Poor Nera. Quite a status she’s been given, but has the sharif made her life better or worse?
WARNING: graphic sex, lighter non-con and a little bit of m/m
Ryun led the way back to his rooms, Aiden following with Nera bundled underneath his arm. No one spoke and Nera suspected Ryun’s angry presence was what cut a swath through the people in the corridors.
Miyn was there when they entered but wisely stayed silent and melted aside as Ryun stormed through the door. As he angrily yanked off his jerkin and boots, Aiden led Nera to sit on the wide bed. Aiden remained quiet and wouldn’t meet her gaze as he slid the cloak from her shoulders. He did reach up to smooth her loose hair and gave her a small, sympathetic pat on the shoulder as he rose and turned to face his master.
“Why wasn’t she branded?” In an explosion of movement, Ryun grabbed Miyn by the neck and slammed her against the wall.
Nera’s whimper was louder than Miyn’s and only Aiden’s hand on her shoulder kept her from leaping toward the other woman.
“My lord, I’m sorry.” Miyn’s voice was strangled, her body pliant.
Aiden stepped forward. “Ryun, stop.”
His use of Ryun’s given name startled Nera but not anyone else.
Ryun glared over his shoulder at the other man. “It’s all her fault.”
“No. We should have gotten Nera branded immediately yesterday. Miyn’s only fault is being kind hearted.”
With a growl, Ryun shoved Miyn into the wall to make her cry out, then released her to round on Aiden. “What’s your excuse? It’s your duty to see to my needs.”
Aiden stood his ground and spoke calmly. “And your needs demanded you fuck a virgin girl for hours on end. She was exhausted and worn out. Miyn’s a healer. Naturally she’d think the girl should sleep.”
Miyn knelt, cowering by the wall. Nera sat, speechless. The two men now stood toe to toe, displaying that Aiden was every bit as tall as Ryun if not nearly as wide. He showed no fear when faced with the bigger man. Like day and night they were. Aiden’s loose, shining gold hair and pale skin such a contrast to Ryun’s dark skin and raven hair. Aiden’s calm to Ryun’s flaming passion.
“Not to mention food,” Aiden continued. “Unless I miss my guess, your pet hasn’t eaten since last night.”
Still scowling, Ryun blinked. Nera ducked her head when he turned his head to look at her. “Is that true?”
Pulling her thighs together to guard her sex, she barely managed to keep her arm from rising to cover her breasts, thinking that might anger him further. She nodded.
He growled. Nera glanced up just in time to see him rounding on Miyn and bending to cuff her on the side of the head. “You are going to the guards.”
“No!” Nera cried before she could think better of it. She managed not to cringe when Ryun whirled on her. “Please. M-master.”
His eyes narrowed over her stuttering of the title.
“Please, master. Don’t take Miyn away.”
As, he approached her, she remained on her knees, her face down. His thighs looked very thick and muscular when they came into view.
“Become attached to her, have you?”
Amazed at her own boldness, Nera reached out to lay a hand on his thigh. She managed to meet his gaze although the hard look there made her tremble. “Please.”
He caught her wrist and hauled her to her feet. Startled, she fell against him, her breasts pressing into the soft leather of his jerkin.
“You have caused me a lot of trouble.” He speared his hand in her hair, bringing her face close to his. “You had better be worth it.”
Aiden appeared at their side and lay one hand on her shoulder, the other on his. “My lord, please. I must insist.”
Ryun allowed Aiden to put some distance between them but kept his hand in her hair. “You must insist? That’s rich.”
Aiden worked at Ryun’s fingers through her hair. “If you don’t calm down, you’re going to hurt her and if she’s not yours…”
“Damn it!” Ryun yanked his hand free and strode away.
Aiden met Nera’s wide eyes with a sympathetic look and patted her cheek.
“Damn, Scarn! And damn…” Ryun’s voice trailed off in a mutter. He hovered over Miyn. “Go. Get food for your mistress. And be quick about it.”
Miyn jumped to her feet and fled.
Ryun headed after her with a purposeful stride. “Get her cleaned up and fed, Aiden. I need to arrange for additional guards on these rooms.”
So great was the release of tension once Ryun left the rooms that Nera’s knees gave out. With a small whimper, she collapsed onto the bed and succumbed to a fit of trembling.
