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I hadn’t quite intended to run into that friendly and generous gate guard, but he encountered me in the market square in the early morning. He wasn’t in uniform, this time, and seemed about as surprised to see me as I was to see him. He took advantage of it, though, saying that since he finally had a day off, would I be willing to earn again what I already had, this time without the need to rush?

I was somewhat hesitant, but here was the man who’d tipped me off about Captain Trellig in the first place; if I was fortunate, perhaps I could get some more information from him still.

Admittedly, I also wanted to enjoy him a little more thoroughly than I’d had a chance to do.

So I let him curl an arm around me and tow me through the streets, up to a small townhouse, into a similarly small flat. Any lingering notion I might have had that he was settling for my attentions for lack of a suitable woman’s vanished when he produced a flask of slick oil; he was too well-prepared for contact with men, and too quick to harden under my questing fingers, to have not been well-inclined toward men already.

We took the time to discard clothing, and we didn’t hurry about it, either; each of us removed an article from the other in turn, back and forth, until he finally slid my breeches free. His eagerness was infectious; I found myself returning his kisses with great enthusiasm, pressing up against him, flesh against flesh.

Still, even if it was nice to not hurry along, neither of us had any reason to draw matters out too greatly, either – well, perhaps I did, but not in any way I would be well-served to reveal. As far as that went, I had yet to sense anything of real value from him that I didn’t already know or suspect; his sudden time off owed to the Duke’s departure, though he knew no more about the Duke’s errand than that. And he was utterly delighted to have run into me with this bounty of time, and not find me busy in turn.

He was a sweet man, really. I’d have enjoyed more of a chance to know him than we had – maybe as lovers in truth, rather than client and courtesan.

When he rolled me over onto my chest, I looked back over my shoulder at him, smiling. “Be gentle,” I cautioned, feeling that he would not take it with ill grace, and curled my tail to brush over his chest. “This isn’t a thing I’ve all that much chance to do, and you’re quite ample.”

“You flatter me,” he laughed, reaching over to pull the stopper from his oil flask. “But no, I’m not about to rush now.Not while Trellig is on the prowl, he thought, tipping some of the oil over his shaft and smearing it along. Hopefully, by the time we’ve finished here, she’ll have already found some other unfortunate and not be haunting the guardhouse.

Well, that was something, at least. How useful it would turn out, I didn’t know, but it kept this encounter from being an entire waste of time, in a way I could justify to the others.

Not that I’d have been inclined to think it otherwise, myself. The eagerness boiling off of the man was enough to make it worthwhile; when he leaned over me and wedged his crown under my tail, it was that much more so.

And then he started bearing forward, sinking into me.

I’d not had more than fingers there in quite some time; it was quite a stretch. But it was a very nice manner of stretch indeed, and there was more to follow; a wonderful fullness, a sudden shiver as his crown slid past a particular place inside me.

He was gentle enough that I didn’t need to ask for even a single pause; he pressed in closer, deeper, until his hips were up against my rump, his snout pushing against the side of my neck, his hands to either side of my shoulders. I twisted under him, straining to find a little bit more room between our bodies, to let him sink in just a tiny bit more.

He undulated atop me, barely drawing a finger’s breadth out of me before he sank in again, countering my motions in kind; and that shallow pistoning was all we both needed. Oh, to be fair, I did “cheat” a little; in addition to the feel of him inside me and the fine linen sliding under my own length, I tapped into the currents of his own pleasure. But I also gave back in kind, as subtly as I could – just enough to let him know how greatly I was enjoying him, not so much as to have him start feeling my own sensations.

“Got enough in you to hold out a while?” he hissed into my ear. “Give me some of you in turn, when I’m done?”

That was a suggestion I hadn’t expected; the yearning that lay under it, even more surprising in its intensity. “I think I can manage that,” I gasped. Honesty compelled me to add, “So long as you don’t delay.”

“Right,” he growled over my ears, pushing a bit further above me.

The reflex that told me to tense under him was nothing to do with sensing his thoughts; it was something years older than that. And they were spot on; with the next breath, he drew about halfway out of me, and as I started to push up, so too did he drive forward, sinking back in with a sharp grunt.

I needed to distance myself from his thoughts, lest they tip me over the edge as well. Even without that link, I felt myself creeping closer and closer to the brink, spurred on by his frenetic thrusts. Just when I thought I might need to “nudge” his mind, to strengthen his vivid anticipation of how it would feel to be filled in turn, he shoved down against me, teeth pricking at my shoulder. A hoarse groan slipped out of him, his manhood surging to full life under my tail, pumping me quite full of his sticky heat.

Once the last exquisite pulse had slipped out of him, he wasted no time; he drew out of me with a gasp, and with such a strong feeling around his now-sensitive member that I felt it despite my efforts to keep the contact shallow. He flipped me over while I was still reeling from that, grabbing the oil and applying a goodly dose of it to my manhood in turn, with such swift, urgent strokes that I thought I might spill over his fingers. But he finished before then, and he slid forward, straddling me. Only a moment he stayed poised, sitting upright over me, head tilted back in anticipation; in that moment I took hold of my manhood, keeping it steady for him.

