First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
Previous: The Tour
Mélanie was doing her best – with only moderate success – to not look too nervous or act too worried as Jasper led her into the next room.
The dining room was quite nice, beautiful in a way that looked like it probably belonged to the rest of the house, with well-polished furniture and not a speck of dust anywhere in sight. Two chairs pushed out from the table as they walked by, and the china cabinet’s doors popped open.
“Oh!” Mélanie couldn’t help a little gasp. “That’s-” she took the hint and, as soon as Jasper sat down, did the same herself.
“The house likes you. And you seem to be doing all right with her, so far?” Jasper studied Mélanie. “She wants to make some tea, I believe.”
“Can – oh, I see.” The very lovely china pot set itself down on a hot plate and began puffing steam remarkably quickly, while delicate tea cups sat themselves in front of Jasper and Mélanie.
“I think she’s been looking for a nice womanly touch for a long time,” Jasper admitted. “I’m pretty sure on ‘she’, and she responds better to that. She won’t hurt you – she doesn’t even hurt people she dislikes, if they are residents here – but she has been known to spook those that irritate her.”
“This is – well, amazing.” Melanie looked at the tea leaves in her cup. “Do you know how much she can do?”
“I don’t. She doesn’t usually show off quite this much – well, then again, you have reacted better than, well, almost everyone.” He flushed and looked away.
Mélanie did the same. “I ran away,” she reminded him, or, rather, reminded the wall. She liked the wallpaper here, a very subtle pattern in light blue that looked a little less dated than the living room or foyer.
“You ran away from this place’s reputation, which was a very reasonable reaction, all things considered. You’ve been very polite since you came in here.”
“You own me,” she reminded the trim around the door. This door – dark-stained wood, with elaborate trim in the same hue – led … she wasn’t sure where. Her sense of the rooms said they were too far for it to be the kitchen, although it would make sense for a kitchen to open into the dining room. Not a hidden passage, clearly, since the door was obvious. “I am going to be polite. Especially since you just bought me.”
“Regardless, you’re being polite, and both I and the house will give you points for it.” She heard the clink as he picked up his tea and sipped it. “You’re mad at me?”
“No. Not angry with you.” She spoke slowly, trying to work out her feelings. “But you keep acting like things I’m doing are great or impressive, when they’re just… well, they’re things. You know. They’re being a good slave. And I know I’m not great at that or anything – I wouldn’t have been sold so much if I was good at it – but you don’t have to act surprised.”
He was quiet for long enough that she shifted to look at him. He cleared his throat when he noticed her gaze.
“Perhaps,” he said quietly, “it’s not because I’m surprised that you are good, but that I am not sending you running. Mélanie, I’m sorry. So far, you’ve been a wonderful Kept, and I imagine you will continue that way. I got lucky, I have to admit. I bought you because I liked the look of you — your expression, don’t give me that look. The way you were trying to fight the fear. And I thought, maybe you could handle me and this house, and so far you’ve been amazing. And I appreciate that… oh.” He looked hang-dog again. “I didn’t mean to offend you, I really didn’t.”
“…You know, I’m pretty sure I’m the one that’s supposed to apologize, not you.” She reached over towards him, and, feeling very brave, patted his shoulder. “Thanks. I… I think your house is pretty neat, so far. Even if your yard does eat people’s souls.”
“Temporarily. It temporarily makes people feel like they aren’t really there anymore.” He smiled at her, abashed. “We can work out something else to scare them off, if you like. The only trick is, it has to be scary – because I’ve, ah, liberated a lot of things, and we don’t want people coming after me. Us.”
“Us.” She put her hand over his and smiled at him. “No, we don’t. But that’s a problem for another day, I think?” She stifled a yawn. “It’s been a long day…”
“It has. Let me show you the back stairs, then, and we can finish this tour tomorrow.” He stood up, scooping her hand into his, and bowed low.
Giggling, Mélanie bowed back at him. “My lord,” she said, meaning to say something that sounded sort of historical. Instead, she just found herself smiling broadly. “My lord,” she repeated.