Authors: Zoe Blake
©2014 by Blushing Books® and Zoe Blake
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. Spanking and other sexual activities represented in this book are fantasies only, intended for adults. Nothing in this book should be interpreted as Blushing Books' or the author's advocating any non-consensual spanking activity or the spanking of minors.
Table of Contents:
She lurked in the shadows, just out of reach of the flickering, yellow gleam of the gas lamps. Having waited for over an hour in the damp air, she was growing impatient. Ignoring her gnawing hunger and stiff limbs, she kept vigil.
A loud bang shattered the quiet of the evening as the heavy wooden door from the building across the street swung open. A shaft of light sent a warm glow across the gray cobblestones, the sound of drunken laughter giving a hint to the revelry inside the private club. Her shoulders straightened as she kept a sharp eye on the patrons who stumbled out, watching as the small group of nobs swayed and tripped down the steps. They stopped right by her, taking no notice of the slight figure hugging the darkness.
“Take heart, Haversham.” The words were slurred and as indistinct as the bloated gentleman who uttered them. “You’ll set Evers to right next time at the tables.”
This was spoken to a portly man who waddled with the ungainly gate of someone suffering from gout, the rich man’s disease.
“Damn him. He was a man possessed,” groaned a dejected Lord Haversham. “It was unseemly.”
“Unseemly,” repeated a third gentleman with a huff and a belch.
“He is no gentleman,” declared Haversham heatedly.
“No gentleman,” chimed in the third, his eyes half closed as he leaned heavily on his companions for support.
“What say we head over to Madam Minou’s for a slap and a tickle?” the bloated nob offered, hoping to lighten the mood.
“Bloody good plan.” Haversham showed some false cheer at the thought of thrusting between some ladybird’s legs. “Fuck, Evers,” he said with a sneer as he lit a cheroot.
“Hurry along,” groused the bloated one climbing into a carriage. “We don’t want to fall prey to some wretched pickpocket while you two stumble about.”
Pip, the girl in the shadows, smirked. Only a gulpy with no experience would rob one of these fools. From her vantage point, she could tell their attire, while fashionable, was poorly tailored, their scuffed shoes and wrinkled cravats indicating a lack of a valet. No proper gentlemen of the ton would appear in society so shabbily dressed. Obviously, their losses at the gaming tables had been steep. Gambling was the plague of the upper crust. Many a fortune had been squandered by an idle gentleman who should have taken better care. A bank note was just a piece of paper to men like these. Money was simply the method by which they drank, gambled and whored. It had no intrinsic value. To someone like her, money was food, shelter and warmth.
It was one of the cruel tricks of life that society deemed useless men like that of higher worth than a guttersnipe like herself. Pip was sorely tempted to lift their purses purely on principle. It would serve them right if some dollymop boxed their ears for not having any coin after taking them for a tumble between her legs. However much she liked the idea, she would not indulge in it. She was after a much larger mark tonight. Let some lesser pickpocket ply their trade on the drunk and down-trodden. Pip was better than that. It took true skill to relieve an alert gentleman of his purse and watch. She wasn’t interested in the men who lost at the tables. She wanted the man who won. That was a purse worth the risk.
Pip blew on her fingers to keep them warm and nimble as she watched the nobs stumble into the carriage. Prodding the shabby, tired horse into a trot, the driver steered the hack down the street and away. The night once more slipped into silence. Still she waited.
Lord Alex Evers was enjoying a very agreeable evening, having won a fortune from that stupid sod, Haversham. It wasn’t the money; he had plenty of that. It was the principle. A gentleman like Haversham did not deserve money or the privilege it bought. Come to that, he did not deserve the title gentleman, either. Haversham had barely been a nuisance in Evers’ life until recently when he caused a great deal of trouble for his friend, Lord Rand Stockton. Haversham’s crude remarks had desperately hurt Rand’s little one, Lily. It was because of Haversham that Rand had almost lost Lily, a fact that would not long be forgotten or forgiven. Alex would take great pleasure in informing Rand of Haversham’s recent change in fortune.
