Here we go…

Hello my Lovelies,

After much hemming and hawing and going back and forth with my beta readers and various advisers, I’ve decided to publish The Courtesan and the Detective separately.

The first novella, The Courtesan, should be available within a month or so – I’m currently waiting for my editor to go over it, and for my cover artist to come up with something appropriate.

The second novella, The Detective shall be available early next year.

Then both will be available together in one volume a couple of months after that. There may even be a paperback available if the cost is feasible.

To ramp up the interest in The Courtesan, I’ll start sharing more snippets this weekend – and maybe even sharing some old favorites – and a cover reveal once the cover art is ready. Then, perhaps, starting around mid October, I’ll do a quick little blog tour if anyone is interested (please let me know if you are!).

Until next time dears,

Etta

Something Different…

Dear readers,

I am in the middle of editing The Courtesan and The Detective, so here is a snippet from my other project to keep you entertained. I do hope you enjoy it.

“Titus. Titus Severus. Son of Caius Severus Africanus.” Mila, Varinia’s servant whispered.

“Yes.” Varinia said, her voice equally low. They stood at the temple of Aphrodite watching the head priestess present the idol of the goddess of love with an offering of fruits and coins. Behind her, the other priestesses chanted and danced, spinning in circles around the altar and each other.

“They want you to marry him? But he’s a…” Another guest of the temple turned and stared at them, so the girl let what she was going to say trail off in to silence and bowed her head.

“So I’ve heard.” Unlike Mila, Varinia didn’t care if she was glared at. “Nothing can be done though. Mother has tried to talk some sense into father, but he remains steadfast. However, if Caius is as powerful as they say he is, who can blame him?”

“I’m sorry, my lady. I’ll come with you, if you want.”

She sighed, wishing the servant could come with her. “Titus will have you pregnant within the month.”

“I’ve managed to avoid your father all these years. I’m sure I can avoid him just as easily.” However, Varinia knew her bravery was only a front. She just as terrified of the man as her mistress was.

“Mother will need you once I am gone. Stay with them.”

“Yes, my lady.”

Now that the ceremony was over, the crowd surged forward, adding their own offerings to the altar. When it was Varinia’s turn, she added a couple of coins to the plate, murmuring a prayer that Titus would be kind and that their marriage would be a success. Even though she was sure Aprhodite bigger things to focus on than the wishes of a Plebian’s daughter, she planned to repeat her offering every day until the wedding, and every day after that. Every little bit helped after all.

As she turned away from the altar, one of the priestess grabbed her arm. “The goddess has heard your request. She is sending a blue eyed soldier to you.”

“To me? What for?”

“To love you of course.” The young priestess tittered. “Isn’t that what you wished for?”

Varinia eyed the statue of the goddess towering over them. “Not quite.”

“Well, even if you didn’t wish for it, it is what you need.”

“Hmm.” She adjusted her veil, pulling it forward to hide her face as she mulled over what the girl had told her. A blue eyed soldier? Titus was a soldier. Did he have blue eyes? She didn’t know – all the rumors about him concentrated on his behavior and not his looks.

But, for the first time since her mother had told her of her betrothal, she felt hopeful.

  

Palavar at the Park

I apologize for my prolonged absence, dear readers. Mr. Teague and I recently moved to a new location more suited to our lifestyle and temperaments. Unfortunately, we’ve had nothing but problems with our internet ever since! But the matter appears to be sorted so I can finally return to my normal posting schedule.

Since I missed yesterday’s Saturday Snippet, I am offering up this little teaser instead. Enjoy!

“Someday I will not be as pretty, nor will my breasts be so lovely. I will get fat, my skin will sag, I will dry up and grow to hate sex. Will you continue to support me and make payments on my contract to Madam Mince? Or will you send me back to her tender mercies and find someone younger?”

“Never.”

“You say that now.”

“Ah, but you forget my dear. I’m a good ten years older than you. I’m already growing a bit paunchy around the middle.”

“Ha!”

“And soon my knees won’t support me. I’ll need a cane, then a wheelchair. I’ll loose my teeth and drool and mumble. I’ll probably lose my hearing too. What young thing will be interested in me?”

“Your purses and accounts will probably be even fuller than they are now, so I’m sure someone will pretend to love you and let you fuck them just so you can buy them all the pretty dresses you promised me.”

