|He reminded her of Andrew.
Drew. Her boy-soldier in blue, who'd taken her innocence and himself off to war and lost all before it was over. Her chest felt tight still with the shock of memory she'd felt when she first laid eyes on him, and she was grateful for her fingers' ease on the keys, picking out a popular tune without guidance from her wandering mind.
In the small glass set up by the piano, she could unobtrusively see nearly every foot of the elegant parlor behind her. With its rich brocade sofas, velvet hangings and polished woods, it might have been the focal point for entertaining guests in any grand society house. It might have been, but it wasn't. And the entertaining that went on here scandalized polite society, even as that same society sought it out when their wives' backs were turned.
The younger one stood in the center of the room, calm but alert. He was shorter than Drew, his hair a bit too dark, his eyes too light. Andrew's eyes had been deep velvet brown, soft with humor, not at all like this man's blue or gray or green, eyes too bright, too piercing. She wrapped her memories down deep inside and discarded the notion that he was anything like Drew. And was glad of it a moment later, when he began a slow pacing of the room, inspecting the paintings and the rich wall coverings.
This man looked and moved like a revolving arsenal. Oh, it wasn't anything obvious; he wasn't wearing a gun on his hip like a frontier lawman. But there was something about the way he carried himself, as if the grim reaper stood ever at his shoulder, not for him but for those who crossed him. Perhaps it was war which did this to a man. Perhaps it had done the same to her sweet Andrew. She was obscurely grateful that he'd not returned, if that was the case.
His attention was torn between her and the older man who sat on the couch opposite the piano. His face when it was toward her showed a certain cool appreciation; when it was toward the other man she couldn't see his expression, nor quite guess at the emotion in his tightly controlled stance.
The other man grasped a cane -- a gentleman's toy, polished brightly at head and foot -- loosely in the circle of his fingers. She thought he might be taller than the other when standing. There was something familiar about him too, though nothing so sharp as a shock of recognition. More like a slow dawning sadness. He made her think of the endless hours she'd spent in army hospitals, doing what little she could to care for the poor wounded soldiers who poured in, day after day, an endless flood of misery. Ten years later, she didn't think she'd forgotten how to read that look: a slightly cautious way of holding himself, the faintest hint of translucence about his skin.
As her fingers tinkled merrily away at the keys, she watched the two men in the mirror. The one stood in the center of the room, his eyes roving restlessly from her to the other man and back, lingering slightly on his friend each time before returning to her. She dared name the emotion, confirming also her impression of the other man. Concern. The other gentlemen sat calmly in the chair, his back not quite touching the cushions, one leg stretched out before him. His left forearm rested on his bent knee, and he idly rolled the cane around the circle of his fingers. When he glanced up, his eyes met hers unerringly in her little mirror. Andrew's eyes. Older, more mature, but the same sweet brown. She faltered -- on one key only -- before recovering herself. He smiled slightly and turned his gaze to his friend.
She forced herself to finish the piece and begin another, though her back felt oddly vulnerable now. How had he caught her out? she wondered. Many men had passed through this room, and she didn't believe any had ever noticed that small mirror set for spying.
She chanced another glance and found her gaze drawn not to their reflections but to her own. Her velvet emerald dress was cut close, but with an undeniable elegance. Sex with style, emphasizing the lush welcome of her body. Her face would do for a few more years yet. It would take time for the wear of this life to show. And even then she would probably still look handsome. In this business, though, would that be enough? She allowed herself only a momentary twinge of worry over what would happen when her beauty began to fade and Madame Mina turned her out of the most elegant house in Washington to find her way slowly down the fearful progression from house to bordello to brothel which ended finally in the squalid cribs and filthy streets. She was no foolish child -- not any more -- to skip blithely ahead with no thought for the future. But now was not the time for such thoughts.
When she finished the piece, she slid off the bench and stood with her hands clasped demurely in front of her.
"That was lovely," the seated man told her.
"Thank you." She smiled at them both. "What will be your pleasure, gentlemen? Conversation, more music, or...?" She'd practiced the gesture which took in the stairs many times, to perfect that elusive ground between coy and crass.
"Are you playing hostess by yourself?"
Since he asked it with a smile, it would have been hard to take offense. She eyed the man before her, admiring his deftly tailored suit: blue to bring out his eyes, his vest shot through with silver that gleamed in the lamp light, and wondered why Madame hadn't informed him that she was the only one available. Celia was increasing, and cloistered until the baby came, except for those rare customers who had a taste for such things and could be trusted to have an eye toward her safety while satisfying their yearnings. And with Estelle visiting her sister, and Annie in bed with a thankfully light touch of the influenza, that left only Colleen, who was in bed with Judge Warren.
