If I could trust myself to sleep, I would wish to return to slumber, but the sleep I have just wakened from is nothing like what I am accustomed to. It was not rested. My dreams were vivid and disturbing. I dreamt of the savage who slept by my side, and in my dreams, he did vile things to me. He touched me with his hands and his tongue. I shudder at the memory. He teased me and pleasured me, and when I woke I was near frenzied with… something. I know not what it is that my body longs for. Without my regimented nightly supplement, my body has begun to do strange things to me.
I welcomed sleep on Freanoss. When I slept, the worries of the world ceased. I slept dreamlessly, restfully, and woke refreshed and renewed. Today, I woke teeming with foreign feelings. I feel the swelling of my breasts, and pulsing between my legs. I squeeze my thighs together, desperate to stop the longing. I have been taught that impulses are untrustworthy. Before the New Dawn, people died from coupling. I do not wish to partake in such barbaric acts. But the savage has other plans, including, apparently, beating me into submission.
He places one of his large fingers under my chin and lifts my eyes to his. “We have much to do today, Carina. I have many questions for you, and you must answer. But first, it is time you were prepared for the day, and well fed.”
I am still sitting upon his knee, and I wish to get up. Beneath my sore bottom, I feel the strength of his legs, and his muscular, powerful thighs. Up against my chest, I feel him, hardened and muscled. His arms around me are formidable. Even his voice and stature are commanding. Yesterday, I could see him as the savage that he was, and I could think clearly. Today, my body yearns to be touched by him. The desire within me is growing stronger, threatening to make me lose my mind. I wonder if he somehow enchanted my sleep.
When I woke, I was furious at the unfamiliar thoughts and feelings that took possession of my body. I allowed my fear to dictate my actions. I regret having earned further chastisement according to his barbaric custom. I shall cooperate with him now, as I keep my head about me.
He reaches across from me and lifts the small silver bell. He rings it. The tinkling sound of it is lovely, and I wish to hear it again. I have never heard such a thing before last night.
“Ring it again,” I say.
He quirks a brow at me. I realize the error I have made at his immediate change in stature, and correct myself. “Please,” I amend. “Ring it again?”
With a smile, he shakes his head. “One ring means for my servants to come. Two will make them fear they’ve angered me. If I call them and they fail to come promptly, I consider their actions to be disobedient. None have earned my disfavor, so I shall not ring a second time.”
I frown. His servants bow to his command, of this I am clear. Is he a ruthless master?
“How many servants do you command?” I ask.
He sobers. “Several hundred, little one, though all in this kingdom obey me.”
I swallow, my mouth suddenly dry. What means will I have to escape if the legions of savages obey him?
“If you are in command over your entire nation, then why is it that you allowed the circle of women to come forth? Could you not simply choose the one you wanted?”
He smiles. When he smiles, his dark eyes appear a bit lighter, his heavy brows less severe, the lines about his face softer. Despite his savage look—his full beard, half-clothed body, bare but for the soft folds of leather trousers—I find I long to be closer to him. There is an enigmatic pull. “The circle was an ancient ritual, Carina,” he explains patiently. “As for choosing the one I wanted?” He pauses, his smile fading as he sobers. “That is precisely what I did.”
I blink, unsure how best to respond to him. My heart beats rapidly, my breath coming in shallow gasps.
A faint knock comes at the door. His servants have come to do his bidding.
It seems so shall I.
My second partaking of the savage’s food comes sooner than I am prepared for. For the first time in my life, I am sitting upon a very sore backside. I’ve never experienced punishment like the barbarian has put me through. Children in Freanoss are taught obedience in the controlled environment of the Institute. Their needs are met by the nurses, assigned women who feed, clothe, and train the little ones. I knew as a child not to disobey the rules. Disobedient children were removed from the community rooms, and not allowed the privilege of socializing, but it was very rare. We never knew what happened to those who disobeyed, but it did not matter. As defiance was bred out of the populace, we became an advanced people. We are genetically engineered to value the sameness of our generation, and sameness breeds obedience. At least I’ve been taught so, until now.
My insistence on testing the savage and the boundaries he’s given me surprises even me. Though I’ve never been one to be terribly afraid, or easily cowed, I’ve not been a disobedient type. Even my coming here was sanctioned by the Freanoss commanding lieutenant.
