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The carriage drew up in front of Number 7 Belgrave Square with a rattle of cobbles. Emmeline Waters resisted the urge to tumble out like a child and instead waited for the footman to open the door. She gathered her skirts and glided up the steps to the townhouse where the butler was already opening the door. She'd been practicing her glide.

“Welcome, Miss Waters,” he said, stepping back into the foyer. The butler's name was Hastings, and when she was a child he used to scold her for tying rags in her shoes and pretending to ice skate on the newly polished floors. Now however, she nodded a polite acknowledgement, as if they were strangers, because respectable young ladies did not have memories of skating in the foyer.

There was a rustle of skirts and Emmeline looked up to see her godmother standing at the top of the wide flight of stairs curving up from the front hall. Forgetting that she was a young woman now, she cried, “ Marraine !” and dashed toward the staircase.

Laughing, her godmother enveloped her in a strong hug, a crinkle of crinoline, and the smell of rosewater.

Mrs. Dorothea Lambton, a cousin of the Lambtons, of Durham, was a widow of a number of years. She was no longer young - her hair was streaked with distinguished gray and there were elegant lines around her mouth and eyes - but she was still very beautiful. Society murmured that if she wanted she could remarry easily, and any gentleman would be glad to have her, as well as her moderate but comfortable income. However, since she was an esteemed lady, and well liked in society, they murmured quietly, and left her mostly in peace in her London townhouse.

Visits to Marraine Dorothea were cherished memories of Emmeline’s childhood. But now Emmeline was almost bursting with excitement, because she was making her Society debut this season, and that meant dances and new friends, and all the bustle of London, but most of all it mean a whole spring with Dorothea.

Pushing Emmeline back gently, Dorothea took her by the shoulders. “Look how you’ve grown. Almost a young lady.”

“I will be a lady by the end of this month,” Emmeline said, trying to stand up tall.

“You’ll find your debut is the least of the growing up you’ll do this season, I imagine,” Dorothea said. “Now, let’s get you out of those travelling clothes.” The hem of Emmeline’s dress was soiled by the London muck and rather dingy from the road dust. It had been a long ride. “I’ve had the housemaids keeping the bath warm.”

Upstairs, the maids, Louisa and Marie, helped Emmeline out of her dusty clothes, and she sank into the steaming water of the bath with a sigh. The scent of soap rose in the warm air around her as Louisa helped her dip her head back and lathered soap in her hair. She could feel the grime and tension of the journey easing out of her.

The door to the water closet opened, letting a draft of cool air into the steamy warmth. Emmeline looked up to see her godmother dismiss the maids. There were lamps burning, giving the close room a gold glow through the mist. Dorothea knelt beside the bath, picking up the soap.

Marraine ?” Emmeline asked.

“Do you remember when you would come visit me as a little girl, and you would scream and scream about the bath unless I was the one to wash you?” Dorothea said, putting her hands on Emmeline’s shoulders, slick with soap and cooler than the temperature of the bath.

Emmeline laughed. “I remember. But that was only because your old maid Berta used to scrub me practically raw, as if I were a kitchen pot.”

“Berta believed in thorough work.” Dorothea stroked the wet hair from the back of Emmeline’s neck. “She didn’t understand how delicate you are.”

“I’m not delicate.”

“Sensitive, then.” Dorothea scraped her fingernails lightly up the tender skin of Emmeline’s throat and an acute shiver gripped Emmeline’s whole body. Dorothea laughed softly. “You see? Lean forward.”

With a slosh of water against the sides of the bath, Emmeline leaned forward, and felt her godmother’s hands slide down her back, slick with soap. Despite the exhaustion of the journey, she suddenly felt wide awake, aware of the temperature of the water and the contrast with the air, hearing the beat of her own heart beneath her ribs.

“I’m glad to have you here, for your debut,” Dorothea continued, as her hands worked steadily. “It’s been such a joy watching you grow up.”

Emmeline didn’t feel very grown-up, with her godmother scrubbing her back like a child, but at the same time, her body was thrumming in a way that it never had when she was small, a feeling she associated with maturity.

