The Binding Tie

BY

Maderlin Bidmead


Disclaimers:This is an Alt/Uber story that is for people over 18 as it contains violence and sexual violence.
Feedback:Thank you to the people who have sent me feedback, more would be greatly appreciated. All of those who do e-mail me will become a piece of my disertation (you'll be famous for five seconds at Brunel University, London!). Send all opinions, good and bad to; maderlin@yahoo.com


CHAPTER EIGHTEEN
 
 

It was a  dull day, overcast as though the sun itself had put on its mourning suit.  Thankfully the rain had stopped while the funeral party were inside the church.  The service was long, the priest highlighting, so it would seem, every achievement in Douglas' life.  The church was packed, Douglas having been a popular man both in his business and personal life.  Even Francesca found that she could forgive his trespasses against her, after his tragic death.  She couldn't say the same of her father.  Or her bodyguard.

After the final hymn, Amazing Grace, the priest dismissed the congregation so that they could begin the arduous trek to the cemetery.  Into the first of the huge limousine's filed Douglas' parents, followed by Francesca and their three children, Hunter also joined them.  Shep and Morgan sat along side the driver.  There would be no complacency, especially now.  The funeral had a police escort to ensure no attacks would mark this day.

In the back of the limo the twin rows of seats faced each other.  Designed to carry six adults, Doug Rose Sr. and his wife Patricia faced the driver, with Mr. Rose on the left.  Patricia sat between her husband and her grandson.  Francesca sat facing her former mother-in-law, seated as she was in the between her twin daughters.  The more pugnacious of the two, Rochel, resolutely sat in her own chair, facing her big brother, but her warm little hand was firmly encased in her mothers.  Becca sat on the lap of her human security blanket, with Hunters arm wrapped firmly around her.  She held Francesca's free hand.  The two elder Rose's didn't spare a glance for the tall brunette.

Francesca had never been comfortable at funerals.  She was usually surrounded by her parents and brothers.  Now she had to be the strong one, for her children.  It was a difficult task, made more so by the open hostility coming at her.  She was thankful that Patricia was looking out for Terrance.  The older woman would ruffle his hair and squeeze his hand when he looked close to tears.  He looks just like his father, both women thought.

Rochel snuggled up to her mama, still clasping the long-fingered hand, oblivious to the undercurrent of tension between the adults.  On Francesca's other side, the usually shy Becca smiled sweetly at her grandfather.  She wasn't less upset than her brother and sister, but she wanted  him to stop looking at Hunter like he wanted to ground her, or something.  It seemed to be working, he was now pulling funny faces at the little girl.

Hunter felt strangely at ease in the back of the huge car.  Here she could lend her strength to Francesca and the children.  For the duration of the brief journey, inside the confines of the car, she could be Francesca's equal.  The little girl on her lap made her feel more trusted than she could have expressed.  She knew that Terrance and Rochel accepted her as part of their lives, but Becca seemed to embrace it.  Hunter had expected the children to treat her like a pet, yet they respected her and the other slaves.  As she sat being glowered at by Douglas' father, with one arm wrapped around Becca's waist, Hunter was content.

Francesca reached for Becca's hand, having released it to pass a tissue to her son.  Instead of grasping the child's small hand she found herself holding Hunters, where it lay between them.  She shot a look towards her in-laws, who were pointedly not looking at her and felt relief wash over her.  She felt Hunter squeeze her hand reassuringly before pulling away to wrap both arms around the dozing form in her arms.  Anybody looking at the heiress at that moment would have seen a look of total adoration cross her face as she look at the tableau beside her.

**********

"Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  Amen."  The priest closed his Bible and stood silently by the graveside.

The assembled friends and family of Douglas Rose Jr. bowed their heads as the coffin ended it's descent.  Patricia and Doug Sr. threw roses onto the casket, followed by a handful of earth.  Francesca also took a handful of consecrated earth from the proffered box and cast it downwards.  The three children stepped in front of their mother, each with a token of love in their hands.

