Authors: Tabitha Rayne
A Clockwork Butterfly
A Clockwork Butterfly
Copyright © 2012, Tabitha Rayne
Publisher: Beachwalk Press, Inc.
Electronic Publication: June, 2012
Editor: Leigh Lamb
Cover: LFD Designs
eBooks are not transferable. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
Back Cover Copy
Lovers torn apart by duty…will Angelo and Lena be reunited?
Mankind is close to extinction. Toxins have all but wiped out the male population. The remaining fertile men are housed in manors where their seed is collected.
Lena Lee is a new collector with a rare pheromone believed to reignite human fertility. She’s assigned a male who’s predicted to be her perfect match.
Angelo, a clockwork butterfly maker, is held captive, his essence harvested daily by Lena. Over time, the couple begins to fall in love, something which is strictly prohibited. When their forbidden love is discovered, Lena is banished from the manor.
Torn apart by the duty that brought them together, Lena and Angelo must find a way back to each other. But even if Angelo manages to escape, he doesn’t know where to find Lena. Will following the path of the clockwork butterfly lead him to his true love?
Content Warning: strong language, BDSM, and graphic sexual content, including m/f, f/f, and f/f/m sexual interaction
For my A, with love x x
Thank you to Leigh and Pamela, editors extraordinaire, and the other Beachwalk lovelies x x
Lena hardly breathed as her fingertips reached out to the tiny flapping creature.
Could it be?
She trembled, trying to stifle her excitement with the fear that it might disintegrate beneath her touch, just as it had nightly in the dreams that plagued her.
Closing her eyes, she waited to be jolted into the reality of her cold, empty room. But it was different this time; her fingers flinched as they brushed something real. Lena opened her eyes and picked up the golden butterfly, laying it in her palm. Slowly, the tiny wings stopped beating.
Lena realized her lungs were at bursting point and exhaled up into the ceiling, fearful of sweeping the treasure away with her breath. She studied the lifeless creature carefully. It was so beautiful, so intricate.
“At last,” she whispered into her quivering hands, bowing over with relief. “I’ve been waiting so long.”
* * * *
Lena James Lee waited excitedly in the bustling throng of women all the same age as her. They had been picked up by the coach from various stops throughout the country and most were rumpled, tired, and anxious. They all knew why they were there; their fates had been decided by the Archmatrias long before they had known anything of the manors or what it meant to be a collector.
Lena’s mother had been so proud; she was the only one in her whole community who had been given the special invitation to attend training.
“Remember, Lena,” her mother had advised quite forcefully, “it’s not just your life that depends on this.”
Lena had hopped on the coach without a care in the world. Now though, rumors swelled, starting with hushed whispers and giggling until all-out mayhem ensued.
“They make you wear nothing but a golden thong and you have to crawl around on the floor, parading yourself,” Mae, a loud, stunningly beautiful girl had shrieked.
“Are there really
? Do we get to
them?” Lena had tentatively asked her in a rare quiet moment.
“Honey, we do more than
them.” Mae cackled again and swiped Lena playfully on the back of the head. Lena felt her cheeks burn, it was clear that the other young women knew a lot more than she did. “Are you really telling me you don’t know what you signed up for?”
“Oh, come on, Mae,” another girl shouted over. “You only know ’cause your mother was a collector. Stop being so mean.”
Mae shrugged at the girl, but leaned in conspiratorially to Lena. “Has no one ever told you what that’s for?” she whispered lavasciously into Lena’s ear and slid a hand up the inside of her thigh.
Lena jumped back and closed her legs tightly, pushing Mae’s probing fingers away. She was quivering and mortified with embarrassment and fright, but a strange warmth spread through her abdomen.
The truth was, Lena had been brought up with great solemnity about becoming a collector. All the girls were vetted and tested from a very young age—ten or eleven—and if they showed promise in any of the four categories, their life was pretty much mapped out for them from that day. Lena had been pinpointed as a good candidate for a collector because of her striking looks, poise, and perfect proportions. The only thing that stopped her from joining the birthers was her low egg count and slim pelvis.
“They can count your eggs?” she’d asked her mother gravely. The image of a conveyor belt with a solitary chicken egg slowly lumbering past women in masks formed in her head. “Do they put them back?”
“Yes, darling, don’t worry.” Her mother had laughed and stroked her hair. Lena remembered the lasting feeling from this exchange was of sadness, not joy. So now, she was truly going to find out what was going on and what she would be expected to do.
