|Scarlet turned the full force of his gaze on Brien, low-angled evening light sharpening his features and bringing an azure clarity to his eyes. He let the cloak drop and then followed it down, sinking to his knees and bowing his head.
"Do what you want with me, Master. I'm yours."
Once again it was such beautiful and absolute submission. Everything about Scarlet -- the sweep of his rounded shoulders, his sandy-gold hair in those quaint little braids, and the vulnerable way he bore the back of his neck -- was breathtaking.
"The charade hasn't started yet." Brien's voice sounded choked; he would not -- could not -- lose control again.
Scarlet peeped up. "You'd better start it then. And make it good. Remember, I want to submit to you, but a wraith or slave won't necessarily be willing. Use force if you have to. That's what will strike fear into the enemies' hearts."
"You're what strikes fear into my heart. Stop being so demanding!" Crouching down in front of the woodsman, Brien chuckled halfheartedly. "You're cold. We've got a while yet to go. Come on, put this back on."
He reached to pull the cloak back up over Scarlet's shoulders, but Scarlet swatted him away.
"You'll catch a chill," said Brien, feeling like a cross between a mother hen and a randy cockerel.
"Don't you understand? I want to be naked for you! I want you to whip me, punish me. Hurt me!"
"No fucking buts!" Scarlet's palm cracked across Brien's cheek. "What do I have to do to get through to you?"
Brien stared at the woodsman, the force of the blow still ringing in his ears. Scarlet was trembling, but whether with fear or anger or just the cold, who knew? There was certainly fire in his eyes.
"Whip me. Punish me. Hurt me."
He seized Scarlet's jaw in a bruising grip. "You don't know what you're asking for, boy."
Scarlet's upper lip hitched. "Try me!"
Brien resisted kissing him. Just. Instead he brayed a low, mocking laugh. What was the problem? He loved a feisty subordinate. If he could just forget the sordid echoes of enchantment about this boy, tonight could be a hell of a lot of fun.
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