Vaaden Warriors 1: Rheul, page 1
Vaaden Warriors 1: Rheul
by Jessica Coulter Smith
Changeling Press LLC
Copyright ©2011 First published in 2011, 2011
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Vaaden Warriors: Rheul
Jessica Coulter Smith
* * * *
Vaaden Warriors: Rheul
Jessica Coulter Smith
All rights reserved.
Copyright (C)2011 Jessica Coulter Smith ISBN: 978-1-60521-579-2
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Vaaden Warriors: Rheul
Jessica Coulter Smith
* * * *
A hardened warrior, Rheul doesn't believe in love. Until he meets his new slave.
Falling in love with your slave just isn't something a Vaaden warrior does. But when Rheul claims a new slave, he starts to see that some things aren't always in his control. Darcy starts making a place for herself in his heart whether he likes it or not, and no amount of fighting seems to do him any good.
But can he forsake his duty to take a Vaaden bride to love the woman who has come to mean so much to him? Or will duty win over his newfound heart?
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From a chair in my brother's library, I watched Enid and Bastian across the room. Anyone could see they loved one another. It didn't seem possible that a Vaaden male could love a slave, but my brother was proof it could happen.
Unfortunately, it also meant that Bastian thought it could happen for other people too—like me. He knew I'd never find love with the wife I'd eventually have to take, knowing that Vaaden women were cold and heartless. For the past few weeks, we'd fought over my taking a slave. It seemed I'd lost the battle. Any moment now a slave would arrive, one I was to claim for myself. Bastian had arranged it, and I had grumbled the entire time.
It wasn't that I was opposed to owning slaves; I just wasn't particularly interested in owning one. Don't get me wrong, I'd owned them before, but it had been a while. These days, I visited the public harems, and I preferred it that way.
It was better if I didn't get attached in the slightest bit. While I didn't think I would ever fall in love with a slave, it was hard not to feel something for them when you had to be their sole caretaker. And that was the one thing I wouldn't do.
"Bastian, I still don't think this is the right thing for me," I said.
"Rheul, we've been over this. If you don't take her, someone else will. At least you won't abuse her."
"How do you know?" I couldn't resist asking.
"You might not feel the same way about slaves as I do, but I know you would never deliberately hurt a woman. Besides, you've come to think of Enid as family, and you can't deny it.
There's no way you can think you haven't changed."
"I may have changed a little, but not enough to fall for one if that's what you're hoping." And I wasn't about to agree about Enid. There was no way I was going to say that I thought of a slave as family. If he thought I would admit to something like that, then Enid had him more whipped than I thought.
"You don't have to fall in love with your slave to care for her. You need someone in your life, Rheul. Someone you can care for, someone who will care for you in return. I think that owning a slave is a good way to make that happen."
"Or this whole thing could backfire and blow up in our faces. What if she hates being a slave and hates me for it?
Did you ever think of that?"
"If you're kind to her, she'll eventually come around. How could she not? You're not exactly ugly."
I laughed. "What does that have to do with anything?"
"May I say something?" Enid asked.
I motioned for her to continue.
"You were a little intimidating when I first met you, Rheul, but you grew on me. It didn't take me long to realize that you were kind, and it won't take your slave long to realize that either. Just be nice to her, and she'll come to trust you. That's the first step. You have to keep in mind that when we're brought here, we've been ripped from our homes and our lives. Some of us might not have had a nice life on Earth, but 8
others might have led wonderful lives and may not take kindly to be abducted. Either way, being a slave isn't easy.
How would you feel if your rights were suddenly taken away?
It's hard knowing that you're no longer free, that it doesn't matter what you want or what you feel. That the only thing that matters is whether or not your owner is happy."
I shook my head, thinking both of them were foolish.
Nothing good could come of this, of that I was certain. It didn't matter if the slave liked me or not. Having feelings for one was still out of the question. One day I would take a wife.
I didn't need emotional complications.
When a chime signaled the arrival of my future doom, I sighed and started to rise from my chair, but Bastian waved a hand at me to stay seated. It seemed that my new slave had arrived. I still couldn't believe that Bastian had purchased one for me. Typically, a warrior chose his own. But no, my brother had to defy convention and go against my wishes and buy one for me, knowing I wouldn't turn her away. To do so would mean Bastian would have to keep her, and that would have hurt Enid a great deal.
