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 Post subject: Collared - Chapter 1 (For Sage, once more, with love)
PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 5:40 pm 
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“Dinner is almost ready,” Cleatus said, sticking his head in the door.

Rose didn’t look up from her book. “Uh-huh,” she said. “Three more pages.”

It was a familiar routine by now. In the mansion Rose could do whatever she liked. Cleatus employed a family to take care of the estate. He took care of his business by himself and only required Rose when he would go out – although he had been attacked on the estate grounds, as well. She spent most of her days either training in the courtyard, helping to look after the younger children or gossiping with the matron and the elder daughters, helping out with some of the bigger house hold tasks, or hidden away in the library.

They were as safe here as they could be anywhere, and well cared for, but Cleatus still always prepared the food for himself and her. He never ate or drank anything someone else had touched. She figured someone had tried to poison him in the past, but he never said anything and she wasn’t going to ask him. She just ate his food – he was actually pretty good.

The first few weeks they hadn’t said anything. Then he started asking her if the food was good, and he had started to adjust things to her taste. After he’d seen her wander into the library and not come out for hours he started suggesting books. It had been a few more weeks before she first read one of his suggestions and he’d asked her what she thought. They had always been civil with each other – Cleatus because that seemed to be what he did, and her because it wouldn’t make her life better if she was rude to him, it would just take up more energy.

Surprisingly enough Cleatus did pay her. She hadn’t really used any of it yet – not that she needed to when clothes kept turning up in her room. Instead she made him buy her the best equipment money could buy in this part of the world. She was prepared for pretty much anything. She’d half thought he was exaggerating when he’d said he needed a bodyguard, but that hadn’t been the case. Someone really had it out for the master – but fortunately they didn’t seem to want to spend the amount of resources it would actually take to get rid of him. So Cleatus carried on and she kept him safe. More than one would-be assassin ended up in a collar themselves. Rose had never felt ambiguous about that before she got one of her own, but now it left a bad taste in her mouth. Not enough of one to make her try harder to kill them, though. Any life was better than none at all.

“We’re going out of town tomorrow,” Cleatus said over dinner. “Pack for a week or so.”

“Of course,” Rose said.

“You’re not going to ask where, or why?”

“Do I ever?” she said, around a forkful of stewed vegetables. “Does it matter?”

He looked at her a beat. “I suppose not,” he finally said. For a moment she thought he would say more, but he just returned to his plate and the rest of the meal passed in silence.

“Thank you for the food,” she said when she was done, and stood to take her plate to the kitchen. Again he looked at her like he wanted to say something and she waited.

“Good night,” he said, looking away again. She didn’t reply but gave it a few more beats before turning on her heel and leaving the dining room. As if she was ever going to make anything easier than she strictly had to for the lowlife slaver who had her in a collar.

He kept giving her nervous glances on the way to the harbour, like he did every time they returned to that fateful location. But it was just a place and it didn’t mean anything to her. She just rode on, staring calmly ahead, and let him stew in his own juices. They boarded a ship, where she dumped her pack in the cabin they assigned her master and checked the whole vessel top to bottom and back to top, by which time they set sail.

“Should be fine,” she said, entering the cabin without knocking. Cleatus barely looked up.

“I was fairely sure of that before,” he replied.

“Don’t bring me along if you don’t need me,” Rose huffed.

“I always need you,” he said easily. She rolled her eyes and turned away, but he was too engrossed in his papers to notice.

“Well, if you don’t need me to do my job right now, I’m going to get some extra sleep while I can,” she said.

“Take the bed,” he said. “At least until after they bring dinner. I've got work.”

“Don’t leave the cabin without waking me,” she commanded, “better yet, don’t leave it at all.”

“Sleep tight,” he said lightly, prompting an annoyed sneer.

“You better be here when I wake up,” she said, took off her boots and most of her protective gear and crawled into the sleeping alcove.

She felt him watching here for a little while, as if there was something else, something he wanted to do or say or whatever it was he had been failing to find courage for lately.
“Go back to work,” she finally said, softly, as kindly as she could manage. She heard the scratching of a pen to paper, and fell asleep.


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 Post subject: Re: Collared - Chapter 1 (For Sage, once more, with love)
PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 2:33 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 4:46 pm
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I love it!
Thank you Si for another great installment of this story. I'm so excited to see where it all goes and how Rose and Cleatus get along. :)

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