Authors: Helena Harker
India dreads her occupation as a prostitute at Carnal
Pleasures, a brothel in an alternate nineteenth-century London. In order to kindle
India’s passion for her work, Madam Rowena introduces her to Phineas, a
renowned scholar in the field of sexual psychology. With the help of Phineas,
his fornication facilitators and the
, India attempts to
reinvent herself as a sophisticated courtesan named India of Rajasthan.
Phineas is a scholar and an intellectual. In India, he finds
a woman of imagination and intelligence who needs guidance to realize her full
potential. Not only does he help her believe in herself, but she in turn helps
him indulge in a fantasy he has kept hidden for years—the sin of male-male
India’s sensual journey includes brief
forays into ménage, female/female, and observing male/male exploration in a
world filled with wondrous steampunk sexual creations.
story from Ellora’s Cave
Lower London, 1895
As the old adage says, whenever you must endure the trials
of copulation, “lie back and think of England”. Unfortunately, at this very
moment, thoughts of King Augustus, inclement weather and the current political
tensions with France do little to distract me from the lustful young male who
has mounted me. As he thrusts his member into my cunny with increasing abandon,
he utters a series of primal grunts. He looks attractive enough, I must admit.
His chest is smooth and muscled and a cherub’s halo of golden curls bounces
across his forehead. His eyes are closed and I try to remember their color.
Blue. Or brown. Green?
Considering how my occupation fills me with distaste and
shame, I try very hard not to make eye contact with the long line of men who
step in and out of my bed. Looking into the eyes is like delving into the soul,
and I do not wish these men to see the despondence that lives within me. In
addition, I do not want to glimpse the carnal desires that dwell in their
hearts. It is more than enough to see those desires reflected in their
A lengthy sigh escapes me, and I hope he confuses this sign
of irritation for passion. How much longer? My legs wrap tightly around his
waist and the muscles in my thighs begin to complain. My breasts bounce and
bob. While his endless prodding persists and my cunny shows increasing
indications of impending dryness, I count the cracks in the ceiling. For every
thrust, I count one crack. After reaching fifty-seven, I stop. He is a bull,
this one, with stamina to spare. Drops of perspiration bead his temples, his
respiration is rapid, but he shows no sign of relenting. Usually a man’s ardent
pounding does not last so long. Perhaps if I feign pleasure by moaning, he will
climax faster. Sometimes this technique works wonders to hasten things along.
All right, India, moan away. Convince him you are
overcome by the delights of the beast with two backs
“Oohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, yes, yes, yes.” Twining my fingers in his silky hair, I
arch my neck until I glimpse the velvet brocade curtains at the head of my
wrought-iron bed. For good measure, I release his honey-flecked locks and scratch
my nails from his shoulders to the curve of his buttocks, hard enough to leave
“Aaaaaahhh!” escapes from his throat.
Finally, success! He convulses and stiffens, concentration
etched on his soft, boyish features. A few more shudders, some simian grunts
and his climax ends. He collapses on top of me, spent, his heart pounding
against my breast. I struggle to pull air into my lungs. How inconsiderate of
him to lie on me in such a manner, as though I am nothing more than a
“Enough?” I ask. Once the word leaves my mouth, I realize it
sounds more like a statement than a question. Oh well. I tolerated his rutting
for an inordinately long period of time, so I should be entitled to express my
When he pushes himself up on his palms and withdraws, sticky
ejaculate trickles down my thigh. For the first time, I look directly at him
with what I hope is a passable imitation of “Your cock has given me more
satisfaction than any other man’s.” His eyes are a deep shade of blue,
reminding me of lapis lazuli. They are also quite expressionless.
Whatever is he thinking?
Without speaking, he puts on his ruffled shirt, covering the
angry red marks left by my nails. Next he dons his trousers and shrugs into a
waistcoat and a gray walking jacket. Leather hunting boots complete his attire.
Keeping his back to me, he reaches into his pocket, pulls out a few coins and
drops them on my night table.
Shillings? He is leaving me mere shillings for my efforts?
He is most dissatisfied with my performance.
Or lack of it.
“Goodbye, India,” he says tersely as he walks out.
His boots thud down the spiral staircase that leads to the
main entertainment area, where girls dance on stage, play musical instruments
or sing. Others sit on gentlemen’s laps, flattering and cajoling, with the
ultimate goal of luring them upstairs to experience all manner of carnal
Carnal enchantments. A myth propagated by men, no doubt.
