BHM To Tame a Thief by Xyantha ~BHM ~Romance

Discussion in 'BHM/Both Weight Fiction Archive' started by Xyantha Reborn, Nov 22, 2014.

  1. Nov 22, 2014 #1

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    - Actually Very Tame!

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    I am finally updating my story of 'To Tame a Thief', written under one of my first aliases here...Hope you guys enjoy. More chapters to follow!

    Original Story found here http://www.dimensionsmagazine.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47846&highlight=tame+thief


    Chapter 1

    Ritcha luxuriated in the feel of the soft skin of the man beside her – certainly softer than the coarse inn sheets. Her bedfellow was was slumbering deeply, his dark hair falling across his brow, his breaths even. At this early morning hour he looked almost carefree, his rounder face casting him in a more boyish light despite the stubble lining his jaw. Her head was pillowed on one of his soft arms, and his side was providing a firm support for her back.

    He had been right not to go back to his wagon. A manic grin spread across her face and she stifled an outright laugh. Not for children indeed!

    The naughty man’s eyes had twinkled merrily in the gloom of the room, and he had lipped her nipples, ears – all of her, hungrily. He had been forced to clap his hands over her mouth at several points, or else risk the other boarders hearing.

    Even afterwards, he had seemed reluctant to stop touching her. Rather than rolling over and snoring, he had kissed her skin softly, hands exploring her sleepily until he nestled his nose into the nape of her neck and gave himself up to slumber.

    Despite giving themselves over to the act, he had not allowed her to touch his belly. And even when he had allowed her to caress his bulk, he had given such a grimace that she couldn’t bring herself to continue. He even had her ride him, rather than him being atop – which, she suspected, was to prevent his bulk being apparent. Ritcha wouldn’t tell him this, but being on top didn’t precisely hide his size. Her knees had barely rested on the bed, his hips were so wide. Her thighs had slipped under the swell of flab, against his hip bones, and the fat had obligingly melded around them. The mental picture of his body beneath her would be branded into her mind forever.

    Rolling over, she regarded him seriously, grin fading. The happy glow was fading as reality sank in. This had been a terrible, terrible mistake. She hadn’t done anything so stupid in years. What had she been thinking?

    Always the ne’er do well, Tal was fully capable of having a tumble and thinking nothing of it. Would this be one of those times? Was this all a ruse to finally bed her at last? She didn’t think so, but…the possibility was still there, and it twisted at her wretchedly. Just a conquest?

    And, even if he wasn’t just in this for a tumble, he hadn’t actually committed to anything. Yes, they had said the ‘L’ word. It was an easy enough thing, to say you loved someone while you were aching and alone. It was something entirely different to love someone, come good or ill. Come richer or poorer. Come lack of honest career, and the possibility of him being taken into custody at any moment? Was she seriously even contemplating marriage with him?

    He hadn’t even asked her to marry him, either! Smoothing a lock of hair from his face with trembling hands, she bit her lower lip hard. In the bright morning light, it didn’t seem like such a good idea to have lain with her old...enemy? Certainly never a friend. He had made passes at her before…but then he had done so to many women. Her heart squeezed painfully. Maybe he only slept with her because she was the only one willing, now that he was heavier? Not that she objected - but she understood many women didn’t share the same sentiment.

    Let’s say he didn’t ask her. What would she do?

    Tears rose into her eyes, her pride rising up to battle the overwhelming pain at the thought. She would do what she had to do to survive – the same as always.

    And if he were to ask? What sort of husband would he be, really? As a thief, a shyster – what sort of future could they even have together? Where would they live, what would they do? The old Tal was a love ‘em and leave ‘em sort of man, hard hearted and carefree. His philosophy had been that it wasn’t really stealing, if they were so stupid as to leave it laying about.

    The new Tal was softer, gentler. More unsure, but still quick to react and take offense. She had watched him carefully as they shopped. Despite those agile fingers occasionally twitching, or his bright eyes resting on an object for a fraction of a second too long, he had behaved himself remarkably well. Maybe his weight has slowed him down in his old age? She still remembered Talon nearly a half a decade ago, sneering at her over the jewels he had taken. You can never tame a thief, he had chortled.

    Tal smiled, eyes still firmly closed. “Like what you see?” he asked archly. One hand slid down her back, and he let out an exhale of contentment.

    Apparently he wasn’t as asleep as she had thought. “Perhaps,” she replied non-committally, resisting the urge to grin. He either set her on her head in a rage or made her unbelievably happy!! She wasn’t going to swell his ego any more than it already was, though! Especially not if she was going to walk away from him. She didn’t have any other choice….

    Those bright blue eyes popped open, a distressed line appearing between his brows. “Ritcha?” he asked uncertainly.

    Or maybe he did, now. The thought staggered her, and also made her feel more tender. She could feel the soft mound of flab retreating as he sucked in self-consciously. “I’m teasing,” she responded with gentle affection. She remained firm in her decision to walk away, but regret filled her to the point of pain.

    Despite her tone, his eyes darkened and he pulled back, swallowing.

    Ritcha knew she must appear cold, as she was using every ounce of control not to stroke his chest and kiss him and tell him she would be anything, so long as he allowed her to stay with him.

    When he leaned in to kiss her, she only half reciprocated, turning her face away. When he captured her hand in his and placed it on his soft chest, she half curled her fingers, jaw clenching. “This was a bad idea.”

    The look in his tender eyes almost killed her. Something deep in her chest began to ache, her breathing restricting. She could see his mind working, the pain encroaching as questions flew across his mind. The thoughts were almost palpable. Didn’t the previous evening mean anything to her? Maybe all she wanted was a tumble with the fat Tal to see what it was like. She wasn’t attracted to him anymore. He was disgusted with himself.

    He looked visibly woozy – he had obviously imbibed a great deal the previous evening. “Of course,” he murmured. “Why would the nymph stay.”

    Silence reigned for several long moments, both casting about for something to fill the uncomfortable void that seemed to have opened between them. Outside, the bustle of the departing horde created a dull rumble. Finally, Ritcha sat up, letting the sheets pool from her body.

    A smothered groan answered her, and he sat up as well.

    “Come back to bed,” he said eagerly, and lifted the blanket covering him in invitation.

    She almost caved at the sight, a sort of buzzing filling her ears. His stunning, soft, rolling flesh was exposed, his belly pouring forth onto the bed. His soft chest squished together, creating a soft sort cleavage. It took everything she had to stand firm, and only her past experience with this sort of thing allowed her to speak. “I don’t think that’s a good idea, Talon,” she mumbled as she shoved her legs into her clothes.

    “Whyever not?” Tal demanded, obviously taken aback at her sudden coolness. He sat up, hastening towards her, his heavy footfalls making dull thuds.

    Taking her composure in her hands, Ritcha turned to face him. The shreds flew from her hands like dandelion fluff. The man before her was every bit of the Tal she had known, and the Tal she was getting to know. His tall body was no longer lanky; instead, he just appeared massive and intimidating. She felt overpowered by his mere presence. Thick, chunky calves supported muscular and pudgy thighs, which dimpled up to meet his padded ass in the back. In the front, his upper thighs were topped off with a succulent slice of flab which competed for space with the pudge surrounding his member.

    He didn’t stop, taking her arms and looking down at her. Those cerulean eyes darkened, pain shadowing them. His cheeks had once been high, his cheeks hollowing to a chiselled chin and firm lips. Now, his round, apple cheeks met seamlessly with his round double chin, the cheekbones banished from view. He didn’t say anything, just stared at her, barely breathing.

    Inhaling deeply, she looked up into his eyes. “This wasn’t a good idea,” she repeated carefully. “I never rush into things. I made some assumptions when I shouldn’t have. I didn’t even know what the plan was. I should have – it doesn’t matter.”

    “Plan?” The man tilted his head, savouring the word.

    RItcha had to repress a smile, despite her dismay. He never had been one for strategic thinking. “With us.”

    “Oh, that’s simple enough,” Talon said breezily. “You’re going to stay with me now.” He lifted her hands and placed then on his wide middle, exactly where she had grabbed him last night as she came for the third time.

    “Tal…” She pulled her hands away, tears filling her eyes. How could she stay with him? He was a thief, for gods sake!

    His face stilled suddenly. “You…don’t want to stay with me.” His baritone voice was flat, disbelieving, and overly controlled.

    “It’s not that simple!”

    He yanked on his shirt, suddenly appearing ashamed of his size. Stabbing his fingers through his hair he stared at her, swallowing. “Actually, it is precisely that simple. Either you want to be with me, or you do not.”

    “Really?” He had always been one to oversimplify, too. “You’re just going to marry me today and we will ride off into the sunset on your wagon?”

    He appeared dumbfounded. “Marriage?” He obviously hadn’t even given it a moment’s thought.

