Ellie Jonas looked in the mirror and saw with the briefest of glances that she was a mess. Earlier that day she had heard some clients, who happened to be townies in their mid-twenties, call her ‘as unfuckable as Bigfoot’ and she could hardly blame them. She stood facing the mirror like she was sizing it up, trying her best just to find at least one sexy thing about herself, and as she stared, she was coming up with nothing. That was saying something, too, because she had just turned eighteen, and supposedly this was the time in her life when she was supposed to be very concerned about how many guys she could go down on.
If she was honest with herself, she could admit that she had never seen a dick in the flesh before, and it wasn’t looking like she ever would. She hadn’t been kissed; she hadn’t even been asked out, and she could only expect her looks to decline from here.
Maybe it was her bushy eyebrows, her ratty hair, or the fact that she was normally wearing a jumpsuit not even a jailbird would be caught dead in. She was pretty hairy all over, unkempt, un-made-up, unpolished, and un-styled. She didn’t even look clean, despite having come out of a shower. Her short-cut fingernails held years of car grease and grime under them that she never expected to be able to fully get out.
She sighed at the long mirror, then bent over and scrubbed a dry towel over her wet hair.
“Hey, Elle,” her cousin, Penny, said as she walked into the bathroom without even knocking and stepped over the dirty clothes heaped on the floor to get at their shared cabinet. “Nice forest you’ve got going,” she teased. Maybe it was about Ellie’s unshaved legs or maybe her unshorn bush, but either way it didn’t matter.
Ellie made a sneering noise before muttering, “Can you shut up? I don’t really need it today.”
Penny turned to her and her straight, fiery red hair flipped smoothly over her shoulder. Penny could have walked out of a fashion magazine, and the whole town thought so. Even without makeup, Penny’s features were riveting. Instead of Ellie’s short, awkward frame, Penny had inherited the taller, sleeker frame that most of her father’s family enjoyed. “What’s wrong?” she asked, frowning at Ellie.
“Nothing,” Ellie grumped. “Just…” For a slight second, she actually considered unraveling a few things that were on her mind to her younger relative, but then realized that Penny wouldn’t understand. How could she? Penny had a lot of things going for her; she was talented, beautiful, intelligent, and already had more sexual experience than Ellie could ever hope to dream of having throughout her whole existence.
Ellie rolled her eyes and threw the towel on the pile of dirty clothes she had stockpiled in the corner of the room. “It doesn’t matter,” she grumbled.
She walked out into her bedroom and Penny silently followed her, looking like a sad puppy. “Anything you wanna talk about?”
“Nah,” Ellie said, shaking her head. “I’m totally fine. Sorry—didn’t mean to snap at you. Maybe I’m PMSing or something.” She grabbed the remote on her dresser and turned on the tiny thirteen-inch television next to her bed.
A talking head appeared on the screen right before it showed several pictures of teenaged girls who had been kidnapped that week. They were from New Zealand, England, Ireland, Australia, and the United States—all English-speaking countries and all far apart from each other. The circumstances of the disappearances were similar, but also nonsensical. It was as if the girls had disappeared into nothing, without a trace or a clue. She had tuned in as she put on her underwear and sports bra, but even when a commercial came on, Penny was still in her room, looking at her.
“What?” Ellie asked, raising an eyebrow at her suspiciously.
“I dunno. You seem really glum to me. Why don’t you come out with me and my friends to Landon’s? You know, just dinner and dancing.” Penny lifted her dark red eyebrows and a wicked smile crossed her lips. “A bunch of guys will be there…” she added suggestively.
Ellie couldn’t imagine a place she wanted to be less than Landon’s—which was basically a meat market in their little town in the middle of Nowheresville—particularly surrounded by a bunch of Penny’s pretty friends and hot guys who would ignore her in lieu of other girls. Maybe a couple of them who wanted to take a stab at Penny herself would ask Ellie for a dance just to warm up to her. Ellie had been used as such a prop quite a few times in the last year. She even winced at the invitation for a moment, making Penny bite her lip sadly.
“Nah,” Ellie said, shaking her head. “I’m tired. I think I’m just gonna watch a movie.”
“Everyone’s gonna be out, though. Even Tim and Tom have dates tonight. You’re on your own. If you’re feeling sad, you shouldn’t be alone,” Penny sulked.
“Who said I’m sad?” Ellie asked, unintentionally sounding a bit gruff.
Penny shrugged her slender shoulders. “You don’t seem like you’re experiencing your usual case of don’t-give-a-fucks, that’s all. I thought you’d be happy; our dads were gushing over you all night!”
Ellie was putting her shirt over her head, but that statement made her pause. “They weren’t gushing over me,” she told her, thinking back over dinner. She’d come in, and her father had ruffled her hair up and her uncle had made a joke about her being the hard worker of the family now that her brother Mike was ‘wasting his time down in Texas.’ But she could hardly call that gushing. It wasn’t unusual. And besides, she had been working in the family garage since she could pick up a wrench—of course her father and his brother would talk to her a lot.
Penny’s lips firmed up for a moment, but then she looked up at the ceiling. “Well, they weren’t not gushing over you, anyway,” she replied in a petulant tone.
“Pen,” Ellie sighed. “Our dads have never gushed a day in their life. The hand of God himself could squeeze them, and the most they could do is let out a wet fart of gratitude or admiration. And what they have is for mom and Aunt Molly.” Rolling her eyes, she added, “C’mon, wake up. The most any of us can hope for is that they don’t stand in our way and stay off our asses. If you’re looking for a dad that’d take you to Disneyland, then you were born into the wrong family.”
Ellie didn’t know how dry her tone was until she looked over at Penny and realized that her comment had plainly struck some sort of chord. Penny stood quietly for once, awkward like a child who had just dropped their ice cream. But after a moment, she straightened and said, “Sure you don’t want to come along tonight?”
“I’m absolutely positive. I’m not very good company, anyway.”
“Alright,” Penny sighed. “I gotta do my face,” she excused herself, gesturing to the Jack-and-Jill bathroom they shared. “If you change your mind… just meet up with us.”
“Alright.” Ellie looked over and gave a kind smile to Penny. She was like a puppy, sometimes—she just wanted a pat on the head and to be told she was a good girl. “Thanks, Pen. Have a good time.”
She thought that was it for company once she heard one of Penny’s friends honking outside the house and saw Penny scurry down the hallway past her bedroom. But an hour later, her door opened up, again without any knocking. Both of Penny’s brothers shuffled into her room, looking at her with twin grins. Tom, dressed in a clean shirt and a cowboy hat, threw a bag of Cheetos at her. “Hey, shorty,” Tom greeted. “Penny texted us and said you were sad or some shit. So we got you some primo bud and some Cheetos.”
“I’m not sad,” Ellie quickly argued, but she sat up in bed and opened the bag of Cheetos. She looked over at Tom’s twin brother, Tim, just before he reached his hand into her opened bag. She slapped his wrist away. He already had glassy eyes; apparently he had sampled the ‘primo bud’ he had gotten her. “I just didn’t feel like going out.”
