After rising before sunrise to clean the rooms of his master’s young son from top to bottom, Lucas made his way down the white marble stairs of the palace toward the kitchen. His heart pounded in anticipation of another secret meeting with Bolton, a handsome free man who had befriended him some months previously. Born into slavery and property of his master, the laws of Khorish City prevented him from befriending anyone, but his love for Bolton made him reckless. His friend had insisted he remain a virgin until his majority but he craved his kisses and their stolen moments together. If caught the penalty would be death or if lucky, he would be condemned to spend his remaining years working in the mines.
He collected the basket and credits from the cook, listening intently to the list of requirements needed from the market. Wishing he could write down the list rather than commit it to memory, he headed for the door. Gods only knew what penalty he would incur if his master discovered he could not only read, but had mastered several languages. He had a mind for figures and had the ability to keep the books for the financial running of the entire palace.
Slipping out of the gate adjacent to the kitchen garden, he checked behind him to ensure no one followed. Of late, he had become more cautious. The law decreed, at eighteen summers, he would become a man and to displease his master again so close to his majority would be disastrous. The thought worried him, because his master loved to make a profit and had already found an excuse to sell him on his birthday. He might be fortunate and a new master may purchase him as a house slave but he doubted he would have such luck. Being slim with long, blond curls made him valuable for sale to the slave masters who ran the brothels. He heaved a sigh. Worse of all, if he ended up in a pleasure slave auction, the only hope of ever seeing Bolton again would be if he paid to visit him for sex at a brothel. I so wanted Bolton to be my first lover.
Pushing the thought of being a sex slave for endless nameless men, he recited the list of items he required and headed toward the market square. He enjoyed his brief bouts of freedom and this day may well be his last. As a kitchen slave, his master allowed him one hour each day away from the palace to purchase fresh produce. One hour each day to walk as a free man and do as he pleased. Once he reached the narrow streets, he took one quick glance behind him then broke into a run. Every precious second counted toward his forbidden time with the love of his heart, Bolton.