Sand blew in molten abrasive waves, scouring over the figure of the man as he tried to stay on his feet in the endless dunes around him. It bristled on his skin, irritated him as it got into every crack and crevice in his body. It stung at his lips and burned in his eyes. With a raspy growl, he tried to brush some of it away, but it settled back in, thicker than ever.
Just six days ago, he'd been laughing and joking with his friends, amidst a caravan traveling across this she bitch desert, not a care in the world and enjoying the trip his Uncle had given him. It was to season him, his Uncle had said. To make him ready to take his rightful place with the peerage and in the House of Lords for his father's seat was still vacant.
Then the raiders had attacked, scattering the caravan. He'd fought but had watched in horror as his friends were cut down, one after the other, though no harm had befallen him. It was as if the men were afraid to touch him, turning aside the blows of his sword but not meting out any of their own.
When all were dead but himself and the leader of the caravan, the man smirking as he looked over at him, he'd run for his horse, determined to get away. His horse was a thoroughbred, raised in this world of sand and heat. He'd out rode the dark devils that were determined to et their hands on him, escaping across the dunes.
Without the benefit of the caravan, he'd become lost, turned around in an ocean of sand, unable to decide which way was the right way to go. He'd kept moving, knowing of nothing else to do, and then his horse had died about two days ago. He'd been tempted to stay with him, to lie down next to the faithful beast that had carried him so well for so long and let the desert take them both.
His will to survive was too strong. He rose, after mercifully ending the struggles of his horse, grabbing what little water he had left and putting the strap of the water bladder over his shoulder. It was gone now, left along the straggling trail of his footprints, disappearing in the wasteland of the desert under the blowing sands that seemed to be all that was left of his world.
The heat had made him half mad; the tedious and trying effort of planting one booted foot in front of the other had almost taken the other half of his mind. Thirst plagued him and the desert played tricks upon him, taunting him with shining lakes of water that were just out of reach. Lakes that beckoned him more than the most seductive of women ever could.
His cotton covered knees hit the sand first and he struggled futilely to rise once more, to continue the endless struggle against the accursed sand. Then his hand fell, holding him up, his arm shaking as weakness unlike anything he'd felt before took him. His mind wobbled, sanity threatened to dessert him.
He would rest; just lay his head down here on the sand and rest until he regained his strength. Then he would rise again, and once more search for the water he was certain was just past the next dune.
His hand curled into a fist and something besides sand ended up in his palm as he rolled to his back, staring at the bright yellow ball in the sky that seemed to scorch his eyes. He lifted his hand, blocking the sun with one while he looked at the thing he held.
It was a ring, golden with a huge amber stone that sparkled under the torturous rays of the sun.
"Pretty," he mumbled, unconsciously slipping it on his finger. It fit as if made for him, turning when his hand slumped back to the sand as his eyes slipped closed.
Laresa gave a startled cry as the torrential heat of the desert beat down upon her head. Her last master had been in the icy cold of the Alaska tundra, his death after many years of devotion to her condemning her back to the prison of the ring and the uncertainness of her future. The heat was such a startling difference to that wonderland of white snow and shimmering ice she'd last lived in. While the heat or cold had no affect upon her specifically, she could still feel the difference.
She looked down at the body of the man who owned her ring now, noting how the blowing sand was slowly covering him, creating another small dune against his body. Within an hour, a person would be hard pressed to notice the difference between the dune that would cover his body and the ones that had been there for centuries.
Kneeling next to his body, she lifted him gently into her arms, his long form looking huge against her small frame. A quick thought had them both disappearing into sparkling gray mist, reappearing an instant later in the cool green of a secret oasis.
Laresa carried him into the small pool of cool water that was hidden by the lengthy fronds of many palm trees, bending to submerge his heated form into the liquid depths. Sitting and letting him rest against her breast, she slowly lifted handful after handful of silky water, letting it slide over his skin, some dribbling into his mouth.
