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Authors: Candace Smith

The Tithe That Binds

BOOK: The Tithe That Binds
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The Tithe That Binds

by Candace Smith

Copyright 2011 Candace Smith

Published by Strict Publishing International

Prelude

Up in the hills, Gabrielle was sitting with Elijah’s mother on the porch of her cabin. They were sipping tea and talking while Minerva tried to keep Gabrielle’s mind off Eli’s absence. Her daughter-in-law was a strong woman and Eli was her only weakness. “I see that your name is finally up on the post.” Minerva smiled over the rim of her teacup. She remembered the excitement she felt the first time her name had been drawn.

“I wish they’d post before they go down,” Gabrielle answered. “If Elijah knew we were going to be selected it would give him time to figure out which one he wants to bid on.”

“I’m sure Eli has been keeping an eye on all of them. He knows you were due soon, and I suspect he’s going to let you decide.” Minerva stroked the brown hair of the girl kneeling beside her. “Did you hear that Clara sent for the enforcers?”

“It’s about time Sarah got fed up with that man. Not that another McEnroe is going to help us much.” Gabrielle wrinkled her nose.

“I heard that they’re sending him straight to the work camps. He’s almost forty, and from what I gather he never even bothered learning a trade. They sure as hell won’t waste any time trying to train him up here.”

“They aren’t good for anything but the camps, anyway. The only one that ever amounted to anything is George, and that’s only because he passed on going down to the flatlands.”

Minerva changed the topic from the lazy McEnroe clan. “Have you decided on what you’re looking for?” she asked.

“A blonde, I think, and I’ll want someone tall. Between Elijah and me, a smaller girl like your Tara wouldn’t work.” Gabrielle was close to six feet and her husband had another three inches on her.

“I suppose, although Tara has learned to adjust to my demands. It’s all in how they’re taught to acclimate to their new position.” Minerva actually enjoyed her little slave. She reminded her of a doll her mother had made for her to practice with. As Gabrielle’s stepmother, Minerva had been guiding her on training methods.

Tara knelt beside her Mistress, silently ignoring their discussion. Next year, she would have performed the ten years of service towards her family’s tithe, and she was looking forward to being replaced. She had accepted the truth many years ago, and she knew that she would be finishing her life in the hills in the laundry, kitchen or gardens. If her Mistress reported that she had performed her tithing with little complaint, she might get lucky and be trained as a house servant to a young family. She could even be fortunate enough to be paired with a man from the work camp… even if she was stuck with a McEnroe.

“Oh, did I tell you that Justin made ‘All Hills’ this year?”

“I heard,” Minerva replied. “That’s quite an accomplishment.”

“Tabitha and Marcy are busy with their courtships with the Branson twins, Justin is going to apprentice with the acquisitioners in the quarters, and Jason is still set on the enforcers. He’ll be over at the work camps most of the summer.”

“I’m sure Elijah is thrilled with Justin’s decision, and with Jason’s temper, the enforcers is a good option for him. They’ve worked hard on their studies, and with the endorsement from the Preacher and elders they should be set. Eli’s reputation certainly did not hurt them, either,” Minerva added proudly.

“No.” Gabrielle looked towards the hills. “God, I can’t wait until he gets back tomorrow. He has another trip to the flatlands planned in August.” She sipped some tea and she wondered if her husband was bringing back her blonde tithe.

A shriek came from across the compound, and the women turned to see Lucy dragging her slave towards the punishment quarters. “Lucy,” Minerva called out. “You’ll have to keep her caged. The acquisitioners are bringing in the tithes.”

“Oh, shit. I forgot,” Lucy muttered. “I’ll take her to the training quarters, then.” She changed direction, dragging her slave and slapping across her bottom with a crop when she moved too slowly.

“Why Holden married that McEnroe woman I’ll never know,” Minerva muttered. “Thank god she took her sights off Abram.” Years ago, Lucy was determined to go after Minerva’s other son when she realized it was hopeless trying to separate Elijah from his interest in Gabrielle. Abram ignored her just as effectively, and she scrambled through the remaining unattached men and managed to pull Holden away from Betsy Tilson.

“I can’t believe she’s so lazy that she won’t even punish her tithe herself,” Gabrielle remarked. It was a personal connection she was looking forward to with her slave. Her fingers itched each time her house servant disobeyed and she had to send her to the punishment quarters.

