“We can go at it all night if you’d like.” The hollow pop of the Inquisitor’s knuckles echoed through the cell.
Adonis tilted his face askew and peered at his shadowed abuser through sweat-strung strands of salt-and-pepper hair. One small breach of light shined between the knots of his swollen brow, granting him a line of narrow sight. His head pulsed as if it might burst despite the fact blood drained from his nose in a steady stream. The tops of his naked thighs were coated slick with red. He smiled as wide as his fractured face allowed. “You’d miss your nightcap for nothing.”
The Inquisitor eased his lean frame into the flickering halo of lamplight. A splash of crimson peppered his forearms and close-trimmed beard. He pressed his thumb deep into the swell of Adonis’s brow. “Not for nothing.”
Adonis gritted his teeth and leaned into the attack.
The man released him with a shove that tipped Adonis back in his seat. The chair shuddered under the sudden shift of his weight. Splinters and the tacky grime of its last inhabitant’s fluids assaulted his backside.
“Come now, blacksmith,” The Inquisitor snapped a switch of cane under Adonis’s chin and forced his head side-to-side as if inspecting a piece of meat. “A person in your line of work doesn’t come up with eighty gold on his own, and they damn well don’t bribe the Imperial Guard for five minutes in a cell with a disgraced house slave. Pretty or not.”
Adonis swallowed despite his parched mouth and coaxed his tongue to work. “More than axe heads and skillets come through my shop, but I don’t purvey to the lusts of men. Not for any price.”
“Illegal steel for the resistance then?” The Inquisitor frowned. “Nevermind, you’re too boring for that. Mystery of mysteries.”
For a moment, the soiled cane tapped upon Adonis’s shoulder in an absent-minded thrum, then eased to a stop. Adonis stiffened. A callous fingertip prodded along the ridges of his rent flesh, the slow plop of blood punctuating the silence.
“It seems doling out a bit of black and blue is insufficient to loosen your tongue. Perhaps a new motivator is in order?”
What? Adonis’s stomach turned.
“For each unsatisfactory response, your sweet thing will earn a five minute tryst with one of my men. Seems only fair they enjoy the same amount of time with her as you did, though I imagine there’ll be less chatting.”
Adonis trembled. The image of Arianna, shackled and scarred by men’s ill use burned into the back of his eyelids. She had to get away from here. Before . . .
“Now, I’ll ask again…Who financed you?”
“I told you the truth. Myself.”
Another fist connected with Adonis’s jaw and sent him back straight. A tang like hot metal filled his mouth.