Read A Gentlewoman's Dalliance Online

Authors: Portia Da Costa

Tags: #Fiction, #Short Stories (Single Author), #Erotica

A Gentlewoman's Dalliance

London, 1890

Mary Brigstock and her husband have no difficulty maintaining the passion in their marriage, but even the most ardent lovers crave new experiences. When Mary tells the Ladies' Sewing Circle that she wants her husband to spank her, their worldly hostess arranges exactly what she desires: the services of an expert disciplinarian who can teach the Brigstocks how to make their wicked fantasy a reality….

Part of Portia Da Costa's Ladies' Sewing Circle series.

A Gentlewoman's Dalliance
Portia Da Costa

London, 1890

Mrs. Mary Brigstock looked around at the familiar faces of the Ladies' Sewing Circle, her expression half a smile and half a frown. Who among their number shared the foible that preoccupied her? Surely someone did. Certain Circle members were daring, to say the least. Incorrigible, even.

“You look perplexed, Mary,” remarked Mrs. Prudence Enderby, one of those most qualified for the label of daredevil. Her expression was shrewd and her eyes narrow as she hacked away rather ineptly at the Madeira cake and handed around unladylike doorsteps on dainty china plates. “Surely you're not experiencing any difficulties with Mr. Brigstock now? I thought you and he were lovebirds reborn nowadays?”

Mary blushed furiously. Her friend was quite correct. Why, only this morning there had been an instance. Mr. Brigstock had woken some considerable time before the maid brought up their tea tray, and proceeded to put his fine morning cock-stand to excellent use. Mary's heart fluttered inside her corset just at the thought of it, as did another region of her anatomy, the southerly portion that lay within the lace-trimmed confines of her drawers. Dearest Leonard had plowed her most enthusiastically and his efforts had made her squeal and moan with pleasure as the birds had welcomed the dawn outside with song.

“Oh, we are, Prudence, we are,” Mary admitted, crumbling her already ramshackle slice of cake between her fingertips. When she'd first joined the Sewing Circle she'd been painfully shy, and half-afraid of the bolder members of the group, and some of that early prickly nervousness still lingered in her. It had taken her quite some time to come around to the naughty, free-speaking and free-thinking ways of Prudence, but more and more she was shedding her inhibitions.

“It's just that I've…well…I've developed a yen to try something new…a foible, shall we say. Mr. Brigstock is anxious to accommodate me—in fact, most eager to satisfy my desires—but he does have one or two slight misgivings.”

“Oh, Mary, you rogue, whatever is it?” Prudence chuckled and waggled her eyebrows.

Pink-faced and thoroughly overheated, Mary wished that a jug of well-iced lemonade had been served alongside the teapot full of hot oolong. Memories of this morning's excellent bedroom endeavors had turned her blood into hot treacle, and in the warm weather, her chemise was moist with perspiration and sticking to her. Some of the ladies were shockingly acute where matters of the bedroom were concerned, and it suddenly felt as if Prudence, at least, was well aware of Mr. Brigstock's dawn performance and the way Mary had writhed and yowled with the pleasure of it.

But before she could stammer further, Lady Arabella Southern cut in. “Oh, you'll just have to use your feminine wiles on him, my dear,” the peeress advised archly, before launching into yet another colorful tale of her own persuasive powers. “Why, my dear Horace was a bit reluctant at first when I asked him to service me over the billiard table while he was wearing his regimental dress uniform. In fact, he hummed and hawed for several minutes about disrespect and all that palaver, and spoiling the nap on the baize, but I won him around eventually with certain promises he couldn't resist.”

The ensuing account—possibly true, possibly fabricated—gripped the attention of the entire Circle for the rest of the tea party, and caused even the most experienced eyebrows to rise. Mary was heartily grateful that the peeress had drawn their fire from her, and it wasn't until the gathering was breaking up that their unspoken grande dame Sofia Chamfleur drew her aside.

“You know that I have certain, shall we say, resources, Mary dear, and a good deal of expertise,” murmured her friend in a discreet, hushed voice. “If there's any way I can be of assistance in the matter of your ‘foible,' please don't hesitate to ask, and I'll help if I can.”

Mary's heart thudded. This was precisely what she'd hoped for. If anyone could facilitate this matter, it was the worldly-wise Sofia, and glancing around to ensure that the other ladies were occupied elsewhere, Mary reached into her sewing bag. From it, she drew out a copy of a periodical, an item she'd obtained from Sofia herself, just a week ago.

