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Boots sounded firmly on the brick floor, the echoes bouncing off the walls on their way to the inner chamber of the business office. "Good morning, Ma'am, there is a new applicant waiting inside," Troy announced politely as he handed her the morning mail. She gave his thick, long brown mane a stroke, igniting a low, rumbling purr. "Good morning, Troy, thank you. The one from New Jeri? Good, I've been expecting him. First impressions?" She could always count on her assistant for an honest opinion in this atmosphere of courtiers and toads. "Subby," he said with a slight twist of distaste to his lips, briefly baring a gleaming white fang. "I suppose we could use someone to clean the showers." Clare chuckled and tsk-tsk'ed. "They have their uses in other areas," she said with a gentle reprimand to the tip of his nose. "Yes, Ma'am." "The litter-box," she heard muttered as she went into her office. Cats, she thought with another chuckle. Such snobs.... Glancing at the applicant kneeling in the middle of the floor, she could tell immediately what set Troy off; the boy had a definite dog sense about him. Looks like a boxer, she thought, wondering if this new boy had discovered his inner animal yet. Probably not, if he came in from New Jerusalem. "Good morning, boy," she said, tossing the mail on her desk and turning to stand in front of it, facing him. "I am Madam Clare. You may call me Ma'am." "Yes, Ma'am, good morning, Ma'am." He remained in Presentation, his eyes fixed at her feet. Clare gave a small nod of approval. "Stand," she ordered. He stood in one fluid movement, a surprise for such a compact body. "Inspection." His hands went behind his neck. "Why have you come here? You would fetch a pretty price in a private household." She took a nipple between two fingers and gave it a harsh twist. He grunted but didn't move. She found it interesting that he wasn't pierced anywhere. Clare gave his taunt butt a pat in approval. Nice and round, a good target area.... "My Masters felt that I had too much pride, Ma'am," he confessed after a moment. Honest. She nodded. And Troy saw a submissive in this boy? A titanium wall was what she saw. And a hell of a lot of scars. Whips and thunder sticks, from the looks of them, she thought, running her fingers gently over a few lines. He flinched slightly at one near his left side. Clare gave his hair a stroke. She pulled her chair from behind the desk and sat, pointing at her feet. He dropped to his knees, back into Presentation, hands appropriately behind his back. "My boots are new," she commented. "They got dusty on the way in. Clean them." He hesitated. "Does Ma'am have a preferred method, Ma'am?" he asked politely. Point.. "Use your mouth." Starting at the tip of the toe, he began with small licks and then extending into lapping over her ankles. She could feel the warm moistness of his tongue through the new black leather. His lapping grew into slurping as he sucked at the toe of the boot, low growls of pleasure emerging from his throat. Clare raised an eyebrow. What's this? She noticed that his hips where moving in small rutting motions. Reaching over to her desk, she quietly took the newspaper and rolled it up. Smack! He jumped as the paper hit his ass. "Bad dog!" she snapped. He hid his face in the floor and whined. That was fast, she thought, congratulating herself on the guesswork. "You were not given permission to hump. Turn." He scrambled, keeping his face to the floor as he turned, presenting his butt to her. She smacked at his ass a few times, the flesh reddening nicely as he whined. He tried to pull away. Clare put her boot against his hole, smashing his balls with the sole, grinding his hips to the floor and continued to beat his ass and the backs of his thighs with the newspaper. Satisfied that she had his attention, she tossed the shredded paper back onto the desk and watched his quivering form for a moment. "Hips in the air," she commanded, removing her boot. "Not that high." She slid her boot under him, digging into his spongy balls. He yelped into the floor. "You will come when I want you to come. Your cock and balls belong to me. Under no circumstances are you to masturbate without my permission. You should have learned all that under your previous owners." "Ma'am, yes, Ma'am," she heard muffled from the floor. His previous owners probably didn't know there was a dog lurking inside of him, she thought. She rubbed her boot on his balls, stepping a little more firmly to get her point across, and he grunted with a small quiver of his hips. Suspicious, she used her boot to flip him over. His belly and her boot were covered in a sticky whiteness. He whined, paws in the air as he presented his belly to her. Clare