Excerpt from The Last Singer… Brynna is convicted of theft and sentenced to work in the laundry – more like a prison!
“So…Councilor Bokk’s daughter.” There was no warmth in the man’s thin-lipped smile. “Such shame on your father and your family.” His eyes roved over me. Despite efforts to loosen the wet material, my grimy robe clung tight. His inspection left me feeling dirtier than before. As much as I hated the juba, my nondescript garb was a welcome if ineffective shield against his lascivious gaze.
I suppressed a shudder and waited for his next words. He looked at the paper again. It was then that I noticed his long earlobes. They were an unusual feature I’d seen before.
Other things started to add up. Short stature, dark hair, swarthy complexion. Except for the paunch that threatened to burst the seams of his tunic, he was a double for Premier Delio. There was one other difference. Whereas the Premier’s eyes showed cunning, this man’s eyes radiated cruelty.
Three months felt increasingly like a life sentence.
I’ll be okay was my silent mantra.
“I am Podmaster D.” His lips twitched in an attempt to grin.Tilting his head back, he took a full breath that widened his nostrils and curled his upper lip. “There’ll be no privileged treatment here despite your parentage. You’ll work as long and hard as the other detainees and have to earn any concessions.”
I hated to imagine what a woman would have to do to gain privileges from this man.
“At the end of three months,there will be a review. Then, depending on your behavior, your sentence will be extended or you may be released. The decision will be mine.” His narrowed gaze searched my face.
The last statement terrified me but I forced a neutral expression. I was sure this man would prey on weakness.
“Ruby.” The man beckoned to someone behind me. A thickset woman strolled toward us. Her dress was unlike anything I’d seen elsewhere on Hypor. Clearly, the rules were different here
She wore skintight leather leggings tucked into knee-high boots and a deep-necked tunic pulled taut across her ample bust. Her bare arms were muscled and covered with tattooed sleeves. Inked designs ringed her thick neck and plunged into her cleavage. An army of studs made her ears more metal than flesh. Several hoops adorned her bottom lip and nose.
Red stubble topped her head. In one hand, she held a cigar; the other was hooked on her hip, exposing long fingernails. Pointed and red, except for the smallest whose rounded tip smeared a patch of white powder on her leg as she walked. When she came within reach, the Podmaster put his arm behind her, pulled her forward and rubbed his fleshy torso against hers. Several inches taller, she laughed and caressed his head as he buried his face in her cleavage.
Their intimacy sickened me, but I didn’t turn away. I needed to understand the dynamics of this place and she was important to him.
“Do you have my package, lover?” Her dull eyes focused on me, her raspy voice emphasized the endearment as if issuing a warning.
“Yes, but I’ll keep it and we can enjoy ourselves later. I think you’ve had enough for now.”
Her lips thinned and her hands curled into claws, then she shrugged and instead took two steps toward me.
“A new prisoner?” She circled me as if assessing an opponent. “I hope she works out better than the last one. She’s skinny as a drowned rat.”
“She’s a celebrity,” he sneered. “Councilor Bokk’s daughter. She’s all yours.” He slapped Ruby’s backside before strutting away.
“Well then,” she mocked with a slight bow. “We’ll have to give her the best treatment.” She blew a mouthful of fetid smoke in my face. “Follow me, your highness.”