The large hall of the shooting range was empty except for six people, giving it an eerie ghost town calm. It was one of the places where Landfall taste was at war with the practicalities: no carved wood and patterned wallpaper, just dull, unreflective ricochet tile on every surface, swallowing every sound, before it could reverberate. The range was lit by bright beaming, ugly shatter proof lighting. By size alone, the room should have been echoing and instead it was stifling, and everyone looked grey skinned and more strained than they were.
They’d left the exclusive residential district of the Harrington townhouse and gone to one of the new but respectable suburbs of the city. Phillip had found he was half dozing, carrying the damage to his body quietly, sitting on the floor or the car. Annette stroked his head distractedly and her two closest guards stayed alert in their seats, expectant. He felt slightly feverish and very tired.
Looped over the standard blue of her dress was the leather of a holster, fitted precisely to the lines of her body. He had noticed the gun, assessed it to be a customized version of a standard, small scale, self chambering revolver.
With cars parked in an empty garage, they were greeted downstairs by the range manager, an obvious veteran with his medals pinned to his breast. From the articulation of his hand, too perfect when he operated the keypad at the counter and the door locks, Phillip knew the limb was artificial, and guessed by a slight over compensation that his left leg was as well. The man was attentive, and the entire range was clearly rented out for the time they were there.
They got a little safety lecture, which assured nobody would point guns, loaded or unloaded at anyone else, or look down the barrel. Phillip was briefly shocked when the range manager made eye contact with him, as if to check that he also understood the rues. The old veteran was good enough at his job not to neglect safety even for the servants.
Annette gave the man her polite attention, the same little head tilt and mouth quirk she wore when one of the committee members of one of the groups she oversaw needed to share something emotional but useless. When she took her stance before the target, Phillip was surprised to see she knew more than the basics of her weapon and still more surprised that when the range manager programmed a practice course for her she waved away the stars and balloons he suggested and asked for the highest level of realism.
She was not perfect, more accurate when she had the time to plan than on pure instinct, improving as she seemed to get a better feel for the weapon, but starting with a good stance. Somewhere along the line she had picked up a good foundation, and seemed to be shaking off the weight of rustiness in his own ability. The practice channel she was standing it was lit green and red, then yellow and sickly purple as the practice course cycled through many worlds, simulated as much to educate the clients as entertain them. He was comfortable around guns, as every male in his social class was. And yet, while he knew his school was required to have a target range, nothing his female cousins had told him suggested a similar education.
Standing was less painful than sitting, if he couldn’t lie face down, so he didn’t mind waiting and watching. Annette would thumb in a fresh clip into her gun and watch the motion on the target plates, killing beetle backed soldiers running around the short, squat mud domes of Operchana, of the naked fanatics of Xavier with their purple veins throbbing and their skin wet with cell fluid, and the vines of Onjelooflijk exploding with rich blue sap. Each clip gave her ten shots, and she had to time things so that she hit the most number of targets without allowing them to register a response on her. The ceiling kept her score, which she seemed to be ignoring.
She didn’t look like she was doing it for the blood lust. There was none of that hungry pleasure he saw when she hurt him, and she was not blind to the deliberately real seeming suffering in the things and people that played out their fake deaths after she shot them.
After about two hours, she seemed to be satisfied, and she let the range attendant take her gun and clean it, inspecting it for her carefully and assuring her that it was the exact quality she should expect from the maker. The sum total of interaction Phillip received after that was that the range keeper collected the hearing protection he’d been wearing. The guards, of course, had their plugs in, but they were working.
The burst of focused, aggressive action seemed to have put something back into place in Annette, and her control was more relaxed. When they were in the car again, she kissed him, and pulled his head into her lap, letting her fingers comb little circles though his hair. She’d let it get long, longer than the length he’d had when she acquired him.
