Jerrick helped Trinna from the tub. Wrapping them both in a thick bath sheet. "Again, Little Mistress, you want this of me." It had been a long time for him, so he had to fight for control over his desires.
She chuckled softly. "E-gads, your are as bad as Caytin 'yes', Lady and Consort, yes." She turned in his arms, to look up smiling. "What is wrong, Jerrick? With the way you are carrying on, one would think you're the untried one."
He laughed. "Oh, I've been tried often enough before Little Miss, just not in a while."
"Going to have to do something about that, aren't we?" She dropped the ends of the bath sheet to wrap her arms over his shoulders. Her mouth meeting his as he let the sheet continue to fall, bending to lift her.
The mattress gave a little as he lay his mistress back. Pulling away a bit to stroke her cheek. She was pretty; it had been a long time since last he had seen anything so lovely.
He wanted nothing more than to bury himself in the loveliness before him. But, the fact that he was a slave now held him back. "How should I go about seeing to you Mistress?"
Trinna scoffed sitting up and reaching for him. "Jerrick our two people, they aren't that different. You said you've done this before, how do you think it's done?" She pushed him over, to fall on the bed.
"I don't think," he surrendered easily. "Our people might be a lot alike, but I don't think, I was with the last woman I was with, and what you expect out of me, are anything alike."
"Really, well then, for the sake of understanding you people better. Just how, did, you share your time with the last woman you were with? We are built the same. Our peoples were once the same, so I know we are able to interbreed. It has to be one huge social or religious custom."
'To hell with it, if I'm gonna be strung up for breaking the laws, I might as well enjoy it.' He lifted up, slightly, to pull her close to him, rolling to pin her firmly under him. "The last time, I was with a woman," he pressed her down into the firmness underneath, mouth and hands, moving with a practiced ease. "I only had a few days, so we didn't waste any time talking."
She reached up, pulling his head back to hers. "So far, I haven't seen anything that greatly different."
"You know what, Little Miss, I think you might be right. I'm worried about nothing."
"Well, I can think of something far better for you to concern yourself with. Come here."
* * *
Ern looked up at the knock. "Yes." He was on his feet at once.
Tallin poked his head in. "It's kind of early for bed. You don't have to hide behind a closed door Ern. My father is the, head consort. He has put you under his hand and until he lifts it. You don't have anything to worry about. So, if it's okay with you. Why don't you come out here, and let us get a chance to start getting to know you."
"Uh, that's okay, I don't want to bother anyone. I can stay out of the way."
Tallin rolled his eyes. "Goddess, don't be like that. Hiding behind closed doors isn't going to do you any good. This is your home now. The sooner you learn to come to terms with that, the sooner you will find yourself at peace with it."
"Okay, but warning, I don't know any of those men."
"That, can be easily rectified, come on."
A man met Tallin as he escorted Ern from Ern's room. "So you finally convinced him that we weren't out here, planning his doom."
"Give him time, Gabe. I don't think any of us can even imagine what he is going through right now."
Another of the men laughed. "The boy is going to play nursemaid now. I swear, he is getting as bad as his father."
"Well, Saul, with the rest of you, always having a Mistress to look too, who else do you expect to talk him through this? Xavier, Jax, Toby, or maybe you think another one of the flock of bedwarmers we have would be better suited to help him."
"Besides, befriending him, puts you in a better light with him, you know later, once Cay had lifted his hold."
"With my luck, by the time Caytin has a free moment to deal with him, he will already be answering to a mistress, and will have no more free time, than any of the rest of you do. I only hope to the fates mother hurries up and finds someone she is satisfied with for me. She has no plans of letting me just go, as Herren, Warrel, Karron, Jon, Van or Tag, and fill in the place of breeder in one of the houses. She has decided that I am going to be a Consort, and nothing less. Me, I would be just as happy as a kept slave, with the only duties I had were, to father pretty boys, and strong girls. If only it could be that easy. But you know mother. I am her first. I was conceived the night she and my father matched souls. I am named after my uncle, her older brother. So I have to wait around for one of the women or one of their daughters to ask to buy me."
"Maybe next auction Tal. The mistress she couldn't afford to let you go last time. There were none to replace you here." Gabe lay a hand on his shoulder."
He smiled, patting the hand there. "I know that Gabe. I'm not complaining. But now that we have three more here. I was held back last cycle. She can't do that to me again. I am almost as old as she was when she gave birth to me. I am too damn old to be the only man I know of who is still untried by a mistress."
"The Guard Commander, Mistress Wren, she has a daughter, about your age. I think I have seen her poking around snatching an eye full from time to time." Tag offered.
