On the auction block at a brothel – can she possibly trust the man who has purchased her virginity?
(This short novella links to Book One of the Transformation of the Shelley Sisters series but can be read independently. For more about the Shelley Sisters, please see the Book Series page.)
Enquiry agent Patrick Jago is searching for Meg Shelley’s missing sisters but instead he finds another woman in distress. Laurel Vernon is a virgin for sale in a notorious brothel. What can Patrick do but buy her – and find his life and his heart will never be the same again.
The Temple of Venus, King’s Place, St James’s London. May 1814
The clock struck the hour. Eleven. Laurel clenched her tethered hands, felt the nails bite into her palms. It was going to happen now. It was hopeless, but she would not surrender lightly. She would fight and she would hurt whichever foul man they sold her to, even though she had no hope that it would do her any good. She wished her nails were longer. She wished she had a knife. She prayed she would not cry.
Laurel forced herself to stand up straight and not huddle into a mindless terrified ball. She was terrified, she admitted, but she was not going to give them the satisfaction of showing it. Her hands were shaking, her stomach was hollow, but she was not a mindless victim, even if her concentration was all over the place, her imagination skittering about from one hideous imagining to another.
She stood in the shadowy antechamber, barefoot in the long white linen shift, her hair loose around her shoulders. Patrick, she thought as the two young women who flanked her, painted and scantily dressed in crimson silks in contrast with her virgin white, took her by the arms.
How could the name of a man she had known only a few days give her strength? And yet she had not been able to get him out of her mind.
Patrick, she repeated over and over as she was led through a door into a sudden explosion of noise and heat and the smell of alcohol and smoke, perfume and food.