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For Want of a Nail: A Marketplace Short Story [MultiFormat]
eBook by Laura Antoniou

eBook Category: Erotica/BDSM Erotica/Gay Fiction
eBook Description: "The ambulance pulled away at two, just as the glazier arrived. Chris could see them both through the window as he waited on hold. Thunder crashed; it was technically too early for a Nor'easter, but water spouts had been spotted off the north shore, and out of a sunny afternoon a deepening gray sky had grown and harsh winds shook the pin oaks on the front lawns. In retrospect, he thought, perhaps this wasn't the best day for a party..." So begins another day at the Long Island mansion where elite slaves are trained to serve the masters and mistresses of the world with impeccable grace. Grendel and Alexandra are hosting a dinner party and their latest trainees--as well as the patience and resourcefulness of their majordomo Chris Parker--will be put to the test. About the Author: Laura Antoniou is the author of The Marketplace series and a wildly popular speaker at alternative lifestyle conventions. You can follow her every move on her blog.

eBook Publisher: Circlet Press/Luster Editions, Published: 2010, 2010
Fictionwise Release Date: April 2011

2 Reader Ratings:
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The ambulance pulled away at two, just as the glazier arrived. Chris could see them both through the window as he waited on hold. Thunder crashed; it was technically too early for a Nor'easter, but water spouts had been spotted off the north shore, and out of a sunny afternoon a deepening gray sky had grown and harsh winds shook the pin oaks on the front lawns. In retrospect, he thought, perhaps this wasn't the best day for a party.

* * * *

"We'd like to give a dinner party; semi formal, six guests, five courses, I think, with local wine pairings, for Friday next."

"Very good, Ma'am." Chris took the sheet of paper Alexandra passed him and scanned the guest list quickly. "Do you have any other requirements or desires for this?"

"Of course," Grendel interjected from his stance by the fireplace. "I was thinking this would be a good chance to see how well Brian has improved. He needs a test before we send him to auction. So, I want you to be as hands-off as possible about this; let him do as much as he can in the majordomo position of authority. I want Enid and Ramesh as waiters, of course, but they should also do some kitchen tasks."

Chris nodded and made his own notes. "Full livery, Sir?"

"Oh, God, yes, let's keep everyone clothed. Oh, and speaking of the kitchen, you'll have to work with Muira on this; she's got that night off."

Chris raised an eyebrow, pen poised. "Would you prefer I hire a chef for the dinner, then?"

"No, I'd prefer you figure out what she can do before she leaves and have the trainees do some prep work. You can finish up in the kitchen yourself." Grendel looked positively gleeful at the prospect, watching Chris ponder even as the shorter man was nodding in acceptance of the command. "I mean, no sense in letting all that Kaleigh training go to waste. You can manage to finish the meal and do some plating, I hope? Especially since we won't need you in livery yourself."

"Of course, Sir. It will be my pleasure."

"I'm sure it will. Now let's go see the trainees and beat some sense into them." And with that, Chris slipped the invitee list into his clipboard, tucked the board under one arm, and unclipped the strap from his belt. That, too, was a pleasure, albeit of a different sort.

* * * *

"What about lamb? I could easily finish up a nice roast."

"That would be if we had a nice roast; remember that terrible piece of flesh that was supposed to be a Sunday joint? That wee Claudia had to give the butchers a piece of her mind over it. No, no, I don't like the lamb we've seen lately at all." Muira McLanahan was most often addressed as Cook, especially when there were clients in the house, and she was proud of that appellation. "A chef's nothing but a man in a puffy hat doing the same job women have done for centuries. I cook; who the bloody hell chefs?" she had demanded, years ago, when Alexandra first hired her. Completely unfazed by the presence of naked slave trainees, she enjoyed the variety of her duties and was more than capable of whipping up a splendid gourmet feast from time to time. Chris sat with her over the kitchen table, his butler book and her recipe files at hand.

"Pork then?" Chris scanned the guest list notes and sighed. "No, wait, Nancy and Lawrence are coming; they were at the April dinner and we did a pork roast then."

Cook allowed a slight sound of scorn to escape. "Sure and they'd perish if they had one again?"

"Definitely," Chris teased. "How about..."

"Duck!" She started writing across her notepad with a finality Chris knew from experience.