“It was because those guys called you a dog earlier, isn’t it?” Tim immediately guessed, pulling a joint out of his pocket and lighting it with a lighter shaped like an elephant attempting to be sexy. “I thought you were too above that kind of bullshit to let it bother you.” He took in a drag and then passed her the joint.
Ellie flushed slightly, her chest restricting with humiliation. She hadn’t had any idea that anyone else had heard the assholes make fun of her. She was less than surprised that the twins hadn’t reacted to it. The only person who would have defended her against something like that might have been her older brother. Getting into people’s faces was far from either of the twins’ style.
“They called me ‘Bigfoot,’ not a ‘dog,’” Ellie corrected, trying to sound lofty about it, like she couldn’t care less. “And I don’t give a shit. I don’t recall that either of them looked like George Clooney, either.”
“Don’t kid yourself. One of them looked like Zac Fucking Efron,” Tom snorted, leaning against the door frame. He had never been very good at making anyone feel better. The more he tried, the worse he seemed to get at it. “He didn’t need to look like George Clooney. I would have fucked him, and I’m not even gay. But hey—I totally know how his hotness only makes them calling you names worse. So like—if you need us to cancel our dates and… you know… have us give you moral support and shit, then—”
“Man, don’t be depressing,” she begged Tom. “Can you guys just go screw and be merry already? I really am fine. I just worked for like twelve hours straight and I’m as fried as fuck.”
“That’s our girl,” Tim said, nudging her cheek with the edge of his fist. “Besides, by the end of that joint, you won’t give a shit about whatever’s eating you, whether that’s work or whatever. That I promise you. Hey,” he pulled a DVD out from behind his back and slapped it down on her bedspread, “Godzilla. You’re welcome. And there’s a whole Chunky Monkey downstairs. Well, half of a Chunky Monkey—it was a long way home, and it sounded good to me. But I definitely left you some. So you’re fucking set, cos.”
She smirked at them and said, “You guys are the best. Thanks.”
“Hey, you know—you might look a little grungy,” Tim said thoughtfully as he pulled away from her. “But you’re the coolest chick I know.”
She didn’t know what to say to that, so she thanked them both for the weed, the movie, and the snacks and watched them leave. She hadn’t been lying when she’d said she’d rather they go on their dates than stay with her—it wasn’t as if they were very good at boosting her ego—but she felt even worse after they left her alone in the house.
Maybe it was because turning eighteen the week before was suddenly making her emotionally soft, she wasn’t sure. As her cousins had admitted, she normally didn’t give a fuck about what anyone around her said. She’d heard worse about herself, and she knew she would draw a lot of scrutiny as a woman mechanic. When she had dropped out of school she had faced scrutiny from the community, and many folks had said she was an uneducated hayseed. That hadn’t bothered her, either.
Right in the middle of her existential crisis, around the part where she was halfway through her bag of Cheetos and she’d given in and smoked the joint Tim had so thoughtfully provided, her brother called her. At first, she staunchly decided against picking up her phone, but she accidentally accepted the call when she meant to reject it. In a small panic of weed-induced paranoia, she couldn’t problem-solve her way out of the call. She had to answer. “Sup, Mike?”
“Are you overworked right now?” Mike asked. Ellie had never in her life had a normal phone conversation with her brother. Whenever he called, he had a purpose, and the normal phone etiquette like, ‘Hey, how are you? I’m good,’ was always entirely absent.
“No?” she replied, so confused that she answered his question with what amounted to a question.
“Then maybe you should be. Penny said you were being… I don’t even know what word she used, and I didn’t care because I was in the middle of getting my dick sucked at the time—thanks for ruining that, by the way—but I think she said grouchy or some fucking thing. Made me promise to call you, like you need my love and support to make you feel complete or some such shit. Personally, I think she’s been watching too much Dr. Phil. But anyway, you’re never grouchy with Penny. Nobody’s grouchy with Penny. The reason nobody’s grouchy with Penny, you see, is because then she calls everyone up and tries to stage some sort of happiness intervention or something,” he explained, as if Ellie was new to the family and hadn’t understood this nuance.
“I know,” Ellie huffed, leaning back against her bed’s headboard while popping a Cheeto into her mouth. “But she was being really annoying. Like, you know how you’re being annoying right now? That was her.”
“What? Are you on the rag or something?” Mike snapped. “Let me explain something to you,” he said more slowly. “Our lives are all miserable enough without us shitting on each other. It’s us against them. If you feel like you’re actually starting to grow a vagina, I suggest you go work in the garage until you’re too tired to speak to anyone. Especially not to Penny. Got it?”
“I love our little talks,” she replied flatly, the corners of her mouth folding downward. She was used to her brother’s way of speaking to her and everyone else—like he was a battle commander with a soft spot for Penny, mostly because both Penny’s parents and her and Mike’s parents always treated Penny like shit, and so at a young age Mike had gathered Ellie and their cousins into a sort of team. She supposed this was sweet of him to do, but she also feared that it was going to be hard to explain to her future therapist.
“Sorry, Sis. Hey, if there’s anything you need, just call me to dish. I like being kept in the loop, anyway,” he offered. From her past experience, however, she knew that as soon as she started to complain about anything, he’d just tell her to suck it up.
“I’m really not even upset by anything,” she told him, and then assured herself that this was true. “Wanna play a game of Halo with me?”
“I do,” he yawned. “But it’s late here, and I got a game tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow night, after we win.”
“Yeah, it’s a plan,” she droned. “Good luck tomorrow.”
“Luck’s for pussies,” Mike snorted in a laugh. “But thanks. I’ll talk to you later.”
She ended the call and plopped the cellphone back down by her thigh. By the time she was done with the Cheetos, the movie was over as well. By then, she was beginning to feel better. Somewhere around when all the monsters on the screen were really making a mess of San Francisco, she began to consider how lucky she was. She had an annoying family, true, but they were all very close. She, Mike, and their cousins had all grown up in the same oversized house and they knew each other backward and forward. Not many people had friends that close, let alone blood relations.
So it didn’t matter what she looked like. She had everything in life she wanted: a job she enjoyed, close friends, lots of fun, and a support system for any time she’d ever conceivably be unhappy. She didn’t need anything new, she didn’t need to be on a different path, or have different priorities. She was just fine.
She slowly raised herself from her bed, brushed a few Cheetos’ worth of orange crumbs off of her, and then stumbled into the bathroom. When she was this high, brushing her teeth seemed like an epic challenge. She was trying to pay close attention to her teeth in the mirror in front of her, and was leaning over the sink enough to catch the inevitable eventual toothpaste spill, when she was certain that she saw a blinding light coming from the window above the toilet.
It took her maybe thirty seconds to react to the light, even though it was there and gone in only five seconds. Ellie simply didn’t know how to process it. She couldn’t guess what could have caused a flash like that, and so she decided that she had just imagined it. After she spit out her toothpaste and rinsed, she became less and less certain that she had imagined anything, because there were blinding orbs still dotting her vision.
