Authors: Aubrey Beck
Copyright © 201
4 by Aubrey Beck
Cover Design by Lily Smith
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Berridge Downs, Essex – April, 1810
Lord Simon Berridge
winked at the pretty thing, lying sated in his bed. Anna? Alice? Something like that. Not that her name mattered anymore. “I have to get back to my guests,” he said, tucking his white linen shirt into his trousers. “But do feel free to recuperate here, I’m sure you need it.” He had, after all, been quite rigorous with her.
Alice, whoever she was, rolled onto her side, sighed and pulled one of his pillows into her embrace. “You don’t mind if I wait for you, my lord?”
Oh, God. She didn’t intend to truly
for him, did she? Simon retrieved his domino from the bedside table, not that he really had use for the mask. Everyone knew
was here. He did, after all, live here. But as the rest of
attendees would be hiding their identity, he’d don the mask just to avoid sticking out unnecessarily.
,” he said, wishing her name would pop to his mind. It didn’t. “Don’t be silly. I may not be back until the morning. Have to entertain the guests, you know.”
“Next time, then?” she said over a yawn.
Simon inwardly winced. The little whore had better not fall asleep in his bed. He’d be quite put out if she was snoring away in the middle of his four-poster whenever he returned to his chambers.
What was it with light skirts these days?
A simple tumble did not mean he had plans to draw up a contract and give the girl carte-blanche, for God’s sake. “We’ll see,” he replied, as he turned on his heel and started for his door.
’d escaped into the safety of the corridor, Simon started towards the public rooms, wondering where the devil his brother had found this particular crop of girls tonight. Wanting to wait for him. Completely ridiculous. As he started for the steps, a feminine voice cried out, “Oh, James!” most passionately from a nearby bedchamber.
Simon stopped and stared at the door – the one belonging to the Earl of Haswell for the night - as though it was a portal to another realm. A bemused smile lit his lips. If he hadn’t heard the girl’s voice himself, he wouldn’t have believed it.
had told some chit his Christian name? Very unlike him. Very. James Armstrong was one of the more secretive members of the club and always had been. The chit, whoever she was, must have some sort of magical powers between her legs. He couldn’t think of another reason why the depraved Earl of Haswell would be inspired to divulge his name to some doxy. Maybe that was it. Maybe she wasn’t a doxy. Haswell had been quite tight lipped about his plans for the evening. Had he brought someone with him instead of selecting one of the purchased girls?
What a very odd nigh
t this was shaping up to be.
Simon shook his head as he continued
towards the staircase before him. Music from the ballroom filtered up the stairs, but it only drowned out some of the sounds coming from the nearby parlors. He could clearly still hear cries of ecstasy, the slapping of flesh upon flesh, and more than one guttural moan.
n front of the ballroom, a young man caught Simon’s attention. The new Baron Garwood, whom Simon and Julian had met in the village the previous week. The poor fellow seemed immobile or perhaps dumbfounded by what he saw before him. He wasn’t even wearing his mask, and Julian had been quite clear about that particular bit of protocol.
Still it was the fellow’s first meeting.
Taking pity on the green lad, Simon descended the last step, crossed the floor and clapped a hand to Garwood’s back. “Do close your mouth, or you’ll attract unwanted attention. And where’s your mask before my brother sees you?”
Garwood turned his head, his dark eyes focusing on Simon. “I hadn’t believed you.”
And in retrospect, perhaps Simon shouldn’t have invited the young lord to this meeting of
, but…Well, Garwood
seem eager to lose his virginity
So it had seemed the neighborly thing to do, inviting the young buck to the club’s first meeting of the season. “Losing your nerve?” he asked.
Garwood shook his head and shrugged at the same time. “No, well…I hadn’t really imagined there’d be so many people. I…Well, I only require
female, you see.”
Simon bit back a grin. One of Longfiel
d’s ballroom orgies probably would seem a little intimidating to one who’d never engaged in carnal activities before. However, he did have the perfect solution to Garwood’s problem and his own, now that he thought about it. Simon gestured towards the staircase behind him. “Up those stairs, last door on the left is my set of rooms. You’ll find
girl in my bed, tell her I said for her to accommodate you.”
The young lord’s mouth fell open again. “Is she your…”
“Mistress?” Simon supplied. Then he shook his head. “No. She’s not mine no matter what her plans are. And, truthfully, I’m not even sure of her name.”
Garwood’s eyes rounded in surprise.
“I’m fairly certain it starts with an A,” Simon continued as though he’d been censured. “Though it’s probably just safer not to mention anything about names at all.”
“Not even mine?”
“Especially not yours,” he said. Though the sound of the girl in Haswell’s room, calling out the earl’s Christian name echoed anew in Simon’s ears. He still couldn’t imagine what, or rather who, had dragged that bit of information out of the tight-lipped Haswell. Very strange, that. He shook the errant thought from his mind. “Anyway, go in there. Tell her she’s to fuck you, and then get about doing it.”
“That’s all?” Garwood asked.
What else was there? “Do you need me to watch and call out instructions?”
A blush stained the green lad’s face.
Simon wasn’t anxious to be that neighborly.
“But,” Garwood continued. “That’s all I have t
o say and…And she’ll just do it?”
Simon chuckled. He couldn’t help it. “That
why she’s here. Already bought and paid for, courtesy of my brother.” He pointed to the stairs. “So get on with it. Go become a man.”
