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Miranda’s Masks: New Release from Lisabet Sarai

 

Shy and serious by dayinsatiable by night.

 

Buy now for 99 cents!

 

 

A Journey to Pleasure and Love

 

I’m here to share a bit about my newest release, Mirandas Masks. This novel chronicles the experiences of a young woman learning to trust her own sexuality. Scarred by the cruelty of her first lover, Miranda Cahill takes refuge in her studies. Though she tries to deny her needs, her attempts to suppress her libido ultimately fail. She finds herself engaging in increasingly extreme sexual scenarios with strangers who have no notion who she is. Her body demands satisfaction, but Miranda’s not willing to risk her heart—not until her equally adventurous colleague Mark Anderson wins her confidence and her heart. She comes to realize that Mark is not only her soul mate, but also her companion in the quest for erotic pleasure, and that far from being opposites, lust and love a mutually reinforcing.

  

Miranda’s Masks Blurb:

 

Betrayed and abandoned by her first lover, shy and studious Miranda Cahill freezes in response to any sexual attention from someone she knows and likes.

 

During the day, she works diligently on her doctoral thesis. At night, she finds herself drawn into increasingly extreme sexual encounters with strangers. Public coupling, multiple partners, age play, spankings, bondage, lesbian lust—each experience reveals new dimensions of her depravity. Her anonymous secret life begins to take over when she discovers that the masked seducer she meets in a sex club and the charismatic young professor courting her are the same man.

 

Dickens scholar Mark Anderson seems like an affable, uncomplicated Midwesterner, but he has hidden depths, myriad talents, and an unlimited appetite for erotic variety. With Mark as her guide, Miranda gradually comes to understand and accept the intricacy of her own desires, as well as to trust her heart.

 

Note: This novel was previously published under the title Incognito. It has been expanded, revised and reformatted for this release.

 

*****

 

eXcessica, November 2017

Taboo contemporary erotic romance (Five flames)

BDSM/Ménage/Multiple partners/lesbian/gay

Approximately 86,000 words

HEA ending

#bdsm #eroticromance #lisabetsarai #bondage #discipline #dominance #submission #victorian #boston #london #crossdressing #incestfantasy #literature #Shakespeare

 

*****

 

 

Miranda’s Masks Excerpt:

 

He stood aside to let her out the door first. She passed very near to him, sensing the heat of his body. It made her feel strange and quivery inside. The sleeves of his plaid sport shirt were rolled to his elbows, exposing the tanned, bare skin of his forearms. She suppressed a sudden impulse to reach out and stroke that skin.

 

As she had predicted, they were the restaurant’s only customers. After taking their order, the young waiter left them alone.

 

At first, Mark did most of the talking, about his acting, his travels, his students, his Chinese neighbors. Miranda listened to his colorful tales with half her mind. At the same time, she was studying his expressions, watching his movements, trying to sort out her feelings toward him.

 

He was unquestionably attractive, if you liked the egghead type. The eyeglasses lent a serious air to a face that otherwise was boyish and mischievous. She liked his body, too, lean, compact, with a frank physicality that both drew and scared her. He used his whole body when he talked, making pictures in the air, reaching across and touching her hand to emphasize a point. The first time he did that, she unconsciously pulled away. As she got more used to him, she found that she didn’t mind it at all.

 

Miranda finished her garlic soup and took a sip of her wine. She didn’t ordinarily drink at lunch, but she had accomplished so much during her morning’s work, she felt a desire to celebrate. She also hoped that it would relax her. In fact the effect was somewhat more than relaxation; she had only consumed half the glass and already she felt distinctly tipsy.

 

Time to bite the bullet, she thought, raising her wineglass to her lips again during a lull in the conversation. “So, Mark, I feel that I owe you an explanation. Some justification for why I’m such a cold fish.”

 

“I’d hardly call you that,” said Mark with a strange smile.