She rested her toothbrush on the sink ledge and then walked slowly toward the window, as if she expected to be blinded by the bright light a second time. When she leaned over the toilet and looked outside, though, she didn’t see anything. Just darkness beyond her father’s garage across the street from the house. It looked just like it had every other night.
She frowned, confused, but then shrugged. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t been doing drugs. Maybe there was something amuck with the strain of weed Tim had given her? Either way, the effects probably wouldn’t last through the night, and she figured she’d be fine when she woke up. She headed back into her bedroom, padded through the room, and crawled underneath the warm blankets on her bed before turning the lights off.
It didn’t take her long to fall asleep; her brain was far beyond whirling around in self-pity, and her feelings felt completely repaired from being called names by a couple of guys she didn’t even care about. The only people she really, truly cared about were her brother and her cousins, and they cared for her right back. She fell into a happy, carefree sleep. The sort of sleep she was used to.
This girl is going to be trouble, Peyton thought to himself sourly as he watched the ‘primping’ slaves unclasp the little five-foot-nothing girl from her chains. In his experience, most feisty little females were, especially those who knew more curse words than he did. The curse-word dictionary had already been verified. Her sellers had to drag her all the way into the palace kicking and screaming.
Why Lord Jazeel, his master, even chose this girl from myriad options, Peyton could only guess. What her purpose could possibly be was even more of an enigma. What work could she possibly do? What position could she possibly occupy? A stiff breeze could blow her away. She couldn’t weigh anything—she had bird bones; even the primping slaves were effortlessly forcing her into a tub of hot water as they would if she were a toddler.
“Get the fuck off of me! Who the fuck do you think you fucking are, you fucking whores!” she was screeching. Peyton had grown up in the West Texas badlands, and hadn’t heard women swear until he got recruited into the army, so nearly every word she said made him wince over his morning coffee.
The primping slaves couldn’t care less about what she said to them; they had heard it all before. Every few months Jazeel would buy another slave or two for his palaces, mostly because he gave so many away as gifts to his favorite emissaries that he needed a constant supply of them. The primping slaves were nearly forty. They were the oldest slaves of the collection and the only ones who had been there longer than Peyton had, which was four years now. They’d been at the palace since they were practically children, and they’d been born in captivity, so they didn’t have much sympathy for those who had just been snatched off their planet before they knew what was what.
“Any special orders for her, Prime?” one of the slaves asked him as she looked over the head of the small new girl.
Peyton sighed and stepped forward, watching as one of the primping slaves tried to wrestle every scrap of clothing away from the fiercely struggling girl. “You have a lot of work ahead of you without special requests. Remove all unnecessary hair.” That would take hours. The girl was practically a monkey. “Polish her skin. No calluses. Clean nails. Clean up her hair and keep it long. Then let me know when you’re finished.”
“You—can—go—fuck—a—bag—of—elephant—dicks!” the girl seethed. She was on the floor now, trying to keep her shirt over her breasts. She was still modest.
“Shut up,” Peyton said, stepping forward before the new girl started biting the two slaves who were really just doing their jobs. The slave above her looked at him, distracted, and the new girl looked at him with hatred in her eyes. “Hurt them, and I will belt you fifty ways from Sunday, li’l girl.”
The girl looked him up and down. Hopefully she was concluding that if they went at it, she wouldn’t come out in one piece unless he wanted to let her. “Let me the fuck go,” she hissed at him, despite any of her conclusions about him.
He threw his arms into the air. “Where?” he demanded. “Let you go where, exactly? Let me lay it out for you—you’re on Hathra. You are now property of Lord Jazeel—welcome to our merry little family. None of us care where you came from or what you’ve been through. We don’t care what you think of us. The only thing we care about is doing what we’re told, because if we don’t, Jazeel will whip, castrate, or do a million other horrible things to us. Maybe under different conditions, you’d think we were great, understanding people. Currently, be aware that we don’t care what you think, or what you say. If you’re smart, you’ll hop on our bandwagon sooner rather than after you’ve learned from your own hard experiences.
“If you think you can escape,” he continued to the girl who sat there, quietly looking at him with an angry yet thoughtful expression, “think again. You need telepathic powers to control Frian ships, and that’s if you’re able to steal one in the first place. Jazeel has over a hundred guards here at the palace, most of whom watch those ships. Even if you actually eluded them and got a ship into space, you don’t know how to pilot it back to Earth. This is where we are right now. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to get used to it.”
There was a tense moment where the girl panted, but she stopped her struggles. One of the primping slaves picked her up off of the floor and said testily, “Now, if you’re done with your foolishness, you will get undressed so we can bathe you.”
She let them pick her up from the floor, her eyes on Peyton. “I will escape,” she told him coldly. “You can give up, but I won’t.”
He tried his best to keep from rolling his eyes. If he couldn’t escape from this place, it couldn’t be done. Least of all by a little brat like her. “As long as you’re not in my way, I wish you all the luck in the world.” He squinted, looking her up and down. Now that she was finally still, she seemed younger than he’d thought she was. Her eyes were very large and very vivid, holding an eye color he had never seen before. It was a very bright turquoise. “How old are you?”
She brushed the hand of one of the slaves off her shoulder, looking disgusted by them still. “Eighteen.” He believed her. Her age was hard to place—some of her features looked much younger, but the calluses on her hands and her bearing made her seem older than that.
“My name’s Peyton Jones. I’m the Prime—which means head slave—of the palace. If you’re unsure of what the rules or boundaries are here, I want you to find me and ask pronto. What’s your name?” he asked her, keeping his tone firm and hoping that would keep her from cussing up a storm again.
She pinched her lips together tightly, obviously deciding whether or not to be combative. “Ellie Jonas,” she replied snappishly, the words coming out just like any ‘Fuck you.’
“Ellie,” he repeated, trying to secure it into his memory. He nodded and then said, “If you don’t do as you’re told this morning by these ladies,” he pointed at the two primping slaves that he still didn’t know by name, “I promise that they will tell me about it and you and I will have a come-to-Jesus moment.” He knew he had to leave—she didn’t exactly look like an exhibitionist, and the last thing her type would want was someone like him watching as she was stripped naked, scrubbed clean, and shaved bare between her legs. Their relationship was tense right now as it was.
Besides, he didn’t want her to think that she was going to be a sex slave. There were a lot of women who were—he’d seen how breeders operated out here and it wasn’t pretty—but the palace was a place where he hoped she wouldn’t have to worry about that. There was plenty on her plate right now already. Hell, there was plenty on everyone’s plates; Jazeel wasn’t exactly an easy master to please. He was fickle, strange, and hard to read. It seemed like he was happy to find fault in everyone for any reason.
He turned his back and, sipping his coffee, said over his shoulder, “Give me a holler if she gives you trouble.”
Honestly, he expected one of the primping slaves to rush in with a head wound or something along those lines at some point during the next hour, but it was quiet. He did his rounds, checked in with his master, and was eating a sandwich for his lunch in the kitchens when he finally saw one of the primping slaves walking over, sweeping sweaty hair off of her face. There were water and oil stains all over the front of her dress. “Need me to come in there and bail you out?” he asked with a knowing smirk.
