Same obligatory legal shit and trigger warnings that applied in Part 1 apply in Part 2.
Kieran sighed, tuning out the frightening sound of Dryas yelling at his new owner, and turned his head to nuzzle the man’s chest. In response, the man’s grip on him tightened, holding him even closer.
But then, the moment was over, and he was aware that his new owner was addressing the man who held him.
“Take him to the car,” she ordered.
The man nodded, then they made their way through Dryas’ house, not even pausing to pick up his tunic, and out the front door, where their SUV was parked. The man got into the backseat without letting Kieran go, adjusted him and laid him down across the backseat, with his head in the man’s lap.
Charis got into the driver’s seat, and they drove off in silence.
But the silence only lasted a moment.
“Ugh,” Charis exclaimed. “What a wholly awful man.”
“You knew he would be,” the man told her, the fingers of one hand absently trailing through Kieran’s hair.
“I didn’t think he’d be that bad,” she said. She looked over her shoulder at Kieran. “How is he?”
“Scared,” the man answered. “Skinny as hell.”
Charis nodded, turning her eyes back to the road. “He needs a good meal. And a hot bath.”
“And a soft bed,” the man added.
At the mention of a bed, Kieran tensed. He was still so sore from the last time Dryas had used him. The thought of being used again, so soon, made him cringe.
And of course, the man noticed his reaction. “Kieran?” he asked gently. “What’s wrong?”
Kieran opened his mouth to answer, but no sound came out. And once more, fear seized him. It was the first question his new owners had asked him, and he couldn’t be obedient enough to answer it.
Moaning softly, he turned to bury his face in the man’s lap. This wasn’t going to be a pleasant evening.
“Hey, it’s alright,” the man assured him. “You don’t have to be afraid. We won’t hurt you.”
“It’s the bed, Ilya,” Charis said. “He thinks you mean our bed.”
“Does that scare you?” the man named Ilya asked, running a soothing hand up and down Kieran’s back. “To be used sexually?”
“I am yours, Dominus,” Kieran managed to croak. “To be used any way you desire.”
“We know,” Charis said patiently. “That’s not what he asked, though.”
Kieran cringed again. His new owner was observant, and his normal tricks of dancing around the truth obviously wouldn’t work with her.
He took a deep breath, trying to force himself to calm down. If he lied, and his observant new Domina saw through it, he would be punished. If he told the truth, and admitted that he was afraid of being used for sex, that could anger them, and he’d be punished.
“We won’t hurt you,” Charis assured him, turning back to him as she pulled up to a stop light. “No matter what happens, I give you my word on my Spartan blood that you will not be beaten or hurt in any way for the rest of the night, or for anything you may say tonight.”
Kieran sucked in his breath, finding the courage to meet her gaze.
Spartans valued honor. And they valued their heritage, and their race. For a Spartan, to swear on one’s blood was the deepest, most serious vow possible. Breaking it damaged the dignity, pride, and integrity of the entire Spartan race.
It was not a vow made lightly. Even for a trophimi, whose blood was only half Spartan.
Quite the opposite, it meant even more, in that case. Because breaking the vow meant she was more perioeci than Spartan, and that she could not uphold true Spartan values.
And she’d made that vow to a slave.
“Will you trust us now?” she asked after a moment. “We will have many questions for you over the rest of the night. No answer you give us will cause you to be punished. But there are things we’re going to need to know about you, and we’ll need you to answer honestly, even if you think the answer will anger us. I vow on my blood that you will not be punished for any answer you give. Will you trust me to hold to that vow?”
Kieran didn’t know what to say. He could do nothing but nod dumbly, stunned at her words. She spoke to him like, like…
Like he was human.
“And can we trust you to answer us honestly?”
“Yes, Domina,” he replied, finding his voice.
“Good boy,” she said, turning back to the front as the light turned green.
And, just like the last time she’d said those words to him, he felt his cheeks flush, and his heart fluttered in his chest.
