Herm, Channel Islands, 1923

They had known each other eleven years, but that was all about to end. Even back then, in school, before the War that would rob a nation - nay, a world - of its innocence, their roles were clearly defined: Lindsey Rae Vought was the popular one, the pretty one; the one whose family was wealthier and more distinguished than any family you could possibly imagine. Vida Laurimer was, by contrast, the junior partner: deemed by those who whose business it was to make such judgements plain, and something of a pariah; her familys wealth - though earned through hard work rather than mere privilege - was considered somewhat inadequate, and possibly even tainted. Yet somehow, by processes neither would ever fully understand, the two of them became fast friends. Best friends, in fact.

In many ways, growing up into young womanhood merely accentuated the gulf between them. As the years passed, Lindsey simply became even more heart-stopping: she had a pale, round face with soft, rosy cheeks, a strong but delicate nose and a beautifully slender little mouth. Her brown eyes were bright and clear and intelligent, her hair - even pinned up - a mass of shimmering, silver-sanded curls, her figure fashionably petite. By contrast, Vidas eyes were dark brown and slightly mournful; her long, slightly unruly hair a deep chestnut, flirting black; her figure - even at eighteen - tending from litheness to voluptuousness; her skin markedly tan (one might, if one were being particularly ungenerous, describe it as swarthy). Vidas brow was a touch too high, her cheeks and chin just a little too pronounced; her nose a touch flattened (a touch foreign, one might say), her lips a little too full and prominent. Yet they had gone on, sweetly affectionate, even sisterly, until 1923 - until now.

Upon graduation from the Brodie Academy for Young Ladies, Lindsey had embarked on her first overseas trip to Paris, taking a housekeeper with her as chaperone. The housekeeper, evidently as dazzled by the French capital as everyone else, had not done a good job: Lindsey returned to England hopelessly in love and even more hopelessly engaged, to a French nobleman named, rather predictably,

Philippe. Vida was the first person she told upon her return - not knowing whether to be happy,

heartbroken or just insanely jealous, Vida settled for all three, promptly bursting into hysterical tears. A flurry of correspondence - much if it involving bank statements - between the respective families was enough to approve the match (and turn it almost into a merger); and Vidas tears only intensified as she realised that the forthcoming wedding meant, inevitably, the end of her deepest - frankly, only - friendship: Lindsey might only be crossing the Channel, but she might as well be taking a voyage to the Moon. However, as is so often the case, there was a catch.

In order for Lindsey Rae Vought to become a true French noblewoman (or noblewife), she would need schooling in something rather deeper than the stilted conversational French that had been a Brodie speciality. She would also need training in French manners, French culture, French arts, French anything that might pertain to her future life with Philippe. Thus her husband-to-be had proposed (after having already proposed, you understand) that his intended spend a few summer weeks before their wedding on a private island in La Manche, that his family just happened to own more-or-less outright, in the company of a French governess who would provide the necessary remedial instruction. Philippe had outlined this proposal in a long, clumsily-translated document that Lindsey thought impossibly romantic but Vida found utterly ridiculous, until she read the last little proviso: in order that her summer not be exclusively taken up with edification, Lindsey would be permitted to take one friend with her, for the duration.

So it was Lindsey and Vida found themselves and their luggage in a rowing boat, being propelled through turquoise waters towards the bone-shaped, three mile long green blister that was Herm. For Lindsey there was nothing save gushing excitement: this was the first step on her new, grown-up life. For Vida there was only an ill-concealed sense of anxiety: the fear of the unknown, mixed in with the very definite truth that this would be, for better or worse, the last significant time they spent together. They and their belongings were deposited, unceremoniously, upon a narrow strip of wide, smooth beach, whereupon Mr Bannister, their captain and presumed escort - at best taciturn, at worst entirely mute - promptly deserted them by climbing back into his boat and setting off for Guernsey with rapid, powerful strokes. After standing on the beach, blinking in the clear sunshine, and then blinking at each

other for a while, Lindsey and Vida finally shrugged, picked up their bags, and began walking up the


A trackway, imprecisely defined, led them up a shallow rise speckled with shrubs and wildflowers.

