Unto the breach pos 4, p.8

Unto the Breach pos-4, page 8

 part  #4 of  Paladin of Shadows Series

 

Unto the Breach pos-4
 



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  Thus when the subject of the Rite had been brought up with him the first time, he’d just nodded. Not only was he aware that it was a tradition amongst the Keldara, it was a hell of a lot better than the way the tsarist lords generally treated it. Heck, the comissars hadn’t been lily-white by any stretch of the imagination. And then there was the fact that the Kildar, while he didn’t attend services much, was by several orders of magnitude his biggest contributor. He wasn’t going to tell him that this was “sin” and that it would violate any future marriage compacts in the eyes of the Church.

  “I acknowledge my duty,” Mike said, turning to Mother Mahona. “I come to take my rights as Kildar.” His tone in this case was much less stern.

  “The right of the Kildar is acknowledged by the women of the Keldara,” Mother Mahona said then winked. “The Kildar is reminded of his duty of gentleness.”

  “I acknowledge my duty,” Mike said, then turned to Gretchen, dropping to one knee with difficulty in the tight pants and bowing his head. “My lady, I am come to crave a boon of you, one night of gentleness. May I have my time as is my right?”

  “You may, Kildar,” Gretchen replied. She was clearly happy, her smile revealing deep dimples, but nervous as well. “May you remember your… duties in all things.” She stumbled a bit on that line but all in all it was pretty good. Had designed the ceremony so that the young lady, who was going to be worrying about other things, had the least to do.

  “I shall,” Mike said, standing up and taking her hand. “I shall return with this daughter of the Keldara when the sun rises,” he said, looking at the three. “I shall render my duty as tradition fits and no shame is had in this Right.”

  “No shame, only duty,” Father Mahona said.

  “No shame, only duty,” the priest intoned.

  “No shame,” Mother Mahona said, winking, “only pleasure.”

  Mother Makanee had thrown that line in at the first ceremony and, despite Mike’s quiet protests, it had remained.

  He tried not to sigh.

  * * *

  “You’ve seen the place, of course,” Mike said as they walked in the front of the caravanserai.

  “I’ve been up here on cleaning duty,” Gretchen said, looking around with interest nonetheless. “But I’ve never been in your quarters.”

  “Then I guess I’d better show you those.”

  Mike had had a small kitchen installed off of his bedroom. It was separated from the bedroom — which was more like a small suite with a king-sized bed, sitting area and small desk hardly filling it — by a three stool bar counter. The counter had been set for two in china and silver. There were two candles burning and a long-stemmed rose in a vase.

  When they entered, Gretchen just craned her long and shapely neck around for a quick look, as if determining she knew where everything was, then walked over and perched on a stool at the small bar.

  “You girls talk too much,” Mike said, smiling and taking off his jacket. He donned an apron to keep any splatters off his shirt and trousers then pulled a bottle of champagne out of a bucket of ice. He opened it expertly, none of this silly blasting the cork into the ceiling, then poured a glass for Gretchen and one for himself. “Cheers,” he said, clinking glasses with her.

  “Eyes of the Father,” Gretchen replied, then took a sip. “That is nice.”

  “So are you,” Mike said, smiling. “All of the Keldara women are beautiful, but I’ve never seen one that looked so incredible in that outfit.”

  “I think you said that to Stella,” Gretchen replied, but still smiled.

  “Did not,” Mike said, frowning. “Did I? Besides, I hadn’t seen you, yet.”

  “So who is the prettiest Keldara girl?” Gretchen asked, tilting her head to the side.

  “That’s a dangerous subject on a night like tonight,” Mike said, walking around the bar to the cooking area. He’d had that built onto the back side of the bar so he could talk with the lady while he was cooking.

  All the ingredients were laid out; thank God at least he didn’t have to prepare them. But he had to stop and think for a moment, looking them over.

  Part of his regime in regards to the Rite was that it was a date. The Keldara girls did not date. Their husbands were chosen for them and they went to them from their father’s arm, very much in the original tradition. Outside the variable of the Rite, they were supposed to be virgins. Oh, some weren’t, Spring Festival was a time when some things went on that were generally overlooked. But they certainly did not date.

