Read The tithe that binds Online

Authors: Candace Smith

The tithe that binds

The Tithe That Binds

by Candace Smith

Copyright 2011 Candace Smith

Published by Strict Publishing International


Up in the hills, Gabrielle was sitting with Elijah’s mother on the porch of her cabin. They were sipping tea and talking while Minerva tried to keep Gabrielle’s mind off Eli’s absence. Her daughter-in-law was a strong woman and Eli was her only weakness. “I see that your name is finally up on the post.” Minerva smiled over the rim of her teacup. She remembered the excitement she felt the first time her name had been drawn.

“I wish they’d post before they go down,” Gabrielle answered. “If Elijah knew we were going to be selected it would give him time to figure out which one he wants to bid on.”

“I’m sure Eli has been keeping an eye on all of them. He knows you were due soon, and I suspect he’s going to let you decide.” Minerva stroked the brown hair of the girl kneeling beside her. “Did you hear that Clara sent for the enforcers?”

“It’s about time Sarah got fed up with that man. Not that another McEnroe is going to help us much.” Gabrielle wrinkled her nose.

“I heard that they’re sending him straight to the work camps. He’s almost forty, and from what I gather he never even bothered learning a trade. They sure as hell won’t waste any time trying to train him up here.”

“They aren’t good for anything but the camps, anyway. The only one that ever amounted to anything is George, and that’s only because he passed on going down to the flatlands.”

Minerva changed the topic from the lazy McEnroe clan. “Have you decided on what you’re looking for?” she asked.

“A blonde, I think, and I’ll want someone tall. Between Elijah and me, a smaller girl like your Tara wouldn’t work.” Gabrielle was close to six feet and her husband had another three inches on her.

“I suppose, although Tara has learned to adjust to my demands. It’s all in how they’re taught to acclimate to their new position.” Minerva actually enjoyed her little slave. She reminded her of a doll her mother had made for her to practice with. As Gabrielle’s stepmother, Minerva had been guiding her on training methods.

Tara knelt beside her Mistress, silently ignoring their discussion. Next year, she would have performed the ten years of service towards her family’s tithe, and she was looking forward to being replaced. She had accepted the truth many years ago, and she knew that she would be finishing her life in the hills in the laundry, kitchen or gardens. If her Mistress reported that she had performed her tithing with little complaint, she might get lucky and be trained as a house servant to a young family. She could even be fortunate enough to be paired with a man from the work camp… even if she was stuck with a McEnroe.

“Oh, did I tell you that Justin made ‘All Hills’ this year?”

“I heard,” Minerva replied. “That’s quite an accomplishment.”

“Tabitha and Marcy are busy with their courtships with the Branson twins, Justin is going to apprentice with the acquisitioners in the quarters, and Jason is still set on the enforcers. He’ll be over at the work camps most of the summer.”

“I’m sure Elijah is thrilled with Justin’s decision, and with Jason’s temper, the enforcers is a good option for him. They’ve worked hard on their studies, and with the endorsement from the Preacher and elders they should be set. Eli’s reputation certainly did not hurt them, either,” Minerva added proudly.

“No.” Gabrielle looked towards the hills. “God, I can’t wait until he gets back tomorrow. He has another trip to the flatlands planned in August.” She sipped some tea and she wondered if her husband was bringing back her blonde tithe.

A shriek came from across the compound, and the women turned to see Lucy dragging her slave towards the punishment quarters. “Lucy,” Minerva called out. “You’ll have to keep her caged. The acquisitioners are bringing in the tithes.”

“Oh, shit. I forgot,” Lucy muttered. “I’ll take her to the training quarters, then.” She changed direction, dragging her slave and slapping across her bottom with a crop when she moved too slowly.

“Why Holden married that McEnroe woman I’ll never know,” Minerva muttered. “Thank god she took her sights off Abram.” Years ago, Lucy was determined to go after Minerva’s other son when she realized it was hopeless trying to separate Elijah from his interest in Gabrielle. Abram ignored her just as effectively, and she scrambled through the remaining unattached men and managed to pull Holden away from Betsy Tilson.

“I can’t believe she’s so lazy that she won’t even punish her tithe herself,” Gabrielle remarked. It was a personal connection she was looking forward to with her slave. Her fingers itched each time her house servant disobeyed and she had to send her to the punishment quarters.

“I heard she almost killed the girl; take a look at the scarring on her back and thighs. Lucy caused her to lose the first breeding for Holden, Jr., and the midwife says she doesn’t think the tithe can carry another one to term,” Minerva said. The grapevine among the tithe Mistresses was rampant with gossip that Holden was furious with the thought of having to wait nine years for another tithe to breed his sons to.

Gabrielle stared across the valley towards the work camps. Elijah would be riding back from that direction, hopefully with her beautiful blonde tithe. She imagined the girl to be strong and tall… perfect to breed to her twin sons. The first tithes had been the breeders since time in the hills began. It kept the bloodlines clean. Gabrielle watched Lucy yanking the leash of her frightened naked slave, and thought,All except the McEnroes, who have an unhealthy propensity towards incest.

* * * * *

“Debra?” Sarah stood over her daughter with her hands on her hips and the exasperated look on her face that only the mother of a teenager consistently wore. “Debra, get those damn plugs out of your ears.”

With one long leg hanging over the side of the porch swing and her expensive designer sneaker pushing against the planked floor to keep her gliding in time to the music, the girl had her eyes closed. She had spent most of the past week since they had arrived at her grandparents’ farmhouse managing to hide from the never ending chores by losing herself in music and daydreaming about life when the family returned home. Debra felt the stoppers pulled from her ears, just as the chorus from ‘Rykers’ new song came on. She glared at her mother. “Damn, mom. It’s the best part.”

Debra did not want to come on the stupid trip to begin with. She had turned eighteen a few months before graduating from high school, and her parents grabbed her and her younger brother and sister to spend the summer at their grandfather’s dilapidated old farm at the foot of some rocks.Okay, the Appalachian Mountains, but they still looked like fucking rocks.

“Go help your grandma gather eggs,” Sarah McEnroe ordered. “I don’t know why the hell you can’t try to enjoy yourself instead of sulking.” Exasperation was etched in the tight lines on her face. In the back of her mind, her heritage whispered that the battles with her daughter were almost over. It calmed her, slightly.

“I don’t know why the hell you dragged me up here instead of letting me stay at Jill’s. This isyourthing, mom. Out here in the middle of no place, sucks. There isn’t even a mall within fifty miles. Crap, there probably isn’t even a convenience store.”

Those were a few reasons that Sarah was thankful that they werenotback home and near the shops this summer. Debra was a spoiled brat, and nothing like her little sister. Things in Sarah’s life were pretty fucked up, but thanks to the strength of the clan she was looking forward to all her problems finally being straightened out this year. There would be no more summers of Debra badgering her for rides to the mall and whining about giving her money for a new top that she did not need… and no more Tommy. Her eyes narrowed when Debra began to plug her earphones back in, and she ripped the small radio off her daughter’s lap.

“What the hell?” Debra demanded.

“Go help your grandma. Now.” Her mother wound the wires from the earplugs around the music box and she stuck it in her pocket.

Debra scowled up at her, but she recognized that she was not going to whine or demand her way passed her mother’s decision. “Fine.” Debra stood and threw her thick blonde braid over her shoulder. She stormed across the yard, muttering, “I am so out of here when we get back home.”

From the distance, five men dressed in long riding dusters and cowboy gear, looked down on the farm from the backs of their horses. This would be their second stop, later tonight. Elijah squinted and gazed at the girl walking across the front yard. Even from their position on the foothills, he could see her tall, lithe form as she strode angrily towards the barn. Her golden hair flashed in the sunlight, and her tight jeans and tee-shirt profiled a nice figure.

“Think that’s the one Gabrielle will want?” Samuel asked. He noticed Eli’s intense stare at the girl, and he was fairly certain that she was the one that Elijah wanted.

“Still have another blonde with the Tilson girl,” Eli replied.But yeah, this is the one that my wife will tithe.Elijah could already imagine the girl, naked and wearing his clan’s collar and cuffs while they trained her for sexual enjoyment. He yanked at his reins and the men traveled in the direction of the Cauldron farm when the girl was out of sight.

Debra walked into the barn and heard her grandma speaking with her sister. The old woman was standing near a bloated cow and talking nonsense about the calf she would be having soon, while her sister ooohed and aaahed in mock fascination, hanging onto the old woman’s every word.If they weren’t so busy with the stupid cow, they could have collected the damn eggs by now.Debra quietly made her way to the ladder leading to the hayloft, and climbed.

She lay back in the prickly hay, trying to mash the jabbing stalks to get comfortable. Debra pulled her cell phone out of her pocket when she felt the faint buzzing announcing a new text message. The phone barely worked at the farm, and she had left it on vibrate because her mother had told her to leave it at home. With every convenience being ripped away from her to experience boring life on a farm, Debra had been afraid to do anything but text back and forth to her friend.

She punched the button and read Jill’s message. “Thank you,” Debra whispered to the empty loft. Jill had bought a cheap car, and Debra begged her to come visit for a few days. Maybe her consistent sullen attitude would prove to be miserable enough to convince her mother to let her go back home and stay with Jill. Her friend would be arriving in a week, and Debra figured that at the very least they could try to find a mall.

Jill was as conniving as Debra, and the two of them knew that Jill’s parents would never let her make the five hundred mile trip to visit Debra by herself. They schemed and devised a plan where Jill told her parents that she would only be traveling a few counties away to check out a college. Jill had lied and said that she already knew a girlfriend who started classes early, and she could stay with her.

Debra could not wait to get back home to Barrington and the small luxury of her room. Thanks to this stupid trip, Jill had scooped the job she had lined up at the coffee shop in the mall. Debra had planned to use the money to rent a room in Audrey Wilson’s house in the fall, and finally be free of her parents’ control. Now, she would have to hope she could line up another job when they got home, and hope that Mrs. Wilson still had a room available.

Working at the mall would give her a whopping ten percent employee discount on store purchases. Naturally, Debra had no intention of wasting time in college. Not when she could be spending her time earning money. The girl had no real idea what expenses she would acquire once she moved out of her parents’ house. Her distracted mind did not consider that she would lose access to her mom’s car and that her cell phone and Internet connection would be a financial impossibility.

Debra also overlooked the fact that she had never held a job, and absolutely hated being told what to do. Over the years, she had managed to avoid most of her chores at home by wearing her mother down with her complaining and whining until her mom decided that it was just easier to do the task herself. With Debra’s usual spoiled, arrogant conviction, she ignored the deterring flaw in her plans for independence. Instead, she imagined the endless resources at her disposal to buy all the newest label jeans and tops with the enormous funds she would make at the coffee shop.