    Yanking on the rest of her clothes, Ritcha avoided his gaze. “Well I’m not going to be your mistress.” So that was all he had thought she was worth? Just a bedfellow to have around until another one came. She gave a bitter mental laugh. And oh, how she had proven him wrong, tumbling into bed like the worst harlot.

    He tucked her chin up so her face turned to him. “Then we will get married,” he said brightly, his smile easy.

    Worst repeat marriage proposal ever.

    Ritcha burned with shame to recall that she had played mistress for two years. When she had finally demanded marriage, it had been agreed to with that same flippancy and lack of care. Also, an astounding lack of follow through. That tone was like a splash of icy water. He didn’t want to marry her. He would just to it to keep her around, just like before. Why didn’t anyone want to start an actual life with her? Ritcha yanked free, eyes blurring. “No.”

    “Why the hell not?” Tal snapped, stamping his own feet into his boots. “Woman, you are driving me crazy! We have mind blowing intercourse, then you turncoy. First you want to leave because there is no plan. Then you want to leave because you won’t want to be my mistress. Now you want to leave because you won’t marry me?” He snatched his greatcoat, a thundercloud coming over his expressive face. He dialed his voice down and clutched at his head for a moment, as if fighting of a headache. “If you were so god damn determined to just leave me after last night, why couldn’t you come out and just say it?”

    Ritcha’s mouth dropped open. “That’s not true!”

    “Then you do want to be with me?” He demanded.

    Wretched, wretched mistake to have slept with him. “I just wanted to be with you last night, but I don’t see how this will work, and I –”

    His face was clouding over. “Look. I get it. You went hog riding, got your fill, and now you are trying to send me on my way as gently as possible.” His face was turned away as he yanked the door open. “Thanks for the fun,” he said bitterly. “I have no one to blame but myself for falling this deep, this fast. You were right. I knew what happened to you. I thought that me saying I loved you would have been enough to make you realize – ” He choked, swallowing. “I mistakenly thought that you returned the sentiment.”

    The tall man paused on the threshold, hands gripping the frame until his knuckles turned white. “I know you didn’t have an opportunity to sell your wares due to your reaction this week. It was I that bought you the food which resulted in your illness – it is I who should take responsibility. I will purchase any remaining pelts at fair market value. I will have my assistant leave your items at the inn. Best of luck.”

    And with that, the door shut. She heard him thud down the stairs, heard his voice as he paid the innkeeper – then he was gone.

    Her anger pooled away as quickly as it had flared. Finishing her dressing numbly, the young woman sat on the edge of the bed, put her face into her hands and wept. She knew she had a bad temper, but she had never regretted it more so than now.

    Part of her – the part that had picked herself up off the ground when her family’s farm was repossessed – kicked her cruelly. He was unsuitable. You know it to be true. What is the point of trying to soften the blow? He said it himself. There wasn’t a thing he could have done or said to have convinced you. You obviously don’t want him.

    Even if it wasn’t meant to be, she had never wanted to send him off like that. No matter what he said or thought, she knew there was something special between them. He genuinely seemed to appreciate her, his eyes softening as he listened to her attentively. And she knew how she felt about him. That was the problem. There was no room in her life to go gallivanting off with someone who did unlawful acts. Her pride revolted at the very idea.

    It was better to have driven him off now, while she still cherished affectionate feelings, than to have broken her heart and spirit. If he had asked her to join in a heist, or in some smoke and mirrors show…would she have surrendered all of her better judgement and ethics to join in, simply for love?

    She stood abruptly, patting at her hot cheeks. Take the money he offers you, she told herself firmly. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move along.

    Ritcha had to wait several minutes for the red blotches to disappear from her cheeks, and for her eyes to stop shining. Her stomach was telling her that she had not eaten for several days, and her head ached acutely. When she had gathered her courage and strength, she stepped into the street.

    Casting her eyes up and down the lane, she saw Talon’s wagon moving her way. The throng of exiting fairgoers pushed at her, forcing her against the wall. Raising her gaze, she stared at him, chin trembling. Stay strong. Don’t give in.

    His distinctive form looked gorgeously plump, sitting on the bench of his wagon. He was wrapped in his open greatcoat and his belly bulged aggressively into his lap. Piercing eyes met hers, and her stomach swooped in response. After jerking a grave gesture of acknowledgement in her direction, he tossed a bag of coins at her as he passed. His gaze returned to the road, and he flicked the reins, forcing his mares into a slow jog that pushed through the crowd. The thief didn’t even look back.

    His overhanded toss in her direction caused the bulging pouch to whirl through the air, the ties loosening. Ritcha watched in helpless horror as the neck of the pouch opened and coins spilled, glittering, through the air. The bag landed at her feet and she snatched at it with a desperate gasp. Her throat closed on the cry as passerby’s snatched up the coins that had fallen.

    Within moments, his cart was out of sight around the corner and only four coins remained in her numb fingers. She stared down at them, panic rising.

    Desperation impelled her forward, forcing her through the crowd. “Wait!” she cried. “Wait, wait!” Talon’s wagon was just rumbling through the gates after the guard’s inspection. “Wait!” She cried again, lunging for the wagon.

    She could have sworn he turned his head, but he didn’t slow the cart. The guards pushed her back with rough hands, telling her to wait her turn.

    “Wait,” she whispered. The back of his cart shrunk slowly as she stared, numb. The crowd jostled at her as she waited for her turn out of the gate. She began to laugh quietly, hysterically. There went all her clothes and supplies, too.

    Briefly, she considered sprinting after his wagon and claiming all of her gear. It would be the most sensible thing to do – swallow her pride and get it done. The lack of coin she would figure out later, as long as she had her tools.

    No. The mortification of even seeing him again would be too much. If he softened instead of yelling…she might just give in, she knew. And then she would hate herself forever.

    But without her clothes and tools, how far could she get? How long would it take her to rebuild her life? Until she got back on her feet, what other skill could she do without the tools of her trade?

    A growl rose in her throat. She hated that man! Every time he waltzed into her life, he left it in tatters. As she passed through the gate, she resolutely turned her heel and walked the other way down the road.

    This is your penance for sleeping with him, she told herself. Better to have to rebuild yourself now than years from now. Be thankful you snapped to your senses. He will be no worse for wear than his pride smarting. You have once again had to restart your life. Idiot. You deserve this..
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2014
  2. Nov 22, 2014 #2

    SilkySunshine

    SilkySunshine

    SilkySunshine

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    Oh no! :( This is rather sad!
     
  3. Nov 25, 2014 #3

    jakemcduck

    jakemcduck

    jakemcduck

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    So when you say updating, are you changing the original or is this a continuation?
     
  4. Nov 25, 2014 #4

    wildandfree

    wildandfree

    wildandfree

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    I like your style! Please continue!
     
  5. Nov 25, 2014 #5

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    - Actually Very Tame!

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    This and the chapters to come are a continuation of the original, which i left incomplete (loose ends)
     
  6. Nov 26, 2014 #6

    jakemcduck

    jakemcduck

    jakemcduck

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    ok cool, can't wait to read it.
     
  7. Dec 16, 2014 #7

    sara303066

    sara303066

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    Omfggg nooo! Such a sweet story can't end like this, more please??
     
  8. Dec 16, 2014 #8

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    - Actually Very Tame!

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    There is more, im just editing the next chapter!
     
  9. Jan 6, 2015 #9

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    - Actually Very Tame!

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    Sorry for the delay...this one is not going to go as fast as the Outliers (which I partially wrote as a personal bribe to get this one done). I'm having trouble trying to stay true to the writing style. This was never meant to be a long story, and I keep allowing it to spin out and have to trim it so it isn't 180 pages like my last one, or I will never wrap this up and move back to Ten to One.

    But I AM working on this, and have the next three chapters sketched...
     
  10. Jan 7, 2015 #10

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    - Actually Very Tame!

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    Chapter 2



    Travelling along the main roads in the late summer was, at best, a trial. Summers like this made them positively brutal. The dry heat was oppressive enough to make anyone seek shelter. Combine that with the long baked dirt, and it was a recipe for misery. The sun baked dirt, stirred up by the recent mobs of travellers, swirled through the air in dusty gusts, trying her skin and parching her throat.

    The road under her feet rumbled lightly, indicating an approaching cart of some kind. Ritcha turned, shading her eyes with her hand to try and make out the cart driving behind her. She was hot, thirsty, and dirty after days on the road. The illness she had recently experienced had not gone by without taking its toll on her endurance. Each step burned, and she was beginning to wonder if her pride would get her through, this time.

    If it was a farmer, maybe she could hitch a ride on the back of his wagon for a mile or two. She walked on, carefully avoiding the ruts in the road, until the wagon pulled up alongside her. Glancing up, she stepped more lively, ruddy face reddening further. Her pride would do just fine!

