Movement in the room beyond Aggie caught her attention and she tried to peer past the woman.
An impossibility. She filled the doorway like pudding filled a bowl, spilling out sideways toward the door-frame.
As if sensing the attempt to see past her, the woman suddenly shifted, allowing Charlie a glimpse into the lit room beyond. What was revealed to her then was even more shocking than the woman herself. There were anywhere from ten to twelve women beyond, and equally as many men. They were all moving about, laughing and drinking andgood Godthe women were near to nude! They were also of obviously loose morals. What else could one say about a woman who allowed a man to grope about down the front of a see-through gown as if he were looking for a monocle that had popped out and right down her top?
They were most obviously in the wrong place, she assured herself, then gaped at Radcliffe as the woman moved aside and he suddenly made as if to enter.
"Come along, lad. You shall find this edifying." Not leaving her much choice, Radcliffe took her arm and dragged her in with him.
Charlie felt rather like partridge pie at a party. The moment she was propelled into the room, half of the women suddenly swooped upon her. They were all cooing and murmuring sweetly about what a fine young lad she was and how she would grow into a strapping and handsome man. They were also rather free with their hands, running them across her cheeks, over her shoulders, and down her bound chest.
One even pinched her buttocks and commented on what a tight package she came in.
The pinch was the impetus to knock Charlie out of her stunned state.
Turning abruptly, she made for the door, only to have Radcliffe grab her by the collar and draw her up short.
"Relax," he ordered, seemingly vaguely amused by the panicked expression on her face as she made an attempt at escape. He seemed a bit overwhelmed himself, but Charlie hardly noticed. With the women pouncing on her rather like a pack of wolves on a leg of lamb, she was looking for any exit. Radcliffe pointed to an empty couch along the wall, and dragged Charlie over to it. He had barely pushed her into it when one of the women handed him a glass of some drink or other.
Radcliffe immediately handed it to Charlie, then straightened. "Sit here and relax. I wish a word with Aggie."
Before Charlie could protest at being abandoned, Radcliffe was gone and the wolves had closed in. The two younger ones were fastest. Charlie would have placed them as younger than herself had she any interest in guessing.
She did not, though, as they hurried forward and dropped to sit on either side of her on the couch, each clutching at one of her arms and drawing it against their chests. She was frowning and concentrating on keeping her drink from spilling when a third woman dropped to sit in her lap.
"There now," the woman on her lap cooed, wrapping her arms firmly about Charlie's neck. 'I'm thinkin' you and I could be fine friends."
"Yer thinkin' wrong then," the girl on Charlie's right muttered bitterly. "Ye know Aggie likes to keep all the little virgin boys for herself."
"Aggie's a nasty old cow," the woman on her lap snapped irritably, then smiled sweetly at Charlie and cooed. "You'd rather have me than that paunchy old harpy, wouldn't ye? Look what I've got for ye. Aggie doesn't have anything as tasty as these." The woman tugged her almost-see-through top downward with one hand, baring her breasts as she began to exert a gentle but inexorable pressure on the back of Charlie's neck with her other hand.
Charlie stared horrified at the woman's breasts as they drew closer. To her they appeared as two swollen, pale pink orbs bent on suffocating her as they neared her face.
"Yer not the only one around here with something to offer." Before Charlie could be smothered by those massive breasts, she felt the hand of the woman on her left slip between her and the woman on her lap. The hand slid down toward her crotch.
Crying out in dismay, Charlie leapt abruptly to her feet, depositing Miss Bared-Breasts on the floor just as Radcliffe appeared before her.
"Thank God," she gasped, completely forgetting the charade she was playing at and throwing herself against the man's chest. "Get me out of here, Radcliffe.
Radcliffe's first reaction was to wrap his arms protectively around her.
Then, frowning, he pushed her away instead. "Act your age, Charles. They are naught but a bunch of women. Do you not find any of them attractive?"
"Attractive! They are she-wolves." Charlie glared at him coldly. "I want to go home. Now."
