After/in the same world as Earning your Keep
Content warning: slavery, humiliation, other things of that ilk loosely hinted at.
It wasn’t the sort of place in which you got packages, and it wasn’t the sort of time when the mail came. The mail, Fed Ex, UPS – none of them had come in over a decade. Nobody had shown up to Aeron’s house in over a year.
And yet there was the carriage, the purple carriage with the pink-and-teal trim that Lady Delta so loved, parked in front of Aeron’s private little preserve.
Aeron remembered Lady Delta… oh, so well, so badly. There was nothing to do but go down and receive the driver, see what he wanted and see how quickly he could be gotten rid of.
But the driver was already unloading a crate, sliding it down a ramp until it landed right in front of Aeron’s very sturdy gate. “Delivery.” He saluted as Aeron closed in on the gate. “The Lady says ‘You’ve been alone too long. You need a reminder.'”
Aeron swallowed a curse. All these years free, and yet… the freedom was just an illusion, wasn’t it? “Thank the Lady for me, please.”
“Right.” The driver half-bowed and headed off before Aeron could even start to disassemble the crate.
Well, it came with a handy latch. Aeron wondered for a moment what had brought the Lady’s attention this way. It had been three years. Three years of quiet, living under the radar, three years of trying not to bring any attention at all to this little compound.
Lady Delta had a far longer memory than that, Aeron knew. And yet still…
The crate opened with a thump when Aeron released the latches. Inside was…
Aeron cursed quietly. Been alone too long, indeed. The man — boy? No, man — was wearing a collar and a muzzle, and sported a piece of paper hung off the collar, a pen helpfully attached. Aeron read the paper twice.
“Well.” The pen worked nicely; of course it did. Everything that Lady Delta owned or gifted worked nicely, which would presumably include this young man. Aeron signed with a flourish. “I suppose you belong to me now.”
The man — the paper said “he called himself Brock” — leaned forward, slowly setting his forehead to the gravel. He was far too skinny, and there were bruises along his back and buttocks.
Aeron let out a small sigh. “Here. Stand up. If her Ladyship believes I’ve been alone for too long, I suppose I ought to see if you can be proper company.”
They left the crate sitting in the gravel. That hadn’t been part of the gift.
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