Aiden’s soft voice as he knelt beside her unlocked the tears that shock and disbelief had held at bay. The weight of what had happened to her descended on Nera in a wave and she crumbled beneath it. Murmuring softly, Aiden sat beside her and gathered her close. His body was not the shape and size she was accustomed to for comfort, but she gladly took what was offered.
“Pleasure slaves are generally well cared for,” Aiden explained.
They sat at a small table on the balcony beside the bedroom. Miyn had been invited to sit but she insisted on kneeling beside the table after she’d finished setting out the food. Nera noted that she kept one wary eye toward the door, probably for Ryun’s return. A huge purple bruise marked one side of her face.
Nera’s sobbing had ceased before Miyn’s return but she still felt shaky. Aiden’s calm helped. He took a bite of the roll in his hand, surprisingly dainty for a man. “But all slaves are subject to the whims of their master. By not allowing Ryun to brand you, the sharif has afforded you some measure of protection. Any man who permanently damages you will be made to pay. That is if you brought charges and could prove it.”
He waved toward her plate, encouraging her to eat. “If anyone were to harm you, you could go to the magistrate or to the sharif himself and make an accusation.” He shrugged, dusting crumbs from his hands. “Of course, you’d have to prove how you were harmed and that is sometimes difficult. But the sharif seems to have taken an interest in you so the threat of his displeasure should keep you relatively safe.”
She spooned more savory stew into her mouth, trying to digest what he was telling her.
“You are, however, still subject to whomever can hold you. The sharif has nominally given you charge of your body, but you have nothing else and no other protection.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s all right. I doubt the sharif will let things stand for long. There’s no one else who’s likely to take you from Ryun except Scarn and Scarn’s never taken a lasting interest in any slave, let alone a woman. Eventually, the sharif will either let Ryun have you or claim you himself.”
There was too much information being thrown at her. “May I ask…”
“Do you know… why Prince Scarn… did what he did to me?”
“I don’t know for sure, but –” Aiden’s green eyes scanned the distant horizon as the breeze wafted through his loose hair, “– I have what could be considered a good guess.” He took a breath. “As you may have noticed, Ryun and Scarn are not on the best of terms.”
He glanced at her bowl. “Nera, if you don’t eat, I won’t answer your questions.” His voice was gentle but firm.
Obediently, she bent her head over and scooped up more stew.
“That’s better. I’m afraid they are constantly after whatever the other possesses. We should have realized that you would be a target for Scarn.” He sighed and looked down, plucking at the pristine embroidery at the front of his robes. “Also, Scarn would have guessed that Ryun might not have taken you where he did.”
She flushed, swallowed. “I didn’t know that was possible.”
“I’d imagine not, given your upbringing.” He folded his hands in his lap. “But what was done to you is common for men to do with male pleasure slaves.”
Nera stared in shock. “Men with men?”
He smiled. “Did your priestesses never have contact with each other?”
She blinked, blushed. “I’ve… well, but…”
“Ah. So the innocent is not as innocent as we’d thought?”
“No! I mean, it was never… never anything like…”
“It’s all right, Nera. I very much doubt that life in the temple of Buir reached the debauchery of this palace.” He sighed. “Suffice it to say that the men here will fuck both women and men in many and varied ways. You’ll soon grow accustomed to it.”
She ate a few more bites in silence. “Are you a pleasure slave?”
That gained her a look.
“No. Don’t be sorry. I’m merely surprised you asked.” He smiled. “Yes. I’m Ryun’s chief pleasure slave.”
She still couldn’t imagine two men together, but after what Scarn had done to her… “For… long?”
He reached for the wine carafe to refill his. “How long have I been with Ryun? Nearly seven years now. And, before you ask, yes, he does to me what Scarn did to you.”
She blinked at her empty bowl, not wanting to picture it but fascinated nonetheless.
“I’ll further confuse you by letting you know that I enjoy it.”
Startled, she looked up. “Enjoy…?”
The look he gave her was sad. “It’s a little different for men than it is for women. And what was done to you was forced so naturally it hurt. Believe it or not, he was actually very careful with you.”
She couldn’t believe that. “Doesn’t it hurt you?”
