As She Desires
By Shay Savage
Disclaimer: All the Twilight stuff belongs to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended. I'm just blowing around in her sand dunes.
Summary: When I left the arenas and came into her service, I did not realize what she would do with me…and to me. I was only supposed to be there to protect her, but she demanded more. She demanded my body.
A thousand thanks to Raum for helping me with some of the historical details (I think between Sheviking and I, we probably owe you dinner and drinks), Ro for creating a new banner for pretty much every teaser, and of course - my ever present beta, DK, who had her work cut out for her, as always. :)
As She Desires
I will always remember the very first time I saw her.
My eyes focused not on the crowd or the pulvanar, but on the slender gap in the helmet that showed my opponent's eyes. The sun was lower in the sky and the games nearly complete as I walked slowly towards the center of the arena. I stopped near the center and planted my feet in the sand, raised my arms out to my sides, and pointed my swords towards the crowd as they screamed and laughed at me.
"Har-hut! Har-hut! Har-hut!"
The gladiator whose name they screamed stood before me. His helmet had a red plume on the top, and he held his gladius straight out in front of him – directed at my chest. I recognized him as the champion of Alexandria, the city whose theatre held these games to honor some Egyptian god whose name I did not know.
I was surprised to be included and that these games were still allowed to worship the false gods from an empire that no longer existed. Then again, Egypt's lands were new to the Roman Empire, and it was said Augustus had favored their queen, so perhaps they were granted some leniency. I did not question. That was not my place.
My place was here – in the sand.
This would be only my second battle sine missione – without the possibility of reprieve. I would either win here or die, the same way my father before me fought in the games. I wondered if he would be proud of how quickly I had risen through the ranks, and at what an early age I now stood in the arena, prepared to either kill or die. The corners of my mouth turned up slightly at the thought.
His heart would lift to see me here.
Shaking thoughts of my father from my head, I looked towards my opponent. My hands gripped the hilts of my curved Thracian swords, and my sandaled feet repositioned themselves in the blood-soaked sand. I felt the change in the crowd as much as I heard the command given to begin.
With a scream, he came at me. All I knew from years of training at the ludus seemed to fill my mind and body. I stayed calm, poised, and the moment he thrust at me I stepped quickly to the side and sliced him neatly across his shoulders.
He stumbled but did not lose his footing. He turned to me with a feral growl and rushed – screaming and swinging his sword. Again, I dodged and swung my arm, but I missed. We continued to attack and defend around and around the blood stained sands under the grueling heat of the Egyptian sun until his sword managed to graze my chest. The sting of the blade cutting into my skin awakened me, and I went at him with new vengeance.
The next time he came at me, I watched him try to anticipate which way I would cut. I feigned to the left, then spun around to the right instead. He was caught off balance, and the hilt of my left hand sword cracked down onto the top of his helmet. A moment later, I was on top of him, my blade cutting into his chest.
With the screams of the onlookers in my ears, I plunged the blade the rest of the way through him, not stopping until I could feel flesh and bone give way to sand. I brought my other sword to the man's neck and sliced it open.
I cringed as blood spurted from the wound and quickly moved away as his body jerked twice and then lay still. With my chest rising and falling with the excitement and exertion, I raised my swords high above my head and roared into the air. I could hear the crowd beginning to chant my name as I turned towards the dignitaries in the pulvanar.
And my heart felt as though it stopped in my chest.
"Eduardus! Eduardus! Eduardus!"
I didn't even hear them. All other senses left me as my vision was filled with two large, dark-lined eyes as they looked down on me from the raised platform. The owner of the beautiful eyes looked back at me, and her skin held a warm glow from the sun of the region. Her long, straight dark hair framed her face beautifully.
She was young – not yet a woman. This was likely a benefit to all males who came into her presence, for once matured, she would rival every goddess in the sky. Her eyes locked with mine, and my heart began to beat again. Though nearly paralyzed with the vision, I manage to turn my right-hand sword flat and point it directly towards her.
"For you," I said softly.
The man sitting beside the girl reached out and took her hand, leading her to rise from her seat. We remained connected through our eyes as she was led from the pulvanar and into the dim light beyond. As her form was lost within the shadows, my eyes were drawn upwards to the huge, half-circle stone of the Kom Al-Dikka Theater's upper walls and all the citizens who occupied its cavae.
By midday, I would be in the center of the theater again, and either my blood would be spilled on the ground or I would again have the blood of another on my hands.
It was all I knew.
Yesterday, it was a lion.
Today, a young man fighting with trident and net.
I knew I had been to the same theater before, though many of them had become a blur over the years. We had traveled by sea to this one, and it was ridiculously hot in the Egyptian city, even in the shade of the theater's walls.
I heard my name called as the gates opened and the guards handed me my swords. I walked towards the center of the theater, and the sun beat on my head and back. Sweat was already beginning to collect on my neck and run down between my shoulder blades. The fight was brief – not a challenge at all – and the black-haired man condemned to die in the small, Egyptian arena was quickly put to his end by my swords. Had it not been for the heat, I would not have sweat on my brow as I took off my helmet, threw it to the ground, and gestured to the pulvanar.
The crowd screamed for me as I turned in a slow circle with arms stretched out and swords on display for the largely Egyptian crowd. I tilted my head towards the sky and my face towards the sun and let the glory cover me.
Hopefully, the whores in this city would be worth the coin I've won.
I moved in slow circles as I left the theatre. I didn't even remember I was injured until my trainer called for the medicus as I left the sands. My brothers cheered for me, and I roared back at them in victory as medicus tried to capture my arm to stitch my shoulder.
Aulus Vitus, the lanista of the Ludus Praenestinus where I lived and trained, quickened to me with purposeful strides. He had been my master my entire life, and I recognized the agitation in his steps as he neared. Behind him another man walked just as fast – a dark haired Egyptian man I did not recall seeing before.
I moved to my master's side quickly, my swords held down and without threat, though still a display of my master's power. He was obviously angry about something, though I didn't feel like it was being directed towards me. The darkly tanned man with the thick moustache stepped forward and looked me over with a wide grin, barely visible under the thick hair on his lip.
"I accept," he said.
I glanced over to Aulus, and his slow smile combined with darkened eyes gave me reason for alarm. I tightened my grip on my swords, but Aulus motioned for me to sheath them.
"You allow him to keep his weapons outside the arena?" Chaires questioned.
"Eduardus is most trusted of my house," Aulus replied. "As long as he is at my side, he only poses threat to those who would harm his Dominus."
He glanced at me, and I nodded in affirmation as my swords slid into the balteus at my waist.
"Let us retire to more pleasurable venue before we discuss," Aulus said smoothly, but there was still menace in his voice.
"Of course," Chaires said with a nod of his head. He continued to eye the weapons at my side.
"Come," Aulus beckoned me, and I followed them both through the streets and markets until we came upon a grand villa up on the hillside, surrounded by elaborate gardens overlooking the city and the flooded plains of the Nile below. We moved inside of the villa to a large sitting room filled with couches and slaves waving fans to cool the house.
"You know you had no choice in the matter," Chaires said as soon as we entered the area. I paused beside one of the slaves, not sure if I was welcomed to enter the sitting area of not. I had always found it best not to make assumptions. "Your wager on the previous game sealed this transference."
I considered the previous game, knowing another of Aulus's prized gladiators had fallen to a beast of a man from Gaul. I wondered how much my master had wagered on the man, for coin had been short of late. I had heard him discuss it at times with the bookkeeper at the ludus.
"He is already mine," Chaires said quietly, but with force behind the words.
Aulus took a long and deep breath before glancing over his shoulder to me and then back to Chaires.
"Fine," Aulus said. "Take him."
"Dominus?" I said quietly.
Aulus's eyes met mine briefly before he looked back to the other man.
"Eduardus – this is Chaires, the governor of Alexandria." I did not miss the narrowing of the man's eyes at my master. Whatever he considered his title to be, he did not consider that of governor to be flattering. Aulus's smile widened as he continued. "The former advisor to the former Queen of Kings, Cleopatra."
Ah, so that was the game. Now that Rome had conquered the Egyptians, their ruling class had been set up in more minor roles, and this one was nothing more than the governor of a city. How typical. However this was not my concern. His other words were far more devastating.
"And a man of considerable coin," Aulus continued. "He had not seen the games since we last visited Alexandria – do you recall? It was when you were new to the arena, and you must have impressed him even then."
"I recall, Dominus." Yes, I remembered. I remembered the men who were slaughtered there just like I remembered the men who were slaughtered in all of the games. Now that it had been mentioned, I remembered looking up to see the man who stood before me now sitting in the pulvanar, and the dark-eyed girl who was beside him.
I looked to Aulus.
"I'm to be sold?"
"You were lost," Chaires said with a cold laugh.
"Ownership is already transferred," Aulus said with further darkening eyes.
My chest tightened and I found it difficult to swallow. Ownership transferred? How could that be? I had always been the most trusted and loyal of Aulus's gladiators, and I had always served him flawlessly. Why would he now forget that station and sell me to this unknown Egyptian?
The governor's voice brought me from my thoughts, though my eyes could only find Aulus's.
"I remember you well," Chaires said. He was seemingly unaware of the look between my former master and myself. "You were barely a man then, but look at you now – a legend!"
"I fight only to serve the glory of Rome," I replied automatically. I finally shifted my gaze to Chaires and tried to see him as my master, but it was not without difficulty. I had only known one owner throughout my life, and my mind raced with the implications.
"You fight where you are told to fight…and for what," Aulus said as his eyes bore into me. I didn't understand his reaction, but then again – I understood none of this. I had obviously angered him, hence the reason I was being sold, but how and why?
Lost, I realized, not bought.
"Dominus," I answered affirmatively. There were scars on my back that taught me long ago to never argue with your master.
