For any of my readers who haven’t picked up my House of Pleasure books, I thought I’d spotlight them this week, one each day. Today I’m continuing with the fifth and final book of the series, Only Pleasure Will Do.
The pleasure is all hers…
Amorina Vestry, madam of the House of Pleasure for six long years, has wrested a living out the establishment by devising a variety of ways to give men pleasure. But behind the persona of the ruthless businesswoman, schooled in the erotic arts, lurks another woman with a secret she dares tell no one. Now, in vengeance for thwarting a dastardly plan, Amorina is kidnapped and forced to commit murder to save the one person she loves unconditionally…unless the man she secretly yearns for can rescue her before it’s too late.
When Amorina Vestry goes missing, Sir Reginald Matthews, former Runner now magistrate at Bow Street, agrees to search for the very provocative woman he met a year ago and cannot seem to forget. He manages to track her down, only to be captured by the same madman who took her. Their close proximity in a make-shift prison leads inexorably to a night of passion in which Amorina lowers her guard to reveal a shocking truth. Spurred by his growing attraction to her, Reginald is determined to free them before she commits the most heinous crime imaginable.
As Reginald races to save Amorina, he comes to fear another foe as well. He may very well save his love only to find he must give her up or risk the censure of a society that will condemn her.
So now, with an intruder in the basement, she was defenseless, though not helpless.
Easing to the doorway, she stopped, took a deep breath, and poked her head around the door jamb. More movement at the top of the stairs.
The angle of the small windows let in less moonlight here than the other room, but her eyes had adjusted to the minimal light. A man’s figure, clad in a light gray cloak, had just set foot on the first step. The wooden riser creaked softly, and the man drew back.
Cautious. Unfamiliar with the room? Or unwilling to give her notice he was here?
Again, the figure moved forward, treading lighter than before for the board remained silent.
Amorina slipped into the room, her back to the wall near the fireplace. Pity the thin streak of moonlight streaming through the window didn’t fall across the staircase. She would’ve paid dearly to see the face of the man who’d done this to her; however, she would exact her vengeance nonetheless.
The man had descended another two of the twelve steps. He’d not heard her yet. Surprise was still on her side, if she could just wait a little longer.
Five steps remaining.
The dimly moving figure took his time with each riser. His eyes must’ve adjusted to the gloom by now. Did he think her a gray patch on the wall, perhaps? Over the past week, her snowy linen chemise, which she was currently using as a night gown, had grown dingy. She remained rooted to the spot she’d taken once she’d slipped into the room, scarcely daring to breathe.
Three more steps and he’d reach the ground.
She held her breath and prayed.
The man set his feet on the dirt floor and paused, cocked his head.
Willing him to move toward the back of the stairs, Amorina gathered every scrap of courage she possessed.
Shaking his head, the man turned back toward the staircase.
Amorina launched herself at the table, grabbed the ancient chair, swung it up over her head, and crashed it onto the man’s head.
At the last moment he must’ve heard her, for he threw up an arm in defense, but too late. The edge of the chair crashed into the back of his head with a sickening crack before disintegrating in a shower of wooden bits. She’d apparently underestimated efficacy of the old chair as a weapon, for the man dropped neatly at her feet.
Sobbing as relief poured through her, Amorina stood over him, part of a chair leg—the only piece of the weapon still intact—raised once more. But the figure sprawled on the ground didn’t move, and her frenzied breathing calmed. Tossing the mangled stick onto the body, she then leaped over it and nimbly flew up the stairs to the door. Slow and silent, she grasped the handle and pulled.
It didn’t budge.
She tried to rattle the door, but it refused to move at all, as though someone had nailed it shut. Leaning her head against the stubborn wood, she swallowed tears. She was still a prisoner, although no longer alone. Heart racing, she turned to peer over the rail at the still figure below. Who was he? Why was he here? And what did he have to do with her?
Keeping a cautious eye on the man, she crept down the steps. A patch of moonlight fell on the floor not far from where he lay. She could at least satisfy her curiosity about one thing. Grasping him under his armpits, Amorina lifted him and rocked back on her heels, an effective way for a woman to move dead-drunk patrons if the need arose. This man was solidly built, to be sure, but she’d moved heavier bodies.
Four steps and the back of his head popped into the light. She laid him down then tossed the bit of chair leg on the floor. Her hand met the good quality of the pale gray cloak, the material smooth and rich beneath her fingers. A man of some means, then. Likely a former customer, though his form rang no bell of recognition. No need to speculate. She bent and hooked her hands beneath one shoulder and heaved him over. He fell out of the light.
She tugged him back then gasped and dropped his shoulder as though her fingers had been singed. “Reginald Matthews!”
Has Amorina killed her captor or her savior?