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Thomas Montgomery seeks out troubled ladies that are in need of a strict and proper upbringing, encouraging them to join Alton Reform. Discovering Elizabeth Grey alone by the tavern at night, he insists he accompany her on the journey home to ensure she makes her return safely. It is her sharp tongue and fiery defiance that makes him desire her as his little Lizzie.
Without reservation, he suggests to her father that Elizabeth be sent away to Alton Reform, a school known for its strict disciplinary measures to create fine young ladies capable of obeying their husbands. Ladies that without such correction would wind up in an asylum for their tenacious and troublesome ways.
Unwed and with no prospects of marriage, Elizabeth is forced by her father to attend Alton Reform and be trained by her governess under the headmaster’s guidance.
Elizabeth does not take well to Alton Reform’s ways of discipline. Unpleased after a stern spanking to her bare bottom, Elizabeth runs away, only to be caught by Mr. Thomas Montgomery.
Will he force her to return to Alton Reform? Can Thomas show Elizabeth that love can be gained from discipline? How will she feel when he confesses his desire to make her his little Lizzie?
*Little Lizzie’s Reform features elements of age play, anal play, discipline, and graphic sex.
The hour drew later as the cool spring air caressed her cheek and forced the hem of her dress to raise just slightly to make her uncomfortable. She pushed the dark lavender lace down, the hem falling to her feet, nearly covering the silver heels she’d borrowed from her childhood friend. Isabel and Elizabeth were inseparable, at least they were until Isabel was carted off by her father and married to a merchant in London.
Elizabeth knew her father would have a fit to discover his daughter out well past curfew and probably would consider the same fate for his own troubled young woman, who had no desire to settle down or keep house for her husband, bearing him children and whatever else was expected in a wifely position. She did well to avoid all men, because if they did not know her then they could not ask for her hand in marriage. Was it not better to be an old maid than a slave to one’s husband?
The moon lit up the night sky along with a sprinkling of stars scattered up above. Elizabeth could not contain the anxious feeling of wanting to get out and dance. Isabel had been the first spark of her unkempt ways, teaching her to dress as a boy at the tavern, until eventually they no longer cared and donned dresses appropriate enough for a wench.
The gowns would never have been purchased by her father, not with her corset fashioning off her ample cleavage for anyone within sight to gaze at her freckled chest. Her attire was beyond improper and her manners were no better, crawling through the window of her bedroom and trudging through dirt and flower beds to sneak off to the tavern for a taste of bubbly and an hour on the dance floor.
She always traveled just out of range of where she lived, far enough not to stumble upon a neighbor who might recognize her and report back to her father of what was discovered. Her father was well known among those in town. She worried less about sullying her reputation and more for the fact her father might punish her, again.
With Isabel gone from her life, Elizabeth strode in through the front door of the tavern, not thinking twice about being alone. The music pulsed through the space, chatter and laughter echoing over the wooden floor. Drinking was forbidden by her father, as was sneaking out, but she waltzed to the bar, put down a penny and waited for her mug.
The bartender merely shook his head but did not refuse her service. “Where’s the blonde you come in with?”
“Isabel,” Elizabeth said, correcting him. “She couldn’t make it tonight.” The young red-head held a small ounce of hope that her friend would find her way back to her at the tavern. It would not be so difficult, if her new husband slept soundly and did not notice the empty bed at his side.
Lifting the drink, she sipped at the froth, feeling the bubbly slide down her throat, the taste far from pleasant, but it eased her cares as she finished the drink and swayed her hips on her way to the dance floor.
A few patrons had already taken up space and Elizabeth moved to the rhythm of the music. The beat pulsed through the room, the air warm but not unpleasant as she joined in with the others, swinging and twirling, forgetting the hour, she stayed until closing.
Buttoning her coat, she pulled it tighter as she headed for the door on her way out of the tavern.
“Please do not tell me you came alone,” a gentleman with thick brown hair said as he held open the door for her. He towered above Elizabeth, gazing down at her with a stern gaze.
“My friend left early,” Elizabeth said; it was a lie. Had Isabel shown up, she would have had someone to accompany her at least half way home on foot. The walk was not bad, she had learned ways to cut through town and make the journey quicker.
