Time could be jotted to the passing of the seasons. Hadley noted that it was summer when he began his employ with Lord and Lady Barkley. Autumn was on the horizon, the days beginning to cool, the scents earthier, spicy. It seemed apt that just a day before the dinner party a torrent of rain decided to fall. It was also his day off.
He felt, for the first time in his life, that he needed a reprieve. It would be much-needed chance to prepare himself for what would happen or not happen, all beyond his control. He was only the handler.
His overcoat and jacket hung from the hook in his father’s quarters will the ill conceived notion of drying before Hadley would take his leave once more. Sitting, Hadley crossed his feet at the ankle, his socks distressingly damp. He drew out the book that he had been reading on his visits, the bookmark now midway between the pages.
The words seemed to move and jump over the page. Hadley sighed with frustration and closed the book with a snap. The expression on his father’s face never changed. He blinked but never seemed to focus.
“Did you ever regret sending me to the academy, after the results of the exams?” Hadley stared at his father but there was no response to be had. “I could have been a scholar, I could have been a shop owner with a wife. Why did you send me to the academy for training, discipline, and punishment to become a handler?”
He stood then and dipped his hands in his pockets. “All is well, that end’s well. The income from the palace paid for mother’s medicines, her funeral, and finally this place for you. I would not have been able to provide such on the salary of a scholar or shopkeeper with a wife and children of my own.
No sense in getting maudlin over what cannot be changed, it is in the past. It is all about control, what I can control and what I cannot.” Staring at the ceiling that showed water stains from some past leak, he huffed a laugh. “I never worried over such nonsense at the palace of the King. As a handler, I served at the pleasure of the King, no thoughts, no worries. My charges came and went.”
His father’s room felt too small, too close, he could not escape himself.
“Having more than one slave should not be an issue, but it is. Serving Lord and Lady Barkley should be easy, but it is not. They are no more than children playing at life. At least the King had a kingdom to manage as well as indulging his need for pleasure.” He frowned as if tasting something unpleasant.
“They do not see their slaves as people, with thoughts, feelings, hurts and pains. I would like to say that I always have, but that would be a fool’s pride. They were not, all the King’s pets. Insipid and boring, I never gave them much thought outside of their physical well-being. I never got inside their heads and I did not allow them into my own. But these….” Hadley straightened his shirt cuffs with restless fingers.
“I can almost predict what will happen to three of them easily, the other two not so much, especially the one.” He glanced over to his father, “You understand that it would be uncouth and unprofessional to actually speak their names.” His father just stared through rheumy eyes.
“And with that one, there is also this lord, a friend of Lord Barkley’s that seems to be at the heart of all of this spectacle, and there is not one thing I can do to change it. It will reflect on me, what they do, how they act, but I have no control and cannot change what is to happen. By the ghods, the brazen git knows too much for his own good.” He sighed once more.
The rain was falling softly.
“Until next time, Father.” He kissed the baldpate distractedly and gathered his coats.
The party would be in a matter of hours, sands slipping through hourglass.
The house was busy with activity at dawn of the day of the party. Both Brookings and Cook bustled about, bright linens, shining cutlery, buckets of astringent soapy water for cleaning smelling of vinegar and lemon.
The only time Hadley left the slave hall was on Lady Barkley’s summons to check the position of the whipping post and a low table for his instruments. Would it provide the maximum viewing from all sides? Would he be able to demonstrate both the cane and the flogger efficiently? Hadley answer Lady Barkley with authority and he escaped as quickly as he respectfully could.
With daylight quickly moving toward twilight, Hadley oversaw all physical preparations of the slaves, from cleaning to grooming. He circled each one look for imperfections and commanding changes. Lisbeth’s hair was to be braided and away from her face. Mia had to twist her hair up and off of her neck. There was no body hair to be found below the neck on each male slave. He over saw the external oiling that would make skin smooth and shine in the combination of lamp and candlelight.
Daniel slipped his white tunic over his head when Brookings appeared. Hadley watched him, the uneasy look in vivid green eyes as Daniel glanced at his cohorts before disappearing for the first act of the evening.
