Copyright © Emmi Lawrence
All rights reserved. No part of this story may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission from the author.
Short Story (Approx. 2400)
He painted her lips first. Gently, the brush dipping into the crevices. Her breath hot on his hand. Her mouth trembling slightly.
“It’s an honor,” he whispered. Routine words. He’d said them so many times before, but now they caught in his throat as she gave him a humorless smile.
“You don’t have to pretend, Wes,” she said. “You don’t have to say anything.”
He nodded and turned away, trying to get a hold of himself. He put the brush down and ground the berries further to give himself more time. Though they didn’t need it; they were already ready.
When he turned back, Elaih was staring straight upwards, at the statue of the harvester above the table. “He holds it like it belongs to him,” she whispered.
Wes followed her gaze, where the harvester held the heart in an outstretched hand. He’d always thought the man looked greedy and arrogant, but he guessed Elaih was right as well.
“Now I need to mark you for them,” he said, still looking up at the statue. Still words he’d said many, many times. But he didn’t add the last bit. The bit about how her heart would be no longer hers, how her body was no longer hers and she should have no modesty, no worry.
Cringing at the thought of what the harvesters might to do her before they were finished. Entering her body without any thought of how she felt, telling her she did not belong even to herself any longer. Her body used by the harvesters, her heart taken to expand the king’s life even further.
Taking a small knife from his tray, Wes leaned over Elaih and put it to the neckline of her dress. Then slowly, he began to cut down it, refusing to look her in the eye, refusing to see anything but the pale, cold skin beneath the cloth. Skin that he’d touched many times before. Skin he should never, ever have touched.
“Do you regret now?” asked Elaih.
He jerked at the question, the knife shaking in his hands above her abdomen. He swallowed and put it back to her clothes with a steadier hand and cut down above her groin to the end of the dress.
Purposely, he put the knife back, then pushed aside the two sides of her clothes. First up top, revealing her chest, her nipples growing hard in the drafty chapel. The chapel was embedded within the keep, but up top, high enough the sun would shine through the blood red windows that spanned the roof of the tiny room. Then he moved lower to remove the dress, at her flat stomach, her curving thighs. The dress bunched, but not so much he couldn’t see the round of her butt where it pressed to the table.
“Do you?” she asked again.
This time Wes looked at her. “It was stupid of me, yes.”
“But not wrong.”
No, being with Elaih had not been wrong. But he’d known the harvesters had looked at her, had her on their list. So it had been stupid. Very stupid. Stupider still to get his own heart wrapped up with a woman’s whose heart would not always be her own.
He ran his fingers along her, feeling goose bumps rise. At the underside of one of her breasts, he dropped his hand and berated himself as his penis stirred at the light touching. To hide it, he picked up the brush again and dipped it into the berry juice. It came up dark and purplish, just as Elaih’s heart might look once it’d been taken and drained, the life of it given away. Not just to the king, probably shared among the harvesters as well, their stealing unnoticed or secretly sanctioned. Wes didn’t know the particulars and right now he didn’t care. They all disgusted him.
And him? He was the one who performed the ritual before the harvesting. Every time. Wasn’t he as disgusting then?
He shook as he painted the first mark upon Elaih’s chest. She reached up and took his hand and squeezed him. Just as she had squeezed him elsewhere before now. He pulled his hand from hers and painted the next mark, aligned with the first, but further left.
Then he painted the next, this one partially upon her left breast. Then the next fully upon her breast and he was staring at her nipple. So stiff. He brushed it with his fingers as he went back to dip his brush again.
His next mark swept down next to her nipple, circling it. Then he was moving away and he could breath easier as he marked the lower part of her breast. He continued onward, trying to keep his hand steady as he finished and began the decorative marks, the ones that spanned down her stomach and up her sides. These ones were done with a different color, lighter, more red than purple.
Elaih shifted slightly as he marked her stomach, sending the brush sideways. Wes paused to wipe at it, his fingers hard upon her flesh to straighten the stoke. Then he turned his hand over and ran it down the rest of her stomach.
“They’ve been taking a lot more recently,” he whispered. “A lot more.”
Elaih gave a sharp bark of laughter, a mocking edge to it. “He’s been alive for almost three hundred years. He’s desperate to live forever. Desperate and pathetic.”
Wes hushed her and checked the back of the chapel. Sometimes there would be a king’s man watching or a younger harvester sent to check in. None today though. They were alone in the chapel.
“It’s the truth,” Elaih continued.
She took a breath, her breasts rising with it, the marks on them stretching slightly. Wes turned away, but not before the image seared itself into his mind. Not before his body warmed with desire.
“Yes.” He kept his voice low despite knowing no one was listening in. Then he busied himself with wiping his fingers.
When he turned back, Elaih was regarding him with a half-smile upon her face. Her hand ran down his chest until it got to the top of his pants. There she hooked her fingers into them, but the movement was awkward, her arm unable to bend how she was laying.
He removed her hand and leaned back over her stomach, brush in hand. But now he was shaking too badly. He tried to make the next mark, but the stoke veered off. He cursed and dropped the brush, splattering Elaih’s stomach with the berry juice.
She laughed, this time without mocking and took his head in her hands to pull him up. This close he could smell her over the berries. Could smell Elaih’s scent same as he’d done every time he’d buried himself within her.
“Wes, you don’t have to—” she started.
He cut her off with a kiss to her berry stained lips, shoving his tongue inside her mouth with a desperation he’d not experienced before. It’d always been slow between them. Gentle and considerate, as he never wanted to hurt her or scare her away.
Now, he could feel her fear, taste the hesitant nature of it as she kissed him back. All her proud actions and the confident way she’d lain on his table an act, hiding how badly she shook within.