 

“Well, you know what I mean. You’ve seen how I am. Whenever things get the least bit physical, I freeze. I can be feeling sensual and receptive, enjoying your company as I did last night. But let sex rear its head, and reflex takes over. I become numb, or worse, terrified. And the more I like the man, the stronger the negative reaction.”

 

Mark listened attentively, but made no comment.

 

“I actually know why I am this way. I just can’t stop it.” Then she told him about Geoff, her first lover, her first betrayer. The story poured out of her, even the details of her sexual initiation. Surprisingly, it was easy to talk to him about sex, even though the slightest action in that direction immediately raised her defenses.

 

Mark sat across from her, frowning. “He just disappeared, without a word, without saying goodbye?”

 

Miranda nodded. “After we spent every night together for three straight weeks. After he took my virginity and my heart. I never heard from him again.”

 

“No wonder you have some problems trusting a lover,” said Mark. He took her hand, but this time she didn’t flinch. The touch felt brotherly. “Poor Miranda.”

 

“Well, lots of people have bad relationships. I don’t know why I can’t just let go of the whole thing. It was almost three years ago.”

 

“A woman’s first lover has a special hold on her psyche. At least that’s what my mother used to tell me. She warned me to be very careful of virgins. ‘They break easily,’ she said.”

 

 

Buy Links — Just 99c/p until next week! 

 

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077J37RW6

 

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B077J37RW6

 

Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mirandas-masks-lisabet-sarai/1127499525?ean=2940158774584

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR list! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36622764-miranda-s-masks

 

 

About Lisabet:

 

LISABET SARAI occasionally tackles other genres, but BDSM will always be her first love. Every one of her nine novels
includes some element of power exchange, while her D/s short stories range from mildly kinky to intensely perverse.

 

You’ll find information and excerpts from all Lisabet’s books on her website (http://www.lisabetsarai.com/books.html), along with more than fifty free stories and lots more. At her blog Beyond Romance (http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com), she shares her philosophy and her news and hosts lots of other great authors. She’s also on Goodreads and finally, on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

Incognito! Lisabet Sarai’s New Expanded Edition Now Available!

 

 Shy and serious by dayinsatiable by night.incognito_revamp_400

 

 
Not Exactly Romance

My new release, Incognito, focuses on the developing love between my heroine Miranda and her colleague Mark. It ends with a marriage and a honeymoon. Nevertheless, the book is not exactly romance.

Over the course of the book, both Mark and Miranda have sexual adventures with a variety of other people. At first, Miranda’s sexual encounters are deliberately anonymous. Deceived and abandoned by her first lover, Miranda finds that her libido shuts down when she’s with someone she knows and likes. Even after Mark has won her trust, though, the two of them continue behaving in ways most romance couples wouldn’t. They swap partners with Miranda’s best friend and her fiancé, for example. They go cruising together at a gay bar. Both have an experimental streak when it comes to sex. That’s part of what draws them to one another.

I guess it would be accurate to call Incognito “romantic erotica”. If you expect sexual fidelity from your characters, don’t bother with this book. On the other hand, if you’re looking for erotic thrills in the context of a loving relationship, Incognito may be just perfect.

 

Incognito Blurb:

 

Betrayed and abandoned by her first lover, shy and studious Miranda Cahill freezes in response to any sexual attention from someone she knows and likes.

During the day, she works diligently on her doctoral thesis. At night, though, she finds herself drawn into increasingly extreme sexual encounters with strangers. Her anonymous secret life begins to take over when she discovers that the masked seducer she meets in a sex club and the charismatic young professor courting her are the same man.

 

Reader Advisory: This book contains mention of incest involving an aunt and nephew and also scenes of incest involving a pair of M/F cousins. There is both M/M and F/F content within this book, as well as public sex, ménage et trois, swapping of partners, use of foreign objects during sex, anal sex and a scene of dubious consent.