While he left to answer the door, I studied Enid. She was glowing with health and seemed immensely happy.
Pregnancy, and Bastian, definitely agreed with her. F
But of what? Was it possible that I wanted what Bastian had?
A love match? No, that was ridiculous. I was far too practical for that. Besides, Vaadens didn't marry for love. We had arranged marriages so that both parties got something out of the deal, but love was never part of the bargain. I had yet to 9
meet a Vaaden male who loved his wife. My uncle seemed to care for my aunt on some level, but I wouldn't have called it love.
A moment later, Bastian entered the room with a petite woman with long, wavy black hair that hung down her back to her waist. She was even shorter than Enid, if that were possible, and I felt the sudden urge to protect her.
Foreboding filled me, and I realized these feelings weren't good. I hadn't even been introduced the woman yet, and I already wanted to protect her? What would be next?
I moved to stand before her. I looked down into her upturned face; guileless blue eyes stared up at me. Her porcelain skin looked petal soft, and I wanted to touch it, to see if it felt as silky smooth as it looked. Clenching my fists, I fought the urge to sweep her into my arms and hold her close, to breathe her in.
"What's your name?" I asked her gruffly.
"I'm Rheul. Do you know why you're here?"
"I was told I am to be your slave," she answered softly, her voice wrapping around me like warm silk.
Damn. I was in serious trouble. Only in her presence a matter of minutes, and I already wanted to sink to my knees and bury my face against her, inhaling the scent I imagined would be uniquely hers. I wasn't sure what the hell was wrong with me, but I needed to fix it and quick.
My expression must have given something away because Bastian smirked at me and Enid had a knowing look in her 10
eye. I cleared my throat and reached for Darcy. "It's time I took you home and got you settled."
"Rheul, would you mind if I visited her?" Enid asked.
Bastian growled. "Forget Rheul. I don't want you visiting.
You're not to go to the slave quarters!"
Enid rolled her eyes and sighed, patting her pregnant belly. "Honestly, Bastian. It isn't like I haven't seen them before. In case you've forgotten, I did live there for a while."
"Things are different now," he said, putting an arm around her.
She smiled up at him and for one moment, I envied them.
I knew I'd never experience that with a Vaaden woman, but one day I would be required to marry, especially now that Bastian wouldn't. While Enid might have special permissions not allowed to most slaves, she was still a slave. She and Bastian could never marry, no matter how much they might want to.
Clearing my throat, I took Darcy by the arm and led her to the front of the house, and called over my shoulder, "I'll see you later."
Once we were outside, I led her toward the slave buildings. "Time to take you home."
Darcy looked up at me. "How is it that I can understand everything you say even outside of a home? While I was confined, I noticed the translation boxes in the cells, and I saw one inside the house."
I flipped up the collar of my shirt, showing her a small silver circle. "This translates up to five hundred languages, automatically selecting the ones being spoken." I smiled down 11
at her. "Since I designed it, I figured I should be the first to test it."
She looked impressed, and I felt proud of my accomplishment, which made no sense. What did I care what a slave thought? Her opinion didn't matter.
"Is that where we're going?" she asked, pointing to the tall windowless building ahead of us.
"Yes. Your... I believe you would call it an apartment, is in that building."
"Mine? You will not stay there?"
She looked up at me a moment longer, but didn't say a word. When we reached the building, she looked at her surroundings, but I couldn't tell anything by her expression. If she was shocked or appalled, she didn't show it.
When we reached the fourth floor, I opened her apartment door and ushered her inside. Even though I'd had the inside re-done for Enid when she'd stayed with me briefly, during a time when Bastian had clearly lost his mind, I'd made it over again for Darcy. Enid hadn't used it, but it still seemed like the right thing to do. The living room and kitchen had a shiny stone floor, similar to the marble on her planet, in a soft blue.
The furnishings were done in peach, beige and a medium blue. Colors I thought a woman might find soothing.
To our left, the bedroom door already stood open, and she walked inside, her feet sinking into the plush flooring, a cross between the plush carpets on Earth and fur. The bedroom floor was gray while the walls were slate blue. It was darker, 12
but beige and peach accents matched it to the living room and kitchen.