“Right,” he said, staring at her, sizing her up. He did not so much as blink as he refused to look away.
He had the palest blue eyes that she had ever seen, with thick dark lashes that matched his mahogany hair. He was striking, no doubt, but Elizabeth had done well to avoid men and did not wish to change her ways now. She hadn’t paid anyone much attention in the tavern, but the way he answered, she half-wondered if he’d been watching her.
He shook his head, clearly unpleased. “It is not right for a lady such as yourself to be walking alone at night. I shall accompany you home. Unless you have a carriage waiting for you?” He glanced outside, waiting to see if her coachman would show himself and take responsibility for the girl being on her own. No one came forward.
“Sir, I do not know you,” Elizabeth said, glancing at him from head to toe. He was well dressed, a striking gentleman a few years older than her. “It would be improper for you, a stranger, to walk me to my door.” He appeared pleasant and kind but that did not mean the moment they stepped away from the tavern that he would not turn on her and insist to steal her virtue in the darkened streets. Perhaps she was foolish for being so cautious but she could not help the feeling that she found unsettling as he offered to escort her home. Besides, should he escort her to the door, her father would have had a fit to discover she had snuck out.
“Then perhaps my coachman and I will accompany you to your home. Surely your husband or father would be grateful to know that you have returned safely.”
He didn’t seem to back down, no matter how hard she pushed that she did not require an escort to accompany her home.
“Or better yet, I shall pay him a visit and request his presence. It is entirely improper for you to walk alone at night, young lady. I do not wish to see any harm come to you, and after the moon has risen, it would be best if you had someone to walk you home.”
She wanted to slap him for speaking to her as though she were incapable of taking care of herself. The hour drew later and Elizabeth knew without a doubt that her father would be unpleased if he was awoken by a stranger and alerted that she had snuck out without his knowledge. It would be best to put the matter to bed, allowing the handsome gentleman and his coachman to escort her home. At least she would not be alone. She had to trust that both men had her best interests at heart and would not take advantage of her. A knot formed in the pit of her stomach. She’d been foolish to go out alone without her best friend. Next time, she’d see to it that Isabel accompanied her, even if they were cities apart.
“You may escort me home,” Elizabeth said, taking his thick hand as he led her into the carriage. She sat down upon the bench, having a glance outside at the darkened trees and shrubbery. It was difficult to see much beyond the light of the moon.
“It would be my pleasure.”
Elizabeth gave him directions, surprised that the coachman seemed to know his way without needing specifics beyond her address. Their town was not entirely small, but perhaps quaint enough to feel like home, always.
She felt the jostled bump as the coach approached her father’s cottage and as the horses pulled to a standstill, she stood and exited the carriage.
The handsome gentleman with a striking jawline and a gaze that she could not tear her eyes from accompanied her from the carriage.
“What are you doing?” Elizabeth asked in a harsh whisper. She attempted to keep her voice down, as to not alert her father. In order to get back into the house unnoticed, it would require her sneaking in through the window of her bedroom, the same way she had slipped out for the night.
“Making sure you get inside safely,” he said, his hand finding the small of her back as he walked her forward, up to the front door.
She found his touch both arousing and unsettling, the fact that he felt it necessary to lay any claim to her was not his to have, but no man had so much as put a finger on her and that alone sent her cunny into a dizzy array of tingles. Elizabeth pulled back from his grasp, unpleased to be followed up to the door like a child.
“It is best you go, now. I do not wish for you to waste another moment on me,” Elizabeth said, trying to make it seem as though she was thinking of him and not herself in this very moment. Did he not have more important matters that needed attending to at such a late hour?
He laughed softly under his breath. “That’s nonsense.” He strode up alongside of her and tried the door handle, finding it locked. He waited a moment, presumably expecting her to withdraw a key from her pocket. It did not happen.
Elizabeth grimaced, her face an unpleasant scowl as her bottom lip jutted forward. She screwed up royally and her father would have a fit, punishing her for such insubordinate behavior. She’d snuck out countless times but she tried not to get caught. Knocking on the door would just be aggravating the situation, making it worse.