Sarah was sweeping the porch when her mother and Katie walked out of the barn, swinging the basket of eggs between them. She leaned against the broom and shielded her eyes from the sun, and then she looked up to the hayloft and sighed. She knew all about Debra’s plans to move out, of course. For years, she attended a monthly gardening club led by Audrey Wilson’s sister.

Towards the end of the school year, her daughter had not even noticed that Sarah had stopped arguing with her, except for the huge blowout about joining the family for their vacation. All Sarah had to manage to do was get her spoiled daughter to the farm this summer. Now, it was just a matter of waiting, and she merely wondered how much longer she was going to have to put up with the brat’s attitude.

Sarah thought that when she glanced towards the foothills, she had seen the acquisitioners riding toward Sally Cauldron’s place. Maybe it was just wishful thinking. She looked up at the door to the hayloft again. “Shit. I hope they have her up for first posting, and that I don’t have to put up with her attitude until they come back in August.”

It would be a relief to only have Katie and Tommy Jr. to worry about. There were other reasons that Sarah was looking forward to this trip, and a major part of them was sitting on the dock by the pond, fishing, while her father worked the fields on the tractor. Tom Sr. had turned out to be the huge disappointment her folks had warned her about, and he had argued almost as vehemently as Debra about traveling to the farm for the summer.

After dinner and an argument over doing the dishes, Debra had wheedled and nagged at her mother enough to earn her radio back. She had fallen asleep in the downstairs bedroom. In the middle of the night, a light shining under her door pulled her from an arousing dream about DJ Jensen. Sex with him had been awesome, though Debra admitted that part of the attraction had been that he was three years older than her and her mother would have a stroke if she found out.Fuck, they won’t even let me dream without interrupting me.

Page 2

Debra knew that it had to be very late, and she turned back over and pulled the quilt over her head. She figured that some stupid animal had done something to itself, and Debra sure as hell did not want to be recruited to help. She secured a loose earplug and drifted back to sleep with the sound of ‘Ryker’ screaming in her ears, blocking out the sounds of the discussion being held in the kitchen.

“You have the required tithe, Henry?” Elijah knew that the girl was here. He had seen her walking across the yard to the barn that afternoon while the men skirted the foothills to Buck and Sally Cauldron’s place. On very few occasions, families balked and tried to hide the girls. They knew from the beginning not to become attached to the first born daughters, but some let misguided emotions override judgment and clan law.

“Yes, she’s here.” Henry squeezed Clara’s hand on top of the checkered tablecloth and he gave her a nervous smile. He looked back up at Elijah and suggested, “I was thinking maybe we could trade. I got a cow ready to drop and a bay gelding with some good years left in him.”

Elijah was used to the half-hearted attempts at bribery. They were made to ease consciences and never expected to be taken. “Don’t need any livestock, Henry. What we need is new women up there to keep the clans settled.”

Clara looked at her daughter, and although the short time they had been at the farm had shown her how spoiled and belligerent the teenager turned out to be, she was still surprised that Sarah did not seem more upset. “It’s okay, mom. I knew this was coming from the minute Debra was born. Thank god they only take the first one. It would have hurt me to lose Katie. She’s such a good girl.”

“You get over it,” Clara agreed quietly. “I hardly ever think of your sister Rose any more.”

“It’s okay, mom,” Sarah repeated.

“We get compensated, right?” Tom asked.

Elijah glared down at him. He had always detested the McEnroe clan. They were as worthless in the hills as they were on the flatlands. “Yes, Tom, but it goes to Henry and Clara. They put the ten years in the hills and get the farm.”

“She’s my fucking daughter,” Tom shot back.

“Keep your voice down, Tommy. We don’t want her waking up,” Sarah said. “You opted us out of the hill’s time. I tried to tell you this would happen.”

“Waste of fuckin’ time up there.” Tom kicked his foot against the table leg. “Still don’t seem right.”

Henry cleared his throat in embarrassment at his son-in-law’s outburst. “Way it’s always been, Tommy. You and Sarah can have the remaining time we earned on the farm if we die before the compensation’s up,” Henry offered. He had never approved of his daughter marrying the lazy scoundrel.Waste of time… shit. The bastard hasn’t held a job for more than six months at a time since he took Sarah from us.

“Henry gets twenty years, right Elijah?” Tommy turned to his father-in-law who was healthy and toughened by years of hard work. “Shit, you’re barely sixty. You’ll outlive the damn compensation,” he muttered.

“Then, we’ll finish our time in the hills like we’re supposed to,” Henry snapped back. Inside, he was seething and wanted to throttle the man for causing a scene in front of the aquisitioners. Clara kicked him under the table and he looked into her eyes. He saw a calm and determined blue gaze staring back at him, and he glanced quickly at Sarah and noted a slight smile in her own matching blue stare.I’ll be damned. The girl has finally come to her senses.

He looked up at Elijah and caught the slight nod. Henry wondered if he would be losing the bay to the hills anyway. It seemed unreasonable that they would send the enforcers down to pick up his lazy son-in-law without wanting something in return. “She’s in the downstairs room, sleeping alone.”

Elijah’s dark stare focused on Tom. “We’re not going to get any shit from you, are we Tommy?”

Tom glanced up at the three men standing behind the acquisitioner. Their eyes were narrowed, and they were smiling as if they were hoping he would give them a reason to punish him. Hell, he still had scars from the whipping he took when he refused to put in his time up in the hills. “No. No trouble,” he muttered. He stared down at the coffee cup in his hands, feeling used and taken advantage of. Eighteen years he had put up with the brat, and his in-laws reaped the reward for his sacrifice.

Elijah’s white teeth showed briefly through his black beard and mustache when he smiled. “Good.”

“She’s a bit willful, Elijah. I tried my best with her, but she’s still a bit headstrong,” Sarah warned. “Her name is Debra.”

“I don’t really give a shit, Sarah.” Elijah’s boots were already clacking across the wood dining room floor as he headed towards the room. One of the men following was uncoiling a rope he had been holding.

Henry rose and closed the kitchen door while Clara poured them each another cup of coffee. Henry added a liberal amount of whiskey to each cup and the two couples sat at the table in silence. The enforcers would be riding down by the end of the week for Tom, and the place would be happier with the brooding teenager gone. It would be nice to have Sarah and the kids moving back to the farmhouse.

Elijah opened the bedroom door and expected her to sit up, blinking in confusion at the unexpected light. The girl was hidden under the blankets, and the four men surrounded the bed without her so much as moving.She should have heard our boots,Elijah thought, and he wondered if he would find stacked pillows under the quilt. The thought of wasting time chasing her down if she had run pissed him off. They still had two more girls to pick up and he wanted to be headed back up the mountain by dawn.

Debra sensed people around her, even through the loud music. Her fingers curled around the edge of the quilt and slowly drew it down. A man with shining black eyes was staring at her, and Debra had a fleeting thought that he was the devil. Her mouth dropped open and she stared at the other three cowboys standing around him.Sleep. I’m asleep, and this is some crazy nightmare from being out on this stupid farm.

When a rough hand reached out and grabbed the back of her head, she opened her mouth to scream. He shoved spongy ball into her mouth and strapped it to the back of her head while the other two men each grabbed a fisted hand and locked leather cuffs onto her wrists. Before she could try to remove them, which she would discover was useless with their keyed latches, she was rolled onto her stomach. Her long legs got twisted in the quilt and she tried to kick and free them while her wrists were hooked together behind her. She shrieked muffled outrage and fear into the gag.

What’s happening? Oh god.Debra was screaming behind the gag, but with Ryker still wailing in her ears she had no idea how smothered the sound was. Her arms were stretched, and she yanked in panicked terror at the thick cuffs and pressed her tongue against the expanded foam in her mouth, trying to push it out. She was being kidnapped, and her only thought was of her own survival. It never crossed her mind to consider what these men might have done to the rest of her family.

Hands pulled the blanket free and lifted her out of the bed. The earplugs popped out and she stared at them on the pillow, with their tinny music continuing to blare. She looked up at the tall man,the devil, and frantically shook her head while tears slipped down her cheeks. Someone was wrapping a thick leather collar around her throat, and she tried to twist away from him. The big devil man gripped through her hair and held her head still until the collar was latched, and then a man with a rope clicked a hook through the metal ring on the front of it.

“Carry her out, Joseph. There’s no sense having her knock any of Clara’s things over,” Elijah said. He turned to leave, and Debra’s eyes widened when an even bigger man… not taller, but definitely more muscular… grabbed her around the waist and hoisted her over his shoulder. Her braid slapped against his leather chaps at the back of his knee, and Debra stared down at the wooden floor while she bounced on the shoulder digging into her ribcage.

They walked out the door onto the porch and she grunted as he lurched down the wide steps. The big man’s knees bent and he lowered her to the ground behind the line of five tethered horses. There was another girl about her age, bound as she was and tied to the back of one of the animals with another cowboy standing next to her. The girl had been crying. There were muddy streaks down her cheeks, but now she was staring with wide-eyed fright at Debra.

Suzy’s sleeping tee shirt was already dusty from the ride over to Henry and Clara’s farm. She had been woken much as Debra had, though she had been dreaming about leaving to go to the expensive college in the fall. After spending the past year with barely passing grades, she had lost her chance at the scholarship that would have saved her dad another year of overtime at work. There were a lot of parties and social events for high school seniors, and Suzy had justified the grades that were falling as fast as the extra dollars her dad would have to earn, by pacifying herself that she would only be a senior once in her life.

Suzy had spent the past fifteen minutes riding in the saddle in front of one of the terrifying men. She looked at the new girl’s tank and shorts, and she was grateful that at least her own nightshirt was not so tight and revealing. Unfortunately, she was only wearing her pink thong panties underneath it.

“Samuel, this one can ride with you. We’ll cut across the west cornfield to Chris and Thelma’s place,” Elijah’s deep voice stated. “Remember what Sarah said: the girl might be a handful.”

“No problem, Eli.”

Debra began to back up, clenching her bound wrists when one of the men began to approach her. She could see a shine in his eyes reflecting from the light in the kitchen, and she made a mad dash towards the window. Her head snapped back when the leash tightened and one of the men chuckled softly.

“Think you can handle her?”

“Hell, Johnny. Give me the damn lead.” Samuel grabbed the rope and dragged the girl towards his horse. He swung up in the saddle, and said, “Joseph, pass her on up to me.”

Debra kicked when the bigger man grabbed her and pushed her up onto the saddle. She continued kicking, as if urging the horse to move, and she banged her head into the chest of the man seated behind her. The hand not holding the reins grabbed her breast and squeezed.

“Aaah.” Debra heard the gag absorb most of her scream, and she stilled immediately at the intense pressure gripping her chest.Oh god. Who are these men?

