The Copper Horse V1
1907, twenty years into the zombie Plague
Reuben is a baker living in the slums of London, sharing a room with his father and an extended family of cockroaches. Poor, uneducated and repressing all his sexual desires, he leads a life of misery, only sometimes sprinkled with gin and a rough tumble in a filthy back alley.
But when he is abducted into Bylondon, to be the slave of a wealthy crime family member - Erik Dal, his values are put to the test. His new master is obsessed with all things equestrian and Reuben soon learns that if he obeys and performs well as Erik’s horse, he might just get everything he yearns for: pampering, foods he never even dreamed of, and shameless sex with a demonically handsome young man in leather riding boots.
As Copper, Erik’s treasured dun stallion, Reuben must submit to his new master’s obscene fancy of possessing another man completely. That is if he yearns for treats, not the lick of a riding crop. Fake tails, harnesses, and a new haircut to his ginger mane, help Reuben transform into Copper, but the fear of losing his dignity in the eyes of society might just prove to be a bigger restraint than any bit, bridle, or handcuffs.
All that for the small price of his freedom. Though at times, Reuben feels it’s his soul that Erik is after.
Genre: m/m dark erotic romance, BDSM
Themes: class differences, slavery, steampunk, alternative lifestyle, Victorian, master/servant, captivity, ponyplay, animalization, kink, organized crime, violence
Erotic content: explicit m/m erotic scenes (including ponyplay)
Length: ~95,000 words
- 3 To Be Read lists
- 1 Read list
Publisher: Independently Published
Heat Level: 5
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 18-25
Tropes: Big Character / Little Character, Class Differences, Criminals & Outlaws, Enemies to Lovers, Hurt / Comfort, Opposites Attract, Sex Buddies Become Lovers, Smartass Twinks, Antihero, Mind Games
Word Count: 95000
Setting: London, England
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
On a warm Saturday afternoon like this one though, no warnings would keep people out of the streets. The one good thing about being a baker was finishing work early. He had to get up in the middle of the night to help prepare the dough, but at least he got to see a bit of sunlight if he went all the way to Hyde Park once he’d called it a day.
The park might have been surrounded by a filthy city, but with the amount of trees and flowers, the air here was a lot cleaner than anywhere else. Reuben lowered his gas mask with a sense of relief and took in a long breath, watching the greenery through the tall fence. The smell was so different from the dusty aroma of the slum. It reminded him of the rare times of happiness, and he let his eyes wander over the thick grass. Between the trees, he could see children running around with a hoop and rod, their fine clothes probably more expensive than his house.READ MORE
Reuben remembered playing there as well when he was a young boy and it was still available to the public. Now that it was closed off to the poor, all he could do was look through the steel bars. There were countless guards inside, so trying to sneak in wasn’t much of an option.
It was hot and maybe even a bit muggy, but Reuben was sure it was lovely to walk between the trees. He couldn’t see them from where he stood, but there were fountains deeper in the park. Walking along the fence, toward the gate, he opened his shirt to cool off.
A loud whinny to his side made him jump.
“Whoa there!” He laughed it off, looking up to the massive horse. “Sorry, sir!” he said to the rider, though he didn’t know what for. Better safe than sorry.
The man looked at him from behind a pair of black-lensed goggles that seemed too big for his slim face, which, too, was hidden by a simple, but elegant mask. As if owning a horse wasn’t enough of an expression of great wealth, the man wore a splendid riding costume. The jacket was pale brown velvet, the same color as the man’s top hat, and as Reuben’s gaze traveled south, he saw how cleverly the tailor had complemented his customer’s well-formed thighs, encased in a pair of breeches made of the softest leather. Only then did Reuben realize that the man was riding bareback, which was in stark contrast to other wealthy gentlemen Reuben saw in the streets of London.
