Chapter One: How Things Began

Reese Jacobsen heard a knock on the door of her room at the inn and smiled. She opened her door to let Thorin in. "You're late," she said, arching a brow at him as she shut the door behind him.

Thorin didn't even respond as he moved to the bed and began to remove his coat. Even though she was accustomed to Thorin's stony silence, Reese blinked in surprise. His being a dwarf made him moody, and it seemed his being Thorin Oakenshield made him particularly so. Not that she minded. In fact she noticed her desire for him became more intense as he brooded with his back to her, removing the rest of his clothing.

When Thorin had stripped bare, he turned to her, and her breath caught slightly as she gazed upon his naked body. It had been several months since she'd last seen him, and she was reminded of the magnificence of his physique. His thick, strong arms and legs were covered with ropes of muscle. His broad, powerful shoulders swooped to a hard, chiseled chest. A line of hair fell from his chest down rippling abs, between well muscled hips. He was hard for her already, his uncut erection curving up towards his abdomen. She could see a glisten of precum on the tip. He wanted her badly as well.

Thorin seemed annoyed to see that she was still dressed and moved across the room towards her. She stared at him, taunting him as his eyes bore into hers. It had been a long time for them, yes, but she wasn't in too much of a rush. He hands met the skin of his ribs as he met her, and she stroked upwards while he began to work her garments. He was rather rough as removed her leather bodice, pulling her linen tunic over her head, her breast bouncing free as the rough fabric scraped over he nipples. He picked her up as though she were a feather and carried her to the bed where he pushed her down so that he could slide off her thigh high leather boots and trousers. "Mr. Oakenshield," Reese breathed, batting her lashes at him as she began to blush slightly from being disrobed so quickly. She felt his urgency called for comic relief of some sort. "Do you honestly expect me to spread my legs without your even greeting me hello after being apart for three months."

Thorin only grunted in response as he pushed her undergarments to her ankles. Reese found herself naked and exposed in front of him. She was wet for him already, the powerful scent of her desire in the air.

Reese raised her eyebrows. Thorin was one of the more miserable men she'd met, but he usually was a bit more communicative than in his current state. Their arrangement didn't require them to spend time on pleasantries nor did it require his being in a good mood, although over the years they'd become comfortable and friendly with each other.

Once she was naked, Thorin moved over her body, dwarfing her cmall frame and capturing her lips in a harsh kiss. She gasped as he slammed himself into her with very little ceremony, her skin stinging as it always did, needing to stretch around his substantial size. Reese's climax came quickly, harsh and punishing as her body was wracked with spasms while Thorin spilled his seed into her. He collapsed over her on the bed, breathing heavily. Reese lay with her eyes closed lulled into a state of bliss, her face still buried in the blankets on the bed.

Thorin rose up and suddenly pulled out of her. She gasped at the feel of cold air on her body. She heard Thorin cross the room, expecting him to get a rag to clean up. Instead, she heard him pull on his trousers and looked at him in surprise. "What the hell?" she exclaimed.

"I have a matter to attend to." Thorin stated simply without even glancing at her.

Reese's eyebrows rose in disbelief. "Now? You just got here!"

Thorin didn't respond as he pulled his tunic over his head. "How long are you in town for?" he asked as he laced up his boots.

She looked at him with shock, answering confusedly, "For only two nights. Adam is anxious to return to the castle because his wife is expecting to give birth any day."

Thorin laughed, "Expecting again, is she? Those two are determined to repopulate Middle Earth with Futurians."

Reese just looked at him, her face disbelieving, as she watched him don his coat. "Seriously, Thorin, you've been here less than ten minutes! Is this a joke?"

Thorin glanced at her. "I'll make it up to you tomorrow night." He strode from the room, clearly already preoccupied with his next task, pulling the door closed behind him.

"Uh .. bye!" Reese said in disbelief to the empty room, collapsing back on the bed and pulling the covers over herself, staring at the ceiling in mute shock. After a moment, she felt wetness begin to trickle between her legs and rose to get a rag. If it weren't for this evidence of their coupling, she would wonder if she had imagined his visit.

