Thursday, January 15, 2009



Flavius eased onto his side, Memory’s scabbard uncomfortably hard beneath him. The room spun in perfect time with the pounding of his head. Barely daring to breathe, he gripped the side of the bed and pushed himself up. An involuntary groan caught in his throat, and he winced.

“Ready for another go, Flavius?” Anacaona popped up beside him, entirely too perky and enthusiastic for such an ungodly hour. She cocked her head and pressed her three pair of copper-red breasts against his bare back, leaving new smudges of glittering dust to join the others covering his body. She buried her face against the nape of his neck and inhaled deeply. “Huna! You have the most erotic scent.”

“It’s called sweat, lass,” Flavius muttered, rubbing a bleary eye.

Anacaona laughed, reaching around the swordbelt into his lap. “Whatever it is, I’ll have some more.”

“Easy there.” Flavius gave an involuntary start as she grabbed him, her over-jointed fingers far more stimulating than should be possible. “Lassie, I dinnae want ya to think I’m nae having fun, because yer a blessed wild ride. But four bouts in only...”

“About two hours,” she offered helpfully.

“Only two hours? Christ. Give us a bit of a rest, eh? My poor head’s pounding and my mouth’s gone all cottony,” he said, lifting her hand away. “Besides, my dobber’s all shagged out. Nae to worry, though,” he reassured her with a quick kiss. “Good as new in the morning.”

Anacaona raised her eyebrows. “Doesn’t look all that ‘shagged out’ to me. Quite the opposite, actually.”

“That’s nae natural.” Flavius stared at his urgent erection in disbelief. “It’s that witch’s brew of foodstuffs at work, innae it?”

“I know a way to make it go away.”

“I’ll bet you do.” Flavius smiled in spite of himself, then stood. “Lassie, as much as I’d love to cater to yer every depraved desire, I’ve nae had any sleep going on... well, seems like days. I’ll be getting me a drink of water to wash away this cotton mouth. Then I’m away to me bed there and going to sleep, and nae even the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse themselves could wake me. Do with me as ya will, but dinnae expect any effort on my part.”

Anacaona’s skin nearly sparkled in the faint light from the window as her lips curled into a sly smile. “I’ll try not to break anything.”

“Ya are a wicked little thing.” Flavius shuffled to the bath and took a long drink of water from the basin. “Makes me wish Parric and I dinnae have to leave tomorrow. Have at ya when I’m fully rested and fed, then see how saucy ya are.”

Her face fell as if Flavius’d just told her a hawk’d just taken her kitten. “You’re... you’re leaving? Tomorrow?”

“Aye, we have to. Yer Emperor made that clear as day during dinner. Ah, do nae look like that!” He came over and cupped her face in his hands. “Just a little sleep, eh? I promise I’ll give ya a good send-off to remember me by.”

“But, but... it’s only one night!”

“Ah, but I have it on good authority one night with Flavius is enough for any woman.”

“Do you pay attention to anything but the sound of your own voice?” She gave him a withering look. “Were you a greater sentient of the Eternal Dominion, we’d currently be inextricably cojoined for the next month.”

“Ya mean...” Flavius frowned, mulling her words over, “when ya said there was a ‘physical bond’ between yer men and women, that werenae just a figure of speech?”

“Our men don’t have the luxury of going up and down like you,” she said, prodding his penis for emphasis.

Flavius stared at her, dumbfounded. “So... So then the night so far--”

“Barely taken the edge off.” Anacaona stood with a sense of purpose, and wrapped herself around Flavius. “I’d thought to have you to myself for a week. I’ll just have to make do with the hours that remain.”

“Damn. Yer serious.”

By way of answer, she pushed him back onto the bed and sidled atop him.

“Oh, I’m going to hurt in the morn--”

A knock at the door interrupted him.

Flavius lifted Anacaona off him and sat back up. The sudden movement set his head back to throbbing. “Who the hell is it?” he bellowed, ignoring Anacaona’s frantic motions for silence.

“Her Imperial Majesty, Empress Malinche, requires an audience with Flavius MacDuff of Clan MacDuff,” a muffled voice answered. Anacaona threw up her hands in frustration, glaring at Flavius.

“Well, what was I supposed to do?” he whispered angrily.

“How about shut up so she thinks you’re not here and goes away?” Anacaona whispered back. “That’s Papantzin’s voice. She’s here to bring you back to Her Imperial Majesty.”

“Nae, nae. Ya said at dinner ya’d shelter me from the Empress’ attentions if I’d shag ya,” he said accusingly. “Now, ya may argue with me regarding the quantity, but ya got nae grounds to complain about the quality. So start yer sheltering.”

“I meant,” she said through clenched teeth, “I’d shelter you in my suite, where she wouldn’t think to look for you. Not in your room, which, unless I’m completely divested from reality, is the first place she’d look!

“Then why are we here?”

Papantzin knocked on the door again, more insistent this time

“Because you said you’d have me ‘on your terms.’ Your words, remember? You didn’t leave me much room for interpretation.”

“Bugger me. What’s to do, lass?”

I’m hiding in until you’ve gone,” she said, opening the wardrobe door. “You’re going with Papantzin to your audience with Her Imperial Majesty, and protecting my honor by keeping our private affairs to yourself.”

“Oh, nae ya don’t.” Flavius bodily pulled her back out of the wardrobe. “I’ve nae desire to have nuse--whatever that may be--steep itself in my blood.”

“Damnit, let me go you idiot lesser-sentient!” Anacaona said in a panic, ramming her elbow into Flavius’s hair chest. “Do you have any idea what’ll happen to me if the Empress caught me with you?”

“No,” a clear, honeyed voice cut in. “Please, tell us what will happen?”

Flavius and Anacaona froze, then looked in horror to the now-open doorway, where the Empress Malinche stood with the handmaiden Papantzin before her.


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