The horse was a magnificent animal, too. Massive, with a thick mane, hair around the hooves and a gas mask on its head. Reuben never liked those. They made horses look like monsters with dead, hollow glass where their eyes should have been. He noticed a large, broad shouldered man in a modest suit standing in the background. He must have been guarding his master’s safety, yet for some reason, he didn’t make a move to chase Reuben away. Afraid to be staring too long at someone so rich, Reuben quickly made his way along the park fence.
“I’m no tramp!” He looked over his shoulder, trying to walk away faster. The loud clopping of hooves followed him. As far as he knew, catching the attention of an unknown rich man was never a good thing. He didn’t believe in the stories of randomly getting a job in the street. Being beaten for no reason or getting into all sorts of trouble was more of a common experience.
He sped up, looking back at the grim figures walking behind him when he bumped into a firm body. “Oh, God! Sorry sir! So deeply sorry,” he muttered to the park guard by the gate. This was getting worse with every minute. The bulky man looked at him from below a heavy, copper helmet that looked like a big bowl pressed low on his head. His emerald green uniform made Reuben jumpy—like any uniform, for that matter.
“What are you even looking here for?” The guard pushed at his chest. “You’ll scare away the park members. Nobody wants to catch any lice!”
Reuben felt himself go red. “I’m just looking. And who says? Maybe I have enough money, huh?” He cowered a few paces away, only to stand closer to that damned toff on horseback.
“You don’t.” The guard frowned and reached for his baton. “Get away or I’ll have to chase you out.”
“I haven’t done nothin’. I’m just lookin’!” Reuben raised his hand, reflexively trying to protect himself from the baton, but the guard stopped, focused on something behind his back. His head instinctively turned the same way.
The rider held his arm up, three gloved fingers outstretched, and his servant hurried toward the guard with a rattling bundle of coins.
“Absolutely, sir!” the park guard said as soon as he received the money and started opening the gate. Reuben shivered as the giant horse stopped only a few feet away from him. Too shaken to look up, he just stood there paralyzed, pretending to be invisible.
The moment he heard a snap of fingers above his head, he looked up as if he was trained to do so. He couldn’t see the rider’s eyes, but he was certain the man was looking straight at him. Not knowing what to do, he managed a weak smile. The mute rider nodded, then stretched out his hand toward Reuben, encouraging him inside the park as if he had found a small bird in the street and urged it back to its nest.
The guards watched, dumbstruck, but there was something about the eccentric patron that kept their mouths shut.
“You sure, kind sir?” Reuben looked at him once more, his smile widening. It seemed too good to be true.
The man nodded, riding through the gate with the servant trailing behind, equally silent as his master.
When Reuben gathered the courage to move, his stride quickly changed into a run, and with no regard to the sneering guards, he took off his shirt, waving it in the air with a wide grin. The silent gentleman urged his horse forward and followed Reuben into the park. It seemed strange, but Reuben did not mind. After all, the rich stranger paid his way in.
Passersby avoided him, no doubt commenting on his lack of morals or clothes, but Reuben couldn’t care less. The moment he stepped onto the finely kept lawn, he took off his shoes and wrapped them in his shirt so they would be easier to carry. The air smelled of freshly cut grass, and Reuben took a lungful before setting off for a run. The freedom it brought made him want to scream in delight.
It was as if he were a little boy again, escaping his father’s watchful eye to bathe in the Serpentine and pretend that this whole park was a magical forest where he was safe, the only forest in all of Britain without any undead. A group of ladies would be there every Saturday to comb children’s hair, wash their gray faces and sometimes even give them new clothes or food. He remembered that one time he’d got a piece of chocolate. It was the sweetest, creamiest thing he had ever had, and though the piece melted all too soon and he hadn’t had any since, he could still remember the taste as if it were yesterday. He would give a lot to try it again.
He could still hear the clopping of hooves behind him and stopped in embarrassment, turning around to face the man whom he owed for all this. How could he have been so ungrateful?
