Her brows drew together, and her forehead creased. “The birds?” He waited, he didn’t repeat himself. “I heard, but I didn’t understand.”

“I train birds. In Ardestan as a child, I learned how to raise and train hawks. I have some that I keep here in their mew. I wanted to show you the enclosure before Rurik interrupted.”

“You wanted to show me some… birds.” The forehead creases deepened.

“It may seem strange to you. There are few who practice this sport in your country. But, as I said, I’m not going to hide who I am from you. It will also help you to understand your own training.”

Her eyes narrowed, taking on her stubborn golden glint. She had so many tells. “It takes time to train a bird to come when you call. To submit to your will.” He stepped around the couch. Crowding her body against its back and caging her with his long arms on the outside of hers.

“Do you know what it takes to train a scared animal?”

She sucked her lower lip into her mouth to quell the trembling. Shaking her head, even as she refused to lean back over the edge of the couch. “No.”

“First you have to acclimate the animal. Get it used to you. It will be scared and consumed with thoughts of escape.”

“But you won’t let it?” Her voice warbled the question.

He lifted a stray curl and looped it back into her messy topknot before lifting her chin. “Of course not. But it will have to be convinced that it is safe.”

“But it’s not. Not when you are plotting its captivity.”

“Aww, but soon they come to love being captured. I provide for them. They want for nothing. Safe, provided for, cared for.”

“They have everything except freedom.”

His eyes seared hers. “Eventually, they find freedom in my care.”

“In your service, you mean.”

“As long as they find pleasure. More pleasure than they ever had in their life. They don’t mind.” His finger stroked along the side of her face, tracing her jawline. “It starts with acclimating. The bird has to become familiar with its new surroundings. Comfortable with my presence. The bird is isolated and all distractions are removed. Only I feed it. Only I see to its needs. Soon they learn that I am their sole source of survival.”

“Like Stockholm syndrome…”

“Perhaps. But if it works…” He shrugged. “When the real training begins, they are hooded.”

“Hooded?”

“When their eyes are covered, they calm. Bells are attached to their feet, and I train them to respond to the bells at the sound of my command to receive their food. Eventually, they use the bells to ask for what they want. Demand it. They are tethered, tied to the trainer or his perch. Until they earn the right to be unchained. Vlad, one of my hawks, is unchained and comes and goes as he pleases. Now he seeks me out, even though he can get what he needs on his own. But he seeks me out because he desires to feed from my hand. He wants my food, my touch. He comes when I call.”

Sanyet dipped his head and brushed a kiss against her forehead before stepping back. “And so will you.”

Her breasts rose and fell, panting with exertion, now that he’d given her space. “I am not one of your damn birds and I will never come when you call.”

His nostrils flared, and his eyes narrowed. “We will see. This is our suite. You will be confined to it. When you want to explore the house or wander, I will take you. When you are ready to eat, I will feed you.” His voice deepened, and he tested her lower lip with the pad of his thumb. Pulling it away from the teeth that were biting it. “And when you are ready for sex, I will take you.”

“Are you prepared to wait for that?”

“Yes. As long as it takes.”

Her brown eyes matched the hue of her skin as she held his. She didn’t pale or redden. Reminding him of an African mask he’d once seen in a museum. The beautiful brown was buffed with a mahogany sheen, but the eyes were empty of their human counterpart. He looked into the eyes and there was nothing there. She sighed. “Then you’ll wait a long time. You picked the wrong woman. I… I’m not like that.”

He zeroed in on her face, searching for the missing soul. How odd, that of all the people he couldn’t read, his wife, with her hundreds of tells. Would be inscrutable in this one area. “Explain what you mean by that.”

Jessalyn slipped around him to stand on the other side of the couch. “I mean, I don’t ask for sex, because I don’t enjoy it. I will not hide who I am, either. I am one of those women books used to call frigid. When I have sex, I feel nothing.”

“And you discovered this after numerous partners?”

“What? No. Of course not.” A sheen of sweat had broken out on her forehead and she wiped it away. Ah, the return of the tells. “I’ve only had one boyfriend.” Boyfriend, he wanted to laugh at the meaningless word. “We met in college and he was a caring, considerate partner. We loved each other, but in bed, there was nothing.”


Tags: Jailaa West Crime
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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