Aulus looked to Chaires and then back to me.
"No longer," he said succinctly. "Chaires is your master now."
My heart wanted to be told it was all a mistake – a jest – or that I had possibly just misunderstood. I looked to Aulus with questions in my eyes, if not on my tongue, but he only nodded towards me.
"You will remain in Alexandria," Aulus confirmed. "I return to Rome tomorrow."
I felt panic rise up inside of me the likes of which I had not felt since I watched the sword that brought down my father pierce through his chest and exit his back. It was all so surreal. I wasn't going back to Rome. I was going to stay in Egypt.
I had been sold.
No, not sold. I remembered what Chaires had said. I had been wagered. Wagered and lost.
"I am Rome's champion," I said, pointlessly and without thought. I was rewarded with Aulus fist striking my chin.
"You are a slave!" he shouted at me. "Nothing more than the son of a slave and the whore of the house! You do what you are told without question! Do you understand me, slave?"
My tongue slipped out and tasted blood on my lip. I dropped my gaze in submission.
"Yes, Domin…" I looked from one man to the other, wondering what I should now call the man who has been known as master my entire life. Not wanting to anger either of them further, I nodded again. "As you desire."
I turned towards Chaires.
"Dominus," I addressed him, "I am yours to command."
Without another word of pleasantry or farewell, Aulus turned on his heel and walked from the chamber. I tried not to focus on his leaving or how it dug into my gut and made me feel ill. I had never known any life outside his ludus.
My eyes turned slowly to the man who now owned me, but for what purpose I did not yet know. The games in Alexandria were few and far between. Did he mean to build a ludus here? Would he make the fights more common?
Chaires stepped over to a table elaborately decorated with food and drink.
"I shall explain my purpose," Chaires said as he poured wine from a decanter. "I have obtained you for a very specific reason."
He sat heavily on a large couch and leaned forward with his arms resting on his legs.
"I have a daughter," he said, "Isa. She is the most precious thing to ever grace the Nile. Despite the Roman influence over my lands, I will still have her mastaba prepared before she goes to the afterlife."
I did not know the word he used, but I had to assume he meant some sort of tomb. I had heard of the Egyptian pyramids and wondered if this was what he meant.
"There is someone, though, who would see her wrapped in linens before the Gods call her."
Our eyes met as I took in his meaning. She was being threatened.
"I had heard rumors that she was a target," Chaires said as he stood again, "and I thought maybe someone from the south, but now I am not so sure. Someone seeks to harm me through her, but I know not who it is. I received a letter – a direct threat on her life."
He held a rolled scroll of papyrus out to me.
"Can you read?"
"No, Dominus," I admitted.
"No matter," he sighed and put the papyrus on the table beside him. "The fact remains, she knows nothing of these threats – I would not want to worry her so – but she must be protected at all times. Her guards are adequate at best, but I fear they are too predictable and may not be enough."
The governor looked at me, and there was a hint of desperation in his eyes. This was obviously no idle threat. Whoever wanted to harm her was serious, or at least Chaires believed it to be so.
"You will remain with her all her walking hours," he commanded. "There is room for you in the slave quarters outside of the villa for when she sleeps. There are always two guards posted outside her bedchambers. You may rest when she does, but otherwise you will be with her."
"Yes, Dominus," I said with a slight nod of my head.
He stood and walked up close to me, his eyes narrowed and menacing.
"If she is threatened…" His voice trailed off, but he did not need to say any more. I could hear the pain in his voice at the very thought of harm coming to his daughter, and I felt respect for the man. She obviously meant a great deal to him, and it was now my duty to make sure she was kept safe and he was at peace.
I turned my look upon him.
"Anyone who tries to harm her will die," I promised him. "I will protect her with my life."
He evaluated my face as I stood there, unblinking. His hand reached up and grasped me by the chin as he turned my head up a little to look me over. I cleared my mind, allowing no reaction to be shown outside.
"Why?" he quipped.
I kept my eyes trained to his.
"If she is to be my Domina," I replied, "then I am her gladiator. I have never been bested in the arena, and I will not be bested outside of it. I would not bring shame upon your house or my name by allowing harm to come to her."
Chaires continued to stare at my eyes, and I returned his gaze without motion. His fingers gripped my face a little tighter, the pad of his thumb rubbing against the light beard I had acquired since I had last been in the ludus.
"Is it true, the stories they tell about you in the games?"
"I have not heard, Dominus."
"That you have bested a dozen trained men at a time?"
His dark eyes narrowed at me in contemplation for a moment, and I returned the gaze. I could see the worry there – the desperation clear and palpable.
"You swear to this?" His voice was no more than a raspy whisper.
Finally he nodded and stepped away from me and towards one of the slaves beside him.
The lad rushed out without a word, and but a few minutes later he returned, followed by four female attendants and two armed guards surrounding a young woman. Though not tall, she carried herself in such a way as to make her appear greater than her stature would indicate. A long golden dress wrapped around her neck and cascaded over her sun-darkened skin, which was smooth and perfect. Her wrists and ankles were wrapped in solid gold bands that sparkled in the sunlight. As she turned towards us, her head lifted and she raised her chin slightly.
I knew her eyes as soon as they met mine.
She was, without a doubt, no longer a child.
In a moment, I relived that day in the Kom Al-Dikka Theater – my victory present in the blood covering my hands and swords – as I looked up to the pulvanar and looked into those exact same eyes.
"This is my daughter," he said as he took her delicate hand in his own and brought her around to his front. "Isa, this is Eduardus – your protector."
Her eyes were lined with deep black markings all around and a blue tinge over the lids, making them appear larger than they undoubtedly were, and the effect was staggering. As soon as she looked to me, I was lost in their depths as much as I had been in the arena those years before. Her mouth was full, and her lips slightly parted as she looked me over.
Her voice brought me back to the present, and I realized I had stopped breathing. I tried to rectify the situation without an audible gasp and managed to just barely succeed.
"I worry for your safety," Chaires said. "Eduardus is a master gladiator – you saw him yourself years ago when the gladiator fights were brought to the theater in Alexandria. Do you remember?"
"I do," Isa said. She did not halt her gaze, so I dropped my eyes to the floor at her feet in deference. "He won the game."
"Yes, he did," Chaires said with a nod. "He has won every game since then, too. Eduardus is undefeated in Rome. That's why he is here now. Nothing but the best for my Isa."
"I hardly need a babysitter, father," she huffed, obviously angry.
"He is for your protection," her father replied.
"He is for your peace of mind," she corrected him with narrowed eyes. "I do not need protecting."
"You need and will do as I say!" he shouted at her.
She didn't even flinch as she crossed her arms over her chest and glared first at him, and then at me. Without another word, she turned on her heel and began to walk out of the villa.
"She is a stubborn one," Chaires chuckled and shook his head. "You best hurry to keep up with her. Do not let her out of your sight – not even for a moment. She travels mostly by lectica but will head off on foot as well. She is quite unpredictable."
A little baffled, I looked quickly from the governor to the back of his rapidly exiting daughter.
"Now, Dominus?" I questioned.
"Now!" he shouted, and I was off without another word.
Catching up with Isa and her entourage wasn't difficult. Just outside the villa she was tapping her sandaled toe and yelling at four boys with shaved heads who were clad in loin cloths. They were bringing a long, flat wooden platform around the corner and laying it at her feet. There was a framework built over it that allowed for linens to be draped around the frame to keep the sun off of the person who sat inside.
Two of the female attendants pulled aside the cloth, and Isa entered the litter, which I realized must be the lectica Chaires mentioned. I caught up to the side of the litter just as she grabbed for the cloth and closed up the compartment. The gold bands around her wrists caught the sun and my attention, and I noticed her arm was completely bare – there was no hair on it at all!
I wondered what it would feel like to…
The four lads stood together fluidly and hoisted Isa into the air. The whole group then began to track down the pathway back towards the market area, with the two guards in front and the four female attendants trailing slightly behind – walking two by two on either side of the lectica.
Lacking any real direction, I took it upon myself to keep pace while standing just to the side of the litter, which put me close to Isa but not putting myself in the way of the slave boys who carried her, so there wasn't any chance of them running me over. The boys kept good pace, and it was not long before we entered a busy market area, which was filled with other nobles in litters similar to Isa's as well as many others on foot.
Most nobles were attended by one or more slaves, and I noticed right away that the number of slaves seemed to be in direct correlation to the amount of jewelry worn by the women and the size of the men's hats.
If they could be called hats.
Some were as much like turbans as anything else, but others looked more like a tent was sitting on the men's heads. Many of the women wore hats as well, some even more ridiculous, and all of them seeming to have the sole purpose of making the wearer appear taller.
Once we reached the edge of the market tent, Isa slipped from the lectica and began perusing the wares of the shopkeepers. She moved so fast, I could scarcely keep up with her at first, though once I determined the pace of her erratic haste it became easier. My primary concern was the sheer number of people and how close she would get to them, which caused me immediate alarm. When a man came up behind her and pushed against her arm to see the items on the shopkeeper's table, I stepped between then, shoving him from her side and placing my hands on my swords.
"My, my," she chuckled, "we do take our role seriously, don't we?"
The man began to yell at her in a language I did not understand. Isa took a step forward and yelled back at him in the same tongue. I did not need to know the words to hear the bite in her tone. Not caring what words were exchanged, I again put myself between them.
"Are you going to overreact at every idiot on the street?" Isa said with a harsh laugh. "I have heard how they value their bloodied entertainment in Rome, but I do not care for such things, nor do I see worth of them! I do not need your brutish ways surrounding me, and I could not care less about how many contests you've supposedly won. I have my doubts about all those fights, anyway. Father says gladiators let themselves lose in order to win coin for their masters."