“So,” Ilya said, getting his attention. “Does the idea of being used sexually scare you?”
Kieran hesitated, every part of him rebelling against telling them the truth. But he decided to trust his owner.
“Yes, Dominus,” he whispered, his voice barely audible.
And his answer was met with a gentle hand caressing his back, and another softly cupping his face. “That’s good, that’s what we want. We want you to be honest with us, even when you’re scared to. That’s exactly what we want from you. You’ve done good.”
Kieran sighed, relief washing over him. He’d never felt such a gentle touch, for so long, before. Ilya’s hands on him felt amazing. So soothing.
“Why does it scare you?”
“My Dominus… I mean, my former Dominus, Lord Roubanis, liked it to hurt.”
“How did he make it hurt?” Ilya asked, the hint of an edge to his voice.
“He… He liked to fuck me dry,” Kieran answered haltingly. “Or to cut me… inside… before fucking me.”
“Ilya,” Charis said suddenly, her voice a warning. It wasn’t until then that Kieran noticed that the hands on him had stilled, and gone tense.
Oh gods, he had gone too far. He’d angered his new owners, and they hadn’t even gotten to their house yet.
“I’m calm,” he said, his voice strained.
“Get calmer. You’re scaring him.”
Ilya took a deep breath. “It’s alright,” he said, caressing Kieran once again. “I’m not angry at you. I’m angry at the bastard who owned you. You haven’t done anything wrong. You answered honestly, and that’s exactly what we told you to do.”
“Yes, Dominus,” Kieran said, willing himself to relax.
“How long had you been tied up before Dryas brought you out to meet us?” Charis asked.
Kieran looked up at her. How had she known he’d been kept tied up? Dryas wouldn’t have volunteered that information.
She glanced back to see his questioning look. “I could tell by the way you moved,” she explained patiently. “I’ve unfortunately seen many slaves move like that, when their arms and legs are still numb and tingling.”
Kieran nodded. Of course she’d know about that. She was a symposiarch, after all.
“I’m not sure, Domina,” he answered. “A couple of hours, I think? It’s hard to judge.”
“Did he leave you like that often?”
“What about food?” Ilya asked, running a hand along the thin boy’s ribs. “How often did he feed you?”
Kieran shrugged. “Whenever he felt I deserved it, Dominus.”
“And how often was that?” Charis pressed.
“Once every day or two.”
“When is the last time you ate?”
“Yesterday morning. Lord Roubanis gave me his leftovers at breakfast.”
Ilya cursed again, and Kieran flinched before remembering that the anger wasn’t directed at him, and that the hands that touched him were still soft, still gentle.
“So about 36 hours ago,” Ilya said through gritted teeth.
“Give or take,” Charis added. She quickly glanced over her shoulder, not at them, but to her blind spot, then swerved across two lanes of traffic and made the next right.
The sudden jerk of the car scared Kieran, and he huddled closer to the man who held him. But, despite the edge to Ilya’s voice and the tension in his jaw, he kept caressing the boy. “It’s alright,” he assured him. “We’re just making a quick detour. To get you something to eat.”
He paused, looking up to meet Charis’ gaze in the rearview mirror. The corners of his mouth turned up in a wry smile. “Your owner is somewhat of an aggressive driver.”
“Assertive,” Charis corrected, making another turn. “I’m an assertive driver. Kieran, do you have any allergies? Dietary restrictions for health purposes?”
“No, Domina,” Kieran replied, confused at the question. There were slaves with food allergies? But that would make more work for their owners. They’d lose so much of their value, because of that inconvenience.
“Where are you going?” Ilya asked.
“Cane’s Kitchen,” she answered. “I don’t want to give him anything greasy or too heavy if his stomach isn’t used to it.”
Ilya looked at his watch. “It’s after 9,” he pointed out. “Are they still open?”
“The drive-thru is.”
“Uh, Charis, we can’t go through the drive-thru.”
