historical erotica

Taken By The Tribe

When I was growing up I always felt that life should be an adventure, that there was always something more to living, something more to see, a wider world. Well, turns out I was right, but I couldn’t possibly have guessed how things would turn out. Sometimes life can sneak up on and surprise you, and it sure did with me!

My name is Hannah, or at least it used to be. I moved out to Kansas with my pa when I was a little girl. I don’t remember my ma, sadly, though I have a locket with her picture in it and pa always said she was a high-spirited, adventurous kind of woman. I like that. And I like to think that she might be happy at the way I’ve ended up.

My pa started a farm and I helped him as well as I could. I really wanted to go to school, but pa didn’t believe in anything like that, especially not for a girl, so I spent all my time on the farm. It wasn’t a bad life, much better than our lives would have been in the city, so my pa said, but still, I was bored. All the talk was farm talk or Indian talk and I soon got bored of all that. I knew that I wanted more from life and that when I got the chance, I was going to take it.

Sadly, my poor pa passed away suddenly with a fever when I was just fourteen and so I had to go and live with my uncle. He was a farmer too, and a big whisky drinker, but he was civil to me, though he liked to pretend to be all tough. Still, he wasn’t a kind man, and there was no warmth or companionship on my uncle’s farm. I had to do all the cooking and cleaning and some days he barely said two words to me. He wasn’t being disrespectful, it was just his way.

It was awfully lonely on that farm. I was getting to be the age when a girl is supposed to think about marrying, but I couldn’t ever see how that was going to happen, because I never saw anybody except my uncle from one day to the next. Well, not counting Billy.

Billy was a sweet boy, a little older than me, who used to help out around the farm sometimes. My uncle treated him pretty rough and paid him next to nothing, but I kind of took a shine to Billy. I wasn’t in love with him or anything, and even if I had been, he was totally unsuitable as a husband, but still, I did used to watch him from my bedroom window. Some days, Billy took his shirt off when he worked. At first I thought it was disgusting and immodest, but even so, I couldn’t stop looking at him. The sight of his young, fit body, glistening with sweat in the afternoon heat used to have a strange effect me. And, though I blush to recall it, there was more than one time while watching him that I hitched up my dress and slid my fingers between my legs and touched myself, making myself a little wet. I used to pray for forgiveness afterwards, and swear I would never do it again, but sure enough, the next time I heard Billy scratching and digging in the yard, I couldn’t help wandering to the window.

One day, I heard my uncle’s footsteps on the landing outside my room just as I was settling down to watch Billy. I hastily rearranged my underclothes and jumped down from the window.

“Hannah, I got to go into town.”

“Oh can I come!”

“No, I got to take care of business.”

“Oh.”

I didn’t try to hide my disappointment. Even though whenever we headed into town, my uncle never left my side, it was still a wonderful break from the monotony of farm life. There were so many people, so many shops, so much noise and color.

“I won’t be gone more than an hour. Besides, you got Billy here.”

“Yes uncle.” I brightened up a little at the thought of Billy.

“Right. Well, just don’t do anything foolish, okay.”

“I won’t uncle,” I sighed.

I could see the reluctance in his expression. He didn’t want to leave me. But really, I remember thinking, what on earth did he think would happen?

I watched his cart trot out of the front gate, and then I settled down to watch Billy in the yard. His shirt was off as it was a baking hot day and I bit my lip as I slid the tip of my finger across my pussy. The sight of Billy bent over, working, his muscles bulging was making me feel all tingly, and as I find my sweet spot I gave a little moan. At that moment, Billy looked up.

I ducked down, trembling with shame. What if he had seen me? How would I explain what I was doing? Oh what if he came into the room?

After a few seconds, I risked a peak out of the window. But Billy wasn’t looking up at my room, he was staring out, beyond the farm, towards the low hills in the distance, shielding his eyes as though straining to see something in particular. It was then that I heard a faint noise. It was barely audible, but insistent, a sort of distant hollering or whooping. There was a rumble of thunder, too, like the kind of sound you get used to hearing in the late summer heat when hurricane season is on the way. But this was no hurricane.

