Carolyn heard their voices before anything else, heard them downstairs as they talked to the proprietor, their lyrical tones reaching upwards in audible poetry and tangible music. As deceptive as everything else about them, this voice more so than others…

  • Date: 12 April 2018
  • Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance
  • Type: Short Story

London 1845


Carolyn heard their voices before anything else, heard them downstairs as they talked to the proprietor, their lyrical tones reaching upwards in audible poetry and tangible music. As deceptive as everything else about them, this voice more so than others. She recognised the deep melody, the decadent temptation – she had escaped him four times before, once leaving him bleeding. She did not know his name, had never asked it – she only knew what he was to her. He was her owner and he was here to reacquire a recalcitrant property, come what may.

“Milord, the young lady looked exhausted and frightened – I am certain she is deeply asleep in her room.”

The voice of the proprietress of this establishment grated too human in comparison to the melodious tones of those of the elf-lord. 


Her hand on the door handle she froze, for a moment torn between cursing or praising her luck. She was lucky, an undeniable need for a drink and an empty water jug had brought her out of her room – unlucky because she had come to this Bed and Breakfast in the first place. How could she have been so stupid to think she was safe here, to take the word of a strange for this. Had she not learnt better over the years? It was not the first time she had been sold out after all. 


Reality, broke over her with a wave of adrenaline bringing with it the musty scent of the hallway, the sound of the ascending footsteps and the awareness of an icy draft wrapping around her limbs. She judges she might have around twenty seconds before she either had procured a way out, or was caught like a mouse in a trap. To her left only lay the staircase, and with it the source of her danger. At her right stretched a short hallway towards what had been in the better times of this shabby chic building the servant stairs. Carolyn had no idea if she would be able to escape the house in that direction, in reality it did not matter. It was the only direction she could go in – and failing to do so would mean giving in without a fight. Unconditional surrender simply was not in her nature – if she ever met the devil she would most likely still argue. With a look into the direction from where the boding footsteps sounded she turned and ran. 


There might have been a cry behind her, voices raised in alarm, footsteps in pursuit. Even that did not matter, could not matter. She had learnt seven years ago, the first time she had run, never to look back, never to wonder what might happen were you caught. The first secret of a successful escape was not luck, or skill, it was determination, the willingness to risk all for just one more moment of freedom. 


The servant’s stairs loomed before her, a dark, uninviting hole, long disused and neglected. Carolyn dove into it without any regard for its state of disrepair or her own health – at the end of this staircase would be something, something other than what lay besides her. For the moment, that was enough for her. Her hands grazed over the rough, peeling wallpaper, its sharp edges cutting her skin. The dust in the air made breathing a chore, more so than her headlong flight. And still she made it to the bottom, her long skirts snagging at the protruding stoop at the last step. Wild eyed and coughing, she emerged into the kitchen hallway where, for the first time in long weeks, she began to believe in her luck again. Behind her she heard the heavy tread of boot, from the front of the house voices heading towards her, but there, right before her, reachable with a few short steps, stood open the door into the kitchen garden and beyond that a street busy with evening traffic. Among the Londoners returning home from a day’s work, the carriages and carts, under the cover of people hurrying to and fro, she might just be able to disappear. Carolyn managed to cross the kitchen garden even before a crash behind her indicated the arrival of more than one pursuer. 


Ten minutes later she had disappeared among the working public only wearing a serviceable, but worn, dress and without a penny to her name. All her possessions, even her heavy coat were at the Bed and Breakfast, with not possibility to retrieve them. The sheer magnitude of the catastrophe was brought home to her when she felt the first heavy drops of rain on her skin, felt the sudden chill in the evening air. This was London in late fall, any protracted time period in the open would involve rain. As the wind picked up and the large lazy drops of rain changed into something entirely more forceful, penetrating within minutes clothes and hair, the street emptied. Carolyn kept moving, taking refuge in the mechanical movement of putting one foot before the other.


She was exhausted, body and mind, exhausted by fear, by hunger, by loneliness. This morning, as the lady in the employment agency, the last one remaining open to Carolyn after three month in which she had lost one employment after the other, had handed her the tastefully embossed, though worn, card there had been a moment of hope. Just for a little while she had hoped she might find a safe haven for a little. The woman’s eyes had been so kindly as she pushed the card into Carolyn’s hand, whispering to her this would be a place where people like her found refuge. Carolyn had thought people like her meant outcasts from the Summerlands in need of aid and protection in the human world. She had not realised a Bed and Breakfast might also be the ultimate cover if you wanted to bring in those refuges. 