“We left Dryas’ in a bit of a rush, if you’ll recall. And because we were in such a rush, our newest toy is very, very naked.”
“Oh, shit,” Charis said, looking back at Kieran. “I didn’t even think about that. Is there anything we can use to cover him up?”
“Sit up, love,” Ilya said, tapping Kieran lightly on the shoulder. He obeyed, watching as Ilya turned to look behind them, in the back of the SUV.
Kieran watched the man silently as he looked through whatever was back there. He was surprised to find that he’d liked it when Ilya had referred to him as their toy. Not that he’d ever been called that before, but it didn’t seem like the kind of thing he would enjoy.
He certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed it coming from Dryas.
“Well, this will work,” Ilya said finally, reaching far back and pulling up a black raincoat. “It’ll be a little big on you, but in this case, I think that’s a good thing.”
“Yes, Dominus,” Kieran replied as Ilya helped him into the coat.
“Is he decent?” Charis asked as she turned into the parking lot of the restaurant.
“Yep,” Ilya answered. “We won’t be offending any delicate sensibilities tonight.”
She pulled up to the menu and turned her attention to the voice that greeted them over the speaker. Ilya looked to Kieran.
“Come on,” he said, opening his arms invitingly. “You can lie back down if you want.”
Kieran had already rested his head back in the man’s lap before the words hit him.
If you want.
Wait, had he been given a choice?
No, no that couldn’t be right. It was probably just a figure of speech. If Ilya really was a neodamode, maybe it was just habit to speak to slaves like that.
Or maybe he really had been given a choice. Given the way Ilya had treated him the entire night, Kieran couldn’t put the possibility from his mind.
His new owners were nothing like he thought they’d be, and his first moments with them were such a refreshing change from the rest of his life.
He knew it wouldn’t last, though. He didn’t deserve the affection and the tenderness they were using with him. Sooner or later, he’d make a mistake, and they’d realize how undeserving he really is, and the kindness would stop.
Kieran felt a knot in the pit of his stomach at that thought. He didn’t want the kindness to stop.
It’s a new kind of torture, that bitter voice inside him said. You don’t feel the sting of losing what you never had. They’re being kind now so that it’ll hurt that much more when they take it away.
Kieran shut his eyes, turning all of his focus to the feel of Ilya’s hands on him. One hand on his head, stroking his hair, and the other moving up and down his back, then to the front, along his chest, ribs, and stomach.
He willed himself to be aware only of that touch, and to tune everything else out.
“Kieran,” Charis called firmly, her voice cutting through the darkness in his mind. His eyes shot open, and he saw her turned toward him, holding a cup out to him.
How many times had she said his name? Oh gods, how many times had he ignored her?
“I’m sorry, Domina,” he said quickly, sitting up to take the cup from her.
He expected her to be angry, but she was smiling patiently at him. “Daydreaming?” she asked, a playful note to her voice.
“Oh gods,” Ilya groaned, stifling a laugh. “Another daydreamer? It’s enough trouble keeping just one pair of feet on the ground.”
“I’m sorry, Dominus,” Kieran said quickly, his eyes wide with fear. He didn’t want to be more trouble. He didn’t want to be an inconvenience.
Bad things happen to slaves who become an inconvenience.
“I won’t do it again,” he continued, illogical panic taking hold. No, he didn’t want to lose that kindness already. He wouldn’t be any trouble. He wouldn’t cause them any inconvenience. He wouldn’t require any extra care.
“Kieran,” Charis said sharply, pulling his focus out of his own mind and on to her. Once she had his attention, her voice softened. “Relax. We’re teasing you. You’re not in trouble.”
“My slave is notorious for getting lost in his own head,” Ilya explained. “He can be completely engaged in conversation one minute, and off in some fantasy world the next.”
Kieran looked from one to the other, saw their pleasant expressions, and decided to ask the question in his mind.
