I bid him a quiet, respectful, tearful goodbye, and sold him to the best broker in town, demanding – and getting – promises about his well-being and the type of place to which they’d sell him. He’d do well. He was so very well…trained.
I was angry at the Ice Queen all over again after that – for being right. For winning, again. For being my Countess. For calling for me when my mother was dying. But I went. She was my liege, and she’d been right.
The conversation was tense, unhappy, and stressed for the first half hour, until she set down her cup and stared at me. “Let’s stop beating around the bush. You sold Michael, and it makes you miserable.”
“My mother is dying,” I countered tensely.
“My the Goddess hold her close and move her on,” she murmured devoutly. “There will be a time for the funeral, and there will be a time for mourning. And I will be there beside you for that, Treanna, you have my guarantee.”
That, I’ll admit, took me quite by surprise, but I just nodded. “Yes, your Ladyship.” It’s something you get very good at saying.
“But right now,” she continued, as if she was flipping the page to the next item on her agenda – and she really could have been, for all the expression she had – “I have a gift for you.”
“I’m sorry, Your Ladyship?” I asked blankly. She’d shifted gears too fast on me this time.
“It’s not really…” she gestured, and, for the first time in my life, I thought she might be nervous. “Well. I could wait, if you prefer, until you are installed as Baroness.”
“I would rather,” I said, rather stiffly, “rather not discuss my installation as a done deal. My mother is still breathing.”
“But you will inherit. And likely you will do so soon. I can release you from this tea, and call for you again when the suitable mourning has been done. Or we can continue to talk now.”
It was clear from her tone which she wanted. But my mother was dying. “I would like that, your Ladyship. To come back later, at your leisure.”
“And at yours.” She gestured, smiling gently. “Tend to your mother, Lady Treanna.”
It wasn’t much longer. The healers and doctors had done everything they could for her, and all that was left was the horrible waiting. Alone, because I had sold Michael. Alone, because, with Michael there, I had never bothered to look for a partner, a companion, a Consort.
I held her hand through her last breaths, and I called the priests and the priestesses to lay her to the Goddess’ hands. I spoke the words I needed to say, and did was what required. I, like every child of Tír na Cali, am very good at doing what is required.
And then I went home, where I could be more alone, and sat, pondering my next step.
And there, wrapped in a ribbon over his perfectly-tailored suit, sitting on my front porch, a leash from his golden collar to my front door (my mother’s front door, my front door), was a boy. A man. A slave.
I’ll keep writing this in increments until @Dahob thinks it’s done… 😉
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