I walked around the echoing space of what would soon be our new living room. The painting was done, the walls glowing in a rich buttercup yellow. The solid oak fireplace mantle fitted onto the inside wall, the carven Celtic runes calling down protection and blessings to this home and all who lived within it. The locally cut flagstones spread out six feet in all directions to keep stray sparks from touching the gleaming oak floor.
The limestone would change color in time, showing its age and strength. Like the love that we were building into every inch of wood, concrete and fabric. Avery had sent us some writings on Wiccan and all of us were reading through them. I know that Ned was silently chanting the protection spells whenever he was on site. I was doing the same when ever I walked through the house or helped out with the construction.
The stone carver who'd chiseled the mantle had taken one look at what we wanted and smiled slowly. MacPherson was his name and he said off-handedly that his granny had taught him some of the old ways. We'd smiled at each other and shaken hands on the bargain. Every room had the same symbols in them even if we had had to get creative to put them in.
On the rooms with hardwood floors, they were carved into the underside of at least two boards per room. In the bathrooms, Nancy had hand-painted some of the decorative tiles with the symbols and those were the ones above each of the sinks and in the showers. Ned had told me not to worry about the bedrooms because he'd taken care of carving them into the rooms. He just wouldn't say where.
George had carved the symbols for wisdom and enlightenment into the crown moldings on the bookcases in the study along with the protection and blessings. She'd finished the last one just before they left for Manhattan. We were temporarily women-less, Ned and I. And I had had to stay in the courtroom and law office for two days of the five they'd be gone.
I'd thrown myself into the trial just to get it over with and Ned had obviously done the same with the house. Hannah had given me a sealed note from him when I'd finally gotten home. It was an invitation to come to the new house at exactly noon the next day. He'd told me to wear something comfortable so I was dressed in the jeans that I usually wore camping and a blue sweater he'd gotten for me at Harrod's on our trip.
This new space echoed with love and contentment. I closed my eyes and breathed it in; catching a whisper of sound right before strong arms slid around me and familiar lips grazed the side of my throat. "Carson."
"Ned," I sighed and brought one of his hands to my lips to nibble on his fingertips.
He chuckled and slid around so our lips could meet. He'd been eating some of Hannah's chocolate chip cookies but they were no sweeter than his own taste. I feasted on his mouth while trying to seal his body to mine with both hands. He cooperated with his own grip on my hips, matching our groins with a little thrust that had me hard at once.
"Car, come see your surprise." He finally whispered against the hollow of my throat and I chuckled, letting go just enough so we could walk up the broad staircase.
We headed down the long hall to the master bedroom at the end and he made me close my eyes before he opened the door. Heat hit me first and the smell of vanilla and cinnamon wafted to my nose when I took a deep breath. The fireplace in our room had obviously been filled with our first fire of the season and he must have lit a dozen holiday candles to get that sweet scent to fill the whole room.
"Open your eyes," Ned's voice held suppressed excitement and I slowly opened them onto a scene from one of our dreams.
"How?" I almost stuttered at the huge four poster bed that took up the whole wall across from the fireplace. It was black oak and carved by a master hand.
"Stevens, the stone mason told me about an auction last month. You were working on the Mason case so the girls and I went. This was in the barn, dismantled and being sold for kindling. I picked it up for $50 and George helped me find all the pieces." He stroked one of the eight inch thick posts, acorns and oak leaves carved from its top finial to the bottom claw foot. "The king bed is about six inches too wide for it but since we won't usually have the curtains pulled to keep the heat in like Elizabeth and Peter did, it's not too noticeable. What do you think?"
I shook my head and hugged him tight. "It's magnificent, Ned. You were inspired and I can hardly wait to make love to you in it."
He grinned and pulled away to start undressing. "I locked up behind you and Hannah knows we're sleeping here tonight. I want to look up at the paneled ceiling while you're making love to me the way you made love to Elizabeth. I want to pretend that I'm pregnant with our second child while you slowly impale me on your nice . . . thick . . . cock, my lord."
I hastily pulled my sweater off. "I wonder if in some universe of the gods, men can carry children the way that women do here?" My jeans slid to the burgundy and gray carpet after I kicked off my loafers. "What do you think?"
He matched me in speed and soon we were naked together in the flickering fire light. "I think that in any universe I would want you, Carson." His callused hand slowly gloved my steel hard cock while he gave me a sultry look that warmed me through and through. "And if I could carry your child, I would be honored. Perhaps we should practice you giving me your seed?"
Sauntering to the side of the high bed, he stretched all over and slid between the cool burgundy sheets. He was sex-personified and I slid in on top of him for another taste of his tart lips. His long legs curled around my back, trapping me right where he wanted me while his hands stroked down my back. My hands palmed his cheeks and I found a trace of the cream that he'd used to prepare himself.