“That doesn’t annoy you, Dominus?” he asked, stunned at his own nerve for asking such a bold question. He half expected Ilya to backhand him.
But the blond man didn’t seem upset. “Well, sure it does, a little bit,” he answered. “But it’s just part of who he is.”
Who he is?
“But he’s a slave,” Kieran said.
“You have to understand, Kieran,” Charis said. “The world you grew up in, the world you’ve lived in until now has been very small, and very black-and-white. All breeders are strict with their slaves, so the slaves don’t become spoiled and lay expectations on their eventual owners, and Dryas was even more cruel. Our world doesn’t work that way. Not everyone treats slaves the way you’ve been treated. Drink.”
Kieran had completely forgotten about the cup in his hand, and lifted the straw to his lips. The cold, crisp water tasted like heaven, and he drank almost half of it before stopping.
Next, Charis handed him a small package wrapped in yellow paper. “Eat it slowly,” she told him. “And only half now. You can have the other half in an hour or so.”
Kieran nodded, accepting the rules. His stomach growled in protest of the idea that he could only eat half, but he thanked her anyway.
“You’re emaciated,” Charis explained, answering the question he wasn’t brave enough to ask. “You’re hungry, but your digestive system isn’t working as well as it should. If you eat too much, too fast, you’ll shock your system, and you’ll make yourself sick. And you’ll end up vomiting it all back up anyway, which will make you even worse off than you are now. You will never be made to go hungry while you’re mine, but it’ll take a few days to wake your system back up and get your body used to eating normal amounts of food on a regular basis.”
“Yes, Domina,” he said, relieved. So he wouldn’t be starved anymore.
Assuming she’s telling the truth, the bitter voice inside him said.
He ignored it, turning his attention to the sandwich wrapped in paper. It was simple and plain, just a couple thick slices of turkey and some lettuce on whole wheat bread, but when he bit into it, it was the most delicious thing in the world.
“Slowly,” Ilya reminded him as Charis pulled out of the parking lot. “Here, give it to me. Lie back down in my lap, that’s a good boy.”
His stomach grumbling loudly, he obeyed, curious, when Ilya turned him, positioning him on his back. He looked up, watching, as the older man broke off a small piece of the sandwich.
He held the piece to Kieran’s lips. “Open,” he ordered softly.
When Kieran obeyed, Ilya gently placed the food on his tongue. “There you go, that’s better.”
It took all Kieran’s willpower to keep from snatching the sandwich from his owner, but he had to admit, he liked being fed like this. It was sweet, and gentle, and Kieran felt… he felt comfortable. Which was a very foreign feeling.
He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been comfortable around the one who owned him.
All too soon, Ilya wrapped the sandwich back up. “Alright, that’s all you get for now.”
The whine escaped Kieran before he could check himself. Gasping, he clapped his hand over his mouth, his eyes wide.
Too comfortable. He’d gotten too comfortable. He’d let his guard down, he let himself stop being so vigilant, and he’d forgotten to regulate his behavior.
And he’d just whined at something his owner told him.
“I’m sorry,” he whimpered, tears pricking his eyes as he turned, moving to slide off the seat and crouch at Ilya’s feet. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
Above him, he heard Charis sigh.
“It’s going to take a while to break him of that habit, isn’t it?” Ilya asked her.
She nodded. “Dryas was his first owner. That’s all he knows.”
Ilya sighed in response, then reached down to touch Kieran’s shoulder. “Hey,” he said softly. “Come on back up here. You’re not in trouble.”
Kieran whimpered softly, forcing himself to let go of Ilya’s foot and let himself be picked up and placed back on the seat.
Ilya caressed him reassuringly. “Eventually, you’ll learn that you don’t have to be afraid of us,” he said.
“We’re home,” Charis declared, pulling into the garage.
Kieran’s heart skipped a beat as Ilya opened the door and climbed out.
“Come on,” he said gently, holding out his hand.
