Sunlight streamed through the window, and the warm light, combined with the warmth of the bed, pleasantly woke Kieran.
He was surprised to discover that the warmth he felt came primarily from the body of his owner as she slept beside him, an arm protectively around him even in sleep.
Kieran remained still, studying her face. He was surprised at how beautiful she really was. Until now, all he’d had the nerve for were fleeting looks and glances when she’d commanded him to look at her. He’d been too afraid to really get a good look at the woman who owned him.
Her blonde hair splayed out against the pillow, framing a pleasant face. The sharp, predatory Spartan features were softened by the perioeci influence. Her cheekbones were high, as they often were for Spartans, but with a delicate nose. She had the Spartan jawline, but it wasn’t as pronounced as in a full-blooded Spartan. Her chin wasn’t as square. It gave her face a younger, more rounded appearance.
It seemed as if the best traits of Spartans and perioikoi combined within her.
In sleep, she looked so gentle, so young. If he didn’t know who she was, he would’ve found it impossible to believe that a woman with a face this innocent and guileless could ever run a symposium. She looked so kind.
He’d always wondered what it would be like to be owned by a kind person. He’d always wondered what it would feel like to be held in someone’s arms, safe and protected. He’d wondered what it would feel like to be someone’s pet.
A soft knock on the door startled him out of his thoughts. A moment later, the door opened and Cullen quietly stepped in. He grinned when his eyes met Kieran’s, then quickly turned his attention to Charis, approaching the side of the bed where she slept.
“Domina,” he murmured gently, running the tips of his fingers across her cheek affectionately.
“Mmm?” she mumbled sleepily, stirring slightly.
“Domina,” he called again, smiling down at her with an expression of pure, genuine love. “It’s time to wake up.”
Suddenly, apparently awake and alert, she reached up, cupping her hand on the back of his neck, and pulled him down to meet her lips in a fierce kiss. Startled by the unexpected action, Cullen stumbled forward, bracing himself on the headboard to keep from falling on top of her.
But she didn’t seem satisfied with that. Deepening the kiss, she rolled, pulling him off balance and across her body. It looked as if she would devour him, right then and there.
Until she felt Kieran beside her. She abruptly broke the kiss and turned to look at him with confusion in her eyes, until, laughing, she realized that they were in his room.
“Well, good morning, Kieran,” she said cheerfully, still holding Cullen against her, seeming to take pleasure in his awkward attempts to support his weight. A quick jerk of her arm knocked his own arm out from underneath him, and with a surprised gasp, he collapsed on top of her. He chuckled as he made half-hearted attempts to struggle, but she clasped one of his arms behind his back and raised her knee between his thighs, keeping him still.
“Oh, that’s not fair,” he joked, finally going still on top of her.
“It’s not my fault you’re so cute when you’re all helpless,” she replied easily, reaching for his other arm and pinning it behind his back, as well.
Cullen whimpered playfully, nuzzling her neck as she turned to Kieran.
“How did you sleep?” she asked Kieran.
“Very well, Domina, thank you,” he replied softly, unsure of how to take the situation. It was so strange, how being in Cullen’s position with Dryas would’ve been terrifying. Being restrained and made helpless by one’s owner is always terrifying.
But here was Cullen, a man who had been badly abused before, very obviously enjoying being made helpless by his owner. He continued to nuzzle and kiss her neck while she spoke to Kieran, squirming just a bit as she bent her knee more, rubbing her thigh between his legs.
“Of course he slept well, Domina,” Cullen murmured, smiling over at him. “He got to sleep with you.”
Charis laughed. “Are you jealous, my boy?”
Cullen squirmed more, intentionally grinding on her leg. “It was so very cold, in that dark room, all by my poor, lonesome self,” he said jokingly.
Charis laughed. “Oh you poor dear.”
She kissed him once more, deeply and passionately, before releasing him. He quickly rose up off of her and helped her up. She laughed when she saw his erection poking through his tunic.
