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Authors: Cleo Cordell

The Captive Flesh

BOOK: The Captive Flesh
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Contents

Cover

Also by Cleo Cordell

Title Page

Introduction

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Copyright

By the same author:

Juliet Rising

Velvet Claws

The Crimson Buccaneer

Opal Darkness

Path of the Tiger

The Senses Bejewelled

Introduction

When I wrote
The Captive Flesh
back in 1993 you would have been hard pressed to find any erotic fiction written by women. Apart from a couple of literary luminaries such as Anaïs Nin, the overwhelming majority of erotica available was produced – and published – by men, albeit with female pen names. Black Lace books changed all that. These were books written by people who knew what female sexuality was all about – women themselves. Women who knew what they wanted and what turned them on. Women have always known that good sex can be down and dirty, risky and exciting, satisfying and loving – and a lot more besides.

The Captive Flesh
was one of the first books published under the Black Lace imprint. It was an exciting time to be writing erotica, and I had a strong sense of being a pioneer in the genre. The language of women's erotica was newborn and this book was a journey for me as well as my characters. I chose the harem setting for the story because I wanted a place of opulence and pleasure, where my characters could explore their sensual sides to the full. Here, there would be no distractions. The commonplace and the everyday would not intrude. I wanted to explore the many shades and levels of sexual experience and interaction between the sexes. As the characters came alive for me I found the tension between master and slave to be complex and exciting, and about far more than dominance and submission.

The Captive Flesh
is a novel fuelled by sexual fantasies – those of my own and of the many women I spoke to while writing it. It is sumptuous, highly charged and yet tender. My intention was, and is, for the readers to lose themselves in the imaginary sheltered world, where Marietta and Claudine discover unparalleled pleasures.

I hope you enjoy it.

Cleo Cordell, January 2002

1

Marietta clung to Claudine in the darkness. The deck of the Spanish trading ship, their rescuer, pitched under their feet, slippery and treacherous.

Exhausted and half frozen, Marietta watched sadly as the little ship which had been speeding her home-wards from Nantes, sank without trace under the heaving waters of the Bay of Biscay. The storm raged still. The rescue ship seemed small and fragile, surrounded as it was by the roiling waves. She was shivering so much that she could barely stand.

‘Where is Sister Anna?' Claudine said. ‘I cannot see her with the others.'

Marietta shuddered, remembering how she had seen the nun swept overboard. ‘She is gone. Drowned I fear, poor thing. We are alone now. Come, we must go below. Find shelter.'

Together they fought their way forwards. The sailors paid them no attention, intent on helping the other passengers. Marietta felt a strong hand take hold of her arm. Above the crashing of wind and waves, came a deep voice close to her ear.

‘Come with me. You may have the use of my cabin. The hold will be crammed to bursting with people and baggage. Young ladies of breeding have need of their privacy.'

She stammered her heartfelt thanks. Claudine was beyond speech. Her face was white, her lips blue with cold. Marietta leaned on the stranger's arm as he
half-carried, half-dragged them both below deck and along a narrow corridor.

‘Best to strip those wet clothes off before you take a chill,' he said, throwing Marietta two large towels. ‘There are dry clothes in that trunk. I'll leave you to change. My help is needed on deck. Make yourself comfortable. Use whatever you wish.'

‘Thank you. You are very kind. May I ask your name—' Marietta began.

But he had gone. The door slammed shut behind him.

Gratefully she stripped off her sodden dress, bustle and petticoats, then rubbed her limbs until they glowed. Claudine wrapped herself in a towel and did the same. They sat side by side on the narrow bunk. Both were subdued by the loss of their chaperone. Marietta spoke a silent prayer for the soul of Sister Anna but she could not help feeling a sense of relief.

‘I'm glad she's gone. The cold fish!' Claudine said suddenly.

Marietta looked at her friend in shocked amazement. Then suddenly they both began to laugh. Sister Anna had been a stern and humourless woman with repressed sexual hungers. Marietta remembered all the times the nun had ill-treated her. Even now the thought of what she'd made her do brought a blush to her cheeks. She had told no one of these encounters. Not even Claudine.

Claudine apparently, hated Sister Anna for her own private reasons.

‘Is there … any brandy?' Claudine said now, her teeth chattering. She was sitting swathed in the towel, her long red hair hung in tangles over her creamy bare shoulders.

Marietta looked around for any alcohol. The cabin
was large and luxurious and a charcoal brazier gave out warmth. An oil lamp, swinging violently from the ceiling, cast a reddish glow and lent the wood panelling a polished depth. There was no brandy, but she found a pot of water and coffee.

‘Our rescuer is no drinker,' she said, ‘but he must be a cultured man. Rich too.' She spooned ground coffee beans into a long-handled pot, added water, and set it over the brazier. ‘There is fresh fruit on the table and that bowl is gold. And look at these embroidered silk bed hangings.'

Claudine sank to her knees and opened a trunk. ‘He was well spoken, with a charming accent. Is he a merchant do you think? Perhaps he is the owner of this vessel. As to his wealth, I think you are right. Look.'

