Melania Ophrim peered through the one-way glass and watched the man on the other side. His long, black hair hung thick and shining to the curve of his well-muscled shoulders. An elaborate tattoo covered the back of his right thigh and buttock. Scars traced over his body in no discernible pattern, and she wondered where he had been a worker.
The small viewing room had a few comfortable chairs pressed up against the far wall, but she chose to stand. Usually these rooms were used for training purposes, to watch a novice perform the skills they would need as a concubine without being intrusive. The one-way glass glowed with a running tally of statistics about the man standing on the other side, everything from his heart rate to the amount of pheromones he expelled with each breath.
"This is why you called me back from my vacation? He doesn't look like he needs my help." Her own reflection, dim and ghostly, superimposed over his. Long and straight, her light brown hair framed her heart-shaped face. The result of generations of careful breeding, she was beautiful enough to have been selected as a concubine and had the burning desires of that class.
Unfortunately the flaw of having one blue eye and one brown eye marked her as unfit to breed with royalty. That might have been overlooked due to the quality of her bloodline, but when her body attained womanhood, she had none of the lush curves or height that were considered the epitome of female perfection. Instead her breasts barely swelled at all, and her hips and bottom remained narrow and uncurved.
She was lucky to have not been sold at puberty to a whorehouse of the worker class. Instead her instinctual sensuality and iron self-control were used to help train those who had been given the great honor of being a concubine. That control now kept her pulse from racing at the disruption of her much needed downtime.
Unlike trainers, a breaker was forbidden orgasm with those they trained. Usually given novices who couldn't orgasm and enjoy themselves either because of abuse or shyness, a breaker needed all their compassion and skills focused solely on the novice. To seek their own orgasm would distract the breaker and turn the focus from the novice's pleasure to themselves.
Because of this, all her sexual frustration was bottled up until she spent weeks in a sexual frenzy with willing males trying to soothe the need for release. Not having an orgasm with her novices usually wasn't a problem. She specialized in helping novices and concubines who had been physically abused by careless Masters and Mistresses to heal enough to find pleasure in making love again. The man standing with his back to them had enough scars to have been abused, but their placement and shape didn't appear to be the result of torture.
More than that, the arrogant tilt of his shoulders and the way he carried himself spoke of great inner strength and confidence. There was none of the cringing, the effort to hide in the corner of the room that she associated with someone in need of her special skills. If anything, he radiated a dominance that brought an unwelcome flush of heat through her body. When she did have the luxury of indulging herself, she always chose males who were dominant and commanding. The giving up of control was as much of a rush for her as the actual sex.
Her gaze followed the curve of his waist, lingering on the heavy muscles of his thighs and the strength of his calves. Those muscles weren't shaped for beauty, but for physical labor. Was he one of the lucky workers who had won in the Arena and earned a chance to become a concubine?
Pimina moved next to her and crossed her arms in an uncharacteristic display of nerves. The head trainer of the Snowbound Pleasure House had been training concubines for over three hundred years. Melania examined her closely, noting the tightness of her still-full lips and the way she rubbed her fingertips against her elbows. They both wore the skintight black leather suits of trainers, but Pimina's had gold embellishments on the shoulders and Melania's had a hint of purple shimmer.
"You're my best breaker, and Lady Grenba requested you personally," Pimina said and glanced down at her. Small, even for a woman, Melania was used to people underestimating her because of her size and her ethereal looks. As a breaker, she counted on it.
Melania's lip curled in disgust at the mention of Lady Grenba's name. "I'm surprised the lady"--she spat the word out--"would want me anywhere near one of her novices again."
Not looking at her, Pimina needlessly flipped through various viewing screens, bringing up different angles and charts of the man in the room before her. "Yes, well, she seemed impressed that you were able to rehabilitate her last novice enough to be resold to another Mistress."