“Please, Sir. Do not make me enter through the front door. My father would be unpleased with me being gone.”
His pale blue eyes locked onto hers. “What are you telling me?”
“That I snuck out.” Her words were soft, careful that she would not stir her sleeping father inside the cottage.
His hand reached out briskly, forcing a hard repetitive knock on the wooden door.
“Shit,” she cursed. Why couldn’t he offer her a bit of respect, allowing her the decency to sneak back inside? Was this absolutely necessary? Would it not embarrass her father as well? Did he not think that through?
“If you were my wife I’d have you over my knee, your action corrected. We shall see to it that your father learns of your wild childish ways before you find yourself in any further trouble. I would hate to see you locked up in an asylum for your outlandish behavior.” His repetitive knock rapped at the door a second time as Elizabeth’s father trudged over the wooden floor, his feet clomping with heavy steps. It made her heart race faster. She glanced past the gentleman’s shoulder. He was attractive but any handsome features she’d seen earlier had vanished with the anger she felt now, ready to run and escape from both men. Nothing good would come of her remaining in their presence.
Before her feet could lift from the ground, he gripped her arm as the front door opened.
Thomas could not believe the young lady standing beside him, about to flee. He could see it in her ghastly expression, the bright blue eyes filled with fear. Not even her long red hair and freckles could hide her feelings from him.
He was not a man to interfere but watching her out at night, alone by the tavern, it seemed the proper course of action to escort the young woman home.
What he had not expected to find was the fight she’d put up, let alone the look of horror he was faced with now, and no wonder, she’d snuck out. It was clear to him she needed a heavy dose of punishment and though he wanted to be the one taking her over his lap, lifting her dress and smacking her precious bottom, she was not his to discipline. Oh how he wished she were!
“Elizabeth, what the heavens are you doing out at this late hour?” the old man’s voice asked gravely. “Inside, right this instant!” He snapped his fingers at his side, waiting for her to join him.
With a heavy sigh, Elizabeth stepped forward into the house, wiping her shoes before taking several steps back, probably hoping to disappear into her bedroom and be forgotten about. Would she risk escaping again, just to avoid punishment?
“I know it is not my place, Sir, but perhaps I can offer a word of advice.” Thomas was not sure it was wise to interfere. It had been made clear to him that Elizabeth did not hold any sense of respect for the elder and it would do her well to gain a better understanding of right and wrong. Some children needed a little more encouragement, even as they grew beyond their childhood years.
“You are right it is not your place,” the older man said, “but as her father, I am up to my wits’ end trying to control the boisterous girl. Her friend, that Isabel girl has put the devil in her, and I have done all that I could to separate the two of them. Isabel has since been married off but it seems my Elizabeth has not yet grown out of such unfitting behavior.”
“There is a reformatory that I am well acquainted with, my own sister was sent there with a horrible bout of hysteria and has since been married and is with her first child. I can assure you that doctors were concerned if she did not attend such an establishment, she would still be suffering from hysteria and locked away in an asylum. I can only assume you do not wish for such a fate for your daughter.”
“My Elizabeth does not suffer from hysteria,” he scoffed at such an idea. “She is trouble but she is not unwell. Discipline is what she needs, not an asylum.”
Thomas smiled. “Precisely that is why I am encouraging you to seek out the reformatory. It is unlike any asylum that you may be familiar with. All attendees receive individualized care and with someone who will constantly watch over them, like a child would have a nanny. Your Elizabeth will not be able to flee. Would it not be in her best interest to rid her of such insubordination now, before you find her a husband to wed?”
Elizabeth’s father shifted uncomfortably on his feet. After several seconds passed, he emitted a heavy sigh. “You are right. Do you have the name of the reformatory and where it is located?”
“Of course, Alton Reform is the name of the establishment. You will need to take the Southwestern Railway to Alton. From there, a gentleman by the name of Richard Andrews will be waiting for your arrival, at which point he will accompany you and your daughter Elizabeth to the reformatory. It is a beautiful building but not labeled as to not bring unwanted attention or poor company to its doors. Richard Andrews, the headmaster of the school, believes that it is the best way to keep all the unwed girls safe at such an institution.”