“We’ll take you to the tailor this week,” Dorothea went on, as if oblivious to the warm distraction swirling in Emmeline’s head. “To get you fitted for your gown. I was thinking a pale lavender, maybe. Monsieur du Blanc’s shop is doing some lovely things with colors of silk this season.” Her hands were steady and firm, never quite dipping lower than Emmeline’s waist, beneath the water. Pressing her forehead to her knees, Emmeline closed her eyes and tried to breathe steadily. “Are you quite alright, cherie ?”

“Yes, Marraine ,” she murmured. “Just tired.” Tired was not the word for whatever was making her body feel alight with sensation. She felt a jolt of disappointment as her godmother sat back.

“Well then, it’s high time for growing girls to be in bed.” There was a rustle of heavy skirts as Dorothea got up.

“I’m not a girl,” Emmeline protested, as her godmother called the maids back in to rinse and dress her. “I’m a lady.”

“Almost,” said Dorothea.


The day of her debut, Emmeline was up with the first flush of dawn, utterly unable to be still any longer. The servants fussed over her, and Marraine Dorothea admonished her to eat something for goodness sake, but Emmeline was too nervously excited to have more than a few bites of toast with tea.

The preparations began mid-morning, even though the debut wasn’t for hours. Emmeline was washed and combed and sat for hours in her chemise while Louisa and Marie fussed over her hair and face.

They laced her into her corset, tighter than she had ever worn it as a girl, until her ribs ached, and as she breathed shallowly she felt a jump of excitement in her chest at the pain. She was a young woman now, almost. The angle of the sun was changing outside the window, slanting between the buildings and gabled roofs. Louisa and Marie brought out her new gown - layers of sky blue silk and chiffon, delicately embroidered with white flowers and lace at the hem and the neckline, the whole confection of cloth shimmering in the afternoon light.

It was heavier than it looked, she found as the maids helped her step into it and Marie began doing up the tiny buttons. When they were done, Emmeline regarded herself wide-eyed in the mirror.

The door opened behind them and Dorothea slipped in with a rustle of skirts. Emmeline turned to her, heart beating fast. “What do you think?”

“Oh you look lovely.” Crossing the room. Dorothea touched the lace at her neckline, and then ghosted her finger tips down the front of her blouse. She brushed over Emmeline’s nipples and Emmeline shivered, feeling them harden under the fabric. Dorothea smiled at her, and tweaked her chin when she saw Emmeline’s blush, and then turned away. “The blue really was the best choice I will have to congratulate the seamstress.”

Emmeline swallowed, feeling slightly unsteady. It was the nerves, she told herself.

“Spin for me,” her godmother said, and Emmeline did - trying to move with the grace and lightness that the gown displayed. She was acutely aware that in just a few hours she would be standing before the king.

As if reading her mind, Dorothea said, “You are going to be la plus belle fille tonight.”

Emmeline ducked her head. “ La plus belle femme .”

Dorothea pressed her cool fingers against her cheek. “Just so.”


The evening was a blur. After the interminable, heart-pounding anticipation of the presentation, and then the curtseying before the king, all of which had left Emmeline feeling weak and damp with sweat beneath her layers, there was a dance. Her first dance, as a young lady out in society, and Emmeline was giddy with the triumph of the day, with the glitter of the ballroom and the guests around her - all the most notable names of the Ton circulating in elaborate skirts and impeccable jackets.

Her godmother was chaperoning her, and Emmeline was grateful to have Dorothea close to her side, murmuring in her ear the names and titles of people they passed, and stopping periodically to make introductions. “Lady Bigsby, how lovely to see you again… Captain Thomas, have you met my goddaughter?”

Some of the faces were familiar from her father’s usual circles. She recognized Baron and Lady Heyworth, who were regular guests at the Waters’ estate in Norfolk, and General Ashford, who had known her father during the war. Others she recognized from their pictures in the papers. “That’s the Marquess of Hertford,” she hissed in Dorothea’s ear, and heard her godmother chuckle.

“Indeed. Would you like to dance with his son?”

“Dance with his son?” Emmeline repeated, wide-eyed. Dorothea took her by the elbow and steered her across the room, smiling.

“Albert, you old rascal,” Dorothea said as they approached. “Still alive, I see.”

“Lady Lambton,” the Marquess boomed. “A pleasure as ever.” He kissed her cheeks, continentally, and then turned to Emmeline. “And who is this charming young lady?”