The cold seeped the last strength from her, seemingly penetrating her skin to take root in her blood. With every step, the next one seemed harder to take, wind and rain obscuring the dark London streets to her eyes. Rationally, she knew it was not safe to be wandering these streets at night, alone and defenceless. Rationality was steadily buried under the grey weight of despair and defeat. Her aimless wanderings had carried her away from the larger streets into the alleys and back-ways. Almost by accident she stumbled into the shelter of an abandoned carriage house, the cavernous house another remnant of times when servants and horses were a viable option for more of the old families, rather than only the richest. Now many of the carriage paths in the back of houses were falling into neglect, carriage houses and stables changing in purpose or standing abandoned. Beat and defeated she let herself sink to her knees as soon as she had stumbled from out of the cold, a shivering, miserable bundle of near humanity. She did not even have enough strength left for tears. 


Time passed. How much? She did not know. The cold, the shivers wracking her body, the suffocating desperation did not abate. Her dress was soaked, its heavy skirts dragging on her, seeping away the last shreds of her energy. What was there to fight for anymore? Her childhood had been a never ending circle of happiness and terror, the first when her elven father was absent on one of the many errants he had had to run for the Elf-lord he had served; terror whenever he had returned and the bruises began to bloom anew on her mothers body. The summer-lands were not a forgiving place for a human, or a half-human child, the only protection and care granted by the position as “pet” to an elf. When her mother died, the situation had worsened. There was no space in her father’s world for a daughter whose stain of humanity was a mark stamped on every feature. It was different with her little brother, not only did he look elvish, as a boy he would also be able to serve and gain a place. A girl did not get that opportunity. Two weeks after the death of her mother, her father had returned mentioning in passing he had applied to the Lord to have ownership over her transferred. He expected the decision a week from then – she had not waited one day longer before she had run. 


Somehow she had thought it would be easier among humans, lured and deceived by the stories her homesick mother had told them around the kitchen fire. But life was just as unforgiving on this side of the divide, her long white hair and brilliantly green eyes just exotic enough to draw too much attention. She worked as governess, as maid, as tavern serf, as cook but if she did not lose her position to the distrust of her fellow servants, she lost it because the son, brother or father of the household showed more than friendly interest in her. And six times she lost it because they found her, the elves, the Lord, her owner. The first two times it was merely the sight of one of the many lower elf servants, a brownie or Siofra, alerting her to their presence. After she had failed to be recaptured by them a Gancanagh was sent to seduce her, to bind her back to fairy with the physical joys of sex. He was easily eluded, having watched the misery a love bond could mean for a woman on her mothers example. The last three times it had been a group of Tuatha di Dannan, Elfnobility, to follow her. Six times she had escaped, seven if you counted today, but for what? Where was the point? 


A movement to her right made her turn her head. A cat, barely more than a kitten, soaked and shivering, crept out from between the dirt and debris leaning against the far wall, to cautiously stagger towards her. He was a pitiful little thing, thin and weak, but still full of life. Instinctively, she scooped him up tin a futile attempt to dry him with her sodden skirts. 

“I am unsure if contact with your skirt will make his lot any easier, little one.”

The voice was gentle, soothing, barely a disturbance in the dimness of the cold structure, its melodic beauty a deceptive contrast to the atmosphere. It froze her, halted her movements. Disturbed by her sudden tension the little cat mewled in complaint and struggled out of her grip. She let him go, even in the ice and cold of the autumn night he would be safer than here now. She knew that voice, had heard it three times before when they had come for her, the last time raised in alarm as she buried a knife in his arm before running from the room. Her eyes found him, a shape in the dark, whose contours became more distinct with ever slow and steady step he took in her direction. The moonlight seemed to gather in his long pale hair, caress his skin, sparkle in those deep blue eyes. Even here, in the derelict abandon of the barn, under the beating sounds of the wind and storm through which he must have passed to find her here, nothing diminished the beauty of his form and features. There was a reason why humans were lured by fairy, forgot the cold power underlying all that beauty. 


Carolyn watched him come closer, his movements gradual and deliberate as if afraid to startle a wild animal into flight. If it was her he was worried about, she could have told him not to bother, she had reached the end, the culmination of all her fight, all her flights, the utter devastation and exhaustion of all she was. His eyes held a strange warmth, a gentle pity, as he crouched besides her, his warm hand softly stroking the wet strands from her face.

“You fought so hard, ran so far, and still the only one you have hurt has been yourself.”

She did not react, had nothing to say. He was right and that realisation was the last nail in the coffin of her resistance. She felt the single tear fall from her eye, felt his finger as it stroked the drop away. 

“It is time to come home, Caomh.” 