Matthew Aidan Cranston, seventh Marquis of Hevershem, with properties that amassed a fortune of revenues every year, slowly blinked his eyes, shivering a little with the trailing of the water that felt icy on his over heated skin. A soft hand stroked his brow, cleaning the dirt and sweat from his skin, leaving only the red of the terrible burn that he had received from the rays of the sun. He tilted his head, feeling a round mound of flesh, a softness that could only be one thing, a female breast.
"Be still, Master. I will heal you if you will but wish me to."
"W... What?" he croaked, unsure if he'd heard the husky, smoky voice right.
"You have but to wish to be well, Master and I, Laresa, your genie, will make it so."
Matthew closed his eyes. "I'm having another hallucination," he said, his voice breaking.
"No, Master. You found my ring and put it on. It chose you as my new master. I am a genie; I live in the ring that you now wear. As long as you possess my ring, you possess me." Laresa smiled. It seemed no matter how many new masters or mistresses she had, ever since the age of the jinn, now that her people were scarce, she had to go through the same disbelief and had to prove her word over and over. "Just wish yourself to be well, Master. I shall make it so."
Matthew sighed, sucking lightly upon one of her water covered fingers as it came to rub the sweet moisture into his lips. When she pulled her hand away to cup more of the wonderful water, he took a deep breath. "All right, Laresa, did you say? All right then, Laresa. I wish myself well."
He couldn't see the smile that graced her face for an instant before she closed her eyes and probed his mind. With a slight nod of her head when she found the thought she was searching for, she opened her eyes. "Your wish is my command, my Master."
Matthew felt a strange tingle go through his body starting at his toes and shifting over his feet which were covered with bleeding blisters from walking miles in the sand in his riding boots. It moved up his legs that were sore and aching from walking those many miles, over his thighs and hips, into his lower back and then up further. It tingled over his ribs, causing him to inhale reflexively before continuing. Up his shoulders, and down his arms, up over his throat and across his face, even his hair felt as if it were standing straight up on his head, a victim to the strange tingle that held him in its grip.
Then it dissipated. Laresa pushed him up into a sitting position, standing up beside him, unmindful of the beauty she displayed in her wet diaphanous gown of gossamer silver. "How do you feel, Master.
He flexed his arms, did the same to his toes in their tight boots, running his hands over his face. The blisters were gone, the terrible thirst was gone, even the exhaustion had disappeared. He felt as if he'd just woke from a wonderful night's rest in his own bed in his main residence at his London townhouse. "I feel fine," he said, astonishment coloring the words. "No, I feel fantastic," he said, turning to look for the first time at the woman who had saved his life.
His first look sent a shock of awareness through him, a tingle that, while not genie induced, still felt magical. She was breathtaking, with long silvery blonde hair that blew gently in the breeze that stirred the leaves in the oasis. Her eyes were an amazing violet, reminding him of the flowers that his mother loved and always had around whatever house they were staying at, wide and rimmed with kohl, they looked mysterious and exotic, contrasting wonderfully with her thick mane of hair.
Her face was oval, her skin pale and perfect with lush lips of the most intriguing pink as to make them very hard to resist, especially now that he knew he owed her his life. That was, if in fact, he was still alive. If not, then he could only thank God for he'd made heaven a wonderfully cool oasis in the midst of the hellfire of desert and populated it with curvy little angels.
Then again, wasn't lust one of the seven deadly sin? Well, if it was, maybe Old Nick had gotten him after all and he would pay for his sins by never being allowed to touch her. There was only one way to be sure.
"Laresa, am I dead?" he asked her, slowly walking through the water to where she stood, her feet still immersed in the cool liquid.
"No, Master, I brought you here, but could only heal you when you asked. You are still very much alive." He was quite handsome too, though she kept that thought to herself.
His hair was golden, streaked from the sun. His eyes were wide set and intelligent, a startling green that mixed well with the tan he had acquired from his days in the desert. He had a patrician nose, and a small mustache that she had left when she'd rid him of the rest of his facial hair during his wish. It framed his wide lips that turned up with a sensual curve that matched the glint in his eyes when he looked at her.
