Hunter for Hire

She trotted near the man on the hill, stopping close enough that he would hear her, but far enough that he couldn’t grab her suddenly.

“H-hunter… d-don’t ssshoot…” She spoke clearly, though her words trembled with the fear that filled her body, very aware of what the man could and would do to her if he caught her.

The man turned, and it seemed as though his hand inadvertently reached for his bow, though perhaps it was just her nervousness that made it seem so. The surprised lift of his brow, however, was not her imagination.

“Yes?” he said in a rich baritone voice, the sound of which sent shivers down her spine. Still, she would do this. She straightened.

“I’ve a bargain to strike with you, Hunter.”

“Oh? And what is that, prey?”

“I wish you to kill my owner.”

The man stared at her in shock, the widening of his eyes pronounced in the darkness of his face. Then suddenly, he threw his head back, ripples of laughter rumbling free.

She stood, hands on her hips, glaring at the man. Really, this was no laughing matter. Finally, he seemed empty of laughter and looked down at her with curiosity shining from his eyes.

“And why do you wish your owner dead, girl?”

She sneered. “Isn’t it enough that the man dared to lay claim to me?” Anger welled in her, threatening to choke her. She breathed in… and out… trying to calm herself. Such haughty behavior would not get her what she wished.

She spoke once more. “I don’t know the man. He registered me, and I’ve not seen him since. If I am forced into being owned, I prefer someone who would at least care to feed me.”

That part was true at least. Food was sometimes hard to come by in the fields. Although… she would gladly go hungry rather than be owned by some man.

The nearby Hunter stroked his short beard as he regarded her with great amusement. “And what do I get in return for this act?”

She sucked in a breath, hand dropping to her belly to stroke over the rounded curve, stating simply, “My womb.”

The man stared at her, and she continued. “I will come to you, willingly, when I am next fertile.”

He smiled, as though that idea had some merit to him. He shifted, and the movement caused her to draw back slightly in alarm. His next words did nothing to soothe her.

“What if I kill him and register you for myself?”

She drew herself to her full height, which — granted — wasn’t much, and tossed her head haughtily before narrowing her eyes at the man.

“I would make your life a living hell, and make sure that anyone but you gave me a child.”

He believed her, but her threat didn’t scare him. He was a good hunter. Still, she intrigued him, and he knew the product of their union would be a fine child.

“You have a deal. I will kill him.”