Morning, Mid-April 1882
On an unseasonably balmy April morning in Manhattan, a young woman in a peach colored satin dress made her way down Fifth Avenue. Catching her reflection in the window of a hat shop, Lorelei Langley paused to admire herself. After looking around to ensure no one was nearby, she leaned closer to her reflection and opened her cashmere shawl to reveal a shocking amount of décolletage for day time. Watching her reflection, she adjusted her ample cleavage to form two pearly mounds. Satisfied, she pulled the netting from her hat over her face and sauntered on, unaware that inside the hat shop she gave an enthralled stock boy a memory he would cherish for the rest of his life.
Parasol twirling, curvy hips swaying, Lorelei smiled behind her veil as she walked along the crowded sidewalk. For once, the dust, clattering noise, and occasional whiff of horse manure did not bother her. In a few minutes, she would be with Beauregard Caulfield again. It was risky for a woman without a chaperone to meet a man at his hotel. When she received his message stating that he was in town, the prudent thing to do would be to invite him to tea at her aunt’s brownstone on Washington Square Park. However, when it came to men, prudence had never been one of Lorelei’s strong points.
She entered the lobby of the Hotel Livingston. The lobby, decorated in a somber, Victorian fashion, had numerous potted palms, dark oak paneling, and heavy damask drapes covering the windows. The scent of cigars and brandy lingering in the air made Lorelei think of Old Money, which, as far as Lorelei was concerned, was the best money. However, old or new, she wasn’t too particular, as long as there was plenty of it. The bored desk clerk immediately snapped to attention. A bald-headed, bespectacled man, the clerk licked his lips at her approach.
“Pardon me,” Lorelei leaned her heaving breasts over the counter. Her honeyed voice immediately called to mind lazy Carolina afternoons sipping mint juleps on the verandah. “I believe you have a Mr. Beauregard Caulfield under the roof of this fine hotel. Would you be so kind as to tell him he has a visitor?”
The clerk was about to respond behind her someone shouted, “Lorelei!”
She turned to find Beauregard, as lanky and eager as a newborn colt, walking briskly towards her.
Lorelei exclaimed, “Cousin Beauregard!”
Confusion wrinkled his brow, and then he caught on. “My dear cousin,” he said loudly for the benefit of the desk clerk. Clasping her gloved hands in his own, he said, “It’s been too long.”
“Much too long. Please tell me that your trip to New York was a pleasant one.”
“It was indeed, Miss Lorelei, and any inconveniences suffered were well worth it to lay eyes on you.”
“Oh, Beauregard. You are such a gallant gentlemen.’
Beauregard’s chest puffed with pride at her remark, and then Lorelei swooned. She steadied herself by holding onto a marble pillar.
At once, Beauregard was at her side. “Lorelei, are you unwell?”
“I feel a bit faint,” she fanned her face with her hand. “This hot April sun must not agree with me.”
“Perhaps you should come to my room to lie down,” he suggested.
“Yes,” she smiled weakly, “A soft bed and a cool glass of water would be most welcome. I feel so silly to be such a bother.”
“No bother at all, Miss Lorelei,” Beauregard led her to the stairs. Behind them, not fooled for an instant, the clerk scowled as he wiped dust from his spectacles.
Once inside Beauregard’s room, Lorelei made an instant recovery. She set her parasol against the wall, doffed her hat and, with the aid of an oval mirror atop the dresser, smoothed her glossy black curls.
With her back to him, she said, “I can’t stay long. Aunt Harriet thinks I’m visiting a sick friend.”
“Well, I have a patient in need of your tender ministrations.”
She turned around. Beauregard’s trousers were around his ankles revealing a towering erection.
“Why Beauregard,” she smiled as she put her hands on her rounds hips. “I’ve missed you, too.”
With an audible pop, Lorelei removed Beauregard’s swollen cock from her mouth, and waited in delicious anticipation as his tongue licked the outer folds of her pussy a mere inch from her clit. Beauregard knew how she loved it when he prolonged her release, tongue dancing everywhere except her hot, little button. He lapped hungrily at her tight anus, and then at the smooth skin where her inner thigh met her pussy.
Gripping his cock at the base as she lay naked upon him in the 69 position, she cried out, “Beauregard, I can’t bear it! I beg you. Do it now!”
