Storm’s Mercy: Chapter 9

“Try this one.”  Natalya pushed another of the foods toward him.

He picked it up.  The scent was sweet, and a little warm and rich.  Tentatively, he took a small taste.  Then his eyes went wide, and he took another.  It had just a bit of crunch in the center, like small bones, and there was some gooey brown stuff as well.  The thing’s blood?  “I like this.”

“That…”  Natalya grinned.  “Is called a Twix.  My favorite candy bar.”  She leaned in.  “Okay, the crunchy bit is cookie, the light brown is caramel, and the coating is chocolate.”

Yalathanil took another bite, savoring the flavor.  “Are these creatures hard to hunt?  Is that why you don’t eat them all the time?”

“It’s uh…”  She blinked.

After a closer look at the inner parts, he raised an eyebrow at her.  “What manner of creature is it?  I see no organs.”

“It’s not…”  She shook her head.  “It’s not a creature or a plant.  It’s a concoction.  Like…”  She lowered her hands.  “I have absolutely no idea how to explain it.  It’s a mix of other things made into this thing and…”  She straightened up.  “And wow your biology is utterly fascinating.  Based on your teeth in your natural form you are clearly a carnivore, yet your body isn’t rejecting anything else you’ve tried so you must be omnivorous on some level.  Or are you mimicking humans on the inside as well as the outside?”

“I…”  He blinked.  “I do not know.  I never took this form before.  I knew I could, but there was never before a reason.”

“But there are different of your kind.  I mean, there must be.”  She sat back, looking over at him curiously.  “How do your lungs even work?  I mean, most can’t go from air to fresh water to salt…”  She exhaled.  “I’m sorry.  I just find you fascinating and want to know how you work, and I know, it’s rude.  I shouldn’t think of you like a specimen.”

“You are helping me learn of you, Natalya.”  He inclined his head.  “I am happy to help you learn of me.”  He shrugged, then blinked as the kitten came over to him, climbed into his lap, and lay down before moving her paws on his leg in a kneading motion.  He stared at it.  “What is she doing?”

“She likes you.”

“I…”  He stared at the creature, then gently stroked it with a finger like Adele had done.  The kitten immediately started vibrating.  “Did I break it?”

“No, they make that noise when they are happy.”  She went quiet.

For a few minutes, he just stared at the tiny being, occasionally stroking it with a finger again.  The kitten responded to the gesture by grabbing his finger in its paws and happily starting to chew on it.  “Natalya…”  He hesitated.  “You said one of my kind took your brother.”

“It wasn’t exactly like you.  I mean…”  She folded her arms.  “You look kind of like a lionfish.  It looked like a squid or an octopus.  It had all these tentacles and moved fast, making this horrific screaming noise.”  She shuddered a little.  “It was on an island.  There was this door with marks on it.  I should have left it alone.”  Tears started falling from her eyes, and she started weeping silently.

Awkwardly, he put his arm around her, as he’d seen Greg do to both girls when they needed comfort.  “Rusalkas.”  When she blinked at him.  “They are rare.  They tend toward…”  He shrugged.  “They are like Xue.”

“Bad guys.”  She leaned into him a little.

“Yes.  Bad.  But not guys.  All Rusalkas are females.  They liked to steal others, and made others mad.  Made war between us and the other…”  He searched for the word.  “Protectors.  Some were sealed away, but too much hurting was done.  When the severing was done, we went deep.”

“Yala…?”

“Yes, Natalya?”

“After we get you to the ocean, you’ll come visit us, right?”  She straightened, and smiled at him.  “I need to either learn your language or better teach you mine because now I have so many more questions and…”  She took a deep breath.  “I think they will drive me insane.”

“Yes, Natalya.”  He nodded, then touched a finger to her forehead, then smiled.  “I will visit.”

(more…)

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Storm’s Mercy: Chapter 9

“Try this one.”  Natalya pushed another of the foods toward him.

He picked it up.  The scent was sweet, and a little warm and rich.  Tentatively, he took a small taste.  Then his eyes went wide, and he took another.  It had just a bit of crunch in the center, like small bones, and there was some gooey brown stuff as well.  The thing’s blood?  “I like this.”