“Do you know how I might get in touch with Mr. Andrews?”
Thomas did not elaborate that not only his sister was in attendance but he also recruited young unwed and troubled girls for reform. The only doubt he had now was bringing Elizabeth to such a school, mostly because he had his own eye on her. The fiery attitude made him desire to bend her over his knee. Richard would have none of it, as Thomas was an employee of the reformatory. Mixing business with pleasure was strictly forbidden. Alton Reform was in Elizabeth’s best interest. If she was not to marry him, then another suitor would take unkindly to her act of disappearing late at night. Not to mention the damage to her reputation should she be discovered alone on the street. There were men who would take whatever they could get and not think twice before robbing Elizabeth of her virtue. “I will notify him first thing tomorrow. I suggest you have a bag packed for Elizabeth and take the first train out on Monday morning.”
The older gentleman nodded briskly, jotting down the brief information that Thomas provided to him. “Thank you again for bringing my daughter home safely.”
“It was my pleasure,” Thomas said, nodding his head before retreating from the door. In truth it had not only been the fact he’d seen a young woman alone but it was also his job, to look for women in need of correction and bring them to the reformatory with their guardian’s permission, whether it be a husband or father. Thomas’s livelihood depended on the number of young women he brought to Alton Reform. He would not be able to lay a finger on Elizabeth and though he wanted a little of his own, Little Lizzie would have to wait. His desires were not to come first. Her discipline needed to be started before he could even consider what he wanted, and that was against the rules.
“What do you mean I must pack my bags?” Elizabeth did not understand what had happened while she snuck off to her bedroom to avoid seeking any further punishment. Perhaps she should have slipped back out the window and run. Though how far would she get? The night air might be unseasonably warm, but she was not a beggar and knew nothing of the life of a street urchin. No. She would not run from her problems.
“First thing, Monday morning we will travel by train to Alton.”
“What is in Alton, father?” He did not elaborate which only made her stomach flop with uncertainty. “Father?” Elizabeth tried again, hoping he would answer her question. She did not like the unknown, and worse she hadn’t even attempted to eavesdrop on their conversation! Why hadn’t she thought to press her ear to the door or leave it ajar to discover what was said? Elizabeth had been wrong in assuming that the handsome gentleman had just brought her back to her father and ratted her out. What more had happened? “Are you sending me off to marry that hideous boy from the carriage?” Her face scrunched in disgust. Not so much from the gentleman who was hardly a boy, but the thought of marriage itself she found repulsive.
“Thomas?” her father asked and laughed. “Hardly. I do not think a man of such a reputation and high caliber would want my own daughter. Which is why it was suggested to me that you attend Alton Reform.”
“You want me to attend a finishing school?” Elizabeth asked.
“No.” Her father shook his head only once, it was enough to get the message and also to see the stern steely gaze to know that he meant her to listen. “You will be schooled in listening and obeying, so that you might be provided the opportunity for a husband.”
Elizabeth swallowed the lump forming in her throat. It sounded absolutely dreadful. “Must I travel all the way to Alton?” She had never been to the town and knew briefly on a map where it was located, southwest of London. Her father would be quite a distance and she doubted there would be much travel allowed between cities. It would be improper for a lady to travel by train alone, which meant she would be stuck in Alton, unless she could plan her own escape. It was certainly on her mind.
“Yes, Elizabeth. I will accompany you to the reformatory, and we will get you enrolled on Monday.”
She grumbled under her breath, unpleased with the announcement. “Father! That is tomorrow.” She was not ready to leave her home for a day, let alone however long she would be enrolled at some silly establishment that was to teach her to be a lady. She despised every ounce of what was being suggested.
“Which is why you must go to your room and pack at once, or you will have only the clothes on your back.”