    “Get in.” Was the growled, opening salvo.

    “I think I’ll walk - and you can eat shit and die.” Ritcha responded in an overly friendly rejoinder, not looking at him. She stalked forward with renewed energy, avoiding eye contact. Her calves burned, and she cleared her throat against the additional dust being kicked into the air by his team.

    “Just halt a moment, please.” He said gruffly, but with a more reasonable tone.

    Those with more common sense or a higher degree of self-preservation might have taken up his offer. Ritcha, however, was in no humour to give in. Ignoring him, she tramped further along, head held high, eyes on the horizon. Or as far ahead as the road would allow. He was silent, except for the clop of his mare’s hooves and the creaking of his wagon as it moved along behind her.

    That silence unnerved her. She glanced back and met his eyes. He was sitting himself on the edge of the driver’s perch, looking delectably plump and attractively rumpled. “Go away!”

    “No.” The cart kept moving behind her. ““This isn’t the way to your usual haunt.”

    And how the hell would he know? Shaking her head she proceeded along, maintaining a haughty silence.

    “Where are you going? Why are you walking?” He asked finally, sounding curious.

    “I’m going any way you are not,” she replied with a sniff. “Unlike fat, spoiled thieves, some of us make our way from one point to another honestly.”

    “Fat, spoiled – ” he began in disbelief, then abruptly cutting off. The sound of his large bulk shifting almost made her turn her head - but not quite. “Is this the thanks I get for searching high and low for you?”

    Despite the words, his voice was shifting away from its angry tones to its more natural and gentle ones. Ritcha dreaded lest her resolve should melt away, and immediately bridled. “Oh - so sorry that me living my life without clothes, food, shelter and money has inconvenienced you.” She crooned falsely, then coughed as she inhaled dust. Her hand was clasped in a warm, large hand and she was whirled around to face him. “Go away!” she told him angrily, coughing harder.

    “What do you mean without money? You can’t have spent it all. Did…someone rob you?” His light eyes met hers, his hand warm. He had moved from the driver’s seat to sit on the edge of the platform. From where he was sitting, she could observe his thick calves hanging off the side, his thighs jiggling slightly with the ruts in the road. He suddenly slid off, causing his belly to give a mighty bounce and wriggle.


    Raising her chin, she marched on, legs trembling. Remove your hand from his! She ordered herself upon finding her fingers still entwined in his.

    “This is ridiculous,” he sighed. “I came to apologize, and return your things. I was so – I didn’t think. I had no idea that I had them until two days later. I had brought your items into the wagon when you were ill. I only just found your bag and knives. You have to believe me.” He paused, hoping for an answer. When he received none, he walked beside her, hand still clasped in his. “Get in my wagon,” he wheedled. “I will set you down in the next town, and you can tell me how you came to lose the money I gave you.”

    When she continued steadily, he petted the back of her hand with a whisper touch. “I wont ask you to be near me again, I can tell how disgusted you were. Just – take some refreshment and allow me to set you on your way again.” His voice had lowered as self-reproach and self-disgust filled it.

    Stricken, she met his eyes. “I’m wasn’t – I’m not disgusted!” was her protest.

    He ignored her, giving a closed lip, sad smile. His normally vibrant eyes were shadowed, and he appeared older without his typical grin or mischievous demeanor to lighten his countenance. “No need to explain. I understand fully.”

    “I didn’t!” she protested more loudly, distressed. “You aren’t suitable for me – we couldn’t possibly have a future together!” Remove your hand! She ordered herself again, surprised to find it still attached. “I can’t stomach you thieving and lying to people!” she finished, turning away.

    Several expressions flashed over his face – guilt, anger, depression. “I’m not a thief. Not anymore,” he said hollowly, dropping her hand. “And I don’t lie,” he said even more bitterly.

    Whirling to face him, Ritcha frowned. “When I first saw you at the fair, you were lying to people about some potion and that I was ten years your senior or some such! How can you not call that lying?”

    He blushed a little. “Granted, I exaggerate a trifle – but it harms no one. It is no more than a baker who claims to have the best loaves in the country, or the blacksmith who claims they are the only one to know a secret technique for creating horse shoes that don’t warp. And did you at any time, see me swipe anything? I haven’t….” He swallowed sharply. “I have not done that in years, I swear to you.”

    She regarded him with open skepticism. “And the drafts and potions you sell? Are those legitimate?”

    The chubby face brightened. “Actually, they do generally work. I’m a sort of apothecary, now. I have several recipes, purchased dearly, that I peddle.”

    That made her roll her eyes. “Is that so.” Was her dry remark. His presence was agitating her. He was walking slightly behind her, causing tantalizing glimpses of belly to ghost in and out of her peripheral vision. She wasn’t looking at him, she assured herself, then frowned as she felt her eyes slide towards him again.

    “Truly!” he protested. Then his expression became despondent. “But it doesn’t matter.” He let out an exhale so controlled that it could barely be called a sigh. “All this is an excuse to avoid you talking about the real reason you will not be with me.” His mood shifted again, a dark depression stealing over his features.

    It was impossible to tell what might have come out of her mouth next, as her heart began to soften. He had never been so soft, so shy…when had he become so self-conscious? Luckily, when she opened her mouth she inhaled dust, causing her to launch into a fit of coughing.

    Cupping the nape of her neck with one hand, he raised the mouth of a flask to her lips. Cool water spilled into her mouth, and she gulped greedily, heedless of the water splashing her face and chest. She closed her eyes in bliss until the flask was gently tugged away. Tal’s wan face stared down at her. “Huh. You lost weight,” was her nonplussed and unfiltered reaction as she really looked at him for the first time.

    At the fair he had appeared bright eyed, bushy tailed, and chubby cheeked, with a ready and cheeky smile. Since then - had the whole of their meeting really spanned less than two weeks? – he looked tired. Ritcha couldn’t have identified why she thought him thinner, as his bulk was still substantial, but she just felt like he had shrunk in on himself.

    His cheeks flushed and he looked as if he didn’t know how to react. He blinked, swallowed, and gave a half shrug. “Well. I have been trying for a long while now. Besides, I don’t eat when I am unhappy.”

    “Oh. Well that will help you find some ‘normal’ women who will appreciate you for who you are and not just want to go ‘hog riding’,” she snapped bitterly, trying to free herself as her brain cleared once more.

    Tal lowered the flask to her lips again, brows lowering. He muttered something indistinct, still cupping the nape of her neck.

    Her thirst got the better of her, and she took another gulp, and then another. “Oh, sorry, was I supposed to stick around and become your mistress?” she gasped after a moment.

    “I offered to marry you!” he barked in frustration, releasing his hold.

    “As a last resort to keep me around!” she shot back, pushing away. She couldn’t think, that near to his luscious body and heady smell.

    “What? You know I have a bad goddam temper!” he bellowed after her. He stamped after her, sweeping her off her feet, ignoring her flailing fists and kicking legs. “Enough of this nonsense!”

    She hadn’t anticipated this angle of attack. Ritcha smacked at his shoulders weakly, secretly luxuriating in his hold. “Unhand me, you buffoon!”

    For such a fat man, he was also sturdily built, and he took the abuse without a sound or hitch of stride. Ritcha couldn’t help but remember when he had held her like this, years ago, and embarrassment heightened the colour in her cheeks. Though - then she had sagged, held only by his arms. Presently, his round belly and soft chest half supported her, making her skin tingle in memory.

    The former thief, now self-proclaimed peddler, mounted his wagon again. Still ignoring her anger, he settled her in his lap and clucked to his placid mares who set off along the road at a placid walk. He disregarded her stiff and stony body, burying his face in her shoulder and inhaling deeply. She was highly aware that she stunk to high heaven, but he let out a little groan and held her tighter.

    “Do you intend to keep me here by force?” she demanded, trying to keep her tone icy as he slid his nose alone her collar bone. “Talon, you know this will never work. We aren’t compatible! I can’t be with a thief!”

    He raised exhausted eyes to her face. “I’m not a thief. I stopped that years ago.” His large frame seemed to sag, and he loosened his hold. “And I wont hold you…any longer than it takes to get you to safety. I am not without honour.”

    Shifting off on him and onto the seat next to him, she tried to gather her scattered wits. “Honour,” she scoffed before returning to her original point. “Shyster then. Hucking fake remedies, rolling from town to town in a little wagon!” She thought his teeth might shatter, he ground them so hard.

    Grasping the reins in thick fingers, he carefully and delicately directed his mares down a fork in the road with a light touch and around a slower moving farmer’s wagon. When he finally returned his eyes to her face, the thinly veiled hurt behind his eyes made her groan inside. The man’s thoughts were almost palpable. The former lithe thief noticed her eyes fall to his stomach and abruptly sucked in, turning away as if to deny her even a glimpse.