"Occasionally," I admitted as the man in front of me continued to yell and fling his hands around. I took a half step forward and raised my hand slightly to bring my sword from sheath. He quickly thought better of continuing the argument and turned on his heel to leave.
I looked over my shoulder at her as the man walked away, still yelling.
"I have never done that."
"Oh yes," she sneered, "I'm sure you are better than all the rest!"
My eyes narrowed slightly as I tried to understand the tone of her voice and her words. Was she insinuating that I was not a true gladiator, or that I would be unable to protect her now? Did she not understand why her father wanted me to watch over her and not someone else?
"I am here to protect you, Domina," I reminded her as I looked into her eyes. Again they captivated me, and I was almost unable to turn away.
That is, until I felt the sting of her palm against my face.
"Do not you dare look me in the eye!" she screeched at me. "I don't know what you are accustomed to with the Romans, but here you do not look in my eyes!"
I turned quickly, dropping my gaze to the ground at her feet and bowing my head.
"Apologies, Domina," I said quietly. "It was not my intent to-"
"I care not for your intent!" she snarled. "I don't care if you are Roman, you are a slave and you will keep your eyes on the ground where they belong!"
"Yes, Domina." Though tempted to point out that I must be able to look around in order to watch for danger, I spoke not a word of my internal thoughts. I pulled them inside of myself. I would just have to be better at watching with my head tilted down.
I did have to follow her instructions just as her father demanded. I could do both. I would have to do both. I would not fail in my task – that would not be acceptable.
Before I was any further lost in thought, Isa hurried down a corridor between two large tents and I had to catch up. The tents served as cover for the shopkeepers, but her destination did not seem to be shops, but a large, long structure make of wood and stone.
"Domina…where are we going?"
"To the senet house," she replied with a shrug of her smooth shoulders. Again, I found myself wanting to touch her skin. As far as I could see – and there was much on display – she had no hair on her body.
I could not help but wonder…
"Have you not played?"
"No, Domina," I answered. "There is only one game I know."
"Only one?" she asked, her voice dropping low. "What a pity."
It was clear the moment we entered the place that the senet house was more of a place to drown in the drink of Egypt than it was a place to play the strange game that looked like nothing more than an elaborate box with rows of squares on the top. The players moved the small, ceramic pieces up and down the board, yelled and laughed at various intervals, and poured drink down each other's throats.
It made no sense to me at all.
Isa did not actually play the game but walked immediately to the very back of the senet house where a man dipped the fermented drink from a large barrel. Whatever it was, it was not wine and it smelled absolutely foul. As soon as she reached the man, she began to look around, standing up on her toes to see over others.
I had to dodge the cats running around on the floor to keep up with her.
"Domina!" I called out as I reached her side.
She turned to me and glared.
"This place…" I looked around as I took a step closer to her. So many people so close together made me even more nervous than the marketplace. "It is difficult to protect you here."
"That problem lies on your shoulders," she smirked as she walked quickly back into the crowd.
I followed immediately, desperately trying to weed my way through the human and feline bodies as fast as she did, but she did not make it any easier on me. She did, however, seem to be heading straight back out the way we came.
I took a deep, calming breath as I found myself back at the side of the lectica and watched Isa climb back in without a word. The slave boys picked her back up, and we continued to the market.
It was a wildly busy place, much like the markets in Rome. Though the sellers and shoppers were similar, their wares were not. The jewelry was strangely designed, and everyone seemed most interested in the most absurd headwear I had ever seen. Isa picked out one that stood a full arm's length tall and was blue and striped. She yelled at the merchant when he told her the price, which was not in denarii, so I had no idea what the true value was when she finally negotiated an acceptable price.
I stayed quiet and close to her side, though I tried also to not be in the way. However, I did not go unnoticed, though when questioned Isa ignored whoever asked, whether it was a merchant or another shopper, until she spotted two other women similar in age to herself. Her hand rose into the air, and she called out to them.
"Ranpu! Alika!" Isa exclaimed as she smiled and reached out from her lectica towards the two women as they approached. As two of her other slaves moved to take her hands, I maneuvered myself quickly to her side to stand between her and the approaching unknown people.
"Get out of the way!" she snapped at me.
I glanced to the side and nodded my head towards her.
"Domina." I placed my hands on my swords and took a step back, but I made sure I was still quite close to her.
"Isa!" the two women called in unison as they approached and clasped each other's upper arms. One was small and dark while the other quite tall, with hair the color of dried wheat. Both wore insane hats. They continued to exchange pleasantries until one of them looked over Isa's shoulder and noticed me.
"Is this…some sort of new guard?" the woman asked.
Isa sighed dramatically.
"Father," she said with a dismissive wave of her hand.
"What is he wearing?" the other asked with distaste in her voice.
"I haven't the slightest idea," Isa replied. "Nor do I care. Since when does the fashion sense of a slave cause you concern, Alika?"
The black-haired woman with a hat that was nearly a tall as she was narrowed her eyes at Isa.
"I was merely curious. He wears swords openly?"
Another dramatic sigh came out between Isa's lips.
"He's a Roman gladiator, if you really must know."
Both women gasped and placed their hands over their chests. I kept my eyes tilted down, but I watched their hands closely. I did not know them or their relationship with the governor's daughter, nor did I care. I would protect her from anyone.
The small one stepped forward, around Isa, and closer to me.
"Can I touch him?"Alika asked.
"Of course!" Isa answered. "Do whatever you like to him. Father insisted I needed further protection, which is ridiculous, and seems to think some Roman entertainer is the answer."
I glanced at Isa as she tilted her eyes to the heavens and laughed dismissively. I tried not to feel insulted at her admonishment, but I did straighten my shoulders a little more as Alika approached. She reached out with her hand and placed it against my chest for a moment before she let it slide down my body. The other woman smirked as she also moved in front of me.
I stood as still as I could as the young woman walked slowly around me and her friend moved closer. I felt the edge of her finger trace over my shoulder and down across my triceps. Her other hand ran down the length of my spine, over the scarred skin of my back, and stopped just at the top of the balteus around my waist. The other woman's hand found interest in the outlines of the muscles of my abdomen, as well as the long scar that ran across them.
I could feel myself growing numb as the graze of their fingers lay across my skin – dropping lower to touch the back of my thighs before raising high enough to run over my ass as well. The feeling induced by their stares and touch was as familiar as that of steel in my hands and the taste of blood in my mouth. At first there was the slow curling of my gut back inside of myself, like a scutum shield to cover my mind and soul, and then the warmth of pride covered my skin as my cock refused to give purpose to their touch.
"He is a glorious specimen," Alika said with a giggle. "Is he Roman?"
"I have not inquired," Isa replied. "Though he is from Rome. Their slaves come from all over the empire, so he could be from any land."
"Where are you from, gladiator?" Alika asked.
"I was born in Praeneste, near Rome," I replied.
"So you are a Roman?" Isa asked. "How did you become a slave?"
"A misunderstanding, Domina," I said quietly. "I was born in Praeneste, but I am the son of a gladiator and one of the slaves from the lanista's house."
Her gaze lingered a while on my face.
"From where did your father hail?" Isa asked.
"A Thracian!" the one Isa called Ranpu exclaimed. "I have heard of that place. It is filled with savage beasts. No wonder they can only be tamed in such violent ways."
"Have you seen him fight, Isa?"
"I have," she said. Her tone held boast, and I could not help but glance over at her, despite her warnings to keep my eyes lowered. Had she not just told me how useless she believed my skill and training to be?
"And what is this?" Alika asked. I felt her hand on the top part of my arm – right below my shoulder. Her fingers ran over the mark I bore there. "A tattoo?"
"The mark of the dimachaeri," I informed her. "It is to represent two swords crossed – the style of fighting I favor in the arena."
"And did you kill your opponents?" Ranpu asked.
Alika squealed and clapped her hands.
"I saw the games in the morning at the theatre!" she announced. "You were the one I saw, were you not?"
When I received no cue from Isa, I nodded slightly.
"I cannot take any more of this gladiator talk," Isa sighed again as she retreated to the lectica.
I could have sighed in relief myself.
"Senet tomorrow?" Ranpu asked. "You could bring the brutish Roman bodyguard with you!"
"Possibly," my Domina replied with a little smile on her lips that did not reach her eyes. "If I have not had him killed yet."
She did not have me killed that day.
The heat on the road from the desert's edge to Alexandria was even more oppressive than that of Rome in the summer, even when I had been forced to do battle at midday. I wished I had a better idea of how long the journey would take between the site where Isa's mastaba tomb was being constructed and the city, but we had taken a more roundabout way to get there, and I knew nothing of the geography of Egypt.
We had spent three days in the heat, and I was starting to wonder if it would drive me mad. How did the Egyptians stand it? It would have been easy to lose myself in thought as we walked, but I placed my thoughts within the moment – my charge encased within a covered lectica.
Though I had been with her for several weeks now, she barely spoke more than a handful of words at me, and those typically harsh in nature. It became quite clear early on that she enjoyed giving me cause for alarm and would often try to disappear in the marketplace in order to spur my ire. I tried not to pay any attention, but keeping track of this young woman was not an easy task. I had to make sure I never let her out of my sight. Fortunately, looking upon her was easier and easier each day.
By Juno's cunt, she was a beautiful woman.
Isa was kept from the sun within the confines of the structure as it was carried by her four slaves down the dirt road. I trailed slightly behind, her father's guard in front. It was a small group, and we moved at good pace despite the heat. Though the sun had tanned me in recent weeks, the darker complexion of those around me gave them more protection than my own skin, and I found myself wondering if I would do as well against men here in this climate as I had in Rome.
It was not long before I was to discover the answer.
As the sun reached the zenith, and the trail of sweat trickling from my neck and down my back continued to annoy me, the hazy vision of a cart drawn by two camels appeared on the horizon. I looked to the guards at the front of our company, but their stride did not falter, so I believed the travelers approaching us to be at least commonplace if not known to them.