"I can't do that. I am related by blood to her daughter. She is my half sister. But other than that, I'd gladly go to the commander herself at this point. Don't get me wrong, I love Gabe dearly. But I would just as soon have to visit him from time to time, if I had a mistress."
"Give it time, boy. Be happy that you have the chance to wed. Very few," there was a touch of bitterness is the man's voice. "Even, of the breeders do." Warrel growled.
Tallin dropped his eyes. "Yes, Sir." He was young. And fertile or not, he was without a mistress, so he was nothing.
* * *
Jerrick fought to think, breaking his kiss. "Now?" If she didn't allow him to take her, right then, he was sure he would hurt himself trying to hold back.
"It's probably bad etiquette, and Kaj is sure to fuss at me later, but for what I am aiming to do, being on bottom is probably better, so yes, go on."
He reached, parting her legs, moaning as he felt her heat surround him. "Thank you, Mistress." And he could think no more.
* * *
Kaj, lay stroking Fain's, hair, as she listened to Caytin fill her in on what had happened with Ern. "You are going to have to take an hour or so, before much longer to see to it that both he and Jerrick are welcomed among you."
"If Kerfan were here, I would ask him to help with them. Jerrick is going to be the father of Trin's baby. But right now, I think the general din of the Men's Quarter's has driven him off for a few days. Last time I saw him, he was getting ready to go camping, somewhere, alone."
"It isn't easy for a man, to be the only FreeMan in a house full of slaves. I put out the call for him to return. It shouldn't be more than another week or so, but you can't expect them to hang, left alone for that time."
"I think they would thank me if I did."
Kaj looked down at the man in her arms. "Yeah, honey?"
"Let me talk to them, tell them what you are going to do." He sat up, as she released him. "For me, once a slave, always a slave. But for Ern, and Commander Jerrick, knowing that an end is at hand, it might make it easier for them, if they believed their lives had come at a price, anything, up to and including death would be worth it, just to see our people free."
"He is such a contradiction in terms, isn't he Kaj? To be so young and ignorant, he shows a surprising grasp on the situation."
"You don't know the half of it love. It might be some time, before I decide to let him be. If ever." She held out a hand to Fain. "Isn't that so, little one? Weren't you the one that fretted earlier over the fact that your master, might take a fancy to you?"
"Do I frighten him still, Mistress?" He had hoped, that of all the new ones in his house, that this one would at least trust their customs, well enough to believe, that he was not going to devour him one day.
A hand on Fain's shoulder, turning, him to show Caytin his back. "Oh yes, pet, he is still afraid of you. But I think his fear is greater that you will not notice him, than of you doing him real harm."
Caytin looked over Fain's back, at the numerous scars of past beatings. "Good, Goddess, Mistress. He can't think, I would do this to him."
"Don't look at the scars Caytin. But at the ones that still have yet to heal."
Caytin looked closer. His, eyebrows lifting as he realized what his mistress was referring too. He opened his mouth to jest with Fain about having nothing to worry about. But a hard knocking at the door interrupted him.
"Come in." 'Now who'?
Warrel almost threw the door open. "Where is the other new man, Kaj?" He demanded.
Kaj looked at him, irritated. "Warrel, it's a little late to decide to take an interest in them. Besides, he hasn't been welcomed into the Men's Quarter's yet. Why are you asking?"
"I'm not trying to find him to welcome him to our home. I passed Trinna's room, and it sounds like all hell is breaking loose in there. Ern says that Jerrick had been her choice. I am too old to stop anything, but it sounds like my Great grand daughter is in trouble."
Kaj was up, Caytin following at once. "If that fool has hurt her." She batted at Fain's hands as he tried to get her attention. "Stop it"
"But Mistress, Jerrick, he wouldn't hurt her." The man that had enabled him to keep, his, mind last night after Mer had been taken. Hurt anyone, much less a Healer, no, he just refused to believe it."
"Caytin, get the chain. If the boy is right, then there is nothing to worry about, and he can be released when we get back, if not. I know that he, at least, is where I know he should be."
Caytin pushed Fain's hands away as he locked a chain from the bed to his collar. "Hush, you aren't in trouble. You mistress isn't upset with you. This is just to see to it, that she stays happy with you. You aren't going to be hurt. Just lay here and wait, I will be back as soon as I can."
"But Master, I swear to you, on my life, Jerrick wouldn't hurt the other mistress." Fain tried to reason with the empty air, as Kaj and Caytin had left through the door as one. So he sat there, in silence, worrying what the next few hours would bring.