He was tall, dwarfing her diminutive size by well over a foot, his shoulders wide and his chest deep, tapering to athletic waist and lean hips, displayed well in the pants he wore, especially since they clung wetly to his form. His legs were long and he stood with them spread slightly apart as he gazed down at her own wet attire.
"Did I do wrong, Master?" she said innocently with a coy smile upon her lips. She could read his thoughts and they were of a lascivious bent, not that she minded for he stirred her desires also.
"Oh, no, Laresa. You definitely did not do wrong. I must ask though, for I'm not familiar with the duties of a genie. Do I now only have two wishes left?"
Laresa rolled her beautiful violet eyes before she could help herself. "That is fable, Master. I wish you mortals would leave the fables to those who can write fiction, such as the Grimm Brothers." She slapped her hand over her mouth, falling to her knees in the water before him, prostrating herself in her horror over what she'd said.
"What are you doing?" Matthew cried out in horror as she began to kiss his feet, clad in the wet boots. What made it even worse, they were still underwater and her mouth and nose were submerged also. "Get up," he ordered, reaching down to pluck her up easily and put her back on her feet.
"I am sorry, Master, I spoke out of turn," she cried, acting as if she would throw herself at her feet again.
"It's fine, Laresa. I am not going to have you drowned just because you spoke your mind. You are allowed, you know. It's not like we're back in the eighteenth century anymore." He took her arm, directing her towards the edge of the pool, trying desperately to ignore the way her gown clung to the ripe tips of her breasts, their color easy to see through the transparent fabric. He forced his eyes not to stray to the soft vee between her thighs, nor to wonder if the color of the curls that covered her mons would be the same as her hair.
"Where are we?" he asked, trying to distract himself from the too tempting picture she made.
"We are in an oasis about six miles east of where you collapsed, Master. I saw your urgent need for water and thought that this place would be best. There is no one around for miles and you will be quite safe here." She stopped walking when he did, sitting when he urged her to.
"So if I have more than two wishes left, how many do I have?"
"I am yours to command as you will until you die or lose the ring through default or loss, Master." She curled her legs up under her, putting her hand on the soft grass next to her which pushed her breasts against the wet fabric, making it cling to the rounded curves, sticking to the slight ladder of her ribs and the tautness of her stomach.
"Default? How would I do that?" he asked, turning and looking across the small pool of water, refusing to look back at her.
He missed seeing Laresa's smile, and the coy way she pulled at her nipples to make them look even more pronounced and ripe against her gown. "It is simply a matter of not breaking the rules, Master, for once broken, my ring will disappear through time and space and I will belong to its next wearer."
"Then perhaps you should explain these rules to me, so that I will be better prepared to not break them, Laresa."
"Could I ask a favor, Master, for your humble servant?"
Matthew nodded, still not looking back at her.
"If you would but sit so that my neck will not crick as I look up at you, would make it much easier to converse, Master."
He sighed, fisting his hands to gather his courage and his restraint and turned, his eyes instantly drawn to her breasts. Though small, they were rounded and full, her nipples a beautiful berry upon the plump mound. He stifled the small groan that wanted to erupt from his lips and could only hope that she would keep looking at his face and not notice the bulge that grew very noticeable in his riding breeches.
He sat beside her, careful to not touch her soft skin with any part of him and then dragged his eyes from her breasts to look into her face. "Is this better?"
"Much, Master, for now I shan't have to bend my head back so far to let my unworthy eyes rest upon your handsome face."
Matthew couldn't help but snort at the flowery terms she used. "All right, Laresa. Now about those rules," he said, a smile now tipping the corners of his mouth.
"Tis simple, really. You must not lie to me, nor force me to lie to others, such would cause you to forfeit my ring. I cannot bring back the dead, but if there is but a wisp of life left that a soul clings to, I can enhance the body and heal them. I cannot change the way someone feels, nor change world altering events for the effects could be paradoxical. I can grant you wealth, long life and happiness if that is your wish."