I eye the savage as he eats. After taking his first sip of the white liquid they give him, he takes a hefty bite of some type of spongy food. I eye him warily, and he quirks an eyebrow. “I have now eaten,” he says with a wave of his hand. “You may do so.” I am not sure how to feed myself. They have such an interesting method of nourishing themselves. I long for the clean method of Freanoss. I eye the food, but do not wish to have it. I shake my head, and I know, even as I do, it is not simply because I do not wish to eat. There is something deep within me that responds to his stern, commanding nature, as if defying him is somehow necessary. I squirm upon my chair and eye him. When he frowns, one brow lifting as he slowly puts his own food down and looks purposefully at me, I feel within me my heart beat a little faster. Is it fear, or something else? Perhaps a primal attraction to… danger? I swallow, my mouth suddenly dry, as he leans forward on the table and speaks in a low, deep voice.
“Little one,” he says. “You must take nourishment. Avalere is unlike Freanoss, and those who do not eat become weak.” He pauses a beat as his eyes darken a bit, and he reaches a large hand to my bare thigh, massaging. “And you know what I expect when I command you to do something.”
The pulsing between my thighs intensifies at his touch and his stern words. He is so very different from the men of Freanoss. In our efforts to promote sameness, the contrasting masculine features with feminine have been modified, no longer in stark contrast as they once were. I have never seen such large hands, such strength of body, or such enormity. His mere presence is commanding, the deep timbre of his voice arresting.
Even now, as I sit upon a punished bottom, I am almost eager to push just a bit more. I want to feel the pulsating, near-pleasurable feeling deep in my belly and between my legs when he commands me. I swallow, mustering up my courage. I lick my lips. When I speak, my voice is strangely husky. “And if I choose not to eat?” I ask, feigning braveness as I thrust out my chin. I am not prepared to intentionally defy him. I simply need to see what his response will be.
His hand on my thigh pauses, as he stares curiously at me for a moment. “Are you prepared to disobey me?” he asks. Disobey. The word causes my heart to stutter a steady rhythm within me.
I shake my head. I truly do not wish to experience his wrath again. “Was there a command to follow?” I ask. “You simply said I may eat.”
His lips twitch, his eyes twinkling at me. He nods. “Quite right,” he says, his hand moving slowly up my leg. I gasp. The pulsing between my legs throbs. “I have not given you a command to eat. However, it is my desire that you do so.” Gently, his fingers dip further up my leg. He’s tracing soft circles upon my skin, the heat of his palm somehow transferring to the heat of my body. How could this be happening? I have never felt such urges before. My body is begging him to go further up, continue whatever he is doing, and not to remove his touch. He is so close now, his breath is a mere whisper. “Will you obey me, Carina?” he asks in a low rumble. “Or shall I take you across my knee again?”
To my shock, my heart skips a beat in my chest, somehow tied to the pulsing vibe as I shift my legs. I want him to touch me more, for his hand to slip beneath my tunic. A little voice in the back of my mind tells me no, this is unsanitary, that his touch alone is defiling me, but the corrective inner voices in my mind are slowly becoming fainter, as the primal urges within me drown them out.
“I will obey you,” I whisper. But I am not sure how. My hands are trembling. I am lightheaded, as I look at the table in front of me. I do not know what to eat. He removes his hand, and takes a piece of the sponge-like substance, tearing off a small piece. He offers it to me by holding it in front of my mouth. Obediently, I open my mouth and he gently places the morsel of food on my tongue. The appearance of this food is misleading. It does not taste like a sponge at all. It is soft and sweet. I want more.
“Drink your milk,” he says. “Kourabie is rich, and your body will absorb the nutrients if you combine it with milk.”
I lift the glass he hands me, the opaque white liquid foreign to me like nearly everything else in this land. I lift my eyes to his, and he nods encouragingly. I take a sip. The liquid is smooth and rich, creamy and fresh. It is delicious. Next, he lifts a small, round fruit from a platter. It is unlike what he fed me the night before. This is a deep red, and the skin gleams in the sunlight that streams through the window. With his left hand, he holds the fruit, and with his right, he takes a knife and cuts a wedge for me. My lips purse and I squint my eyes. He must find my reaction amusing, as he chuckles.
“Very good,” he says. “It is both sweet and sour, but you were brave enough to try what was foreign to you. Good girl.”
I am surprised at my reaction. I ceased being a child when I passed the age of eighteen several years ago. I do not wish to be thought of as a child. But when he expresses approval for what I’ve done, I am strangely pleased. I smile softly, continuing to eat small bites of the kourabie, fruit, and milk. After a time, I wish no more.