She studied everything silently, her fingers trailing over the soft comforter. "What's behind that door?" she asked, pointing to the silver panel on the opposite wall.
I pressed my hand against the surface, and the door opened with a whoosh, disappearing into the wall. The interior was the same marble from top to bottom as the flooring in the living room, except it was a pale gray.
She eyed the shower in curiosity. "How does it work?" she asked softly.
I pressed a silver button on the wall, and water cascaded from the top, creating a waterfall of sorts. The shower was a little different from most. I'd had it designed special, wanting something unique. I showed her how to work the soap dispenser and the sink before turning off the shower.
She hesitated before leaving the bathroom. "May I... may I take a shower now?"
I studied her more carefully and realized her slave garment was dirty. It angered me that they hadn't taken proper care of her, but again my reaction made no sense. The slaves were never treated well before they were claimed, so why would mine have been treated differently? She'd turned my world upside down, and I didn't like it.
"Let me find you something clean to wear."
I walked over to the closet and opened the door the same way as the bathroom. Anticipating her arrival, I'd purchased several tunics for her, slightly longer than the slave garment 13
she had on, but nothing like the dresses Vaaden women wore. I selected a soft blue, pulled it out of the closet and took it to her.
When I handed it to her, tears gathered in her eyes, making me feel slightly uncomfortable. "You don't like it?"
"It isn't that," she said quietly. "I just didn't expect... I'd heard... A few of the women in the cell spoke of what happened when Vaadens claimed slaves."
"And how did they know what happened?"
"They'd been claimed and returned." She looked down at her hands. "One of them had been abused by her owner."
I frowned. That was highly unusual. Typically, if a Vaaden didn't want his slave, he gave her away, or killed her. In some instances, she would be turned over to the harems.
Was there a new policy in place I knew nothing about? "I've never heard of that being done before. Are you sure that's what happened?"
"That's what they claimed."
"Did they explain what Vaaden men expect of their slaves?"
She blushed and looked away. "You want me to sleep with you."
I gently reached out and grasped her chin, turning her to face me. She wouldn't meet my gaze at first, but finally her eyes met mine. I didn't see fear, but I did see uncertainty. "I promise I won't hurt you."
"But it's true?"
"Yes, it's true."
She swallowed hard and looked away again. "May I shower now?"
"Of course." I backed out of the bathroom, trying to give her some privacy. I knew I had every right to stay, but she seemed a little skittish, and I wanted her to be at ease around me. If what Enid had said were true, that would make things easier in the long run.
Nearly a half hour later, when I still heard the water running, I began to worry. With a f
She looked up at me with eyes so sad my heart nearly broke. It startled me that she could affect me so much so soon. I stood, turned off the water, and reached for a towel.
Lifting her out of the shower, I dried her off and pulled the tunic over her head. She was barely able to stand, so I carried her into the bedroom and set her down on the bed.
She looked up at me, but still didn't say a word.
"Please tell me what's wrong."
"I thought it would be different."
I frowned. "You thought what would be different?"
She blushed and looked down at her hands. "My first time."
"Your first..." Then it hit me, and my eyes widened a little.
"You're a virgin?"
She nodded, a lone tear slipping down her cheek. I didn't know what to say, or what to do. I'd never thought to end up 15
with a virgin for a slave. For that matter, I'd never slept with a virgin before. Was there certain etiquette to follow? I'd heard it could hurt them the first time, but I wasn't sure.
Maybe Bastian would know.
"We don't have to do anything today, Darcy. Why don't you take today to get used to your surroundings? There's a small bookcase in the living room with books and game cards.
The kitchen is stocked with food and drink."
When I started to rise, she reached out and placed her hand on mine. It looked so small and delicate. "I don't want you to think I'm ungrateful," she said softly. "Far from it. I've never had a place like this before." She gave me a sad smile.
"It's been a while since I've had a place at all."
My eyes narrowed. "What do you mean?"
She shrugged a shoulder. "I'd lost my job on Earth, and my house soon after. I was living in a women's shelter when your warriors captured me. I didn't have a place to call home, and hadn't had one for several months."
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