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Thank you so much to everybody who commented on the end of The Maiden, and for all your extremely kind comments on my other stories in this interval. Your comments and responses give me such joy and encouragement to continue writing and posting, which obviously has been a difficult thing for me to keep up with lately, though I'm trying hard. Thank you all x a billion. You are wonderful and thoughtful and you make me a very happy writer lady.

Here's the first chapter of the sequel (it's called The Mother, natch, though as in The Maiden, you might not find out for a little while who the title actually refers to). It picks up pretty much exactly where The Maiden left off. I tried to work a teeny bit of "previously, in the Daughterverse" into the chapter but I think you probably need to have read The Maiden to make any sense of this. Maybe not, I dunno. Let me go ahead and post before I psych myself out of it again.







"This is Kyle," said Emily. "He's the man in charge. He's intelligent and good-natured, but he tends to answer back and question authority. His previous protectrix didn't entirely discourage that. It's up to you how much you want to tolerate, but if you do decide he needs discipline, please refer him to me rather than punishing him yourself. Unless it's an emergency, in which case you'll need to give me a full report afterwards justifying the action. Kyle, this is Deborah."

Deborah looked Kyle up and down with dark, thoughtful eyes. She was a small woman, short and fine-boned, with cocoa-colored skin and coal-black hair, streaked with yellow, that she wore in short dreadlocks. She nodded briefly, as if marking his appearance in her mind. Kyle ducked his head submissively, wishing Emily hadn't felt the need to say what she had about his tendency to answer back. He didn't do it that much. It was just that recent circumstances had seemed to call for it.

"Selena will arrive at eight this evening," Emily added to Kyle, "and Deborah will leave at nine, after briefing Selena on the events of the day. You go off duty at ten and come back on at seven in the morning. Deborah will be back at eight in the morning, and Selena will leave at nine. As I think I mentioned, I'm looking to hire more women, but for now, this is our schedule. Your main job for now is to get a feel for the center-- get to know the guards and inmates, make a note of any obvious problem areas that you think I should attend to, and attend to the problems you can yourself. We can get more specific as time goes on. Questions or comments before I dismiss you again?"

Kyle shook his head and, at her gesture, bowed and left Deborah and Emily in the office.





The administrative portion of the center for unprotected men, where Emily's office was located, felt as separate from the rest of the center as if it were in a different building instead of just down a claustrophobic little hall which led southward from the office to a long, narrow central space, where men seemed to gather in odd little knots, talking and glancing around nervously, and avoiding the northern portion of the room. Along the east and west walls of this space were rooms-- or more properly cells-- with gatelike doors made of iron bars that stood open in the daytime and, Kyle understood, were locked at night. Each cell held three sets of bunk beds, one on each wall; some also had a small, high-up window, also barred. Kyle counted twenty cells, which at six beds per cell would make one hundred and twenty beds, although there were certainly more than one hundred and twenty inmates at the center. Some men lay in beds or on the floors of the cells, or sat in them, talking to each other or staring at walls.

On the south wall were three doors. The leftmost led down another claustrophobic hall to a small fenced-in, cement-paved yard which seemed to be freely accessible by the inmates-- more knots of two and three men talking, and a couple of catatonic-looking men sitting or standing by the fence and staring out at the view of more concrete and, past that, a high brick wall-- and presided over by two bored-looking guards. Kyle nodded to them, and they nodded back stoically. Kyle went back inside without saying anything.

He tried the middle door and found himself in a large dining hall, deserted except for one guard, who was sitting on one of the tables reading a paperback novel.

"Hi," said Kyle, and the guard looked up, startled. "What's your name?"

"Gavin," said the guard, and stood up at uncertain attention. "Sir."

"Gavin," said Kyle, trying to commit the name and face to memory; the sooner he learned all their names, the better. "Anybody ever come in here except mealtimes?"

"Not really," said Gavin.

Kyle nodded. "Kitchen's through there?"

"Yes, sir."

Kyle went into the kitchen, where two apron-clad women were working, one chopping onions, the other deboning a chicken. Kyle stopped short and bowed low as the one chopping onions wiped her watering eyes on her sleeve and smiled.

"You must be Kyle," she said. "It's all right, we won't eat you. Will we, Theodora?"

"The inmates might," said Theodora, who looked rangily muscular behind her swaddling white apron, with a harsh, determined jaw and brush-cut hair. "They're hungry enough."

The first woman, plump and pleasant-looking, with a kerchief over the riotous curls of her hair, shook her head sadly. "That's Gaia's own truth. We'll feed them up, though. Teach them to cook, too, at least good enough they don't poison themselves. You cook, Kyle?"

Kyle shook his head.

"Too bad," said the plump one. "I'm Nancy. Good to meet you. Run along now and see those men don't eat each other before we get dinner on the table."

Kyle ran along.

