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Lizzie is a pretty, but quite simple village girl when circumstances lead her to the artist, Theo.
She made a bad marriage to Lionel, a man who mistreated her, and who then threw her out when she refused to sell her body on the streets for him. Now she is trying to make her way alone.
Theo is the rebellious son of a Viscount, who left his privileged background to pursue his chosen career as an artist. His favourite subjects are pretty young women whom he loves to paint in the nude. He is delighted, therefore, when the beautiful Lizzie knocks on his door one day and offers her services as a model.
It is only a matter of days before the mutual attraction ignites between them and they become lovers. Despite village gossip, they are happy. Until Lionel, hearing that his wife is now living with the artist, erupts in a jealous rage and snatches her back while Theo is away and unable to protect her.
Upon finding Lizzie gone, Theo sets off in hot pursuit, determined to find the model for whom his feelings are growing daily. He soon catches up with Lizzie and Lionel, but during the hot-headed rescue, things take a tricky turn with an unexpected consequence.
Lionel is dead.
Unwilling to be charged with murder, and possibly hanged, Theo and Lizzie flee to Italy, where they try to start a new life together. But the past has a way of catching up with everyone, and they are no exception.
Can the love between a son of a Viscount and an illiterate country girl survive after such a troubled start? And will they have to face justice for the murder of Lizzie’s husband?
Publisher's Note: This is an erotic tale of a young couple in mid-nineteenth century England and Italy, with some explicit themes, including spanking, MFM ménage, and some F/F lovemaking
Lizzie felt her leg becoming numb from lying in the same position for such a long time. Did she dare move it a tiny bit? Would Mr Harper, the artist, realize that she had moved? She could wait no longer and inched her leg very quietly forward by about two inches.
"Stay still, please. You must stay in the same position for a little longer."
"My apologies, sir, but my leg has gone quite numb. I really need to stretch it a little."
He looked a tad irritated, but acquiesced grudgingly.
"Very well. Stand up and stretch if you must. Please do not move far, as I simply must make use of all the available light and it will soon be twilight."
Lizzie stood up and almost overbalanced as she put her weight on the numb leg. She reached for her robe. It was strange that she could lie around naked for any number of hours that Mr Harper sketched and painted her, but the moment that she came out of her pose, she felt the need for the decorum of the robe. She could no more stride around the room naked than she could run down the lane in such a state, but the thought of walking around the room in the nude made her flesh shiver and gave her a pleasant feeling in her groin. She tried to rid her mind of such naughty thoughts.
Theodore Harper smiled to himself, although his face retained its usual inscrutable features. The girl had been lying down, her limbs spread sufficiently that he could catch sight of her lovely little quim, and now she needed to cover herself simply to have a stretch? He had been painting women for many years, and come to know many of them intimately, and he still found them to be a puzzle. Mind you, this young woman was a rare little piece, looking as though butter wouldn't melt in her soft, sensual mouth, and possessing an innocent-looking face, while having the wild, auburn locks, the creamy skin and voluptuous body of a woman who needed to be seduced. No, not seduced, but fucked fast and hard by someone such as himself.
His cock began to twitch and he adjusted himself out of sight of the girl. He tried not to get involved with his models while they were working, but sometimes he found the temptation too much to manage. He was only human, after all. He put his palette and brush down on the small table next to the easel and stretched his arms. He, too, was a little stiff in more ways than one. Perhaps he should call it a day?
"I think we have done enough for today. Are you able to come again tomorrow?"
"Yes, sir. I am free all day. What time shall I come?"
"Not too early. I don't like getting out of my bed before ten or eleven o'clock. Come at noon and I will make us both something to eat before we start."
"Thank you, sir. May I get dressed now?"
Theodore nodded his assent and the girl went behind the screen to put on her worn, calico dress and shawl, and down-at-heel boots. She emerged and hesitated a moment. Theodore realized that he hadn't paid her, so put his hand in his pocket and pulled out some coins. The girl had asked him if she could be paid daily and he guessed that she was in urgent need of the money if her appearance was anything to go by. That was why he had offered her a sandwich on her arrival today, and the promise of another one tomorrow. He was sure that she wasn't eating very much and he didn't want to paint a woman whose ribs stood out from her body.
After Lizzie had left, Theodore cleaned his brushes methodically, ready for the next day and musing on his luck in coming across such a lovely young thing. The sight of her had set his cock a dancing, but he must keep himself in check for now, as much as he wished to spread those soft, curvy thighs and discover the delights within.