“That…”  Natalya grinned.  “Is called a Twix.  My favorite candy bar.”  She leaned in.  “Okay, the crunchy bit is cookie, the light brown is caramel, and the coating is chocolate.”

Yalathanil took another bite, savoring the flavor.  “Are these creatures hard to hunt?  Is that why you don’t eat them all the time?”

“It’s uh…”  She blinked.

After a closer look at the inner parts, he raised an eyebrow at her.  “What manner of creature is it?  I see no organs.”

“It’s not…”  She shook her head.  “It’s not a creature or a plant.  It’s a concoction.  Like…”  She lowered her hands.  “I have absolutely no idea how to explain it.  It’s a mix of other things made into this thing and…”  She straightened up.  “And wow your biology is utterly fascinating.  Based on your teeth in your natural form you are clearly a carnivore, yet your body isn’t rejecting anything else you’ve tried so you must be omnivorous on some level.  Or are you mimicking humans on the inside as well as the outside?”

“I…”  He blinked.  “I do not know.  I never took this form before.  I knew I could, but there was never before a reason.”

“But there are different of your kind.  I mean, there must be.”  She sat back, looking over at him curiously.  “How do your lungs even work?  I mean, most can’t go from air to fresh water to salt…”  She exhaled.  “I’m sorry.  I just find you fascinating and want to know how you work, and I know, it’s rude.  I shouldn’t think of you like a specimen.”

“You are helping me learn of you, Natalya.”  He inclined his head.  “I am happy to help you learn of me.”  He shrugged, then blinked as the kitten came over to him, climbed into his lap, and lay down before moving her paws on his leg in a kneading motion.  He stared at it.  “What is she doing?”

“She likes you.”

“I…”  He stared at the creature, then gently stroked it with a finger like Adele had done.  The kitten immediately started vibrating.  “Did I break it?”

“No, they make that noise when they are happy.”  She went quiet.

For a few minutes, he just stared at the tiny being, occasionally stroking it with a finger again.  The kitten responded to the gesture by grabbing his finger in its paws and happily starting to chew on it.  “Natalya…”  He hesitated.  “You said one of my kind took your brother.”

“It wasn’t exactly like you.  I mean…”  She folded her arms.  “You look kind of like a lionfish.  It looked like a squid or an octopus.  It had all these tentacles and moved fast, making this horrific screaming noise.”  She shuddered a little.  “It was on an island.  There was this door with marks on it.  I should have left it alone.”  Tears started falling from her eyes, and she started weeping silently.

Awkwardly, he put his arm around her, as he’d seen Greg do to both girls when they needed comfort.  “Rusalkas.”  When she blinked at him.  “They are rare.  They tend toward…”  He shrugged.  “They are like Xue.”

“Bad guys.”  She leaned into him a little.

“Yes.  Bad.  But not guys.  All Rusalkas are females.  They liked to steal others, and made others mad.  Made war between us and the other…”  He searched for the word.  “Protectors.  Some were sealed away, but too much hurting was done.  When the severing was done, we went deep.”

“Yala…?”

“Yes, Natalya?”

“After we get you to the ocean, you’ll come visit us, right?”  She straightened, and smiled at him.  “I need to either learn your language or better teach you mine because now I have so many more questions and…”  She took a deep breath.  “I think they will drive me insane.”

“Yes, Natalya.”  He nodded, then touched a finger to her forehead, then smiled.  “I will visit.”

(more…)

Storm’s Mercy: Chapter 8

Greg couldn’t stop himself from tearing up a little as he watched Adele and Natalya do cartwheels across the park.  Yalathanil was watching the girls with a confused expression on his face. “What is meaning, this?”

“Adele…”  Greg swallowed.  “She hasn’t been able to…”  He exhaled.  “She was in that chair for six years.”  He wiped at his eyes.  “She used to dance, before the chair.  Now she is free to dance again.”

“To feel her fins…”  Yalathanil slowly nodded.  “The chair is like a tank, when before she had the sea.”

