November 14, 2012 by Lyn
Monday, November 17, 2003
It was official. Ciara had a stalker.
It had probably been official on Hell Night, but he was doing his best to write his name in every page of her date book. Monday: stalked. Tuesday: harassed. Wednesday: Followed home from class. He was never actually violent; he never did anything that could be considered an attack, nothing that could be considered sexual. But he certainly made it clear that he wanted to.
This time, it was Tlacatl class she was leaving, and a long conversation with Dr. Caitrin (after some very educational conversations with the girls Amadeus had Kept in years Seven and Eight) had left Ciara determined, if frightened, and a little bit angry.
“Keeee-arrrr-uh.” He drawled out her name as he stepped around the corner, and she braced herself. He wasn’t always there, not enough that she could plan for it, and since he never really got carried away, never offered her violence, she couldn’t feel justified asking her crew to walk along with her. It was just the threat that he might that was always there. The prospect of him loomed over her, the fear that he’d be there, like he was today, taunting her. Asking her to play.
“Come home with me tonight.” As he had the last few times, he grabbed her arm, holding her firmly.
“No, thank you, Amadeus,” she answered, as politely as she always did. “I have plans tonight.”
“You always have plans. You ought to come home with me instead. We could have some fun.”
“I’m sure you’d have fun.” The stories had been clear on that point. “Please let go of me.”
“I don’t want to.” His grin was sharp. “Nobody’s ever said no to me before.”
“I’m sure they have. I’ve asked.”
“Not like you have.”
“And yet you keep asking.”
“If I ask long enough, eventually you’ll say yes.” He tugged on her arm, this time, pulling her towards him. He was escalating. Maybe she should have asked for company. Well, this was it. His next escalation would end poorly, she was sure. She had to do it now. She was out of clever retorts.
“Amadeus cy’Valerian, I challenge you.”
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
“This is insanity, you know.” Shandar and Ellen followed Ciara from their suite to the gym, Shandar scolding her the entire way. “Key, if you lose this challenge, there’s not going to be anything we can do to help you.”
Ciara shook her head. “If he decided he was sick of waiting for me to give in and dragged me off into his room, what could you do?” she countered. “Shan, El, I have a plan.”
“Does it involve cookies?” Ellen asked, eying the platter Ciara was carrying.
“They’re the backup plan,” she admitted. “Stay away from the ones with the red sprinkles.”
“Right. Avoiding Ciara’s cookies.” Ellen rolled her eyes. “Shandar is right. This is crazy.”
“I know,” she agreed, keeping her voice quiet. “But so is he; so is this entire school. The only way to get through it is to be as crazy as everyone else.”
“Or, you know, just keep your head down and get through your first year. He’ll be gone and you won’t have to worry.” Ellen and Shandar would know. They were the rulers of keeping their heads down. But they’d both had pretty easy first years, and no monsters stalking them, as far as Ciara knew.
“I’ve got this, guys. It’s too late to back out, anyway.” She set the cookies on the table at the side of the gym, and walked towards the circle Luke had drawn for them.
“Are you sure, Ciara?” the PE teacher asked quietly.
She wished everyone would stop asking her that. Totally understanding why they were didn’t make the feeling in the pit of her stomach go away. “I’m sure,” she agreed. “Besides, here he comes.” No backing out. Here he is. Come on, everyone. She’d accepted what was going to happen. Why couldn’t they?
Why couldn’t anyone? Even the big bad wolf seemed uncertain: walking into the gym, Amadeus looked a little bit lost. He came surrounded by his own friends, and yet, while they were talking to him, he wasn’t talking back. He barely seemed aware they were there. Ciara swallowed a smile. If she had knocked him off his game, even a little, she might stand a chance.
A tiny chance.
She stepped into the circle and bowed to her opponent.
“It’s not too late to concede, you know,” he grinned at her. “I’ll be gentle.”
“You could concede, too,” she reminded him. “I’d be gentle.”
That made him snarl. “You can’t win. Whatever trick you think you have, I’m still older and stronger than you are.”
“Then you have nothing to worry about, do you?” she smiled back at him. “Ready?”
“Ready,” he growled, dropping his Mask. “No Workings, first one to leave the circle loses.”
“Just remember everything you break Caitrin has to put back together,” he grumbled. “Begin.”
The crowd cheered. Some of them were calling his name – but lots of them were calling hers. It didn’t go over well with her opponent.