  Mike, when faced by the necessity of the Rite, decided that it was going to be a date. The best date he could possibly manage. Of course, there was no real question how the evening was going to turn out, sexually. The girl in question was going to get laid, will she, nil she. So far it had always been “will she” but Mike was dreading the day that it was “nil she.”

  Mike had been on a lot of dates in his time. And he’d been a “bad” date occasionally, but rarely in the last ten years or so. It was a social dance and had certain rules that had to be followed. There should be food of some sort, light if the evening was almost certain to include sex. There should be conversation, also light for the most part. Various “romantic” aspects had to be observed. And if the male wanted it to be a “good” date for the female, he had better get her to talk about herself for the most part and make sure she wasn’t playing serving girl the whole evening. If he wanted it to be good for the lady, he had to pay attention to her needs. And, generally, one of those needs was a day off from her “traditional” roles.

  Women, even in modern societies, were traditionally viewed as the housekeepers. Especially so amongst the Keldara. Keldara males could barbeque but few could really cook. So, for the evening, Mike took over the cooking duties.

  “You like Katrina the most,” Gretchen said.

  Mike wasn’t going to look up to see what expression was on her face. He was busy trying to remember how to cook Shrimp St. Jaques.

  One part of the Rite he was starting to have trouble with was the meal. He’d decided, early on, that every girl should have, at the least, her own “special” meal. But this was about his fifteenth “Rite” and he was starting to run out of easy dishes. His skills were mostly focused on the stovetop, stir fry and the various French equivalents. At this rate he was going to have to learn how to cook Lobster Thermidor or Chateau Briand.

  “Actually, Gretchen,” Mike said, still not looking up as he started the pasta, “while I like Katrina, my physical tastes are somewhat elsewhere. If I was asked to describe my dream girl she’d be, oh, tall with long shapely legs, a firm stomach, good, high, firm breasts, a pretty face, blue eyes… ” then he looked up into hers and smiled, “and blonde hair.”

  “Liar,” Gretchen said, shifting a bit in her seat and trying not to smile.

  “Au contraire,” Mike said then considered for a moment. “On the contrary. That describes my dream girl. Well, she could be somewhat shorter and more rounded, that has its attractions. But the breasts, eyes and hair remain.”

  “So I guess you like what you see?” Gretchen said, shifting again to lean sideways. She’d meant for it to be coquettish but one of her breasts damned near slipped out of the not particularly restraining dress and she straightened, pulling at the edges of the dress modestly.

  “I like it very much,” Mike said, trying to give the impression he hadn’t seen as much of that lovely lovely breast as, in fact, he had.

  “But that also describes Daria and Anastasia,” Gretchen pointed out.

  “Neither of whom, my dear, were virgins when I met them,” Mike said, bluntly.

  “What is it with men and virgins?” Gretchen asked, sharply.

  “Do you really want to know or are you just finding something to be unhappy about?” Mike asked. He was busy getting the alfredo sauce ready but he looked up again, curiously. Gretchen was acting quite the handful and he wasn’t positive why.

  “I’m sorry, Kildar,” Gretchen said, l
ooking down. “I apologize.”

  “Don’t,” Mike said, stirring in the parmesan cheese. “I’ve never been particularly happy about this… rite myself. As I’ve made plain many times.”

  “You don’t like breaking in virgins?” Gretchen asked. “What, you don’t want to bed me? Didn’t you just say that I’m your ideal girl?”

  “Yes, and I meant it,” Mike said. “But it’s supposed to be something the lady enjoys, not rape. And right now I’m getting the impression you’re less than happy. I think at me but I’m not sure.”

  Gretchen looked away again and then sighed. Mike was trying very hard not to look at her body but the sigh was impossible to resist.

  “Kiril is downstairs, isn’t he?”

  “Oh, so that’s it… ”

  * * *

  Kiril closed his eyes as Anastasia ran her hands down his body.

  She had turned up out of the darkness at the fire on the dun, as she had since the first Rite, and taken him up to the caravanserai.

