Home > Worse Guy(9)

Worse Guy(9)
Author: Ruby Dixon

"You heard what First Rank Novis said," the female replies, her voice crisp as she puts a large portion of her baked treats into my bowl. I've noticed that the portion she gives me grows larger over time. Does she know how much I loathe the dry protein bars they give me, or is this simply a hunch of hers? "He responds well to female energy. How else are we going to know if we're making progress unless we test things?" She smiles sweetly at him and picks up the bowl. "Now open the door so I can go inside."

I watch the male, curious to see how he reacts to her demand. He frowns down at her, this Riffin, and then relents a little. "Kiss me first."

Her mouth firms for a brief moment in that way it does when she's displeased, but she tilts her face up at him.

He clutches at her shoulders and slants his mouth over hers, dragging his lips over her mouth and stealing her breath. Curious, I watch him do this, because it is evident to me that she despises this touch. Why be mated, then? She remains still, waiting patiently, and when he withdraws, I see a gleam of saliva.

Did he…use his tongue on her? Is that why she hates it?

She gives Riffin a faint smile when he pulls away, and as the other guards make teasing sounds, she turns toward the door and discreetly wipes his taste off her lips. The male is patted on the back by a few others, and then someone types in the code to let her into my room. Immediately, they are on alert, watching to see if I pounce.

Pouncing is far less interesting than having the female visit. They need not worry.

The female—Bee—sweeps inside with confidence. There is no fear scent on her, which I find fascinating. Even when the guards make their way in to kick my food bowl over to me, they wear a hint of fear. She marches inside and takes a look around as if seeing my room for the first time. Her nose wrinkles, and I am certain she smells the urine and feces that never get entirely washed away with the hose. It is something I tell myself I am not ashamed of. I cannot go anywhere because I am cuffed, not even to the lavatory equipment attached to the wall a short distance away from my cage.

But I do not like seeing her disapproval of the smell and filth in my quarters. They treat me like an animal, not like the champion I am.

Bee turns to look at me, the bowl propped up on her ample hip. She studies my hunched form, my filthy mane and skin, the cage I crouch in, day after day. "If I bring this food to you, are you going to attack me?"

"No, Bee," her male calls out. "You're already risking too much!"

I notice he does not enter my chamber. His fear stink fills the hall, though. He is worried for his female. He should be…I intend on winning her away from him. Just because I know I can.

Bee, the female, waits and watches me. I wait, too.

"Will you not talk to me today?" she asks in a low whisper, her voice pitched so the others cannot hear.

I grunt. "I am hungry. Are you satisfied?"

A tiny smile just for me plays at her strange, small human mouth. She looks around and then back at me. "This is a big cleaning job," she admits. "I can do it if having more people around is going to bother you, but I'd like to get things really cleaned up so you have a decent place to live. This isn't fair to you and I'd like to help. Will you let me bring in some cleaning bots or will the noise bother you?"

I jerk on the cuffs. "Can I have these off?"

"I can't promise that yet. You still have quite the reputation for attacking everything in sight. But if we clean this room up with no incident and you let me come in here without attacking…" Her smile brightens. "Then I can make a case for it."

Sometimes I suspect she is manipulating me as much as she is the guards. But since I have nothing else to do, I find I do not care. I am far too amused by watching her machinations. She continues to hold the bowl with my cookies in it, as if she is deciding whether or not she wants to risk moving close enough to me to set it down, or if she will kick it over like the others do. I watch as she studies me, then straightens her shoulders and marches over to my cage.

"As a reminder," she says softly. "If you hurt me, you go back to square one. Or worse."

"I have no interest in harming you." I let the words purr out of me, making my tone as low and gentle as hers. "In fact, I know what I want as my prize. My incentive to play your game."

Bee straightens, her hands smoothing down her pale pink tunic that somehow makes her skin look a warmer shade of brown than usual. "What's that?"

I don't give her my answer yet. I want her to wonder about it for a while. Two can play manipulation games, after all.



The next day, the cleaner bots begin to make regular appearances into my cell. They make sharp, irritating noises, whirring as they spray soapy water onto the floors and get to work. My room is so dirty that they work for hours on end, and the sounds grate on my nerves, but I know this is another unspoken test to see how far I have come. The female is pleased with my progress, I suspect, and once the floors are clean, she moves her stool out of the hall and into my room, near the door.

"When do I get the cuffs removed?" I ask, because my back aches with the constant hunching.

"When can I trust you?" She lobs back. "Maybe you tell me more about yourself. Maybe we become friends, and then I can get the cuffs off you."

This female. I bite back a snarl of irritation when one of the cleaner bots whirrs past, spraying soapy water on the tip of my tail as it cleans the edges of the cage. "What do you wish to know?"

She tilts her head, regarding me. "Well, for starters, I suppose we could introduce ourselves. My name is Bee. It's short for Beatrice, but that's too stuffy, so I just go by Bee."

I watch her. Her tone is casual and intimate, as if it is just us alone, having a conversation. Yet when I glance over her head, there are a half-dozen guardsmen lurking nearby, watching us. Waiting for me to threaten her so they can end me. It makes me not want to say anything, but I know she's desperate to prove that she can make progress with me, that she can befriend me and somehow prove herself to these males that all talk down to her. "You know my name," I say slowly.

"Yes, but I was wondering if there was something you preferred to go by?"

"The guards call me 'Asshole.'"

Bee's mouth flattens angrily. "Do they, now? Well, I'm not going to call you that. So you tell me what you like to be called."

I shrug. "Crulden works the same as anything else."

"Very well, Crulden. I'm glad we're becoming friends." Her voice drops to a low whisper, and I feel as if she's speaking to me and me alone. It makes my cock react. "You…they told you that you're not the first Crulden?"

"I'm a clone," I agree. I've picked up that much from the conversations in the halls. "That I've been bred to fight in the arenas and win for my master." My lip curls. "Except the master I've been given to keeps me cuffed in a cage."

"He's not your master—"

"Isn't he?"

Bee goes silent, and I know she has no good answer. This male who claims to have “freed” me keeps me locked up tight. "Well. The reason I bring it up is that since you're a clone of the original Crulden, if you want to change your name, you just let me know. I'll respect your wishes." She shoots a scowl behind her, through the window. "And I will never call you ‘asshole.’"

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