“Not anymore.” He sipped without taking his eyes from her. “In time, you’ll get used to it.”
She felt a tear well at the corner of her eye.
He sat forward, setting down his glass. His voice was sympathetic but he spoke in plain terms. “The fact of the matter is, this is your life now, Nera. The sooner you can get accustomed to it, the better off you’ll be.”
“At first, because you were a prize, a symbol of a conquest. Now, with the way your body reacts when you’re touched intimately…” He shook his head. “Now you’re an anomaly. Now you’re special. That’s both to your advantage and disadvantage.”
“Am I so different?”
“I’m afraid so. The way your body reacts is far more like a woman at the height of passion rather than a woman being raped. Your protest can be heard clearly but anyone watching or touching you can see your body craving more.”
She widened her eyes, horrified. “Truly?”
“Truly. And the fact you don’t know it just makes you all the more intriguing.” He cocked his head to the side. “Do you think the other priestesses will be able to tell the sharif anything? Are they like you?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t know I was different until I came here.”
Aiden sat forward. “I suspect if the sharif learns anything, we’ll know soon enough. Finished?”
Without a word, Miyn rushed forward to begin stacking plates on a tray. Nera reached out to squeeze her arm and received a brief, sad smile in response.
“Nera, you’ll need to get ready,” Aiden said, standing. “Ryun will be back soon and I doubt his mood will have improved.”
She stood and followed him from the sunlit heat of the balcony to the shadowed cool of the bedroom. “What should I do?”
Aiden stood at the foot of the bed, thinking. “Naked on the bed, I think. Be ready for him to fuck you and hope he’s not drunk. Maybe he’ll make it fast then return to his own rooms.”
“His own… Isn’t this…?”
“No. He has his own suite. This is actually yours.”
She froze. “My…?”
“At least for now. He’d intended to make you the first of his harem and these rooms are for his harem.”
She gazed about. “What about you?”
“He chooses to have me sleep in his bed. Besides, I’m not part of his harem.”
“The first members of a man’s harem are expected to bear children.” There was a flash of what looked like sadness that washed over his face, but it was just as quickly gone. He waved toward the privy corner. “Go and see to your needs. Now, while you’ve time. Miyn, hurry.”
When darkness fell and Ryun had not yet returned, Aiden left to find him.
Nera lay in the huge expanse of bed, gazing up at the way the candlelight played through the gossamer gold and blue hangings overhead. After a few silent moments, she sat up, holding a sheet to her breasts. “Miyn?”
The other woman’s voice rose from the darkness. “Yes?”
“Could you… come and sit with me?”
The small woman’s silhouette approached. “Are you sure?”
Nera edged toward the side of the bed. “Yes. Please.”
Hesitantly, Miyn sat, just beyond arm’s length away. Her loosely plaited hair hung down her back. “I shouldn’t be here when my lord returns.” She folded her hands primly in her lap, her profile to Nera. “He won’t want to see me.”
Scooting closer, Nera smoothed a hand over Miyn’s shoulder. “Are you all right?”
“I’m so sorry you were hurt because of me.”
Miyn shook her head. “No. It was my fault. I made bad decisions. It was me who got you hurt. I’m sorry.”
“No, please, don’t be sorry. It’s not your fault.” She slid her hand down Miyn’s arm to find one of the hands in her lap. Lacing their fingers together, she squeezed. “Thank you.”
Miyn finally looked at her, dark eyes wide. She opened her mouth to say something but was cut off when the suite’s outer door clicked open. In a rush, she hurried from the bed and back into the darkness beyond the candlelight.
Ryun strode in, headed straight for the bed. Aiden followed at his heels, catching the jerkin that Ryun ripped off and tossed aside. Nera shrank back into the pillows against the wall, unable to judge the prince’s mood. His face, when she could finally see it, looked calm but he wore an intensity that belied serenity.
He stopped at the foot of the bed and bent to remove his boots. “Aiden, strip.”
Aiden stared at the back of his master’s head for a split second before handing the jerkin to Miyn and reaching for the buttons of his own robe.
Ryun kept his gaze on Nera. “Since you’ve taken to Aiden, I’ll have him join us.”
She clutched the sheet to her chin, astonished gaze going to Aiden’s now bare chest shining pale and luminous in the dim lighting.