* * *
Jerrick rolled off Trinna, fighting to slow his breathing. He turned his head to laugh weakly. "Wow."
"How long ago, was, your last woman?" She was equally stunned. Their coming together was something right out of the romantic trash that the men and some of the younger women were so fond of.
"Been a couple of cycles Mistress. I guess the war has gotten to me more than I thought it had. Did I hurt you?" He turned on his side, looking over her body, trying to detect anything that he could have done. "I'm sorry Mistress, I step in to make sure that you didn't run the risk of getting hurt, and you get hurt anyway, figures."
She laughed at him. "You, hurt, me?" Her peals of laughter rang out in the room. "I'm sorry, Jerrick, I don't mean to sound like I am making fun of you, or anything. But I'm a Healer. If it, had come down to you actually hurting me. I could have stopped you. No you didn't hurt me, it's just, I thought, when I finally completed my vow, and took my place among the women of my city, that what I had shared with Caytin was the best there ever would be. But now, damn, what do they feed you boys back home?" He looked down not quite flushing, but close.
She sat up, looking down at him. "I know this is probably going to throw a wrench in the way I wanted our relationship to be, and I know I'm going to probably say this all wrong. I'm not one of those folks that are good with words, but it's considered lucky to conceive your first night with your consort. I am going to be quite pregnant by morning. So, what say you, to invoking the good luck that is promised by consenting to be mine, we can worry about a ceremony this summer, but if you say yes, I will be your lady."
Jerrick lay there, looking up at her speechless. He was trying to work over everything she had just said, trying to reach for the words she would want from him, of course he would marry her. He just couldn't think of any other meaning for what she had just said, than what the obvious one was. He just didn't think when he said 'yes', that it would end up like it did.
Jerrick was saved from having to respond right away by the banging and rattle at the door. "Trinna! Are you okay? Jerrick, unlock this door, don't combine matters more." Kaj banged on the door again. "Trinna?"
"What the?" Trinna was off the bed and across the room, slamming back the lock. "What do you think you're doing 'Chieftess' ?" She stood there, heedless of her nakedness. "What the hell could be so important to almost knock my door off its hinges?"
Her older sister grabbed her by the arms. "Are you all right? Did he hurt you?"
Trinna pushed her hands away, moving to return to the bed. "Did he hurt me? What do you mean, 'did he hurt me'?
"Warrel came to me, and told me you were being attacked. Said that by the sounds, you were in the middle of a fight for your life."
Trinna wrapped her arms around Jerrick protectively. "We weren't fighting, far from it." Trinna looked at Jerrick. "We didn't throw anything, so what could he be talking about?"
Jerrick thought about it for a moment. His time with the little mistress might have been explosive, but not on a physical scale. He shifted and heard the headboard bounce against the wall. He just fell back on the bed laughing.
"What?" Caytin didn't understand at all what was going on. This man is told that he had been so loud with the Healer, that others thought he had been physical with her. And he just laughs.
Jerrick reached out with his fist and pushed the headboard against the wall behind it several times as he laughed.
Trinna squealed, hands covering her mouth as she joined him in the humor. "You have your answer, Kaj." She turned to her sister, still laughing. "Now, you tell me, what's so odd about that? What, you've never had Caytin make you scream before?" She cleared her throat, catching her breath. "Do, and I'll call you a liar to your face."
"I am going to kill that old fool." Kaj swore to herself. "I'm sorry Trinna, you too Jerrick."
"It's okay Kaj. Warrel is just old. He is having trouble accepting that I am an adult, let alone old enough to bear a child and wed." Then she turned, singling Jerrick our again. "Now, back to the child and wed part of our conversation before we were interrupted. I am still waiting for an answer, even if it is only you need time."
Jerrick still wasn't ready to take her question on, but not seeing a way of getting out of it without talking about it. "You sure, Mistress. I'm not an old man, but I have close to a good twenty cycles on you.
"Your what, thirty-six, thirty-seven? So, The oldest in the Men's Quarter's is Hirren, and he's almost two hundred cycles old, and can still, when he gets the call, serve his mistresses."
"Actually, I'm thirty-four. And it won't bother you?"
"Look you, you going to consent to be my first consort or not?"
"Well, yeah, you're pregnant."
Trinna shook her head. "No, my being with child has nothing to do with me wanting to make you my Consort. Other than I would like to wed his or her father. You are a man of my house. There is a lot I can do, that people forget. Like I know, I can read your heart, that you are a good man." She stopped grinning. "Wait, did you say yes?"
