Hadley took his second trip in as many days, up the curving staircase, with its shiny rail and ornate newel post carved in the Barkley family crest. On the landing, Hadley hesitated. Earlier, Lord Barkley had specifically asked for Cameron to be brought to his suite of rooms with lustful anticipation.
The situation with Daniel and his indiscretion was a far cry different.
“Here,” Barkley’s voice sounded with a crack. Hadley instinctually turned his naked charge in that direction. Barkley stood in the doorway, arms crossed, his features a storm cloud. To see that it was Daniel that Hadley delivered, there was a brief flicker of surprise before the lord turned on his heel and stormed into his chamber.
“Why?” Lord Barkley asked as soon as Hadley crossed the threshold. He stood at one of the tall windows near the silent piano, curtains drawn, the setting sun easing the room into a softened glow. Barkley was hard and tense about the shoulders.
Hadley felt his stomach hit the floor, rearing much like a horse being stung by a bee in surprise at Daniel’s nerve of speaking, and with such damnable familiarity.
“Not you,” Barkley said with a cold sneer as he swung around, hands curled into fists. His gaze was just as glacial as he stared Daniel down until the slave broke and dropped his head in obvious shame.
Hadley turned his head to Barkley, to Daniel, and back to Barkley, his neck the fulcrum for the swinging pendulum of surprise. Licking his dry lips, trying not to gape like a fish, Hadley replied, “The why of it is unknown, my Lord, but the evidence is clear as to this one being the culprit of Cameron’s visible damage.”
Releasing the binder, Hadley lifted Daniel’s damning hand, its proof in the cracked knuckles. Barkley’s face drained of color, leaving flattened lips and cold, hard eyes. Staring at Daniel, his hands went to the leather belt at his waist.
“N-n-noo, no no,” Daniel began to whisper, shaking in Hadley’s grasp, trying to step backwards, to flee, even has Hadley halted the furtive retreat.
Paddles for Cameron, belts for Daniel, Hadley mused inanely. The slick slide of leather through trouser loops accompanied Daniel’s panicked breathing.
“How would you do this, Handler?”
Handler, Barkley had for the first time not used his name but his title, his duty for being employed. Hadley thought for a moment, regarding Barkley, seeking a calm eye in the storm of a situation turned upside down. Gone was the gregarious, slightly dim witted lord of the manor, and in its stead, a very angry man bent on violence.
“There’s over the knee…”
“Against a bed’s end, or positioned against a rail or post.”
“Still much too intimate for such a crime. This is punishment.” Barkley growled. “No coddling about for damage to my property.”
He spat the word and Daniel flinched as if he had already been struck.
“Quite right, my Lord,” Hadley responded hesitantly, as if he could soothe a rabid dog with a pet and a stroke, and stupidly drawing back a bloody limb for the effort. Looking around the informal parlor, he pointed to the wall. Barkley gave one sharp nod. Hadley maneuvered Daniel to stand facing the bare wall, near a statue, whose blind monotone stare was disconcerting.
He had the slave place his hands against the silk papering, kicking Daniel’s feet lightly to shoulder width apart. The discarded binder hung loosely at Hadley’s side.
Taking a steadying breath, as not to spook the lord into an ill advised rash action, Hadley asked neutrally, “Have you done this before, Lord Barkley?” He gestured to the belt fisted in clenched fist.
Barkley regarded the belt inanely, seemingly coming out of a daze. “Ghods, no!” He all but shoved the belt at Hadley.
“Yes sir.” Hadley made sure the buckled end was in his palm and looped the belt around his fist twice. Taking measured swings, keeping an eye on Daniel’s huddled form, he waited.
This was Barkley’s punishment to mete out, even if it were Hadley’s arm that would deliver the blows. Taking careful initiative, he suggested, “Would you like a verbal count my Lord?” He hoped that Barkley would take the bait and give him a reasonable number. And give Daniel some sort of a respite knowing when the end would be at hand.
Barkley had crossed his arms once more, one hand lifted to cup his chin, with an occasional scratch.
“I will let you know when it is enough.”
Hadley nearly blanched along with Daniel, who whimpered piteously. More jagged pieces to add to Daniel’s complicated puzzle. But how could he deny Barkley’s order, even out of good sense? It was the master’s command and in this matter, Hadley had to serve as much as Daniel would have to accept.
Just as with a paddle, giving a whipping with a leather belt was second nature for Hadley. The sting of leather could be much more crafty than the rigidity of a wooden paddle, the pull of a wrist, the recoil that could have the bite curve around hip or thigh. Pink bloomed first within the first few strikes, leather stinging flesh, with streaks of white welts appearing between the fiery red blush from the buttocks and the sweet spot just beneath where buttock met thigh.
“Higher.” Barkley commanded, breathless.
Hadley had to use his skill to protect vulnerable shoulder blades and possible damage to kidneys as the belt crisscrossed from shoulder to shoulder, back to the buttocks with cruel snaps along the tender valley that creased it.
