Excerpt from Vampires of Noctra: Blood Bounty

Vampires of Noctra: Blood Bounty

#MM #pirates #bdsm #historical #vampires #darkfantasy #erotichorror #gayerotica

VON1_BloodBounty_smA vampire with a raging thirst for human blood and erotic pleasure; a man with a secret mission to find and destroy the undead. But lusty midnight passions defy logic. Boundaries and duty hold no sway on the decks of the Night Stalker.

Captain Dontè Lucienne is the vampire captain of the Night Stalker. His crew is human. Men who serve the vampires of Noctra, providing sustenance, as well as loyalty. They are fighters as well as lovers, and devoted to their vampire masters. They would destroy any who tried to kill their captain.

Skye Templeton is a man on a dangerous mission. Plucked from the swelling seas by the crew of the Night Stalker, he’s exactly where he needs to be. Will he come out alive? Or end up as fodder to the lust of the vampirate captain? His duty is clear—at least until he come to know this lusty crew and their magnetic captain. Until he comes under the supernatural, relentless spell of the Night Stalker.

EXCERPT

Donté stroked his tongue over Vasily’s bulging pecs, tugged on a nipple, chewing at it lightly. Vasily’s cries crescendoed and dropped, rose again and again, like surging waves lapping at the hull of the Night Stalker. Needy, in delirium, far removed from reality.

Donté’s fangs sank into the supple muscle of Vasily’s chest and the young man cried out, spurting his seed into Donté’s hand. The vampire supped on his youthful, vibrant lifeblood, his cock still buried in Vasily’s ass.

Extracting his fangs, Donté swirled his tongue over the puncture marks, leaving faint red indentations in his wake. He studied Vasily’s chest, admiring the tracks decorated across his warm human flesh. Every sailor in the vampire captain’s crew sported the vampire piercings upon their skin, each crew member having been personally handpicked by either Donté or Donté’s vampire sire, Captain Sterling Savoir, to serve as members of their respective crews.

Human, well-mannered, beautiful young men, all committed to serving the vampire masters of Noctra Island.

Donté traced the piercings, listened to the thundering heartbeat, the shallow breaths of his lover for the night. This was the second time he’d fed from Vasily in less than a fortnight and he would savor tonight. The young man’s blood was too rich, too addictive. If Donté fed from him once more before the next full moon, he was likely to draw the young man too close to the crossover. He dared not take the chance.

Easing his still hard cock from inside Vasily, Donté lifted from the bed and walked over to the table. It was early yet, hardly a stroke after midnight, and he planned to savor his young sailor until the first misty fingers of dawn cut through the night. At the rate Donté was going Vasily might not last if Donté didn’t slow down. Sips only, no more than a pint of Vasily’s blood or he’d push him too close to the edge. Donté poured some of the finely aged French burgundy into a goblet.

He took a moment to glance up, pinning the other bound man on the opposite side of the room beneath a hard stare.

“Do you see what you’re missing?” Not quite all of his crew were as well-mannered as he liked. “You could have been where he is, Velvet, if you hadn’t disobeyed my command.”

Velvet, a gunner’s mate of unique precision and fortitude, was stretched out, hands manacled high above his head, his hard cock and heavy balls harnessed, a lead weight swinging with each surge of the ship, two more weights tugged at his distended tits.

Velvet was as beautiful as any of the men on the ship, and most of the time he listened to orders. Tonight called for discipline in Velvet’s case. A hair trigger temper requiring a strong hand, he’d been less than humble, so certain he’d be the one to entertain the captain tonight. Well, Velvet was entertaining the master all right, but not in the way the rebellious young sailor expected.

Donté would not tolerate jealousy, or assumption, among his crew. The captain treated all of his mates equally and he would not have any of them attempting to usurp his authority and causing dissension on the ship. One day, Velvet would learn his place. Or else spend more time on the wall than in the captain’s bed.

Donté sauntered over to Velvet and trailed his cool fingertips over the man’s sweat-soaked chest. He hefted one of the weights in the palm of his hand and then allowed it to drop away. Velvet’s long drawn out hiss as it dragged against a tit satisfied Donté that the action reminded the man of his unhappy state.