Hot and bitter, anger burned in Melania's gut as she remembered the months it had taken to rebuild the shattered man. With a sweet and submissive nature, he had suffered greatly at Lady Grenba's hands. A known sadist, she had hurt him and tortured him until he was almost catatonic. She and her trainer claimed they had no idea he wasn't a masochist and professed ignorance that he wasn't enjoying himself. Melania later learned the novice was kept constantly drugged so he was aroused, and gagged so he couldn't protest. She wanted to tell the regulators, but Pimina had warned her Lady Grenba would get a slap on the wrist while Melania would be signing her death warrant. Both she and the novice would be long dead before Lady Grenba came to any kind of trial.
Only the intervention of a kindhearted maid had alerted the trainers to his situation. He was given to Melania to heal, and Lady Grenba had escaped punishment by virtue of her royal blood. The maid had been punished for her intervention--nothing the regulators could have disciplined Lady Grenba for, instead, a horrible "accident" that left the maid maimed. She now worked for Melania after being removed from Lady Grenba's tender care.
"I spent months helping him to relearn the pleasure, the joy of service. Months holding him as he screamed and begged for death." She shuddered and took a deep breath. "Lady Grenba tried to have me sold to a whorehouse when I recommended to the regulators he not go back to her."
Silence settled over the room, and the air was thick with tension. Beyond the glass, the man turned to stare at them, and a slight smirk lifted his lips. Rough and masculine, his features held none of the carefully bred perfection of her people. It was almost shocking to see someone who wasn't faultless. Even at rest, his cock was long and thick enough to please any woman.
The edge of his firm upper lip lifted in a sneer filled with contempt. He said something in a dark and fluid language the computer had to translate for her to understand. "Conversion from Jensian to Kyrimian: I'll cut off your heads and shit down your throat."
The offensive insult made her heart stutter in her chest as shock instantly slicked her body in stinging sweat. He switched to trader language and repeated the insult in words she could understand.
That wasn't any worker; in fact, he wasn't even of the same race. "Oh my Gods, he's an off-worlder. Pimina, we have to get him out of here! If the regulators find out--"
Pimina snapped, "Breaker, attend!"
The words of training sliced through her panic, and she sank to her knees with her palms turned up on her thighs. Legs pressed tightly together, she lifted her shoulders with a smooth indrawn breath and released a great deal of tension with her exhale. Hundreds of hours spent meditating in this pose did their job and helped her focus past her emotions.
"Better?" Pimina asked with a small smirk.
"Yes. Please forgive me for my unworthy display of panic."
Holding out her hand, Pimina helped Melania to her feet and said in a gentle tone, "Forgiven."
Melania leaned so close to the viewing screen, her breath fogged the glass. She stared at him in equal horror and fascination. "What is he doing here?"
"His name is Prince Devnar, and Lady Grenba captured him when he tried to raid her ship." Pimina waved her next question away. "That's not important. You are to train him and teach him the ways of the concubine."
"What? It is forbidden to train an off-worlder!" Most of the men and women who came through their pleasure house for training were willing volunteers, eager to earn the title of concubine and live the rest of their lives in comfort as beloved and treasured companions of their Master or Mistress.
A woman of her race was lucky to bear even one child in her lifetime. The royal houses married for power but chose their concubine for love. To sully the royal line with an off-worlder was treason, and the regulators would punish anyone who broke the law. Shaking her head, Melania backed away from the glass. "Pimina, we can be executed for smuggling him onto our world. Even if Lady Grenba brought him here." Her voice rose to a hysterical pitch. "This must be a trap; she must be trying to set us up. The regulators could be on their way here right now to--"
Pimina's long fingers tapped the viewing screen and called up his file. Melania gasped as the glittering crest of the empress shone before them, and Melania automatically dropped to her knees. Pimina's voice came out in a strained whisper. "His training is a royal decree."
Pimina opened his file on the viewing window, and Melania rose on shaky feet to read over the information. Everything in her own training told her instructing an off-worlder on how to be a concubine was wrong, blasphemy even. Regulations were very clear and strict on the sin of allowing any off-worlder onto Kyrimian soil.