"So as long as I hold this ring..." his voice trailed off as he looked at the now dingy colored gem.
"I am yours to do with as you wish, Master," she said, hiding her grin at the way she'd tendered those words.
"Anything I wish?" he asked.
"Yes, Master, anything you wish."
"So if I were to wish to kiss you now?"
"You would but have to move to me, Master."
"Would you like it if I were to kiss you?" he asked, for he wanted her to want him.
"I am not allowed to disobey, Master. If it is your wish for me to kiss you then that is what will happen."
"What if I wish for you to only kiss me if that is what you want, can I do that?"
"You can, certainly, Master." Laresa held her breath, waiting to see if he would make the wish that would give her some free will. Staring fresh with a new Master could be frustrating, especially if the last master or mistress had given her freedom to do a lot of what she wished. A new master or mistress seemed sometimes to take forever to break in.
"I wish, Laresa, for you to respond to me freely, at all times, not only with a kiss. I want you to speak what you feel when you feel like doing it and not worry that I will punish you or find it offensive." He sat for a minute and thought about his words.
Laresa beamed, her smile lit her face so. She nodded her head, glad to be able to enjoy such freedoms. Not all who owned her ring were so generous; some were down right cruel and shared her with others.
"Your wish is my command, Master."
She leaned closer to him, her hand coming out to rest against his chest, feeling his heart pounding under the plain white shirt. "Do you wish to kiss me?" she asked him again, her voice a throaty purr that sent his passions racing.
"Very much, Laresa," he said, reaching for her shoulders and letting his gaze caress her soft features before moving even closer, until their lips were but a breath apart. "Kiss me," he whispered.
"Your wish is my pleasure, Master," she said, finishing the words against his firm lips, feeling them soften as moved ever closer until she was all but sitting in his lap, her head tilted against his shoulder, her mouth moving with his, relishing his taste and the way his tongue teased her mouth.
Matthew's hands moved from her shoulders to her back, his long fingers spanning the smallness of her easily. He lifted her hips, turning her until she straddled him, one long, curvy leg resting on either side of his hips, the softness of her woman's flesh pulsing against the hard bulge in his breeches.
Laresa gasped at the sensations flowing through her body, sensations that flooded her sex with a throbbing excitement and an exquisite yearning. It was different, this yearning, than anything she'd felt since her memories began, tender and wanting, a gentleness and the urge to protect that had her pulling back from him in consternation.
"What is it, beautiful genie?" Matthew asked her, bringing his hand up to her cheek and softly stroking her pale skin. "Did I hurt you?"
Laresa had never been so glad to have a bit of free will in her answer, for she could not tell him of her confusion. It wasn't the place of a genie to have true feelings for a master or mistress, only to grant wishes. It went against her teachings to feel her heart yearn to take this master as her own.
"It is nothing, Master," she whispered, her hands slipping into his hair to feather through the wet strands that curled near his neck. "May I kiss you again?"
"Do you really need to ask?" he laughed, pulling her closer and moaning at the way her small breasts felt against his chest.
"Yes, Master," Laresa said in all seriousness, for it was true, she did have to ask. Just because her free will wished the kiss, she must still be respectful of the needs and wants of her Master.
"Yes, my provocative little genie, I wish you to kiss me whenever and however you wish," he said with a grin.
Laresa closed her violet eyes, afraid he would see the happiness that wish gave her. When she opened them, he was gazing at her, an expectant air about him.
Her hand cupped his face, her thumb brushing lightly over the tickling hair of his mustache. She leaned forward slowly, letting the warmth of her breath caress his lips first, then just the barest pressure of her mouth upon his, turning her head slowly so that her lips rubbed against his own. Friction caused heat and lighted a spark between them that careened into their bodies so that he pulled her even closer, moaning into her mouth.
Then her tongue slipped through the lush softness of her lips, lightly licking his top lip, teasing the lower one before sliding between and into his mouth to explore the dark taste of his passion. Still she held his head motionless, begging silently that he allowed her to continue the kiss and not take this pleasure from her.