“Yeah.”  Greg gave him a small smile.  “I guess you would understand.”  He watched Yalathanil step forward, then turn to the side and move a half step.  “What are you —”  He cut off as Yalathanil attempted a cartwheel, stumbling a little.

“Difficult.”  Yalathanil stood, then turned again, lifting his arms above his head before leaning to the side again.

“Okay, um…”  Greg exhaled.  “It’s been a couple years, but watch.  Like this.”  He turned sideways into a lunge, then slowly put his hands on the ground.  Then he kicked his feet up and over his head one at a time before landing in a lunge again.  “See?”

“Yes.  I think.”  Yalathanil tried to imitate the slow-motion movements, but didn’t get his feet all the way over and instead just sort of half jumped his legs.  “They do faster.”

“Yeah, it’s actually a little easier if you have momentum.”  He demonstrated again at normal speed.

Yalathanil tried again, this time managing a reasonable cartwheel.  Both of them turned at the sound of applause, and saw the girls cheering for them.  Greg started laughing, and after a moment Yalathanil did the same.  “Come on!”  Natalya gestured to them.  “Last one to the swings is a rotten egg.”  She and Adele started running.

They exchanged a look before taking off after the girls.

(more…)

Escapade – Chapter 7, The End

The guy in charge of the most recent band of jerks took a shot at Gabriel.  Laura snickered at the expression on the guy’s face when Gabriel just gave him an annoyed look.  “Uh…”  The jerk shook his head.  “Get the professor.”  Then he made the mistake of charging at Gabriel.

Two of the other men rushed toward her and professor Kravitz.  Adam didn’t take a different form, just twisted and grabbed one by the neck before using him as leverage to kick the other in the face.  Both men dropped, and Adam landed on his feet.  Only then did he shift, turning from a slender young man into a massive grizzly bear.

Laura blinked when she realized he’d done that to provide her and Kravitz with cover from the still armed men.  Fortunately, the guys with the guns had a much more pressing concern.  Gabriel tossed the leader into one of the others, sending both of them crashing to the ground.  You called Gabriel in?  Actually Michaels did.  He didn’t fall for the ‘nobody would believe this’ ploy.  Wait, how long has Gabriel been in San Francisco?  He got here around four AM and has been following you ever since.  And you didn’t tell me?  He was staying back so as not to spook Adam.  Oh.  Yeah, that was probably smart.

With Gabriel coming out to play, the fight lasted only a few moments.  Gabriel even helpfully stacked the semi-conscious thugs into a neat pile before turning back toward them.  Adam resumed human form, and gave Gabriel a wary look.  “So, when they said you smacked Matthias with a tree…”

“We were serious.”  Laura nodded

“Uh…”  Kravitz was staring.

“Oh.”  She stepped forward.  “Professor Kravitz, this is Gabriel.  He beats up bad guys.  Gabriel, this is Professor Kravitz.  He teaches history.”  Then she glanced.  “Gabriel, this is Adam.  He changes shape.  Adam, this is Gabriel.  He juggles cars.”

“The park did close to foot traffic twenty minutes ago.”  Gabriel jerked his head toward the path.

“Right.”  She gestured at Adam and the professor.  “Come on.”

(more…)

Escapade: Chapter 6

Part of her wanted to reach out and put a hand on his shoulder, but given the circumstances touching him was probably a bad idea.  Adam leaned against the wall, bent over with his elbows on his knees.  He gave a small shake of his head before looking up at Laura.  “I’d have died for her.”

“I…”

“I’d have died for her, and it was because…”  He straightened.  “When I shift, change forms, every single bone in my body breaks.  I can feel my teeth being smashed into another shape.  I told her it felt like being put through a wood-chipper, begged her not to…”  He shook his head.  “And she still couldn’t wait to try the spell out.”  He wiped a hand across his eyes.  “And I still loved her after that.”  He punched the wall.  “I killed for her.”

Her stepfather had broken her arm once.  She could remember exactly how bad it had hurt.  Adam changed form in the blink of an eye, shifting from creature to creature in his fight with the werewolf.  And she’d thought Michaels was tough.  “I wish I knew what to say.”

