Dagrun was closer to the door, talking in that unfamiliar language to Nechtan the water-man and hairy Henry and Roshanak the Middle Eastern lady who looked like a spectacularly beautiful human with no strangeness visible. She remembered the feel of Henry’s fingers between her legs, how she’d stood obediently still to let him look and touch, and felt heat again—heat in her cheeks, as he grinned at her, but heat much lower, too, and it spread like wildlife.
She offered the tray to Dagrun.
“Thank you, little one.” Dagrun set her empty cup delicately on the tray and took one of the full ones. “I didn’t even need to ask.”
“You’re welcome.” She glanced around for Sigrun, found her a short way off, and started in that direction. The white giant had moved forward in her seat and had her knees parted; Flair was kneeling between them, and while Sigrun’s massive thighs largely blocked the view, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that the girl was licking her. Enthusiastically.
What was it like, having that kind of contact with another woman? she wondered. What would another woman taste like? What would it feel like even with a human woman, let alone a giant who was possibly twice her height?
She was straight, she didn’t think things like that!
That was followed promptly by the other thoughts. She was allowed to. If those questions created images that fed the heat, that was okay. She wasn’t supposed to feel bad about feeling good.
Flair was so intent on what she was doing that she didn’t even look up when Jewel approached. Jewel held out the tray, waiting while Sigrun finished what she was saying to tree-like Taiki and eagle-winged Zipporah and noticed her.
“Mm, good. Talking is drying, and it’s warm in here.” She swapped empty cup for full, and reached down with her other hand to stroke Flair’s hair and down her back. Flair arched into it like a cat.
There were a limited number of the more specialized vessels. Jewel figured she’d better do some dishes quickly. A table nearby held the tray of empty cups and glasses Flair had collected before getting distracted; Jewel combined them, stacked the trays, and headed back to the kitchen.
She didn’t have to wash them by hand, at least: the kitchen had a dishwasher that was probably meant for restaurant use. She stacked everything in it and turned it on, then went back to the solar intending to check on the food on the buffet tables.
As she passed Nechtan in his basin of water, he reached out and grabbed her arm with an unpleasantly damp cold hand. She throttled her instinctive cringe and turned to face him as he let go of her arm, keeping her eyes respectfully low. She doubted she could honestly say under any provocation that she enjoyed that touch, but she didn’t get to choose whether it happened. His shiny-wet skin was a cool medium brown subtly mottled with other browns dark and pale, some of them edging towards green or grey, as though he was meant to be invisible in mud or marsh like a frog, and there was a prominent layer of fat all over beneath it. He was wearing only a loincloth of sorts that might have been made of seaweed with tiny discs of shell in it, and several strands of shells served as necklaces. His facial features, other than the large and slightly protruding pale eyes, weren’t particularly unpleasant.
“Feed me, human.”
“Yes, sir. What would you like me to get for you?” There was sushi over there, she knew, but she didn’t dare offer suggestions. For all she knew, that would be considered racist. Or speciesist. Or something.
He rattled off a list of a dozen things, and when she hesitated, barked, “Is that a problem?”
“I-I’m very sorry, but I may not remember everything you just said. Honestly, I probably won’t, no matter how hard I try. I don’t want to disappoint you.”
He regarded her, with no expression she could read, for so long she began to squirm. Nikandros only watched with interest, and shadowy Sati in her starry midnight sari picked at the contents of her own plate with apparent indifference.
Unexpectedly, Nechtan laughed. “Fair enough, and thank you for the truth. Will you accept help, then?”
Nikandros was right there, although his influence on her hormones was currently minimal. It made it easier for his… commands? instructions?… to be triggered by her flash of apprehension.
Nothing will hurt me. Broken toys are no fun. You are valuable to us.
And the intent to reply gave her a distinct sense of rightness.
So, with only the briefest pause, she nodded. “I’d be grateful, so I can get what you want.”
“Come a little closer and kneel.”
She spent more time on her knees at the moment than in a normal year of life, it seemed.
Obediently, she knelt in front of him.
“Close your eyes.”
Shivering a little—what was coming?—she did.
One cold wet fingertip touched each eyelid.
“Open your eyes and hold up your hands with your palms facing me.”
She did, even more perplexed when he laid his hands flat against hers, matching finger to finger, then lacing his fingers briefly through hers.
“Off you go.”
“Um… yes, sir.” What had he done?