Terrance was the first to step forward, letting a letter fall from his hand.  The envelope carried his unique, childish scrawl.  He looked down into the dark chasm of the grave and almost toppled forward.  A hand shot out and grabbed his thin upper arm, gently pulling him back to his mother.  The sad little boy sent a tearful smile of thanks to the silent figure standing beside his mother.

The twins stepped to the edge together, being careful not to stand as close as their brother.  Rochel took her turn first, offering her daddy a lollipop that he had liked.  As soon as it left her hand the distraught girl rushed into her mothers arms.  When Becca stepped to forward she was still holding the slaves hand, a fact which did not go unnoticed by the other mourners.  The final gift was a photo of the three children, that fluttered down to land, face up, on the polished wood.

Nathaniel and Rodrigo also threw a handful of the blessed earth onto the grave, followed by many of the assembled friends.  When respect had been paid by each individual the group once again moved to the convoy of cars.  For the journey to the wake Francesca once again suffered in silence under the piercing glare of a bereaved father and the tearful stare of a devastated mother.

**********

"Well I heard that the forensics people couldn't find any evidence in the apartment."  Fat man.

"Yes, apparently the coroner couldn't hold the body any longer-no point as there was nothing there to find."  Skinny redneck.

"Apparently the only way they could ID the body was through his genetic record..."  The waiter moved away as the plump, overly made-up woman began gossiping.

The darkly dressed waiter moved around the room with a tray of drinks in his hands.  His black waistcoat and tie made his white shirt stand out crisply.  He criss-crossed the room, dancing an intricate ballet with his fellow servers, never visiting the same people.  He approached a new group standing in the corner, ready to charge their glasses.

"The only fingerprints in the apartment were Douglas' and Francesca's."  The smarmy young man took a wine flute.

"Well, duh.  It was their home."  His female companion still  had a full glass.

"I agree with Teddy, it's all very mysterious.  Nobody is that careful."  An older, balding version of smarmy took two glasses.

"Well, Francesca is still a suspect..."  Another of the young men in the group piped in as he took a drink.

The rest of the group declined drinks and the waiter once again moved off.  He always got away from large groups of accountants as quickly as he could, he didn't want to become terminally dull.  It could be contagious.  He made his way steadily forward, towards the front of the room, stopping at group after group as he went.

"Can you believe the food?  All the money they have..."  Wheezed a thin old woman.

"It's not a party, Pearl.  This is a wake."  Her husband, poor bastard.

"That doesn't mean..."

"Have a canapé dear."

The waiter had to smile at the antics of the elderly couple, quickly wiping it off his face as he turned back to the room.  It was never good to be caught smiling at a funeral.  He was making steady progress towards the grieving family, each server took it in turns to serve the host family and soon it would be his.  It put them more at ease.  The closer he got to the front of the room the larger the groups of mourners became, seeming more like spectators than not.  He picked up a new tray from one of the long tables and moved to the biggest group.

"Did you see them at the cemetery?  It was disgusting!"  The statuesque blond spat.

"From what I heard, it's been going on for months."  This was the gossip mill.

"Douglas told me that she was with that slave when the house blew up."  The suited man looked genuinely saddened as he talked about his friend.

"Well, she must be slumming it."  This guy was full of himself, attractive and self centred.  The waiter had seen a million of them.

"It's disgusting!"  The blond again.

"You said."  One of the other woman was looking bored and quickly snatched up more wine to pass the time.

"Not that, I mean laying with a slave."  Didn't this chick ever shut up?

"Hunter was a sex slave, makes sense."  Another of the jock-types piped up.

"Hunter is a cold blooded killer."  At least one man in this group talked sense.

"True.  But dangerous is alluring."  Did that guy just wiggle his eyebrow?

"And sexy..."

The waiter couldn't believe what he was hearing and thanked god as the last glass disappeared off his tray.  He really wanted to get as far away from these parasites as possible.  He hadn't even known the man, but he would have shown more respect even if he wasn't getting paid.

Picking up yet another tray, he could finally go to the most important group in the room.  The family.

**********

"You doing okay, little sis?"  Rodrigo had sidled up to his sister while trying to escape from his escort.

"Yes, I really am.  It's funny, but it's like we buried a stranger today."  She couldn't resist leaning into her brother to take some of the weight off her aching feet.