All at once I put the two noises together in my mind and I realized that what I was listening to had nothing to do with the skies. It was the thunder of horse hooves. And that hollering could only mean one thing. Indians!

Just then, Billy seemed to recognize it too because he dropped his spade and ran. He ran clean across the yard to where his horse Sally was tied. I watched him unwind the reins in a blind panic, hitch himself up onto Sally’s back and kick hard at her flanks, spurring her out of the farm, through the same gate where my uncle had passed and away.

He had left me all alone! The hooves were rattling hard now and the hollering was louder than ever, but I was rooted to the spot. Where could I go? What had my pa always said to do if the Sioux attacked? I couldn’t remember and cursed myself that I had not paid more attention whenever the subject of the Sioux came up. I had never even seen a Sioux, except in newspapers and books and I was sure my pa was exaggerating. I was just about ready to start hollering and crying for help, when I remembered. My pa always said that if the Sioux came and there were no men folk about, I should hide under my bed.

I scrambled on my knees across the wooden floor and into the cramped space beneath my bed and lay as still as I possibly could, listening.

I heard horses galloping around outside, and the shouting and hollering was so loud that it made me tremble. I hoped and prayed that they would just ride around and then leave. I didn’t even know how many of them were out there. What if it was a whole tribe? What if they decided to burn the farm house with me inside?

I waited and waited, and just when I thought they might have left, I heard the unmistakable creaking of the front door to our farmhouse. I tensed up, desperate not to make a sound and give myself away. I heard them creeping through the building, and I knew exactly where they were because of the precise sounds of the floorboards and the doors, which I knew so well. They spent time in the kitchen, then they explored the dining room, and the cellar, and then, to my horror, I heard footsteps on the stairs.

The footsteps drew closer and closer. I heard them head to the room next door, where my uncle slept, but they didn’t spend long in there. I dared not even breathe for fear. I prayed and prayed that they wouldn’t open my bedroom door, but my prayers were not answered because soon I heard the handle turn and the door opened.

I froze, remaining as still as I could as I listened to them walking around. I couldn’t tell how many of them were in my bedroom, but I heard someone opening my wardrobe and someone pulling at the drawers of my bedside table. Their voices were low, and I couldn’t catch any of the words they used, but it seemed that they hadn’t found anything and were leaving. I heard footsteps on the stairs. They hadn’t found me.

Suddenly, a face appeared at the opening between the bed and the floor and I screamed. A hand soon followed, and another and I was being grabbed at the wrist and the ankle. I felt myself being dragged across the floor and I struggled, trying to grab onto anything I could, but it was no use. They were too strong and soon they had pulled me free of my hiding place.

Out in the open I tried to scramble away, but that didn’t work either. There were four of them in my room, surrounding me. As I tried to scrabble to safety on my hands and knees, I felt my ankles being held down. I yelped and tried to scream, but a sweaty, dirty hand was soon pressed against my mouth and as I tried to yell I could feel another of them pulling my wrists behind me. Rope was being fastened about my legs and arms and I felt my shoulders ache as they pulled my arms behind me, and hitched up my legs at the same time. I was completely stuck, trussed up like a hog. A thick leather strap was forced between my teeth and tied tight behind my head.

I wriggled and squirmed, but I couldn’t move. I was totally helpless. As I struggled, two of them picked me up and I felt the disorientating sensation of the room shifting and the walls sliding as I was lifted through the air, out of my room and down the stairs.

Outside, they carried me to a team of waiting horses and I was thrown across the horse’s back. Again I tried to struggle free but it was no good. They lashed me to the saddle and then I felt one of the braves climb up onto the horse. A second later, we were riding, away from my farm, away from safety. I screamed and screamed into my leather gag but I made no sound and my efforts were anyway drowned out by the whooping and hollering all around me.

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The Queen’s Concubine

I couldn’t tell how long I had been in that filthy dungeon. I had drifted in and out of sleep a few times, but every time I woke up I was greeted with the same dismal, damp surroundings. My ragged floor-length dress didn’t keep me warm and the iron manacles at my wrists and ankles were making my skin sore.

