Damn her. She was such a good girl. And now she's gone and—

I don't want to kill her. But I have to, and I have to do it myself. All the gods that ever were. Why'd she do it? Why is she making me do this?

Because I sent her away?

Captain can't play favorites. That's the only way this works. We do what we do and we all enjoy it, and then it's over, because if I pick one above all others, then everyone else hates her, and discipline goes to hell. Get everybody taking one side and another and it gets ugly and you end up having to throw half the crew off the ship and send them off to make their own way in the world. No way to look after them, that. Have to be even-handed about it. Enjoy one another a while, and then done, and move along to the next. Or else I'm no captain at all, am I? Just a creature of all my appetites, taking what I want and damn all to the rest of it. Can't play favorites among the crew.

No matter how I want to.

And she was the best of all of them. So good. So obedient, and so much need in her—with most of them I have to look out hard I don't go too far with them, but her? She'd take everything I could find in myself to want to give. Never had to hold myself back with her. Not even a little. Never had to worry with her, the way I always do. I had her every way I could think of, and she loved every second of it and begged for more. Kept me going that way until she wore me out with it—she wore me out, just with the strength of her need.

And so pretty, so tall and long and so well shaped, every inch of her taut fighting the ropes—broke them one time, old ones, just so she could dig claws into my back and scream loud enough to lay my ears flat and all but tear it out of me. Me!—in her to the hilt, she under me on the bed still tied down by her ankles and suddenly I'm not giving any more, she's taking.

Damn her! I love her. And I can't. And now, what she's gone and done—and what I have to do because of it—