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Pet's Pleasure by Zenobia RenquistPet’s Pleasure
by Zenobia Renquist

Ellora’s Cave, Blush

eBook ISBN: 9781419936524

The love of a good owner is hard to find.

Starling envied the easy life of pets…until she became one. Kidnapped from Earth and sold to the highest bidder, she now belongs to an alien king. But she doesn’t want to be his pampered possession. She wants Bekion to see her as an independent woman with needs and desires of her own.

Only deviants break the laws barring sexual relations between owners and their pets, and King Bekion has no intention of succumbing to simple lust. But the long nights with Starling’s lush body pressed tight against his take a toll. Her strength and intelligence make it difficult for Bekion to remember Starling is human—and forbidden. He knows it isn’t right but he can’t stop thinking of his pet and all the pleasure he could give her, even if it costs him his crown.

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Chapter One

Starling noticed several things as lucidity crept over her drug-addled brain. First, the annoying and persistent flow of cold air over her body and the press of cold metal against the bare skin of her stomach and chest told her she was naked. A slight shifting of her body confirmed the lack of clothing or even a blanket.
“I think she’s waking up.”
Second and most alarming was not recognizing the voice of the woman who’d spoken.
“Yup, she’s awake.”
Someone touched her shoulder. Starling jerked back and whirled on the person. She regretted her hasty reaction two seconds later. The room swam, wrenching a pitiful moan from her. She clutched her head.
The unknown woman patted her shoulder. “Easy, kid. You’re okay.”
“I’m not a kid,” Starling whispered, cracking open one eye. The room seemed stable so she opened the other eye and looked at the woman who knelt at her side. “Who are you?”
“Monica Conners. You?”
Somewhere across from them, a man said in an urgent, low voice, “Psst. They’re coming back.”
Hearing a man instantly alarmed Starling. Where was he? Was he the reason for current state of undress? And who was coming back?
Monica placed a hand on Starling’s shoulder. “Just stay on the ground. You’ve been out since they brought you here. You’re the last to wake up. A lot of us thought you wouldn’t.”
A lot of us?
Starling peered around her surroundings. At first glance, she’d call it a jail cell—metal and square with bars. Several women stared at her. Each looked concerned, partially relieved and naked.
At least she wasn’t the only one. That was little comfort since she still didn’t know where she was or how she’d arrived there minus her clothing.
She asked, “Where am I?”
Monica whispered, “I’ll answer that in a second. Just be quiet.”
The hand Monica had placed on Starling’s shoulder twitched and the woman shook. Starling followed Monica’s gaze then she started shaking too.
Three very tall—inhumanly tall—men stared through the bars. They gestured to her and spoke in a language she didn’t know. The man in the middle sounded like he was whining. Whatever he was saying made his partners glare at him. The man on the far right yelled at him while pointing at Starling.
Another man joined the group, which made the trio snap to attention. A leader, maybe? The fourth man listened to what had to be a report. He glanced at Starling a few times, nodding the whole while. After a few clipped words, he left again.
The three men spoke in hurried, lowered voices and then rushed away.
Starling couldn’t make sense of any of it. She only knew the danger—if there was danger—had passed because Monica relaxed.
“All clear,” said the man who had given the earlier warning.
Starling asked, “What’s all clear? Where am I? Who were they? What were they saying?”
Monica patted Starling’s shoulder again. “Aliens is our best guess but we don’t know. Like you, we all woke up in this cage with no memory of how we’d gotten here or who they were or what they want with us. No one can understand them. We can barely understand each other.”
“What’s not to understand? You all speak English, right?”
“Only a few. One girl speaks Italian and broken English. Thankfully I speak broken Italian as well as some Tex-Mex Spanish. I’ve been trying to act as a translator for the two Italian girls and the ladies from Mexico. There are also quite a few Asian women. The only other black women sound like they’re from Africa.”
Starling looked over her cellmates again. A rainbow of skin tones greeted her. Being a Floridian, she was used to seeing a multiracial populace due to living so close to the theme parks. She even recognized a few of the mumbling women’s accents.