“No they won’t, for my prick will stop working.”

“Well, then, we’d better take advantage of our youth and strength now.” Marie smiled at him, and placed a hand on his upper thigh, where his cock seemed to be in perfectly working order to her. It twitched at her nearness, and she could see it’s swell underneath the fabric of his trousers.

“Yes. We probably should.” He drained what was left in his flask and stood. After discretely adjusting himself so his state of semi arousal wasn’t as visible. He took her hand and helped her to her feet. “Shall we return to the house?”

“No.”

“No?”

“I wouldn’t want to insult you by taking you in the same bed I sleep with my other clients in.”

“The carriage we rode here in is open to the sky.” He flushed. “That’s hardly an appropriate place for such activities, and I did not pay for you to visit my own house.”

“There’s a little stand of trees down the way that would be suitable.”

“We would still be visible. How do you plan to do anything that would be any sort of fun?”

She stepped closer and lowered her voice so that only he could hear. “Remember, trousers can be unbuttoned, skirts can be hiked up about the waste, and bloomers do have slits in them.”

  

A Stairway Encounter…

Since last Saturday’s post was so popular, I decided I should share another snippet from The Courtesan and The Detective to tide you over until it’s release.

 

“Mademoiselle Marie.” The earl took her hand and kissed it, the little hairs of his mustache tickled her skin.

Marie smiled. “Monsieur. How are you this day?”

“Very well now that you are here.” He drew closer, inhaling deeply. “I have missed you.”

“As have I. My days are absolutely dreary without you.”

“Pretty words from the prettiest of ladies – but surely there was others who kept you entertained in my absence.”

“Very few compare to your magnificence.”

He chuckled, tickling her hand with his mustache for a second time. He pressed another kiss against her knuckles, and sucked on her skin softly. However his attention quickly trailed off when he spotted Hannah standing a short distance away. She hovered in the entryway for the parlor, her eyes wide as she watched their exchange play out before her. “And who is this lovely young thing?”

“One of our girls in training.” Marie forced herself to keep smiling even though her good humor faltered at his interest in the girl. “Don’t get any ideas – she’s been spoken for.”

“Never. I only have eyes for you my dear.” The earl winked at Hannah.

“The situation I found you in leads me to believe otherwise, sir.” Marie replied, coldly.

“Jealousy does not become anyone – except for you, it only makes you more ravishing.” The earl winked at Hannah. “You make sure to take everything she says to heart – she’s one of the best.” 

“Y-yes, sir.” The girl stammered. 

“Now, shall we?” He grabbed Marie’s hand and started dragging her towards the grand staircase that led to the rooms on the second floor. 

“I have another appointment at five!” She cried out as she followed him.

“I will pay for him to do whatever he wants with another girl.”

“But I’m not prepared!” 

“I don’t care!” His arms crushed her bustle as he picked her up and spun her around. “I have been waiting all week, my love. My flesh is withering away without your attention.”

“I doubt that.” In fact judging from the firmness she felt pressing against her belly when he lowered her to the ground – quite the opposite was happening. 

He pressed her against the wall, his hands pulling at her many skirts and dragging them upwards. Once they were high enough to grant him access to her underpinnings, he slipped a hand beneath to stroke her folds. First one finger, then a second, slipped inside of her. He nuzzled her neck while he wiggled them back and forth inside of her. “Don’t deny me any longer.”

Marie bit her lip, refusing to moan even though one threatened to escape from her throat if he kept up his torment. “We’ve only a few more feet to go and then you will have everything you want.”

“But I want it now.” He fumbled with his trousers with his spare hand, freeing his arousal. 

Out of all her clients, the Earl was by far the most well endowed. Even though Marie knew size did not matter, technique and stamina did, she found herself longing for it. She reached between them, taking it in her hand, and he moaned. “Patience.” 

“Please.” He eased his knee between her legs, spreading them. His cock bumped against her sex. All he had to do was withdraw his fingers, and he would be inside of her with one well placed thrust. “Say yes.”

“You may be able to afford this sort of an encounter, but our other clients do not have the coin to pay for witnessing a public act like this.” She trailed her nail tips along it’s length and he shuddered. “Besides, we are not that sort of an establishment, sir.”

