Solomon traced the number back to Senator McCarthy's office in the U.S. Senate. This underground targeting of us would have to be handled expeditiously or the wrath of the entire government could yet land squarely on our heads. The FBI was of no use to us since they seemed hell-bent on helping the Senator root out Communists under every bed. I had an old friend in the CIA and I left a message with his answering service, inviting Robert over for drinks and dinner so he could meet my wife and our new twins.
Not so new now, I thought, gazing fondly at the four month old twins lying on the cushions by the pool. They were trying to roll over and I knew that crawling wouldn't be far away once they mastered that trick. They were absolutely the best babies in the world and I loved being able to spend time with them. I lived for the weekends when I could shut away the rest of the world and spend time with my lovers and our children.
I was blessed with joy and thought myself the luckiest man in the world.
Nephrites scrubbed my back and kissed the nape of my neck. "Sweet Car, you are the most wonderful lord in the world. Do you truly think that Lord Roylant will be patient with Laital? He's so frightened of everything and he's been so terribly abused. He didn't even know what kissing was."
I turned to bring him into my arms for one of our achingly sweet kisses. After feasting on his mouth, I pulled far enough away to answer him. "I think that Ro loves him very much and always has. It's one of the reasons that he never married. According to our laws, he could have a wife and a Chosen but he took no wife because I think his heart was bound to Laital's even then."
He nodded slowly. "Even though we're bonded, Car, you could still take a wife."
Chuckling, I laid back and pulled him close to me. "Where would I find the energy to make love to my voracious bonded and a wife, too? No, it's much better that I keep you happy and satisfied so you can continue to pamper me in the style to which I've become accustomed."
His smile lit the room and he kissed me long and hard while plucking at my nipples until I was completely firm again. Sliding into his female sheath, I reveled in the tight heat that was always waiting for me. He sighed or maybe it was me, it didn't matter since we were both content with our position. He flexed his inner muscles around me and I spared a thought for my friend.
May Laital soon heal so that they could experience the joy that was ours.
We made love leisurely until we both came with a sigh instead of a shout. After a short nap, I watched while the Sisters gilded my beautiful lily. This robe was new and most assuredly created today. The heavy silk both revealed and concealed his body, giving tantalizing hints of his exquisite form. The blue was so deep that it shaded into purple and the beaded headdress was made of the same color beads.
He was going to turn heads when we went to the king's audience and I would watch with a smug air that would send Phaisel mad with envy. I'd already heard through Carira that the crocodile lord had beaten a slave to death when he discovered that Laital was beyond his grasp.
I pitied the slave but said a prayer of thanks that the poor Chosen had found a better fate. Ro would treat him like the most delicate of gold filigree until he was healed completely. Carira also mentioned very off-handedly that it was the male who determined the sex of the baby when a Chosen became pregnant. So Roylant had a better than even chance that Laital would bear him a son, eventually.
The way that my sweet Nephrites had championed Laital's cause told me that there would be much visiting for the next few months until it became uncomfortable for him to travel easily. He carried my child within his firm body and I wished that we were home so that I could take him back to bed.
"I know what you're thinking but you can't." His laughter brought a smile to my lips and I arose to kiss him while Sepira and Lasira stepped back with laughing faces. Even my son laughed at me and I would have pouted but Nephrites whispered what delights he had in store for me tonight and I smiled instead.
"I shall hold you to that, beloved. Now, I suppose that you wish to go visit Ro and Laital to make sure that he is as beautiful as is possible to make him?" I gathered an armful of bonded at that statement and I held him lightly so as not to crush his new robe. In truth, I was curious to see how freedom and the new robe might transform the other Chosen.
Half an hour later, I was witness to a most amazing sight. Laital came shyly out of the sleeping chamber where the Sisters and my bonded had been busy. The crimson and azure beads of the headdress set off his beautiful blue eyes. The new robe of heavy crimson silk rustled with each movement and he looked anxiously at Ro when my friend was struck dumb with amazement.
