Sunday, August 10, 2008

Poetry Train Monday - 61 - Another Scorpius Excerpt

Here's a second excerpt of my newest WIP. This story takes place in a world that combines the social structure of medieval society with futuristic elements. Scorpius is the chamberlain of Lady Elysande's Keep. You can read a backstory poem about Scorpius here, and the first excerpt here. I've modelled Scorpius after British actor Richard Armitage. So far Lady Elysande is most like the woman in the Edmund Blair Leighton painting The Accolade.


She sat on the edge of her canopied bed, the posts draped in gauzy pinks and orange. He walked forward, a strange excitement twisting through him. Lady Elysande perched there as though it were a throne. In many ways, it was.

But this kingdom was a realm of sighs, born from delight or pain. Sometimes both. Scorpius should not crave this summons. But he did.

“That’s far enough,” she said, her voice brimming with warning. He stopped, his heart beat quickening. “Do you remember what you told me this morning?”

“I think I may recall.” He knew exactly what he’d said. And he’d meant it from the deepest, most secret part of himself.

“Refresh my memory,” she said.

Scorpius swallowed. Now that he was set to leap into this dark chasm, fear licked at his spine. “I told you that, whatever you command me to do, I will obey you.” A rush of emotion swept through him with that admission. He trembled.

“Of course you will. You’re the Chamberlain of my Keep.” A delicious smile curled one side of her mouth.

“I’m more than that, my lady.” Once again he showed her the scars on his wrist. “The years I spent, chained. When you took me in…”

“What is all this about, Scorpius? You’ve been with me for years. Today, suddenly you’re dropping bombs and playing True Confessions.”

“I don’t know.”

Lady Elysande stood, and Scorpius inhaled her scent deeply. “Explain to me what you said earlier,” she said.

Scorpius looked down at the slave, kneeling quietly on the mat near her feet. “I told you I may as well be your slave. Like he is.”

“Why would you say such a thing?” Lady Elysande walked up to him, looking him up and down. Then she gazed deeply into his eyes. “Do you have slave blood running through those veins?”

“My heart is the heart of one who would serve you like a slave.”

She looked almost frightened for a moment. Then she laughed. “Good thing you don’t know what you’re saying.”

“I’m simply answering your question,” he said, meeting her gaze with his own.

Quite suddenly her hand whipped around to slap him hard across the face. “A slave would never look at me like that,” she said.

He lowered his gaze, his cheek burning hot.

“Much better. Now, my grateful chamberlain, what do you mean with these offers of slavery and replacements for my Dionysian Ball?”

Taking care not to look up at her, he nevertheless kept his eyes trained on the hem of her gown and her beautiful feet peeking from beneath. “I have spent the last few years arranging your entertainments for these balls, my lady. Supervising them down to the last detail. Keeping a watchful eye as they took place. I am satisfied that I’m quite familiar with what pleases you.”

“Are you?”

“If we’re unable to stage a grand spectacle, I offer myself as a sort of consolation prize.”

“Why would you do such a thing?” she asked again.

“I told you.”

“Look at me, Scorpius.”

He did as she bid him. Disappointment washed over her face. His heart sank in his chest. This was turning out all wrong.

“I don’t think you have it in you to be a slave,” she said, crossing her arms in front of her. “To begin with, I just corrected you for looking directly at me. And here you are doing exactly the same thing. Slaves never look at me.”

Scorpius looked down. “Forgive me, my lady.”

“If I were to tell my real slave here to look at me, he would not. He would say, ‘Forgive me, mistress, but I cannot.’”

Scorpius stole a glance at the slave, who knelt on his mat, head bowed but now tensed for whatever might happen next.

“If I said, ‘I order you to look at me,’ he would then do so,” she said. “But only then.”

He took note of the slave’s face, which paled slightly. The man’s head did not move in the slightest as he listened carefully to Lady Elysande’s words.

“You wouldn’t know the first thing about what it takes to be a slave,” she said.

Scorpius nearly challenged her on that. He realized just in time that he was already being tested. He must wait to be given permission. Her chamberlain would insist he could do the job, but her slave would remain silent. So he stood there, resolved to look down, to refrain from speaking. He’d done it all before when he’d been held prisoner for three soul-crushing years.

But none of his jailers had ever looked like Lady Elysande. None of them could have made those torments worthwhile.

* * *

A thrill crept through Elysande as she realized Scorpius meant what he said. Look at him, trying so hard to hold himself back from following his own impulses. She couldn’t prevent a delighted smile from spreading across her face. No matter. Both men’s heads were bowed.

“I know you’re used to giving orders,” she said, stepping smoothly beside her chamberlain. She could smell his sweat, see it glistening on his neck. She’d never noticed how good he smelled before. There were a lot of things about Scorpius she had never noticed before today.

“You manage my household and you do it well. I’ve never had too much to complain about.” She circled him, her gaze lingering on how tall he was, his strong stature, his shiny dark hair, the determined set of his mouth.

Elysande turned to her slave. He had always pleased her. If she needed an example of a well-trained slave, this one was a perfect example. “But can you take orders, Scorpius?”