He steeled himself against Daniel’s cries, the moment when he broke, sobbing for forgiveness, for it to stop, please, stop, and master over and over again. Hadley’s arm had begun to warm from use and he was very concerned for the possibility of broken blood vessels beneath the overlaid welts.
“That’s enough.” Barkley muttered, breathing as if coming to the end of a long run.
Hadley pulled the last blow, the belt hanging innocuously at his side, his fist slippery with sweat. He kept very still as the lord moved passed him toward Daniel. Care needed to begin soon or Daniel could easily go into a dangerous state of shock.
Barkley leaned casually against the same wall that held up the wrecked slave. To add insult to injury, he cupped Daniel’s balls before twisting them cruelly. Daniel had just enough voice left to give a whispered yelp.
“You belong to me, Danny, your choice.” Barkley’s tone one of deceptive casual conversation, “Don’t you ever fucking forget it.” He stepped and turned away as well with a final parting shot over his shoulder. “You touch any of mine again and I will castrate you.”
Not so casual, Hadley observed, rushing to Daniel’s side before the slave collapsed in heap. Not with tension through the lord’s shoulders and white knuckled fists.
With Daniel’s arm over his shoulder and careful arm around his hip, Hadley began the slow walk to get his charge back within his domain and assess what damage he could repair. Physical he could do, the emotional, not so much.
He was just out of the suite, when Barkley demanded, “Have Brookings bring me Cade.”
Hadley did not dwell on Cade’s situation as he rubbed down Daniel with a soft cloth. He checked the welts, looked for broken blood vessels, and brought the body temperature down as best he could with the only heat resonating from the livid belt marks. He kept gentle hands on Daniel until the slave stopped trembling and drifted into a fretful sleep.
Lisbeth had not been returned and Mia reclined on her cot, surrounded in shadow. Hadley could feel her watchful gaze. The chains on Cameron’s cot were still.
With a silent gesture, he brought Mia from her cot to his side. She showed her intelligence by not allowing any emotions to crawl over her features. Hadley thought not, not with Cameron in shackled sensory deprivation, Daniel’s evidence of a brutal whipping bright red across back, buttock, and thigh. No Cade and no Lisbeth.
Her naked body intrigued Hadley with its dips, its curves, and soft roundness, no doubt his own endorphin crash after the past few hours of upheaval. His charges had always been male, the females at the palace always on the periphery, his attention focused on duties at hand. Early days of study and training had included females; it had been years since he had to handle one, much less two.
With gestures, he motioned for Mia to kneel at Cameron’s feet. The slave had moved to a sitting position, his shoulders hunched over and mostly still. Mia allowed one puzzled frown before doing as commanded, kneeling at Cameron’s feet. With a more crude gesture, Hadley commanded Mia to suck Cameron’s cock. She flinched as if struck but moved gracefully to follow the order given. Hadley grabbed her wrist when she went to steady herself with hands on Cameron’s thighs.
The action had to be an immediate sensory overload for Cameron and she performed admirably. A talented mouth indeed, Hadley agreed with Lady Barkley.
Cameron howled roughly behind his gag, his body almost levitating from the cot. His hips mindless rutted forward and Mia sucked him without a misstep. In a few short breaths, Cameron keened, no doubt spilling his seed into her ready mouth.
With Cameron panting and shaking on the cot, Hadley helped Mia to her feet with hand on her elbow to steady her.
Surprising them both, Hadley pressed a kiss to Mia’s forehead. “Good girl.”
With gentle care, Hadley brought Cameron around with slow, steady touches, thumbs pressing downward from scalp to chin to warn of the removing of the hood. Cameron’s eyes remained clenched as Hadley discarded the cotton ear pads and pried the gag from between tensed jaws. Ignoring the chamber pot, Hadley moved Cameron to the bath, starting warm water, patient with Cameron’s strained ablutions.
Washing away dried sweat and drool, Hadley checked the swelling of the eye and decided on a cool compress once he put Cameron to bed in his regular cot. Giving Cameron’s body a perfunctory wash, the warm water relaxed Cameron’s muscles even further.
He found his wooden chair, lifting it so the legs would not drag harshly against the tile and hardwood. Positioning himself between both Daniel and Cameron, Hadley settled himself to watch over both of his strung out, emotionally drained charges.
Mia moved like a wraith, taking a solitary shower and returning to her own cot, naked body flirting with the shadows. She pulled up the thin blanket to cover her ample breasts. Her head fell back against the wall, her brow furrowed in thought.
Hadley was still seated when Cade returned to the hall. He watched for telltale signs of abuse, a rough fucking that the boy was no doubt unaccustomed to receiving. He also observed that Mia’s eyes had opened, watching as well.
Cade’s mouth was swollen from a face fucking but his steps were steady. No limping or hissing in discomfort when he burrowed into his cot, the blanket pulled up about his ears. No doubt hiding from the day’s revelations and the tension that hung heavy in the air.
Hadley followed Mia’s earlier example, head against the wall, his arms loosely folded over his chest.
They would be broken over and over again by capricious whims of the free or behaviors brought on by their own stupidity.
Hadley would handle it, put them back together as best as could be done.
To prepare each of them to serve once more.