"You are more beautiful each time I see you, sweet Laital." Ro said after I pinched his ass hard. He smiled at him and crossed to kiss him before making sure that his veil was secure.
"Thank you, my lord." Laital's eyes were smiling and that was the first time I'd seen that.
Nephrites looked quite smug when he came to my side and I kissed him before bringing up his own veil. I would share his sweetness with no one but my dearest friend. We left the rooms of the hawk lord and made for the king's throne room together with us going first since Roylant had a petition for the king and petitioners always came last.
********* Ned/Nephrites *********
Laital looked so beautiful that I was sure that Lord Roylant would fall even more deeply in love than he was already. I could hear the whispers race around the throne room when we entered, me behind Car and Carira behind me. Sepira had fashioned another robe for me using some of the new fabric from the House of Eternal Bliss. It was lovely and Car had told me that it made my eyes look even more beautiful than usual.
That was nice to hear and I bowed before the king before moving to the place where we'd stood the day before. So much had changed since then that I felt as if a mighty desert wind had swept through and made all new again. Lord Roylant was announced then and he entered with Laital three paces behind him with Karel by his side. The whole room went silent for a long heartbeat before a hum of whispers began.
'Hah! Lord Phaisel, see what is beyond your reach.' I said silently across the room while my fellow Chosen sank to the ground in obeisance behind his new lord.
"My Majesty, I petition thy grace for the Chosen slave known as Laital. I bought him yesterday and today I beg thee to allow me to free him, adopt his daughter Jasmine as my own and bond with him now and for always." Lord Roylant surprised everyone with that last request, even me.
The king chuckled and nodded, gesturing to the hawk lord to bring Laital to his feet. I could feel the shocked surprise from the dazed Chosen but also the dawning hope that this time, he'd found true happiness. I know not what passed between their eyes when he raised him to his feet but I thought it was probably love on both sides.
"Come here, child." The king arose and stepped down to face the pair. "Dost thou accept thy freedom, Chosen Laital?"
He nodded and said yes, very, very faintly.
"Good, then it is my honor to grant thee and thy new daughter thy freedom. And wilt thou bond with my Lord Roylant of the hawk people?" He asked him.
This time, I think everyone heard his yes. That was just so sweet that I had tears in my eyes.
"Excellent, Lord Roylant and Chosen Laital, I pronounce thee bonded. May thee both have many long years of health and happiness among thy people." He kissed Laital's cheek then the hawk lord's and sent them to their place two lords down from us.
Ascending his throne again, he looked out over the audience and smiled. "It is both a sad and happy time. We say goodbye to an honored lord and give welcome to our newest. I have confirmed Lord Ahmed Sacral to be the next Lord of the Deer people and he will arrive tomorrow for his presentation to the court. Dinner tonight will be taken separately since there is still one more day of mourning to be observed. I will see all of thee tomorrow at noon."
"My Majesty," Lord Phaisel's oily tones made my ears hurt. "Though Lord Sacralus is no more, I think he would have wanted thee to have his offering for thy new display. I know he brought it with him for he told me he'd commissioned a deer for thy pleasure."
Kristos came forward and bowed to the king. "My Majesty, a deer was found among the departed lord's luggage. I have it still in its original basket if it would please thee to receive it."
I held my breath and tried not to watch while the king clapped his hands in glee and told him to bring it forth. Carira had found the hidden needle and Sepira had identified the poison tainting it. The deer was well cleaned and the needle removed so none would be stabbed by accident. The king knew exactly what to do when he pulled it out of its white silk bedding.
It truly was a work of art and he petted it like he had the crocodile yesterday. The antlers were triggered by rubbing its nose and the whole head moved from side to side like a wild deer's might. The king delighted in it and beckoned Kristos to come and take it for placement with his other treasures.