After washing up in my private bath, I return to my
bedchamber to dress for the next fornicator of the evening. Since I have earned
next to nothing, I shall have to make an effort to find another man to
entertain. What should I wear to entice him?
Angry voices drift up the stairwell. I recognize the rich
sensuous speech patterns of Madam Rowena. The other voice, I believe, emanates
from the gentleman who just bedded me. By displeasing him, I incurred her
displeasure as well. Oh dear. Spiked iron heels clatter up the stairs and my
skin tingles in alarm.
Without knocking, Madam Rowena opens the door of my
bedchamber, entering in a great swish and rustle of ruby-embroidered skirts. An
air of confrontation lingers about her slender, yet aging figure. The
copper-plated bustier enhances her plump breasts and a thick layer of powder
masks the lines at the corners of a severe, red-tinted mouth. Her eyes, as
black and sharp as those of a hawk on the hunt, fill me with apprehension.
Startled, I seize my whalebone corset from the bed and
shield my nude form, holding it in front of me for several seconds before I
realize the irony of my gesture.
“Such modesty for a paramour.” She arches a carefully
The word brings a grimace to my face. What an attractive
term for my true occupation, which requires me to sell my body in exchange for
gold sovereigns. Or in this instance, shillings.
As always, I do not know how to interpret her tone. Sarcasm?
Humor? Intense dislike? If anything, Madam Rowena confuses me. And frightens
me. In response, I take a shaky breath, cast down the corset and stand before
her completely and shamefully exposed.
Madam Rowena’s gaze scalds and steams as it travels from my
raven tresses to my breasts. I am certain she is feeding off my discomfort,
because she takes a step closer, and the corner of her mouth twitches, hinting
at a wry smile. I see the wrinkles by her eyes, etched so deep even her powder
cannot conceal them entirely.
Without warning, she cups my breasts, and I flinch at the
invasiveness of her touch. Her eyes brighten. She seems pleased by the power
she wields over me.
“Lush and firm.” She bites her lip, squeezing my breasts
between her bejeweled fingers. “Flawless skin. A hint of olive complexion,
enough for men to consider you exotic.”
As she kneads my flesh, her cold iron rings cause my nipples
to pebble. I want to pull away, but I don’t dare. The contract I signed
explicitly states that I owe her complete obedience until it expires. Until
then, she owns me.
Well, she owns my body, but not my mind. My mind will always
be my own. Madam Rowena slides her palms down my waspish waist, and then to my
“Like an hourglass,” she says in admiration. “Dark,
mesmerizing eyes, large and soft as a doe’s. Full, pouting lips. Long, silky
hair. You have beauty in spades.”
No woman has ever laid hands on me before. Never breaking
contact, Madam Rowena circles me, now cupping my backside.
“Smooth, firm buttocks. Do men like to kiss you there?”
The question barely registers and she slaps my bottom in
“Yes, Madam,” I answer quickly, vexed by the sting of her
hand, “they do.” Much to my dismay, they are also fond of pinching and biting.
Madam Rowena completes the circle, standing before me again,
and her fingers twine themselves in the thick hair of my sex. My heart
thunders. So forbidden. Never have I expressed any sexual interest in a woman
and I do not fantasize about Madam Rowena in this way. Yet her confident
demeanor kindles a spark in my mound.
“How does this feel?” She parts my nether lips and thrums my
nubbin, as if it is a string on a harp and she a virtuoso.
My thoughts scatter, and then hone in on the intensity of
the sensation. My hips rock forward in response to her touch.
“How does it feel?” She gives my pearl a final, delightful
rub before pulling away.
Taken aback, I am not certain how to reply. “Pleasant. Yet
forbidden. As though I should not enjoy it. But I do.” Do these strings of
haphazard phrases make sense to her?
If only she did not intimidate me so. In her iron-heeled
boots, she towers over me, and her auburn hair, piled into an elaborate coiffure,
adds several inches to her height. Her hand reaches for the cleft of my sex.
Unflinching, I anticipate the tingles of pleasure that will come. To be
stimulated in this manner by a woman, and to enjoy it, is astonishing to me.
Two fingers dip into my slit. I discover I am not yet wet enough and I grimace.
“In order to please your clients,” she says, “that is a look
that must not cross your beautiful face.”
“Now wet these fingers.”
