Leopold’s new owner’s name was Caoilinn, as if her parents had tried to give her as Irish a name as possible, in hopes of doing something about that hair and those eyes. Caoilinn ni Caradian O Istvia, the Baroness of Lone Pine, “call me Kay when we’re alone.”
“And when we’re in public?” He hadn’t really expected her to take him in public. She didn’t have that “indulging in trivialities” sort of face, and he was, by his very nature, a triviality and a frippery.
“Is this a test?” She’d smiled at him, and he’d hoped she was amused. “In public, call me as you would any other Baroness. ‘Your Ladyship,’ or, if you’re feeling brave, ‘my lady.'”
“Brave, my lady?” Leopold knew better. His position was tenuous at best, and shaky under any circumstances. She’d read his pedigree; she knew what he was. She couldn’t be planning on keeping a sport around, not with her own tenuous position, even if Lone Pine was not a highly contested Barony. But he couldn’t stop himself from testing the waters.
“It usually suggests a level of intimacy.”
“I belong to you, Lady Caoilinn.” Leopold had bowed, because he wasn’t sure what else to do. “Whatever you wish of me is what I will give.”
She’d said nothing more at the time, and that was at the beginning of a three-hour drive. Now, while they were nearing the end (or so he hoped), she finally spoke. “Even with a Baroness that’s a sport?”
“My lady?” Leopold had, he was mortified to realize, drifted off. He didn’t know quite what she meant. “I know I’m a sport, mistress.”
“I wasn’t talking about you, Leopold. You’re willing to suggest – or to have – a level of intimacy with a sport of a Baroness?”
I’m a sport, too. But that didn’t seem to be the right answer. Leopold glanced over at her, at the angry line of her lips, and tried for honesty.
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