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By Sharon Page
Copyright © 2008 Sharon Page
All right reserved.
"You spend a night allowing a woman to drip molten wax on your chest, and afterward everyone casts you as the villain." Dashiel Blackmore, Lord Swansborough, leaned back into his leather club chair and grinned.
His friend, Sir William Kent, Bow Street's magistrate and a gentleman who could remain composed while handing down a sentence that sent a youth to a prison hulk, blanched in shock and embarrassment at this casual remark.
"Good lord, you're depraved, Swansborough." Sir William shook his head as he lifted his brandy and drained the last half inch. He adjusted his spectacles over intense blue eyes, his fingers brushing the long-healed scar from a footpad's attack. "What sort of madness was that about?"
"The anticipation of each burning drop." Dash crooked his fingers, then made a snuffing motion, and an obedient, well-trained girl immediately leaped to do his bidding.
Winslow's, the newest of London's hells, combined the tradition of the gentleman's club-venerable location, card tables, a strict control of membership, a slab of beef for dinner-with the pleasure of London's brothels.
Ironic that Sir William had tracked him down to this place, had used his name to gain entrance.
The girl, a plump temptation with honey-blond curls, approached, carrying a candle. Around the crowded, smoke-hazed room, two dozen whores bestowed their charm and favors on various gentlemen. All the women were blondes, all voluptuous with lush mouths and succulent tits.
Wearing a hopeful expression, the girl sashayed toward Sir William and him. She pursed her rouged lips suggestively and gave a tiny puff of breath-enough to set the flame flickering and the pooled wax spilling.
Turning back to Sir William, Dash gave a devil's smile. "Care to explore dangerous sex?"
"Bloody hell, no." Sir William waved the girl away. She gave a pretty pout and spun, setting her shortened skirts whirling around her plump thighs. He leveled a serious gaze, filled with fatherly censure. "Still dressed head to toe in black, I see. Even a black cravat. Swansborough, are you the villain of this piece?"
It never ceased to be strange to hear Sir William use his title. Sir William had known him since he was "young Dashiel," had sometimes teased him by using his middle name, Lancelot. He picked up the brandy bottle to refill their glasses. "If you believed me to be the villain, wouldn't I be in Newgate by now?"
Sir William raised his glass briefly in agreement. "Where were you on that night?"
"Tied to a bed, I expect. I cannot remember."
"Four witnesses saw you on the Dark Walk just before the woman disappeared. One insists she saw you dragging a reluctant woman with you-a woman hidden by a black cloak."
Dash leveled his gaze at his friend, the one man who had believed his story about his past, his unbelievable tales about his uncle. He took a long drink of the brandy. "I do not kidnap women."
"Was it part of a game? A bedroom game?"
"I was not at Vauxhall. But I can offer no proof of it."
Sir William raked back his white hair and studied him, without speaking, with the cold, impartial gaze of justice.
Beside them, the blond girl with the candle returned and flung herself back onto a hard-backed chair and drew up her frilly skirts. A black leather harness was strapped to her hips and her thighs, and a long black rod rose from the juncture between her creamy thighs. A brunette woman straddled her, her skirts caught up in her hands, and she began pumping on the dark dildo, moaning and cooing with abandon. The brunette caught Dash's eye and ran her tongue lavishly around glistening, rouged lips.
His cock stirred, lengthening, thickening. Hell, he was being accused of abducting women to use in perverse pleasures, and he was growing aroused by the calculated display of prostitutes.
He watched the brunette on top, her breasts heaving beneath her snug bodice, her face reddening. Her sexual scent filled the air like candle smoke. The other lass clutched at her breasts, tweaking the nipples through taut silk, thrusting her leather-bound hips.
"I need details," he said even as he watched the courtesan close her eyes in ecstasy and grind mercilessly on the thick, false cock. Blond and brunette curls bounced. Both pretty faces flushed pink. The gasps and moans were like squeezing fingers around his shaft. "The names of these witnesses. The names of the family of this woman. I was not there. Why would my name be used?"
"Reputation?" Sir William suggested.
He knew Sir William had pursued these thoughts himself, but was allowing Dash to talk-to either reveal evidence of his innocence or drape the noose around his own neck. "The woman. What was her name?"
"Juliette, Lady Farthingale."
"Hadrian's mistress." Dash drank deeply again, listening to the brunette courtesan's anguished cries. Her head lolled back, her fingers clutched the other girl's shoulders, and her lover drove up from the chair to spear her.
He noticed that Sir William had turned his seat so as to avoid the view of the copulating women, away from the display that could wipe all rational thought from a man's head. Fantasy presented on a silver salver, the promise of escape for the price of a few coins.
He could bid farewell to his friend and lose himself in that pleasure, but Dash forced himself to ask, "What did Hadrian have to say? If he believes it was me, why hasn't he called me out?"
