Chapter 4

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As if sensing my thoughts, Domina glances up from the pool and looks right at me. I stop for a second, but then she moves her gaze from me to Alexior and gives him a long desire-filled once-over.

He doesn't return her stare and instead seems to pick up pace.

"How many did you bring in today?" one of the naked women asks.

"Six," Domina responds, taking her eyes off Alexior.

"Any men?"

Domina sighs. "No. I don't know why he's dead set on fighting the women."

"All the men seem enthralled with it. My husband made nearly half a mil after the last round of fights."

Half a mil?

Domina rolls her eyes. "Enough of this. I'm bored. You." She points to one of the slave girls. "Take off your clothes and get in the water."

My heart skips a beat and I turn. What? That slave girl can't be more than fifteen. They can't make her get in the water with them.

Alexior death grips my arm, and I jerk back as he roughly drags me from the room.

"But—" I fight against his hold.

He pushes me up against a wall, and my head hits the stone behind me. I cringe. "But—"

"Stop it," he warns, planting his muscular arm across my chest. "There is nothing you can do. They will kill you if you try. What about that don't you understand?"

Anger and frustration and fear boil through my body and tears come to my eyes. I fist my hands to stop them from shaking. "What are they going to do to her?"

Alexior doesn't immediately respond as his gray eyes search mine. I don't know what he sees in them, but whatever it is causes him to lessen his hold on me. Just a little.

"They are going to do whatever it is they want," he tells me. "Whatever it is that pleases them. That is the reality of this place. The sooner you comprehend that, the easier this will be for you."

The tears wetting my eyes begin to fall. My sister. Oh, God, my sister. I start to slide down the wall, but Alexior grips my arm and hauls me right back up.

"Dominus is waiting," he says.

I barely register him pushing me through one final archway until I'm standing in an office. Dominus sits behind a dark wood desk with a calico cat perched on the corner. I look around for a phone, a computer, anything modern, but it's just as historically accurate up here in the villa as it is down below in the slave's quarters. They're really taking this role play thing seriously.

Off to the right spans the terrace where Dominus addressed us all only moments ago. Training noises echo up from down below.

Dominus glances up from his paperwork. He puts a pen aside and studies me. Gone are the smiles he had on the terrace. In his sunken face I see his true self. Up close like this I realize he's older than I thought. I'd say he's in his sixties.

He doesn't stand as he begins addressing me, "Tell me, Valoria, why did you want to come with me so badly?" He looks pointedly at the dried blood still on my face. "Enough so that you took a mild beating."

"Mild beating? I'd say the fat man did more than that."

Dominus doesn't respond to my snippy remark.

I tug my arm from Alexior's grasp, and he backs off a step. I take in a deep breath and straighten my shoulders. "Because you have my sister."

Dominus lifts his gray brows. "Do I now? And who is your sister?"

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