Tilting his hips just enough, I nudged his hole and thrust through the still tight muscle while he clenched around me. We stilled for a long moment while he slowly loosened his inner muscles. It had been three days and nights and that was much too long to be without him. Our gazes met in the candlelight and the moss green of his beautiful eyes smiled into mine with all his love.
I was the luckiest man in the world to have all his heart for my very own. Leaning in, I licked his lips and he opened to me instantly, inviting my tongue in to play. Both above and below, I slid into his warmth. His tight heat was addictive and I rocked in and out with little thrusts that slowly built to deep hits to his gland that flushed his skin all the way down to his toes.
His needy little moans were music to my ears and I moved his legs up over my shoulders so I could get even deeper. He chanted my name in time to my thrusts and when I touched his rock hard cock, he froze and came almost silently between our chests. For some reason, I wasn't quite ready to let go and follow him into climax. I gently pulled from him, kneeling between his sprawled legs and scooping up his cooling seed to paint my cock with it.
He opened his eyes lazily when he felt me do that and his gaze glimmered with passion still. "Perhaps in that universe, I am a pleasure slave of great price because I am that odd creature - a male breeder. You've rescued me from the auction block from a despicable tyrant who likes inflicting pain on his slaves. You offered to free me but I fell in love with you the moment our eyes met and I offer to have your child in appreciation for my rescue."
"You are a rare and precious male over and beyond your ability to carry a child." I fell into his fantasy with ease and turned him slightly away from me so I could spoon behind him. Propping his top leg up, I slid back into his heat until we were one seamless body. "Your beauty called to me and all I can think of is growing an heir within you. You're as tight around me as if you'd never had a man here before."
********* Ned *********
Carson's big cock speared me until it felt like he'd come out of my stomach. "No one, my lord, has ever been inside of me like this. The priests kept me chaste until I could be sold to the highest bidder to enrich their coffers."
His big hands stroked my stomach and I felt like stretching all over with the pleasure. His chuckle in my ear started me hardening again. "Little one, you are indeed a slave of great worth but the price was not a tenth of what I would have paid for you should I have had to go higher. I fancy seeing this skin stretch over my child as you grow bigger and bigger. I think I will keep you in my hidden seraglio where no one but me ever comes."
I pushed back wantonly to take him deeper. "I will prepare myself at all times so when ever you want me, you need only call my name and I will prostrate my naked body where so ever you wish me. The High King himself could not equal your size."
He thrust in slowly and rotated his hips a bit until I wanted to scream my pleasure. "I believe that I will keep you by my side, naked and oiled so that at any moment I can thrust inside your tight sheath." One hand fondled my cock until I was hard as steel again. "Once your belly swells with my child, I shall only be able to take you from behind. Will you enjoy this position, little love?"
I rippled my inner muscles around him in reply and he bit my earlobe a little harder than he probably meant to because he soothed it with a kiss immediately. "My lord, no matter how you wish me, I will come to you an eager and willing slave to your pleasure. I will take you in no matter how swollen I grow."
His teeth grazed my throat and I knew I'd have a slight bruise there the next day. I loved it when he marked me like that. "Little love, I think I'll celebrate my purchase by staying in bed all day tomorrow. I want you pregnant before I let you rise. The priests gave me the special oil that heals so I won't hurt you with my passion."
"You could never hurt me, my lord." I arched back into him and felt the first slickness that heralded his climax. I massaged him with my inner muscles and he bit my shoulder hard when he released deep inside of me. For a brief moment, I wished that I really could carry his child the way that George was.
His grip tightened around my cock and I let go for the second time, falling asleep almost before he cleaned us both off.
I stretched and held my heavy belly when the baby moved. The seraglio was cool and silent while I waited for my lord to return from his trip to the palace. My center of balance had slowly shifted while our child grew within me and I danced slowly in a modified step that kept both of us safe. My lord was the center of my universe and he called our baby the most wonderful gift that I could ever give him.
I knew how lucky I was that I'd been sold to him rather than to Lord Phaisel of the next kingdom. There were only ten known male breeders in the world at any one time. The gods sent another when one grew old and died. From the moment that the priests discovered my dual nature, I'd been kept cloistered in their monastery until my sixteenth birthday when I could be sold.
My education was all geared towards pleasing he who would be my master once I was auctioned. Although I was a virgin when I came to him, I'd been taught all the ways that one male pleasures another so I would please him. Fear should have never been a part of my training but I'd heard tales of pain and evil intent when I eavesdropped on some of the priests.
But the moment I stood on the dais, naked and oiled to show myself to best advantage, I'd been afraid. Something in Lord Phaisel's voice had seemed to promise pain the likes of which I'd never known. Then the calm tones of Lord Carthenal came to me and my eyes met his for the first time. He was beautiful in a way that I'd never thought of, a big man with wide shoulders and the grace of a dragon.
