Possess Me Ch. 10bytitania123©
At breakfast, his eyes stole to her troubled face more than once, and whenever her own eyes met his, they were angry and distrustful. He watched as she ate. When a drop of egg yolk clung to her lips, causing her tongue to dart out to clean it away, he almost groaned with long-unfulfilled desire. He sighed with the torturous thought of how long it would take to touch her again.
None of the three seemed eager to discuss the current arrangement or plans to change it, and so, with no other safe topic being at hand that would appear either intelligent or important, sat in silence. When at last their meal was over, Vella refused to put off the inevitable any longer. "And what is it you shall do today, my lord?"
"I would very much like to speak with Brynna, until such a time as we can come to an agreement to return home."
"Plan on talking an eternity, then, my lord?" she quipped, convinced she would never agree to any such thing.
She goads me on purpose, trying to make me tyrannical, he warned himself, attempting to keep his anger at bay. But then he recalled she had always been oppositional. He frowned that she naturally fought him and did not easily concede to his way of thinking.
"That is entirely dependent upon you."
"Then I say you can speak all you want, but it will not change my choice. I refuse to-"
"Please do stop arguing, at least in front of me, I am in no mood to listen to your squabbling. Now, do be good little children, and take the conversation into the parlor. I am to visit Lady Woolstock today, so I shan't be around to ensure you behave yourselves, so, please do so, for my sake, if not for your own."
Brynna regarded Vella unhappily. She had wished to speak to her, to know exactly what aid she could rely upon as she tried to devise some sort of plan. But the old lady was clearly in favor of her coming to peace with her domineering master. With her ex-lover. With her rapist.
With her soul-cleaver.
He had stood and was waiting patiently near his chair across the table. He was self-possessed and his expression serious. But it wasn't harsh or haughty, or even the cold cruelty she feared so much. Am I truly doing this? Am I to sit alone in the presence of this man whose sole purpose is to dominate me until nothing remains? But, as both persons were eyeing her expectantly, she knew little choice was left to her.
Reluctantly, she stood and followed him into the parlor. A maid was just finishing building a fire for the two of them. Brynna sat on the chaise near the hearth, and Malik stood to the side, both quiet in front of the young girl. When she finally departed, Malik moved, a slow pace across the room where he stopped and stood, staring at the floor until he returned slowly, his mind obviously weighted in thought. His arm rested upon the large, white stone mantel, his head bent as he stared into the growing flames. The waiting was unbearable, and so, eager to be free, or to at least know the extent she would have to fight, Brynna spoke.
"And how are we to do this, then? What are we here to discuss?"
He turned to her, his expression serious. "I would like to discuss returning. No," he said as he shook his head, "perhaps we ought to complete our conversation from yesterday before we were interrupted by your...friend."
"What more is there to say? I told you that you hurt me irrevocably when you raped me and screwed your whores and you apologized saying it upset you when I insisted on my dignity. It seems to me, the conversation is over," she said scornfully, mocking his pathetic excuses.
His expression grew dark, but his tightened mouth was not in anger, but from the difficulty of humility. "You are right. My reasons for treating you as I did were..."
"Ridiculous? Pathetic? Childish? Repugnant? Selfish? Barbaric?"
"Yes," he cut in, eyeing her in warning. "But it does not change the fact that they are why I acted as I did. And while I know apologizing will not make up for what I put you through, I am...sorry," his head bent in what appeared to be a humbling gesture, punctuating the sincerity of his remorse.
But he was correct. Apologies would not undo the damage to her body or heart. They would not change the very real fact that he was still an overbearing, oppressive, controlling, arrogant bastard. But there was something in the bend of his head, the soft shift of those brown locks, the vulnerability in those blue eyes...
"What do you want?" she asked harshly, irritated at her wayward thoughts.
"You know what I want. To take you home."
"Why? So you can crush me further? So you can make me weak and needy? So you can control me until I am a mindless fuck puppet?" She had to blink to keep the tears from pooling.
"It wouldn't be like that," he entreated.
"And how would it be? Would you keep me chained in your little turret, this time, ensure that I don't escape?"