Nervously, Kieran took the older man’s outstretched hand and let himself be helped out of the car. He huddled next to Ilya, clutching the raincoat around himself.
Charis walked around the car and took Kieran’s hand. “Let’s go inside. I’ll show you to your room.”
Kieran didn’t understand her words, but didn’t argue as he was led through the large house. Charis took him upstairs, down a hallway, and stopped at a door. “This will be your room,” she told him, opening the door and leading him inside.
Kieran looked around, trying to wrap his brain around what he was seeing.
The room was small and modest, but comfortable. A full-sized bed dominated the center of the room, with what looked like a soft, thick comforter laid on neatly on it. And pillows.
Beside the bed was a small bedside table with a simple lamp and two drawers. On the opposite wall stood a wide, sturdy dresser.
He stood in the center of the room, gazing at the window above the bed, stunned to see that there were no bars there.
This couldn’t be his room, could it?
Charis walked to the dresser and pulled out a clean tunic. “Here,” she said, handing it to him, along with a belt and small pin. “Take these. You’ve had quite a night. I think you could definitely go for a long, hot bath.”
Kieran’s heart leapt nervously in his chest at the thought of servicing her in the bath. Maybe she’d just make him bathe her, and it wouldn’t go any further than that.
But it didn’t matter. She was his owner, and he belonged to her. Whatever she wanted, he would do. She’d already been kinder to him than he could have possibly imagined. It was completely within her right to experience the property she’d just purchased.
And he would be obedient, and would give her whatever she wanted.
She led him down the hall and into a large, clean bathroom. Dominating the center of the room was a big tub. Without a word, Charis sat on the edge of the tub and turned it on, taking a moment to test the water.
Once she was satisfied, she rose to her feet and walked to a door near the back of the room. She opened it and pulled out a thick blue towel and a small washcloth.
“Here,” she said, gesturing him over to her as she set the items down on the edge of the tub. He was surprised as he obeyed, nearing her. She’d actually gotten his things for him, and had drawn his bath for him.
“Go on, get in.”
“Yes, Domina,” Kieran said hesitantly as he stepped into the warm water.
“Lean back, get comfortable. Try to relax.”
There was no chance of that happening, no matter how much Kieran tried. His heart pounded, wondering what she would do. The tub was more than big enough to accommodate them both, and two more besides, but she kept her clothes on and stayed at the edge of the tub, making no move to join him.
What was she going to do to him?
“Your hair smells good, so I’m sure Dryas bathed you earlier today,” she explained, reaching behind her to grab a large bottle. “This isn’t so much to get you clean, as to help you relax. And the heat will keep your muscles from getting stiff.”
“Yes, Domina,” he murmured, watching as she tipped the bottle over and poured a sweet-smelling, clear liquid into the water.
“This will help your muscles, too,” she told him. “Give it time to work, and to soak into your skin. Take all the time you want. When you’re finished, dry off and come back to your room. You can leave the wet towel here on the tub.”
Kieran furrowed his brow. She was leaving him alone?
So she didn’t want him to service her?
“What is it?” she asked, seeing his troubled expression.
He opened his mouth to speak, but no sound came out. So she waited, patiently, watching him, until he found the words he was looking for, and the courage to say them out loud.
Her patience seemed to have no end.
“I… I thought… I thought you’d want me to…” As hard as he tried, he couldn’t make himself finish the sentence.
“Ah,” she said, nodding in understanding. “You thought I’d want to use you.”
Blushing madly, all he could do was nod.
“Not quite yet,” she said gently. “You’ve had a very long day. I want you relaxed and comfortable. That’s your focus for now.”
“Yes, Domina,” he replied as she rose to her feet.
“And, whether you want to admit it to me or not, my presence is not going to help you relax. Take whatever time you need. When you’re ready, go back to your room.”
He was even more confused than he’d been before he’d asked the question, but she had already turned and left the room.