I'd been compared to a gazelle but I felt small and petite next to him. A spark deep in my stomach had warmed me even while the bids went back and forth between them. After that one glance, I'd kept my eyes demurely downcast. But my heart gave a great leap when I realized that he was my master now. He came over and lifted me into his arms as if I weighed nothing.
He clicked his fingers and his bodyguard wrapped me in a silken cloak to hide my nakedness. His body burned mine even through the cloth that separated us. He never once let me go even when we entered the carriage that took us to his estate. The bodyguard rode with the driver so we were quite alone within the luxurious compartment where he introduced me to achingly sweet kisses that fired my blood to boiling.
There was some pain when he first took me but he cleaned me of the blood and used the healing oil that helped him stretch me wide. Less than three days later, my semen changed flavor and we knew that I carried his child. Not a day had gone by that he hadn't taken me tenderly. He cared for my pleasure as well and the priests had never told me that that was even possible.
He had my whole heart and I fervently prayed that our child would be the son that he sought. When I had voiced my hope to him, he had chuckled and kissed me sweetly. Even if it wasn't, he told me, we would have many years for me to give him a dozen children, boys or girls made no difference. Lord Carthenal was a god among men and so I told him every day and night.
Noise from the outer hall carried to me and I glided to the cutwork screen that concealed me while giving me a view of whoever it might be. For a moment, I could see no one then three men clad all in black with masks that concealed their faces strode into view. The servants that tried to stop them were cut down with steel swords. I froze for a moment then ran for the hiding spot that my lord had shown me when first I arrived.
A small room was cunningly concealed beneath the slabs of carved marble and I fled to its shelter with my heart beating so fast that I could hear nothing else. Sinking to my knees on the soft cushions that would be my bed, I prayed to every god I knew that my lord was safe and would return without harm to my side. I prayed for our child and lastly I prayed for myself.
If my lord was already dead then I would follow him. It was against the priests teaching but I would not live in a world without my heart and soul. Hours passed while I stayed as quiet as a mouse being stalked by a hungry cat. I could eat nothing of the supplies stored here but I drank sparingly of the cool water from the underground cistern. If I had to stay here for a week, I would not suffer unduly.
Except for my breaking heart, I finally fell into a fitful sleep filled with nightmares of my baby being torn from my body and dashed against the stone floor or my lord lying beheaded on the marble floors above me. When a grating noise finally awoke me, I clutched the knife that my lord had taught me to use and prepared to kill anyone who tried to take me.
"Little one, are you safe?" It was my lord's voice and I flung myself into his arms, sobbing his name. "Thank the gods you're all right. I feared he'd found you when I realized that the king had not summoned me." He rocked me in his strong arms and I clutched at him like a child might. "You're safe now, my precious one."
I felt moisture at my temple and I finally pulled far enough away to find his eyes wet also. "I dreamed you were dead and I wanted to die, too."
"Hush now, little one. We shall both live to a very old age," he smoothed the tears from my cheeks and smiled at me, "surrounded by a dozen children and their children. I have petitioned the king to free you and at the same time bind you even more closely to me."
I blinked at him, not understanding what he meant. He swept me up in his arms and carried me out of my hiding place and into a hall filled with his guards. They were busy dragging bodies out of the hall and he tucked my head against him so I didn't have to see the carnage. I clung to him and felt our child kick hard against his tight grip. His chuckle was music to my ears.
"He's impatient but I think after your scare, we should have the healer in to make sure that you are both all right." He gave orders to his major-domo who was nursing a black eye and a messenger was sent to fetch the king's own healer. My lord carried me into his own rooms and laid me gently on his wide bed, following me onto the soft coverlet so he could cover my face in kisses.
The baby thought that a much improvement on his earlier situation and I finally let go of my lord with one hand to smooth it over my front. Raising my eyes, I discovered my lord looking at me with such a strange look. It was want and need and something else that made my heart beat faster.
"If he had hurt you I would have killed him slowly and with great care." His tones were savage and I widened my eyes in disbelief. "I love you more today than when I first saw you led to that dais. When I realized that my enemy meant to have you, I could no more let him win than I could leave you for another. From the moment you first raised your eyes to me, I knew that you were mine . . . mine for all eternity."
Eternity? My heart was already beating so quickly that I wondered if he could hear it. I raised my hand and softly touched his cheek, unable to say a single word. He captured it and kissed each finger lingeringly. "I love you, Nephrites. You carry our child and before he is born, we will be bonded in front of the entire court and his majesty the king."
Bonded - in front of the entire court? I felt as if I was still dreaming only this dream was far beyond anything I could ever have even thought of. But his kiss convinced me and before he moved aside to let the healer examine me, I dared to dream a new dream. Long fingers poked and prodded me - both my belly and between my legs where the baby would exit my body. There was some discomfort since no one had ever touched me there but my lord but the healer was smiling in relief that both of us had survived our ordeal well and healthy.