Dropping forward, Donté razed his sharp teeth over Velvet’s flesh. Lines of red tracked his path. But he didn’t sink them into Velvet’s flesh. He didn’t feed.

“Please, Master, I’m sorry for what I did. I’ll never do it again.”

“I wish I believed you, Velvet. But this isn’t the first time, is it? Not even the second. You’re smart enough to make first gunner, but your temper and lack of self-control are your downfall. Be thankful I didn’t turn you over to Margan and have him assign you to the bilge pump tonight—wallowing in stinking water for a night might teach you a lesson. That might have been a more fitting punishment. We’ll see what a night of discipline on my wall will do for your manners.”

Donté swung away, ignoring the pleading look in the beautiful sailor’s whiskey-colored eyes. Swift discipline and heavy bondage was the only thing Velvet understood. For at least a short time. Sterling handled this one with a firmer hand. Sterling would have had him strapped to the main mast, a discipline wedge shoved up his ass, and a hundred lashes to stripe his back. Donté’s master, Savoir was a much sterner taskmaster when it came to discipline. Unfortunately, Sterling and the Black Star hadn’t been due to leave Noctra for another month and, as usual, this beautiful gunner had gotten Donté to agree to take him on. Velvet’s blood was some of the richest among the human residents of Noctra, and his skill with the cannon exceeded by few. If only his temperament better aligned with his name, they all would be much happier.

Yet both Sterling and Donté liked a challenge now and then, which is why Velvet was allowed to remain. Velvet might be a bit of a scallywag in many ways, but he was just too luscious to exile…or kill. Donté walked over to the big white cat lying on a stretch of crimson and cream Persian rug in a corner of the room. He leaned down to pet the huge Bengal outcast.

“You’ll keep him in line, won’t you? Too bad he doesn’t have your understanding of self-preservation.” The snow-white, almost totally stripeless tiger leaned into the stroke of the vampire. Few animals on the mainland accepted the touch of a vampire. But Khan was different—he was as cursed as any vampire, and his connection to the vampire was unique.

Donté turned his attention back to Vasily still stretched out on the bed, eyes closed. Picking up the goblet, Donté moved back to his lusty donor for the evening. Gently lifting Vasily’s head, he tipped the goblet and allowed some of the wine to trickle into his mouth.

Vasily’s eyelids fluttered opened and he gulped at the wine until the goblet was empty.

“That’s better, sweeting. The color is returning to your face. Are you feeling more yourself?”

Donté set the goblet on the nightstand and picked up the wet cloth from the mauve-colored porcelain basin and bathed Vasily’s stomach and flaccid penis. Returning the cloth to the bowl, he leaned toward Vasily and pressed his lips to the young man’s mouth. Vasily’s lips parted and Donté thrust his tongue deep inside. The rattle of the chains binding Vasily to the bed bled through the needy moans as the sexy young sailor shifted and arched, begging for his master’s touch. Donté heard a whimper from the other side of the room. Then a deep, warning growl from Khan. Donté ignored Velvet. There would be time enough to decide what to do about him later. For now, he was simply a decoration on his wall, reminded of his place by Khan.

“Would you like something to eat before we continue?”

Vasily gazed up at him with worshipful eyes. “Whatever you want, Captain.”

Donté couldn’t help smiling. Vasily was a good boy and very respectful. A week of serving on the Night Stalker and Vasily had no qualms about turning his back on his past life. Of offering his blood and service to the Noctra vampires.

Donté rose and stepped to the table at the center of the room where a tray of food rested. He didn’t partake, but he had to maintain the strength of his two human lovers. He picked up a thick slice of bread and a small wedge of cheese and returned to the bed. He hand-fed Vasily slowly, punctuating each serving with drugging kisses in between until his sweet supplicant finished the bread and cheese. By then, Vasily’s cock was thick and hard, bobbing against his flat abdomen. Yes, he was revived and appeared more than ready to serve his master once more.