“Then I will go down and take advantage of what that other fair lady was offering me.”

She laughed and ran her hands back down his cock to its base, tracing the pattern of veins hovering just underneath the sensitive skin. “She will never satisfy you like I do.”

His hips jerked and she felt a little wetness on her hand. “Lead on. But be warned; as soon as that door closes, I’m going to ravish you.”

Marie smiled. “I look forward to it.” She licked her lips. “Eagerly.”

Saturday Snippet

I reached the turning point in my story, The Courtesan and The Detective, this week, so it won’t be much longer until it’s published. To celebrate this momentous occasion, here is a saucy snippet:

  

Master Sheffield glanced up from the papers on his desk at her entrance and stared at her in surprise. “May I help you?”

“Yes, sir.” Marie let her voice tremble just a bit. “My husband, sir. He was let go yesterday, but you have to let him come back, sir, please.” It was easy to fall into the role, as it was popular among the masters of industry.

“Excuse me?” He continued to stare at her, as if he had forgotten the appointment. Suddenly remembering the fantasy he had requested she play out when he set up his appointment he cried out in surprise, “Oh!” and cleared his throat. “And why… why is that?” He leaned back in his chair.

“We have three little ones at home, sir, and nothing in the cupboard to feed them!” She wrung her hands together as she approached the desk. Up close he was a very attractive man, with hair almost as dark and as thick as hers and a long straight nose. Good, that would make it easier on her part – it was so hard to pretend to be interested when the client was uglier than sin.

“He should have considered that before he broke my rules.”

“He didn’t know any better sir. The foreman, he swears he never told him he couldn’t do that.”

“Nonsense.”

“Please, sir!” She swept around the side of the desk and fell to her knees in front of him. She clutched at the fabric of his pants, brushing the sensitive skin of his groin with the lightest touch of her fingertips. 

He jerked and and she felt the muscles of his legs tense. “There’s no need for that now.”

“I would do anything, sir.” Marie pleaded. She looked up at him through eyelashes. His pupils were wide, and his skin was flushed. “Anything.”

“Anything?”

She nodded. 

“Stand.” He commanded, looking bored. However, an excited gleam in his light eyes betrayed him.

She did as he asked and he rose as well, helping her to her feet. “Thank you, sir-”

“Don’t thank me yet.” He snapped, looking down at her. “Take off your bonnet.”

“Yes sir.” She pulled at the ends of the ribbons that she had tied under her chin. The neat little bow was quickly undone, and she pulled the bonnet off her head and set it on his desk. Freed from it’s confines, her thick black hair tumbled down her back. 

Master Sheffield sucked in a breath. “God’s teeth, you’re beautiful.”

Marie blushed and looked away.

He pulled her against him – close enough that she could feel his arousal pressing against her belly. He was taller than her by at least a foot and a half, and if she leaned against him, she suspected her head would fit underneath his chin perfectly. Good. She prefered it when her clients were taller. It opened up a whole realm of possibilities and positions – especially if they were athletic. 

His hands squeezed her waist, then skimmed up her sides and over her shoulders to cup her face. He kissed her, his lips firm and demanding. His tongue forced her mouth open to play with hers, and he moaned as if it had been a long time since he had kissed anyone at all. 

“Sir!” Marie gasped.

“You said anything.” He broke off the kiss and started to suck on the skin of her neck. 

“But . . .” 

“Do you want your husband to have his job back or not?” His fingers were deftly undoing the buttons of her dress revealing her chemise and corset underneath. 

“Yes.” 

“Well, then.” 

The Choice

I must confess, when my friend Titania talked me into restarting my writing endevors a couple of weeks ago, the plan was that when we did our Flash Fiction Friday posts they would be unrelated to the story we were currently working on. But as soon as I saw this weeks prompt, I saw a way to introduce how my heroine started her journey to becoming the courtesan she is today. 

“Don’t look at me like that.” Mary frowned at the elegant lady currently circling her.

The woman raised an eyebrow. “Look at you like what?”

“Like I’m some peace of meat.”

“Oh, but my dear dear girl, that’s really all we are in the end.” She finally came to a stop in front of Mary, her hands folded on top of her skirts. “Women are constantly being bought and sold by men in one way or another. Either as wives, or as courtesans…”

“Doxies, you mean.” The girl wrinkled her nose.