Matthew followed her lead, his body taut as sensations of pure fire sparked from where she pressed her lips against his. He felt slightly dizzy, as if the world had spun the wrong way suddenly, upsetting the ground around him. He exhaled and felt her inhale, breathing him in, leaving him to suddenly wonder who the Master in their relationship was for he'd never felt a passion like this, not even with a woman he'd thought he'd loved.
Laresa teased at his tongue, tempting it to follow her own back into her mouth, sucking gently upon it when it did. Her head switched angles again, that heat spearing through her once more until she thought she would burn up with the fire that settled deep in her loins. Her gown was too heavy, aggravating her skin. She needed it gone. With a thought, she was naked in his arms, his hands pressed against her bare skin, rough against her softness.
He pulled away, hearing Laresa's murmur of protest at the loss of his mouth, his eyes roaming down the curvaceous body now bared to his sight. She was everything that the wet gown had hinted she would be but so much more also, satiny and sweet with a scent of cinnamon and sandalwood that seemed to perfume the air around them. She arched against his hands, her eyes half closed, her lips parted as he began to explore her slender curves, slipping his fingers between her parted thighs to find them drenched in her arousal.
A moan built in his throat at the heat of her, the scent of her arousal filling his nostrils, making his cock ache inside the wet breeches. "My clothes, Laresa," he whispered against her lips. "Take them off."
"Yes, Master," she whimpered as he filled her aching, empty channel with one long finger. With a small nod his clothing disappeared, his erection rubbing up against the softness of her stomach.
Matthew could feel the soft grass under him, cushioning him from the harsh sands. He lay back, smiling up at her as she followed him down, those small breasts rubbing passionately against his chest. Her nipples were like tiny diamonds, pressing into him insistently. Pulling his hand away from her pink little cunt, he circled her waist with his hands, lifting her and settling her on his turgid erection, hearing her gasp as he filled her. His cock pushed into the wet velvet of her cunt, feeling the spongy walls part around him, squeezing him with her tightness.
She was hot and wet around him, her body working over his, rising and falling with single minded purpose. Her head was back, her face tight with the wonder of what she was feeling, her long hair falling down her back so the satiny tips brushed against his thighs.
Matthew reached out, finding her small breasts with his fingers, twirling their tiny, tight tips between them. Her cries filled the oasis, mixing with the husky sounds of his groans as they each sought pleasure for the other, Matthew holding back his climax by force of will.
"Laresa," he groaned, grabbing her hips and grinding her down on him, forcing her clit to rub with brutal tenderness against his cock and hearing her gasp and then cry out as the muscles of her cunt wrapped him tightly, squeezing like a small hand around his shaft. Jerking down on her harder, he joined her in the pleasures she provoked, filling her with long hot spurts of his sperm.
She collapsed against him, her arms wrapping around him, a sly smile upon her lips. She would enjoy this master, very much, she thought, squirming down on him and hearing his groan even as his hand came down on her rounded bottom.
"Hold still, woman," he moaned, opening his eyes and reaching up to push her hair out of his face. "What the..." he said before rolling over, shielding her body even as Laresa shrieked in his ear.
A huge scimitar, the curved, wickedly sharp blade about three feet long, pierced the sand where they had just laid. Matthew rolled again, staring in consternation at the men that were gathered around them, four of them, dressed in black robes, all armed with the same long curved swords.
"Bloody hell!" Matthew exclaimed, gazing at the huge blade that would have cleaved him in two if he hadn't opened his eyes when he had. "Are you crazed, man?"
"Give us the genie and we will let you go unharmed," the tallest of the four said.
Matthew managed to roll to his feet, pushing Laresa back behind him, measuring each of the men for their strengths and weaknesses. They had lots of the first, not many of the latter that he could discern and here he was, unarmed, hell, undressed with a naked genie at his back...
A genie at his back... he thought, a small smile coming to his lips. "What do you want her for?" he asked the one who'd spoken to him, unable to see their faces due to the scarves they wore across their lower faces.