I was the only prisoner in that cell, and the loneliness added to my despair. I was locked deep underneath the Queen’s castle, with no food or water. I was cold, hungry and hopeless and every so often I heard a blood-curdling scream that made me tremble.

Suddenly, I heard footsteps in the corridor outside and I froze. There was the sound of a key turning in the lock. Instinctively, I huddled back into my corner of the dungeon. The heavy stone door opened slowly. Two of the Queen’s accursed guards came in and stood either side of the doorway. They were followed by a haughty-looking woman in a long red robe. She wore elaborate make-up and her hair was tied up tight atop her head.

”Is this the peasant girl?”

”Yes ma’am.”

She looked at me and sniffed.

“Scrawny little thing isn’t she. Still, the Queen’s appetite is insatiable these days. Take her upstairs. My servants will prepare her.”

As the guards drew close to me, I hunched up and tried to back away further into my corner. When would my nightmare end?

*  *  *  *

My name is Alina. I was born to a simple family in a small village on the edge of our nation. The village is a long way from the capital and close to the border with Slizea. A long time ago, the Slizeans had a great empire, built through kidnapping and enslaving people from the neighboring territories, including our village.

My parents taught me that the Slizeans were cruel, immoral people, who cared nothing for right and wrong, and only understood violence and desire. They told me terrible stories of what happened to young girls from our village when the Slizeans attacked. Many of our girls were taken, captured, dragged back to the castles and palaces of the Slizeans and never seen or heard from again. My parents taught me that if the alarm sounded to signal a Slizean attack, I was to drop everything, not to look back and to run into the forest outside the village, there to hide until the danger was past.

Yet none of these raids had happened in my lifetime. Our village was kept safe by patrols sent by our king to guard the borderlands. Those of us who had never seen a Slizean raid began to doubt that they had ever happened, or at least, suspected that the elders were exaggerating about how terrible they were.

But in my twentieth year, things changed. A new ruler came to the throne in Slizea, a Queen known only as the Dark One. She was reputed to be the most terrible, evil and insatiable ruler that Slizea had ever known. Her armies soon began to attack our lands, and gradually, the patrols that protected our village became less and less frequent.

I still wasn’t worried. It all seemed so far away, the war and the Dark One. My parents and their neighbors sat around the fire at night frightening one another with stories of the Slizeans, but I ignored it. I thought they were being foolish. I was young, free and happy.

One day, I was carrying a pail of milk from the village milking shed to our hut when I heard a distant horn sounding. At first I wasn’t sure what it was, but then I heard screaming and saw villagers starting to run. One of them shouted that the Slizeans were coming.

Dropping my pail, I turned and started to run. But I wasn’t quick enough. I had barely reached the open grassland behind our village, when I heard the thunder of hooves. Over my shoulder I caught a glimpse of black riders and huge horses. As I tried to run, I felt something wrap around my legs and tighten, causing me to sprawl onto the ground.

I struggled desperately, shaking my whole body, but I couldn’t escape. Two black-armourer soldiers had dismounted and were turning me over, tying rough, tight rope around my wrists, pulling on the rope so hard that I screamed out. I tried to shout for help, but they laughed at me, and dragged me along the ground. Eventually, I was lifted up and thrown onto the back of a horse. Lashed to the saddle, they galloped back through the village. I saw houses and people and other soldiers as we sped by, but it was so disorientating that I closed my eyes.

When I opened them again, we had stopped. Two more soldiers lifted me off the horse and dragged me to a wooden cage on the back of a cart. I was lifted up and thrown inside, along with three other girls from my village. They were all too frightened to speak, but we all hugged one another, with tears in our eyes as the cart began to roll away, rumbling out of our village and across the border, heading into the black heart of Slizea.

*  *  *  *

I was grateful to be free of the manacles but I was weak and stumbled more than once as I was led up a flight of stone steps to the upper levels of the castle. A door was opened onto a room with straw on the floor and a roaring fire. On the fire was a black cauldron full of something boiling and in the centre of the room was a giant bowl made of polished white stone. Two servant girls, with long blonde hair and delicate white gowns were busy with the cauldron, but stopped what they were doing to stare at me.

