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eBook by Shiloh Walker
eBook Category: Romance/Historical Fiction
eBook Description: A legend among his own kind?even among the Hunters, Malachi was unique. He always had been? from the beginning. Once a slave, Malachi hadn't ever lived free, until a mysterious woman turned him into something he didn't understand. At first he fights it, seeing it as a different kind of bondage. Then he realizes it is his destiny. Embracing that destiny could lead to freedom--or it could lead him into an endless hell. Author's note: This is the story of how Malachi was Changed and how he was led to the Hunters~ although his future mate is alluded to, this isn't their story. It's Malachi's story, or at least, the beginning of it.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., Published: 2006
Fictionwise Release Date: February 2011
* * * *
2 Reader Ratings:
Hours later, Malachi was once more lying on the small pallet that made up Yen's bed. From the knee down, his legs were on the bare earth. The sharp scent of the weird herbs Yen used saturated the air. Thick cloths soaked in the herbs were wrapped around his torso. Malachi knew from experience--Yen's odd concoctions would have his bruises feeling days old and he would be moving around normally in very little time.
But sadly, it was quite likely the rapid recovery would just end with Malachi back in the arena that much sooner.
That much sooner he would have to face down another man and kill him.
He had no idea how many men he had been forced to kill, but their faces haunted him. Many had been hardly more than boys.
There had been a time when Malachi had refused to deliver that final strike. But it had resulted in one outcome--the fallen were still killed, right in front of him, usually in a slow and painful manner. And Malachi was beaten.
He could handle the beatings. He had been raised a slave. Beatings were something he was used to. But the last time, he had watched as one of the centurions eviscerated his fallen opponent. Then castrated him. Those screams would haunt Malachi until the day he died.
How much longer...
Nearly a week passed before he was summoned again. He was left alone, left to heal, left to brood. Malachi was not summoned to the Mistress' bed and he was not forced into the arena either.
When he was finally summoned, he was prepared for one or both duties.
Surprisingly though--it was neither. He was sent to the baths with hardly a word.
Before sunset, he had been sold.
* * * *
"Oh, he is worth every single bit of gold you paid."
The new Mistress was not a chore to look at, but the way she stared at him made Malachi feel dirty.
"If he does not please you, we can always use him in the arena," the Master said, barely glancing at Malachi. "That is where I first saw him. I have watched him many times. Julius did not wish to sell him, but I knew you would enjoy him. I paid a heavy sum of gold for him. Julius did not wish to let his best fighter go. He fights as if he were born to do it."
Big blue eyes sparkled as the Mistress ran her hands down Malachi's chest, over his belly, then his naked genitals. Malachi stared steadfastly at the floor the entire time, even when somebody tugged on his hair to try to force him to raise his head. He had been beaten more than once because an owner had not liked the look in his eyes.
Defiance, they called it. Malachi was not completely certain what the word meant, and he cared little. But he tired of the beatings rather quickly and he would avoid them when he could.
The Mistress closed cool, pale fingers over his cock and worked him until he grew erect. She giggled like a child with a new toy and said, "I think there is something else he was born to do. I cannot wait to see just how well he does it."
The Master waved a hand at them, smiling. "Take him, dearest. I have business to attend to."
That business, Malachi learned quickly enough, was his own lover, a blond haired man who was nearly as pretty as the Mistress. The Master was content to let the Mistress do as she pleased with her new toy, provided an heir was produced.
Malachi had been the fifth slave purchased for just the reason. The last four had been put to death for failing the Master and Mistress.
Like a stallion in rut, he was to service her. And he was told she had best get with child.
* * * *
Fucking her had become something he did without truly thinking about it. Malachi stared a hole into the wall in front of him as he pumped against her, his cock moving a slow, steady rhythm as he waited for her to climax. She liked her pleasures, this Mistress. If he climaxed before she had taken her own release, he would be beaten.
He had been with these owners a long while now, and he had not been beaten once. Making her come was an easy enough chore. Sometimes it was reaching his own climax that was difficult. But it was required.
She had born one child already, and both the Master and the Mistress desired more.
Malachi suspected she was already pregnant again, but that offered no reprieve for him. She had wanted sex almost until she delivered the first babe. No doubt this would be the same.