"It is none of your concern, Englishman. Just take our offering of a horse that will get you out of the desert, give us the genie and her ring, and we shall let you live."
He reached behind him, taking Laresa's hand. "I don't believe so, gentleman," he said conversationally. "I wish to be in my bedchamber at my home in London," he said, just loud enough for Laresa to hear.
"Your wish is my command, Master."
A swirling motion, a wave of dizziness that had him closing his eyes and then suddenly he heard the sounds of horses, and voices muffled by distance. He opened one eye carefully, seeing the familiar surroundings of his handsomely appointed bedchamber and smiled.
"You know, my love, you are going to save me a fortune on travel expenses." He turned as he spoke, his grin widening as he saw her there, naked still. "So, why were those huge gentlemen after you? Did you abscond with the family jewels?"
Laresa shrugged her slim shoulders, her breasts jiggling fetchingly with the movement. "I have no idea. It is the first I have seen of them." She walked towards him, pushing him backwards and onto his bed, ducking down to land a lingering kiss upon his lips.
"Mmm," Matthew hummed, his hands coming up to tangle in the mass of silvery curls over her ears. "I think I'll like having my very own genie." He rolled with her, feeling her slim curves under him, his hips finding the vee of her thighs and settling between them. He lifted up on his elbows, his eyes roaming over the perfection of her features. "You really have no clue as to why those gentlemen were willing to kill me to get to you?"
"No, Master. I cannot lie to you," she said, a frown marring her features. "I've never seen them before, though the markings they bore on their face were strangely familiar."
"Markings? I don't believe I noticed any markings, I was more interested in the size of their... swords." He chuckled at his joke, though he sobered up when he realized that she was concerned. "Laresa, I wouldn't have let them hurt you."
"You would have protected me, Master?" she asked him, surprised.
"Of course. I'd be a bounder and a cad if I didn't protect my lady from villains such as those four. Now we are home, so there is nothing to fear. Of course, explaining to my Uncle how I returned home so quickly will be another feat. Then there is explaining to Phillip's family." Matthew grew quiet, rolling to his side and absentmindedly toying with one of her curls as he thought back.
"I don't even know if Phillip is still alive or not. We were separated by those brigands who overran our caravan. I barely made it to my horse alive."
"I can see if you wish it, Master," Laresa offered, though in truth, she was growing fatigued. It was a chore traveling across continents and had drained her energy.
"You can?" He smacked himself in the forehead. "Of course you can. What was I thinking?" He hugged her close, looking into her eyes and noting the shadows that marred the once flawless face. "You look tired, Laresa. Do genies tire?"
"We are still part human, Master, and as such tire like anyone. I shall be fine once I rest in the ring."
He held his hand up where the ring, now dull without her powers inside of it, rested on his finger. It was a handsome piece even with the stone diminished. "It's hard for me to believe that you come from here," he said.
"Yes, and if you need me when I am in the ring, just twist it to the right or call my name. I will hear you and appear. Also, Master, while you will always be able to see me, unless you wish for me to appear to others, I shall be invisible." She yawned, covering her mouth daintily.
"Rest, Laresa. I shall dress and go and visit my Uncle. When I return is soon enough to look for Phillip." He bent, kissing her gently.
"Do not lose the ring, Master, for I am connected to the ring beyond all other things." Then she yawned again, her body turning to pale gray smoke and drifting lazily into the gem, causing it to shine once more.
Matthew rose from his bed slowly, shaking his head at all that had transpired. If someone else had told him about this, he'd have had them committed to Bedlam. He should have asked Laresa how long she needed to rest for, he might need to produce her to convince his Uncle that he wasn't crazy himself.
With a grin, he went to the bath; thankful he'd had the plumbing updated on this residence and started water in the tub, thinking to take a quick bath. Before he could get into the tub, though he'd turned the water off, he heard voices in his room. Thinking his valet was getting a little too familiar with his possessions he went to the door, after wrapping a towel around his waist and listened.
