So you asked, and you shall receive. Here's the beginning of Affliction...
Lie back and think of England.
-Queen Victoria to her daughter on her wedding night
‘This cannot go on.’
‘I’m sorry, sir, but it simply cannot. I’ve just come from town. The rumours are beginning to circulate.’
‘So let them.’ Ewan sank himself into his library armchair and lit a cigar.
‘It will affect business.’ After fifteen years working as Ewan Draper’s butler, James knew how to get his lord’s attention. ‘Certain people prefer to deal with a businessman who’s …’ he paused here, choosing his words carefully, ‘…more of a family man, sir.’
Ewan scoffed. ‘ “Certain people?” You’re talking about Samms.’
‘I’m talking about prominent leaders in this town. The mill is growing, sir, but its growth is at a crucial point. You need Samms. You need all of them. A scandal will affect who does business with you.’
‘A scandal,’ Ewan muttered. ‘I spent the evening with some friends. I hardly see what the issue is.’
‘It would be advisable to be more selective in choosing your … friends.’ James paused. ‘Sir,’ he added quietly.
‘Besides, I’m hardly a novelty. I pass by half of Boston’s elite going up Ms. Rodham’s steps,’ Ewan grinned. ‘I just spend more time up there than most.’
James swallowed. He was well aware of his master’s appetite, in all areas. It was part of what made him such a successful businessman. Ewan Draper threw himself into whatever he did, with an aim to doing it better, bigger, more successfully. That’s how he was growing his cotton mill into the booming power that it was becoming. He worked hard and he played hard. But the playing was getting to be a problem.
‘That may be true, sir, but those men exercise a certain amount of decorum. Their … activities are carried out with a significant amount of subtlety. There is less to talk about.’
Ewan smiled widely at this. ‘I had Rodham pick three out for me last night. I told her I wanted a blonde, a brunette and a redhead.’ He took a long puff of his cigar and stretched back in his chair. ‘Mm, that redhead was a vixen. I had the other two warm me up with their mouths but I saved my seed for that redhead’s tight little,’ he looked up and caught sight of James’s disapproving stare. ‘Ah, James, wipe that look off your puss. It would do you to come with me some time. Getting your cock wet might get your mind thinking about something other than business for a change.’
‘I’m sure that’s not necessary, sir,’ James said tightly. ‘But your colourful account only proves my point. Samms and others may visit those establishments but they are discreet. And by and large they are married, which affords them the benefit of appearances.’
‘I am hardly going to pin myself down to one woman for the sake of appearances, James. Didn’t you just hear me say I had three last night? And those three could hardly keep up with me,’ he said, smiling again.
‘Appearances, sir. That’s the issue. Find yourself a wife. Have a child.’ Ewan grimaced. ‘Your marriage vows and whether or not you uphold them will be secondary, as long as you conduct yourself with a tad more discretion.’
Ewan silently stubbed out his cigar, mulling this over. ‘Perhaps I could speak to Rodham and see if she’d let me take the little redhead. That pussy in my bed every night might not be a bad thing.’
‘Sir!’ James exclaimed. ‘Sir, having one of Ms. Rodham’s employees become your wife is hardly going to help with appearances. Now, you have that meeting with Samms next month so time is of the essence here. She needn’t be someone of high birth, as long as she’s from a wholesome background. I can take care of the rest.’ James thought for a moment. ‘Even Celeste would do,’ he said, almost to himself.
‘Celeste!’ Ewan scoffed. Ewan being Ewan, he’d already attempted on a number of occasions to avail himself of his kitchen maid’s comely figure only to be spurned, almost viciously. The only reason the young woman still had her job was at James’s insistence. She was impeccable at her duties and, as James reminded his boss, such good help was difficult to find. ‘There is no chance I will be hitching myself to that frigid wench. Think again.’ Ewan stood and crossed the room, rested his hand on a bookshelf and gazed out the library’s bay window across the expanse of his estate. ‘I mean, I’ve never had a shortage of women to go to, but wholesome? Wholesome…’ he muttered.
‘The mill, sir,’ James began.
‘Yes, I know, I’m doing this for the mill.’
‘Of course, sir. But what I mean is, there are the mill girls…’
The air in the textile mill was stale and hot, the din of fifty sewing machines droning on around Lillianne. At 20, she was unaccustomed to being on her own after spending most of her life on her family’s New England farm. Work on the farm was tough, back breaking at times and they often went without, but surrounded by her family and other local folk, she never wanted for any other kind of life.
But last month when the businessmen from Draper Mills had visited from the city, explaining they were recruiting young women to come and work, their promises of up to four or five dollars a week was more than Lillianne’s struggling family could pass up.
Her new family, her new home, was something she was still getting used to. The company provided her with her food and lodging in the Draper Boardinghouses along with her weekly salary, the majority of which she sent back home to help keep her mother and father’s farm afloat. Her new sisters, mill sisters, were nice enough, if somewhat pale and unimaginative. But what else could one expect from a life lived indoors, fairly chained to a machine performing the same tasks over and over? This was what was hardest for Lillianne.