She raised an eyebrow, then rolled her eyes. “Please,” she huffed with a dismissive snort. “If a girl that size could keep me from fulfilling my duties, I would have looked for work in the kitchens by now, instead. But what a mess! It took us ages just to do the simplest grooming maintenance, and there was so much of it to do. It was as if we were trying to clean sand off of a beach. We had to tie her to the table to finally shave and exfoliate her skin. But,” she raised a finger, “we prevailed! Now she looks worthy.”
Peyton inwardly gagged at the word ‘worthy.’ The captive-borns would say things like that often: so and so being worthy to serve their master, doing work worthy of their master’s graces, to be worthy of a master’s praise.
As if kissing the ass of a giant lizard alien was something to be worthy of! Every day for the last four years, Peyton had woken up wondering what he had done to deserve to live in this layer of hell. It had been so long he had given up on this all just being just a nightmare. No, he must have been damned.
He forced himself to grin, as if he was pleased by the woman in front of him. “Excellent. Good work.”
The woman, beaming, bowed low at him, obviously pleased with herself.
“Peyton,” another girl, Earth-born, came into the kitchen, looking winded. “The master called for you.”
Peyton looked down at his sandwich. The only good thing about this planet was the food—there was plenty of it and it was very Earth-like, in fact some was almost exactly what he used to have at lunch back on Earth. This sandwich was well made, with the freshly baked bread still warm with a crunchy, flaky crust. The meat, a type of ham, was cured perfectly, the lettuce crisp, the tomatoes ripe, the cheese flavorful and delicious… It was going to be really hard to leave it. If his balls weren’t on the line—and they were; he was sure Jazeel was just looking for a reason to make him into one of the palace’s many eunuchs—he probably would have braved Jazeel’s displeasure and stayed to finish.
Alas, just as he had been explaining to the new girl that morning, the world he was living in was one in which he obeyed every order he received.
And he used to think the army was full of hard-asses who used to make him slave to their beck and call. Now he’d give anything to be in the Green Berets again.
“Damn it,” he cursed, then pushed himself away from the table. He ran out of the kitchen and toward Jazeel’s chambers, where he knew him to be, and then quietly stepped into the room after a single knock. Jazeel was in the middle of a com-call, which was good news, since it meant that he hadn’t been waiting on Peyton. Jazeel was speaking in some language Peyton didn’t know, nor could even try to speak, since he was sure that he was missing the necessary type of alien vocal cords to make most of those sounds.
Peyton waited patiently until Jazeel’s yellow eyes rolled in his direction. He gave a grin and then said something to the vision and image in the middle of the room before turning to Peyton. “What is the progress on my new little pet?” Jazeel asked him, in English.
Peyton bowed. “Her grooming is completed, it was just reported,” he answered promptly.
“Excellent,” he purred, then gestured at a small package, wrapped in red paper. “I want her brought to me in the main chamber. I have a meeting in there soon,” he told him. “But I want to see her progress. Bring that to her and make sure she’s dressed in it when she sees me. It’s a special outfit I bought just for her.”
Peyton’s brow furrowed, intensely confused. He still could not fathom why Jazeel liked her so much. He never called his slaves his pets. He never required them to be dressed in anything particular. The little munchkin was collecting a lot of the lizard’s attention. “Yes, Master,” he said, bowing his head and walking over to retrieve the package, feeling prickles on his skin because Jazeel was watching his every step, his every move.
It was unnerving. “Don’t take too long dressing her,” Jazeel finally said, breaking the room’s silence.
Peyton turned and bowed. “I’ll bring her to you very soon, Master,” he promised, and then quickly strode from the room, anxious to get out of Jazeel’s yellow-eyed stare.
He walked toward the room where he had left the primping slaves with Ellie, and when he entered, both slaves were there, cleaning up tables and mopping water from floors. It looked like it had been a warzone all morning. “Where is the new girl?” he asked, confused.
“We locked her in her bedroom,” one of them said, pulling a key out of her pocket and walking to him. “She wouldn’t stay still to let us clean up after the grooming.” She motioned toward all the hair behind her on the floor and the creams that had been spilled.
So, she had gone ahead and become a brat as soon as he’d left the room. That was fine—she wouldn’t try it with him. He turned and walked toward the chambers that had been cleaned up for her use, and unlocked the door.
He looked around and eventually saw a heap of towels on the bed and realized that there was a body writhing in the middle of it all. “Hey, new girl—” he began pointedly.
“Ellie,” the heap of towels groaned. “My name’s Ellie, fuckface.”
“And my name’s Peyton, at least get that through your thick little skull,” he snapped in reply.
The tower of towels rustled around until a head of chestnut brown curls and a cute face—with two separate eyebrows!—rose from the center. The perfectly shaped eyebrows were glaring at him. “Come to make my life a deeper hell?” she prompted him.
“I could ask the same thing of you, sugar tits.” He dropped the red package in front of her. “Get out of all that and put this on. Jazeel wants to see ya. And I mean now.” He turned and walked to a marble counter that separated the room from her bathroom area and grabbed a glass of water, listening to her fingers shred the red paper from the wrapped clothing.
When he turned, she was holding the clothing up—if it could be called clothing. It could be more accurately called a bikini. Although most of the girls in the palace were dressed like Arabian queens and princesses, Jazeel wanted her to dress like Princess Leia.
He’d give Jazeel this: perhaps there was something different about her. Her looks were different than most of the girls he’d seen. Her eyes were bright, but her features were extremely expressive, especially now that the primping slaves had gotten rid of her little ‘mustache.’ Now that her skin was clear, her face looked girlish and fragile like a doll’s.
Although he wouldn’t be very happy if he had to wear a glorified loincloth, either, he didn’t want to delay all day. Jazeel said he wanted to see her, and time was of the essence. “Are you gonna stare at that all day or are you going to put it on?” he prompted.
“Tell the lizard to go screw off. I’m not going to wear that. It’s disgusting,” she said, even scrunching up her nose.
He had a feeling going back to Jazeel with the message to ‘screw off’ wouldn’t go all that well. He had seen other slaves killed for far less. “Jazeel picked out this outfit for you himself. Wear it,” he ordered brusquely, taking another swig of water.
She dropped the clothing onto the bed. “You wear it!” she argued, crossing her arms tightly against her towel-wrapped chest, her eyes showing absolutely no respect or fear of him.
That was going to be a serious problem. If she didn’t obey, Peyton knew Jazeel would blame him for it. As prime, he knew it was his responsibility to force the girls to obey, which was not an easy task sometimes, but one he had yet to fail at. To stay healthy, to stay in his privileged, well-fed station, he needed to trust all the girls to cooperate with his orders. He let her defiance simmer on his skin, heating his blood.
“These are barely clothes,” she cried, waving in the direction of the outfit. “It’s ridiculous. I’m not gonna serve Jabba the Hut in that rig! What if somebody saw me in this shit?”