He was approaching the third door when it opened so hard it banged the opposite wall and three men came out, one of them naked from the waist down, his penis dangling and glistening obscenely with what looked like it might be blood. It took a moment before Kyle saw that Deborah was behind them, her face grim, one hand on each of two backs, pushing them forward; all three men looked sick and pale, and shiny with sweat.

"Kyle," said Deborah, spotting him. "Good. You go in there and tend to the man on the floor, see if he need a doctor. I'll be back, soon as I take these men in to see Emily."

She shoved the men onward, garnering considerable if silent interest among the other men in the room. Kyle hurried past her and through the door into what seemed to be a large communal shower room; sure enough, as Deborah had said, there was a man lying face down on the floor, his loose gray pants bunched around his ankles. He looked up at Kyle with wet almond-shaped eyes, one of them blackened and swollen, his lip split and bleeding.

"Holy Gaia," said Kyle, kneeling down next to the prostrate man. He was young, probably no more than eighteen or nineteen, and noticeably attractive under the bruises. Kyle could hear his ragged breathing.

"It's okay," Kyle said. "It's okay now. They're gone."

The boy, still panting for breath, eyed Kyle distrustfully.

"I'm not going to hurt you," Kyle said, holding up his hands. "I promise. What's your name?"

"Zach," the boy rasped, and cleared his throat. "Who are you?"

"Kyle," said Kyle. "I'm Jack's replacement."

"Great," said Zach, and closed his eyes.

Kyle sat there for awhile, not knowing what else to say. Eventually Zach, without speaking, started to pull himself to his feet. Kyle reached out to help him, but Zach jerked away so hard he almost went over again, and Kyle pulled back, showing Zach his palms.

"Sorry," he said.

Without answering, Zach kicked his way out of the pants that were almost off anyway and stood up. He unbuttoned and shrugged out of his shirt, displaying a skinny, bruised body; Kyle didn't realize he was staring until Zach turned a cold look on him, and Kyle turned his face away.

After a few moments, he heard water turn on, and the room heated and steamed up slightly as it ran, smoothly at first, then with the splattering sound that came when a body stood under the spray. Kyle kept his eyes turned to the wall even after the water stopped running, until eventually Zach walked past him, dressed again, and disappeared through the door without a word.

Kyle stood up, but then hesitated to follow Zach; it was obvious that this room needed supervision that it wasn't getting. Besides, Deborah had said she'd be back here.

She arrived, stormclouds all over her face, and Kyle braced himself for recriminations, but she just said, "Where'd that boy go?"

"He took a shower and left," said Kyle. "I don't think he needs a hospital, but he could probably do with a doctor. Every guy here probably could. At least a basic physical. I thought I should stay here in case anybody else decided this was a great room to bring the kid you wanted to rape."

"You're right about that," said Deborah. "Not your job to stay here, though-- you need to be roaming around, getting to know things, like Emily said. Tell you what, you get your big friend-- Drew, yes?-- you put him in here, him and another guard, don't matter which. Needs to be two, though."

"Oh," said Kyle. "Uh, right now Drew is sort of keeping an eye out for me. There's another man here who I think is getting abused. By other inmates, and guards too. I asked Drew to look out for him. He's--"

"Ellis, yes?" Deborah asked.

"Yes," said Kyle, surprised. "Did you--"

"I saw," said Deborah. "Let Ellis come in here with Drew, then, or stick with you instead. I'll keep an eye out, but I know he don't trust a woman even more than he don't trust a man." She frowned, then, thoughtfully, and added, "What might take some thinking about is tonight, when you and Drew'll be in bed. These rooms packed with men, two a bed, pile on the floor, lights out. And Selena's only one girl."

Kyle nodded. "Is Emily-- does she, do you know if she has plans to--"

"To fix this rooming problem, yes," said Deborah, "but she won't get it fixed tonight. So, tonight maybe I'll be doing a little rearranging, put Ellis with-- you get that boy's name?"

"Zach," said Kyle.

"Put Ellis with Zach," said Deborah, "and maybe Zach and Ellis can tell you who else they like for a roommate. You tell me tonight, before I go, I tell Selena, and we can get one room fixed up safe anyway, by bedtime. What you think of that plan?"

"I think I like it," said Kyle, and Deborah gave her firm little nod again.

"Good then," she said. "Come. Give the orders."





With Drew and another guard (Bret, whom Kyle had grabbed at random, trusting Drew to monitor the situation) in the shower room, Kyle walked the center, talking to guards and inmates alike, asking their names and trying to make conversation. Responses ranged from sullen silence to terrified silence. Kyle had already located Zach in one of the cell-like bunk rooms, but waited a decent interval before he went in there after him and found him sitting on one of the top bunks, trying to look out the window.

"Hey," said Kyle from the floor.

Zach looked down at him, but didn't answer.

"You okay?" Kyle asked.

Zach squinted at him with one bloodshot, swollen eye and one entirely alert one.