"As soon as the body has been discovered, I believe I'll move into this residence. It is befitting of the title, do you not think, Eleanor?"
"Uncle Sirius?" he whispered, recognizing the voice, though who Eleanor was, he had no idea. What was this about a body and moving into his house?
"It is a nice room, I suppose, though the neighborhood is a little busy for my tastes," came the reply from the lady in question.
"Then perhaps we should just sell this one, there are others to choose from. My brother, may the devil rot his soul, was a genius with money and my nephew took after him. It's too bad I had to have the boy killed, but I couldn't take a chance that he might marry and produce an heir."
"No, this way our son shall inherit the title," Eleanor said.
"Yes, as soon as we can produce a body to prove his death, than you and I shall marry and I can finally claim Abbott as my own. With the money that I shall inherit as the last surviving male of the family, we shall never have to worry about anything again. I can buy back the paintings had to sell to pay for Matthew's trip." Sirius sounded too pleased with himself by far.
Matthew took an unconscious step backwards, his hands fisting as what was said finally penetrated the fog of disbelief that coated his brain. His Uncle, the man who had partially raised him after his parents' deaths, who he had loved like a father, had tried to have him killed.
"Mother?" another voice rang out.
"Abbott, it's about time you got here."
"It was a long trip back, mother, from that God forsaken desert. Why you couldn't have sent Matthew abroad and settled for a nice highwayman to kill off the bloke, I don't know."
"Christopher?" he whispered, pain slicing into him. Christopher was part of this too? His friend and confident since he was barely out of his teens, Christopher had always been there for him. The guilt of leaving him had almost sent him back the first night out, but the fear of being captured had kept him moving.
He heard them moving around the room, and he took a chance and opened the door to the bathing chamber just a small amount. His Uncle was searching through his desk, and he saw him pick up a set of diamond cuff links that he'd left there and a signet ring that he'd outgrown and that he'd left to have resized.
"These should hold us over until we get news of the death and can send out the announcement that the body was discovered. After that, it is only a matter of legal fees and all of this will be ours," Sirius said, stashing his find in his pocket before closing the drawers and ushering his family out of the room.
Matthew sat on the edge of the tub, his mind in a whirl. His Uncle had tried to have him killed. His best friend, a man he'd gone wenching with and slumming down to the docks on the waterfront, inhabiting all the lower class bars with such abandon, had been there, not to enjoy the vacation, but to witness his death. He had to think, he had to have a plan.
He slipped off the towel, climbing into the hot water, trying not to let the rage he felt cloud his judgment.
An hour later, he was clean and refreshed, dressed to the nines, having summoned his valet to tie his cravat and to brush and cut his hair, which had grown long on his trip. His mustache was trimmed, he was shaved. He was ready to face his Uncle.
But first, he wanted food and he wanted Laresa. Fumbling a little, for he felt slightly foolish, he turned the ring on his finger, calling her name into the silent room. "Laresa?"
A puff of smoke rose from the ring, tickling his hand and making him smile. It coalesced into the silvery blonde beauty that stretched her slender body before coming closer to him and kissing him. "You look very nice, Master," she said, her lips finding his once more.
"Mmm, thank you, Laresa. I want for you to look nice to, for we are going to dinner at the Sheldon Hotel and then to visit my Uncle. Can you make yourself visible and dress in the fashion of the day?"
"If you but think of how you wish me to look, Master, I can appear that way." She closed her eyes and waited for the image to appear in his mind.
After a moment, her eyes opened and she stared at him in consternation. "Master? You must wish me to look a certain way."
"You read my mind?" he asked her, aghast at the seductive and erotic thoughts he'd had of her, brought on, no doubt, but the passion with which she'd kissed him.
Laresa smiled, knowing exactly what bothered her Master and enjoying his dilemma. "I must look to see what it is that you wish exactly, Master. Words are sometimes not enough for me to get a wish exactly as you would like. It also is part of the bond, Master. My ring on your finger gives me the power to do for you what you wish. It is why I cannot leave the ring if it is not on your finger. It is our bond." She shrugged her shoulders, that same silvery gown that she'd worn earlier covering her slender form.