Since neither of them was exactly used to exertion, even this simple climb was sufficient to wind them, to make them perspire in rather unladylike fashion. They were just contemplating a much-needed rest when they turned a corner, to be presented with an exquisitely-appointed cottage.

Is is this it? Vida panted.

I hope so, Lindsey replied. If it isnt, then we are hopelessly lost

They lumbered to the front door, surrounded by vividly flowering climbers. In the sunlit silence the sound of the knocker was percussive as a gunshot. After a pause, the door was opened, and a figure stepped forth. A deep, soft voice spoke.

Ah, Mamselles Vought and Laurimer, I presume - bienvenue. My name is Honorine Alsace

For a moment the girls could only blink in consternation. Philippe had informed Lindsey that his chosen governess was 27 years of age, which seemed deeply mature though not incomprehensibly old. He had not, however, given any indication of what a formidable figure Mrs (or should that be Madame?) Alsace presented. For a start, she was immensely tall - easily six feet, in Lindseys estimation. And in her fetching, panelled dress she gave an impression of a powerful, even slightly masculine physique, though she curved in all the right places. Her face, framed by rich, shoulder-length, darkest-brown curls, was elegantly sculpted: a sharp chin, high cheekbones, a precise, dignified nose. Her mouth was a taut, ripe bow; and from beneath thick black brows gazed the most penetrating ice-blue eyes either girl had ever seen. She was, by all accounts, beautiful - but it was a slightly scary form of beauty.

Pleased to meet you, Madame, Lindsey stammered, unaccustomedly diffident. The womans face

clouded, just a fraction.

I am Mademoiselle Alsace, she said curtly, her voice so heavily accented that, to the girls, it bordered on the comical. Unlike yourself, no husband, presently or intended.

In her turn, Honorine Alsace regarded her new charges with an appraising eye. Lindsey, the bride-to-be, was precisely as advertised - a winsome, possibly annoying, English rose. But her friend, Vida - Honorines intelligence had implied she was at best plain, at worst downright ugly; but what presented itself now was a handsome, olive-skinned hoyden whose somewhat sad eyes nonetheless glowed with character. This was all to the good - it signalled that this summer of isolation might not be as unbearable as she had at first feared.

Come inside, she said briskly. Since you are later than I was expecting, there will be no lessons today. I shall concentrate on getting you settled, and perhaps then I will show you something of the island.

Making no effort to assist them with their baggage, she showed them first to their small but comfortably-appointed rooms. The cottage - which, as is often the way with such structures, was larger than it appeared - gave off the requisite aura of cosiness and quaintness, but Lindsey was puzzled by one aspect.

Where are the rest of the staff? she enquired. When Honorine turned to look at her, those eyes were like headlight beams of sapphire.

There are no staff, Mamselle, she replied, and her pronunciation of there as zere almost made Vida titter. Lindsey pulled a face.

But who will do the cleaning? Who will prepare our meals?

We shall prepare our own meals, came the slightly brusque response, and we shall undertake whatever housework is necessary. Mamselle, you are not just here to learn French: no doubt, your French is already equivalent to my English; that is to say, adequate. But you are also here to learn how to be a French wife, and to perhaps lose some of your bourgeois affectation in the process.

Lindsey turned to look at Vida, who could only shrug - if nothing else, this was going be an

interesting visit.


Lo and behold, they did indeed collaborate with Mlle Alsace on a meal that first afternoon, emerging from an omelette relatively unscathed. The novel - if slightly tedious - exercise of clearing up, cleaning and putting away the utensils was mollified by further briefings from Honorine - it transpired that, whilst they could procure certain items from other houses scattered about the island, the bulk of their provisions would be delivered by rowing-boat, tides and weather permitting. Other than that, they were on their own - mornings would be given over to lessons (from which Vida would be neither excluded nor excused), but afternoons were for recreation as the girls saw fit. At weekends, there would be walks around the island, days on the beach, perhaps even swimming, provided all domestic requirements were up to snuff.

In the early evening, they had their first quick tour, which was to say a straight climb up the hill at whose foot the cottage nestled: the views, with almost all of the island visible to them, plus several of its neighbours, and the sun dipping towards a perfectly calm sea - were worth the effort. Almost directly below them, the narrow strip of beach upon which they had been deposited had been transformed into a vast, shimmering, sandy flat by the retreating tide.

