Making The Madam
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ELLORA’S CAVEMEN: JEWELS OF THE NILE
Format: Trade Paperback & eBook
On Sale: March 21, 2008
Delilah’s anthology contribution is a Historical Western short-story, MAKING THE MADAM.
Widow Merry Winslow heads west to claim an inheritance from an aunt she never really knew. She expects to take over the reins of her aunt’s emporium, but discovers the true nature of the business when she arrives — she’s inherited a saloon with a brothel above stairs! Rather than being dismayed, Merry’s intrigued and finds it the perfect way to shed the shackles of propriety that have hidden her true wild and impulsive nature. Only problem is, she needs someone to make her into a madam…
Unedited; may vary from the final.
Note for Readers: You must be of legal age in your country of origin to read this excerpt.
The room was barely larger than a cupboard, the air inside stifling, or maybe it was just the woman sucking all the wind from his lungs. Nathan Boone stood so close her skirts billowed around his legs, dragging against his calves. Her sweet, flowery scent filled the small, cramped space, drawing him like a bee to honeysuckle blooms.
In the flickering candlelight, her plump lips glistened with moisture beneath the edge of her lacy veil as though she’d just licked them. “Did Mr. Regis tell you what I want?” she whispered.
“He did,” he replied just as softly, trying his damnedest not to growl like a hungry bear too near a tempting honeycomb.
Calvin Regis had caught up with him at the hotel, just after he’d dunked his head in a basin of cool water. Once he’d explained what Merry Winslow wanted, Nathan had been tempted to tell them both to go to Hell. However, the fact she wanted him even after the first impression he’d made had him curious about the woman who thought she could fill Millie Hannigan’s shoes. So, he’d washed up, changed his clothes and presented himself at Merry’s office door.
He hadn’t expected her to agree so readily to his suggestion about where they should start her education-perhaps she’d been unnerved admitting a man into a room that served as both her office and her bedroom.
“He told me you’d never accept my offer,” Merry Winslow said, “that you don’t need my money.”
“That’s the truth. I made a small fortune selling my claim to the Brewster Mining Company-and I haven’t accepted your offer yet.”
“He also said you’ve been spending your money freely in my saloon since the day you proved up your claim.”
“Isn’t much else to do around here,” he said, not feeling the least bit guilty about the lie. “As soon as you agree to sell it to me, I intend to invest in this establishment.”
Her lips crimped. “Are you going to use our time together to remind me endlessly of all the reasons why I’m not suited for this business?”
Her irritation amused him. Maybe there was more of Millie in the niece than she knew. The thought made his chest ache. “I won’t waste my time talking to you, Miz Winslow,” he drawled.
No, he had other plans for her. The way she’s made Calvin shake in his boots and the straightness of her spine affected Nathan in a most peculiar way. His whole body felt enflamed each time her sharp-edged tongue cut him. He wanted to know whether it would soften when stroked by his.
“Still, you haven’t accepted my offer,” she reminded him.
“And you haven’t heard my counter offer yet.”
Her breath huffed out and her small round chin lifted. “Is there a reason you insisted on negotiating inside a closet? And why we’re whispering?”
“Well, ma’am, this isn’t exactly a closet. I have something to show you. Although, I’m wondering why you agreed to meet me here…in the dark.”
“Not something a proper widow woman would do, is it?” she said, with a hint of defiance, her lips pouting slightly.
His gaze remained on those lush full lips. “Not that I have a lot of experience with your brand of womanhood, but it does strike me odd.”
“You challenged me.” Her shrug lifted narrow, straight shoulders. “Maybe you thought I didn’t have the courage.”
His gaze came back up to her face. “I hoped you would.” Nathan wished he could see through the damn veil. Her eyes would tell him exactly what she was thinking-although her lips and posture had already told him an awful lot about the woman who’d caught his attention with her breathless, “My word,” when he landed at her feet earlier that day.
At the time, her words and the tilt of her head had betrayed a tantalizing curiosity rather than shock. Her reaction had stirred an attraction he hadn’t been able to shake.
“So what’s your counter to my offer, Mr. Boone?” Her prim words seemed at odds with the deepening slide of her voice.
A smile tugged the corners of his mouth upward when he realized his enjoyment of their conversation wasn’t one-sided. “I’ll teach you what you need to know about this business, but only if you agree to follow my instruction, without hesitation.”
“And if I balk?”
“Then you have to agree to sell me this fine establishment for the price I’ve already offered.”
Her soft, feminine snort pleased him. “You think I’m naïve — that I don’t know what happens in the rooms up here.”
“If I’m wrong, then you’ve lost nothing.” He held his breath, giving her time to chew on his words. Once she said yes, he wouldn’t let her back down.
However now, the saloon wasn’t the prize he sought. Another more satisfying challenge presented itself. One he never would have imagined from Millie’s descriptions of the woman she’d known only through her correspondence.
Merry Winslow’s lips pursed as she considered.
He wondered if she knew the invitation they issued.
Finally, she took a deep breath that lifted her gently rounded bosom and raised her gloved hand. “I agree to your terms, sir.”
Pure animal heat surged through Nathan at the sight of the slender hand waiting for his to enclose it. His mind leapt ahead, thinking of another pleasurable grasp he longed to accept.