Still, as they moved to pass us, I quickened my steps and closed the distance between myself and Isa. I found it odd that a cart which was drawn by camels had riders on the same mounts as well. Be it instinct, premonition, or just dumb luck – I was where I needed to be.
My eyes moved to the side as the cart passed on my left, and the slave who carried the back end of Isa's litter walked at my right. The motion of the dark-skinned man atop the camel was subtle, but the sound of steel sliding from leather sheath was well known to me.
My swords were drawn as the man made his first swing towards my skull. At the same time, six more jumped from the cart drawn by the camels and went to the guard. As I blocked the blow from above, one of the four slaves carrying Isa was gutted and fell to the ground, the lectica with him. I heard Isa's scream as the other slaves, unbalanced by the loss of their brother, tried to steady her and failed at the task. The litter crashed to the side, broken and torn, as the guards finally found their cocks and took up arms.
They did not last long.
Taken by surprise, the guards did not fare at all well against their adversaries. Within but a few swings of dagger and gladius, they fell to the sand. I stayed my ground to face the two men mounted on the camels – the ones closest to Isa. Their position gave them advantage, but the unpredictable beasts led to their downfall. Though his face was covered, I could see the first man's dark eyes as he came at me, swinging a large wooden club down at my head.
I ducked, spun to avoid his weapon, and slipped between the camels, grabbing the reins at the side of the tall animal's neck. With a strong yank, I pulled it towards the other beast as I stabbed at the first one's flank.
It screamed, bucked, and then fell – taking it's rider with it. As it fell, both animals' legs tangled with each other's, and men along with beasts met sand. As they landed on the ground, my swords found both of their backs.
With a snarl, I turned and quickly moved back next to the toppled lectica. I could see Isa struggling to remove herself from the wrappings of the linens that had dropped upon her. Her immediate predicament was not my concern, though – but rather those who approached her. The one in front swung low and quick, slicing through the remaining slaves as they surrounded the wreckage of the litter. A moment later, I was in their path with teeth bared, though the slaves would not survive. I stood before the attackers with my feet planted firmly in the blood-covered sand.
I could almost hear the cheering of the crowds.
The four guards who had traveled at the front of our party all lay dead on the ground, while only one of the six who had attacked them suffered the same fate. I faced the five left with my arms outstretched as they spread out to surround me. My eyes remained fixed on the one directly in front of me, but my attention was more in my peripheral vision – watching the tensing of muscle in arms and legs as they decided how to attack, when and where.
The two on the left came at me first with swords swinging high and low at the same time. I jumped backwards and parried – careful not to entwine my legs in the broken lectica or bodies on the ground. I could hear Isa screaming behind me – she had dislodged herself from the linens that had covered her and could now watch the fight – but since all our enemies were in front of me, I ignored her. The task of keeping myself between the attackers and my charge was not an easy one – I had little room to maneuver.
I would have to eliminate some of them and gain a better position.
I examined each of them closely as they jumped in at me and then jumped away as I thrust back. With a quick move to my right, I went for the one with the unsteady grip on the hilt of his sword. As I swung for his head, my foot kicked at his wrist and the weapon went flying through the air. A moment later, one of the others was at my back. I spun around and spread my arms wide, slicing each of the two men across their bellies.
They fell, screaming in agony, and I turned to the other three.
One rushed me, trying to catch me off balance, but I stepped to the side and aimed high. My blade cut deep into his shoulder and neck, and I was splattered with his blood. With only two left, and I was confident – despite Isa's continued screams from behind me – that I would be victorious and she would be safe. The men looked at each other a moment, and then spread out to try and flank me. I took a step backwards, but knew I could not retreat further or Isa would be in the middle of the battle.
Confidence or no, I would not risk any injury to her.
The thought likely made me too cautious.
One of the two left was much taller and broader than the other, with deep black hair and several days' of scruff upon his face and neck. The other was smaller, thin, and snake-like. He crouched as he moved forward, stabbing towards my legs with a small, jagged knife. The big one stepped forward with purpose, a scimitar in his grasp.
The clash of steel rang out around us as we tangled together. It was difficult to keep my sights on the smaller man – who kept trying to get around me and towards Isa – while dealing with the deadly scimitar. Unlike the others, this man with the long, curved sword had training.
My arm was nicked as I jumped out of the way long enough to kick at the smaller man's chest – sending him wide and away from Isa long enough to deal with the big man. I had no more time, and I threw myself at the brute of a man in front of me, trying to push him off balance as I swung low. Blood spurted from a deep cut in his leg, and he threw me to the ground as he screamed.
The other moved towards Isa with a dagger in his hand.
The scimitar rose high above his head and he prepared to cleave me, but I was faster and buried my sword in his gut. I twisted it inside of him as I pushed to one side and rolled with him as he fell to the ground.
Rushing over the bloodied body, I dove towards the reptilian man who dared to move towards Isa with only one of my weapons still in hand. I grabbed for his arm first, pulling his blade away from her proximity and dragging him backwards. His feet caught on the wooden part of the broken lectica, and he fell – taking me with him. His elbow caught my throat, and my other sword fell from my grasp.
We rolled together, fists pounding on chest and face. He struck a good blow to my lip, but when he carried through, he was put off balance and I rolled on top of him.
Though my swords were out of reach, I did not need a weapon of steel for this man. My forearm crushed against his throat, and I felt the life begin to leave him as I leaned over him and spit blood from my mouth into his face. With a final, futile attempt, the man kicked my gut and knocked the wind from me. As my chest seized, he stabbed towards me with his little dagger. I turned to the left but was still sliced down the side.
The pain brought back my wind and my rage. With a scream, I grabbed at the sword on the ground and plunged it up underneath his jaw and through his skull. I stood and brought his body up with me – caught on the end of my sword. His warm blood still ran up my arm as I pulled sword from bone.
With my chest heaving, I looked at the bodies surrounding me and realized the sands were not surrounded by rows of cheering Roman citizens but were only surrounded by more sand. Turning quickly around I faced Isa, who still sat on the crushed remains of her lectica.
Her eyes were wide and staring, and she had both arms wrapped tightly around her shoulders. Breath came quickly from her partially opened mouth. I moved fast to her side and dropped to one knee.
"Domina – are you hurt?"
I received no response – just her blank stare.
"Domina!" I spoke a little louder, and her eyes drifted slowly to mine. "Are you injured?"
"They were everywhere," she whispered as she looked around at the bodies littering the sand. Her fingers gripped her upper arms as a shiver ran through her body. "What happened to them?"
"They are dead, Domina," I told her.
"Oh…" she said with a little nod. "Good…good."
"Domina?" I wanted to reach out and take her arm, but touching her was strictly forbidden, unless for the sake of her safety. I spoke loudly and succinctly instead. "Have you been hurt?"
"Hurt?" Her eyes narrowed at me, and I was relieved to see the ire return to them. "Of course I'm hurt! Did you not see the entire fucking lectica fall apart, with me in it?"
I had to stop myself from smiling. At least I knew she was fine. I offered my hand to help her rise to her feet, but she pushed it away and stood on her own. She looked around again, and this time her eyes focused on her trusted slaves and attendants – all dead.
I looked down the road and could see nothing but the desert sand.
"How far is it back to Alexandria?" I asked.
"I haven't the slightest idea!" Isa snapped. "What difference does it make without transport?"
She held up the end of a broken decanter.
"And we have no water!" she added.
I took a long breath and looked down the dirt road, which disappeared at the horizon. The sun covered the dry, shifting sands, and the wind from the northwest to the southeast blew grains across our path from both directions in tiny whirlwinds.
There was only one option.
"We are going to die out here!" Isa screeched at me.
I sighed and walked up to her, dropped my eyes in deference, and crouched slightly as I held out my hands.
"Domina, if you will permit me…" I let my voice trail off.
"Permit you? Permit you to do what, by the gods?"
I resisted the urge to sigh yet again. My side ached, and I needed to start moving before it seized up and made it more painful to walk with burden.
"Carry you," I replied.
"You are going to carry my lectica on your own?" she scoffed.
I looked over to the side of the road where the broken contraption lay in a pile.
"I don't believe it is still of proper condition to bear you safely," I told her. "Besides, it is not balanced for one person to carry it. I would fear you might fall."
"The cart then?"
"Impossible." I gestured towards the camels, which needed to be put out of their misery. They would not carry burden again.
"Whatever are you suggesting then?" Her voice carried all the venom I knew and expected of a Roman woman.
"I would carry you," I said with clarity, "in my arms."
She let out a short, humorless laugh.
"All the way to Alexandria?"
"You are injured." She nodded towards my left side.
"It is nothing," I informed her.
"You are a madman."
"Perhaps," I replied. "But there seems little choice in the matter."
"I will roast in the sun," she insisted.
"Would your fate be different if we stand here by the side of the road?"
She crossed her arms in defiance. I took a slow breath, trying to calm myself and purge the remaining adrenaline from my system. My task was to protect the obstinate girl in front of me, and the only way to do that was to get her out of here and safely back to her villa.
I looked up from my kneeling position and met her eyes for the very briefest of moments before dropping them to her feet again.
"Please, Domina," I said quietly. "I fear there will be others coming as well. Please allow me to carry you to safety."
I did not look up again but held my arms out farther and waited.
"Fine," she finally said. She looked away from me and crossed her arms over her breasts.
She did not move, so after a minute I decided to just seize opportunity, rise, and take the step forward needed to reach her. I slipped my arms behind her shoulders and around the back sides of her knees, stood, and adjusted position until she was comfortably placed in my arms. Once I had her secure, I slowly dropped to one knee next to the broken lectica.
"Use the covering to shield yourself from the sun," I instructed.