Look, it goes for miles, gasped Lindsay. Honorine nodded.

We should take a walk out there, added Vida. Who knows what we might find in all those pools

and creeks?

It is not recommended, Mamselle - the sand is unstable, and the tides can be treacherous

All the more reason to do it, said Vida quietly. Risk makes for adventure

Honorine glanced at her, one eyebrow lifted.

An excellent point, Mamselle - I will make enquiries. If it is safe for us to do so, perhaps we shall mount a tidal expedition.

They made their way back to the cottage, after which there was the unexpected - and slightly illicit - pleasure of an evening glass of wine. By this stage the girls were quite properly exhausted, and after the usual ablutions they retired to bed. However, the uncertainty of new environments does not make for restful sleep, and deep in the night Vida resurrected her old school trick of sneaking silently into Lindseys room.

Lin? Are you awake?

I am now, Lindsey murmured, in what was a familiar refrain. She sat up as Vida settled on the edge of her lush, creaky bed.

What do you make of Mamselle Alsace? I think shes a bit peculiar, but dont you find her rather striking to look at?

If you say so. Personally, I dont care - so long as she teaches me how to be a better wife to Philippe, it will all be for the best.

Vida bit her lip.

Lindsey, youre youre quite sure about all this, arent you? You dont think you might be rushing into marriage, just a bit?

Certainly not, Lindsey harrumphed. Good grief, I wont be nineteen forever, and theres nothing worse for a girl of my status than to be left on the shelf.

Yes, but, Vida hesitated. Are you ready for all that a marriage entails?

Is that not the purpose of these next few weeks?

Lin, theres more to marriage than speaking French and knowing which wine to drink and which to put in the sauce.

Oh? And how did you become such an expert, all of a sudden?

Thats not fair, Vida snapped, hurt. Just because I dont have a fiance, doesnt mean I dont know anything

Im certain Mamselle will tell me everything I need to know, in its proper place and time, said Lindsey airily.

That I doubt, Vida countered, standing up abruptly and padding back to her own room.


Over the next few days, life settled into a pattern. Lindsey threw herself into the strange new educational regime with aplomb, undertaking to dazzle her tutor with application, as she had always

done in school. Vida, meanwhile, began increasingly to wonder what she was doing here: she was not going to live in France; she had no intentions of being a wife, now or in the immediate future; she

already considered herself at least partially domesticated. Her only reason for staying was loyalty to her friend, but it seemed Lindsey was already out of reach, fixated as she was upon the goal of her wedding, of Philippe. At least Mlle Alsace, for all her stern detachment, seemed to recognise this: she was noticeably easier on Vida than her primary pupil.

The arrival of Bannister with provisions signalled Friday, and their first impending weekend. As the girls struggled up the beach laden with goods, feeling much like the imperilled heroines of some childrens smuggler fantasy, Mlle Alsace lingered for a while before catching them up at the cottage.

I have spoken with Monsieur Bannister, she announced. He says that we shall have a favourable low tide tomorrow, and that provided we stay on the packed sands, and keep our wits about us, there should be no problem. Therefore, I propose we take up Vidas notion of exploring the tidal flats.

I dont know, mewled Lindsey. It still sounds awfully dangerous

Oh come on, Lin, Vida sighed. Youre not an old married woman just yet - cant you have just a little bit of excitement?

I am expecting Philippe to provide all the excitement I shall need, thank you very much. Lindsey was actively pouting now. Honorine flashed her what seemed, to Vida, a genuine glare.

Mamselle, I do not know the monsieur in question well enough to judge, but I do know that women should undertake opportunities for adventure whenever they arise. Therefore we shall - all three of us - conduct this expedition: there will be no further discussion.

Vida had never seen Lindsey even slightly scolded - frankly, it made her smile. She had been right: Mlle Alsace was a most unusual tutor, but Vida was beginning to like her, rather a lot.


Saturday evening came, clear and still. As they walked down to the beach, it seemed as if the sea had fled away completely: a vast, glistening plain of pale brown rolled out before them, seeming flat and featureless but, they knew, studded with vast pools like stranded lakes. Stepping into the unknown, their progress was attended by small puffs of seabirds that flew up suddenly and just as quickly vanished. The sensation of walking upon wet sand was slightly unsettling: it was both firm and yielding beneath their feet; each step carving out a moist divot and accompanied by a soft sucking sound.