“Someone seein’ is the point, darlin’,” he growled. “You have to the count of three to get your keister out of that bed and start getting those threads on.” Not that he needed to bother counting—it was pretty clear from her expression that she was just going to glare at him throughout his whole countdown, pointless as it was. He distantly wondered if she thought she could actually fight him off. Did she truly think that if she just stuck to her guns, nobody would force her to do anything? It hadn’t worked so far for her that day. And to what purpose would she be putting her foot down against his orders? Did she think this was a step toward getting back to Earth?
“One. Two. Three.” He didn’t count loudly. There wasn’t any point. He knew he could threaten her until he was blue in the face and it wouldn’t work; she apparently thought he might be all bark.
Well, it was time to show her his teeth.
Much to Ellie’s satisfaction, the traitor to his own race turned around toward the direction of the door. This was excellent, because she couldn’t tell herself that he wasn’t an intimidating individual. He was massively huge, and as tall as her brother. This guy definitely wasn’t the type one would want to enter a pig-wrastlin’ contest with—his arms were surely bigger than her thighs.
She had been feeling slightly more confident about things after all the ‘grooming.’ She had looked in the mirror and, after she realized the girl in the mirror was actually herself, she realized that the guys back at home were all just a bunch of assholes. She was actually attractive, as surprising as that was, although it took a lot of pain for that sort of gain.
The hair removal was a project that she would never want to relive, or even think about, for the rest of her life, even though now her skin felt ridiculously smooth and her face was now admittedly fetching. It was painful, damn it—most of her body had been slapped with a pain she thought was just jaw-dropping. Where her struggles really got violent was around the time that they spread her vaginal lips open to do a job that was uncommonly thorough.
In general, she was still feeling pretty sore and extremely violated. Parts of her body that nobody had ever looked at before had been manhandled by a couple of the most disagreeable women in the universe. The last thing she wanted to do was have to scrap with a guy that Indiana Jones himself would balk at fighting.
She smugly watched him stride away until he took a turn and disappeared into what she had decided was the closet. Her mouth dropped open, about to protest and to verbally guide him to the door, when he stepped back into the room with a strap of leather in his hand.
At first, she wondered what the ‘belt’ was for, but there was something about the murderous expression he had on his face that brought it all together.
He was actually planning on beating her! Was he mental? He couldn’t beat her—he could eat her as a snack! He’d kill her! “Peyton…” she warned, trying to wake him out of his violent trance by using the name he had introduced himself with earlier on.
It didn’t help. He was still coming toward her. “Peyton!” she cried, scrambling desperately out of her nest of towels and trying to reach the side of the bed that was furthest away from him.
It didn’t work. He grabbed her leg and dragged her back toward him, then grabbed her arms and, after a comically short wrestling match, flipped her onto her belly so that she was bent over the bed. The towel that she had wrapped around herself seemed to be on Peyton’s side, because it fell right off of her as soon as she tried to scramble away from him, leaving her completely and utterly naked.
Her brain was now crowded with a million Ellies that were all running around, screaming with their hands in the air, all acting like Godzilla was destroying their city. She was no longer concerned about the threat of pain—the fact that an unknown man could see all of her ‘lady bits’ was nightmare enough. No man had ever seen those, ever. All of her energy now wasn’t even concerned with fighting him off; it was reserved for trying to cover herself as much as possible.
Crack! When the strap of leather in Peyton’s hands landed, suddenly her priorities took a one-eighty. Her whole body froze from the pain of the stripe of fire across her flanks. She had thought that the hair removal process had been rough, but Peyton was putting things into a whole new perspective.
Crack! Even the noise the belt made upon contact was startling. She reared up, only to be pinned down by Peyton’s hand and forearm shoving her into the mattress beneath her.
“Holy fuck!” she screamed, unable to even conceive of what was going on. She felt her vocabulary was lacking to explain her feelings about the situation. “Stop!” she cried. “Stop! Let me go!” But this pleading tactic obviously wasn’t doing much, if any, good. Peyton didn’t seem to really care about how much this hurt, and he went on punishing her despite how much she was swearing at him. She only got quiet when she finally realized that he was going to spank her as much as he wanted and there was nothing she could do about it.
Her whole situation was suddenly becoming clear. Crack! She was a million lightyears away from her home.
Crack! NASA wouldn’t even be able to see the planet she was on, let alone get there. After all, they hadn’t even planted a guy on Mars yet. If she wanted to get home, she’d have to do it herself.
Crack! If what Peyton had said earlier had any merit at all, it was impossible to fly the aliens’ spaceships.
Crack! Which meant designing her own. Which she had no idea how to do, or how to even start, and as far as she was concerned, any device that would allow her to go lightyears might as well be a ‘flux-capacitor.’ It was hard to imagine how something like that could even be constructed. It might as well be made of fairy dust and dragon eggs as far as she was concerned.
Crack! So she’d never get home.
Crack! She’d never see her family again.
Crack! She was going to spend the rest of her life as a slave to some alien creature.
Crack! She was all alone.
Crack! And now she was being spanked like she was a naughty child.
Crack! And there was nothing she could do about it.
She didn’t realize that she had already started crying—she was too busy being in pain and depressed—but it didn’t feel like her sobbing came from nowhere. It quickly began to drown out the scorching heat of her punishment. “Please,” she pleaded desperately. Her voice was a croak. “Stop! Stop it!”
Her entire bottom and most of her thighs were on fire.
“Are you ready to stop being so bull-headed?” Peyton demanded, his lips inches from her ear as he leaned over her bare back.
“Yes!” she promised, and meant it. She would bark like a dog right now if she was asked to. She had a feeling that Peyton wasn’t tired yet and would happily continue until she conceded. “Please, God, it hurts so fucking much! I—”
“Enough with your bellyachin’!” he snipped at her crossly. She felt another stroke crack across both bottom cheeks, causing her to clench again and press her body closer to the mattress.
“I won’t!” she replied. “I’m sorry!”
Just like that, everything stopped. The pain throbbed and ebbed, throbbed and ebbed, but he lifted her body from the bed with a tug to her upper arm. He grabbed her ‘outfit’ in a bunch with one hand, and moments later she was blindly following his tug as he pulled her toward a vanity on one side of the room where there was a bowl filled with water. He grabbed a nearby towel and drenched it in the water bowl, then brought it up to her face and touched the cold water against her cheek. “There,” he said, “hold this. Clean yourself up.”
She brought her hands up and took the towel, wiping the wetness across her skin and cleaning her dripping nose and her face, which was sticky from tears. It felt weird to cry, and it felt even weirder now that she was trying to calm down and take a deep breath. She hadn’t cried in such a long time that she worried for a moment that she’d keep at it all day.
Surprisingly, Peyton rubbed his large paw over her naked back in a calming, circular motion. “Take a deep breath,” he advised, his tone void of the anger and impatience he’d exuded before and during her punishment. She took a deep breath. “Take another,” he said, stepping forward and pulling her body against his. She cried into his tunic, which was soft and made from a cloth not unlike silk.