She smiled. "We've got a full house tonight. I'm afraid you gentlemen will have to make do with me."
The seated man laughed. "I told you this wasn't the best idea, Jim." He rose to his feet, the cane bearing a tithe of his weight, no more. He was in better health than she'd thought; she'd let his friend's concern color her perception of him. "I'll see you back at the train."
"Artie." He took two quick steps after his friend, reaching out to lay a hand on his shoulder, drawing it back immediately when it had the desired effect. He hesitated to speak, however, hazarding a quick glance at her before turning silently back to his friend. She didn't have a name for the subtle tension which encompassed them. "You're not going to leave now, are you?" His voice was low, the light teasing slightly forced. "After I dragged you all this way?"
"Shall I wait down here, then?" Artie asked, his smile quickly fleeting. "Until you're done."
She'd expected to play it that way, but now she saw that if she left either of them downstairs, she'd lose them both. Oddly, she had no doubt that they would leave, even though they'd already paid Madame. And Madame Mina wouldn't be pleased if paying customers were allowed to walk out, for they'd never be back, and that was no way to run a business.
"Artie..." Jim glanced quickly at her again, and she was hard pressed to tell if he was looking for her assistance, or if there was something he wouldn't say in her presence. Whichever it was, he turned his gaze back to his friend without saying anything.
"Come upstairs," she said after a minute, if only to break the silence. She smiled. "I'll endeavor to make you both welcome."
Jim's hand touched Artie's forearm. Artie's eyes drifted down to it, then back to his friend's face. His slight frown transformed into an affectionate smile and he shook his head. "I must be crazy." But he followed her up the stairs, Jim at his side, one hand hovering near his elbow. Though Artie's right leg seemed to give him a little trouble, he was not slow about it.
Artie gestured that she proceed him into the room with all the respectful courtesy of a gentleman to a lady. She laughed at the grand gesture, and dropped him a curtsey with an elaborate flourish urging him into the room before her. With a smile, he stepped inside and drew her after him, his hand large and warm on hers. Once inside, she turned to find Jim standing on the threshold.
"I'll just... I'll wait out here." Uneasiness looked awkward on him.
"Don't be ridiculous," Artie said heartily. He winked at her. She'd never brought two men into her room at the same time before; curiosity and no small touch of anticipation burned in her belly.
She took Jim by the collar and drew him into a kiss and the room. The sharp chisel of his lips was cool against hers, and it didn't take him but a moment to respond. He was good. And knew it. Somewhere in the midst of an extremely nice kiss, she heard the door close, and grinned to herself. As Artie was a couple of feet from the door, he'd obviously put his cane to good use. She wrapped her arms around Jim, pressing her fingers against the cool fabric of his jacket, and let him plunder her mouth.
Finally she drew back, turning her head to one side to breathe. Artie was standing only an arm's length away, smiling faintly. She freed a hand and reached for Artie. His hand slid warmly into her own, and she tugged. He halted closer, and she cupped her hand around the back of his neck and pulled him down for a kiss.
Jim stirred, shifting his weight, and she tightened her arm around him even as she deepened the kiss with Artie, willfully ignoring the fact that the three of them were so close the men's shoulders pressed against each other. Artie's style was totally different from his friend's: comfortable, warm and affectionate, where Jim was heady, skillful and determined. She liked both very much, and smiled to herself. Some days, it paid not to get out of bed.
When she drew back, Artie blinked at her. "You're good at that," he said softly.
"I try to be."
His smile was as sweet as his kiss. She slid a palm down the soft velvet of his lapel and across his cool silk vest. "You match the room," she said with a grin.
His smile widened as he looked around. Though she lived in this room, there wasn't much of her in it -- the enormous bed, with mirrors set into the wall at the head, the heavy dark woods and hangings, they were for the customers. In one thing, however, it matched her own tastes. She'd always liked red. Especially red velvet. The rich burgundy of Artie's jacket and vest suited the bedcovering, thrown back in expectation of company to show snowy linen, and thick carpet perfectly.
She turned and snatched a quick kiss from Jim. He let her, then returned to make good on it, his tongue snaking in to possess her mouth with a determination that was masterful without being domineering.
"Who's first?" she asked against his lips.
Artie laughed. He limped to a comfortably upholstered chair against the wall and settled into it. "You don't waste any time," he told her with a smile.
"Any time not spent enjoying one's self is a waste." She winked at him, and tugged lightly on Jim's lapel.
His fingers covered hers, removed her hand gently but firmly from his jacket, and drew it to his mouth, where he softly kissed her knuckles. "You keep doing that, you're going to wrinkle my jacket."