Donté picked up the oil to prepare Vasily’s passage once again. A snarl curled his lip when a knock sounded at the door. Donté glared at the root of his irritation. Who dared to interrupt? Swift punishment would be exacted for the defiance of his standing orders…unless it was an emergency. He set down the bottle of oil to the side and rose from the bed.

“Enter,” he roared with the force of a fierce gale. After a moment of hesitation, the door slowly opened. It was Jupiter, his first mate, who edged his way into the cabin. He looked straight at the captain, neither sliding a sidelong glance toward Velvet, nor toward the bed where Vasily, his second mate, was stretched out.

“Permission to speak, Cap’n.”

Donté waved a hand in the air. “What is it? This better be important.”

“We’ve spied someone in the water, sir. The men are about to bring him on board. I thought you’d want to be informed.”

All of Donté’s crew had preternatural eyesight—one of the dark gifts of human service to the vampires of Noctra. Although the black sloop skimmed through the ocean in the dead of night, it might as well have been daylight for their sharp eyesight.

“Does he look promising?” Donté dressed quickly, donning a pair of black breeches and then pulling on a white linen shirt.

“Hard to tell, sir. He was a ways out. Margan send two men out to retrieve him. Looks to be a survivor from another downed ship.”

Was there any other kind this far out to sea? Most of Donté’s crew were survivors from sacrifices to the dangerous, unpredictable seas. Many on the very verge of drowning or being eaten alive by hungry sharks, or worse. Men who’d been thankful for the captain’s beneficence in saving them from a fate far worse than their untimely death in the surging waters.

There’d been a storm the previous night, which might cause a ship to founder. Donté straightened after pulling on the second black leather thigh-high boot.

“Have Liam see to my men, Jupiter.” He glanced over at Velvet. “Leave him for another hour and then release him. In the meantime, take gentle care of Vasily. I’ve fed well and he may be light-headed. I don’t want him up and around before he’s recovered.”

Jupiter nodded. “Yes, Cap’n.”

Donté returned to the bed, leaned down, and kissed Vasily. “Another night, sweeting.” Then he strode out of the cabin, along the passage and headed to the main deck.

As Donté stepped onto the deck Margan and Onyx hauled a very bedraggled man onto the deck with help from several of the sailors. The stranger collapsed against the railing, salt water splashing onto the deck. It was hard to tell much about him considering the exhausted state of the man, but from first glance he certainly looked…intriguing.

The crew made way for the captain to get through. Several of the men held torches, providing a soft glow of light. Donté nudged the half-drowned man with the point of his well-polished black boot. The eyelids of the young man splayed out on the deck fluttered opened. What stunning blue eyes, was Donté first thought. Clear and sparkling like the sea, framed with long sooty lashes. Yes, definitely worth an interrupted hour of his time.

The young man staring up at Donté looked shaken, yet alert.

“What’s your name, lad?”

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Silver – an excerpt

Silver

“…intensely sexual… a story comprised of contradictions – justice/revenge, male/female, slave/master, human/machine, dominant/submissive, science/supernatural…”

#GLBT #scifantasy #intersex #erotic
Born to freedom. Molded into submission. Pleasure is her only weapon.

Silver, born female, is now an owned gender-mated trinex thanks to the edicts of the Politico Judicalati and time imprisoned at the Factorium. She must choose between her charismatic power-elite, secretive owner, Minister of Acquisitions & Antiquities, Lel Kesselbaum, and a seductive revolutionary, Entreus, a humanotic who tempts her with freedom.

Not all is as it seems–allies who may be traitors, lovers who are more than they appear. A power-mad government, a machine known as the Elite Logical Life Core that uses human intelligence for its knowledge source. The Factorium that acquires humans as research fodder for their experiments and then spits them out when they are of no further use. Sex used as a tool to unearth enemies and traitors, and intimately align allies. Love that is not simple, relationships that are dangerously complex. This is Silver’s highly-complex world.

One misstep in the fight for freedom could mean death for them all.

