Aric stared at his hands, remembering the blood, her blood, dripping from his fingertips.
He hadn’t wanted to hurt her.
“Her name was Angel,” he said, his voice tight with grief. “I’d had her since she was thirteen, and she was not just my pet, she was my best friend.
“You see,” he continued, moving to sit cross-legged on the floor, “once slaves turn twenty-eight our laws state that they have to be disposed of in one of two ways. They are either handed over to be bled out, their blood added to our stockpile, or they are sent to the breeding clinic and inseminated over and over until they are no longer able to bare children.
“Angel was slated for the clinic,” he sniffed, unable to look at Liberty. "When she found out, she'd begged me to end her life on the eve of her twenty-eighth birthday, but I refused. She seemed to let it drop...Until the night before her birthday.
“Having been together for so long, Angel knew exactly what to say and do to make me angry," he continued, almost unable to speak past the lump in his throat. "She pushed me, and pushed me, and pushed me until I lost control and killed her.
"The worst part," he sobbed, unable to control his sadness anymore, "she used he last breath to thank me."
Aric stopped talking, remembering her swollen, blood smeared face as the words came out of her mouth.
The silence stretched out until he heard Liberty move.
He didn't worry that she would try anything stupid, but he after his confession of his crimes, he didn't really have the energy to care.
Maybe it would be better if she found a way to put him out of his misery.
Instead, the only sound he heard was Liberty pulling out a chair and the crunching of toasted bread as she started eating.
Aric lifted his head and watched as she piled her plate with more food than she could possibly eat.
"I'm glad you're eating," he said, pushing himself to his feet, "but there is no need to make yourself sick."
Liberty paused as she reached for another slice of bread before taking it anyway.
Smiling to himself Aric moved to sit at his desk, a pile of work waiting for him that he'd put off because of the hunt.
Occasionally he'd look up and watched as his pet tried bites of everything in front of her until she could decide what she really liked.
Looking over ledgers it was almost an hour before he looked up to see her, still sitting at the table, but turned in her seat looking at him earnestly.
"What?" Aric asked, setting his pen aside.
"I didn't want to bother you," she said, looking down at the floor, "but can I use the restroom?"
It took him a moment to understand, Liberty had no idea what she could and couldn't do and was still too scared of him to interrupt his work to ask any questions.
"Yes," he nodded, motioning towards the door, "you don't need to ask every time. Use it when you need to."
Without a word of thanks, he watched her hurry out of the room.