“Well someone is awake,” she said, her hand going to his cock. Cullen moaned softly as she stroked it through the material of his tunic, thrusting his hips slightly forward.
“Yes, Domina,” he murmured, the playfulness gone from his face, replaced, to Kieran’s surprise, with genuine desire.
He liked having her hands on him?
“Wide awake,” she continued, still stroking him.
He whined, a soft, lustful, needy, begging sound. “Please, Domina,” he breathed, stepping closer to her.
“What do you want, boy?” she asked, grinning, her grip on his cock tightening. He gasped, trying harder now to thrust into her hand. But she prevented him from doing it, teasing him instead.
“You, Domina,” he whispered, reaching for her and clinging to her.
She laughed, stepping away suddenly. “Well, you can’t have me.”
His jaw dropped, and he looked at her incredulously as she turned to extend a hand to Kieran.
“Oh, that’s just cruel,” he protested.
“I never claimed to be a nice person,” she answered. “Come on, let’s get dressed and have some breakfast.”
“Domina,” Cullen whined, his frustration and longing evident in his face.
Charis turned to him and laughed softly when she saw his expression. “Oh, my poor boy,” she said playfully, reaching for his hand. “Don’t worry, you won’t have to wait long. Breakfast first.”
Cullen pouted for a moment, until a smile broke out on his face. He wrapped Charis in a big hug, nuzzling her neck for just a moment before she, laughing, pulled away.
“Breakfast first,” she repeated. “Come on, let’s go.”
She turned and took Kieran’s hand, and the three of the left the room and made their way downstairs, to the dining room.
“Good morning, boys,” she said cheerfully to Ilya and Taber.
“Good morning, Domina,” Taber answered.
“You look like you had a fun night,” Ilya said.
Cullen scoffed, still pouting playfully. “I wish.”
“Oh, hush,” Charis scolded, lightly swatting his butt as he made his way to his chair. “Kieran, come here. Sit with me.”
She led him to sit on the floor at her feet, and Kieran quickly sat down, resting his head against her thigh. He was grateful to sit on the floor, instead of at the table. It was more familiar to him, and he didn’t have to try and pay attention to everyone at the table.
And he didn’t have to deal with the strangeness of sitting at the table with his owners. He could just relax, and enjoy being close to her.
The more time he spent with her, the more he discovered that he liked being close to her. She had a very calming effect on him, even as everything she did confused and frightened him. Being close to her was reassuring, and being close to her without having to try to figure her out was the closest thing to comfort and happiness he had ever known.
From his place beside her, he heard the door open and Abby walk in.
“Good morning, everyone,” she said quickly. There was a pause, then, “Where’s the little one?”
“Here,” Charis answered gesturing to him sitting beside her.
“And his food?”
“You can set his plate next to mine. He’ll eat here today.”
She stepped around in Kieran’s view, and smiled gently down at him. “Good morning, Bambi,” she said. “Still adjusting?”
“Yes, Ma’am,” he whispered shyly, moving closer to Charis.
Charis ran her fingers affectionately through his hair. “It’ll take time,” she said. “But he’ll get there.”
“Well if anyone can get him there, you can,” Abby said, setting down her plate and Kieran’s plate before moving to the other side of the table to serve Ilya, then Taber and Cullen.
“Thank you, Miss Abby,” Cullen and Taber said, more or less in unison.
Abby nodded, then turned and left the room.
Kieran didn’t pay attention to the conversation around him, just letting his mind wander as he ate his breakfast from his owner’s fingers.
And he loved every moment of it. He loved the softness of her thigh, he loved the feeling of her fingertips on his lips as she fed him, he loved the intimacy and security of the moment. He felt peaceful, and comfortable, and safe.
He couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt like that.
Was this what Cullen and Taber felt all the time? Was this what it felt like to be loved and cherished, instead of just owned and used? To enjoy being close to the one who owned him?
Was this what Cullen felt when she’d touched him that morning?
