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This is bad.
We are not treated well and they stuffed us into a room that would not even fit my shoes from home. It smells like the essence of wet dog and spoiled fish that were used to wash the floors with. Our ankles are shackled and we are wearing and outfit that would belong perfect for the set of, The Handmaiden’s Tale. Not even exaggerating, we are wearing bonnets with a long brims to shield our faces and nothing short of a nun’s cloak to cover our ripped clothing.
“This is bad,” I say, crouching in the corner. There is no room to lie down or stretch our legs, and they told us we should be lucky we are not bunked with the other slaves. Well, I guess I will agree with that assessment. I desperately do not want to be with the other stinky men, and watch them stare at us like we’re lunch. My ego is not too big where I can’t recognize that this could be much worse. I have a very good imagination.
“What are you doing?” I glance at Mort in the dim lighting.
“Talking to Peirce.” She is typing and blinking.
“On your imagery computer?”
She huffs. “It’s not imaginary, and yes. Peirce is always online keeping track of us. I’m talking to him about your backstory. Peirce says he is working out references for your amnesia case.”
“That’s a relief.”
Mort nods. “He also says quick thinking on your part, it will fit in nicely with the lost princess scenario.”
“Yes,” I deadpan, “It’s starting to sound like a Disney classic already.”
“He is apologizing for the liper attack,” she says without looking at me. “And, he will make it up to you. But, Peirce says, that the outfit he made for you seemed to do the trick.”
Mort winks at me.
“What does that mean,” I say dryly. “You mean you think Apollo fancied me?”
She giggles. “Oh yea, he liked what he saw.”
“You don’t think it had anything to do with me being half-naked and any hot-blooded male would do the same? Nothing special about me, per-say.”
“Maybe,” she says.
I narrow my gaze at her.
“But,” she continues, “you’re a slave and Pierce says normally Apollo does not openly show signs of interest, and especially not directed a slave. Through, we don’t know for sure but it’s definitely a good sign. Your wardrobe is going to be an obstacle, but nothing Pierce can’t handle. He says he has some tricks up his sleeve.”
I glance down at my attire. I have no clue how I’m am going to make this work being a slave, I might not ever get a glimsp of Apollo again. And if I do, he will not recognize me in this this get-up. That thought makes my tummy turn, imagining all of the other girls getting ample time with him.
I shift uncomfortably. “Man, I wonder what the girls will think when they see him.”
Smacking their faces and jumping up and down like a cartoon character.
Mort glances at me. “I will admit, for a human he is very striking. If you like the, Alfa-male-with-gorgeous-hair type. I prefer more of a beta-male, myself.”
“He did have gorgeous hair.” The bleach blond mixed with golden locks would be the envy of every California male ever born. Then there was his beautiful skin, not pale like most fair-haired people which contrasted with his hair so exotically. I want to groan, and his animalistic dark gaze. I feel a wave of jealously, wondering who will be the first to kiss him. That would be an experience no girl will forget. A man of his caliber probably ruins every other man for any woman.
I now feel for the poor bachelorette girls when they had to watch the hunky dude kiss all of the women. I can say that I feel genuine rage and I have only caught a glimpse of him. I need to calm down, or this will get very un-healthy.
“Is Apollo even looking for female companionship that’s long term?” I ask.
Mort nods. “New development. Actually yes, his father is very sick and is dying. Apollo will most likely be King very soon and needs a Queen quickly, in fact. This will help us, finally some good news.”
“Oh great, that probably means every girl in the kingdom will be after him.” My situation keeps on getting worse. All I need is more competition.
The sound of the door opening made us both jump. Nerves flash though my body when I hear male voices. The rusted metal door opens with a groan and two large men stand there looking at us with frowns.
“Get up Slaves, we r’ in Garthorn!”
The next thirty minutes we’re jerked here and there, being placed in a long line of Garthorn Slaves. My ankle shacks almost make me fall, but luckily the guard yelling at me grabs me by the neck, steading me. It is dark outside and chilly, the sky flickers with blinding flashes of light giving it a malevolent appeal. A shiver licks its way down my spine, feeling nerves crashing my senses. At this point, if I can make it without using all three of my life-lines I’m winning. The thought of Apollo falling in love with me seems to drift further and further away.