Isa glanced at me, reached one arm around my neck for support as she leaned over, and grabbed the top covering of the litter. As I stood again, Isa covered up her feet, legs, and torso with the lightweight cloth. With one arm still around my neck, she used the other to pull the cloth nearly to her neck, but did not cover her face. Once she seemed settled, I began to walk down the road.
I tried not to move my hands much as they held her both on her thigh and her shoulder. She wasn't heavy. In fact, if it had not been for the injury to my side I could have considered carrying her for a full day without much need of rest. I had done as much while training at the ludus. How many times had we been forced to march for days carrying stones just to build our endurance? She weighed far less.
Of course, the sun in Egypt seemed much, much closer than it did farther north.
"No man has ever touched me in such a way," Isa suddenly confided.
"Apologies, Domina," I said, wondering if she was angry with me. As if there was choice. "I did not mean offense."
She did not reply, so we continued to walk in silence for some time. At least when walking with the group, others would speak or change the rhythm of their steps in order to break up one's vision. With just my own, steady footsteps to hear and the unchanging horizon, my head was beginning to pound from the monotony.
I felt as though I could fall asleep along the road, even if my feet continued along their course and my eyes remained open.
"They were going to kill me," Isa said without warning.
My eyes moved to her briefly before looking back to the road. I chose to nod instead of answering outright.
"My guards were not enough."
"They were not, Domina."
"How did you triumph when they failed?"
This time I let my gaze linger on hers for a long moment before answering.
"I am a gladiator," I responded simply.
"But there were so many of them," she whispered, and I felt her hands clutch at my shoulders.
"I have trained to fight all of my life," I told her. "I have often been outnumbered, but never out skilled."
Her head turned and her eyes sought out mine. She looked from one to the other for a moment, and I could have sworn I felt my flesh heat even more than the midday sun on the dunes was capable of doing.
"What did you say this means?" Isa asked, and I felt her fingers run over the top of my arm and the mark there.
"The sign of a dimachaerus," I told her. "A gladiator who fights with two swords."
"And you trained for this in a ludus?"
"The ludus where you were born?"
"Your father, did he fight with two swords as well?"
"No, Domina," I said. "My father was Thracian and fought in the Thracian style. He used the same type of sword as I do – with a curved blade – but he carried but one sword and a parmula."
"A small, round shield."
"And does he still fight in the arena in Rome?"
I paused and swallowed before answering.
"No," I replied, "he does not. He met his death in the Circus Maximus many years ago."
Her eyes studied me again.
"And your mother?" she asked softly.
"I do not know," I said. "She was sold when I was still very young. I don't really remember her."
"So you grew up with all those gladiators around you, and no mother?"
I had to smile at her apparent shock at such a revelation.
"When my mother was sold, my father begged the lanista to allow him to raise me in the barracks with the gladiators. It was permitted, since he was a champion of Rome. I served the recruits until I was old enough to begin my training and become a gladiator myself."
"How old were you then?"
"Still young," I replied. "Not yet a man."
She seemed to consider this for a few minutes as I walked in silence.
"My mother died when I was still a girl," she finally said. "She contracted malaria, and the apothecary's herbs were not fresh enough to cure her. She became mad with fever before she died."
I didn't know how to respond, so I remained silent.
"It is hard to be without a mother," she continued. "My father has tried to take the place of both parents since her death, but he fails miserably."
"He cares for you a great deal," I remarked. "Not everyone has a champion as their…what did you call me? A babysitter?"
I gave her a half smile, hoping to lighten her mood. She returned it in kind, and then her gaze dropped to her hand, which gripped my shoulder.
"Apologies," she said softly.
I could not have held in my surprise at her words, and felt my grip on her tighten minutely. Her eyes turned back to mine.
"I labeled you without knowledge," she said, "and still you used your skills to save my life."
"It is my duty," I replied simply.
"And you were hurt during it," she reminded me, as if the pain running down my side wasn't reminder enough.
"I am fine."
"You are bleeding."
I shook my head slightly.
"It bleeds no more," I said. It had sealed itself, though with walking it was likely to open up again. Back at the ludus, the medicus would have used stitches to hold the skin together so it could heal. "A scratch only."
Isa looked at my face for a moment. I wondered if she was looking to see pain in my eyes, and I had to smile. The pain in my side was nothing. I had endured far worse.
"Gratitude," Isa said quietly before she pulled the light colored linen over her face to shield herself from the sun. She lay the side of her face against my shoulder, and before long her eyes closed, and I took a long, deep, breath. I hoped her lack of questions would aid the pain that was growing in my head – one far more demanding than that on my side. It was not long before I knew the sun was far more responsible for it than her inquiries.
I had no idea how long I had walked when I crested one of the seemingly endless dunes to see the outlying farms of Alexandria and the smaller monuments near the edge of the city. Large stone shapes reaching up into the evening sky with torches blazing on top of them as if to light the remaining way to Isa's villa. Relief washed over me, even though the sight only made it clear how far I still had to take her.
I knew my arms were beyond ache, and my legs carried us forward more out of habit than any actual remaining strength. I tried to adjust Isa's form in my arms, but it only made it more obvious where the aches were located. I was sure the sand that had found its way into my sandals was cutting at my flesh by now, though the pain in my feet was little compared to the thirst I felt.
I was glad Isa still slept, for if she did awaken, she would likely start complaining about the lack of water as opposed to the closeness of the city. I could at least make it now – water or not. Before seeing the city I was not so sure.
My vision blurred and I felt dizziness in my pounding head.
From the direction of the city, I could see several men approaching us on camels, and thoughts of those who attacked us hours ago filled my head. I swallowed and looked down to Isa's sleeping face, partially concealed beneath the white linen.
I would have to wake her up to protect her.
I stopped and looked from left to right – hoping to find a more defensible position – but there was nothing around to aid me but more sand. I turned to one side – the men were approaching too quickly, and I wondered if the sun and the haze were playing tricks on my eyes. They had seemed much farther away only a moment ago.
"Domina," I said softly. She stirred from her sleep as I lowered her back to the ground. "Stay behind me."
"Eduardus?" she mumbled as she tried to right herself in the soft sand. I used one hand to steady her as I looked over my shoulder at those approaching. My free hand gripped the hilt of my sword, and I started to pull it out when Isa's fingers lay atop mine. "It is only the city guard."
I turned back to her, and my head swam as if I had taken a blow to the temple. I closed my eyes for a moment and tried to focus first on her face, and then on the quickly approaching men. They did appear to be wearing the garb of the city's prefects.
"You trust them?" I asked, but my words sounded strange in my ears.
"Eduardus," I heard my Domina say, and I realized she had called me by my name, which was not her norm. "They are trusted guard, put your swords away."
I had not realized I had drawn them.
I glanced sideways at her and met her eyes, dark and deep enough to fall inside and never even attempt to drag myself back up. Her mouth was moving, and sounds came out, though I could not quiet seem to comprehend the meaning.
I tensed as hands touched me, and my first reaction was to fight them off. Isa needed me. She wasn't safe.
"Eduardus!" she called out to me, and I fought harder. My arms were held tight and spread wide, my opportunity for the use of leverage removed from me. She called to me again, and I felt her warm hand on my cheek. "Calm, Eduardus."
"Protect…you…" My throat was too dry, I could not speak.
"He needs water and shade," I heard Isa command, "as well as the apothecary."
Her soft fingers on my rough cheek felt as if they came from the gods themselves, and I closed my eyes to relish the feeling of them.
Sun-sickness, they called it.
My wound was tended immediately – it wasn't deep – but it was only after several hours in the shade and cool baths through the night that I could be returned to some semblance of myself again. Chaires was infuriated about the attack on the road and spent at least the first hour after I had recovered alternating between screaming about the attack and offering me his gratitude for his daughter's safe return.
"May I return to her service?" I asked.
"Of course, of course," Chaires replied. "She has asked for as much. She looks so tired, and I am afraid she did not sleep well. She has already retired for the night, but you will return to her at first light."
"I shall be heading out immediately with the prefects to examine the scene left behind and determine the origin of these attackers."
I was escorted to the slaves' quarters outside of the villa by two guards who removed my swords from me as I entered the small shack of a building. Though I had grown up with the stench of the ludus – the sweat of gladiators, their whores and such – the sanitation of Alexandria was nothing like that of Rome. The odors in the slaves' residence were of piss, shit, and cats.
I hate the fucking cats.
On this night, I was too exhausted to consider the smells. I quickly found one of the small pallets for sleeping that was not currently occupied and lay myself down on it. I did not even bother to remove either cingulum or balteus.
My rest was short lived.
"Eduardus! Your presence is commanded!"
I blinked several times as I pushed myself from the pallet and looked up and the guard who stood with torch in hand at the door way. A moment later, we were outside the small building and I was being handed my swords as we marched quickly to the villa.
"Is Domina in danger?" I asked the guard.
"She seems to believe so," he replied dismissively.
When I arrived at the villa, I was escorted through the bulk of the house to a grand bedroom beyond. The large doors were opened by two guards, and I was gestured inside as the doors closed behind me. Only a few feet away stood Isa, the long, sheer material of her dress swishing around her bare legs as she walked back and forth. Her dark hair was free from hats and fell down her back in long, smooth strands.
"There you are!" Isa's voice held panic and desperation, as did her eyes when I looked to her. I lay my hands on the hilts of my swords and quickly looked around the rest of the room, but there was only a single, naked woman with the collar of a slave around her neck standing near the bed with a large fan. Isa paced from the large, open window to the side of a glorious bed and back again.
I saw no danger.
"They have no idea who it was who attacked me on the road, do you realize that?" she yelled at me, pointing her finger in my direction. She stopped her pacing for a moment and placed her hands on her hips. "Father has left me – left me! He took half the prefects and the villa guard with him! What if they come here? What if they come to my villa? My room?"