Emmeline managed to respond with something coherent in a voice somewhat louder than a whisper. The Marquess’s son, Hugh Seymour, Earl of Hertford was a red-cheeked, exuberant young man with a resounding laugh just like his father. He smiled at Emmeline and she managed not to faint when he extended his hand and asked her to dance.

Thankfully, the steps of the quadrille were so indelibly set in Emmeline’s mind that she got through the dance without treading on the hem of her dress, or any of her partners' feet, and even managed to smile a little, blushingly, at Mr. Seymour.

Afterward, a number of other young men who had noticed her dancing with an Earl were suddenly eager to make her acquaintance, and she found herself whirled around the floor by half a dozen eligible men of the Ton, until her head was spinning from the attention and the dancing both.

The clock had struck midnight some time since, and the party seemed only to have gotten noisier and more merry as champagne flowed freely and the music played on. Emmeline’s feet hurt, and the room was a little unsteady around her, still spinning from her last reel. It occurred to her that she had eaten hardly anything all day, as she drifted to the edge of the dancefloor. Her dance partner from the last round was talking to her, but she wasn’t following his words. She was dizzy and overheated, the stays of her corset digging into her ribs and making her back ache.

A familiar hand touched her arm, and she looked around gratefully at her godmother. “You’re looking flushed, ma cherie ,” Dorothea murmured. “Perhaps a breath of air.” She gracefully made excuses to the young man accompanying Emmeline, and then swept her away, out of the ballroom.

They ended up alone in a dim sitting room, which felt cool after the heat of the party. Sinking down on a chaise longue Emmeline leaned back and sighed. She felt dry fingers brush her forehead, and smiled wanly up at her godmother.

“It’s not uncommon for new debutants to over exert themselves,” Dorothea said calmly. “You will learn your limits in time.” Her hands were moving, stroking back Emmeline’s curls, and rubbing gently at her neck. Emmeline sighed in pleasure and leaned forward so she could reach more. Dorothea worked her fingers into the knots at the base of her skull, and then her shoulders and Emmeline swallowed a low, undignified noise. Her godmother’s hands were strong and skilled, pleasantly cool against her hot skin. Emmeline relaxed into the cushions of the chaise, her headache fading as all the tension was kneaded from her until she felt limp and pliable. She was unusually aware of her body, the brush of fabric against her skin, the press of her stays into her ribs, the slide of her cotton drawers between her thighs.

She was feeling sleepy and heavy. “Is it too early to leave?” she asked, voice coming out small.

“No, I think not. We will have to make a round of goodbyes. Do you think you can do that, or do you need me to make your excuses for you?”

Emmeline was desperately tempted to let her godmother do the long and formal farewells, while she rested on the chaise like a child fallen asleep at a soiree, but she shook her head. She was a real lady it now, grown up. “I can do it.”

Dorothea smiled, indulently. “ Bon, cherie .” Leaning down, she kissed Emmeline's cheek in a waft of rose perfume and the smell of powder. Her lips were warm and soft, and Emmeline shivered.


The season rushed on, in a whirl of dinners, parties and dances, interspersed with afternoon rides in the park and calling on friends for tea. Dorothea was well-respected and generally liked, therefore sought after as a hub around which society relationships revolved. Emmeline soon learned all the important names and titles, as well as more gossip than she thought her head could ever contain. It was a daily delight to take tea with her godmother and watch so many other society ladies vie for her attention, when Emmeline knew Dorothea always had time for her.

It was not only the ladies who Emmeline was coming to know well. There were a number of young men who had expressed interest in knowing her better, including the Earl of Hertford. Mr. Seymour was a familiar dancing partner by now when their paths crossed at balls and dinners. It made a number of other young ladies jealous, Emmeline learned through the circulation of society talk, and she was secretly, guiltily pleased by their covetousness. Mr. Seymour was only moderately handsome but his laugh made Emmeline feel pleasantly warm, and after all, he was an Earl.

As a dawdling winter was overcome by a slow and tepid spring, Emmeline grew into new confidence. She imagined that she was like one of the early roses beginning to bloom in St. James Park, opening new petals every day, growing up. It had been so silly to be anxious over her first season, when everything was going so well.