He put those enticing thoughts to the back of his mind and decided to go to the tavern nearby for some supper and a mug of ale. A local woman called Mrs Jones usually came to cook him some food each day and perform a few other chores, but she was away this week visiting her sister, so he had to fend for himself for a while. He would have a chat with Albert, the landlord, to find out something about his model, Lizzie. There was something about the girl he found intriguing, and he wanted to know more. There was little happening in the district about which Albert was unaware.
There were just four men in the tavern when he pushed open the heavy oak door and ducked under the low beam—something a man of his height of six feet was wise to do. Albert had lit a fire in the hearth against the chill of a late September evening in England, and was standing behind the bar, polishing some mugs.
"Evening, Theo. I expect you will be wanting some supper, with Mrs Jones being away?"
There clearly wasn't much that escaped the attention of the landlord.
"Yes, Albert. What has your good wife got to offer tonight? Perhaps one of her hearty stews?"
Albert's wife was very large and plain, but she was a good cook, which, for the wife of an inn landlord, was a useful skill to have. A man could overlook a plain face if he had a full belly.
"I reckon she has a mutton stew prepared. I'll let her know you are here."
Albert disappeared for a moment, reappearing with a smile.
"She says that she will be out with a large plate of mutton stew and some fresh baked crusty bread in ten minutes. What can I get you to drink, Theo? The usual ale?"
Theodore nodded his assent and sat down on the high stool in front of the bar. Albert didn't have any customers vying for his attention and seemed to want to pass the time with the artist, whom he had known a good many years.
"You know a girl named Lizzie Prendergast, Albert?"
He would be very surprised if the landlord did not know such a pretty young thing, even if she did come from a neighbouring village.
Albert gave Theo a sly look. He knew that his friend spent a lot of time painting naked ladies, which caused quite a lot of tutting by the church ladies and other so-called 'respectable' women of the village. Secretly he was quite jealous, but wouldn't dare say anything in front of his wife, Ann, even if she did have a soft spot for Westford's resident artist.
"You painting her?"
"Yes, she started yesterday. Came to me with a sad tale and looking destitute, and you know me, Albert, I'm a sucker for a sob story. Besides that she has a pretty face and a tempting body, and I'm not known for turning away a beautiful woman in distress."
"Got a reputation as a tart, Theo, from gossip I heard last time I was in the market at Chatterton. Seems her husband caught her in the arms of another man, not three months after he had wed her. Apparently the man ran off before he could lay his hands on him, but he threw his wife out there and then, without a penny to her name. Some say she has to beg for her food now after several respectable households turned down her pleading for a job as a maid or suchlike. My missus reckons she will probably be lifting her skirt and dropping her drawers for anyone who will have her. There don't appear to be much sympathy for her around here it seems."
Theo gave a rueful grin.
"Well she is obviously dropping her drawers for me, Albert, but purely for artistic purposes, you understand. I try not to get involved with my models if I can help it. She's quite a sweet little thing though, so bedding her would not be a great hardship."
Their conversation ceased as the landlord's wife came out of the kitchen carrying a large plate of mutton stew and some crusty bread. She beamed at Theo and came over a little coquettish towards the artist, as though she was a young girl again.
"Here you are, Mr Harper, a plate of my delicious mutton stew. I've put some extra pieces of meat on there for my favourite customer, and with some bread fresh from the oven to dip in the gravy."
Theo moved over to a small table nearby, where the woman had placed the plates. He would normally no more flirt with a woman like Mrs Smith than he would kiss a lady with smallpox, but he knew that it was best to flatter a woman who took good care of him in the food department when Mrs Jones was away. He treated her to a few choice compliments which sent her back to the kitchen with her cheeks a little rosier than before. If Albert played his cards right he might get lucky tonight after Theo's sweet-talking. Theo doubted that she received much sweet-talking from her husband, so his words might just have done the trick, and the landlord would not suspect that it was Theo's face that was in her mind as her husband poked the fire down below.
After a hearty supper and another mug of ale, Theo went back to his cottage. There wasn't anyone in the tavern that he particularly wanted to engage in conversation, so he decided on an early night. Before turning in, he took his lantern and stood in front of the painting of the girl, Lizzie. It was still in its very early stages, of course, but already there were the smooth curves of those luscious hips, the mass of hair, yet to be painted the wonderful shade of auburn, the kissable lips, slightly parted, and the pert little nose. He felt a stirring of his cock and wondered where his little model was sleeping tonight.
