In the heat of the afternoon
Becalmed. A ship powered by oars, in turn powered by steam engines should not be becalmed. Yet here they were, sitting motionless on the Sea of Crete without so much as a breath of wind to cool the intense rays of the southern sun.
Connor paced the promenade, heedless of the sweat that soaked his fine lawn shirt. Bucky had forcibly removed him from the engine room, claiming ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ so Connor had no work on which to pour his attention. With Kitten away at boarding school and Just still gainfully employed below, there was no outlet for Connor’s frustrated energy.
“Is everything all right wit ye, Connor?”
The question caught him by surprise and he whirled to see the new Irish lass bathed in the gold of the Greek sun. Her long blonde curls trailed over the shoulder of her shift, brushing the curve of her breast and falling to dance around her hips.
Connor was suddenly aware of a lust he hadn’t felt in years; not since Isabelle. He cleared his throat somewhat awkwardly, and was surprised to find himself blushing. “No, I mean, yes. I am brilliant. Fine. They won’t let me help fix the engines,” he finished petulantly.
The corner of her full lips quirked upward. “I see. So ye’ve come to wear a groove in the deck just to feel useful, is it?”
Connor gaped at her, wounded pride battling with good humor. His laugh came sudden and unexpected. The tension flooded from his shoulders and he grinned at the Irish minx who was the newest addition to his Palace. “Well, one does what one must.”
Her laugh held the lilt of crystal waters tumbling down the heath. Her teeth were small pearls of perfect symmetry tucked behind full red lips. Suddenly Connor wanted nothing more than to kiss that mouth. To silence the laughter with passion. To taste her breath and crush her body to his. Shaken by the strength of his desire, he turned away from her and gripped the deck’s railing.
Connor was in the business of selling pleasure, but he had ceased long ago taking any of the wares for himself. Passion had died the night Isabelle left him on a tide of blood. “I’m sorry Estelle…”
“Stella. I am sorry Stella, but I seem to have been a bit over come by the heat, would you excuse me?”
Connor attempted to move past the girl but she stepped into his path.
“There needn’t be games between us, begging your pardon, sir,” Stella said placing a hand on his chest. “I can tell ye want me, and I want you as well. We are adults, and there is no reason we shouldn’t enjoy each other.”
“I haven’t… I can’t… I don’t,” Connor searched for words that wouldn’t be hurtful or dismissive, but nothing came to mind.
“You have, You can, and you do!” Stella took his hand a led him toward a pleasure suite.
On the threshold, Connor fumbled for his key. Entertainment suites were entered by the application of a key unique to each guest. Steam driven clockwork would then record the entry and subsequent exit, adding the charges to the guest’s bill discreetly and without the usual crassness of cash payment. Connor was issued a key upon the Palace’s maiden journey, but he had rarely found occasion to use it.
Stella pressed his hand down. “Every now and then, a girl likes to entertain a cock that did not pay for entry. This one is not for the books; this is just you and me, and whatever we choose to do with each other.”