Ola felt a change in atmosphere just realizing Danga was here.
His presence in Kwen’s chamber turned the situation from unbearable to disastrous.
Kneeling beside the luxurious bedding set for the night’s pleasures, Ola had left her mind as blank as it had been all day since she’d undergone a thorough pampering from head to toe in preparation for what was to come soon.
But now even she couldn’t tell what was going on and why he was here. She’d had everything worked out in her head but the moment she heard Danga’s voice in the front room, she forgot the simple act of breathing. What could his sudden appearance bode for her?
She hadn’t been the same since her mistress Saleya had informed Ola of her decided fate. It suddenly felt like her life had turned into a nightmare just as she began to get used to a world of being without true freedom. Saleya had been clear in her instructions when earlier that day she’d told Ola exactly what was expected of her.
“You will be taken to lord Kwen’s chamber when the time is right. You are not to speak to him but will at once take position on your knees by the bed which is how he is to find you on his return.”
And then Saleya’s tone had softened as she cupped Ola’s cold cheeks. “Do not think I hate you or that I did this to hurt you,” Saleya said as she stared deeply into Ola’s eyes. “Trust me, this could be a stepping stone to greater things for you. Kwen is kind and charming; a true prince. A smart girl will use this opportunity to her advantage; please lord Kwen and there is no saying what good tidings that will bring to you and this clan. You remember everything that was shown and explained to you?”
Ola had nodded mutely, her thoughts in a whirl. She had been barely able to speak since dawn had broken and she’d realized that there was no way out and that come nightfall, she would lose the one thing of worth she still owned. She’d lost her freedom, her name – and now she was to lose her most precious possession – her virginity.
Her mistress Saleya’s reminder had made Ola shiver as she thought of all the things the older, more experienced servant girls had taken time to explain to her just hours before.
Ola was not so innocent not to know what went on when a woman was welded to the heated loins of a man. She’d certainly had a limited encounter which felt like a lifetime ago, with Danga. Try as she might she’d never been able to erase that night from her memory. And then of course the servant girls talked a lot and Ola’s imagination had no trouble running wild on occasion. Many of the grown females serving the Habu clan had upon the duty to pleasure whichever clansman required the service. As Saleya’s personal maid Ola had been spared such a task but now what was to save her once Kwen had had his fill and had no further use of her?
Ola had been buried in gloom all day and even the encouraging words from the other girls had done nothing to allay her deepest despair.
In a way she felt guilty for her inner anger and feelings of betrayal. What right had she to feel she deserved a better lot than any of these other girls? They were servants too; they did what they were told. Why should she wish she was spared the same things they had to face everyday when any of the Habu men or their guards or guests requested this or that girl to warm their beds? She was a mere chattel just like any of these girls and it was best, Ola decided, she get used to the idea and finally let go of the fantasy she’d held so long that somehow, she’d find a way out of this misfortune of living the rest of her life as a slave.
The moment Kwen had walked into the softly lit chamber and strode into the inner sleeping room, Ola had stiffened and not dared to look up. Her cheeks and throat went hot as she felt him pause, her skin conscious of his gaze gliding over every scented, buffed inch. Images of things the other girls had whispered in her ears earlier made her wish she was better prepared for this coming ordeal. She hadn’t been prepared that first night, when she’d been brought along by Danga and his brothers as the newest addition to the clan’s horde of ‘token’ servants, given as a gift in exchange for a debt waived in favor of her family.
Only tonight felt much much worse because for so long she’d had such hope. Weeks and weeks under Saleya’s protection, staying at her mistress’ side and serving only her, feeling safe from the brooding, purposeful eyes of Danga or any other libidinous clan member.
Now the cloak of protection was lifted and she was to finally feel the sharp edge of knowing her body was no longer hers to save for that special one who would take her hand in marriage. She must have been a fool. Did she ever think anything good would come to someone like her? Someone her own family hadn’t been able to shield from the disgrace of living her life out as a slave?
Many had said it was a thing of honour to be able to secure the name and prestige of one’s family. Her brothers, sisters and father could now live without the shadow of the debt owed to the Habus for more than ten years. Their peace and happiness for her sorrow and regret. Piece by piece, Ola felt her soul, her very essence being torn from her and the only ones she could truly blame were those who were supposed to cherish her the most – her family.
Bitterness was a poison to the soul. It ate at her now, every moment. It made her want to rip out of the exquisite silken clothes draped over her shivering frame and scream out loud, Why, why?
And yet she stayed still as a pillar of salt when Kwen looked her over one more time and without a word and without laying a hand on her, he went from the room, the gauzy curtain closing back after him as sounds of someone else entering the chamber reached her ears.
That was when she’d heard Danga’s throbbing, deep and irritated voice and her belly had dropped to her toes.
Ola barely seemed aware of her surrounding after that. She’d sensed the curtain lifting but for a moment and a familiar gaze like fierce sun rays piercing her flesh. The curtain fell again and there was a sound of laughter from Kwen.
Ola still wasn’t breathing. Even when she heard Kwen exit the chambers, and even when she knew it was Danga who now strode into the inner room to join her, Ola couldn’t seem to catch her breath. She was close to fainting as she suddenly became light-headed, dazed. What in the name of the Forces was to happen now?