They came upon the first of the pools, still as a mirror yet so deep they could not see its bottom. Fringing its edge, stepping over stray fronds of seaweed, they moved further away from the island, the space and the silence expanding around them, making them feel strangely small and insignificant. They had gone perhaps two-thirds of the way around its circumference when they encountered something that brought the three of them to a stand. Emerging from the pool there was a track: a wide, deep gouge in the sand running roughly towards the sea; as if something had been bodily dragged - or dragged itself - out of the pool. By taking strides, they estimated the width of this gouge as around six feet, and its curving aspect reminded of nothing so much as the trail an earthworm leaves in soil, should it venture above ground.

Curiosity now truly piqued, they followed the trail, keeping a watchful eye on their location relative to the receding shore, and mindful of the waters that must inevitably turn against them. The trail meandered, as if whatever had left it were lost, and moving with a great effort: it eventually terminated at the edge of a second pool, this one so massive that they could not actually see its far edge - it seemed to blend into the distant waterline itself. They were just contemplating this development when, without warning, something rose up from the centre of the pool. A large, black, vaguely seal-like head, perched atop a thick columnar neck projecting perhaps four feet above the surface: it looked at them with wide, black eyes that showed neither hostility nor fear.

The three of them were transfixed: Lindsey by terror, Honorine by sheer surprise and Vida by wonderment; even in her wildest dreams, she had not contemplated an adventure such as this. After a few seconds, the creature began to sink back below the water - Vida could not bear the thought of it vanishing so soon, and she sprinted forward, splashing carelessly into the pool, waving her arms and shouting.

Hey! Hey, over here, you brute!

Vida, what are you doing? Lindsey screamed. For Gods sake, dont attract its attention!

I just want it to come up again, Vida protested. I didnt get a good enough look

No, I dont want to see it! Lindsey was crying now, verging on hysteria. Its a horrible thing! Horrible, horrible

Mamselle, control yourself! Honorine snapped. Your darling Philippe will not appreciate a femme who falls to pieces at the first sign of unfamiliarity. That beast clearly does not wish us harm. And you, she beckoned to Vida, Come out of the water at once - you are more likely to frighten it away than anything

Vida shrugged, wading back towards them. The water had washed over the tops of her boots, and saturated the hem of her coat, but she didnt much care.

Now, said Mlle Alsace calmly, commandingly, We shall wait here, and see if our monstre marin reappears of its own accord.

They waited, but the pool was like a millpond, its glassy surface unruffled by the slightest movement. Presently Honorine became aware of the waves creeping now in their direction; a tell-tale breeze springing up.

Mamselles, we must go, she said firmly. Our time out here is fast expiring.

Briskly they retraced their steps - it seemed an undue distanced they walked before reaching the now familiar strip of dry sand, the sharp rise that took them towards the cottage. With almost every step, Vida could not help looking behind her, just in case - Lindsey merely kept her head down, her face pale and her eyes red. Honorine gently shepherded them along, her own expression serious and thoughtful.

Upon reaching the cottage, Lindsey took herself immediately to bed, complaining of some non-specific ailment. After giving her some time to herself, Honorine paid a visit to her putative invalide, taking with her a bottle that Vida suspected was not strictly medicinal. Meanwhile, Vida sat in the small, comfortable parlour, drying her feet by the fire, feeling at once enervated and excited. Concern for her friend fought with the sheer breathless thrill of what they had seen for prominence in her thoughts. She looked up as Honorine slipped back into the room.

How is she?

Mamselle Lindsey is comfortable, came the reply. I suspect the cognac I have just administered will make her more comfortable still

Should I go see her?

Non, Mamselle Vida - let her rest. She is upset, tired: nothing a good sleep cannot cure.

It isnt like her, Vida mused. To go to pieces, I mean. At school she was always so confident, so sure of herself.

At school, she was not engaged to be married, Honorine sighed, settling opposite. At school, she did not encounter monsters.

Vida looked up sharply. Was it a monster? It didnt seem all that monstrous to me.