Pulling aside Cameron and Cade, Hadley held out a clear vial of lubricant. “Make yourselves ready to the point of dripping.” Cade flushed. Hadley gave him a restless gesture all but flapping his empty hand under the boy’s chin. “None of that, not tonight.”
Cameron took the vial and clasped Cade’s elbow. Hadley followed them both into the bathing room continuing to hand out advice. “You won’t know if you will get a chance to prepare yourselves later. Party goers are not known for their patience for such things as stretching an ass rather than ripping it open.”
Mia and Lisbeth huddled next to one another on an empty cot. Feeling as if he had covered everything that he could think of, Hadley departed for his own rooms to bathe and dress for the evening. He would be a part of the spectacle as well. His red hair laid smartly parted, he wore his best jacket and waistcoat over a pristine white shirt. No doubt he would remove his coat at the beginning of the demonstration. His shoes were shined mirror bright.
His stomach was empty though he forced a light lunch on all five of the slaves. Griping stomachs would not help their situation where as a food heavy stomach could damage his own. Hadley took deep breaths and stiffened his resolve as he returned to the hall.
Hadley stood at attention, his back to the four slaves that remained. He met Brookings gaze head on when Barkley’s man appeared to issue the summons to the parlor. Stepping aside, Cameron lead the way followed by Mia, then Cade, and Lisbeth bringing up the rear. Hadley fell in line as well, canes in his left hand, flogger swaying from his right.
As directed, Cameron lead the motley group into the parlor, in matching white tunics and mustered the line behind the whipping post. Hadley moved to the low table and laid out the canes and floggers for those gathered to view. He was unsure of Lady Barkley’s theatrics, so once he had the implements deposited, Hadley stepped back near the whipping post and stood at attention with his hands crossed at the small of his back.
And was able to take in the Barkleys and their guests for the first time. Seated next to Lady Barkley was a woman with ash blonde hair and heavily rouged cheeks. Lady Gertrude Aberforth, her husband Lord Maxwell Aberforth was tall and lean standing near the empty fireplace with a snifter of brandy in his hand. His nose was rather beaky and Lady Aberforth had a plump softness about her.
Lord Lawrence Orland sat away from the others, almost in shadow. Hadley could discern that the mysterious Lord Orland had thick black curls and tortoiseshell glasses, the lens flickered in candlelight. He hoped that he could get a better gathering of the man as the evening progressed. Daniel seemed to traverse the distance between the seating of Lord Barkley and Lord Orland, his white tunic absurdly bright between the dark colors chosen by the free nobility.
Lady Barkley called to Lisbeth and had the young girl kneel at her feet. Hadley could read the relaxed acquiescence as her knobby knees settled on the antique rug. She needed to work on kneeling, though she was better than Cade. Hadley decided that it was lack of fear or nerves of her mistress that was in Lisbeth’s favor.
From her chair, more like a throne of power Hadley thought in abhorrence, Lady Barkley signaled the beginning of the evening. She twittered on and on about how she had been impressed in the salons of her friends and how she just had to have a demonstration as well for herself and Lord Barkley.
“Hadley is a highly recommended handler from the King’s own service at the palace.” There was some murmuring at that. Hadley tried to keep his eyes forward but they were pulled to Orland. The lord sat with his ankles crossed and his fingers in a steeple. “He is going to demonstrate the use of canes as well as floggers on our long term slaves, Mia and Cameron.”
Lord Barkley cleared his throat and called to Cade. The boy blushed brightly when Barkley pulled him down onto his lap rather than having Cade kneel. Lord Aberforth gave a dirty chuckle and Daniel could not quite smother his frown.
Lady Barkley gestured to Hadley who took it as a command to begin. Rather than have Mia and Cameron exposed for the whole of the demonstration, he used Cameron as an aide, leaving him dressed for the time being.
Mia kept her chin up but her eyes cast downward demurely as she disrobed. Hadley could hear the frank appraisal of her attributes as he put her on the whipping post. He had her facing the audience, having prepared Mia for a caning to her breasts, stomach, and thighs. She understood that Lady Barkley would be most displeased if the audience got restless or bored.
Hadley stepped back and removed his coat, handing it and Mia’s tunic to Cameron without looking at him and accepted the first cane of medium thickness to begin with. Using the cane tip, he lifted Mia’s chin so that she would look at him. Blue eyes trusting with no fear, he would do his best to keep that trust.