"I miss condoms," she muttered to herself as she cleaned Thorin's seed off her body, even though she was in no danger of getting pregnant. Shortly after she first bed Thorin, she traded with the elves for herbs that she could take in order to prevent her from becoming pregnant, so long as she took the herbs once a week.

Reese flopped onto the bed and sighed in frustration. She hadn't expected to have such a boring evening stretching before her, and now she didn't have anything to occupy herself. Reading was useless to her. Even if she had something along to read, which she never did, she would only make the evening more boring than it already was. After not seeing Thorin for such a long stretch, she'd been sure that she'd be kept busy until the early hours of the morning. She'd also been sure she'd feel much more satisfied as a result.

She considered getting dressed and going down to the dining room to see if Adam and Borgia were there, or at least to find something to eat or drink to pass the time. Maybe even an attractive opportunity might present itself. Reese rolled onto her stomach in contemplation, her skin beginning to cool as the sheen of sweat dried on her on bare skin. She fingered the rough bedspread, wondering how clean it was, and her mind wandered to her first encounter with Thorin.

Reese first met Thorin five years earlier. She had been on a trading mission, which had brought her to the town of Exeter, populated by men. Reese and her companions, Adam and Borgia, had taken rooms at the inn. They went to the pub for their meal, and Reese immediately noticed the dwarf at a table in the corner.

She wasn't overly familiar with dwarves, but this dwarf was unlike any of the others she had met in her work. Like Dwarves, he was stocky with broad shoulders and long hair. However, he was quite tall for a dwarf, and his beard was shorn close to his face. Although he was wearing a heavy coat, she could tell that his body was strong and fit. She doubted there was a spare ounce of fat on his powerful frame. This dwarf also had a certain bearing and presence that commanded notice.

He seemed to have noticed her too. He didn't start outright, but every now and then she felt his eyes on her, although they never made eye contact when she glanced over at him. She slowly felt her skin grow warm, though, and she felt like squirming in her chair under his scrutiny. She glanced down at what she was wearing, wondering what made him notice her. It was possible he found her appealing, or maybe her dress was a bit strange. She didn't encounter many women dressed as she was in a leather traveling coat with a hood, leather pants stuffed into thigh high leather boots, and a leather bodice over a brown tunic. If she weren't wearing the tunic, the bodice would be considered low cut, but the tunic was a plain brown of a thick course cloth. Even though it had been years since she'd thought about being sexually appealing, she was aware that her clothing accentuated her amble curves, large breasts, small waist, and round hips.

Maybe he found her a bit strange. She wore her hair short, always had, and had knives strapped to her thighs, which wasn't something usually seen on a woman in Middle Earth, except maybe with the Rangers, but they kept to themselves, and Reese wasn't even sure if there was such a thing as a female Ranger now that she thought of it.

Reese smiled at something Adam said and forgot about the dwarf for a moment, until she felt his eyes on her again and squirmed uncomfortably. She felt as though they were piercing her. Maybe he felt they were a threat, which was partially true she thought. Adam and Borgia were clearly dressed in a way to dismiss anyone from considering an attack, both bearing several arms in a style that they'd learnt in their military training, Borgia clearly favouring a more subtle style than Adam. But it wasn't entirely uncommon for threatening people to stay at the Inn at Exeter, and it wasn't as though the dwarf didn't have a large intimidating sword at his side. By the look of his forearms, he could crush her with one blow if she so wished.

Finally their meal arrived, and Reese focused on eating and talking to Adam and Borgia about their plans to return to home to the castle the next day, now that their trading had been completed. However, Reese couldn't stop her gaze from being drawn back to the corner, feeling her attention irresistibly drawn to him. She had to admit that she found him terribly attractive, which surprised her because she really hadn't been interested in men in quite awhile.

"Like what you see?" Adam suddenly asked, snapping her back to the conversation. Her cheeks burned crimson as Adam and Borgia both smirked at her. "You've been staring at that dwarf since we entered this pub. "

"Oh my god," Reese laughed, putting her head in her hands. "Of course you noticed." The men continued to laugh at her. She smiled and shook her head at them.

"Maybe you should talk to him." Adam suggested.

"Wait what?!" Reese exclaimed, shaking her head and glancing around the room to avoid Adam's stare. "Ah no, I don't think so." She shook her head at the absurdity of his suggestion.

