“I am not a pet,” she muttered, unable to help herself.
He smiled. “This one has spunk. Definitely, not all Producer. What else are you?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”How did he know? She looked down at the fire.
“I think you do,” he said, amused.
She glanced at him. She’d never told anyone. She wasn’t allowed, but her parents weren’t here. These two were never going to tell the Lead Producers or Almightys. She could be herself at least while she was with them. She raised her head.
“My father’s a House Servant,” she said boldly.
“Ahh. Yes. That’s it. It’s a wonder they didn’t kill you at birth.”
“Who would do that?” The Producers were a superstitious lot, but even they wouldn’t kill a baby.
He ignored her question, tipping his head to scrutinize her. “You were lucky. You can pass as a Producer. Not a good specimen, mind you, but you have enough of their characteristics. I’m sure you’ve been told to avoid the Almightys as much as possible.”
She nodded. After her brothers and sisters had died, she’d begged her father to let her move in with him, but he’d said that they couldn’t take the chance of an Almighty even suspecting that she was a mix between House Servant and Producer. Interclass mating was strictly prohibited. She would be safer in the encampment because most Producers barely ever saw Almightys, spending their time toiling the earth and producing all the food for the other classes. House Servants, on the other hand, had daily interactions with the Almightys, since it was their duty to manage the businesses and homes of the ruling class.
“But I can see House Servant around the eyes and ears.” He paused. “Hold out your hands.”
She clenched her fingers into her palms. No one except her parents had seen this. She’d taken a lot of abuse from the other Producers because of the minor differences in her size, eyes and ears. She didn’t want to imagine what they would have done to her if they’d seen her fangs or claws, but he wasn’t a Producer. She took a deep breath and extended her arms.
He scooted closer, placing her hands in his much larger one. He peered closely at her fingers, running the pad of his thumb over their tips. “Claws. You have claws.”
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