 

Incognito: R-Rated Excerpt

Later, they walked out of the restaurant, into the humid, velvety night. “Come back to Beacon Hill with me,” said Miranda. “We can have a cappuccino at the café across from my apartment, and you can meet Heathcliff.”

 

“Heathcliff? Shades of Wuthering Heights! I thought you shared your apartment with a woman.”

 

“Heathcliff’s my cat, a real sweetie. Lucy, my roommate, is away. In fact, she’s in Paris, with the latest love of her life.”

 

“Sounds like an interesting lady.”

 

“You wouldn’t believe it if I told you,” said Miranda. “But anyway, that’s her private business.” She swallowed hard. “So, are you coming?” She tried to sound offhand, but she wanted him so badly that her voice came out in a little squawk.

 

“I’d love to,” said Mark, putting his arm around her shoulder as they headed for the subway station. “That is, if you want me to.”

 

Miranda did not answer, simply enjoying his warm, casual, comfortable touch.

 

Heathcliff met them at the door. He nosed suspiciously around Mark’s sandals, then jumped up on the bookshelf and stared at him. Mark held out his hand. Heathcliff gave it a perfunctory sniff. Then he began rubbing his head and chin against the outstretched fingers, purring loudly.

 

“He likes you,” said Miranda, delighted at Heathcliff’s approval of her new flame. “He’s a friendly cat, but he’s usually a bit standoffish for the first half hour or so.”

 

Mark scratched the orange tabby under the chin. The purr volume ratcheted up a notch.

 

“He’s great,” said Mark. “And this is a fantastic apartment. Fourteen-foot ceilings, oak floors, and a marble mantelpiece. Does the fireplace work?”

 

“You want a fire on a sweltering night like this?”

 

“Not when I’m with a hot number like you. But it might be cozy to cuddle up here in the winter.”

 

Miranda found that she was blushing. His joking compliment, plus his oblique reference to a future together, made her feel even warmer. “So, would you like a glass of wine? Or would you rather go across the street for coffee?”

 

Mark flopped down on her sofa as if it were his own. Heathcliff immediately curled up beside him. “Wine would be wonderful. Coffee would keep me awake, and I need to be rested for that lecture tomorrow.”

 

Miranda retrieved the open bottle of Pinot Grigio from the refrigerator and poured two glasses. Handing him one, she sat down next to him with her own goblet, on the opposite side from Heathcliff’s tawny body. “To London,” she said, raising her glass.

 

“To London, and other adventures.”

 

They took a few silent sips. What now? thought Miranda. She tingled all over from nervousness, but for once there was no knot of fear in her belly. Mark was looking at her, searching her face as if trying to read her thoughts. The silence lengthened. Ever so slowly, as if he were afraid that she might flee, he reached for her hand. His skin was warm and dry. She suddenly remembered the way he had stroked her palm, the first time they met. The recollection gave her a little thrill.

 

She wondered at her own shyness. Given her recent escapades, she could hardly be called sexually inexperienced, yet she felt as much like a virgin now as she had with Geoff.

 

He was still staring at her, their hands clasped. He must be waiting for me to make the first move, thought Miranda.

 

“Mark…”

 

“Miranda…”

 

They collapsed in laughter as they spoke simultaneously. Somehow, the shared humor erased the tension. Miranda turned toward him and kissed him.

 

His response was immediate and electrifying. His arms encircled her, pulling her close to his chest, while he returned her kiss with a ferocity that was astounding. It was a probing, aggressive, challenging kiss, a kiss that sought out her secrets. His tongue danced in her mouth, boldly exploring. Her sex rippled in response. It was almost as if his tongue was dancing down there, darting in and out of her swollen labia .

 

Miranda moaned and rubbed her breasts against his torso. Her nipples were hard and round as hazelnuts. She was hungry for him, dying to have him touch her.