"No, of course not. I told you, you may have more freedom; you can choose the things you wish to do. It wouldn't-"
"And what of you, my lord. What would I have to do for you?" she said, her voice dripping with disgusted innuendo.
His mouth set hard. He knew to what she referred. He did not want to have to promise he would never touch her again. He ached with it, the fevered need that never left, but kept his blood coursing hungrily through his veins. But he would never force himself again. Never use his body to defeat her violently against her will.
"I would wait." He sat, tense at the prospect that he was losing the argument. "It will never happen again," he ground out slowly, promising to himself, to her, to the entirety of the known world, that he would sweat blood before hurting her again.
"I don't believe you," she said equally slow and hard, punctuating each word with rancor. They sat, staring, each one's need and desperation different, but intimately interwoven. He, the need to secure her to himself, and her, the need to be safe from the evils of his murky being.
"It is futile," he insisted, "you must see that you have to come back with me."
She did see it then, the pleading in his eyes, if not the necessity she join him."You won't force me to go back." Not a question, but a statement of understanding.
"It is not my first wish."
"Then why are we arguing? My answer is 'no,' absolutely, positively 'no, no, no.'"
"But why?" he growled in great frustration, combing his fingers through his rakish hair. He stood to pace in agitation.
"'Why?' Can you truly be asking me why I choose not to return to the place of my captivity with my slaver? BECAUSE YOU WILL HURT ME!" she roared in great fear disguised by fury.
"I will not! I have already given you my word."
"I DON"T TRUST YOU!"
"Is there nothing I can do?" he begged.
"No!" she shrieked, standing to pace herself. "It is too painful to be at your mercy, strangled from liberty of mind and safety of body. It is terrifying to be in your power. You have no idea the terror you wreak over me," she said, pointing a condemning finger at him, her voice quivering at her own vulnerability. "Even if I could forgive you, I cannot trust you to not do it again." She sat and sobbed into her hands.
Slowly, Malik walked to where her trembling body sat and kneeled before her. He took her hands into his, pulling them from her face. She sat up and away from him, her face confused at his nearness. "Then show me," he said at last in a soft voice.
"What?" she said through her tears.
"Show me what it is like to be at another's mercy. Show me what it is to be a slave."
She pulled her hands free from his and wiped her face clear. As her breathing slowed from her sobbing, she husked, "You are mad. What do you mean, 'show you?' How exactly?"
"If you return with me," he paused to think, "if you return with me, for one month's time, I will allow you to be my master, command me fully as you see fit. In all things I will be at your call, to do as your bid. You will be under no obligation to be a servant in any form. You may have the run of the castle. I will give you that time to teach me your fear."
His words penetrated slowly. She shook her head at his meaning. Brynna bit her bottom lip, running her thoughtful tongue over it. "And at the end of the month?"
"If you have done your job as a master, perhaps I will be a better one for you."
"So I will return to being your slave? As it was before?"
He reached up to stroke her still wet cheek. "'Slave' is such a limited word," he breathed.
She felt his heat scorch the cheek he caressed. She blinked only once before she batted it away and stood, pacing far from him. She began to chew on her thumb nail as she walked and thought. Malik remained where he knelt, pleading with what power may be that his last offer be enough to entice her home.
At last, when his knees grew painful against the stone floor, her pacing slowed and she turned, a wary expression on her face. "What am I allowed to command you do?"
"Anything your heart desires."
"To swim in the lake naked in the middle of the winter?"
"If it is your wish," he said, swallowing at the unpleasant prospect.
"Sleeping with the hogs?"
"Again, if that is how you wish to use me."
"And you will have no power over me?"
"I can command you nothing."
Part of her screamed in tightened fear laced with distrust, and not just of him. Though part of her hated what he had done, disliked him entirely for it, another part, deeper and longer lasting, was still woven by the threads of desire. And it was the part comprised of never-ending need and desperate longing for him that she rightfully feared would lead her to the same ruin as before.