He used the elven name she had been given as a child, Caomh, the gentle one. She still did not speak, did not resist, not as he engulfed her in his greatcoat, not as he lifted her into his arms to carry her back to the Bed and Breakfast, not even as he ordered a hot bath to be drawn. Only as he began to peel the soaked clothes of her icy skin did she ask one single question:


Why had he followed her? Why had he not just let her go? Why had he gone to all this trouble to find an unimportant little human, the recalcitrant daughter of one of his lowest guards. Carolyn did not think he would answer, his hands never halting in their ministrations, as he first removed her dress, then her corset and finally her shift. She was too numb to protest, or even to ask her question again. But as he urged her into the heavy brass tub filled with hot water and fragrant oil, as he settled her into the warmth without any regard for the state of his own clothes, he did answer. 

“Because, if you understand it or not, we are your family and it is my right, my duty and my privilege, to bring you home, Caomh.”

And that was that, his right and privilege. According to elven law she was his property, to do with as he pleased. 


The bath was hot, filling the room with lavender scented steam. She had little memory of their way here, her mind having retreated into a safe little corner, leaving her body on autopilot. It was the heat of the water which brought her out a little. The combination of warm water and exhaustion seeped the last remainders of strength from her muscles and, in docile apathy, did she watch him divest himself of his equally sodden clothes until all he wore were his long, black dragon-skin breeches. His beauty was, even for an elf, breathtaking, long lines over hard muscles, but not even this could shake her from her indifference. She had given up. Too soon did he pull her from the warm water, carried her over to the bed, spreading her on the soft linen like an offering to an ancient God. She made no demure. It would have been futile, so utterly futile and she was so tired.


His thighs came to straddle her hips, his hands bracketing her face. He crouched over her like a predator protecting its prey and for a long while he simply looked at her. 

“My privilege.” His voice held a tone of quiet contemplation almost as if he spoke to himself more than her. “My right, my duty. You are mine, little one, but I do not think anyone has taught you what that means.”

She could have told him her father had certainly tried, ensuring absolute obedience with kicks and fists, could have told him service in a human household also required a clear understanding of what was meant by obedience. She would have told him, if any fight would have been left in her. Like this, defeated and beaten, she simply remained silent. His sigh was almost inaudible as he reached for a bottle on the side table.

“Well, let us see what you have done to my property then.”


The scent of spice and moonflower, the scent of Fairy, filled the room as he uncorked the bottle. He poured a significant amount of oil into his hands, warmed it there, whilst studying her. She met his blue gaze unflinching, almost without real interest. The tough of his hands was warm and firm as he spread the oil along her arms, as he lifted them over her head and massaged their length. She almost missed the moment when shoots sprang from the wood of the bed frame to reach for her, to twine around her wrists, to hold her limbs where he had put them. It should have alarmed her, frightened her. It did not. She registered the move as if from a distance. It was as he had said, she was his property to do with as he pleased. 


His sharp eyes had watched every passing shiver, every fleeting emotion on her face, his gaze seemed to be looking for something he did not find. A frown, there and gone again, marred his features. He reached for the oil again and, with meticulous attention to detail, spread the liquid alone her collar bone, over her breasts and ribcage, her stomach and legs, all the whilst commenting and noting the smallest scar or bruise, each place where her skin stretched too tightly over bone. Slowly, with every touch her body heated, relaxed into the sensation of touch, of skin on skin, of intimacy. Carolyn wanted to preserve the distance, the disassociation, but no human can remain entirely unaffected under the touch of an elf. As he worked his way up her body again his touch became more sensuous, long, even strokes designed to arouse and caress. She felt each touch to her core. 


Her eyes found his, found the joy and anticipation in his gaze and knew he appreciated the view before him. Straddling her hips again his smile held more than simple interest, it held a depth of possession, the beginnings of smouldering anger, finally powerful to shake her, to frighten her. 

“You have done quite extensive damage to my property, little one. I cannot let this pass. I will have to consider appropriate punishment.”

Instinctively, her muscles tensed, her whole body seizing in remembered pain. She had been barely ten when she had broken one of her father’s goblets whilst cleaning it. He had been furious, whipping her bloody with his riding crop. Her breath sped up before she could control it, her own heartbeat a loud presence in her mind. His eyes watched everything, watched every movement, every change with calculated precision. Then he reached for the candle on the table and sat up. Her eyes were irresistibly drawn by the dancing flame in his hand.


“How should we punish you? With a little torture? I don’t quite have burning prongs at hand, but this might help.”


    She watched in horror as he slowly tipped the candle over the exposed skin of her stomach, saw, almost as if in slow-motion, the first drops of wax falling, felt their impact on her skin, a searing heat, tightening the very instance it came into contact with her skin and began to cool. It was not painful, and before it could become so, his hand stroked the viscous fluid from her oily skin.