"As long as you are sure about this. I am not at all sure how the marriages, if they fail, separate here. And I would just as soon not end up dead because you decide that I'm not what you wanted after all." The idea that she could know what he had always believed, it was so humbling. That Jerrick just couldn't consciously acknowledge it.
Trinna waved her hand dismissively at that. "When I lock my cuff on your wrist, it's for life. But if I get to the point with you, that your irritate me too much, I can always lose you in the Men's Quarter's."
"I feel positively ancient." Kaj muttered under breath as she watched her sister, woo her new consort. "Were we really ever 'that' young?"
"Yes, Mistress, we were. But unlike the Lady Healer and her new man, we were very busy, I was seeing to Tallin, and you were pregnant with your heir."
"Well, what ever." Kaj shook herself, back to the here and now. "Well, Trin, as the rumor of your attack, was grossly exaggerated. I think I am going to leave you and your consort to wonder over your new wedded state. I have a slave in my room, chained to the bed. It's going to take me forever to convince him that it was all a false alarm." She looked to Jerrick. "The hardest thing for you, is going to be remembering that you are a free man and soldier no more. But I won't be too ill with you, now that you have gone and stolen my little sisters heart, if you tend to forget that fact, just a little every now and then."
Trinna looked up from where she had been, fussing over her very own, personal slave, her mate. "Is the one you are keeping with Caytin and you, giving you problems?"
"No, or at least not before that old fool scared him with his fantasies over you and your attack."
"Little Miss," Jerrick looked at Trinna. "Fain, he's, well, how can I explain him to you? If it weren't for the fact that all in all, they boy was a damn fine at what he did. Mer would have seen to it that he kept him at home, chained to his bed. Do you, and Mistress Kaj, mind if I go and let him see that I am not in danger in anyway?" He took her hand in his. "Please Mistress. He is only twenty, going on about sixteen. He's been through more than anyone his age should have to live through has. And now, I can learn to live with my new state of slavery, Ern will get the hang of it eventually, I am sure. But Fain, slavery means nothing but fear, pain, and promises nothing but a slow and agonizing death for him."
"Trinna's new Consort is going to be a breath of fresh air for my men." Caytin commented to Kaj.
"Let him, Trin. If he goes and shows Fain that he is still unhurt. It will ease the poor man's fears much faster, than I could, or Cay could. I also want you to take a look at a few more of the wounds he has, that haven't been healed yet, or if they have, healed badly."
"If there was a problem with him, Kaj, why didn't you call me sooner?" She took her robe from Jerrick. "Go on honey, throw on your pants. As pretty as you are, I still don't want you parading around like you were advertising your availability. I want a chance to get you used to the idea of marriage before I let you loose on the rest of the women here."
He smiled at her. "Mistress, I might not know much, but even I know, what a pledge means. You are going to have my baby, I am yours, and unless you decide later that it was a mistake, and 'loose me' in the Men's Quarter's, I am not going anywhere. I'll do my duty to the house, but that is all that will ever be." All in all, it was turning out, much, better than he had first feared. Yes, he was a slave. But he had a place now. A mistress, who had taken it into her head to up and marry him. No, it could be much worse.
* * *
Fain fell to the floor by the bed as Kaj and Caytin returned.
"See what I mean." She bent by him, helping him back up and on the bed. "Jerrick, I might have a little problem with you, forgetting your place here, from time to time, but it is nothing like the problems I am going to have out of this slave, trying to teach him, his place."
Jerrick nodded. He could well see her point. He had known Fain back, when Mer had broke off from the raiding party to get him to safety. All in all, the kid was a good boy, but when he got something in his head. It could take forever to get it changed. He had been watching Mer for the last six cycles with him. "If I may talk with him, Mistress, let him see that my lady hasn't hurt me."
She nodded to him. "Trinna, just as soon as your man, calms him down some, you need to have a closer look at him, than you did earlier."
The Healer nodded. "I only did a quick once over, to make sure he wasn't suffering from any serious injuries earlier. What is wrong with him?"
"The guard that brought them to you, should have brought it to you attention. But at the time, all that I had wanted was, them to be collared, fed and tended to. So there are a lot of things that you didn't see. His back is bad. He has so many scars from where he had been beat, but that isn't the worst thing." She looked pained. "Trin, he's been branded."
* * *
Fain grabbed at Jerrick as the man sat beside him on the bed. "I knew you wouldn't hurt anyone." He defended his fears.
"I'm fine, better than fine if truth be known."