A large man is shouting something at us that I can’t make out then the line starts to move once again. We are descending from the ship onto a massive draw bridge. A large crowd is present on the dock along with carriages and massive horses. Large puffs of breath can be seen as the monstrous black stallions stomp the ground impatiently. I can hear yells and chants and it sounds like chaos. I raise my head slightly and take in the distant city and castle and my breath hitches.
In the darkness the city reflects deep blues and silvers giving the whole landscape a daunting appearance. At this point I feel like I’m way in over my head. Garthorn looks like something out of the, Lord of The Rings. Towering buildings disappear into the mist-like clouds with sharp edges and some that end in long spear-like points. As if the buildings were not man-made but carved out of the jagged mountain structures.
I risk a glance to where Apollo stands with his men some distance away from the slaves. My tummy tightens, he looks like a superhero. The lightening from the dark sky flashes behind him giving his powerful form an unnatural allure. His sapphire cape flaps with the gentle wind and his shiny black armor reflects every vein of lightening.
Apollo’s face is a stone mask, carved from granite, as if he cares not that the people are chanting his name. I can hear women scream like we are at a boy band concert, for Pete’s sake. Talk about looking desperate, someone should tell these women men like the chase. Not to be chased. He nods to someone in the crowd and then my heart jumps to life, he points to me and Mort.
I gaze to where he points in the crowd and it’s to a very stern looking woman with men standing behind her. High bun, thin lips, and outfit fit for an eighteenth-century royal governess.
“That is the headmaster, in charge of the female servants, divisions’ one through five. We call her Headmaster, pretty simple.” Mort whispers behind me. “Peirce placed vague memories of us in their brains. So our story checks out if Apollo should ask, which it looks like he is now.” She pauses, “It seems like Apollo is an impatient human. Good thing Peirce is a fast worker.”
I’m not sure if I should feel excited or dismayed that the first thing Apollo does is ask about us. I bit my lip as the severe headmaster bows in front of Apollo and they’re no doubt talking about them. I see the woman glance over in our direction then back to Apollo, nodding.
“You must always keep your head down and do not talk unless you are spoken to. No eye contact what-so-ever,” Mort murmurs behind me.
Good to know.
I hear a man yell and apparently Apollo has given orders for us to go to them. I feel a jab in my back to start walking towards Apollo and the Headmaster who are standing at the base of the draw bridge. My heart is beating so hard it almost hurts. I feel so out of my element and I hate not being in control. I keep my head down and fist my cloak to hide my hands shaking.
We arrive and all I can see is my feet.
I gasp as the Headmaster grabs my chin jerking it upwards and rips off my bonnet. My dark hair is a wild curly mass, flipping in all directions. Apparently my hair dried in a fashion similar to if I suck my finger in a light socket.
She is inspecting me to see if I am who I say I am. I can feel eyes on me as she inspects every inch of my face, tilting it to the left and right rather aggressively. She jerks my chin to the right again and my gaze clashes with Apollos’.
I didn’t breathe.
Apollo had his hand over his mouth as if in serious thought, his black gaze was zone in on me, the intensity of his stare scattered my brain waves. It’s hard to tell where exactly he is looking due to the darkness of his eyes but I will guess it’s my hair.
And now my eyes.
He is slightly rubbing his chin as his gaze immobilizes me.
My cheeks heat to boiling point and I look away, trying to calm the frantic beat of my pulse. Pull it together woman! I would bet my cards he saw the reddening of my face even in the dark. H*ll, for all I know the prince is nocturnal. I am not prepared to deal with a force like him apparently. Maybe the others will have better luck, I feel like a little bug next to a Lion. The two can’t relate.
That thought unnerves me.
I look back to the headmaster to see if any recognition lies in her gaze. Come on Peirce, make her remember! I need out of here STAT.
“Yes, the amnesia girl with the discolored eyes. Level five, if I’m not mistaken,” she says and grabs my wrist to confirm. “Yes, she is one of us.”
Thank you Peirce!
The Headmaster inspects Mort and confirms we both are Garthorn, Sector 5 slaves. I risk a glance at Apollo and bite my lip, I’m such a coward. His expression is unreadable as he stares, and it’s starting to draw attention for the amount of attention he is showing me.
“Well, then.” He murmurs, “Welcome back.”
My skin prickles and alarms are ringing in my head. The way he said it didn’t seem like a, welcome back, but a, don’t get comfortable.
I hear Mort’s breathy giggle behind me as we are dragged off.
And this is only day one.
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