"Then perhaps you'd be better off out of it?" She whispered back. It wasn't really a suggestion, as she was already running her palms up his vest, shoving the jacket off his shoulders. She thought she heard a chuckle from Artie, but in the next few minutes she rather lost track of him. Jim's mouth took hers again and, as she worked blindly at his vest buttons, she could feel the tiny buttons down the back of her dress giving way beneath his fingers. She pushed the vest off his shoulders and started in on his shirt. Her mouth turned from his and fastened on his neck, the tender area just under the curve of his jaw. A soft moan vibrated in his throat.
Jim's fingers were warm, slipping through the open back of her gown to her shift. She wasn't in the habit of struggling into a corset unless she expected a customer who enjoyed the challenge of getting her out of it. His palms rubbed slowly over her decadent silk shift. She knew, as much from his own clothing as from the way he ran his hands across the fabric, that he found the feeling sensual.
He stepped back slightly, and the cool air seemed to heat on her skin as he drew her dress off her arms and let it fall. She stepped out of the material, and stood there, clad in nothing but her shift. She'd discarded her drawers earlier in the day, in expectation of a visit from a regular customer who tended to be somewhat... precipitate. Though the gentleman in question hadn't put in an appearance, it looked as if her precaution would be enjoyed regardless. She watched, not hiding her appreciation, while he pulled his shirt over his head.
His bare chest was bronzed where most of her city-bound customers were winter white, the sharply defined muscles dusted with a scattering of hair. There were scars on him, marks of a man of war, which weren't as ugly as they might have been. She bent to lick a crinkled nipple and felt his moan through his chest. Jim dragged her against him, his skin hot through the thin silk of her shift, and kissed her fiercely. She could feel her hair beginning to slip out of its elaborate chignon. He licked the side of her neck, and as she turned her head to grant him better access, she caught sight of Artie.
Sitting relaxed in the red brocade chair, his back comfortably against the cushions, he cocked his head and smiled at her. He'd removed his jacket and vest, and set the cane aside. She left Jim with a parting kiss, half-bite, to the point of his shoulder and went to Artie.
Jim stepped after her and the sudden tension in him was palpable as she draped herself across Artie's lap. She hadn't anticipated that his cool manner might hide a disinclination to share. She felt suddenly cold, and hoped her hands weren't shaking too obviously. These were not men to provoke.
Settling herself carefully to avoid putting weight on Artie's injured leg, she nerved herself to glance at Jim. And found him relaxed and smiling wickedly. Odd. She let the air leave her lungs with quiet relief, and looped her arms around Artie's neck.
"What's the matter," he asked around her light teasing kisses, "afraid I was getting bored?"
"With such a pretty show, how could you?" she whispered, taking time out to run the point of her tongue around the shell of his ear. His laugh rumbled up through his chest, and his arms wrapped snugly around her. When his mouth found hers, she surrendered to it, her lips melting beneath his. His tongue entered delicately between her teeth and began a thorough exploration. She regretfully drew her fingers from his soft hair and began working loose his shirt buttons.
Some of her customers wanted nothing more than a warm body -- like the young man she'd expected to wander in as usual this evening, who preferred to simply toss her skirts up and plunge in -- the refinements were lost on such men. And some men, with wives or mistresses about somewhere, were looking for something more... lively from a bed partner than simply someplace to shove themselves. For them, she had to do more of the work. But it was rare, in her experience, to bed a man who gave any thought to her enjoyment, let alone two such men.
Artie's arm wrapped securely around her waist, his hand warm on her side. Her fingers stilled on his buttons when his other hand slipped lightly up her leg from calf to knee, knee to thigh, thigh to... She gasped around his tongue, and heard him chuckle.
His fingers played at her entrance, stroking lightly over her lips. Then one pushed inside, curled a little, withdrew. Then again. Then two. She broke off the kiss, panting, and turned her head against his shoulder.
You're here to please, she heard Madame Mina's first speech to her, the day she came there, destitute and desperate, and perhaps a bit eager. Foolishly so. If you, in turn, are pleased, then it has been a fortunate day.
Heavens yes, fortunate.
She rolled her head on his shoulder, burying her face in the curve of his neck, as his fingers stroked inside her. His thumb rested on the tiny nub which was the seat of her pleasure, rubbing back and forth almost absently, sending lovely thrills of pleasure running through her. She spread her legs wider and moaned delightedly. The skin of his neck was salty against her lips, and she lapped at it, feeling him turn to offer a more sensitive spot. How many fingers? she thought dimly. Three? Four? Talented fingers. Very talented.