As the group giggled and chattered outside the huge wooden gates, Lena looked over to an equally quiet and anxious looking young woman standing a little back from the crowd. Lena made her way over and extended her arm in greeting.
“I’m Lena,” she said. The girl hesitated before offering her hand in return. “It’s all right, I’m not going to bite you or stick my hand up your bloody skirt.” Lena didn’t know where the words had come from and the girl’s eyes widened. Lena cringed and was about to either run off or apologize when the girl started laughing.
“Dana,” she said, warmly grabbing Lena’s hand and shaking madly. “I don’t know anyone.”
“At least you’ve got the guts to approach people. I’ve been sitting in that coach, mute for six damn hours.”
And that was just the beginning, Dana didn’t stop talking until the doors were opened with a huge creak and two Archmatrias stepped out.
“You have been sent on a mission,” said one in a stern, deep voice.
“Watch out, ladies, I think that one needs a good collection,” Mae whispered into the throng as gasps and titters fluttered through the group.
“You may have noticed that the coach is still here with the engine on,” the woman went on. “Those of you not wishing to fulfill your destiny at the academy may leave now.” She directed this at nobody in particular, but every girl there felt it was she who had offended the woman. “No takers? Good. Now inside.” She clapped her hands and the group sprang to action like keen puppies.
Lena was amazed. With barely a raised eyebrow, the Archmatria had whipped every last one of them into shape. She looked over at Mae who was meekly following the woman in front. Lena was disappointed somehow; yes, she knew that she herself was not a rule breaker, but it was nice to know there was a potential hell-raiser in their midst. But now it seemed that Mae had been tamed far too easily. Lena remembered the stray hand reaching up under her skirt and felt the unfamiliar rising once more. Casting the thought from her mind, she joined the moving queue, but the warmth between her legs had turned to moisture and she felt a tiny trickle seep into her panties.
“Four to a dorm. Two up, two down.” A new Archmatria ticked names off her list and handed each girl a towel and bedding.
Lena peeked into the rooms on the way past—small, one window, two bunk beds, and a chest with four drawers. As the names were called out in their group of fours, Lena began to think that perhaps, hope beyond hope, the remaining few would not be divisible by four and she would have to get the single room with satin sheets and an en-suite that she had imagined before she got here. At last she was handed her linen and thrust through the door of a completely white room.
Lena looked around to see her roommates. She was pleasantly surprised. Dana, Mae, and a long-limbed, dark-eyed beauty stood before her, all looking lost, with bags and linens in hand.
“Get yourselves sorted, supper in the grand hall in one hour,” barked the Archmatria on the way to the next quartet.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe we’re actually here!” Mae threw her bag to the ground and flounced onto an upper bunk. “Do you know, only two percent of the entire population get to come to the academy and only three percent of them make it on to become a collector!” Mae seemed really excited, and Lena tossed her stuff up onto the opposite bunk.
“Hey,” wailed Dark Eyes. “I wanted a topper!”
Lena was about to apologize and roll off the bed to the lower bunk when she had a sharp realization—she didn’t need to submit to anyone else. Nobody knew her here. Nobody knew what a good, submissive girl she had always been—so quick to obey. Meeting Mae on the bus had affected her suddenly and profoundly. Why should she do as everyone else asked? Why shouldn’t someone cater to her wants? This inner bravado waivered slightly as she thought about the top bunk; she wasn’t really that bothered about sleeping on the bottom…
She gave herself a shake. Anyway, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a little pillow talk from Mae, only a few feet away.
“Too late,” she called cheerfully and started stuffing a pillow into its case.
Dark Eyes sat down huffily on the lower bunk and folded her arms.
“Well, I can see this is going to be a lot of fun,” declared Mae, apparently delighted by the exchange. “Oooh, some tension already! Makes me horny.” Lena gasped and watched as Mae gathered her bedding and crumpled it in between her legs. “Oh yeah, oh yeah, fight for me, baby!” Then, shrieking with laughter, Mae flung the linen at Lena who caught it while her mouth hung open. A warmth rising in her abdomen caught her by surprise again and she threw everything back, bewildered.
“Lena, my dear.” Mae looked at her intently. “I think your mother followed the rules on abstinence and denial a little too carefully!”
“What do you mean?”
Mae rolled her eyes and sat up, bowing her head to avoid the low ceiling. “I’ve never met anyone so sexually unaware in all my bloody life! You must be at least twenty-one, and I bet you’ve never even pleasured yourself, let alone anyone else.”