Lizzie was, in fact, sleeping in the place where she had been this past week, the hay barn of Oak Lane Farm. Her only companions were a half dozen heifers munching on hay in the pen below the loft, which she had reached by the rickety ladder. She didn't mind the proximity of the cattle, being a country girl and well used to the sounds and smells of the farmyard, but she wondered, as each day passed, whether she was beginning to smell like the animals with whom she shared a home. She did her best to wash in the stream that ran fifty yards beyond the farm entrance, but she had no spare clothes that would enable her to wash the ones she wore each day, and wondered how long it would be before the artist noticed her smell and raised his objections to it.
She had heard about Theodore Harper from one of the girls she had encountered on the nights she had spent wandering the streets after her husband had thrown her out of the house. It had seemed the only option open to her to earn some money for food, after attempts to gain respectable employment had failed because of her reputation—a reputation that she did not deserve. She bitterly resented her husband spreading the false and malicious lies about her after her utter refusal to earn money for him by walking the streets as a common prostitute, and regretted the day she had met him.
Lizzie had been the eldest of nine children from a very poor family, and when Lionel Prendergast had passed through the village with his gypsy caravan, from which he sold pegs and kindling, and other household items, and had set eyes on her for the first time, he had recognized a striking young woman he thought could earn him a pretty penny in the taverns of the towns and villages through which he passed; lying on her back in the back of the caravan, or up against the alley wall next to the inn. Her father had not needed much persuasion to allow him to marry his daughter and remove one of the mouths to feed in his household. Life as a labourer in 1850 was hard already, and even more so because of his wife's uncanny ability to produce a new child every year or two. He didn't recognize his own part played in the matter.
Lizzie had, at first, been taken in by the gypsy charm of Lionel, but it wasn't long before she had realized what he was expecting from her as a way of earning money to pay for her keep. He had thought that a few judicious threats and a lick of his belt would convince her of his serious intent, but Lizzie was made of sterner stuff than Lionel had first thought, and the threat of a beating from her husband was not enough to convince her of her need to comply with his orders.
Eventually, after realising that his new young wife was not to be persuaded by words or threats, he had sent his friend, Tom, to show her what was expected of her—by force if necessary. Lionel had hung around near the caravan, listening to a very irate Lizzie shouting and yelling as Tom had tried to impose himself on her. Seconds later he heard a loud yell in a masculine voice, followed by a string of curses. Lionel had entered the caravan to see Tom doubled over in pain, having been kicked very hard in the groin by his wife. Infuriated by her intransigence, Lionel had grabbed Lizzie by the scruff of her neck and thrown her out of the caravan, with instructions not to return, and within a half hour, his caravan had rolled out of town, leaving a destitute Lizzie wondering how she was to survive.
It was no use appealing to her family. Her father had made it quite clear when she left that his responsibilities for her were now finished, and that her future was up to her. Word soon went around the district, spread by an irate husband, that Lizzie was nothing but a tart, who had been caught cheating on her innocent husband, and Lizzie then found that no one would employ her in his home or business because of that. Lionel had little pity for his wife, and told Tom, "Serves the stuck-up wench right; thinks she's a cut above everyone else. Well, let's see how she manages out on the street. She'll come crawling back with her tail between her legs the next time I pass through here."
Approaching the artist at his home had taken a great deal of courage, and Lizzie had knocked on his door with some trepidation. The thought of taking off her clothes for a strange man to paint her had made her heart beat fast within her chest and had made the palms of her hands clammy, but it had been either this or beg on the street, and Lizzie had a strong will to survive and a reluctance to depend on the charity of strangers. She had taken the plunge and had waited anxiously for the artist to open the door.
Theo rose earlier than usual the next morning, having turned in early the night before. He regretted telling Lizzie not to come until mid-day now, anxious to make use of the bright morning sunshine, but could do nothing about it, as he had no knowledge of where the girl was living. He decided to take a walk instead.