 

As if in response to her thought, he slid one hand under her shirt and brushed a fingertip across her tit. That simple touch made her writhe. When he rolled the nipple between his thumb and forefinger,  the sensations dragged her to the very edge of climax. He continued to kiss her, more voluptuously than before, tracing the outline of her lips with his tongue, nibbling and caressing.

 

Hazy with lust, Miranda realized that she had never been this aroused. Not with Geoff. Not with Big Daddy. Everything Mark did felt good. He smelled good, tasted good. She wanted him to surround her and penetrate her. She wanted their bodies to melt together into one.

 

 

 Review QuotesAREBestSellerIcon

 

Incognito brings a fabulous level of intensity and sensuality to the reader.” ~ Dawnie, Fallen Angels Reviews (5 Angels)

 

“I had almost given up on the current crop of erotic novels, because too many of them have predictable story lines, two dimensional characters and flimsy plotting. However, Incognito is really something different. Sarai skillfully combines the present day storyline with some tantalizing Victorian history. This book is well researched, erudite, well plotted and very sexy. Highly recommended.” ~ Emma K., Amazon (5 stars)


“Incognito is truly a buffet of pleasures, with something for everyone. There’s the enjoyment of piecing together the mirroring, multi-layered narratives. Historical and literary echoes provide extra spice for the careful reader—in particular Shakespeare fans might enjoy the parallels to Miranda in The Tempest—all sweetened with abundant humor and clever feminist twists. Always you’ll find masterful prose in sizzling erotic scenes that offer flavors to please any palate. And last but not least, the novel will change your view of the world in surprising ways.” Donna George Story, Erotica Readers and Writers Association.

 

Buy Links (Ebook and Print)

 

Amazon US

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CG9CKTQ

 

Amazon UK

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01CG9CKTQ

 

Barnes & Noble

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/incognito-lisabet-sarai/1100410132?ean=9781786510174

 

Totally Bound

https://www.totallybound.com/incognito

 

All Romance

An All Romance Best Seller!

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-incognito-2018099-147.html

 

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29383360-incognito

 

 

About LisabetlisabetFace

 

LISABET SARAI occasionally tackles other genres, but BDSM will always be her first love. Every one of her nine novels includes some element of power exchange, while her D/s short stories range from mildly kinky to intensely perverse.

 

You’ll find information and excerpts from all Lisabet’s books on her website (http://www.lisabetsarai.com/books.html), along with more than fifty free stories and lots more. At her blog Beyond Romance (http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com), she shares her philosophy and her news and hosts lots of other great authors. She’s also on Goodreads and finally, on Twitter.

 

 

Sexual Sorcery: An Erotic Tale of Sex, Mystery and the Occult, in Victorian England by C M Fontana

sexual-sorcery-cover-600wideAn unwitting academic stumbles into the erotically-charged occult underworld of Victorian London. With a cast of characters including an investigator with a talent for seduction, a mesmerist collecting a harem of beautiful ladies, and a woman who believes she has had sex with Satan, Sexual Sorcery is a sizzling story of decadence, conspiracy and carnality.

When a collection of books go missing from the University’s collection, Fredrick Clifford travels to London in search of the likely culprit, an apparently respectable gentleman named Victor Braystone. But he soon finds that he is not the only one with an interest in Mr Braystone, and the manipulative Catherine Wolseley soon draws him into her own schemes.

As he, Miss Wolseley and their seductive accomplice begin to unravel Mr Braystone’s plots, Fredrick Clifford finds himself both confused and entrapped in a shocking world of of sex and duplicity. And as the trail leads him from the seductions of a London club to a Satanic altar in the wilds of the Welsh borders, he struggles to make sense of both the dark uncertainties of the occult, and of an unfamiliar realm of debauchery and sex.

 

Buy Links:

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1VaaXZC

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1OunW9F

 

Author Bio:

C M Fontana is a British erotic author, fusing plots of mystery, intrigue, and the supernatural with racy erotica. The first full-length novels, Sexual Sorcery, was published for Kindle in September 2015, with two novellas continuing the series released soon after.