Why did she care if he was relaxed and comfortable? Why did it matter? And how could she possibly want his focus on himself, rather than her?
That went against everything he’d ever known. He’d been raised by a breeder, he’d spent his entire life as a slave, and he’d never even fathomed the kinds of things she was saying and doing.
He hadn’t paid enough attention to hear how much she’d ended up paying for him, but he knew damn well that he wasn’t cheap. What was the point of paying all that, including the costs of keeping him, if he wasn’t going to be completely focused on her?
And didn’t they mention another slave? Did they have more slaves? Where were they? Did they have their own rooms, as well?
Sighing, he leaned back. He had a feeling it was useless trying to figure her out. But that, in itself, was unnerving. This was his new owner, the one who had his very life in her hands. He wanted to be able to understand her, and more importantly, understand how to please her. His survival depended on it.
After the water turned cold, he sighed again, pulling the plug at the bottom of the tub and rising to his feet. He quickly dried off, dressed, and made his way back down the hall, to the room she’d said was his.
She was there, waiting for him, sitting on the bed. She smiled at him as he came in.
“Feel better?” she asked.
“Yes, Domina,” he replied, his heart rate climbing. Now must be the moment. Now that he was clean, and had been given the opportunity to relax, she was surely expecting him to please her, to show gratitude for her kindness.
He dropped to his knees and crawled to her, watching her for cues as to what she wanted. But she sat still, watching him with a curious expression on her face.
Her expression didn’t change as he neared her. His heart pounding, he nuzzled her knee, rubbing his cheek against the soft, smooth material of her peplos. Here, he hesitated, waiting for her reaction.
There was a slight pause, then she placed a gentle hand on his head, running her fingers delicately through his hair, and caressing the back of his neck.
Kieran took that as an invitation and ran his hand slowly up her leg, starting at her ankle, and working up, under her peplos, to her knee.
“No, love,” she said softly, gently. Her touch was constant and reassuring, and helped guard against the panic that her rejection sprouted.
Why didn’t she want him to serve her? Was there something wrong with him? Did she not find him attractive?
Good gods, what happened to a slave who wasn’t thought to be appealing by his owner?
Suddenly her touch became firm, without losing the gentleness, and cupped his face, pulling him up to look at her. “It’s alright,” she assured him, seeing the panic on his face. “You haven’t done anything wrong.”
“Why don’t you want me?” he asked impulsively, stunned at his own nerve in saying it out loud.
She gave him a soft smile and caressed his cheek. “You’re used to being treated a certain way,” she told him. “It’s a way that I don’t agree with.”
Kieran didn’t understand. “Domina?” he asked, hoping for some kind of clarification.
“You’re mine,” she explained patiently. “I own you. I want you to enrich my life. And I believe that a helot who is treated with dignity, who is given a voice, makes a better slave. You’re my property, but you’re also a person. I believe you will serve me better and enrich my life further if you’re given the opportunity to be who you are, not just as my slave, but as a man.”
Kieran didn’t know how to respond to that. He didn’t even really know what to think about it. Hell, even being called a man threw him off guard. He’d never thought of himself as a man before. He’d always been Dryas’ property. And before that, he was Aktaion Euphemis’ property.
He thought of her symposium, and the things Dryas and his friends said about it. He thought of the strangeness of a trophimi owning a symposium, and how everyone had expected her to fail.
But almost overnight, she became a sensation, and her symposium was the most sought-after one in all of Sparta. Within the first couple of years, she needed to buy a larger building. And it was only another year or so until she’d reached the capacity for the second, and bought a larger plot of land, designing and building her very own symposium.
He thought back, trying to remember. It seemed to be about three or four years ago that the new location had opened. And she flat-out refused to expand again, even once she reached her membership limit. Dryas had been particularly annoyed about that.