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EXCERPT

Minister Lel Kesselbaum was not where common masses would have expected a government minister to be. But most of the Politico nobility held interests far beyond their public duty to serve. He sat in the private office on the second floor of the exclusive Music Box Saloon, overlooking the dance floor below where six platforms replicated music boxes. A scantily clad dancer gyrated atop each one, the sound of light, tinkling music a strange, rather bizarre contrast to the dancers’ erotic undulations.

The Music Box catered to humanotic fetishists. Every employee was at least one percent robotized, several being as much as forty-nine percent, just shy of the slender fraction of a percentage that turned a human into possessable chattel under the laws of the current government. All employees of the Music Box were free citizens and had free choice insofar as it went— Lel made certain of it. They could choose to work at the saloon, or not. But, situations being what they were in Quentopolis, common citizens grappled for what steady work they could find. Working at the Music Box was better than starving in the workhouses. And Kesselbaum’s saloon offered a cleaner, more lucrative means of gainful employment than other sex trade work—or other limited, legal choices that involved harder, often dangerous labor at the various institutions and murky private establishments throughout the city.

Three of the dancers were female-fused humanotics, their names chosen to titillate the interest of the elite patrons. Tonight, Coral Doll was outfitted as a ballerina, Lily Lovely as a Politico Regulate, Candy Sweet as an educatory factor. Then there were the men, Lel’s particular addiction, which included Rod Ebony outfitted as an E.L.L.C. engineer, Dandy Sugar dressed as an earthy fire containment waterboy and Dick Daring rigged out in black leather equipment appropriate for a carriage team.

Each dancer also wore the delicate wire-net cap Lel had designed, allowing them to communicate with the patrons of the Music Box. The round, gleaming, black-and-white checkerboard tables placed around the perimeter of each platform contained small silver-plated communication horns that allowed patrons to listen to or speak to the dancer. A silver vacuum tube connected from the table to the base of the platform, allowing patrons to tip the dancers.

There was no touching of the dancers during public performance at the Music Box. But a patron could request private audience for a weighty additional fee.

As Lel watched, Ebony released the minuscule leather triangle barely covering his thick, rigid prick, apparently in response to a request from table fifteen. The ambassador seated at the table placed several gold coins into the tube that were then sucked into the locked box beneath Ebony’s platform. Ebony smiled at the man, thrust his hips and proceeded to masturbate in as lewd a fashion as he could manage.

Lel’s cock surged to a rock-hard bulge, pressing prominently against the front of his trousers. He was not one to deny himself the pleasures of the flesh, but in recent months, since the acquisition of his trinex, he’d found that his desire to receive service from any of the humanotics at the saloon had lessened. At some level he found that realization slightly troubling. He favored variety—or at least he had before her acquisition. For a man in his position, it was dangerous to focus his attentions on one sex chattel—both to his position in the Dominatae and to himself personally. Let alone to the chattel. By his nature, different than that of other Dominatae, Lel’s unusually voracious appetite and need for sufficient infusion of sexual energy was not conducive to confining himself to one chattel. He’d found in the past it was dangerous to their well-being.

Silver3_smComplicating his current state of affairs was the fact that Silver was still settled at the Factorium for her latest modifications. He found his domicilia uncomfortably silent without her presence. Thus, in her absence, he’d taken to spending more and more time at the saloon, watching his dancers—but in the end not actually playing with them. They could not satisfy his more refined tastes for a special brand of humanotic—one he had designed himself. All he could think of was his trinex and the feel of her tight passage wrapped around his dick. He forced the thought away. He was of the Dominatae, and sexual variety for his class was almost a law.

Silver’s modifications at the Factorium were taking longer than he’d expected, but he was assured the adjustments had been successful and that tomorrow she would be delivered to his residence.

A knock sounded on the door to his private office, and he turned away from the erotic scene acted out on the main floor.