“What is that?” I muttered, pointing at the bath in fear.

The courtier shook her head.

“You peasants are disgusting. That is a bath.”

She clapped her hands and the servants hurried over.

“See to it that she is clean and presentable for her majesty. You have one hour.”

With that, the courtier turned on her heels and left me alone with the servant girls. They both smiled at me. They were tall and clean-skinned and seemed to be well-practiced in dealing with village girls. The first servant led me to the white bowl and told me to climb into it, which I did, with some help. I watched the other girl take water from the cauldron and mix it with water from a pail into a second bucket.

Distracted, I didn’t notice what the second servant girl was doing, until I felt a tugging at the waist of my dress. Before I could react, she had unfastened it and the dress was slipping off my shoulders. I tried to hold it on, but it was too late. The dress fell away, and she pulled it clear of me. I was standing naked in the room, feeling the combination of cold air and the heat from the fire bathing my skin. I tried to cover my nakedness, but the servant girls didn’t seem to notice it. The first one brought the bucket of water over and then they both began to bathe me, tipping one bucket of water after another over me. Between each dousing, they rubbed fine-smelling oils and potions against my body. At first I recoiled in shame at their touch, but they continued with their work and I got used to it. It reminded me of how my mother used to bathe me, in the bucket we shared with our neighbors.

When they had finished with the bathing, I climbed out of the bath and they gave me a soft cloth to dry myself. Then they handed me my new clothes, which was nothing more than a single black leather tunic. As the first servant girl pulled the cord at the front of it tight, pressing my breasts together, I breathed in sharply. The tunic was so short, it barely reached halfway down my thigh. Worse still, there were no other garments. I was completely naked underneath it. It was awful! It was immoral! I couldn’t wear something like that!

“I can’t wear this!” I protested.

“It is her majesty’s preference,” said the first servant girl, smiling.

“What…what will she do to me?”

The second servant girl giggled.

“You will find out.”

“Beware her kiss,” said the other girl.

I did not have time to ask what she meant, because just then the door opened and the courtier reappeared. She looked me up and down, then nodded.

“Good. Follow me,” she said.

I was escorted out of the room, feeling the cold air against my legs, against my half-exposed breasts, and between my thighs. I felt so ashamed. That strangers were able to gawp and gaze at my body was a great disgrace.

But I didn’t have time to dwell on it. I was led up another flight of stairs to a high wooden door, watched over by two more black-armored soldiers.

“We have brought her Majesty’s prize,” said the courtier. One of the guards leered at me and opened the door. The courtier nodded at me to enter. I took a few, cautious steps forward and then heard the heavy wooden door slam closed behind me.

The room was huge and warmed by an enormous roaring fire set in one wall. The floor was covered in deep, luxurious rugs. Off to one side was a table piled with plates of food, upon which my gaze lingered, longingly. And dominating the centre of the room was a large, imposing bed, covered in red silk sheets, upon which reclined the Queen of Slizea.

She said nothing for a moment or two, looking at me with her head tilted to one side, until finally, she spoke, her voice ringing loudly in that room.

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Underground Submission: A Historical Interracial Menage

It was one of those storms that made the floorboards creak in sympathy for the roof and the windows, straining to hold the framework of the house upright against the gales of wind and torrents of rain that pummeled it mercilessly.

“Annemarie?”

I look up from where I’m trying to patch a hole in my husband’s breeches by the flickering candlelight of a tired flame, and see the culprit himself, young, clean shaven, and handsome, come into the room. He drapes one of the many blankets I’ve crocheted over my shoulders, planting a kiss on my head as he does so.

“Are you all right in here all by yourself? You should come to bed soon.”