"What kind of a dumb fucking question is that?" he asked.

"Pretty fucking dumb," Kyle admitted, and hoisted himself up to sit on the bunk beside Zach, leaving a healthy amount of space between them. Zach moved farther away anyway, until he was pressed up against the wall, watching Kyle like a cornered animal. "Zach, if you could pick eight men to be your roommates tonight, who would they be?"

"Listen-- Kyle, right?" said Zach, and when Kyle nodded, "Listen, Kyle, if you think looking at the wall while I take a shower is going to make me fall all over myself to slobber on your shoes and bring you tidbits, I've got news for you. There's plenty of men here who'll suck your cock for the five extra calories, but I'm not one of them. If you want to break my face, do it-- I'd probably be better off without this killer bone structure. Or you can leave me the fuck alone. But I am not your boy, and if you plan on trying to force the issue, you should know there's a reason it took three men to take me down in there."

"Gotcha," said Kyle, not sure whether to be amused or saddened by the boy's bravado, but careful not to betray either mirth or pity; he didn't think Zach would respond well to either one. "How long have you been here?"

Zach looked back at the window without answering.

"Did you know a guy named Sean?" Kyle asked.

Startled, Zach swung his head back around and looked at Kyle with new interest.

"We're not related," said Kyle. "Me and Sean. As far as I know, anyway. But my former protectrix, the magistra, she picked him out because he looked like me. He was my replacement, as her stud. And when he told her how shitty things were here, at the center, she-- well, she got her sister to come take over here-- that's Emily-- and Emily offered me her protection, as Jack's replacement. So we could make things less shitty. That's the plan, anyway."

Zach seemed to consider this, examining Kyle's face as if for clues.

"That's real sweet, Kyle," he said finally. "You get right on that."

"I'd like to start with tonight," said Kyle, ignoring Zach's sarcasm. "I'm trying to put together a kind of safe sleeping room. You and Ellis are the two guys I've actually seen victimized. If you can give me the names of eight others who could sleep in the same room as you two without anybody getting raped or beaten up, I'd be really appreciative."

"It's a tall order," said Zach, looking now at his feet. "Eight guys who don't hate me, don't hate Ellis, and don't want my hot little ass. How about I just try to come up with nine guys who won't fuck with me, and you take Ellis to your little guard bedroom tonight?"

Kyle considered responses to this, and settled on a mild, "Why that way around?"

"Because Ellis won't knock your fucking teeth down your throat if you try it," said Zach. "He used to flat-out beg Jack. Guess he'd rather go down without a fight to one guy than get locked up with ten." He narrowed his unbruised eye at Kyle again. "For the record, I've never in my life gone down without a fight."

"I bet," said Kyle, still carefully blank-faced despite the melancholy absurdity of Zach's tough talk. "Look, Zach. Not that you don't have great bone structure, but first of all, if Emily caught me taking one of you men to bed with me-- any one-- her baby would be teething on a rattle made out of my kneecaps. It's not part of her plan. And second of all--" Kyle found himself blushing slightly. "Um, I've actually sort of already got somebody-- slated-- for my bed. The, the other new guard. The tall one? Who came here with me? His name's Drew. We're, uh, kind of an item."

"An item," said Zach warily, after a moment. "What does that mean?"

"Together," said Kyle. "We are. A couple. Our former protectrix took us to get blood tests and everything, to make sure we didn't give each other any diseases."

Zach blinked.

"That might be the most vomitously cutesy thing I've ever heard," he said, and Kyle thought he could hear a trace of amusement in his voice now. "So what are you doing sitting on the bed with the hottest little unprotected male in the center? Won't your husband get jealous?"

"Husband?"

"I got top marks in world history," said Zach, shifting, not perceptibly closer to Kyle, but into a slightly more relaxed pose. "But despite the bone structure, women seem to think I'm a little bit of a smartass. So I get dumped in a center to have the smartness beaten and buggered out of me. Ah well. A merry life and a short one, right?"

"Not if I can help it," said Kyle. "Eight guys. Who don't hate you or Ellis. Think you can come up with that many?"

"I'll rack my brain." Zach kicked moodily at the wall under the window. "You realize the list of guys who don't want to beat me up is getting even shorter as I sit here chatting with the boykissing skirthugger of a new head guard."

"Everybody wants to beat you up?" said Kyle, allowing himself a small smile. "Can't imagine why."

Zach started to smile back at him, then winced and put his hand to his split lip. "Ow. Fuck. Yeah, well, as you can see. Life of the party."

"Eight guys," said Kyle. "Think about it. Let me know before eight o'clock tonight. You should be okay until then-- I'm pretty sure nobody's going to try to fuck with you again while Deborah and I are on shift."

"My hero," said Zach, kicking the wall again. "Don't you have kittens to rescue or something?"

"Right," said Kyle, and slid off the bunk, landing on his feet on the floor. "See you around, Zach."
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