“Good night, Sir.” Her voice uttered the words; her mind, however, was clinging onto the feeling of the Master’s hot, wet tongue around her finger. And that bite—she was stunned by it, but she daren’t react. She wasn’t sure what she was expected to do. As much as she tried to remain outwardly detached, her breath struggled to remain even as she tried to make sense of what had just happened. Did it just happen?
No-one had ever bitten her before, not in fights at school, nor in the hottest moment of passion with any of her lovers. Teeth had grazed over her soft flesh, or over aroused, sensitive nipples or her swollen clit, but never had they sunk in. The closest she’d ever got was a series of dreams a few months earlier, in which a naked, faceless lover sunk his teeth into her neck as he came inside her. It had awoken her with a flush of heat and a severe headache, leaving her edging until she got in the shower and couldn’t help but relive the dream. She’d writhed against the cold tiles as the water gushed against her flooding release.
Eyes locking onto the Master’s, whose own now showed no sign of emotion whatsoever, her insides boiled and tousled with themselves. If she’d been somewhere else, she’d very likely have slapped him around the face. But she couldn’t.
The Master’s voice broke into her thoughts. “I’ll see you to your room.” He stared straight at her, offering his hand. One look at his face told her she was expected to take it. She urged her hand to reach out and lay her hand upon his, but her body and brain had lost their line of communication.
“Thank you. But I wondered if I could remain down here for a while, if that’s all right. I’d like to familiarise myself with the house a bit.” There was absolutely no way she was going to give the impression that she couldn’t even last out past an evening meal because she was finding things a bit strange, and she was tired. The Master stared at her, a long analysis of her face beginning to make her uncomfortable: his gaze bored its way beyond her eyes and into her heart, and it dampened her panties, despite the urge she had to pull back from him.
“Of course. You’ll find most rooms locked, at least for now. But I’m sure you can just—feel your way for this evening.”
He turned and left the room, leaving Ella standing in the doorway. The Master didn’t turn around at all, and she watched him head across the stone and carpet of the hallway, and head up the stairs. Her shoulders sagged; she wouldn’t last five minutes here if she carried on like this. And the thought was beginning to creep over her that she wasn’t completely sure she wanted to.
She shook off that notion almost as quickly as it invaded her head. After what she’d said, she supposed that she ought to at least wander around a bit, to try and get a gist of the place. Her heels clicked on the stone, echoing around the square, the sound eventually disappearing up the staircase. Not a soul was moving about anywhere, as far as she could tell. The silence was intoxicating, as were her immediate surroundings. Only a dim glow illuminated the room, and the ancient paintings of the former owners that had presided over this mansion loomed above her. Were they all Masters, too? Masters of what, and of whom? They seemed to hover there, in shadow, and she felt encased by them, by their unspoken words to her. She felt them, just could not decipher them, and the whole hallway filled with an overwhelming sadness, a dispirited disintegration she had not noticed on her initial entry into this strange world. She had been too excited, then.
But now she saw by the waning naked flames of the few torches that hung on the walls how they revealed the crumbling stonework that tried to hide itself behind tapestries. She noticed the filter of greyness that blurred everything there, from the suit of armour that should have shone silver to the drabness of the carpet that lay up the centre of each stair to the floor where her bedroom waited for her. And something else, which she had been hiding in her subconscious until this moment when she was alone: where were the phones? There wasn’t one in the hallway, or in the dining room, and she hadn’t noticed one in the room the Master had told her was his study, either. A sudden roll in her stomach left her feeling queasy. She shrugged it off, but made a mental note to double check she had her mobile phone charger in her suitcase.
Ella climbed the vast staircase, trying to avoid standing on the threadbare parts of the floor covering, where she imagined people had once stepped in droves, for parties, balls, and all manner of events, top hat and tails making an impression, and sequins on evening dresses glittering in the torchlight, and ribbons and lace catching the light as they shimmered and attracted the eye. Forgetting everything momentarily, she ran her hand over the beautifully carved spindles as she wound her way up the stairs. It was a pity they were in such poor, unpolished condition. They must have looked stunning once. Her mind on the intricacies of the carving, she was surprised to reach the top step and find the young servant, Mary, sitting there, her legs hunched so that her petticoat showed as her dress flopped behind her legs onto the carpet, her arms hugging her knees. One look at her pink eyes and blotchy red cheeks, and Ella was sitting next to her in an instant.
