“Rag! Why are you calling me? Why are you not in the dungeon?” Flavia was purring down the phone; the fact that Rag wasn’t where he was supposed to be obvious by the lack of activity on the big screen in front of her. She heard him draw in a breath through his teeth. Something he did when he was nervous that annoyed her immensely. “What?” She drawled.
“He was sold to someone else.” Rag’s rumbling baritone came over the line.
“He was what?” Flavia wasn’t sure she had heard right. “Who the fuck would buy a paralyzed, one-legged…“ Her blood pressure was soaring and Flavia could feel the heat in her face. She forced calmness into her voice. Shouting at Rag would only confuse him. She had bought him for his physical prowess and his below-borderline IQ made him pliable and good at following orders, but thinking proactively was beyond his capabilities. She needed to ask clear questions and give him clear orders to get what she needed from him. “Rag?” she said as gently as she could.
Now she could hear the tremble in his voice, his fear of having failed his mistress. “Is he still at the Trading Center or has he already been moved to his new owner?”
“He was moved. I tried to call you. I saw them take him. I didn’t know if I should follow them.”
“And did you follow them?”
“No I stayed here. You sent me here.”
“Do you know who he was sold to?”
“No they didn’t say.”
She hadn’t expected the sales staff to do so, but sometimes they were chatty and let things slip. It didn’t matter anyway. She had her means to get to the information she needed.
“You did good, Rag. It’s not your fault. Come home to Mommy and make your Mommy happy.”
“I will come.”
His voice was full of relief. All of her slaves respected her. They felt a kinship with her and she with them. They recognized that in this day where physical perfection was the standard by which everyone was measured she was just as enslaved by her situation as they were. She was kind to them. Much kinder than many of the masters they had served before. She treated them fairly. In return they protected her with their life. But Rag loved her. He was the only one who truly loved her.
Flavia closed the call. She had an hour before Rag would return. She got up and grabbed the peach silk wrap as she waddled into her bathroom. She would soak in the tub for half an hour while another one of her slaves tidied up. Who should she send for? Maybe Baldr. Like Rag, Baldr was one magnificent example of manhood, but unlike Rag he was quick-witted and sharp and he had the most magical hands.
She had given him the name Baldr because he was blind. He’d been caught stealing from his previous master. As punishment he had had his eyes removed. Flavia had bought him and given him prosthetic eyes that allowed him to see light and dark. Maybe one day she would upgrade him to fully functional eyes, but she believed that he was better doing what he did by touch.
That’s what she needed. A soak in the hot bath followed by one of Baldr’s massages to erase the tension Rag’s call had infused into her body. A temporary setback; that’s all it was she told herself. Nothing she couldn’t fix. In a while she would get to work to find out who had bought Garran Raulsten and why. The easiest course of action would most likely be to just offer compensation and buy him back.
As she sank into the hot water, Flavia wondered why someone else would want to buy a crippled man in a wheelchair advertised as a sex slave. She had considered it the perfect cover story. Obviously there was a market out there if someone jumped at the opportunity like that. Maybe it would be a lucrative type of business venture to explore. If there was demand then she would supply. She would have to explore that. Maybe offer tailor-made disabled slaves for the discerning customer. Look at Baldr—what was better than a blind masseur? Flavia giggled. She pinched her nose and sank under the surface. What a glorious idea.
Aurra pulled off her headset and turned her head to look at Garran while he finished with the take-off sequence. Professionally efficient as she had expected he ran the last checklist before relaxing into his seat when he had confirmed that they were on the correct course to Horlus III and the auto-pilot was fully in control.
“Thank you, Commander. That was flawless—as I had expected.”
Garran looked at her with an expression of surprise on his face, as if he hadn’t expected the praise. “At your service, Ma’am.”
“Really?” Aurra raised an inquisitive eyebrow. “Don’t make promises you won’t keep, Commander.” How endearing how his face turned from neutral to confused. Silence descended between them. Damn—could she be any more tongue-tied?
He didn’t seem to notice and ignoring her comment, he asked. “Since you seem to know who I am—how about leveling the playing field?”
“Umm—of course.” She reached a hand across the gap between the seats. “Aurra MacCowan—Captain and owner of the Dark Goshawk”.
He took her hand and shook it. His grip was strong, masculine and authoritative, but not crushing like some men’s. He held on a little longer than necessary and awareness arced through Aurra’s arm straight into her lower belly. Finally he released her hand. Did he feel it, too?
“Dark … Goshawk?”
Aurra could see the smirk that Garran was trying to suppress. His eyes lit up and she could see the implied challenge. She felt her resistance melting. They hadn’t even exchanged more than a few words and already she could feel a tangible connection between them. But what about Bryn part of her conscience started protesting. She ignored it if favor of the realization how much she craved that connection with another person; the lightness, the gentle teasing.
She shrugged in response. “The previous owner was into birds. The ship was previously named Dark Chanting Goshawk, but that was more than even I could stomach.” She rolled her eyes for effect. That elicited a chuckle from Garran that he quickly turned into a cough.
“Commander, I would like to introduce you to the rest of the crew and we have some business to discuss, but first how about I show you to your quarters?”
“What?” Garran caught himself. “Sure, that would be great.” He was still mesmerized by the tingling sensation in his palm from when he had held Aurora’s hand. Aurra, he corrected himself. Still deeply absorbed in his thoughts, he put his left hand on the edge of the seat and reached with the other to the edge of the console to pull himself out of the pilot seat when it occurred to him at the last second that he would be crashing to the floor if he moved another millimeter.
Hell no—he didn’t just make a complete fool of himself in front of her by forgetting that he couldn’t walk. And he couldn’t even fake it by lunging for his wheelchair because he had stowed it on the other side of the seat. He closed his eyes and leaned back against the backrest, feeling the heat creep up his neck.
He heard Aurra’s quiet chuckle. “Hey, Commander. I appreciate your enthusiasm, but maybe you should stick to your wheelchair until you get your legs fixed.”
Garran opened one eye and squinted at her. She was half turned in her chair and smiling at him. The smile transformed her face and released that knot of embarrassment, frustration and anger that had just lodged into his throat and in his chest. He laughed. “I don’t know how I could possibly forget, but I did.” He reached for the wheelchair and positioned it then he lifted himself across. He noticed how Aurra was watching him the entire time. For some reason he didn’t feel like analyzing right there and then, he was glad that she didn’t seem to be put off by his missing leg and the way he had to use his hands to move his other leg around.
She stood up and slipped past him, the back of her hand brushing his arm. Another tingle of warmth radiated from the spot she had touched. He shook his head.
“What?” She asked from where she was standing behind her chair, looking at him, waiting for him to be ready.
“Nothing. Lead on.” He released the brakes and followed her out of the cockpit, thinking of how attractive she had looked when she had smiled at him.
Aurora - Part 8
Aurora - Part 8