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Life was hard. Anyone who said otherwise was a goddamned liar. Still, Celestine knew there had to be a better way than this. Born to a drug-addicted hooker, her life had been bad enough. But when her mother sold her to the aliens as a “chosen,” she’d known everything had been about to change, and not necessarily for the better.
Now, she stood before the biggest man she’d ever seen. A man who looked like he could break her in half with little effort. What had she done to deserve this?
“I -- I have a message.” She stumbled on the simple sentence in her nervousness.
The man took the micro SD card from her trembling fingers, holding her gaze as he did so. Funny she should notice his eyes were the color of rich brandy -- a dark amber with flecks of yellow and green that seemed to make them glow. She hastily looked away, not liking the intensity of that gaze.
“Do you know what the message says?” His voice was rich. Deep. If she were in any other situation, she might find the sound pleasing. As it was, he only intimidated her more when he spoke.
Unable to force herself to speak again, she simply shook her head. She didn’t know, but she had a good idea. Over the past couple of months, she’d picked up enough of her captors’ language to understand they were offering this man some kind of bargain. A trade. Celestine had the horrible suspicion she was the trade. They’d lined her up with several women, inspected them all like a farmer might inspect a horse he intended to buy, then, after much discussion and several more inspections, they’d finally chosen Celestine. The only upside? They’d left her untouched. Celestine had heard the screams of the other women in the nights following her selection and knew she was glad she’d been spared.
How would this end for her now?
“Well…” The man indicated she should precede him into the room where he had his computer console set up. An office? “Let’s see what Jorak has to say, shall we?”
The audio file was in that same strange language, but Celestine knew enough to know she’d been right. Jorak was offering her as a token of peace. In exchange for her, Jorak wanted this man gone from his station and the Lunar Colony. When the clip ended, the man sat in front of the computer screen, one finger curled over his chin in concentration.
Celestine had heard him called Drac of Cluath, mostly in contexts that indicated he wasn’t somebody she wanted to fuck with. She didn’t know what his job was, but she knew she’d think twice before trying to escape him, and then only if she knew there was a more than reasonable chance she’d succeed.
“Well,” he said without looking at her. “It seems you’ll be in my care for a time.”
This surprised her. “You’re leaving the Lunar colony, then?”
He turned his head slowly, fixing that sharp, penetrating gaze on her. “No. But I have to make Jorak think I’ve accepted his… gift.”
A sense of dread and fear washed over Celestine and she started trembling, suddenly cold. “Are you going to hurt me?” She asked the question quietly, accepting she had no power in this situation but needing to know what he planned to do with her.
“Not unless you give me a reason to.” His answer sent another wave of shivers through her. This man truly meant what he said. Celestine could see it in his eyes. He had no plans to harm her, but wouldn’t hesitate to if the situation called for it. “I would have your name, girl.”
“Celestine,” she said, knowing denying him would only put her in a worse position than she was already in. Best to choose her battles carefully.
With an impatient growl, he scrubbed a hand hard over his face. “Well, Celestine, this is the last thing I need,” he muttered. After a brief moment, he looked at her again. “You will call me Drac,” he said, making it a decree. “Are you hungry?”
She shook her head. Food was the last thing she was thinking about. Unfortunately, her stomach chose that moment to protest her denial. Loudly.
“I see,” he said with a snort. “Not hungry at all.” Drac rose and punched a few buttons on a console. Seconds later, he had a steaming plate of some heavenly-smelling substance. Celestine’s eyes widened at the quantity. She’d never seen that much food in her life, unless it was in a trash receptacle. “Eat. I can’t have you starving in my care.”
At least he was being kind. If she could keep him happy, maybe he’d continue to treat her well. Though what would he expect for his kindness? Would she become the same kind of whore as her mother? Celestine stiffened at the thought. Would she be the kind of woman who’d sell her own daughter for the next fix?
Celestine wanted to be defiant, to let this man know he couldn’t bend her to his will, but the smell of the food, the emptiness in her stomach, proved too much. One bite led to another. And another. She didn’t even know what she was eating, but it tasted so very good! Before she realized it, she was shoveling the succulent meal into her mouth as fast as she could.
Drac didn’t say anything. In fact, he was so silent she briefly forgot about him until he set a cold glass of milk next to her plate. Celestine’s gaze shot to his, her lips parting as she realized how she must look. Mortified, she immediately put down her fork and wiped her mouth with the back of her arm.
For several long moments, she sat there, head down, refusing to admit she needed more. Why did she have to be so proud? Her mother certainly wasn’t. Celestine hadn’t been raised to be proud. One took what one could get and didn’t ask too many questions.
“If you won’t finish on your own, I’ll have to feed you.” That deep, rumbling voice vibrated inside her. Celestine couldn’t decide if it was pleasing or not. She supposed it depended on his mood. At present, the sound was almost soothing, though she had the feeling he was having to work at it. “If I have to feed you, I’ll expect… compensation for my trouble.”
Celestine winced, hating that he was bullying her into what he wanted, yet not willing to find out what he’d demand in payment. Finally, she picked up her fork and started eating again, albeit more slowly this time.
They sat in silence for quite some time, Drac refilling her plate once and her glass twice before he seemed satisfied. Celestine had never been so full in her life. Again, he looked her up and down as if inspecting an animal he intended to buy.
“You could use a bath,” he observed. “And clean clothes.” He crossed massive arms over a massive chest. “The first I can help with readily. The second might be a bit of a problem.”
“I can manage,” she said, standing, smoothing her tunic over her body, very aware of his gaze on her.
“I’m sure you can. But I prefer to make sure it’s done right.”