The Mistress arched under him and her sheath began to convulse around his cock. Her nails bit into his flesh and he could feel the hard press of her nipples against his chest. Now was the more difficult part. Hunkering lower over her body, Malachi blocked out the scent of her, the sight of her, picturing another woman in his mind.
This woman was unknown to him--her face always hidden by shadows, her long, pale body with its subtle curves. But it was her he imagined whenever he climaxed. Without thinking of her, he did not know if he could achieve release.
The first time she had come to him was truly the sweetest memory he had. Touching her was a pleasure, not a duty, not a chore and she gave as much pleasure as she received.
At first those dreams had been welcome escapes. But then he began to wish for more than just dreams. Much more.
To truly hold her. To truly touch her.
To know her name.
In his self-induced fantasy, she wrapped slender, strong arms around his neck and cried out his name as she came. Who are you..
He did not make a sound as he climaxed and the second it ended, he rolled away and moved to his pallet on the floor. Lying with his back to the Mistress' bed, he closed his eyes.
Perhaps tonight, he would dream of her again.
* * * *
The Mistress was with child.
Malachi stared at the room the Master had led him to. "Yours," he had been told. "We are pleased."
Pleased. Malachi kept his eyes on the floor and hoped nobody could see the sneer.
"Perhaps tonight you could provide some entertainment," the Master said as Malachi finally stepped into the room before him.
Entertaintment--Malachi suppressed a bitter smile. In other words, they wanted to see one of his other skills at the celebration tonight. The celebration was in honor of the Master and the Mistress. The entire household was moving at frantic speeds to get ready for it.
Entertainment--a fight. Truly, he did not understand any of these people. Their idea of entertainment was watching as Malachi beat the life out of somebody.
How was that an amusing thing?
Until then, though, Malachi was allowed to go into his new room and rest. He spent the afternoon lying on the bed and staring out the window at the mountains.
That was all he wanted.
His mind drifted and he found himself dreaming of her again. The room was dim and he could see just the vague outline of her body as she came to him, lowering her warm, soft body against his. She was soft, but there was a strength in her that was unlike any he had ever felt in a woman.
Her laugh rang in his ears like angel song as they mock wrestled, their tussle ending with him flipping her onto her back. She gasped as he touched her. Vicious hunger ripped through him as he covered her mound with his hand and felt how wet she was. Making her sigh and moan with pleasure was a pleasure all its own. Listening to her cry out as he brought her to climax had him wanting to throw back his head and scream out his triumph.
Touching her was like nothing he had ever known. "Who are you?" he asked as he pushed her thighs wide and moved between them.
"Shhh..." She never spoke to him. In all the months since he had first dreamed of her, this was the first time she had any sort of response when he demanded to know more of her.
"Tell me," he urged as he pushed into her. The slick wet tissues of her pussy clenched around his cock like a greedy fist. Pulling nearly completely out, he said it again, "Tell me." Driving back in.
The only answer was a hungry female cry. Malachi tried to pull away--he wanted to have her name before he came inside her again. But he did not have the strength.
Anger flooded him and his control went flying out the window. Hunkering low over her body, he fucked her. He was greedy, quick and demanding--taking his own pleasure without much regard for hers, but she came anyway, arching against him and screaming out his name.
The silky wet folds of her sex clenched around his cock, milking him, drawing his climax out until he thought he would die from the pleasure.
He almost prayed for it. At least if this killed him, he would not have to wake up and know she was not there.
"Tell me who you are," he asked once more, feeling the unfamiliar burn of regret and guilt.
There was silence, but then she finally spoke. Her voice was hollow, more of an echo than true sound. "I am nothing. I am no one. For now--"
"Just your name. Just tell me your name."
"Yours," she murmured, her hands caressing his shoulders. "I am yours."
And then she was gone. Again.
* * * *
"Wake up. Come on, Malachi, please wake up."
Malachi came out of the dream aching. In his gut. In his heart. And between his legs--the thick length of his cock was rock hard and pulsating, although he could feel a dampness on his clothes. Pressing a hand to his flesh, he swore silently. She did this to him always. A witch. That was what she was. A demon. Bewitching him, bespelling him, pleasuring him in his dreams until he spilled his seed like some boy.
He saw the lad standing a few feet away, shifting from one foot to the other, staring at Malachi with nervous eyes.