“Got your attention? Good. Now, I don’t really give a shit if you want to act up or not. We’ll just keep going through the motions until we figure out what works. You keep your ass still and the trip up will be much more comfortable for you.” Samuel felt the girl trembling against him, causing a definite arousing quiver in his cock. He was aware of his balls tightening with her fear, and he was grateful that he and Anna would soon be up for tithe posting. As yet, Samuel had no idea that he would get the chance to bid on one of the girls they were collecting tonight.

Debra looked over at the other girl who was likewise placed in a saddle. She was trembling and had begun to cry again, but she was not fighting the man seated behind her. While the other men mounted, Debra leaned forward. Despite the grip on her breast, she slammed back into the man’s chest again and she tried to fall sideways off the saddle. His strong arm wrapped around her waist, and instead of the crushing pressure she expected on her boob there was a slap and sharp sting on her thigh. She looked up into the angry eyes of the devil, and shrank back against the man holding her.

The reins had left a red mark across her thigh, and although the frightening man had not said a word, the look in his dark eyes sent a clear message. Debra turned to the kitchen window, whining behind the gag and willing someone to hear her and come out. She stopped struggling when the horses turned and headed across the field.

By the time they rode to the last girl’s house, Debra’s shocked mind began to realize that the abductions were planned. It was confirmed when the last girl was hoisted to the saddle and a plain looking woman came out onto the porch. “Elijah, can I get the locket she’s wearing? It was my grandmother’s and I’d like to pass it on to Betsy.”

Debra watched in silence as the devil nodded, and the man seated behind the new girl reached around the front of her nightgown and ripped it from her neck. He handed it out to the woman. “Hope Ernie is up again soon.”

“It’s just a couple of cracked ribs,” the woman smiled. “Old fool had no business trying to break that stud horse himself, anyway. He’s lucky he didn’t crack his head.”

When the horses began moving again, Debra glanced back at the farmhouse to see that the woman had not even bothered to stay on the porch and watch her daughter taken away. She had been the only girl that did not protest when being pulled up onto the horse.

Eli looked up to the hills, and then back at Sarah’s blonde daughter. Her flaxen hair was thick and shining, her blue eyes wide and fearful, though she was no longer thrashing and crying hysterically. Her ample firm breasts continued to rise and fall with the panting breaths she was sucking through her nose. She had Sarah’s good figure, and he noted her nipples were erect in the chilled air and straining against the thin fabric of her top. Her waist was narrow and her bottom was rounded nicely, a perfect target.

The horses breached the tree line at the base of the mountains at dawn, and Eli’s mind turned to Gabrielle and wondering if the blonde girl would suit her. Already his cock was stirring at the thought of training her. He was fairly certain the elders had put them up for the first summer posting.

Chapter I

Debra sat with the group of girls by the fire. They had all cried themselves out, and only an occasional muffled sob could be heard behind the horrible sponges crammed into their mouths. They quickly figured out that with their mouths filled and their noses running from crying, it was next to impossible to breathe. Now, they worked at not sobbing, even though they were all terrified.

They had stopped for only a few hours the morning after they had been taken from their beds. One by one, they were led to the trees by the big man, Joseph, and their panties or pajama bottoms were lowered by his rough hands and he ordered them to pee. It was a humiliating scenario that caused more crying, but the man did not attempt to molest them.

They were now on their second night of the trip up the steep rocks, and with the rising and turning landscape of hills and valleys Debra had no idea which of the paths would take her back down and which would lead her further into the wooded hills. She had spent the time on the horse trying to distract herself from her sore bottom and aching legs by thinking about what had happened. Debra certainly did not want to consider the future, and the men did not discuss where they were being taken.

Samuel was approaching them again, with the big bowls of water and stew. He would take out the gags and the girls had learned not to scream or plead after Sherry’s was replaced the first time. She went hungry until tonight’s stop, and Debra knew that they would be quiet this time. When the man dug into her cheek with his finger to pull out the gag, he gripped the bottom of her chin and stared into her big blue eyes. “Eli, did you get a look at this one?”

Debra quivered when a deep voice came from the devil. “I saw her. Got the Tilson girl too, though, and she’s not as much trouble.”She’s also got a plain face and small tits, but I don’t want to set myself up for too high a bid on that one.Eli already knew that Gabrielle would want Sarah’s girl, even if she had half McEnroe blood in her. His wife would not give a damn if the girl was stubborn. She would just be that much more fun to train.

Debra leaned over the water bowl with her hands locked behind her. The girls had already tried to work each other’s latches and unhook them, and they discovered they required keys. She whipped her braid onto her back and silently lapped. The stew was pasty and bland, but her stomach was complaining so she managed to get some of it down. She wiped her chin on the strap of her tank top. It was already crusty from last night’s meal. Debra felt grimy and her body ached from the long hours in the saddle. Her thigh had a bruise from where the devil had slapped her with the reins the first night, and the thin purple line reminded her to try to behave.

“Mom’s got to have the police looking for me by now,” one of the girls whispered.

“Stop it,” Debra hissed. “Our parents are the ones who arranged all this.”

“I don’t believe that.” The girl quivered and her eyes filled with tears again. Suzy still would not accept it, even after she saw Lonnie Tilson’s mother stand on the porch when she was taken away.

Lonnie was the only girl that lived on the farm full time. She had been raised on her parents’ land and she had the unfortunate benefit of knowing a little bit about what was going on. The other girls were so busy complaining and making up stupid stories of big rescue parties that the shy girl had remained quiet. She finally whispered, “No one is going to come for us. The tithes are due.”

“The tithes?” Debra whispered.

“It’s the due owed to the clans in exchange for the farms,” Lonnie replied. “They have to give some of their crops to carry the clans through the winter, too. The men from the camps come down for them in the fall.” Lonnie had been raised in the system, and did not realize it was unusual until she was older. She knew that she would be sent up as payment, but if she ever protested they would only send her up early. Even eighteen years on the flatlands was preferable to a lifetime in the hills as a servant.

“This is barbaric,” Debra said.

“This is our heritage,” Lonnie corrected. “I don’t know exactly what happens when we get up there, but mom told me it was best to behave.” She glanced at the cowboys sitting around the fire. “That’s exactly what I’m going to try to do, and if you’re smart, you better forget about your stupid talk of boyfriends and clothes. You’re not going back to them.”

“The Tilson girl is speaking to them again,” Joseph said.

“Don’t matter. Hallie wouldn’t have told her much, other than enough to get her to come quietly,” Samuel replied.

The girls’ ankles were tied and the gags replaced, and they tried to smooth places in the pine needles to sleep while the men leaned back against their saddles. In the morning they continued their journey, and it was afternoon when Debra saw the first trail of smoke wafting up through the thick trees. They emerged into a large valley where shirtless men in cuffs like hers were busily chopping wood and doing other chores. Guards dressed like her abductors watched over them, and Debra began crying at the size of a settlement that would afford her no escape.

A man walked up to the devil.Elijah, Debra reminded herself. Thinking of him as the devil was making her nervous. The man studied the column of women, and his eyes snapped back to Debra. He looked up at Eli. “Mara?”

“Her or the Tilson girl,” Elijah answered. “I’ll let Gabrielle decide.”

“Abram led the enforcers down for Tom last night.”

Debra’s head swiveled and she tried to shake off some of her exhaustion.Dad’s coming up here?Maybe he worked out a deal to get her back from these men.

“We’re putting him over at the mill,” the man chuckled.

Elijah looked over to where groups of six men were strapped to the heavy stone wheels, walking in endless circles and turning the stone to crush the grain. It was brutal work that lasted from dawn until dark. Camp workers who were too old to be productive tried to keep pace with the tethered men and offered them water and food. There were no breaks when a man worked the wheel. It helped build up muscles and stamina for other chores they might graduate to, and it was used as reinforcement and punishment.

“You’ll probably have that lazy bastard on it until spring. Watch that he doesn’t lift his feet,” Elijah warned. A few men had tried to avoid the work that way. They had the soles of their feet whipped with a cane and had to walk the wheel on the blistered skin. They rarely tried it twice.

The conversation sank in and Debra understood her father was not going to be a willing guest of these people. He was being kidnapped, too. It was then that she realized her mom and grandparents must have been a part of her abduction. She had suspected it with what she had seen and heard from Lonnie, but now she was certain of it. They would not be organizing any sort of rescue for her. Her thoughts flew to Jill. What would she do when she showed up at the farm, and Debra was not there? What would her mother tell her?

“I heard Sarah’s moving back to the farm.”

“Yeah, the enforcers are supposed to get McEnroe to sign off on the bank account and house. It will be good for her to be back with her folks.” Elijah smiled. Sarah would be a big help to Henry and Clara, and he knew that Mason Elliott had already set his sights on going down to court her. Sarah deserved a good man after putting up with Tom.

“Well, you better get the girls over to the quarters.” The man stepped back from the horses and waved them on.

The horses walked across the grasses of the valley, and Debra’s pleading eyes were met with amusement. Several people questioned Elijah as they passed. “Mara?” Eli always answered with mention of Lonnie. Debra did not understand what it meant, but it made her nervous.

The horses climbed a small hill and walked down to another valley. This one had sprawling ranch houses and log cabins, and only a few chained men working… mostly pulling carts of supplies. It was when the women walked out onto porches that Debra felt Samuel’s arm tighten around her. It took Debra only a moment to figure out why, and her eyes widened and her muffled scream joined the others behind the gags. She began thrashing in terror and the man holding her chuckled. He whispered, “I always look forward to this.”

Debra watched the women in their long dresses, raising their hands to their foreheads to shield their eyes against the setting sun. Their other hand gripped a leash that had a tethered young girl at the end, naked and kneeling by her side.

A few women came out alone, and they walked up to the men on the horses. They greeted their husbands and welcomed them home, or walked down the line of bound girls, studying them. One woman looked at Debra and spat on the ground. “Shit, Eli.” Lucy moved down the line. She was still trying to figure out a way to get the elders to let her dump her tithe and replace her with one that could be bred to her sons.

A tall woman with a long black braid walked up to Elijah. She put her hand on his knee and glanced over towards Debra. “Sarah’s girl?” Gabrielle recognized the crystal blue eyes. The men never discussed who was on the acquisition list before they left.

“Got the Tilson girl too, Gabrielle,” Eli teased. There was no way his wife was going to settle for the plain girl… not for the slave she had waited two decades to acquire. Elijah had been certain Gabrielle would be posted this year and he had been planning the surprise of Sarah’s daughter for her since spring. He was picking up Liz Clayton’s girl in August in case none of these were satisfactory. Unfortunately, in the picture the grandparents had shown him, the Clayton girl was barely more passable than the Tilson girl.

“Get her to the quarters and tell them not to mark her,” Gabrielle whispered. She turned to make sure Lucy was watching. She was there, all right; standing on the porch with an expression of envy, with Linda kneeling beside her.