"You are now looking at a married man, Fain. Thirty-four cycles of bachelorhood, gone. My Mistress, she decided that she was content enough with me, to make me her consort. We might be slaves here, but son, I am beginning to believe that even as slaves here, we are freer than we have been as free men, in a long time."
"But, I thought," he was stunned. "Really?" It was like he was a different person, the stress washed away from him, and he was calm again. "Wow, I thought all she wanted you for was so that she could," he started.
"And she did. God almighty did she. Don't ask me why Fain, maybe it's because they have so few eligible men, but I am now going to be a father, and she asked me to be hers."
"Jerrick, I need to see to him. Please, reassure him that I won't hurt him." Trinna sat by the man, her new consort. It was so much more than she had thought she would ever have. But she did, he was hers, and she knew that he would always be hers.
"Fain, this is my mistress. She is a Healer, remember? Let her get a good look at what is wrong with you. I give you my word. No one is going to hurt you right now. Just relax, okay?"
"Jerrick," Caytin would see to him while his mistress took care of Fain. "Come here, let your mistress work."
He patted Fain's hand once more. "Go on, kid, you are going to have to learn to trust someone." And pulled away to go to where Caytin stood, watching him. "Yes, Sir?"
"As soon as your mistress sees to the boy, I am going to have to take time to welcome you as one of the men of my house. I had thought that perhaps I would have a little more time to let Ern and you find your way here before I did, but what with you being thrust into the ranks of the wedded slaves here, I don't have the time to spare anymore."
Jerrick looked at him. There were rumors of what the men did with each other, when they weren't with the women. He had momentarily, in his overwhelmed state forgot them. But now, he would have to face the reality of what was expected of him in regards to this man. "Yes, Sir. I understand."
"Thrice damn them." Trinna's horrified voice sounded out in the room. Jerrick turned, going at once to where she sat.
She was looking down at Fain's naked body, and the branding scar on his ball sack. "They branded him, Jerrick." She whispered, reaching down to touch the scar. "Damn them for eternity. They branded him."
"All slaves of the Catimine's are branded Mistress, the men there, and the women, if they live long enough to actually make it to slavery, their left breast, over the nipple. They aren't easy, or kind, to those that they own." He stroked her hair as she wept, going to heal the scar on Fain's body. "It's okay Mistress. He is safe now, I don't believe, even if he, Ern and I must submit to the men here, that we will have to worry about that anymore. Neither he nor I have ever heard anything about our new people doing that to the slaves in your care."
"He is a man of your house Chieftess." Trinna looked up at Kaj. "You are going to see to it that this sort of thing doesn't go unpunished, right?"
"I have already assured him, that I will seek retribution for what they did to him, to any of those that come from the Merican's that have similar experiences and abuse. Don't worry yourself Healer. I will see to it that they pay for what they did. That is my word on the subject. Now, if you have taken care of the brand, have him roll over, his back is almost as much a mess as his genitals were."
"If you would roll over Fain, I will see what I can do to finish removing the physical scars of your past. The emotional ones, I trust Kaj and Caytin to attend to."
Caytin stood beside where Jerrick sat, rubbing Trinna's back as she continued her work. "I feel better now, Jerrick. I have spent the last two cycles, worrying over my mistresses little Healer sister. But now, that she has taken you as her own first consort. I feel like I can turn my worry of her over to you. For a man, so new to this life, you show surprising wisdom and compassion."
"She is my wife now, and is carrying my child. How the hell else do you think I am supposed to treat her, Sir?"
Kaj laughed. "Better my little sister, than me. He is absolutely without shame."
"Mistress, with the fact that Lady Trinna is a Healer, who better than a slave that is not afraid to stand for her?"
"Well, if the two of you are finished discussing my consort. Fain has been seen to. I even removed the remains of the whipping he received last, the one that didn't break the skin."
"Trinna?" Caytin stood just behind Jerrick. "Are you in a hurry to take your consort and return to your bed? Or do you have time for me to welcome him properly. Now, with as linked to you as he will be, it might be a very long time before I can pin him to a bed otherwise."
Jerrick watched her, hoping she would say no. Yes he understood what he would have to let this man do to him, but he wasn't in any hurry to bend to it.
"Sure, you're right, unlike any of the consort's in the Men's Quarter's I don't plan to let him stay there for more than a few hours at a time. He is my first consort. He has the rank of first consort's, and father's in this house now, outside of you and my father, who is free, the most powerful man in our lands. So I guess I need to see to it that you are allowed to welcome him properly." She stood, reaching out to pat Fain on the shoulder. "I'm finished with you Fain, the scars of your past, the physical ones, at any rate, are gone."