One evening, at a marvelously exclusive fete hosted by Lady Darlington, Emmeline danced three dances in a row with Hugh Seymour. The small size of the gathering had afforded them more time together than usual, and Emmeline was feeling light, and pleasantly giddy from the attention and the champagne as the night wore on.

After their last dance, Mr. Seymour linked his arm through hers. “I’d like a bit of air. Come walking with me?”

Emmeline glanced around for Dorothea, her chaperone, and spotted her across the room, deep in conversation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Emmeline didn’t want to interrupt her, but surely there was no harm in just going for a walk together. She nodded.

Outside the ballroom, Emmeline expected them to turn toward the gardens, where there were lanterns strung up, and a few other couples walking in the night air. It would be within propriety for them to walk together in view of the windows and doors, and the other party goers, even without a chaperone. But instead, Seymour steered her down the corridor to an empty sitting room.

She glanced around a little uncertainty as he closed the door behind her. Seymour smiled at her, and put his fingers under her chin, tipping her face up. Emmeline’s heart was pounding, and she felt as though she couldn’t remember how to breathe. His lips touched her, slightly parted. She could taste the light tang of champagne on his breath. Then his tongue slid across her lips, wet and shocking. A hot jolt ran through her body, and she jumped, pushing him away with a hand on his chest.

They stared at each other for a long moment, and Emmeline dropped her eyes to his mouth. Her stomach was twisted into a knot of excitement and confusion.

Behind them, the sitting room door flew open. The two of them jolted apart. Dorothea stood in the doorway, face thunderous.

“Miss Emmeline Claudine Waters, what on this green earth do you think you’re doing?” she snapped.

“We were only...” Seymour began, but Dorothea cut him off.

“And you, young man, for shame. You know better than to invite nice young lady alone with you. I will be speaking to your father about this.” She took Emmeline firmly by the wrist. “Come.”

The carriage ride home was silent and tense. Emmeline’s face was still burning with humiliation and anger. She’d been scolded like a child in front of Seymour, but she’d been so tangled up by kissing him that her godmother’s intervention had almost been a relief.

At Belgrave square, Hastings opened the door smoothly, making no comment on their early return, as if he had been waiting the whole evening just for their arrival. Dorothea swept in, pulling off her gloves. Passing her stole and reticule to Hastings, she said, “Emmeline, I want to speak with you upstairs.”

Emmeline dragged her feet on the marble stairs, but not enough for another scolding. In her godmother’s rooms, Dorothea dismissed Marie, and turned to Emmeline. The lamps had been turned down low, giving only gentle illumination to the couches and inlaid end tables of the private sitting room. The light played on the lines of Dorothea’s serious face, making her look older and handsome. “Emmeline you know that what you did tonight was very foolish.”

“I know.” Emmeline squirmed. “I know but we weren’t doing anything wrong!”

“Have you learned anything these last few months? It’s not about doing, it’s about appearances. You were alone with a young man who has already expressed an interest in you. If I hadn’t been right behind you your reputation might be ruined! And you just beginning in society.”

Emmeline looked at her toes, eyes stinging and cheeks hot.

“Is that what you want?” Dorothea asked, voice sharp.

“No, Marraine ,” Emmeline whispered. Her voice shook.

Her godmother reached out and cupped her cheek with a cool, dry hand. “I want to help you remember this lesson, so it won’t happen again.”

“It won’t.” Emmeline shook her head so her coiffed curls bounced against her neck. “I’m very sorry, Marraine .”

Je le sais, cherie. Still, it’s important to have something to help your memory. Bend over the couch and flip your skirts up.”

Emmeline felt a jolt of shock. “Are you going to spank me?” She hadn’t been hit since she was small, certainly not since her body began to change into womanhood.

Dorothea’s face was impassive. “It will help you remember. Are you going to be disobedient?”

Face burning, Emmeline bent over the back of the couch, and hauled her skirts up around her waist. Spanking was for little children, but it didn’t feel childish, having her rear end exposed in the middle of her godmother’s private rooms. It felt… a little dangerous, a little exciting. Her whole body was tense in anticipation. Something brushed against her and she jumped, but it was just Dorothea untying the ribbon of her drawers and pulling them down around her knees, leaving her bare. Her breath was coming shallow and fast.

The first blow landed suddenly, and Emmeline gasped more from shock than pain.