“Let’s get that damn…”  He took a deep breath.  “Let’s get the information and make sure she never gets her hands on it.  She’s fucked things up enough with the power she already has.”

They moved deeper into the tunnels.  Thralls ahead.  “Erilon thinks this is the place.”  Two.  “Two thralls.”

“Right.  Stay here.”  He nodded to her.

“Adam?”  She caught his arm.  When he raised an eyebrow, she hesitated.  “You don’t have to do this.  I can call in Gabriel or someone and…”  She exhaled.  “You don’t have to hurt anyone.”

His smile was warm.  “It’s alright, Laura.”  He shook his head.  “To be a thrall, you’ve got to get in with the vampires willingly.”  He checked his gun.  “Taking out the trash doesn’t bother me.”

(more…)

Escapade: Chapter 5

He picked the phone up and set it back down again three times before finally dialing the number.  She answered on the third ring.  “You’re checking up on me.”

“I am simply calling to ask how the tour went.”  Michaels glared in the general direction of San Francisco.  Liar.  You’re calling to check up.  Rather than sit around and worry about her, he’d taken Diana up on her offer to have a nice quiet week at her uncle’s cabin.

“Liar.”  Laura snickered.

There was background noise.  Way more background noise than should be present in a quiet hotel room.  “What are you up to?”

“I ran into an assassin and we kidnapped me an academic adviser and drove him out of the city so we could find some magical paraphernalia that used to belong to Merlin’s girlfriend Nimue.”

“Uh-huh.”  He rubbed his forehead and hit the speaker phone button.

“Except we ran into werewolves but that’s okay because my new partner can turn into a gorilla and he just beat the shit out of the alpha and took over the pack.

“Did he now?”  He sat down next to Diana and rolled his eyes.

“And it was awesome.  Only, it turns out that the werewolves were just after the same artifacts we were and somebody else stole them first, so I went to a history lecture and it was actually pretty interesting.  While I was doing that we learned there was a vampire tailing the professor, so we kidnapped him again and stuck him in a five-star hotel suite.”

“I see.”  He saw Diana cover her mouth and try not to giggle.

“So now I’m just kicking back doing karaoke with a hit man while we wait for the vampires’ base to open.”

“Right.”  He nodded.  “You’ll be back at your hotel by midnight, right?”

“Hell no.  The five-star place has a jacuzzi on the balcony and I am so gonna try that thing out.”

“Midnight.”  He narrowed his eyes.

“We probably won’t even be done killing vampires until like one AM.  You and Diana enjoy the cabin and make kissy faces at each other.”  Or better yet, get the handcuffs out again.

Diana laughed.  “I really hope she’s majoring in creative writing.”

“Yeah…”  Michaels stared at the phone for a second.  Then he dialed again.  What are you doing?

The phone was answered on the second ring, but it was Ted’s voice on the other end.  “Michaels, is something wrong?.”

“Yep.”  He exhaled.  “I’m going to need you to tell Gabe to get to San Francisco.”  Hey, I’ve got the situation under control!  And he was the Queen of fucking Sheba.  “Laura’s found herself some trouble.”

(more…)

Primitive: Chapter 17 – The End

“I punched the harbinger of the apocalypse in the face.”  Christophe sat on the edge of the bed, staring at the wall.

“Ragnarok.”  Lykos shrugged.

“I punched the harbinger of the Ragnarok in the face.”  Christophe kept staring at the wall.

“Not the Ragnarok.  Just Ragnarok.”

“I punched Jörmungandr in the face.”

“Was good punch too.”  Lykos grinned at him.

“I punched a dragon, in the face.”

“You know, if was going to punch a dragon, he was right choice.”  Lykos patted his shoulder.  When Christophe slowly turned to look at him, Lykos shrugged.  “He think it funny, respect your guts.  Other dragons?  They just set you on fire.  Or bit off head.”

“Your grandfather is the World Serpent.”  He exhaled.

Lykos shifted to sit next to him, and put an arm around his shoulder before pulling Christophe in.  “You should sleep.  Was big day.  Nearly got brain fried, nearly nuked, punched dragon, rode off on back of dragon…”

“He flew from Colorado to Holland in less than six minutes.  I can’t even…”  Christophe shook his head.  “We should not have been able to survive the G-forces involved with going that fast.”