I feel the usual flicker of annoyance that he gives me whenever he tries to be concerned and attentive; I am the oldest of five, all girls, and am accustomed to giving the orders and recommendations more than taking them. My mother warned me that this could make my marriage hazardous and unpleasant if I didn’t learn to curb my impulses, but indeed, that’s why I’ve come out here in the first place—to get away from my handsome, wealthy husband who annoys me so frequently with his idle chatter and unsatisfying attempts to care for me. If you really want to help, I want to tell him, you could offer to help me with the household chores once in a while, or take an interest in the house accounts. But these feel like impulsive things to say, the way they rise up inside me and press against the inside of my lips, so instead I say nothing at all. Of course, I know there’s another reason he wants me to come to bed early.

The wedding was a beautiful spectacle, as we rural Ohioans are wont to have. My family, ecstatic that not only was their oldest daughter marrying but marrying well, drank deeply, while George’s family sipped from fluted glasses and looked at my figure, swaying tipsily beneath the layers of white, to reassure themselves that if their son hadn’t married the richest he could, he had, at the very least, married the most beautifully.

My mother did my hair, long and startlingly black, herself, painstakingly organizing the wild curls and swooping it up and around my head like a nest of interconnected crowns. My eyes blazed an eerie blue against my pale, creamy skin, and the effect truly was mesmerizing on our guests; I thought George was going to fall over when I entered the little church and turned at the top of the aisle to begin my walk toward him. Only his little brother seemed unimpressed, already married to an elegant blonde woman whose bright brown eyes followed me curiously long after I’d passed their pew on my walk to the altar. They live just down the street from us now, Mary and Johnathon. The brothers run a successful general store in the middle of our small town, Mt. Vernon, and Mary and I are still settling into co-managing the store when our husbands aren’t there—I’m not used to deferring to another woman (besides my own mother).

The fire crackles on our hearth as I lose myself in these moody thoughts, wrapping the light-blue blanket around my thin figure. I am tired, and I do want to get out of this uncomfortable dress with all its petticoats and heavy layers. I flick my slippers off and play with the material absentmindedly as George sits own in the rocking chair opposite me with a barely audible sigh. I repress my own; maybe if he was half as proactive in bed as he was about trying to get me in it, I would be more eager to go. I upheld the expectation on my end—I was, technically, a virgin on our wedding night. But like any other arrangement, the success of our marriage lies in the technicalities, and my mother has also told me to let him take the lead between the sheets.

“Yes, he chose you, but you also chose him,” she told me sternly the first afternoon we took our afternoon tea together both as married women. “Now you need to either make do with who you have or find another outlet.”

I’d raised my eyebrows at her, shocked. “Mother…”

She’d waved her hand, her still-beautiful face open and warm with honesty for me, her favorite daughter. “Sweetheart, times may change, but some things never do. The world will tell you that there are expectations and boundaries that you must conform to, but really all anyone expects is appearances. Never forget that.” She’d paused and I’d interjected, sarcastically, “So you’re advising me to keep an underground railroad of husbands, per say?” Her eyes flashed green-blue the way they do when she gets passionate about something. “I’m advising you to always remember that women have always relied on an underground community of support to get through a life dictated by men.”

“AnnMARIE.”

I jerk out of my reverie; I have no idea how long George has been trying to get my attention.

“Sorry, dear, what is it?”

“I’m going to bed.” His tone is sulky and irritated, and I rise with him as he goes to leave the room, which takes him by surprise.

“Would you mind helping me out of my dress?” I drop my voice into a low, sexy purr while keeping my eyes cast down demurely. I feel him go rigid beside me with excitement, and allow him to tow me eagerly towards our bedroom with the enormous master bed, and fret and worry at the knots that keep my dress tightly fastened to me until I finally pretend that I can’t wait to have him, I must have him now, and I allow him to take me up my voluminous skirt, lying back on the bed in my clothes like our passion is enough to burn the clothes right off my body. Idly, I wonder what it feels like for him as he’s thrusting in and out of me with an unchanging speed and intensity. He finishes in a predictable burst that makes my breath catch, and then it’s over, and I call our maid to help release me from the dress my husband has made a prison with his fumbling fingers.