"Why not?" he answered. "How long has it been since you've gotten a piece of ass?"

Reese stared at Adam in shock, her mouth gaping as she tried to find words to express her dismay. "Are we so completely out of things to talk about that my sex life is the only thing left?"

"I'm just looking out for you. It's healthy to have a good lay every now and then." Adam winked at her while Borgia smirked.

"What? Are you my pimp now?" Reese asked, her tone dry.

Adam laughed. "No, just your friend who wants to see you happy." He paused, then said gently. "It's been ten years since your husband died, Reese. It's time."

This had crossed the line, and Reese made it clear as she crossed her arms and looked away from him. Adam allowed her to take a minute but didn't let up.

Then he continued, "You have to move on someday, Swizzlesticks." He used the name he used for her when he wanted he to listen to something he knew she didn't want to hear. She didn't even know what a Swizzlestick was, but maybe where Adam came from the name made sense.

"Who says I have to move on?" she asked, still not looking at him. It had truly been nearly a decade since they'd last discussed her husband, and she found the discussion extremely intrusive.

"Look. I know you haven't slept with anyone since he died. It's not healthy for a woman of your age to go without getting her plumbing checked every now and then." Reese couldn't help but grimace at him then as he used this ridiculous metaphor. He didn't waver. "I think that dwarf over there is perfectly capable of handling your needs. He looks lonely, like you. He looks like your type, too. Grumpy, lots of hair. Big."

Borgia eyed the dwarf in the corner and grunted in agreement, never one to waste words unnecessarily.

"You guys!" Reese said, her cheeks burning. She glanced at the dwarf again, before leaning forward to whisper harshly, "Even if I were interested, I don't think Middle Earth is the safest place for a woman to sidle up to a man in a bar and hit on him."

"Nah, I'm not worried about you with him," Adam said, his mouth full of chicken as he chewed a drumstick, not deterred from eating despite the discussion. Borgia nodded in agreement.

Reese shook her head. "Well, you would know. You're the experts on dangerous people."

"You'll be fine," Adam said. "I wouldn't want to piss him off, but I'm not worried."

Reese leaned back. Several minutes passed as they sat in silence. There had once been a time when she wouldn't have hesitated to hit on someone like Thorin. She wasn't sure if she was interested in that old self, though. It wasn't easy to open one door but leave the others shut. "How do you even pick up a man in Middle Earth? Like, what's a good Middle Earth pick up line? 'Come here often?'"

"How about 'Hey big guy, it's been years since I've had a good hard dick in my mouth, and it's your lucky day.'" Borgia quipped grinning. Adam howled with laughter, slapping Borgia on the back. Adam found what Borgia had said a lot funnier than she had.

"Hey!" she hissed, holding her hands up in protest, drawing attention from those around her. She leaned forward, "I'm not interested in talking about this anymore, so do me a favour and shut the fuck up." She was done with this conversation. She was too uncomfortable and close as they were, she was not about to sort out the boiling emotions inside of her as she reacted to Adam's bringing up a topic that she normally kept safely locked away. The two men laughed at her, and she couldn't help but shake her head and laugh with them before they lapsed into silence, leaving her to her thoughts as the barmaid took their empty plates. They sat drinking their ale in silence.

After a few minutes, Adam stretched and said it was time for him to get some rest. Reese usually would have risen but didn't join him. She was annoyed that she blushed slightly while he smirked down at her. "This doesn't mean anything," she snarled. "I'm just not ready for bed yet."

"See you in the morning," he said, winking. Reese snorted and looked away. Shortly after Adam departed, Borgia drifted off without a word to join a group of rowdy male dwarves, leaving Reese to her thoughts.

She sat in the middle of the room, aware of how unusual it was for a woman to sit by herself in a pub in Middle Earth. She wasn't too concerned, though. She could probably fend for herself if she had to, and something about the dwarf comforted her. She wasn't alone if someone put her at risk.

She didn't look at him again, her eyes on her ale. Adam's reminder of how long it had been hadn't fallen on deaf ears. Every now and then she had these thoughts herself, briefly, after which she always felt frustrated and locked them away again. But here she was, away from the castle where she was able to create a new version of herself, just as she had wanted, and funnily enough felt part of her old self waking up again, a part that she didn't know still existed.