She heard him chuckle and could easily imagine his lazy smile. A second later, his mouth was all over her clit, kissing it, taking it between his lips, lovingly caressing it with his tongue. He moaned as though the taste of her pussy was the most succulent fruit, her nectar the sweetest honey, and the sound of his moan coupled with his hot mouth all over her clitoris rocketed Lorelei to an instant orgasm. She reveled in the intense sensation, wishing it to last forever. When it faded, she regarded his cock with a blissful smile. A pearl of semen glistened at the tip. Long-limbed and so lean that without his clothes he was practically skeletal, Beauregard possessed a cock of legendary proportions. Looking at it, Lorelei nearly laughed, for it seemed as though his cock nearly outweighed him.
Lorelei ran her lips up and down the length of his shaft while Beauregard continued to lavish attention on her clit. They both knew her second orgasm was moments away. She stroked his cock with two hands and still had enough of his cockhead exposed to bathe it with her eager mouth. Her jaw stretched to accommodate his girth. She licked the underside of his thick head, touching the trigger that released a torrent of semen down her throat.
Sweaty and spent, Beauregard collapsed atop a heap of fluffy pillows beside her and she curled against him.
“My goodness, Lorelei. My goodness,” he held her close, and murmured into her hair, “Come back to Charleston with me.”
She smiled, letting him think whatever he wanted, knowing she was in New York to stay. If circumstances were different, Lorelei would have happily become Mrs. Beauregard Caulfield. She’d be the mistress of a grand house in Charleston, tended to by many servants, riding to church in a fine carriage. But after the War of Northern Aggression, as Beauregard called it, Charleston was a place of bitter memories.
As a girl of ten, she watched her mother waste away from consumption as armies circled her beloved city and burned it to the ground. The Langley home, one of the finest in Charleston, escaped the flames but not the crushing poverty that followed. When her mother died, her father lost himself in bourbon and dreams of better days. It fell on Lorelei to keep the creditors at bay by selling off the Langley heirlooms one by one until the house echoed with emptiness. There was no surer way to discover the real value of something than when pawning it in order to ward off starvation. The yard grew wild for she let all the servants go save one, Daisy, towards the end, since Lorelei couldn’t afford to pay Daisy anymore, their relationship became one of roommates rather than mistress and servant.
One advantage of having a father half in the bottle on any given day was that it allowed young Lorelei an unusual amount of freedom to do as she pleased. Although barely into her womanhood, the effect she had on the men of Charleston was amazing. Unlike other girls her age, when men touched her—chastely at first, but with increasing boldness—the feel of their arms around her waist or their lips on her throat did not frighten her. She loved their masculine ways, deep voices and whiskers, roaming fingers always prying past her lacy garments to probe her hidden wet spots, dangling cocks so quick to spew milky juice. She enjoyed it all, taking great pleasure in the way they made her body feel, and taking even greater pleasure in the gifts they spent their last dollar to buy her.
Lorelei’s days of personal freedom and pleasure went on like this until her father’s death during her twentieth year. The coroner cited her father’s official cause of death as “complications from apoplexy.” Lorelei knew he simply drank himself to death. Creditors descended on what remained of the Langley estate like a locust plague upon her father’s death. Evicted from the family home, Lorelei had no choice but to appeal to her mother’s sister, Aunt Harriet in New York. Moving to New York meant leaving Daisy behind. This broke Lorelei’s heart. Via letters prior to leaving Charleston, Lorelei pestered Aunt Harriet to find a place in the household for Daisy, but Aunt Harriet wrote back that they, “had no need for a colored servant at this time” and that she was “sure your Daisy will find suitable employment with a different Charleston family.”
The fact that Aunt Harriet reduced Lorelei’s dearest friend in the world to “a colored servant” was Lorelei’s first inkling that life under her aunt’s roof would be a trial. Living with Aunt Harriet held one tantalizing possibility, however. Aunt Harriet promised to introduce her orphaned niece to young men of far greater means than those who lived in the battle scarred South. This presented an opportunity that Lorelei intended to pursue with mercenary zeal.
“Say you’ll come home with me,” Beauregard cupped her chin and kissed her. “Come home with me and be my wife.”