"But your tired."

"Gee, your so perceptive."  It came out more scathing than she had intended.

"So your taking this really well."  His eyebrows were raised in her usual expression.

"I worry about the children, he was their father.  And, its difficult not to feel guilty when his parents keep staring at me like I killed him..."

"You have nothing to feel guilty about."  This was Nathaniel.  Her older, more brooding brother seemed to lend a subtle strength to Rodrigo.  Francesca looked between the two men and felt a sense of pride wash over her.  These men would move Heaven and Earth for her, just because it might make her smile.  These men knew that she could be anything she put her mind to.  These men were helping to repair her damaged self-esteem.

"I love you Nat."  A throat cleared.  "You too Roddi."  The threesome embraced under the watchful eyes of their proud father.

"Wine?"

**********

The five bodyguards stood close to Francesca and the children, watching the other guests as they milled around the room.  The police stood around the perimeter of the room, watching doors and listening for stray conversation.  The boys and girls in blue were still looking for a real lead, a suspect who wasn't the victims wife, and they were taking any opportunities that they could.

Hunter was vigilant, taking her responsibility to Francesca and the children very seriously, but she couldn't help observing her companions in this foreign setting.  None of them had ever been to a funeral, let alone in a banqueting hall, yet here they were.  It was overwhelming, especially as they had been told to eat what they wanted and drink moderately if they wished.  Although Hunter doubted that Savage had heard the moderate part of that particular edict.  He was knocking down the Champaign like it was water.  As usual, Wolf and Phoenix looked poised and dignified a real credit to their owners.  And Snake was, well he was Snake.  Inscrutable and unblinking.

Soon Hunter was once again watching her childhood friend.  It was so easy to just watch the statuesque woman move.  She had a grace that she wasn't even aware of, something that Hunter had rarely seen.  She had lived among people taught to move in certain ways for far too long not to be fascinated by natural motion.  The way that she touched her brothers and relaxed with them was so different from the way she was soothed by her mother and protected by her father.  A tugging on her pant legged pulled her from her silent musing.  Looking down she saw Becca, frantically pulling the fabric.

"Yes?"  The little girl beckoned her downwards, so Hunter crouched at her level.

Becca moved as close to Hunters ear as she could and whispered.  "I need to go pee."

The bodyguard was charmed all over again by the child and rose in a fluid motion with the five year old in her arms.  Hoisting her firmly onto her hip, she approached Darla Prince.

"Excuse me, Mrs Prince, Miss Rose needs the bathroom.  I could take her, hardly seems worth a big group of us going since the police are here."

"Good idea Hunter, are you sure you can manage?"  She received a bemused nod in response.  "Fine. Could you take the other two as well?  I'm sure they could do with a toilet break as well."  The matriarch of the Prince dynasty walked over to her other two grandchildren.  The little boy and girl were, seemingly, having an eating contest and the older woman couldn't help but wonder who would be sick first.

Shortly Hunter found herself with Becca on her right hip and Rochel on her left.  Terrance Held onto his littlest sister's foot so as not to be separated from their protector.  The former gladiator skirted the edge of the room, rather than cutting through it.  She had heard some of the gossip and accusations that were flying around and didn't want her young wards to hear it.  As she neared one of the side doors, leading to the most convenient washroom, she noticed the female officer on the door.  Looking closely she recognised her as their driver on the day of Francesca's first interview.  She even wore the same mirrored sunglasses as before.  The officer held the door open for them and Hunter offered her a warm smile of thanks before quickly heading to the toilet.  She didn't want a stain on her suit.

**********

She smiled at me today.

So beautiful.

I knew she'd recognise me.

I knew she'd remember.
 

CHAPTER NINETEEN
 
 

"Um, is this really a good idea?"

Francesca turned from pulling on her wetsuit and what she saw almost made her burst out laughing.  There stood Hunter looking like the worlds biggest three year old.  Her bottom lip jutted out as she pouted and her wetsuit was twisted and uncomfortable looking.  Her blond hair, recently cut short to loose the last of the blue dye, stuck up in every direction.  A sure indication that she had been running sweaty hands through it.