Malachi could not remember the boy's name. It was Li's youngest. The boy helped his mother in the kitchen.
Li supervised the arena slaves and he reminded Malachi a great deal of old Yen.
Like Yen, Li had golden skin and dark slanted eyes and he fought in the same quick deadly way.
The boy had his father's looks, golden skin, brown eyes, slight of stature and fast--eventually, he would be trained for the arena, Malachi suspected.
Likely Li did as well, which is why the boy still stayed in the kitchens.
"We need more wine."
Malachi scowled. "Wine?"
"For the guests. We have not enough for all of them and the others are all busy."
Fetching wine. Some time later, Malachi was fuming over it as he headed into the village for more wine. The Master had plenty of his own, but apparently none of it was rich enough for the party he planned to throw, so Malachi was once more playing fetch.
Malachi knew his anger was irrational. It was just a walk to town with the cart, easy enough labor. Better than rutting on the Mistress, better than fighting, even better than lifting. But he was ridiculously angered by it for some reason.
He could have refused. It truly was not his job, but if the Master wanted wine and Li's pretty wife, Heta, did not produce it, she would be in trouble. The thought of seeing her take the whip was enough to make Malachi ill.
So he was fetching wine.
Would have been nice if the Master and Mistress had decided on this a bit earlier, though, he thought morosely as he trudged closer and closer to the village. By the time he had made the purchases and loaded them into the small wheeled cart, it would be nearly dark.
And it would be nightfall before he reached the Master's lands.
Malachi blocked out the seductive whisper. Now might be as good a time as any. He had a little money. Heta had given it to him for the wine and it would be a while before he was missed. The celebration had already begun and Heta could bring out the wines the Master did have--when the guests were drunk enough, they would not care they were drinking a lesser vintage.
It could even be morning before Malachi was missed.
But he kept seeing the fear in the boy's eyes, the gratitude in Heta's.
No. He would not run.
* * * *
Hours later, he was swearing bitterly as he made his way through the darkened forest. The torch on the cart did a damn poor job of lighting the way. Although he knew these paths as well as he knew the back of his hand, traveling them in the dark, hauling a heavy load of wine was enough to have his anger returning in waves.
Lifting his eyes to the sky, he studied the angle of the moon. His mouth was dry, his belly was an empty knot and he was not looking forward to being forced into another fight.
It was that thought that made him do it.
Abruptly, Mal dropped the handles of the cart and turned, grabbing some of the wine. Jerking the oiled rag from the mouth of the jug, he tossed it onto the cart. Leaving the cart behind, he moved off the path and dropped onto the damp grass.
Tipping the jug back, he let the cool, sweet wine run down his throat. Damn a fight anyway. As late as it was, maybe they had all drunk themselves blind. After a little bit of wine, they'd never know if they were switched from the good stuff to the every day wine anyway, now would they?
For a moment, the image of Heta's face danced behind his lowered lids.
But instead of pushing to his feet and heading on, he took another drink of wine. Then another. And another. He kept drinking until the edge of his mind went blurry and the anger gnawing at his gut finally eased off.
He never noticed when his lids lowered. When the jug fell to the ground with a hollow thunk, he never even stirred.
The woman came to him like a whisper on the wind, moving on silent feet through the trees. The wind blew long golden strands of hair around her narrow shoulders, across her face. She reached up and brushed a strand out of her eyes, staring at the man sleeping under the tree.
She had sad eyes and as she studied him, her expression grew even more despondent. "I am sorry." She moved a little closer, kneeling on the ground beside him. He did not move as she reached out and touched a finger to his cheek. "I have been watching you."
As she sighed, her breasts rose and fell under the gleaming white of her gown. "Part of me hoped that you would never come to me. Each time I called, you turned it aside. Such a strong man."
The deep red of his hair seemed nearly black under the silvery light of the moon. She had watched him, night after night, as he bedded the lady of the house, and her instinctive fear had warred with curiosity. How would that lovely hair feel wrapped around her hands? To feel that powerful body moving over hers? He never once used a cruel hand--she suspected even if he had not been bedding the Mistress, he still would have used such care.
This was not a cruel man.
Did he enjoy making his Mistress cry out in pleasure?
And she had also watched him fight. Yes, she had been watching him for months and months. Fear sometimes forced her to leave, but always, she came back here. To watch him.
He was the one.