“Have you had enough, little one?” he asks.
I nod, placing my hands in my lap.
“Then I will have my servants clear our dishes.” He smiles softly. “Are you ready to hear the bell again?”
I nod eagerly. He chuckles as he rings it. Moments later, servants arrive and clear the remains of our meal. Lystava stands in the doorway, directing the others, who enter with bowed heads and hastily do the king’s bidding. I assume she must be a sort of head servant. She turns to the savage. “My lord, is there anything you wish me to bring for your bride?”
Bride. It is a strange word, and I am not entirely sure of its meaning, at least not in this land. Why has it made him peer at me strangely? A look crosses his face as he eyes me, but he quickly dismisses it and addresses her. “No, thank you,” he says. “I’ve acquired her clothing and what little she will need for today. I will take her to the market shortly. Later, I will meet with my commanding officers. But until then, we have a few places to visit, and I wish for her to sample the wares of Avalere.”
I am standing, and I see her eyes fall to the hem of my dress. Her brows raise, but she quickly turns away from him and nods, as she exits. “As you wish, my lord.”
She leaves. I wonder at her amusement, but then I remember the marks of his punishment upon my bottom and legs. She no doubt sees them. His bringing me to the market is perhaps two-fold: both to parade me as his possession, and to show me his native land. I frown, not wishing to be displayed to his people.
“What is it you’d have me wear?” I ask, impatience threaded in the tone of my voice.
He hears it and frowns, but does not reply as he walks away from the table to a wooden wardrobe that flanks the wall at the foot of the bed. He opens one door, and I gasp at what I see. Small, simple tunics hang on wooden pegs, many vibrant shades of blue. “Blue will match the color of your eyes, and it is the color of the king,” he says, as he removes a garment. It is short, similar to the tunic I wear now, and it looks flimsy in his large hands.
He moves to the foot of the bed and sits. “Come here, Carina,” he says in his deep voice.
There is something about being commanded to come to him that causes me to look at him shyly. Why must his imperious nature do such unpredictable things to my body? I drag my feet to him, as I have begun to fear what my body will do when I draw close. But I must obey him. He is impatient, and I fear I have pushed his patience far enough. When I am within arm’s reach of him, he plants his hands on my hips and pulls me between his thighs. The warmth of his legs presses against the outside of mine. His eyes are heated, and he is almost frowning, but not quite. I reach for the dress. It is shimmery, reflecting the light that streams in through the window, a lovely, vibrant blue. I am not surprised at the length and weight of it, light and airy, as the heat of the day has already begun to rise. I do wonder what it will cover.
“No, Carina,” he chides. “It is my duty to dress you.”
My arms instinctively cross on my chest. He is to see me stripped? He has only seen my nakedness when he has bared my bottom to him. I tremble. What choice do I have but to submit? Resisting him now will earn me a punishment. And part of me—though I do not wish to admit so, and will not to him—wants to be bared to him. His eyes are fixed on mine, no doubt watching my reaction to his command. I know already that he is prepared to punish me if I disobey.
“Uncross your arms, please,” he says. I swallow, slowly obeying him, trembling at the loss of protection I feel with my arms crossed. He places one large, warm hand on the small of my back, and pulls me even closer to him, so that we are practically embracing. When I am near, he moves his hand up further so that he is now grasping the back of my neck. He threads his fingers through my hair. My heart is thundering so that I can hardly hear myself think, his near proximity intoxicating. I like the smell of him, though I could not describe it. He smells clean, strong, and powerful. With his hand on my neck, he leans in to me, bringing my face so close to him I can see the depth of his dark eyes, and I realize just before our lips meet what he is going to do. I begin to pull away, scared of my mouth meeting his, but his touch grows firmer, almost forceful upon my neck, and I cannot help but allow him to have his way.
I don’t know what to expect, but the contrast of his sharp whiskers and soft lips take me by surprise. His mouth is warm and soft, his lips full and urgent. Though I do not know how to react, my body responds of its own accord. My knees grow weak. I am thankful he is supporting me with his legs. I am not sure I would remain standing.
My pulse beats rapidly, warmth spreading from the top of my chest down to my feet. The throbbing quickens between my thighs, as one of his hands holds my neck and a second lifts the edge of my tunic and engulfs my bare bottom, the sting at his touch oddly welcome. He continues to kiss me, his mouth moving over mine, and I begin to respond without knowing what I am doing. I both feel and hear his responding growl.
