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Just One Taste Part 39

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"It was quite an arduous process. Took me years. But she's entirely in my thrall now. The most exquisite slut you could imagine. The word 'no' is simply not in her vocabulary. Would you like to meet her? She has orders to suck you off." He smiled at Nicholas smugly.

Sheffield had a penchant for very young girls, and Nicholas hoped he was not about to encounter some child. "How old is she?"

"Old enough. Eighteen or thereabouts." Sheffield reached for the bellpull. A harsh-faced woman who was decidedly not eighteen entered the room and curtseyed.

"Is the young lady ready for us, Mrs. Jones?"

"Yes, sir. Ready and willing. She's most anxious to perform for your guest."



"Did you tell her who he is?"

"Of course not, sir. I know when to keep my mouth shut."

"Good woman. We'll be up in a minute."

Sheffield was in no hurry to move from his chair. Nicholas felt a stir of impatience, and something else. He would not turn down being serviced by Sheffield's whore-seeing that drawing of Catherine Kerr had whet his appetite for carnal pleasures.

Sheffield raised the brandy decanter but Nicholas shook his head. He splashed another inch into his snifter. "Nick, you probably don't know this, but I fancied your mother once. Alas, she was misguided and chose your father instead. To think, you could have been my son. I like to think I've done some good keeping your spirits up these past few years. Teaching you the ways of our world. Men like us need to stick together, what?" He clucked. "Terrible tragedies you and your family have suffered, but it's all over now."

Nicholas stiffened. He didn't want to relive the past at this moment. "I'm grateful for your friendship and advice."

"Oh, I do hope so, my boy. Because I am strongly advising you to marry Miss Kerr. She's perfect for you."

"Enough, Tony." Nicholas tried to laugh off the suggestion. He wasn't fit to marry anyone.

Sheffield set the glass down. "Perhaps you'll change your mind once you meet my little slave. Having someone at hand at all times is such a blessing. You could have what I have. It's bliss, sheer bliss. Come-I know you are curious. Let's go up."

Nicholas followed Sheffield up the carpeted staircase. The townhouse was very well-appointed, evidence of his friend's financial success. But the carpet stopped as they turned a narrow corridor.

Nicholas heard the whip smack across flesh before Sheffield opened the door. Mrs. Jones's back was to them as she methodically brought a light leather whip down on the girl's buttocks. Tied to the bed, the girl made no noise into the pillow as she was struck. Judging from the bruising on her snow-white skin, she was well-used to this form of play. Her head had been shaved, and its delicate form touched something in Nicholas he didn't know he still possessed.

Pity? Compassion? But what business of his was it? The girl was slender yet well-nourished, a diamond collar around her neck. Her prison was pretty enough, furnishings adequate.

"That's enough, Mrs. Jones. Thank you for preparing her." Sheffield patted the girl's rump and stuck three fingers into her cunt. "Wet. She loves a good whipping. Would you like to seek for yourself?"

Nichols shook his head.

Sheffield removed his hand and wiped it on the girl's arse. "Well, pet, we're here. What do you have to say?"

"Thank you for my instruction, sir. Thank you, Mrs. Jones." Her words were muffled by the pillow. And slow. Nicholas suspected she was drugged.

"Get your face out of the pillow and speak up properly. Now, what are you going to do with my honored guest?"

"Suck his cock, sir." The girl turned, licking her lips obscenely, and Nicholas's heart stopped beating.

Sheffield's hand held Nicholas's shoulder. "She will, too, even if you are her brother. Isn't that right, Diana?"

The girl nodded, her eyes vacant. She didn't recognize him-or wouldn't. The mind often did odd things to survive, as Nicholas well knew.

"But perhaps we need to discuss a few things first. Mrs. Jones, I don't think the gun you're holding on Lord Harland is absolutely necessary. I believe we have him just where we want him without any violence. You don't want to make a fuss, do you, Nick?"

The gun was now trained on his sister. "No," Nicholas croaked.

So this was his punishment for his unnatural urge to punish others.

He would kill himself, and Sheffield too. But first, he would free Diana somehow.

Chapter 5.

St. George's Church, London, Friday, June 13, 1818

Nicholas stood at the altar, Sheffield as his side, a gleeful, diabolical burr. A dozen days had passed in a blur of despair and legal wrangling. Nicholas had not cared one whit about his future wife's dowry or her father's numerous demands concerning any heirs. There would never be grandchildren. There would be no true marriage.

On Monday, Nicholas would turn Catherine over to Anthony Sheffield for his amusement, and Diana would be freed. The ruin of the Harland family would be complete.

Nicholas couldn't believe it had come to this. He'd tried to storm Sheffield's house, but Diana and Mrs. Jones were no longer in residence. He had no doubt that Sheffield would arrange for Diana to permanently disappear if Nicholas did not accede to his wishes.

And meanwhile, poor Catherine Kerr was at the middle of this treachery. Nicholas had had precisely one interview with her, when he went to spring his scandalously sudden proposal on her. Sheffield waited outside, of course-it had been impossible to be rid of him so Nicholas could think straight.