There were no men though. Where was the man who had warned them?
Past the bars, across a wide hallway, on the other side of another set of bars stood the men. Like their female companions, they were naked and agitated. Starling was happy whoever had kidnapped her and the others had decided to keep the genders separated. She didn’t want to add rape to the long list of things going wrong.
Starling asked, “How long have I been asleep?”
Monica shook her head with a slight shrug. “If I still had my watch, I could give you a definite answer. It feels like a few days, maybe five at the most.”
“Five days? What the hell did they slip me?”
“That’s a best guess. There was no telling how long most of us were out before we all woke up. Like I said, you’re the last to wake. We all thought you weren’t going to make it. Our captors seemed equal parts pissed and worried over that fact too.”
It was time to stand. Starling rolled to a sitting position. Monica immediately offered her assistance and both women stood.
Monica gave a low whistle. “You’re right. You’re not a kid. Not with knockers that big.”
Starling looked at her breasts. Mother Nature had blessed her with boobs instead of height. If it was a toss-up between the two, she was happy with what she’d gotten.
One man called out, “She okay?”
“Looks like it,” Monica called back.
Starling looked at the owner of the voice from before.
He smiled sadly and gave her a greeting nod. “I’m happy you’re awake. I tried to impress upon our captors that you were having an adverse reaction to whatever they’d given you. They didn’t understand me and only became angry when I wouldn’t be quiet.”
Starling asked, “Are you a doctor?”
“Med student almost graduated. How are you feeling?”
“My head feels like it’s stuffed with cotton.”
“Do you normally react badly to medications?”
“Always. I’m also a really, really cheap date. Two or three sips of beer and I’m gone.”
“Well, you woke up. That’s the important thing.”
Starling gave the doctor-to-be a wry grin. “You sure about that?”
“Putting our present situation aside, yes.”
The sound of footsteps nearing the cells stopped further conversation. One of the giants from earlier returned and opened the door to the women’s cell. All the women huddled together against the back wall.
Monica pushed Starling behind her to the middle of the pack. The giant made an annoyed sound and barked something in his language. He then pointed to the spot in front of him and said a single word.
Starling recognized a command to step forward when she saw it, language barrier or not. She had no intention of obeying. The other women didn’t act like they would either.
The giant walked forward, grumbling to himself. He grabbed for the nearest woman, who screamed and railed at the man in rapid French while clawing at his hand.
The giant yelled in her face then shook her but the woman didn’t desist. As they struggled, the man snapped a collar around the woman’s neck. That accomplished, he yelled over his shoulder.
Another giant from the earlier trio entered the cell. In a laughing voice, he said something his companion didn’t seem to appreciate before he came to help. Between the two of them, they collared all the women.
It was a flimsy leatherlike strip, not too tight or too heavy. It could almost be mistaken for a choker. Starling ran a finger under hers, turning it around and around and around but not finding the latch or even a seam. The giant had placed it around her neck and then closed it. There should be a seam.
One woman broke from the group and ran for the cell door. Everyone cheered as she got out and ran down the hall. She didn’t go more than a few feet before she clutched her throat and fell to her knees, gasping for air. The leather strip had tightened visibly.
One of the giants pointed to the choking woman as he addressed the women who remained in the cell. His meaning was obvious—try to escape and they would regret it. Everyone, including the men, nodded.
The joking giant strolled over to the runaway and hauled her to her feet. Once he touched her, the choker loosened. She gasped loudly, sucking in mouthfuls of air. The man chuckled out a question as he tapped the woman’s back in a gesture that could be mistaken for being soothing. A quick conversation with the other giant preceded the women being herded out of the cell and made to stand single file.
After some shuffling and a few minor skirmishes from those who didn’t want to be touched, Starling ended up at the head of the line. She looked down the row. The women had been arranged by height. And of course that put her four-foot-ten-inch self first. But first for what? As curious as she was, she was also scared.