She’d even been interviewed by the news, and told them that if she got any bigger, she was afraid she’d lose the community feel and the closeness her current members shared. That even a larger profit wasn’t enough to lose the camaraderie that was so central to symposium membership. That, because she was trophimi, she had the duty to uphold the Spartan values and the Spartan ties with other members of her symposium.
Dryas had scoffed, claiming that it was all puffed-up bullshit, an attempt to make herself look more Spartan by using Spartan ideals to mask her laziness.
There could be no doubting her success. Her symposium was the best, the helots that served there were the best, and she could even take helots that had been problem slaves when owned by a citizen and turn them into exemplary slaves for the symposium.
People claimed that she had a magic touch with the helots. That she could bend them, mold them, and control them to an uncanny degree. Any slave she sold, regardless of age, genetics, or past behavior, fetched inordinately high prices. There was even a rumor of a 40-year-old slave of the symposium, well-used by countless free people, being sold to a member for almost five thousand drachmae.
Was that part of the reason why? Was that why her helots were so much better? Because she treated them in this strange way?
“Here,” she said, startling him out of his thoughts. He looked up to see the other half of the sandwich in her hand. His stomach growled at the sight.
“Still hungry?” she asked.
He expected her to hand him the sandwich, but instead, she broke a small piece off and held it out to him, feeding him the same way Ilya had.
He closed his eyes, leaning against her leg, and opened his mouth. She was quiet as she fed him, and he enjoyed the feeling of closeness and intimacy.
Dryas had never fed him like this, and even when his friends had, it had always been a sort of sexual game. It was up to him to keep their attention, to be as sensual as he could, so they wouldn’t get bored and stop feeding him.
This wasn’t like that. He didn’t have to worry about turning her on. He could relax and enjoy the closeness, and the gentleness of her touch.
It was such a foreign feeling, not to have to worry about how long he had until she got bored. Somehow, he knew, he just knew, that she’d feed him the entire thing, whether he made it sensual or not.
More than that, he got the distinct impression that she wouldn’t appreciate him being overly sensual. Not tonight, anyway. She’d told him that she wanted him to focus on being comfortable and relaxing, and she’d rejected him when he’d tried to serve her.
No, she didn’t want him to be sexual now. She just wanted to feed him.
Maybe he could learn her ways, learn how to please her. It was becoming clearer to him that she wasn’t nearly as complicated as he originally thought. Complex, certainly, but not complicated. She was straightforward and direct with him, without being cruel or rough. It seemed like he would not have to try and guess at how best to please her. That she would be forthright with that information, and make his job easier.
When she’d given him the whole thing, she caressed his face gently. “You’ve had a long day,” she told him. “I want you to get some rest. You know where the bathroom is, if you need it. Other than that, I’d prefer you stay in here.”
Kieran was confused about that. He wasn’t going to be locked in the room?
Charis noticed his expression and hesitated. “This is your room,” she told him. “Not your cage. I’m treating you like a person, remember? Not an animal.”
“Someone will come to get you for breakfast.”
Kieran looked around for a clock, and didn’t see one. “What time should I be awake?” he asked.
But Charis shook her head. “Don’t worry about that. If you’re still asleep, then we’ll wake you up. I don’t want you to worry about being up and ready at a certain time. Not yet, anyway.”
She smiled down at him, then kissed the top of his head before rising to her feet. “Goodnight, love,” she said sweetly. “Sleep well. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Goodnight, Domina,” Kieran replied awkwardly. Had anyone ever wished him goodnight before? He didn’t really know how to feel about that. It was such an odd feeling, being treated like a person. How such a little thing, like saying goodnight, could shake him so deeply.
She left the room, closing the door behind her, and Kieran found himself alone. In a room with a bed. And an unbarred window.
Sighing, he got off the floor and climbed into the bed, trying to remind himself that he had permission to sleep there. The warmth and softness felt foreign, and sleep didn’t come easily.
But he’d had a very long day, and before long, the warmth of the bed and his exhaustion won out, and he fell into the best sleep he’d had in a long time.