After a moment, he pulls his mouth off mine. “Do not try to pull yourself away from me again, Carina,” he instructs. “You are mine to do with as I will. Am I to assume that you have never kissed a man, much less coupled?”
I close my eyes briefly. My mouth is dry from discussing such things with him! I feel a faint flush creep to my neck and cheeks. “No,” I whisper. He raises a brow. “No, my lord,” I quickly amend.
He nods slowly. “Your failure to respond properly will only be allowed for a brief time, little one. The next time you fail to address me correctly, the flat of my hand will remind you.”
Again, the prickle of excitement pulses between my thighs. I nod. “Yes,” I stammer. “Yes, my lord.”
What has this barbarian done to me in such short a time? I am obeying him meekly, no longer the independent, aloof woman of Freanoss, but a weak, helpless female. I am disgusted with my descent into the barbaric ways, though I had little choice. Fighting him would only earn me punishment.
He pulls away from me and the back of one finger caresses my cheek as his eyes lock into mine. “I am not a patient man, Carina,” he says in his deep voice.
My breath catches as I nod.
His eyes flick below my face as he takes both hands and reaches for the hem of my dress. “I will disrobe you now,” he explains. “And you shall not protest, or stop me.”
I nod, marveling at my ability to move. I am transfixed by him.
He nods, then I feel a brush of cool air as the tunic is removed. The hem rises above my bottom, then the small of my back. I want to pull it back over me and run from him. What will he think of me when he sees me naked? What if he dislikes what he sees? If women are no more than property on Avalere, and he is lord and ruler of them all, what will happen if he doesn’t like me as I am? Will he reject me, and trade me for another?
And why am I suddenly afraid, fearful of his rejection of me?
Do I not wish to escape him?
This, and more, flit through my mind like leaves whisked about on a blustery day. I cannot grasp them or stop them. Instead, I focus on staying still and obeying him. The tunic is being raked over my head now, and I close my eyes, panting in fear and anticipation, as all clothing is removed. With my eyes closed, I can only hear the rustle of the fabric, and him shifting his large frame as he pulls me closer to him. Silence descends as I am now bared.
“Open your eyes, lovely,” he says, his voice a low but commanding whisper. Lovely. He is calling me lovely? Swallowing hard, inhaling deeply for courage, I obey.
His eyes are locked onto mine for one brief minute, as he nods his approval of my obedience, and then his gaze lowers, taking in every curve of my body. He swallows. I shift, uncomfortable under his gaze. He lifts his hand and strokes a finger from the smooth curve of my shoulder, down my chest, to the swell of my breasts. Gently, he traces the fullness, before he moves both hands to my back, drawing me close to him. His warm, whiskery mouth meets my skin and he kisses first one breast, then the other. To my shock, I feel the warmth of his tongue begin to encircle my breast, and when he reaches my hardened nipple, his tongue flicks lightly along the edge. His tongue is softer and warmer than his fingers. I gasp from the sudden intensity of the feeling between my thighs, pushing my legs together. He grasps my nipple gently between his teeth. I gasp at the sensation, his eyes burning through me, as he takes me fully in his mouth and sucks. My head falls back, and I moan, unable to stand the intensity of my desire. He places both hands on my bare backside, still throbbing from my punishment, torturing me with alternating nips and licks to my nipple. I cannot speak. I cannot think. All I do is feel. What witchcraft is this?
He releases my breast. To my shock, I utter a little groan of disappointment. But he has only released me so that he can focus his attention on my other side. Again, the sweet, seductive torture of his teeth and tongue, as he anchors on to my aching bottom. Between my legs, I am on fire, and though it goes against all that I believe, all that I’ve been trained to know is right, I know that I need him to touch me there. If he doesn’t, I don’t know how I will cope. Does he know I want him to touch me?
His mouth meets the bare skin of my navel. His tongue flicks out and laps at me, as he murmurs, his low voice husky. “So sweet,” he whispers. “You are so beautiful. I wish to devour you.”
Devour me? My heart hammers as his tongue flicks out and he licks me, before his mouth opens and his teeth nip my side. I gasp from the jolt of pain quickly followed by warmth and increasing arousal. Will he hurt me? Though my body yearns for more of his touch, I am shaking with nerves. I pull away from him but he holds me tight as he sucks the place he’s just bitten. I am panting now, fighting for little gasps of air, as my body is enchanted by his touch. He releases me. I marvel at the little marks he’s left. He is a savage, an animal. Then why does my body lean in closer to him, hoping for more of the sweet, seductive torture?