The joking giant grabbed her wrist and started walking. She followed without fighting because she didn’t want him dragging her. He said something to her with a smile on his face and then, with his free hand, he patted her head. If it was meant to make her feel better, it didn’t. She didn’t want the man touching her. She didn’t want to end up choking either so she would deal.
She glanced over her shoulder. The other women followed with the second giant making sure they stayed on line. Some had even started crying. Looking farther back revealed the men had been left in their cell. Would the giants go back for them later?
The better question was should she really be worried about them when she didn’t know what these giants had planned for her?
She turned her gaze back to the path ahead. The group paraded down several long hallways until they neared an open doorway. Sunlight, smells of random foods and excited chatter filtered through the door.
Starling slowed her pace and tried to cover herself. The giant holding her wouldn’t release her wrist. Instead he tightened his grip and pulled her harder. She had to follow but she huddled in on herself to hide her body as best she could from the waiting crowd.
The doorway opened onto a wide stage. The giant Starling had thought was the leader stood behind a podium, facing a throng of people who chatted happily in the oppressing heat. Even with beads of sweat rolling down her skin, Starling kept her arm pressed against her breasts.
The giant shook the arm he held while trying to push her other hand down as he walked her to center stage. She swatted at him and continued covering herself. She’d scream her denials if she thought it would do any good.
Her reluctance to stand up straight and let a crowd of people ogle her for some unknown purpose turned the joking giant into an angry giant. He yanked her arms down and held them against her sides. As soon as he let her go, she covered herself again.
He yelled at her and pointed. She shook her head.
A few of the people in the crowd laughed.
The man behind the podium barked an order. The giant walked around her then grabbed her from behind, pinning her arms to her sides. He lifted her so her feet dangled a good three feet off the ground.
The crowd cheered. Starling squeezed her eyes shut against angry tears. Her body vibrated with the need to lash out but she knew what would happen if she did. And what could she do against an opponent so much bigger than her? Where would she go if she managed to get free?
All the unknowns made her chest clench. Deep despair took hold of her and a dark thought surfaced. If only she hadn’t survived the drug they had given her, none of this would be happening.
The jovial tone of the man behind the podium as he spoke to the crowd contrasted drastically with Starling’s bleak mood. But his voice gave her something on which to focus. Instead of contemplating her own death, she started imagining his. A few people called questions the announcer answered before he continued his speech. When he finished, a hush fell and all movement stopped.
Starling opened her eyes, looking for the cause of such an unnatural silence. Even the wind had stopped. What happened? Was it over? Her captor didn’t put her down so the answer must be no.
The announcer raised one arm.
All at once the crowd erupted in frenzied shouting. Several people waved jingling bags as they vied for the announcer’s attention. The pandemonium made no sense. The announcer wore a large, satisfied grin. He pointed to people at random and shouted a single word.
It took Starling a moment to recognize the scene. She was at an auction with her as the prize. Someone in the crush of people would take her home but for what purpose? Did they know she’d been kidnapped? Did they care?
The number of people shouting bids dwindled to a handful and then finally two—a man in the middle of the crowd with a look on his face Starling didn’t like and a cloaked individual who stood between two men. One of the men had his arms crossed over his chest and wore a menacing expression that got darker whenever someone happened to get a little too close—a bodyguard. The other man leaned down to the cloaked individual before every bid he made—an aide or a secretary, maybe?
The two parties went back and forth at least ten times. Each bid made the announcer smile so wide Starling thought his face might tear. In the end, the trio won.
Starling’s captor lowered her so she could stand then released her. She didn’t move since covering herself seemed pointless. Everyone already got an eyeful.
The aide from the trio approached the announcer and handed him a thin sliver of metal. Starling guessed it was payment. The announcer didn’t seem pleased to receive it. The man looked downright scared. He pasted a fake smile on his face as he took the metal. He handed the secretary a bag and then gestured to Starling.
Rather than make the aide come to her, she went to him. The giant who’d presented her to the crowd grabbed her. The announcer yelled something that made the man release her once more.