A shadow fell over her, and she turned her head on his shoulder and looked up into Jim's fiery gaze. His lips touched her forehead, her cheek, then descended hungrily on her mouth. One arm was still draped around Artie's neck, but she managed to lift the other to draw Jim deeper into the kiss, arching and sighing as Artie's fingers drew pleasure out and over her.
She panted when Jim broke the kiss, torn between wanting more and needing to breathe. His arm slid around her back, touching here and there, she thought, Artie's arm. She wondered if it bothered him, to touch his friend accidentally while they both caressed her. Jim nuzzled down her neck, leaving kisses and stinging nips as he went, and found her breast, his mouth hot and wet through her thin silk shift. She dimly realized that it had been dangerous to take both of them at once; between them, they sent her usual control over these transactions slipping steadily away.
When Jim drew back, her nipple stood proud and needy against the wet silk. His arms released her briefly as he straightened up. Without warning, strong hands closed on her waist and lifted her out of Artie's embrace. She moaned at the loss, and wrapped herself instinctively around Jim, her inner thighs burning on the bare skin of his waist. She became aware that he was naked a moment before he entered her.
She gasped and curled her arms around him, tucking her head into the crook of his shoulder, as he lowered her onto his cock. Her legs tightened involuntarily around his waist. One of his hands pressed hard against the base of her spine, just where the curve of her ass began. She ground her pelvis against the hard planes of his belly, missing the sweet stroking of Artie's fingers as much as she loved the thick shaft filling her.
He held her lower body tight against him, groaning deep in his throat, and stood solidly with his feet planted. She had no doubt he could hold her like that for hours without growing tired. She soon grew tired herself of the lack of movement, and rocked experimentally on him, using her arms to draw herself up, her own weight to sink down again, taking him deeper inside.
He moved then.
In a step they were at the bed, and he was untangling her arms from around his neck and pressing them to the cool sheets above her head. He took the hem of her shift and pulled it over her head, his mouth latching onto a nipple before he'd even removed the fabric from her arms. She arched against him, her ankles crossed around his back, trying to drag him in deeper. His teeth and tongue worked her nipple as his hips began a dance as old as time.
She tangled her fingers in his hair and led him from one breast to the other and back. He followed at first, then tore himself loose with a growl and nipped her collarbone in punishment before returning to a wet nipple. She moved her hands to his strong shoulders instead and lifted her hips to meet his thrusts, groaning with the pleasure of his deep, powerful strokes.
He abandoned her breasts and pushed himself upright, his hands moving to grasp her hips. Standing, his hips swayed without check, drawing his cock out of her and driving it back in the rhythm that pleased him best. His light eyes burned in his flushed face, and she dragged her gaze away, finding the lack of emotion in them disturbing. He pleased his body and hers, nothing more. And, though there was rarely more in her experience, that didn't mean she liked to be reminded of it. Not when she was so unexpectedly enjoying herself.
Her eyes slid over his gleaming chest and, through the gap between arm and body, she saw Artie. The other man was sprawled comfortably in the chair, his shirt opened by her fingers, his pants by his own. She could see just the tip of his cock. As the cage of his fingers slid down, the crown, then the whole head, appeared. Then his fist rose again and obliterated the sight. His rich dark eyes were on the two of them, but he didn't seem to be aware that she saw him.
She reached for Jim, pulling him down into a brief kiss, then pushing him gently away. He withdrew immediately, his reluctance only briefly apparent, his eyes showing, now, an emotion.
"Did I hurt you?"
She shook her head and kissed him gently. Then she slid off the bed and went to kneel in front of Artie. A frown line had appeared between his eyes.
"Something wrong?" His eyes flickered past her to Jim, then back.
"Nothing at all," she murmured, and licked the fingers surrounding his cock. Then the very tip of his cock, showing above his fist like the crown of a mountain through the clouds. He exhaled sharply.
She began an industrious lapping, covering every inch of the head she could reach, dipping her tongue into the tiny hole. His fingers loosened and fell away, giving his shaft over into her care. She pushed his trouser flaps out the way with both hands and slid her mouth over his cock. She remembered the first time she'd ever done this: choking and crying, scaring the poor man nearly out of his wits. Now she took Artie in without difficulty, lightly sucking and stroking him with her tongue, practicing on him all her hard-earned expertise.
His hands slipped into her hair, completing the ruination of her chignon and bringing it all down to fan over her shoulders. His fingers clutched in her hair at the nape of her neck. Though his grip was tight, it wasn't forceful. She wrapped her small hand around the base of his cock and licked all around the head, paying special attention to a spot under the rim that was obviously quite sensitive. The noises he made, soft sighs and groans, were quite flattering.
