27. Today was her 27th birthday and as she stepped out into the arena, into the wide open space under the gaze of a thousand avid eyes, she was ready – ready to die. There was no need for the guiding hands of the two guards, no need for the support of the glass of wine a kindly soul had offered her to bolster her nerves. She stepped into the light before the seven raised thrones of the senators without a moment’s hesitation, without a hint of fear. A year ago she would have shaken in fear, would have lowered her eyes before the seven leaders of the alliance; but in that year one man had taken her past fear and pain, had robbed her first of her dignity and then her very identity – and in the end, she had beaten him. She would die today – but it would be her choice, her own decision.
So it was with clear eyes she faced her judges, unflinching and sure.
“Senators – before you comes Evangeline, daughter of Eschten, invected with the sanguinativirus, a result of her captivity by the Nightripper. She has made her choice under our laws. She chose Death.”
She felt their gazes, heavy and considering, almost touchable. These beings, each a representative of their race, each more powerful than anything she could imagine, might not understand her choice, but they would honour it as law. She was infected and as such, had to either enter the service of one of the bloodborn, or she had to die – no other option existed. No one would ever own her again.
Her eyes wandered over the seven rulers – each easily powerful enough to strike her down, here and now. The pale elf, flanked by coldness of death in the eyes of the bloodborn twins, the heat of the elementals besides the age of the dragonmere and at the end, slightly apart, the one they all feared, the raven-touched, the witchking. Her eyes found his last, met and held the brilliantly blue eyes so devoid of emotion it reminded her of the glaciers of the North. He rarely spoke in public sessions, hardly ever moved. So when he rose it was not only Evangeline who gasped in surprise. She had never seen him so close, had never seen the lithe elegance barely hiding the lethal power under his skin, had never realised how dark his hair, how pale his skin was. Captured by his beauty, frozen in place she did not flinch as his finger rose to stroke along her jawline.
First, she could not comprehend what he had said, could not believe it. Traditionally, a Choice could only be circumvented if a Master claimed them as a personal servant, bound them to his will. When she comprehended what he had done, hot fury rose in her. How dare he, this man who had refused to bind a servant for 700 years, how dare he force her into slavery? She wanted to scream at him, to yell and rage, but his finger came to rest on her mouth effectively silencing her. She barely heard the echo of the senators as they witnessed his claim as her eyes bored into his. His lips twitched as if in amusement.
He would not win. To realise the bond she had to submit to his pleasure, not by rape, but by her own orgams. If there had ever been pleasure in sex for her, she had lost all connection to it over the course of her captivity. She let him see her defiance, let her resistance shine like a warning in her eyes as his hand stroked alone her cheek to bury in her ragtag brown strands. His lips were a soft whisper as they stroked over hers, not claiming but enticing with barely there touches. Even through her closed lips she tasted him, tasted the sharp taste of wine over the earthy aroma of the man. Surprise rose in her, surprise at her body’s reaction, and for a moment she just allowed herself to feel. They were in the middle of the crowded arena, he would not force the issue here, and it was so good to simply feel, to be touched without fear.
By the time she remembered that a Sorcerer did not need to disrobe you to touch, her body was already burning with a thousand phantom touches. She felt his mind’s caress like hands stroking down her back, over the globes of her ass to bring her closer to a male body that left no doubt about its willingness to serve her. Her nipples had hardened into hard, almost painful nubs straining against the silk of her blouse. As they contacted with his hard chest her mouth opened in a moan, opened to his taste and invasion that finally claimed her senses. The hand in her hair tightened, never hurting her, but cradling her safely. By the time his phantom fingers stroked over the inside of her thighs she was lost – lost in his scent, his touch, his strength. She felt the heat of her own moisture as his fingers parted her labia gently, playing a tender rhythm over her skin. He never entered her, never stretched her channel, never filled that void she had not realised existed until that moment. Instead his fingers circled her clitoris, stroked along the sides of the swollen nub in knowing leisure. As he devoured her mouth and teased her body, her senses were unable to come to terms, to relate to the rising pleasure. Her hands rose to grasp his upper arms, to hold onto him in the overwhelming sensation swamping her. And as she capitulated, as she let sensation take her, she felt his lips curve in a gentle smile against her own.
The first thing intruding on her mind were his arms holding her, steel bands of warmth. Though quickly the noise of the crowd intruded. Her eyes sprang open, met his calm gaze in panicked embarrassment. He simply held her gaze, let her become aware of him and their surrounding, let her draw strength through this connection. With each breath she took she felt his will surrounding her. She had planned to die with 27 and instead she had found eternity.