"Hadrian claims he was watching his lady indulge in some sport; he was hidden in the bushes along the Dark Walk. He heard a sound behind him, something smashed into the back of his skull, and he woke with the dawn-wet, bloodied, and alone."
"And who does he think is responsible?"
"He thinks the ... er ... five men employed to ravish his mistress are the culprits."
"Five men? So whoever has copied Lord Chartrand's erotic scavenger hunt is trying to be as inventive."
Sir William gazed awkwardly ahead-at the safest scene in the club, a group of men playing cards, too intent on deep play to entertain women.
"Oh, sweet heaven, I'm going to come!"
The blonde's cry ripped through Dash, igniting lust. His hands clenched to fists; his cock jolted in his trousers. Dash leaned back in his chair, laughing as the young blond girl's body began to spasm with her orgasm, as she cried, hoarsely, "Fuck me hard. Drive yourself on me."
Calculating and clever, the brunette on top saw her partner had reached her critical point, pulled down her bodice and shoved her breasts forward so that as the pretty girl gulped for air in her explosion, she swallowed the soft, warm flesh of fat breasts instead.
God, it was a beautiful display.
The solution to the mystery appeared logical to Dash, but he proposed it with respect. "Have you considered Hadrian as a suspect?"
"Immediately. But he has been watched." Sir William shook his head. "I can't imagine why Hadrian sought a mistress. The man's a sodomite."
"To deflect suspicion. And Hadrian is not discriminating about the gender of his partners."
The plump, heavy-breasted wench on top held her mate to her tits, lushly smothering her, and gave a loud, happy sigh of pleasure. She watched Dash beneath coy lashes. He watched, amused, as the pretty blonde on the bottom struggled to free herself from her prison of plump tits.
"It's possible," Dash pointed out, "that Lady F discovered her lover also kept a stable of young boys. For a hopeful mistress, that would have come as a shock."
Sir William gave a brief twist of a smile. "Lady F guesses his secret, and he has her removed? He could have paid her off-but then, she may have come back for more. It's all possible. Except for our witnesses who saw you."
"Paid, I assume."
Sir William's gaze settled on the two women, naked and slumped together in bliss, and a red flush coasted over his grizzled face. For all he passed judgement on the sins of fallen women, he apparently was shocked by the sight of them. Clearing his throat, he said, "Hadrian suspects the men took Lady Farthingale for money-that she will be ransomed."
"So why use me for a simple scheme of blackmail?"
"I don't understand it," Sir William admitted. "But then, you could have employed the five men."
"Indeed." Dash watched, amused, as the pretty blonde surrendered and began to suckle a long, generous nipple. Sexual agony rippled through him as the girl's cheeks hollowed, and her graceful hand clutched the enormous white mound.
He'd forgotten his train of thought.
"Did you?" Sir William prompted.
Did he what? Hire the five men. "Bloody hell, no. Give me the names, Sir William. I need to speak to these people."
"I've already done so. I've had some of Bow Street's runners follow them."
Coos and sighs and desperate feminine gasps washed over Dash. Women were such a delight. They could die in an orgasm that would leave a man drained and limp and within seconds happily start bouncing toward their next explosion.
Sir William tapped his glass on the table. "Miss Eliza Charmody."
"And who would she be?"
"An actress. A week ago, she partnered Lord Craven in this game."
"I assume you mention her because she was also abducted? Lady F wasn't the first?"
"No, Lady F was not the first."
The woman on top now galloped, wild and merciless, on her partner, plunging furiously on the dildo filling her creamy quim. He had no doubt each thrust sent the harness rasping against the clit of the girl on the bottom, for she was squealing around the nipple filling her mouth. She gripped the fat bosom with desperate fingers and sank her teeth into the plump tit.
Dash's blood drained from his brain. What in hell did he care if Sir William wanted to arrest him? He knew he'd die young.
Hell, Sir William would probably be satisfied with banishment. Send him to the Continent or the East where he could serve out his punishment surrounded by lush women.
But he was an innocent man.
"I reexamined that case," Sir William explained, his face red, his breathing unsteady. "It took place at Covent Gardens, another clue in this mad scavenger hunt. Two courtesans came forward to say you had enticed the woman away from Lord Craven. And two gentlemen-Sir Percy Whitting and Lord Yale-saw you hand her up into your carriage."
"And again, interestingly enough, I wasn't there." Dash scrubbed his jaw, gave a shake of his head as the voluptuous jades returned to earth, gulped hungrily for breath, and began to eye him. The promise of sliding his rod into a bubbling cunny began to pound through his brain. "Easy enough to pay courtesans to lie. As for Sir Percy and Lord Yale ..." Christ Jesus, Dash loved the sight of two women's breasts pressed together. He shifted in his seat, searching for a more comfortable position. "Both are young, can't hold their drink, and are gullible. Whoever convinced them they saw me is clever."