“Beautiful, isn’t he?” There was a softness beneath the harsh tone of Ryun’s voice, making Nera believe that he truly did think Aiden was beautiful.
He turned and they both watched as the floor length skirt Aiden wore beneath his robe fell to his feet, leaving him fully naked. Pale all over, the curls at the base of his soft sex just a few shades darker than the gold on his head, he looked like a piece of sunlight made flesh. He tossed his hair behind his shoulder, standing unashamed before them, his eyes locked with Ryun’s.
Ryun gestured to the bed. “Lie down with her.”
Gracefully, Aiden knelt on the bed. His gaze met hers as he crawled toward her. She read assurance there. He couldn’t stop what was about to happen, but she felt better for his presence. Safer. He reached her side and gently tugged the sheet from her. She let it go, let him bare her to the room.
“Nice.” Ryun’s pants dropped to the floor. Unlike Aiden, his organ was mostly erect, dark and flushed red. “I should have thought of this yesterday.”
Aiden lowered to one hip and glanced sidelong at his master. “Yes. You should have.”
“What’s this?” Ryun knelt on the bed and crawled toward them. “Are you jealous?”
“Hardly.” Aiden slid one hand sensuously over his upper thigh.
Ryun chuckled. “Yes. You have treats Nera can’t offer.” He palmed Aiden’s soft sex and squeezed.
Aiden’s head tilted up, his eyes shuttering. But the look that came over his face was anything but pained.
Nera yelped when Ryun’s free hand wrapped around the back of her neck and pulled her to her knees and closer. “What? No shock?” Her forehead met his, nose one nose. She had to span one palm over his heart for balance. His breath fanned her face, heavy with the scent of spirits. He was drunk. “No protests?”
She swallowed. This close, she could sense the anger that simmered beneath his seemingly calm surface. Better to do what he wanted, no matter how it scared her. “N-no, master.”
He purred and tilted his head the better to brush his lips with hers. “I approve. Aiden, you’re a miracle worker.” His lips moved up her jaw to just below her ear.
“Thank you, my lord.”
Nera could glance down to see Ryun’s hand still on Aiden’s organ, massaging it. Aiden saw her watching and nodded encouragement.
After thoroughly exploring her ear with his tongue, Ryun tightened his grip on her hair and used it to force her head to the bend of his neck. “Kiss me here.”
She stared at his skin, so dark and hot. This close, she could see his thudding pulse. Tentatively, she pressed her lips to it.
“Good.” His fingers massaged her scalp, threatening. “More.”
Unsure what she was doing, Nera pressed her lips down the column of his neck, going where his hand guided her. When they reached his nipple within it’s light dusting of hair, he stopped her. “Open your mouth and suck on it.”
Trembling, her hands braced on his chest for balance, she did as he demanded, taking the hard, tiny bud between her lips. An odd feeling that stirred an odd thrill in her belly. Was that part of what Aiden had been taking about? One of her “strange” reactions?
“Hmm, you’ll have to work on that.”
He released her hair and crawled forward. She stayed kneeling as he turned and sat himself beside Aiden, his back supported by the abundance of purple and gold pillows. His organ was fully engorged and jutting upright and out from its nest of curls.”Now –” he beckoned to her with one hand and slid the other arm around Aiden’s shoulders, “– you’ll learn to suck cock.” He spread his knees.
Despite her decision to do what he wanted, she froze. What did he want her to do?
Ryun’s scowl had just started when Aiden scooted down his side. “Lie here, Nera –” he pointed between Ryun’s thighs, “on your belly.”
When she stared at him in shock, he nodded. As she obeyed him, he wrapped the fingers of one hand around the base of Ryun’s organ. He glanced up at Ryun. “You’ll forgive if we don’t try anything fancy?”
The scowl smoothed away as Ryun settled deeper in the pillows. “Just get on with it.” He folded his hands behind his head.
Aiden faced her again, his fist sliding up the stalk of Ryun’s organ, pushing loose skin toward the flared head. “Wrap your hand underneath mine on his cock, Nera.”
Astonished that her hand wasn’t shaking, she did so. The coarse nest of hair tickled the side of her palm.