"Very nice work, my lords, thou shall find it difficult to match these two beautiful creatures. I look forward to receiving thy totems." He smiled at everyone and got up to briskly walk down the steps and out of the throne room followed closely by Kristos.
I looked hastily at Lord Phaisel and found an utterly blank expression on his face. He had to be wondering if the mechanism had failed or if he'd been found out. I hoped it worried him to death, I thought vindictively. Car signaled me to follow him and we exited the throne room while the other lords gossiped back and forth. I heard the Leopard Lord congratulate Lord Roylant on his bonding and that made me very happy.
Soon Laital would know how much he was loved and wanted. I'd see if he had more questions for me or if he trusted his lord to initiate him into the remaining mysteries of loving. We made it back to our rooms with a sigh of relief and almost immediately, servants came knocking with invitations to dine with this lord or that one. Car gave them all the same answer - not tonight.
Thank goodness, I thought with another sigh of relief. I wanted to put on my comfortable old robe, play with my son and have dinner with Lord Roylant and Laital. I smiled when I thought how surprised I'd been at being called 'lord'. Sweet Laital had gone from being a slave to being a bonded lord. It would take a while for him to truly grasp all the changes in his life.
Car played with our son for a bit then changed robes again to visit with some of the other lords. I knew he was testing the opinions of some of them. Lord Phaisel had his own followers but some of the in-between-lords were of unknown loyalty. Some, like the Lord of the Elephants who was so wrapped up in his scholarly research that he barely knew the king's name, were true unknowns.
But I knew that Car would find out because he was very good at that. So I played with our son and fed him myself from the lovely basket of oranges that Kristos had sent. I reclined against the cushions of the sleeping chamber and listened to Lasira tell Sar a story. What alerted me to danger, I have no idea but suddenly I felt a cold chill enter the room and I sat upright instantly.
The Sisters went on the alert at the same moment and I watched in horror as one of the deadly leaping spiders of the desert crawled over the side of the basket of oranges. Sepira stepped in front to draw its attention away from me while Lasira lifted Sar from the cushions and turned away so the spider had her back as a target if he sprang.
I was hardly breathing when out of nowhere a knife soared through the air and stabbed it into the orange it had hatched from. Carira walked over and stuck another knife into him while I began to shake all over. Car strode in and took in the scene at a glance, coming at once to me and lifting me into his arms. I clutched him tightly and almost couldn't breathe at his own tight grip.
Sar's curious questions brought me out of my panic and Lasira calmly showed him the spider and told him about where those creatures lived. She made up a little story about how it must have crawled into the orange as it grew on its tree and got picked and sent far away from his original home. Carira told him that he could have gotten sick if the spider had bitten him and that's why she had to kill it. She also promised that she'd show him how to throw a knife when he got a little older.
That satisfied him completely and I was able to reassure him that everything was fine now. I felt how pale I was and after Sepira had searched the bathing chamber, Car took both of us into the bath so they could search the rest of the rooms again. Sar had a hundred questions and Car patiently answered them all while making sure that both of us were squeaky clean.
I finally grew calm enough to make sure my lord was adequately cleaned also. It would be some time before I would be able to eat an orange again, I thought silently while smiling at my sweet son. And just like that I was so coldly angry that my teeth ached at their clenching. Lord Phaisel would be dead if I had anything to say about it. And I wanted to plant the dagger in his heart myself.
I was able to hide my feelings from Sar but not from my bonded. His strong hand lifted my chin and he looked deep into my soul. "Beloved, all will be well; I swear this on my sacred honor."
Nodding, I accepted his vow and knew that if I could then I would help him in any way I could.
********* Hannah/Laital *********
One of Lord Carthenal's Sisters came to the door and spoke with our Sister Jarwhal. Lord Roylant had just returned from visits to some of the other lords and he listened while his face grew black with anger. I trembled since that had always meant a beating for me when my former lord had gotten bad news. But he simply picked me up and carried me into our bathing chamber, asking Sister Karel to bring Jasmine in with us.