Would Kieran enjoy being touched by her, too?
He’d never enjoyed being touched by his owner before. The thought was a foreign one. What would it feel like to want her hands on him, the way Cullen did? Cullen had been abused and beaten so much more, and so much longer than Kieran had ever been. He had been very familiar with not wanting to be touched.
But he had truly enjoyed Charis’ touch, and had been disappointed when she had stopped. Would that ever happen to Kieran, too? Would he crave her hands on him?
He already liked being close to her, and he liked when she caressed him and ran her fingers through his hair. Would he like her hand between his legs, as well?
He was lost in thought, letting his mind wander, when Charis’ fingertip under his chin, bringing his head up to look at her, pulled his attention.
“Did you get enough to eat?” she asked.
“Yes, Domina,” Kieran replied, surprised at the question. It seemed so odd, for an owner to ask her slave a question like that. Dryas had never asked him anything like it.
“Good. Come upstairs with me.”
He quickly rose to his feet, following her out of the dining room and back up the stairs. But when she expected her to turn right, down the hall to his room, she turned left, instead taking him to hers. He followed her obediently into the room and stood in the center as she closed the door behind them.
“Take off your tunic, love,” she said gently. “I want to take a closer look at you.”
His voice caught in his throat, but somehow he managed a quiet “Yes, Domina,” as his fingers numbly went to the clasp at his shoulder. His heart pounded as the fabric fell to a pile at his feet, and he stood in front of his owner, naked and exposed.
Just as she did the first night she met him, she made a slow circle around him, examining him, and he felt himself shrink under her scrutinizing gaze. This time, she touched him a great deal more, her fingers lingering on his stomach, his hips, his back. And she was much more thorough in her examination of him.
He couldn’t help but whimper under the strength of her gaze. When she moved back to his front, and he saw her frown and furrowed brow, it took all his willpower to keep from collapsing at her feet.
Gods, she wasn’t disappointed in his body, was she?
“It’s alright, Kieran,” she murmured, seeming to know the worry that ate at him. “You’re a beautiful boy.”
“Thank you, Domina.”
“A lot of these bruises are still really dark. Did Dryas enjoy beating you?”
“Did you enjoy being beaten?”
Kieran dared a questioning glance to her. “Domina?”
“Did you enjoy when he beat you?”
He had no idea how to answer that. “I was happy to serve my former Dominus, however he wanted to use me.”
But she shook her head. “No, that’s not what I asked you,” she said patiently. “And I don’t want the ‘correct’ answer. You’re not being tested here. I just want the truth. Did you like when he beat you?”
Kieran shrank, both from his owner having to repeat herself, and for fear of answering. “No, Domina,” he whispered.
“Good boy,” she said, reaching a hand up to caress his face, reassuring him. “That’s what I want from you. I always want the truth, even if you feel like you shouldn’t say it.”
“Yes, Domina,” he said, sighing with relief. It was so strange, the effect her praise had on him. How was it that two simple words could have such a strong effect? Even before he was hers, he loved the sound of those words on her lips. He wanted to earn more of that praise from her.
“Have you ever served women?” she asked, turning her focus back to his body.
“Yes, Domina,” he answered. “But not often. And not recently.”
She heard the hesitation in his voice. “Do you not like servicing women?”
“I’m afraid I won’t be good at it, Domina,” he corrected quickly.
“Well, there’s only one way to find out. But you still didn’t answer my question. Do not like servicing women? Do you prefer men or women?”
Yet another question he didn’t know how to answer. “I… I’m a slave, Domina,” he stammered, confused. “I don’t have a preference.”
“You don’t have a preference?” she asked. “At all?”
Fear started creeping up in him. Was he supposed to have a preference? What if he didn’t?
Oh gods, but what if he did, and she wasn’t it? What if he opened up that part of himself, and she wasn’t the gender he preferred?
No, his mind said sternly, recoiling from the idea. You’re a slave. Be a slave.