"I know you can swim, Hunter.  We've swum in the creek with the children lots of times."  She pulled up the zipper on the back of the suite before moving towards the warrior.  "What's wrong?"

Hunter was momentarily distracted by the feel of Francesca's hands on her shoulders, pulling the wrinkles out of the tight rubber.  The elegant hands ran across her torso and down her arms settling the fabric more comfortably.  Caught up in the sensations the other woman created in her, she was startled when blue eyes drilled right into her own.

 "I, um, I hate being submerged.  When I was trained to fight, they used to hold us under water to get our obedience."  She saw the look of guilt pass behind the brunette's eyes.  "I really do want to learn how to scuba dive."  She didn't even convince herself.

"You should have said.   There are a thousand things we could do on a beautiful day like this."  She was thoughtful for a moment.  When Hunter tried to speak she put a finger over impossibly soft lips.  "We'll go jet skiing instead."  This time she did laugh as Hunters eyebrows almost crawled off her forehead.

**********

Francesca bustled around the kitchen of her parents home.  She was a women on a mission.  Nothing would get in her way.  She was making a birthday cake for her daughters if it killed her.  Although, at this rate it might kill Hunter first.

"Shouldn't the cocoa powder go in the other bowl?"  Hunter was hiding behind the recipe book.

"I know what I'm doing!"  It was a snarl.

"Alright."  Hunter slid further behind the kitchen table. She definitely didn't want to be wearing the cake mix.

"If mother can cook, then so can I.  I have a recipe book, all the ingredients.  Simple."  She rubbed her cheek, leaving a white smudge in her wake.  Simple, mused Hunter.  She'd believe it when she saw it.  The three times that she had seen Francesca cook had all ended in disaster.  Thankfully she had not poisoned anybody yet.

"So, the twin's are six on Thursday?"  Distract her, maybe that'd calm her down.  Or maybe she'll forget what she's putting in the cake.  Oh God, it could get worse.

Francesca didn't notice the other woman's sudden fidgeting, her attention was riveted on the cookery book.  Absently she answered, "They're getting so big.  Terry is eight and now my babies are six."

"Wish I could get them a present."  It was a sigh.

"You don't have to ask my permission."  She really wasn't paying much attention to her companion.  She was comfortable enough to pay her no mind.  Hunter wouldn't hurt her.

"Thank you, but I don't have any credit."  The sadness in her voice did pull Francesca up short.

"You should make them something.  Can you still make those dumplings?  The ones with the red-stuff in them?  You could make them a batch of those."  She smiled brightly, remembering how good they tasted when she was a child.

"I could do that, but it doesn't seem like enough."  Her head was bowed to the table.

Francesca crouched beside her.  "They think your the greatest thing since television.  They'd love a paper bag if it came from you.  Don't worry."

Hunter couldn't help but reach out and wipe the trace of flower off the face so close to her own.  They shared a smile before Francesca turned back into the cooking menace.

**********

She fell to her knees on the cushioned floor.  Her breath rasped in and out of her lungs as she tried to force oxygen into them.  The sweat cascaded off her body onto the blue rubber matting as she crouched on all fours.  The air inside the gymnasium seemed to be getting hotter and hotter as her skin continued to flush red.  With a final groan her arms gave out, leaving her spread eagled on her stomach in the middle of the room.  She lay, sides heaving, for what felt like hours.  Then the blessed air-conditioning was turned on.  Blissful cold washed over her.

"You are a sadist and I hate you."  She groaned to her tormentor.

"I told you so.  I can for miles, all out, and still not look like you do right now."  Hunter's skin had a thin layer of sweat, but her breathing was normal.  She moved to the side of the room and picked up two towels.

"But we've been training..."  She raised her head only to have it flop back down, seemingly of its own accord.

"I've been training for almost twenty years.  You need a little more practice before you can keep up with me."  She tried not to sound smug, but Francesca was so cute when she was pathetic.

"Hay."  Her head was up and she was pouting at her bodyguard.  "I beat you back here.  I am too fit enough."

"Um, I did another lap."  This time she was sheepish.  "You really shouldn't just lay there like that, you'll get really stiff and you might pull something."