sighed, looking at her new boots. "Clean my boot, dog." She patted her long black braid made a mental note to herself to tell Troy to order more newspapers. *** A gag, she thought, definitely a gag. That annoying woman with the equally annoying laugh was back, Clare noticed as she went for a walk out into the Grand Hall. The energy was high, a fine hum underlying the atmosphere as people talked, laughed, and danced to the band. It was impossible not to notice her, with that air-head braying sounding through the room. Clare had a fairly high tolerance for most people but a certain leggy blond simply rubbed her fur the wrong way. "What are you growling about?" she heard in her ear. Was she growling? "Her," Clare said in a low voice, jutting her chin in the direction of her ire. Every time the woman visited, Clare was inundated by employee and customer complaints about her. She invited herself to scenes, and tried to push a No into a Yes, which got her kicked out. She got back in by smiling sweetly at the Reservations clerk who didn't understand why everyone ignored him for weeks afterward. Dark Star glanced in that direction and arched his whiskers in agreement. His iron gray fur gleamed as a back drop for a dark spot in the middle of his chest, earning him his nickname which was just as well since most Humans couldn’t even begin to pronounce his Chosen name. Clare had a sore throat for days after making repeated attempts at the snarls and growls it took to get out the appropriate sounds. Her own attendant, Troy, was relegated to a shortened version of his own name, Hssioteroynio. Clare immediately called him Troy. Most Thayans had pronounceable names, but a few had to be difficult.... "Yes, I've been avoiding her. Don't tell management." Clare smiled a little, she being one of the owners of Belanu. Dark Star was one of the senior associates of Belanu who was usually training new-comers when he wasn't entertaining himself with the customers. He was high-priced, being a Thayan. Most Humans referred to them as Cats. Last she knew, his appointments were booked solid months in advance. The high stone walls of the Grand Hall, the main meeting area of the Belanu, was alive with activity. The restaurant was doing a brisk business, a waiting line for seating was being set up. It looked to Clare to be about a thirty minute wait. Assignations were being made, trading going on. An off-duty Master and several slaves were being introduced to the woman. She held out a hand to Jordan. He barely glanced at it. Clare stiffened as did several employees and locals who sent quick looks her way. Could the woman not see by his clan marks that he was House Alexander? No woman in the room would have presumed to place herself as his equal. "Master Jordan, who doesn't shake hands," the woman commented, withdrawing the untouched hand. She went on to speak animatedly with the others. Clare's new pup, Lorrin, came up and held out the ordered glass of iced tea. She swore silently to herself; the last thing she needed was for House Alexander to be in a snit over an off-worlder's mistake in her establishment. Most Masters from that particular House would have taken a finger off the offered hand, and that was just for starters. She gave a small nod to Master Jordan who looked her way with a disapproving scowl before snapping his fingers, calling his slaves to his side as he moved away from the woman. "Fetch that paddle," she quietly ordered Lorrin, gesturing toward the decorations on the outside of the Dungeon's entrance. The "decorations" were real. Lorrin returned with the requested item which Clare hung from her belt. Looking over to the Monitor, Clare signed a discrete question. The Monitor checked the log and gave a nod; the woman had signed all consents and releases, and had been Oriented. She wouldn't put it past Alexander to inundate her establishment with an unauthorized slave raid. Most of the woman's friends scurried off at the sight of Clare approaching. She recognized a few as having visited the Dungeon in the past. The woman blithely rambled on, her high-pitched voice grating on Clare's nerves. Clare contemplated a gag once more. Veronica, that was her name, Clare remembered. "Oh, hi!" the woman sparkled with high animation at seeing Clare stepping up to the table. "Am I ready for my close-up, Ms. Demille?" A couple more friends moved away hastily. "It's Ms. Clare, girl," Clare forced herself not to snap out. "I believe you have signed all the paperwork and you’ve had your introduction to the Dungeon? Procedures, accountability, rules?" Veronica nodded at all the points, blond hair flying prettily. "You understand that you are under my temporary Ownership for the next 24 hours?" She got another flying nod. "Good. Stand." Veronica