Author Website: http://mysticerotica.com/

Author Twitter: @mystic_erotica

sexual-sorcery-wide-image

Excerpt

By Saturday morning, Fredrick had still not had time to visit the agency to advertise for a new domestic servant, and he was becoming heartily sick of bread and marmalade for breakfast – or, indeed, for any other meal that he could not reasonably eat out. It was also an irritation that he had to answer his own front door, and now he found himself greeted at his front step by a small grubby boy, in bare feet and ragged trousers, presenting him with a sealed envelope.

He took the letter, tipped the boy a coin, and closed the door.

The paper was expensive, that handwriting feminine. Inside, a note simply read:

Two o’clock. My carriage will collect you. We cannot have gaps in your education as a gentleman. Please be an attentive student. Such classes are not inexpensive.

And that was all. He assumed that it was from Miss Wolseley, and resigned himself to having to follow her cryptic instructions. In the meantime, he thought, he would finish his newspaper, and then visit the agency to and see if they could alleviate his domestic difficulties.

And so, soon after lunchtime, after a satisfactory visit to the agency he found on returning to his house a familiar carriage parked outside.

“My good man, am I late?”

“Not at all Sir,” the gruff coachman tipped his hat. “I’m early. Take your time, Sir. We aren’t due til ‘alf past.”

Fredrick re-emerged promptly at two o’clock, and climbed into the carriage, and sat back while it bounced and swerved through the city’s congested streets. Out of the window he saw gentrified houses, and, as the traffic moved slowly on the main roads, although the journey was barely two miles, it took over twenty minutes. He was relieved to find that they stopped in a fashionable West End street.

He stepped down from the carriage, and the coachman indicated the door across the road.

He crossed the street and rapped with the brass door knocker.

Promptly, the door was opened, and a short, grey haired maid opened the door.

“Fredrick Clifford,” he introduced himself. “I may be expected?”

“Of course,” the maid curtseyed, with a hint of an accent, perhaps Italian or French, and stepped back to let him in.

She took his coat, hat and cane, and then led him up the stairs, and into a well furnished sitting room. Tall windows let light flood into the room through lace curtains, the room was decked with a range of plushly upholstered chairs and settees, the largest of which, unusually, seemed to be the size of a single bed, but with ornate arms and a high back.

The maid motioned him to take a seat in a plush chair by the window. She assured him, “I will say that you have arrived,” and then withdrew.

As he waited, he looked around. The décor was, the more he considered the details, eccentric.

Not only were the chairs unusually deeply upholstered, and the main sofa far wider than was needed, but there were numerous sturdy hooks, which looked like they might have hung chandeliers before gas lighting was installed, both in the ceiling and also, inexplicably in the skirting board at the foot of the wall. There was also a faint but spicy scent in the air, which he suspected might be incense – an unusual scent to encounter outside of a High or Catholic church.

The door opened, and he turned to see a tall, graceful woman step into the room. She wore a red silk robe like a dressing gown, and around her neck an ornate necklace of black beads. Her brown hair hung loosely in flowing curls, cascading over her shoulders, and Fredrick’s eyes were drawn further down, to the sides of her firm breasts, indecently visible where the two sides of the robe met.

“I’m so sorry!” he instinctively stood up and turned his back on her, to stare fixedly out of the window.

“And why, Mr Clifford, are you sorry?” The voice was soft, the accent unmistakably continental.

“I am… that is to say…” He could barely hear her approach, her bare feet on the carpet. “Perhaps I should return when you are properly dressed.”

Her voice, now just over his shoulder, chided, “Mr Clifford, I was told that you were a gentleman.”

“Well, yes!” he replied, indignantly.

“And is it polite, when a lady enters a room, turn your back on her, and then proceed to criticise her choice of clothing.”

“Well, I… there is a question of what is appropriate!”