“Good, now –” Aiden leaned in closer, using his free hand to hook his hair behind his ear and out of the way, “– watch.”
She did, amazed when his pink lips parted and he slid them over smooth skin. He let them sink until lips met his fist, then pulled them back up. The flushed skin he left behind was wet. “Make sure your mouth is wet and be careful of your teeth.” He did it again. “Use your tongue and be sure to suck at least a little. You try.”
She swallowed, meeting his gaze.
She bit her lip as she settled down and couldn’t help a glance up at Ryun. He was watching with slitted eyes. Taking a fortifying breath that filled her head with the musky scent of man, she opened her lips and lowered her head. Soft. Soft and firm over muscle hard.
“That’s it,” Aiden encouraged, “down to my fist.”
She did, which took the head of his thing — his cock? — almost to the back of her tongue. She tasted a burst of salt as she pulled her lips back toward the head.
“Use your tongue.”
For awhile, they followed that pace. Aiden’s soft voice encouraged her and Ryun’s hard cock was not as scary from this vantage. The texture and taste of him was almost intriguing. Then he started to tell her to go faster and harder. He took away his hand and encouraged her to wet more of the shaft with her saliva so she could use her hand as well. Ryun’s hips started to rock and glances up at him showed his eyes closed and his face tilted up, clearly enjoying what was happening.
With just that warning, Ryun leaned forward and pulled her from his staff. She yelped as he tossed her onto her back and crawled over her. He grabbed her wrist with one hand and devoured her mouth as he lowered his hips between her thighs.
“We’ll work on that more later,” he assured her on a growl just before he shoved his cock inside her.
Shocked, she screamed. But it didn’t hurt. She was wet and the tingling pain she’d felt the night before was gone, leaving behind only the overwhelming, frightening rush of warmth and sizzle. Ryun held her down as he rammed his cock into her again and again. She grabbed onto the sheets beneath her and closed her eyes, determined to ride it out without crying. But the cry did come, even if there were no tears, pushed up and out of her lungs by an explosion in her groin. She shook and moaned as he continued his assault. When it was done, he pushed up to another angle and began it all again. She spotted Aiden lying beside them when once her eyes opened of their own accord. He simply watched, hand busy on his own cock, which was now hard and flushed dark pink.
Then Ryun was done with her. She lay, trying to quietly catch her breath as he braced over her, lost in the final traces of his release. Then, in one move, he pulled out of her and launched himself at Aiden. It looked for all the world as though Aiden caught him, arms sliding around his master as their lips locked. The kiss was hard and passionate and brief. Ryun tore away to slip down Aiden’s body until he could wrap his hand and lips around Aiden’s erect cock. Aiden groaned, one fist at his mouth and the other wrapped in the sheet as Ryun swallowed him down. Nera watched in stunned fascination as Aiden shook, cried. And Ryun swallowed it all down.
Grinning, Ryun pushed to his knees, wiping his mouth. “That’s how it’s done, Nera.” He spoke to her but his eyes were on the pale man lying before him.
Aiden brushed mussed hair from his face and met Ryun’s gaze with his normal calm, marred only a little by his rapid breathing and the pink flush to his face, neck and chest.
“Come.” Ryun patted Aiden’s thigh then turned and crawled from the bed. “Miyn,” he called as he gained his feet.
She appeared at the edge of the candlelight. “My lord?”
“Stay with Nera,” he stepped into his pants. “Make sure she has everything she needs.”
“Yes, my lord.”
Aiden rolled to his knees at Nera’s side.
Ryun continued. “Nera, there are six guards on the door and six more on the ground below the balcony.”
Aiden patted her cheek before crawling past her toward his clothing.
Ryun faced her, tying the laces on his trousers. “It doesn’t matter what my father says. You’re still mine. Do you understand?”
Wincing, she nodded.
“Good. If you obey me, we can have a pleasant time, like tonight.” He glanced at Aiden, who was pulling on his skirt. “But if you let Scarn take you again, I doubt you’ll enjoy the consequences.”
The addition of the title pleased him. “Leave off the robe,” he told Aiden as he started to walk toward the door, “you’ll just take it right off again. Grab my boots.”
Without comment, Aiden bent to grab the rest of his clothing and Ryun’s. “Good night, Nera. Miyn.”