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Macbeth lay on the floor

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Macbeth lay on the floor. A slow trickle of tears slid across the bridge of her nose, and mingled with sweat, stinging her eyes. The room was sweltering. Sweat stung the bloody strips across her back and her cheek. There was no breeze, no respite from the burning pain of her wounds. This was hell.

Julius warned her, Anthony warned her. In denial, she clung to the idea Lulubelle was not the dangerous creature the others claimed her to be. Their encounter replayed in her mind for the hundredth time since they left her alone.

"Why do you stare at me?"

The question sapped the moisture from her mouth. Lulubelle's delicate fingers held her chin firmly in place, giving her no quarter. Averting her eyes still put the lady in her field of vision. This close, her wits faltered, those green eyes bored into her through the awkward silence. Several answers ran through her head, each more ludicrous and dangerous than the last. I find you very lovely. You are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. I dream about your lips every night. When had she developed a death wish?

The burn on her hand throbbed in time to the blush spreading through her face and neck. Not more than a few seconds passed but it felt like years. She had to answer, what was the answer?

"How could I not?"

Lulubelle's brow shot up. "What?" Her grip loosened, allowing Macbeth to pull back and study the ground.

"You're very beautiful," she mumbled.

"Oh," Lulubelle stepped away. "This is not what I-um didn't they acquire you to spy?"

She believed her a spy for their Master? Macbeth burned at the implication. The ground could swallow her up now. She shuffled her feet, her blush creeping to her ears. Really, how did she expect this conversation to go. It wasn't supposed to happen.

"I'm learning politics from Julius." More mumbling.

"Then you're not-"Lulubelle paused. Her eyes darted around, looking for the other slaves. Macbeth knew none of them were in earshot though plenty could see them. Would they keep this to themselves? She decided to salvage the situation before Lulubelle's Erosia status caught up to her.

"Thank you for your kindness, Mistress, I must return to my work." She didn't look at the woman, her hands steady as they retrieved the prune sheer. Lulubelle must have thought better of saying anything else, hurrying back into the house.

That was it. Macbeth expected nothing more than a few uncomfortable glances between them from here on out. She followed the women in later, two more burns on her fingers, ignoring the questioning looks the others gave her over the green ribbon wrapped around her hand. Julius was still absent. Clio directed the kitchen work. The room was virtually silent without the boisterous Pathosian. Once the slaves set into their tasks, the older woman pulled Macbeth aside.

"You need a proper bandage for your hand." She led Macbeth to the common room. A small chest held basic medical supplie; the slaves took care of all but the gravest injuries.

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