"Indeed." The magistrate's face remained impassive.
"And is likely involved in the white slave trade."
Grimly, Sir William nodded. "It is possible this is related, given the disappearances of the women. Though the ladies were not country virgins."
"It might be the reason my name has been used. Revenge." The woman on top winked at him, but, groaning, Dash shook his head. Not now. Later he would spend the night losing himself in mindless sex. Spend the night escaping his nightmares with an orgy, or bondage, or candlewax dripped onto his vulnerable skin.
"Or it is Robert," Sir William suggested.
Guilt rose, black and sickening. "My cousin is not like his father. He doesn't covet the title. And he doesn't know the truth."
The magistrate said nothing.
Dash watched the cavorting women as they winked at him and wriggled together. "So it could be a member of my family-my uncle, my aunt, my cousin. What of my uncle's mistress? Should I include her? Or Craven or his partner, Barrett, who I suspect are involved in white slavery." Dash drained his port-the last of his bottle. "So I talk to your witness. And the other suspects. Then I join the scavenger hunt."
Sir William drew a card from his jacket pocket. "Bloody surprised you weren't in it already." He laid the folded white square on the polished table.
"What is this?"
"Your next clue."
Whereupon he ripped open his breeches, releasing his great purple-headed pecker. He pushed me forward, almost sending me toppling to the crowd below, and he threw me skirts over me head. "My lord Wooderton," gasped I, startled by the fury of his passion. "Silence, wench," he cried, and in one thrust, he drove his magnificent lance within me. My scream of submission shocked the theater into silence. Only my desperate cries of pleasure could be heard as Wooderton pounded his cock into my cunny. Then applause thundered from the crowd below us, and in front of all those snobbish ladies of the ton, I received the most wondrous fuck from the most desired gentleman in London.
Having added the last required comma in the chapter, Maryanne Hamilton laid down the manuscript. She ached. And burned. Her heart danced in her chest like a bird beating against glass. And there was sweat ... unladylike sweat trickling down her bodice.
She leaned back against the ironwork back of the bench. The last of the roses tumbled all about her. Their sweet scent enraptured her, and she closed her eyes and turned her face up to the warm autumn sunshine. Here, in this secret garden behind her brother-in-law's London mansion, she could imagine she was in the country and Almack's and the marriage mart didn't exist.
Her first Season had passed without an offer of marriage.
She glanced down at the pages, the corners fluttering in the September breeze.
Miss Tillie Plimpton's spelling had improved remarkably over the last three manuscripts. With her royalties, Tillie had bought herself a nice cottage near Devon, and her three illegitimate children now attended a country school.
The thought of three children with warm beds and gardens of their own made Maryanne smile.
It terrified her to think of children destitute. Of innocents being forced into workhouses. Or worse. She'd been so close to that herself. And she knew what it was to be illegitimate-she and her sisters were the illegitimate daughters of the erotic artist Rodesson, though their mother had spent a lifetime hiding that truth.
Maryanne sighed. Unfortunately none of the books had sold enough copies to pay for the royalties she had advanced to her authors. She was certain they would. Someday. But that day appeared determined not to arrive. And now she was in debt. Very much in debt.
"Penny for your thoughts."
At her sister's words, she muttered, "Five shillings would be more the thing." Or five hundred pounds. Or five thousand.
"What?" Venetia, her hand resting gracefully on her rounded enceinte tummy, strolled along the path. She paused to press one blossoming rose to her face.
Maryanne tucked the manuscript to her side. "Nothing," she murmured even as she felt the familiar plummet in her stomach.
Five thousand pounds. It was an impossible sum, and she still couldn't quite understand how she had spent that much. But there had been so many women in need, so many children without futures. And Georgiana had "borrowed" far more money from their publishing house than she'd imagined....
The breeze flirted with the leaves and with the ribbons on her bonnet. But it did not toy with Miss Plimpton's manuscript. No-it picked up those pages deliberately, tossed them up on the stone path, and sent them tumbling end over end toward her sister.
Fortunately for her, Venetia could not move quickly, and she certainly could not bend.
"Oh, heavens!" Maryanne darted after the fluttering white sheets and stomped her slipper-shod feet on two of them. She dropped to her knees and scooped them up.
"Are you working on another book?"
"Now and again," she gasped. It wasn't a lie after all. She was working on the book.
The stones bit her knees as she reached for the sheets, as she crumpled the pages in her haste to group them together. Venetia had supported them by drawing erotic pictures, using the talent she'd inherited from their scandalous father, Rodesson. But Venetia would have a fit if she learned Maryanne was editing erotic novels and in partnership with a notorious courtesan. Novels of passion, Georgiana called them.
They sold very well. Gentlemen loved them.
In truth, she could see why. The books were like ripe cherries-eat one and you craved another.
Excerpted from Black Silk by Sharon Page Copyright © 2008 by Sharon Page. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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