Up and Coming Books - One Illicit Night - Out 23rd May 2011

Chateau Giraudon
Montmartre, Paris.
Early November, 1825


Chapter One
Lady Eleanor Jane Bracewell-Lowen, could not quite focus on the form of the man who carried her, could not through the dizzy grey fog of lethargy see the expressions on his face or hear the cadence of his words. With a growing dread she tried to shift her weight so that he might let her down, let her escape, but even that was impossible. Nothing on her body worked and the tight mesh of the heavy wig she wore brought a strange dislocation.
She was naked! She knew that, for she had felt his hands on the curve of her breasts and in the warmth beneath her legs. Rough. Lewd. She could not even turn away in protection.
Nay, sheer apathy held her caught against breath that smelt of hard liquor and bad teeth.
‘You’re too beautiful for une pute. When you finish here we’ll treat you well below.’
Une pute? A whore? Two words that did make sense.
Lainie closed her eyes against the horror of truth, this small movement all she could muster as shock made the hairs on her arms stand out straight against the chill of night.
‘I… am… not a… whore.’ The sounds came out as only nonsense, no meaning in them as she failed to form the letters on her lips, just gibberish, fear making her sick.
A door opened and warmth beckoned. Beyond the darkness in a circle of light, a solitary figure sat at his desk writing.
‘Monsieur Beraud sends you a gift, Comte de Caviglione.’ Silence was the only response.
‘He said that she was new to the game.’ At this the man in the shadows stood. Tall and blond, the expression on his face matched exactly the wariness on his words. His eyes were the deepest of brown.
‘Did you search her for weapons?’
‘I did much more than that, oui.’
In one movement the blanket was gone and Eleanor was set down onto a bed.
‘Merde!’ The tall man’s curse was rough. ‘You stripped her?’
‘In readiness, you understand. It’s rumoured to have been a while since you last had a woman and its my master’s view that the bile of celibacy can make any man ornery.’
Dark eyes wandered across her own and Eleanor failed to summon the energy to protest.
‘A whore who even now readies herself for your use, mon Comte, though if you do not want the gift, I could take her below…‘No, leave her.’ The blond man raised his hand, a flash
of heavy gold rings caught in the light and the expression on his face guarded.
She tried to blink, tried to warn him, tried in the singular and only way that she could to alert him to the wrongness in all of this, but the second was gone as he looked away, his hair falling across his face as he turned. Beautiful. At least he was that. Closing her eyes she was
lost into the ether of nothingness.

Cristo Wellingham waited until the minion of Beraud had gone before crossing the room to slide the heavy slats of oak into place. He had never trusted locks, for a soul well-versed in the art of picking them could take but a moment to force his way through any door. Neither did he trust the fact that Etienne Beraud had sent this whore to him as a gift. The man was a scoundrel and a cheat working for the French police in a way
that was blatantly illicit and this ‘offering’ was undoubtedly another of his attempts to gain favour and benefit from the world surrounding the Chateau Giraudon.
Looking down at the girl Cristo doubted that she was as inexperienced as Beraud claimed her to be, with her plumped up lips and overdone face powders. She smelt of cheap drink and old perfume, the sort that was sold in the markets on a Monday where the Boulevard de Clichy crossed into the Plac de Blanche.
Still to give Beraud some due, she was indeed striking, though he doubted the overlong blonde curls to be her own, wound as they were around her hips and catching the firelight
in a way that seemed patently false.
Tweaking a singular lock he let it fall across her ample breasts with their pale pink nipples and a smattering of freckles.
Freckles. Jesus. Swiping his fringe Cristo moved back, afraid suddenly by the great deal of want that ran across him. Beraud had his reasons in trying to sweeten a deal between them, he supposed, for the wide and varied circle of acquaintances flowing through the chateau represented a great cross section of Paris society, making any gathering of information infinitely easier.
The girl turned, her hair falling from the line of her breast and his cock rose unbidden. He loosened the folds of fabric around himself. Already the small whistles of slumber came from her breathing, the sleep he had seen in her blue eyes taken with all the speed of one who was not quite… cognisant.
Drugs? Or wine? With the telltale odour of alcohol on her breath he determined it to be the latter. Brandy probably, and a dosage that was far too high for a woman so slight. If she
died here…?
His fingers closed around one shapely calf and he shook her awake, pleased when her eyes opened again.
‘What’s your name?’