Amadeus’ eyes seemed to be flashing red flames. “You’re going to pay for this nonsense, little girl,” he snarled, and attacked.
She’d been expecting violence, and knew her own combat skills, while she’d been practicing, were probably not up to par with an upperclassman. But getting hurt was part of her plan anyway, so all she had to do was dodge as much as she could without stepping out of the circle.
And he looked like he wanted to take his time. Break her down, break her… ow. Break her bones. She fell to a knee as he landed a sharp kick on her spine. He wanted to make her…ow! He kicked her in the shoulder, snapping something. He wanted to make her flee the circle, not to throw her out. That might mess with her plans a … oh, shit, ow. She managed to get back to her feet, just in time to catch his fist with her ribs.
“Think about it,” he hissed, “when you’re Mine…”
Oh, he was good and pissed now. She smiled through a cracked lip. “When you’re Mine,” she teased, and, finally, he rushed her.
He got her again, once in the face, once in the kidney, once in her ribs, snapping something inside of her, and then grabbed her, clearly intending to throw her out of the circle.
She was barely conscious. She hadn’t planned on that. Weakly, hurriedly, she pulled on her innate power – not a Working, not forbidden, any more than his strength was, just the tricks the Change had given her – and sent most of the force he imparted in the throw back at him, saving and redirecting just enough to send herself downwards, hard, still inside the circle. Was it going to work? Had it been enough? She could see the line of the circle, but…
“Done,” Luke shouted, as Amadeus landed with a thud against the gym wall. “Done, with Ciara the winner. Good job, girl.”
She looked up, weakly, as the promises they had made before the match made Amadeus say “Ciara – damn you, bitch – I Belong to you.”
“You do,” she agreed. “Grab my purse, don’t touch anything or anyone else, and…” that was all she had energy for. She let the pain take her away.
She floated, for a moment, for a pleasant eternity, dreaming of a pasture full of bulls, angry bulls, stomping their feet and grumbling. Fenced-in bulls. Would the fence hold?
She came to in a rush of disorientation, to find Luke leaning over her, his wings spread wide like a canopy, sheltering her from view. “There you are,” he murmured. “Clever girl. I got you stabilized, but you need to go to the doctor’s.”
She nodded, startled at how much energy that seemed to take. “Amadeus…?”
“He’s standing right here, holding your purse.” Luke looked worried. “Ciara…”
“I know. Tigers and tails.” She nodded. “Muzzle him before I let go of the tail.”
“Good girl. I’m going to pick you up now.” He did so, gently, trying not to hurt her and not entirely succeeding. She could see, then, the remaining crowd, hovering around looking – disappointed? Surprised? Some, at least, looked happy – and Amadeus, definitely looking murderous.
“Amadeus. There’s a notebook in my purse. Get it out. The items on the first page, that begin with ‘do not harm or attempt to harm Ciara,’ are your standing, long-term, permanent orders. Read them, obey them. The second page, beginning ‘go to your room and pack your belongings,’ are your orders for today. Read them, obey them. You may keep the notebook, but I want my purse back now.”
Looking absolutely poleaxed, he did as she ordered, handing her the purse and reading the notebook with an increasingly unhappy expression. Fences and bulls, tigers and muzzles. Did she have the strength to hold him?
“The order to not touch anyone or anything is void now,” she added, and then let herself go limp in Luke’s arms. She’d expected him to hurt her. She’d needed him angry enough to lose control, and she’d known that would likely involve some damage. But she hadn’t expected it to hurt quite this much. She hadn’t expected to be this helpless.
“Done?” Luke’s voice was pitched for her ears alone. She nodded, and he carried her across the hall to the Doctor’s office.
As he set her on the exam table, the normally dour PE teacher smiled at her. “You planned the whole thing, didn’t you?”
She shrugged, just a little – even that hurt. “I just like making lists.” It would have been a pretty poor gambit if she hadn’t planned it out. Maybe that’s why everyone had been second-guessing her.
The thought sent her happily back into unconsciousness.
Tuesday, November 18, 2003, night-time
Ciara had been asleep in the infirmary for a few hours when a noise woke her. The doctor had been able to put her back together “good as new,” but suggested firmly that an overnight stay would be good for her, “just in case.” Ciara had agreed – there was really no point in trying to argue with Dr. Caitrin anyway, certainly not with Luke hovering over her – and had succumbed, once again, to unconsciousness. It was beginning to be a habit. She hoped it didn’t last.
