Pairing: Liam Neeson/Orlando Bloom, minor Liam/Johnny Depp, plus a few other pair-ups among the supporting characters.
Rating: NC-17 overall
Summary: Slave Orlando's been taken and the kidnappers aren't interested in ransom. And of course Master Liam's thundering rage is only at the personal insult, that someone would disrespect him by daring to touch his property.
Disclaimer: I don't own anyone you recognize. I know nothing about their social lives or sexual activities, more's the pity. This is fiction, period. It is done as a labor of love and I make no money from it.
Notes: 1) Set in poisontaster's Kept Boy universe -- FAQ here. See Chapter 1 for more notes.
Posting Note: See this post for info on the upcoming posting schedule for this story.
Previous Chapters: One, Two, Three, Four, Five
[Twelve Years Ago]
A brisk breeze blew off the lake, cooling the afternoon heat just enough to make a close scattering of chairs on the lawn more appealing than the air-conditioned space inside Sinclair's vacation cabin. It was spacious enough for what it was, but Sinclair had invited eight guests and their body-slaves, and the living area was somewhat cramped with everyone gathered, even with the slaves on the floor.
Sinclair's slaves had rigged a striped awning over the chairs, and had been busy shuttling cold drinks out from the kitchen for the last hour; Liam appreciated being able to stretch his legs out, and having enough space that he could retreat to a corner of the shaded area where only one or two people could approach at once. And occasionally -- as now -- he got some time to enjoy the scenery alone, or at least without having to make conversation with people who wanted something, even if those people were all around him, chatting and making deals.
The conversations had drifted from topic to topic, but always circled back around to business. That was, of course, what they were all there for, despite the leisurely facade thrown over the occasion by the surroundings and the few arranged activities. Sinclair craved a title and would probably have it within a few years; he was old money, he knew how to get things done, and he avoided the mistake most ambitious climbers made of trying too hard with too blatant an eye on the prize.
Unlike some people.
Mr. Roday was young and ambitious, but he bragged about himself too often, laughed too loudly at the Lords' and Ladies' jokes, and kept two spectacularly dressed and made up body-slaves about him at all times, along with a basket of kittens in fake diamond collars.
The two slaves, a boy and girl a couple of years younger than Orlando, cooed and played with the kittens, clearly doing their best to be Too Adorable at all times, with childlike exclamations and sexy little pouts. It was all Liam could do to keep from rolling his eyes.
Orlando, who was curled up in the grass beside Liam's chair, arms crossed on one of Liam's thighs and his chin perched on top, tilted his head up and murmured, "I think they came to the end of their script. They're starting over. It's like a video on a loop."
At Liam's raised eyebrow, Orlando lowered his voice but put on an exaggeratedly wide-eyed expression and whispered, "Oh, pussy's so soft! I could pet her all day!" then in a very slightly lower voice, "May I pet your pussy too?" Orlando giggled up at Liam and added, "That's exactly what they said when we first came out. I think they have a set of routines for when they've got the cats out, and they ran out of material."
Liam managed not to snort out a laugh, but it took some effort. "I just wish they'd keep better track of the things. Running their 'cute' act is apparently a higher priority than keeping the cats coralled. I thought they had seven earlier but they've been dashing all over the place and there are only five now." The cats were at least six months old and too big for their basket, and definitely too active for two people to keep control of out in the open.
Orlando nodded. "I feel sorry for them," he whispered. It took a moment for Liam to realize he was referring to the slaves and not the kittens. "They're acting ridiculous and they know it, but it's what their master wants, so...." He shrugged.
That was close to the edge, at least in public; Liam gave Orlando's arm a hard squeeze, then said, "Fetch me a sandwich. You may have one too if you want."
"Yes, Master." Orlando shifted his weight and rose gracefully to his feet, with none of the puppyish scrambling that'd characterized his movements as a gangly child. His walk over to the picnic table where platters of sandwiches, fruit and cookies were laid out was smooth and sexy without being blatant. He had on a plain yellow bathing suit and nothing else, which suited him very well; his sculpted chest, long legs and gorgeous face attracted attention all on their own, without the make-up and jewelry and fussy little accessories Roday had his slaves decked out in.