The second was harder, fast upon the first, making Emmeline whimper, rocking forward against the back of the couch.

“Hold still,” Dorothea said. “A young lady takes punishment with grace and composure. Can you do that?”

Fingers clenched against the upholstery of the couch, Emmeline nodded.

“Use your words, cherie.”

“Yes, Marraine ,” Emmeline whispered.  

“Good.” Another smack, the sound cracking loudly in the small room, the hot sting of pain close behind. Tears stung her eyes but she held herself still, trembling.

Dorothea’s hand rose and fell, not quite in a rhythm, making it impossible to predict. Emmeline found herself tensing and holding her breath between blows, only to be startled when they came too soon or too late. She bit her lip hard to keep from making a noise. Her backside was burning, and she was hot all over, feeling her pulse pounding strongly in her throat and between her legs. Her thighs felt slick as she shifted on the couch, trying not to squirm.

It truly hurt now, with no time for the feeling to fade between blows. The sharp pain had settled into a hot, deep ache, that seemed to have migrated from her buttocks to her whole groin. She felt tense and sore and warm right through the core of her.

Her godmother paused, running her hands lightly over the reddened, stinging skin of her buttocks and thighs. Her fingers dipped slightly between them, where she was wet and sensitive, and Emmeline jumped, feeling a shock go through her.

“Be still.” Her godmother’s hand landed sharply on the tender skin at the top of her thigh, and Emmeline muffled a sob against the back of the couch, tears finally slipping down her cheeks.

“Ah, cherie ,” Dorothea murmured, and Emmeline felt her hands suddenly soft and gentle slide over her throbbing back side. “ C’est fini. You were so good for me.”

Emmeline let her godmother gather her up, turning her gently so she could lean sideways on the couch without much weight on her tender backside. She sniffled against Dorothea’s blouse, too overwhelmed and humiliated to look up.

“There now,” Dorothea murmured, stroking her hair. “It’s all over now.”

“I’m sorry,” Emmeline said, voice choked. She was still throbbing between her legs, making her want to squirm, but every movement made pain flare in her buttocks.

Ce n’est rien. It was a mistake but there was no harm done, in the end.”

“What if Mr. Seymour doesn’t want to see me anymore? What if he thinks I’m a loose woman?” She slumped against her godmother’s shoulder, breathing in the familiar smell of her rosewater. “Did he really like me at all, do you think? Or was he just trying to get me alone to kiss me?”

Dorothea raise her eyebrows. “Seymour kissed you?”

“Yes,” Emmeline admitted, realizing belatedly that she had disclosed something otherwise unknown. “Only a little. What if he tells the whole Ton that I’m a harlot?”

Dorothea stroked her hand. “If he does that, you can rest assured I will be having words with his father that will make young Mr. Seymour regret ever crossing my goddaughter’s path.” Emmeline smiled weakly against her godmother’s shoulder. “And as for the rest, the worst that could happen is that he no longer pursues you, and that would only be a little loss. In my experience, boys are easy to come by, and quite overrated, particularly by themselves.”

That startled a laugh out of Emmeline.

“There, there’s that sweet smile that I love.” Dorothea tipped Emmeline’s chin up gently with one finger. “There are so many more things in life than the love of men. I know you have a full, rich life ahead of you.”

Emmeline felt tears welling in the corners of her eyes, and smiled shakily. “Thank you, Marraine .”

“That’s right. Don’t cry now, cherie .” She pressed a kiss against Emmeline’s cheek, and then to her lips. Startled, Emmeline opened her mouth a little, and shivered at the feeling of her godmother’s soft, dry lips against her own. It lit a familiar, hot flicker in her body.

“I think liked it,” she blurted out, and then flushed. “When he kissed me. It made me feel awfully funny all over. It wasn't a little kiss like that.”

“Oh yes? Show me how he kissed you,” Dorothea said.

Hesitantly, blushing furiously, Emmeline leaned in and kissed her godmother again, but instead of pulling away she parted her lips just a little, like Mr. Seymour had done for her. It felt elicit and strange. Her cheeks were burning.

She had no idea really what she was supposed to do with her mouth. People embraced like this, extravagant and open mouth, in the raunchier kinds of comedies, the sorts of village green performances that her father probably didn't know she had ever seen. But until Seymour had used his tongue, she’d had no inkling it was a thing propper people might do.

