First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
The brandy cup kept refilling. The piles of “loot” seemed never-ending, almost as if the house was bringing more in from somewhere else. And every box and pile needed careful sorting. Mélanie had several boxes full of things and had come up with several more categories – including “sex toys” and “things to tie people up with, ack” – by the time she thought to look out the window again.
The moon was up; the sun was down. Mélanie swallowed.
“House? House, have you been trying to distract me?” That would explain why there kept being more and more boxes.
A trunk thumped down in front of her and opened up. Silk came whisking out – a dress. A dress worthy of a queen, or at least a Contessa.
“You are trying to distract me. Are you worried?”
Melanie’s kerchief came off of her, her clothes following a moment later, and the dress slipped over her head.
“House….” She belched, blushed, and looked down at the dress. “It would need a little taking in, or I would need a little filling out… Is he always this late? Is he ever this late?”
Shoes placed themselves in front of her. She stepped into them, and they buckled themselves. Something was happening to her hair…
“House.” She tried to sound firm. “Does he normally come home this late?” Maybe if she kept repeating herself…
After a moment, the brandy bottle rose up and shook itself in what might have been a no.
“Then I need something a little less conspicuous than a loose cocktail dress and something a little more sturdy than these lovely shoes. It’s been very nice spending the evening with you, but -”
The door closed shut firmly.
“House.” Mélanie sighed. She’d had a dog, once, who’d acted like that when he thought she was in danger. She was using the same tone on the house that she had on Max. “I have to leave for a bit, but I’ll be back. I have to go help him. He’s not only my Keeper and my Owner, he’s the first decent guy that I’ve met in a long time. And you like him, or he wouldn’t be living here, right?”
The door didn’t open. Mélanie sorted through her pile of work clothes until she found something that fit her – snug pants with some sort of stretch, a tunic and a leather vest that fit her like it was made for her, and, after some consideration, slung an ax in its belt around her waist. Axes, she knew how to use.
“I have to help him. I don’t know where he went, true, but even though it’s new, if I think about it, if I think hard enough, I should be able to feel the bond.”
Slowly, the door to the room opened. A pair of thick-soled boots and socks to match walked out next to her.
“I know I’m safe in here,” she assured the house. “I’ll hurry back here as soon as I can. But I need – I need to keep him safe.”
The house helped her get the boots on, and she found that the doors that she needed opened as she went. There was a light on the back porch that she hadn’t seen before, illuminating the path. I’ll leave the light on for you. “Thank you.” She patted the porch railing, not feeling so much silly as what is the proper thing to do in this situation?
She wasn’t sure if the proper thing to do was to go after Jasper, but he was – well he was her Owner, and she liked him, and those two things had never occurred in the same person before; plus, both of those things had a certain obligation to them.
When a flashlight floated out to join her on the path, she felt like maybe she wasn’t making the worst decision. Of course, then she let the light play over the tangled mess of the front yard and all she could think was this house eats people. It ate people’s minds. She knew that; she’d seen the results.
What if it had Jasper trapped somewhere? What if this was how it got rid of Kept who asked too many questions? What if it had Jasper brainwashed?
What if Jasper got rid of people and just pretended they didn’t like him – or the house?
She was being ridiculous. She took a few level breaths and shook her head. The house was not trying to get rid of her. Jasper was not going to kill her and use her body to feed his chickens. People who did that kept pigs.
She was not going to get jumped by bandits on the side of the road, despite having no collar that marked her as someone else’s property, someone else’s problem.
She steeled herself and walked out the front gate and onto the road.
Now came the hard part.Want more?