Gustina stood before him, terrified, angry and numb. As the door shut behind her, fear coiled down her back but she refused to acknowledge it. He was just another man. Like the rest. No better and no worse.
Ah, but he’s so much better looking, her mind teased. Still dressed in the pure white linen cloth, the folds placed so precisely over his cock, his skin weathered from hours spent outside in the sun, muscles rippling over his chest and stomach, he was a god. Apollo or maybe even Hercules. His bare feet rested on the dirt floor, corded tendons and contours ran up his legs. She couldn’t tear her gaze from him. He knew it, just sat and drank her in.
The puckered seam stood out on his chest and the scrape above it. His lower lip puffed slightly, as if he’d been beaten, but it was hard to tell when his square jaw ticked.
Those brown eyes, dark, desire brewing at the surface.
The pull to him came from deep within. Her heart skipped a beat, the air in the cell became heavy and she couldn’t breathe. She tried to swallow but her mouth was too dry. Heat spiraled inside her, deep, pooling in her lower stomach. A small voice inside her screamed and fought for control—a control she could no longer maintain.
“I was sent to pleasure you,” she stated as brusquely as she could. Even she heard her voice hitch.
He smiled. Warm and intoxicating, with dimples. She felt like she was drowning.
“Truly?” he asked, his voice rich, deep and smooth like good wine.
“Yes,” she whispered. “Dominus said I am to see you satisfied.”
He laughed. Her toes curled at the heat rolling off him, covering her. “And what do you want?” His seductive voice broke her defenses and lulled her into his arms. He bent his head to kiss her.
Marcus opened his eyes to find the woman of his dreams standing before him. She smelled of lemons, and her skin glistened from the oil in her bath. Her hair, still partially tied in braids hung loose, draped over her back and shoulders. He longed to run his fingers through it, to grasp the silken threads. Desire filled his body, his cock twitched and hardened with each second.
Saying she was here to pleasure him released his inner monster, his need to bury his shaft deep inside her burned him. She seemed so small and frail in his arms, but he’d seen her strength. For once, he didn’t know how to act. Slowly, he lowered his his lips to touch hers. Gently. She stood, accepting them but nothing more. And she trembled against him. Fear gripped him. The man whose whole world had been destroyed, the man who’d been thrown into the pit of the arena, to fight for his life, who now stood as champion of Rome experienced a terror larger than the rest rolled into one.
She’d never been kissed without a backlash, without forced submission. He’d seen this result before. Never by his hand had he forced any woman. Not the wealthy matrons who bought his cock or the whores sent to appease him.
But her lips were soft and warm. She submitted, splitting them open for him, but she shivered again. He couldn’t, damn it all. The demon in him slammed into his chest, protesting loudly, but he pulled back from her mouth, his gaze on her face.
Her brow knitted as she slowly opened her eyes. He caught the flash of fear, and saw the color drain from her face. A curse echoed in his head as he let her go and returned to his bed.
“You do not want me?” Her voice quivered.
He snorted. “I do. I have wanted you in my bed ever since I saved you. But not if
you do not want it.” Gods, he sounded like a spoiled Roman. Well, he remembered being that—once. Got him here for being so. His gut clenched.
He watched her swallow hard, her eyes glistening with tears. Her hands fisted at her sides.
“Has anyone else touched you? At the Villa?”
She looked up under the fringe of her dark lashes. How had he missed those before? Pulling her lips in nervously, she shook her head once. He gritted his teeth.
“Not even Dominus?”
“No.” Her voice broke on that one word. She swallowed. “Not since that first…”
Damn, how he hated that man.
“Not to worry. He tests all the female slaves,” she muttered.
He wanted to gag. Disgusting brute.
“They’ve left me alone,” she whispered.
He frowned. His huntress, the woman of iron, melted here before him. What in Hades happened? He tilted his head, trying to get her to tell him without saying the words. Something happened because she inhaled deeply, standing straight, like the pole that stood on the training grounds, ready to be swung at.
“I was told to pleasure you. If I don’t, they’ll punish me.”
That bitch of a domina, no doubt, threatened her. He bit back the curses and stood again. “Gustina, how long have you been a slave?”
She raised her chin defiantly. “My whole life.”
He sighed. “And you were given to another to lie with? Ordered?”
Her jaw tightened but she didn’t answer. Nor did she back down. In fact, her eyes pierced his. “And haven’t you, as Champion, been ordered to do the same?”
He laughed. “Yes, but for me, it is different.” He had Rome’s finest wanting him. She, though, had been stuck with the dregs, no doubt. He walked up to her and felt pleased she didn’t move. “Have you ever been kissed? Really kissed?”