Her own dark fingers are deft and clever, loosening the knots within moments, which allows me to take large, expansive breaths of air for the first time since she laced me into the dress this morning. She pats me on the back as she gathers up the dress to take away for cleaning, and I turn to go back to my bed, where George has already fallen asleep. Although it’s still raining, I suddenly think I can make out a strange tapping on the front door. I turn back to the door and instantly know I’m right, something is making a noise amidst the natural thrumming of the rain, because the maid’s face is frozen in a strange of fear and feigned nonchalance.

“Never you mind, Missus,” she murmurs, nodding to the bed. “Aye’ll check thu door n’ lit you knaw if there’s anythun you gotta concern yerself wit.”

But her eyes, dark and luminescent in the lamplight of the bedroom, glow with a barely-contained excitement, and I know there’s something she wants to hide from me, badly. I eye her for a full minute before acquiescing to her wishes, going and laying down on the bed with my husband and pretending to roll over and fall asleep quickly. I hear the door close, imagine her footsteps padding slowly away, and then I sit up and slide back out of bed, my green cotton nightshift whispering along my ankles as I peek through the keyhole in the door to make sure that she’s not waiting to see if I’m still up. I exit the room quickly and close the door softly, so softly, behind me, and creep around the side of the bannister so I have the most direct view of the front door. Even though I’m anticipating something out of the ordinary, I have to quell a gasp of fear when the front door is opened and two young black men are ushered inside. One is clearly a relative; the maid flings her arms around him and covers him with the types of kisses that make teenage boys of all colors squirm and protest. This young man stoically waits, however, and when his mother has finished greeting him, presents his friend, who takes the maid’s hand and murmurs a couple words to her that make her whip around in fear, checking to make sure they are, really, alone. No one sees me crouched in the shadows upstairs, so they relax as she guides them through the room and out, away from the staircase and toward a different part of the house.

Safe in the shadows, I have no illusions about what’s happening; I just wonder for how long it has been operating here under my husband’s nose. Our maid is a relative of one of the many at my brother-in-law’s house…

I know I should go to bed, let this happen and think about it or talk about it with someone later. I have no issues with it; like many Northerners, I believe slavery is wrong. However, it’s not something I’ve ever discussed with my husband, and something warns me that his feelings are much more conservative on this point than I would care to deal with.

I slip downstairs silently, walking by memory in the shadows of the early hours of the night, listening to the footsteps of the little group up ahead and grateful that the rain has slackened to mere background noise by this point. The thick carpeting is damp beneath my feet and I know I’m on the right track; how long have they been in the rain, I wonder. Suddenly, I bump into someone and there’s a shriek that’s quickly cut off. Someone grabs me and roughly pins my arms behind my back, hissing, “It’s a woman!” There’s a pause, a flash of flame, and a candle is held up to my face by the maid. “Missus,” she says slowly. “Please.”

Standing with the little group, I see that the man beside the woman is the one she embraced so lovingly; he must be her son. The one behind me, then, must be the friend. I don’t strain against his grip, and I only look at her. “It’s okay,” I say, quietly, though my heart is hammering and I feel a sharp jolt of disloyalty, to what I don’t know. I know what I believe, I have my convictions, yet the darkness and lateness and threatening grip of the man behind me make me feel uncertain and something else I can’t quite place. When he releases me and moves beside his friend though, I see their eyes rake over me, sharply, and suddenly I’m very aware of the thinness of my cotton shift and the hardness of my rounded, full tits at this most insolent scrutiny from two runaway slaves. I draw myself up to my full height, which barely clears either of their shoulders, and glare at them. The maid cuffs her son and snarls a warning to him that’s universal—yes, she’s beautiful, no, you can’t have her, focus on the problem at hand. And yet, I’m enjoying myself. I grasp her hand briefly as she leads the men away and murmur for her to let me know if there’s anything I can do to help, and I feel the men’s surprise even as they walk away from me.