Her voice turned from desperation to fear with her last words, and I moved up closer to her. Before I could say anything, Isa flung herself at me and wrapped her slender arms around my neck.
"You have to protect me," she cried against my neck. "The guards can't stop them – only you can!"
I tensed, unmoving, not sure how to respond to the sudden closeness of the young woman I was to protect. Not knowing what other course to take, I placed my hands lightly on her hips to both steady her and myself.
"You won't let them touch me, will you?"
"No, Domina!" I responded quickly.
She leaned back and looked to my face; the dark lines around her eyes were smeared and ran in streaks over her cheekbones. Though she kept her hands around my neck, I dropped my hands back to my swords and my eyes back to the ground. Her eyes narrowed slightly, and her voice darkened.
"You will not allow any harm to come to me!" she commanded.
"No one will touch you," I swore to her.
She took a step backwards, and her hands left my shoulders and ran down my arms. She watched the movement of her fingers as they traced over my biceps and down to my hands, which still rested on the hilts of my swords. She continued to look at her hands atop mine as she spoke.
"I would have you stay." Her voice changed to its more petulant tone rather than a commanding tone.
"I am to return to the slaves' quarters at night, Domina," I reminded her. Thoughts of Chaires' expression if he were to find me in his daughter's rooms found their way into my head with much haste.
Isa's eyes, still somewhat rimmed in smeared black liner, met mine, and I could feel the fear she felt seep from her fingers into my wrists as they tightened their grip on my skin. Her throat bobbed as she swallowed.
"I have not slept since you carried me back," she confided. She released me and walked over to the side of the bed. "I fear I will go mad if I go another night without being able to close my eyes without dreaming of those men – their eyes and the sounds they made when they tried to pierce you with their swords…"
Her voice trailed off as her arms twisted around her midsection and her fingers pulled at the edges of her sheer dress. She appeared so much smaller than she usually did – her fear diminishing her height as she slumped over somewhat.
"I will stand guard in your room," I said with a nod. "No harm will come to you."
Isa knelt on the edge of the bed without responding, and I tried not to watch the sheer material as it slid between her legs and exposed part of her smooth, rounded ass. She moved gracefully over the smooth sheets covering the huge bed as she turned and lay on her side, facing me.
She looked to my eyes, which I quickly moved from her face so as not to offend. For several moments, there was awkward silence. I could still feel her eyes on me, but she took some time before she spoke.
"I want you in my bed."
My head jerked towards her –sure I had misunderstood her words.
"Domina?" My voice was barely discernable over the pounding of my heart. I swallowed hard.
Her eyes met mine and she glared at me.
"I will have you in my bed to be sure if you do fall asleep in the night, you will still be close enough to protect me!"
There were too many thoughts in my head to make sense of them all. If her father were to walk inside of the bedroom and see me within the sheets of her bed, he would undoubtedly have my cock removed from my body. If I was lucky, he would stop there.
I was to always obey her.
I took a partial step forward and then hesitated. I looked over to the bed and saw the fear again in her smeared eyes. Whatever else I did, I knew my position dictated that I could not defy her. Had I been a free man, I could not have denied her.
But what was I to do? I was still dressed in most of my armor with swords at my side. Was I to remove my armor? All of it? Was I to lie naked with her, as the slave on the other side of the bed who fanned her continuously?
My mind raced for the answers, knowing I had no time to actually think.
Reaching across my chest, my hand found the buckle to the galerus and quickly released it so I could remove the shoulder guards from my arms. Lacking any other direction, I let them fall to the floor along with the cingulum about my waist. I reached slowly behind my back and unclipped the balteus, but made sure the belt that held my swords was positioned at the edge of the bed and within easy reach. My sandals were discarded to the floor as well.
I hesitated a moment as I looked to the bed where Isa stretched out, the sheer material and enticing cut of her nightdress leaving it hard to not let my eyes wander her body.
"I would have your arms around me," she said softly. "Otherwise I do not think I will be able to find sleep."
Her words did not help my stray eyes or thoughts.
Left in my canvas subligaculum alone, I crawled into the bed and to Isa's side. Her eyes did not meet mine as I slid underneath the sheets of imported silk. She raised her shoulders slightly as I ran my hand underneath her and wrapped my fingers around her upper arm on the other side.
I tried not to look directly into her eyes as she turned towards me and placed her small hand against my chest and her cheek against my shoulder. I reached around her with my free hand and completed the secure embrace. Her skin was gloriously soft and warm under my calloused fingertips.
"I feel safe in your arms," she whispered so softly I could barely hear. Her hand moved to my shoulder and then down to my bicep, where she let it rest against the muscle. I could feel her relax against me as she let out a long breath and closed her eyes.
"I will always protect you," I promised. Slowly, I moved my hand from her waist up to the back of her shoulder, holding her a little closer to me. "Sleep without fear, Domina."
Her eyes opened for a moment as she tilted her head and peered up at me. I dropped my gaze down and away from her eyes until I felt her cheek press against my shoulder again.
I can hear the clash of steel and the screams of the Roman citizens in the crowd. Elections are near, and Aulus has me pitted against three other gladiators. My swords thrust and parry, slicing one of the men across his chest. He falls to the ground, screaming, and the other two fall swiftly afterwards. I celebrate with my brothers in the ludus with cheap wine and cheaper women…
My arms were sore, and my eyes were too heavy to bother opening. I shifted a little and felt the warmth of a soft body next to mine. I felt my mouth turn up in a slight smile, though at the same time I wondered just how much of my coin it took to have a whore in my bed for the entire night.
Still groggy from sleep, I let my hand creep up the soft midsection of the woman in my bed. I felt my cock rise and press against the warm flesh beside me, and I began to slowly grind my hips against it, welcoming the friction. A soft groan escaped me, followed by a long inhale.
It was the scent that brought me back to reason.
I was not in my cell in the dark recesses of the Ludus Praenestinus. There was the scent of perfume in the air and the softness of the silk against my skin. I was not in the barracks of the ludus at all, nor was I on the small cot in the slave quarters outside the grand villa where Governor of Alexandria's daughter resides.
The daughter of Chaires.
My eyes opened and fell on the fragrant, dark hair of the Egyptian beauty whose bed I occupied.
I was pressing my stiff cock against her thigh.
I swallowed hard and quickly shifted my hips away from Isa before she woke up and had me castrated and crucified. I tried to slow my breathing and calm my cock, when my eyes lifted to the only other person in the room – Isa's bed-servant. The motion of her arms as they slowly raised and lowered the large fan made of tree fronds did not falter as her eyes met mine, though I detected a tightening around the corners of her mouth, hiding her attempted smile.
I scowled and looked away from the slave girl and back down to the woman still encased within my embrace. She had curled her body into mine, and her delicate hand rested in the center of my chest, just below the hollow of my throat. Even with the makeup smeared about her eyes she was a vision, which did not help the situation with my cock in the slightest. All it felt was her warmth so close to its tip. My eyes' insistence on seeking out the slightly covered mound of her breast did not help, either. Thankfully, she did not wake and notice my indiscretions.
With a quiet sigh of relief, I adjusted myself and pulled her body into mine. I wanted to allow her to continue to feel the security of my presence in her sleep, so I held her tightly. I gazed on her silent face and felt my pulse quicken as her eyes fluttered open to meet mine. For a short time I could not look away, but then I realized I was defying her request and quickly moved my eyes to the side.
"You stayed," she said with voice hushed from sleep.
"Of course," I replied quietly. "What you desire, I will see it made true."
"Anything I desire…" her words trailed off as her fingers moved slowly from where they rested across my chest to my shoulder. She turned slightly, and I started to relinquish my grip.
"Don't let go!" she said in haste, and I did not delay to do ask she asked. I pulled her closer to me, and felt her settle back into my arms as she let out a long breath. "I feel safer the tighter you hold me."
She pressed her body close to mine, and I could feel the softness of her skin from my chest all the way down my body to my legs, which she entwined with her own. Her foot moved up my calf as her hand moved across the length of my arm and then back to my shoulder.
"I have not slept since that day," Isa said. "When I would close my eyes, it was like I was there all over again."
"You are safe, Domina," I said. "I will come between you and anyone who would harm you."
"Did you protect your Dominus when you were in Rome?" Isa asked.
"Not often," I said quietly. "He had his own guard who walked with him when he attended functions outside the villa near the ludus. When others came to his villa, I was often at his side, but only to show the champion of Rome stood beside him. The Roman nobles seemed to…appreciate my presence."
Her fingers trailed from my shoulder back down to my chest. Between my dream, her touch, and her insistence on our closeness, I was again in danger of allowing my cock to make itself well known. For a moment, I closed my eyes. I had to swallow hard past the lump in my throat.
"Is it true what they say about Rome?" Isa asked quietly. "About the decadence that ensues there? The bath houses and the like? I have never been there."
I had no idea how to respond, or indeed what she was precisely asking.
"Father does not permit me near such places, not even those that have come to Alexandria. He says they are no place for a delicate thing like me."
She let out a short laugh.
"The Roman nobles do have a taste for the baser desires," I said, hoping that would be enough of an answer. For a moment, Isa was quiet. When she finally spoke again, I nearly jumped right out of the bed at her words.
"Do they really hold…orgies?"
I didn't really move, but definitely tensed even more than I had been throughout this conversation. Again, there was the overwhelming urge to swallow before I could speak.
"And were you ever a part of these?"
I turned my eyes away from the bed and up to the ceiling of the villa's bedroom, not wanting to think of it, let alone answer such a question. My mind went to those days regardless, and my cock responded to the memories of warm mouths and cunts into which it had plunged almost as often as my sword had torn into another man's flesh. Whether or not I participated in such base events – as well as with whom – was as much my choice as it was in the arena.