It seemed we were going to bathe again and I smiled at that wonderful pleasure. Once a week was all that I'd been allowed before and this was true decadence to bathe twice in one day. Gathering my courage, I ventured to ask what was wrong. My lord soaped his hands and began to clean me while telling me of the deadly spider that had been sent to Nephrites and his lord.
I shivered all over and he swept me into his arms to kiss me. I couldn't be afraid after that wonderful kiss and the tingly way he made me feel so I simply smiled and let him wash me how he willed. But eventually he let me wash him and I got to run my hands all over his big hard body. He had a few scars here and there, mostly on his arms and shoulders.
He explained that when training a new hawk or kestrel, accidents could happen. Claws and beaks could leave scars that healed slowly. I boldly kissed each one, which led to more achingly sweet kisses from my lord. My brain was reeling after all the changes that had occurred since I birthed my daughter the day before. I only prayed that this wasn't some dream from which I'd awake.
I wanted it to be true. I wanted to be bonded to the handsome man who stood before me. I wanted so many things that I was afraid the gods would deem me greedy. But my lord just kept giving me more wonderful memories to treasure. Simbal came in while we were drying each other and told us that the rooms were safe. She didn't say if they had found anything but then I didn't want to know.
I hate spiders with a passion and the thought of seeing even a dead one made me shiver. My lord comforted me again and swept me up in his arms for the short walk into the bed chamber where he decreed that we were going to take a nap before dinner. The Sisters disappeared into the outer room, taking Jasmine who was still asleep with them. I was left alone with my bonded who cuddled me close and seemed intent on tasting every square dokar of skin that I had. It felt so very good that I wanted to purr.
"Sweetheart, are you all right?" He asked me gently. "I know that I didn't ask you before hand but it felt so right that I thought you wouldn't mind."
"Our bonding?" I asked to make sure that I was following him. His nod was almost shy and I smiled up at him, letting my fingers smooth over his slightly bristly cheeks. He would need to shave again before dinner, I thought absentmindedly. "I would have been too frightened to say yea or nay, my lord. But oh, I am glad that you wanted me that much."
I was blushing again but I don't think he minded because he was busy kissing me over and over. My whole body was so hot and tight that I thought I'd go mad. When he gripped my shaft, I spent myself immediately. I puddled into a small heap while he petted me and cleaned my stomach of my seed with his tongue. That felt so good that I wanted to make him feel that way.
So I sat up and began to run my hands down his body, making sure I watched his reactions to see which touch pleased him most. His nipples were hidden among the wiry hair that grew so profusely on his broad chest. I am hairless there so it felt wonderful to my skin like a thousand little hands tickling me. The muscles across his chest flexed beneath me and I suddenly felt powerful to so affect him.
His eyes were hot on mine and I liked that. I liked that very much so I moved to his groin and the tall shaft that stood so proudly. I knew more now so I firmly gripped him with both hands and rubbed briskly while my lips kissed the soft skin of his crown and he moaned above me. I smiled and redoubled my efforts and was rewarded a few moments later with his seed.
I caught most of it this time and smiled triumphantly at him when his long arms pulled me up to his lips. We kissed again so he could taste himself upon my tongue. His hands caressed my back all the way down my cheeks and I thought about what Nephrites had said about my male sheath giving pleasure. Suddenly I was curious about that so I dared to ask my lord.
"Lord Roylant, what is . . . is the male sheath that Nephrites told me about?" I looked down into his dark eyes and saw him smile.
"I want to hear you call me Ro, sweet Laital." He said and raised an eyebrow expectantly.
"Ro, tell me about the pleasure to be had from . . . that," I said daringly.
"Beautiful Laital, every man has an entrance through which we pass our wastes but hidden deep within it is a gland that gives sweet pleasure when touched by finger or shaft." His voice flowed over my senses like the richest honey and all I did was wiggle a little when his fingers drifted down my cleft. There was a little tingle there near my small hole when he brushed against it and I parted my legs some more so he had room to do whatever it was he was going to do there.