    “Hmm, I don’t think this has quite the desired effect, do you? Possibly I have to try some more sensitive areas.”

    There was amusement in his tone, and anticipation. His large hand came to shape her breast, stroked and teased until her nipples stood hard and the skin around them was painfully sensitive. Holding her gaze with his, a wicked light dancing in his eyes, he tipped the candle and let the wax flow. The sensation of heat and tension as it burst over her breasts seemed to connect directly with her vagina, heat pooling, her clitoris suddenly as sensitive as he nipples, even without his touch. Her back arched into the sensation and as his hands once again removed the wax, massaging her breasts in the process, a moan was pulled from her lips.


    Only as her lips were taken in a deep kiss, conquered, her very breath stolen and replaced with his, did she realise her eyes had fallen closed. The sharp taste of wine and man exploded on her tongue. She drank him in, every second more addictive, every touch too much, and not enough. He only let up when she thought she might suffocate, triumph in every line of his body.

    “I do not think we have exhausted the concept of punishment yet, though.”

    She wanted to be sure he was teasing, but it was impossible. Only seconds before she had kissed him with all her being but the moment he moved back he became the elf, the enemy, again and in his eyes she saw the knowledge of this, her own perception, mirrored. When he climbed off the bed, her anxious eyes tracked each and every of his moves, her arousal dying a sudden, but absolute, death as she saw what he picked up from the floor. She knew what a flogger was, had seen grown men die under the harsh punishment meted out with the implement. Still, it was almost a relief when he brought it over to the bed. This is what she had expected – pain and torture, suffering and fear, not the care he had surrounded her with. Gently, he dangled the flogger over the skin of her legs, let the many strands stroke her heated skin. It was a surprising sensation, the soft caress of smooth leather rather then the stiff, punishing touch she had expected. With a fast flick of his wrist, almost too fast to register, he let the lengths of leather rain onto her stomach, the sensation akin to the rain of little stones over velvet. Almost immediately he followed the stroke up with another, a harder one this time. The pain of the second mixed with the pleasure of the first, surrounding her in a spiral of sensation too strong to deny, too visceral to classify. Her hips bucked under the sudden onslaught of pleasure. Before her hips could sink back to the bed a dull thud sounded and suddenly her was poised between her legs, his strong hands lifting her for his access. She wanted to protest, to stop him, but he only allowed her enough time to realise what he intended before, still holding her gaze, he leant forward and licked over her engorged clitoris.


    She had no idea for how long he played with her, his tongue teasing and taunting until her insides were so tense and knotted she was about to explode only to stop and wait until she had retreated from the chasm of orgasm. Every time she the wave of pleasure retreated his mouth would return to suck and nibble, his tongue carefully stroking on either side of the swollen nub without ever allowing her enough stimulation, enough pressure to go over the cliff to fall into orgasm. She gyrated and wound herself on the bed, trying to escape his torture but his grip was strong and sure. The noises breaking from her lips passed from moans to screams to whimpers until she began to beg, for what, she was not entirely sure.


    This was when his mouth began to kiss its way up her body until it was able to sip the pleas from her lips. She tasted herself on his lips, tasted her own desperation over the taste of his pleasure and could not get enough.

    “What do you want, little one? What do you need?”

    She felt the thick presence of his cock on her entrance, felt the firm skin teasing her. She tried to move towards him, to pull him into her but she did not have enough freedom to move.

    “Tell me.”

    That voice was seductive and alluring but something in her kept her from answering. His hand found her left breast again, teased the sensitive skin whilst his lips nibbled along her neck. He began to roll her nipple between his fingers, pulling and pinching until it was almost painful, just to relent and stroke away the near pain. Again and again. Restlessly her head rolled on the pillow in a desperate attempt to quench the heat.

    “Tell me.”

    She did not understand what he wanted from her, only knew she needed something only he could give her, needed it desperately. She must have stuttered something, told him she did not comprehend for her repeated.

    “Tell me what you need?”

    What did she need? She knew that, had known that for what seemed all her life.

    “Not to be lonely anymore.”

    It burst from her in equal parts a scream and a sob. It was enough. His hands curved around her cheeks, held her, stilled her until her eyes were able to fix on the seamless blue of his.

    “You are mine. Mine to hold, mine to care for, mine to protect. If you know it or not, if you can accept it or not – you are part of my family. You will never be alone again.”

    He waited, let the words, his voice sink in but did not allow her mind to regather its wits before, in one single move he sheathed himself in her. Before he had even started to move, she came. Her orgasm taking with it all the fears, all the worries, all the pain leaving behind only a strange clear calm.

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