Stamps Bonus Story
Carrot and Stick
Directly after In the Hall of the Elf Queen
The puppy had, after an hour or two of driving, stopped whimpering. Caspian had put her in the back seat of his Avalon, still bound and with the addition of a gag, and thrown a blanket over her to conceal her. He could have put her in the trunk, but he wanted her where he could keep an eye – and an ear – on her.
The gag would slow any Workings she might know – Gehrengr and his Hunters had taken her without casualties, so she was probably still a whelp, but he didn’t want to take any chances, especially if she really was one of the Wild Ones. He might have to keep her alive, but he wasn’t going to risk his own skin in doing so. She was either asleep now or faking it very well; her breathing had evened out and she made small kicking motions in her sleep. In a true puppy, it would have been adorable; in her, it made him wonder how far the ashanevaei had sunk – were they actually fucking animals now, or had their bloodlines just devolved into feral traits from their constant miscegenation? Either way, it was a little disgusting.
He would have let her keep dreaming her half-breed puppy dreams if it were feasible, but he had to cross the border, and he couldn’t do that with a bound and gagged young woman in the back seat. He pulled off the road onto a fishing trail, where he could deal with her out of sight of the road, and parked.
Once he was sure they were alone, and that there were no cameras monitoring them, he opened the back seat and tossed the blanket off of her. She woke with a small jump and a muffled cry, and blinked up at him, terror coming off of her in waves.
“Shh.” He held a water bottle out of her reach. “Be a good girl, and I’ll give you some water.”
She nodded hurriedly, staring at the water with naked want. He wondered how long she’d been in Gehrengr’s tender care. Her nose looked cracked and dry, and her eyes were tinged and red; had the Hunters fed or watered her at all?
Well, if not, it gave him easy leverage.
He held eye contact with her until she dropped her gaze, and removed the gag. “Shh,” he repeated. He held the water bottle so she could gulp a little bit, then took it away again.
She whined softly, straining to reach the bottle. He held it out of her reach. “You’ll get more if you cooperate.”
She nodded sullenly and flopped back against the seat. “What do you want?”
“The same thing that you do, puppy. I want to survive.”
“What do you want from me?”
A good question. He’d love to have never met her, to have never been given the responsibility of keeping her alive, but she couldn’t give him that. He wanted her to cooperate in keeping her both alive and captive, but he doubted even an ashanevaei would be stupid enough to consent to that. Unless…
“You Belong to me,” he told her firmly. She snapped her mouth shut and shook her head, glaring at him defiantly.
“Look, puppy.” He had to hurry, before someone else pulled up and started asking uncomfortable questions. “You heard my Queen. I have to keep you alive. That’s it. Life can get really freaking uncomfortable for you while still keeping you alive.”
“If I bind myself to you,” she said, her voice still a ragged croak, “I lose any chance of getting away.”
“You don’t have any chance to start with,” he told her bluntly. “If I lose you, my claws will be the next ones to hang around my Queen’s neck.”
She stared at him, stunned. “That’s monstrous.”
“That’s life in my Queen’s court. Now, I could cripple you and rip your tongue out, and I don’t think you’d give me much trouble then. But I think my way is easier.” He smiled sweetly at her, and she shuddered.
“I’m dead no matter what I do, aren’t I?” she asked, her voice flat.
“Only if – or when – my Queen so deems it. Until that point, you’ll be the best-protected you’ve ever been in your life.”
She tugged at the ropes binding her, but he could tell she’d already given in. “I Belong to you,” she whispered.
“Yes, you do.” He held the water bottle so she could take another sip. “Do nothing to bring attention to us. If anyone asks, you’re my…” He looked her over with a little bit of disdain. Even with her Mask up, she’d look feral and doggy. “…cousin.” He began untying her, cutting the ropes when the knots were too tricky. “Put a Mask up, keep it up, and don’t try to escape or be rescued.”
She blinked, stretching slowly as he freed her limbs. “Yessir,” she muttered, her resentment clear.
“Torturing you is still an option,” he reminded her. “Toss that stuff in the trunk and come up into the front seat.”
A jolt of fear shot through her, and her second “Yessir” was far more polite. She dumped the ropes that had bound her in the trunk and, when she settled into the car, her Mask was up.
Satisfied, he started driving again. She would need papers to cross the border. He didn’t think Gehrengr had given her time to get all her IDs together while in the middle of kidnapping her. “What’s your name?” he asked. She glanced at him warily, and didn’t answer.
“I already Own you,” he pointed out sharply. “Telling me your Name can’t do any worse – and, besides, I just want something to put on a passport.”
“Oh,” she said softly. “Ylva sh’… I mean, Ylva Thomas.”
He nodded, glancing over at her. “How old are you, Ylva?”
“Twenty-four.” She was lying. He didn’t know quite why, but she was lying through her teeth.
“Then make your Mask look twenty-four,” he told her. “Right now, it looks fourteen.” The flash of chagrined anger told him why she’d been lying; her grimace of concentration told him she didn’t have much experience altering her Mask. He wondered if she’d even earned her Name yet – the ashanevaei put a lot of stock in their naming ceremonies, didn’t they?
“Thin out your cheeks a little,” he told her, as she frowned at the tiny mirror in the visor. “Turn the outer corners of your eyes down – just a tiny bit. Lower the tip of your nose. There you go.” The girl looking back at him now was almost cute, if he didn’t think about the dog ears hidden behind the Mask.
“You do this a lot?” She was studying the results in the mirror now, her curiosity beginning to overcome her panic.
“My sister likes to wander among the humans looking like twelve year olds. It’s the same idea in reverse.” He made sure to say it blandly, like he was talking about going to the grocery store. She rewarded him with a disgusted shudder.
While she was busy thinking about all the implications of two of the First Ones’ Children wandering around looking young, ripe, and helpless, he Worked up papers for her. “There’s your passport. You’re twenty-four, you were born in Iowa, in April – that’s 1972, if you forgot. I’m your father’s brother. Caspian Rhodes.”
“Uncle Caspian.” She smirked a little at him, but the smile only lasted a moment. “What are you going to do with me?”
“I was thinking I might buy a brothel and rent you out as the star attraction,” he answered offhandedly. Her spike of fear was thick as molasses and sweet as sugar; he devoured it happily and went back for more. “Of course, I could always keep you for myself. Keep you locked up and knocked up. If you truly are of the Wild Ones’ blood, my Queen would be pleased to have more of your bloodline for her rite.”
Her fear bled quickly into defensive anger, proving what he’d always believed: the more feral the ashanevaei, the more protective the mothers were of their whelps. He barked a laugh at her, even as he ate up her anger. “Don’t worry, puppy,” he sneered. “Your people are the beast-fuckers, not mine. I would no more dirty my dick by sticking it in you than I’d fuck my cat.”
He expected more anger, but the shame he got instead was even better. “Dirty little half-breed,” he sneered, spiking her shame even higher, “dog-girl.” The heavy self-loathing was strange from an ashanevaei, but too ripe and delicious to question. “I should keep you in a kennel.”
Not shame this time, but resignation, and a tiny little bit of well-stifled pleasure. He glanced over at her, but her expression was bland and dull. “Maybe I will. You can’t get into too much trouble locked in a cage.”
“You’d be surprised.”
Copyright © 2009-2010 Lyn Thorne-Alder & Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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