stood quickly, breasts that were too perfect to be real were thrust out, hands at her sides, shoulders back. Clare pulled the chair away from the table and sat down. She reached up, grabbed a lock of golden hair, and yanked the girl down. The girl stumbled, yelping, and fell across Clare's lap. Screams of dismay echoed throughout the Grand Hall as the paddle landed on the girl's perfect butt. Everyone stopped what they were doing and turned to watch, silence reigning except for yelps, screams, and the sound of a paddle on flesh. "Now hear this, girl," Clare said over the screeching. "You will NOT reprimand a Dom. You will NOT hold your hand to your betters. Shaking hands is a sign of equality. You are equal to none here. When spoken to, you WILL answer "Yes, Ma'am" or "No Ma'am". I don't hear heads rattling. You WILL crawl, that means on your hands and knees, over to Master Jordan, and there you will prostrate yourself at his feet, wait for him to notice you, and beg his forgiveness at your rude assumption. If he cares to do so, HE will be your Owner for your time here." She shoved the sobbing girl off her lap, taking a deep breath and a sip of her iced tea which Lorrin had placed before her on the table. It took the girl a moment to gather herself together enough to begin to crawl, her bright red ass quivering in the air. A bruise was already beginning to form on one high cheek. "The other way," Clare murmured. The girl hesitated, confused, and then turned, heading off once more. People quickly pulled back, a passage opening up for her to crawl through, leading directly to the booted feet of Master Jordan who stood waiting. The girl remained on her hands and knees, breathing hard. His alpha slave put a bare foot on her back and shoved, sending the girl to her belly. "Prostrate means on your stomach, girl," slave Martin growled. The girl sobbed quietly, her face pressed into Master Jordan’s boot. He waited a good few minutes, standing patiently as he lovingly stroked his alpha's hair and face. His two other male slaves stood nearby, looks of disgust on their faces, lips sneering at the thing at their Master's feet. Clare worried for just a fleeting moment about putting the girl with a Master from House Alexander where females are little more than dirt under their feet. Clare gave herself a mental shake; she trusted Jordan or he wouldn't be working in her House. Slave Martin, Jordan's alpha slave, was harsher than some of Alexander's Masters but he was also an excellent trainer, if one liked humorless soldiers. "Speak, girl," Jordan acknowledged the girl. She took a gulp and raised her head enough to talk. "Sssir, I bbbeg your forgiveness for my my rudeness, Sssir," she stuttered. He looked over at Clare who nodded and made an offering gesture. She mentally crossed her fingers and sent up several quick prayers to which ever gods were listening. "On your knees," he ordered the girl. She got to her knees, approximating a Present position. Master Jordan unbuttoned his pants and took out his thick cock. He grabbed a fistful of blond hair and shoved his cock into her mouth. Deep in her throat, he let loose a hot stream of urine, emptying his bladder into her stomach. She opened her eyes wide, gagged slightly, and swallowed on automatic reflex what seemed to be gallons of the hot acid. "Lick it clean," he ordered, pulling his cock out and holding it before her mouth. "Suck it, make sure it's empty." With a trembling chin, she sucked at the spongy head, getting the last few drops of piss from his urethra before cleaning him off with her tongue. Master Jordan looked over to Clare and inclined his head. Her gift was accepted. Clare felt a momentary pang of pity for the girl and hoped that Jordan would remember that the girl was a customer who did sign a contract stipulating one day of service. *** “Darling, are you sure you want to do this?” Clare glanced up at the two men sitting in front of her while she made notes on their record. She smiled to herself as Aaron clutched gently at his lover’s hand. The boys were in love and devoted to each other, which anyone could see. “I’m sure,” Michael said firmly. He laced their fingers together. “Are you alright with it?” “Yes, of course,” Aaron assured him. “Would you like time with a reader?” Clare offered. “We have several on staff; they’ll help you clarify your thoughts and make sure you know your mind and heart in this matter.” The men shook their heads. “No, he’s just nervous for me,” Michael told her. The men had made their appointment almost six months earlier; Michael had a fantasy in which Aaron was unable to fulfill simply because he was only one person. Their relationship was steady and healthy, getting close to eighteen years in a committed relationship. A lot of