1. After Hours (Iris Jordan/Nerine, Hugh Anderson)
Iris closed the backroom door, muffling the sound of Hugh's saxophone still tracing a melody on the darkened stage. The others had disappeared into the night to find an eatery that was still - or already - open. Iris packed her bass, then smelled the cigarette. She spun around.
"Don't fret, honey," said Nerine's rich voice from the corner of the room. "It's just little old me."
"Those things will destroy your voice."
"You need a little destruction to sing the blues right," said Nerine, Iris could see she was tipsy.
"Come on, goose, I'll get you home."
Bass over one shoulder, Nerine on the other, Iris made it to the street and hailed a cab. "You're so good," Nerine murmured into her neck. The cab driver nearly hit a lamppost trying not to watch. Iris fixed her eyes dead ahead.
Nerine wasn't like her, and besides, she was trouble.
Then they were up the narrow staircase and into Nerine's apartment. Nerine folded into a queen-size bed, kicking off her shoes. "Well," she said gruffly, "you coming to bed?"
Iris, who couldn't speak and look at her at the same time, nodded faintly, and set her bass gently by the door.
2. Alone At Last (Elli de Lisse/Phryne Fisher/Sasha de Lisse)
Phryne had known perfectly well what she was doing when she'd invited both Sasha and Elli to dinner at the Windsor. What could she say? That pair of kisses at the Russians' lodgings had convinced her, despite everything that had followed.
Now she lay gloriously sated in the middle of her bed, the beautiful Sasha on one side and the glowing Elli on the other, and felt glad she'd given Dot the night off. They had made rather more noise than any pair of earplugs could muffle. Elli liked to talk while she made love, too, a staccato of whispered filth and adoration.
Sasha slipped out of bed. Phryne caught the brief smirk he gave his sister as he headed for the bathroom. Elli slid up in her arms. Phryne, who had expected this, too, found she didn't resent being set up enough to kick the gorgeous girl with the warm clever hands out of her bed.
"I will show you we don't need him, eh?" Elli said. Poor girl, thought Phryne. It must not be easy to prefer women when men are so much eas--
Phryne's thought - and breath - was cut short, for Elli's hands really were frightfully clever.
3. Anything Goes (Iris Jordan/Madame Breda)
Iris first met Madame Breda at the Ladies' Physical Culture Fair at the community house, and it seemed amazing they'd never made their acquaintance before. They attended the same events and ordered from some of the same manufacturers, though Breda's need exceeded Iris's, who relied on exercise, massage and healthy diet more than supplements or oils. They both favoured a holistic approach to health and valued the importance of prevention, though where Iris strove to make an individual stronger, Breda aimed to make them comfortable. Worthy goals, both.
On the subject of sexual health, they agreed that hysteria and wandering wombs were all stuff and nonsense. Sexuality was by all accounts individual and, whether it was happily celibate or voracious, as with a sinew or muscle, the worst thing you could do to it was force it into a position that was unnatural to it.
It wasn't the sort of theory one aired, except among trusted colleagues or girls one looked to seduce. By the time Iris was lying gasping in Breda's arms in a hot scented bath, the dolphin-shaped dildo still snug inside her and Breda's fingers splayed across her mons, she had stopped trying to figure out which Breda was.
4. The Best Laid Schemes (Lydia Andrews/OFC)
Lydia had it all figured out and every little thing was in its place. Of course there was still her husband, but the bastard would get his soon enough. The thought of being a wronged wife of a convict or the widow of an executed murderer rather appealed to her. It had a romance to it. But independence she had to have.
She relied on her men to take care of practical matters most of the time, but she had to stay on top of her game, and not allow herself to get squeamish, which is why she attended that deplorable bathhouse on occasion. Oh yes, she knew what went on in there. It sickened her. It was indecent, having girls and perverted men servicing male clients. At least they never offered her a male bather. There was nothing wrong with it if it was a woman, of course. A chaste massage was good for you. That was an established fact.
She sighed and lay back in the bath, allowing the girl Juliette to rub her down. She caught the girl's hand and guided it between her legs.
That was standard for a massage, wasn't it? Inducing a hysterical paroxysm? Surely.
5. The Bitter Love (Elli de Lisse/Phryne Fisher, Phryne Fisher/Sasha de Lisse)
Elli stood on the docks in between the corner of the harbour building and a stack of shipping containers, blocking the view so that Sasha could say goodbye to Miss Fisher without the two of them making too much of a display of themselves.
To put it another way, she stood with her back to her brother necking with the woman she was in love with.
Elli had been in love a dozen times before. She found herself falling head over heels for just about every exquisite female who looked her way, but it never got any easier to watch them go back to their husbands or girlfriends or daddies, or, damn it all to hell, straight into Sasha's arms.
She'd thought better of Phryne. The Honourable Miss Fisher had certainly never made any bones about which sibling she preferred, but she had been kind to Elli and she was clever. Didn't she realize what this felt like?
There was a tap on her shoulder. It was Sasha, collar undone and a smug look on his face. A white slim arm shot out from behind him and pulled Elli into the shadows.
"Your turn," said Phryne, grinning through smudged lipstick.