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This is Where (Adel) Goes Berserk, Part 1

I really need a better title for this story series. To that end, I will give away ONE ebook title to the winner if someone can help me title this series of stories! Leave suggestions here, on my facebook page or tweet @GraceRDuncan with #Ghalib. And now, for my brief:

Oh, Adel, if only it were that simple…

“You made him do what?” Adel stared at Bathasar in shock.

Bathasar shook his head and Adel thought he saw a carefully-hidden smirk. “Ghalib is now part of the pleasure slaves.”

Adel blinked at his friend for a long moment then frowned. “When I asked for help with him, I thought you would help. I didn’t think you would consign him to slavery. I…” He shook his head and opened his mouth to speak but Bathasar held a hand up before he could.

“I did not consign him to slavery. You misunderstand. I didn’t make him. He is on his way to the slaves’ wing now with Teman because he chose to go.”

Adel scrunched his eyebrows up in puzzlement. “I’m sorry, Bath, but that makes no sense. Why would someone choose slavery?”

Bathasar pursed his lips and looked thoughtful for a long moment then waved a hand at the armchairs in front of the fire. “Please, Adel, let’s take a seat.”

Adel frowned but chose one and settled in while Bathasar poured wine. He kept his silence, letting the idea work its way through his mind, but nothing seemed to want to make sense to him. Adel took the offered goblet and sipped as Bathasar claimed his own seat.

Bathasar took a drink of his wine and appeared to consider his words carefully. “Do you remember when I told you about my loves?”

“I could hardly forget it,” Adel said with a snort. “I’ve never been so confused in my life. I’m still not sure I understand. But…” He frowned and blinked at Bathasar. “Wait. Are you saying that this is the same thing?”

Bathasar smiled and nodded. “Indeed it is. Teman and Nadir believe Ghalib has a similar need to serve that they do. Ghalib…” He paused and sighed. “I am not sure it is my right to tell you this.”

Adel raised an eyebrow. “You are malik. It is your right to do anything you please.”

Bathasar rolled his eyes. “You know that is not how I work.”

“Yes, I do,” Adel conceded, holding a hand up. “My apologies.”

“It’s okay. I know I’m… unusual.” Adel laughed and Bathasar grinned then continued. “Ghalib prefers men.”

Adel tilted his head. “I suspected that but… what has that to do with him joining the slaves?”

“Perhaps since you aren’t here in Behekam all that much, you don’t realize. People of his station are not… well, it’s not acceptable for them to engage in a relationship with someone of the same sex. We—the nobility, I mean—have an… immunity of sorts… to that kind of censure. For the most part, anyway, especially when it comes to choosing lovers or slaves. We cannot marry someone of the same sex, but no one would ever consider making a comment, for instance, if you always chose male slaves. If, that is, you chose slaves at all.”

Adel digested that for a few moments in silence, Bathasar sipping wine and letting him work through it. “I see. And he feels that this is a way for him to… explore his sexuality? Without worrying about the… social consequences?”

Bathasar nodded. “It is one part of it. Ghalib seems quite lost, struggling to find his place. He is too intelligent by half to remain a simple servant. I can see that from the limited time I’ve talked to him.”

“I have seen that, myself. I can certainly understand why he would be unhappy with his position.” Adel shook his head. “But… slavery? Isn’t there some other way to help him?” He scowled. “I… Bathasar, the men who would use him, the things they would do to him! I…” He shook his head again.

Adel didn’t like the smirk on his friend’s face. “You know how to stop that, don’t you?” Bathasar asked.

* * *

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