"Duck?" he repeated. "Remember, I have to finish it. What were you thinking of, cassoulet?

"Not this early, no, although I was going to put up some legs for confit ... but last time I was at the farm, they had some lovely ducks." Muira enjoyed visiting one of the local farms for baskets of fresh produce and eggs. "I can make a cherry and port sauce with the last of those glorious cherries, too." She was continuing to write and Chris attempted to read her handwriting upside down.

"That's a lot of ... red items..." he offered.

"It's called a theme, you heathen. Long Island, in scarlet."

Chris thought of the snowy-white shirts and gloves for the serving staff and sighed. But there was no denying Muira at this point. She was an artist in the midst of creation, all protests to her common roots aside. He could change the shirts to black, or even red to match her theme, and skip the gloves. And really, nothing looked too hard to finish and plate, even upside down.

* * * *

"In ... in charge? But ... am I ready? I don't know if I'm ready!" Brian Cohen, senior trainee in the house and almost ready for his auction, looked likely to faint or vomit, or perhaps both.

"You'd better be," Chris warned. "Not only are you being relied upon to conduct yourself with confidence and expertise, but you must manage Ramesh and Enid as well. They will be looking to you for guidance and correction."

"Where will you be?" Brian could hardly believe how terrified he was at the mere thought of Chris not being there, being in charge. Was it really just a few weeks ago he had seen this man as an enemy? Or at least an encumbrance, a barrier to getting what he thought he really wanted. Now, Chris seemed more like a lifeline, full of information, encouragement, coaching and support, plus one hell of a hand on a well-worn leather strap. That hadn't changed. Brian's attitude toward such correction had changed instead.

"I will be in the kitchen, finishing the meal. When duties permit, and you will make sure they do, you will all have some time helping me with one task or another. But I will be strictly back of the house staff for all intents and purposes, and the kiddies will be forbidden to come to me for help--they must go to you and you must be able to supervise them."

The kiddies--his fellow trainees. Chris's nickname for them was wildly inappropriate, as they were both older than Brian. But they were, as he had been, novices at slavery, just barely a month into their training and struggling with things he remembered keenly. There were times when he despaired of them ever learning how to do things he took for granted, like knowing when to kneel and when to bow and when to just nod. But at the same time, when he caught them studying his form or heard what sounded like actual respect in their voices when they asked him for advice, he felt like an impostor. Didn't they realize what he had to go through to get here?

"Here are the parameters for the dinner," Chris said, passing Brian a folder. "Guest list, menu, the china and crystal Ms. Selador has selected, and my own notes. I want to see entries in your butler book tonight. Tomorrow morning, you and I will select some wines for approval, tomorrow afternoon you will meet with me and Cook to discuss what will need to be done to order, store, and prepare the menu items. Over the weekend, you will drill your staff in table service. Is this all understood?"

Brian stiffened at the instructions. "Yes, Chris."

"Then get your ass out of here and let the kiddies know you'll be their boss for a while. Speaking of which, are you still lusting after Ramesh?"

Brian barely suppressed a grin. The trainee in question was almost forty-six, and in a leather bar Brian probably wouldn't have noticed him except for the novelty of seeing an Indian man there. But here, in a sexually charged yet sexually frustrating world, the quiet, older man with his toffee-colored skin and deep, brown eyes and silvering hair was quite the sexpot. More to Brian's taste, at least, than their other roommate, Enid. Also, after getting a chance to know him, Brian found him sensitive, thoughtful, a true intellectual; his accent gave him an edge of cosmopolitan elegance and he carried himself with dignity even in terribly undignified circumstances. To Brian's surprise, Ramesh seemed more and more like his type of man--a daddy type, wise and patient and sexy.

"He still looks good to me," he answered honestly.

"Good. If your dinner is passable, then you may have him for the remainder of your stay, once a day, for whatever activity you prefer inside of thirty minutes." Chris waved Brian off and Brian knew enough not to stand there gaping and asking stupid questions. Instead, he bounced on out, gleeful. The glee lasted until he opened the folder and realized the scope of the task ahead of him. Typically, he responded as he usually did when faced with difficult tasks and decisions; he did not tell his fellow trainees what was in store for them all until the following day, after Chris kicked his ass well and good for not following orders.

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