She left her chamberlain and approached her slave. He knelt at attention with head bowed. She moved to stand behind him. Looking up at Scorpius, she watched him follow her every move, lowering his gaze before they could make eye contact.

With one finger, she pressed only slightly on the back of her slave’s head. Without a moment’s hesitation, he leaned forward until his forehead touched the ground. Elysande looked over at Scorpius. She had his attention, alright.

A surge of power flooded her body. She always enjoyed putting her slave through his paces, but having an audience made it feel delicious and fresh. With one foot, she tapped her slave again. He shifted forward so his bottom raised into the air, keeping his forehead on the floor. Slowly, she circled the slave, enjoying the sight of him and wondering what Scorpius thought of it.

“Do you think you’re capable of this?” she asked him. Again with her foot, she grazed the inner thigh of the slave. He spread his legs wide at her signal. Elysande leaned one hand on the canopy post of her bed just behind her. She moved her foot along her slave’s calf, then retraced his inner thigh and all the way up. Her slave inhaled sharply as she pressed with her foot with just the slightest show of force.

Elysande looked over at Scorpius once again. His face flushed but his gaze remained on her and her treatment of the slave.

“I asked you a question, Scorpius,” she said.

“I beg your pardon, my lady,” he said quickly.

She moved away from her slave to rejoin her chamberlain. “I don’t like waiting for an answer when I’ve asked a question.”

Scorpius bowed his head. “I will do whatever you ask of me.”

Elysande’s heart swelled with excitement. She hadn’t felt anything this strongly in such a long time. Looking at her darkly handsome chamberlain, offering himself up to her, she wondered if she’d ever really felt this way before.

“Kneel, then,” she said as though she doubted he could do it. But her heart beat quickened as she hoped to be proven wrong. Her stomach fluttered as she watched him sink to his knees. Though he was an employee in her household, his movements were sure and bold. Even an act like kneeling was filled with his masculine energy.

She took a moment to still her own breathing. Then she walked over to him, circling him as she’d done with her slave. Scorpius couldn’t prevent his gaze from following her every move, though he took care to keep his eyes lowered. When she positioned herself behind him, she took a long moment to let her own gaze roam over his wide shoulders, straight back and rock-solid behind.

Leaning forward, she touched Scorpius on the back of his head with a single finger, pressing slightly forward in a signal her slave would know in an instant. She loved how thick his hair felt against her hand. How she wanted to grab a handful of it right now.

But he was already leaning forward, dipping his head down until he touched the floor with his forehead, just as the slave had done. Elysande felt herself throb with desire. He resisted the urge to copy the slave all at once, as she watched him begin to do and then check himself.

Elysande reached out with her foot and tapped him once. Slowly he raised his bottom high, keeping his forehead down. She swallowed. A part of her didn’t know if she was ready for this new partnership with the chamberlain. If she took the next step, nothing would ever be the same between them. And she really did rely on him to run the keep for her.

She thought hard about her life, about the secret alliance she’d hammered out, about which Scorpius knew nothing. She thought of her very handsome betrothed, he of the great absence, the obvious low regard he had for Elysande or her noble house. Now here was her chamberlain, so handsome himself, not a noble, not a slave, but something else entirely.

Images from past Dionysian Balls burst through her mind in a jumbled procession. There were times she’d felt truly abandoned to her desires. There were times she’d had to force herself to continue, far from aroused and worried about the clandestine meeting to follow.

There had never been a time when she’d shivered with anticipation, as she did now. How long had Scorpius wanted her? How had he managed to hide it from her? She looked upon him, at his powerful form bowed down before her of his own free will.

No man had ever come to her of his own free will before. Joy burst through her, threatening to leave Elysande in tears. She must not go there. Blinking rapidly, she strode across the chamber to her cabinet. She focused on the sound her steps made, filling the air with her intention.

Scorpius had known what was as stake when he’d walked through the door. Elysande would not back down from such a challenge. Not when there was more to this man than she could have suspected.

She would show Scorpius that the woman he’d served for the past few years was a stranger. A heady glimmer of hope ignited inside her. Perhaps she’d finally found the man who could tear down the veneer of Lady Elysande. A part of her wanted to be found, but another part knew she would make Scorpius face an uphill battle. Opening the cabinet, she stared at her impressive array of weapons.

Oh yes. That one would do nicely.

Copyright - Julia Smith - 2008


Unknown said...

Nice! I see you've pictured my man, Richard! Nice choice!

Akelamalu said...

Ooooer missus, it's almost a bodice ripper!

Amy Ruttan said...

I lurve Richard Armitage.

Even though Mr. Horton should of married Geraldine ... Richmard was my second choice.

Have you seen a Wholy Holy Happy Ending yet.

Freaking fun.

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Amy - the one with Sting and the partner swap? Yes I have. What a predicament...

Anonymous said...

I think I'm going to print this off :) Looks goodly!!!

Jill said...

He surely love her a lot for wanting to be her slave!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I want more of this. More, more, more.

Thomma Lyn said...

Oooh, very nice -- positively pulse-quickening!

Joy Renee said...

oooh boy. this lends a whole extra layer of meaning to the phrase: love conquers all.

thanx for visiting

Amy Ruttan said...

No not with sting at all, the end of Vicar of Dibley!!!