She wasn't startled by the feel of Jim's hands. She'd been aware of him standing close by, watching. He knelt now, his splayed fingers stroking over her bent shoulders, down her back. She rose up on her knees, using her forearms on Artie's thighs, her elbows on the stiff brocade beside his knees, to balance. The heat of Jim's body came up close behind as his hands slid down to grasp her hips. She spread her legs for him.
He came into her in one long stroke, and Artie's cock pulsed in her mouth. Both men groaned. She smiled around the bulk between her lips and wiggled her tongue against Artie's shaft, her hips between Jim's hands. She had them now, all hesitations, any remaining hints of society-bred modesty, of restraint before each other, borne away on a tide of lust. Jim drove slowly into her, filling and retreating, and she plunged her mouth down on Artie's cock in the same sweet rhythm, preserving the wave of pleasure which began with Jim, rippling through her to Artie and back again.
Slowly Jim picked up the pace. He was nearly silent behind her, only the pressure of his fingers on her hips giving indication of the strength of his pleasure. Artie was not nearly so quiet, deep groans escaping his lips with the skillful touch of her tongue. She could read the closeness of completion in both of them, in the urgent nature of Jim's thrusts, the roseate quiver of Artie's cock.
Artie's hand closed strongly over her own and squeezed her fingers tighter around the base of his cock. Almost enough to hurt. She lifted her mouth off him and his tight breath eased a bit, his climax temporarily averted. He slid his hand gingerly up his cock, guiding it against his belly, his palm cupped protectively over the sensitive head. She gave the underside a light lick, then dipped down to touch her tongue to his balls. His groan was gratifying.
Jim bucked hard against her. Her eyes flew open, and she peered up through her hair, past Artie's rosy cock, his half-bared chest. His eyes were open, looking down. But not, she realized, at her. His warm brown eyes, deep and hot with desire, were fixed at a point over her shoulder. The point, she instinctively knew, where Jim's flushed face was visible as he labored toward his release. She wondered if Jim was looking back.
The pace of Jim's thrusts increased as she bent her head again to nuzzle and mouth Artie's balls. A hand slipped from her waist, down to press at the fork of her legs. The vee of his fingers pushed her sensitive flesh against his driving shaft, forcing unexpected pleasure into her. She moaned as he quivered inside her, filling her with his hot pleasure and her own.
He would have collapsed against her, but for the hand which reached blindly out to steady him. Jim's forehead rested heavily between her shoulderblades, and she could see his hand, which had missed its mark, bracing his weight on Artie's left knee. She let her own head rest on Artie's thigh, her face turned to the side, and watched Artie's fingers slip stealthily down to rest lightly on the back of Jim's hand.
After a moment, Jim raised his head and slowly drew out of her. Artie's fingers banded around Jim's wrist and braced him as he pulled himself to his feet. She raised her head in time to see Artie's smile.
"You look tired," he said, his grin almost a smirk.
"Why would you say that?" Even breathless, Jim sounded amused. He took the few steps to the bed and flopped across the foot of it with a huff. Artie's laugh broke off with a gasp when she stroked her tongue in a broad swipe up his cock.
"Your turn." She could feel Jim's warm seed beginning to run slowly out of her, and knew that by the time she got Artie to the bed, her thighs would be wet with it. Though she expected him to ask her to go clean up -- for few men wanted to slide themselves through the leavings of another -- Artie only leaned forward to lay his lips lightly on her forehead.
Her fingers made quick work of his shoes and stockings. She took his hands as she rose, and drew him to his feet. Artie had to bend to kiss her, which made it easier to remove his shirt. He was scarred too, white history scrawled across his chest. She opened her mouth to his tongue and stroked her hands down his torso, sliding his trousers off his hips to land at his feet.
When she broke the kiss and stepped back, she could see the cause for Jim's concern. The scar which crawled under his right knee and around the calf was still an angry red, some time in the healing. And his body bore other recent outrages, which left his sides yellowed and his wrists banded with new pink skin. She wondered what had been done to him, and by who, and why, and knew that while she might learn his body, she'd never know anything of his past or future. Just this moment, and what she could make of it for him. She touched the outline of a slightly-too prominent rib and stood on tiptoe to kiss him again. Her hands as she drew him to the bed were gentle.
"Make room, Jim."
He broke her serious mien, deliberately she thought, by giving Jim's sprawled feet a rough shove. Grumbling, all show, Jim crawled to the other side of the large bed and flopped down again, unable even then to hide the panther grace of him. She half expected some hesitation in the man at her side, but he only put his hands around her waist and lifted her onto the bed, with a pause for a kiss on the way.