“Domina,” he said shakily, his heart pounding. How could he tell her that he just couldn’t risk that? Being trained not to have a preference made his life easier. He couldn’t let that go.
But would she be angry at him for that? Would she punish him for disobeying her? Would her kindness and compassion stop?
“Hey, it’s alright,” she said, taking his hands. “It’s alright, you don’t have to think about it. I’ll leave it alone for now. Come here, there’s something else you can do instead.”
Relieved, he followed her to the bed, and stood still, watching her as she pulled her nightgown up over her head.
He was stunned at what he saw underneath it.
The first thing he noticed was her beauty. Thin and voluptuous, with dizzying curves and impossibly smooth, porcelain skin. He wanted to touch her, to see if she was as smooth and soft as she looked.
But then he noticed that her skin was marred in a great number of places by scars, some impressively large and dark. She was certainly no stranger to pain.
She chuckled as she noticed him staring at her. “Yeah, agoge was fun. As it turns out, most full-blooded Spartans don’t love it when a mothax outranks them. The poor dears. Come here, though. I want your focus somewhere else.”
“Yes, Domina,” he replied, forcing himself to tear his eyes from her exquisite body.
He watched as she lied down, stretching out on the bed, her body moving hypnotically. His eyes trailed down from her face, to her breasts, down her stomach, to the part of her that seemed to be simultaneously the most vulnerable and most intimidating part of her body.
It was the part of her body he was expected to service, and the idea made him unbelievably nervous. She scared him, she terrified him. But at the same time, he wanted to serve her. He wanted to please her, to make her happy. He wanted to bring her pleasure.
So, focusing on his desire to make her happy, he tentatively crawled onto the bed, lying between her legs, and shyly tasted the woman who owned him.
It wasn’t unpleasant, and she was very expressive, giving him enough feedback to learn quickly what she liked, and how best to service her. He slowly gained confidence as his tongue dove through the folds of her body, licking, kissing, and sucking.
His mouth had always been particularly talented, he knew. Many men knew just how talented his mouth was. He was sure he could achieve the same level of skill with a woman, too. And he would, with Charis. He would show her how useful his mouth was.
Her soft moans fueled his desire to please her. He could feel the muscles in her legs tense as the waves of pleasure swept over her. And, just as when men used his mouth, he found himself swelling with pride as her pleasure mounted. This was something he was skilled at, something he could do. And he enjoyed seeing her react to the way his tongue felt on her.
When her fingers dove through his hair, gripping him and holding him against her, he intensified his movements, reading her reactions and her moans to judge how to bring her the most pleasure.
It was a skill he was very good at, and it didn’t take long for her to reach orgasm.
Her entire body tensed and she cried out with the strength of her orgasm. Kieran slowly, gently licked her clean, swallowing all of her juices as she relaxed on the bed.
After a moment, she sighed contentedly and reached down as he rested his head against her thigh, running her fingers gently through his hair.
He burned to ask her if he’d satisfied her, if he’d lived up to her expectations. He had almost gathered enough courage to give voice to his question when the door opened suddenly.
Startled, Kieran looked back to see a strange man, wearing a helot’s tunic, walk in as if he owned the place. The man grinned widely at the two of them before his eyes met Charis’.
“Did I miss all the fun?” he asked
“Rowyn!” Charis exclaimed happily, sliding out from under Kieran and rising to her feet. She crossed the room in a few steps and threw herself into the man’s arms.
He hugged her tightly, lowering his head and burying her face in her hair. The embrace was so loving, so affectionate, so intimate, that Kieran averted his gaze, feeling as if he were intruding on them.
Still, he couldn’t bring himself to keep his eyes lowered for long. There was obvious love between them, something so much purer and deeper than he’d ever seen before. Dryas had certainly never regarded anyone the way Charis regarded this slave. Her joy in seeing him had been palpable, and the way she held him made Kieran’s heart ache.
