Authors: Kitty Thomas
The King’s Pleasure
Copyright © 2012 Kitty Thomas
all rights reserved.
Kindle Edition License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Amazon and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Contact [email protected]
Thank you to the following people in no particular order:
Robin for cover art.
Natasha for copyedits and developmental edits.
Cari, Annabel, Claudia, Lisa, and Michelle for beta reading.
M for believing in me.
Also, if I’ve left anyone out, please let me know.
This is a work of fiction, and the author does not endorse or condone any behavior done to another human being without their consent.
Warning: This book contains master/slave, group sexual activity, mild sadomasochism, oral and anal play, exhibitionism, and voyeurism.
This story exists in an alternate world that is not part of our history. You may notice a blend of some modern technology (electricity and running water), with an
feel. This is by design.
“No! Please, please, no!”
At first the terrified screams seemed like remnants of a dream. Then it happened again, this time more urgent. The unrestrained begging was coming from down the hall. Surely Niall’s guards knew better than to allow this kind of nonsense in the middle of the night. He threw the door open and sprinted toward the disruption.
There was no time for assessment. His eyes were only able to catch the glint of the sword in the torchlight as it came down.
“Stop!” he commanded. If his sleep was to be interrupted, he was going to get all the details before body parts were hacked off in his hallway.
The guard looked up, startled and more than a little guilty. Niall used the silence in the pause of activity and screaming to take in the scene before him. A peasant woman dressed in filthy rags was on the ground at the guard’s feet, her arm caught in his death grip. Robert had clearly been about to cut off her hand.
When she looked up, her long, raven locks fell away from her face. The king almost took a step back in reaction to the brilliant green of her eyes and the trembling in her full lips. Tears tracked down her face, and he was already lost. He knew from her coloring and features that she was at least part gypsy, though not full. Not with those eyes.
“Well? Let her go,” Niall said. “And sheath your sword. You’ll have no use for it tonight.”
The guard released the woman’s wrist. A bruise was already forming, even against her darker flesh. He couldn’t imagine what it would look like if she’d been fair like most of the maidens in the kingdom. She scrambled away from Robert on her hands and knees, ending against the wall just behind Niall. He wasn’t sure if she’d moved instinctively behind him for his continued protection or if it was just the only place to go.
The guard genuflected and began to explain himself. “Your M—”
Niall cleared his throat. “You know how I feel about that at home.” The king loathed the too-formal address and reserved it only for official business and formal occasions. Being awakened in the middle of the night by a screaming peasant was hardly a formal occasion.
“I’m sorry, sir. She was stealing from the castle.”
Niall was unimpressed. The girl didn’t strike him as a career criminal, despite the reputation of her people. If anything, she was wet behind the ears in that area, or she wouldn’t have gotten caught.
“Stealing? What was she stealing? The crown jewels? My mother’s good silver? You’ve aroused my curiosity now. So please, regale me. What priceless heirloom or artifact was she making off with?”
Robert reached behind him and picked up a loaf of bread that must have fallen to the ground in the scuffle.
“Bread? You disturbed my sleep with the intent to chop off her hand for
?” If she’d risked breaking into the castle in the dead of night using God-only-knew-what means, her situation must be desperate, in which case Robert had more explaining to do.
“Surely you agree, sir, that she must be made an example of. Just getting into the castle is bad enough, but if she’d stolen anything and gotten away with it, it would weaken your authority.”
“Why would she be stealing bread?”
“I’m sorry?” Robert said as if Niall hadn’t enunciated clearly enough.
“Two days ago, I instructed you to take money from the treasury and feed the poor of the kingdom. I told you to make sure everyone had plenty of food to get them through the feast and festival this weekend. It’s hardly appropriate to have a feast of plenty with starving subjects. Would you not agree?”
Robert looked at the ground. The money was missing from the treasury, so it had been taken. It just hadn’t been used for the intended purpose.
“That’s a very fine belt and shoes you have on,” Niall remarked. “Quite a step up from what I issued you.”
“I…um...” the guard stammered.
Niall crossed his arms over his chest. “So let me see if I properly understand things. I gave you an order to take money and feed the hungry; in direct violation of that order you go shopping. Perhaps we should chop off
hand. It seems appropriate considering the weight of your crime compared to hers. After all, that was what you’d intended for a far lesser offense.”
“But she’s a filthy gypsy!”
Niall nodded. “Yes. A filthy, hungry gypsy whom you stole from. You stole from me and you stole from her.” He paused a moment, then shouted, “Guards!”
Several guards clad in the standard-issued uniform raced down the hallway at his command. His yell had likely awakened half the castle, but all bets were off once Niall had been disturbed. If he was up, he had no pity or concern for anyone else’s sleep.
When the guards saw him they bowed low, then moved toward the gypsy. Of course, that would be their assumption. Why they felt he’d need to call in reinforcements with such a wisp of a girl, barely strong enough to stand under her own steam, he had no idea. Considering the battles he’d led them in, it was rather insulting. Just because they’d been in a long period of peace didn’t mean he’d lost his edge.
“Don’t touch the girl,” he growled.