Grunting, Radcliffe frowned, his gaze moving to the women in question. He seemed to consider her words, then murmured something about Aggie being right and it being worth a gamble.
Upset as she was, when Radcliffe said "Come along," relief rushed through her.
She followed him out of the room to where the old whore Aggie waited by the stairs with a younger female. They were going to pass up the establishment's more lascivious offerings for some gambling, was her conclusion. She was so relieved by this realization that she followed eagerly when the older woman turned and led her up the stairs. Radcliffe and the other woman followed.
At the top of the stairs, Aggie took a right and led them down a long hallway, then directly into the third room along the hall.
Charlie followed her in and stepped past the waiting woman to peer around the room. A huge bed screamed for attention as she entered. Its covers and drapes were a brilliant bloodied. It looked rather vulgar to Charlie. Other than that there was a chest, a chair, and a wardrobe. There were no tables with men seated playing cards, no baccarat tables, nothing in the way of gambling at all.
The slam of the door behind her drew her head around to see that Radcliffe was no longer with them. She was alone with the old crone who had answered the door.
"Here we are, luvy. Let's get to it then."
Charlie's eyes widened and she took an abrupt step backward, quickly catching the other woman's hands as she reached out to undo her cravat.
"What do you think you are doing?" "Helping ye to undress, son."
"Why on earth would you think to do a thing like that?" she asked shortly, redoing the difficult tie.
The woman's lips quirked in amusement. " 'Tis difficult to do withyer clothes on, lad."
"There is nothing we are like to do that I need remove my clothes for,"
Charlie assured her, stepping stiffly toward the door. She had barely taken a step when Aggie caught her arm and whirled her back around.
"Oh, ye like it like that, do ye? Quick and with yer clothes still on," she murmured insinuatingly, reaching down to cup Charlie at the juncture between her legs.
Gasping in honor, Charlie jumped back from the touch, but that was as far as she got. The woman was still holding her arm.
"My, you are a small one, are ye no'. I did not e'en feel ye," she exclaimed, turning her attention and hands back to removing Charlie's cravat. "Well, 'Tis a handicap that, but not insurmountable. Ol' Aggie'll show ye how to overcome it."
"Overcome it?" Scowling, Charlie tried to push her hands away and refasten her tie.
"Aye. Trust me. The saying is true, 'Tis not the size o' the sail, but the way you handle the jib that decides the ride. Ye feelin' a'right, boy? Yer lookin' peaked all of a sudden."
"Oh, dear Lord!" Whirling, Charlie ran for the door, but before she could open it, she was caught by the arm and dragged backward toward the bed.
"Now, now, lad. No need to panic. Aggie'll be gentle."
"I do not want you to be gentle," she managed, tugging desperately at her arm.
Much to her relief, Aggie stopped at that and turned to arch one eyebrow at her.
"Nay." She shook her head frantically. "I do not __"
"Well, why did ye no' say something? Well, that explains everything. I was starting to worry Ye were actin' so odd." Shaking her head, she moved toward the wardrobe beside the door to riffle through, muttering, "Well, now. Lord Radcliffe, he said ye were inexperienced, but 'tis obvious yer not and ye know what ye wantAll, ha!"
Charlie was still blinking over the first part of her statement when the woman gruntedin satisfaction, withdrew from the wardrobe, and turned toward her, rope in one hand and a long, evil-looking whip in the other.
"There. Now that I ken what ye like, we can get down to business."
Smiling sweetly, she cracked the whip.
Charlie bolted for the door. She had barely taken two steps, however, when the snap of the whip preceded something tangling around her feet and drawing tight.
Crying out, she threw her hands out to break her fall as she stumbled forward onto her stomach.
"Now there's a naughty boy for ye," the hag crooned, catching her by the collar and dragging her back toward the bed. "We'll have to spank that naughtiness out, I think."
Charlie thought not and began to struggle in earnest as the woman sank onto the side of the bed and tried to draw her over her knee. Breaking loose, she turned away, only to be caught about the waist and thrust onto the bed on her back.
Before she could move, the woman had crawled to sit upon her chest.