Garwood nodded eagerly, just as he had when Simon had firs
t suggested the fellow attend the night’s festivities.
You’ll find her accommodating. But do me a favor, will you?”
“When the two of you are done, make sure you take her with you when you leave. I’d rather she not stay the whole night in my chambers. Makes a woman start to expect things that are best not expected.”
Garwood once again.
“Of course, and thank you.”
“You can thank me later.”
Garwood took a deep breath and then started for the staircase, a bit of a bounce in his step.
lled after him, “And put on a damned domino. There are rules here, you know?”
“Sorry,” he apologized. “My sister stole it from me.” Then t
he young lord bounded up the steps and disappeared from view, before Simon could respond to that. Probably a blessing as he had no idea what he could possibly say.
He heaved a sigh and then
slid his own domino over his face. There were, after all, rules.
stepped into the ballroom and figured he’d find his brother standing sentry near the entrance. Julian was and always had been more voyeuristic than exhibitionist. But at first glance, he couldn’t spot the “Licentious Lord Longfield” near the entrance or any of the corners. Not on his second or third glances either. Strange, that.
Had Julian joined the melee in the middle of the ballroom, th
e mass of naked revelers all fucking, sucking and licking each other to a high crescendo? Hardly seemed like him. Multiple lovers were generally more to Simon’s liking than Julian’s. But perhaps…
A flash of color across the room caught Simon’s eye, mainly because there were so few people actually clothed.
But when his gaze landed on
, adorned in a deep blue cloak, her raven-hued hair down about her shoulders, he could barely believe his eyes.
Good God, what was she doing here?
* * *
When Miss Grace Garwood got her hands on Aaron, she just might strangle the life out of her younger brother. She stared, dumbfounded at the group of people in the middle of the ballroom. No one was clothed. Women were being used in all sorts of ways she’d never imagined – their mouths, their bottoms, their most private of places. Men groaned and cried out, and Grace was rooted to the floor, unable to turn away. Something she didn’t quite understand washed over her at the sight. She tried to push past the feeling. Whatever it was, she shouldn’t be feeling it.
part of this? She hoped not. She didn’t think so as everyone engaged in the hedonism before her were all wearing masks, and she’d confiscated Aaron’s when she refused to let him head off Berridge Downs. She supposed he could have found a new domino as he’d headed off for Berridge Downs anyway, despite her demand that he not take one step from Fairview that evening.
“My cock has missed
” a deep voice said from behind Grace. “Want to kiss him for old time’s sake?”
Before she could even form
a reply to that, a man’s arm slid around her waist and pulled her back against the strong wall of his chest, something hard poking her in the back. His arm moved upward and his quick hand delved beneath both her bodice and chemise. Grace gasped as he pinched her nipple between his thumb and forefinger. Something shot through her, straight to her core.
Grace wrenched herself out of the man’s grasp, turned on her heel, and promptly slapped a hand across his face. “How dare you!” she hissed.
Though the tall man’s face was covered by a domino,
the silver of his eyes seemed to spear Grace. “You’re not Viv,” he said, a note of apprehension to his voice as he touched a hand to his abused cheek.
Grace didn’t know
was, but if she let men go around greeting her the way this man had done, she hoped never to encounter the woman. “Most certainly not!” Her voice pitched higher in indignation as the reality of her situation seemed to settle in her mind. Good gracious! She’d been accosted. Accosted by a strange man!
The man glanced quickly to the throng of hedonists in the middle of the ballroom,
then his silver eyes flashed back to Grace. “Keep your voice down,” he grumbled, grasping her arm and dragging her towards the double glass doors, which seemed to lead to a balustrade.
Grace dug in her
heels. She didn’t know who the man was, but she certainly wasn’t going to go anywhere with
. “Let me go!” she demanded.
But the man’s determined silver eyes narrowed on her. “You are making a scene.” He pulled her closer
towards the glass doors.
A scene? Grace would do more than just make a scene! But
despite her protestations, the man was much stronger than she was; and in no time, she found herself standing outside on the balustrade, the cool night air whipping about her skirts.
masked man stood tall before her, his hands folded across his chest like an angry Zeus. “I’m not sure what you were told about this assignment, but—”
“Assignment?” Grace echoed. Did he think she was one of
women? Like the ones writhing around the ballroom floor naked? “Look, sir, all I want is my brother, and—”
“And they say
depraved.” The man scoffed.
were most assuredly right, if he regularly attended events such as this. “—and then we’ll happily leave this den of iniquity.”
* * *
she’d leave? Who the devil
she? Who the devil
her brother? And why would the dolt tell her abou
? Was the man a complete idiot? Did he want his membership revoked? But the best question – the most important question was – even if a man was foolish enough to tell his sister about one of the club’s meetings, why did
think his attendance was any of her concern?
Simon’s eyes narrowed on the girl. Was she one of those religious sorts?
A reformer? A chit who felt the need to save everyone from eternal damnation?
Well, no one was going to do any saving
of anyone tonight. At least not here. Simon tugged the domino from his face. “As I happen to live in this den of iniquity, I’m going to have to ask to see your invitation, Miss…”
She ripped off her own mask, her dark blue eyes alit with fire. “This is all your fault then. You told my brother about this…this party.”