It was a creature none of us could identify, Honorine shrugged. For my own part, I might describe it as some form of large, long-necked seal, but - in the absence of further details - monstre seems appropriate enough.

I still dont see why Lindsey got so frightened, Vida mused. I mean, it obviously wasnt going to hurt us

Honorine sighed wistfully.

Some people, like yourself, are inspired by new experiences; others are terrified by them - we learned that in the War.

Vida looked at her with wide eyes.

Were you in the War?

Honorines face soured, and she shook her head.

Non, unfortunately. I wanted to volunteer for the Red Cross, but my family would not permit it. I was a marraine de guerre - I wrote stupid letters of comfort to soldiers at the front, in hospitals. I actually thought I was helping, but in truth I was just being frivolous.

I always thought Lindsey would make a fine nurse, Vida mused. She is so kind and gentle

Honorine looked at her intently. You love her, dont you?

Vida seemed nonplussed by the question. She blinked furiously.

Well of course I love her - she is my best friend

Non, it is more than that, replied Honorine firmly. I see the way you look at her, the way you constantly try to impress and entertain. In her presence you are like one starving - I would call that love.

Vida blushed vividly, her eyes downcast.

I - Im sure I have no idea what you mean, Mamselle.

You should tell her, you know, Honorine said, and her voice was commanding, matronly. Before it is too late.

Vida looked, her thoughtful, mournful eyes limpid.

Dont you think its too late already?

Non, I do not. Until the moment Philippe places that ring upon her finger, it will never be too late.


Vida just could not sleep. She rolled and roiled in her bed, head a riot of sea creatures, vague affections and cryptic governesses. Wide awake at some small number, she longed to visit Lindsey - but Lindsey was medicated, and besides, what could she possibly say without coming across as utterly ridiculous? Instead, she levered herself stealthily from under the covers and let her bare feet guide her in an entirely different direction.

Mamselle Alsaces room was an inky black void, with only the vague pale mass of her bed visible. Having eased open her door, Vida stood undecided on the threshold, waiting for a ruffle of bedclothes;

a creaking of old springs.

Mamselle, she whispered into nothingness. Are you awake?

There was a noncommittal grunt, followed by a brief silence, then a stir of activity. From out of the ether - or so it seemed - a lamp glimmered into life. Honorine, her hair wildly and somewhat beautifully dishevelled, blinked in her direction.

Vida? Is that you? Is something wrong?

Summoning her nerve, Vida closed the door behind her and padded to the edge of the bed. She sat down. She shrugged helplessly.

I just - I just cant stop thinking about what you said, earlier. How did you know?

Honorine rubbed her eyes, smiled gently.

I had a friend too, you know - back before la Guerre. Her name was Chantal: she looked a little bit like you, and she had the most extraordinary laugh. Unlike myself, she actually became a nurse, went off to a field hospital, near the Front - I was so jealous

In the lamplight, Mamselles eyes were wistful and moist.

There was an explosion - a stray shell, they said. Chantal and four of her patients were killed: just a few more among the many millions. But I loved her, do you see? And I never got the chance to tell her that

Vida bit her lip.


But if you had, she probed tentatively. What do you think would have happened?

Why, I suspect we would have become lovers. That is what I hoped for, at least.

Vidas face was pale in the gaseous glow, her mouth open and her heart beating preternaturally fast.

Lovers? she breathed. But how? I mean, its not possible

Honorine smiled wryly.

Perhaps not where you come from, Mamselle - but in my country it certainly is. Such things may not be common, but they most certainly occur.

Vida swallowed, hard. Her head was throbbing.

And you think if I told Lindsey how - how I feel about her, then we could?

There are no guarantees, said Honorine gently. Mamselle Lindsey might shrink from your affection as she shrank from our friendly monstre. But at least you would know your love was unrequited - with Chantal, I never got the chance to find out: uncertainty will break your heart more surely than the truth.

Vida merely stared, her lower lip trembling. She could feel an enormous pressure in her breast, as if something huge was uncoiling inside - a monster, perhaps?

If, she said, uncertainly, If it did happen - what could we do?

Honorine brought her face close, her look at once serious and indulgent.