“I heard she almost killed the girl; take a look at the scarring on her back and thighs. Lucy caused her to lose the first breeding for Holden, Jr., and the midwife says she doesn’t think the tithe can carry another one to term,” Minerva said. The grapevine among the tithe Mistresses was rampant with gossip that Holden was furious with the thought of having to wait nine years for another tithe to breed his sons to.

Gabrielle stared across the valley towards the work camps. Elijah would be riding back from that direction, hopefully with her beautiful blonde tithe. She imagined the girl to be strong and tall… perfect to breed to her twin sons. The first tithes had been the breeders since time in the hills began. It kept the bloodlines clean. Gabrielle watched Lucy yanking the leash of her frightened naked slave, and thought,
All except the McEnroes, who have an unhealthy propensity towards incest.

* * * * *

“Debra?” Sarah stood over her daughter with her hands on her hips and the exasperated look on her face that only the mother of a teenager consistently wore. “Debra, get those damn plugs out of your ears.”

With one long leg hanging over the side of the porch swing and her expensive designer sneaker pushing against the planked floor to keep her gliding in time to the music, the girl had her eyes closed. She had spent most of the past week since they had arrived at her grandparents’ farmhouse managing to hide from the never ending chores by losing herself in music and daydreaming about life when the family returned home. Debra felt the stoppers pulled from her ears, just as the chorus from ‘Rykers’ new song came on. She glared at her mother. “Damn, mom. It’s the best part.”

Debra did not want to come on the stupid trip to begin with. She had turned eighteen a few months before graduating from high school, and her parents grabbed her and her younger brother and sister to spend the summer at their grandfather’s dilapidated old farm at the foot of some rocks.
Okay, the Appalachian Mountains, but they still looked like fucking rocks
.

“Go help your grandma gather eggs,” Sarah McEnroe ordered. “I don’t know why the hell you can’t try to enjoy yourself instead of sulking.” Exasperation was etched in the tight lines on her face. In the back of her mind, her heritage whispered that the battles with her daughter were almost over. It calmed her, slightly.

“I don’t know why the hell you dragged me up here instead of letting me stay at Jill’s. This is
your
thing, mom. Out here in the middle of no place, sucks. There isn’t even a mall within fifty miles. Crap, there probably isn’t even a convenience store.”

Those were a few reasons that Sarah was thankful that they were
not
back home and near the shops this summer. Debra was a spoiled brat, and nothing like her little sister. Things in Sarah’s life were pretty fucked up, but thanks to the strength of the clan she was looking forward to all her problems finally being straightened out this year. There would be no more summers of Debra badgering her for rides to the mall and whining about giving her money for a new top that she did not need… and no more Tommy. Her eyes narrowed when Debra began to plug her earphones back in, and she ripped the small radio off her daughter’s lap.

“What the hell?” Debra demanded.

“Go help your grandma. Now.” Her mother wound the wires from the earplugs around the music box and she stuck it in her pocket.

Debra scowled up at her, but she recognized that she was not going to whine or demand her way passed her mother’s decision. “Fine.” Debra stood and threw her thick blonde braid over her shoulder. She stormed across the yard, muttering, “I am so out of here when we get back home.”

From the distance, five men dressed in long riding dusters and cowboy gear, looked down on the farm from the backs of their horses. This would be their second stop, later tonight. Elijah squinted and gazed at the girl walking across the front yard. Even from their position on the foothills, he could see her tall, lithe form as she strode angrily towards the barn. Her golden hair flashed in the sunlight, and her tight jeans and tee-shirt profiled a nice figure.

“Think that’s the one Gabrielle will want?” Samuel asked. He noticed Eli’s intense stare at the girl, and he was fairly certain that she was the one that Elijah wanted.

“Still have another blonde with the Tilson girl,” Eli replied.
But yeah, this is the one that my wife will tithe.
Elijah could already imagine the girl, naked and wearing his clan’s collar and cuffs while they trained her for sexual enjoyment. He yanked at his reins and the men traveled in the direction of the Cauldron farm when the girl was out of sight.

