Shadows and Light

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Authors: Cari Z.
Tags: Erotic Romance Fiction
thready with exhaustion now. Gray spots marred his vision, and he knew he would be unconscious soon. He was looking forward to it.
    “It isn’t about what you can tell me, pet,” Xian said quietly. “It’s about how far I can take you.”
    Rafael wanted to ask how far was far enough, but the spots were growing, and he felt himself falling rapidly into the darkness. His breath wheezed in his straining chest and his hearing became muffled. Just as he blacked, out he heard the rapid release of a chain, but he was happily oblivious to his body falling to the floor.

Chapter Six
    He wasn’t asleep nearly long enough to become rested. Rafael woke up to the feeling of ropes being wrapped around his body. They bound him tightly, biting into his flesh but not cutting it, not quite. His arms were crossed over his chest, hands on top of his shoulders in a position of self-protection, an irony that didn’t escape him. At least his shoulders were recovering, although the muscles still felt cold and heavy like wet clay. The ropes crossed over his shoulders and upper back, looped down between his legs in an intimately uncomfortable series of knots and returned to his back, completing the harness. He could be controlled with a single flick of his master’s wrist now, thanks to the leverage of the rough rope over his genitals. At least Xian had left him his pants. It was a strange courtesy, and one Rafael didn’t trust in the least.
    Xian hauled him to his feet by the back of the harness, eliciting a pained hiss from Rafael. “Would you like me to hobble you as well?” Xian asked conversationally. “Will my restraints make it easier for you to check yourself?”
    “I need no favors from you,” Rafael snarled.
    “So you think. We’ll see. I’ll leave your legs free for the time being, but one attempted kick and your groin will take weeks to recover.”
    “Not a span of time I need concern myself with.”
    “True,” Xian said after a half beat, a pause so brief Rafael thought he might have imagined it. “Your concerns are much more immediate. Walk.” He pushed on the knotted mass of ropes in the center of Rafael’s back.
    Rafael walked slowly, carefully, his legs splayed to keep from pinching himself. He kept his eyes down, not wanting to look around and get a sense of familiarity from his old home, but despite that he knew where their steps were leading. They stopped a minute later outside his old room. Generations of Xian’s apprentices had used this room during their training, and for a brief second Rafael panicked at the thought that he was about to become an object lesson for his successor. Xian opened the door soundlessly and propelled Rafael into the room. “What do you see here?”
    Rafael kept his eyes down and his mouth sealed. A sudden strike with the stiff leather quirt across his upper back made him arch with pain, but he remained silent. A second blow fell, then a third. Then…nothing. No sound, no movement, no continuation. Just Xian standing behind him, looking at him and seeing… What did he see, Rafael wondered? After a few more minutes of silence he spoke. “A room.”
    “Whose room?”
    “Your apprentice’s room.”
    “Which apprentice?”
    “How should I know?” Rafael snapped.
    “Is your memory so poor?” his master asked wryly. “Use your eyes properly or be denied the use of them.”
    Rafael raised his gaze sullenly. “I neither know nor care who you’ve taken on as your new apprentice.”
    He could feel Xian’s frown. “You’re being singularly thick, pet, and that manner of defiance doesn’t suit you. Do better.”
    Gods help him, he did want to do better. Rafael’s bruised ego railed at the sudden capitulation of his spirit, but it was too late. He looked around the room. There was the bed, tucked tight against one wall. A dusty blue blanket covered it. There was a small chest at its foot, padlocked shut, and a three-legged stool stood in the corner. Books

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