“What on earth is the matter, Mary? Has –” She hesitated, trying not to blush, guilt brimming over. “Has the Master had cause to reprimand you? Because if he did –”
“Oh, no, nothing like that, ma’am. I mean, Mistress.” Mary scuffled to her feet. “The Master is kind, he is. There’s not a servant here as who would say otherwise. Shame he’s so sad. We all wish he wasn’t. If –” It was clear from the young woman’s face that she felt she had said too much, so Ella let the comment sink. But it clung to her like a barnacle on a sunken ship as she steered the conversation back to Mary herself.
“What is it that’s got you so upset, then? Maybe I can help.”
At this, Mary’s face seemed torn between pain and ecstasy. “Oh, yes, oh, would you? I wonder if you would be able to. I get so upset, you see, because I was born in this house, into the position of lady’s maid to the Mistress, on account of my mother having the job before me, even if…”
Her eyes fell towards her knees. Ella waited, hoping she would continue to talk. Even if what? She stifled a sigh when Mary continued, without finishing her sentence.
“…But since I was small, there’s never been a mistress here for me to take care of, and I so want to perform my duties. I want a mistress I can serve.” Ella felt the wide, hopeful eyes searching her face. “I wonder, ma’am, if maybe you would let me serve you—private, like—to practise, and see how well I can do it? The Master wishes that I call you Mistress. If you stay—well, then I’ll be ready, like.”
There was no harm in making this poor girl happy, Ella was sure. Unless it was a test, to see if she caved in at the first request made of her by a servant. Well, if she failed her interview by trying to enable someone to be happy for a while, then so be it.
“Why do you wonder if I’ll stay?” The young woman’s face flushed, and Ella changed tack. “I think it’s an excellent idea.”
Mary’s face broke into a beam. “Can I start now, Mistress? Tonight? I’m keen for you to get me going.”
Ella bit her lip, images of the scene at the dining table hovering behind her eyelids. “Come back with me to my room, Mary.” She thought rapidly; what could she get the young woman to do? “I would like you to run me a bath. And maybe you can attend to my bed, and help me get into my night clothes.” Nobody had done any of these for her since she was a girl, not since she ran around with grazed knees and skipping ropes. Ella had decided to play this role when she accepted the title downstairs, and maybe it would be nice to have company. Get to know her interviewer from the ‘inside’.
Mary opened the door for her, and busied herself, turning down the bed and plumping the pillows once she had started the bath running. Ella stood in the doorway between the bedroom and the adjoining bathroom, marvelling at the feat of plumbing it must have taken to put in an ancient, free-standing bath with modern-day running water and working taps and a shower head. The water rumbled and bubbled into the bath, as the fragrance of jasmine floated up on the warm and steamy air. The colour of the bedroom appeared to float, as a pale blue wrapped around the walls of the bedroom, and drift in waves into the ones that surrounded the white enamel of the cast iron bathtub. It cast itself into the running water, and as Ella stared into it, she began to imagine what it would be like to be a mermaid. The thought began to overwhelm her, her head filling with only the notion of diving into the water and welcoming the force of the water against her face, her neck, her breasts, as she pushed her body into its depths.
She didn’t wait for Mary to return to tend to the taps. Undoing her top, she slid it off her shoulders and let it fall to the floor, exposing the tiny bra she’d put on earlier. She slid the thin straps over her shoulders one by one, and pushed with her fingertips until it slid over the tops of her breasts and down to where her skirt hung around her lower half. The need to be underwater became all-encompassing; the bath was deep, growing deeper by the second. She plunged her head in, breaking the skin of the water, opening the way for her body to follow. Her arms slid in, the water feeling like a thousand feathers brushing against her skin, all the way to her shoulders. Lifting briefly to draw in breath, she drove her head deeper, touching the bottom of the bath with her forehead and opening her eyes to the blue that reflected in it from the room above.
Her exposed body plunged into the water to the waist, and she felt the thrill of it pushing against her nakedness, driving itself against her nipples. She reached up and touched; the force had hardened them and she pinched the right one between her finger and thumb, opening her eyes so she could see. A burning desire rushed through her back as the tip of her breast darkened in colour, becoming darker blue the more she touched and moulded it. A mermaid’s nipple. The contours of her ribs, and the skin down to the navel which remained just beyond the caress of this underwater world, all shimmered blue, all rocked with the mesmerising motion of the water. If she pushed off her skirt and knickers, would her pussy be hidden by scales? Would she be able to make love like a Siren? Would she be as irresistible? Her hand lifted from the water and pushed between her thighs, pressing, probing, needing to fuck like a water goddess.
