In 1890s London, young Simone Baden is left with responsibility of her two brothers. Being a woman of color with very little experience, she cannot provide for them through honest means and is soon desperate. From the women at the boarding house, she hears of a brothel that caters to the unusual—supernaturals. With the ache of hunger growing in her brothers’ bellies and the threat of eviction looming, she has no choice but to barter her body and freedom. Eravas Lilu is an ancient spirit of desire who excels at what he does—teaching the arts of pleasure to women—but Simone is different. With a male and female helper, decadent instruction follows to mold his charge into Magdalene. Enthralled by her inner beauty, he finds himself at a crossroads. Shall he let her new profession take her soul, or give up his own in exchange for hers…?
Moments passed. She didn’t know what he was thinking. His expression remained hard. Since Eravas had shown her pleasure, her body craved for more, and more.
“I cannot allow you to disobey my instructions without consequences.” As he lifted his gaze to hers, he loosened his cravat and collar. He slipped off his jacket and removed a razor strop from his pocket. The leather strip gleamed in the light of the fire.
Pain seemed an unavoidable part of her life. She wouldn’t cry. No matter the sting of his punishment. She’d earned the consequence she now faced.
He unbuttoned his shirt and pushed aside his braces. A light dusting of dark hair surrounded his nipples and lined the lean ridge of his abdomen. A man’s body had never held as much marvel as his.
“Given my failure as your instructor to garner your obedience and respect, there must be a penalty.” He removed the fabric, revealing defined muscular arms and flawless skin. He walked past her, tossed the razor strop to her lap, and stopped at the post of her bed. Between his shoulder blades were two deep craters of scarred flesh.
“Five lashings at your hand, Magdalene.”
“No, I cannot.” There was no way he could expect this of her. She wasn’t capable of such an act. As her father’s wife had whipped her, she promised never to inflict the same on another.
“And that is why you must,” he shouted. “By doing so you’ll never dare disobey me after this.”
“I’m sorry.” Tears formed in her eyes. “I won’t do it again.” He couldn’t ask this of her. “I’ll take a hundred to spare you one,” she said. “Please, I beg your mercy.”
“I cannot give you what even God failed to give me.” He lifted her from the bed and placed the metal end of the strop in her hand. “Five, and each must count, or you will start again. The pain you shall feel whipping me is what I suffer for you breaching my request.”
The leather felt warm against her fingers. Her hands trembled.
“If you do not do as I have asked, you shall force a far greater pain on me.” He leaned his head to the post.