Then she took a hood and slid it over his head, blocking out all light and most of the sound he could hear. He could feel her tugging it at the nape of his neck, checking to make sure it was set just so and his hair wasn’t tangled in the cinch point.
He could feel her petting him, and feel the car driving off somewhere again. When the car stopped, his perception of time was skewed, but he guessed it had not been too long of a drive. She wanted him to walk then, out of the car with one of her guards supporting him.
He knew he was going up metal front steps, by their give under his feet, knew that the house was cold. There was the draft of the swinging door and he waited on his knees in what he guessed was the entrance hall.
Under the hood, all the voices were muffled. The guards were almost always quiet, except quick radio commands to each other once in a while, but he could hear Annette greeting someone. She went away for a while out of audible range and he was alone in the dark and not sure what was happening. He stayed put. There was carpet under him and the pressure of the hood on his face.
The light in the room was not so bright, shielded by heavy shades. He saw that a few chairs near the back of the room were still under dust sheets, and that Annette was sitting on a loveseat next to the man he had met in the cafe, Mikhail.
“He is completely and utterly yours?” Mikhail had the thin tube of an aspirator captured in the closed V of his first two fingers, and one arm in the tentative process of creeping around Annette, at the moment still sitting on the waved wooden fretwork of the back of the couch
“He’s mine,” Annette said, almost demurely. She had her hands clasped in front of her, just under her breasts. There was solid pride in her voice.
Mikhail looked at him with unabashed interest, the same curiosity of the cafe. “I’d expected someone taller, honestly.”
“You saw him before, Mickey. Adam is exactly what I want in a pet. Aren’t you Adam?”
“Yes, my Lady.” Phillip dipped his head.
“Lucky bastard.” A trail of white vapor, like frost breath, puffed when Mikhail exhaled out. “He gets to be yours every day.”
“Oh really?” Annette’s eyebrows raised, matching the high arches of the couch behind her. “Adam, take your clothes off and show Mikhail what being a pet gentleman means.”
Phillip slowly stripped off in the usual, tidy routine. The whole time, from first loosening his tie to pulling off his socks, he was paying more attention to Annette that her lover, finding himself strangely disinterested in the lean man’s presence.
“Turn around.” Annette
When Mikhail saw the cloudscape of bruises, Annette gave a little perky bounce in her seat, enjoying the fear and fascination in his face. “Not just nail scratches, hmmm?”
“Still a lucky bastard.”
“Mhmmm… I know you are jealous of Mrs. Hinchley’s pets too.”
“Not as much as I wish I were yours, Ann.” He’d thumbed the aspirator off, and dropped it into its gilt edges stand and charger, taking up Annette’s hand in a passionate grip and bringing it to his mouth.
Phillip heard the conversation, but all he could see was the door he’d came through. One of the body guards was waiting in placid silence. He speculated what firm Annette had used to secure their services. Did they tell her husband everything? There had to be spies in the ranks. Everyone spied.
He heard a gagging noise behind him. Annette was forcing her finger down Mikhail’s throat, holding him by the neck with her other hand and whispering something intimate.
There was a high pitched startled noise, that shifted into Annette’s warbling laugh. “Careful, my pistol!”
“Ready for war, Ann?”
Phillip’s head had inclined a small fraction when Annette had exclaimed, but tugged himself away. But the couple had spotted him.
“Does your pet gentleman want to watch?” There was a smirk there, but also hope.
“You want him to watch, don’t you?” Annette challenged back.
“Maybe.” Mikhail’s tone hinted a definite yes, but until Annette told him to turn, Phillip stayed fixed on the spot.
When the order did come, he found that the lovers were in a tangle, Annette’s navy skirt pulled up the left side to a crumpled wing, her soap bubble stockings already starting to split and tear. Mikhail was making little nips on her fingers, harder and harder until Annette gave him a casual slap.
