Copyright Kelly St. Clare 2015
The steady volume gradually simmers down to a halt when Alzona draws a strappy bit of leather out of her coat and holds it up. Everyone at our table peers at it. By the silence behind us, I guess Tricks’ barracks are doing the same.
“What is it? A harness?” I ask, thinking of Rhone’s dog sled.
Alzona laughs and chucks it at me. I catch it, moving my head back to avoid the flailing straps.
“No, it’s for you.” She continues to thumb through her stack of papers. Apparently I’m expected to know what this is. Do I confess my ignorance? Is this something every Bruma should know?
I examine it, pulling bits of leather up, trying to make out its shape. Finally, I give up. “What’s it for? Is it a weapon?” Flurry chokes on his bread and Avalanche thrashes him on the back, nearly forcing him into his plate of mystery stew.
Alzona doesn’t look up. “I suppose you could look at it that way. But it’s to wear.”
My eyes widen. “To wear?” I hold the straps up again. How could this possibly form anything wearable? “Where’s the rest of it? Or does it go over something else?” I say.
“Oh, wait.” She holds up a finger. I sag in relief, there’s more. Thank Solis.
My mouth drops open as she chucks me two thin lengths of leather. “Use this to lace up the sides.” She bows her head back over her paperwork.
I glance over to Trick’s table where they’re having a quiet conversation, though clearly still listening to our conversation.
I shake my head. “I’m not wearing this.” I toss the “garment” on the table.
Alzona lifts her head and gives me a hard stare across the small space between us and I have time to remember why I hardly ever argue with her.
“I could have sworn you just said…you wouldn’t wear the uniform I got you,” she spits.
I pick up the leather again and shake it at her. “This. Is not clothing. I might as well not wear anything!” There is only so much I’ll do to help my cover. This goes far beyond that point.
“I’ll fight you first!” The beautiful man called Sin shouts out. I ignore him, focusing on Alzona’s scowling face.
“Listen, you little bitch. You know the deal. You do what I say, when I say it, or you’re out on your pretty little arse. Actually, it’s more likely to be flat on your back. That is your future outside of my barracks.” Alzona says, her voice rising. Usually, I can understand her motives. She’s a woman in a world dominated by males, and in the most dangerous area I know of on both Osolis and Glacium. But in this moment? I have no idea what her reasons are, I only know her words make me furious.
I keep my expression blank, trying to mimic Jovan. It seems to help. “If you force me to wear these, you’ll be making me into a whore anyway.”