Lena recalled the delight on her friends’ faces when she’d brought out her prize-winning lemon meringue pies at tea parties.
“Yes, I have,” she said defiantly, knowing in her heart that confectionary was not what Mae was talking about.
“Well, you’ll soon learn all about it.” Mae gave Lena a wink.
“Oh no, she won’t,” Dana piped up from the lower bunk. “You know as well as I do, Mae, that this is all about their pleasure, not ours. We’d be kicked out for even thinking about our own pleasure.”
“You’re right I guess, little Miss Rules. But I, for one, intend to get a lot! And don’t think about reporting me, any of you, or I’ll take you down with me!” Mae gave them all a huge smile and flopped back on her bed.
Lena lay back on hers, more confused than ever. She vaguely recalled a feeling many years before where, in the darkness of her bed, she’d wriggled around, feeling flushed and excited. Then quick as a flash, the light had been switched on and her mother was there telling her about good behavior and what good collectors do not do. She couldn’t remember the actual definition of what was not to be done, but whatever it was, Lena never did it again.
* * * *
Supper was actually quite a relaxed affair and there was even some of the Archmatrias’ elderflower champagne to toast the new arrivals.
“As I’m sure you are all aware, ladies, you have been chosen for a very special task. We have seen something in you from a young age that gives us confidence to know future generations will be safe in your hands.”
Lena yelped as a sharp pain in her shin broke through the Archmatria’s speech. It was Mae, trying to catch her attention. She tried to stay focused on the speaker, but out of the corner of her eye she could see Mae moving her clenched fist up and down in a pumping action. She managed to roll her eyes at Mae quickly before returning her stare to the Archmatria.
“And so, it is with great responsibility you come before us to take on your training. Most of you will not last the process, but for those who do, you will be well rewarded.” A twinkle came to the Archmatria’s eyes and a little wave of whispering breaths circled the room. No one had spoken of rewards before…only duty.
, Mae mouthed and blew a kiss over to Lena. The young women settled into a quiet murmuring as they ate their dinner.
“Remember, big responsibility begins tomorrow at dawn.” The Archmatria growled her parting words as the students filed out at the end of the meal.
When they arrived back at the dorm, Mae let her clothes fall to the ground while she strutted confidently around the room with her hair held up in one hand and her toothbrush in the other, vigorously cleaning her teeth while trying to speak.
“Rish ish gonna jee shun!” she squealed, skipping through to the adjoining bathroom.
Lena leaned over a little to get a better look at Mae’s long tanned legs as she bent over the sink gargling.
“God, she is trouble,” Dark Eyes muttered, awkwardly prying her bra out from beneath her nightgown. “Why did I have to get put in a dorm with her? She’s right, you know, she will take us down with her.”
“I’m sure she’s just having fun.” Lena felt compelled to defend Mae, though she tended to agree with Dark Eyes. She too changed into her nightgown under her sheets and hid her underwear inside her clothes at the bottom of her bed. She leaned over the bunk and let her hair tumble freely into Dark Eyes’ space. “What’s your name anyway?” she asked, trying not to be embarrassed that she didn’t know already.
“Maria. And you?”
“Lena,” she answered and rolled back up into her bed.
“I have to go to sleep.” Dana looked exhausted. “Night, girls.”
Maria yawned and fell silent too. Lena lay back into her pillow, stiff as a board, waiting for Mae to come through. Abruptly, the lights went out and an Archmatria barked, “Silence.”
Lena could hear Mae still puttering about in the bathroom and humming to herself. Lena was suddenly buzzing with energy and the strange excitement that began in the pit of her stomach started up again. Holding her breath until her heart thundered in her ears, she clenched her fists tight around her sheets. Her eyes were adjusting to the blue of the moonlight, which cast an eerie glow through the sanitary room.
Finally, Mae came out of the bathroom and threw something onto the floor near the chest of drawers. Lena almost squealed when she realized it was Mae’s underwear. Lena stared at the smooth, glossy skin bathed in the luminous beams.
Does she know I’m watching?
Lena kept as still as she could while her eyes skated across Mae’s lithe flesh climbing up the ladder to her bed. She watched in awe as Mae slithered into her sheets totally naked and wound them around her so that one breast and an entire leg were exposed.
“You awake?” Mae whispered.
Lena, worried about being caught staring, closed her eyes tight and pretended to be asleep.
“Hey, Lena,” Mae persisted, but Lena kept quiet, listening to the creak and rustle of Mae settling into her bedding and waited, static electricity building in the air.