WARNING: Smutty jokes ahead.

It’s the closing story of 1838 and is this emotion Charlotte sees before her?

Missed Charlotte’s previous adventures? See the Weekly Serial page for the complete list.

After four days of patient waiting for Bran my well of patience ran dry.

It was a week later when I came back to the house one night to find Bran’s hat and coat were on the stand near the door. I strode down the hallway, picking up the ugliest horseman statuette to ever grace the world from the table by the stairs as I passed.

There Bran was in the library sitting in his favourite heavy armchair by the fire, the recent beard growth the only sign he’d been away. At the sight of me he looked like a rabbit caught in the glare of a predator.

‘Two weeks, you said.’ I flung the statuette in his general direction.

It missed him by a good few feet, not that I’d meant to hit him.

I picked up another ornament, some sort of glass globe, from the nearest bookcase. ‘It’s been four.’ It smashed some distance from the chair. ‘Where’d you learn to count?’

I grabbed another ornament. Bran caught my wrist before I could fling it. We stared at each other.

‘I was worried.’ I pulled him down into a fierce kiss.

He kissed me back as ferociously. I dropped the figurine and it shattered against the floor, they should really make those things more durable. Bran picked me up and my back smacked into one of the bookcases.

They were durable.


‘That wasn’t too rough, was it?’ Bran asked suddenly.

I stirred from my doze, still curled up beside him with my head on his stomach and my arm across his waist. ‘It was lovely,’ I murmured, but after I said it that didn’t seem like the right thing, even my brain didn’t engage immediately.

Bran stroked my hair but I was too wide awake to go back to sleep. I pondered asking what had kept him away so long but that would make him evasive and I was too tired for verbal ballet. Sleepless nights were catching up with me.

‘What’re you thinking?’ he asked.

‘I was wondering if you fancied a suck while I was down here,’ I said quietly.

‘No, thank you,’ he said as if I’d offered him sugar for his tea.

I shook with suppressed laughter.

‘What’s funny?’

‘Nothing.’ I caressed a scar beneath his ribs with my thumb. ‘Probably just as well, I might choke on that.’


‘I said you have a big cock.’

There was silence as he considered his response.

‘For the sake of argument,’ I said and lifted my head to rest my chin on the back of my hand, ‘ignore that I disagree with your self-assessment. Hypothetically, if God did maybe he’d go: “Poor bastard, he’s not got much going for him, I’d better compensate him and give him a big cock.”’ I smiled. ‘Of course, size is all well and good but it’s no use if you don’t know what to do with it.’ I kissed his stomach. ‘And you certainly do.’

He was silent but I could feel the cogs in his brain turning as he worked out how to tell me I was mistaken, as if I hadn’t seen enough to make an educated, if irrelevant, observation.

I grinned. ‘If a woman gives you a compliment, Bran, don’t argue with her.’

‘Nobody’s ever been so nice to me as you,’ he said.

I considered him. Despite paying me to be his mistress Bran didn’t see sweet words or consideration as a necessity but ‘mistress’ was a profession, a contract, even if unspoken. The principle of being a mistress suggested not simply sex but companionship, besides all Bran desired was to be made to feel wanted, it wasn’t much for two hundred guineas a week. There must’ve been something missing from my reckoning, surely no-one would be so foolish as to sabotage their own income.

‘Poor, chuckaboo.’ I murmured and shifted to kiss him softly then settled against him.

He put his arms around me and pressed his face against the top of my head. I had a sense that he might cry, though I couldn’t say why and he didn’t. I caressed his chest near my chin and let him hold me, it wasn’t as if it took much effort on my part.

‘What happened to the others?’ I asked.

‘They left,’ he said.

There was a grim notion that they took his money, weren’t particularly nice to him then left. Very poor business acumen, I thought, but it was grimmer still that he let them treat him like that to begin with, or that he chose people who would treat him like that at all.

I was beginning to suspect I felt sorry for him, it was hard to say, the sensation was so unfamiliar. Unsure what to do I sat up, straddled him and kissed him deeply. That was usually a good answer.

Suddenly I was on my back.

‘That wasn’t too forceful?’ he asked, as if we hadn’t been smacking into the furniture not so long ago.

I shook my head and ran my hands over his scarred back.

‘I’m sorry I was away so long,’ he said. ‘I didn’t want to be.’

‘I know.’ I would have to wait for him to tell me why or find out myself, probably the latter.

He kissed me softly then lay down between my legs with his head on my stomach. It wasn’t the most comfortable position but it couldn’t have been entirely comfortable putting his head against my corsetry, it wasn’t something that came off quickly in the heat of passion, unless ripped off. There’s only so many corsets that can be reasonably ripped off.

‘I missed you so much,’ he murmured.

Once again doubting the thoroughness of my emotional lexicon I simply played my fingers through his hair until he fell asleep. Then it occurred to me that my attempt to be nice had got me stuck until he moved or woke up.

Being his mistress wasn’t as simple as I’d expected.

For more short fiction try my Short Story archive or Weekly Serial page.

Next week 1839 begins with the return of Father Brennan.

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