Just as she had worked herself into a horror of uncertainty, she felt her godmother's mouth moving against hers, gentle and certain, and felt the brush of her tongue, just like in the drawing room. It sent hot shivers down her spine, making her feel tense in the most pleasant way. There was a sort of tingling ache between her legs, the same feeling that the spanking had caused, growing stronger.

Dorothea pulled back, cupping her cheek with her warm, dry palm. “Was it like that?” she asked.

Flushed, Emmeline nodded.

“And how did it make you feel?”

“Strange,” Emmeline said. “Warm.”

“Show me where,” her godmother ordered.

Emmeline had already flipped up her skirts once this evening, and it was easier to do the second time. As she shifted on the settee her buttocks reminded her of her earlier punishment with a stinging, aching burn. She was hot all over as she pulled up her petticoats again and let her knees spread.

Her godmother made a soft, humming sound, like contentment or approval, and Emmeline and felt one of her hands on her knee just above her garter. Her drawers were pulled down still around her ankles, leaving her completely exposed. Her private parts felt tender and sensitive to the cool air of the room.

“It's normal to be feeling such things at your age,” Dorothea said, tracing small circles with her thumb on Emmeline’s knee. “But it is very important to know that kissing boys is not the only way to feel such things. In fact it is the least efficient and most dangerous way. Would you like me to show you some more circumspect methods to bring yourself pleasure?”

Chewing on her lower lip, Emmeline nodded. She was already feeling the intense mix of pleasure and confusion which kissing Seymour had aroused in her. There was both apprehension and anticipation in the thought of learning more.

Dorothea ran her hands up Emmeline’s legs, from the bows of her garters to the soft skin of her inner thighs. Emmeline trembled, swallowing a whimper as Dorothea pressed her legs apart, spreading her open. Dorothea’s fingers gently petted the coarse curls at the juncture of her thighs and then, trailed down the slick folds, making Emmeline jump.

Shocking, sudden heat shivered through her, centered between her legs. Her whole body felt alive with it, skin prickling and oversensitive. She was urgently aware of the cool air of the room, the cotton of her camisole rubbing against her nipples, the rough texture of the couch cushions on her tender backside. Her godmother’s fingers slid through her wetness again, and touched something that made Emmeline gasp and jolt. It was like a little pearl, almost hidden in the soft folds, and it sent bright shocks through her core when Dorothea touched it.

“What’s that?” Her cheeks were burning, heart thumping from agonized embarrassment and arousal.

“Womanhood’s best kept secret,” Dorothea said, with something like amusement in her voice.

“Ah, ah,” Emmeline gasped, fingers curling in her skirts. She could feel how wet she was getting under her godmother's touch, Dorothea’s fingers making slick sounds in her folds.

“Let me show you how to do it. Lean back against me.” They shifted so that Emmeline’s back was against her godmother’s chest, so she could smell her rosewater perfume and the power on her cheeks. “Now use your fingers, just like I’m doing.”

Hesitantly, Emmeline reached down, feeling herself, sensitive and open for the first time. It was not that she had never touched herself here, to bathe or while relieving herself, but it had never felt like this - she was so slippery and swollen feeling.

“That’s it,” Dorothea murmured, and her voice made Emmeline shiver. “Just like that.”

As Emmeline touched herself, Dorothea ran her hands up Emmeline’s stomach, over her blouse to the low neckline of her gown. She trailed her wet fingers over the swell off her bosom making gooseflesh rise on her skin. Emmeline whined in her throat. Hooking a finger in the neckline of her blouse, Dorothea tugged it down further to the edge of her corset, and lifted one breast out of the confines of the stays, so that her nipple was exposed, hard and tender.

“Don’t stop,” Dorothea said, and Emmeline realized she had become distracted and forgotten to move her hand. “Keep using your fingers, two of them. That's right cherie .”

Brow furrowed in concentration, Emmeline tried to imitate what her godmother had done but the sensation wasn’t the same, and she was distracted by Dorothea’s light, ghosting touches over her nipple. “Will you do it, please Marraine ?”