But the prospect of torturing him, avenging her injured dignity, leveling him into a destroyed mass of equaled longing was too tempting an offer to pass over. "And at the end of the time, how am I to trust you will not punish me for any of my actions as your master?"
"I give you my word that I will only allow it to teach me, not serve as fuel against you."
Struggling against the temptation, she shook her head in disbelief. "And why would I agree to this? Why should I willingly return when I am protected here?" Though he did not speak, she saw the answer in his eyes. I am NOT protected here. He has just as much right here and can force me back if he so chooses. There is NO other outcome to this; I will return with him. But, if I accept this, perhaps I can gain something back, use the knife so we are equally marred. She saw no other options that left her with as much advantage as what he offered.
She thought only a second more. "I do not trust you, so we will draw a contract. Lady DeWal will sign for me and ensure that it is not like the contracts you make with my father," she said, narrowing her gaze at him in remembrance of the fake deed his agent sold her father.
Malik stood, his heart leaping with the piercing glow of hope. "Anything you wish. As soon as the weather clears-"
"Wait...before you make any plans, I wish to discuss this with Lady DeWal. I," she paused, feeling as though she were losing control quickly, "I am still uncertain." For a moment, they stood and only regarded each other before she turned and quietly left the room for the safety of her own chamber.
Throughout the rest of the morning, she stayed to her rooms, walking around it so frequently as to put a slight pattern in the rugs. She tried to fill the hours of her day with what productivity there was to be had. She sat to practice her reading, but could not keep her eyes trained upon the words. She attempted embroidering a simple shift she had planned to send to Josephine as a 'thank you,' but could not keep her fingers steady for the task. At midday, she requested her meal be brought to her and remained cloistered from his presence.
Nearing two in the afternoon, Frederick called upon her, and she received him in the parlor, walking stiffly past Malik's brooding figure in the doors of the library. Though she lifted her chin attempting to ignore him, she still felt sick to her stomach as his dark eyes bore into her. She was also nervous about relating to Frederick all that had transpired during their discussion that morning.
Would he approve, or think her brazen and foolish? Would he applaud her attempt at petty revenge, or warn her that a man like Blackwood was not to be trusted? Would he congratulate her on a modicum amount of found strength, or curse her for being weak by giving into him? She realized she did not know him well enough to vaticinate what his thoughts on the matter would be. Perhaps it is a very good thing to not have accepted his hand, after all, though she knew that with time would have come understanding of each other.
"And how fare you, this afternoon?"
"Better, my lord, though, not entirely happy." She gave a half smile, wondering if the prospect of returning to her former life should make her happy. Though she had been free from his strenuous captivity only a few short months, she had been born and raised free, and had been quickly reminded of freedom's worth. And though the life of a wealthy lady that she now lived was certainly different from her former life of happy simplicity, she was quickly becoming accustomed to all the many things a position of privilege afforded, such as learning to read. What would she return to once her month of playing master was over?
"And what has been decided? Shall you stay, or is he forcing you to leave? I cannot believe Lady DeWal would allow such a thing."
"I do not believe we are any of us in a position to stop him from what he has legal right to. However, Lady DeWal has been supportive, though of whom, I am not quite certain. As it is, he has promised things shall change," though I daren't believe him, "and there is a certain amount of relief that comes from not running, that I am quite honestly glad for."
Frederick looked displeased. "Then you are to return as a slave, then?"
Half-dazed, she repeated his words softly, "Slave is such a limited word. Besides, though you treat me differently, I am no fine lady. I was born to a poor land owner in the middle of the great forest. I have no claim to being anything more than a peasant. It has been quite an adventure, living here in the capitol city, to see all the many things this world has. But I am not more at home here than I am in my simple cottage, or in the great stone keep amongst my flowers. Leaving you shall make me sad, but I take comfort in the hope our friendship will not disappear with distance."
"And it shall not. I shall write you many long letters to keep your mind occupied in the dullness of the country," he said cheerfully. They talked for a half-hour more before he took his leave. He promised to return before she left and so departed with a merry wave.
How simple he is, to be so optimistic at it all. As though my problems have ceased simply because I say so, she mused to herself, perhaps a little sad he did not understand her better.