It was pure chance that he picked Oak Lane to stroll down. It was a pretty walk, with magnificent, fully-grown oak trees that gave it its name, and a stream meandering in the dip by the side of the road amongst the trees. Just before he reached the farm entrance, he spotted movement below him. Creeping a little closer he realized it was Lizzie, having her morning wash in the stream, and he darted behind one of the trees to watch without being seen. It was foolish to hide, he told himself, when he could look at that wonderful body all day while he painted her. But there was something wonderfully erotic in spying in secret his little flame-haired model, performing her morning ablutions. She clearly thought herself completely hidden from prying eyes, for there was not a trace of inhibition in her movements.
Lizzie was standing ankle deep at the edge of the water, and had tucked her skirt up on either side of her body to avoid it getting wet. The blouse she wore on the top half of her body was unbuttoned halfway down her chest, and the soft roundness of the top of her breasts were peeking out through the gap. She had a rag in her hand and pushed it down the opened buttons and under her arms. The dampness from the rag caught against the front of the blouse and made the material stick to her breasts, causing her nipples to stand to attention. That was not the only thing that was standing to attention. In his trousers, Theo felt his cock expanding and straining against the rough material.
A bird chirped on one of the branches above Lizzie's head, and she raised her face to look up at it. Her pose, with her mass of auburn hair flowing backwards down her back, lips open and breasts pushing outwards against her blouse, made the artist in Theo want to paint her in such a pose, and made the man in Theo want to fuck that woman so badly he was afraid he might come in his trousers.
Having washed her upper body, Lizzie now concentrated on the lower half. Theo was unsure whether he could safely watch without giving himself away by a sigh or a groan. She bent forwards to rinse the rag in the water, away from where Theo was hidden, and he caught a glance of her perfect, shapely bottom peeking out from the bottom of her skirt. What a glorious arse, he thought to himself, and what he wouldn't give to bring the palm of his hand down on that soft, creamy flesh, leaving the imprint of his hand on her behind.
In his usual insouciant way, and careless of whether anyone was watching, Theo slid his hand down the front of his trousers and massaged his cock while Lizzie pushed the rag up the front of her skirt and through her thighs, to clean the area where Theo longed for his cock to be right now. He closed his eyes for a moment and imagined his own hand reaching up between her legs and around her sweet little quim. When he opened them again, Lizzie was already walking out of the stream, pulling her skirt back down and buttoning her blouse. Theo pulled back behind the tree in case she looked up towards the lane and saw him. When next he dared to look, she had gone. He walked quickly to reach his home so that he could relieve the ache in his groin. If he didn't get rid of that erection before Lizzie arrived at mid-day he doubted that he would be able to control himself in her presence, and he didn't want to scare her away. No, he had best finish his picture first before he gave in to his baser desires.
Lizzie strode up the bumpy road towards the artist's house. She was anticipating the sandwich he had promised her, her first food of the day. Her belly ached for the lack of it. To distract herself from her hunger she thought about the man who would be looking at her naked body all day. She had never met such a man before; a man who could see her bare skin, yet resist the urge to paw her and make vulgar comments as her husband had done. She hadn't even realized that men did such a thing for a living, never having seen a painting of a naked woman before.
When she had first heard that Mr Harper was seeking a model she had been very reluctant to approach him for fear that he would see her as a common prostitute, as others did. But he was different from other men. He did not try to impress or flatter her. In fact, he had hardly conversed with her at all in the two days that she had worked for him. Instead he had just looked at her in an intense way, as though he was seeking an inner part of her—in her brain, perhaps, or maybe her heart?
He could not be called conventionally handsome, but there was a charm in his tousled dark hair, his broad shoulders, his dark eyes with a hint of passion within, and his sheer masculinity. He was a man who was not used to being questioned or challenged by the world around him, and even if he was, Lizzie was sure that he would pay little heed to other people's opinions of him. He was intelligent, but apparently had ceased his formal education at the age of sixteen when he ran off to Europe to learn to paint from Master artists in Italy and France, according to local gossip.
A few of the more adventurous local women had tried to flirt with the man whom they found intriguing and a little dangerous. And some, over the three years in which he had lived among them, had, it was rumoured, come to know him in the carnal sense, but he was very discreet about his conquests, unwilling to have vengeful husbands or fathers breaking down his door, so Lizzie didn't know if the tales she had heard about him were true or merely unfounded gossip.
Whatever the truth about the artist, she was in no position to be choosy. It was either take her clothes off for him to paint her, or take off her clothes for people such as her husband and his friend Tom to abuse her and force her down the path to ruin.