She rested her head on his bony chest. “Did I tell you Cousin William is studying law? He’s introduced me to some of his classmates, all young men from good families who are also studying law. You’d laugh to see how they compete for my attention. One of them sweats so profusely every time I so much as smile at him, I fear the poor man is delirious with fever. Still, one of them could make a suitable husband. Not the one who perspires so heavily, of course. Can you picture me the wife of a lawyer?” Beauregard sunk into sullen silence, and taking no notice of it, she went on, “Why, just yesterday I had tea with the Patersons—a lawyer and his wife. They own a lovely brownstone. Their son, Perry, is quite smitten with me. He intends to be a lawyer, as well.”
“You shouldn’t let this one slip away,” Beauregard said with a hint of anger.
Lorelei ignored his tone. “Oh, no. I’m nice to him, of course, but Beauregard if you could just see him. With his buck teeth and bulging eyes, why, the young man reminds me of a catfish.”
“That’s too bad. He’d have been the perfect catch,” Beauregard quipped sourly.
“I’m not saying I cannot marry an ugly man,” she went on. “Beauty fades, though I daresay I hope mine won’t for a very long time,” she caressed her silky cheek as though to reassure herself. “No, the thing about an ugly man is that his financial means must be in direct proportion to his lack of physical grace. The less comely of appearance, the wealthier they must be. Now, let’s say Perry finally passes the bar exam—I’ve heard some men take several attempts to pass. Apparently, the test is quite hard, but then, of course, you’d want the test to be hard, wouldn’t you? No one wants a fool for an attorney. So let’s say Perry passes the bar and joins his father’s firm. How much income would he have starting out?”
“It cannot be much. His father seemed in vigorous health, so there’s little chance of an inheritance any time soon. All said and done, after many years and with his father’s passing, we may eventually be worth a hundred thousand dollars. Undoubtedly, that’s a great deal of money, but don’t forget, I’d have to be wife to a catfish for twenty years before I see it. No, I think I can do better—much better, and Cousin William will help me.” Animated with excitement, she rested her pretty chin on her hands and flashed Beauregard a dazzling smile. “Cousin William has been courting Charlotte Bordune, and although I haven’t had the pleasure of Charlotte’s acquaintance as of yet, I can see by the way she dangles poor William on a string that she takes his romantic attentions lightly. Now, that’s bad for William, but good for me because Charlotte Bordune has two brothers—two unmarried brothers, I hasten to add. The whole family is richer than Midas with real estate and railroad lines stretching to the farthest frontier. Aunt Harriet tells me they live in a stunning limestone chateau on Fifth Avenue and have an even grander home in Newport. Cousin William promised to introduce me to Charlotte. I’m sure once I meet her we’ll become fast friends, and then it’s only a matter of time before I meet one of her brothers.’
‘And when you meet one of these Bordune brothers?’
‘I get them to marry me, of course.’
“You sound so sure of yourself.”
“I didn’t come to New York to fail.”
Beauregard abruptly turned away from her so that her head plopped down on the mattress.
“Beau, what’s wrong?”
“What’s wrong?” He snapped and covered his nakedness with a blanket. “Listening to the way you talk about money…it’s unbecoming. A respectable woman doesn’t think like that.”
She stifled a laugh. “Oh, Beau, a respectable woman wouldn’t have agreed to meet you at your hotel and do what we just did.”
Seeing that he intended to stay angry, Lorelei decided the time had come to end her visit. She ducked into the bathroom with her valise. She slipped back into her sleeveless chemise and drawers. She studied her reflection in the mirror over the washbasin. Her eyes were sapphire blue, with lush, dark lashes. As a child, her mother used to chide, “Lorelei, you can’t walk past a still pond without stopping to admire yourself.” You knew me well, Momma, she thought with a wistful smile. Her corset buttoned in the front, although she still needed another pair of hands to pull the strings from behind, so she called through the door, “Beau, be a dear and help me with the strings.”
She stepped back into the bedroom and right into the barrel of Beauregard’s pistol.
“I ask for your hand in marriage, and you brush me aside like an idiot child,” he nearly sobbed, waving the gun in her face. “Look at the pitiful state you’ve reduced me to. This isn’t right, Lorelei. If you won’t see plain sense and come home with me as my wife, well…I’ll—I’ll kill us both and be done with it.”