“You shouldn’t be here.” Luke’s voice was quiet in the dark of the mid-night clinic.
“She told me I could.” Amadeus was trying to keep his voice down, but he had less practice than Luke. “Here, on page two.”
“She did,” Luke confirmed, a moment later. “But that doesn’t explain why you’re here.”
There was a moment of silence, and then she heard her new Kept say, rather unwillingly, “I want to see if she’s okay.”
“You broke her leg, her wrist, and at least five of her ribs, as well as puncturing a couple of her internal organs. I wouldn’t say she’s okay.”
“She challenged me!” he flared, and then, quieter, “Dr. Caitrin fixed her, right?”
“She did,” Luke murmured. “Amadeus…” his voice dropped down lower than Ciara could hear.
“Try me.” From the sounds of it, Luke was pleased with himself. “You can see her now.”
Ciara kept her eyes closed and her breathing even as Amadeus walked in, although she couldn’t keep her heart from pounding a bit. What had her orders said about this? Shit, did she want him this close to her?
Little late for that, she told herself sternly, as his hand rested on her arm. “Ciara?” he whispered loudly. Then, when she “didn’t wake,” “Damnit, Ciara.”
She opened her eyes, glad it didn’t hurt to do, and stared at him. He stared back at her, angry. “You’re fine, right?”
She couldn’t help a little smile. “You’re all packed up?”
“Couldn’t be here if I wasn’t. Damnit, those orders…!”
Her smile was growing a bit. Irritating him didn’t seem wise, but, then again, he was hers now. He’d certainly done more than irritate the Kept he’d had before. “I didn’t expect you to be happy if I won. It seemed safer to be thorough.”
“If.” He was only getting angrier. “Are you telling me you weren’t sure? Why would you risk everything like that?”
“Why did you?”
He grumbled incoherently for a moment. “I didn’t think I could lose.” It came out on the end of what she thought was Farsi swearing, and was barely more comprehensible.
“I was betting on that,” she admitted. Quieter, she added, “I’m told that Kept are happier if there’s physical contact.”
He leered, but his heart wasn’t in it. “This is what it takes to get into your bed?”
“Yes.” The bed was narrow, but wide enough. She scooted to one side, and patted the space next to her. “I didn’t want to be your pet, Amadeus.”
“So you arranged things so I’d be yours.” He sat down on the bed gingerly.
“Well.” She took his hand in her own. “From what I’m told, there’s some negotiation as to the exact role a Kept plays.”
“Meaning what?” He didn’t snatch his hand away, but his shoulders were still stiff and angry.
Ciara studied Amadeus for a moment, his face, grumpy but no longer seething with anger, his shoulders, tense and a bit hunched, his hand in hers, large and a bit rough.
He wasn’t patient. It didn’t take him long to repeat himself. “What do you mean, negotiate?”
“Exactly what I said.” There was a big, strong, terrifying man, a predator, a monster who had broken far too many of her bones just hours ago, looming over her. Looming angrily over her. Antagonizing him did not seem to be the best idea, and yet she kept doing it. Why? To prove to herself she could? To prove to him that she could?
“I don’t exactly have anything to negotiate with.” He gestured with his free hand at his clothes. “Legally, everything I have is yours. Everything I am is yours.”
“Yes. And in talking to your former Kept…”
“You talked to Jaelie?” She couldn’t tell if he was angry or surprised.
“And Margherita.” Not long conversations, but enough to learn what she’d needed to know.
“That explains some of the stuff on the list.”
“They are similar to orders you gave them, aren’t they?”
“If by similar you mean quoted word for word.” He rolled his shoulders. “I figured that was how you planned to continue.”
“The way I Kept my girls.” His girls. He still said it with pride of possession, and something almost like affection. What was she going to do with that? She didn’t exactly like him. But she was willing to learn.
“Well, that’s what we’re negotiating.”
“I still don’t have anything to bargain with.”
“But you do.” She pulled herself carefully into a sitting position, so that she was closer to eye level with him. “You have your willing cooperation, and your knowledge.”
“My… you want me to play along like a good boy?” She didn’t have to answer; she barely had to nod. His scowl deepened. “What’s in it for me?”