Thinking of Rand brought to mind his other friend, Lord Richard Burkewood. Both were no doubt tucked away at home relishing their own new fortunes. No, not money, but something better - the love of a submissive woman who understood their need to protect through control and domination. Truth be told, he was jealous of his friends. He was more than ready to give up the mistresses and bored ton wives to settle down with his own little one. While they were fortunate enough to have each found a submissive woman who naturally took to the unique lifestyle required of them, he wanted more.
Alex wanted a woman with spirit, someone who would not kneel before him easily. He relished the challenge it would bring to bend a woman like that to his demands. Bend but never break. Domination was not about coercion. It was about using your strength in mind and body to will a woman to completely surrender herself into your hands. A woman like that became empowered through a man’s strength, guidance and control. Only through submission could she free her mind to become the woman she was meant to be. To earn the submission of a strong woman would be a gift, one he would cherish. Of course, no spirited woman submits to a man’s strong hand voluntarily, he thought with a smile. That was the challenge.
Lord Evers stepped into the cool night and took a long, bracing breath. The cold air was a welcome relief to the stifling heat and smoke of his club, White’s. Unlike most of the idle aristocracy, he was very involved with the running of his estates and management of his investments. His days and many an evening were spent in meetings, reviewing countless reports, letters and assessments, so it was a welcome respite when he had an evening free of business or social engagements to enjoy at his club. After a pleasant meal of savory turtle soup and roasted goose paired with a chestnut bread pudding, he’d adjourned to the card room for brandy, cigars and a little revenge against Haversham. Alex was now ready for a pleasant evening stroll home. He adjusted his top hat, pushed up the collar of his evening coat against the chill and began to walk down St. James’ street.
Pip paced her movements with the scrape of her mark’s boots and the clack of his walking stick against the cobblestones. Keeping to the shadows, she tried to slow her racing heart and focus on the task at hand. She had waited half the evening in the cold for the perfect target. This man had the relaxed demeanor of someone who had won at cards. From his silk top hat to his cashmere evening coat to his silver handled walking stick, it was obvious he was a man of wealth and status. He wouldn’t miss the coin she stole. There was just one problem; he frightened her.
Pip had been on her own since the night her mother died of consumption when she was thirteen years old. She was not only forced to give up her childhood that evening but her gender as well. Even at that tender age, Pip knew an unprotected girl would fall prey to the pimps and whoremongers, and what passed for an orphanage was no better. So she cut off her waist length auburn hair, donned boys clothes and Penelope became Pip. She never looked back.
She survived as a pickpocket, a dipper. She learned how to measure a mark - someone to steal from - by the cut of their clothes. She learned how to fan, the light touch used by a dipper to search a mark for valuables without their notice. She even had several duffers, shop owners who paid for valuables no questions asked, throughout the city. She ate when she had money or when she could steal a random apple or bread roll from an inattentive street vendor, and slept in the occasional doorway or doss house. It was a hard, unforgiving life, but after five years she was used to it.
But now, Pip had a problem. Pickings had been slim the last few days, she was out of money, and could not remember the last time she had eaten. She needed a good score. The gentleman Pip was quietly following was the only promising mark she had seen all night. She preferred her marks older, portly…weak. This man was none of those. He was tall, broad-shouldered and walked with a powerful grace. Dangerous. Her only chance would be if he turned onto a crowded street. Even at this late hour, London was still bustling with activity. In a crowd, Pip could pass by him, her touch no more than a whisper.
Alex knew he was being followed. He sensed the presence behind him almost immediately upon leaving White’s. The thief was good; a lesser man would have never suspected. He would bet his recent winnings this one was waiting till he turned the corner onto a more populated street. Alex smirked to himself. He was in an obliging mood. Keeping his movements slow and measured so as not to alert the would-be thief, he gave the handle of his walking stick a quick turn, quietly sliding out the hidden dagger. Palming the stick in his left hand and the dagger in his right, he turned onto Piccadilly. Between the theaters, drinking establishments and other entertainments, Piccadilly was one of the busier streets of the West End at any hour of the day or night.