    Why can't the man simply comprehend that this had nothing to do with his size?

    Ritcha could discern this easily as the swell of flab retracted, allowing the fabric to flutter freely around his navel. Absently worrying at her lower lip, she wondered how she was going to convince him.And why did she suddenly care so much that he did understand that?
     
  11. Jan 7, 2015 #11

    ellebee

    ellebee

    ellebee

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    I'm loving this!
     
  12. Jan 7, 2015 #12

    SilkySunshine

    SilkySunshine

    SilkySunshine

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  13. Jan 13, 2015 #13

    ALS

    ALS

    ALS

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    As always: wonderful! I look forward to more.
     
  14. Jan 13, 2015 #14

    fritzi

    fritzi

    fritzi

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    Thank you for continuing this story Xyantha!

    Went back and read it in one go - it definitely merits being fully told!

    More soon please!
     
  15. Jan 13, 2015 #15

    otherland78

    otherland78

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    oh a really interesting way of taming a thief and this story is realy lovely written ;-)
     
  16. Jan 30, 2015 #16

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    - Actually Very Tame!

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    Chapter 3

    It had felt like he had been waiting his whole life for the moment when she had risen from his bed, the early morning light dappling across her soft skin. When she was young she had been all long lines, but with just enough subtle softness around the chest and hips. Even then, Tal couldn’t comprehend how she was mistaken for a boy, despite her short hair.

    He had stared with wonder at the woman who had replaced his childhood crush. Her bobbed hair was tucked behind her ears, stands escaping to cup her cheek. Her willowy form still remained, but her hip bones now flared out most becomingly, creating a feminine curve on the outside of her thigh until her calves. Her tight, toned little legs flared upwards, leaving a gap between her legs. As she bent down to retrieve a piece of clothing, his member had throbbed to fill that little void.

    When he had invited her back, her response had been immediate, pointed, and contradictory. Her pink nipples had immediately tightened, legs shifting at her arousal, and her pupils suddenly expanded. Instead of hopping back into bed however, she had resolutely turned her back on him.

    Her words echoed through his mind, and he resolutely closed his mouth and eyes against their sting.

    I don’t think that’s a good idea, Talon.

    Thief.

    Shyster.

    Fat.

    Peddler.

    Lier.

    We aren’t compatible.

    Another voice, deeper, more melodious and refined, broke in to the self loathing thoughts.

    Not such a good idea, was it? Ah. My little thief has grown into something more substantial, has he not? I suppose you wont be scaling any walls, now! Well, as delightful as this little adventure has turned out to be, your debt has been repaid. Charles will escort you out to your new clothes and…appropriate accommodations to your station. No, no…keep the items you stole. They are yours now, ‘fair and square’ as they say. Come now…you don’t think it could really have worked out? We are not compatible, tinker.

    Her cloying perfume almost seemed to tickle his nostrils even now, making him shake his head. Refocusing his eyes, he swallowed and ran a hand over his face. The past was the past. There was no use in dwelling.

    The woman beside him was observing him with a half frown on her face, her plump lower lip caught between her teeth.

    Part of him cried out at the injustice of her accusations…but some had once been true, hadn’t they? How could he give her sufficient proof? Would she even accept it? Was there even a point?

    Their relationship, such as it was, had always been contentious. From the first time he had seen her, she had seemed to hate him. He probably shouldn’t have laughed quite so hard at her wind milling arms and ungraceful tumble into the deep, wet manure…but he had been a young boy. A young boy fascinated by the pretty dress and ankles of the little girl who was walking along the pasture fence with arms outspread.

    He had walked behind her for several dozen paces, curiously observing, and had laughed outright at the indignant squawk she made as she fell. When she had growled, he had told her she looked better in mud. Her cute little upturned nose and lightly spattering of freckles had been charming, causing him to stare unaccountably. Of course, when she had thrown a well-aimed piece of dung at his face he had clambered over the fence and they had had a tussle that both of them came out of dirty, tired, and in for a good ear boxing. “You are a bad boy,” she had hissed, sticking her tongue out.

    The next time they had met, he had been in her father’s orchard, filching apples on his family’s way through town. The full appreciation for the hardy fruit had never struck him so forcibly as when she began whipping them at his head with her full strength. When she had tripped, he had yanked her skirt over her head and took off at a dead run – after patting her bottom. The sensation of that veneer of softness had stuck with him, causing him to seek out other women in hopes of rekindling that feeling.

    Of course they had met in between, but always in public spaces where their good behaviour was ensured by dozens of eyes. That didn’t stop the sparks from flaring up - just from catching flame. Talon’s family was part of group of peddlers - somewhat more trusted than the others. His family regularly brought items to the villages and farms that those people would have otherwise have been unable to source.

    The last time they had met was about four years ago. By that time his family had passed on from the plague; one of the odd ones that seemed to come and go without warning, leaving the living to cry ‘why’ to the unfeeling skies. Luckily, his family had trained him well enough he could provide for himself; one way or the other. His real family, the art of trading. His street family, those of thieving and acting.

    He had been hard, harsh, and uncouth with her over the years. It was his own fault, trying to flirt with the priest’s sister. Her response had gone beyond anything civil, making him burn with anger and lash out repeatedly.

    And then…this.

    Talon stared down at the reins in his hands, deflated. Had he really been bold enough to flirt, and court her just a few days ago? He hadn’t felt this defeated in years. How many more women he admired would look at him after sex with his repulsive body and tell him that it wasn’t going to work out?

    Her smouldering looks and open admiration this time had aroused a hope, long since buried, that perhaps the perfect and unobtainable Ritcha would condescend to touch him. But he wrecked everything he touched.

    “Talon?” her quiet voice broke in. “What are you thinking?”

    Rousing himself with difficulty, he glanced over at her. Maybe he had misconstrued her looks, her desire. Out of the moment, he wondered if he had somehow forced her hand. Or, more likely, she pitied him. That galled. But no – she had admitted to liking his body, touching it. So why, why was she running?

    Without intending to, his eyes trailed down from those expressive amber eyes to her pouty little mouth…

    “Tal…” Ritcha protested, closing her eyes as if pained. The lass was visibly weakened by both her illness and whatever had followed.

    “How came you to lose the money?” Tal queried softly instead of answering, trusting in his mares to guide themselves as he set the reins aside.

    Resting her chin on her hands, she placed her elbows on her knees, staring ahead fixedly. “When you threw the pouch at me it spilled.”

    Regret and shame filled him. He had been so angry, to hurt. It was all too close, too sudden. Pinching the bridge of his nose, Tal inhaled deeply then exhaled slowly. “I’m sorry. You are right to be angry. Right to hate me. I seem to be a blight on your life.”

    Ritcha gazed at him expressively. It was obvious she thought his apology was false. “Tal…”

    “It’s true. Small or large, but nothing good ever came of it. Remember when I came to your village and stole the apples? There was an early frost that killed a lot of the field.”

    “I hardly think you can take credit for that,” was the tart response.

    “Mayhap.” He couldn’t remember a time something nice had come from their meeting. He was debating how much he should tell her, and how. “I know you dislike me, and I swear that I will not touch you – but please just stay until I can get you to the next town, and get you the money and supplies you need to start off again? Please?”

    It was obvious she was tempted. She caught that plump lower lip between her teeth, shifting a little.

    “I’ll give up my quarters to you. My boy sleeps in the cabin as well, but we can make do for a while under the wagon.”

    Roused, she glanced around. “Where is your boy?”

    “Here, miss.” A light voice piped from behind them.

    Turning in her seat, she offered a wan smile upwards. “Your master is asking me to stay. What do you think?”

    The tousled head peered over the roof at her for a long moment. “He’s a good man, miss.”

    Talon could see her lips twitch as she turned back to face the road. “Fine. But only until the next town – and you are not allowed to touch me.”

    Drawing in a relieved breath, he nodded sharply. “Deal.”

    “And you have to talk about past.”

    He wanted to say no, but had more than a suspicion she wouldn’t stay if he didn’t agree. It would be damn near impossible to keep her safe if she wasn’t willing. She already hated him; what was the harm? Clearing his throat, Tal closed his eyes. “Agreed.”

    The next hour was uncomfortable. Suddenly, neither he nor Ritcha seemed to know what to say, or where to begin. The lightly bouncing wagon made his stomach jiggle lightly, and he would have covered himself more except that the oppressive heat made anything but light cloth unbearable. Instead, he tried to tighten his stomach muscles and suck in. Not only did he feel ridiculous, but it was literally impossible – he was sweating and trembling within the mile. It wouldn’t have been so bad except Ritcha seemed to see every little shimmy of his flab; when he finally exhaled and gave up, her eyes immediately darted to the side, eyeing the fattest part of his stomach.