 

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Read another excerpt from Silver

Pandemonia: Combustible – an excerpt

Pandemonia: Combustible

(#MM, #futuristic, #dystopian, #menage #erotic romance, #BDSM)

combustible_medEarth of 4035 is a wasteland populated with sectors of penal colonies, seeded through the generations by its life-long inhabitants of criminals, lunatics, political prisoners, and DNA-spliced mutants, all ruled by a powerful conglomerate of scientific researchers called the Nucleate.

One such sector, Pandemonia, is situated on the former European continent in the vicinity of Paris, now a hunting ground of a world gone horribly awry.

Drayce Eth, of dragogen-spliced DNA creation, rules one quandrant of Old Paris with a strong hand. He has never mated, never taken a long-term lover, and has always denied the instincts of his dragogen-spliced DNA. But then he encounters an attractive disciple and slave of his arch-enemy, Dr. Francois Beljon, and a simple game of poke-the-bear to relieve his ennui may just result in more than Drayce ever expected. It may also be exactly what he needs when his mating instincts are aroused by this least likely of potential mates.

Crispen Wills is a product of the mean streets. He’s a survivor—a dancer, a liar, a scavenger, and whatever else will serve to keep him alive. But when he becomes a desirable pawn in a treacherous game, it could easily cost him his life. What Crispen never expects is to fall in love with the powerful dragogen that his master has sent him to destroy.

Passions mix with danger in a highly flammable game devoid of rules and safe words, where all’s fair in love, lust…and death. Only a fool would dare to risk everything for a fleeting chance at love, especially when that lover could easily barbecue you should you make one false step.

Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079674H85

 

EXCERPT

“Have Ion send the boy to me after his performance tonight. Let’s see if we can squeeze any more information out of him than he’s deigned to share thus far. Any tidbit we can discern about the running of the cathedral gives us ammunition for future consideration.”

“I can have Taylor beat it out of him,” Zadrian suggested.

Ever since the loss of his lover, Zadrian had become even more bloodthirsty in his tactics. Sometimes he took some reining in. His canine nature was beginning to consume his humazoid side. It had been over a year since he’d lost Jazz to the Nucleate. He had to repair himself. He needed a new focus.

“Zadrian, reel it in. I said not yet. Just send the whelp to me.”

Zadrian saluted. “As you command, boss.”

“Fuck you,” Drayce responded.

Zadrian grinned, exposing his sharp teeth, but the amusement never entered his eyes. It never did these days. “Hell, you want him, you might as well take him. That is what you want, isn’t it? You want to fuck him. That’s why you’re dragging your spikes on this one. Shall I tell Ion to deliver him with a bottle of barbecue sauce?”

Drayce ignored the last taunt. Sometimes Zadrian overstepped. But then the captain had been around a long time. There was no point in lying. Zadrian would see right through that and think less of him for doing it.

“What I want and what I’ll take are two different things entirely. You know that. The whelp is here for one reason.”

“Do you really think Beljon will barter for his return? Beljon has no concern for human life. He’ll just replace this one with another. If he doesn’t get what he wants, he’ll just kill or use it for experimentation. And then destroy it when it goes bad.”

Drayce glared at Zadrian. “Jazz again.”

And now there was emotion in Zadrian’s eyes. Pain flared and Drayce heard the low rumbling growl in his throat.

“We almost lost you as well, if you’ll recall, when they went after him to get to you. That’s all that was about—getting to you. They would have killed him anyway. He was never strong enough to survive here. Even with you protecting him.”

“Fine. But you should remember as well. The weak ones don’t survive long. The whelp is a pretty little thing, but he can’t last long. Use him up, entertain yourself, but I wouldn’t recommend getting attached. He won’t survive either.”

If he was truly weak as he pretended to be, Drayce would agree. But Drayce had watched Crispen these last nights, and Crispen was far from weak. In fact, there was an undercurrent about him that told Drayce above all else, he was a survivor. A devious sort of survivor. Not at all what he appeared. And only a strong, steady hand could bring him to heel. But Drayce didn’t have the time to take on a pet. And Zadrian was right about one thing. In their world, pets didn’t really survive very long. There were traitors in every sector, and the Rouge was no exception. And it was the weak ones on whom they preyed.

