Authors: Kate Hill
Tags: #Romance, #Erotic
Lock climbed the steps to his chamber, tugged off his trousers, and flopped on his bed, not even bothering to pull down the sheets.
Tapping sounded outside his room. Lock’s eyes fixed on the slender, pale-skinned maid standing, naked, in his doorway. Lock employed several maids who visited his bed on rotation. The idea of keeping a single mistress had never occurred to him. Fondness for a woman would lead to weakness and weakness led to self-destruction. Relieving sexual tension was enough for him, and he generally preferred the comfort of his own home to the stench of the bordello. At least with his own private stock, he could avoid the diseases running rampant through the whorehouse. He also preferred the whore herself to reap her full reward, rather than handing most of her hard-earned coins over to the madam. Shanna had more than her share of profits from peddling flesh. Lock knew that all too well.
The maid approached, her gaze sweeping Lock’s body and focusing on his thick cock and hair-dusted balls beneath. She knelt at the foot of the bed and crawled between his spread legs, her slender fingers massaging his thighs.
“Are you hungry, master?” she asked.
“I could use a bite.” Lock’s gaze fixed on her as she bent and ran her tongue along his shaft. One of her hands squeezed his sac while the other clasped the base of his cock. Her tongue and lips teased and stroked while he grew bigger and harder, his eyes half-closing as he watched her work.
Lock treated his whores well. He never hit them and tried not to be overly rough when he flung them on their backs and rutted out his pleasure. Many men enjoyed inflicting pain on their sluts, but Lock found no stimulation in sexual abuse. Punishment should be reserved for disobedient crewmen and prisoners, not simple whores doing a night’s work.
Lock sighed, his hands gripping the thick wooden headboard as the maid sucked him so deep into her mouth that his cock brushed the back of her throat. She clasped the root of his staff as she sucked and licked until Lock’s heart pounded and his hips nearly bucked with impending orgasm.
With a lusty growl, he grasped the maid’s shoulders and flung her onto her back. She stared at him, her lips parted, her eyes intent on his. Her head lifted the slightest bit, as if she meant to kiss him, but Lock had no interest in kissing her. He dipped his fingers into the pottery bowl on the table by his bed and removed several reddish leaves. The maid opened her mouth and swallowed the leaves Lock placed on her tongue. All his whores knew he required them to take the herbs to prevent conception. No child of his would grow up as he had, not when he could prevent it. He reached between their bodies, fondling her clit and pussy, making sure she was wet enough to comfortably accept him. His cock slipped into her pussy and he braced his hands on both sides of her head as he thrust, fast and hard. The maid’s eyes closed and she clung to him, her arms locked around his neck, her legs squeezing his waist as she ground her hips against his.
Lock plunged into her, making his thrusts longer and slower, then short and fast. His lips slid into a grin as he pushed the panting woman to orgasm. Her hot, wet body pulsed around his engorged cock, and he slammed into her with several rapid thrusts that hurled him into ecstasy.
He rolled off her and sprawled flat on his back, staring up at the ceiling as he caught his breath.
After a moment, the woman stood. She gazed at him over her shoulder as she left the room, “Sleep well, master.”
Lock nodded slightly. “Close the door.”
Lying alone in the moonlit room, Lock considered his earlier thoughts about men and their deities. He still refused to believe in any power greater than himself.
The only entity who can change my fate is myself,
, and my fate is to sail again the day after next
Lightning ripped a jagged streak through the sky, disappearing into the rolling black ocean. Thunder was disguised only by the crash of waves as they washed over the deck of the Shana Whore.
Cursing, Lock clung to the mast as another wave completely covered the fast sinking ship. It had taken him years to afford this ship. Now within moments it would be a haven for fish at the bottom of a cold, northern sea.
“She’s going down! Get me off!” Karl bellowed from where he’d tied himself to the mast. Unable to free himself, the man clawed at the ropes in panic, his eyes wild as he squinted at Lock through the storm. “Get me off!”
