Warning: This is part of a three 'chapter' update. If you just came in and hit the little button to take you to the end, I suspect you want to go back to Chapter 23 (the last numbered chapter; 24 by FP's counting).


Our first night among others. I'd protested, some concept of honor getting the best of me, unsure how I'd survive the humbling among so many. But the master had only smiled, his eyes cool and decided, and tidied my hair, working scented oil into the locks until they hung loose about me, drawing tightly into coils.

He'd shaved me carefully—face, torso, groin, and legs—and draped me with a burgundy wrap he'd brought in his bag. The silver pin claimed my pelvis, its imprint my ass…still on fire, and just now beginning to itch madly. He'd applied rouge to my nipples—now bare from the razor—pinched my lips until they swelled, and traced lines of kohl about my eyes. Black, thicker than he'd ever worn, but when I'd balked, he'd patted my cheek as though I were a child, saying that my coloring required it. My coloring…turning scarlet when he'd held the mirror to me. Gods, I looked like…like an eromenos. Indeed.

"Exquisite," he'd whispered.

I love him. His smile and his easy laughter, the goatee that now grows and sharpens the clear blue of his eyes. His wit and his insight, his ability to know just what it is I need—often when I know it not myself. I trust him completely.

I knelt at his feet, sitting back on my heels, conscious of the grace he'd always shown in Father's hall, knowing that I could never match that. The tavern was poorly lit and smoky, the patrons all back country plain folk, and drunk with the celebration of summer. And I was grateful for all that, because they wondered about the wealth that came among them, a man with his slave, and I did not want them to think too hard on it. I took food as he'd shown me, rough, country fare that became elegant in his fingers, bread, torn lamb, turnips wintered over. A dark wine from a thick earthen cup.

Late in the evening, after most patrons were gone, a boy—just growing hair on his chin—cleared dishes, glancing occasionally our way. Curious, as had been the others. The master called him over.

"He is older than you. And strong." A voice already deepened, more than I'd have guessed.

"He is. He protects me in his service. And is he not beautiful?"

There was nodding. Shy, this one, but so was I, and that I was to keep my eyes to the floor relieved me.

"You may touch him if you'd like."

The brush of fingers down my chest, grazing a nipple. A light tug at my hair, and then he drew back, excited and aroused. He was not the only one.

"It is very like petting a panther, is it not?"

I love him.