He grumbled under his breath as he removed the leather strip from her neck before pushing her toward the edge of the stage. She glanced back at the other women. Monica raised her hand. Starling returned the gesture, knowing she would probably never see the woman again.
The aide grabbed her arm in a tight grip and yanked her off the stage. She almost nosedived into the ground except his grip on her arm kept her upright. She glared up at him but he paid her no attention.
He dragged her to the cloaked person—a woman. A very affluent woman if the jewelry adorning her was any indication. Her throat and wrists dripped with gems of varying sizes and in a rainbow of colors. Starling even caught a glimpse of something that could be a tiara under the hood of the woman’s cloak.
Starling’s new owner looked her over then nodded. After a few words to the aide, she walked away with her bodyguard.
Rather than follow the cloaked woman, the aide took a different route. He piled Starling into a hovering vehicle waiting on the road. It was a nice conveyance with soft seats and a cool interior Starling appreciated after the pressing heat outside. Even if the cool air made her sweat-drenched body freeze, it beat the alternative.
The vehicle had no driver. She looked around and around but there was nothing resembling a steering wheel. Her companion busied himself doing something with the pad he had so close to his face it almost touched his nose, ignoring her.
A short trip later, the vehicle stopped. The aide resumed half-dragging her in his wake. He didn’t slow his stride, which made her bare feet trip several times on the hard tile floor.
The people they passed stopped and stared at her. Some pulled their companions to a halt and pointed her out.
Starling wanted to ask what was happening. What had they bought her for? Even if the man dragging her could understand, she doubted he would answer.
The mad dash ended at a room that could be an infirmary. It smelled like one. Starling was glad to know disinfectant didn’t change odor the universe over.
The doctors—complete with white lab coats—were the first people she’d seen who appeared happy to see her. They carried on in excited tones and wore big smiles. The aide said a few quick words and then left.
Starling wasn’t sad to see him go and hoped he wouldn’t return.
A woman rushed forward with a visor-looking thing held between her hands. She pantomimed wearing the visor then placed it over Starling’s head. Like most everything else until that point, Starling took it. There was no leather strip around her neck but fighting wouldn’t get her anywhere.
The visor pinched her on the soft spot behind her ears, at the base of her neck and at her hairline. It didn’t hurt much but it did surprise her. She tried to edge away from it but the woman had a friend who’d sneaked up behind Starling while she was distracted. Said friend took hold of Starling’s shoulders the second she started moving and held her still.
The minutes ticked by. Or it felt like the minutes ticked by. It could have been a few seconds.
The visor beeped and the woman removed it. “There we go. That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
“You speak English!” Starling pointed an accusing finger.
The woman laughed. “I don’t know what inglist is. I speak what I’ve spoken since I learned to speak. Because of the visor, you speak it now as well.”
“How? Why?”
“I love primitive cultures. They are so cute.” She turned away without answering the question.
Now that someone could understand, Starling wanted answers. “Hold up. Where am I? Who are you people? What do you want with me?”
Everyone continued ignoring Starling. The time for taking that kind of treatment had passed. She started to follow after the woman to make her listen.
“Hold on there, itty-bitty,” the one holding Starling said. She held Starling’s wrist and pulled her in the opposite direction toward a below-ground pool filled with silvery, viscous liquid.
Starling tried to get free but the difference in height translated into a marked difference in strength as well. “Answer me! Who are you people?”
One of the other white-coated women said, “Isn’t her speech lovely? It’s actually intelligible. I saw a human once who tried to speak and I couldn’t understand a word it said.”
The man standing nearby nodded. “I know what you mean. It’s almost hard to believe this one and the one I saw just last week are the same species.”
“And look at how well-endowed she is. I almost thought she was a child until I saw these.” The woman holding Starling’s wrist hefted one of Starling’s breasts to emphasize her statement.
Starling smacked her hand away. “Don’t touch me!”
“So cute.” The woman patted her head.