    “Are you hungry?” he asked belatedly, turning to face her as they approached their campsite. It was more off the beaten trail, but that meant more quiet. He’d pull over early tonight, rest up, and then set off tomorrow, he decided. There was no point pushing on today. The dry heat and dust was harder on his mares than on him.

    “Yes.” Ritcha responded simply, lowering herself off the wagon so Tal could get down.

    When she stumbled Tal almost grabbed her elbow, but abruptly recalling his oath, let his hand drop. “Simon?” When the boy had scrambled down, he offered him a smile. “Can you gather some wood for the fire? I’m going to start bringing the water over. When you are done, can you help with that too?”

    “’Course,” the lad replied easily, loping towards the treeline.

    He unhitched the girls, allowing them free access to graze. “Sit, relax. I just have to take care of the mares,” he told her, scooping up two buckets and moving off to the river.

    “Aren’t you going to hitch them? Won’t they run off?” Ritcha called after him.

    “If they want to move along, they are free to,” Tal threw over his shoulder. “They stay with me of their own free will.” The first two buckets went to slaking his teams thirst. The tired woman looked on as he curried and brushed each one, crooning lightly into their ears and kissing their muzzles as they turned their head to regard him.

    She regarded him even more curiously as he returned from the river several times, dumping the water on the other side of the wagon. When he returned for the sixth time, she finally got up and limped around the side.

    “Ooh,” she gasped in surprised delight.

    Tal looked up from the tub and gave a quick smile. “Looks like you needed it.”

    She returned the peaceable gesture with a wry smile of her own, lifting a bedraggled lock. “Does my hair still look like mud?”

    Surprise froze his lips for a moment. She remembered. “I always did think mud looked very fetching on you,” he responded in kind, hastily making for the safety of the river. The water was slow and clear. Simon stood in the shallows, pants pulled high up his skinny legs as he let his arms hang into the water. Suddenly, he heaved upwards and a large silvery shape hurtled through the air to shore.

    Tal, who had been expecting this, quickly smacked the fish in the head with a rock, stilling it. “Fine job, m’boy. Is the fire ready?”

    Grinning from ear to ear, Simon sloughed to shore. “Yessir. Got that done and started the fire too!”

    “Well done.” Tousling the head lightly, Tal wrinkled his nose. “You need a bath too,” he informed him.

    The look he received made him laugh. “I don’t ask for my sake, you understand. Women have a much finer sense of smell than us men. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do, for the ladies.”

    The ’us men’ part swelled the thin chest. “Alright – for the ladies.” Walking back, he glanced up at his benefactor. “Is she stayin’?”

    “Until the next town.”

    “She’s awful pretty,” Simon said thoughtfully. “Oh well. Leastways I’ll only havta have a bath once.”

    There was no point in responding to that honest and awkward statement. When he saw Ritcha she was eagerly investigating the tub, peering into, under, and around it. Noticing them approaching, she smiled shyly, then made an instinctively protective gesture with her forearms around her chest.

    Of course she would want privacy. “Don’t worry. We will wait until night.” Tal reached up and allowed the cleverly concealed fabric to fall loose, drawing it around the tub. “See?”

    Her eyes were shining. “It’s brilliant!” She said, examining the rings and the fabric intently. “Who designed this?” Her eyes rose.

    “I did.” Tal responded eventually, a little more harshly than he intended. “I did,” he repeated, attempting to soften his tone.

    “You – oh. Why? How? I didn’t take you for the shy type!” Her smile faltered suddenly as she seemed to realize what she had said.

    “Because no one wants to see a disgusting pig wallowing in a trough,” he snapped, plonking the buckets down beside the tub and moving into his cabin. “I’ll clear out my stuff and then this is all yours.”
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2015
  17. Feb 1, 2015 #17

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    - Actually Very Tame!

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    Chapter 4


    “Oh…fish!” Ritcha choked out finally, the smell making her nauseated. Simon seemed so pleased, practically wriggling like a puppy, that she took the meat and roasted root vegetables with a faint, queasy smile.

    Tal seemed to sense her discomfort, but hid his expression behind his mug while studiously avoiding her gaze. Ever since their exchange earlier, he seemed reluctant to speak. In fact, he didn’t seem inclined to speak at all. Her curiosity was itching to burst forth and ask him a hundred questions, but she restrained herself.

    Returning her gaze to the boy, she smiled bravely. “Thank you!”

    Sprawling out beside her, Simon began to carefully and ravenously eat the fish, using his fingers to sift through the small bones. The piece Tal had taken was much smaller than she would have supposed; hardly bigger than a deck of cards. His wooden plate consisted of that, and only one piece of vegetable.

    “Aren’t you going to eat more?” Ritcha asked involuntarily as he quickly cleared his plate and set it aside with finality. She was pushing the fish around with her fork, nibbling at the pungent thing with difficulty.

    “No.” He responded woodenly, rising.

    The tone made her flinch for some reason. There was no way he could be satisfied by that small portion. Taking another carrot, she put it in her mouth, blushing unaccountably.

    The man didn’t seem to notice her sudden discomposure. “Simon, stay here. I’m going to carry the hot water to Ritcha’s bath.”

    The dancing light drew her eyes up. His form was beautiful in the firelight. The play of light caused seductive shadows and hollows to appear, clearly defining what was only a suggestion by daylight. Under his soft chest, there was a hollow before his stomach pushed out. And under his stomach, at his hip, the line where the flesh folded appeared even through his shirt.

    When he returned from his task, he nodded to her, not making eye contact. “It’s ready.”

    It felt a little odd, and daunting, to be stripping naked in the woods. The temptation of the warm water was too much, however, and she soon found herself sinking into the water with a moan of delight. She blessed the man’s foresight at having that spare bucket ready for her to scrub the worst of the dirt off before she clambered in. The warmth slowly eased into her muscles, and she languidly worked at the more stubborn dirt with the cloth provided. The wagon certainly seemed to have more luxuries than the average sort of conveyance, she realized. This tub alone! The extra weight it caused his horses, the extra feed they needed to pull it, and the water it took to fill it…

    The low murmurs of the two by the fire reached her, and she looked up as the steady stream of light was interrupted, outlining the approaching form. Freezing, she sunk deeper into the water that she had just been rising from. Her arms crossed over her chest, nudging the pendant hanging between her breasts. Excitement and shame chased their way across her skin, and her arms lowered slowly. What was the point of hiding? He hadn’t just seen her flesh. It had been caressed and massaged by his rough hands, and his tongue had made intimate swirls around her nipples. Her breasts felt heavy, nipples tightening in response to the pleasurable thought.

    “Ritcha?” Tal’s voice was low and sad, and he made no effort to move the screening curtain aside. “Your clothes won’t be dry for a while, but we have them laid out by the fire. I’ve gotten you one of my shirts…it isn’t clean, though. Again…I am so sorry.”

    “Its fine,” she managed, staring at the large shadow that the light clearly outlined. Two large white cloths were draped over the edge of the covering. As he turned to the side, she gave a little sigh at the round belly jutting outwards. “Tal?”

    His outline hesitated. “Yes?”

    “Thank you. This is wonderful.”

    “And only made necessary because of my actions,” He sighed, retreating before she had a chance to protest. “The wagon is yours, when you are done.”

    The shirt, when she put it on, made her lips part and nether regions dampen. The smell of his skin still lingered on the soft fabric, making her raise it to her face and inhale deeply. Blinking away the tears that rose up, she set about trying to make the outfit work.

    Having seen him, Ritcha had thought she understood he was larger. Having felt him, she had thought she really grasped how he was fat. But she had never realized just how much larger he was, how much more physical space he consumed, until she was engulfed in his shirt.

    At first, she giggled at how long the sleeves fell past her hands like a child. The cuffs were meant for thicker wrists and didn’t even come close to being halted by her thin hands. The neck bared the top of her breasts, the laces only just preventing the opening from gaping with positive indignity. When she realized how long the shirt was, she shivered. He was so much taller; the tail, which he tucked in, came almost to her knees. Part of that length was the extra fabric. So, so much extra fabric. Meant to encompass someone far, far more substantial than hers. Pulling the material away with trembling hands, she remembered how closely fitting it had seen against his belly. She could have invited two others to stand in the excess fabric.

    The other cloth was a robe, which she belted around her waist tightly. Simon giggled as she walked out, raising the bottom of the robe like royalty to avoid sullying it. Mounting the few steps to the front of the cabin required all of her concentration, because the fabric seemed bent on tripping her. Finally, she took the robe off with a little growl of frustration, pushing open the door at the same time.

    Tal glanced up at her. His magnificent torso was naked, and a shirt was held in his hands. When he saw it was her, he swallowed, face reddening. After a moment, he gave a little huff and simply pulled the shirt on.