Zadrian stared back at him, neither man relenting, nor looking away. In another man, Drayce would have considered it a challenge to be met and the upper hand forced. But then, as though knowing he had to be first, Zadrian looked away. He nodded. “All right, Drayce. Have it your way. But we can’t wait forever. We’ll only look weak. We’re going to have to do something. Toy with it and then finish this thing.”

“I’m not felinogen in that respect. Just remember that. I don’t toy without a purpose. You just be careful it’s not strictly revenge you’re after, and you lose your head and your life because of it.”

Zadrian stared at him with a bleak look. “I lost my life a year ago, Drayce. There really isn’t much left for me to lose. Beljon made his point very clearly.” He spun about and stalked out the door.

Drayce felt for the man. He’d lost his mate, and the DNA in Zadrian’s blood probably wouldn’t let him accept another, at least not easily. It was the way the caninogens were marked. One life, one mate. Dragogens, on the other hand, had no problem keeping a herd full of amusements. Like felinogens in some ways, they were fond of dominating multiple partners. Maybe he was too much like Beljon, and that was a truly distasteful thought. Or maybe Beljon had a bit of dragogen DNA in his make-up. Yeah, that was a much more palatable thought.

Drayce hadn’t built a herd of his own. That sort of thing made a man vulnerable in a place like this. Instead, with running an establishment like the Rouge, he had a plentiful supply of dancers who came and went in his bed when he felt a particular itch, flitting in and out as he wanted. Which is why he couldn’t figure out why he was so fixated on this whelp. He didn’t need him, but damned if he didn’t want him. Far more than he should.

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Silver – an excerpt

 

Humanotica, Book 1

Silver, born female, is now an owned gender-mated trinex thanks to the edicts of the Politico Judicalati and time imprisoned at the Factorium. She must choose between her charismatic power-elite, secretive owner, Minister of Acquisitions & Antiquities, Lel Kesselbaum, and a seductive revolutionary, Entreus, a humanotic who tempts her with freedom.

Not all is as it seems–allies who may be traitors, lovers who are more than they appear. A power-mad government, a machine known as the Elite Logical Life Core that uses human intelligence for its knowledge source. The Factorium that acquires humans as research fodder for their experiments and then spits them out when they are of no further use. Sex used as a tool to unearth enemies and traitors, and intimately align allies. Love that is not simple, relationships that are dangerously complex. This is Silver’s highly-complex world.

One misstep in the fight for freedom could mean death for them all.

 

Silver_promo

Excerpt

I stand in the center of the bedroom, naked and awaiting his attention. It is always Kesselbaum who dresses me for an outing. He never allows me to do it myself. A garter belt and cream-colored silk stockings sheath my flesh. Open pantalettes beneath the trousers. There is a wide-lapeled jacket to match the trousers. Lilac corset laced tight as it would go, flattening my breasts.

My hair is plaited in two braids that are then bound tightly to my head with hairpins. The shoes to grace my feet are masculine and black shiny leather.

“Turn,” he says once I am dressed.

The suit fits well, the jacket tapered. For now, my femaleness is imprisoned and shrouded.

“Violette likes her packages brightly decorated. She’ll want to take her time unwrapping you.” He nods. “Yes, you should please her.”

“She has something you want very much,” I blurt out, unable to stop myself. Is that an edge of jealousy to my tone?

It surprises even me.

“What did you say?” he asks in a very measured tone. I have overstepped and I know it. I also know I hit the mark. This is a barter arrangement. Most likely there is a boy at the dominia’s household who my master particularly wishes to sample. And I am the payment.

I bow my head and drop to my knees as quickly as I can. “My apologies, Dominor.” Discipline administered by my master will only make the day harder to bear. More painful. It has been a long time since I have endured punishment. They are just words, as I do not feel particularly apologetic right now. For my own well being, it is best I shield my thoughts.

“Apology accepted. I will not reprimand. Violette would not be pleased to have some of the edge of her play taken from her. But overstep again or cause me to lose face with her and you will suffer my…displeasure.”