Now she looked at the dwarf, directly for the first time rather than trying to hide her glances. He wasn't looking at her and seemed lost in thought, an irritated scowl on his face. It looked like his face often wore that expression by the deep groves between his heavy brows. She never let herself scowl that way. She didn't want frown lines and didn't believe in wearing expressions that created them. But it made him even more attractive to her. She wondered what colour his eyes were.

Suddenly she was on her feet. She threw her long coat over her arm and picked up her ale. Walking towards the dwarf, she felt several eyes in the room follow her, drawing attention as she stopped in front of the dwarf's table. Digging deep, she found a shard of the old confidence and bravado that had been shattered years before.

"Is this seat taken?" His startling blue eyes met her brown gaze as she smiled at him. She felt a flash of anxiety that she stuffed deep inside as he looked at her coolly.

"Obviously not, as you've been watching me for some time and I'm sure have not seen anyone else occupy this chair. Although I can't imagine what is wrong with your own seat."

Reese smiled as Thorin's scowl deepened when she stat down, her legs in front of her and crossing them at the ankles as she reclined back in the chair. She noticed his eyes settle briefly on her breasts and then saw him shift slightly in his chair before leaning back and staring at her face. She hadn't been wrong then that he found her attractive, although she couldn't miss how irritated he was by her presence. She decided to continue with her plan. It was simple enough to abandon if things didn't go well.

"My chair has grown cold, and I decided to find someplace warmer." Her eyes met his again and felt triumphant when she saw surprise there by her forwardness.

He leaned forward in his chair, crossed his arms over his broad chest, considering her. "I would have thought your husband could help you with this problem." He nodded in the direction of the stairs Adam had gone up.

She smiled. "Not my husband."

"Forgive me," Thorin said, sarcasm dripping from his words. "Your companions then."

She tilted her head as she stared at him and felt the corners of her mouth tug up ever so slightly. It seemed that old habits were easy to remember, even after years without being used. "If I understand your implication, that is not the purpose of my relationship with these men. One of them is married, happily I might add, evidenced by the number of children waiting for him at home. And the other, well, he prefers only the company of males." She nodded in the direction of the group Borgia had joined.

He actually seemed curious. "What is the purpose of your relationship with them then."

She mused before answering, "We work together."

"So you are a prostitute, sharing your earnings with these men in exchange for their protecting you." She bit back a laugh. He really was an irritable thing. "I must admit you are dressed oddly for a whore."

This time she did laugh. It seems even in Middle Earth men had little creativity when it came to insulting a woman. "No, sir," she emphasized the moniker. "I am not a prostitute, although considering where we are I'm not surprised by your confusion at my relationship with my friends. I am a trader and for my people. I find Middle Earth to be a world that is unsafe for a woman to travel alone, and these men have certain … skills … that provide me with the protection I need in order to accomplish my work. We make a good team. We finished our business today and are returning to our community tomorrow. I have no husband, nor am I seeking one. I am simply looking for a man to bed, a man who knows what he is doing." She felt triumphant as she delivered this final bit of information, direct and to the point.

He did not speak. His face was unreadable as he looked at her, then he laughed harshly and said, "You're wasting your time, woman."

She leaned towards him, and his eyes fell to the swell of her breasts she could feel above her bodice. "Am I?" She asked, her voice low and husky. "Surely dwarves have needs as well, and you seem lonely, Master Dwarf. Can I not offer you an arrangement that would benefit us both?"

He looked at her again before asking, "There are several human men in this room who have been eyeing you since you walked in. Why not choose someone from your own race?"

"While these men may be of my race, I don't feel kinship with them. I am Futurian," Reese stated simply

His surprise was unmistakable this time, but he clearly understood what she meant. "You've heard of us then?" she asked, curious despite herself.

"I have, but I thought a group of humans who, by some trick of fate, had fallen through a hole in their own world and landed in Middle Earth, unable to get back to their home several ages in the future, was a myth. To be honest, I've never met one of your kind before."

