I stop talking, because she has just bitten my thigh, and she is now bleeding from her mouth. Because my thigh is scaled, and because she apparently has no notion of consequence whatsoever.
“Girl!” I chastise her, shocked. I pull her up from my thighs and run my fingers over her lips, sealing the places where she decided to puncture tender flesh on my unyielding body. “What were you thinking?”
“I wasn’t thinking. I’m fucking stupid. Go on, tell me how stupid I am, like most guys do.”
“I don’t know what Earth males have been telling you, but I do not believe you are stupid, even for a second,” he tells me. “I believe you are impulsive, badly behaved, and possibly traumatized, but not stupid.”
That’s how an alien guy tells you that you’re fucked up. He says it nicer than most of the guys I’ve known before him told me once they worked my little secret out. I’m barely civilized. I’m feral on the inside. There’s some part of me that never quite worked out how to live in the world, that wants to kick and bite and do unacceptable things. I don't know if other people have this part in them and they just hide it really well, or if I carry some remnant from an older time. But I know that whenever I get with a guy, it gets rough.
“Don’t do anything that foolish again,” he says, his thick brow ridge drawing down in displeasure. “I do not want to see you hurt. You are too tender an animal to wound yourself senselessly.”
“What do you care?”
“You are my employee,” he replies. “You are my ward, and you are here at the king’s pleasure. He would not be well pleased if harm came to you, especially now that his mate has taken a liking to you. You must be preserved, due to your importance to the royals.”
So it’s not because I’m worth anything on my own. It’s because I’m an amusement for a very pregnant lady and the king who loves her. I wonder what that’s like, to be loved, to have someone care for you just because you’re you.
I guess that’s not something I’m ever going to experience.
“Tell me of your life on Earth.”
“Tell me of your life on Earth,” he repeats.
“Why do you care?”
“I care because your erratic and self-defeating behavior must come from somewhere. Perhaps we can fix it if we understand the cause.”
“Oh, so you’re a therapist now. Alien therapist with a lash.”
“Tell me. Of your life. Before I whip you.” He is insistent. I’d almost rather be whipped than tell him the fucked up story of my life, but I guess I’m slightly curious to see if anything I say means anything to him. People on Earth had a hard enough time empathizing with me. An alien isn’t going to give a single fuck.
“Fine. I was born in Brooklyn, New York and I moved to England when I was ten. It wasn’t a nice place, and they bullied the shit out of me.”
“You moved alone?”
“No. My mom left my dad. He was an alcoholic. So my mom and I moved to England to be away from him. And then she met Nigel. And she married Nigel when I was thirteen. And I ran away from home at fourteen. Been on my own since then, mostly living with older men.”
“You don’t see though, do you. You don't know what any of this means. It’s just words.”
“I see that your juvenile stage of attachment was disrupted, leaving you both craving and terrified of loving authority figures.”
“Oh, get fucked.”
He looks at me and I hate it, because he’s not angry at me. He’s sorry for me, and that’s so much worse.
“People live through a lot worse than what I did. They live through wars. They get hurt every day. None of that happened to me. I was just a bored, bad kid.”
“Who has grown into a woman without prospects on her own planet.”
He’s worked it out, though I think he knew in the first two seconds we were together. I’m a loser. I’m not the kind of girl you take home to your alien mom.
“What about you?”
“I was born to a low ranking noble family. I joined the military to serve with the then Prince Tyrant. When he became king, he made me his second in command.”
“Just a perfectly emotionless professional path, right? What about your mother and father?”
“I didn't know them.”
My ears prick up at that. Maybe he’s fucked up too.
“What do you mean, you didn’t know them?”
“I was put into the military training regime at four years old, as is tradition. I believe my mother and father were both warriors in their own right, but they had no claim on me, nor I on them. I was raised to serve the Essence empire, and that is what I have done.”