Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week.
I’m continuing the story of Willem and Torrey, whose love for each other makes for an uneasy fit in an alien society. This week the prompts were: “Who the fuck made you emperor?” or use a tootsie roll pop or use the evil eye or “My Aunt Fanny has bigger boobs than you do!” or “You win some, you lose some...” or use: a pirate, a gentleman, and a sheep or make a reference to any REM song or “She/he asked you to do what?” or “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind” or “Two plus two equals what?”
Sealed in Stone #18
“How many passings have you been with me?”
“Three greater and two lesser, my Queen.” Torrey leaned into Cyrrhi’s hand and relaxed to her kiss upon his hair. Lately when she touched him, he wanted to touch her back.
It had been a long day of audiences followed by drafting of letters. The goldsmithing kumbh, the Kasarim, desired an alliance with one of Pesht’s younger queens and Cyrrhi had questioned the request. Another queen had asked to choose the same youth a year before, but the kumbh declined that petition. Torrey had read the letters the Kasarim presented. That of the young man, Alber, convinced him the match was wanted by both. After listening to his opinion, Cyrrhi approved the union and he’d helped word the official consent.
“You are a great help to me. Greater than I could have hoped. Though I take Hari to my bed and favor his kram between my legs, you do not demand to take his place. Perhaps you are relieved?” Amusement warmed her voice and glowed in her golden eyes.
Torrey flushed slightly. Stories abounded of queens who’d destroyed the men they could not possess. Fortunately, she did possess him. But desire? What he felt for Cyrrhi was complicated—woven of kindness, necessity, and growing admiration for her adept politics—and it felt terribly close to love. The only jealousy he’d detected had been the night before when Cyrrhi visited his chamber to see the gift he had received. Willem’s starflower carving rested upon the table beside his bed. She’d caressed the smooth white petals with her fingertips and watched his face.
Now she drew those fingertips along the bared skin of his arm, awakening a shiver of arousal. “Are you relieved, my Chosen, because I have not asked you for that?”
“You desire Hari, my Queen. He desires you and I… I do not want what Hari wants. I know you know this. Hari can give you things I cannot.”
She nodded and looked past him, to the closed door of the chamber. “Yes, he does give me that. His body craves what mine craves. But you are my Chosen, my match in mind and soul. Sovesa guided me well. You bring a sweetness, a purity of heart and purpose, to every hour I spend with you. Not even Arton, who I loved in every way, wanted so little for himself as you. This cannot continue. I wish for you to be happy here, with me.”
“I am happy, my Queen.”
It was a lie, of course. One he hoped she would not detect. Happiness came when he read letters Willem had written, or when he lay in his bed, alone in his chamber late at night, gazing upon a stone starflower whitened by moonlight.
“I think you will be, very soon.” Her lips touched his and Torrey inhaled the exciting musk of a queen on the edge of estrous. It awakened his every nerve. “I have decided to give you a gift.”
* * * *
“She asked you to do what?”
Jayn frowned down at Willem. He had followed her order to be seated and now he knew why she’d asked. The request was shocking.
“Pesht’s Queen has asked for a team of our workers to construct a new room in her chambers. And she specifically asked for you.”
Torrey. There could be no other reason. Willem’s heart hammered at his breastbone. “Me? Why? Men aren’t permitted on work teams—”
“Ordinarily, yes, that would be true.” Jayn sighed and lowered her body onto the chair beside his. “The dangers are great. Kidnapping, rape… mateless queens commit these acts far too often in the face of temptation. You will have to be heavily guarded. Cyrrhi has sent an escort of warriors. I will be sending a team headed by Lena Hal, perhaps with Shel as banker mason.”
“Will I see Torrey?” If they were going to the Queen Chambers….
“She did not say. She only said she wishes for stoneworkers to prepare a chamber as a gift for her Chosen.” Jayn’s fierce pale gaze fastened on his hopeful one. “I cannot tell if Torrey has pleased her and this chamber is to be his reward—or if he has displeased her and you are going there to build his tomb. All we know of what goes on in the nom comes from those queens with whom we are allied, if they tell us anything at all… or Torrey’s letters to you. Has he said anything? Something unusual? Something curious?”
Willem shook his head. His hair was longer than it had been. He’d stopped cutting it when he quit working with heavy blocks of stone. “No. He sounds careful, but not like he’s scared. We have words”—he caught himself, but Jayn simply smiled. Of course she knew—“he never used any to say he was in trouble. Just ones to ask if I was. I can write him a letter and ask—”
“No time for that. We have too much to do to prepare you.”
“For what? I already know how to carve, better than anyone.”
“Ha! Yes, you managed to show off your skill, didn’t you? Sending a gift to my son! I would not have allowed it.” Willem squirmed. He’d taken advantage of Jayn’s absence and his knowledge of her office to affix her seal of approval to the package. Now he could not meet her eyes, knowing she’d dismissed her second because of it. “The bad part of this is Cyrrhi should not even know you exist. You were never offered! No, if she knows of you, that’s Torrey’s doing.”
“You encouraged him to write to me!”
“No, I discouraged him!” The words stung like chips of flying stone. “I told him to communicate through me, but he insisted on writing directly to you and in doing so he revealed you. He revealed a weapon that can be turned against him.”
Thanks for reading! If you’re looking for more fun, free fiction use the links below to visit the blogs of the other Wednesday Briefers.