The riders stopped in front of a series of small cabins at the end of the street. Women were taking laundry down and did not even bother to look up at them. Debra’s long legs scraped through the dirt as she tried to stall progress into the cabin. Samuel had a hand gripped through her bound wrists and the back of her collar, and it choked her when she balked on the way up the steps.

The inside of the room was lit by a fire in the center, and there were four empty cages standing open with clean hay on the floor. A huge man stood by the fire with a naked girl glaring at them and kneeling beside him. “Lock ’em up,” he boomed.

When Samuel passed by with Debra, she was still struggling in terror. “Gabrielle doesn’t want her marked.”

“Mara?” Caleb asked.

“You bet. Although Eli keeps joking about bidding on the Tilson girl.”

The man noted the anger in the girl’s eyes while she continued thrashing and stiffening her legs in Samuel’s grip. “They’re gonna’ have their hands full with this one.”

“Oh, I think Gabrielle’s looking forward to the challenge,” Samuel laughed. He shoved Debra forward into a cell and banged the door closed behind her.

Caleb stared down into Suzy’s cage, and he grabbed Samuel’s arm and nodded at the small young woman. “Anna’s been posted, Samuel.”

Samuel looked into the cage where the pretty little girl huddled fearfully against the wall. “I had a feeling she might be. This one’s on the weepy side, but her size is good and she has a fine shape.”

“And her hips are wide for such a little thing. She could be a good match for you,” Caleb suggested. The importance of breeders for sons was a primary consideration to the clan.

“It worries me to think of Anna trying to control someone bigger while I’m away. I think I’ll mention this one to her. Thanks, Caleb.”

Debra was crying, and she cowered against the wall while her nose filled and threatened to suffocate her. After the abductors walked out, the big man stood in front of the cages with the naked girl quickly getting into her kneeling position by his side. His eyes fixed on Debra. “There are ways to get you to pay attention that don’t leave no marks,” he warned. “Get those gags off ’em.” He kicked the girl by his side.

Debra watched Lonnie nervously lean towards the door, and the girl reached through and took the sponge out of her mouth. “Thank you,” she whispered.

“Quiet,” the man roared.

Suzy’s gag was removed and she quickly shuffled back against the wall, crying softly. Sherry had not moved from her position at the back of her cage. Her leaking eyes were squeezed closed and she was trembling. The naked girl stood in front of the bars, waiting. “Get it off her,” the man thundered.

The girl reached up, unlatched the door and entered the small cell. She walked up to Sherry and the terrified young woman tried to scrunch further into the wall. The girl reached down and grabbed Sherry’s hair and she shrieked behind the gag. The girl dragged her backwards, ripping at Sherry’s hair. Debra shivered at the look of excitement in the naked girl’s eyes.

Paula loved when the new tithes arrived or when reluctant girls were brought over for punishment. It was the only time she could vent her anger over being tithed to the quarter’s jailer. The man was not even married, so Paula washisslave and she had to take care of all of his sadistic pleasures. Although she could easily reach the gag, she twisted her fist until she felt a few of Sherry’s hairs rip out.

Debra shivered, but she stood at the door when the girl approached her. While Paula reached in to remove the gag, her eyes narrowed and she whispered, “Mara, huh? You’re fucked.” She smiled wickedly, and then returned to her impassive expression.

“Eat,” the man ordered.

The girls knelt in front of the bowls that were already waiting in the corner of their cells. The stew was cold, but Debra was too terrified to disobey the huge man. After she was finished, she cowered by the back wall again.

The jailer opened Lonnie’s cell and grabbed her arm. Caleb had already determined that Hallie must have told the girl she had better behave. With her plain looks and less than arousing figure, an agreeable nature was all she could offer. Caleb was betting that Edna might bid on her. With her and Artie in their seventies and him just having had a stroke, Edna would need someone complacent to help her out. It was agreed that she could do the bidding for them, because Artie had been an elder after finishing two decades with a remarkable record as an enforcer.

Page 3

Lonnie allowed herself to be led over to a wall and she felt her wrists unlatched. She stretched her arms briefly, and then the man snagged her hands and hooked the cuffs together in front of her. He pulled them over her head with one strong hand and reached behind her to turn a winch and lower a chain from the ceiling. Lonnie’s eyes widened in surprise when she felt a hook threaded through her wrist cuffs. She was stretched to her toes when he turned the crank again. Her mother had not explained this to her. In truth, her mother had told her that she would merely be a maid to one of the clan families, and after ten years of servitude she would be released to marry one of the mountain clansmen.

“Get her stripped down,” he bellowed at his girl, and he walked back to the cells to collect Suzy.

When it was Sherry’s turn, she had to be dragged across the floor, and the man raised her by her collar so that her feet were off the ground and she was choking. She kicked out at him and his hand smashed across her thighs, driving her legs into Suzy. The naked girl stepped back with the knife she was using to cut Suzy’s nightshirt away. Paula knew she would be severely punished if she marked one of the tithes.

Debra watched the blossoming red handprint across Sherry’s thighs and it reminded her of the fading bruise from the reins.What kind of nightmare is this?Debra backed against the wall when the big man approached her cell door.

Caleb could see the panic in her eyes, and his cock pulsed sadistic arousal.Shit, Gabrielle’s getting herself a looker with this one.“You don’t want me to have to come grab you.” He figured he would not get another chance with the girl after auction. Unlike Lucy, who was constantly running her slave back to him for correction, any punishment this girl earned would be seen to by Gabrielle or Elijah.

Debra began to cry, and she forced her stiff legs to move her forward. She glanced to where the girl was cutting off Sherry’s panties. Sherry was wailing and screaming at the girl to stop, and the girl smashed her hand down on top of the already red mark. Debra was sliding into shock and she felt the cold goop of the stew in her stomach rolling.

When she felt herself being stretched beside the others, she was pleading garbled nonsense about a job serving coffee and promising to gather eggs with her grandma. Caleb was used to the ramblings. The spoiled flatland girls were willing to promise anything… except what their new owners were going to require. He rubbed his cock while Paula stripped the girl. She was lean and tall, with a golden braid that had highlights filtering through the trail dust. It hung in a thick rope to her waist, and while his girl unthreaded the twist Caleb imagined that Gabrielle would make good use of it.

Paula knelt by his side with her hands on her spread thighs and her pussy glistening and leaking onto the hay spread on the dirt floor. Her Master picked up the hose and sprayed freezing mountain water on the hanging girls. Paula’s pussy clenched while she listened to their shrieks. When the water turned off, he said, “Get them soaped up, slut.”

Paula rose, grabbed a coarse bar of soap and began scrubbing Lonnie’s short hair. She worked down the row girls, and just as her eyes narrowed and her fingers threaded through Debra’s hair, Caleb warned, “Don’t you be yanking any of hers out, slut. If I see one strand fall, I’ll have you bent over this bench so fast your eyes will pop out.”

“Yes, Master Caleb.”

Paula stared into Debra’s frightened eyes while she scrubbed, and she mouthed, “You are so fucked.” Paula already hated the pretty girl, even though she was going to Elijah and Gabrielle. Most of the tithe girls already hated Mara without even knowing who she would be. Ironically, to be tithed to Elijah was considered an honor among the stolen girls.

After scrubbing their hair, Paula walked back to Lonnie and began walking down the line, scouring the trail dirt off with a stiff soaped-up brush. It left their skin red and raw, and all of them were wailing again by the time she was through. The frigid water rinsed them off, and then the girl brushed the tangles out of their hair. They were left to sway and hang dry by the heat of the fire.

* * * * *

“Can we go see her?” Gabrielle finally asked. She had been silent through most of their dinner while she considered the girl she had waited so long to acquire. “I mean, we don’t know if there’s some scarring or horrid birthmark, or something.”

“I’m sure she’s fine,” Eli answered. He planned to give into her request, but the wait would make his anxious wife more excited. He looked into her worried emerald stare. “Gabrielle, she’s fine,” he repeated.

“Eli… it’s just that… well, everyone expects…” How could she explain to him that over the years everyone had built her tithe into some kind of princess slave. The girl had to be perfect, or her friends would laugh and sneer when they saw her.

Elijah could see that she really was distressed and that it was not just curiosity that led to the request. He finished the last of his dinner. “Come on, I’ll walk you over. Sarah says she’s willful, so remember, if she isn’t right we still have Liz’s kid coming up in August.”

“She’ll be big boned and short, Eli. That means I’ll have to wait until next year,” Gabrielle worried. It would not look right for her to keep passing until one suited her. The match was supposed to be almost a fateful type of arrangement. Over the years, Gabrielle’s vision of what the slave would look like never altered. She would be tall and blonde, with a good figure, shining blue eyes and full lips… exactly like the girl sitting on the saddle in front of Samuel when the men returned this afternoon.

Caleb had expected Gabrielle to show up, and he looked up from his chair across the room. He was waiting for the girls to dry, with Paula kneeling between his thighs and sucking his cock. He was deliberately holding back so that she would have to finish while Gabrielle was in the room. He knew how it humiliated the girl.

Paula heard them come in and she renewed her efforts, taking the man deep down her throat and encouraging his sack with her fingers. She looked up into his eyes with a pleading expression when she felt him tighten. Caleb smiled down at her and stroked her hair. She really was a good girl, and he knew that she wanted to watch the new tithe’s reaction to Gabrielle. “All right, slut.” He jerked into her mouth, and she quickly lapped up and sealed him behind his leather breaches, doing a half-assed job of cleaning him that she was sure to pay for later.

Debra roused from her shock when the couple walked in, and she watched the devil man and his wife approach them. The woman stared critically at the other three girls, and then she stopped in front of Debra. The woman smiled, and Debra began to cry. “Please… please let me go. I don’t belong here.”

Gabrielle reached out and ran two tapered fingers over the swell of one firm breast, letting her nails scrape up the side to a nipple that was tight in the cool air. She pinched it in a vise of pain, and said calmly, “Silence.”

“Aaaah.” The pinching agony pierced through her fright, and Debra automatically swung a long leg out to kick the woman. The green eyes narrowed and she continued to grip the nub while her free hand grabbed onto the golden curls between Debra’s thighs and pulled down.

“Aaah… god, let me go,” Debra begged, thrashing her legs while the woman continued to tug at her nipple and pussy. Debra finally hung limp and the grips loosened slightly, but the woman did not release her.

“She doesn’t seem to have much tolerance,” Gabrielle noted. “I’ve hardly got hold of her.”

