Find Chapter 1 here
Chapter 2 is here
Chapter 3 is here
Chapter 4 is here
Chapter 5 is here
Chapter 6 is here
Chapter 7 is here.
Chapter 8: here
Chapter 9: here
Chapter 10: here
Chapter 11 (R-Rated) here
You can skip Chapter 11 without losing the plot.
She lay sprawled on top of him, her hair trailing over his chest, her breath chill on his skin, her hand pressing down on his arm as if holding him there, as if he could or would move. “Oh, my darling,” she murmured, “you are a lovely husband. Thank you.”
He cleared his throat, searching for words, and could only manage “Thank you, my lady,” in return. “Thank you,” he repeated fervently. He wanted to stroke her hair. His hands were still where she’d told him to put them, still behind his head. He twitched a little but left his hands where they were.
“I think I’m very lucky indeed to have married you.” She stroked his hair as if reading his mind. “And I think I’m going to enjoy having you to myself quite a bit.”
Sefton blushed. “Thank you,” he said, again, and then, because he felt like he had to say something else, “I think I’m lucky, too.”
“I’m glad. I hope you still feel that way in a while. I hope…” she chuckled, “you still feel that way when we’re old.”
Her oldest son had gone to school with him. Still. He looked down at her. “You’re never going to be old.”
“I will. We all will, some day. Now…” A sound like thunder rumbling cut her off. She sat up as if she had not been half-asleep a moment ago. “Feltian, get to the nursery. You know what to do.”
“But…” He was already standing, and cut himself off before she could. “Yes, my lady wife. Be safe and be honorable.”
“Be safe.” She took his face in both hands and kissed his forehead. “And protect the children.”
Sefton swallowed. “Yes, ma’am.” He hurried back to the husbands’ wing, realizing only when he reached the nursery that he was both still naked and still damp from sex.
Luckily, Onter had thought of that. He passed Sefton in the hall, pressing a robe into his chained hands. “Be safe.”
“Safe and honorable,” Sefton muttered. The robe was split on the sides, letting him slide it on over the chains. He slid it on as Jaco opened the door to the nursery.
“Ready to wait in boredom?” Jaco grinned unrepentantly.
“No,” Sefton grumbled. “But I’ll do it.” He belted his robe, noting as he did that Taisiya hadn’t taken the time to chain him back to his waist-belt. Well, now wasn’t the time to bother someone. “Does this happen… well, often?”
“Maybe once every month.” Hothyan stepped forward, stance aggressive. “And here we are, hiding in the nursery.”
“Yeah.” Jaco took Hothyan’s shoulder and steered him back into the nursery. “Here we are, safe in the nursery, protecting the egglings. Have you counted?”
“Conderie’s looking for Lorthie, everyone else is here. Counted noses twice and I’ve been in the doorway since.”
“Good, good. How long’s Conderie been gone?”
“Just a minute. Lorthie darted off. You know how she is.”
“I do.” Jaco frowned. “All right, we have another couple minutes before we absolutely have to shut the door.” He sat in the chair next to the doorway where Hothyan clearly had been waiting. “I’ve got the door, you show junior here how we do things.”
“Why? They don’t have a nursery where he came from?”
“Because I said so. And I’m still an adult here, and, since you’re not all that eager for your chains, you’re still a kid. Show Feltian around. And stop blaming him for Isham. It’s not his fault.”
“Poor substitute, if you ask me,” Hothyan muttered.
“Nobody asked you. Go on, Hoth. Feltian, don’t mind him.”
“He’s right.” Sefton shrugged. “I’m certainly no Isham. Come on, Hothyan, show me around? I can’t replace Isham, I’m not going to try, but I can help defend the egglings.”
Hothyhan eyed him cautiously, as if looking for the trap. Sefton didn’t blame him; he’d have been doing the same in the kid’s shoes. He smiled a little, friendly, open, and hoped Hothyan didn’t focus too much on the fact that he was wearing a loose robe and still smelled like Taisiya.
There were some things the books didn’t warn you about or prepare you for, but Sefton remembered well enough when his mother’s youngest husband had come into the nursery, cheeks flushed and trying to hide the slightly-dazed grin.
Now was not the time to think about that; there was an attack going on. “What do we have for defenses in here?”
Hothyan hesitated another beat before nodding, as if to himself. “Right. Defense now, fight later,” he muttered. “There’s the doors, of course. They’re, I think they’re standard? Thick, reinforced, from the outside they look like an ordinary door? There’s one that looks like a vault door on the other side of the wing, and that usually distracts them for a while. Then here,” he walked through the nursery, navigating fallen toys and younger siblings. “Kiba, pick up those blocks and put them away. Lopthin, get the play kitchen tidy. Come on, we don’t want the new dad to think we’re slobs, do we?”
Kiba and Lopthin looked up at Sefton, eyeing him as if considering how much they cared about his opinions. Hothyan cleared his throat, and both boys hurried to do as they’d been told.
“You have them well in hand,” Sefton murmured.
“They’re good kids,” Hothyan countered. “They know what they ought to do, but at that age, the ‘oughts’ are often outweighed by the ‘wants’.” He glared up at Sefton, challenging him to question his little brothers.
Sefton was not stupid. “As it should be. They have years before husbandly responsibilities will be a question. Defenses?”
“Over here.” He opened a cupboard – the complex handle was out of small children’s reach, and, while that wouldn’t stop a determined enough child, it was also in line of sight of the main nursery. He folded open the doors. “This is our defense armory.”
Sefton hissed. There were weapons enough in there for a branch of the army – perhaps for the entire army. There were the nasty bladed long-poles preferred by the cavalry, the very short knives preferred by some of the infantry, two spiked maces, five blowguns and all their darts, and even three pistols, their ammunition stacked below them.
Seften had been trained in the use of all of those except the maces. He took a medium-length knife and a short blade and strapped their sheath-belts around his waist, feeling a little silly in bathrobe and weapons and more than a little naughty. Husbands did not fight. That was the whole point of husbands, of chains, of the husbands’ wing. And here he was, arming himself as he had been trained for, as he had been taught and then told never to do.
With luck, they would have a short and boring wait, and life would go back to that thing that was becoming normal very quickly.
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