And then he sank onto it – slowly at first, whimpering softly as it started to spread him. I shuddered, biting back a heavy moan, as I felt him spread around my crown.

Once he was down that far, he sat up straighter still, hands splaying over my chest, and took me all the way into him in one swift stroke.

He was tight, and I could feel traceries of discomfort as he forced himself to stretch around me; but he dared not pause even a moment, not until his hip met mine. Then he bounced atop me, mouthing barely-coherent encouragement and praise, urging me on, calling me beautiful and handsome, satisfying, delightful…

It was the praise, the near-adoration, as much as anything that finally tipped me over the edge. I flooded into him with abandon – I couldn’t compare it to any of my recent experiences with my companions; not necessarily stronger or weaker, not that I could tell, but satisfying in a wholly different way than I’d had a chance to feel for the last two years.

He stayed atop me in the wake of my climax, stroking along my jaw with tender fondness. His free hand pressed against my brow, and he smiled down at me – in truth, as a lover might, not a courtesan, and most certainly not as the client of one. At the very least, it was a friendly look.

As I nuzzled at his wrist, I reflected on how curious it was that he should treat me thus, when neither of us knew the other’s name.

He stayed atop me until my manhood had long since softened, and even then it was with great reluctance that he drew off of me, stretching out alongside me. He said nothing; he didn’t need to. Fondness spread out from every fibre of his being. For the moment, all either of us needed was to savour the closeness.

In time, though, he sighed and nuzzled under my jaw. “I can’t thank you enough for this, truly,” he murmured over my throat. “I know this has all been very sudden, and not what you’re accustomed to…”

“That’s not for lack of inclination,” I assured him, pressing a hand against his cheek in turn. “You make this work a delight, truly.”

“All the same, I broke off finding a meal to bring you here,” he said, patting my arm and starting to sit up. “I’m starting to feel the lack of it, now, and I ought to let you carry on with your day in turn.”

I could hardly argue against that; I did, after all, have work to do, even if not exactly what he likely thought. So we dressed, and he tucked another gold sovereign into my hand, and we slipped out of the door of his flat.

A cadre of the Duke’s guard was just passing by as he emerged, and he suddenly grew tense with surprise and worry. One name told me all I needed to know of the cause for that: Captain Trellig. Following that was an urgent wish that she go on her way, not seeing us.

No such luck was to be had; she stopped suddenly. “Why, Lieutenant Martin! How happy a chance to see you here; I missed you so at the watch house today.”

“Captain Trellig,” he said; out of uniform, he issued a terse bow instead of a salute.

“And who’s this you have with you, then?” Her attention shifted toward me – and then the full weight of her persona struck me.

This was no ordinary woman. I wasn’t sure I’d even be quite comfortable describing her as a woman at all. She was intense, focused, and entirely self-driven; this, I knew in an instant, was a predator.

“Oh, now, he’s a cut above the hoblets we have around here, isn’t he?” she purred, reaching over to run a finger along my jaw; it took every ounce of my concentration to not flinch under the touch, and just as much to turn it to a positive response, to nuzzle, tentatively, at her palm. “My, my, he is. You’re in luck, pretty. I happen to have need of your type, so you can just come along, and you won’t have to worry about finding some common woman to deal with today.”

The feel of her mind was almost overwhelming. Even worse, though, were the thoughts that mind contained: Such a rare find, this one. Martin’s a bit too high up for me to put pressure on, but this one’s not from around here, he won’t have anyone to worry that matters. And he’ll be a safe plaything, too, won’t have to worry about not getting with child until Frederic is mine.

In that instant I knew so much that my people needed to know, and yet I found myself without a way to tell them – without a way to even let them know what was going to happen to me.

Beside me, Lieutenant Martin was still in shock and dismay. He was castigating himself for his own hunger, for not enjoying the warmth of me beside him for just a few minutes more.

I wondered… could I possibly get him to carry a message?

Trellig’s full attention was on my face; the things she were crooning were hollow platitudes of no consequence beyond proving the insincerity of her own words. Careful to keep my shoulder from moving much, I reached under my cloak, loosening the strings of my purse. Even as I did so, I tried to reach out toward Lieutenant Martin’s mind. As luck would have it, his thoughts were running, What’s going to happen now? He’s not from here, he has no rank to shield him…

I thought firmly at him: His companions are staying at the Blue Boar. Maybe they should know what’s come of him?

There was a moment of dissonance; my thoughts, presumably, weren’t quite in the form his would take of their own accord. But his took off from there with only a mild stutter, confirming that, yes, he ought to go say something.

“Come along now, pretty,” Trellig commanded.

As the soldiers turned and I allowed myself to be dragged along with them, I also let my purse fall, the sound of footsteps and jingling harness covering the sound of it rather well. I didn’t need to drop any hints for Lieutenant Martin to notice it, nor to decide to return it to my companions; with that, I’d done all I could do, both to send word and to pass along what resources were at my disposal.

With that done, I needed to turn my attention forward.

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