The rider halted in front of him, his servant a few feet behind. Reuben hugged the shirt to his chest, suddenly feeling the need to cover up, and looked at the gentleman.
“Thank you, sir! This means a lot to me!”
The stranger crooked his head before leaning down to lie on the neck of his stallion and reach his hand out. Reuben swallowed, his heart pounding. There was something eerie about this clean, rich man. Why had he helped him get into the park? Sure, the fee must have been nothing to someone like him, but kindness toward a dirty pauper was the last thing Reuben expected from a richer.
“Uhm, I don’t understand, sir.” Reuben took a step closer. “My hands are dirty, I better not…”
The man moved his fingers in clear invitation. They were long and graceful, like those of piano players. Reuben hesitated but smiled once more, too exhilarated to decline. He shook the gloved hand. It was smaller and thinner than his own, but with a surprisingly strong grip. The servant moved closer and bent down, offering Reuben his intertwined hands as his master moved back to give him space.
An eccentric, mute aristocrat had a fancy to take him for a horse ride. What was the worst that could happen? He wouldn’t have believed such a story if he’d heard it from someone in a pub, but it was happening to him! To him!
Reuben quickly took advantage of the help and got onto the massive stallion, once again embarrassed by how dirty he was, but he couldn’t stop the ever-widening grin on his face. He had never mounted a horse before, and this one was so muscular and tall, but the presence behind him gave him a sense of security. Even with the size of the stallion, he still had to sit close to the other man, whose knees dug into the backs of his thighs. All of a sudden, anxiety started creeping up Reuben’s back, even though it was too late to back out now. What if the man was a mad murderer like the London Strangler? One heard about things like that.
Reuben drew in a sharp breath when the other man’s body pressed into his back as the stranger reached for the reins. Reuben let out a nervous laugh, glad that the rider was wearing a mask. At least he didn’t have to worry that he smelled. He felt out of place, on the back of this magnificent animal, with the stranger’s arms around him in a half-embrace. He pressed his back into the smaller man behind him as soon as the horse moved. Without any comment, the gentleman urged the stallion with his heels and the animal started to trot. Reuben’s first instinct was to lean forward and grab the animal’s neck, clutching his belongings with the other hand. The gentleman reacted immediately, wrapping an arm around Reuben and pulling him against his chest in reassuring gesture. They moved between thick trees, and when the air blew stray hair out of Reuben’s face, he felt a rising sense of otherworldliness. His muscles trembled in tune to the stranger’s even breath hitching through the filter behind him.
He was ashamed to be so poor, ashamed to be so dirty in such fine company. And yet, the freedom he felt on horseback helped him forget his own inadequacy, if only for a while.
It felt as if they rode for hours before the stranger stopped his horse and gestured for Reuben to get off. The servant, who didn’t seem out of breath at all, appeared by their side to offer assistance. Reuben knew not to overstay an invitation and hopped off, onto the grass. They were in a remote part of the park, with thick bushes around them and large trees blocking out the sunlight.
“Sir, it was amazing. Such a pleasure m’lord!” He tried to choose the politest words he knew. “And you have a beautiful horse, sir, and I had a bloody good time, and if there’s anything I can do to repay for your kindness, you just need to ask, sir,” he blurted out, feeling his cheeks heating as his eyes dropped to watch the man’s well-formed thighs.
The stranger moved his leg over the stallion’s croup and jumped onto the ground with an elegance that suggested he did it often. Reuben held his own possessions closer to his chest and smiled. The man came close to him and let his hand glide down Reuben’s arm.
Well, that’s different, he thought and looked into the black goggles. If the man was a mute, he had no way of saying what he wanted. Unless it was with his hands, of course. And those hands slowly ran up Reuben’s torso, touching the sides of his neck and face, gliding over the thin mask. Reuben swallowed hard, shooting the servant a nervous glance. He wasn’t sure where this was going anymore. What if he was the London Strangler?
The spell was broken when the stranger suddenly spoke, his voice distorted beyond recognition. “You have the most beautiful eyes.”
