Excerpt from His Lordship Possessed by Lynn Viehl
published by Pocket Star
to be released October 2013
Rina returned with what appeared to be a pair of flesh-colored stockings sewn to the bottom of a thin corset-style bodice in matching fabric. “Here, this one should fit you.”
My gaze went to the open crotch. “I can’t wear that contraption.”
“It’s called a nudie, and it’s to preserve your modesty, madam.” She tossed the odd garment at me. “You wear it under your negli, and it keeps your naughty bits from showing through.”
I held up the crotchless bit. “Not here, it doesn’t.”
“Oh, right. Sorry.” She went to her dresser and began sorting through her lingerie. “The open crotch is for convenience; some gents can be too impatient to wait.”
She produced something that looked to me like a thin nappy.
“You’re going to diaper me?” I asked.
“They’re called knickers,” she explained as she brought the abbreviated garment to me. “All the rage across the pond.” When she saw my face she held it up against her pelvis. “You see? You put them on just like drawers.”
“So I’m to wear drawers without legs under stockings and a corset without a crotch and then a gown on top.” I caught the knickers she tossed to me. “Couldn’t I pretend to be a client? A fully dressed, male client?”
“That’s a good idea,” Rina admitted, “but I haven’t any men’s clothes small enough for you here. I’ll send out for some tomorrow, but in the meantime you’ll have to be patient, Prudence.”
I gave her a narrow look. “You’re enjoying this.”
“Enormously.” She went round me and began unfastening my waister. After a moment she added, “I didn’t mean to go off on you before, love. That business with Da back then, that was all on me.”
“I never stopped wishing I could do something about it.” I pulled my bodice carefully over my head so as not to dislodge the switch. “Expose Medford’s son for what he did, or at least make him tell your da the truth.”
“No one would believe the word of a woman over a man’s,” Rina said, her tone firm. “If someone had, the rot bastard would’ve just had all his mates swear that I’d bedded them, too.” She helped me step out of my skirts. “Let’s talk about something happier, please. Like that clerk from your building who stood up for you in court. He sounds promising.”
“Fourth?” I chuckled as I stripped out of my drawers and held up the knickers. “He’s just a lad. Besides, I practically have him married off already. Do I put both feet through the holes here?”
“One in each.” She held my elbow to keep me from toppling over. “You’ve not lost your head over that towheaded copper, I hope. He’s pretty enough until you see all that disgusting truth and justice gleaming in his eyes.”
“Inspector Doyle’s a good sort.” I hauled the knickers up until they covered my front and back bits. “He spoke up for me in court, you know. He didn’t have to do that.”
Rina held out the nudies. “Step into them. That’s it.” As I braced my hands against her shoulders, she pulled the flesh-colored garment up my legs and over the knickers. “Maybe he fancies you. He’ll want marriage and a baby every year, you know. His sort always do.”
“I am not having babies; Tom Doyle’s or anyone else’s.” While Rina laced up the back, I pulled over my shoulders the short penders and buttoned them to the edge of the corset, which kept the flimsy, skintight contraption in place. “Marriage is also not in the cards.”
“Cards can be shuffled, love.” She came round to inspect the front. “Once this thing with Walsh goes away, you can move on, start over. Maybe go up to Settle.”
“All it does there is rain.” I plucked at the fabric clinging to my breasts. “This is too small.”
“It’s perfect. Stop fussing.” She brought a sheer gown made of diagonal strips of black net and deep gray satin over from the armoire. “This one will do.”
I refused to allow the colors to remind me of Dredmore. “Can’t I wear something with a bit more cheer to it?”
“I’ve a lovely little pink thing,” Rina said. “That and a switch with ribbons and tails, and you can play Daddy’s Despair.”
I shuddered. “I’ll wear the black and gray.”
“Coward.” A knock sounded on the door, making Rina glance at her pin watch. “It’s past time I got downstairs to manage the gels. Finish dressing and then go to the Amber Room on two. And unless you want to earn your keep the hard way, Kit, keep the damned door locked.”
Draping myself in the black and gray gown didn’t make me feel any less naked, but I didn’t see anything showing through when I checked the full-length glass. Wearing the garments of a working strumpet had to be my most scandalous disguise yet, but after I made a few rounds of the room I began to appreciate the lightness of the nudie and the unrestricted movements I could make in the loose gown.
Comfortable as I was, it still required a fair amount of nerve to step out into the hall and make my way to the stairs. There I froze halfway to the second floor as a blond gel with an older gent passed by me.
“You’ve a decent fire built?” the man was asking her. “My feet are ice blocks.”
“No worries, dearie.” The strumpet dropped me a wink. “I’ll have you thawed in no time.”
The man hadn’t even glanced at me, I realized, and I chuckled as I continued down. My costume was as good as a cloak of invisibility.
A few gels had already brought up their first clients of the night, judging by the noise coming from behind the closed entries I passed. I heard one shrill voice demanding to be spanked harder, and cringed as the gel in the room obliged, making him shriek all the louder.
“Hey, Birdie’s been holding out on us,” a sodden voice said behind me, and a damp hand turned me round to face three gents and the gels they’d hired. The one holding my arm grinned and stepped closer. “Oh, I do like gingers, I do. What’s your name, ducks?”
“’At’s Prudence.” The busty blonde clinging to his arm tried to pull him back and gave me a hard look. “Her’s been hired out for an all-nighter, ’aven’t you, dearie?”
I nodded and tried to hurry off, but the blonde’s gent wouldn’t release me.
“Must be good,” the drunk told his mates. To me he said, “Whatever he’s paid, I’ll double it.” He tried to shove me into the blonde. “I want to see the two of you have a go at it.”
“I don’t entertain ladies,” I said without thinking, which made all three men burst into laughter.
“Gel’s got a sense of humor, too. Capital.” The drunk cuffed my shoulder. “Tell you what, Pru. Since you’re so shy, you can play the maid.”
“No,” a voice I had never wanted to hear again said. “She cannot.”
I looked between the drunk and the blonde and saw the dark figure standing just beyond the group. He’d donned a heavier cloak and a mask that covered every feature above his mouth, but the voice was unmistakable.
I glanced at the blonde. If I went with her and her client, I’d have to perform an illegal sexual act with another woman for which the Church said I would be damned for all eternity. Or I could go to Dredmore.
I really had to think about it.
“Milord.” I didn’t smile or natter on about how happy I was to see him; I had a few shreds of pride left. I gestured in the direction of the Amber Room. “This way.”
“Oh, don’t go running off to do the dirty right away, ducks,” the drunk said, and wheeled round to give Dredmore a foolish grin. “Come and have a drink with us first.”
I waited for Dredmore to refuse the offer. Instead he came and put an arm round me.
“We’d be delighted,” he told the drunk.