They backed away, each of their faces mirroring the same look of perplexity.
“Take Robert to the dungeon, and relieve him of his weapons, as well as the shoes and belt he stole from me. I’ll decide his full punishment when I’m in a more gracious mood. I’m afraid what I’d offer him now wouldn’t be very palatable for anyone.”
The guards took their comrade and marched him off toward the dungeon, leaving Niall alone with the girl.
“Please, don’t tell the king about this,” she said, her voice so soft he had to strain to hear her. “You can have anything you want, just don’t tell.”
There was only one thing she had at her disposal to offer him, considering she was so poor she had to attempt to steal a loaf of bread right from under his nose.
Niall wasn’t surprised by her offer. He was, however, amused by her outburst. She didn’t realize who he was. With his insistence on a more relaxed environment inside the castle and him in his nightclothes, how would she?
The girl had probably never been close enough to get a good look at the king, and certainly not in a sleeping robe and without his crown. He decided to play along for a minute.
“And why shouldn’t I tell the king?”
“He’d probably kill me as soon as look at me,” she said, her eyes wide and serious.
Niall’s father had hated gypsies. He’d used every available excuse to kill or maim them, trying to slowly remove their kind entirely from the populace.
Meanwhile, Niall had been off leading wars in which his father had been too old and feeble to act as anything but a figurehead. He’d
only recently returned to take the throne at his father’s passing. Of course, the girl couldn’t know he wasn’t like the former monarch.
His only similarity to his father was the desire to honor a single tradition. In the kingdom of Himeros, kings didn’t marry. A harem of slaves was kept and the king chose an heir from the offspring that resulted. Niall had always desired a slave, though he wasn’t sure how he felt about a full harem. Multiple women could only be trouble.
Women had a way of sliding past a man’s defenses, manipulating with their charms. Observing the women presented for his approval, he’d seen the hunger for power that lit behind their eyes at the prospect of sharing the king’s bed. It had caused him to put the whole business on hold, and thus far he hadn’t taken even one slave. There was plenty of time for that once his throne was secure. He had cousins and brothers, should an heir not be available when he passed.
But now he had an idea brewing. A deliciously rebellious idea. What better way to end the feud with the gypsies than to create an heir that was part gypsy?
Besides, he couldn’t set her free, now. As much as he was loath to admit it, Robert was right. Not about his feelings with regard to her kind, but about the weakness it would show to just release her. So it was her hand or her freedom.
The woman watched him, waiting to learn if he’d tell the king. Suddenly the game didn’t seem as funny. Like others who didn’t yet know him or his intentions toward the kingdom, she’d assumed he was a monster like his predecessor, that her life would be on the line if the king caught wind of her thievery. He couldn’t imagine how hungry she must have been to take such a risk in the first place.
The color drained out of her, nearly eradicating the olive in her complexion. Less than a second later, she was on her knees at his feet, her lips pressing against them. Her hair splayed across his bare skin as she shook violently. The act of fear and submission struck him with a sudden wave of arousal. If he hadn’t already decided to keep her as his own, this moment would have been the deciding factor.
“Your Majesty…” It seemed she would say something else because of the way her voice trailed off, but it was as if she couldn’t think of anything to fill the increasingly oppressive silence stretching between them, as if she feared begging for her life would only enrage him and ensure she lost it.
“What is your name?”
“Not a very gypsy-like forename,” he mused.
She cringed at that. “I’m only half-gypsy,” she whispered, as if hoping that was enough to spare her.
She jumped when he reached down and helped her to stand. “The floor is too cold for all of that out here. Come with me.”
He gave her a long, hard look. “Oh no. You will call me Master.”
Her eyes became as large as saucers at the implication. “You aren’t going to kill me?”
His gaze swept over her. She needed to be cleaned up, but he was quite sure his grogginess wasn’t overstating her loveliness. “Why would I kill something so beautiful that could bring me so much pleasure?”
She didn’t reply as he led her back to his chambers; a guard was posted next to the entrance.
“John, wake the cook and have her reheat that pheasant with the roasted vegetables we had for lunch this afternoon, for two. I’d also like some bread and tea delivered.” He paused in the open doorway and then turned as if in afterthought. “Oh, and I’ll also need a slave garment.” The guard’s eyes widened, but he wisely bowed and moved down the hall to carry out the order.
Abigail stood just inside the door of the king’s chamber while he gave orders to the guard. This had to be some sort of trick. There was no possible way he’d spare her and take her as a slave. Not with her ancestry. Women in Himeros were groomed from puberty for such a position in the castle. Kings didn’t take peasants off the street, definitely not peasants of her racial background. If she got pregnant, he’d never allow a gypsy—even as watered down as the bloodline would be by then—to be his heir.
So what was this, then? It had to be mere amusement. A cruel joke. He’d rape her and hurt her until he got bored. Then he’d have her killed or thrown back out on the streets. He was a war hero after all. He’d probably taken many women as spoils and played similar mind games with them.
Even though she knew what he must be planning, Abigail was determined to find a way to keep him amused as long as possible to delay her sentence. Maybe if enough time passed, she could gain his favor and be spared.