couples were bored of each other before their eighth anniversary; after eighteen, Michael and Aaron were still strong together. Mainly because they had a healthy sex life and they continued to talk to each other. Clare approved their session. “Would you like to choose the staff you wish to be involved or would you like for me to pick?” she asked. The men looked at each other. “Well,” Aaron began thoughtfully. He was the quiet thinker, while Michael was gregarious and walked around with his heart on his sleeve. “We did walk past two men who caught our attention. If they’re available, we’d like them involved; you choose the others, if you wouldn’t mind.” Clare brought up the staff who were currently on duty, and swung the monitor around for the men to see. They pointed out the two men they spotted. Simon and Struan. Clare nodded and sent a reservation to their desks. “Do you want a mixed party or just humans?” she asked. “Mixed, please,” Aaron said. Clare nodded. “Thayan or Litani?” she said. “Can’t have both involved; there’s a problem with chemical reactions.” They considered it as they looked at each other again. “Thayan,” Michael decided. “How long do we need to wait until I can play with a Litani?” “Not long,” she smiled. “When you’re ready, a med tech will give you a shot to counteract the reactions and make sure there is no trace of the Thayans on you; it would cause the Litani extreme pain, if not. You can play within the hour. Now; just males?” “Yes,” the men said with a nod. “Do you want a recording of your session?” “Yes.” “Erotic, exotic or pain?” They were shaking their head. “No SM other than being bound to the stand,” Michael said firmly. Clare made a note. “Aaron, are you participating?” she asked. “Yes, I am,” he said. “Myself plus five, if we can get them. We will, of course, pay for anything extra. Money isn’t a concern.” “You’re fine,” she assured him. She knew money wouldn’t be a problem for them, not with the sold out performances from Michael’s concerts across the empire. “We have two Kilidar here today; would you like one or both to join you?” Michael’s eyes widened and he shifted slightly in his seat. “Ohhhh, for dessert, perhaps,” he demurred. Clare chuckled. It might be a few days before he would be ready for a centaur. She finalized their contract, had them confirm it, and sent copies of the transaction to Bavel’s database as well as each of their record houses and the empire’s database. “I would be pleased to host you, if you wish,” she invited them. “You’ll have privacy; none of my staff will bother you except to see to your needs. Stay as long as you’d like.” “We already have a suite at the Sunrise,” Aaron told her. “We wouldn’t want to trouble you.” “It’s no trouble,” she assured them. “It’s your choice, of course; I can have my staff cancel your suite and transfer your belongings to my home, if you’d like. You won’t offend me, if you’d rather stay at the hotel, but if you wish something more homey you’re welcome at my estate.” There was a ping at Clare’s mind. The scent told her it was Simon. She acknowledged the ping. The door opened and a bald man entered. He was older than 44 year old Aaron by about ten years but still strong. He stood several inches over the men; his chest was bare, skin dark with the sun’s touch, muscles rippling across his torso. He had been poured into his tight pants. “Simon, this is Michael and Aaron,” Clare introduced. “Did you look over their contract?” “Yes, ma’am,” Simon said with a nod. His hands rested at the small of his back, booted feet spread in a comfortable stance. His velvet, baritone voice sent shivers through the men. “The stable is being readied. Troy is waiting to escort our guests to the preparation room.” “Simon is one of our warders, so if there’s a problem don’t hesitate to tell him,” she said to the men. “Do you understand your rights, Michael?” she asked him. “You may stop at any time; this is your scene, it’s your body. If Simon feels you are at risk, he will take over and halt the proceedings.” “I understand,” Michael said. Aaron echoed him. “And this is private?” Aaron double-checked. “We won’t be surrounded by an audience?” “No audience,” Clare assured him. “The stable will be locked down while it’s in use by you.” The men had already said they wanted private time, instead of being in the public’s eye in the main section of the House. They didn’t care who knew they were playing; they just wanted some privacy for Michael’s fantasy. “After you are prepped and changed,” Simon told them, “we will get to the stable through an underground pass. It was built for bad weather.” “And security?” Aaron guessed. Simon gave a rueful tilt of his head. The men thanked Clare and followed Simon. Being a trustworthy House, a lot of highly placed