Thrilled by it, the man redoubled his efforts. What he did next shocked Phillip a little bit. With an almost possessive air, her lover lifted Annette up and flopped her over his shoulder, to be reward with more laughing shrieks. This was the first and only time Phillip saw her treated with anything other than reverence, distance or a little bit of outright awe.
And yet, over Mikhail’s shoulder, as her lover deposited her on the clear surface of a low table, Phillip read her expression as content, and not in the least bit unsettled. She gave Mikhail another two thumps to the face and twined her legs around him.
“I’ve been thinking about your manda all these nights.”
“My cunt? What makes you think you deserve it, you naughty man? You were supposed to be home ages ago!”
Mikhail grinned, challenging. “Could you refuse me?”
“Yes.” Phillip heard the note of truth there, in the casual, rejecting honesty she gave her lover. “I could.”
Mikhail took a moment to register that she was serious and chose to disregard it. “Alice Blessing, you’re driving me crazy, woman!”
“Beg for it. It’s good for you to beg a woman, sometimes.” She had reached up and cradled his face. “Get on the floor, on your knees.” The last thing she said stayed in the same amused, teasing sing song but was directed past her lover. “Adam, you might as well look. Not many people would ever get to see this”
Phillip kept his attention and saw the tall man begin to fold as he pulled Annette’s skirts up over her thighs. The fabric was heavy, stiff and pleated rather than crinkling.
“Please Ann, I’m hard for you.” It sounded like the begging was a reward in its own right. Mikhail’s compliance was slow, his voice muffled by her hand pressed over his mouth. The man was nuzzling, desire driving him towards her. She reached and drove her thumbnail hard behind her lover’s ear.
Phillip adjusted his balance a little and made sure that he didn’t lock his knees. Annette’s lover continued to fawn, and Phillip saw the way that Mikhail reached and touched. And he judged her lover, weighing the older man’s skill.
He knew Annette’s body in an intimate way that her lover didn’t. He knew the place on her ribs to press, that Mikhail’s hands kept missing, knew she didn’t like having the soft crepiness of her belly stroked the way her lover did, and knew that her lover should be making his motions with his tongue on her clit more random. It took Mikhail longer to take Annette to a place of contentment, thighs shaking, head thrown back, lip biting. Regardless of who she was with, she was never loud. It didn’t suit her.
“Ann, Ann! I want you!” Mikhail was moaning to her. “I want to be inside you, Ann, say yes!”
“Yes, you may,” Annette did not seem at all shaken by her climax, though she still had the flush of satiation. “You’ve always wanted to be watched, haven’t you?”
Phillip did a double take, looking at the prophylactic. He knew what it was, but he hadn’t seen on in quite some time. Mikhail rolled it onto his cock. Annette’s legs were pulled up so they were spread an a V, her skirts gathered out of the way. Her lover had let his pants down, and Phillip saw he had muscular legs, for a slim man, covered in coarse copper hair to match his head.
Mikhail’s cock slid into the parting curtain of her cunt, held in the second skin of the condom. As soft and sheer as a stocking but a thousand times stronger. She bit her lip, and then as Mikhail pulled her so that he could have easy, smooth strokes, she attacked him with her nails. Not his face, not when he needed to be seen professionally, but ripping at his shirt, pulling it open and raking his shoulders and chest and back. The harder she hurt, the harder he drove his cock into her.
Sex pulled the pair away from time perception. Only Phillip judged the length of how they fucked, saw Mikhail drive himself into to point of no return and then pull back. “Ann..!”
The tall man’s shoulders hunched, his hand checking the condom even as the tip whited with the release of his semen. Phillip saw his unsheathed penis, saw Annette bring her legs together and her skirt down, almost primly, and saw the way she gently shifted her hips in reaction to the railing she’d just received.
Mikhail, excused himself for a moment, extracting his softening penis from the barrier they’d used with the awkward stretch of the unbreakable material. “I just need to dispose of this and ah…”
“Yes, very responsible.” Annette nodded, stepping off the desk and waking towards Phillip. As Mikhail left the room she spoke.