She drew him onto the bed and between her legs, not unaware of Jim lying next to them on the large bed, but not at that moment caring to even know if he was watching. There was, despite Artie's deliberate attempt to lighten the mood, a sense of wonder, of tender caring, in her as she took him inside her, like the calling of all wounded soldiers home.
He filled her sweetly, his way smoothed by her juices mingled with Jim's, and moved slow and deep inside her, his weight propped on his elbows. His broad chest brushed against her tender nipples as he bent to kiss her. She clasped her legs loosely about him, her arms tighter around his chest, trying unsuccessfully to wrap him entirely in her body. If Jim was all youthful energy, vigorous and heady in his possession of her, Artie was skillful maturity, his cock seeking deep for pleasure. His eyes as he looked down on her were warm and affectionate, and she drew her fingers lingeringly down his cheek before stopping his mouth with hers once again.
After a minute, he broke free of her kiss, his breathing more labored than it should have been. His thrusts stuttered to a halt.
"I'm sorry," he said with a grimace, "my knee."
The bed shifted, and Jim's hand touched Artie's shoulder. She'd almost forgotten he was there. Apparently, so had Artie. A dull flush climbing his neck, the older man turned his face aside.
Her throat tight, she couldn't speak for a moment. Instead, she pushed lightly on his chest with the flat of her hand, slipping a light caress in to soften the moment. "Here," she said quietly as she slid out from under him, "lie on your back."
He flopped down with a muffled groan and rolled to his back. Jim's hand hovered close a moment, as if to help, then drew back. She gave the younger man a grateful kiss before straddling his friend. Artie groaned as she sank down upon him, his hands rising to frame her hips. She smiled down at him, rocking sinuously on the pillar of his cock, taking and giving pleasure in equal measure. In her experience, there weren't many men who liked to be ridden, mistaking the position for an unmanly one, but Artie didn't seem to mind. She almost laughed aloud as he bucked under her, driving himself up as she descended; no, he didn't mind at all.
His hands, broad and callused, glided up from her waist. Though pausing to tease and caress her breasts, he didn't stop there. The warm strokes of his hands passed lightly over her neck, her ribs, her hips, her belly, touching and caressing every inch of her body that he could reach. She arched her back, pushing herself into his hands, groaning with pleasure when his palms cupped her breasts again. She passed her hands in turn over and across his smooth chest, flicking her fingers over his small nipples, smiling widely at his groans. With a wicked twist to his lips, he pressed his thumb at the apex of her slit, driving the breath from her chest on a long moan.
She tossed her head back, her gaze catching, with interest, on Jim. Lying on the other side of the bed, well within arm's reach, should he choose to reach out, he reclined on his back with one knee bent. His hand stroked briskly over his swollen cock, rekindling the passion to which youth was heir. His head was turned to the side, his eyes on the two of them. Or just one. She realized, as her hips continued the instinctive dance, that Jim's eyes were fixed on his friend's profile.
She closed her eyes, shuddering with the pleasure of Artie's cock, Artie's hands, and thought, suddenly, how sad it all was. There was appreciation in Artie's eyes when he looked at her, but no heat; and nothing she could read in Jim's eyes at all when they rested on her. But when she caught one of them looking at the other... This stranger, this soiled dove, she realized suddenly, knew more of their passions than they themselves did. Neither would have permitted himself to enter this room if he'd fully realized his desires before they were made manifest.
Her smile, at that moment, was probably very cunning. She had no room in her life for the pious hypocrisy of so-called society. Nor, as a general rule, was she much concerned with the illusion called love. But at that moment, she could feel nothing but pleasure, think nothing but how she was in a prime position to shatter their restraint. Or at least give them something to remember.
Artie blinked at her when her slow rise and fall stilled. She smiled at him and rocked her hips gently before reaching out to drag her fingers lightly up Jim's cock. Abortive gasps escaped both men.
"It's no fun to play by yourself," she teased Jim, caressing his cock with her fingertips.
"What would you suggest?"
Peripherally aware of how Artie's eyes kept straying down to where her hand stroked Jim, she made her caresses deliberately more evocative, sliding a loose circle of fingers up and down his tumescent flesh at the same time as she tightened her internal muscles. Jim's eyes flew to Artie's face at the other man's gasp, and they seemed for a moment unable to look away from each other.
"You're a worldly man," she said softly, so as not to break their spell, "haven't you ever tried the Greek way with a woman?" Both men looked at her now. "There's oil in the drawer." She inclined her head at the bedside table.
Their gazes locked again for a moment, then Jim rolled over and sat up to reach for the drawer. A light touch to her cheek drew her gaze back from the younger man's beautifully molded body.
