02. A Valuable Lesson

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Why me? Oh, dear Lord, why me?

That was the question I asked myself while I was skilfully and determinedly steered upstairs. The soft arm around my shoulder, it had turned out, belonged to the brothel madam. And while it was soft, it was also astonishingly strong and determined to make sure a potential client didn't slip away.

'No need to be nervous, lad,' she purred into my ear as she manoeuvred me down the corridor. I was dividing my efforts between trying to wrestle free and throwing venomous glares over my shoulder at the figure of Mr Ambrose. Neither seemed to have the least effect. 'I'll 'ave Amy take care of ye. She'll let ye do whatever ye want.'

Oh great! How about screaming and running away?

'And if ye're skittish, she'll take care of everythin'. Just lie back and relax, and she'll make ye scream.'

I don't doubt it! I'll scream bloody murder!

Still smiling, the brothel madam pulled open the door at the end of the corridor.

'Amy! Got a new gent for ye. This here is young Victor. Be gentle with 'im, will ye? It's his first time.'

And hopefully my last!

Gently but determinedly, the madam shoved me inside and closed the door. Immediately I whirled, my hands going for the doorknob – but before I could reach it, I heard the scrape of a key in the lock. Bloody hell! The conniving little...

Well, I had to hand it to her: she was a good businesswoman. Even Mr Ambrose could not have handled a prospective client better.

'Victor, eh?' The voice coming from behind me was melodious, like a little bird sitting on a tree in spring. 'Well, ye certainly shall be the victor tonight. Why don't ye turn 'round and let me see yer handsome face?'

Taking a deep breath, I made sure that my belt buckle was tightly shut and turned around to face my doom.

My doom took the form of a small, slender young woman, probably only a year or two older than me, who regarded me with interest from a chaise longue in the corner. To my intense relief, she wore clothes. However, the big bed in the middle of the room suggested this happy circumstance might not be of long duration.

'I, um...Miss...'

'Amilia,' the slender girl whispered, her eyes twinkling. Was she laughing at me? 'But ye, young stallion, may call me Amy.'

Young stallion?

She was laughing at me!

Slowly, she rose from the chaise longue and started towards me. I retreated until I bumped into a corner.

'Now, err... look here, Miss. There's no need for that. We can just wait a little and go out again, surely? We don't need to...you know. I'll pay you anyway. I'll pay you anything you want!'

'That won't be no good.' She shook her head, her eyes sliding over me, assessing. 'Madam always knows if a customer ain't satisfied.'

'Trust me, I'd be a lot more satisfied if you let me sit quietly in a corner somewhere!'

'Oh, come on.' She gave a little laugh. 'Don't be shy. I'll take good care of ye and your little friend.'

'My little friend?'

'Or maybe 'e's big. Who knows?' She shrugged. 'Let's find out, shall we?'

And she reached for my trousers.

With a squeak, I jumped back – and slammed right into a wall.

'No! Let's not!'

'Oh, so ye're one of those who like the chase, are ye?' Her eyes sparkled, and she started towards me.

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