Dorothea clicked her tongue. “You'll never learn if you don't practice perseverance.” But she reached down anyway, pulling the ruffled hem of Emmeline's skirt out of the way. She touched her again, sliding a finger down through her wetness, and pressing it inside her.

Emmeline yelped and squeezed her thighs shut reflexively, trapping Dorothea’s hand between her legs. It hurt a little, a sharp burning pain almost like getting spanked but minutely focused and deeply intimate.

“Relax, cherie,” Dorothea murmured, and Emmeline panted, trying to obey, drawing in deep gulps of air.

Gently, Dorothea worked the finger in and out of her, crooking it forward and up toward her pubic bone. It sent deep, sonorous shiver through her but it wasn't as good as being touched from the outside. Emmeline whined for more, shifting her hips urgently. Dorothea pulled her finger out, wet and easy, and touched the sensitive nub at the apex of her folds.

“Oh!” Emmeline cried out, and then clapped a hand over her mouth, biting down on her palm.

Tweaking her nipple with the other hand, Dorothea worked quick, tight circles with fingers still slick from inside her. Emmeline arched up into the touch, gasping silently. Every movement dragged her sore backside against the couch cushions, sending sharp pangs through her loins. Her fingers were clenching and unclenching in the ruffles of her skirts. Her body was tightening, something hot and huge building in her center.

Then she felt Dorothea’s lips on her throat, the heat of her tongue on the sensitive skin over her pulse and she shouted, arching helplessly as an intense, convulsive heat wracked through her. She could feel her core clenching rhythmically, each wave breaking in a flood of new sensation.

Dorothea was murmuring sweetly in her ear. “So good, cherie, so beautiful like this, my lovely girl.”

Chest heaving, heartbeat roaring in her ears, Emmeline slowly came back to herself. She was slumped against her godmother’s chest, knees spread wantonly, skirts rucked up around her waist. Her whole body felt heavy and loose, as if she had just swum a mile and then rested in a hot bath. Tiny shocks were still going through her groin as Dorothea moved her fingers. Emmeline whimpered helplessly, oversensitive.

Her godmother lifted her wet fingers away from Emmeline’s body. They were gleaming with clear slick and Emmeline felt another shudder go through her as Dorothea lifted them to her lips and licked them off, before wiping them delicately on the hem of Emmeline’s petticoat. “There. How was that?”

“Good,” Emmeline managed, panting. “So good.”

“That’s right. Now you see how little you need men when you can take care of such things yourself.” Dorothea stroked a hand down her thigh, making Emmeline shiver again. “You’re a mess, cherie . Let’s clean you up.”

Slowly, Emmeline made her limbs move to pull up her drawers, although her thighs were still sticky, and to straighten her skirts. Dorothea smoothed her hair, and pressed a kiss against her temple. It was chaste and familiar, but it sent a new sensation through Emmeline.

She struggled to compose her thoughts. “I can… touch myself that way,” she began hesitantly. “But you can also do it with other people? Like you helped me?”

“You certainly can, if you use discretion, with other women. With men too although you will find them largely incompetent and in general will be more of an impediment than a help in such endeavors.” Dorothea sighed and tucked a loose curl behind Emmeline’s ear. “As in so many things.”

Emmeline nodded slowly. “And… could we do it again? You and me?”

Dorothea still had her hand on Emmeline’s head, caressing lightly. “If you want, cherie . There are more things I could show you, too.”

“Really?” It made interest spark again in her body, through the lethargy of pleasure.

“Not tonight,” Dorothea chuckled. “That’s quite enough learning for one evening, and don’t forget we are calling early on Lady Beckworth tomorrow.”

“Do we have to?” It came out sounding plaintive and childish. “You’re the only one I want to be with. It seems so silly to spend time in society when I could just be with you all the time.”

Dorothea smiled indulgently, and kissed her again, lightly on the mouth. “I shall have to give you a lesson in restraint, I see. And now, it is high time for girls to be in bed.”

“I’m not a girl.” Emmeline lifted her chin, feeling a new weight behind the words. As she got up from the couch she swept her skirts up enough to show her thighs, and watched her godmother’s eyes dip down her body, dark and intent. Emmeline felt a flare of hot satisfaction run through her. “I’m a young lady.”

Vraiment .” Dorothea licked her lips. “That you are.”


La fin