She cried for a bit longer, but his soft gestures surprisingly calmed her, even though it wasn’t at all lost on her that he was the one who had made her cry in the first place. As soon as she was no longer sobbing and was breathing more normally, he pulled her gently away from him. “Clean off your face again,” he told her.
She brought up the wet towel and cleaned her face off a second time, more thoroughly this time, and then he gently grabbed her chin between his fingers and inspected her face. “Good,” he told her with a nod. “You look good. Let’s get you dressed.” He took her towel and exchanged it for the scandalous outfit.
Ellie, loathing the fabric in her hand, pulled it over her body and around her waist. It was essentially a single long piece of cloth that fell down to her knee, covering her bottom and her front while letting her legs go completely bare, and although an attached cloth climbed up and over her nipples and cinched at the back of her neck, the outfit left nothing else to the imagination.
Bravely turning toward the mirror, she looked at herself. Once again, she had to squint at the girl looking back at her—the one with styled hair and long eyelashes and high cheekbones. It felt like the costume she was wearing was of a fashionable chick about to go to a swingers’ party. “This looks ridiculous,” she groaned.
“Nobody cares,” he said, ushering her away from the mirror and toward the door. “Now, do you know how to kiss ass?”
“Huh?” she asked, scrunching her nose.
“You know, kiss up? Make nice to? Pander to?” he said, making an ‘etcetera’ gesture like a French noble would make as he circled his hand blasély from his wrist.
“Yeah, duh. I mean, I worked with customers back home,” she shrugged as he marched her over the marble floors of the palace in her bare, polished feet.
“Doing what?” he asked.
“I was a mechanic at my dad’s garage,” she replied.
He turned his head and gave her a confused glance for a moment, but then he shrugged. “Well, that explains a lot,” he grunted. “Well, kiddo—think of Jazeel this way: he’s gonna supply you with a shit ton of cars. You don’t have to worry about any other clients. You don’t have to worry about anything else other than making him like you enough to give you his cars to work on. Got it? He’s powerful, he’s rich, even by the standards of the Frians. And he’s not above flattery.”
“Look…” she said, looking down and remembered with alarm that her outfit covered her breasts so loosely that she could easily see all the way down to her belly button with a single glance. “He’s not going to… you know… try to fuck me… is he?” she asked, though she was afraid of what the answer would be.
He shook his head very promptly, which calmed her down substantially. “No. I’ve never heard of a Frian fucking a human. Now, other alien species fuck humans all the time, but never Frians. I don’t think they can. Consider us lucky—I think their equipment prevents it somehow,” he replied without any hesitation. “Now—he’s a creep,” he admitted, “but he’s not gonna try to fuck you. Just focus on kissing ass and being as ridiculously gracious and polite as you possibly can.” He stopped at a door and turned to her, motioning her inside.
“Kay,” she said, then took a deep breath.
“You’ll be fine,” Peyton told her, then opened the door and literally pushed her inside the room, which was dark except for lanterns that hung everywhere. Glowing orbs shone in the lanterns instead of fire, and the darkness of the room blinded her to anything but the orbs for a moment.
“Peyton,” came a honeyed voice that drawled slowly over every word. “I was beginning to worry that you’d forgotten my request.” She saw Jazeel then as her eyes adjusted to the low light of the room, his yellow eyes glimmering like two diamonds. He was tall, thin, and somehow aristocratic looking for a lizard, particularly in the straight-backed way he sat on his throne. “I feel like I’ve been waiting ages.” The yellow eyes sparkled as his gaze focused over her head and on Peyton, who was standing by the door.
Maybe I should get rid of him, hissed an airy, disembodied voice. She turned her head, looking for someone new in the room, but there was no one else there. The voice had to be coming from Jazeel… only his lips weren’t moving. I’ve seen how the females all look at him—like they’re in heat. I should check their virginities again. It’s about time to see if he’s been coupling with any of them. Killing him would be too much of a waste, but he would make a fine bathhouse eunuch…
Nope—there was definitely no lip movement. But the alien’s expression looked like he was happily thinking about unmanning Peyton. No wonder Peyton was so crazy about obedience! His balls were on the slab.
Suddenly her words were coming out of her mouth very quickly. “I-I’m sorry,” she said as Peyton, at a glance, looked very uncomfortable. “I was being difficult, my lord.” The ‘my lord’ part seemed over the top, like something someone playing a slave in a movie about ancient Egypt would say, but Peyton did say that Jazeel wasn’t beyond flattering.
My lord? the disembodied voice hissed. It sounded like it was buzzing with pleasure. Oh, I like that! Respect—proper respect—comes with that title, I believe. I think it’s what they call their royalty. How wonderfully fitting… The words entered and then left her mind so quickly that she wasn’t sure she caught them all correctly.
“Difficult, were you?” Jazeel said, looking quite interested. This voice sounded different than the one she heard in her mind, and the two voices nearly overlapped. She’s precious, the voice immediately said. She clearly has some spark, but she’s well-behaved now… hopefully the prime gave her a spanking. I love it when he punishes the girls… I love watching their little legs kick, their faces blush with heat… Something about it is so… gratifying.
It suddenly occurred to her that Jazeel didn’t know she could hear what seemed to be his thoughts. He wouldn’t say ‘you’ one moment and ‘she’ the next if he thought that he was being heard. At least she didn’t think so.
Testing the waters of the theory, she shook her head and said, “Yes, my lord. I was very… naughty.” She chose her words carefully, trying to allude to her spanking without saying anything. She tried to look remorseful, even embarrassed, which was easy—she had been embarrassed by the whole thing.
I bet she was. The words were nearly drowned out by Jazeel saying out loud, “Naughty, hmmm? Do explain.” His tone was nearly purring. Look at her blush. Oh, she is quite a sorry pet, indeed!
“I…” She swallowed and then made quick eye contact with Peyton. He looked a little aghast, his eyes wide and his expression frozen. She turned back and bit her lip dramatically, trying to look coy. “I wouldn’t put on my dress, Master,” she admitted, even lowering her head.
Look at her… look how remorseful she is, the secret voice hissed giddily. What a wicked sight… The lizard grinned, his mouth wide and pleased. “You wouldn’t put on my gift? But why?” he asked her.
“This dress… is so much more revealing than anything I’ve ever worn. I was too humiliated to put it on.” She glanced at Peyton again and was surprised to find that he looked nearly faint. She didn’t understand why—obviously Jazeel was pleased. “So he spanked me with a strap of leather,” she went on, “for disobeying your orders. That’s why we were so late—he was being so harsh with me. He made my bottom hurt so much.” She pretended to wipe a tear from the corner of her eye.
“Did he spank you hard, my little pet?” he teased, still purring. Oh, I hope she pouts. I love it when they pout! the voice was practically squeaking with excitement.
“Yes, Master…” She pouted as prettily as she could.
“He left marks,” she added for his enjoyment.