“A longer leash. More room inside your own head. A status closer to boyfriend than toy.” She was coming to the end of her plans. So much here involved his decisions, and those were hard to predict, harder even than she’d thought they would be.
He said nothing. For a moment, she thought he was angry; she started running through his orders in her head. She’d covered all the bases, right? He couldn’t hurt her?
“And if I don’t cooperate?” His soft tone and her fear conspired to make it sound like a threat, so she answered in the same way.
“Then neither do I.”
“Lock me down with orders, you mean. Do you really think you can cover every base?”
Did she? She had to hope he couldn’t find the loopholes. “I don’t think it will be fun,” she admitted. “For either of us.”
That stilled him again. “Can I think about it?” He still sounded unhappy.
She didn’t blame him. “Please do.” Sitting didn’t exactly hurt – Caitrin had healed her very well – but it was far more exhausting than seemed reasonable. “For now… do you want to stay the night?”
He didn’t want to answer that one, she could tell. She could even guess why. “Everything in my room – my former room, I guess – is all packed up.”
“Lay down, then. I want to get some sleep.”
“Yes, Mistress.” There was irony in his grumble, but there was sincerity, too. He’s one of those “Master” and “sir” sort of Keepers, Jaelie had told her.
“Thank you.” She couldn’t quite bring herself to say “good boy” as he carefully scooted himself down until he was reclining, clearly trying not to jostle her. Her thanks got her a strange look, almost a smile.
This was going to be tricky. The whole thing was going to be a giant juggling act. And she’d walked into it. She lay back down next to him, the tight confines of the bed enforcing something like cuddling. She’d never shared a bed with a boy before, not for longer than watching a movie or some quick, furtive necking. Certainly never a boy as big as Amadeus.
“Can I…” He paused, frowning. Reviewing his orders or hating asking for permission? “If I put my arm around your shoulders, it’ll probably be more comfortable for both of us.”
Sleep with his arm that close to her? Well, unless she wanted to make him sleep on the floor (which was an option, according to Margherita), she’d have to get used to it eventually. She nodded, wishing she didn’t feel so terrified.
He squirmed. It was an odd thing to see on her big, bad wolf. “You do remember telling me I couldn’t touch you without your permission, right?”
She’d written that down. Right below Do not seek to harm me, or bargain with others to have me harmed. She nodded. “You can put your arm around my shoulders so we can sleep.”
“You can sleep, at least.” His arm settled there, his hand engulfing her upper arm, and she cautiously pressed herself against him. He was warm, she was surprised to find, and resting her head on his shoulder was comfortable in a way she hadn’t thought possible.
“You’re tiny,” he murmured. “I didn’t realize how small you were.”
“You’ve been stalking me since September.”
“But I’ve never really held you.” His fingers tightened on her forearm. “I’ve never had you this close.”
That had been on purpose. But now she had her angry bull. “It’s time to sleep, Amadeus.”
“Go ahead. I’m not going anywhere.”
Sleep with him awake, holding her? Not yet, not tonight. “Go to sleep.” Would that work? She peeked at his face.
A look of disgruntled worry and frustration was quickly fading into slumber, his whole body beginning to relax. So it would work. She settled down into his arm, and sought out sleep as well.
It was a long time in coming. She had power over him. She had a terrifying amount of power over him. And not a clue what she was supposed to do with it.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003, Lunch Time
Breakfast had been a quiet matter in the infirmary, but Ciara wondered what her new Kept was going to do at lunch time. She hadn’t had time for many more orders, nor had she had time, yet, to put a collar on him (She hadn’t been brave enough to buy one ahead of time, knowing that there was a chance she’d lose). She’d considered and discarded a double handful of “tight leash” orders, deciding to give him a bit of room, now, until he decided which way he wanted this to go.
She should have challenged him on a Friday. Then she’d have all weekend to work this out.
He walked into the Dining Hall, started heading for his old table – with Nessie, Hemlock, Gregori, and their Kept – and then stopped dead halfway there. His eyes swept the room while Ciara’s heart stopped and tried to crawl into her throat. What would she do if he sat with his friends?
“Deus,” Gregori called. It sounded more impatient than friendly.
It looked like she wasn’t the only one to read it that way. Amadeus shook his head, and gestured, a little lamely, towards Ciara’s table.
“Shit, really?” Nessie frowned. Their voices were carrying – in part because Ciara wasn’t the only one who’d gone still to watch. It seemed as if everyone had heard what had happened last night. And lots of people knew Amadeus, at least by reputation.