Eli stood behind her with his hands on her shoulders. He could feel his wife’s excitement. “She’ll be fine, Gabrielle. You know you have to build that sort of thing up in some of them. She does have McEnroe blood in her, and none of those lazy bastards have any stamina,” Eli replied. He reached out and ran a hand down Debra’s lean thigh. “She’s tall enough, and her muscles are pretty good.” Eli turned his head into Gabrielle’s neck, and whispered, “It might take a lot of work, but I think you could train her to a cart for you.”

Gabrielle began braiding the golden mane, and she imagined the blonde beauty pulling her through the hills to visit her friends. After tying off the rope with a twist of hay, she looked up at her husband. “Oh, Eli. Do you think I can? It will make the others positively green.”

“Like your eyes, my beauty.” Eli smiled down at her delight with the suggestion. “So, are you satisfied?”

Gabrielle looked back at the girl and turned her to make sure that the other side of her was also visually appealing. She had flared hips that would strengthen and tone up, but she was definitely the best of the offerings. With Sarah and Clara in her background, her only concern had been the McEnroe influence. It seemed that all she had inherited was a little extra height, but with Gabrielle standing at almost six feet, the girl was still four inches shorter. “She’s perfect, Eli.”

After the frightening couple left, the girls were put back in their cages with their wrist cuffs still bound in front of them. Even though there was no way for them to unlock the cages, Caleb spent the night in the cabin. He did not need an unfortunate accident the night before the long awaited tithe auction. “Don’t mess yourselves up,” he warned.

He stared down at Paula. “I’m sorry, Master Caleb.” Her fingers trembled, and she reached for his zipper.

Chapter II

It was soon after they were locked in their cages, quietly crying or lying in shocked silence, that the man finally walked into Sherry’s cage and gagged her again. It did little to stifle the agonizing moans, but at least she had stopped screaming and let the rest of them suffer in relative silence.

At some point, Debra had managed to drift into an uncomfortable sleep. She kept jerking awake at visions of the devil or green eyes surrounded by darkness. In the morning, Paula brushed the hay out of their hair. They were stretched on the chains again to keep them clean until time for the auction. They were also not fed, presumably also to keep them clean, but Paula would lift a cup of water up to them occasionally.

Debra’s arms were cramping with the strain of the uncomfortable position. One look at Sherry’s gagged mouth and miserable expression kept her quiet. She was even too tired to tremble. Suzy whispered to ask Paula what was going to happen, and she was rewarded with a punch… aimed at her pussy. Debra winced and mewled in pain for her, and Suzy howled and tried to lift her legs.

Just past noon, as close as Debra could ascertain, the big man stood in front of them with Paula kneeling by his side again. “You will be led onto the stage to be presented. I assure you, any misbehaving will be dealt with swiftly.”

The girls were tethered together with ropes latched onto the front and back loops of their collars. Lonnie was first, then Suzy, Sherry and Debra. Paula followed behind the column and they were led to a gray weathered platform. Debra stared at the splintered planks instead of at the dozen men standing in front of the stage with their wives beside them. She had never felt such humiliation, and she wondered hopefully if perhaps her mother was trying to teach her a lesson and would be coming for her. She looked down at a man in an old wooden wheelchair up close to the stage, with a stern woman standing at his side.

Sherry was sobbing and jerking in fright, and the connecting rope pulled at Debra’s leather collar. The jailer untied Lonnie’s lead and he led her to the front of the stage. Caleb glanced quickly at Eli who shook his head, and he looked down at Edna and Artie. “She’s Hallie’s girl, Edna. She has a calm, efficient temperament, and the rest of the posts have agreed to stand down for your bid. Would you like her displayed?” Caleb asked.

Edna noted the girl’s plainness, but she also looked strong enough to help with Artie. Her eyes were red from crying, but she was not all wild-eyed like some of the others. For her part, Lonnie was not stupid. She realized that service with the old couple would be easier for her. She gulped nervously, and said softly, “I helped mama take care of my grandpa when he had a stroke.”

Edna looked up at her in surprise. Other than pleading the girls never spoke, much less offered themselves to a bidder. She ran it through her mind. “You’re the Tilson girl? Ed Tilson’s granddaughter?”

“Yes, ma’am. I even got grandpa down to the lake to fish a couple of times. We figured out how to strap the rod to his hands. He liked that,” Lonnie said nervously.

Edna looked down at her husband. His mouth was distorted, but his eyes were very much alive. His hand made a jerky movement on the lap robe and he pointed at the girl. Edna knelt down. “What should I bid, Artie?”

“Oooo… oooo,” he garbled.

“Two? Two of the roans?” It broke her heart to sell off his speckled horses, but they both knew he would never be able to ride again. Edna stood proud. She knew they could get the girl for one, but Artie wanted his wife’s tithe to go for a respectable value. “Two of the roans, Caleb.” Edna twisted her hands, as if anyone really would bid more for the plain girl.

Caleb looked over the crowd. Most of the wives were nodding their heads in agreement that Edna had made a wise selection. Gabrielle leaned forward and whispered to the woman, “Alice will be a great help to you, Edna. She has strong Tilson blood and their calm manner.”

“Thank you, Gabrielle. It kills me to sell off the roans. I’m keeping Rusty, just so Artie can watch him from the window. He’s still good stud stock, but too old for much riding.” Edna looked towards the back of the crowd and smiled at Holden. “I’ve made an agreement with Holden that he can speak to the elders and Preacher about breeding his sons to her. We’re not telling Lucy, and even if she finds out she won’t be allowed near Alice.”

“We have a bid of two roans to the elders.” No one said a word, and Caleb held his hand down to help Edna onto the stage.

Edna’s hand was shaking, and the girl trembled and gave her a nervous smile. She hooked on the leash and led Lonnie off the stage. When they were back on the dirt, Lonnie looked down at the old man. He had been powerful once; it was still in his eyes. She sank to her knees between the couple, and placed a quivering hand over the gnarled fist resting on the blanket. Lonnie, who was now Alice, was relieved that her position was secure.

Next came Suzy, quivering and sobbing. The jailer threaded his fingers through the back of her collar and he lifted the tiny girl to her toes. “Bids?” There were gossipy whispers from the onlookers. It was tough having first post, because they never knew if the end of summer offering was going to be better. “This is the Cauldron girl… good clan name,” he enticed.

“A hog for display,” a man shouted out with uncertainty, while his wife tugged at his arm. “Are you sure? She’s awfully small,” Joseph said in confusion.

“Look at how nicely she tears up, though,” his wife answered.

“I have a hog for display. Does anyone want to place a bid before she is marked?” Caleb asked. With the little brunette’s welled-up eyes, he doubted anyone would interrupt a paid display even if they were going to bid on her.

“One hog for display,” Caleb announced. He snapped his fingers, and Debra felt Paula pass behind her. Her own legs were frozen in place from fear, except when Sherry pulled her off balance with her jerking around.

Paula grabbed the girl’s collar and pulled her back against the post. Suzy raised her bound wrists, twisting frantically to keep from having her collar secured. The girl was so small that Paula easily overpowered her, and the slave girl’s eyes got the crazy excitement Debra had noticed before.

“Position, Master?” Paula asked.

Caleb looked down the line. Sherry would be a mess for display and Gabrielle was not going to let him mark the blonde, so even though the bid was only a hog, he said, “Three point.” He noticed Paula’s smile and he scowled at her. The girl enjoyed this almost as much as he did.

Paula grabbed a short rope with two loops and snagged one of the girl’s flailing legs. She threaded a foot through one of the loops and tightened it. She reached for her other ankle and secured them with the short rope between them and behind the post. The position forced the girl’s legs to bend slightly and spread. With her awkward stance being bowed slightly forward, Suzy shrieked in terror and embarrassment while she looked out onto the crowd for help. Paula grabbed her wrists and she pulled on a rope hanging from the top of the post, threading the hook between the cuffs. She yanked on the free end, raising the panicked girl’s wrists over her head and securing the rope to the peg on the back of the post.

Paula stepped back and watched in fascination when Caleb picked up the thin crop.Oh… how it stings and burns. Paula had had many experiences with the reed and she could practically feel the girl’s pain.

“No… no…” Suzy screamed. Fat tears spilled down her cheeks, greeted with affirmative whispers from the onlookers.

“She’s a good size for you, Anna. She would be quite manageable, and she’s cute… in a tiny sort of way,” Samuel said. “She cried on the way up, but mostly behaved.”

“The others would laugh at me, Samuel. Besides, I think Nancy wants her,” Anna whispered.

“No one will laugh, honey, and Nancy only had Joseph bid so that she could see the tears. Listen, Anna, everyone is watching her… and nobody is laughing.”

Anna chewed her lip. At only five six, she knew that she needed a smaller tithe to control, and there was no guarantee which tithes would be acquired during the end of summer acquisition.

Samuel had been nudging her towards Suzy since he got home, pointing out that her hips were wide enough for breeding and that her parents were both tall. Her petite stature had to be a throwback from an earlier generation, perhaps even one shared by Anna.

“Should I let him mark her?” Anna whispered.

Samuel looked at the anticipation in the faces around him. “Definitely.” He squeezed her hand.

The reed slashed down across the top of the two perfect little globes. They were in perfect confirmation of the rest of the girl’s small stature, and the girl silenced with the strike. Her big brown eyes widened, and then she let out a clear, clean shriek.

“Aaah,” Suzy screamed. Her breasts were on fire. “No… oh god. Stop,” she wailed.

The next strike came down across the tips of her nipples, and again she silenced in shock, gulped a deep breath, and screamed for all she was worth. Anna leaned over and looked at Minerva. Her eyes were narrowed and fixed on the stage in approval. She caught Gabrielle’s green gaze, and the tall woman smiled and nodded at her. With Gabrielle’s backing, no one would make fun of her. “All right, Samuel, but let Caleb finish the display before you bid.”

“Please… please stop,” Suzy begged. The next strike came up between her split pussy lips, and her belly knotted. She tried to raise her knees to protect herself, and there was the predictable silence before she shrieked a clear tone that had half the men’s cocks straining in their breeches and half the women squeezing their thighs together.

“Bids?” Caleb panted. He looked down at Joseph.

“Sorry, Caleb. The hog was only for display. I’m afraid I’d crush the little thing,” he laughed.

“A bay gelding and a dozen grade A pelts,” Samuel offered.

Anna gasped. “That’s too much, Samuel.”

“You want her, Anna? She’s going to be yours,” Samuel stated, hugging her with the arm draped over her shoulders.

Like Gabrielle, this was Anna’s first tithe. She was shaking when she walked up the steps to claim her. Caleb helped her latch on the leash while Paula unsecured the wailing, dazed girl. Suzy dropped to her knees and cupped her hand over her swollen pussy. Anna looked at Samuel who smiled up at her, and her eyes met Gabrielle’s. Gabrielle made a tugging motion with her hand to encourage her, and Anna straightened.