Vella returned before dinner, and the three sat down to a delicious meal. Brynna ate in silence, as her stomach had little appetite in its tensed state. However, she listened keenly to Vella and Malik's conversations. She had been so spun from her center the moment he arrived that she had given little thought to exactly how he had found her and what his connections to Lady DeWal were. Clearly, they had known each other for some time, and he obviously respected her as she was given freedom to speak to him in a manner Brynna imagined no one could. But she also detected an equal amount of respect and fondness on her part towards him. Theirs was a curious relationship, at the very least.
She learned Lady DeWal had many social connections and hinted several times to knowing a piece of information about Malik's more calculating machinations of business that had been the ruin of several people. Brynna listened closely, recognizing that all of his dealings were in respect to business and not political in nature. She listened to Malik's discourse on one lord in particular who he condemned as unfit to be a titled lord as he had little ability to provide for his family and the serfs of his care. He expounded upon the weakness of character that led the man to lose his family's entire fortune within a short time.
Brynna found it contradictory that Malik should spout such noble obligatory philosophy when, as she saw it, he cared little for others. However, through the course of conversation, she also learned that, while he owned a considerable amount of land, very few people lived upon it, and so was bound by his beliefs to hardly any.
After their meal, Brynna asked to speak with Lady DeWal. Malik excused himself to the library while the women sat in the drawing room. Brynna sat nervous with her hands folded tightly in her lap. Her fingers strummed back and forth over each other, her knuckles appeared white.
"You cannot keep me here, can you?" she said sadly, hoping she was wrong.
Vella took a moment to respond, understanding the desperate fear of the girl. "No, I am afraid I have no right. As I understand it, you are legally bound to him. And as a runaway slave, you are very lucky he does not have you sentenced to death."
Brynna had not thought of death, at least by his hands for running, and her heart drew a faster beat as she began to see a very real danger that was not part of the equation because he chose for something else; he wanted he back.
"I must return, then, yes?" When Vella nodded, Brynna sighed, and her body relaxed as if it would fall further than the sky to the ground.
"My child," she said, stroking her arm affectionately, "when you came to me, you were completely broken down by grief. When you told me of the man who did this to you, I was stunned, not only because I knew him well, but because, the actions you described were not ones I could ever imagine him doing. You were the sharp point that shattered his famous self-control.
And now, look at you. You have regained your strength, and though you may carry deep, ever-lasting scars, you are not defeated by them, but stronger for them. He is not here because he wishes to punish you, to drive you to your rack and ruin, but to treat you as he has long wanted. He may not realize it himself, but he cares for you deeply."
Brynna harraumphed bitterly at that. "Convinced you of that, has he? Well, don't believe it. The man cares for nothing but his own damnable rule over everything he possesses, even people."
"That is not true," Vella whispered. "Yes, he may be a man very accustomed to his own way, to taking things and creating them as he wishes, but he has a heart and desires, just as anyone does."
Brynna could only chuckle humorlessly. "At least I have a month," she said, more to herself than to the old woman.
"A month? A month for what?"
Brynna studied her before answering. "He has promised to be my slave, to be at my mercy. He says he will learn," her voice turning colder. "He will learn my fear," she said in mock laughter. "Can you imagine the audacity of him. Well, I will make him rue his treatment of me. I will be his master, just as he was mine. For a month, I will make him know hell." Her voice had turned harsh and filled with rancor that Vella was afraid would hinder the lesson the opportunity provided.
"My child, two evils will not undo the hurt to your heart. He has given you a rare chance. He is admitting to his fault, to his inability to see things your way and is allowing you to teach him. Will you throw that away for foolish pride and scorn?"
"I will not forgo the opportunity to control him, to make him suffer as I did," she retorted.
"In this world, control is often an illusion, control of others, doubly so. The best we can hope for, is to look to ourselves, and through our actions, control our lives. And when we control others, it is often unnatural and unpleasant. We must give of ourselves, and do for others out of want, not fear, not impotence. This, my dear, this is what he must learn, but only if you can set aside your selfish pain in order to teach."