  Mike thought that both parties should be “aware” when they came to the marriage bed. As it was his job to please Gretchen and teach her what pleased men, it was Anastasia’s to do the same for her mate. Both were careful, however, to stay away from their actual interests which leaned, no hurled, in the direction of whips, chains and as much pain as possible. Mike to inflict, Anastasia to absorb.

  “This is not the first time you’ve been with a woman,” Anastasia said, sitting down on the bed next to him.

  “No,” Kiril admitted.

  “So many lost their virginity on the Balkans trip,” Anastasia said, smiling. “Before that all of you were virgins. Since… ”

  “So, you really don’t have to do this,” Kiril pointed out. “I mean, I’d love to, but… ”

  “Do you think I don’t enjoy it?” Anastasia said, grinning. “For years in the harem all there was was Otayar and you don’t want me to describe what a thrill it was lying with an old fat man who cared only for his pleasure. But part of my purpose is to teach you how you can please your wife, not just to take your mind off of other things.”

  “I really don’t need my mind taken off of that, actually,” Kiril said. “I’m probably more okay with the Kildar being with Gretchen than… anybody. Including, I know, the Kildar. I’m just saying, if you don’t want to… ”

  “So thoughtful you are,” Anastasia said, running her hand down his body again. “But I do want to. It has a special thrill, yes?”

  “I… yes,” Kiril replied as there was a knock on the door.

  “Who in the… ” Anastasia said, her face reflecting fury as she stood up and walked to the door of the suite. Yanking it open she was confronted by the Kildar, holding an obviously embarassed Gretchen’s hand. Gretchen was pulling at her dress front, trying to cover more skin and looking anywhere but at the two people in the room.

  “Kildar?” Anastasia, in English, raising one eyebrow. “I take it the Rite is going somewhat Wrong?”

  “You are one of the few people I know that can change languages just to get in a pun,” Mike said, stepping passed her and closing the door, which was sound proofed. “Kiril! Come here!”

  “Yes, sir!” the young man said, snapping to attention and practically marching over. He, too, was trying very hard to not look at his fiancee.

  “Gretchen knows where my quarters are,” Mike said, putting Gretchen’s hand in his. “Get to it girl,” Mike added, slapping the girl on the butt.

  “Kildar,” Gretchen said, pleading in her eyes.

  “I like rape just fine, but I don’t do it,” Mike said, his face hard. “You two. Upstairs. That’s an order. I don’t care if you do anything or not, but if Kiril misses this opportunity, he’s over the line between hardcore and stupid. Nobody will know but the four of us.” Mike looked at the two of them, both wide-eyed and frozen, and sighed. “You’ll have to cook your own dinner.”

  “I don’t know how to cook that!” Gretchen practically wailed. “I’d never seen a shrimp before in my life!”

  “There are other ingredients,” Mike said, softening. “Go.”

  When the two stunned youngsters were gone, Mike looked at Anastasia.

  “So, doing anything this evening?” he asked.

  Chapter Six

  Gretchen stood, just looking around the small kitchen filled with devices she had no idea how to use, then picked up the Kildar’s apron and put it on over her beautiful dress.

  “So what happened?” Kiril asked, picking up the glass of champagne and sniffing at it. He took a sip and swirled it around in his mouth before swallowing. “This stuff doesn’t half make your nose tickle, does it?”

  “I don’t know,” Gretchen said, opening the unfamiliar refrigerator and looking at the contents. It was very well stocked for a spare kitchen. She looked in the freezer and recognized meat. She could probably do something with meat. Suddenly, she started crying.

  “I didn’t want this to happen,” she said, sniffling.

  “Well, it did,” Kiril said, taking another sip of champagne. “Nice dress, by the way.”

  “It wasn’t the Kildar, it was me,” Gretchen said, looking over at him. “I just couldn’t… ”

  “I guess I can understand that,” Kiril said. “I mean, sort of. But I thought all the girls wanted the Kildar?”

  “Not that you idiot!” Gretchen snapped. “It… I… It… ” She stopped and shrugged.