Starling snapped, “Have you stopped understanding me or something? Answer me! Who are you?”
A man across the room behind a console said, “Make sure you tighten the straps completely, Kiva. She’s so small, she might wiggle free.”
“I will.” Kiva tried to lift Starling, under her arms no less, but Starling pulled away. “Now, now, don’t be difficult.”
Starling yelled, “Don’t touch me!”
Kiva sighed and rolled her eyes. “Morn, help me with her. She’s turned stubborn all of a sudden.”
The man named Morn scooped Starling against his side and dumped her onto the chair. “That was easy. Need help strapping her down too?”
“No, but I could do without your sarcasm.” She pushed and held a button beside the chair. Leather straps slid over Starling’s wrists and ankles then tightened.
“Ow!” The straps bit into Starling’s wrists. She glared at Kiva.
The woman who had given Starling the language visor said, “That’s tight enough, Kiva.”
“You’re sure, doctor?”
“We don’t want to break her. That would make Dowager Queen Tinette angry.”
Kiva nodded and moved away.
Starling decided to try her earlier questions again but the chair sinking into the pool of silvery liquid stopped her. It was a good thing Kiva had tightened the straps as much as she had because Starling strained against them the second the slimy liquid touched her toes.
Her struggles became more fervent when the liquid reached her neck. The chair didn’t stop sinking. Starling moved her head back to keep her mouth and nose out of the liquid. They were covered soon too.
The chair stopped moving when it hit bottom. Starling coached herself to remain calm. It was probably an experiment. They would let her up soon. Besides, she had good breath control.
Nothing happened.
She wanted to stay calm but the lack of movement or sound started to get to her. Her heart rate sped up. She couldn’t keep her fingers from twitching.
Wouldn’t it be better if she drowned?
An alien race had kidnapped her for God only knew what. Rather than wait around for the anal probes and other experiments, she should end it.
The mini debate came to an end when the chair sent an electrical shock through her body. Starling screamed in pain, inhaling the liquid without meaning to.
And then she exhaled.
And inhaled.
Then exhaled.
She was breathing. The liquid hadn’t drowned her. Her confusion mounted when the chair started rising back to its start position.
Kiva released Starling then helped her stand. “See? All that fuss for nothing. You’re fine, aren’t you?” She patted Starling’s head.
And that’s when Starling snapped. She grabbed the closest thing, a metal rod sitting on a table nearby, and swung it at Kiva.
The woman jumped back with a startled yelp.
Morn returned. “Kiva, can’t you do anything right? It’s a stupid little human.” He reached for the rod.
Starling yanked it back then slammed it down on his wrist. The man cried out. He cradled his bleeding hand and glared at her. “You little—”
She missed the rest of his statement because she started screaming. Large chunks of her hair detached from her head. She touched it and the hair came away in her hand. Hair rained from every part of her body, including her eyelashes.
She yelled, “What did you do to me? What’s happening?” The hair stopped falling when she was completely bare. “My hair!”
“What’s going on here?” boomed a newcomer. The man filled the doorway and looked none too pleased to be there.
All the doctors—or whatever they were—stopped fussing with her and looked his way. The head doctor—Starling assumed the woman was the head doctor since she seemed to be in charge—rushed forward. “Sir Nausic, how good to see you. What brings you to my humble locale?”
Nausic said, “I have come to secure the human for King Bekion. Where is it?”
“There.” She pointed at Starling. “But Lord Schel said the human was bound to Prince Kuruk, not King Bekion.”
“Schel was mistaken.”
Morn said, “We’re having a bit of trouble with it at the moment, Sir Nausic. If you give us time to secure it, then you can take it.”
“Just try it,” Starling said, brandishing the rod at him. “I’ll knock your block off.”
They took her up on her offer. Morn tried to grab her again while another woman inched toward her from behind. Starling dodged out of the woman’s reach before swinging baseball-style at Morn’s shin. The metal rod rang and vibrated in her hands with the force she put behind it.