Orlando put one knee up on the table's bench and leaned over to lift the mesh fly-screen from the platter of sandwiches. His back was arched more than was strictly necessary, but that much flirting Liam would tolerate. His boy drew admiring looks from some of the others, those not too absorbed in their talk to notice the slaves moving around them, and Orlando's low-key sensuality was a credit to his master. At least, in the eyes of those with taste.
Just as Orlando turned around with a sandwich on a plate, Roday's girl let out a frightened little shriek. Liam's first thought was that she'd spotted a bee or a hornet but she jumped up and dashed toward the cabin calling, "Panther! Get down! Panther!"
Liam turned and looked, following her eye line; up on the roof of the cabin, a tiny silhouette against the bright sky, was a sleek, black kitten.
How the hell had the little thing gotten up there? Sinclair's "cabin" was modern and expansive, despite being a bit too small for twenty people. It was built into the side of a steep hill, and while the front was two stories tall, the side facing the lake was three. The kitten had made it all the way to the top somehow, and showed no sign of coming down any time soon.
Roday charged off and grabbed his girl by the hair. She got a good shake and a smack across the face to stop her carrying on, but no one seemed to know what to do about the kitten.
"We got a ladder that tall?" Sinclair asked his slave, Karl.
"No, Sir, I'm sorry, we don't."
"Dammit." Sinclair scowled. "Maybe a blanket it can jump into? With cat food or something?"
"Excuse me, Sir, but I could get it down, if Master will allow." Orlando handed Liam his sandwich while speaking, then bowed to Sinclair.
Sinclair looked at Liam and Liam looked at Orlando. He looked at the cabin -- the rustic-style cabin with stonework and decorative log siding and several balconies -- then looked back and Orlando and gave him a tight nod. "You will be careful."
"Of course, Master." Orlando bowed and smiled up at him, then turned and dashed off up the slope to the cabin. Liam and Sinclair followed more slowly, with Karl trailing behind.
Liam had seen Orlando climb before, and much more difficult surfaces than the side of the cabin appeared to be. Of course, that had always been at the gym in town, and he'd been wearing a harness. Liam stopped a few paces back from the cabin and watched with his arms crossed and his jaw clenched.
Orlando hopped up onto the porch rail, then stepped onto the lip of the high stone foundation. He reached up and found a handhold on one of the logs in the facade, high over his head, then another. Then a toehold, and another. His long fingers and bare toes gripped and held in small slopes and cracks and gaps, and he moved slowly but smoothly up the wall. On the second floor he grabbed onto the balcony rail and swung himself up, then stood on it and jumped for a grip on the third floor balcony. An instant after that jump, Liam had to hold back a shout by sheer force of will.
Sinclair nudged him and Liam realized the man had said something a moment earlier. "I'm sorry, what did you say?"
"I said, as soon as we're done with this I'm going to put in an order for a couple extra security cameras. If your boy can get up to the third floor in ten seconds without even a rope, I hate to think what an actual burglar could manage." Sinclair's expression was lightly amused, which was perfectly appopriate to his comment.
"Good idea. Although I don't imagine there's all that much crime out here." Liam gave Sinclair a glance while addressing him, just to be civil, but he couldn't help looking back up at Orlando. He was standing on top of the third floor balcony rail right up against the wall, just a few feet from where the blasted kitten was perched.
Orlando called, "Here, kitty kitty!" and held out a hand, beckoning. The cat yowled and took a step backward. Orlando muttered something and grabbed the rain gutter with one hand, then leaned out to snag the kitten in a quick snatch, no fooling around.
The small crowd of people watching from all around Liam had just started to applaud when there was a sharp Crack! The section of gutter Orlando was hanging onto snapped off right next to his hand and swung down, the one attached side acting like a hinge, and Orlando went with it like the weight at the end of a pendulum. He gave a short squawk, then the guttering broke completely off and he fell in silence.
Liam couldn't move, could only watch the falling body. It was so high -- three stories -- and the landscaping up against the cabin's foundation was all rocks. A heartbeat later there was a sharp thud and Liam imagined he heard a snap.