I fell asleep in my lord's arms and by the time I ceased having nightmares of what might-have-been, I was bonded to him by every rite of the kingdom. I had my own servants and rooms right next to his. The closer to my delivery date I came, the closer we grew together in heart and spirit. I'd never been so happy and all my thoughts were for my lord and our child.
The last few weeks of my pregnancy, I felt completely ungainly and I had the oddest urge to burst into tears whenever my lord kissed me or complimented me. When I sobbed that I was ugly and fat, he stroked me tenderly and told me how beautiful I was swollen with new life. I carried our future within me and he honored me for the courage to put up with the hundred indignities and pains.
Then he would gently make love to me from behind so we were connected through our joined flesh. The healer had said that was safe so long as he kept his strokes shallow. I tightened my muscles around him with the little rippling movements that pleasured him so we were both content with our lovemaking. I loved him and our child so much. But oh, I did wish it was time for him to be born.
Dawn of the beginning of my ninth month brought small little pains that darted from side to side of my bursting belly. I tried rolling over but my lord had me held fast against him, his half-hard cock nestled between my cheeks. I tried stroking the baby to calm him but the little ripples of pain just kept coming. Suddenly a sharp pain ripped a cry from me and my lord started awake.
"Little love?" He sat up and let me roll to my back. "What's wrong?"
"A pain that moves from side to side," I panted and he leapt from the bed to cross to the door and call for the healer. Then he rejoined me after drawing on his green silken robe to hide his nakedness.
"Let me see, my love." His large hands shaped the mound that was our child and he felt it when another sharp pain tore through me. "I think he's impatient to come out. My beautiful love, it seems we shall finally see our son." And he kissed me hard before making room for the just-arrived healer to examine me.
The day passed slowly and with increasing pain on my part. I walked the halls of our home with my lord's arm around me to lend me his strength. Every hour, the healer would check between my legs before shaking his head and telling me it wasn't yet time. The pains were coming so close together by the time dusk fell that it was all I could do not to scream in agony.
Finally - finally the healer nodded and my lord lowered me into the sunken bath filled with warm water before taking his place behind me. He held me tightly against his broad chest while the healer spread my legs to either side of his and reached up inside my body. The pain was excruciating now and I writhed silently in his arms while tears streaked my cheeks. I could feel myself splitting in two while alien hands reached inside of me to touch our child.
I couldn't get enough air into my lungs and my lord urged me to scream out with the pain. That actually helped and I screamed again and again while pushing as hard as I could. The sound echoed in the air and I felt as if a sword was cutting me in two from the inside while I panted. The urge to push was paramount and with another blood-curdling scream, I pushed so hard that the world went black around me.
Weightless, I felt as if my body was no longer a part of me. My name was being whispered over and over in my ear and I smiled for a moment before a wavering cry broke the stillness. Opening my eyes, I saw the healer holding a squalling infant to my breast and my arms reached out to hold him close. He was rather squashed looking and his little face was red under a cap of white-blond hair. But his fingers were long and beautiful, waving in the air.
"A beautiful boy, my Lord Carthenal," the healer smiled at my lord while I counted those fingers again. "There was little tearing so your bonded should heal within the month. It was an easy delivery for his first one and now that his pelvis is stretched, he should be able to give you many more children."
"We thank you, Healer Thone, but it is a little soon for us to be thinking beyond this fine lad." My lord's voice was a little dry and I hid a smile against our son's soft cheek. "Perhaps you'd be so kind as to announce the birth of our son to the household?"
"Certainly, Lord Carthenal, I have spread the healing salve within your bonded so once you move him to his bed, I will check him again then." He bowed and mounted the steps out of the sunken tub, drying himself with one of the towels before finally leaving us alone.
"He's a good healer but surely he understands that we need some privacy." My lord kissed my temple. "Our son will have ten yours before I put you through this again, beloved. I thought he would rip you in two."
I chuckled. "I thought he might, too. But he is worth any amount of pain. Look, he has your eyes, Car."
"Who has my eyes, Ned?" I felt Car kiss my shoulder and I opened my eyes onto a very different world than the one I'd been in just a moment before.
Turning, I looked at him with eyes that had just seen my fantasy come to life. "I must have been dreaming, love. It was so real."
"Was it a good dream, Ned?" His blue eyes gazed into mine and I smiled.
"Let me tell you about a world where certain special males really do give birth." And I settled in to paint a picture of what I'd just experienced. Who knew, I thought, maybe it wasn't a fantasy but one of those parallel worlds the gods told us about.
And maybe, I'd dream my alter ego again.
The end of part 5