“M-me, sir?” Maybe he wasn’t the London Strangler. Maybe he was something new. Like the ‘London Eye-gouger’?
“It makes me curious as to what the rest of you looks like.” Even with the mask, it seemed to Reuben that the other man’s voice became raspy.
His mouth opened as it finally hit him. The stranger wasn’t a murderer. He had to be one of those rich perverts who thought they could buy whatever filthy pleasures they were after. Reuben took not one, but two steps back as the surroundings now seemed unpleasantly secluded. And out of all people, why would someone like that want him? He was no effeminate little boy! “I… I don’t think I’m what you’re looking for, sir.” He picked every word with care, desperate to get out of the situation in one piece.
“I know what I want.” The stranger stepped closer. “Don’t you want to get your cock sucked?” he whispered into Reuben’s ear, the metallic overtone making Reuben break out in goose bumps.
“I… I…” He blinked a few times, stuck in disbelief. The situation made no sense whatsoever. He looked back at the servant, wary of what could happen. “I’m not—” He cleared his throat. “I’m no sodomite… uhm… sir.”
“Doesn’t matter. Still want your cock.” The wealthy man slid his hands south, tracing the front of Reuben’s trousers with gloved fingers.
“No! I’m not like that.” Reuben took yet another step back, realizing that this might have been the price for being let into the park. His breath hitched with the strain of keeping calm. “You can’t buy that from me.”
“I don’t want to buy it. It occurs to me that men like to spill. And you are a man.”
Reuben felt his face burn. “I don’t spill into men’s lips!” he hissed with anger, but didn’t dare push the stranger away. The concept that someone so fine and dandy would be interested in him made Reuben light-headed, even if it also scared the hell out of him.
“A ‘no’ is a ‘no’.” Reuben took a few more steps back. “Piss off, you sick fuck,” he said louder, but his back bumped into a firm body, and before he knew what was going on, the servant had restrained him with bare hands. “Let go of me, bastard!” Reuben’s mind went back to the time he’d been beaten up not so long ago and he writhed, trying to break free. Fucker had to spoil a perfectly good day!
He thrashed, looking down at the perverted richer who calmly curled a strand of Reuben’s long hair around his finger, examining its texture as if it were the most fascinating thing in the world. A small, eagle brooch glistened on the man’s cravat every time he moved.
“What’s wrong with you, you bastard?” Reuben didn’t even notice when he started shaking. Then, just as soon as it began, the hand was gone and the stranger made his way back to his stallion. The servant only let go of Reuben when his master was safe on horseback.
Reuben dashed out of his arms with a strangled whimper of fright. He peeked over his shoulder once more to confirm they were not following him and ran to the gates as if there were no tomorrow. For once, he’d thought something good had happened to him and it’d turned out to be some sick–he didn’t even understand what had happened! His body wasn’t a piece of slum meat to be fondled by some filthy-minded toff! Hell! After that last time, he didn’t want any man close to him anyway, no matter how handsome and well-kept he might have been.
Running for all he was worth, Reuben hoped to reach somewhere less secluded as soon as possible. He didn’t even want to think about the shame of someone finding out what had happened to him back there, between the bushes. Best to erase it from his mind altogether.COLLAPSE
Vivian on Boy Meets Boy Reviews wrote:
“It was truly fascinating to watch the bonding of this pair of master and pet. They seemed to be made for each other. The story was rather sweet and funny. Most importantly, it was hot as hell.”
Kristy on Three Chicks After Dark wrote:
"Yes, yes…YES! Pony Play. Real pony play, not alluded to or teased about or bait and switch. All the goodies guaranteed. This isn't one of those fizzle and duds, but a live firecracker--Pop…Pop…POP!"
"It is a fascinating world that Kat and Agnes have created for Erik and Reuben. The transformation of Reuben into Copper and his acceptance of his fate is an interesting struggle to witness."