More angry than panicked, Lock’s stomach tightened with disgust at his first mate’s terror. Whether they were lashed to the boat or out at sea, they were all going to die. Still, his boots skidded on the water-slicked deck as he climbed the short distance toward Karl. Slipping the dagger from the sheath at his waist, Lock slashed the rope, freeing Karl in time for the next wave to wash the man overboard.
Lock smiled, squinting against the rain and seawater blurring his eyes.
Born in violence to die in violence
. At least his life had been consistent.
* * * * *
Lock awoke with stinging eyes, every muscle in his body aching. He first noticed the smell. Heat as powerful as in the tropics but without the warm, cleansing breeze made breathing uncomfortable. The stagnant air reeked of moldy water, rotten scraps, and body odor. There were no scents of a ship, nor was there a gentle rocking motion.
Then he remembered. The Shana Whore had sunk, and Lock had swum for what seemed like hours in the chilly, stormy sea, amazed each time he managed to gasp salty air and swim another stroke, defying nature herself.
He must have washed up on shore, but where?
He detected the sound of others breathing in the dark room, heard their snores and murmurs. He tried sitting up, but found himself bound to a flat wooden platform, bodies close on either side of him. It was then, he realized, his difficulty breathing wasn’t necessarily from the heat but from the chain across his chest. He attempted to shift position to relieve some of the heaviness, but he hadn’t enough space to move.
Throwing himself upward in his fury, he roused the men beside him who shouted and tried scooting away.
“What the hell is it?” one of them bellowed.
“Don’t tell me they started putting animals in with us now?” cried another.
“Hey, guards!” several screamed in unison.
By the time the guards stepped inside, carrying torches, Lock had yanked away several of the chains and sat up. He wound his hands around the chain on his feet and pulled until his palms bled.
The guards, dressed in leather and mail, stared at him for a dumfounded moment before two of them flew at him, their swords drawn.
Lock reached up a shackled hand, grabbed one guard by the throat, and pinned him to the wall beside him. The guard’s feet trampled on a prisoner’s chest in an attempt to free himself from the choke-hold.
The second guard struck Lock in the back of the head with a sword. Lock dropped the man he was strangling and jerked his elbow backwards, staggering the guard who’d struck him.
Through a gush of blood from his split lips, the guard shouted for reinforcements. Three more guards, two half-dressed from their bedrolls, charged inside, all armed with small wooden clubs. Lock jerked two of the clubs from the guards and swung them with expertise learned from years of studying weapons. Finally, several guards dragged in heavier chains and dropped them over Lock, binding him from shoulder to ankle.
He lay panting and sweat-soaked, rage tearing at his insides.
The guards, their breathing ragged, picked up their weapons and dragged themselves out of the hut, taking the torches with them. Lock had seen enough in the light to realize he was in a long, windowless room containing platforms of prisoners stacked so close together their arms and legs touched.
“Where are we?” Lock demanded.
When no answer came, his fury renewed. He was accustomed to receiving answers to his questions. Then he remembered that he had no idea how far from his original destination he was. Perhaps these people didn’t understand him.
“Are you all deaf, or don’t you speak my language?”
“I speak it,” came a voice from across the room. “And you ain’t getting out of here. All you did was make life harder for yourself…until you die, that is.”
“Who are those men? Slave traders?” The thought of being sold into slavery made him sick. He’s spent too many years being used for his body and would sooner die than live like a slave again.
“Bounty hunters. Might as well be slavers, though.”
They sought out criminals wanted in any kingdom in the world and collected the rewards on their heads. Lock wondered which kingdom he’d be taken to. He was wanted in countless lands. Pirates were most coveted by bounty hunters. Lock had killed his share of the grubby bastards in the past.
“We’ll be stopping in Blue Hollow in the morning,” the other prisoner continued. “You know what happens there?”
“Does it matter?”
“You know the agreement the bounty hunters have with the kingdoms in these parts? They can sell us to the highest bidder, if their price exceeds the one on our heads. However the rules are, we receive our stated punishment until someone buys us.”