"Neither of us would hurt you for the world."
She bent down to kiss Artie for being so sweetly concerned. "It isn't my first time," she assured him. "It might be a bit uncomfortable at first, but after that, it's quite pleasant." She cocked her head at him and couldn't help adding, "I understand it can be even more pleasurable for a man."
Jim was back, a dull flush staining his cheeks. Artie laughed, but she saw the touch of embarrassment in him as well. She kissed Jim, then Artie, before spreading herself across his chest, burrowing her hands underneath to palm his shoulderblades.
Artie wrapped his arms closely around her shoulders and dropped a kiss on her forehead. She felt Jim's hand, warm and rough, splayed flat at the small of her back. For a moment, no one moved, and she didn't dare lift her head from Artie's chest for fear of breaking the spell.
Then, hoarsely: "Can you move your legs a bit, Artie?"
Without a word, Artie spread his legs and she could feel him bending his knees slightly, taking her thighs wider, giving Jim room. The oil was warm as it dribbled across her buttocks and the crack of her ass. Jim's fingers were even warmer.
He may not have had experience in Greek matters, but he was considerate enough to anticipate discomfort and seek to allay it. She closed her eyes as his fingers dipped into and loosened her, seeking within herself for the wherewithal to relax. She didn't often have customers looking for something this different, and she'd never been taken by two at once. But it would be worth it. Certainly it must be.
She didn't make a sound when Jim breached her. Startled moans issued from the throats of both Jim and Artie. Such a thin barrier separated them as Jim slowly slid into her; she could only imagine how clearly they could feel each other. Artie's arms tightened convulsively around her; there was a slight tremor in Jim's hands, holding fast to her hips.
"Ah... God!" Though the words, and their hushed and shocked tones, spoke for her, the voice was Artie's.
She pressed her face against his chest and tried not to wish for yet another man, that she might be filled at every opening. It made her greedy, this feeling of being so completely taken. Jim stopped finally, seated fully in her, and the breath shivered in her lungs to feel these two male bodies above and below and side by side inside her.
Warm fingers brushed her hair aside, and Jim bent to press his lips to her shoulder, the movement driving him just a little deeper inside. She rubbed her cheek against Artie's chest and pressed little kisses to his skin, blindly seeking for and finding a flat nipple. He gasped and shifted under her, which in turn made Jim groan. Oh, but she was going to enjoy this, if only for the sweetness of their reactions.
She lifted her mouth from Artie's salty skin just far enough to murmur: "Move, Jim."
And he did. For her own pleasure's sake, she'd have preferred for Artie to do the moving, but since she was effectively holding him down, it would have to be Jim. The results were certainly no hardship on either her or Artie. Jim started with slow, careful thrusts, and she could feel Artie quivering under her as Jim's cock stroked against his own through the thin layer of muscle which separated them. The effect was surprisingly pleasurable for her too.
As Jim became more confident, his thrusts speeded up, became harder, deeper. She abandoned Artie's nipple and simply laid her head on the gentle swell of his breast, feeling his chest rise and fall under her with increasing rapidity. His hips began to lift, his cock thrusting shallowly, pressing mindlessly up in an attempt to get closer to Jim's thrusts. She thought, as their cocks rolled against each other, that Jim's balls must swing against Artie's with every thrust, and reveled in the forced intimacy as they, perhaps, did not. Yet.
At first, she didn't notice when his arms uncoiled from around her. The rough caress of his palms down her back drew her appreciative attention just in time for the light stroking to cease, though she could still feel his biceps flex against her arms. She realized he was touching Jim and her smile, hidden against his chest, was triumphant.
All afire to see what she'd wrought, she tried to raise her head, but found that her hair was caught. One of them was able to spare a moment, and a hand, to free her. Released, she braced her upper body on her elbows and twisted her head, ostensibly to flip her hair out of the way, and found them in the mirror over the head of the bed. Jim's cheeks were suffused with blood, eyes hot, his whole face a mask of passion and desire. Artie's expression, when she turned her head slightly to see, was almost identical, touched with desire and fierce affection. Their eyes were locked; for them, she felt, she barely existed.
She laid her head back down on Artie's chest and smiled to herself. For once, she didn't mind being merely an instrument of pleasure.
Jim's thrusts slowed; he altered his rhythm slightly, to prolong the moment, she thought. His hands released their uncompromising grip on her hips, where they had undoubtedly left bruises, to be planted firmly on the mattress. The movement brought his chest down against her back, his sweat dewing both of them, smoothing the slide of skin against skin. His lips touched the curve of her shoulder again.