He never clearly remembered the next hours. Sinclair had called a med-evac chopper without asking Liam, or if he'd asked, Liam hadn't noticed.
His next memory was of a doctor explaining just how much repair Orlando's broken back required, how much it would cost, and how small a chance there was of him ever walking again.
Then after that, leaning over Orlando -- on a gurney, splinted, strapped and cuffed face-down -- and a harsh whisper into his ear, "You will get well," right before they took him in for surgery.
And he had. Orlando had always been a good, obedient slave, and he hadn't disappointed his master then, either.
There was a polite knock on Liam's office door, then it opened and Johnny came in and stood to one side while an older man entered. "Lord Neeson, this is Mr. Thewlis."
Back already? Excellent. Thewlis had come highly recommended by a business associate who'd once needed the services of a thorough, skilled, discreet investigator. The man had only been on the job for twenty-four hours. If he was reporting back with results already, he was worth every dollar of his fee.
"Mr. Thewlis. I hope you bring good news."
Thewlis bowed, then approached Liam's desk and laid his briefcase on it. "Nothing definitive, I'm afraid. But a couple of pieces." He opened his case and pulled out a gold keyring with a gold disk fob. Liam recognized it and he clenched his jaw to choke back an unseemly exclamation.
"Johnny confirmed that this is the ring the keys to the Honda were on," said Thewlis.
Liam gave a sharp nod. "Where did you get it?"
"At a pawn shop, my lord. I took the list of everything Orlando had on him and started checking pawnshops. I found the keyring in a shop over in Fremont. A young woman brought it in yesterday."
"Have you found her?"
"Not yet, My Lord," Thewlis said with an apologetic bow of his head. "But there's more." He reached into the briefcase again and this time he had Orlando's collar.
Liam reached out to take it, then stopped himself. "Fingerprints? Anything?" He had to think. Reacting emotionally wouldn't help the situation. Logically the collar and keyring would both have been searched for evidence. They'd be in bags otherwise, wouldn't they? He wasn't quite ready to assume Thewlis's competence just yet, though, nor would he until he'd seen some proof of it.
"Nothing, I'm afraid. Both items had been cleaned before being displayed in the shops. I found the collar in Burlingame."
Burlingame and Fremont? Liam frowned and visualized a map of the area. Not too far apart, over the Dumbarton, but still.... "This wasn't a one-time thing," he said.
"No, My Lord, I agree." Thewlis nodded and set the collar and keyring down on Liam's desk. "Whoever took your slave is going to a lot of trouble to make him untraceable. Even if we'd found all of his effects, the chances of his things providing enough clues for us to find him would be... let's say, acceptably low, from the point of view of someone who's decided to commit a serious crime in the first place and is therefore a risk-taker to some extent. A larger pattern, however, would eventually lead right to them. If they're taking slaves on a regular basis, then it would be worth their while to spread the evidence as far abroad as is practical."
"So, what?" Liam scowled and felt his temper rising. "There's a ring of slave-nappers working in the Bay Area? What would they do with them?" Even as he asked the question, though, several possibilities flashed through his mind and none of them were pleasant.
"There are a few possibilities, My Lord. I'll be investigating them and I'll let you know if I find anything promising. A more immediate question is how long they've been operating. If Orlando is their first theft then there won't be much to work with. If he's their twentieth then there's more likely to be evidence to be found, rumors, leads."
"He couldn't be their twentieth," Liam protested. "Or even their tenth. If there'd been a sudden rash of slaves vanishing, especially body-slaves, there would've been news."
"Would there?" Thewlis gave another apologetic bow of the head, then said, "I don't think there would. When a slave goes missing, the first thing anyone thinks of is a runaway. The authorities would rather not publicize missing slaves; it gives the others ideas."
"What wonderful news for the thieves." It made maddening sense, and Liam had a strong urge to punch something. Or someone. Not Thewlis; he had a brain in his head. Maybe that idiot police detective; why hadn't he found Orlando's collar or the keyring? Liam was of a mind to ask him in person.
Next Chapter: Chapter Seven