Would anyone ever hold him like that? Would anyone ever love him the way his new owner loved her pet?
Kieran was surprised, too, to discover how old Rowyn was. He had to be in his mid-forties, at least.
But just as surprising as his age was the fact that being in his forties didn’t detract from the man’s beauty in any way. He was tall, fit, and very obviously still in the prime of his life.
Our world doesn’t work that way, Charis had said to him when they brought him home. Not everyone treats slaves the way you’ve been treated.
All he’d known had been Dryas and his friends. Were there others who didn’t sell their slaves when they hit 35? Were there other slaves who still looked this good at 40, 45, or 50? Or older?
Finally, Charis pulled away and turned to face Kieran, but Rowyn wasn’t satisfied with just standing near her. He threaded his arms under hers, around her waist and pulled her back against him. She seemed delighted by the slave’s very bold actions.
“Rowyn, this is Kieran. He’s the newest addition to the house.”
“It’s a pleasure,” Rowyn said politely, although it was clear his focus was elsewhere. He lowered his head, kissing and nibbling her bare shoulder.
“Kieran, this is Rowyn,” she explained, leaning back against him. “He had to go to Mystras to survey a symposium for me.”
“Hello,” Kieran said awkwardly, unsure of how to address his owner’s primary slave.
Rowyn lifted his head to smile warmly at the boy, then pressed his cheek affectionately against Charis’ ear, whispering something to her.
Charis’ lips turned up in a mischievous, wolfish smile at the slave’s words. “Kieran, darling,” she said, turning to face Rowyn. “You may get dressed and enjoy some free time. I’ll be unavailable for a bit.”
“Yes, Domina,” Kieran replied, quickly rising off the bed and grabbing his tunic.
“You have free reign of the house,” she told him as he walked past them, to the door. “But don’t go outside.”
He hurried out of the room, closing the door behind him. As he did, he heard Charis giggling playfully from the other side.
Once he was dressed again, he thought about going to his room, then decided against it. It would be comfortable in his room, alone, but curiosity got the best of him. Given the freedom to explore, he wanted to learn more about the place he was now living in.
His mind wandered as he walked slowly, aimlessly, through the halls. Rowyn had gone to the next town over, to survey a symposium. That’s what Charis had said.
What did that mean?
Was Rowyn, a slave, really given the authority to make business decisions on his owner’s behalf? Had he actually been allowed to travel on his own, to judge a symposium on his own, and then trusted to return?
Most slaves would have jumped at the opportunity to escape. Granted, trying to flee Laconia from as far south as Sparta or Mystras would be difficult, but it was a well-known fact that Epirus, which bordered Laconia to the northwest, was a country that did not share the Spartan tradition of slavery.
The chances of successfully making the journey were slim, but for many helots, the risk was worth it.
But not, apparently, for Rowyn. He’d been given the authority to travel and make decisions in the name of his owner, and had come back. More than that, he’d been genuinely overjoyed to return to his owner’s arms.
It was an odd concept. But then again, Kieran was quickly learning that his new owner did not conform to what he had expected. Perhaps he’d be happy to return too, if he had a loving, caring, kind owner to return to.
He absently made his way down the stairs, and walked past the library. He paused when he saw Taber alone in the room, reclining on a large, overstuffed chair reading.
Taber looked up to him as he stood in the doorway. “Kieran,” he said cheerfully. “Come in, you don’t have to be shy.”
Kieran hesitated only a moment before walking into the room. Ilya’s slave was quiet and reserved, but friendly, with a calming nature. Kieran liked him. Liked being around him.
So he awkwardly stepped into the library, gazing at the shelves upon shelves of books.
“How are you adjusting?” Taber asked.
“Very well, thank you.”
The older slave chuckled softly and set his book down. “You know, the only person I’ve ever met who is better at reading people than I am is Domina. That lie won’t fool her, either.”
Kieran blushed, turning to face Taber and leaning back against the shelf. “I’m alright, I really am.”