I return to my cool side of the bed, heart aflutter and a strange tightness in my belly, my husband snoring softly beside me. All night, I lie in my bed, looking out the window as the sky lightens through the shades of the morning, filtering in pink and orange with little dust particles swirling in the air. I dress slowly, so that I don’t have to spend much time with George before he’s headed off to the store for the day. I don’t have to be there until lunchtime. I’m determined to meet the men who came into the house so quietly last night, properly. I want to know their stories and where they come from and feel like I’m a part of something bigger than a small town where I’ve already accomplished all I ever will. But the maid is nowhere to be found. She must know I’m looking for her, and though I’m irritated, I can’t help but sympathize with her. Those men were clearly at a loss without the discipline of a mother or woman figure, a tingling sensation goes through me as I remember the way they looked at me so shamelessly through the darkness. I go down into the cellar to begin my search for the men, but as soon as I open the door I realize they’re already down there. Their deep voices cut off as soon as the door opens but I can’t help but bark a laugh at their insolence and stupidity—we seem to be joined in our motives, and I try to push away my mother’s cautionary voice in my head as I descend the stairs, warning me that this goes beyond even what she would condone.

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The Plantation Owner’s Wife (Interracial Historical Erotica)

She knew it was wrong.  She knew there would be dire consequences if they were caught.  But she couldn’t help herself.

Abigail is the wife of a wealthy plantation owner with a dark, irresistible past.

Excerpt from The Plantation Owner’s Wife:

The Kentucky bluegrass waves in the field behind my house, and I pause amidst the responsibilities of the day to admire the figure in the field beyond the blaze of sheer July green.

His name is David, and he’s new. My husband, William, bought him last week, leading him in like some prize stallion, but ruining the moment with his own impotence as a man. David towers over William, and his dark eyes ran over me quickly, intelligently, his mouth set in a firm tight line that betrayed nothing except the raw energy inside him. I remember I became very hot and uncomfortable in my corset, but strangely felt glad that I’d worn the white and blue gown with lace eyelet trim. My eyes, a blue as the pure Kentucky sky, met eyes as dark as the Kentucky earth. The sun was clear and hot and I made my excuses quickly, fumbling to remember my role as housekeeper and wife of the estate owner. William’s eyes were shrewd as always, and even if I didn’t know what I was feeling then, he did, and quickly directed David to his living space—far away from me.

At the time, I didn’t even know his name—I learned it accidentally, while one of the younger maids gossiped with her mother about how one of the new slaves, David, had already received a whipping from our foreman, Johnathon, less than one week into living here. Her mother, Constance, eyed her daughter’s rosy cheeks and bright eyes, then gave her a smart smack on the cheek.

“Dun’ go gettin’ yo’selfn’ trouble now. David’s a good man, but heesa man jus’ like any otha.”

The girl’s eyes dimmed and she nodded solemnly before going back to her dusting. I stepped away from the door to the dining room silently, unable to shake Constance’s firm tone from my mind. A man just like any other. I thought about the sharp, blundering pitches William made at me at night, in the dark beneath the covers of our bed. The uncomfortable heat, William’s determined, annoying grunts, the dryness between my legs, the inevitable soreness and strange weariness the next day. Somehow, I didn’t think that was what Constance was talking about. For the first time, I thought about Constance as a woman with another man, making the girl she was so matter-of-factly protecting. A man just like any other.

“Ma’am?”

I shake myself out of my reverie; David isn’t even in the distance anymore, and I’m just leaning on the verandah rail like a lovesick girl, thinking about my thoughts. Constance’s daughter, Minnie, drops a small curtsey before proceeding.

“Was jus’ wantin’ to see’f yous still wanted that chick’n made fo’ when Master William gets back.”

“Yes, please get started on that,” I glanced up at the sky. “He’ll be home in a couple hours.”

Minnie bobs another curtsey and goes back into the house. I watch the indistinguishable figures moving around in the far fields for a few moments more before I turn as well and follow Minnie, moving through the beautifully varnished wooden floors and carefully wallpapered walls until I’ve reached my husband’s study, off the side of the main entrance into the foyer.

It’s not really his study—I’m the one who keeps track of all the expenditures, incomes, and taxes, and balances and budgets each month accordingly. He only ever comes in here for meetings with local plantation owners, or to draw up an official contract that he secretly shows me for approval before signing. It’s the end of August now, and I sit heavily into the handsome wooden chair, my breasts straining uncomfortably against the tight lacing of the corset. I draw a breath slowly, and exhale through my nose. It’s still uncomfortable, but bearable. I smooth my skirts beneath me, reach up to pat my hair, split neatly into two loops and pinned to the sides of my head by Constance this morning.