Then he remembered the calluses on his palm and hesitated, not wanting to snag the delicate fabric of her gloves. Instead of sliding his hand alongside her delicate glove, he fingered open the button at her wrist and tugged it off.
Merry Winslow’s chest rose on a sharp gasp, but she didn’t pull away her hand. She allowed him to carry it to his mouth.
Nathan had never kissed a woman’s hand before, would have laughed if he’d seen another man do it, but her scent and the smooth-as-cream feel of her soft skin had him pressing his lips to her knuckles.
He couldn’t help sliding his tongue along the little bumps just to get a taste.
“Nathan,” he whispered, letting go, “and keep your voice down. The show’s starting. Turn around and get rid of that veil. You need to see this.”
She hesitated, her teeth worrying her bottom lip.
“Gonna let me win this bet so soon?”
Another soft snort and she reached up to lift her veil, giving him the first full glimpse of her face.
Merry Winslow’s wide eyes were a dreamy blue, like a summer sky in the high country. Spaced wide and fringed with gold-tipped brown lashes, they blinked up at him. A faint flush of pink painted her cheeks a rosy color any of the working girls would have admired. A rather square, short nose didn’t detract from a face he’d call pretty rather than flashy.
He cleared his throat, trying to get back to the “business” at hand. “Turn around and have a look.”
“I’ve seen the wall.”
“Let me surprise you.”
Her glance swept down his body-so quickly, he thought he might have imagined it. Then she turned slowly in the cramped space, her hip grazing his groin before she’d made the full circle. She ignored his indrawn breath and kept her gaze on the wall in front of her.
Wondering whether her touch had been deliberate, he reached over her shoulder and slid up a little wooden circle nailed to the wall to reveal the peephole.
Merry leaned toward the wall, peering through, and inhaled sharply.
“I’ll douse the candle so you can see better,” he said, his awareness of her deepening scent and soft, shallow breaths increasing as darkness enfolded them both.
Exposing a second hole, he bent closer to her shoulder to look into Daisy’s bedroom.
“Must you stand so close?” Merry whispered.
Nathan grinned. “How will I explain what you see if I don’t watch too?”
He couldn’t quite catch her softly muttered retort, but grinned as she fidgeted against him. Then she grew silent except for her shortening breaths as she watched.
Daisy lay sideways on her bed dressed only in white drawers that reached below her knees and a corset cinched tightly over a short chemise. Her legs draped over the edge of the bed as a brawny miner leaned over her, kissing her naked breasts above the edge of the corset he’d worked beneath them. The man still wore all his clothes.
Daisy held his head between her hands and guided him from one nipple to the other, her eyes closed tight, a throaty groan erupting from her open mouth. Daisy was typical of the women Millie had chosen from the many applicants who applied to the emporium-a buxom blonde with a girlish voice that lulled a man into thinking he led the dance.
Nathan had chosen Daisy’s room because the woman had the knack of seeking her own pleasure with her customers. Soon enough, Merry would figure out that not all the women were as aggressive or adept. Tonight, Daisy served his purpose as Merry Winslow’s wide, unblinking stare took in every detail of the nasty nature of the woman’s profession.
The miner lifted his head and grinned at Daisy who rose on her elbows and lifted her eyebrows in a brazen challenge. The man backed away and nearly busted every button on his shirt as he pulled it off and opened his pants.
When he approached the bed again, Daisy held up her hand to warn him away and slipped off the bed. She approached him, her shoulders back, her nipples winking above her corset. As she neared him, swaying her hips, she scraped a fingernail along his naked arm then his back and walked in slow a circle around him.
The miner reached inside his pants and pulled out his cock, stroking it up and down. As she came around in front of him again, Daisy sank to her knees, her eyes widening and her hands cupping her cheeks in mock surprise. “Oh my, Johnny! I missed dinner tonight and thought I’d starve.”
“Daisy, you can take a lick or two of this sweet thing,” Johnny said, his voice deepening beneath her praise.
Nathan judged the other man’s cock about average length, but the fuss Daisy made had him almost believing she’d never seen anything quite so satisfying in her life. Nathan laughed softly and turned to Merry.
Her curious gaze watched every practiced lick of Daisy’s tongue as the other woman trailed down the length of Johnny’s cock and back up the sensitive top. Johnny groaned like a wounded bear when Daisy opened her mouth and swallowed him whole.
Merry emitted a sharp gasp and lowered her lids. “Does Daisy know?”
“That we’re watching? Yes, ma’am. Matter of fact, she likes it.”
Watching her tense profile, he could tell she didn’t quite believe him. “Show’s not over,” he reminded her.
Merry drew in a shaky breath and took another peek inside. “Does Johnny know?”
Johnny pumped his hips, sliding his cock in and out of Daisy’s noisily slurping mouth.
“Probably not. Only the women and few special customers are even aware these closets exist. Miss Millie liked to use them to make sure the girls were treated well.”
“Do those special customers pay to watch?”
“More than what Johnny’s paying for Daisy to suck him.”
“Sorry if that sounded coarse, but you’re going to hear much worse — if you stay.”
“I suppose you’re right. I’ll accustom myself, over time — my word!”
Johnny’s head snapped back and he gave a low roar as he shot seed all over Daisy’s pretty upturned face.