The same characters as this story; Queen Larissa is also canonical Tír na Cali, in that she is one of the first characters I created in the world.
A slave was always at a bit of a disadvantage in dealing with his Mistress. The American-born kidnapped slave of the Queen of Tír na Cali was at even more of a disadvantage; their status could not, in this status-mad-society, be further apart unless he went rogue (at which point, he’d have bigger concerns than social disadvantages). When the Queen and Mistress was telepathic, there was no use even thinking of an advantage, not when she could turn off the telepathic damper at any time.
So Jeremy had no idea what Queen Larissa was thinking, just that, from her body language in the last few days, she must be planning something. It made him uncomfortable – he’d served her so well, made her, as far as he could tell, so happy. Californian politics were full of potholes and traps he hadn’t even thought to look for, when he’d first been bought; had he stepped in something and not even noticed? Had he horribly offended some very important person?
The worries ran in trapped-hamster circles in his mind for days while his Queen stayed busy with the rather-more-important business of running the country, and did not call on him at all, which did nothing to help his concerns. By the time she called him into her chambers, late on a Saturday evening, he could barely sit still for the nerves.
“I want to talk to you about something,” she told him slowly, which did not help. “Come here.”
He did, of course. Being disobedient would not help his case. He sat by her feet while she brushed his hair, and waited to see if she would say anything.
After a while, she did. “Duchess Candida’s eldest daughter.”
Another lineage test? Now? “Kerry? Black hair, probably from her father, stunning blue-grey eyes, and a very sharp smile. Unmarried and without Consort or children.”
“I would like to give you to her.”
“You…” His heart nearly stopped. It was one thing to know you were property, another to hear yourself being discussed like a piece of meat.
“Loan, rather, for perhaps a month and a half.” She squeezed his shoulder. “I like you, Jeremy. I won’t do it if you ask me not to. But she is, as you said, childless and young, and I am neither of those things, not by quite a while.”
He frowned. The Californian nobles aged very slowly, it was true, but Queen Larissa was no longer young even by their standards. “I enjoy serving you, Your Majesty,” he murmured, neutrally but honestly.
“I have noticed,” she answered dryly, her fingers hovering over the controls to the telepathic damper. “Will you tell me how you feel about this, Jeremy, or am I going to have to take it from your mind?”
“I…” he choked, caught on conflicting feelings and a desire to say nothing at all about any of it. Feelings weren’t what he wanted to talk about. “Wrap me up in a bow?” he choked out. “Happy belated Yule, Kerry, enjoy the present, I know I have?”
She patted his shoulder again, and did not invade his mind. “I hear,” his lover and Queen whispered, “that she’s absolutely on fire in the sack. Who do you think I’m giving a gift to, Jeremy, her… or you?”
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