I could teach you, if you wish, she whispered. After all, that is what I am here to do

Vidas nod was almost imperceptible, certainly enough that it could perhaps be plausibly denied. Nonetheless, Honorine put her hands to the sides of Vidas face, leaned forward, and kissed her. The kiss was soft, dry; held just long enough for their lips to adhere slightly, to produce a faint, percussive knell as they parted. Vidas lips seemed to tingle and blossom in the aftermath; her eyes shimmered dreamily. Honorine kissed her again, and behind the tenderness of her lips there was force and hunger: a sense of longing and passion and ineffable sadness all somehow conveyed in this simple press of lips. Honorine shaped her mouth, obliging Vida to follow suit, the girl tensing then softening as the friction between them gave way suddenly to warm silkiness. Vida held her breath, dizzied, as her lips were teased apart, the tip of Honorines tongue easing gently between them, delineating their shape, dabbing lightly against the smooth marble edifice of her teeth. And as it slipped into her mouth, a sudden, mobile succulence, Vida felt the colour rising fast in her cheeks, her pulse suddenly racing. She pulled back, literally breathless.

Do you dislike it? Honorine asked, her expression maddeningly neutral, poised betwixt intense emotion and professorial formality.

I Vida had no idea what to say - she felt ever so slightly unreal. Im not sure

Honorines hands slipped down to the base of Vidas throat, itself vividly flushed. Before the girl could quite comprehend it, the bow of her nightdress had been briskly slipped. She flinched, just a little, as the garment was opened, exposing the tender, hanging-pear ripeness of her breasts. With immense delicacy Honorine ran her fingertips over their yieldingly tensile surface: Vida shivered, her dark hair faintly roiling, and gasped as sensation flared across her bosom, her nipples suddenly filled with throbbing warmth; becoming incongruously heavy and turgid under feather light caress. And then Honorines mouth was upon her own once more: open, wet-lipped, her tongue a surging wash of sweetness blown in on a storm of jasmine breath. Vidas own tongue retreated, quivering, then uncurled to greet the intruder, to wrap it in sticky threads of syrupy saliva; to greedily possess it and

swallow it down. Their tongues danced like a play of fountains, fluidly intermingling: Vida struggled to breathe evenly as her heart tried to thunder its way out of her chest. She felt clammy, feverish - she had no idea what she was doing, but did not want to stop.

Honorines hands were upon her breasts again, this time firmer and more intent: fingers cupping and moulding her plump pliability, thumb-tips stroking the stiff penumbras of her nipples, making them ache savagely, sweetly. Vida mewled faintly, deep in the back of her throat: she was losing hold of herself; it seemed there were fires being set throughout her body, glowing in unnameable places; threatening to burn out of control. When this latest, epic kiss sundered, it felt like emerging from under a blanket, from underwater: she guzzled sweet air helplessly. Honorines hands were still moulded around her breasts, cupping their feminine mass.

Are you frightened? Honorine hissed. Vida could not speak - she shook her head, just enough.

Do you still want to learn?

Vida swallowed hard, against a throat suddenly gone dry. She tried to make her trembling lips form a smile.

Yes, she managed to croak. Teach me everything

Honorine lifted her breasts a little, and it seemed to Vida that her whole body surged upwards in unison. Lowering her head, Honorine snaked out her tongue and let it skitter around the periphery of Vidas engorged nipples, each in turn - the sensation was at once soothing and inflaming, making Vida shiver, her throat catch. Then Honorine parted her lips and drew one distended teat into her mouth, her tongue-tip flickering over its cylindrical nub: Vida felt a surge of something primal, maternal, fundamentally feminine; she gasped, instinctively putting a hand to the back of the governesss head, pulling her on like a suckling infant.


With faint, wetly percussive sounds Honorine attended each nipple: her actions gentle, precise but above all relentless; leaving glistening flesh so taut and inflamed it was almost sore. Vida began to tremble softly, filled with an ineffable anticipation, a heady mix of girlish excitement and deep foreboding. Something was happening, something profound and life-changing - twas as if her nipples were a key, unlocking secret pleasures, sweet sensations; her whole body seemed to be rippling, become clammy, slightly sticky with longing.

