First: A story featuring a male keeper and a female Kept.
Previous: Breaking Fast
Mélanie ate slowly, trying to wrap her mind around the man who had bought her. “If you… but that’s…” She went back to her food. Eggs were better warm, anyway. And she had, feeling daring, served herself almost as much food as she served him.
He waited. That, too, would take some getting used to: not talking over her, not teling her to shut up, but listening.
She cleared her throat and tried again. “That’s, uh. That’s you. Usually people buy a slave so that they can, you know, have someone to do the work they don’t want to do for them.”
“I did.” He smiled at her.
It was the first thing he’d said that had really made sense. Except – well, except she had a sinking feeling it didn’t actually make sense.
“I don’t want to sort through all that loot. Also, I can’t keep myself company, and, while I enjoy this house, she is not the best conversationalist.”
“So… you bought me because you don’t want to inventory and sell stolen goods and you don’t want to talk to yourself?” She thought that almost actually sounded reasonable.
“Well, that and, if I didn’t get you out of there, I was probably going to start breaking noses, and, let’s be honest, beating up a whole lot of people face-on is not really my normal M.O. So I figured buying you with stolen goods got me the legal ownership of you without having to challenge someone or – more likely – trick him into challenging me, and it got you out of there and with me.” He looked far too pleased with himself.
She honestly didn’t know what to do with that. She tried, though. “So… you felt bad for me?”
“Well, yes. You were naked, chained, miserable, and terrified. Only a real asshole wouldn’t feel bad for you. But mostly I felt furious.” Somewhere in the lighthearted words were steel. “I might still go back and burn the place to the ground – after I figure out how to get all the slaves out, of course. Places like that, people like that, are a blight on the face of humanit – of people-kind.”
He meant it, she could tell. She sipped her coffee slowly. “If… if you wanted to bring that place down, I think I could probably offer some, ah, intel?”
He leaned forward, a smile sliding onto his lips. “Yeah?”
“I mean, if you really wanted to – I’d certainly help any way I could.” She took another long sip of her coffee. “I’d love to make sure it was never there again. To watch that place burn to the ground. But I’ve been there long enough – and enough times,” she sighed, then recovered herself. “-to know a lot more about the way they run than they think I do. So… yeah. I could help you a lot.”
It was just a pipe dream, she told herself. He didn’t really mean it.
“This morning, you have two assignments. The first is to pick five outfits for you, if you can find that many that you like and would like to wear, from my stores. The second is to draw a plan of everything you can remember about the slavers.”
“Yes, sir.” He had changed direction so quickly, she had to wonder if she had done something wrong. “Is there anything else?”
“No, that’s good. We can talk more about sorting out the inventory this afternoon.” He smiled broadly at her. “This is a good breakfast, thank you. And I’d like to show you around a little bit more, but perhaps after we go talk to the horses…?”
We. She blinked at him. “Yes, of course, sir.”
“Mélanie, did I say something wrong?”
“Did you – sir. You’re the boss. I know that you like to be casual, but you are still the boss here.”
“You know, I was reading a management book the other day. I don’t know, it ended up on my nightstand.”
“…Management, sir?” If he kept changing topics, she was going to be completely lost.
“Back pre-apoc. When you had a number of employees and you needed to make sure they were doing their jobs, were happy in their jobs, and so on. I do believe it showed up after my last… employee.. had hysterics and threatened to set everything she could find on fire unless I found her someone else to work for.” He cleared his throat. “Anyway. It was very clear on the point that, while managing people means that you are their boss, what it doesn’t mean is that you can do no wrong. After all, you want the people working for you to be happy, no?”
He smiled at her. It was a slightly terrifying smile, because it meant that he thought he was making a point.
“Sir…?” Maybe if she kept looking puzzled, eventually he would make sense.