I really wanted to send him back.
I was in no mood to play. I had been mourning my mother for a week, for three years before that bracing for her death, and I was exhausted and staring at the Barony that was now mine, trying to figure out what I was doing with my life.
“Go home,” I told him, not really meaning it.
He quailed, swallowed, and said, in a voice that squeaked with nerves, “Forgive me, Baroness Treanna, but Her Ladyship told me to inform you that if I was to returned, it would be by your hand, or she would consider me a runaway.” He gulped. “I really don’t want that, ma’am.”
I looked him over. His accent was East-coast, southern from the sounds of it. He had freckles and a fading tan; he’d been kept indoors for a while, maybe a few months, but he had to be fairly new to California. I admit, I was both distracted and intrigued.
I unhooked his leash from the doorknob. “What’s your name?”
“Ja – I mean, whatever you wish it to be.” He was clearly terrified, and trying to stick to a script. Not broken, not really. He didn’t know how he was supposed to act, just what he’d been told to say.
“I’ll think on it. For now, I’ll call you boy.” I wanted to tweak him, to see if he still had any pride. To see how far I could push him. Petty, but I wasn’t in a good mood.
He swallowed, glaring at me for a split second before he looked back down at the ground. “Yes, mistress. Whatever you want.”
“Come on, then, boy. I’ll show you where you’ll be staying, and you can call the Countess’s secretary and schedule an appointment for me.”
He swallowed, even as he followed me – it was that or drag his heels and fight the leash; his hands were cuffed behind his back. “Call? Mistress?”
I rolled my eyes. He was certainly no Michael, rough, raw, and untrained.
Certainly no… I sat down, hard, tugging on his leash and pulling him down on top of my in the process. That bitch. She had done this on purpose. To show me what Michael must have thought.
“Mistress?” he squeaked uncomfortably. He was going to take a lot of training. A lot of attention. I smiled slowly. Just like the Ice Queen to teach me a lesson and give me a pleasant distraction from my grief in one package.
“I’ll teach you,” I told him.
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