With the tenderness of a nanny, Honorine gently drew her down onto the covers, shuffling around so that she was atop her charge. With daintily insistent tugs she began to pull Vidas nightdress down from her waist: the girl did not hesitate, lifting her bottom almost eagerly and then flicking her ankles so that the garment slid free. She thought she might feel embarrassed, humiliated to be naked in the presence of Mamselle Alsace, but under that cool blue, slightly haughty gaze she felt strangely sanguine, even appreciated - a living objet dart. Honorine descended upon her once more, kissing her wetly, voluptuously, making her quiver.

Mamselle, she whispered, I am going to make love to you now, the way that women do: the sensations will be strange, possibly overwhelming; if you need me to stop at any time, I will. For Mamselle Lindseys sake, I would urge you not to make too much noise - should you feel a need to cry out, stuff a corner of blanket into your mouth and bite down. Now: you are happy for me to continue?

Vida nodded mutely, wondering for a moment what she was letting herself in for, but committed nonetheless. Her heart thundered like an express; there was a peculiar tickling, trickling sensation emanating from between her legs, that secret seat of strange and unsettling feelings. After another, surprisingly chaste kiss, Honorine slipped down, her eyes raking Vidas body as though it were newly-conquered territory - perhaps it was. Pausing, the governess planted a fleeting dab of her lips upon Vidas navel, then repeated the process on each of her knees, drawing her thighs provocatively, slightly shamefully open in the process. At the heart of this deltaic mapping lay the rich thicket of night-black curls, within lurked the stealthy seam that for so many years had been a simple, unheralded point of

evacuation, but now - Vida knew with some uncanny, newly-hatched womanly instinct - held the

promise of so much more. Honorine regarded it a moment, then glanced up with an azure flash of pure, thrilling wickedness. She dipped her head then, and for Vida everything turned abruptly crimson.

Fire seemed to flood her - a great wave, a sheet of flame rolling up from where Honorine licked her, filling every extremity of her body. Her whole being appeared to kick with the sudden, soft force: her back arched, and she choked off a cry. As Honorines tongue lapped with gentle ruthlessness at her raw, dilating sex she shuddered uncontrollably, her breath gone abruptly ragged; unable to focus on anything save the blistering sensations overwhelming her. Unbearable agony clashed with unending delight, making her writhe and twitch even as she remained passive, pliant. Fighting to regain control of her senses she raised her head, looking down upon the awful, astounding actuality of Mlle Alsaces face wedged between her legs, doing such things to her, sending her somewhere she had never even dreamed. Instinctively she slipped a hand down onto Honorines head, though she would never truly know if her intention was to push away or encourage - the hair was heavy and silken beneath her fingertips. Honorine glanced up, their eyes met, and at the same instant the womans tongue-tip curled decisively up from the base of Vidas clitoris to its straining, glossy vermilion tip. Vida grabbed a handful of blanket, stuffed it into her mouth: nonetheless, it felt like she screamed the house down as her body rang like a gong; become tensile, become steel. A sense of inevitability, terrifying and elating, gripped her: pulse trilling as her feverish quivers became uncontrollable. Her fingers clutched viciously at Honorines hair, tearing and pulling; biting down hard upon rough fabric she poured herself like honey into the governesss mouth; sluicing and sobbing with degenerate, incomparable release.

Helpless in the aftermath - shivering, weak as a kitten; nose and eyes freely running. She could not move, could not speak, but her breathing was deep and desperate as Honorine slipped gently up to kiss her softly once more - upon her lips a sharp, sweet essence Vida did not care to identify.

There, Mamselle, did that please you?

Vida was too bewildered to answer - she half nodded, half shook her head.


I - Im not sure I could ever do anything like that she whispered. Certainly not with Lindsey.

Ah, but you are brave, Mamselle Vida - should the time and circumstance arrive, I do not think you will be found wanting. Honorine sighed. And now, forgive my discourtesy, but I think it was time you returned to your own bed, non?

Vida smiled, retrieved her nightgown, got to her feet a trifle unsteadily. As she padded towards the door she turned abruptly.

Mamselle Honorine? she hissed. Will you teach me some more?

Oui, Honorine nodded lazily. When the opportunity arises, I will show you more. But for now, sleep Mamselle - this has been a long, strange day, and we shall both of us need our rest