The air was charged with uncertainty. It crackled between them, alienating, different from when they faced off to duel. In the short time between then and now, their relationship had begun to build on a foundation of trust and respect; he had shaken it by his presumptuous summons. Silence became a living entity between them. Their gazes joined and held.
“Zera, whether it is now, tomorrow, or in the future, you will come to know the truth. I had nothing to do with Enos’ death. As I once told you, had I—I would have taken the planet as victor, and you as my slave, not my wife.” His eyes grew bright with amber fire. “On the other hand,” a sly smile touched his lips, “you are my sworn subject, my wife and my queen. I will, and do hold you to all those duties. And Zera, do not disobey another command I have given you. You won’t like your punishment.” Sarc’s stare held hers despite the rebellion bubbling up inside her that made her want to smite the smile off his face. “You made a wise decision when you chose to marry me. You would have made a poor slave. But, my love, I would have enjoyed your training.”
Sarc’s smile turned into lewd grin and gave Zera strange warm chills. She tried to push down the heat that rose to her cheeks. “I don’t appreciate being the object of your humor in public…or private.” His laughing at her a few moments earlier still rankled.
“Very well, my love, I’ll share my thoughts. I find the vision of you scantily clad, your beautiful breasts bound in leather straps…” he glanced to her bust but returned to stare into her incensed glare, “with others pressing uncomfortably on your sex and up between the cheeks of your ripe buttocks with you subdued on your hands and knees at my feet—a fetching picture.” His smile turned smug, unlike one she’d seen from him before. “Perhaps after this pirate incursion is over, I’ll give you a small lesson in how a respectful Alphxorn wife is sometimes instructed.”
“You wouldn’t dare!” Zera’s voice came out low and measured.
Sarc leaned toward her over the table. “Of course, I would. Care to try me? If I did, what could you do about it?”
Infuriated Zera glowered at him but his gaze never left hers. From her experience with obtaining the truth from reluctant subjects, she knew he spoke the truth and his threat wasn’t a bluff. The lustful smile on his lips accompanied by such a challenge sent waves of unwanted passion through her body. Incensed, she stood from the table as did Sarc, his stare fixed on her.
If he was deliberately baiting her, he was succeeding.
Keeping her voice at an even tone, she bade him, “By your leave, My Lord. I have several duties I must attend.” She bowed and moved toward the doors.
“Not tonight, Zera. Your duties this evening are in these chambers.”
Sarc intercepted her with one stride and swept her into his arms. She struggled to get away from him but despite her extensive training and the residual effect of the poisonous gas he subdued her. Lifting her off her feet, he carried her into their bathroom and set her down. She bolted for the door.
“Hold!” Sarc’s command stopped her. “I am your lord and your husband. You have, on your honor, sworn to obey both. You will bathe and ready yourself for the evening. Do you understand these commands?”
Zera’s face burned with rage. “Yes!” she ground out.
“Good. You have twenty minutes.” He leaned down, his face in hers. “Don’t waste them.” Sarc smiled lecherously. “I shall be happy to return and assist you.” He turned and closing the door, left.
Controlling frustration such as she had never felt before and in a fit of temper she didn’t understand, she picked up a decorative object and threw it. It slammed against the portal less than a second after it closed. For a fleeting moment, she considered testing his resolve and waiting, sword drawn, for him to come and attempt to force her to bathe. She knew where that would lead.
Resigned to the evening ahead of her, she nevertheless locked the bath door knowing it wouldn’t stop him if he wished to enter, but signaled her desire for privacy. She cried. She had never cried in such a manner before; the need hadn’t presented itself. Her own emotional behavior puzzled her and with a resolute shrug, she disrobed and showered. The hot steamy water proved a relaxing, healing balm and her time slipped away.
A deferential knock startled her and reminded her of a time-limit. “Zera, are you unwell?” Sarc asked concerned, without a threat to break down the portal barrier looming in his voice.
“I’m fine….I’ll be out, ah, in a moment.” She couldn’t hide the tears in her voice. Splashing cold water on her face she spied the night garment of sheer blue lace, left for her by Lornus.
Determined to broach how he had summoned her, she wondered as she dressed how challenging she could be in an outfit that served to decorate her nudity. Wishing for a more covering garment and annoyed with her sudden, foolish modesty she unlocked the door and walked into the bedroom.