He wasn’t talking. Why not? She hadn’t given him any orders against, yet. Maybe he wasn’t comfortable with all the attention he was getting.
He nodded, though, with a shrug that looked like he was bracing for combat.
“That sucks.” Despite the fact, Ciara noticed, that their Kept were sitting with them, not with their friends.
“Are you really going to do this, Key?” Ellen was looking increasingly unhappy as Amadeus walked towards them.
“I already did it. Now all that’s left is the clean-up.”
“You mean, Keeping him. All year.” She shook her head. “Come on, you don’t know anything at all about Keeping or being Kept.”
“I know if I release him now, it’s not going to fix anything at all. I know I have to hold on to him long enough to get his attention.”
“I think you’ve got it.” Shandar didn’t look any more comfortable.
“Look, if you guys want me to move out, if you aren’t comfortable having him in the suite…”
“No, no.” Ellen blanched. “No, don’t do that.”
“You’re going to need us to help you keep him in line.”
She wasn’t so sure that was true, but she really didn’t want to be alone with him all the time. “Thanks. I won’t let him hurt you. It’s in his orders.”
“It’s not us I’m worried about.” Shandar was a lousy liar. But they’d run out of time.
“Where do you want me?” Amadeus loomed over the table.
“She wants you on her left,” Ellen snapped, “where you belong.”
“I wasn’t asking you.”
“Be ni… be civil to my crew, Amadeus. To my left, please, and then would someone explain that to me?”
He settled into his seat. No food yet, she’d have to do something about that. What would he be expecting? She should have asked Jaelie and Ghita more questions. “It means you’re in charge. Like…” he fell silent.
“Like the collar,” Shandar offered. “Key, you really ought to…”
“Nobody asked you.” Amadeus kept his voice level, which probably counted as being civil, since it was clear he wanted to snarl.
“I will, after classes. I was a bit short on time.” She frowned at all of them.
“You know about the collars?” Amadeus scooted his chair closer to hers, as if trying to cause an accidental contact.
“When things started happening, and some big lug started following me around, and Ellen and Shandar couldn’t tell me anything, I started asking my Mentor questions.”
“Luke.” He seemed to disapprove. He even moved his chair a bit further away.
“Well, he could teach me to fight, which was starting to look like it was going to be necessary, and he talks, unlike Doug. So he could tell me things.”
“So, you’re saying I stalked you into cy’Luca?” He looked even less happy at that. “But shouldn’t your cy’ree brothers have been talking to me, then?”
“I didn’t tell them. I didn’t tell anyone except Ellen and Shandar.”
“I wanted to handle you on my own.” She held up a hand, not wanting to get yelled at again over the whole thing. “Enough talking for now. Are you hungry?”
He pressed his lips together and nodded.
“Go get yourself a decent meal, then bring it back here, no detours.” She sat back in her seat, no longer really hungry for her own meal, and watched him go.
“Shandar, I know I have a lot to learn. But if you second guess everything, I’m never going to figure anything out.” She stabbed her food with her fork.
“I was just going to say, don’t be too hard on him.” He shrugged, and then shrugged again at the look Ellen gave him. “First few days, they’re formative. He’s trying to find his feet. If you don’t want him to have any, sure, kick them out from under him until he stops trying. But I didn’t think you wanted a Great Dane.”
“World’s biggest lap-dog. That was fast,” he added, as Amadeus returned, his ears pink. He’d clearly heard something, but he sat down without saying a word. Of course he did.
She studied the food on his plate. It probably qualified as “decent.” It didn’t really qualify as healthy. Well, she could deal with that tomorrow.
He was watching her, his tongue darting out to lick his lips. Making him deal with this in front of an audience was probably cruel and unusual punishment.
He’d broken her ribs, her ankle, and both arms, less than twenty-four hours ago.
She picked her fork up and began eating, slowly, ignoring him, ignoring the way he was staring at her. She hadn’t told him he couldn’t eat. She hadn’t told him to keep his mouth closed. Anything he was reading into it was him remembering how he’d treated his own Kept.
“Do you remember?” Ellen’s voice was way too casual. “When you were first Kept, Shandar? When you felt like your owner frowning was an order?”
“I was afraid to breathe without permission. I mean, she was something else. Not like your Rory. But I didn’t want to do anything that might make her mad.”