"But," he stopped and reached above his head for the bottle of oil that Sister Sepira had used yesterday for my massage. "But that passage doesn't grow damp like your female sheath does so oil is necessary to smooth the way. Are you sure that you want me to show you this now?"
"Yes, I want to give you the pleasure that you've given me." I wiggled a little more and thought that his shaft was going to rise again. That thought filled me with glee instead of alarm and I smiled down at him again.
That brought me another kiss while he rolled us so he lay between my legs, his shaft nudging the sheath between my legs. Not even that could make me fear him and his size. He was my bonded and I belonged to him for all time. I hadn't lied when I said that I'd enjoyed caring a child, loathing only the lord who seemed to look upon me as a necessary evil for his house.
"Not yet, little love," he remonstrated with me and I grew contrite, afraid that I'd overstepped my boundaries. "One day I shall come there and you will carry our child in comfort and love. But not today sweetheart, today is for showing you just a taste of new pleasure."
I smiled again and watched while he rubbed oil between his hands, coating every finger carefully before setting the bottle aside. He explained every touch and even brought back the fire in my female parts the way that Sister Sepira had before. I'd never know my body could ever feel such beauty and I just went from one new sensation to another. When he slid a finger between my cheeks, I felt the fire come again and he slid in a finger slowly, sparking new feelings of fullness.
One finger became two and the burn was extreme but suddenly he touched something inside of me that made me moan. He checked first to be sure that I was enjoying it then chuckled and leaned down to suck my rising shaft into his hot mouth. Repeatedly he rubbed that magic spot and moved up and down on my rock hard shaft until I burst into flames and gave him my seed yet again.
Slowly he removed his fingers and cuddled me close to him so my head was right over his heart. "Did you like that, sweetheart?"
"I loved it." I licked the nipple near my chin. "Once we are alone tonight, I want you to sheath your mighty sword in my sheath." I raised my head to look into his eyes. "I'm not afraid anymore, Ro. I want it all. I want all of you."
He pulled me atop him again and kissed me tenderly until we had to breathe. "Then you shall have all of me, sweet Laital. Talk with Nephrites after dinner so he can answer any questions you might have. I don't want to hurt you."
"You won't, beloved." I was suddenly calm and composed, not feelings I was used to but being bonded seemed to have freed my spirit to think new thoughts and desire new things. Ro made me feel so good that I wanted to make him feel even better.
He chuckled and ran his oily hands over my back, massaging all my muscles into bliss. I'd have to do that for him later. I didn't think the therapeutic massage that I'd learned from the priests and never used was quite what he was doing because instead of calming me, it was waking me up all over. My skin tingled, my nipples dripped milk for him to lick and my inner muscles had a new ache to consider.
If only we had enough time to savor these delights before anything else happened, I thought with an inaudible sigh. Jarwhal's voice came through the curtain, telling us that Lord Carthenal's Sister Carira had brought an invitation for us to join them in their suite for the evening meal.
Ro sighed and told her we'd be out shortly. Then he kissed me hard and rolled us both out of bed. He went to wash and shave once more while I got out fresh robes for us to wear. I only had the one new robe but it wouldn't do for dinner so I pulled out the best one of my old robes. Oh well, I thought, Nephrites won't care what I wear and Lord Carthenal will only have eyes for him anyway.
Karel came in just then with fabric hanging over her arm and a smile on her face. "My lord, I was able to finish another robe this evening. It will be just right for a family dinner between friends."
I thanked her profusely and stroked the honey-gold silk that flowed from tiny pleats over my shoulders down to my feet. Ro came out and immediately told me how beautiful I was. I loved it when he said that and I blushed again until I helped him into his own soft green robe with the hawk figured sash.
Dinner would be fun and then my lord would make me his, completely. I was looking forward to that.
Then end of part 17