At first she thought he might be teasing, but his eyes never wavered from hers, and he looked like he had every intention of following her into the bathroom.
“I’m serious,” she insisted, starting to panic. There was no way Celestine would let this man, no matter how much he intimidated her, force her to be like her mother.
“So am I,” he intoned, taking her elbow and ushering her inside the bathroom.
The room was more spacious than the flat she’d shared with her mother. The bathtub, while not overly large, was quite a bit bigger than the one that doubled as a shower in her old home.
Without a word, Drac crossed to the tub and turned on the water, adjusting it to his liking. As it filled, he turned to her, leaning one hip lazily against the wall, one eyebrow raised.
“Undress and get in the bath.” His voice sent shivers through her, though Celestine wasn’t sure if they were good or bad. On the one hand, if she were going to raise her skirt for a man, it would probably be Drac. On the other, he was forcing her into a situation where she had no choice, treating Celestine no better than a hooker.
“Not with you in the room.” Celestine raised her chin, trying to stand firm. Unfortunately, Drac was having none of it.
“You will undress, or I’ll undress you myself.” He didn’t raise his voice at all, but the underlying menace was there all the same.
Celestine swallowed, not wanting to give in but not really having a choice. Pride wouldn’t let her comply with his wishes, but fear made her want to. Unfortunately, pride won out over fear. Until he lunged for her, grasping her tunic and ripping it down the center until it lay at her feet in two pieces.
“I’m not in the habit of giving instructions twice.”
The worst part about the whole affair was that Drac’s expression never changed. His eyes were as cold as a glacier, his face impassive. If her nakedness affected him, Celestine couldn’t detect it.
“Now,” he continued. “Into the tub.”
She hesitated a moment, but did as he bade, sitting in the warm water, tucking her knees under her chin and hugging them tightly. Drac waited, regarding her for a moment. With a sigh, he began removing his own clothing.
“No!” Celestine breathed, her chest heaving, panic beginning to set in. “I’ll wash.” With a desperate lunge, she reached for the cleansing gel with shaking hands, squirting a generous amount onto the cloth lying on the edge of the tub.
Without waiting to see if she’d appeased him, Celestine began scrubbing herself vigorously, trying to hide her nakedness as best she could while giving herself a thorough washing. It wasn’t until the water sloshed and Drac’s big body slid smoothly into the tub behind her that she realized there would be no managing him easily.
“I’m washing,” she squeaked.
“And I told you I wasn’t in the habit of repeating myself. From now on, if you don’t do as you’re told the first time, I will take matters into my own hands.”
Drac took the cloth from her hands and smoothed it first over her arms, then her back. Shoulders hunched, knees tucked tighter into her chest, Celestine tried her best not to flinch with every stroke across her skin.
“You scrubbed your arms so hard you’ve reddened your skin,” he observed. “Was there a reason?”
She shrugged. “I was doing what you told me to.”
“I see,” he said. Celestine got the uncomfortable impression he saw much more than she wanted him to. When she remained silent he continued. “Tell me about your life on Earth. Why were you with Jorak’s group? Why did you agree to sacrifice yourself for their cause?”
Celestine thought about not answering, but she knew he’d get it out of her one way or another. As she’d discovered so far, Drac took what he wanted. The quicker one gave it to him, the easier the taking was.
“I didn’t agree to anything. If I had my way, I’d still be back on Earth.”
“I see. Your life there was content, then?”
She started to answer in the affirmative, but the words died on her lips. When she answered, it was with more honesty than she’d intended. “It wasn’t that great. But I knew what to expect. I could prepare myself for it, good or bad.”
“And now you have no idea what life has in store for you.”
Celestine didn’t answer, but then Drac didn’t seem to expect an answer. He just continued to run the cloth over her skin. Until he wrung out the cloth, tossed it over the side of the tub, and squirted the cleansing gel into his palms and started using his hands instead.
The rough, calloused texture wasn’t unpleasant, though Celestine couldn’t help but stiffen, anticipating the worst. Especially when he slipped his hands under her arms, skimming the sides of her breasts with his fingertips in the process. A little whimper escaped her throat. Drac stopped, as if gauging her reaction.
“Do you hurt?”
Of all the things she expected, that question was not it. Why would he care if she were in pain? “No.”
“I see,” he said again. And, again, Celestine knew he saw far more than she wanted him to. “So you dislike being touched. Or is it my touch specifically?”
“I’m not a whore,” she whispered, barely able to get it out past the lump in her throat, past her embarrassment and indignation. Celestine wanted so badly to have a different life than her mother. So far, the new life promised to other Chosen wasn’t turning out so different from her old life.
“Have I treated you as such?”
“I’m naked and in a bath with a man I don’t know. He’s rubbing his hands all over me. How is that not a prelude to sex?” Her words came out clipped, terse. Far differently than they should have given her situation. “I may not be getting paid for my services, but it’s obvious it’s what you expect.”
Drac was silent for a moment, never halting his ministrations to her body. More cleansing gel, more massaging her back and arms. Her neck. The sides of her legs. Everywhere he could reach. Never did he urge her to move her arms or legs so he could go places she wasn’t sure she could surrender willingly. “You are in the bath because you needed to feel clean. I am in the bath with you because you seemed unable to tend to yourself and because you needed to understand I meant what I said. I don’t give orders twice.” He stood then, water sluicing from his body to hers. Celestine chanced a look over her shoulder. He’d left on his underwear, which were encasing a massive cock that tented the wet material angrily. “Had I intended to avail myself of the kind of service you fear, have no doubt that, not only would I have forgone the bath in order to sample your considerable charms, but you would have begged me to.”