Debra walked into the barn and heard her grandma speaking with her sister. The old woman was standing near a bloated cow and talking nonsense about the calf she would be having soon, while her sister ooohed and aaahed in mock fascination, hanging onto the old woman’s every word.
If they weren’t so busy with the stupid cow, they could have collected the damn eggs by now.
Debra quietly made her way to the ladder leading to the hayloft, and climbed
.

She lay back in the prickly hay, trying to mash the jabbing stalks to get comfortable. Debra pulled her cell phone out of her pocket when she felt the faint buzzing announcing a new text message. The phone barely worked at the farm, and she had left it on vibrate because her mother had told her to leave it at home. With every convenience being ripped away from her to experience boring life on a farm, Debra had been afraid to do anything but text back and forth to her friend.

She punched the button and read Jill’s message. “Thank you,” Debra whispered to the empty loft. Jill had bought a cheap car, and Debra begged her to come visit for a few days. Maybe her consistent sullen attitude would prove to be miserable enough to convince her mother to let her go back home and stay with Jill. Her friend would be arriving in a week, and Debra figured that at the very least they could try to find a mall.

Jill was as conniving as Debra, and the two of them knew that Jill’s parents would never let her make the five hundred mile trip to visit Debra by herself. They schemed and devised a plan where Jill told her parents that she would only be traveling a few counties away to check out a college. Jill had lied and said that she already knew a girlfriend who started classes early, and she could stay with her.

Debra could not wait to get back home to Barrington and the small luxury of her room. Thanks to this stupid trip, Jill had scooped the job she had lined up at the coffee shop in the mall. Debra had planned to use the money to rent a room in Audrey Wilson’s house in the fall, and finally be free of her parents’ control. Now, she would have to hope she could line up another job when they got home, and hope that Mrs. Wilson still had a room available.

Working at the mall would give her a whopping ten percent employee discount on store purchases. Naturally, Debra had no intention of wasting time in college. Not when she could be spending her time earning money. The girl had no real idea what expenses she would acquire once she moved out of her parents’ house. Her distracted mind did not consider that she would lose access to her mom’s car and that her cell phone and Internet connection would be a financial impossibility.

Debra also overlooked the fact that she had never held a job, and absolutely hated being told what to do. Over the years, she had managed to avoid most of her chores at home by wearing her mother down with her complaining and whining until her mom decided that it was just easier to do the task herself. With Debra’s usual spoiled, arrogant conviction, she ignored the deterring flaw in her plans for independence. Instead, she imagined the endless resources at her disposal to buy all the newest label jeans and tops with the enormous funds she would make at the coffee shop.

Sarah was sweeping the porch when her mother and Katie walked out of the barn, swinging the basket of eggs between them. She leaned against the broom and shielded her eyes from the sun, and then she looked up to the hayloft and sighed. She knew all about Debra’s plans to move out, of course. For years, she attended a monthly gardening club led by Audrey Wilson’s sister.

Towards the end of the school year, her daughter had not even noticed that Sarah had stopped arguing with her, except for the huge blowout about joining the family for their vacation. All Sarah had to manage to do was get her spoiled daughter to the farm this summer. Now, it was just a matter of waiting, and she merely wondered how much longer she was going to have to put up with the brat’s attitude.

Sarah thought that when she glanced towards the foothills, she had seen the acquisitioners riding toward Sally Cauldron’s place. Maybe it was just wishful thinking. She looked up at the door to the hayloft again. “Shit. I hope they have her up for first posting, and that I don’t have to put up with her attitude until they come back in August.”

It would be a relief to only have Katie and Tommy Jr. to worry about. There were other reasons that Sarah was looking forward to this trip, and a major part of them was sitting on the dock by the pond, fishing, while her father worked the fields on the tractor. Tom Sr. had turned out to be the huge disappointment her folks had warned her about, and he had argued almost as vehemently as Debra about traveling to the farm for the summer.

After dinner and an argument over doing the dishes, Debra had wheedled and nagged at her mother enough to earn her radio back. She had fallen asleep in the downstairs bedroom. In the middle of the night, a light shining under her door pulled her from an arousing dream about DJ Jensen. Sex with him had been awesome, though Debra admitted that part of the attraction had been that he was three years older than her and her mother would have a stroke if she found out.
Fuck, they won’t even let me dream without interrupting me.

BOOK: The Tithe That Binds
4.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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