    Not staring was difficult. The man took up a significant portion of the room, and that portion was delightfully soft and pliable. His large stomach jiggled lightly, his belly button dancing in the swell of flesh above his pants. Something rose up in her throat as her soul told her two contradictory things at once. Her body knew what it wanted, and her mind wasn’t helping because it sat firmly on the fence – acknowledging the pros and cons equally. Only her morals kept her from pushing that shirt back off his wide shoulders, skimming the fabric down his arms, letting her tongue slip between his lips…

    His sudden approach made her mouth dry. When had he gotten so tall? Her head fell back slightly as his large hand extended…

    “Here.” A hunk of cheese was placed in the palm she automatically extended. “I didn’t realize that you didn’t like fish.”

    The sexual rejection was like a slap to the face. “Oh. Uh. Thank you.” It really was thoughtful, and she cringed at her tone. It really was thoughtful…

    “Unfortunately I don’t have any fresh sheets,” he rumbled as he took up the small blankets from the cot in the corner.

    “Oh…” Ritcha suddenly felt awful, kicking a child from its bed. “You don’t have to move his bed, Simon can stay here.”

    A muscle in his cheek twitched, but he spread the blankets back out. “That’s fine. I’ll be outside if either of you need me.” For such a large man, he was still graceful as he swept out of the little apartment.

    The process of looking at all of his belongings took up her full attention until Simon clambered inside. Every bit of space was highly designed for multiple functions. The table was affixed to the wall, and the centre of it was actually a thin set of drawers. The wings of the table raised up and lowered, held in place by extending legs. The bed, she realized, folded sideways into the wall. Everything was well cared for and clean, if not fancy. But then, she had always liked utility in design.

    Sinking into the soft bed, she felt tears rising again, and laid back, hugging the pillow to her stomach. Regrets at what she had done, at what she wouldn’t do, ate away at her like a cancer. He suddenly didn’t seem bent on pursuing her; but if he did she knew, deep within, that she would give in. Would it be so very terrible to live here? With a thief?

    “It’s ok, miss,” Simon told her quietly but cheerfully from the other end of the small room. His small form had quickly bundled its way under the thin sheet, and his small face was regarding her seriously. “Tal makes everything better.”

    She smiled in spite of herself, wiping at her tears. “Does he? And how did you start working for him? You are pretty young to be doing such a big job,” she told him with respect and a hint of a smile.

    “He adopted me,” Simon said proudly.

    Ritcha froze in the act of pulling the sheet over herself.

    “My Mam and Pap and everybody died from the purple lung,” he yawned. “There was nobody left to take care of me, and everyone was so hungry and sick. Tal came to the village and…I was so hungry I stole cheese from him,” he whispered guiltily. “But he was nice!” he continued, brightening up. “He could have given me a good strapping, but instead he gave me bread too, and milk! And then he told me I could go with him, as long as I worked hard!”

    The surprise at the tale was great. The boy spoke in the fond tone of a nephew thinking about a favourite uncle. “Did Tal come before?”

    “Oh yeah, a few times a year. When he came and Mam drank his stuff her pain always got better! And when the parents weren’t lookin’ he’d always give us a sweety, or a little toy!”

    This wasn’t the Talon she had known! “Good thing you have him now so he can share his food and home with you,” she said vaguely, mind racing. He had mentioned that he wasn’t just selling swill. Was it possible that he wasn’t just swindling? How could a child tell the difference?

    “Yep! But I have to go to bed now,” Simon told her seriously. “‘There’s always time to talk tomorrow, but only so much time to sleep tonight,’” he said with the air of one quoting, then curled up quietly.

    Ritcha could recall trying to convince her cousins to go to bed as they wailed. The boy’s steady breathing and intent commitment to sleeping unnerved her, but also made homesickness rise within her. Sometimes, in harvest season, all the cousins had clambered up and slept row upon row in the attic or barn. Once, she had stood in the hay loft among all the sleeping forms and looked out at the cheery little peddler wagons, all lit up with laughter coming from them.

    One tall, whip thin boy had turned, almost as if he could see her. Talon had always unnerved her bewilderingly, and even know the scent of the man in the blankets was causing confusion to rise. When had Talon ever been nice? Let alone kind, thoughtful, and magnanimous? She dug back into her memory for anything that might support it. The boy had probably been desperate and looked upon any small mercy as an act of major kindness.

    All she could recall was a tall, lanky boy who, even then, was handsome enough to make her blush. She remembered walking the board fence and falling, and him laughing at her. He used to pat her bottom if he got half a chance, and he was always taking little verbal snipes at her. He had also always seemed to be angry at her, yet he always seemed to find his way to her in a crowd. She could still remember the black eye he had given her friend when he had come into town and seen the ‘take notice’ written on the school wall. It was just the other school children causing mischief, but Tal had seemed infuriated. The other boys had been so afraid of catching a beating that they had avoided her for an entire year! Angry, irritable, bad…what had changed him?

    The thought haunted her, making sleep evasive. But, as is usual, once she stopped seeking it, slumber found her. It was a deeper slumber than she was accustomed to, and she tossed in the unfamiliar softness of the bed. The sound that made her waken in the morning was Simon, thumping his feet into his boots.

    “Morning, miss!” he announced cheerily. “Today is going to be a good day! It’s porridge day!”

    “Call me Ritcha, Simon. What’s so good about porridge day?” She asked, yawning. Most children she knew loathed the stuff. Tentatively, she stretched. All the aches and pains were still there, but not as overwhelming as yesterday. Perhaps it had been a good idea – no. Scratch that. It had been a good idea not to go tromping off on her own, no denying it. She needed the rest and food – she would just have to steel herself for whatever else would fall.

    “I get to eat as much of it as I want!” the boy enthused. His little head tilted when she asked him to see if her clothes were dry. “OK, but probably not!” His bounding step carried him off the edge of the wagon, then back on several moments later. “Nope, but Tal said if you are willin’ to wait until lunch time, they should be dry! Willing,” he corrected himself with an eye roll as he darted back out.

    She felt quite bare in the cool morning air. The robe was so large that when she sat on the edge of the wagon, the bottom fell over her toes, swaying in the breeze. “Good morning,” she said shyly.

    Tal cast her a dirty look and grunted in response, thumping around ungraciously.

    His mood shift made her sigh a little. “I’m sorry you had to sleep on the ground,” she offered, pretty sure that was the reason for his surly temper.

    He waved a hand, setting oats into a boiling pot.

    “Tal?”

    “What?” he snapped irritably, turning to face her. His expression was fixed in a glower.

    He was too far away to have a serious conversation with. “Come here, please?” she requested softly. When he had stomped over, she looked up into his face. “Are you ok?” she asked earnestly.

    Surprise and confusion darkened his expression. “Yes, why?”

    “You seem so angry…”

    Realization dawned, and he attempted a brief smile that looked more like a pained grimace. “I’m not a morning person, especially without coffee,” he told her, turning away to go back to the breakfast.

    It was a simple affair, but as plentiful as Simon had promised. Tal was perched next to her on the wagon while Simon sat cross legged on the ground. The boy almost fell face first into his portion, while Tal picked listlessly at a piteously small serving. Even Ritcha ate her full portion and went back for seconds. When the boy gave a little sigh, the man actually pushed his food onto his plate, then set more to cook.

    When he saw her eyeing his now empty plate, the tall man frowned ferociously. “Problem?”

    “No,” she said, leaning over to pat his unshaven cheek. The poor man must be starving.

    The skin of his cheeks reddened, and he turned guarded eyes towards her, swallowing. “What’s that for?” he demanded.

    Ritcha shrugged, smiling as she spooned her porridge onto his plate, ignoring his suspicious looks. “Oh, nothing…”

    Suddenly, the man jerked up. “Damn, I had nearly forgotten!” His sudden pleased grin made her stomach swoop – and made her realize he hadn’t really smiled since he had picked her up on the roadside. A chuckle floated out of the door after he bounded up the stairs as quickly as his weight would allow. Coming back out with a large package, he pressed it into her arms. “Here.”

    The large package was brown paper wrapped in twine, and wasn’t heavy. The flaps fell open as she undid the knot, and her breathing hitched. “What…is this?”

    “Clothes.” The momentary flash of pleasure had dimmed, leaving monotone in its wake. “For you,”

    He seemed to be serious. The fabric was used, but good quality, and clean. “You just happened to have women’s clothing in your wagon?”

    His round cheeks reddened. “I bought them for you at the fair…”

    Turning a gaze blank with astonishment to his face, she met his blue eyes. “W…why?”

    “I haven’t a clue. Hope. Stupidity. Desperation. Take your pick. Take them, and don’t think that I will put any undue weight on that action. I owe you this, and more.”