Reese spread her hands as she shrugged but didn't say anything. This wasn't a topic she wanted to get into. When Futurians began to arrive in Middle Earth about three hundred years ago, they had originally been encouraged to live with the race of men. However, they had found themselves unable to adapt to the customs of their new people. After thirty years of trying to adjust, the Futurians separated from the men to establish their own community with their own customs, after receiving help from the elves to build the fortress she now called home. She had no interest in discussing her people with this dwarf, but she hoped sharing this information established that her motivations and allegiances were not entirely based on her race.

"I thought you never left your castle," he asked her.

She shrugged and looked away, feeling suddenly bored with the discussion and hoping to move it along quickly. "We don't tend to interact greatly with other races, but there are a few of us who go out to do trading. We don't find we fit in very well here, especially since we're mostly women who come from a time when we weren't told what to do so much. We do better keeping to ourselves for the most part."

She felt nervous as the dwarf considered her as her. She watched his lips twitch and focused on them. They weren't too large and were firm, likely used to being pressed in a grim line.

"What is your name?" he asked her.

Reese looked at him in surprise, noticing the change in his demeanor. "Reese Jacobsen. And yours?"

"I am Thorin Oakenshield," he said. This time it was her turn to be surprised by his identity.

"Are you really?" she asked. "Forgive me. I hadn't realized to whom I was speaking." She hoped she sounded respectful as she spoke. Even the Futurians knew of Durin's fallen heir.

"There is no forgiveness required," he said. "Since you seem to know who I am, you must also know that I no longer have claim to that status."

She considered him carefully. As much as her own history was tragic, his was equally so, if not worse. Finally, she said, "I'm sorry for what happened to your people, and I'm sorry for the exile you find yourselves in today. Being without a home is … very difficult." Now she was speaking from experience, thinking of her own people's exile in Middle Earth.

She took a breath and brought her eyes back to his. "Well, Thorin Oakenshield, I'm not very good at playing games, or maybe I'm just out of practice, so I'll speak plainly. My husband died several years ago, and I've not been with a man since. I have no intention of wedding again, so I assure you I'm not trying to initiate a courtship. I'm looking for a man to bed me, or for me to bed to be more accurate," she laughed. "I'm hoping that you will indulge me." She smiled sweetly at him. She hoped that her own brown eyes were dancing teasingly at him.

Thorin leaned back in his chair, amusement plain on his face. He seemed to like her in spite of himself "Why me?" he asked, seeming genuinely confused.

"Because I find myself extremely attracted to you, and because you seem like you could use a woman to bed you as well, considering that you are sitting here in isolation, despite the fact that several of your kin are also present in this room." She nodded towards a nearby table with several dwarves seated at it, many of whom were casting glances at her and Thorin.

"If I am wrong in assuming you would also benefit from such an arrangement, by all means send me on my way. No offense will be taken." She smiled warmly at him.

Thorin considered for a moment. She blushed and dropped her eyes as he plainly allowed his eyes to travel down her body. She imagined what it would be like to lie, in his bed, with her lips wrapped around his cock, looking up at him as he fucked her mouth. She imagined then what it would be like to watch those blue piercing eyes as she orgasmed while he pounded furiously into her. She crossed her legs and noticed his eyes lingered on the straps around her thighs holding her daggers. The feeling of nervousness passed, and she slowly and deliberately raised her eyes to capture his, her eyes daring him as they sat locked together like this.

Thorin's eyes darkened as he considered her, and she knew what he was thinking. Imagining. She smiled with a brief laugh and dropped her eyes to his hands. He had large, strong hands with a sprinkling of dark hair on his knuckles. She imagined what those hands could do to her, cupping her breasts, stroking the folds between her legs, holding her hips while he thrust into her. Reese bit her bottom lip and cleared her throat, looking away from Thorin to deliver her final blow. She addressed him as she surveyed the room, this time without looking at him, deliberately withholding any further eye contact after the smoldering gaze they had shared, "The decision is yours, Thorin Oakenshield. If you would care to join me, I am staying in room number four."

Reese looked at him suddenly, smiling as her smoldering gaze pierced his. "I do hope that you won't disappoint me." Slowly she stood, leaving her ale on the table and draping her coat on her arm. She was very aware of the feel of her ass as she swayed her hips slightly while Thorin watched her as she walked from the room, nodding at Borgia as she left.