Snatching up the rope she had tossed onto the bed earlier, the woman quickly tied Charlie down; each wrist to its own bedpost.
"There!" The woman gave a sigh of satisfaction, then blew the hair that had come loose on her forehead out of her face. She eyed Charlie with a bit of exasperation. "Yer a lively one, you are. I'm getting too old fer these games.
I'd best get a huge tip out of this."
When Charlie merely stared at her dumbly, she sighed and leaned to the side.
"Here now." Her smile was sprightly as she straightened again, whip in hand, fondling the grip suggestively. "Is it just the threat o' pain ye like, or will ye be wantin' the real thing?"
"Tell me more about this Aggie. She will be gentle with the boy, will she not?"
The strumpet's hair almost hid the way she rolled her eyes at his question. She was likely frustrated, too. Radcliffe had been fretting over the boy ever since they had entered the room. It was most annoying. He was entirely too preoccupied with that damn boy. She had been cooing and petting him for several moments now and he was not even hard. He couldn't concentrate.
"Aggie will be most gentle, my lord," the woman murmured huskily, raising her eyes to cast him an alluring look as she continued working on the buttons of his shirt. "She has been in the business a long time. She'll break him in proper and with care."
"Aye, of course she will." Radcliffe forced a smile and tried to concentrate on the woman's attentions as she finished with the buttons of his shirt and slid her hands across his chest. Still, it was most difficult. He could not get the boy out of his head. It was rather like an annoying hangnail, irritating and nagging.
Grimacing at his own foolishness, he raised his hands to her shoulders and drew the woman up for a kiss, trying to work up some enthusiasm.
A loud scream brought an end to his efforts, making his head whip toward the wall. There was no mistaking the panic and pain in that shriek as belonging to Charles. Cursing, Radcliffe pushed the woman away from him and hurried for the door.
He was crashing through the door of the room Charles was in before that first shriek ended, but came to an abrupt halt in the doorway at the sight before him.
Charles was staked out and tied down to the bed as if on the rack, his whole body stiff with tenor, his head raised off the bed, his wig somewhat askew, his mouth wide open in a second shriek. That was only half of the picture, however.
The second half, the one that made Radcliffe goggle somewhat, was that the aging Aggie was seated astride the lad's thin chest, with what looked very much like a whip in her hand.
"What the devil is going on here?"
Mouth snapping shut, Charles swiveled his head toward the door, relief swelling across his face when he spied the man standing there. "Radcliffe." That breath of sound was soaked with relief. Pausing, he swallowed to regain his breath somewhat, then roared, "Get this hag off of me!"
Radcliffe was across the room in a trice. "Madam, I suggest you remove yourself, else I shall be forced to do it for you."
Aggie scowled from the lad she sat on to the man looming above them menacingly.
"Is this more game-playing?" she asked uncertainly.
Unable to restrain himself further, Radcliffe lifted her bodily from the lad, then set her away from the bed. She began to protest at once.
"Here now, what're ye doin'? The lad asked fer it! He was wantin' me to do such 'n the like to 'im."
Radcliffe paused to arch one eyebrow at Charles.
"The silly old strumpet misunderstood everything," the boy informed him with apparent disgust. "Hurry up and untie me. I want out of this den of iniquity."
"Oh, no!" the old bawd fluttered behind Radcliffe helplessly. "Now don't be untyin' him, he's a slippery little eel an' it took me forever to be trussin' him up in the first place."
Ignoring her whining complaint, Radcliffe untied Charles, then turned to face the now irate Aggie. She was protesting still, but had added threats to her words, wanting to be paid for this fiasco. The boy had kept her jogging about like a horse at the races, she said, and she was deserving payment for it.
Charles scooted off the bed, sidling around to the bottom of it as Radcliffe faced the old cow and the younger woman who now joined in the complaining.
Silencing the harping women at last, Radcliffe shook his head. "I shall pay you both as soon as I fetch my jacket from the other room," he assured them rather coldly, then started toward the door, the two women hard on his heels.