  “Oh,” Kiril said, setting down the glass with a clink that was the only sound in the room. “So… You did all this because you didn’t want me with Anastasia?”

  “And did you want me with the Kildar?” Gretchen asked, angrily.

  “Yes,” Kiril answered, expecting an angry reply.

  “Do you have a reason?” Gretchen said. “I do, I was just angry you were with that woman. Now… ”

  “You do?” Kiril asked, confused. “I mean, since the Kildar, okay, some of us have been thinking about our traditions, trying to pin down why they are. And we think we’ve got a handle on Cardane, but… You already do?

  “Yes,” Gretchen replied, “but that is all I can say. It is part of… woman’s rites.”

  “Oh… shit,” Kiril said, his face suddenly white. “The… ”

  “Goddess,” Gretchen said, nodding. “Kiril, I must lie with the Kildar this night. But I have failed. I will be shamed if I do not. I… ”

  “Oh, damn,” Kiril said, working his jaw. Guns he’d face, but not the vengeance of the Priestess. Not being able to marry Gretchen was the least of it. If she angered the Priestess, she’d almost assuredly be cast out, Kildar or no Kildar. He, too, might face the wrath. Oh, they hadn’t done the full Goddess Rites in a long time, but he didn’t want to be the person to break the trend. “Gretch, there’s only one thing to do, then… ”

  * * *

  “Oh, Jesus Christ,” Mike said, lowering the whip at a knock on the door. Anastasia had indicated the need for a seriously hard whipping and for once he wasn’t holding back; the whole thing with Gretchen had been incredibly frustrating. He hadn’t had a date go that bad in years. And, okay, he hadn’t looked forward to the Rite that much in a long time, either.

  “Mff, mgh, mff?” Anastasia asked through the gag.

  “How the hell should I know?”

  How long were they going to wait? Oh, the hell with it.

  Mike walked to the door and opened it, shielding the view of the interior, and the whip, from whoever was at the door. Technically he shouldn’t have been here at all at this time. This was really going to screw things up. He wasn’t sure how bad, but bad.

  He snatched the door open: “Wha… ” He paused at the sight of Gretchen and Kiril and took a deep breath. “Yes?” he said ground out as pleasantly as he could.

  “Kildar, the Rite must be completed,” Kiril said, holding out Gretchen’s hand. “Please, Kildar, let’s just… try to start over.” He’d clearly rehearsed the words and gotten through them without really taking in what he was seei
ng.

  Gretchen wasn’t saying much, she was just blinking.

  Mike had changed clothes. He was wearing a skin-tight black leather cuirass, a leather g-string, chaps and a spiked leather collar.

  Mike was tempted to do many things, swear, burst into laughter… but what he did was just nod.

  “I’m going to need a few minutes,” he said. He looked at Gretchen and shook his head. “Gretchen, go await me upstairs. Kiril… front room.”

  “Yes, Kildar,” Kiril said.

  Mike shook his head and walked around to look at Anastasia.

  “Think I should take the whip with me?” he asked.

  Anastasia thought about it for a few seconds then nodded her head affirmatively. Very affirmatively.

  “Think the kid’s up to this?” Mike asked waving around at the temporary bondage scene.

  Anastasia shook her head, ruefully, in the negative.

  “Yeah, I agree,” Mike said, frowning. “Good strong arms but then there’s the safety briefing and negotiation and all that time Gretchen’s waiting upstairs getting more and more nervous… ” He grinned evilly. “Okay, here’s a question. Want him to at least see you like this? That would be humiliating, right?”

  Anastasia shook her head hard and Mike started to grin then stopped.

  “Hell,” he said, pulling the gag out of her mouth. “We’re out of scene. Are you clear enough?” Serious bondage tended to get so many endorphins running in the submissive that it was very much like being drugged, one of its attractions for those who had the tendencies. For those who didn’t it was simply painful.

  “I’m clear,” Anastasia said. “We had barely gotten started. While I would actually appreciate the humiliation, you know how I am, I don’t think it would be good for him. While I’m pretty sure the Keldara are more or less aware of your interests, I think that having it thrown in his face wouldn’t be good.”

 
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