They’d caught him at a bar, and that had been bad. Jason had been far drunker than he ever wanted to admit to when the pretty blonde girl had lured him into her car and, from there, it seemed, into slavery. When he sobered up, he’d made his opinions on the matter endlessly clear, until the girl had drugged him into submission long enough to sell him.
The boutique she’d sold him to had done much the same, once he’d started hollering, but he was edgy and angry even drugged to the gills, and they couldn’t sell him, no matter how hard they tried. After a while, the proctor had pulled him aside and explained to Jason, punctuating the lesson with some discrete blows, that a slave who could not be sold was no use to anyone, and a slave with no use would be gotten rid of.
Jason wasn’t sure he believed him, but as his bruises healed, he began to notice that some of the other mouthy slaves had just… vanished. One of the older, more well-behaved slaves told him, in a frightened whisper, that they’d gone to the work camps. The boy made it sound like being sold into hell.
That got Jason’s attention, enough that he started trying, but it was too little and too late. No matter how hard he tried to play good, he couldn’t get the anger out of his system, and his fear only fueled that. Pretty ladies and their fluffy boy toys took one look at him and moved on to someone tamer. Even the big, rich businessmen wanted someone they didn’t have to worry about turning their back on. They were frightened of him, and they wouldn’t buy what they feared. The boutique passed him off to an auction house.
And here he was, chained to a post, between a girl who’d lost three of her fingers in a mechanical accident and a runaway who kept swearing and spitting at all comers. The girl sold, for a discount, but still, she sold. The boy on the other side of her sold. The old man past him, and the narrow probably-a-girl on the other side of the runaway sold. The runaway sold, to a tall blonde girl who stuck a gag in his mouth and leash on his collar – but he sold.
“Come on,” Jason complained, though noone was listening. “Nobody wants me?”
“I’ll take you.”
The voice came from behind him, a rumbling alto that could have been a man or a woman. He couldn’t turn around, not the way they had him chained, so he froze, and then, slowly, tried to make his body posture like the good slaves, the ones that sold. Eyes down. Mouth closed. Shoulders straight. He’d have knelt if he could have, but his collar and wrists were bolted behind him.
A blow fell on his shoulder and he winced. “I said I’ll take you.”
He should respond, but he didn’t want to get the title wrong, and he still couldn’t tell from the voice. “Thank you,” he answered, and then, going for always-call-your-professors-doctor, “your highness.”
The chuckle was behind his other shoulder. “Points for trying. You’re the mouthy one from Adele’s store, aren’t you?”
“Yes?” The laugh grated on him, though he tried not to show it at all. Damnit, they got mad when he didn’t try, laughed when he did…
“She told me she’d given up trying to sell you. You’re lucky she didn’t just send you straight to the work camps. You do know that, right?”
“Yes.” Now his teeth were gritted, and he was having a hard time keeping his head down. Why did everyone keep rubbing that in. “Although if no-one buys me…” he couldn’t help adding.
“I already said I’d buy you. The work camps aren’t going to get you. You’re too… well, too something for them.”
“Thanks, I think.”
Another light blow hit his shoulder. “You are going to have to learn some manners, but that should be easy enough; you’re a smart boy.”
“Thank you,” he hazarded a guess, based on intonation rather than the alto voice, “your ladyship.”
“Very good.” She stepped out from behind him, a woman as tall as he was, broad-shouldered and long-legged, her blouse dropping to her deep cleavage. Her black hair was cropped short and, despite the business outfit, she didn’t seem to be wearing makeup; the only thing she had in common with the Ladies who had refused to buy him was her grey eyes. “But you can call me Mistress.”
She gripped his chin, muffling any answer he might want to make, and looked over his face. “Nice jaw, nice eyes. Good teeth?” She stuck her fingers in his mouth; Jason barely resisted the urge to bite down. “Very good teeth. And you’ve got spirit.”
“Yes… Mistress,” he agreed, once she’d released his mouth. “That’s why I’m here.”
“That’s why you’re coming home with me, too.” She tilted his head forward until the wide collar bit into him, and did something behind his neck, then something more complicated behind his wrists. “They’re scared of you, the pretty little Ladies. I, on the other hand, am not.”
She was also not taking the handcuffs off, but Jason, for once, didn’t argue. She stood at least a head taller than the petite royalty he’d met, solid, built, and gorgeous. He might still be able to take her in a fight, but he didn’t tower over her. “Yes, Mistress.”
“Smart,” she smirked. She was clipping a leash onto his collar, but it was still better than a work camp. “You’re going to make such lovely babies.”
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