Their faces were mere inches apart. She wondered if it had occurred to Jim that he could so easily lean a little farther down, and touch his lips to Artie's. Perhaps he did not dare.
Their eyes devoured each other, the fire of desire raging nearly out of control. The intensity in them was almost frightening. It was a wonder they didn't set the bed alight.
Artie's hand slid into her hair, his broad palm cradling the nape of her neck, and tilted her face up to his. His mouth devoured hers. Then he released her. And Jim turned her head to him, that he might lick Artie's kiss from her lips. She shivered under the intimacy of it.
With a groan, Jim drew himself more or less upright, his body taking over the drive for completion, thrusting deep and strong. Artie's head was thrown back, and she licked at his arched neck as his breath came in great, heaving gasps. A hand sought entrance between them, wriggling between their damp skin to find and rub against her. Through the sparking flash of pleasure, she didn't know whose hand it was. When another joined those talented fingers in driving her desire, it ceased being a matter for thought.
Her pleasure came upon her fast and hard, taking her up and shaking her between the hard male bodies. The moans that finally issued, weak and fading, from her throat were drowned out by Artie's broken moans, and Jim's triumphant cry. Within moments of each other, they jerked, spasmed, and filled her with their hot seed.
Jim's weight fell heavy on her back, squeezing her between them. For the moment, she didn't mind. Artie labored for breath under her, but didn't seem unduly distressed. Finally, she blinked her eyes open. Across the broad plane of Artie's chest, she could see two hands -- his and Jim's -- fingers closely entwined.
When Jim finally regained enough strength to roll off, she felt cold. Empty. He grabbed the duvet and drew it over their cooling bodies. Contrary to her usual custom, she let exhaustion take her. Curled into the warmth of Artie's body, she felt Jim spoon up against her back before sleep overcame her.
The faint glow of dawn was tapping at the windows by the time she awoke. She lay quietly in the bed between two warm bodies, wondering at their unbroken sleep. Whatever they'd paid Madame Mina, it was enough to keep their rest undisturbed the entire night. Madame was by no means a skinflint, but if she hadn't had a mind for business, she wouldn't be running the most prestigious house in the city.
She drew herself carefully out of the bed, sliding regretfully from between Jim and Artie and out into the cold morning air. It took her only a moment to retrieve her gown from the floor and slip through the inner door into her dressing room. She closed the door silently behind her and breathed easier, knowing she'd left them still asleep.
There was no window in this room, and it took her a moment to get the lamp lit in the dark. After relieving herself in the chamber pot, she began her morning toilette; sweat and semen were not nearly as pleasant by the cold light of morning. The water in the ewer on the dressing table was likewise cold, but she poured it into the basin and resolutely used a sponge to clean herself up. Shivering, she pulled on drawers and a shift before belting a silken wrap around her waist. It was too early yet to bother dressing.
She rinsed out the basin, pouring the soiled water into the chamber pot, and returned the chamber set to its proper place. It took a few more minutes to hang her gown neatly with the others, and set everything to rights. Only then did she turn down the lamp and give in to her baser impulses.
The daguerreotype was one Drew had had taken -- himself in his crisp Union uniform with her on his arm. She touched his image fondly before taking the picture down and putting her eye to the discreet hole behind it. The rich Chinese silk which covered the walls of her boudoir obscured the small hole from view, so long as she didn't let any light through. Each of the girl's rooms had just such a peephole, a suspicious custom in a suspicious business.
She nearly drew back in shock when she saw that Jim was awake. Perhaps she hadn't been as quiet as she'd thought. Quickly realizing, however, that he showed no awareness of being spied upon, she continued to watch. In her absence, they had drawn together in the middle of the bed. The bedclothes had slipped partially away, exposing them both to the cool morning air. Jim's arm encircled Artie, whose peacefully slumbering head was laid softly on Jim's shoulder. As she watched, the younger man drew the covers gently up to his friend's chin before settling his other arm around the sleeping man. He laid a soft kiss on Artie's hair and leaned his head against his friend's. She covered the peephole and left them to their privacy.
The door to the corridor was locked, as always. She retrieved the key from her dressing table, let herself out, and locked the door behind her. Her steps were swallowed by the thick carpet as she walked away. Though it was too early for any of the other girls, Madame Mina was noted for her early rising.
It was time for a talk with Madame. Time to take the reins of life in hand and steer the best course she could. Of all the girls there, she flattered herself that she was best suited to run such a house. With any luck, Madame would agree, and her future would be assured.
She had just as hard a head for business as Madame.
As she strode down the hall, she smiled, thinking of the two she left entwined in her bed, who would likely never grace this house again.
Well, everyone had to have a soft spot.
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