“This,” she’d said, holding a lock of my hair up so I could see it in the mirror. “This is a good, strong, brown.” Then she let the soft, natural ringlets fall from her hand, the color of a brand-new leather riding saddle.

I work quietly, tucked away from the late afternoon heat. The numbers on the paper in front of me calm and distract me from the vast landscape of wandering thoughts I nearly lost myself in looking out at the fields. I don’t know what to think about the battering butterfly wings that make me forget everything that separates me from David, and I’m both grateful and resentful that our run-ins are infrequent enough as to merit my own renditions and imaginings of them before I can meet his frank, yet aloof, gaze in person. Darn it all.

For the fourth month in a row now, we’ve gone over budget. I’m not sure how, but it must be William’s spending. I check the numbers again, and again, but I can’t figure out why they’re not adding up. I just know they’re not. Disgruntled, I give a jump of surprise when there’s a sharp rap at the front door. Constance bustles into the front hall and I hear the door open, and her sharp intake of breath a second before she scolds whoever is on the front step. From the sound of it, it’s a field hand, probably newer and just tired or lost or thinking that coming into my home is in any way appropriate. I lean curiously toward the huge bay window, but the lovely plants that I supervised the planting of block my view. Frustrated, I rise and pace a lap around the study, trying to catch a glimpse of whoever is standing at the front door and giving poor Constance so much trouble.

It’s him.

I don’t know how or why, but it’s like he knows my husband is gone and that he won’t be back for some time still. Something rises inside me, and with a practiced authority I step out of my study.

“It’s okay, Constance, I sent for him.”

“You?” Her tone is utterly incredulous. “But, Ma’am, s’not right.”

I raise my eyebrows at her, and she withdraws, muttering to herself.

We look at each other, and our gazes are like new lovers tentatively examining one another’s bodies. There was another man, before William, though of course he doesn’t know that. He’ll never know the man, either. Daddy was the foreman and I was the prize hen, caught being mauled in the barn one evening by a cinnamon-colored slave named Abraham. Abraham is dead now, and I can feel the scars across my own back prickle at the thought of him. My father and mother, forced to suffer their shame in secrecy, nearly killed me as well.

It’s like David is reading the story in my eyes as he closes the distance between us in two strides, stopping just short of touching me and looking intently into my face. He lifts a hand and touches the tip of the scar that plays peek-a-boo with the collar of my dress every day.

Daddy, Daddy it was my fault! Daddy, please, no! No!

Shut your mouth, Abigail, you disgusting, loose girl.

I never wanted this life, but my parents ensured I had it. William was in debt, but the son of a local plantation owner. I paid for my disgrace with Abraham, and I paid for my refusal to marry William. Dearly. On our wedding night, when he discovered my scars, I tasted bile in my mouth as I recounted the story my mother had lashed into me.

There was a rebellion on the planation I grew up on, and some slaves used me to make a point when I strayed too far from the house.

That night, I suffered gladly.

I blink and David’s eyes are soft, though a curious expression curls his mouth into a faint grimace. His own story flashes across his eyes, briefly, much less detailed than mine, but infinitely more painful.

So much death, so many siblings and half siblings. His mother is—was—a prize hen, just like me. Unlike me though, she didn’t seek an escape, she sought the escape. The remains of David’s family are now scattered across the South, dead and alive. Foolish woman, running away with five grown children and two little ones. Pain stabs my rib like a punch as David’s eyes flash, and I feel his guilt for living now. I’m sorry.

I don’t know how long we’ve been standing in the foyer, but suddenly I feel the wrongness of this moment, the danger it poses to both of us, but especially him. I open my mouth to send him out, but he places a hand firmly over my mouth and shakes his head. Turning me, he pushes me towards the office, with the big windows blocked by plants. My mind flapping like bedsheets in the wind, I let myself be propelled forward, paralyzed with panic and desire for this man who I can never be with.

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