“You ride dragon, and you worry about g-strings?”  Lykos tilted his head.

“G—”  He turned to stare at Lykos.  “There you go.  Thinking you’re funny.”  He smiled a little.

“I…”  Lykos put a hand on his chest.  “Am hilarious.”

“Yeah…”  Christophe shook his head.  “Like the plague.”

“Bah.”  Lykos lay back on the bed, pulling Christophe down with him.  Christophe shifted so he was laying in Lykos’s arms, his head resting on Lykos’s chest.  Lykos stroked his hair gently.  “Are you okay, my Christophe?”

“Yeah.”  Christophe nodded.  “Strange as…”  He swallowed.  “I am.”

(more…)

The Duchess: Chapter 14 (The End)

“Ruarc.”  Gian rushed up and threw his arms around Ruarc’s neck.  “You’re safe.  You’re safe.”

He held Gian to him tightly.  “I was worried about you.”

“About me?”  Gian shook his head.  “You’re the one who…”  Gian trailed off, then pulled back.  “Why is the Stone Dragon naked?”

“That’s…”  Ruarc started to open his mouth, then sighed.

“Because the more Draaks you involve in a situation…”  Markus went over to one of the horses and started checking the saddle.  “The less sense that situation is going to make.”

“Wait just a damn minute…”  Jurgen turned toward him.  “How is any of this our fault?  I seem to recall the only reason I’m involved at all is you asked for my help.”

“Yes, well…”  Markus took a deep breath, then another one.  “Thank you, Jurgen.”  There was a coughing sound from the direction of Lammert.  Markus took another deep breath.  “He looks smug right now, doesn’t he?”

“Yep.”  Jurgen nodded.

“We’re about to get another told you so, aren’t we?”

“Yep.”  Jurgen nodded again.

“I thought I was very clear in my directions.  They were simple.  There were, in fact, only two of them.”  Lammert stalked toward where an ebony skinned woman and the gold-skinned man from earlier were waiting with horses.  “Cut through the woods, and if you see a Manisarian woman steer clear.”

Jurgen blinked.  “Wait —”

“Two directions.  Two steps.  But did you listen?”  Lammert started shaking his head.

“Hey now…”  Markus turned toward Lammert.

“The two of you can somehow manage to govern, but can either of you follow simple directions?”

“Liam.”  Jurgen folded his arms.

“Did you two even listen?”

“Liam.”  Markus pointed toward Gian.

“What really was so hard about those instructions?”  Lammert glared in their direction.

“Liam.”  Jurgen also started pointing at Gian.

“Did you just see a woman and all sense fly from your heads?”

“Liam.”  Markus kept pointing at Gian.

“Were they too complicated?”

“Liam.”  Jurgen raised his voice and pointed at Gian again.

“Too long?  Too comple— ”

“Liam.”  The ebony skinned woman touched Lammert’s shoulder and he stopped.  She pointed at Gian.

Lammert glanced at her, then turned to look at Gian.  Gian glanced at Ruarc uncertainly before looking back at Lammert.  Lamemrt stared at Gian for a few more seconds, then turned back toward Jurgen and Markus.  “I see how you may have misunderstood.”

“Can I hurt him?”  Markus turned toward Jurgen.

“If anyone hurts him…”  Jurgen ran a hand down his face.  “It’s going to be me.”

(more…)

The Duchess: Chapter 12

Durante couldn’t help but stare at the man pacing the cell.  He’d heard legends of the Stone Dragon, and had to admit that some of them may well be true.  The man was taller and even more muscular than Ruarc.  The second man was smaller, though of similar age.  He too, was a handsome man, with short blond hair and a warrior’s build.  According to the jailer, Ruarc had kept Jurgen Draak in line by threatening that they’d shoot the other man first.

“You want to play.”  Vitalia’s voice purred in his ear.

“Some games are too dangerous even for me…”  Durante turned to smile at her.  “Though I do admit to a certain temptation.”