His touch reaches lower now, and as he sits on the bed, his fingers probe, one hand still gripped on my waist while the other spreads against the warmth of my inner thigh. I am reminding myself how to breathe. I know not what he will do next. I am completely undone.
His hand moves higher up my thigh, so now the top of his hand barely touches my sex. I close my eyes. This is wanton, uncivilized, so wrong. Yet I couldn’t stop him now if I wanted to. He pinches and squeezes my thigh. A near sob of desire escapes my lips. His eyes lift quickly to mine.
“Do you want me to touch you, little one?” he asks.
Why is he asking me? He is already touching me. It is his touch that has undone me. I cannot speak. I have no words. I am at his command. Swallowing hard, I nod. I must feel him touch me more.
He nods soberly. “Hold onto my shoulders,” he says.
I obey, my arms encircling his wide, muscled shoulders.
He grips my bottom with one hand, the warmth of his palm cupping the pain he put there, but the touch is welcome. His other hand moves from the inside of my thigh, further up. “You are bare,” he says. “Bare and beautiful.”
What an odd thing to say, I muse. I have been bared and barren of hair since I reached womanhood. It seems the savage likes it.
One finger travels higher. I take in breath in shallow gasps. His finger is so close, so close to where I want it. When his finger dips between my folds, my knees buckle. I am raw, nothing but nerves, as his gentle yet firm touch encircles my womanhood. The sweet, blissful, torturous feeling consumes me, and I focus on his touch, his caress. I know I need more. What will happen if he keeps touching me? His steady rhythm increases, and he’s moving faster now. My heartbeat is accelerating, my need to breathe forgotten, the strength of his shoulders beneath me, my breasts against his head, my need intensifying with every stroke of his hand.
“Do you like that, Carina?” he whispers, his voice a harsh breath of air against my breasts.
“Mmmm,” I moan, incapable of coherent thought or words.
His hand stops. No. He cannot stop now. I do not know what will happen when he continues, but I do know that he must not stop. No, no, this cannot be. What is he doing to me?
He sits upright, firmly moving my arms off his shoulders. His eyes stare at me soberly, not a trace of amusement now as he eyes me. “It is time for you to be dressed,” he insists.
“No,” I whisper, shaking my head, moving closer to him. “Please.”
“Not now,” he says, his eyes stern as he looks at me, as if challenging me to disobey him.
He cannot stop now! How dare he? “You must,” I insist, moving against him as if to make him touch me. “If-if you don’t… touch me… I need you to touch me!” I am angry now, my need so intense I want to hurt him. “If you do not touch me, I will!”
I am shocked at the words that have come out of my mouth, but I am near frenzied with desire.
His eyes darken. He reaches for my hair, grasping a fistful of it in his strong hand, pulling back so that a prickle of pain stings my scalp. “You shall not,” he orders. “Your body is mine, and mine alone. You forfeited your right to pleasure yourself when you became mine. I own every inch of you, from the little lashes that frame your eyes down to the swell of your hips, to the apex of your thighs, to the toes of your feet. Your pleasure is mine to command. I am master of you, of every inch of you.”
I groan out loud. I am going to die from the want within me, and his denial of my needs. His grasp on my hair flexes. I cry out from the pain of it, but he holds fast and continues. “If you obey my commands and behave yourself, the time will come when I will culminate your pleasure,” he says. His voice is harsh, almost angry. “But until then, you will do as you’re told.”
He is waiting for my response. I want to hurt him, knee him, and smack away the hand that is holding my hair. I even entertain the thought for a moment, before I banish it. What would my violence against him incur? He is stronger and bigger, and I will be punished.
He promises if I obey he will pleasure me… eventually.
I swallow and exhale. “Yes,” I say, barely biting back the curse words that I wish to utter. His reaction surprises me. He releases my hair, both hands going to my waist as he pushes me over his knee. I realize a split second before he spanks me for the error of my ways.
“Yes, my lord!” I say quickly, but not in time to stop his palm from descending. The blistering swat has me up on my toes, and I squeal out loud from the pain of it, but to my shock, pressed up against his thigh like this, my desire throbs.
What has he done to me?
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