The royal seal shimmered on the viewing glass, reminding her of the ancient videos of insects called fireflies that once inhabited their world before the Burning Times. Following the pattern of sparkles, she quickly came to a decision. If the empress had ordered it, she had less than no choice. Everyone knew even the regulators didn't dare go against the will of the empress, let alone a lowly breaker.
Pimina said in a dry voice, "His initial review has been a great disappointment. The only way we could get him to perform was to use heavy doses of an aphrodisiac, and even then he would refuse to orgasm."
Despite her fear and confusion, she couldn't help but be intrigued. "Any idea why?" The notion of fighting off an orgasm you were freely allowed and encouraged to have stunned her almost as much as seeing the empress's crest.
"No." Pimina's lips narrowed further, and Melania wondered if she had failed at getting the prince to perform. He was of no use as a concubine if he refused to serve with all the skill and finesse they would teach him. "His sexual profiles all came back strong, if not overly so. And look at his testosterone levels."
If she was reading his chart correctly, the lust he would give off would be amazing. Now she could see why the empress was willing to make an exception for him. Melania practically purred. Her race fed on the psychic energy given off by their partner during an orgasm. "Once properly trained..." Her breath came out in a shudder. "He'll be worth his weight in zanthin."
"Can you do it?" Pimina demanded and crossed her arms over her abundant chest. Taught to notice every nuance of a person's body language and appearance, Melania couldn't help but notice how Pimina's hands trembled. For some reason, that sign of nerves from the normally unflappable trainer bothered her more than anything else said here today.
She mustered her considerable inner strength and tried to reassure Pimina. "Of course."
The slight dropping of Pimina's shoulders sent a surge of pride through her at the trainer's trust in her abilities. Briefly closing her eyes, Melania focused herself on the off-worlder. If she was going to succeed, she had to start viewing him and treating him as any other reluctant novice.
Melania touched the window, flipping through the pages of his profile. He responded to females and males but performed unwillingly every time. Stubborn and arrogant, his temper had led to multiple punishments with the pain amplifier. He fought pleasure and did everything he could not to orgasm. No wonder his trainers had such a problem with him; they would have no idea how to handle someone who didn't want to learn a concubine's skills.
But breakers were trained to call forth passion from the shy or stubborn, and Melania was one of the best.
A thrill of desire moved through her as she watched him pace. She ruthlessly suppressed it. He was not meant for her, and she could not form an attachment to him. One of the reasons she made such a good breaker was because she was able to focus solely on the novice, not on her own needs and desires.
An elaborate tattoo sweeping over the broad muscles of his upper thigh caught her eye. What a magnificent challenge he would present. The chance to use her skills on a novice who might actually be used by the inner circle of the royal family made her mind race. Her shoulders fell, and she took a deep breath to try and center her thoughts. This wasn't about her needs; it was about his. She lived to serve.
"You have one month to break him." Pimina added this as if it was of no consequence.
"What?" Melania tore her eyes away from Devnar and stared at Pimina. "It takes months to do a proper breaking. I--"
"Don't tell me my craft!" Pimina clenched her hands into fists. "Lady Grenba plans on presenting him to the empress as a gift on her eighty-first birthday. The empress has been hinting she's looking for a new novice to replace her concubine who was assassinated. He won't be the only one presented to her, you can be sure of that."
Melania rubbed her mouth with the back of her hand. "So the empress is finally ready to break her mourning. Can we be sure he will be well received?"
"Lady Grenba wouldn't risk the insult of giving her an unwanted gift. Or waste such a valuable novice." Pimina smoothed back a stray curl from Melania's face. "He is a unique present the lady went to great trouble to secure on the empress's behalf. There have been rumors the empress wants to open Kyrimia to off-worlders."