Morn fell to the ground, clutching his shin and cursing her.
Nausic said, “Enough! Clear the room, all of you. I’ll deal with it.”
The doctors rushed out and closed the door behind them.
Starling faced Nausic. He was the tallest she’d seen yet but that didn’t matter. All the stuff she needed to hit happened to be on her level. She’d make him incapable of having children if she had to. If the equipment was where it should be. His pants had a bulge in the right spot. She’d assume it was the same and adapt if it wasn’t.
“Put it down!” He pointed to the floor with a stern look on his face.
“Come and take it, asshole!” She made swinging motions.
Nausic advanced. Unfortunately he did take the rod from her and with no damage to himself. He’d moved too fast for her to retaliate.
Starling ran away from him. She screamed when he chased her.
“Hold still.”
“Leave me alone!”
She tossed whatever she could move into his path—rolling stools, medical-looking utensils and even a tablet or two. He dodged it all and his angry look darkened.
A hiding place presented itself. A cot bolted to the floor very close to the wall provided a small, defendable alcove. Starling ran for it. She grabbed another rod as she passed a table then slid into the space. It was barely big enough for her, so her giant pursuer didn’t have a chance.
He looked at her before rolling his eyes.
Starling stuck her tongue out at him.
His lips twitched and he sighed. “Think you’re safe, do you?” He made a motion over the cot. It beeped then arced away from the wall.
Starling squeaked and fell onto her side as the floor shifted beneath her. The cot was bolted down but the floor swiveled. She stood quickly and prepared to do battle if need be.
Nausic snatched the rod away from her.
“Leave me alone! Go away!”
“I’m not—”
“Go away,” she screamed. Tears erupted from her eyes as the last of her endurance left her.
“Fine.” Nausic walked across the room and sat on another cot.
Starling watched him for a few minutes. He didn’t move. She sank to her knees, huddling as far into the corner as she could get. Brushing her hand over her bare scalp, she cried harder.
* * * * *
Bekion had finally gotten time to come home and relax. He was king—ruler of planet Panagiota. When the affairs of his own kingdom didn’t bog him down, he had to fly off to planet Gorov and dance attendance on Supreme Emperor Udo. Bekion enjoyed his role as one of the supreme emperor’s most trusted and loyal kings but it was a taxing job that left room for little else.
His secretary had managed to find a small amount of free time Bekion now wasted dealing with family issues.
“I have told you time again, Mother, stop buying Kuruk presents—living presents especially.” Bekion’s anger grew at the sight of his mother ignoring him. “Mother!”
“Don’t raise your voice to me, Bekion,” Tinette said in a bored manner. “I can hear you perfectly well without you yelling. I’m simply ignoring you.”
She rolled her eyes up from her book with an annoyed sigh, giving Bekion her attention.
“No more. I don’t want you getting him any more gifts. Do you understand? He is spoiled enough as it is.”
“He is a growing boy who needs a mother’s love.”
“Love is not shown with presents, Mother.”
“Nonsense. It worked for you. It will work for him.”
Bekion turned his eyes to the ceiling and begged the heavens for help. His mother actually thought he’d enjoyed all those superfluous gifts when he was a child. He’d wanted her attention but her duties as queen and her many hobbies had kept her too busy.
His younger brother now received the same treatment. Unlike Bekion, a host of tutors and mentors teaching right from wrong and common decency hadn’t raised Kuruk. He ran amuck and did as he pleased without anyone to gainsay him. Bekion wanted to take his brother in hand but he didn’t have time.
Bekion asked, “Where is it? What did you buy him this time?” Though he already knew, he wanted his mother to say it aloud. He wanted her to act a little guilty or concerned for her actions.
“It’s only a human, Bekion. Earth has so many of them.”
“It is from Earth then?”
“That is what the poacher said.”
Bekion hoped the boast was false. If not, he would have to explain to Supreme Emperor Udo why Dowager Queen Tinette felt the need to break one of Gorov Empire’s oldest laws—leave the inhabitants of Earth alone.
