Anascha smeared the lotion down Castor’s back in long, gentle movements, minding the welts and bruises, and the lacerated rough patches by his shoulders. “Damnit, Cass, what did you do this time?” she muttered into his ear. She didn’t think anyone was listening, but you never really knew. Not here. Not in the Lady’s household, where having friends was a luxury none of them could afford. Not when even the Lady couldn’t trust anyone… and if their owner wasn’t allowed that freedom, then her slaves wouldn’t be, either.
“I…” he groaned, and then put his face back on the pillow. “Gods below, Ann, that stings.”
“I know, but it will numb everything in a moment.” She worked with a quick and practiced hand, spreading the goo over his whole back, his ass, his upper thighs. She’d done this before, and damn the risk in helping others. Even Castor. “What happened? You didn’t…?”
“I’m not a complete moron,” he hissed, as the lotion touched an open laceration. “There’s no way out, and I’m not going to sell what little integrity I have at a bullshit attempt. No.”
“I know, I know,” she soothed, moving up to his neck and working in above and below his heavy steel collar. “I just thought… she’s going to be angry at you for a really long time, you know.”
“I know.” He flopped against the bed with a sigh. “She has every right to be. But I belong to her now, Anascha. We both do. And I’m going to serve her as loyally as I served her sister. My honor demands it.”
“Right up to the assassination attempts?” she murmured against his ear. He stiffened again, and shook his head.
“Of course,” he muttered tiredly. “I will do what my lady demands of me. I always have.”
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