Melania carefully sat in one of the comfortable cream chairs. If Pimina kept throwing shocks at her like this, she might as well sit down before she fell down. "The regulators will never allow that." Looking at the man pacing on the other side of the glass, she repeated the first rule of regulation. "Off-worlders are treacherous monsters that want to rape what is left of our mother planet. They are forbidden."
Pimina's lips twitched with unsaid words before she blew out a breath. "Well, physically he doesn't appear monstrous. Besides, those decisions are the realm of royal politics and out of our hands. The best we can do is deal with the problem or opportunity given to us." She handed Melania the control bracelet keyed to the prince's collar and cuffs. "Lady Grenba mentioned the empress is very much looking forward to meeting him and will be very disappointed if we don't succeed in making him into a presentable concubine."
"So you're saying if we don't train him and word reaches the empress of our failure, we should sell all of our possessions and start running." Melania ran her suddenly slick hands down the liquid black fabric of her breakers suit. No one denied the empress her desires and lived.
Pimina gave a rough laugh that held a ragged edge of fear. "If we fail, we won't have to worry about the empress. Lady Grenba has promised she'll personally eliminate our entire bloodline."
Though she never knew her parents--they had abandoned her as soon as the flaw of her different colored eyes became apparent--she still winced. "Anything else I need to know?" She almost managed to keep the tremor out of her voice.
Devnar turned his back to them, the angle and posture of his shoulders clearly displaying his contempt. If she didn't know better, she would think he could see and hear them.
"Be wary of him. Restrain him at all times. He snapped one of the trainer's arms after she tried to mount him." Melania gaped at her, and Pimina quickly continued. "He was highly drugged and unaware of what he did, but he didn't regret it once he sobered up. So no drugs and always restrain him."
Melania stood and walked back over to the window, her gaze switching between the man behind the glass and information on the screen. She tapped the open file on the window with a long, purple-tinted nail and read the report about the assault. She hated to use restraints and force, but the thought of broken bones didn't appeal to her either. "Anything else I need to know?" she said in a dry voice.
Pimina hesitated and evaluated Melania with all her attention. "If you succeed, and he is chosen by the empress, you will be allowed to have your own concubine."
The world flashed white before her eyes, and her heart gave a painful pound in her chest. Next to her, Pimina muttered an oath and held her as she sagged. "My own?"
Pimina released her, then stepped back. Instead of meeting Melania's look, Pimina kept her gaze on the man on the other side of the viewing glass. "It has been decreed that whatever trainer or breaker provides the empress with her next concubine will be allowed to have a concubine of their own."
With her palms against the glass, Melania stared at the man who was the key to all her oldest dreams. A concubine of her own to love and cherish, someone to come home to, someone to fill the cold void in her heart that yearned for a mate to call her own.
"Pay attention, Breaker." Melania tried not to squirm underneath that hard gaze, but it quickly brought her back to the time when she was trained by Pimina. "His people might attempt a rescue since he is a prince. I doubt they would make it onto our planet, but you never know. Make sure your stables are well guarded, and don't lose your focus. If he escapes, Lady Grenba will destroy you. Even I will not be able to save your life." Her voice grew soft, and she gave Melania a brief hug. "You'll never have a chance like this again."
"As if spending the next five hundred years in a pain amplifier wasn't enough motivation." Melania laughed and rubbed her hands together briskly to work away the residue of fear. His race was a complete mystery to her, and she didn't know how heightened his senses were. A thrill washed through her as she realized she would be the first breaker to ever work with his people. "When should I begin?"
"Now." Pimina cupped her cheek and gave her a rare smile. "You have always been my best breaker, Melania. I know your family curses those eyes that kept you out of service, but I do not doubt for a minute you would have made a wonderful concubine."
Melania blushed at the compliment. "Thank you."
A ghost of apprehension swam through Pimina's stern gaze. "Do not fail me."
"I won't." She lifted her chin and strode toward the door leading to the room that held Devnar. She prayed she would find the strength to break him and save herself.