“He’s unarmed and unarmored.”  Vitalia shrugged.  “How dangerous could he be?”

“He once torn a troll’s arm off and used said arm to beat another troll to death.”  Durante chuckled.  “Looking at him, I can believe it.”  He hesitated a moment.

“The Dragon Queen may pay well for the return of her heir.”  Madzia’s voice was quiet.

“More likely she’d send a horde down on us.”  Vitalia shook her head.  “We are too near their border.”

“They say she once spent a year torturing one of her husbands to death.”  Durante glanced at Vitalia.

“I like her already.”  Vitalia smiled, then returned her gaze to the pacing man.  “We can always tell the king we were simply interrogating him to learn if there were others near.”  She flicked her eyes to the blond man.  “And tell our draconic guest that any failure on his part to cooperate will result in his friend bearing the brunt of said interrogation.”

“An interesting notion.”  Durante’s smile widened.

“Let us sleep on it.”  She shrugged.  “Ruarc is occupied.  I’ll send for Gian to entertain us.”  She headed up the stairs.

He followed.

(more…)

The Duchess: Chapter 10

She ran her hand down Ruarc’s cheek, and was pleased to feel no stubble.  The fact that he kept himself well-groomed pleased her.  Gian had taken to tying Ruarc’s hair back for him, and she found she liked the way it looked.  He knelt before her obediently, awaiting her command.  She’d ridden him for nearly an hour that morning, and his body showed some of the effects.  The saddle tended to leave abrasions, and there were light scratches along his legs and torso from stray branches.  “When I return, I am going to have the craftsman rethink some of the straps.”  She frowned as she examined the small blisters that had formed were the straps went over his shoulders.

“Thank you, my lady.”  Ruarc hesitated a moment, then gave a small twitch of his shoulder.  “It would help my balance, I think, if the saddle sat either a little higher or a little lower.  It tends to slide a bit where it is.”

“I see.”  She smiled.  “I would prefer a steady, longer ride.”  She caressed his face with the back of her knuckles.  “Something to consider when I return.”

A shadow crossed his face, gone almost before she noticed it.  “Will I be accompanying you?”

Vitalia narrowed her eyes.  He’d been complicit in Gian’s recent poor behavior.  She was reasonably confident that Gian hadn’t smuggled any letters out for him, but the fact that he had accessed information without her permission made her wary of taking him anywhere he may be able to make contact.  “I think not.”  She tilted her head at him, then caught his chin.  “You’ll not be permitted to write this month.”  His face darkened slightly.  “Nor will you be permitted to write again until I say otherwise.  You attempted to subvert my authority, husband.  That is not acceptable.”

“I apologize, Mistress.”

Mistress.  He’d never called her that before.  For that matter, Gian had stopped using the term as well, adopting Ruarc’s habitual address of calling her ‘my lady’.  When had that occurred?  “You’ve been a good boy for me, Ruarc.  I am willing to be merciful over this lapse.  But my forgiveness goes only so far.”

“I understand, Mistress.”  He lowered his eyes submissively.

“Good boy.”  She leaned forward to kiss his forehead.

(more…)

The Duchess: Chapter 9

Gian’s eyes were wide, and he was grinning like a small child.  Sita pranced just a little, making Gian laugh gleefully.  The sight brought a smile to Ruarc’s face as he kept a firm grip on the lead rope.  Sita trotted in a circle around him.  He’d been shocked to learn Gian had not only never ridden a horse before, but had a fear of them.  Sita’s sweet nature had taken care of the latter problem, and letting Gian ride sidesaddle ensured he was comfortable trying the former.

Sita had learned quickly that Gian was an absolute pushover for treats and pats.  Whether it was just the chance at more exercise or her own nature, she appeared to be having just as much fun as Gian.  She even kicked up her heels a little to make him squeal.  Ruarc sighed when he noted the position of the sun.  “Time to head back.”  He clicked his tongue, and Sita came to him.

“She’s wonderful.”  Gian beamed as he slid off the saddle into Ruarc’s arms. Ruarc set him on the ground, and Gian immediately turned to Sita.  “You are.  You’re the most beautiful animal in the world.”  Sita nickered in response, and Gian laughed.  “She’s talking to me.”

