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Two Weeks to Build a Bird

Julian bought the girl at an auction. Cheap.

She was thin and small with auburn hair that covered half of her back. Her hip bones jutted out and her ribs showed. He could count her vertebrae. She was perfect.

She was drugged and flown to his home in the countryside, where nobody could bother them. His maid tended to her, cleaning her, treating her scrapes and bruises, and brushing her hair until it shone. Then, he had her gently placed in the giant bird cage.

Next to the girl, the cage was his favorite possession. He purchased the pieces of delicate iron-work and had them welded together in his aviary. Assembled, it stood more than twelve feet high. A swing hung from the top of the cage, two trays, one for food and one for water, slid into the lower part of the cage, and a door, triple locked, was the only entrance or exit. Julian experienced a swell of satisfaction when he walked into the aviary and saw her unconscious, naked, and tiny on the floor of the cage.

Then he sat and watched her.

Birds, brightly colored birds, fluttered through the foliage of the aviary. His new acquisition was the only caged creature in the room. Hopefully, he would be able to free her eventually. He could imagine her splashing through the aviary pond with the flamingos.

He was there when she stirred. He didn't move any closer to her cage. Her eyelashes fluttered and she sat up straight with a gasp.

Of course, she panicked.

She threw herself at the door of the cage. When it didn't budge, she climbed up and braced herself against the bars, pulling harder. She didn't care that he was there watching her. She didn't care that she was naked. Brazen thing. He had to hide his smile.

Never once did she yell. He noted that with particular pleasure. She had been schooled not to injure her vocal chords that way.

When she had completely worn herself out, he got up and left. He sent the maid in with food--fruit and nuts, as any good bird would enjoy. And water. Mustn't let the throat get dry.

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On the second day, she hid from him. Or she tried to. There really wasn't anywhere private in her cage but she drew her knees up to cover her narrow chest and kept her face hidden. It would have been fine if she had just looked up, but she refused to even glace his way.

This wouldn't do.

He left the room and returned a moment later with something in his hand. He walked right up to the cage. He cleared his throat. She didn't look. He cleared his throat again and she peeked up over her knees. He noted how big her dark eyes were. They reminded him of a nightingale that had sung him to sleep when he was young. So in his mind, he called her Gale.

He lifted his hand. He had brought her a treat. A cookie. He held the sweet through the bars and offered it to her.

She hid her eyes again and Julian smiled. She was a stubborn bird.


**************************************************************

On the third day, she trembled like a sparrow, but like any animal, she was getting used to him. She hadn't thrown herself at the bars in two days. Most of her wounds were well on their way to being healed.

She ate half of her food. She still didn't say a word and she still wouldn't accept a treat.

But it was progress.

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On the fourth day, she was waiting for him. She came over to the bars when he walked into the room. His heart swelled.

"What do you want with me?" she asked.

Her voice was perfection. As clear as a virgin spring. Deeper than he thought it would be for such a little thing, and so mellow he could almost taste the sound. Not the slightest bit of huskiness even after four days mute.

"Would you like something to wear?" Julian asked, ignoring her question.

She looked down at her nudity and back at him. "Yes, please."

He stepped out of the room and was back moments later. He carried a dress, a cocktail-length frock that was heavily feathered around the collar. And more lightly feathered to the hem. Bright yellow feathers down the front and jet black feathers everywhere else. A web of fabric connected the sleeves to the torso, looking remarkably like wings.

The girl looked at the dress, her cage, and the aviary where he kept her. "I'm not a bird," she said.

Julian held the dress out of her reach. "If you'd rather be naked I can just--"

"No," she said quickly.

He passed her the dress and she slipped into it quickly. It wasn't easy for him to control his expression. Nor his arousal. Her beauty, her unconscious grace and fragility was more than he had hoped.

"What do you want with me?" she asked again.

"Your obedience. Nothing more."

She paled and heat rose in his chest. Why would others pay so much for hardy, feisty women? This slip of femininity showed every emotion. Her body could be easily taken, but her mind.... Ahh, there was the real challenge.

"I don't think I understand," she replied, her voice low.

He smiled. "You will."

**************************************************************

On the sixth day, she tried the swing.

He walked into the aviary to find her perched on the seat. Not swinging; just looking around the room. He allowed himself to smile at her. She should know when she had done well.

"You look lovely," he told her.

She bit her lip and looked back at him. He walked right up to the bars of the cage and she jumped down from the swing, landing lightly. She walked closer to him but kept herself out of reach. He didn't make any sudden moves and kept his hands at his side.

"Could I please have something else to eat?" she asked. "Some meat or bread? I'm hungry."

He knew that she was. He had calculated out her calories carefully. "I was hoping that you would be something more of a song bird," he said.

"Dammit, I'm not a bird."

"Pity," he said.

**************************************************************

On the tenth day, the African gray parrot was sitting on her boney shoulder when Julian came into the aviary. He walked up to the bars and pulled a cracker out of his pocket. The bird abandoned the girl and flew to his hand to get the treat. She looked at the cracker like she would fight the bird for the bit of bread.

"That's my Eve," he said, scratching the bird on the side of its head.

"The bird's name is Eve?" the girl asked.

Julian made a wide gesture. "Every Eden needs its Eve."

"Are you Adam?"

Julian chuckled. "No, my Dear. I'm not Adam. I'm God."

**************************************************************

On the twelfth day, she caved. Julian knew it was just a matter of time. She was hungry and getting hungrier. Her dress grew ragged. When he walked into the aviary, she sat in the swing. He stopped and smiled up at her. She didn't smile back but she did look at him. She cocked her head to the side in a very bird-like way. Then she opened her mouth and sang.

Her voice was everything he imagined it would be. Rich. Mellow. Delicate crystal. She continued for minutes. He took a seat and just looked up at her. His heart felt too big for his chest.

When she was done, the last note lingered in the room like a ghost. "My nightingale," he said.

She was quiet for a moment. Then she spoke in a fearful voice. "Nightingales eat fruit, right?"

"I am God. Nightingales eat what I say they eat."

She paled in the way he had grown to love. She made two low notes without even moving her lips. It sounded like air passing through a wooden flute.

He closed his eyes. She continued to make the low sounds, altering the pattern slightly, changing the notes a bit to make them sound more pleading. The sound washed over him and the beauty made him ache. When she stopped, he had tears in his eyes.

"Thank you, my lovely."

He left the aviary and she watched him go. That evening, he had a small roasted hen delivered to her cage. Two buttered dinner rolls. And a new dress. Brown, with a soft, cream chest.

**************************************************************

On day fourteen, he came into the aviary with a covered platter. He knew she would be able to smell the rich stew. She reacted as predictably as any of his birds: she came to the cage and bobbed around trying to see what he brought for her.

Eve, the African gray, was equally as curious. She landed on the edge of the platter. Julian smiled and reached into his pocket for another cracker. He scratched the parrot on the neck and she leaned into his hand. Then, Julian looked at the girl with a pointed expression.

She trembled. He saw the feathers vibrate. She sang a sweet, short song. He smiled and walked over to her cage. This time she didn't shy away.

"What are you?" he asked.

She hesitated. Her large, dark eyes darted away then came back to his face. "I'm a bird," she whispered.

"What kind of bird?"

"A nightingale."

Carefully, he reached his hand into her cage. She didn't move. He did what he had wanted to do for two weeks: he put his fingers into her auburn hair. She leaned into his hand.

It was beautiful.

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