The magazine fell open at a page clearly well-thumbed. “This is what took our fancy, Sofia,” said Mary, glancing up from the page to her companion's understanding face. “But Mr. Brigstock is as inexperienced as I in this particular activity, and he doesn't want to disappoint me or do me any harm.”

Sofia smiled, laying her hand on Mary's arm. “Your Mr. Brigstock is a fine and thoughtful husband, Mary, and would that all spouses were as considerate as he. But I think you'd both agree that you probably need the help of ‘specialist.' Someone well versed in these activities.”

Someone like him.

The two of them looked down again at the page and its skillfully executed engravings, showing scenes of scandalously naughtiness, involving not two participants but three, a woman and two men. The clearly willing female was being spanked by one of the men, while the other looked on, wide-eyed and avid. Sofia's forefinger rested upon one particular figure in the grouping, the disciplinarian. He was dark-haired and somewhat unusual looking, and the clever engraver had managed to suggest a wealth of knowledge in his large, compelling eyes.

“Exactly! Exactly!” cried Mary eagerly. One or two of the other ladies looked her way as they fussed with their hats and outdoor wear, so she lowered her voice as she went on. “That's just what Mr. Brigstock said. We weren't sure how we'd go about securing such a person's services, but I told him that you would probably know.”

Sofia beamed. “Ah, you know me well, my dear. I do know
how to obtain such services, and I know the perfect fellow for the task.” She paused and winked. “Leave it all to me, Mary. I'll make the arrangements for you, and send around a message when the thing is all set.”

“Oh, thank you, thank you!” Mary hugged her friend, excitement bubbling inside and delicious stirrings already beginning to surge. “And do send your bill, too, without delay. Leonard is the soul of openhandedness where my whims are concerned, and always happy to indulge me.”

“You're a lucky woman, Mary Brigstock,” pronounced Sofia with a twinkle in her eye. “Although I'll guarantee that Mr. Brigstock considers himself just as lucky to be married to such a daring adventuress as you.”


Two days later, in the library of her home near Marble Arch, the anticipation of her “luck,” and her husband's, made Mary tremble.

Come now, Mary. No second thoughts. This is what you

While her husband and their guest enjoyed their brandy and cigars, she'd slid the journal from its place of safety in Leonard's bureau, so she might remind herself of the play that lay ahead.

Three figures. Three persons involved. Two
enact it; a man could spank a woman, certainly. But it would be better with the guidance of a specialist. Better with eyes upon her, watching, admiring. Sliding her finger over the engraved image, she let it settle on the third figure, the most important ingredient, just as Sofia's had done.

Goodness gracious, I never expected it would actually be the very same man!

Stuffing the precious periodical back into the bureau with scant respect for its cost and exclusivity, Mary fell to pacing around the handsome room, a parcel of nervous anticipation and riotous desire. Her skirts swished and rustled as she swept to and fro, brushing the austere leather upholstery of the matched pair of chesterfields as she passed by them in a vague circle. The library was very much her husband's masculine sanctum, and she and Leonard and their guest would be alone here this evening. Harry, their dear son, was at his boarding school, and the servants had all trooped away in a cheerful party to enjoy an unexpected evening of liberty after serving dinner, each with a music hall ticket and a small bonus in their pockets.

There was no ear in the house to hear incriminating cries or moans…or other sounds.

Hurry up! Do hurry up!

What were her husband and their guest doing? How long did it take to consume a glass or two of port and crack a few walnuts?

Feeling so anxious and eager, there was nothing that didn't conspire to inflame her senses. The snug fit of her new French corset compressed her organs, inducing a devilish pressure in the pit of her belly. Her light gown and a single lace-and-muslin petticoat were like nakedness itself compared to the usual weight of garments she wore, and between her legs, she felt hot and tense and sticky.

Whatever would their guest think when she was compelled to expose herself? But then, he was probably perfectly accustomed to fragrantly aroused women.

Turning on her heel, she headed toward the sideboard again, her eyes lighting upon the tantalus she and Leonard had received years ago as a wedding present. She'd taken very little of the fine burgundy they'd matched with their dinner, but a nip of brandy might settle her agitation now. Her fingers itched to attack the mechanism. It was either that, or press her hand against the front of her dress and clutch at herself through the silk. Her sex was aching for a swift and stolen squeeze.