Nikandros, inevitably, reached out as she passed, trailing his fingers along her thigh to her bottom. It felt nice. She didn’t flinch away.
At the buffet table, she picked up a plate, and tried to remember what Nechtan had asked for.
To her utter astonishment, as she scanned the table, her eyes simply stopped on a platter of devilled eggs, and one of her hands moved on its own to pick one up and set it on the plate she held.
That was almost enough to break her acceptance again and drive her into panic.
Nothing will hurt me. Broken toys are no fun.
Nikandros wouldn’t let me get broken, and he was right there.
I said I’d accept help. I just didn’t know it meant being used as a remote-controlled tool.
Like I’m… just a puppet… and oh god, that idea is making me way too turned on all of a sudden.
She swallowed hard, watching her own hands choosing things from the table. She could feel what she was touching, that was unchanged. She was still in control of the rest of her: when her gaze stopped on something out of reach and stayed there, she had to deliberately move closer, which meant she needed to pay close attention. She couldn’t just space out mentally. She also couldn’t get distracted by the ache between her legs. Hot, swollen, wet, wanting so badly to be touched.
I’ll try not to feel bad about feeling good.
I’m allowed to get turned on by this.
Nechtan’s probably getting off on this. And that’s kind of hot too. And it’s okay to like it that he’s liking doing this to me. I bet he could get food in other ways.
As suddenly as she’d lost control, it returned, which she interpreted as meaning that he was done, so she went back to him with the plate.
As she leaned forward and down to offer him the plate, Nikandros said from behind and to one side, “Oh, man. Hold that pose.”
Jewel shivered. “I… I can’t. I’m sorry. I’m not stable enough.”
“Well, don’t fall, I don’t want you hurt or anything. But don’t straighten up, either. You smell delicious, and the view from here is lovely. Move however you need to, to be stable.”
Oh god. This again? He is way too interested in what’s under my skirt.
Well, he is a satyr.
She shifted her stance, making sure that she was going to be able to keep her balance—her feet shoulder-width apart, her hands braced on her own thighs. Bending less made it easier to breathe, though she was acutely aware of the corset. But then, she liked her corset, Nikandros thought it made her more sexy.
And he wanted to look at her. Intimately. She flushed, a mixture of embarrassment and excitement, as Nikandros’ fingers stroked her inner thighs and her labia.
“She liked that, Nechtan. A lot. Wow, what a great view, and mm, that scent… And you’re actually getting even more wet. Don’t move, I ran out of food, and I’m not missing a chance for the best veggie dip in creation. Just stay quiet and stay exactly where you are.” Jewel heard motion behind her, felt his hands cup her cheeks and squeeze, then the sound of hooves on the stone floor.
“I’m in no hurry for her to move,” Nechtan said. “The view from here is quite agreeable.” He picked a morsel off his plate, and chewed it thoughtfully. “Nik’s right, this one is wonderfully responsive.”
“Agreed,” Sati said. “So let us hope we do not frighten her excessively and that she has other things she wants enough to bargain for them. You’d make a beautiful statue, Jewel.” Like many of the fae, she had a faint accent—hers was Indian, Jewel thought. Her voice was like velvet, a soft purr that would blend into night sounds seamlessly and creep into your dreams stealthy as a thief. It went with her appearance: skin so black she simply looked like a person-shaped hole in the world, reflecting nothing. Against that, her eyes glowed like moonlight, and her lips had a silvery gloss to them, but other details were impossible to make out except in profile. Her sari was a near-black midnight blue, with stars scattered across it in familiar configurations and a broad pale sweep that might be the Milky Way, though Jewel wasn’t at all sure she was wearing the usual blouse and skirt beneath it. The whole effect was viscerally creepy, in contrast to her skin crawling instinctively from contact with Nechtan.
“If I had you as a pet, I think I’d dress you in something you would find unbearably erotic, paint you head to toe as, hm, I think bronze but perhaps marble, and put you in the front foyer for a while. I have a rather successful art studio. And you would not be the first.”
Jewel whimpered, her breathing accelerating. She wanted badly to move, to straighten her back and get out of this incredibly exposed and humiliating position, but Nikandros wanted her in it, and she wanted him to keep paying attention to her. And while she was here and forbidden to move, she couldn’t escape Sati’s verbal spell.
