fantasy · flash friday · Short Story · Writing

Friday Flash: Freedom

The image prompt came from Poise and Pen, a site filled with lots and lots of pretty inspiring pictures. Also this theme is different and I am bolding the flash instead of putting in quotes like usual.

I am not quite happy with this flash. The ending needs something, I think. Just not sure what. But here it is:

She clutched her pet’s bright red feathers to her throat. A few feathers drifted to the white stone floor, like metaphorical blood.

Shane stood across the room, smirking, tattered black pants hanging from his legs. Shifting did that to clothes. She normally enjoyed the aftermath of a shift, but not today. Oh, no, not today.

“You have no right.”

“Don’t I, darling?” He smiled, flashing perfect white teeth. “Our contract is over. I am free. I am not your plaything any longer.”

“Your alpha offered you to me for another two years.”

“He’s dead and my brother isn’t going to renew it.” Tray was the best brother anyone could want, especially since he was their father’s bastard boy and decades older.

She scowled at him, but lifted the ornate box on the side table and slipped all the feathers she held inside. “If you leave, I will stuff your skin with your own feathers. Yes and your brother, too. You will make a beautiful duvet.”

“Good luck with that, darling.”

* * *

Shane paused outside his mistress’s palace. Former mistress. His back ached still from the last whipping and from breaking the iron bonds. He rubbed his throat. For the first time in years, he touched bare skin. It was rough and scarred now by the heavy iron slave collar. He took a deep breath and luxuriated in a lungful of free air.

“Shane, lad?”

He turned slightly and joy soared through him. His brother’s hair had more silver, but his smile was big and welcoming. Then Shane was hugging his brother, laughing and pounding him on the back. Pain shivered up his back when his brother squeezed him too hard and Shane stepped back a little.

“Are you well? Can you shift?”

His brother’s fingers were gentle on his back and for a long moment Shane just stared. The same black eyes and long lashes. The hair was a little more feathery in the back, a little stiffer in the front, and he knew, the first sign his brother was spending too much time in his shifted form.

Half a dozen guards surrounded them both. Soldiers he’d grown up with, but he couldn’t look at them now. Not yet. Couldn’t bear to see the pity or disgust in their eyes.

Shane shook his head. “No . . . I -” He didn’t want to say he had to break his cuffs and collar himself. Tray would get too angry. “I shifted twice already.” He wasn’t the alpha, able to shift four times a day without tiring. “You didn’t have to come yourself. You freed me. That’s enough and she’s dangerous -”

“Shh.” Tray wiped tears from his cheeks and pulled him close. Shane blinked Tray’s shoulder; he hadn’t realized he was crying. “Don’t worry. No more tears, you hear, lad? Bring the carriage around. Come on now, lad, come on. In you go. There’s a good lad.”

Tray helped him into a red carriage; several shifted men were harnessed in the front and Shane knew they would be traveling through the air.