Wide blue eyes regarded her in bewilderment.  "You expect me to move?"

"I could give you a massage to loosen you up, if you can't move."  She knew it was a bad idea as soon as it left her mouth.

"I take it all back, you're the greatest!"  Who could resist an offer of a massage from Rhani?  Francesca certainly couldn't.

Hunter straddled Francesca's hips and used the towel to dry off the taller woman.  She rubbed vigorously to get the other woman's blood flowing. Little did she know that Francesca's body was doing a good job all on it's own.  Hunter was facing the heiresses feet and started to relax the abused leg muscles.  When Francesca felt the warriors bare hands on her thighs she almost swooned, fortunately she was laying down.  The pain immediately began to lessen.

"Why don't you ever use my name?"  She was relaxing into the gentle ministrations.

"Excuse me?"

"You never call me Francesca, but I've told you that you can.  The others do."  She was honestly curious.

"I don't know.  I can if you want me too.  I just never have, that's all."  She was still rubbing the smooth skin.

"You could, you know, call me Chess?"  It was said too casually.  Francesca wanted it so badly.

"I don't think I can, Francesca."  The brunette was disheartened and happy, all at the same time.  It was a step, a baby step, but a step in the right direction.

**********

"Up.  Higher...Um, right there!"  The prostrate form moaned in pleasure.

The lithe young blond straddling the muscular torso grinned as she jabbed an elegant finger into a tattooed shoulder-blade.  Her actions elicited a howl of protest and a pout from the younger girl beneath her.  She leaned down and as an act of consolation pressed a kiss to the same spot.

"You are such a baby!"  She laughed at the reproachful look in the other girl's eyes.

"I'll have you know I am a great warrior!"

"Great Wuss."  The finger jabbed again.

The reclined form turned quickly onto her back so that she was now looking up at the towering woman.  An evil grin spread across her face, mirth filling her green eyes.  Using her superior strength she launched herself at the other girl.  With no warning the slim blond found her back on the mattress and a grinning lunatic above her, tickling her mercilessly.

"Get off!"  This came through a squeal.

"What am I?"  The barrage never stopped.

"Cute?"  A raised eyebrow and a leer accompanied her response.

The compact youth couldn't resist and lowered herself to the waiting lips of the other girl.  Her bare torso brushed against the linen of the other girl's shirt creating goose-bumps on her skin.  When she drew back...

The blue eyed brunette smiled lovingly up at her.  Long fingered hands took her face and pulled her back to waiting lips.

Hunter sat bolt upright in the former closet, chest heaving from arousal.  Her eyes flicked madly from side to side as she tried to reconcile the images in her dream.  She loved Jordan.  She was betraying Jordan, even in her dreams.  Her thoughts were consumed by the heiress, and now she had invaded her dreams.  Dreams made of memories that she had always cherished. The only love she had ever known.  Until now.  Her head fell back against the pillow with a thud.

I love her.  Damn.

**********

Francesca woke up to sunlight filtering through her bedroom blinds.   She could feel the last fingers of a dream slipping out of her grasp as she reached full consciousness.  All she knew was that it had been a really great dream.  She turned onto her side, towards the closet come bedroom where Hunter slept, and propping herself up on one hand she gazed into the shadowed recess.

Hunter slept like a kitten. She was rolled into a little ball with the blankets scrunched around her waist, not covering her torso or her legs.  Her head was buried in her pillow, her hair tousled and looking like a golden halo where the sun peeked in.  Much to the singers surprise both of her eyes were closed and she seemed to be breathing deeply.

For long minutes Francesca simply watched the other woman sleep.  She had never indulged herself in this was before, with anybody.  She had always turned away from Douglas, even as they slept and Rhani always seemed to be awake.  As the light from outside grew brighter the beams crept closer and closer to the warriors face.  Soon they would wake her.  Francesca wanted so much to draw the drapes more tightly together, but she knew that as soon as she set foot on the floor her protector would be at her side.  She smiled as the blonde's eyes moved rapidly beneath closed lids for a few seconds more.

Sweet dreams, Love.


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