Can an inexperienced country boy lead an old Madam to a respectable new life?
Forced by an injury to quit his job as a labourer at a sawmill, Daniel Burke journeys to a Colorado boom town to apply for the position of dressmaker.
Daniel curses his impulsive decision the moment he sets eyes on the brass plate affixed to the House of Delilah's front door. Before he can leave, he’s intercepted by a whirlwind of a maid who ushers him into the specialised brothel and into the office of the madam, Addy Monroe.
Addy came west on an orphan train at the tender age of fourteen and in her twenty-four years "in the business" she has come to see men as nothing more than a means to an end, a way to provide for the women in her employ, and the daughter she sent away to boarding school.
Dissatisfied with the business for quite some time, Addy is shaken to the core and blames herself when one of her girls is injured by a wealthy customer, but she is unable to believe Daniel's assertion that the business sense she acquired the hard way is her ticket to a new world.
What could a naive country boy possibly teach her about life?
Award winning novelist Barbara Sheridan grew up a fan of historical novels, TV westerns and all things paranormal and that leads her writing interests to this day. She loves old movies, character driven movies and has become fascinated with the show Dancing With the Stars. She also loves feedback from readers.
Daniel looked from the newspaper in his hand to the small brass plate affixed to the centre of the door before him, then back again. The advertisement said Wanted: Dressmaker. Creative, skilled, sense of humour, takes easily to change and surprises. Good salary. Room & board included. Serious inquiries only. Apply in person to House of Delilah, Littlemore, Colorado.
He fit the description perfectly. Still…
The door plate read HOUSE of DELILAH, Established 1880, Coitus by appointment only.
Daniel squinted. He hadn’t misread. No wonder the fellow at the train depot had grinned like a fool when he had asked for directions. Stepping out from beneath the portico, Daniel stood back to give the building a once over. It sure didn’t look like any whorehouse he’d ever seen. Of course, the one back in Roseville was just a couple of rooms over the saloon. Still, he doubted the average brothel looked like a mansion built of stone.
Looking at the newspaper advertisement again, he wondered why on earth anyone who lived here would advertise in a little three-page weekly like the Roseville Messenger. It had to be some kind of a joke. No wonder the ad had that part about the sense of humour and taking to surprises.
What a dumb ass he was, to waste what little money he had to come all the way from Wyoming on a whim. Of all the stupid, hare-brained things he’d done in his twenty-six years—and there had been more than a few—this was the stupidest.
"Oh, shut up," he grumbled when his stomach growled, reminding him he hadn’t eaten since last night. He jangled the coins in his pocket. He wouldn’t get much relief on that front. He hadn’t seen much of Littlemore, but what he had seen told him that this was a prosperous town. And as such, prices for lodging and food would be in line with what folks were willing to pay. With his luck he’d get a cheap room and one meal at most, two if he was lucky. Damn.
He walked away, cursing himself for having this fool notion in the first place. A man designing and sewing ladies’ dresses was not a profession to be proud of—unless you were Charles Frederick Worth, which he wasn’t. If only he didn’t enjoy it so. Why was it his misfortune to get stuck with six little sisters and a mother who worked herself to death trying to support them all? Damn.
"Hey, mister! Wait!"
Daniel stopped and turned. He’d left his portfolio of dress sketches and valise of samples on the front step of the brothel. He hurried back and accepted his things from the dark skinned maid. "Thank you."
"I don’t suppose you have an appointment, do you?"
"A-an a-appointment?" Daniel asked, his eyes travelling to the brass plate on the open door. A bead of cold sweat tickled under this stiff shirt collar. "No. I don’t."
"Oh," the maid said simply. "You sellin’ something then? Perfume? Hairbrushes? We go through a lot of those, ’specially Miranda. Do you have any thick handled ones? I hear they hold up better to a spanking."
Miranda? Hairbrushes? Spanking? "I came about the dressmaker’s job," Daniel mumbled, not quite knowing what to say lest he be ushered into the mysterious Miranda’s presence and asked to demonstrate God knew what.
The little maid clapped her hands. "Miss Addy will be so happy! Those women treat their clothes something awful around here. You would not believe what kind of stains they get. It wasn’t so bad when Kenneth was here, but then he went and ran off with that prissy Opera fella and…"
His head spinning from the little maid’s incessant chatter, Daniel blindly followed her into the entrance hall and down the length of imported Turkish carpet and up the winding oak staircase like a puppy on a leash.