“Yes.”

“I’m too young for that work.”

“Right you are. Though not for much longer, judging from those little buds straining the bodice of your dress.”

Mary crossed her arms in front of her chest self conciously. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Of course not.” Again that delicate eyebrow arched upwards. “Rougher sorts also buy and sell young girls and use them as either beggers or thieves until they’re old enough for the other things.”

The girl flushed at that. “King would never! He looks after us.”

But as soon as the words left her lips she knew she was wrong. The former sailor often sent her and the other children into the richer parts of Londinium to beg. He had also been the one that told Callum to teach her a thing or two about picking locks. And she knew he often took the older girls into his bed, or sent them home with ‘friends’ who paid him a couple of silver marks for the opportunity.

She’d noticed him watching her lately, his eyes settling on newly swelling breasts she hid with her crossed arms. However, after a moment or two he’d sigh and lament that the fact that her skin was so much darker than the other girls.

“I see you’re beginning to realize the truth of my words.”

Rather than reply, Mary looked away.

“We’re also just things to the mills. As soon as one girl goes, they’ve found another one to replace her.”

“They pay good money at the mills.”

“So I’ve heard. But is it work it? If you don’t watch yourself, your hair can get caught up in a machine, and your scalp will be ripped off your head. And if you’re cautious and somehow manage to avoid being maimed, the fluff will fill your lungs and strangle you from the inside out.”

The lady turned away and walked towards the ornate desk set in front of a window that looked out upon the streets of Londinium below. She lifted a crystal decanter from it’s spot on the desk top and poured some of the amber liquid from it into two matching glasses.

“Now that we have established what your options are, I think you have a choice to make.”

Mary stared at her in surprise. “I do?”

“Yes. What type of meat do you want to be?”

“You mean, you aren’t going to turn me into the police?”

“Well, if you wish, that can be arranged. You did break into my house and attempt to steal my silver after all.”

Mary flushed.

“So, what do you want to do?”

“I… I don’t know.”

“I think the choice is fairly obvious.”

“It is?”

“You’re an orphan of exotic origins, so it’s highly doubtful that anyone of any note will ever take you for a wife. You might be lucky enough to catch the eye of a sailor or fisherman, but that life is a hard rough life.”

Mary nodded. She had seen the sailors wives, standing in the doorways of their hovels with children clustered about their knees looking for their husbands ships in the harbor. Fishermen’s wives were often up early, pushing wheelbarrows full of their husband’s catch to the market from the docks, their hands rough and cracked from saltwater.

“Continuing your career as a begger or thief will only end with you in the gaol or gallows. So, obviously, that is not an option either.” The elegant woman leaned against the desk and took a sip from her glass. “And I don’t know about you, but I don’t fancy the idea of having my hair ripped out by the mills.”

Mary shook her head in agreement.

“So that leaves the oldest profession.”

“I don’t want to be a doxie.” They strolled the streets in low cut muslin dresses, and did their business in run down apartments or in alleys between pubs. Their skin was often marred with bruises from both their customers and their pimps, and they died young – either from some illness or because they were murdered.

“Oh my dear girl, I meant you could be a courtesan like me. You’ll never have to walk the streets. There will always be someone to protect you, and you’ll have a warm bed to sleep in every night.”

“But I’m too young!”

“For now. In time you’ll fill out into a beautiful young woman.”

“And King says no one would want me.”

“King doesn’t know the right clientele. There are men, Lords, Earls, Viscounts, even the King himself, who would pay a pretty penny for an evening with someone as unique as you. When you’re of age, of course.”

“But I don’t know how to…” Mary flushed, unable to complete the sentence.

“If you accept my offer, I will teach you everything you need to know.” The lady held out the other glass for her. “With the right training, and a bit of polish, you could be the most popular courtesan in all of Londinium. You could have dresses and jewels beyond your wildest imagination.”

Mary hesitated. “I could be richer than King?”

“Far richer.”

“And people would actually want me?” It was a strange concept, to be wanted.

“Yes.”

“Okay.” She took the glass and sipped at the amber liquid. It burned it’s way down her throat and made her eyes water. She coughed and the elegant woman laughed.

“Good choice. Now come with me and lets get you cleaned up. We have a lot of work to do.”