She pulled on the leash until the watery eyes stared up at her, and she continued to pull until the sobbing girl had to stand. “How dare you embarrass me,” Anna hissed loudly. She dragged the sobbing girl from the stage while Suzy continued to cup her sore lips.

Sherry was next, and Paul was already wincing at the thought of anyone wanting to put him through a display with her. The girl whined in a nasal, airy way that was irritating. Instead of delightful arousing tears, her face turned blotchy and her nose ran. Just before he queried for display, Edna interrupted him and climbed back onto the stage.

“Excuse me, everyone.” Edna walked to the girl’s back and touched something on the girl’s shoulder blade. “I think we have a little problem of deception going on here.” She glared at the girl. “What is your name?”

“Shshsherry McEnroe,” the girl stuttered.

“No. It’s not.” Edna slapped her so loudly they heard the crack in the back row. “What is your name?”

The girl’s eyes filled and her face mottled. “Bbbarbra. Barbra McEnroe.”

There were gasps from the audience, and Edna said, “My tithe has informed me that we have been duped into taking the younger of the twins. I asked how she was certain. Apparently, this younger one has a heart defect. The family has kept the older one who has no health problems.”

“Pppleease,” Barbra begged. “Sherry got a scholarship to state next year for track. I’ve missed so much school I wasn’t going to make it to college. Oh, god. Please, I’ll work hard.” As terrifying as it was to be auctioned in the mountain, her parents’ threat if she was sent back was even worse.

Samuel and Joseph had worked their way over to Elijah. “What a fuck up,” Samuel muttered.

Elijah called up, “Why weren’t we notified there were twins? All we were told was that the older daughter was eighteen.”

“Who wrote up the acquisition report?” Edna queried, her steely eyes already scanning the crowd for the man she knew was at fault.

Eyes slowly drifted to George McEnroe and his face paled. “Shit. We never had one amount to nothing, and with Sherry getting the scholarship I let Chris and Thelma convince me one was as good as the other. I swear, I didn’t know nuthin’ about her being sick. I’ll ride back down and collect the right one myself, if you want.”

The audience continued to stare at him. George was more pissed off than nervous. “Look, I worked hard for my place with you… harder than most of you had to, because of my name. I know Vera isn’t up for post at least until next summer, but I’ll even make a decent bid on that sick one and we’ll take her ourselves… and the deal to get the right one is still on,” he added.

“The elders are going to call the family in and take the farm,” Elijah predicted.

George shrugged. After twenty years of busting his ass in the mountains, he could lose it all because of that worthless cousin on the flatlands. “They can do as they see fit, Elijah. You know I wouldn’t have done this if I didn’t think the girl was healthy.”

Elijah turned to Gabrielle. “I’m going to have to ride down in the morning. If they catch wind that we know, they’ll try to hide her.”

“I’ll go with you,” Samuel offered.

“No, Anna’s going to need you. I’ll take George and the others. I imagine the elders will send the enforcers if they’re back with Tom. Abram’s going to be pissed off at having to make a double trip so fast, too.” Elijah looked over at Gabrielle. “Are you going to be okay alone with her? I can have Caleb keep her caged until I get back.”

“We’ll be fine, Eli. It might be nice to have a few days to ourselves to get acquainted,” Gabrielle replied.

Edna looked at the frightened tithe and then over to Vera.Why the hell did my daughter have to marry George McEnroe?Still, she hated to see Vera throw her post on the sickly girl. “Caleb, if George is willing to throw an adequate bid on this girl, I think it should be agreeable to place her in the kitchens and let Vera keep her post next summer. The girl is useless for breeding, and we could get something out of her over there. We’ll still be getting the right girl for auction and the parents for the work camps.”

Page 4

“What about Jenny?” Barbra cried. She was terrified about what her parents were going to do to her when they found out they had lost everything, and she worried about her little sister.

“She’s the six year old,” George called up. He ran his hand through his hair in frustration. Dammit, Chris. “Shit, we’ll take her. She’s young enough to acclimate to the hills, and maybe we can salvage something out of her.”

Vera bit her lip to keep from bitching about the loss of five B pelts and a cow. They were supposed to be part of her bid for post next summer. At least she was acquiring a new little girl out of the situation. Vera loved children.

Barbra was still sobbing while she was being led off the stage to the kitchens, and for just one moment Debra was alone on the stage. She was no longer tethered to anyone, and Paula was over with the jailer straightening out the mess with Barbra.

Gabrielle’s eyes narrowed and she watched the girl.Oh, you’re right. No one is watching you… except me.Gabrielle watched the girl move slightly back on the platform and towards the steps at the side of the stage. She began backing up through the audience while they continued to bitch about the mix up. Eli looked at his wife, and he followed her green gaze to the stage. “Want any help?” he whispered.

“No way, Eli. She’s mine,” Gabrielle whispered back.

Debra scrambled down the steps, but nobody else noticed until Gabrielle pulled her skirt up and bumped into Minerva while she made her way out of the crowd. “Oh goody,” Minerva laughed quietly.

Debra was running with her hands bound in front of her and her naked bottom and breasts jiggling as she dashed towards the trees. Behind her, she heard the yelling of people who had realized what was happening. “My money’s on Gabrielle,” someone yelled out.

“Hell, we’re getting a display for free,” a man bellowed.

Debra dared a glance over her shoulder and saw the tall dark haired woman had her dress held up over her knees while she ran. Her green eyes had a frightening smile as she raced after her, and Debra realized the woman was gaining on her. Gabrielle loved to run barefoot through the foothills and her shoes were only a slight encumbrance. She had already noted that the girl was soft, probably from lazing around.

Gabrielle cut across at an angle and grabbed the girl’s hair, jerking her head back and stopping her. She gripped the front of the girl’s collar, and Debra panted and tried to bat her hands away. “I’m glad you like to run, girl. You’re going to get a chance to do a lot of it.”

Gabrielle pulled the reluctant girl back to the stage with firm fists wound around her collar and through her hair. “Please let me go,” Debra sobbed. The woman yanked her hair and she screamed. “Oow. I don’t belong here. I didn’t agree to come here,” Debra wailed.

Gabrielle let go of her hair and gripped her chin. Her eyes held a mixture of angry pleasure. “Silence,” she hissed. “You are a tithe, girl. That is your only value and the reason that you were bred. You are payment so that the rest of your family and the clan can survive. You areexactlywhere you belong.” Gabrielle straightened, and said, “Eli, place my bid.” She had long, dark, stray hairs that had escaped her braid, and a light sheen of sweat and excitement on her face.

“Two hogs for display,” Lucy called out. Holden’s mouth dropped open and he glared at his wife.

“No display,” Gabrielle announced. “And Holden would have to bid anyway.” She had already heard that Lucy was going to try to have the girl marked, but she knew that Holden would not dare cross Eli.

“Ten A pelts, five Bs, and the paint.” He smiled at Gabrielle. She would not be needing the cart pony any more, and no one could outbid him with it thrown in.

Samuel chuckled and stroked his short beard. “Shit, Eli.”

“I don’t need Gabrielle running aftermeif I lose her tithe,” Eli laughed back.

Chapter III

Lucy scowled when Gabrielle led Mara off the stage. Holden knew that Linda would be in for a rough time because he would not back his wife’s decision to bid for display. It was not the first time he felt like kicking himself for marrying a McEnroe.

Debra could not fathom her current circumstances. Life working in the mall and a room at Audrey Wilson’s seemed more a fantasy than the surreal situation she found herself in. Dazed with shock, she followed behind the tall woman, occasionally yanked by the leash hooked onto her collar. She was a slave. It made no sense to her. If what this woman had told her was true, then her parents and grandparents had always known this would happen to her.

The devil man was still speaking to other men from the crowd, but Debra thought his wife was just as frightening. She was led across the clearing to a cabin halfway down the street. The woman sat down on a chair on the porch and snapped her fingers. Debra continued to look around, silently crying and searching for nonexistent help. There was a sharp jerk on her collar causing her knees to practically buckle.

“You will kneel when I stop,” the woman stated calmly.

Debra stared uncomprehendingly at her. The woman reached for a crop beside her chair, and smashed it against Debra’s thighs. “Ow.” Frustration, fear and anger finally surfaced, and she kicked a long leg out. “You bitch,” she screamed.

The curse was loud enough to reach the street, and the men’s discussion stopped abruptly when Eli’s black eyes narrowed and he slowly turned towards his house. “I’ll meet you at daybreak,” he said quietly, and strode towards the porch.

“Damn,” Joseph smiled. He grabbed Nancy’s hand. “Come on. This oughta’ be good.” Samuel followed them, with several other couples sauntering in the direction of Elijah’s porch.

Debra was still kicking out at Gabrielle and somewhat managing to avoid the crop while the woman swung at her legs, belly and bottom. “Fuck you,” she cried. “Let go of me.” She pulled back on the leash just when a voice spoke over her head.

“Bring her inside, Gabrielle.”

Gabrielle looked up to see half the town, including Lucy, staring at her. Eli continued. “You will follow my wife inside the cabin, and I suggest you stop this embarrassing display.”

His voice was chilling and more terrifying than the crop. It cut through Debra’s anger, but her panic had taken hold so completely that she continued to kick out at Gabrielle. When she refused Elijah’s order, he knew that they had to get her to submit before the crowd that had gathered.

Eli hooked his finger through the loop on the back of her collar, and Debra felt a steady force pulling her head down while he sat. Her back arched over his thighs, and although she had to stop kicking to balance herself, she reached her bound hands over her head to try to hit Eli.

Debra’s head was resting in his lap while she continued to try to connect with his jaw. He ignored the weak attempts, and keeping hold of her collar with one hand, he gripped her nipple with the other.

“Let go of me, you bastard. I’ll have you all arrested,” Debra screamed in outrage, and continued to try to thrash and bat him away. There were excited murmurs from the people who had gathered to watch. Eyes either narrowed or widened, anticipating what they would do to the tithe for her outburst.

Debra heard a whistling sound and felt a pressure on her thighs. A moment later, the creamy flesh was on fire. “Oh… Aaah.” Debra tried to force her legs together and buck up, but the awkward position made it impossible.

There was another whistle and the pain on her thighs was more immediate with the second stroke. Debra screamed in agony and looked up to see the tall woman raising the crop again. She arched a brow in question.

“Please,” Debra begged. The crop came down again. “Ow… oh, please don’t hit me again.”

The man released her nipple, but Debra barely felt the pain of the bruised nub with the inferno of bruising on her legs. Eli gripped her jaw, forcing her to look at him. The crowd had gathered in front of their porch, and Elijah wanted Gabrielle’s authority to be unquestioned. In a deep, low voice, he ordered, “You will ask your Mistress for one last strike.”

“No,” Debra sobbed. “Make her stop.” The crop slammed down again, and Debra thought she would faint. “Aaah… oh, oh, stop,” she sobbed.

