Authors: Kate Hill
KNIGHTS OF THE RUBY ORDER: TORN
An Ellora’s Cave publication written by
MS Reader (LIT) ISBN # 1-84360-420-5
Mobipocket (PRC) ISBN # 1-84360-421-3
Other available formats (no ISBNs are assigned):
Adobe (PDF), Rocketbook (RB), & HTML
© Copyright Kate Hill, 2003.
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave.
Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc. USA
Ellora’s Cave Ltd, UK
This e-book may not be reproduced in whole or in part by email
forwarding, copying, fax, or any other mode of communication
without author permission.
Cover Art by
Honey Wine hated him.
Not that she particularly liked any of the creatures she cared for. She was just a keeper in a zoo of wild, looming beasts, forced by her own master to stitch their wounds, set their broken bones, and watch the weak ones die in misery. Liking any of them would be too painful, akin to befriending a pig or a chicken, all the while knowing they were only meant for slaughter.
She felt little or nothing for most of them, but she hated
from the first.
He didn’t look like the others. His hair, a mass of dark waves, hung just below his ears. No ragged, filthy beard marred his smooth face, only bruises and fresh blood covered his oval chin and high cheekbones. Shrewd eyes, the same blue-gray as a northern ocean, stared at her from beneath dark, heavy brows. His nose was straight, well shaped.
Most likely he won’t have that long,
once he goes to the Entertainment
, Honey Wine thought as she washed her hands in a basin of water. As if reading her mind, he smiled slightly, the almost imperceptible motion causing a fresh trickle of blood to moisten the dried, sanguine crust on his lower lip and chin. Rather than helpless, his smile appeared arrogant.
Like all the new ones, he’d been stripped naked, his wrists and ankles shackled together, making long strides impossible. She knew by the length of his lean, muscled legs that such a restriction must annoy him, and she nearly smiled at the thought. He hadn’t even spoken to her, but she despised the lack of fear in his eyes. She loathed his cool expression and the haughty carriage he managed even when bound like a naked monkey between four guards prodding him with the handles of their leather whips. They dragged so hard on his iron manacles that blood stained his hands and feet.
“Get in there, beast.” Bron, the head guard, scowled, shoving the prisoner into the small holding cell. The captive’s large, long-fingered hands braced flat against the wall to keep his face from sustaining further damage.
Bron glanced at Honey Wine through his gridded metal helmet and said, “The Mistress wants this one examined so we can prepare him for the Entertainment.”
She grasped her wooden box of supplies and moved toward the cell. “Step back, you bunch of stinking dogs. I need space.”
Bron’s eyes bulged with fury, and his hand tightened on the whip, but he knew better than to challenge Honey Wine. She was not merely a slave healer, but had been one of the guards. The Mistress was also her sister, though the spiteful monarch had banished Honey Wine to this hellish prison.
“Don’t give me that mangy look.” Honey Wine curled her lip at him. “I used to be your superior, remember?”
Bron cursed under his breath and turned away with his men, except for one.
Timus, the youngest of the guards, a burly man Honey Wine had known since childhood, leaned close to her and whispered, “Be careful of that one. It took eight guards to bring him down, and six of them are still being tended by healers as we speak.”
She nodded, and Timus unlocked the cell to let her inside. The prisoner turned and watched her curiously. She avoided his penetrating eyes as she looked over his body. He was tall but too thin for her taste. Though his neck was strong and his shoulders broad, every bone and muscle stood out on his sinewy body, like a fanatical monk who never ate quite enough. Perhaps he was.
No, he has the power and grace of a predator, and the guards would
never have chosen a man who could provide little entertainment
. Also, Timus had just said the beast had given eight armed guards trouble.
She stepped closer, feeling the heat of the chase emanate from his body. His skin gleamed with sweat, and rivulets of blood from a number of shallow wounds streaking his chest, arms, and legs. His cock dangled thick yet flaccid.
She swallowed her disgust.
“Sit,” she stated.
He stared at her, the strong ridge of his brow shadowing his sapphire eyes, making him look almost primitive. She repressed a shudder.
“Animals. Where do the guards find such animals?” she muttered, then raised her voice. “Timus, what language does he speak?”
Timus glanced over his shoulder. “He wouldn’t speak to us at all. I’m not sure if he can.”
She sighed with frustration and pointed to the worn wooden bench in the corner of the cell. Again an amused smile crept onto the prisoner’s mouth.
What did the fool find so damn funny? She placed her supply box beside him and opened it. As she searched for the proper tools, she asked him in five languages if he understood her. He continued watching her with interest but didn’t speak.
“Have you got a tongue?” She grasped his jaw and squeezed, knowing she must have caused him discomfort since his lips were torn.
He jerked away.
Sighing with frustration, she reached for his face again, but this time he opened his mouth slightly. His teeth were large and shockingly white, except where bloody saliva stained them. She suddenly realized he didn’t reek as so many of the others did, nor were there any lice in his hair or on his flesh. She thought she detected an herbal scent from his skin, but in the smoky prison, it was difficult to discern any smell except that of fire, blood, and sweat.
Whoever he was, he knew how to care for himself, and yes, he did have a tongue. Perhaps he was from a good family. Perhaps he was missed.
I doubt it
Not with his haughty ways.
It didn’t occur to her that she didn’t know enough about him to form such an opinion. It was just a smash of conflicting personalities, Honey Wine, and the prisoner.