The disembodied words were very easy to hear and understand now, she didn’t have to consciously fight to listen to them. It was as if the words nestled comfortably in her mind with such smoothness that they no longer had to really sound like words. The voice was now more like a thought in her brain, nearly instantaneous.
She relaxed, feeling like she understood Jazeel well now, like she could understand what he was thinking and what he would do before he did it.
Jazeel patted his knee, which was covered by layers of purple robes. “Come, let me see those marks, my poor little pet,” he cooed at her.
She hesitated for a moment, knowing just how much Jazeel was going to enjoy this. Her stomach clenched with nervousness and fret. Though Peyton had been certain that Frians never had sex with their slaves, it was obvious humans were arousing to them—or at least to Jazeel.
Peyton stepped forward and put a hand on her back as if to remind her to respond to Jazeel’s order. Slowly, she took a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other until she was standing inches from Jazeel’s knees. Jazeel gently took her arm in his silky, reptilian hand and pulled her across his lap until she was over his thin yet hard thighs and her toes were reaching for the floor.
Jazeel brushed the cloth panel that covered her bottom off to the side so that her backside was completely exposed to him. He clicked his tongue with satisfaction as he brushed his fingers over her swollen skin. She winced at the touch. “Oooh,” he cooed. “I bet that hurt. Didn’t it, my pet?” He continued to trace the welts with his bony fingers.
“It still hurts,” she replied miserably, intuition telling her that he wanted to hear that it did.
“Mmm… yes, yes. Well, that’s what you get for disobedience. I can see Peyton has done his duty by you quite well. Very good, very good,” he purred over her as he petted her skin. “I am pleased with your thoroughness, Peyton,” he congratulated, speaking across the room. She turned her head and saw Peyton, who was practically trembling moments ago on wobbly legs, suddenly straighten noticeably. “You have done excellent work. I was beginning to fear that you were loosening your grip upon my household instead of tightening it. I’m pleased to find that I was mistaken.” He gripped Ellie’s naked bottom in one large hand, cooling it with his clammy touch for a moment, but then he began to knead her bottom cheeks until he was spreading them wide apart, exposing her bottom hole.
Slowly his fingers gravitating toward her little rosebud. She made a fretful noise, tensing and clenching as one of his fingers touched the rim of her anus. She hoped her nervous twitching might get him to quit what he was up to, but before she knew it, she felt one of his fingers pressing against her bottom hole until the tip forced its way in.
Her mouth formed into a large ‘O’ and her toes pointed as he wasted no time at all in burying his finger up to the hilt. “Please, stop!” she shrieked, feeling her cheeks burn with embarrassment even as her anus clenched around the foreign digit. She looked around pleadingly, but was mostly ignored. The finger was pulled out, then thrust all the way back in. She wanted so badly to reach back and try to stop him. “Please, my lord! That hurts!” she whined, wrapping her arms around his leg so that she wouldn’t reach back. She had a horrible feeling that she’d be very sorry if she tried. He obviously enjoyed it when she was punished, after all.
She squeezed her eyes shut so that she wouldn’t even have to look at Peyton, who was surely still standing where he had been, powerless to do anything about her probing.
As Jazeel thrust his finger again into her bottom hole, she felt other fingers slip into her slit. “Responsive little thing,” he noticed, rubbing some of her own juices against her inner thigh.
She cringed with shame and found herself shaking, then sobbing.
As soon as she had cried for a few seconds, just as loud as she wanted to, Jazeel’s laughter lifted through the whole room. Finally, he withdrew his finger and began to lift her up. “I will tell you what, my little teacup,” he cooed. As he spoke out loud, the voice in her head told her just how much he enjoyed seeing her tears.
He pulled Ellie back up to sit upon his knee, and she winced as her bottom pressed against his hard thighs. “You can wear anything you’d like, but you must remove your clothing for punishments, always. And you must dress for me however I wish. Outside in the halls, however, you may attempt to be comfortable, as long as you are a good girl who does what I tell her to do, and does it without complaint.”
As he petted Ellie’s hair, he looked over her head toward Peyton. “See that she gets whatever she desires, Prime, and make sure she is taught how to serve all of my meals to me.”
She looked out of the corner of her eye at Peyton, whose expression was unmoving. He bowed his head and replied, “Yes, sir.”
“And you will address me as ‘my lord’ from now on,” Jazeel added offhandedly, a smile appearing on his reptilian mouth once again. “Direct the other slaves to do so as well. It does seem like the more appropriate title. Wouldn’t you agree?”
“Yes, my lord.” Peyton bowed again. “I will do so immediately.”
“Take my little pet with you,” he said, gently pushing Ellie off of his lap. “Have the seamstress make her anything her heart desires, and make sure to give her a treat from the kitchen. But remember, my dear,” he added, reaching for her arm and petting it from her shoulder to her fingers, “just because you have a long leash doesn’t mean that I’m not still holding the other end. Do not make me jerk you back into place too severely.” In other words, she feared, he would be waiting and hoping for reasons to punish her.
Jazeel’s other voice was already inside of her head, listing all the things he wanted to do with her, although it was clear that he didn’t want to punish her too often—he never wanted her to get used to it. He didn’t want to tame her, he wanted her to blush and act petulant. It amused him.
She looks so uncannily like one of the Swarii’s young females… the voice sighed, well pleased. I think I would like to enjoy seeing her be spanked with my own eyes… hopefully very soon. No need to contrive a reason for it or be impatient—there is fire behind her eyes. Maybe I should still check the girls… make sure the prime isn’t trying to mate with them. I don’t want her mated just yet—I want to keep her just how she is. Innocent and easily scandalized…
“You are most gracious, my lord,” Ellie said softly, suddenly anxious to be out of that chamber before she heard anything else that made her feel uncomfortable. She bowed her head.
“I know,” he said, giving her a few affectionate pats on her head before he waved her in the direction of the door.
She wasted no time in walking back toward Peyton and letting him guide her out of the room. Afterward, they didn’t speak to each other, merely rounded corner after corner until the air filled with the smell of baked breads. She realized that they must be nearing the kitchens, and Peyton slowed down. His neck craned back to glance over his shoulder before he stopped and had her turn toward him. “I don’t know what all that was about,” Peyton said. He sounded nearly winded. “Were you trying to fry me or something?”
“No!” she said, widening her eyes. “Remember? He was thinking about making you a eunuch or something so I had to think fast—so I said it was my fault. One thing led to another, and when it became obvious that he’s a total pervert sadist, I sort of improvised. I think you’re fine!” she rattled on nervously, reaching up and rubbing her neck with the palm of her hand.
Peyton squinted at her like she had suddenly started talking Chinese. “What are you talkin’ about?” he asked, shaking his head. “Eunuch? What?”
“Well, you know—that’s what his second voice was talking about,” she said, gesturing wildly with her hands.
“His second voice,” he repeated as if those words were particularly foreign.
