1,001 Erotic Nights, Part 2
Fleeing her master, Nimia runs into the cold, calculating arms of power-hungry Clovis and learns how barbarian desires make the Romans look refined.
“We’ll find another way.”
“There is no other way, Terix,” I said, keeping my voice down although there was little chance of anyone either overhearing or caring, in the noise of the dockside tavern. Balmort was the only one besides Terix who would object to my plan, but he and his massive dog, Bone Cruncher, were out restocking Balmort’s peddler’s pack.
Balmort had no right to interfere, anyway; we’d only started traveling with the old man half a moon ago, in hopes that a threesome with a protective dog would be a safer, less conspicuous way to travel than Terix and I on our own. We’d heard that Sygarius was offering rewards for the return of his escaped slaves: one gold soldus for the freckled, curly-haired boy, Terix—and that single soldus would feed a family for two months; and ten gold soldi for the black-haired, copper-eyed girl with spiral tattoos over breasts and loins, Nimia—me.
Balmort knew about the reward, but he had no love for Romans, and he valued so highly his own freedom to move from town to town at his whim, and to sleep where he pleased, that he would do as he could to preserve such freedom for us. Plus, he liked us. His soft eyes petted me though his hands never tried, and around our nightly campfire Terix told ribald stories that made him laugh until tears streaked down his grizzled cheeks.
￼￼￼￼I suppose it also helped that Bone Cruncher, a crossbreed of mastiff and—judging by his size—ox, had fallen in love with me, and me with him. Balmort trusted the dog’s opinion above all others.
“He can’t be trusted,” Terix said, casting a worried gaze across the room to Jax, the long-haired, sun-browned, thigh-dampeningly sexy captain of a swift trading vessel. Jax watched our conversation while pretending not to, his calm eyes scanning the rowdy crowd, but always returning to rest briefly upon us. Upon me. “He’s more likely a pirate than a trader.”
“Who better to brave the raiding ships of the Saxons, and bring us across the water to Britannia?” Lust was making my tongue glib. Was it also making me see logic where there was none? I wanted to touch Jax, and the deal we’d struck would let me do that, while pretending that it was a price I paid for his help.“We already know that no fisherman will dare it. They huddle as close to shore as their nets will let them.”
“We could go west instead, to the peninsula. Armorica. It’s free of Sygarius’s rule.”
“What is there for us? We know nothing of the Bretani tribe.”
“The same Bretani are in Britannia, so what’s the difference?”
“Maerlin’s not in Armorica. The Phanne are not in Armorica. That’s the difference.”
Terix heaved a put-upon sigh. We’d had this same argument a hundred times over the past month and a half as we fled from Sygarius and toward . . . toward . . . Well, that was the issue. Toward what? The only answer that had any meaning—to me, at least—was to find my lost people, the Phanne. And the only clue I had to finding them was the story that a tattooed man named Maerlin had once met my one-time lover (and only one time, gods rot his betraying heart), the Frankish prince Clovis, on the shore of the channel. Maerlin had told Clovis that he was of the Phanne and going to Britannia, and that Clovis must remember this fact, for someday it would give him what he sought.
An annoyingly mysterious statement, that.
“He’ll want more from you once we’re on his boat. You’ll have to give it to him, too,” Terix tried.
I hoped so.
Hades, what had come over me? This was not the Nimia I was familiar with, for most of her life untouchable and untouched, the con￼￼￼￼￼secrated sexual-toy-to-be of Sygarius.
Or maybe I was the same Nimia: I had spent those untouched years lusting for the feel of another’s hand on my skin. Perhaps it should be no surprise to anyone, least of all myself, that once my virginity was gone I would seek to gorge myself on that which I had so long been denied.
Jax was the first attractive opportunity to do so. How convenient for me that we needed his help.