Father is suspicious of me, I know it. He has started watching me out of the corner of his eye, and coming to my training sessions and asking questions of my trainers. I can see them talking, though I cannot hear what is being said. He sits with folded arms and watches me as I go through my poses. I practice my breathing and my vocabulary of seduction, and he leans forward and puts his hands in his lap. I remember his words to me – that he would be the one who took my fruit, and then I would be cast aside. When he looks at me like that, I know he means it, that he would enjoy it, and that he would not be gentle in the taking.
Yesterday after one of my sessions he beckoned me over. “You seem to be of two minds,” he said. “I am not sure you are who I thought you were, or that you are up to this. Perhaps I will select another daughter instead of you. I will give you to a Narga Captain like I did your sister. Would you like that?”
I was stunned. My older sister, Eridine, just … vanished two years ago. She was being trained and then she just … vanished. And now I know. My father gave her the Nargas. I wanted to burst into tears but I didn’t dare. I wanted to ask if she had become a sex-slave, or tossed into a harem, or … maybe they’d eaten her in one of their sacrifices. I guess he could see the question on my face.
“I don’t know what they did with her, and I do not care. She decided the training sessions were beneath her dignity. She wanted something different, so I obliged. Her fruit was so sweet …” he closed his eyes with the remembrance, “I almost hated to give her away. I would have kept her as one of my wives, but she was trouble. She asked questions and she forgot her place.” He looked at me for a long moment. “You’re not going to do that, are you?”
I studied my toes and shook my head. “I know who I am,” I said quietly, “and I know what my …” I realized fate would be a bad word to use. “I know what my destiny is to be. I am to fulfill my husband and bring honor to my father.”
“Don’t forget it,” he said, and left me alone in the room.
I need to put my whole heart into my training and quit thinking unwise thoughts. Gods, I could wind up a Narga bride, like my sister, or a wife to my father. When I think of it in those terms, the idea of going into the unknown, into the arms and the bed of a stranger, is less terrifying.