This was just what he needed to round out the perfect evening, thought Alex with a smile, a little sport.
This was just what she needed, thought Pip with a smile, as the man moved into the crowd, an oblivious mark.
She watched as he made his way down the street at a steady, leisurely pace. She hastened her step, knowing as soon as he overtook the small group of drunken revelers she would make her move. Their loud laughter and swerving steps would distract her mark, allowing her to lift his purse. She would be halfway through a warm steak and kidney pie from a stand down by the docks before he was the wiser. She watched as he overtook the group and briefly disappeared from view. Now was her moment. Slipping unnoticed past the swerving, tipsy bodies she stretched out her left hand, nimbly reaching for her target. She tried to spot him from the corner of her eye, knowing to fully turn her head would be to draw attention to herself.
Pip was unprepared for the vice-like grip that surrounded her right wrist. With a sharp, powerful tug, the unknown assailant swung her small frame into the dark alcove of a shopping arcade. The breath left Pip’s body in a rush as her back slammed against the cold brick wall.
A strong forearm pressed against her chest holding her in place as the edge of a blade pressed against her throat. Pip’s heart pounded in her ears as she tried to hold her breath.
“Surprise,” snarled a masculine voice above her head.
It was the mark she had been following. His neatly pressed and tied cravat with its sapphire pin floating just above eye level, taunting her. The top of Pip’s head barely reaching his shoulders. She should have known better than to target such an obviously powerful man. Her instincts dulled by hunger and exhaustion, Pip took a greater risk than she should have and now she would pay. Her mind raced with all the horrible possibilities. She needed to get out of this. She was a survivor. She could do this. The main thing was to make sure he did not find out she was a female.
“Get your bloody hands off me, you toff!” Pip howled, forcing her voice deeper, hoping it sounded masculine and threatening. She could feel the dagger blade lightly scratch the delicate skin of her throat. Her efforts were met with an amused chuckle as the dark stranger took a step back, placing the blade back into his walking stick. Pip grabbed at her throat, relieved to not feel any telltale smears of blood. She deliberately kept her head low, hiding underneath the brim of her cap. Without a blade to her throat, it was time to plan an escape. She was fast and small. With a distraction, perhaps she could slip past him and disappear into the crowds on Piccadilly.
“Don’t even think of it.”
His words sounded even more menacing in the small, quiet alcove. He placed one arm against the wall, caging Pip in with his height and strength. He radiated heat, and she hated the primal part of her that just wanted to burrow under his coat and press her face against his warm skin. Pip shook her head to clear it. She was obviously delirious from hunger. This man was a real danger to her. She needed to away from him.
“Look at me.” The tone of the order carried the expectation that it would be obeyed.
Although she instinctively knew this was not a man used to being defied, Pip had no choice. If she raised her gaze, she risked discovery. Stubbornly keeping her chin lowered, she tried again to put him off.
“If you’re some nancy looking for a bit of a romp,” she sneered, keeping her voice muffed. “I’m not the boy for you.”
Alex chucked. The lad had spirit. From the moment he pulled the guttersnipe into the alcove he realized his would-be thief was still practically wet behind the ears. Loose rags hung off his slight frame. Although not the fighting sport Alex was looking for, he was vastly entertained by the boy’s posturing…but enough was enough. He grabbed the boy’s chin and forced his head back.
“A man looks another man in the eye, you…” Alex’s words stuttered to a stop as he stared into the most startlingly beautiful eyes he had ever seen. They were crystal green and framed by thick black lashes. He could see flecks of gold reflected in their emerald depths as her gaze flashed anger and fear. Cat eyes.
He took in her pert nose, high cheekbones and delicate jaw before settling on her cute pink lips. He saw past the dirt and grime, past the ill-fitting clothes and large cap to the woman hiding beneath.
Pip studied the man holding her prisoner. Beneath his top hat she could see waves of dark brown hair reaching to an unfashionable length just below is collar. His dark eyes pierced past her defenses. Her disguise had not failed her for five long years. She had to believe this intense man would be no different from the strangers she encountered every day.