“Your lessons today,” she corrected him, “are to deal instead with the question of what is courteous – gentlemanly. You may be quite right about what is appropriate. But this afternoon, that is not our subject.”

To Frederick, what was gentlemanly and what was appropriate seemed intimately connected. But Miss Wolseley had, presumably, some purpose in sending him here.

“I apologise,” he conceded, turning to face her. It would be a shame to argue with such an attractive hostess.

She smiled and inclined her head. “Then shall we start again?”

Fredrick nodded.

The woman turned and walked softly back to the door. He watched her robe sway against her legs, and was impressed by her grace. She left the room, and shut the door after herself. Fredrick sat down again, and waited.

After a minute, the door opened again, and the woman returned.

Fredrick stood up, and stepped forwards to greet her. “Fredrick Clifford, Madam. At your service.”

She held out her hand, palm down, and he took it gently, and bowed slightly as he motioned to kiss it. He could not help, bending forward, but appreciate the gentle curve of her breasts, barely draped in thin red silk.

“Signorina Maria Cenci,” she replied with a hint of a curtsey. “Charmed to meet you, Sir.”

She motioned him across to the wide sofa, strewn with cushions, and when he sat she took a seat next to him. Her robe fell open at the knee, revealing her slender, pale calf, and Fredrick made an effort not to look too intently.

The door opened again, and the elderly maid entered, carrying a tray, which she set down on the table by the settee.

“Milk and sugar, Mr Clifford?” Signorina Cenci asked.

“Please, yes.”

“Tell me Mr Clifford, she asked, as she poured the tea and the maid withdrew, “how should a gentleman behave towards a lady?”

Fredrick considered for a moment, and then, taking the cup and saucer offered to him, replied: “A gentleman should always be respectful.”

“And why is that important?” she asked. And when Fredrick had no ready answer, she clarified, “Why should a gentleman be respectful to a lady, and not, perhaps, to a tree or stone?”

“Obviously, trees and stones don’t have feelings!”

“So when you say respectful, you mean that you should be aware of the lady’s feelings?”

“Quite so,” Fredrick said, taking another sip of tea and then setting the cup aside. “The male is the stronger sex. It is our duty to protect, both physically and mentally, the frailer gender. It shows us to be civilized human beings, and not savages.”

“And so,” Signorina Cenci asked, “you see that, if a man turns his back on a woman as she enters the room, she might be upset. In which case, the gentlemanly response is to greet her courteously, perhaps?”

“I see your point, Madam,” Fredrick acknowledged, not wanting to argue.

“But is it also gentlemanly,” she teased, “as you bend down to kiss her hand, to stare so intently at her breasts?”

Fredrick blushed, “I am so sorry, Madam, I didn’t intend to.”

She laughed, and stood. “Then shall we try again?”

“Of course, if you wish.”

She left her tea cup on the table, walked to the door, turned, paused, and then returned towards the sofa.

Fredrick stood, stepped forward, and took her hand when she offered it. This time, as he bent and motioned to kiss her hand, he kept his eyes fixed firmly on the floor.

Again Signorina Cenci laughed.

“Mr Clifford,” she smiled, placing her hand on his arm. “Do you really think that if a lady deliberately appears dressed like this – ” she raised her other hand to her neck and let her index finger slowly trace a line along the hem of the robe, down her chest, over the mound of her breast “ – that she does not want to be admired?”

“Really, Madam, I protest,” Fredrick sighed, “You say that I should not stare, and now you say that I should stare. What am I to do?”

“Mr Clifford, you are to be a gentleman. You are to behave with consideration for the lady’s feelings.” Seeing that he was still confused, she continued. “If you stare dumbly at my chest – “ she turned slightly, so that he could fully appreciate the silhouette of her breasts – “I might consider the stare to be aggressive, or I might worry that you are no longer capable of rational thought. You are still capable of thought, Sir?”

He raised his eyes from the curve of her robe, to look her in the eye again. “Yes, of course.”