“The people who pass through the front foyer can appreciate beauty. And the artistic expression of emotion. To get the pose right, I’d have to make sure you had been highly aroused with no breaks and no release for, oh, several days, in order to make sure that you were conveying pure undiluted frantic desire. Kneeling, I think, with your knees spread wide, and your head thrown back, one hand on a breast and the other just a hairsbreadth from making contact with your clitoris. I could add a sign inviting people to enjoy my new artwork by touch as well as sight, and make sure you’re on a pedestal so you’re at a convenient height. Then you could spend six weeks or so being admired, and stroked, without any of them knowing that you’re hearing and seeing and feeling all of it while unable to control so much as a single muscle. So tell me, Jewel, if you were mine and I wanted to do that, would you do it willingly?”
“I-I don’t know.” Weeks as a statue in a highly visible location. Oh god.
“Oh? How so?”
“It sounds… exciting. I…” She bit her lip. She didn’t want to say this. But she had to tell the truth. Mistress wanted it. Nikandros wanted it. Fae would know if she didn’t. It wasn’t up to her to decide. “I’ve looked at mannequins before and had… had daydreams about what it would be like to be one. No eating or bathroom or moving or going to work or family, just being dressed and looked at.”
“Delightful fantasy. And much more common than you think, given how embarrassed you sound. Why did you say you don’t know, then?”
I’m standing here showing myself to anyone and everyone behind me and I was told not to move, and you’re asking me for deep dark private fantasies, of course I’m embarrassed!
“Because it’s also terrifying. It would mean being incredibly helpless and dependent.”
“Yes, it would, and a great deal of faith in me that I can and will keep my word to protect you and at the proper time release you, since you’re accustomed to humans who lie and break promises. I’m quite good at that sort of thing. I can keep a human frozen, metabolism slowed to a bare minimum but mind and senses alert, with no negative effects and no need for interruptions, for much longer than most sorts of fae can. That’s one reason why I have the art gallery, so I can share my work and that of other fae who are interested in that particular art form. You have almost certainly seen people frozen by fae as display mannequins and things of the sort, and never knew it. Possibly one or more that you were fantasizing about. That’s more common, since most fae can only slow a human metabolism enough for it to be safe for at most two or three days without an extended interruption to stretch and eat and pass waste. I can’t do any of this, of course, you aren’t mine and cannot be. But perhaps someday, if you do not flee the fae entirely, some arrangement could be reached. The creation of a mould for a genuine statue, for example, which would mean much less time frozen.”
Hooves on the floor, and Nikandros said, “What were you just saying to her, Sati? Whatever it was, it’s got her seriously hot ‘n’ bothered.”
“We were only discussing art,” Sati said.
“Sati’s form of art,” Nechtan chuckled.
“Uh-huh,” Nikandros said. “She’s already a treasure. You’re an artist, for sure, but I have to admit, I like it better when I can see the reactions I’m getting. Cute sounds and squirming and arching towards whatever’s stimulating her and begging. And when I get ahold of one of the really good ones, well, words are powerful, but they’re even better when the words go both ways.” Jewel felt something cool and slightly damp run along her hot and very wet slit; there was a pause, and a crunch that she thought was a carrot.
“Yummy. I’ll let you move soon, Jewel.” She felt another cool damp thing, and it circled the very outermost edge of her vagina. Internal muscles clenched, wanting to draw inside whatever was flirting so teasingly at the entrance. Was he seriously using her juices as vegetable dip? “But you did say maybe later, and now it’s later, and why be wasteful? Mm, these are going to be the tastiest veggies in the place. And there doesn’t seem to be any shortage at the source. If I tied you up and kept teasing you, I imagine I’d need to put a bucket under you. But Min would growl at me, and rightfully so.” A short pause, in which she felt more objects run across and along, cold against her flushed and engorged skin. “Mm. All right, that’ll do, Jewel, you can move now.”
Carefully, Jewel straightened up and moved her legs enough for the muscles to unlock.
Nechtan patted her hand, then turned his attention back to Sati and Nikandros and their conversation in that other language. None said anything to Jewel, leaving her to sort herself out.
She heard a wet crunch, and snuck a look behind her; Nikandros let his gaze leave Nechtan long enough to give her a wink, while he chewed a baby carrot with strong white teeth, pausing to lick his lips. She felt herself blush.
I’m not going to feel bad about feeling good. Mistress doesn’t want that. Nikandros says I shouldn’t.
Rather than interrupt them, she left quietly to resume her responsibilities.
Was every guest going to want a chance to do something with or to her?
Did she want them to?