It still puzzled Beauty that only she and Laurent and Tristan had been rescued. Had the Queen some new and special use for them? It was an agony not to know, and to suffer such envy of Dmitri, Elena, and Rosalynd.
And Beauty was also worried about Tristan. Nicolas, his former Master, had not spoken a word to Tristan since they had put to sea. He could not forgive Tristan for not wanting to be rescued.
"O, why can’t he just punish Tristan and be done with it," Beauty thought. All through the evening meal, she had admired Laurent’s strictness with Lexius. Laurent had forced him to eat his supper and to drink some wine, though Lexius insisted he wanted none, and then Laurent had made love to him slowly and deliberately, in spite of Lexius’s obvious shame at being taken in front of others. Lexius was the most polite and demure slave Beauty had ever seen.
"He is almost too fine for you," she whispered to Laurent now as they rested together, the cabin warm and silent around them. "He’s more of a Lady’s slave, I think."
"You may use him if you like," Laurent said. "You may whip him, too, if you think he needs it."
Beauty laughed. She had never whipped another slave and did not really want–o, well, maybe….
"How did you manage it," she asked, "the transformation from slave to Master, so easily?" She was glad of a chance to talk to Laurent. Laurent had always fascinated her. She could not get rid of the image in her memory of Laurent in the village strapped to the Punishment Cross. There was something insolent and wondrous about Laurent. She could not fully define it. He seemed to have an understanding of things which others did not possess.
"It has never been one or the other for me," Laurent said. "In my dreams, I liked both parts of the drama. And when I saw the opportunity I became the Master. Moving back and forth only sharpens the whole experience somewhat."
Beauty felt a little tumult in her loins at the confident sound of his voice, the soft ironic tone it had–ever on the edge of laughter. She turned to look at him in the shadows. His body was so large, so full of dormant power even as he lay there. He was taller even than her Captain. And his c**k was still a little stiff, ready enough to be awakened. She looked into his dark brown eyes and saw he was watching her, smiling at her. Probably knowing her thoughts.
She blushed with sudden shyness. She couldn’t fall in love with Laurent. No, that was impossible, quite.
But she didn’t move when she felt his lips against her cheek. "Divine little brat," he growled in her ear. "You know, this might be our only chance…." And his voice died away into a lower growl, the purr of a lion, his lips grazing her shoulder hotly.
"But the Captain–"
"Yes, he’ll be so angry," Laurent said. He laughed. He rolled over and mounted her. Beauty ran her arms up and around his back. His sheer size astonished her and weakened her. If he kissed her again, she would not, could not, resist.
"He’ll punish us," she said.
"Well, I should hope so!" Laurent said, eyebrows raised in mock indignation, and he kissed her, his mouth harsher and more demanding than that of the Captain.
His kiss seemed to open her soul more profoundly, more deliberately. She yielded, her br**sts like two beating hearts against his chest. And she felt the massive c**k moving into her wet cleft, almost bruising her with its careless speed, its necessity.
It lifted her hips off the bare floor and plunged them back down again, its width so punishing that she was overcome with the heat of her spasms, her climax rendering her perfectly without will, her arms and legs flopping beneath Laurent. And when he came in her, she felt her body battered by him, ridden by him and his tempestuous and enigmatic spirit.
They lay quiet and undisturbed afterwards. She half-wished she had not done it. Why could she never love her Masters?
Why was this strange and ironic slave so interesting to her? She could have wept inwardly. Would she never have anyone to love? She had loved Inanna, and now Inanna was beyond reach; and, of course, the Captain was her precious darling, the big brute, but…. She did weep, her eyes now and then moving to Laurent’s sleeping form beside her. But she was very quiet.
When the Captain came to take her to bed, Beauty gave Laurent’s hand a little squeeze, which Laurent silently answered.
As she lay beside the Captain, she wondered what would happen to her when they reached the Queen’s shores. Surely she would have to work out her time in the village; it was only fair. They couldn’t make her go back to the castle. And Laurent and Tristan would be in the village, surely. But if she were made to return to the Queen, she could always run away as Laurent had. And she saw him again in her memory, tethered to the Punishment Cross.
The days at sea passed in a swoon for Beauty. The Captain was strict with her and worked her constantly. But still she found opportunities to couple with Laurent again. And each time it was quiet and furtive and wrenched her soul.
Tristan, meantime, insisted he did not care that Nicolas was angry with him. It was to the village he would give himself when he returned, as he had given himself to the Sultan’s palace. He said his brief time in this alien land had taught him new things.
"You were right, Beauty," he said, "when you asked only for harsh punishments."
But Beauty couldn’t help but know that Laurent had been busily mastering both Tristan and Lexius, taking either when he chose, and that Tristan worshiped Laurent in a way that was clearly individual and personal.
Laurent even borrowed the Captain’s belt to whip his two slaves, to which both of them responded beautifully. Beauty wondered how on earth Laurent would ever manage to be a slave again when they reached the village. The sound of him whipping the other two penetrated the bedchamber where she slept with the Captain. It would not let her sleep.
It was a wonder Laurent didn’t somehow master the Captain, she thought. In truth, the Captain admired Laurent–they were good friends–though the Captain frequently reminded Laurent that he was a punished runaway and might expect the worst in the village.
"This trip is so different from the last one," Beauty thought with a smile. She felt the welts the Captain had given her, her fingers pushing at them and making them pulse. "It can go on and on, for all I care."
But this wasn’t really the complete expression of her feelings. She longed for the engulfing world of the village. She needed to see its whole small society working and struggling around her. She needed to find her place in the scheme of things, give herself over to it, as Tristan said that he would do. And only then would the immensity and artifice of the Sultan’s palace be forgotten, would the remembered scent and feel of Inanna leave her in peace.