The first blow was not loud, just a thud of cane to flesh. Mia’s eyes shut and she sucked in an audible gasp. Hadley could feel the presence of those in the room closing in on him, on Mia, as if their very breath was against his neck. Taking another lungful of air, focusing on Mia’s blue eyes, he began.
The world narrowed to the cane strikes, countering along with Mia’s movements as she arched and tried to pull away, laying even parallel lines across her heavy breasts, to her thighs. He kept his rhythm off kilter so she could not anticipate where the next blow would land. Cameron danced with him, handing off the next cane smoothly, the new one thick and heavy, leaving bright blood red welts along her stomach.
Hadley stood off to the side, tapping each nipple viciously as they puckered. When he took the last cane, the thinnest and meanest, he focused on Mia’s thighs. And finally for the ending of the demonstration, the climax, he used the cane tip to make Mia widen her legs; he mimicked penetrating her cunt by sliding the cane along her delicate glistening cleft between her welted thighs. The last motion was a sharp tap to that sensitive bundle of flesh that had Mia rising to her toes and choking out a cry.
There was some applause as Hadley gently helped Mia down from the post, careful of her arms and wrists. Ignoring the conversation, Hadley watched the look that passed between Cameron and Mia. She understood that she could not dress once more even as she took Cameron’s tunic as he bared himself as well. Just as Cameron did, Mia would help in the exchange of floggers and hopefully not draw unwanted attention to herself.
But it was coming, Hadley thought wearily as he manacled Cameron to the post. He could hear it in the snide tones and off-color remarks as he tested the space between himself and Cameron, positioned forward on the whipping post. His back and buttocks looked strangely even more vulnerable than Mia had, proudly facing her adversaries, chin up.
The three floggers had been chosen well. The first of the three had heavy falls of soft suede. The sound was dull slapping against Cameron’s shoulders, side-to-side across his ass, and lower still to brush against thighs. It was not a cruel flogger but a proper one for warming the skin, bringing up a nice flush of redness.
The second passed smoothly from Mia’s hand to his own, had thinner strips of leather and hidden within the falls were small-knotted ends. The impact was snapping, the ends penetrating muscles more deeply, Cameron’s head pushed against the post and his fists clenched.
When he took the final floggers, a spin on the cat of nine tails, Hadley took a breath. It gave Cameron time to collect himself, a bit of theatrics of his own to bring the gathered to the edge of their seats.
With care, Hadley pulled the tosses so that the leather would not draw blood or wrap around shoulders or hips. Still brutal, Cameron’s back would be both welted and bruised. With each blow, Cameron went up onto toes, tensing and clutching at his bonds. The slave was trained, Hadley reminded himself, Cameron would know that he had to breathe through the pain.
If it were a training session, in the training room, under Hadley’s control, Hadley knew that he could push Cameron until he was in that place where pain melted into pleasure. But not here, not the way Cameron had to curl into himself, to try to accept the pain.
And the degradation, Hadley thought as the tails swung innocently at his side. The laughter of the room was cruel and taunting. Jeering Cameron’s manhood, though their privileged lives had never faced such an undertaking or pain.
Enough was enough, Hadley ended the demonstration with a clinical flair, crisscrossing Cameron’s back from shoulder to shoulder, thigh to thigh, and two quick snaps that brought two final welts across Cameron’s ass.
Handing Mia the flogger, Hadley turned quickly to get Cameron down. Hadley had to check his reactions, to bring him back so that he could have his wits about him. Cameron blinked at him, his eyes bleary.
Too soon, Hadley wanted to growl as Lord Barkley called out for Mia and Cameron to present. Hadley had to step back, to take his place beside Brookings in the background.
Mia and Cameron stood with straight spines, hands loose at their sides, head ups but gazes downwards as was proper.
Hadley could see the naked hunger and predatory stares as Lord Aberforth moved toward Mia. He could feel his jaw harden as the lord cupped her breast and twisted her nipple. Mia trembled but did not cry out.
Out of the corner of his eye, Hadley could see Brookings glaring at him, censuring Hadley for the slow downward spiral beginning to happen within the parlor.
The night was far from over.