    Ritcha’s brain was focused on something entirely different. The sun warmed her skin as she tried to put this new piece of knowledge alongside the others she was slowly picking up. She had told herself that he thought her a quick lay, and that any action to keep her was just desperation. Yet, he couldn’t have bought her these after their encounter…which meant he had bought them before. Why? Why would he buy her clothing?

    Immediately, her mind sneered at her. You should be used to be playing the part of whore courtesan, it told her. You’ve gotten fancy silks and jewellery before this. Unbidden, her fingertips lightly touched the blown glass hanging between her breasts.

    As she slowly drew the fabric out, she realized that these clothes were not the fancy clothes that a man dresses his mistress in. They were not even the baubles that a man would buy to impress a potential mate. These were good quality, workman like gear that one buys a… A choking laugh escaped her, and she clapped a hand over her mouth to smother it.

    “It’s not fancy,” Talon told her in the tone of one who is aggrieved. “But I didn’t think you’d be wanting fancy things as much as good, serviceable clothes. Your, ah, current wardrobe seemed a little worse for ware, if you recall.”

    Raising her eyes to the man’s face was difficult, but Ritcha needed to see his face when he answered this question. “Talon?” Once she was sure she had his attention, she asked, “What do you know about my past? About…me being a whore?”

    Several expressions chased themselves rapidly across his round face. “You never were!” he almost growled, looking like he’d like to go toe to toe with any who called her that. A quick hand wiped his face, and he met her gaze. “You never were,” he repeated insistently. “You met a man who lied to you about not being married. When you found out, he said he would leave his wife for you, but never did. That’s all I really know.”

    It was pretty common knowledge for those who knew her. How the priest’s sister had fallen? How shamed would Papa have been? The money she had sent had been gratefully accepted at the time, but afterwards, everyone seemed to shun her. Unclean. Unvirtuous. “He used to buy me clothes and pretty things,” she replied absently, fingers plucking at the linen. “He used to pay for me to live in his small hunting estate. And in return, I gave him my body. A financial transaction – how can it be anything else but that?” Rousing herself, the woman looked around. “I just realized – you still have my clothes and furs and tools? Can I have them back?”

    The distress that grew upon his face appeared real. “Yes. You are leaving?”

    She was shaking her head before he finished. “No, I just want to make sure they are safe. Thank you for the clothes. I’ll still take you up on your offer of a ride to the next village, if you are willing.” Her morals, which had taken the high road with much self-gratulation, were conspicuously silent. The thief and shyster seemed to be missing from this man, and suddenly her whole argument was tottering.

    Her lover had bought her expensive jewellery, fine clothing, and a pampered life in an estate. He had lied to her about being married, and when she discovered the truth, flattered her into submission. When Ritcha had finally snapped and given him an ultimatum, he had called her a whore and kicked her out.

    Talon bought her a beautiful, yet inexpensive glass pendant, used yet sturdy clothing, and hadn’t thought beyond anything other than having her with him. He had seemed to be willing to do whatever she wanted to please her. Yes, they always seemed to be bickering – but he never lied to her, never used her.

    And what had she done to him? Used him and threw him away. Yet, when he had realized she might be in danger, he had swallowed his pride and come looking for her.

    “I’d never have done that to you,” Talon’s deep voice said quietly.

    “I know,” she replied finally, trying to meet his gaze with eyes half blinded by tears.
     
  18. Feb 1, 2015 #18

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    - Actually Very Tame!

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    Sorry for the change in text size - it's size 11 Calibri on my side, size "4" Arial on this side, but my computer shows it as varying the text between chapters.
     
  19. Feb 2, 2015 #19

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    - Actually Very Tame!

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    Chapter 5



    Women confused him. No, that wasn’t true. It was only Ritcha only who flummoxed him. He had dealt with the fiery and cold sorts, but no one met the sheer changeability of Ritcha. From angry cat to blushing belle, to tigress in the bedroom to cold fish, then to the stubborn ox he picked up on the roadside yesterday. And now, this.

    Her amber eyes caught the sunlight, the rising moisture gleaming. Her expression, while still holding the pain of the past, had softened as she gazed at him. On anyone else, he might have called that expression love, or at least affection. “Tal, why did you take Simon on?”

    The question seemed so incongruous to the rest of their conversation that for a moment, he was perplexed into silence. He felt his brows contract and tried to smooth them. “Simon?” He realized he was still holding his plate, and set it carefully aside so he could concentrate on her.

    Those wide eyes looked out at him over a sea of light freckles. The sun gently kissed her skin, drawing out the golden highlights in her hair. “Yes – why did you take him on?”

    Raising a hand to his head, Tal sighed at the scruffy feeling of his hair, which was in desperate need of a trim. “His parents had died,” he said vaguely, looking at his dirty fingernails. Maybe he should have taken a bath too. Oh well.

    “But why did you take him?” the slim woman repeated insistently.

    “Ahhhh…” Tal shrugged his shoulders, feeling the flab on his shoulders shift. No matter how much he tried to starve himself, he couldn’t seem to lose any more weight. Ritcha might have thought she liked bigger guys, but there were still limits…and he was obviously far out of that upper limit. “I suppose it’s because I remember what it was like to have your family die, and having to fend for yourself.” He noticed the softening of her expression and hastened to tell her, “It wasn’t purely altruistic - I would have needed an assistant anyway. Instead of paying him, he gets free room and board.”

    That pouty little bow mouth curved in a faint smile, as if dismissing his attempt at deprecation. Then she looked thoughtful. Her concentration lasted so long, in fact, that Tal was about to interrupt her. Just as he was opening his mouth to speak, she suddenly looked up. “I had forgotten that your parents died when you were young. You would have been…what…twelve?”

    “Thirteen.” Tal responded succinctly. He hated talking about his past. He could feel the familiar heat rise to his cheeks as she gazed at him, those same feelings of inadequacy rising up. Her steady gaze always made him feel as if she was looking right into his soul – and finding him wanting.

    “Mama died when I was young…I barely remember her. I still miss Papa though. I can’t even imagine how hard it was to lose both your parents at the same time.”

    The only response he could give was an awkward hitch of the shoulders. It had been years and years since he really thought about it. Life was what it was. There was no point dwelling. “I got on well enough.”

    “If I recall,” she retorted with an expressive roll of her eyes, “You started thieving around that time.”

    Tal felt his cheeks heat up to the point they must be glowing. “Like I said – I got on well enough.”

    Simon’s eyes were travelling between them, spoon raised halfway to his lips. When he saw Tal’s expression he hastily scooped up his meal and beelined for the river.

    The lad was a good boy, and smart, Tal thought with pride. He had a sensitive temperament that made him attuned to the people around him. Using the boy’s retreat as an excuse, he struggled to calm his heart. He didn’t want to talk about his past, but he knew that now that she had started down this track she wouldn’t be likely to back off it.

    Turning her upper body to face him more fully, she tilted her thin face. “Why did you stop thieving?”

    “Oh, now you believe that I have stopped?” He half sneered at her, his pride still smarting at her blatant disbelief the night before.

    “Yes,” she responded simply.

    Somehow, her straightforward admission knocked the wind out of his sails. “I got too fat,” he grumbled. The response to that simple fact made him swallow. Part of him delighted in it, and the other half wanted to shrivel with shame.

    Oh,” she sort of breathed, and she suddenly straightened her back. He hadn’t thought to buy her a breast band, so the sudden jutting of her dusky nipples was conspicuous.

    The idea of talking about this, now, after everything that had happened, was too much. “Can we not talk about this now? Please?” He studiously looked at the ground. As long as she didn’t go down that particular path, he was confident he could deal with anything she asked. Just, not that part of his history.

    Oddly, the ‘please’ seemed to catch her attention and make her back down hurriedly. “Of course…” she murmured. “I…should get dressed.” Putting those words into action, she whisked into the cabin.

    He waited outside, watching the shadow at his feet slowly lengthen as the sun rose higher. Eventually, he pushed away from the edge of the wagon and mounted the stairs quietly. “Ritcha?” He asked, gently rapping his knuckles on the wooden frame of his own door. When he didn’t get a reply, he cracked the door and peered in. She was dressed but curled up on her side on his bed, his blankets clutched to her stomach. “Ritcha?”

    Red rimmed eyes met his briefly before closing.

    “That’s twice I’ve made you cry,” Tal broke out in sudden distress. “If you really want me to talk about it I will, but for pity’s sake, please don’t cry!” The chair beside the bed creaked as he lowered himself onto it. “God preserve me from a woman crying!”

    A muffled laugh answered, followed by a loud sniff. “It’s not that – you didn’t make me upset. I just suddenly got so homesick.” The low voice cracked at the last word.

    The urge to run his hand up and down her back was so strong that he had to tuck his hands under his legs to stop himself from touching her. “I can take you home instead of the next village, if you want.”