I've turned into a maenad! It's barely more than two hours since Leonard had me over the back of my dressing room sofa and here I am desperate again!

They'd both been too stirred by anticipation to keep their hands off each other, and now Mary wasn't sure she could keep her hands off
very much longer, either. It was only the sound of manly voices on the landing that kept her from it. That, and easy laughter. Clearly her husband and their guest were getting on famously.

On entering the room, Leonard strode toward her, clasped her hands and kissed her soundly on both cheeks. “My dear, I'm so sorry we kept you waiting. Do forgive us,” he murmured, apparently unperturbed by the presence of the dark figure who'd followed him in.

Mary's heart gave a flutter. In immaculate evening dress, Leonard looked wonderfully handsome tonight. He was well into his forties, a little older than her, but his fine gray eyes twinkled like a merry youth's and a puckish smile played about his sensual lips. Only a slight disarray of his thick sandy hair betrayed his own expectancy. When he was in a state of agitation he was wont to run his fingers through it.

The man beside her husband could not have been more different to him. They were like the very day and night of masculine attractiveness, with Leonard the frank, open, benevolent sun and their guest the mysterious moon, dark and unknown.

“Please accept my apologies, too, Mrs. Brigstock,” said Benedict Holcombe, bending over her hand to press the lightest kiss upon her knuckles. “Your husband and I find that we have many interests in common, and we ranged over them so broadly that we quite forgot the time.”

This was the specialist that Sofia Chamfleur had sent to instruct Leonard in the art of smacking a woman's bottom, the same man so clearly depicted in the engravings in

“It… It's quite all right,” stammered Mary. Why did her corset suddenly seem twice as tight, obstructing her breathing? Much as she adored her husband, she found this strange young man suave and intoxicating. He was taller than Leonard, a long streak of a creature, rather thin, with overly grown dark hair and a pale, fierce, almost unnaturally white face. His eyes were large and a peculiarly light blue, his expression knowing, and his black clothing and soft collar and ribbon tie imparted to him a rakish, bohemian air.

“Very well, then, let's get to business, shall we? No use wasting time when we're all anxious to begin.”

As Mary gaped at his no-nonsense manner, Benedict cast a look toward Leonard, and she got the distinct impression he was securing a “by your leave” from her husband. The notion was confirmed when Leonard nodded slightly, accompanying the gesture with an almost conspiratorial smile as he sank into the depths of his favorite chair and made himself completely at his ease.

Men, they can be so smug sometimes!

But in truth, Mary had a hard time concealing her own smile. The reality of this evening was that
were doing exactly what
wanted. The whole performance was to serve her whim, her desires.

“Come here, Mrs. Brigstock, let me look at you,” the younger man said, taking her by the hand and leading her into the center of the rug and finding a spot that commanded the best illumination from the lamps around the room. Lit from all sides by their softly flickering radiance, Mary imagined the beat of her wild heart was visible, thudding in her bosom as it sent blood speeding around her body in a tribal thud. She turned quickly to Leonard, soliciting the facade of his approval, and there was such an expression of love and pride on his dear face that her spirits soared and her lust twisted like a vise, low in her belly.

Oh, how he understood her. How he wanted what she wanted, no matter how naughty the caprice.

“You're a very beautiful woman, Mrs. Brigstock,” said Benedict, rolling her name over his tongue like an intimate caress. “So imperious, so full of spirit and fire…” His weird eyes narrowed, their pellucid blue almost radiant. “But something tells me you are willful and high-mettled. The sort of woman who needs mastering from time to time. For her own sake, as well as that of her husband.” He paused and glanced across at Leonard. “Am I not right?”

“Indeed,” replied he, his voice so full of passion it was almost a growl.

“But it's a simple matter to tame such a woman as you,” said Benedict, still holding her hand, his finger stroking her palm in a way that suddenly seemed unbearably lewd. “A simple matter to calm you and make you biddable, obedient and pliable.”

Mary almost growled herself. It was if his low voice, his teasing fingers and his cool, pale eyes were all hypnotizing her. As if his very presence was a ghostly hand that had slipped between her legs and started stroking her puss. A gasp escaped her lips as she felt the silky fluid of her desire trickle down the inside of her leg, only halted by one of her new lace-trimmed garters. The sensation was so piquant that she had to brace her knees, imagining that both Leonard, relaxing in his chair, and Benedict, standing before her with his eyes fixed on hers, could see the slippery telltale clean through her layers of clothing.

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