“He was most adamant on that point, especially during the bidding. I think it was to drive the price higher. Not to worry, there was no way those present could outbid me.”
“You went to the bidding?”
“Of course. I wouldn’t leave something so important to Schel. He would have chosen the first human he saw and at the cheapest price. There were many unscrupulous people there trying to pass substandard humans off as true Earth stock. Schel believed most of them.” She tutted and shook her head. “Poor man is so trusting. If he wasn’t so helpful to me, I would have replaced him long ago.”
Bekion was sure Schel had meant to steer Tinette toward legal humans. The man did his best to curtail Tinette’s wilder ideas with little success. Schel remained an asset because of the few times he did succeed.
“Did the poacher have proof of his claim?” Bekion hoped not. He could excuse Tinette’s actions later by saying she’d thought the poacher’s sales pitch was falsified to garner more money. A small elaboration of the truth he hoped the supreme emperor would believe.
“The salesman gave my secretary the human’s belongings it had at the time of its capture. Some identification and clothing and money, I guess. I ordered it all disposed of. As a pet, it won’t need them.”
“I can’t believe Schel was so stupid,” he said under his breath.
“Whatever do you mean, Bekion? The female is genuine. I didn’t want one of those ugly inbred humans from the market. They are so unappealing. A pure human is preferred for my son. I want nothing but the best for him. The poacher said he only gathers humans from heavily populated areas. It will not be missed.”
“I’m sure her family will miss her.”
“Why? There are so many other females on the planet. They can pick one to be their child. Or its parents can have another. Those humans breed so easily and quickly, after all.”
Bekion felt a headache starting behind his right eye.
“It’s with the physicians if you want to see it. I planned to give it to Kuruk at dinner. His birthday is in another week. It’ll be an early present.”
“Mother,” he bit out through his teeth, “Kuruk’s birthday was two months ago.”
“Was it?”
“It was?”
“Where was I?”
The headache spread to his left eye. He bowed his head into his hand and prayed for strength, not knowing why the conversation surprised him. He’d grown up with the woman and knew how she was. “You were there. You got him that rock, remember?”
Tinette smiled, resting her chin on her finger.
He could almost see the memory taking hold.
“Oh, I remember. He killed that rock, didn’t he? How exactly does one kill a rock, Bekion? I never understood how he accomplished such a feat.”
“It was a living creature from an unexplored planet. You had your soldiers kidnap yet another living being and Kuruk killed it. After that, I told you no more living presents.”
“No, you said no more sentient presents.”
“I told you no more sentient presents after he killed the Atigin Dragon-bird from Isia. Panagiota had to pay reparations to the male’s family as well as issue an apology with an extremely generous trade agreement. After the rock, I said no more living presents.”
“I’m sure you’re right as usual, Bekion.” Tinette resumed reading.
The conversation had ended with Bekion accomplishing nothing except giving himself a headache. He had to leave.
He straightened, standing at his full height, and bowed to his mother. In a formal tone, he said, “I shall see you later at dinner, Mother.”
“Have a good rest of day, my son.”
He was halfway across the room when she called out, “Are you leaving, Bekion?”
“Yes, Mother, I am,” he said without stopping or turning back.
“Come give Mother a kiss then.”
Bekion did an about-face and returned to her side. He didn’t bother wasting breath making excuses or arguing. He pressed a kiss to her forehead. She pursed her lips, making a kissing noise below his chin. That done, he pulled away to leave again.
Tinette grabbed his hand and brought it to her lips. She whispered, “You do a very good job. I’m sure Haig would be proud of you, Bekion.”
“Thank you,” he whispered back.
She reached out and stroked his cheek. Her eyes took on a misty quality. “You resemble him more and more every day.”
“I’m sorry, Mother.”
It was rare for Tinette to mention Bekion’s father. Haig had gone into self-exile almost ten years ago to keep Tinette out of the supreme emperor’s prison. No one had heard from him since. Bekion knew that pained Tinette, so she acted as though Haig didn’t exist. That meant Bekion had to do the same.