I closed my eyes completely as I felt her soft fingertips graze my abdomen, right above the subligaculum about my waist.
"You were a participant, were you not?"
"Yes, Domina," I replied quietly.
Again, she was quiet as she contemplated the information I had given her.
"Were you ever with a girl for the first time?" Her voice was so quiet I could only barely hear her.
"Domina?" I found myself confused by her question. Surely she was not asking if I have…
"Have you," she said with tightness in her jaw, "bedded a girl for her first time?"
Apparently she was.
"Y…yes, Domina," I stuttered in response.
"Did you hurt her?"
"Who?" I breathed.
"The girl you deflowered, of course!" she nearly shouted.
My chest seized, and several unwanted memories passed through my head. I closed my eyes a moment, trying to think of some way to turn this conversation to something else. Anything else.
"It did hurt her?" Isa's voice dropped low.
"Not…always," I replied, my voice strained.
"There have been many?"
"Some." Even if it was permitted, I would not have been able to meet her eye.
"So it does not always hurt, as I have been told?"
With my eyes still closed, I responded to her with low voice – because a slave never delays or refuses in answering.
"I have learned to be…gentle," I confirmed. "It does not have to hurt, if done properly...carefully."
Isa seemed to turn her thoughts inward then and did not speak for some time. For a moment, I hoped she would move on from the topic, but she did not. Finally she nodded slightly before she looked back to me.
"Then I shall have you," she declared, "as my first."
My entire body stiffened along with my cock.
Said cock seemed to think entering the cunt of the smooth skinned, beautiful, dark-haired woman was a fine, fine idea. It was not concerned – at least not at this point – about possible consequences. If it knew it would be the first thing to suffer if discovered, perhaps it would have shriveled and ignored her words.
It did not.
Especially not when her hand traveled lower – over my abdomen until it reached the top of my subligaculum. The tip of her finger traced the thin line of hair from my navel to where it disappeared into the cloth.
"Does your cock rise for me?" she whispered with all the seduction of a seasoned whore. Coupled with a brush from her palm over the front of me, I lost breath.
"I am to…protect you," I breathed, barely able to hold a coherent thought.
"Those who seek to harm you."
"Am I one of those?"
"Then do not protect me from myself." Her hand continued its exploration, and unlike times in the past, I could not help but feel my body's reaction to the glorious woman whose fingers stroked my flesh.
"Your father…he would have my cock strung up on the cross next to the one that holds the rest of me…"
"He will not know," she said. "He is still with the prefects, and likely will be for days."
"I am a slave," I reminded her unnecessarily. Or maybe it was necessary – she seemed to have forgotten our respective stations. Of course, she would not be the first noble woman who had demanded my body – but as her first lover? "I am not worthy of such an honor, and your father may very well punish you as well. Please do not do this."
"You would deny me?" Isa said with narrowed eyes.
"Never, Domina." I dare to stare into her eyes as I looked upon her. "Please reconsider."
"You will protect me," she confirmed, "even from my father."
I did not have to think of an answer. She must have known it before I understood myself.
"Always," I answered. "With my life."
"Then I will be fine."
A knock on her bedroom door startled me nearly out of my skin. As I leapt from the bed, my feet found the balteus on the floor near her bed, and I nearly stumbled. Isa stifled a laugh with her hand over her mouth before calling out to the guard that she would entertain her morning visitors shortly.
"Tonight," Isa said with conviction. She then stood and disappeared with her slave to dress.
The daytime hours went like most every other day in the service of the Egyptian household. Once Isa's slaves had dressed her and covered her in gold jewelry, I followed her to the marketplace. The only difference was she now rode in a cart carried by a single man who held two long poles attached to the cart where Isa sat. I walked behind them, keeping close track of Isa through the shops. She bought little, and as usual spent more time arguing with the shopkeepers over their prices than purchasing anything.
And naturally, there was the gossip with the other noble women. She sought out Alika, and they sat in the cart together, whispering close, giggling, and occasionally looking over to me. This did nothing for the sheer terror I was beginning to feel over Isa's plans for tonight, which she spoke of often throughout the day. She did not make direct reference, but seemed to find a reason to use the very word – tonight – in multiple sentences, emphasizing the word as she looked to me.
It was maddening.
When we returned to the villa, the day was already late and I was nearly insane with both desire and trepidation. Isa ate sitting alone, staring out the windows and barely looking at me now that we were alone except for her attendants. She seemed deep in thought, and no one was interested in disturbing her. I could only wonder if she still meant to have my cock in her this very night.
I both hoped she would reconsider and hoped she would not.
When she decided to retire to her rooms it was still early in the evening, and I stopped at the doorway to her room. This was where I would usually be escorted back to the slaves' quarters, but instead, Isa turned to me.
"Come on, then," she said insistently, ignoring the narrowed eyes of the room guards.
If they did not hold their tongues, Chaires would most certainly have me crucified.
As soon as we entered, Isa shut the doors and sent her slaves away. My hands gripped at the tops of my swords – my fingers seeking comfort in their familiar texture.
"I want to see you," Isa demanded as she took a step back. "All of you."
I froze, but only for a moment as my body took over where my mind did not. My right hand reached underneath my left arm and pulled loose the buckle to the leather galerus that protected my shoulders – first one, and then the other. They slipped easily over my arms and down to the floor of Isa's bedchamber. I kept my gaze to the ground at her feet as I reached for the buckles of my balteus and cingulum.
I stood in nothing but the rough cloth of the subligaculum that was wrapped around my cock and ass, and I tried to breathe evenly as I reached behind myself to release it. As my hand pulled the last of my clothing away, I watched Isa's breathing increase. There was only the slightest of noises as the cloth dropped to the floor around me.
I dared look to her eyes as she looked over my body.
Her hand moved slowly, reaching out until it graced the underside of my cock and sensation rushed through my body. Her fingers, though not skilled, were soft and innocent in their exploration, and my cock was all too willing to heed her slow, maddening ministrations.
"Do you want me?" she asked quietly.
As if there was any doubt. My cock in her hand could have answered for her.
"Yes, Domina," I whispered, knowing just those two little words uttered from my mouth could mean my death, and not at the hands of another gladiator in the arena. "My cock swells at thoughts of what lies between your thighs…the joys found there."
"Then come to them."
As instinct took over, I released thoughts of Dominus and what he might do to me and moved forward, further pressing my purpose against her hand. And like the fool that I was, I maneuvered her backwards to the edge of the bed behind her. Her hand left my cock to grab hold of my arm as I moved a step away.
My eyes took in the full sight of her – the long, golden dress swept to her side and gathered together at her hip was split down the middle – exposing the flesh between her breasts. I examined the knot at the side before reaching for it and pulling it apart with deft, purposeful fingers. The fabric fell away from her side, though it was still tied around her neck.
I looked slowly to her eyes, waiting to see if she would admonish me for looking into them. She said nothing as I reached up and placed the palm of my hand against her cheek. Glancing at her lips, I leaned down to close the space between us as my hand slipped down across her neck and to her shoulder. My fingers wrapped around the fabric, and the knot fell apart in my hand.
I needed only to release it to see her exposed before me.
My fingers held tight to the top of the dress as I moved forward again. Isa's tongue darted out and ran quickly over her lips. I was close enough to feel the heat of her breath on my mouth, and I stopped there – my gaze wandering slowly from her lips to her eyes as I felt her excitement grow.
Though my cock throbbed to have the deed done, I would prolong this as much as I possibly could.
My lips barely brushed against her, and when she moved her neck forward to bring them together, I moved back to only allow the very smallest of friction to pass between us.
"Have you ever been kissed?" I whispered, and I felt the heat from her face.
"No," she said with a slight shake of her head.
Entwining my fingers in her hair, I pulled at the back of her head until her neck tilted backwards. I looked again from her eyes to her lips before closing my lids and covering her mouth with my own.
Her lips were so soft, but she pressed back against mine – wanting more. I gave it to her, because I would not dream of denying her anything. Her hands ran up to grip at my arms just below my shoulders, and her fingernails dug into my skin.
Parting my lips, I slipped out my tongue to taste her, and she responded in kind. What was slow and gentle quickly changed in pace and ferocity as Isa grabbed at my head and pulled me to her. Her tongue invaded my mouth, and I reached down to cup her ass in my hand and bring her body flush to me. My other hand released the top of her dress and let it fall to the floor in a heap. I broke away, unable to deny my eyes the sight of her any longer.
And what a vision she was.
Soft, supple, flawless, and completely and totally bare.
My hands reached for her breasts – touching, lifting, caressing with my finger tips and thumbs over her nipples. Isa's breath caught in her throat, and I reached down to lift her body and lay her gently onto the bed as I crawled over the top of her.
I was thirsty, and I wanted to drown in her.
My mouth found the space between her breasts, and I placed warm, wet kisses down her body as her hand caressed the short hair at the back of my head. I reached her navel and dipped my tongue inside, eliciting a giggle and a shiver from her. I smiled and worked my way back up as my hand ran up the length of her thigh, pausing only slightly before cupping the hairless mound between her legs.
Isa let out a soft moan as my fingers found their destination, slowly parting her womanly folds and seeking the hot moisture that lay behind them. The tip of my finger found her entrance, and I slowly worked it inside of her – allowing her body the time and stimulation it needed to moisten for me.
She writhed against the silken sheets, her legs dropping open with knees spread wide. Her face flushed and her hands reached for me – grabbing at my shoulders, my back, my hips. My tongue sought out her breasts, and I sucked at first one nipple, and then the other.
My ears were filled with the soft sounds of her grunts and groans, coupled by my name on her lips.
My lips teased gently at her nipples as I worked a second finger into her tight, moist passage. She shifted and pushed herself into me as I licked and sucked at her nipples and fingered her slowly. Her moisture coated my fingers quickly as I alternated between one and two fingers, working them up inside of her and stretching her gently – preparing her to take my cock.