A coup de foudre, he'd told Mr. Kerr. One dance and he'd lost his head and heart. The words had tumbled out so badly, it was as if Miss Kerr had transferred her speech difficulties to him.

As for Miss Kerr-Catherine-she had nodded in agreement at his clumsy proposal and held still for a chaste kiss upon her forehead.

She wouldn't have to live with his betrayal-once he was dead, she could resume a normal life.

If Sheffield didn't do too much harm.

Oh, God. The futility of someone like him praying in church was clear. God had already cursed the Harlands.

Nicholas knew he wasn't a bad person. Flawed, yes. But he'd never deliberately set out to hurt someone who didn't ask for it, except for today. Catherine, walking down the aisle on her father's arms, was about to have all her girlish illusions ripped away.

She wore a pale green silk dress and a matching hat pinned with pink rosebuds. Her cheeks were flushed darker than the hat trimmings. Sheffield nudged him. "You're fortunate I'm giving you first crack at her. But I must go fetch Diana."

Wherever she was. Nicholas had done all he could to find out, but Sheffield's servants, unlike Miss Kerr's, were unbribeable.

Nicholas didn't flinch as the vicar intoned in the near-empty church. He repeated his vows, his voice wooden. Catherine trembled beside him, stuttering so badly he wondered if their marriage was legal after all.

There would be no wedding breakfast-Nicholas was desperate to bring her to Harland Hall in Kent as soon as possible. He'd consummate this unholy bargain only because to think of Sheffield doing so was beyond the pale, then arrange for what was to come.

The June day was glorious, their trip out of the city uninterrupted by misadventure. Catherine was preternaturally quiet. After a few half-hearted tries, Nicholas stopped making inane conversation and left her in peace.

If things were different, he'd try to reassure her, help her relax when she struggled so to speak. No wonder she'd had no suitors, and no wonder her father really didn't object to his lack of fortune. He wondered if she'd ever tried to write her responses.

Then he remembered her talent for drawing. A flush rose from his collar, still not believing this quiet creature could have been the artist behind that pencil sketch.

He had it in his pocket. One of Sheffield's "wedding gifts" to him on the way into the church. The other gifts were in his trunk, with strict instructions for their use.

"You'll thank me in the end," Sheffield had said.

Nicholas's fists flexed. The man had taken a thirteen year old child and ruined her life. Ruined the lives of Nicholas's parents. Ruined his. Nicholas might not have sunk so deep into domination if he wasn't urged on by his so-called friend. Now the darkness had overtaken him.

He'd only be released through death. But Nicholas would make sure Sheffield joined him in hell.

What would become of Diana? He glanced at his new wife, unable to imagine she'd like to be saddled with a drug-addled lascivious lunatic. He would have to arrange to use part of her dowry for Diana's upkeep. Hire a proper nurse. There was a cottage on his property which would do until Diana was well again.

If she got well.

He would write all his plans down, and hope that his new wife was compassionate.

The hedgerows closed in, and Nicholas recognized they weren't far from the Hall. He cleared his throat, warning Catherine he was about to speak.

She turned, her brown eyes wide.

"We're almost home."

She blushed furiously, but nodded. What would she be like when they were intimate? She seemed as skittish as a deer.

Nicholas didn't want to frighten her further. Tie her. Discipline her. Silence her-she was silent enough already. But he hadn't had sexual congress without such aids in years. His mouth twisted. Would he even be able to perform? His wife was a stranger for whom he had only a modicum of desire. In his mind, she already belonged to Sheffield.

But he needed to take her maidenhead if only to deprive Sheffield of that particular pleasure.

"You understand what is to come when we arrive? Did your father-or anyone instruct you in your wifely duties?"

"N-n-no one t-told me anything. B-but I kn-know."

"Good." He reached into his pocket. May as well discover what the significance of this drawing was and if, in fact, she was the artist.

Slowly he unfolded the paper. "Is this yours?"

"Oh God," she whispered.

"Is it?" He sounded harsh even to himself.

"Y-y-yes."

"Is this what you want, Catherine?"

She trembled on the carriage seat, her gloved hands working frantically.

"Tell me."

"I d-don't kn-know."

Nicholas lifted her chin, his thumb fitting perfectly into the indentation there. "I believe you do know."

"I sh-shouldn't-I c-c-can't-"

"Don't tell me what you should feel. I don't care what the rest of the world thinks. This picture excites me, Catherine. If this is what you want, I can provide it."

The look on her face was so hopeful he had trouble breathing.

Then she shook her head. "Y-you will be d-d-disgusted."

"I don't think so. Have you lain with a man before?"

"No!" He'd shocked her into not stuttering.

"Where did you get such an idea?"

"Fr-from a b-book. B-but even b-before-" Her voice trailed away.

"You dreamed of it."

She nodded, eyes downcast.

Sheffield had been right after all, damn him.

So, what was Nicholas to do with his all-too-willing bride? Somehow this was almost worse that marrying a normal, respectably repressed girl. To come so close to heaven for the rest of his life, only to lose it? Ah, yes, Sheffield had planned Nicholas's denouement all too well.

Chapter 6.

Harland Hall, Kent

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