“It is Jezeb of Shilha.” I say through gritted teeth as she lets out a sigh. Jezeb is a somewhat distant related family member from the traveling colony of Shilha. When he visits he makes rounds through the family chambers to “greet” his kin.
“You had better escape quickly then.” Kirah winks. It really is incredible how well trained she is. Maybe the king doesn’t know. I leave silently skimming the edges of the room, becoming one with the curtains, Jezeb is still greeting the concubines and their children so I feel confident that I will make it out. I’m close to the door when I feel an arm grip me and yank me out of the room the rest of the way. I’m slammed against the outside wall and grimace. I didn’t make it.
“Did you miss me princess?” Jezeb says with a raspy voice. He strokes my hair, still gripping onto my forearm.
“Let go of me.” I say trying to yank my arm free. He answers my resistances by pressing his forearm across my chest.
“Still as lovely as ever.” He says taking a deep breath into my neck. My skin crawls.
“If you don’t let go of me, I’m going to scream.” I say trying to sound defiant.
“You will only excite me more.” I feel his smile creep onto his face as his cheek is pressed to mine and he whispers in my ear. “But would anyone come if you did?” I feel rage and anguish fill me as I realize the truth. No one would come.
“If you’re not in my room tonight, you will regret it.” His low voice sends a tremor down my spine, and I begin to shake uncontrollably. He kisses my cheek sweetly, as if an uncle to his niece and smiles wide.
“What do you think you are doing?!” I hear Kalim’s deep voice bellow as he yanks Jezeb by his neck and slams him into the wall. Jezeb squirms and his lips twitch causing his thin black mustache to quiver. Kalim’s face is hard and unyielding, if he could I’m sure he would turn Jezeb to stone.
“Answer me! What in the Spirit’s name are you doing?” His voice is quiet. A scary, hushed warning capable of anything. I see his fingers tighten around Jezeb’s neck, his face turning purple. “If you touch her again, I will kill you by any means necessary, and will take any punishment as the repercussions.” Kalim presses a little harder and then releases him with a rough shove. I hear Jezeb whimper as he falls to the ground, tries to regain his dignity and quickly walks down the hallway.
I blink back tears and swallow hard, not allowing myself to look into Kalim’s eyes.
“Are you ok?” Kalim says as his eyes pour over me, as if going through a mental checklist of things to make sure I’m ok.
“Ya…” I say still looking down.
“What did he say to you?” Kalim says quietly.
“That I would regret it if I didn’t come to his room tonight.”
“What does he think you are?! The king’s harlot?!” He’s outraged. All I can do is sit there quietly. “Stay by me at all times! Until he leaves! I will not allow him to touch you! Not again.” He says the last two words quietly. Jezeb has come many times before, but has been harassing me since I was ten. Last time he was here, I was fourteen. He called me to his room and cornered me. I struggled so hard against him, he kissed me, and touched me against my will. I felt like dying. I was considered a child at that time, and this was his claim for me till I got older. A young servant walked in on us and did nothing. He stared at the ground and quickly made his leave. Before things could get worse, Kalim, a new servant at the time came in. He saw me struggling, and even with the punishment of death hanging over his head, still came and stole me away from Jezeb. At sixteen he was still as strong and quiet as he is now.
“Did you hear any of what I just said?” He said lifting my face to his.
“Yes, I’ll stay by your side.” I whisper quietly and lean on his chest. We don’t touch often but when we do, I never want to leave. His arms awkwardly wrap around me and I sink into his embrace.
“It’s ok” He says and manages to pat my head. I want to cry but I can’t bring myself to let the tears flow out. I’m not a harlot. I think to myself. However…there are benefits…