I shudder to think what form that might take. Pushing him will not help me. I must endure.

“Come along. The carriage should be ready. You don’t want to be late for your appointment.”

I lift to my feet and follow him out of the bedroom. We make our way silently down the staircase and out the front door.

coppermanA first view of the carriage and two always takes my breath away. The humanotics are huge, copper-skinned males. Their oiled flesh gleams beneath the heat and golden light of the sun. Long black hair intricately plaited in one braid, the tip painting the curve of strong buttocks. Muscles bulging, thick, pliant black leathers for the most part their only adornment. The smallest triangles of modesty leather cover their huge, bulging erections; a slender strap of rolled leather nudges close, fitted neatly between the creases of their glorious ass cheeks; a narrower line of leather circles perfect, lean hips.

I remember when Master bought them the year before. I had accompanied him to the auctions. They had been rough, unkempt and untrained, but Kesselbaum apparently saw the promise of increased investment in the pair. A year of hard training has melded the set of twin humanotics into an amazing, eye-catching team many are envious of.

Part of their duties is to maintain the light carriage in perfect, polished and well-oiled working order. It is a copper-colored, burnished, sturdy metal to match the team, almost more chariot than carriage, with intricate decoration, yet different in that it is open at the front rather than the rear, with room enough just for two to sit comfortably on the black-velvet cushioned bench. This light carriage was not so sturdily constructed as to engage in a fast race. This one is designed for flashy show, for a slow amble along the lush green perimeter of the Terraverda the promenadeThoroughfare. A finely manicured, grassy perambulatory path has been incorporated into the elite areas of Quentopolis for just such a purpose. It is maintained in pristine state by residents of the workhouses. People hungry for survival tend the paths in the blackest hours between midnight and five to maintain the pathways in perfect harmony for those who could afford to use them.

Kesselbaum’s hand on my arm is firm as he assists me into the carriage next to the well-appointed driver dressed in a livery of black velvet and silver. It is the rare occasion when my owner sends me off on my own. Two residence protectors trail us on foot.

Kesselbaum steps back. “Remember what I said, Silver. Perfect service.”

I gaze down at my hands, in some part afraid of what he will see in my eyes.

“Yes, Dominor.”

As the carriage pulls away, the humanotics trotting in perfect synchronicity, we circle out past the main tall iron gates of the well-manicured grounds of the dominium. For an instant, I feel a surge of adrenaline shoot through me as I inhale a brief moment of fragrant freedom. But quickly the manacles of ownership settle back into place as I watch the copper pair harnessed to the carriage.

Their muscled buttocks ripple with the momentum, thighs sculpted and thick. They are so very male—sleek and powerful. Oiled skin sheens with sweat as they mount the path to Morganelle Hill. The one on the left tosses his head and sunlight glimmers across the blue-black gloss of his hair. The team is truly eye-catching.

I see the colorful outline of the Luminary gleaming brightly at the crest of the hill. And I can’t help but wonder what awaits me at the mansion. The only comfort I can take is that I know it is forbidden for me to be displayed or used in the public rooms. As I understand the laws, with a dominor’s permission, any Dominatae may request the service of another Dominatae’s chattel, but only for private service, not public. The law is clear on the use by those of the Dominatae ruling class, and I may not be forced to serve someone who is not of the Dominatae. There is little comfort in that knowledge, but at least it offers some level of safety for chattel of the nobility.

The carriage pulls to a halt at the main entrance of the Luminary, and a liveryman helps me from the carriage and escorts me up the steps to the house. There is rarely a time when I am not escorted in some fashion. He knocks on the door. The clock in the city tower chimes one o’clock precisely as the door is opened and I am handed over to a human female servant dressed neatly in a simple black dress and white apron. I hear the jangle of the carriage as it pulls away, most likely to be tended to at the elegant stable at the end of the street. And then the heavy door is closed, muting the sounds of the street. The silence engulfs me, a whisper of skirts, the tinkle of light laughter, the scent of woodsy incense, as I follow the servant up the gold-carpeted staircase.

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