Lorelei went completely still. She heard the traffic outside the window on the busy avenue. The ticking of a clock on the nightstand took on a deafening quality. Sunlight gleamed off the polished gun. The black hole at the end of the pistol loomed before her like the entrance to a bottomless well. Beauregard’s eyes were wild. He had his trousers on and a shirt unbuttoned to the waist. She saw the way he rapidly inhaled and exhaled.
Lorelei took it all in and then laughed.
“Beau, my silly Beau,” she put her hands on her hips. “You nearly frightened me half to death.”
Still smiling, she stood on her tiptoes and kissed him, simultaneously taking the gun from his hand as nonchalantly as though he handed her a bouquet of flowers. With a gentle shove, she pushed him back on the plush bed. She opened the gun chamber, tapped the bullets into her open handbag, and then handed the pistol back to him.
“Really, Beauregard,” she shook her head in disbelief. “Sometimes I wonder what notions get into that head of yours.”
He choked on a sob. “If I can’t kill you, then I’ll kill myself. I swear I will. I’ll open the window and jump.”
“Oh, my beautiful, silly Beauregard,” Lorelei gave a soft laugh and ran her fingers through his long, wavy hair as a mother would to an upset child. “You’re on the second floor, the fall would hardly kill you,” she paused to consider this, “Though you might land on your head and spend the rest of your days as a halfwit.”
“What am I going to do?” Beauregard buried his face in his hands.
“The first thing you’re going to do is help me with this corset,” she turned her back to him. “There, grab hold of those strings and pull tight.”
Lorelei exhaled as Beauregard cinched her waist. She examined her reflection in the full-length cheval mirror, pleased with the way the corset emphasized her buxom figure, and then faced him. “The second thing you’re going to do is check out of this hotel. My Lord, Beauregard, staying here must cost a fortune and we both know you do not have a red penny to spare. Forget about me. Go back to Charleston. Find a good girl, someone from a family of means. Marry her and have lots of babies.”
He looked up at her, his eyes pleading, and whispered, “I thought you loved me.”
“I do, Beauregard. You know I do, but love won’t buy a new bonnet,” she sighed and slipped her peach colored gown over her head. She turned so Beauregard could button the back of her gown. She glanced at the clock. Lorelei had to make haste if she hoped to avoid one of Aunt Harriet’s inquisitions. From the reticule attached to her wrist, she found a pair of white gloves and slipped them on. “Beauregard, remember Somerset, that chestnut stallion you had?”
Beauregard sniffled, wiped his nose, and nodded.
“Such a beautiful animal. Finest piece of horseflesh in the Carolinas,” she said with a wistful smile. “I remember the way the sun used to glint off Somerset’s coat, how the muscles rippled under his skin. How it broke your heart to part with him. Why did you do that?”
“You know why. My father said we couldn’t afford to keep him.”
“So, you sold him to Mr. Woodley, that beady-eyed old carpetbagger, and as much as it hurt to do it, you did the right thing by Somerset. After all, you couldn’t afford to keep him in the manner an animal such as that required, so you found him a better home. I’ve thought about that horse a lot in the weeks since I came to New York.” Lorelei seemed pensive for a moment, and then abruptly gathered her valise and parasol. “Now, I must go. Promise me you’ll go straight home. There’s nothing for you in New York, Beauregard.”
He nodded and bowed his head to hers. She stroked his cheek. “I’ll miss you, Beau.”
“I’ll miss you, too,” he clasped her hands to his lips. She allowed a tear to roll down her cheek, and then she kissed him one last time, grabbed her purse, and left the room. Less than fifty paces down the hall, a shot fired from Beauregard’s room, and then the sound of something hitting the floor. A hand flew to her mouth as a scream died in her throat. Beauregard! He must have had an extra bullet in the room.
Oh, Beauregard, you silly fool, her heart shattered and she needed to hold onto the wall to keep from collapsing in a heap. She heard the footsteps of people coming to investigate the source of the gunshot. If word got out that she’d been with him, it would ruin her. Forget the Bordune brothers, if people knew that she’d been alone in a hotel room with a man moments before his death, even catfish-faced Perry Paterson wouldn’t have her for a wife. Swiftly, she wiped the tears from her face, pulled the netting down from the hat and continued on her way as a group of men rushed past her. She did not look back. She had big plans ahead, and nothing, not even Beauregard’s death, could derail them.