“Well then, Adam, I think you’ve given him something he wanted for a long time.”
“I’m sorry, my lady?”
“Not like it would have been right to use the body guards,” Annette said, tilting her head to where the men stood away from the tryst in the next room. Mikhail had his own in the building. Nobody of their class would be foolish enough to travel or live entirely alone. But the staff were stoically un-reactive to the obvious coupling of their employers, as good servants.
Returning, Mikhail had a fresh, unmolested shirt, and put his arms around Annette with real warmth, drawing her with him, away from Phillip and back to the couch. He poured her a small glass of something amber, before taking one for himself, inclined his head briefly towards Phillip and Annette nodded.
“He is my pet, but my pet gentleman.”
And so Phillip found himself with his own small cup of sun cherry cordial. Given the tenderized state of the backs of his legs, he remained standing and the couple talked in low voices, bout Mikhail’s leaving, this time for certainty.
“I’m going to miss you and you lovely hands and claws.” Mikhail moved to kiss her, “Come back with me, Ann.”
Annette had closed her eyes to accept the kiss, but now she stopped short, and uttered abruptly, “No.”
“Ann, I mean it. It’s not safe here anymore. You know that Doma’s about to be ripped apart. They called the third and eighth battalion home, Annette. You know what that means?”
“I am a married woman. My place is to be there for my husband. He is not running away.” Annette’s voice got extremely low. “You know he is staying the course he decided.”
“That homosexual cares nothing about you, or your happiness. Ann, please, Lider is going to tear Doma apart now, in the months he has left. If he can’t seize legitimacy, it’s over for him and the Colonels. come away, before you end up like… Helen.”
She did not slap Mikhail, but she stood up, pulling violently away for him, standing from the couch. All the relaxation that had crept into her body was gone, “How could you even ask that?”
“Alice Blessing, Ann!” Mikhai swore more heavily. “Stay with me, let me protect you. You can even take Adam with you.”
Phillip could see Annette pull away more, retreating into herself. “My place is with my husband. You promised me you understood this when we began this. And now you dare bring my sister into things? I am not a fool. I saw exactly what happened to Helen. I watched the film. You know that.”
“Then please, let me protect you. I’ve never had a woman do for me, what you can do just by looking at me.”
“And go away with you, and never see my children again?”
“You’ll be forgiven. Nobody is expecting a woman to be so brave. No sane person would.”
“I promised my father. Pennings are not cowards. I chose to marry Lord Harrington, and I promised to be his wife. What sort of person do you think I am? I am prepared.”
“Please, Ann… That little gun will do nothing.” He reached for her arm above the elbow, but she shrugged him away.
“I will forgive you because I know you. And I will forgive you, because you stood by Helen when… it happened. But won’t run away. And this gun has one job, to stop it from ending like Helen. My husband knew it when he asked me to wear it. Death before dishonour. I swore that when I married.”
“You’re really committed, aren’t you, Ann?” There was sadness, but Mikhail seemed resigned.
“Yes, Mikhail, for good or for ill, I am a daughter of Doma. I will see my duty through until the day I can be reunited with my babies, or until I die. Go home to your wife and your own duties.”
“If we meet again, we meet again. If we don’t, we don’t. Let me have your respect, as you have mine.”
“Alright Ann, but,” Mikhail lets his arms hang at his sides. “If you or yours ever feels the cold place I call home would suit you, I will make it a home to you too. Always.”
After that, they seemed to have exhausted anything else they could say to each other. Mikhail gave her hand a last kiss, with a soft sort of reverance and she let his lips linger before she left, taking Phillip and her guards back to the waiting car.
“Home,” she said, looking at nothing in particular. Then to Phillip, “Come put your head in my lap. Tomorrow we’re going to visit Chloe.”
Love “Catamite”? Find Book 1 as the ebook “The Pet Gentleman“, available now.