. “Crawl to me on your hands and knees.”
He obeyed. Before she could give the next order, he caught her calf and began unlacing her boots. Gently, rather than forcefully. She frowned at the unexpected action, and caught a trace of something in his eyes. “This is what you wanted, is it not?”
She yanked her foot away. “Presumptuous behavior does not please me.”
“What have I presumed?” He raised an eyebrow. “You wanted me to kneel, crawl, and worship your feet, yes?”
“Defiant obedience.” She laughed, then brushed the back of her hand over his cheek. “That is not something I expected from you.”
“If it was a meek toy you wanted, you would content yourself with Gian.” He narrowed his eyes. “You chose me.”
“I did.” She brushed fingers through his hair. “But the finest stallion on the heights must be broken before he is of use.” She offered back her boot. “Finish.”
Ruarc unlaced her boots carefully, and removed each one with slowly and gently. Play her game, and once Kiera had the family stable again he could take his leave. Nothing they had done to him was worse than trying to walk down a hill with a crossbow bolt stuck in his hip. He looked down at her foot. Or having to scrap the blue off hard tack.
So, he bent his head, and kissed the side of her foot. Rather than use his tongue, however, he did as he had one of the nights they’d spent at an inn. He gently began working his thumb into the arch of her foot, massaging the tender flesh. She lifted her foot slightly to allow him better access as she made a sound of approval.
His hopes were dashed when he released her foot to reach for the other one. “Aren’t you forgetting something?” She raised an eyebrow at him.
“You were to crawl to me, clean my feet with your mouth…” She smiled. “And call me mistress.”
He looked away, and made himself take several deep breaths so as not to rise up with the intention of putting his hands around her throat. Ruarc winced, and bent his head to do as she instructed.
Part of her wondered if she’d even find this activity enjoyable if he didn’t so clearly hate it. He certainly lacked Gian’s finesse. But then, that wasn’t the point. Having this proud, powerful man bend to her will was… She purred softly as he suckled on one of her toes. He hated it, and yet he did it for the wellbeing of his family.
That thought killed some of the enjoyment she was experiencing. None of her family would have considered debasing themselves in such a manner for her. Her uncle had all but married her off to the highest bidder. She sat up, then reached out and grabbed him by the hair, yanking him closer to her.
“Agh.” He winced, then looked up at her.
She tilted her head as she looked down at him. “I also wished to test your tongue in…” She smiled. “Other areas.”
His eyes stayed on hers a moment, then he twisted his head to kiss her inner thigh. “Shall I undress you then, mistress?” The way he said the title was just slightly mocking.
It should anger her. Then again, part of her liked him this way. Still every inch the beast, just one that had accepted a mistress. The game was more fun when it was dangerous. As she’d already taken the precaution of removing her undergarments, she simply undid her laces then stood to let her dress fall to the floor. Then she smiled, and took hold of his hair again, pulling him in closer.
A soft moan escaped her as his tongue began playing between her legs. Someone before, it seemed, had given him instruction. He caressed gently, darting his tongue into her folds. He lifted his hand, and gently rubbed his thumb against her nub, stimulating her as he continued licking and sucking. She nearly fell back onto the bed.
Her fingers stayed tangled in his hair, keeping him in place. He started to pull away after she’d cum the first time, but she held him fast. He hesitated before continuing his work.
Vitalia made him take her over twice more before she released him. She panted a few moments before finding her voice. “You are not without skill.” She flicked his damp hair back. “We will simply have to work on your endurance.”
He lay, looking up at the ceiling. She’d summoned the Gian, and the bed slave had cleaned his face. Then he’d been made to lie back on the bed so Gian could secure his wrists to the headboard with leather shackles. His ankles were secured to the foot of the bed, though he wasn’t stretched tightly enough to be painful. The duchess had gone to bathe.
“She was pleased, my lord.” Gian smiled down at him, then quickly looked to see if anyone was looking. Then he produced a piece of candy, unwrapping it before holding it to Ruarc’s lips. “I brought this for you, my lord. It’s made from honey.”
Careful not to catch Gian’s fingertips, he took the bit of taffy. “It’s good.”
Gian smiled. “Mistress lets me cook when I’m good.”
“You made it?” Ruarc blinked.
“Yes.” Gian grinned. “The honey is not quite the same here as it is in Manisar, so the candy gets harder. When she allows me to import honey, it’s like eating clouds.”
“It’s better than anything I’ve ever had at the fair.”
The boy’s smile widened so much Ruarc was afraid his face was going to split in half. Then, to his surprise, the boy kissed his forehead. “Goodnight, my lord.” Then he scampered out of the room, his robes swishing around his ankles as though they were a gown.
It was a strange manner of dress, and it certainly did nothing for the boy’s masculinity. Some joke of the mistress? Bloody hell. No doubt if he tried asking he’d end up in a skirt himself. Ruarc sighed, and laid his head back on the pillow.
She let the pouch dangle from her fingers as she entered the room. Gian had finished and gone, leaving Ruarc on the bed. Shackled, he made an enticing presentation. Vitalia walked over and set the pouch on his taunt belly before trailing her fingers over his inner thigh. He squirmed just a little under her touch. “Ticklish?”
“You’re lying.” She smiled, then lightly raked her fingernails over his flesh. He gritted his teeth and remained still. Vitalia laughed. “You know your place, and yet you refuse to give me even an inch more. I’m starting to like you, dear husband.” She bent to kiss his cheek. Then she opened the pouch.
He gave the bit of metal in her hand a confused look, then turned his gaze back to her. “I’m not going to enjoy whatever you intend to do with that, am I?”
“I concede that it is possible…” Vitalia brushed her fingers through his hair, then ran her hand down his chest to begin toying with his nipple. “But it is unlikely.” She pinched him lightly, then smiled before attaching the clamp.
Ruarc gave only the slightest hiss as a reaction. “Will I be permitted a blanket to sleep beneath?”
“Is the room not warm enough for you, darling?” She attached a second clamp to his other nipple.
“A light blanket would still be welcome.” He swallowed just a little as she took another clamp from the pouch and moved her hand down to his cock.
Vitalia hesitated just a moment, waiting to see if he’d ask her to show mercy. She hadn’t decided yet if she would. It vexed her just a little that he didn’t, so she attached the clamp to the underside of his cock before reaching for another. He made no sound as she fixed half a dozen clamps to his shaft and balls. She didn’t get a reaction until she placed one on the sensitive flesh of his inner thigh.
And that was only another slight hiss. “You know the fun part about these is the painful part isn’t when they are attached.” She continued fixing the clamps to him until the bag was empty, then looked up. “It’s when you take them back off later.” She planted a kiss on his lips, then walked around to the other side of the bed and lay down beside him, making herself comfortable.
“I take it that’s a no on the blanket?” He glanced at her before looking up at the ceiling again and sighing.