Vaaden Warriors (Collection)
Jessica Coulter Smith
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2014 Jessica Coulter Smith
Excerpt from Rheul
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Bastian entered the room with a petite woman with long, wavy black hair that hung down her back to her waist. She was even shorter than Enid, if that were possible, and I felt the sudden urge to protect her. Foreboding filled me, and I realized these feelings weren't good. I hadn't even been introduced the woman yet, and I already wanted to protect her? What would be next?
I moved to stand before her. I looked down into her upturned face; guileless blue eyes stared up at me. Her porcelain skin looked petal soft, and I wanted to touch it, to see if it felt as silky smooth as it looked. Clenching my fists, I fought the urge to sweep her into my arms and hold her close, to breathe her in.
"What's your name?" I asked her gruffly.
"I'm Rheul. Do you know why you're here?"
"I was told I am to be your slave," she answered softly, her voice wrapping around me like warm silk.
Damn. I was in serious trouble. Only in her presence a matter of minutes, and I already wanted to sink to my knees and bury my face against her, inhaling the scent I imagined would be uniquely hers. I wasn't sure what the hell was wrong with me, but I needed to fix it and quick.
My expression must have given something away because Bastian smirked at me and Enid had a knowing look in her eye. I cleared my throat and reached for Darcy. "It's time I took you home and got you settled."
"Rheul, would you mind if I visited her?" Enid asked.
Bastian growled. "Forget Rheul. I don't want you visiting. You're not to go to the slave quarters!"
Enid rolled her eyes and sighed, patting her pregnant belly. "Honestly, Bastian. It isn't like I haven't seen them before. In case you've forgotten, I did live there for a while."
"Things are different now," he said, putting an arm around her.
She smiled up at him and for one moment, I envied them. I knew I'd never experience that with a Vaaden woman, but one day I would be required to marry, especially now that Bastian wouldn't. While Enid might have special permissions not allowed to most slaves, she was still a slave. She and Bastian could never marry, no matter how much they might want to.
Clearing my throat, I took Darcy by the arm and led her to the front of the house, and called over my shoulder, "I'll see you later." Once we were outside, I led her toward the slave buildings. "Time to take you home."
Darcy looked up at me. "How is it that I can understand everything you say even outside of a home? While I was confined, I noticed the translation boxes in the cells, and I saw one inside the house."
I flipped up the collar of my shirt, showing her a small silver circle. "This translates up to five hundred languages, automatically selecting the ones being spoken." I smiled down at her. "Since I designed it, I figured I should be the first to test it."
She looked impressed, and I felt proud of my accomplishment, which made no sense. What did I care what a slave thought? Her opinion didn't matter. "Is that where we're going?" she asked, pointing to the tall windowless building ahead of us.
"Yes. Your... I believe you would call it an apartment, is in that building."
"Mine? You will not stay there?"
"No." She looked up at me a moment longer, but didn't say a word. When we reached the building, she looked at her surroundings, but I couldn't tell anything by her expression. If she was shocked or appalled, she didn't show it.
When we reached the fourth floor, I opened her apartment door and ushered her inside. Even though I'd had the inside re-done for Enid when she'd stayed with me briefly, during a time when Bastian had clearly lost his mind, I'd made it over again for Darcy. Enid hadn't used it, but it still seemed like the right thing to do.
She studied everything silently, her fingers trailing over the soft comforter. "What's behind that door?" she asked, pointing to the silver panel on the opposite wall.
I pressed my hand against the surface, and the door opened with a whoosh, disappearing into the wall. The interior was the same marble from top to bottom as the flooring in the living room, except it was a pale gray.
She eyed the shower in curiosity. "How does it work?" she asked softly.
I pressed a silver button on the wall, and water cascaded from the top, creating a waterfall of sorts. The shower was a little different from most. I'd had it designed special, wanting something unique. I showed her how to work the soap dispenser and the sink before turning off the shower.
She hesitated before leaving the bathroom. "May I... may I take a shower now?"
I studied her more carefully and realized her slave garment was dirty. It angered me that they hadn't taken proper care of her, but again my reaction made no sense. The slaves were never treated well before they were claimed, so why would mine have been treated differently? She'd turned my world upside down, and I didn't like it.
"Let me find you something clean to wear."
I walked over to the closet and opened the door the same way as the bathroom. Anticipating her arrival, I'd purchased several tunics for her, slightly longer than the slave garment she had on, but nothing like the dresses Vaaden women wore. I selected a soft blue, pulled it out of the closet and took it to her.
When I handed it to her, tears gathered in her eyes, making me feel slightly uncomfortable. "You don't like it?"
"It isn't that," she said quietly. "I just didn't expect... I'd heard... A few of the women in the cell spoke of what happened when Vaadens claimed slaves."
"And how did they know what happened?"
"They'd been claimed and returned." She looked down at her hands. "One of them had been abused by her owner."
I frowned. That was highly unusual. Typically, if a Vaaden didn't want his slave, he gave her away, or killed her. In some instances, she would be turned over to the harems. Was there a new policy in place I knew nothing about?
"I've never heard of that being done before. Are you sure that's what happened?"
"That's what they claimed."
"Did they explain what Vaaden men expect of their slaves?"
She blushed and looked away. "You want me to sleep with you."
I gently reached out and grasped her chin, turning her to face me. She wouldn't meet my gaze at first, but finally her eyes met mine. I didn't see fear, but I did see uncertainty. "I promise I won't hurt you."
"But it's true?"
"Yes, it's true..."