Amadeus coughed, glaring at both of them. Ciara sighed. This would be easier on both of them without an audience.
“Do you have that notebook on you?”
That didn’t help his expression, but he pulled it out of his pants pocket and passed it over.
“Good, thank you.” She opened to the page of standing orders and, underneath “Do not damage my possessions” wrote “You may eat what you want, when you want it, of cafeteria food or food purchased with your Store account, unless given direct orders otherwise.”
He looked at it, and then looked back at her, and then back at the notebook.
“While we’re at lunch today, I don’t want to hear anything more about why I challenged you, or any other whys of this whole mess. But you can talk again.”
He worked his mouth a couple times. “Thank you, Mistress.”
“You’re welcome, Amadeus.” She ignored the glare that Ellen was shooting her. Ellen wasn’t the one who’d invited the tiger into her bed.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003, after classes
Uncertain if it was wise, she’d told him his time was his own between the end of classes and the end of her Tlacatl class, then ordered him to meet her after that class. After all, he certainly knew where it was.
Now they were standing in front of the collar rack of the Store, staring in mutual silence at the options.
Ciara was the first to speak. It was her job to, after all. She cleared her throat. “Tell me, if you had managed to Keep me, what sort would you have put on me?”
He coughed, and one hand went to the notebook in his pocket. Considering his orders? She hadn’t written in “complete honesty” in there. She wanted to give him a little room, as she’d told him, inside his own head.
“On you? Nothing huge, you’re tiny.” She might have to write something in there about not calling her tiny, soon. “But something so you knew you were Kept. A red leather choker, maybe. With an O-ring in the front.”
Well, that sounded like it was probably honest… and uncomfortable. “Thank you.” She let her eyes rake over the collars and necklaces, and then over his throat. His Adam’s Apple was bobbing. She wondered how long he’d let himself be nervous before he got angry.
“Well, what are you going to pick?” Not long at all, it seemed. Good to know. She picked up a thick leather band, one that looked more like a dog collar than anything. No O-ring in the front, but he’d certainly know he was Kept.
It was tradition to make Kept buy their own collar. She thought it was a shitty tradition, but he’d done it to Jaelie and Gita.
“You buy this one.” She scooped up a second one, much narrower, and made of metal links. It was still a collar, but it was a lot less harsh. “And I’ll buy this one – for later, if you decide you want to cooperate.”
His eyes settled on it. “A bribe?”
“A promise of a reward.”
Friday, November 21, 2003, evening
“Go play with your friends tonight, darling.” Tess patted Lee on his back and handed him a duffel bag. “Here, pack an overnight bag.”
“Um. What?” Lee knew he shouldn’t be arguing. He should be saying “yes, ma’am,” and getting out of here as fast as he could, before she changed her mind, or before Lucian stepped in.
“We’re having someone else over to play tonight, and I don’t need you getting in the way.”
“Hey!” He was very good at not getting in the way. Usually. Except when he wasn’t. “You don’t want me around?”
“Not when we’re playing with Naberius, I don’t.”
“Where am I supposed to go?”
“All of those little friends you always complain about not seeing? Go play with one of them. All of them, for all I care. Just don’t come back before tomorrow morning. You have ten minutes to pack a bag.”
“Shit, I’m going, I’m going.” Clothes. He still had clothes. He was pretty sure that was just because he had to go to classes. He sure didn’t get to wear them at “home,” in Tess and Lucian’s room. Toothpaste, toothbrush. Shampoo. Towel. This was ridiculous. Why didn’t they want him? Why was he arguing? He could get a night of actual sleep in, maybe.
If he could find anywhere to go. Quintus was Kept by Sequoia. Noam was stuck with Brenna. Wylie had the scary senior girl. It seemed like the entire school had, one by one, getting picked off, until there was nobody left but Shang.
Shang! Shang would be free! The guy spent most of his time wandering around looking like someone had stolen his puppy. Lee would have felt bad for him, except, really, being left out of slavery, even if your slave-owner was someone cool like Wylie’s girl, was really the side you wanted to be on.
And right now, Shang being left out was cool for Lee. ‘Cause he didn’t want to go visit one of his friends and have it turn out they thought he was a magic gift from his Owners to their Owners.
Shang was perfect. Lee bounced along happily. Now, if only he could remember where the guy lived.
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