“We can do this until you pass out, and when you come to, we’ll begin again,” Eli warned. “Now, say, ‘Mistress, please whip me’.”

“No,” Debra wailed. The tormenting leather crop raised again, and she finally realized they were serious. The torture would not end until she said the terrible words. “Please whip me,” she shrieked.Oh, god. Oh, Jill. Someone come get me.

“Mistress, please whip me,” Elijah corrected, though he was rather pleased the new tithe had broken to the point she had.

Debra’s tearing blue eyes looked into the excited green stare of the woman. Her arm was raised and prepared to strike. “Mmmistress, please whip me,” Debra moaned. The crop came down and Debra shrieked again. She felt her collar released and opened her eyes to see Gabrielle once more sitting in her chair, with a victorious expression on her face. Debra fell to the ground, rolling on her side and curling her legs into her stomach. She heard a snap, and looked up to see Gabrielle staring at her and pointing to the ground beside her chair.

Debra groaned, pushed herself up and crawled over to kneel beside the woman. “Spread your thighs, Mara,” Gabrielle ordered.

The girl’s head rose and she looked at the woman. There was almost a hopeful trace tracking through her tears. “I’m not Mara. I’m Debra McEnroe. You’ve got me mixed up with someone else.”

Debra was almost relieved when the woman smiled and reached down a hand to stroke her hair. “You were Debra McEnroe in the flatlands. Up here, you are my tithe and your name is Mara. Now, answer ‘Yes, Mistress’, and get those knees spread, or I’ll whip your pussy.”

Debra gasped. No one had ever spoken so lewdly to her, and the few times her mother had slapped her face could not prepare her for this witch’s torment. She had no idea that Sarah had to admit those infractions to Elijah. Tithes were not supposed to be physically punished on the flatlands, nor were they supposed to be unduly chastised with words. Although most of the girls arrived spoiled and lazy, the clans liked to break the tithes to their own unique submission requirements.

Debra looked out on the street where people were making no attempt to hide their interest concerning the correction being displayed on the porch. It was a unique performance of Gabrielle’s ability to train her new slave, and they noted that Elijah had only stepped in to restrain the girl. Debra shuddered and cried quietly while she spread her knees, exposing her pink slit while color flooded her face.

“Yes, Mistress,” Gabrielle reminded her.

Debra thought of the painful flogging and she looked at the welts forming on her thighs. The thought of an agonizing lash on her pussy… it was too horrible. “Yes, Mistress,” she murmured.

The people on the street nodded approval, and slowly made their way back to their cabins. After the excitement of the auction and Mara’s display, most were stoking lust-filled passion and in search of their own tithes to relieve their tension.

Eli looked down at Mara who was silently weeping and rubbing her bound hands on her bruised thighs. His eyes fixed on Gabrielle, and he smiled warm approval. He knew that she would need encouragement asserting her authority at the beginning, and decided to ask his mother to stop by while he left to retrieve the proper twin on the flatlands.

As happened over the years, Gabrielle could practically read his mind. She knew he did not question her ability, but he was worried over leaving her alone with her new tithe. “How long do you plan on being gone?”

“Chris’ farm is close to the foothills, and I will be pushing to get back quickly. We’ll have to rest the horses, but we should be back in three days.”

Gabrielle gave his words some thought. “Do you think Minerva might be able to help me with her treatment? It would have her prepared for your return.” It would mean Eli would miss the exfoliation, but as the tithe was rather inaccessible during the time, it seemed like a worthy trade-off.

“I hadn’t considered that, Gabrielle. That’s a wonderful idea. You’re certain you won’t mind having to treat her yourself?”

“Eli, I know darned well you were going to send Minerva to check on me… not that she wouldn’t have stopped by on her own.” Gabrielle smiled. Elijah’s mother had always cared for her as though she was her real daughter.

As if sensing her summons, Minerva had walked up silently from the side of their cabin. “I hear I missed a fine display.” The older woman’s eyes narrowed on the welts on the slave’s legs. “You should bind her wrists behind her, Gabrielle, to keep her from covering the markings.”

Debra felt a hand smack into the back of her head. “Stop covering your welts,” Gabrielle ordered. The shocked girl’s hands floated over her pussy. “Don’t you dare hide yourself.” Gabrielle was rewarded with a small sob, and her tithe raised her hands to her belly. “Yes, Mistress,” Gabrielle uttered in mock exasperation. She knew it would take many reminders… and many punishments… before the response became automatic.

“Yes, Mistress.”Jill, please find me and get me out of this place.In her numbed state, she had ignored the conversation about the treatment.

“Minerva, could you help me get her exfoliated while Eli’s gone? It seems to be a useful way to use the time of his absence.”

“Well, it would keep you busy,” Minerva agreed. It seemed unfair that Eli had just returned from a five day trip and now had to turn back around due to the McEnroes’ attempted treachery. “The elders and Preacher have already ruled, and they’ve ordered the family brought up. Abram should be back tomorrow, and I imagine he won’t be too happy about riding back down so quickly, either.”

“We’re picking up the girl, so I don’t think Chris will suspect the enforcers will show up. He’ll be pissed off about losing both twins, but he’ll figure it satisfied the elders for his deceit. I imagine he’ll be surprised when my brother shows up,” Elijah chuckled.

Minerva nodded. Her two sons had risen to be in charge of the clan’s primary positions of acquisition and enforcement. There were already murmurs that Elijah was in line for principal elder when Shawn retired. She turned to Gabrielle. “I’ll be over after Eli leaves in the morning, and I’ll send Tara to collect the supplies we’ll need.”

At the mention of the name, Debra raised her eyes to find herself staring into the brown gaze of a small girl kneeling beside the older woman. The girl’s expression was dulled, though she seemed to be leaning into the hand resting on her head. The girl looked to be in her twenties, and Debra wondered if that was the same complacent acceptance her own face would reflect in a few years.

Debra had no idea that Tara was Minerva’s third tithe and not subject to breeding. Only first tithes were expected to produce heirs for their Mistress’s sons. Clan women themselves were rendered infertile to keep the bloodlines from becoming entwined. With the assurance of several generations removed and a mixture between the clans from the tithes on the flatlands, it alleviated the problem. Naturally, the clan women had no interest in months of bloating and submission to a painful delivery. They had become dominant and sadistic, so pregnancy offered no nurturing allure to them.

Minerva had two sons, and her first tithe had been required to provide two children to each of them, once they were married. Some history in Elijah’s bloodline had produced two sets of twins through her tithe. With two more single births for Abram, her first tithe had produced a remarkable accounting of six children.

Gabrielle had been thrilled with the look-alike daughters, now engaged to the equally identical Branson twins. Justin and Jason were fraternal, and where Jason was fair and stocky, Justin looked like a younger version of Elijah. It was unprecedented that a clan mother be honored with four children. Even Lizzie Branson only had the one set of twins and a daughter.

Minerva reached down and lifted the tithe’s chin. Debra found herself looking into a piercing gray stare. “How many boys have fucked you?” Debra pulled back, and Gabrielle smashed her hand into the back of her head again. Years ago, most of the girls brought up had been virgins. The lack of morality on the flatlands over the years had destroyed that lucky trait, though last summer the Clausen’s had been fortunate enough to bid on a tithe who turned out to be pregnant. It further diluted the murky bloodlines of the clans.

“Answer Mistress Minerva,” Gabrielle demanded.

Debra felt the heated rush of embarrassment flood her cheeks again. If they had a doctor up here and he checked, they would know she lied if she denied it. Her eyes filled with tears. “One.” The hand smacked her head again. “One, Mistress,” she murmured, trying to look away from the woman’s stare.

Minerva was certain the girl was telling the truth. She still had a touch of innocence about having her body displayed. “Who? What did he do to you?”

Debra quivered and her tears fell faster. Already anticipating Gabrielle’s blow, she whispered, “DJ. DJ Jensen. He was a guy working at a store I liked to shop at.” While Debra’s thoughts moved mercifully to the mall, Elijah stroked his cock, enjoying his mother’s expert manipulation of the girl.

“Did you suck his cock? Tell me what you did with him,” the horrible woman ordered.

“No,” Debra gasped, and she tried to shuffle back on her knees, despite the promise of Gabrielle’s blow.

“Get me your crop, Gabrielle. A few strokes on this slut’s pussy should get me my answers,” Minerva said.

“No,” Debra shrieked. Mention of the cane slicing down on her crotch was terrifying, but she knew the old woman was as serious as Eli’s threat had been. “He… he played with my boobs for a while and used his hand on me, and then he made love to me.”

“Love to you?” Minerva burst out laughing. “How many times did he ‘make love’ to you?”

Debra was crying, and speaking the truth out loud sounded cheap and horrible. “Once,” she sobbed. “Once, and then I caught him with one of the girls he worked with.” That had all happened two weeks ago, just before she had graduated. She had already lined up the job at the mall, and had spent time during finals letting her mind daydream on scenes of them spending their break time in the dressing room of his store. When she had caught him in one of those dressing rooms with a co-worker, he had laughed at her naivety. She had still built a romance with the boy when she dreamed at night.

Page 5

Now these terrible strangers knew the truth, and Debra wanted to crawl under the wooden planks of the porch. How could they make her admit such horrible things? She knelt in silent, abject misery, pleading to be rescued or that maybe this whole thing was a mistake… or a nightmare she could wake up from.

She was naked and bound, and she had watched the disgusting things Paula had done for the jailer. No amount of denial could convince her these were not the plans these people had for her.How could mom have known this and let them take me? Maybe she didn’t know what they would expect from me.Debra thought about how shocked she thought her mother would have been to find out about DJ. In reality, it would only have been another embarrassing admission Sarah would have had to make to the acquisitioners. No one suspected Sarah had kept the information from them. They were certain she had no idea her daughter was screwing around.

Usually, it was the wife’s mother who elicited the information from a first tithe. For future tithes, Gabrielle would do it herself. As she had no mother, she was grateful Minerva stepped in. A lot of information was gleaned from the interviews, and it helped decide on training equipment. Gabrielle certainly would not trust Elijah’s cock in the inexperienced girl’s mouth… and near her teeth… without a ring gag.

Minerva left with Tara, and Eli rocked on the porch with Gabrielle, discussing his upcoming trip and leaving Debra to her frightened thoughts. She wanted to press her thighs together, and her back was aching. Only her mind was somewhat dulled into numbness from the frightening things that had happened throughout the day.

A young woman approached, older than Debra, with a basket on her arm. Gabrielle told her to set the dinner on the table, and after she finished the task and was heading across the compound to the kitchens to pick up another order, she turned to stare at Debra. Her eyes narrowed and she smiled maliciously. Francine could not wait to tell the other kitchen workers that Mara already sported welts from displeasing Gabrielle.