people came to Bavel for vacation. Clare was known for her fastidious nature and the quality of her service. She clicked into Michael’s record again, curious. Recommended by…. Daru’umi Jarlaith. She smiled and shook her head; her best friend’s consort and a commander of the imperial ship Daru. She sent a free pass to Jarlaith’s account as a thank you for the business. The afternoon’s clients included two teenagers celebrating their entry to adulthood, Thayan sisters celebrating their etlu, an elderly couple looking for therapy for their decreased libidos, a new chatelaine who needed training in management, and a planning session with a personal assistant to a young lord who needed instruction before he was married in a political arrangement. The lord was in agreement to the instruction and to his arranged marriage, so Clare would oversee the planning for his training herself. The rest of the clients were re-routed to appropriate staff. It had been a busy week and Clare was ready for the quiet of her home. First, though, she took a walk through the House, which she tried to do on a regular basis. Sometimes her people thought they were being helpful by NOT telling her of any small ‘situations.’ The main room was busy with people congregating, laughing and enjoying themselves as they ate, drank, and socialized. Assignations were made by the regulars, and new-comers were wide-eyed as they stared around. One such couple, older than the usual crowd of hormonally-induced sex-fiends, were sitting at their table, nervously sipping at their water glasses. The gentleman looked to be about 70, and his wife around the same age. Both had kept themselves well, and were pleasing to the eyes. Clare smiled, wondering what prompted them to enter a playhouse. “How are we doing?” she asked, stopping at the table. The couple jumped, not expecting anyone to speak to them. “I’m Clare, your hostess. Can I help you with anything?” The man stood and gave a polite incline of his head. “Nate Parrin,” he said, holding his hand out. “My wife, Carla.” Clare shook hands. “We, uh, haven’t been in a place like this before,” he confessed nervously as he leaned in toward Clare. “It’s, uh, a little loud.” “It is loud,” Clare agreed, wincing for him at the decibels. “May I ask where you are from?” “From Basalla,” Nate said. Clare knew the planet; it was quiet and peaceful, with many old-fashioned small towns. The couple’s presence on Bavel surprised her. “I know the place,” she said. “It’s a beautiful planet. What brought you out here?” Mrs. Parrin shook her head. “Mid-life crisis,” she said ruefully. Clare laughed. “We get a lot of those,” she said with a nod of understanding. “Don’t feel you need to do anything you’re not comfortable with; if you want to play, pick a room. You don’t need to invite anyone else, if you don’t want to. We also have therapists on staff, if you need a little time clarifying your needs to each other. How long is your pass for?” “Oh, uh, just the day,” Mr. Parrin said. Clare touched her comm. “Please add two more days to the Parrins’ account,” she said. “Full pass, on the House.” She smiled and patted the astonished man’s hand. “Now, you two relax and enjoy the amenities. Your pass is good to use within the next planetary year, so if you want to come back later, you can. Were you shown around? There is a smaller dining room that some of our clients prefer to use when they visit. We have excellent chefs, and quite often people come just for the food and conversation. Would you like to take a look?” The couple gratefully agreed, and Clare led them through the main room and down a hall. A Thayan guard stood outside a double-door, and he opened it when he saw that Clare was heading his way. “Sujin, this is Mr. and Mrs. Parrin,” Clare said to the guard. “If you see them wandering around looking lost, please make sure they are assisted.” The guard tilted his ears forward in acknowledgment. “Of course, rabu,” he said politely. “Welcome to our Home, rabintu,” he said to the couple. Inside the dining hall, muted conversation was accompanied by the clink of glasses and silverware. Candles lit the room and a fireplace in the corner blazed merrily. Staff was made up of mixed species, mainly human and Thayan, since they could walk easier between tables, chairs, lounging pillows and settees. The room’s host immediately came to the door, pleased to see Clare. “Milo, this is Mr. and Mrs. Parrin,” Clare said, presenting the couple. “Please take care of them.” “Yes, ma’am,” Milo said, inclining his head. With the Parrins in good hands, Clare walked out across the main room again and to the manager’s office. “Star, who toured Mr. and Mrs. Parrin?” she asked her second. Dark Star brought the record up on the monitor. “Laith did,” he