“Nonsense. You should be thankful to resemble your father.” She took in a long breath. Her somber attitude seemed to vanish as she breathed out. She patted his cheek and released his hand. “Now go off and do more things to better this kingdom. I’ll see you at dinner.”
He nodded and turned away, leaving at a faster pace than last time. He had to leave before Tinette called him back. The sooner he got away from her, the sooner his headache would go away—a simple fact he’d become all too familiar with over the years.
Tinette’s servants closed the door to her chamber once Bekion crossed the threshold. He sagged back against it, unable to support himself. His headache persisted. He looked at the men who waited for his acknowledgment and knew the pain would get worse before it got better.
“Do you want a nap first or do you want to see the human first?” Rois, who stood at the head of the group awaiting Bekion’s next move, asked.
“The human, Rois. Might as well get it out of the way,” Bekion mumbled. His hand went to the back of his neck. The pain behind his eyes had migrated there.
Rois chuckled.
Bekion glared at the man who stood a full head over him. That fact annoyed Bekion every time he looked at Rois. Bekion had thought he would be taller than Rois forever. They had grown up together with Bekion as the taller of the two well into their adolescent years. At age twenty, Rois hit a growth spurt and grew so his chin was above Bekion’s head.
“This way,” Rois said, heading off in the direction of the infirmary.
Bekion pushed away from the door and followed. “Have you seen the human, Rois? Tell me about her.”
Rois slowed his pace so he walked beside Bekion. “According to Schel, it is a female of the species. A brown one.”
“Dark or light?”
Bekion looked around but didn’t see Vieve, his secretary. He raised his wristband-clad arm and pressed a blinking red square. “Vieve, I need you to locate the items given to Schel when he purchased the human.”
“As you wish, My King,” Vieve said in her usual light, flowery voice.
“Hurry, please. Tinette told him to destroy them.”
“I will endeavor to reach him before he carries out that task.”
Rois said, “Here we are.” He opened the door then stepped back, allowing Bekion to precede him.
Nausic, the guard Bekion had dispatched to ensure the human’s safety, stood and bowed.
Bekion asked, “Where is she, Nausic?”
Nausic pointed to the far corner of the room. “The little one hid there after I arrived. She hasn’t moved since.”
Bekion’s gaze followed Nausic’s finger. A little human female huddled between the back wall and one of the infirmary’s cots. With her head resting on her arms, she looked asleep. She also looked naked.
“Where are her clothes?”
Nausic said, “After the nanite bath, she became agitated every time any of the doctors or I approached her. I thought it best to let her be so she could calm down. The doctors wisely gave her the language visor before her immersion. I don’t think she would have reacted well if they had tried it afterward.”
“She can understand us then?”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“Good.” Bekion walked forward. The time had come to introduce himself to his new pet.
He couldn’t give her to his brother. That was a death sentence. Neither could he return her to Earth. His family had already broken one Gorov Imperial law, compounding the issue was unnecessary.
He went to his haunches near the girl and asked softly, “Do you understand me, little human?”
She startled and cried out.
Bekion took that as an affirmative. “I am Bekion, king of Panagiota, the planet on which you are currently situated. What’s your name?”
She didn’t answer.
He placed his hand on the girl’s head. She was so small. The poachers had taken a child who would be sorely missed when her parents discovered her absence.
The girl tried to get away from him. He said in a soothing tone, “I will not hurt you. No one will. I only want to know your name.” He smoothed his hand over and over her head. From past encounters, Bekion knew humans had hair. He would reprogram the nanites to allow the human’s hair to grow back once he’d calmed her.
“Starling Moddel,” the girl whispered. She lifted her head a little bit and looked up at him. “Why did you bring me here? What do you want?”

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4 Responses to Pet’s Pleasure by Zenobia Renquist

  1. LM – Thanks!

    ~ Zenobia

  2. Julia – Thanks!!

    ~ Zenobia

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