“Yeah—you know, the one that he talks with when his mouth isn’t moving. It’s the really weird sounding one that’s always talking about us in the third person, like we’re not standing right there. You know, like…” she clicked her fingers, looking for the right word, “you know, like random thoughts. Just speaking to himself. The voice he does that with.”
She imagined that Peyton would give her the same expression he was giving her right now if she had just explained how she was able to poop cupcakes. But before she said anything else, his eyes widened and he grabbed his fingers into his short brown hair. “Oh, dear Jesus! You can hear shal’ta!”
She stepped back, now thinking that he was nuts. It was impossible to tell if whatever he was talking about was good or bad news.
“Their language—Frians have an extra language we can’t hear. I mean, humans can’t hear. I mean… nobody but… you!” he said in an excited hushed whisper. He suddenly picked her up by her upper arms so that she was draped over his head like she weighed as much as a kitten. He just shook her. “You can understand it!”
Suddenly, she was dropped a couple of feet, nearly landing on her ass. He had apparently been disturbed by another thought. “But how is that possible?” he asked, apparently to himself, looking dazed as she tried to right herself back on her feet.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she finally said, swiping her hand through the air. “So you can’t hear that voice?”
“No! That’s just the thing. That’s the language we can’t hear!” he replied, then looked around suddenly, as if he was afraid he had been talking too loudly. Much more quietly, he said, “What’d he say… what—”
She shook her head, slowly realizing that Peyton hadn’t heard the extra voice. She wanted to be unsure that she’d heard it, too… but she was certain. She had never just heard voices before. “Jazeel’s going to make sure you’re not fucking the girls. Something about checking virginities or something.” She blinked, trying to even imagine how that worked. She suddenly had a disturbing notion and she squeezed her thighs together. “You mean he—?” She gestured by putting one of her index fingers through a circle she was making with the other hand. She didn’t wait for Peyton to reply before concluding that had to be it—Jazeel had to be wanting to check hymens. Probably even personally. “That’s disgusting.”
“Shh,” he hushed her. “Don’t worry about it—I know that rule, trust me. Everyone around here is as pure as mountain snow.” He was still shaking his head. “I can’t believe we’re having this discussion. It’s impossible.”
Suddenly, they were interrupted by a girl coming down the hallway. Peyton looked over at her and she nervously bowed. “I’m sorry to interrupt… but… the master wishes to see all the girls one by one before supper tonight. He wants to check our… purities,” she said nervously, then ground her toe into the floor.
Peyton stood up and then gave Ellie a very heavy, long glance before turning back to the newly arrived slave girl. He gave her a singular nod. “Thank you, Doreen. Please go inform the girls.”
The girl bowed again, then nodded her head before spinning around on her heel and scampering away quickly.
Peyton just watched her go, his body very still. He didn’t move or say anything for nearly a whole minute. Just before Ellie began to poke at him to make sure he hadn’t turned to stone or something, he turned back toward her and practically pressed her up against the wall, towering over her. “It is true,” he panted. “So… so you’ll know things… do you know if I’m safe?” he asked, his sentences sounding a bit scattered at first. “You didn’t hear anything else about me?”
“No,” she said, trying to review what she’d heard and felt in the room with Jazeel. “Um… I think he’s mostly really pleased with you. He really likes it when you punish me. And I assume when you punish any of the girls. He totally gets off on us feeling violated, humiliated, and chastised—he’s a total sadist… and a perv.” She crossed her arms in front of her chest, ready to argue the point. Sure, Jazeel might not be using his dick on humans, but they definitely did something for him. “Anyway, you beating me made his day.”
“I didn’t beat you, I just tanned your hide,” he sighed, rolling his eyes. “No need to be so dramatic. If I beat you, I’d have broken you,” he assured, then gestured to his body, as if the size difference between them should be seriously taken into account. “I just gave you a red ass that’ll be pale by chow-time.” He reached up and combed his fingers through his hair. “Man, this is a lot to take in.”
“Tell me about it,” she grunted.
“Alright, alright.” He put his hands up. “Let’s say that this is a thing we can keep going. Don’t tell anyone that you can hear that voice. Don’t tell a soul. Don’t pray about it to Baby Jesus at night. Nobody can know.”
She gave him a puzzled look, wondering where all this paranoia was coming from.
He sighed. “Look, you’re new, so you don’t understand the drama. I’ve been here for four years, so let me assure you that any of those girls, no matter how nice they seem, will throw you under the bus for the smallest privileges that you can imagine. Especially if they’re ever trying to get themselves out of hot water. Your brain would be under a Frian microscope before you knew what had happened.
“Not to mention that they’re going to be jealous of you. I guarantee that Jazeel telling you that you could wear anything you wanted isn’t something he’s done before. There aren’t many privileges being doled out, and there’s gonna be a lot of people that don’t like seeing any doled out to the new girl. Don’t give them any ammunition to use against you.”
She found herself gulping as she nodded her understanding. She felt like she had just dropped into a warzone, with the way he spoke of it.
“But don’t get me wrong—this is going to be big. We can do a lot of good if you can figure out what he wants. I’ve been serving him blind. I thought he was just fickle or somethin’. But we can keep using this to our advantage; tell me what he’s thinkin’, and we can make sure we do everything we can to make him happy and to make sure there are less severe punishments. Because in the past, there’s been a lot of punishments, I’m not gonna lie to you—Jazeel’s got a wrath you can’t ignore, and it used to seem like it was coming from nowhere.”
She bunched her shoulders as the muscles in her body tensed. She felt like a lot of pressure has just been applied to her, especially when she hadn’t been asking to be the one that was supposed to keep ‘everyone out of trouble.’ She had thought that maybe all humans could hear the voice, and she’d had no idea that this would be Peyton’s reaction to her saying something about it.
“Hey…” he sighed, rotating his body so that his shoulder leaned against the wall. “I know what you’re thinking. The weight of the world isn’t on your shoulders here, Ellie. We’re just gonna take it one day at a time. If we wait around long enough, maybe an opportunity to get a ride back home will eventually present itself. Maybe the reason nobody’s escaped yet is because nobody’s lasted long enough.”
She pressed her lips together unhappily. There wasn’t a whole lot of upside to her situation that she could see.
“You’re not alone,” Peyton added.
“Yeah, but I don’t know if a behemoth bully being ‘with me’ on this,” she said, making quotation marks with her fingers, “is really that much of an upside.”
He gave a singular guffaw. “Hey, I’m only a big bully until you get to know me. I think, given enough time, you’ll appreciate the real me… Who’s a big bully who’s got your back.” He actually smiled and winked at her, and she noticed his expression seemed much more boyish than it had been earlier that day. She gave an amused snort, relieving some of her tension. He put his hand out and said, “What d’ya say? We together on this? Team human?” he asked.
She let herself give him a grin. She put her hand into his and gave it a shake. “Team human,” she agreed. Then clapped her hands together. “What now?”
He shrugged and continued to walk in the direction of the bread smell. “I think a sandwich to celebrate our new alliance should be a priority,” he told her with a shrug. “Sound good to you?”
She nodded and jogged up to follow at his side. “Hell, yes.”