Hands were all over her body. Her mouth opened and she gagged. Water filled her. She struggled hard against the fingers digging into the flesh above her breasts, fighting to get her head above water. As her mouth found the surface, choking took over, and she could no longer fight off the hands on her semi-naked body.
“Mistress, are you all right? Oh bloody hell. There you go, you’re out now.”
Ella stood, her wetness dripping down into the folds and creases of her skirt, her exposed skin flushed with goosebumps. The shock of being hauled up right then left her forgetting herself, exposed physically to a concerned Mary, who held her by the shoulders.
“What were you doing, Mistress? I thought you was trying to—oh, you know.”
Ella wasn’t quite sure how to behave. Reprimanding her for trying to prevent her drowning when she had been a mermaid, while standing there, half naked and physically shaken, seemed ridiculous. So she did the only thing that felt right. She removed Mary’s hands gently from their place on her shoulders and smiled.
“Absolutely not. I was seeing what it was like underwater.” Just how stupid did that sound?
As her hands brought Mary’s down and placed them at the girl’s sides, she felt the faintest brush of her maid’s fingers over the points of her breasts. She heard the tiny intake of breath and it made her smile. At that moment she couldn’t explain to herself why, exactly; neither could she explain the deep throbbing that ground itself into her core. But it gave rise to her first command as makeshift Mistress.
“Mary, I really do need to take a bath. Help me off with my clothes. Er, the rest of my clothes.” She remembered Mary’s words about the Master, and how he treated his servants, and added quickly, “Please.”
Mary removed Ella’s wet clothes, and hung them. It surprised Ella how she stood in front of this servant girl without an inch of shame, but maybe it took second place to the acute embarrassment of being believed to be trying to drown herself on her first night here.
She held out her hand, and Ella took it, stepping into the bath and sitting down. Mary must have added something else to the water, because bubbles frothed at the surface now, and they tickled her inner thigh as she sat down. She leant her head back slightly, and Mary began rewetting her hair, and soaping it into a rich, heavy lather, not the cheap kind she normally used that pops in your ears as its bubbles burst on your head. Every so often, she saw the lather drop into the water below the bubbles, dissipating into the secret and unseen, below the surface.
“Why did you think I was—doing what you thought I was, Mary?”
Mary had soaped up a sponge, and held out Ella’s arms, one after the other, covering the length in suds, from the shoulder to her fingers. Ella watched as Mary glided the soap to her fingers on the top side, then felt the tingle of the sponge coming back from her palms to the hollow that formed under her arms as she held them outstretched. The sponge felt the sides of her breasts, and she emitted an involuntary low moan as she lay herself back into the bubbles, and into Mary’s capable hands. If this was how she did her job, she would make a good handmaid for the Mistress of this house.
“It was just. Your head. It was in the water.”
Mary slid the sponge over Ella’s shoulder, and onto her collarbone. The circular motion left froth across her skin in a way it had never done when her mother had washed her in the tub at home. It was a creamy film of the tiniest bubbles and soap, spreading its way down her skin with every move of Mary’s hand. As the sponge dipped between her breasts, her arms came back to the water, and they lay there just beneath the surface, as her knees bent up, her fingers finding the soft skin of her inner thigh, circling it. Mary continued as Ella moaned again.
“And it wouldn’t be the first time, Mistress.”
“What do you mean? What—someone’s drowned before? Not in this bloody bath?!”
Ella thrashed around, trying to get a grip on the side of the bath with wet hands and feet that slid on the base.
“There, there, Mistress. No, not in this bath. Bugger. I should learn to keep my silly gob shut.”
Mary pushed Ella back, sponge in hand, skating the sponge over the creamy froth on her left breast, round, then over her ribs. Ella let her fingers trail over the suds; her back arched as she cupped her breast and let it slide through her hand, while she watched Mary soap up her other one, taking good care of it. Mary dropped the sponge, and her palm continued the care, round and round. As Mary drew closer to her work, she blew over Ella’s nipple, making it stand out, hard and uncaring at how it got there. Ella let out a moan, pushing the soft roundness of her buttocks into the bottom of the bathtub. Her knees came up higher, leaning against each side of the cool enamel. It made her shudder and buck, and her eyes closed.
“Allow me to call Henry, Mistress. He’s expert at calming legs. Has the best foot massage you’ll ever get.”
Ella nodded, moaning with the touch of Mary’s palm cupping her right breast. She didn’t notice Mary call for Henry, but there he stood, at the foot of the bath, materialising from heaven knows where. Her brain disconnected from her sense of reality, and she didn’t care. Right then, with her nakedness half out of the water and covered in a film of froth, half beneath the secrets that the bubbles held back from the eye, she just didn’t care.