said. “Is there a problem?” “Yes, there is,” Clare said. She told Dark Star exactly what was wrong. He lowered his ears in displeasure. “You’re wish, rabu?” “Re-train her,” Clare said. “If another guest has the same problem, fire her. I won’t have our guests lost and confused. Especially the ones we should be showing the greatest respect to.” “Yes, rabu.” Clare left Dark Star in charge, and walked down the street to the market. Kaelan, the chatelaine in training, followed a few steps behind, paying attention. Many people made gestured greetings as Clare passed, which she graciously acknowledged with a smile and a tilt of her head. Vendors handed her samples to try; she chose the ones she liked and had packages prepared for the next few days’ meals. Once Clare was home, she turned Kaelan over to her household steward, Nathan, for training in the running of a household. “Colin is home, rabu,” Nathan told her after instructing Kaelan to stand a few steps behind him and pay attention. Clare lit up. “He is? Where is he?” It had been almost a year since her son was home from the university. “Preparing his quarters, rabu,” he said. “He has a guest.” Clare smiled. “Male or female?” “Male, rabu,” Nathan said. “His name is Naram. His accent sounds Rostovian.” Clare sent a ping. A moment later, it was acknowledged with the warm, familiar mental ‘scent’ of her oldest child. “If that isn’t enough,” she said, indicating the packages of food, “send for more. I wasn’t expecting two more mouths.” “Yes, rabu.” As Nathan began quietly instructing his pupil, a young man came hurrying down the stairs. “Ama!” He caught her up in his strong arms for his hug. Strong and lean, skin tanned, muscles tight, he smelled of the sea. And Clare missed him terribly. “Oh, look at you!” she declared, holding him at arm’s length to look at him. “All grown up! And so handsome. Who’s your friend?” Colin laughed and shook his head. “Nathan told on me,” he guessed. He looked toward the stairs. “Come on,” he encouraged. Another young man came down the stairs, more slowly than Colin’s exuberant rush. He was Colin’s height, about 6 feet, with the lean, swimmer’s body that the inhabitants of Rostau were known for, and dark burnt orange hair, telling Clare that his family must be old settlers on the watery world; only the old families bred the dark hair that tended to camouflage them in the deep oceans of the planet. “This is Naram,” Colin introduced. “Naram, my mother, Clare Belanu.” Clare slid her hand across Naram’s in the polite greeting of Rostau. “Very nice to meet you,” Naram said with a smile. “You know Rostau customs?” “It’s part of the job,” Clare told him with a chuckle. She led them into the sitting room, closely followed by Nathan who carried a tray of drinks. “Tell me,” she said to them. “Are you two sharing the suite or the bed?” Naram pinked slightly while Colin laughed. “The suite, at the moment,” he said. “We haven’t decided on the bed.” “Good,” Clare nodded as she sipped her drink. “If you want sex, go to the playroom; otherwise, get to know each other first.” She sensed that Naram was startled. “Are you aware of the family business?” she asked him. He gave a nod. “Yes, rabu,” he said. “I guess…. I don’t know, I guess I thought there’d be orgies everywhere.” “Is that what you want?” she asked, knowing it wasn’t. “No, rabu,” he said. “Rostovians are more…. circumspect? in our relationships. No offense meant.” “None taken,” she said. “And I have to agree with you. Relationships should be based on trust and honesty, talking with each other and holding each other dear. Sex is fun, but it isn’t what holds a relationship together. If you boys want each other’s heart, get to know each other first. Now. Tell me about school.” Clare insisted that Naram also discuss his classes, just as Colin did and just as the rest of her children did when they got home and sat down for dinner. They were happy to see their older brother, and clamored over him for hugs before being instructed to sit and eat. Meals were family time when she was home, so the monitors were shut off. Unless there was fire, flood or blood (unscheduled, that is), Clare didn’t want to hear about it until she was ready to hear about it. If there was an emergency, her warders had the emergency codes to her home. “Ama, can we discuss an etlu?” Nicki asked. Clare glanced at her daughter. “Yes, darling;” she said. “Who wants an etlu?” “Me.” Clare looked at her once more. Nicki was seventeen, legal age on Bavel, and had yet to take advantage of the playrooms, where her older brother had raced into the front door the moment he turned seventeen. “Why do you want an etlu?” Clare asked, curious. “You want the Thayan ritual? Not just a lover?” “I want the ritual,” Nicki confirmed. Clare considered