“I’d rather get my punishment.”
“Do you know what it is? Maybe slavery would be better.”
“I’m sure mine is death, and that is better than slavery.”
“But how are you going to die? Is it something easy, like beheading or hanging? Or will it be burning alive, the lash, or disembowelment?”
“Slavery can include all of the above.”
“You’re either brave or stupid. All I know is, I hope I get bought. My sentence is fifty lashes, unless someone buys me.”
! Lock prayed his sentence would be so light. Fifty lashes he could endure.
“Of course, the bidding only applies if you’re not wanted in Begonia.”
“Begonia is the kingdom in control of Blue Hollow, ruled by the Empress Daryn. She favors women and granted the village of Blue Hollow to a group of females. Daryn provides guards for their protection. Many of the guards are female.”
Lock snorted. “A useless place. I know there’s no price on my head there because I’ve never been to Begonia or boarded ships from there.”
“Then maybe for your sake, no one there will recognize you and you’ll catch a woman’s fancy. Because I think you’re right.”
“When the torches came in, I got a look at you and I think I know who you are. Lock the White, your sentence in all the kingdoms where you’re wanted will surely be death.”
“What’s going on?” Sparrow looked up from the cart of apples in the marketplace toward the ensemble of guards leading two wagons full of prisoners into Blue Hollow square.
“The bounty hunters have come to peddle slaves,” Shea-Ann, Sparrow’s closest friend and former nanny, explained. “We missed the bunch they brought last year. Maybe we could take a look at this group before the punishments start.”
Sparrow glanced at Shea-Ann. Twenty-four years Sparrow’s senior, Shea-Ann had known her since the day she was born. Sparrow had been the third daughter in the royal house of an eastern kingdom overthrown three years ago by commoners. Not that Sparrow blamed them for the uprising. Her brother had been on the throne, and unlike Sparrow, he thrived on cruelty. Taxes were indescribable and punishments brutal. The royal family had been thrust out of power and her brother beheaded. Sparrow, once a princess, now ran a small farm in Blue Hollow, and though at times she missed her creature comforts, she’d never been happier. She was proud to earn her keep through hard work and enjoyed living in a village run by women. Sparrow had never loved life as a princess. She’d always felt guarded, overly-protected, and she disliked watching the damage her brother inflicted while being powerless to stop his greedy rampage. When she left home, Shea-Ann had accompanied her, no longer as a servant, but as a companion. The older woman was a fine healer and midwife, and the people of Blue Hollow demanded her skills as much as they clamored for Sparrow’s corn, potatoes, wheat, and milk.
“Why do we need to look at slaves?” Sparrow asked. “We have two farmhands who help us, and the farm isn’t so big that I can’t handle it on my own when I have to.”
“It’s a good way to have a look at half-naked men.” Shea-Ann’s dark slanted eyes gleamed with mischief. The woman was small, scarcely reaching Sparrow’s shoulder in height, her body slender and supple, her skin fine and pale. Shea-Ann had always enjoyed escapades with men, even in the palace. “I just don’t like to watch the punishments. Such cruelty is usually unnecessary.”
Sparrow chose a sack of apples, paid the cart owner, and slung her goods over her shoulder. “All right. We can go look, but do you want to finish shopping first?”
Shea-Ann shook her head. “Always thinking with your stomach instead of your womanhood.”
The companions bought fruit, smoked meat, fabric, and wool from several other carts in the marketplace, then brought the merchandise to their wagon.
Together, they wound through the crowd of vendors, women leading horses to the village blacksmith, and children playing in the streets.
As they approached the platform in the center of town, two tall, golden-skinned, black-haired men strutted across the planks, seemingly unhindered by the shackles and chains on their ankles. The hard muscles of their nude, oiled bodies flexed as they struck poses. Raising their arms, they squeezed their fists and their biceps bulged. They turned, revealing corded muscles beneath the smooth skin of their backs and shoulders. Long, sinewy legs stretched into wide stances, their erect cocks saluting their audience as sizeable balls dangled beneath.