This is a story of Tír na Cali written (loosely) to Wyste’s suggestion for more commoners in Cali.
“They don’t put slaves on sale.”
Ellen made a point of window-shopping the slave store every time she went to the mall. It reminded her what she was saving up for, what she was working overtime for.Her maternal grandmother had been a freed slave and the best cook in southern Tír na Cali; her grandfather had cleaned floors for a living until his seventies. Her mother had paid her own way through college working nights as a waitress and afternoons in a high-end brothel; she’d met Ellen’s father there — at the bar she waited tables at. Ellen was in the middle of the pack at a high-end software company and climbing her way up the ranks. And, Consort witness, she was going to own a slave before she was thirty and a house in the Heights by the time she was thirty-five.
Right now, she was balancing her protein shakes and the suit she’d need for that meeting next week, running the numbers in her discretionary fund through her mental calculator, and staring at the sign in the window.
And, it appeared, talking to herself. Nobody had noticed — well, nobody except, perhaps, the young man standing behind the sign, strategically positioned so that he was figleafed by the red letters declaring SALE: SLIGHTLY DAMAGED MERCHANDISE.
He didn’t look damaged. He had muscular calves and thighs, a flat stomach, a toned chest…
“Oh.” Ellen swallowed. The scar could be healed. That it hadn’t been spoke volumes about someone : it was a livid, nasty mark that had not healed, running under his collar, above his collar, and down over one collarbone. It looked like someone had tried to cut his head off with imprecise aim.
The scar — no, call it a wound, that was what it was — the wound was awful, but that hadn’t been what made Ellen swallow. The look in his eyes challenging, angry, hopeless — that had gotten her attention.
The sign, the sale, had to be humiliating. On the other hand… she ran the numbers in her head again. If they discounted him enough, she could take him home without totally blowing her budget.
She looked up at him again, ignoring the washboard abs and the damage done to his body. He would take careful handling. She’d have to watch her words, and, more importantly, her body language. And he would very likely act out.
She hadn’t gotten where she was at twenty-seven by turning down challenges. She nodded crisply to the man in the window and walked into the slave shop to make a deal.