the request as she slowly chewed her after-dinner salad. “You understand what an etlu entails?” “Yes,” Nicki nodded. “I’d like to ask Dark Star to sponsor me, and ask Ja’ada and Merey to be my etelu.” “Hmm. Alright,” Clare said. “If that’s what you want. You may ask Dark Star, but I want you to pay attention to what he has to say. As your etala, it’ll be his job to lecture you, so don’t brush him off.” “Those are good choices,” Colin offered his little sister. “I’ve played with them, and they are very good.” Nicki nodded. “I’ve watched them in the group room,” she said. “They do seem to please very well, and they are caring with new people.” The two youngest, Tia and Ti’uu, rolled their eyes and asked to be excused. Clare excused them. The twins were only ten, and bored with something that was still just outside their understanding. Just as everyone was finishing, Simon and Dark Star entered the house. They were both exhausted but pleased to see Colin home, and they greeted Naram pleasantly. “How are things?” Clare asked them while the staff served them. The young men had excused themselves. “Quieting,” Dark Star said. “The midnight crowd should be in shortly to liven things up again.” “That elderly couple was cute,” Simon said, smiling as he sipped his wine. “I checked in on them when we were done in the stable. Logan and Jean had taken them in hand.” Clare chuckled and shook her head. “Let’s hope their hearts are still strong.” Logan and Jean had a talent for finding the most reticent of their guests, and seducing them with all the charm of a soft autumn day. “How did the stable scene go?” “It went very well,” Simon said. “Our guests are very happy, if walking a little wobbly. They were headed toward the steam baths, when we left. They did say to tell you they’re accepting your offer, and that they’ll be in at some point tonight.” Clare gave a nod to Nathan; he crooked a finger at Kaelan and took her to have guest quarters prepared. “Dark Star! Would you be my etala?” Nicki asked, skipping into the room when she heard their voices. Surprised, Dark Star paused before sinking his sharp teeth into the steak. “You want an etlu?” he questioned. Nicki leaned against her father’s shoulders and nodded at the Thayan. “Yes. Please? And I want to ask Ja’ada and Merey to be my etelu.” Clare sat back and enjoyed the looks on the faces of her consorts. Of all four kids, it was Nicki that always managed to make the consorts pause. Dark Star looked at Clare. “And how do you feel about this?” he asked. “She’s an adult and I trust her in your paws,” Clare said. “If she feels she needs a ritual, and you’re alright being her etala, then I don’t have a problem with it. It’s your choice.” The rim of the glass clattered gently against his pointed teeth as he took a sip… a long sip… from the narrow-brimmed, Thayan-style goblet. “Alright,” he said. “We’ll discuss it. Tomorrow.” Nicki clapped and gave a small, girly squeal before throwing her arms around his neck and giving his temple an affectionate nuzzle before running from the room. Dark Star held up his glass to be refilled. “I scheduled a senior staff meeting for tomorrow morning,” Simon said. “A few things have come up.” “Do I need to know about them now?” Clare asked. “Not really,” he said. “A little noise about your new pup; it seems his previous owners are aware of his location. I took the liberty of asking Dahl-mai to sniff around.” “That’s fine,” Clare said as she stood. “I’m going to soak in a nice, hot bath, and then I’m going to bed.” “Would you like us to wait for Michael and Aaron?” Dark Star asked. “When are they due?” she asked. Dark Star looked at the clock on the mantle. “Soon, I believe,” he said. “They said they were going to get massages and a cleaning, and then they’d be on their way. They didn’t want us to wait for them.” “Call and find out,” Clare told him. “Have an escort standing by, and make sure the hotel has their belongings ready to be sent over.” “Already done,” Simon said. Clare poked his nose. “You are entirely too forward,” she informed him. “Yes, rabu,” he said, unrepentant. A lot of consorts were held under the thumbs of their lord or lady; Clare preferred her consorts to make use of their brains. The less she had to think for them, the more loyal they remained. Simon had been with Clare for fifteen years, and Dark Star for nine years. Clare hadn’t regretted one day. “I want to play tonight,” she informed them. Neither of them seemed reluctant. “Yes, rabu,” they chorused. Their house guests got in just before Clare was ready to leave her steam pool. It was in the back yard, with the dark, evening sky showing off its beautiful, starry blanket. “Ms. Clare?” she heard. “Come out,” she said. The men walked toward her voice. “Oh, we’ll wait,” they