He dug his fingers into her hair and held her to him as if he could force the fear away. His other hand started at her neck, feeling it warm underneath him. But as she clutched his arm, he let his fingers drift downward, ruining the marks he’d drawn upon her chest, smearing them across her breast as he cupped it, massaged it.
Elaih tried to pull away, breaking the kiss enough to say, “Wes, the harvesters—”
He stalled any more words by pushing her back to him, twining his tongue firmly about hers so that she couldn’t form any sounds but to moan in his mouth. It vibrated through him, down into his core where he didn’t just want Elaih now, where he’d wanted her yesterday, and the months before, and all the months to come.
But she didn’t have months. She didn’t even have a day.
Wes shivered, trying to push the thought away. At least they’d have one last time. Before she was taken and used and cut into. That made him go cold.
He broke away, gasping, hating himself for his part in it. He didn’t look at where he’d ruined the marks, where he’d have to start over and instead pulled himself far enough away Elaih couldn’t touch him.
“Wes,” she whispered.
Her legs moved, knees coming up and her stomach flexing as if she were about to sit up. He put a hand to her thigh and pushed her gently back down, only then noticing how she leaked onto the dress between her legs.
It didn’t feel right to take her one more time before her harvesting. So not for him then. For her.
He ran his fingers lightly up and down her inner thigh, massaging now and then, but keeping mostly to barely touching her skin. With every move up and down, Wes moved further up a tiny bit until he was grazing her vagina, fingers coming away wet. Then he stopped all pretenses and rubbed her gently, first with a forefinger, then with his thumb as his fingers slowly penetrated her.
Elaih’s legs squeezed at his hand and she shivered and gasped. He picked up his pace, never stopping in his rubbing at her front, never giving her a moment’s respite. She moaned and her insides flexed against his fingers as if she were about to come, but her hand came down as if to stop him.
“Wes, I want you,” she whispered, her voice thick.
Swallowing, he glanced at the back of the chapel.
“Wes,” she said again. She lifted herself up slightly, her breasts bouncing. Her butt rose and she squeezed his hand again. Then her foot rubbed against his groin, making him even harder than he already was.
That decided it. Screw the harvesters. The king could die after all his heart thieving. Wes wasn’t ready to let Elaih go.
He undid his pants as he climbed up on the end of the table, pushing Elaih’s legs up as he did. Then he pulled her butt down to him as he let his cock free, feeling his balls tightened as he rubbed against her wetness. Then he pushed inside her, groaning as she warmed him. Groaning further as he leaned down and felt her legs wrap about his middle, pressing him in further.
Once he felt his entire cock had penetrated her, he eased himself out, enjoying the sensation of her against him. Then he slammed into her again, watching her spasm beneath him. Her eyes rolled up and she grabbed at his neck, wrapping him to her completely.
Leaving one hand clasping her thigh to control his thrusts, Wes wound his other back into her hair and brought her head up to kiss her. He pressed his tongue back into her mouth as he thrust a third time. For a few moments, he controlled his strokes, pulling Elaih up as he pushed down.
But her insides flexed again, squeezing him as if she’d been waiting and wanting him for longer than he’d even thought. He gasped and let go of her head, but kept her mouth firmly on his. Then he grabbed at both her thighs and moved faster and faster, letting her moan inside his mouth, letting her spasm beneath him. Her vagina massaged him as she came, stroking him like nothing else could, stroking him as she’d never done for any other man . . . as she’d never do for any other man.
As Elaih’s muscles slowed their pace, Wes gripped her harder and broke the kiss, lifting as high as her arms would let him as he sped up faster once more. When he came, his balls tightened hard and his cock exploded into her violently. He saw her gasp, felt her arch underneath him, giving him a straighter stroke. He kept going, feeling his body shake—but in ecstasy now, not worry or fear.
Then as quickly as it started, he felt his cock begin to go limp, spent and sated. He half-collapsed, one hand catching himself and holding his weight off Elaih, her hair tickling his skin. Slowly, he let go of her thigh and brought his other hand up to stroke her cheek. He brushed a lock back from her forehead, ran his thumb over her lips, saw how the berry stain that had once been there had been licked clean.
Tears leaked down the sides of her head, dripping into her hair. Wes wiped them clean and kissed her gently, just as they’d always kissed. Just as they would again. Then he smiled at her. “I bet the king will die before they find another to harvest.”
Elaih stared at him in confusion for a moment, then her eyes widened. “You can’t, Wes. They’ll kill you if they cat—”
He put a finger to her lips. “And they’ll kill you if I don’t. There are places beyond the city. Places where the harvesters aren’t welcome.” He kissed her once more, then rolled off of her, picking up the brush once more. “I’ll paint you up the right way, love, then we’ll walk straight to the launders room and get you dressed to go.”
He was quick this time, the stokes not as perfect as they should be for the power to work, but it didn’t matter. The harvesters wouldn’t touch her. He wiped her clean before they left, leaving her ruined dress spread out upon the table.
Then he walked behind her in the halls, keeping his eyes off her round butt—most of the time—as he guided her in the wrong direction. Far away from the harvesters. Far away from their knives and greedy hands and uncaring cocks. Far from the dying king who’d killed far too many already for his own pathetic life.
Elaih dressed quickly, the clothes hiding the harvesting marks upon her body. Then Wes kissed her berry stained lips free from their purple color once more before leaving the keep far behind them.
They were beyond the city limits when the mourning bells began to toll far, far away. Elaih turned to look at him, tears in her eyes. He wrapped his arms about her and whispered in her ear, promising that he’d never let them use his skills again. Not on her. Not on anyone.