Elijah stood and held a hand down for his wife. She jerked on Debra’s leash while she rose. Debra stared at the floor and followed the tug on the strap over the threshold.

The cabin had three doors leading off a main room, and one wall made completely of stone with a huge fireplace. Chairs, a small sofa, and some tables were cloistered around it, and on the opposite side of the room a massive wooden dining table took up the space. There was no kitchen to speak of, other than a sink with a hand pump and two shelves with dishes. The stew was in a stone bowl and resting on the table with steam rising from it.

Debra’s nostrils flared at the hearty scent. She had not eaten since the cold dinner the night before. Elijah settled into a chair by the fireplace, and Debra felt tears welling in her eyes again. Out of all the people in the settlement she could have gone to, she belonged to the devil. After experiencing his cold methods on the trip up the mountain, Debra was terrified of him.

The tug on her leash pulled her behind the woman to the sink. Gabrielle reached for two dishes and silverware settings, and placed them on opposite ends of the table. She walked back to the shelf and reached behind the plates, retrieving a ceramic bowl and stroking her fingertips across the lettering. Minerva had given her the tithe bowl last year, and Gabrielle often gazed at it. She turned it so Debra could read the swirling letters that read ‘Mara’.

Tears spilled down her cheeks. Everything seemed so horribly planned, and Debra knew this was not some temporary punishment. This frightening woman had been waiting for her, and Debra knew that she would enjoy twisting her into a slave like the others she had seen.

Gabrielle placed her tithe bowl on the table. This would be the first time she would finally get to fill it. She found herself enjoying all of the new experiences owning her first tithe would allow her. Just as Minerva had suggested, the focus of training a tithe lessened the loss of the children that left home. Her sons resided in the training camps, and her daughters were staying with Abram and his wife by the enforcers’ camp so they could be closer to the Branson twins and continue their courtship. Even with Elijah home, the cabin had been quiet and lonely for the past month. When he was gone for the acquisition, Gabrielle had been completely depressed.

Elijah studied the flagstones, waiting for Gabrielle to call out if she needed him. First meal trainings were quite often a dramatic battle, but a necessary skill for the Mistress to impose and further establish her tithe’s submission. Eli smiled and rubbed his erection when he heard the girl gasp and issue a small sob. He would only interfere if Gabrielle asked for him.

Gabrielle was determined to train her tithe for her first meal without Elijah’s help. She knew he would step in if she needed him to, but after the display on the porch it was important for Mara to learn that Gabrielle was a force to be reckoned with when he was gone.

“Hands behind your back, Mara.” Gabrielle stared down at the girl, and she trembled but did as she asked. “Yes, Mistress?”

Debra twisted her hands behind her back and glanced at the devil, who seemed to be ignoring them. “Yes, Mistress,” she gulped.

Gabrielle walked behind her and latched her cuffs together. She knelt down behind her and Debra shivered when she ran her hands down the back of her legs. “She’s going to need a lot of exercise to strengthen her legs,” she called to Eli.

“You might want to speak with Edna. She trained her second tithe for a cart,” Elijah reminded her.

Gabrielle stood again and gripped the latched cuffs, pulling Mara against the table. She grabbed a short leather thong hanging from the corner and hooked it to the cuffs.

Debra gave a tug, and she realized she had been secured with her back to the table. Gabrielle reached into her pocket and removed a thick leather ring. She gripped Debra’s jaw, and ordered, “Open.”

Debra gasped and a sob escaped. “Please…”

Gabrielle dug her nails into the girl’s cheeks. “Yes, Mistress,” she seethed.

Debra cried, and she felt the claws tighten. “Yes, Mistress.” She parted her lips a small amount.

Elijah turned to watch. The girl was every bit as stubborn as Sarah suggested. Still, he would wait for Gabrielle to call if she needed him.

While continuing to grip her face, Gabrielle leaned down and stared into the swimming blue eyes. She stroked the ring gently across the girl’s chin, and whispered, “Open your mouth, Mara, or I will call Elijah to help me.” She had watched the girl cast frightened glances at her husband, and much like mothers do with fathers and misbehaving children, she threatened her tithe with him to gain her cooperation.

Debra’s terrified glance flew to the devil, and she saw him staring at her. She forced herself to open her mouth wider. The leather ring made no sense to her, but she decided it might be a different type of gag to keep her from speaking. Obviously, the Mistress did not want to hear her pleas. The object was pressed behind her teeth and Debra felt saliva drooling down her chin. Her wrists were unlatched from the table and she trembled, trying to anticipate what horrible thing this woman would demand next.

Eli’s cock was beginning to press painfully against his trousers, and his balls had been steadily thickening since he watched the ring inserted and considered the first feeding. He could not wait to watch the tithe’s training, and he rose and walked to the table. The arousal in his eyes enflamed Gabrielle. She knew that he was not questioning her ability to work with Mara. He whispered, “Please, let me watch.”

Gabrielle smiled. “You can help, if you want. I’m positively dripping, and I want it to be perfect.”

Elijah kissed her cheek. Gabrielle turned her chair and sat down, raising her long skirt and spreading her legs. Debra’s eyes widened and she stared at the floor after watching the woman expose herself. The devil placed his hands on her shoulders and began pushing her to her knees between the woman’s spread thighs.

His strong hands kept pushing, and Debra was losing the fight to keep her shaking legs straight. One knee thumped down onto the wood floor with a bruising crunch and the other quickly followed. While Gabrielle casually filled her plate and put a small amount in Mara’s bowl, Elijah knelt behind the girl with his fist gripping the back of her collar.

“You will worship your Mistress’ pussy, in appreciation for the meal she is giving you.”

Debra began to scream, and fought to thrash her head out of the man’s grip. He kept pushing her towards the black hairy mound. The musky smell of the woman’s juices assaulted her nose and she continued to scream. Elijah’s free hand reached around and spread Gabrielle’s slit, exposing her wet folds. His cock was throbbing while he continued to force the tithe’s head closer.

Debra’s nose and mouth were buried in the hot folds, and the woman’s cream slid along her face. Gabrielle closed her thighs with crushing force and Debra could not breathe. “Your tongue, girl. Get it moving. My wife is a runner, and I guarantee she can keep you trapped longer than you can hold your breath.”

Debra saw stars behind her lids, and when her lungs began to burn she quickly lashed out her tongue, feeling her belly tighten in revulsion. The thighs loosened and she gulped a breath. “Eeese… nooo,” she wailed.

Gabrielle tightened her legs again, and stared into her husband’s eyes. “This is amazing, Eli,” she gasped.

“I must admit I’m finding the whole erotic scene rather arousing myself,” he smiled.

Debra paid no attention to their words while she struggled to breathe. Reluctantly, she swiped her tongue along the wet pussy again. The woman did not release her. With frantic moves she lapped feverishly, and finally felt the thighs loosen. “Oooh…” she wailed. Again she was pushed forward.

“Lick my clit, Mara,” Gabrielle demanded. Her bottom was clenching on the chair, and she knew that the sadistic scene with her new tithe had her very close to climaxing. She felt the girl’s warm breath while she wailed muffled sobs against her slit. Gabrielle’s thighs were trembling, and it was difficult to keep them closed together.

Elijah growled, “Do as your Mistress has ordered, Mara.”

Debra alternated between sobbing and gulping breaths, while her tongue reached through the open ring. She just wanted the torture to stop, and she could not fight both of them. Her tongue slid between the devil’s fingers until she found the stiff bead. Imagining her vibrator, hidden away from her mother and under her mattress, she tried to employ the same tactics of pleasure. The woman’s pussy spasmed and Debra felt her fingers thread through her hair as she thrust her slit against the probing tongue. Gabrielle moaned while an intensely satisfying orgasm ripped through her.

Debra felt the shudders stop and the woman’s grip loosened on her head. “Clean me,” she gasped.

Debra cried and searched for the cream with her tongue. She felt the devil’s thumb stroking the back of her head, above where his fist gripped her collar. She jerked when he whispered into her ear, “Lick the juice that fell on the chair.”

By the time she was finished and Elijah released her collar, Gabrielle lifted her chin and was pleased to see her shining arousal coating the tithe’s face. The misery swimming in the blue eyes was intoxicating. “You will now service your Master for providing you with shelter.”

Debra’s tear-filled eyes widened and she pressed away from the woman, into Elijah’s legs. He was standing again, and he pulled her up and dragged her to his chair. Gabrielle watched him through passion enflamed eyes. The sound of his zipper and the girl’s frightened wail could be heard from under the table.

Debra watched the man pull himself through the opening of his pants. He was much larger than DJ had been, and she screamed and pleaded garbled words until they were cut off when his erection thrust through the ring. Elijah was not going to enter her throat until she was more fully trained. He did push deep enough to block her airway, and was pleased when he felt her tongue moving without his order.

Oh, god. Oh, please.The devil’s rod was in her mouth, and she was terrified of what he might do to her. She forced her tongue to stroke his length. The taste was not as repugnant to her as the woman, and the velvet softness seemed at odds with the stiff member. His hands began pushing and pulling her head in a bobbing motion, unless she stopped stroking her tongue. Then, he would lodge himself in the back of her throat, cutting off her air and burning her lungs like his wife had done.

His thrusting became quicker and she heard his breathing increase to rapid panting. A salty fluid leaked onto her tongue, and Debra realized he meant to come while he was in her mouth. She cried hysterically while her head was pushed faster, though he continued to stop her ability to breath if she halted her tongue. Finally, he held her head down and she felt his shaft throb and pulse as he spewed into the back of her throat. She gulped and sobbed as the sticky substance continued to jet out of him.

“Clean me,” he ordered. Debra cried silently while she lavished his shaft and the soft leaking crown. He lifted her face and he felt his sack tighten again at her agonized expression. “I will be gone for a few days. If your Mistress informs me you have not worshipped her properly for your feeding, I will punish you when I return.” Eli enjoyed the fearful widening of her eyes, and he knew that she understood his threat.

Debra heard Gabrielle snap, and she looked into the devil’s gaze with uncertainty. “Kneel by your Mistress.”

Before she sank to her quivering knees, Gabrielle reached up and removed the gag. The ceramic bowl… her bowl… Mara’s bowl… lay on the floor by the leg of the table. “Thank your Mistress for your feeding,” Elijah ordered.

Debra’s lip trembled, and she looked into the terrible smiling green eyes. “Thank you, Mistress.” She cried the whole time she lapped up her stew.

When dinner was finished, Gabrielle had Mara stand and she tethered her ankles together by a one-foot locking chain. The girl was slightly in shock, and Gabrielle waited until she was focusing on her again. She unhooked Mara’s wrist cuffs. “Wash the dishes and put them away. After you are finished, join me in the other room.”

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