said once they saw she was in the water. “You’re fine,” she told them. “Pull up chairs. Or get in.” Aaron pulled two chairs close to the pool. “We just got dried off,” he said as they sat. “Are we happy?” she asked, smiling at Michael. He smiled wide and nodded. “We’re very happy,” he said. “My butt is still singing an ode to the gods of pleasure.” Clare laughed. “Good,” she said with a nod. “I’ve never been with a Thayan before,” he continued. “Oh my god! I’ve seen it, but seeing it and experiencing it are two very different things. And he’s one of your consorts?? You are so lucky.” Clare laughed again, and slapped at the water. “Yes, Thayans do have a little special something.” He snorted. “Honey, that’s no little something,” he said with a wave of his hand. “That was a full course meal.” “Did you taste him?” she asked, cocking her eyebrow. “No, why?” he asked. “All the entertainment was happening in the back.” “Thayan lubricant has a slight aphrodisiac reaction in humans,” she told him. His eyes widened. “Tomorrow, if you’re going back in for more playtime, get a lick off a Thayan before you start anything,” she advised him. “Just remember to stay away from a Litani, if you do. The Thayan you lick will make sure you’re marked, in case you forget.” The men nodded. “I did notice some people with tags on their ears,” Aaron said thoughtfully. “How serious is this allergy?” “Very,” she told them. “Various reactions include loss of fur, hives, anaphylactic shock, and even a few cases of death in the most severe reactions.” The men promised to be extra careful. “Oh,” Aaron held up a finger as he remembered something. “House rules?” “My youngest children are ten, so just be careful about where you play,” she said. “They’ve seen it, it’s a part of live around here so nothing will shock them, but just be careful. No illegal drugs, either. Other than that, make yourselves at home.” “I saw a piano in the library,” Michael said. “Is it alright for me to use? I practice every day, when I can.” “Absolutely,” she said, hoisting herself out of the water. Aaron immediately stood, took her robe from the table, and held it out for her. They followed her into the house, hanging onto each other, smiling and snuggling. Clare wished them good night, and went to her suite. Her consorts had lit candles for her, and spread herbs on the fire to sweeten her evening. They were sitting on the pillows by the fire, talking softly as they gently touched each other. It wasn’t necessary that consorts liked each other but it helped to keep a peaceful home when they did. Thankfully, Simon and Dark Star had become instant friends when they met. Clare knew that if she didn’t have time for them, they could take pleasure with each other. She dropped her robe onto the bed and joined them at the pillows. Simon smiled at her, while the sides of Star’s short muzzle lifted in his own version of a smile. They were both erect, Simon’s skin gleaming, while Star’s dark red fur turned black in the firelight. “Lick him,” she told Simon. Dark Star lay back as he became even more of his smooth, pointed penis emerged from his sheath. To be licked, something most Thayans didn’t do mainly because of their pointed teeth, was extremely sensitive to their organs. Simon leaned over and took Dark Star into his mouth. Dark Star melted into the pillows with a growl of pleasure. “Tail,” Clare said. A tail came up between Simon’s legs and tapped against his anus. Simon squirmed, raising his butt in the air as he continued to suck at Dark Star. The tapping made Simon’s toes curl. A Thayan tail was strong, filled with hard, lean tendons that controlled the prehensile tail with its tufted tip. A lot of human women enjoyed being pleasured with the dexterous tip. Rapping sharply against Simon’s sensitive areas made his toes curl. *Ask nice,* Clare sent to his mind, stroking a finger down his spine as their minds joined. All three were wrapped in the sensations being caused by Simon’s ministrations on Dark Star. *Please, rabu,* he begged, his mouth filled with Dark Star’s penis. His butt was in the air, thrusting, quivering with need. Clare pinged the order to Dark Star. He got to his knees, shoved Simon to his belly against the pillows, and took him. Simon cried out, spreading his legs and pushing back against Dark Star’s furred stomach. Dark Star spread Simon’s ass cheeks so that Clare could watch the Thayan penis moving in and out, contracting with muscles inside the internal sheath. Not needing to move his hips as humans did, Dark Star could hold Simon tight against him or pin him down and watch. With their minds in concert, Clare felt as thought she were the one being held and taken by Dark Star. If she switched pointes of view, she could be the one taking Simon’s tight ass.