"Eduardus…please…" Isa's breathy words reached my ears and hardened my cock. "I want you…inside me…all of you…"
My mouth moved from her breast to her ear.
"As you desire, Domina," I said quietly – my warm breath causing her flesh to tingle.
My fingers slid from her body and trailed up and down her folds before running over the shaft of my cock to moisten it. Using only the head, I ran from the top of her slit and nearly down to her ass to further coat it in her juices. It pulsed and throbbed in anticipation as I brought it to her opening and slowly began to push inside.
Just a little at first, feeling the pressure from her maidenhead wrap around me, though it gave way with only the slightest of resistance and smallest of gasps from Isa. Her fingers tightened on my shoulders and her eyes grew wide as I moved father inside, pulled back, and pushed forward again.
"That didn't hurt," she said quietly, and I chuckled before covering her mouth with mine.
My tongue entered her mouth completely as my cock was buried to the hilt. I placed my hands on either side of her head and watched her face as I pulled out a little bit and pushed home again.
Isa's hands wrapped tighter around my back as her knees bent and gripped my sides, opening herself more fully to me. Gradually, I pulled back again – farther this time – and thrust home with a moan. She was hot and wet inside, and my cock longed to fill her deeply, but I kept myself calm. I would not rush through to my own completion.
No – this was for her.
It was all for her.
My pace quickened, and Isa's eyes widened and darkened as they looked up to me. I pulled back, slammed forward, then rolled us both until she was on top of me and my hands gripped her firm ass, pulling her down and lifting her up – sliding her back and forth over my stiff cock.
Isa pushed at my chest with her hands until she was sitting astride me, raising and lowering her body over mine as she rocked her hips and pushed against me furiously. She gasped and moaned as I brought my hands up to cup her glorious breasts.
She threw back her head and grasped my wrists as she cried out to the skies, and then fell forward onto me. Without missing a single thrust, I rolled her under me again, pushing inside of her as deeply as I could before pulling back to the tip and plunging into her depths with a growl.
"Uh…uh…Eduardus…" she gasped.
"Domina…" I groaned in response against the tender flesh of her neck. Pulling back slowly, I entered her fully as her back arched and she pressed her hips to mine.
"Eduardus," she moaned again. Her hand on the back of my head pulled me to her mouth, and she spoke her words against my lips. "When we are in this bed, and your cock is in me, I would have you call me by my name."
I had to pause in my motions and hold myself still within her to keep my seed from filling her too soon. With closed eyes, my tongue reached out to touch her lips as I whispered her name.
She gasped and lifted her body to mine. I leaned back, raising my body with my arms to look down on her as I pulled out – nearly all the way – and buried myself in her over and over in slow, steady strides. My back arched, and I found I wanted to be completely encompassed in her for the rest of eternity, if the gods would allow such a thing. Her body was perfection, and the warm moist channel gripped my cock as if it were meant to be there.
Her legs wrapped around my hips and her ankles crossed just above my ass, holding us together as I began a furious pace – fucking down into her as if I could make it all the way through the bed to the floor. I felt her moisture surrounding my cock as sweat collected on my forehead, back, and chest. Her body massaged my cock, calling forth the undeniable sensations that shot through my body.
Isa let out a small, sharp cry as her body clenched and shuddered around me.
I could hold back no longer.
I let my mouth fall open as I cried out and thrust into her one last time. With eyes closed, I tilted my head to the heavens and filled her completely with hot seed as she screamed out my name.
I braced myself with my hands next to her shoulders, refusing to give into the desire to simply collapse on her with all of my weight. I did drop my head to her shoulder, our hot, panting breaths the only sound in the room and warming each other's skin. Stroking slowly a few times first, I pulled my cock from her and lay to her side.
Isa rolled into me, her arms going around my neck as she pulled my mouth to hers in a feverish kiss. I returned the act in kind, my hands reaching around her shoulder blades to hold her against me as I rolled to my back and brought her atop me. When we pulled apart, she placed her hands on my chest and looked down upon me.
"Did I please you?" I asked her. I thought it was true…I hoped it was.
Her fingers graced my cheek, and her smile burned in my chest.
"Very much so, my gladiator." Her hand moved to my temple, catching droplets of sweat from my brow. "And are you pleased?"
I shook with quiet laughter.
"Do you have any doubt?"
She smiled again, this time with shyness in her eyes. She tucked her head against my shoulder as I lay upon my back. Isa went silent for a few minutes, her fingers still slowly moving over my chest. When she decided to speak again, she did not make the conversation any less difficult.
"How many?" she asked, her eyes instantly hard in their gaze. "How many women have you bedded?"
My mind ignited and flashed. Thoughts of celebrations – both before and after the games – filled my mind. The slaves in the bath houses bent over so the noble women of Damascus could watch a gladiator fuck…the whores brought to us in the ludus after battles well-fought filled our purses with coin…the citizens of Rome who would drop to their knees and suck my cock while those in the marketplace looked on.
"I…I don't know, Domina."
"Do you know numbers?"
"How high can you count?"
I tried to consider numbers and remembered trying to listen when the son of the lanista was being taught. I had never had need for counting, except for when I needed to determine if the fight was balanced or not.
"Twenty?" My response sounded more like a question than an answer, but I really wasn't sure.
"And how do I compare?"
My fingers trailed over her cheekbone, and I looked directly into her eyes. Despite her station, she needed the same reassurances anyone would.
"There is no comparison, Domina," I assured her. "You are far superior to any woman I have ever seen."
"How so?" she demanded. Her eyes flashed to mine, narrowed and mistrusting.
My hand reached up, and I lay the flat of my palm against her cheek. I stroked downwards, over her face and neck, to her shoulder, and all the way to her slender wrist.
"Your skin – flawless and soft in my rough hands," I whispered as I watched my hand graze over her skin. I moved it up again – allowing the backs of my fingers to trace up the inside of her arm. I moved to her breast and lifted it. "Your breasts…firm and perfectly shaped for my touch…and your nipples…"
I brushed it with my thumb and sighed as it constricted with my touch.
"So responsive to me."
"I want you inside me again," Isa demanded, and her eyes flashed to mine. "Now!"
I obeyed without word or question, rolling our bodies until she was under me and my cock was poised ready at her warm cunt. Her knees fell to the side, and she opened herself to me fully as I plunged inside.
I had never felt this way before. I took my pleasure when whored or when offered the same, but this feeling – this was different. I moved in slow, smooth, rhythmic thrusts as I felt her come apart around me. My hands grazed over her smooth, hairless skin – paying special attention to her breasts and the place right above where our bodies joined.
I felt pleasure when she called out my name with her own release – a pleasure more satisfying than my own climax. And when I did fill her, I roared as I would have in the arena – with my back arched to bury myself completely within her. I fell upon her briefly as I tried to catch my breath, and then rolled to bring her on top of me. Isa hummed against my skin as she nestled against my body and fell asleep.
My hands stroked slowly over her smooth skin as I tried to understand how I could possibly desire a life outside of the arena, but that was the exact direction of my thoughts. Knowing that my heart could be taken from the sands was not as surprising as the reason, though – for it was not the luxury of the silk around me, but the glory of the woman who I held in my arms.
I closed my eyes as smiled as I slipped into sleep next to her warm body.
It was not long before I woke to the softness of sheets and the sweet smell of Isa's hair. Her warmth was nothing like the heat from the oppressive noonday sun, but like warm water from a clean bath. As I inhaled deeper, I could smell myself all around her as well, as if I could somehow mark her as my own.
I had, in a way.
Irrespective of what may happen in the future, I would always be the first man inside of her, slave or not. The thought made me tighten my grip around her body, bringing her nearer to my chest. As I did, she rolled into me, her own arms cradling my head to her shoulder, and then startled awake.
With a gasp, she looked up to my eyes and then relaxed again.
"I feared you gone," she finally whispered quietly against my shoulder.
"My flesh is yours, Domina," I replied simply. "Until you send me away, or the gods send me to the heavens, I will always be with you."
"My gladiator," she whispered as she began to fall back into slumber. "My Eduardus."
Perhaps she originally brought me here for the purpose of offering her protection and safety, but I knew that was no longer my sole purpose. I would protect her – protect her with my life – now more than before, even if I were never to return to the arena. It would be enough. I would be satisfied.
I looked back to the woman in my arms, felt the stirring of my cock as it rested against her leg, and smiled to myself.
I would be well satisfied, without doubt.
There would be more than just the position of bodyguard.
"My Isa," I whispered into the night air.
Regardless of our respective stations, we held each other. I knew then I would do exactly as she wished. Even if my body did not belong to her by station, my heart was hers, just as she belonged to me.
I would be her gladiator, protector, or lover.
As she desires.
Chapter end notes:
Awww...isn't he a sweetie after all the blood is washed off?
Though I think this story is done (blending Roman and Egyptian was harder than I thought), I am definitely NOT done with gladiators. I'm a little obsessed with them right now, which means there will be more in some way, shape, or form. Drop me a review and let me know if you like this sort of thing! I hope you enjoyed it!
If you missed the message:
Long story short, As She Desires, which was originally written for the Age of Edward Contest, is WAAAY over the limit for word count. The maximum is 12,000, and the story is 18,000. After much debate with my beta and a bunch of people on facebook it basically came down to either cutting the story down to make it fit or not.
In a nutshell, I just couldn't cut that much out of it and keep the integrity of the story. Go check out all the Age of Edward contest entries, though - there are some great ones! Info at http : / / www . ageofedward . com /
http : / / www . twilighted . net / forum / viewtopic . php?f=44&t=21205
For more information on my work, visit the blog at http:/shaysavage(dot)blogspot(dot)com/
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