Three Word Wednesday is a once-weekly 3-word writing prompt.
Last week’s three words were descent, kill, surreal.
She’d never admit it to anyone, but as she tried to pretend she wasn’t waiting for word, Ursula, granddaughter to Duchess Lemaria but heir to nothing more than the family temper, was nervous.
It was novel, almost thrilling, to be a bit frightened of a man, of a male slave. He was bigger than her, stronger than her – sure, the other harem slaves might be a bit taller than her, but very few of them seriously outmassed her – and he saw no reason why he should be obedient. It made him dangerous, and that made him exciting.
She was self-aware enough to know, then, that being miffed with him for taking his time to come visit her was silly, but still, she was both impatient and a bit annoyed. He’d gotten her gift days ago. Wasn’t he at least curious?
It was more than a little ridiculous, but she had been turning down invitations to go out, staying close to home in case he decided to grace her with his presence. She’d also declined three requests from Efran in as many days, the poor puppy. So very well-trained, she didn’t think he’d ever understand why she’d passed him over for the American.
Then again, her sisters and cousins wouldn’t understand, either. They liked their easy harem-slave bed partners. They liked their lives, in general, easy, and their lady grandmother loved to provide it.
Ursula wondered if she was the only one who noticed that, while the Duchess provided all of this, the men she took to her own bed were almost invariably Americans.
The phone startled her out of her sulk; she picked it up before the first ring had ended.
“He’s on his way.” She knew the voice at the other end – Toma, the harem mistress. “As you wished, Lady Ursula, he’s not restrained.” The woman’s voice was etched with disapproval.
“Thank you, Toma.” Now she was really nervous. It would take, what, ten minutes for him to walk here from the harems? More if he gave the guards trouble, less if he was in a hurry.
If he’d been in a hurry, he would have been here three days ago when he unwrapped her present. She brushed her hair, changed her shirt, and made sure the papers she wanted were at hand. She’d just started considering doing all of that again when the knock came.
She needed a personal assistant, but she didn’t like the constant crowding of having someone else in her living space. College and two years in military service had cured her of the need to be waited on hand and foot, anyway. She answered the door herself, be damned how it looked.
He stood there, Stephen, next to the guard, neither of them smiling, but without the violent tension they sometimes showed when she opened her door for them. His hands were clasped in front of him; he looked the most placid Ursula had ever seen him.
The guard bowed; belatedly, Stephen remembered to bow as well. “Your Ladyship, as requested by the harem, I’m delivering this slave to you.”
“Thank you, Emmund. You can leave him.”
Emmund was too gracious to glower in her presence, but he bowed and left stone-faced.
“Come in.” She wasn’t paying any mind to Stephen’s expressions yet, not until she could get her own emotions under control. She was alone with him, unchained, in her bedroom.
“You gave me a key,” he accused her, but he stepped into her room and shut the door.
“I did. Kill the lights and come over here.” The light on her nightstand would be enough, and it was an order he wouldn’t think twice about following.
“They forgot the chains.” He flipped the light switch off and followed her across the room, to the chair by the side of her bed. “Think you can get me to play footstool without them?”
“If I asked nicely enough.” She sat down on the edge of the bed and gestured at the chair.
He looked between her and it, looking for the trap, but sat, gingerly, glaring at her. “Why?”
She didn’t waste time dissembling or pretending she didn’t know what he meant. “You don’t seem to enjoy harem service.”
“You don’t seem to care all that much about my enjoyment.” She could see from his expression, though, that he knew that wasn’t entirely true. She’d hoped he’d noticed that.
“I enjoy your company, too,” she admitted. She didn’t want to see him broken by one of her harsher aunts.
“Are you going to lie to yourself if I move in? Tell yourself I was a good little boy and serve me dessert for yelling at you?” He sounded, she realized, confused. She’d changed the game just when he’d figured out the rules.
“I don’t want to be a lapdog like Efram. I won’t do it, Lady, no matter how much you whip me. Use me as a footstool all you want, you won’t break me.”
She smiled wickedly, crossed her feet at the ankles, and held her legs out in mid-air. “All right.”
He stared at her incredulously. “You can’t be serious.”
“And if I am?” A little thrill ran up her. She wouldn’t call the guards, not unless she thought her life was in danger. He could hurt her a lot without endangering her life.
“What’s in it for me?”
Ursula reminded herself forcefully that she’d wanted the untamed slave, the argumentative one, that she’d encouraged his bad attitude. “Answers. You want to know why I gave you the key, what I want from you. I, at the moment, want a footstool.”
He shook his head. “You expect me to curl up and act like a lapdog just because you want me to?”
“No.” This was fun! “I expect you to kneel and act like a footstool – you’re too big for my lap, anyway – because you want information.”
A moment paused, and another, and another. He was going to say no. He was going to threaten her. He was going to stomp out of the room. He was…
Kneeling in front of her, crouching, really, ass to heels, elbows and forehead to the floor, like she’d had him bound, that first time. “Yes, Lady Ursula.”
She set her feet down on his back and lounged. It was a bit silly, wasn’t it, having him like this? She didn’t even do things quite this bad with the born slaves (but, then again, they rarely needed reminding of their status). She picked up her files from the nightstand and flipped through them, although he couldn’t really seem them.
“This is a detailed lineage report I had worked up on your bloodline.” It hadn’t been cheap, or quick, but she had both money and time to spare. “You’re of Irish descent.”
“So are you,” he grunted, twisting to look up at her. “So?”
“Exactly.” She tapped the folder. “You come from the same ancestors as my people do, if you go far enough back. You’re, very, very distantly, my cousin. And Efran’s,” she added thoughtfully.
“Ha,” he snorted.
“Exactly,” she repeated. “You have a strong – strong being the imperative word – Irish bloodline. And strong men breed strong children.”
Under her feet, he froze. “Oh, hell no. No fucking way, you crazy bitch.”
She toed him gently in the kidney. “None of that.”
He settled, but his tone was not much more civil when he continued. “I won’t give you my kids to be raised as slaves.”
“I’d be bearing them, so they wouldn’t be slaves, they’d be royal. I’d be willing to allow you to share in their rearing, as well. It’s a better offer than anyone else would give you – you know most of them would just say ‘lay back and grab the headboard’ and consider that sufficient warning.”
He looked back up at her. “You’re serious. You want to have my kids.”
“It’s that or take your chances with the harem,” she pointed out, wondering which he would chose. How would she handle the stigma of being rejected by an American slave? Her sisters and cousins would never let her live it down.
“But I hate you. I hate everything about this place.”
“No-one said you had to like me, Stephen. You don’t even have to enjoy the sex, although it’s more fun all around if you do.” Gods below, had she just said that?
He sat silently for long enough that she began to wonder if she really hadn’t said it. “I’ll do it,” he agreed. “But I’m not going to be a very good pet for you, not like Efran would. Should have given him the key.”
She leaned over to stroke his cheek, loving the way he shuddered, trying to hold still and wanting to shy away. “I didn’t want Efran. I want you.”