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Wolf Slave 17 – Alex Ankarr
Penn is good at that. He’s never known insincere glad-handing and unctuous servility to be quite as hard, as when he tries to put it to work with Ree. The man’s not co-operative, for a start: the more flattery and servile eagerness he displays, on their jaunts out and about, the less he seems to like it. The more silent and moody he becomes.
It’s not as if Penn can keep it up anyway. It’s not how he truly feels: and with Ree, it seems, how he truly feels tends to come out in unexpected and probably unfortunate ways. He can’t help it. After a week or so it seems, Ree decides he needs company for a journey into the city, and one of the final destinations is a gentlemen’s outfitters. It’s wolf-owned: most businesses are. But the chief tailor, who takes Ree’s measurements and attends to him, is a highly-skilled freeman and human. He’s unconscionably rude to Penn, out of earshot of Ree. You get it sometimes, with freemen: they’re all the more conscious of their superior status, for being a class of peoples between wolf gentry and slaves. They rub it in, when you’d think they’d have empathy.
Penn should, metaphorically, lie down and take it. His lowly status demands it. But there’s something about being in Ree’s company, disrespected before him, that renders it quite impossible, even though he’s over the other side of the premises and can’t – actually, with wolf hearing, he can probably hear every word, if he’s choosing to. But Penn only remembers this when he’s halfway through insulting the tailor’s birth, bearing, antecedents and professional qualifications. Up until then he’d felt safe enough under the protection of deniability, or near enough safe, and angry enough not to care. Then it’s too late, and he finishes off anyway with a flourish of, ‘And your customer service is impressive also: shall I recommend my master buy one pair of socks or two from you sometime around next decade?’
He feels as much as sees the slight jerk, the pick-up of Ree’s head, that indicates he’s rumbled. Oh, yes. Ree heard that, and how much else, and no doubt he’s for it now. Damn it. Well, this has been coming for a long time. Insubordination is his problem, the very worst problem for a slave to have. It’s not got him into real serious trouble up until this point: not beyond a few lashes and deprivation of privileges, at least. But there’s always a first time.
The freeman tailor spots it too, and surges off towards Ree with a vehement glance of triumph back at Penn. He’s at work quick, whispering venom into Ree’s ear without a doubt: and all of it the merest civil hinting, nothing so crude as a complaint: certainly not to a rich and potentially valuable paying customer. Ree nods thoughtfully, and replies loud enough for Penn to hear: ‘My apologies, Mr Hayes. It will be dealt with.’ The tailor looks delighted: and stands about eagerly, as if hoping Ree will draw out a bullwhip and thrash Penn there and then, or perhaps change and savage him into knowing his place.
But Ree waits him out, and gives him a certain glance after a moment. ‘Are the Italian cut versions not in stock after all? Perhaps we will have to try elsewhere…’ The tailor gets the message: however disappointed, that’s all the satisfaction he’s getting today.
© Copyright Alex Ankarr 2013 All rights reserved to the author. No inspirations for characters drawn from real-life individuals, no resemblance to real individuals intended.