She was certainly no stranger to hard work and more than willing to do her share. Everyone was expected to carry her own weight on the farm and Lilly’s slim but sturdy frame was tanned and firm from her exertions in the fresh New England air. Now, seated here, working the treadles up and down as her machine hummed along, the monotony of her task made it impossible not to let her mind wander all number of tracks.
It wasn’t just the monotony. The work on the machine itself was distracting. As she worked the treadles her thighs rubbed together and this, combined with the vibrations of the machine, well, Lilly had heard that one girl had gotten herself in trouble this way. The two foremen patrolling the mill always had an ear primed to hear the telltale sound of a machine suddenly bursting into a frenzied speed. Rules were strict here and the girls were harshly punished and even docked pay for straying from their work. But docked pay was not the worst of punishments. The way Lilly heard it, last month Mr. Weiler, the older of the two foremen, caught a girl using the machine “improperly.” Lilly shuddered as she thought of the wrinkled, gap toothed grin of the lecherous old man the way it must have been, the way she heard he’d grabbed the girl up, snarling that he would give her what she wanted, and shoved her into the back office. Nothing could be heard over the frightening din of the machines they’d said, but when the girl emerged fifteen minutes later, the pathetic creature’s eyes were red from crying, her lip was swollen and her skirts were torn. She’d disappeared the next morning leaving a note saying she’d gone back to her family’s farm.
So Lilly tried her best to focus on her work. But her mind often betrayed her. And it always seemed to find its way back to Ewan Draper.
She had seen the mill’s owner only once before when he came to consult with the foremen. She did her best not to let her gaze linger too long as he strode across the factory floor, but her quick glimpses drank in his six foot three frame, wavy black hair, wide shoulders and narrowed waist in his finely tailored suit. His stride was long, each step certain and purposeful. His voice commanded respect but his smile was wide and easy. When he laughed it was a profound, sonorous sound from deep within his gut, and he slapped the backs of the men he spoke with. He had actually walked down her aisle and stopped right by her as she worked. She had held her breath and didn’t dare look up, but his hand had lingered for a moment on the edge of her machine as he discussed some small point with the foreman. The size of that hand! She stared raptly at the wide palm and long, thick fingers, something almost brutal in the circumference and apparent strength of each one. She had a sudden impulse to grab that hand, take one of those digits between her lips and suck it. Madness! She had shoved the ridiculous thought aside as her body shivered.
Now the thought returned. Diligently she sat, pushing the coarse fabric deftly through, working the treadle up and down, her thighs squeezed tightly together, her machine drumming its threaded road along its fabric path. The hammering of the needle caused vibrations to pulse through her chair and she worked to push her buttocks closer to the edge of her seat, so slowly as to be barely perceptible. In her mind she caressed Mr. Draper’s hand, slid her own slim fingers between his broad ones, brought them to her cheek and then kissed each finger softly. Now at the edge of her seat she pushed herself down, spread and flattened the soft folds of her flesh firmly on the fabric of her skirts and against the hard wood so as to experience the full intensity of its vibrations. Her thoughts turned to taking that hand, those fingers and pulling them up, under her skirts, between her legs. Slowly she worked the speed up on her treadle, the pushing up and down only serving to further work her thighs against her swelling flesh. She tried hard to keep from gasping as sweat sprang to her brow and began to roll down her temples. Mr. Draper’s imaginary fingers found their target and it took every fibre of her being not to work the treadle to its highest velocity, thereby arousing the suspicion of the wicked Mr Weiler. Instead she continued her steady pace as the vibrations brought her ever closer to her destination.
‘Halt!’ roared the foreman, and Lilly had to stifle a strangled cry of desperation as she unwillingly forced her foot off the treadle causing the vibration to cease.
‘Mr Draper will be visiting the mill in five minutes! This time he wants to take a small amount of time to speak to his mill girls.’ A buzz went around the room. Mr Draper to address the mill girls? ‘I know this is highly usual! I’m sure you’re all excited but let us not allow our emotions to override our good sense. I expect you all to show the highest amount of decorum and industriousness.’
The noise level increased as all the girls turned to each other to converse in giddy anticipation of their much esteemed leader. Lilly, however, was still preoccupied. Her body throbbing, she took advantage of the renewed noise level to gear up her machine to its highest speed. Her mind swirled with thoughts of Ewan Draper now that his presence was imminent: his powerful stride, his commanding voice, his deep laugh. Taking advantage of everyone’s preoccupation, she worked her treadles furiously, her lower body writhing against the humming chair as she imagined Draper’s hands probing her, rubbing her, taking her. She swallowed her whimpering cries and had just about, had almost, almost, reached her peak just as Ewan Draper entered the mill and Mr Weiler’s piercing eyes fell upon her.
Chapter two tomorrow! In the meantime, tweet, comment, FB and let me know what you think so far!