She cleaned his wounds none too gently and applied salve. Several faded scars marked his chest and back. So, as she’d guessed, he was no stranger to work or war. She gripped his chin in her hand and scrubbed blood from his face and lips with a piece of wet cloth while he stared tauntingly into her eyes.
Quickly finishing her work, she tossed him brown leather trousers, the uniform of all beasts. As he dressed, his eyes never left her. It was as if he knew how much his look disturbed her.
For the rest of the day, Honey Wine carried out her work in the vast prison beneath her sister’s palace. Once, she’d been a guard above. She’d worn a black uniform trimmed in gold. She’d carried a curved sword with a royal jewel set in its handle. Though she was only a half-sister to The Mistress, she was treated with respect and trained in the elite Royal Guard.
Then she’d spoken out against her sister’s Entertainment. The cruelty and unfairness of it sickened her, so like a fool, she publicly rebelled. Stripped of her power, she was forced to serve in the zoo below.
If you feel so much for the
beasts, then you should tend them.
Those had been her sister’s words, that was her sentence. Honey Wine should have kept her silence. The Entertainment continued, and she was deprived of her birthright.
As she worked, she avoided the new beast’s cell. The few times she glanced toward it, she noticed him pacing like a caged tiger. His long legs crossed the cell in two strides, yet his face appeared calm. There was none of the fear, panic, or hatred seen in the others when they arrived.
Later, two beasts were brought from the training ground with gashes that needed stitching. The guards complained about this. The creatures weren’t supposed to do serious damage to each other during training or else their blood would be wasted for the official Entertainment.
When Honey Wine finished repairing them, she drew water from the well in the center of the dirt-packed floor and washed blood from her hands and arms before slipping out for the night. With her duties finished, she was allowed outside to do as she pleased before returning to her quarters across the corridor from the holding chambers.
She stood behind the high, spiked walls of the courtyard and sighed as she looked up at the pale three-quarter moon. It felt good to breathe fresh air and look at a world not muted by smoke and shadowed by death.
Dropping her hooded cloak at her feet, she walked to the center of the courtyard and sank into a round, stone-rimmed pool. The water ran fresh through a fountain, and she let it spray her face while fat, colorful fish fluttered by her ankles.
Refreshed, she retired to her chamber to sleep until dawn when the day would begin, the same as yesterday.
* * * * *
Honey Wine stepped into the prison, shocked to find it empty of guards as well as beasts. An unsettled feeling crept into her stomach as she backed toward the door.
She bumped into what felt like a warm, hard wall and jumped, raising her fists to a defensive position. He stood naked in front of her, all long, sinewy limbs, muscled torso, and rock hard cock. He gazed down at her with dark blue eyes, his face shadowed with a night’s growth of beard. His lips slid into an arrogant grin, revealing his white teeth as he reached for her.
Honey Wine punched him, but he dodged the blow and dragged her into his arms. What was wrong with her? She knew how to fight better than that!
However she could scarcely remember how to defend herself, and her limbs felt leaden. Though she tried to struggle, she felt unable to move. Suddenly she realized she didn’t want to. He held her gently, his big hands caressing her back down to her buttocks.
The prisoner bent, his mouth touching hers. It felt soft, and he tasted good – like herbs. He smelled of warm skin, clean sweat, and masculinity.
He never spoke, but she heard his voice in her mind. It was husky and sensual, as deep as the most primitive desires of manhood. It spoke of savage lust and made her heartbeat quicken almost as much as his hand that had slipped between them, lifted her skirt, and fondled her pussy and clit.
Honey Wine felt one of his long fingers deep inside her, rubbing, circling, and gathering moisture that he used to stroke her swollen clit until she shattered in a climax of pure liquid desire. She felt her legs sinking, but he caught her and pressed her against the wall. Bending his knees, he entered her with a long, slow stroke that had her moaning before his steely cock was buried to the hilt in her quivering slit. She clutched his shoulders, fingers biting into muscle as he began thrusting.
The sensations were so powerful that Honey Wine couldn’t keep from moaning as another orgasm built. She heard his ragged breath mingling with hers, felt his broad chest crushing her breasts.
Orgasm struck her like a war hammer, and she shook and throbbed as he growled his own climax close to her ear.
* * * * *
Honey Wine awoke panting, her body still throbbing in the aftermath of a dream more erotic than any real sexual experience she’d ever had. She tossed off her sheet and lay still for a moment, allowing the cool night air to dry the sweat from her body.
What was wrong with her that even in her dreams she couldn’t stop thinking of the beast? For the thousandth time, she wished he’d never been brought to the prison.
* * * * *
“You have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen to you, do you?” Honey Wine said from where she stood outside the bars of his cage. She’d spent last night telling herself that no beast would intimidate her. She was not going to avoid an animal under her care, not that she had a choice.
He rose from the bench and grasped the iron bars in his fists, watching her with those dark blue eyes.
Lips twisting in a cruel smile, she shook her head as four armor-clad guards approached carrying pointed sticks and whips.
Timus unlocked the cell, and before the beast could move, the guards’
metal-gloved hands caught his chains and dragged him toward a low, wooden table in the far corner of the room.
Honey Wine folded her arms across her chest and watched as the prisoner struggled, nearly pulling the guards off balance. Her heart fluttered. For a moment, she thought he might break loose, but they twisted his chains, prodded him with the sticks, and threw him face down on the table. Their metal armor and mail gloves dug into his flesh as they stretched his arms and legs into metal cuffs on corners of the table.