Madam rests her fingertips on my lips. Oh Lord, the significance
of her gesture sinks in, and I open my mouth in reluctant compliance, coating
them with copious amounts of saliva. The probing begins again and this time the
entrance is easy. A crescendo of bliss builds inside me and I catch a moan
before it escapes my throat. Traitorous sound! To enjoy a woman’s touch…am I a
Sapphist? The idea shocks me.
“You enjoy it when I stimulate you.” Madam Rowena’s skillful
fingers pull out of me.
“Like a symphony of sensation.”
“I see,” she says gravely. “Have you pleasured women
“No.” It’s the truth.
“Do you wish to? If you prefer the company of women over
men, I can give you a room in the Sapphist wing.”
As if being a prostitute isn’t shameful enough, she is
giving me the opportunity to be a prostitute who caters to women? I would
rather drown myself in the Thames. “Although men give me no pleasure, I do not
wish to bed down with members of my own sex.”
“Do men not tantalize and tempt you, India? Do you not enjoy
lying with them?”
Madam Rowena shakes her head. “You lack enthusiasm for your
“Indeed, I lack enthusiasm for all my positions.” Supine.
Prone. Kneeling. Each and every one.
“Providing gentlemen with carnal pleasures offers me nothing
in return.” I dread her response to my honesty. “Except shame. Night after
night, I experience what it is to be used and discarded.”
Her black eyes pierce my soul. “Most of my girls feel
desirable. They fill a need in men’s lives. Perhaps this is not their chosen
path, yet they are satisfied.”
“Hmmph.” The sound comes out of its own volition, brusque
and dismissive. “There is more to life than satisfaction. What about
fulfillment? We are reduced to merchandise in men’s eyes. We are nothing more
than a source of physical pleasure. Every night, I must succumb to a man’s
lust. This type of employment does not nourish my intellect and it stifles my
imagination.” Tremors overtake me. I await Madam Rowena’s tongue-lashing with
mounting anxiety. At the same time, expressing my feelings frees me from the
tethers that bind me to this place, and I am light as air, as though aboard an
airship floating across the sky.
Madam Rowena’s pink tongue flicks at her crimson lips. “This
is precisely the type of occupation that requires imagination, sensuality and
yes, even intellect.”
Before I can prevent it, a scoffing noise exits my mouth.
“Since when does lying on one’s back require intellect?”
“Impudence will not be tolerated, India.”
Her anger blisters and I almost expect smoke to pour from
her nostrils. My eyes do not waver from hers. “What about honesty?”
“I welcome honesty, but not when it is wrapped in the veneer
“For the past two weeks, I have observed your progress at my
establishment, and it is safe to say you have made none. Since your previous
employment consisted of peddling your body at Silverton Square, I assumed you
would adapt to Carnal Pleasures without any difficulty.”
“Apparently not.” I cross my arms and Madam Rowena’s gaze
lingers over my cleavage. I tilt my head, sending a cascade of black hair over
“Mr. Tandenberry, who recently made your acquaintance, deems
you a disappointment.” Her gaze returns to my face. “I view you as potential.”
Truly? Even after what I said?
“When I saw you the first time, you had an aura about you.
You were defiant. You were witty. Men sought you out.”
“Because of my dark complexion, they thought me a Gypsy
girl, a wild thing who would gladly perform any type of sexual perversion.” I
experience not a whit of nostalgia over Silverton Square. “I desire more in
“It is always good to desire more. If I had not desired
more, I might still be on the street myself.”
Madam Rowena used to earn her living on the street?
Unthinkable. She exudes power, class and sophistication. I cannot picture her
being groped and fucked by sailors, soldiers and common laborers from textile
mills. Despite her age, men still find her desirable. She no longer takes men
into her bed, however. As far as I know, only one man makes regular visits to
Madam Rowena’s chamber, a tall elegant gentleman by the name of Phineas Felter.
What type of acts does he pay her to perform and how many gold sovereigns grace
her night table after he is done? I cannot imagine her mouthing a man’s vile
bits any more than I can imagine her rutting in an alley with her skirts hiked
to her waist.
“Do you wish to be released from your contract?”
Yes, oh yes.
The phrase hovers on my lips. “No.” Even
if she releases me, whatever will I do? A woman such as myself, who has known
no other employment, will be branded unfit for any respectable position. There
was a time, however, when I dreamed of a nobler future than this, and it was
well within my grasp…until the death of my sponsor.