"I'm not sure that I like the idea of you knowing what is in my thoughts all the time, Laresa." His eyes narrowed as he looked at her.
"I only look when it is necessary, and when you are thinking thoughts so loudly that I cannot help but see them, like now. You are wondering if I am as naked as I was earlier under this gown."
Matthew felt a blush darkening his cheeks. It was disconcerting for the object of all the erotic pictures in your mind to know that she was there. It also had taken his mind off of the reason that he wished for her to go with him tonight. That was something they needed to discuss and would change the subject nicely.
"It isn't allowed for you to lie, or for me to lie to you, that is the rule?"
Laresa nodded, worried as she waited for him to speak.
Matthew surprised her, kneeling in front of her and opening a small case to hold out to her. "Then, Laresa, would you marry me?"
"Master?" she asked, startled.
"My Uncle plotted to have me killed, Laresa. He was behind the attack of the caravan. His bastard son pretended to be my friend and was sent with me to watch me die. He wants me dead so that he can take my inheritance and my title from me." He dropped his head, the pain of their deception slashing through his chest.
"Oh, no, Master," Laresa said, dropping to her knees to throw herself into his arms. "I am so sorry, Master. Should I turn them into camel dung?" she asked, her voice menacing.
Matthew surprised himself and her by bursting out in laughter. He wiped at the tears in his eyes, amazed at how she made the pain lessen just by being with him.
"But I am confused, Master. Why would marrying me keep them from trying to kill you again? Wouldn't it just be easier for you to wish the two of them to some island somewhere that they will never be found?" She cocked her head to the side, thinking. "I know just the one, Master. It is very tropical and very well hidden. They would never be found."
"You might be right, Laresa," Matthew said, smiling down at the girl in his arms. "Just don't go making that wish come true yet. I want him to know that I know. I want him to swear a little. And then I want him to pay."
"If that is what you wish, Master." She reached out to him, dragging his head down so she could reach his lips, kissing him softly and with as much emotion as she could portray in the melding of lips.
"Is that your answer?" he asked her when she put her head down on his shoulder.
"You still wish for me to wear your ring and become your bride?"
"I wouldn't have asked if I didn't. You make me feel things I don't understand, Laresa. I like you a lot. I think I could love you." He hesitated a moment before adding, "and I don't wish to endanger anyone else."
"But Master, I cannot reproduce. You would not be able to beget an heir from me." She looked up at him, her big violet eyes uncertain.
"Oh, so I can't wish for a baby and have you get me one?" he asked, a smile on his face as he teased her.
Laresa took his words seriously. "I have never been asked for that before, Master. As I cannot bring the dead back to life, I cannot bring new life to this world."
Matthew reached out and brushed his knuckles across her soft cheek, turning his hand to cup her face and let his lips rest gently against hers. "We shall worry when the time comes. I know I've only known you a few hours, Laresa but we are compatible and I can't think of anyone else who would fit the part that I need. If you will say yes, than we shall work at this one day at a time."
"Is it what you wish for me?" she asked.
He sighed. "It is what I wish for you to tell me, Laresa. Don't think of me as your master, think of me as a man who is asking you to spend the rest of your life with him.
She tipped her head, looking at him from under her thick eyelashes, the light shining on the silver and making them almost seem to sparkle. "I wish you to stay my master for what time the ring allows, Master. If this is what would make you happy, than yes, I wish to be with you."
Matthew laughed, throwing his hands up in the air. "Finally," he said, reaching for her hand and slipping the diamond ring over her finger. While he held her hand, he rose to his feet, drawing her up with him, pulling her into his arms. He kissed her, bending her backwards in his arms, his hands roaming over her curves.
"I wish we had the time to continue this, Laresa but..."
He laughed when Laresa's eyes sparkled and she nodded her head once. "We have the time now, Master."