“But if you ignore me entirely, I might think that I have failed to impress you, or that you consider me ugly. You do not consider me ugly, do you?”

“No! Of course not!”

“Then, Mr Clifford, please, stop trying to guess what the rules are. There is but one rule to being a gentleman. Consideration for the feelings of the other person. And so, consider my feelings, and act accordingly.”

“Very well,” Fredrick acquiesced.

“Then shall we try once more?”

She walked back to the door, and again turned to face him. She paused for a moment. “Are you ready, Sir?”

Fredrick nodded.

She ran her finger down the front of her robe, and deliberately opened the gap at her chest a little further, so that the sides of both breasts were quite bare. “Are you certain?”

Fredrick paused for just a second and then answered confidently: “Yes, Madam.”

Signora Cenci walked across the room, her hips swaying, and held out her hand, palm down.

Fredrick took her hand. As he bowed and raised it towards his mouth, he let his eyes glance over her soft flesh, and at the lowest point of his bow he glanced up to look her in the eye. Then he looked back towards her hand as he stood, and looked her in the eye again, keeping a lingering hold of her hand before releasing her.

“Mr Clifford!” she smiled, “Have you not been taught that it is too forward, even impertinent, to look a lady in the eye as you kiss her hand?”

“Signora Cenci,” he countered, “From the way that you adjusted your gown, I understood that you wanted me to be forward, even impertinent.”

“Bravo!” she clapped her hands three times and smiled. “Please sit, and explain to me your strategy.”

As they both sat down, he on her right, she on his left, he explained. “I trust that you wanted,” he glanced again at the curve of her breast, “to be appreciated, but with discretion. And I gathered that you would not mind a little impertinence. When I first looked up at your eyes, you could have looked away, but you did not. And so I inferred that a little more impertinence might be in order before I released your hand.”

“Perfect, Mr Clifford! You considered my feelings, and acted accordingly. One might almost say, appropriately?”

Fredrick smiled, “Yes, I think that you have proved that point.”

“Which is exactly why you are here,” she explained. She put her right hand behind her on the settee and turned her body towards him. “I am told that you are an intelligent, educated gentleman. But you have been taught to be a gentleman by following a set of rules. And now you find yourself in situations where the rules do not seem to work. Situations for which no rules have been written. Is this so?”

Fredrick nodded, “Increasing so, it seems.”

“And you are particularly unsure how to deal, in certain, unusual situations, with ladies?”

“I understand how to make polite conversation,” he admitted, “but there there are things, I find, that I do not really understand.”

“And that is why you have been sent to me,” Signora Cenci smiled. “Because if you are to be a gentleman in these situations, you will be more confident, yes?”

“I suppose so, yes.”

“And to be a gentleman you need only two things. You need to act with consideration or the other person. And you need to understand what the other person wants. You see?”

“Theoretically, I suppose.”

“At this moment, yes, quite theoretically. Because you do not know enough about what a woman wants, and so you cannot treat her…. appropriately. So we shall give you a basic understanding.”

She looked at him, saying nothing more.

He felt that he was expected to react in some way, but had no idea how.

“Mr Clifford,” she flicked her long hair over her shoulder, and then lowered her hand to her knee, where she parted her robe a little. “You are alone with a woman who has chosen to greet you in a quite indecorous outfit – so indecorous, that she has not even troubled to put on underwear, but instead has nothing between you and her but a single layer of very soft, very thin silk. And now she has sat mere inches from you, turned her body towards you, and is now waiting for you. Can you not imagine a gentlemanly reaction?”

He sat, confused, uncertain.

“To make this simple,” Signora Cenci coaxed, “you have two options. If you are not sure what I want, then you can construct some witty, sensitive line of conversation to draw me into disclosing my desires. Or you can take action, in such a way that my response will tell you more of what I want…. Do you feel able to engage in witty conversations at this moment?”

He shook his head, mutely.

“Then Mr Clifford, take action!”

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