“I told you before,” Taber said patiently. “You don’t have to pretend here. I can tell that you’re uneasy. You can talk to me.”
Kieran sighed. There was no hiding from those observant brown eyes. “I’m not sure what’s expected of me,” he admitted finally. “I’ve been here for days, and Domina only used me once, just now. Then, she left me alone. I don’t even know if I pleased her. I want to make her happy, and serve her the way she wants, but I don’t know how. I’m afraid she’ll punish me for misbehaving, but I don’t know how to behave.”
Taber smiled gently. “Domina is one of the most amazing people you’ll ever meet,” he said. “But she’s human. She has faults, just like everyone else. Sometimes, she forgets to acknowledge other people’s emotions. She’s not particularly emotional, so she naturally assumes everyone else is the same. You don’t have to worry, though. She’s a good woman, and she’s fair and kind. She won’t punish you for not knowing how to behave.”
“Are you sure?”
“If you make a mistake, it’ll just remind her that she needs to spend more time training you. And she will. She doesn’t play games, and she doesn’t ever want you to have to guess at what she wants. She’ll teach you. As hard as it may be for you to believe, she actually wants you to be happy. It’s something that’s very, very important to her. She wants you to be just as comfortable here as Rowyn, Cullen, and I are. And she will go out of her way to make sure that happens. You just have to be a bit patient with her sometimes, if she gets distracted.”
Kieran didn’t know what to think about Taber’s words. He had just spoken ill of their owner. What if Ilya had heard that?
“Relax,” Taber said. “She will admit those faults herself. Acknowledging the fact that our owner isn’t perfect is an important part of serving her. We have to accept and acknowledge the fact that she’s not infallible. She will make mistakes. Pretending she’s perfect will set us up for failure. That’s something she’ll teach you, too.”
“I don’t ever want to anger her,” Kieran said quickly. “I’d never dream of insulting my owner.”
Taber sighed. “Dominus has blond hair,” he said. “Is my acknowledgement of that insulting?”
“No,” Kieran replied, confused.
“Because pointing out his hair color isn’t an insult.”
“Exactly. Pointing out the truth isn’t an insult. Dominus has his faults, too. He’s not perfect, either. He tries to be, because he was once a slave, and knows firsthand how bad it can be. But he makes mistakes, too. It’s not an insult, and it’s not disrespectful. It’s the truth. Acknowledging that truth allows me to serve him wholeheartedly, to remain genuinely happy to serve him even when he makes mistakes. It helps me better serve him. It makes me a better slave to him.”
“Doesn’t he ever get offended?”
Taber shrugged. “He has moments where he’ll lose his temper,” the slave admitted. “But he’s never cruel, and he’s never caused me harm. If I were to say something that upsets him, he’ll talk to me about it.”
“He won’t punish you?”
“He might, depending on the situation. But even when he does, he’ll always talk to me first.”
Kieran sighed, raking a hand through his hair. “This is too much,” he murmured.
Taber nodded in agreement. “It’s a lot to take in. But just be patient, both with Domina, and with yourself. She’ll teach you everything you need to know. Try to relax. Pick up a book, if you want. Domina will call for you when she wants you.”
Kieran turned, looking to the books on the shelf behind him. There really wasn’t anything better to do, and he liked being in the company of the quiet, gentle slave. He picked a book at random and opened it, looking at the pages cramped with small letters.
“Can you read?” Taber asked.
“I was taught,” Kieran answered. “When I was younger. I’ve forgotten most of it, though.”
“Well, that book probably won’t be a great place to start. That’s advanced psychology. It’s pretty boring stuff. Domina loves it, though. I can help you learn to read, if you’d like.”
“Would that be alright with Domina?” Kieran asked nervously.
“Of course. She encourages it. Come here, we’ll look at this one. It’s not difficult to understand.”
Taber moved to the side of the large sitting chair, giving Kieran room to sit beside him. “Alright, what do you remember?”