    Ritcha gave a high pitched, gurgling laugh. “What home?” The word was invested with years of scorn and hurt. “My family’s farm got repossessed because the fields failed, remember?”

    “What about the rest of your family?”

    “They accepted my money readily enough, but when they learned how far I had fallen they disowned me,” she whispered. “I don’t have any home. That’s what makes me homesick.” Suddenly, she frowned. “I guess you never got homesick, because you were always travelling.”

    The misconceptions people had about his type of lifestyle always made him shake his head. “This wagon is my house. My horses and Simon are my home.” Her lack of understanding made him chuckle. “A house can burn down; a farm can be repossessed. The living are what matters.”

    The quiet way that she said, “…but the living die…” throbbed with pain. Her eyes were downcast, and her lashes fanned along her cheeks in a soft semi-circle that fluttered up at his next words.

    “And that, my dear, is the true tragedy.” Choosing his next words with care, Talon stood up and crossed to a wood panel. “I knew your father a little, and I think that if he was alive, your home would be anywhere he was.” When he turned back, she was regarding the wall with interest. To a casual observer, the hidden panel would have appeared to just be a wall. The right pressure, however, caused the panel to come off. Gently, he placed her tools on the small table.

    Instead of appearing happy, she resolutely buried her face in his pillow, dampening the outside fabric with a fresh flood of tears. “As if he would accept me, after what happened! My father was a religious man! My own brother will not even talk to me!”

    Lowering himself back into the chair, Tal gazed at her wordlessly until she met his eyes. “Ritcha…your father was the type of man who respected people for who they were, regardless of their past. Why do you think that he always let our wagons park in his fields? Everyone else mistrusted peddlers. He opened his doors to us. It takes an open hearted man to do that.”

    Her negativity was palpable as she shook her head violently. “Being nice to peddlers is not the same as accepting me back after what I did!” Sitting up, she hugged the pillow tightly.

    “He made us promise to take care of you,” Talon said softly into the sudden quiet, pulling out a handkerchief for her.

    Her head jerked up, the hair falling around her face in a wild yet pretty tangle. “What?”

    “When his heart first started bothering him, he told my father that if anything was to happen to you, we were to look in on you. My father asked him to do the same for me.”

    “How do you know that?” she gasped, mouth falling open as she stared at him. Her eyes blinked rapidly, a few tears escaping.

    Tal tried to project his sincerity in his gaze and tone. “Because my parents died, and when he approached me to take me into the family I refused. Why would some farmer take me in? That is when he told me about their agreement.”

    Digesting this information took some time. Periodically, she would dab at her eyes or nose. “Why? Why would you refuse?” she asked. She seemed to want to desperately believe him, but just as desperately to find some hole in his argument.

    There was no hole. He was telling the truth. A rising headache made him lean back and rub his temples softly. That didn’t mean that he wanted to talk about it, though. Suddenly, his attempt to comfort her and reassure her of his father’s affection had turned against him, dredging up more things he didn’t want to think about, let alone speak of. “It doesn’t matter, now.”

    “Why would you refuse?” she asked, dogged. “You would really have rather lived on your own, barely scraping by and stealing, than coming to live with us?”

    “I was an independent boy,” he retorted, crossing his arms. “Just…let it alone, will you?”

    “Why, Talon?” she demanded, throwing the pillow at him. “You promised to answer my questions!”

    Her rising voice made his rise as he snatched the pillow from midair. “Because that would have made you my goddam sister!” Both of them flushed in the silence that followed this pronouncement.

    Ritcha’s, apparently, was not from embarrassment as much as vexation. “Would being related to me have been so terrible?” she snapped eventually, eyes flashing.

    Losing his temper, Tal leaned forward, hissing, “I didn’t want you as my sister, I wanted you as my girl!”

    “You…you hated me!” she retorted, tone full of disbelief. “You used to tease me and torment me!”

    Talon laughed. “Ritcha, that’s what boys do when they like a girl! At that age we don’t even know why we like you, or how to treat you – but getting you to look at us seems so important. The only time you would ever look at me was when I was tugging on your braids or tripping you!” He slumped back in his chair. “It wasn’t until later, when I understood the differences in our station, that I realized you’d never have me anyway.”

    The last was a desperate ploy to turn the subject. He certainly wasn’t about to tell her the rest of the story.

    At first, his refusal had been met with soft words as the man tried to convince him. When he had finally told the other man point blank he couldn’t be his son, because he meant to marry her, Ritcha’s father had initially just smiled and patted his shoulder. What else would one do to a boy who makes claims like that? Her father had just told him that if he ever wanted it, he was welcome under their roof – but that his girl would make her own choices.

    Whenever Talon had come into town, he had looked in on Ritcha, hoping she would notice him. The pretty, freckled girl quickly became a willowy young lady with a penchant for getting dirty and playing with the boys. Her disdain of him seemed to grow in proportion to her beauty, however, and his visits trailed off as her scorn smarted more and more. Their last meeting had been so explosive and hurtful that he hadn’t ever gone back to the village. Every man has his breaking point.

    Through the years – and even as Talon turned more and more to thieving to make ends meet, her father had always invited him to stay on his fields. They used to walk together down by the creek, and the other man would earnestly try to him about the evils of his behaviour. He may not have known the man well, but he’d be damned if he let Ritcha believe that her father wouldn’t welcomed her with open arms, no matter what happened.

    The silence was dreadful to him. The young woman seemed to be processing multiple lines of thought at once, eyes darting and lips moving. If she asked him any question directly, he would be forced to answer her because of that damned oath.

    Realization dawned over her features. “Oh! That’s why you kept coming around the village, even after people stopped trading with you – you were checking up on me, keeping the same promise as your parents?”

    Tangible relief tingled through him. “You could say that,” Tal hedged, feeling guilty at the partial lie.

    Her pixie face tilted as she shuffled forward on the bed. “Is that why you came looking for me, even after everything that happened? That promise?”

    No man was that selfless. “Ritcha, all I thought of was getting you your belongings back. I’m not skilled in your arts but any fool can see the quality of your tools. They must have have cost you a small fortune from skilled craftsman. Yes, I thought I had given you some money for your furs, but nothing close to what would be needed to replace the very things you would need to make a living.”

    She seemed to suddenly see him in a new light – one that made him feel very awkward. “I think I owe you an apology,” she said, looking ashamed. “All these years I thought you were just an annoying boy who wouldn’t leave me alone, then a thief who kept harassing me and my family. And yet all this time you were just keeping a promise.”

    “I’m no saint,” Tal protested sharply, making her look up at him. “Promises be damned, make no mistake about why I hung around.”

    Her pale face was ravaged by pain and exhaustion. Her next move took him by surprise, but then, she was always catching him on his left foot. “Can I trust you?” when she had received his affirming nod, she sat on the edge of the bed. “I really, really need a hug from a friend right now. Can you hug me…just as a friend?”

    “I…” His initial response was to tell her no. He didn’t want to just be a friend. Something in her wistful face made him pause, however. As he looked down into her small face, a sudden thought struck him forcibly. Someone would be her best friend – because no one went through life friendless. The mere thought of her turning to someone else for friendship, rather than to him, was utterly intolerable. Not that he wanted to be her only friend, but he should be her best friend. He wanted to be her everything, not just the man she laid down with at night. “Of course.”

    She closed the intervening space slowly. Sitting on his lap, she rested her wan cheek against his chest.

    Hot moisture leaked through his shirt. Moving slowly, Tal gently wrapped his arms around her. Her small form quaked as a sob rocked her. Suddenly, a different side of him rose up. At that moment, he didn’t feel any of the usual desperate, emotional attraction to her. Just a strong urge to hold her until she was better. “I’ve got you,” he murmured, tucking her head under his chin. Her arms found their way around his sides, nestling in the hollow between his love handles and upper back fat. “Is it ok?”

    Her head moved under his chin, making it squish. “I’m sorry,” she managed, voice choked as she burst into a fresh round of sobs.

    “I’ve got you,” he repeated softly, voice low. It was what his mother used to say to him when he had fallen down and hurt himself. “There now. I’ve got you. You’re safe. I’ve got you.” Kicking off his boots, he rested his feet on the bed as he gathered her up more firmly. The back of the chair pressed into his back and made a warning squeak, but held their combined weight. “You’re here with me, you’re safe.”
     
  20. Feb 2, 2015 #20

    Tad

    Tad

    Tad

    mostly harmless

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    The great white north, eh?
    I really enjoyed these two new chapters!

    (And kudos on some really deft writing--nice development of the relationship and their history, I like the pacing and the way it circles around, slowly closing in on the heart of the matter :) I always find that sort of thing really hard to maintain, and this was just really nice, so aside from enjoying the story, I was enjoying the craftsmanship)
     

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