“I’ve always suspected she understands most of what I say.”  He led his companions back into the castle.  In the stables, he showed Gian how to rub Sita down, then smiled to himself as Gian started plaiting her mane and promising her ribbons next time.  She tossed her head proudly when he finished.  “He’s going to spoil you.”  He patted the horse.

“Yes.”  Gian rubbed her neck.  “I will bring you apples and carrots and oats and —”

“Not too many, or you can make her sick.”  Ruarc shook his head.

“Just the right amount then.”  Gian leaned in toward Sita and whispered to the horse.  “And I won’t tell Ruarc about the occasional sugar stick if you don’t.”  Sita nickered in response.

Ruarc just rolled his eyes as he headed out of the stables.

(more…)

The Duchess: Chapter 8

Vitalia ran her hand down Ruarc’s taut belly.  His wrists were still secured above his head, and his ankles were chained to the foot of the bed.  As she demanded when he slept, he was naked.  The bonds weren’t in place because she feared he’d attack her.  She just liked the way the chains looked on him.  His eyes blinked open, and she smiled before slithering atop him.  “Good morning, my darling.  Did you sleep well?”  She fiddled with the ring she’d placed in his left nipple.

The shackles on his wrists rattled a little.  “I dreamed I was trapped in a mad woman’s castle.”

She laughed.  “Darling, you’ve done nothing to make me angry with you.”  She raised herself up a little to kiss him.  Then she trailed her hand down to begin fondling him.  “You’re the most delightful pet I’ve ever purchased.”  Only the briefest shadow crossed his face at the reminder.  He’d become better at schooling his expressions.  She kissed him again, tasting his lips as she continued toying with him until he was squirming beneath her.  Then she mounted him.

His back arched as he moved for her, thrusting upward to please her.  It hadn’t taken him long to learn.  She arched her own back as she rode him, moaning softly.  The rules of their morning sessions had been explained to him carefully.  If he came before she did, Durante would be allowed to take a belt to his ass before using him.  To Durante’s disappointment, Ruarc had proved disciplined enough to avoid that fate.

When she came, she slid off him, leaving him unfulfilled.  A smirk came to her face when he responded with a glare, and she leaned forward to plant a quick kiss on his lips.  “Keep your hands off yourself, my dear.  If you wish release, you may ask Gian to service you.”  He gave a small shake of his head.  He wouldn’t, as she well knew.  Which meant he’d be having a frustrating day.

“Are you going to unchain me?”  He pulled at his wrists before raising an eyebrow.

“From the bed, yes.”  She grabbed the key, then glanced up when Gian entered in response to her ring of the bell.  Gian was limping just a little.  “Gian, bath Ruarc and then take him into the dungeon and secure him to the frame.”

“Yes, my lady.”  Gian bowed.

Ruarc rose from the bed as soon as she’d finished unfastening the shackles.  There were no clothes laid out for him, and he gave a small shake of his head when he noticed.  She smiled at him.  “And Gian?”

“My lady?”  Gian looked at her.

“Keep him hard, but do not give him release unless he asks you for it.”

Gian gave her a slightly confused look, but nodded.  Ruarc, however, clenched his fists and glared again.  “You said —”

“You need not do anything to him, Ruarc.”  She patted his shoulder.  “Unless you want to.”

(more…)

Truth and Shadows : Chapter 4

“For a couple months, things went smoothly for us.  We kept our relationship between us and…”  Viteri shifted a little.  “Ma’am, uh…”  He hesitated.

“Mr. Viteri?”  She raised an eyebrow.

“Well, it’s just you seem like a proper lady, so I’m not sure…”  He gave her an awkward look.  “Just there are places where the details are a little important so…”

“I’m a big girl, Mr. Viteri.”  She smiled a little.

“Right.  But if you get uncomfortable, then uh…”  He shrugged.  “Right.  Anyway.”  He took a deep breath.  “Tobias and I, we got to know each other in a lot of different ways, and we learned some things about ourselves too.”

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