Henry knelt down, jacketless, his shirt sleeves rolled to just above the elbows, revealing the fair hair on his forearms. He reached under the water, retrieving her leg by the ankle, pulling her just a little further into the water, and began to work his thumbs into the arch of her foot. As Ella reclosed her eyes, Henry’s hand worked its way slowly around her ankle, kneading and stroking in small circles. Ella felt the hand move higher up her leg, and she moved her own out of the way, sliding them under her buttocks and pushing herself upwards further. Her head fell back until the water was level with her ears, and she could hear nothing but the echo of her own heartbeat, and feel nothing but the servants’ hands on her naked flesh.
As Henry’s hand squeezed its way up her leg, a warm rush of saliva slid over Ella’s big toe as it entered Henry’s mouth. As he sucked, Mary worked the sponge down Ella’s body and under the water, into the bubbles. It pressed against her sex, rubbing her slowly up and down. Henry’s finger ends trailed their way to the top of her inner thigh and remained there, running figures of eight so that the top touched the outer edges of her pussy lips. Ella’s moan became a deep, throaty growl as she felt for Mary’s hand holding the sponge and pressed it hard onto her clit. It wasn’t enough. She needed more.
Under the bubbles she angled her body towards Henry’s fingers, and she was rewarded for her silent command. She felt his hand grasp at her sex, as his middle finger pushed in up to the knuckle and felt its way around her inner walls. She craved more. Groaning deeply, she grabbed the sponge and thrust it away into the water, holding Mary’s hand over her clit. It pulsated under Mary’s fingers, and Ella felt the heat and knew from her own experience how it would be growing rounder, harder, deeper red in the care of Mary’s fingers that now began to serve her throbbing bud. Henry’s finger thrust up to its hilt and began to fuck her, slowly at first, then faster until she moaned with every pull outwards. That was when he added a second finger, stretching her open further so she felt the rub of every inner surface.
Her orgasm rose inside her depths, biting into her insides and working the pain down to her hot, swollen clit, filling her entirely. Her eyes still closed, she lifted her buttocks to release her hand, the motion thrusting Henry’s fingers into her as far as they would go, and she slid in between the servants, her hand working herself to the very edge between Mary and Henry, as all three of them finger-fucked her to release. She felt the familiar surge through her back, wrapping her in a blanket of pleasure-pain as her sex exploded in sensation and she thrust her head back into the water as her wail echoed around the room and her neck glowed pink among the blue that reflected off her bursting bubbly mermaid skin.
Ella lay, panting hard and completely spent, feeling only the ebb and flow of the water over her skin. Her eyelids flickered with each pulse through her body until they opened. It must have been the blood that had rushed to her pounding head which allowed her to register the room, not in its faded blue state, but with a richness, a vivacity to the colour that only a deep sea could explore. Slowly, she sat herself up, her hands twitching, wondering, fleetingly, if they should cover her exposed breasts as she lifted herself up out of the water to face Henry. If she became the mistress she would have to face him every day; she might have to command him, and discipline him, and—maybe she would order him to fuck her with his fingers every bath time and she would command him to strip down to his underwear so she could squeeze his bulge while his hand paid her service. Maybe she wouldn’t care whose finger it was; next time she might order Mary to bury her digits into her while Henry drove her clit wild with his thumb, or maybe those lips that had been around her toe.
What was she thinking? Her hands crossed over her body as she sat herself up. But only Mary stood there, reaching for a thick cream towel that picked up the richness of the blue on the threads, and which created the impression of a bed of seaweed that Mary began to wrap around her shoulders. She stood, and Mary helped her out of the bath and onto the tiled floor. She looked at this serving girl who walked around her, drying her off, head down and eyes averted from her own. Should she say something? What would she say? Did you both enjoy servicing your mistress?
“Has Henry gone so soon?”
“What do you mean, Mistress? Henry’s in with the Master down the hall. Unless he’s disappeared off for a quick— Oh, I shouldn’t say, should I? Not to you, I mean. But he’ll last ages later, if he has.”
Ella said nothing; her head wasn’t taking it in. She manoeuvred wherever Mary put her, allowing herself to be led into the bedroom, while trying to comprehend Mary’s words. Had she dreamt it, there in the bath?
Mary had laid out Ella’s night things on the bed. But this wasn’t the nightshirt that she had rolled up and put in her suitcase. This was something very, very different indeed.