Elizabeth breathed heavily in through her nose, huffing a deep sigh from her lips as she stalked to her bedroom and slammed the door shut forcefully. She was trying to make a point, but failing miserably. Did her father truly believe that sending her to Alton Reform would benefit her and aid in her finding a husband? Perhaps if she continued to defy the reformatory they would fail her and send her right home with her father. That did not seem nearly as hard as behaving as a lady, taking tea and speaking French. The thought was absolutely dreadful. Though her father had made it clear Alton Reform wasn’t a finishing school. What exactly did they do there instead of teaching ladies how to become better wives?
She pulled a gray suitcase from beneath the bed and sat down, exhausted, and she had yet to pack a single item to take with her. How much was she expected to bring with her? When would she be returning home? She did not dare ask her father. He would probably lie to her, not that she had known him to lie in the past, but sending her away was not what she expected either. Perhaps she had gone too far, sneaking out and getting caught. Next time she’d be more careful. Would she even be so lucky for there to be a next time?
Sighing, she didn’t know when she would be back in her bedroom again. If she lived at the reformatory and did manage to escape, then where would she go? Certainly her father would not be pleased to see her return so quickly. That didn’t even consider the matter of payment for services.
“Father,” Elizabeth said, unzipping her bag and folding dress after dress into the gray suitcase.
Slowly his footsteps clunked over the wooden floorboards of their small single story home. He approached her bedroom door and turned the handle, opening it, without so much as a knock. “Yes, Elizabeth.”
“How will you afford my attendance at Alton Reform?” It was no secret that money was almost always tight. Her father had done well to save for her dowry but they did not have an abundance of funds.
“Do not worry yourself over our finances, Elizabeth. It is not yours to worry about,” her father said, coming to tower above her. He rested his hands on her shoulders. “We do what we must for our children. I want you to be able to live a happy life. We all find ways to make sacrifices and I shall do what is necessary to ensure that you may find and marry a husband. Promise me you will do your best when you are in Alton. I do not wish to hear a report on how you are misbehaving and interfering with the other girls in attendance. Promise me you will be on your best behavior.”
Did her father think she was a monster? What could she possibly do to another girl at Alton Reform? “Do not worry, father. I will try and learn all that I can.” Elizabeth did not wish to learn for a single second in Alton but at the very least she could assure her father that she would be on her best behavior. Did he not know her well enough to see through the façade that she would put up?
“Good. Finish packing and then I shall let Isabel know of your departure. Consider it a gift that I am letting you spend time with her and her new husband. I wish you to see what your life can become after Alton Reform.”
Elizabeth’s stomach flopped at her father’s words but she did not argue with him. He was giving her time with Isabel to say goodbye. She did not know when she would encounter her friend again or how long she would be forced to live in Alton.
Father stepped back from the room while Elizabeth quietly finished packing her bags. She watched him retreat and said nothing. She appreciated that he was not keeping her locked in her bedroom after what she’d done the previous night, sneaking out to the tavern alone. Perhaps this was her chance to avoid Alton Reform altogether. The moment she was in Isabel’s sight, they could slip out of the house and sneak away, to where she had no idea. Elizabeth had no money of her own. The dowry was owned by her father until she wed. She was unlikely to be provided much of a job, maybe a governess or nanny if she had more experience with children. In truth, all she wanted was to flee and deal with the rest later. Her own mind was weighing her down, making her realize that it would not be so easy without a husband or father, a man who could provide for her. It made her only hate herself further.
Zipping the bag, she removed it from the bed and sauntered into the living room to see her father donning his hat and heading out.
“Where are you off to?” Elizabeth asked. The sun had begun to peak along the horizon.
“Someone must pay a visit to Isabel and Edward. Lucky for us it is a Sunday and they both shall be home preparing to leave for church.”
She watched from the window as he mounted the horse and headed away in the distance. If she wished to run, now was her chance and no one would be able to stop her. Elizabeth did not leave. Though she very much desired to flee, she did not want to leave Isabel behind. Edward had seemed rather unkind. Elizabeth did not wish to call him cruel, she had yet to see a dark side of him herself. In fact, she had barely met the man, except on their wedding day and he had seemed pleasant enough at the time. Though Isabel had been a wreck of tears. Is that what would become of Elizabeth? Crying through her entire wedding, not wishing to marry at all and yet it being forced upon her because it was not her choice to make.