She delved into the chest and scooped up armful after armful of rich and exotic clothes. There were pastel-coloured silks, velvets, gauze veils, figured brocades. She smiled, cheered as she always was by the sight of beauty or luxury. Marietta recalled that there had been precious little of either for the two of them in the past six years.

Marietta grinned. ‘What clothes are these? Theatre costumes surely.'

‘Does it matter? He said we could make use of anything we found in the trunk. And we need dry clothes.'

Claudine pulled out a silken tunic of pale yellow, a deeper yellow skirt, and an embroidered and jewelled sash. She pulled the tunic over her head, then wriggled out from the towel, keeping her bare back turned to the cabin wall. While she dressed she kept her eyelids lowered.

Marietta was surprised by her modesty. Claudine had no need to be ashamed of her lovely body. They
had been friends since childhood and had seen each other naked many times. They were alone now, but Marietta supposed that convent habits died hard.

Claudine dug back into the chest. ‘Let me choose for you. Ah, yes. Plum-coloured velvet, a wide-necked silk tunic and loose full trousers, gathered in at the ankle. How daring! Wear these, do. The colour contrasts so well with your pale colouring and light hair. There is jewellery here too.'

Her enthusiasm was infectious. Marietta laughed at Claudine's childlike delight and pulled on the outfit, feeling strange without her usual layers of petticoats and the bustle pad on her hips. The silk felt cool and exciting against her bare breasts. There was a looking-glass in the cabin and the two young women admired their reflections, revelling in the lovely fabrics and the way their limbs gleamed through the thin silk. They giggled, twirling so that the fine silk billowed out like fairy wings, thinking how shocked the sisters at the convent would have been if they could have seen them.

Soon the smell of coffee filled the cabin. They had hardly finished dressing and were sipping coffee from shallow dishes when their rescuer returned. There had not been time for Marietta to study him earlier. Now she saw that he was tall and dark, with pale skin and a strong-featured, angular, face.

He smiled. ‘You are recovered, I see. Good. And you have made coffee. I shall join you if I may; I am in need of the warmth.'

‘Please do, Mr …?' Marietta said.

‘You may call me Kasim. And you are …?'

‘Marietta de Nerval, and this is my dearest friend and companion, Claudine Dupont.'

‘Ah, you are French,' he said knowingly.

‘Creole to be exact,' she said, smiling. ‘We are indebted to you, Mr … Kasim. This cabin is very comfortable. I hope you do not mind, but we borrowed these clothes from your trunk.'

He waved a hand. ‘I meant you to. I wish you to keep them. They were bought as gifts for … for my family. But the colours might have been chosen for you. You both have such unusual colouring. Claudine with her golden skin and red-gold hair. And yourself, so pale, with silver-blonde hair and blue eyes. What a feast for any painter, indeed for any connoisseur of the arts.' He spread his hands and smiled disarmingly. ‘Now, I insist that you keep these things. How could anyone else do such justice to them?'

‘Thank you,
monsieur
. Most of our clothes were lost in the storm. You are most kind.' Claudine smiled fetchingly, showing her dimples.

Kasim sipped his coffee. ‘I am always kind to beautiful women. Especially young ladies in distress. Oh, dear. There I go again. I'm sure you must think me very bold.'

His well-shaped mouth curved in a smile, but his dark eyes on Marietta were intense. She felt a delicious little shiver snake up her back; he really was most attractive.

‘Perhaps not bold but a little … too honest?' she countered.

He laughed. ‘Yes, I am that. Truthful to a fault, always.'

There was something languid, though not soft, in his refined features. The light of a keen intelligence was written clearly on his pale, broad brow. Marietta knew instinctively that this was a man who could be dangerous. She found the fact at once disquieting and compelling.

‘We are not exactly in distress now,
monsieur
,' Claudine said with spirit, breaking into her thoughts.

‘No? But is it not true that you lost your companion in the storm and are unaccompanied?'

‘Yes—'

Then I insist that you allow me to oversee your welfare. I have a large house in Algiers close to the port where we are bound. It will give me great pleasure if you would consent to be my guests until passage home can be organised for you. I can arrange for a message to be dispatched to any relatives who may be worrying about you.'

Marietta looked at Claudine. Her friend had her hand to her mouth. Her lovely light-brown eyes were as round as saucers. She gave a slight nod. Marietta responded eagerly. It was wrong, she knew. They should not accept the invitation. But who was to know? Sister Anna was no more and where else would they stay while they awaited the arrival of a suitable ship to carry them home? Far better to stay with Kasim than to have to comb the unknown town for a suitable boarding house.

‘Thank you,
monsieur
,' Marietta said, speaking for them both. ‘We shall be delighted to accept your kind invitation.' Kasim finished his coffee and lifted one dark eyebrow. ‘So, you are travelling to Martinique, you say? You have families there?'

Marietta nodded, thinking of the large white house at Pointe Royale. ‘My father has sugar plantations there. Claudine lives with my family. We are travelling back from the convent at Nantes, where we have been completing our education.'

‘Ah, I have heard of this place,' Kasim said. ‘A finishing
school for young ladies, is it not? And of a somewhat severe regime?'

Marietta blushed. He could not know how severe, surely. Could he?

BOOK: The Captive Flesh
7.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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