This the beginning of THE VEILED HEART….
The narrow stairs under her feet made the descent a little precarious. Yet that wasn’t the worst. No, it smelled of stale sweat, and something else. A musky, pungent smell held in the small space by a lack of fresh flowing air.
Miriam took a crisp, white, scented handkerchief from her coat and held it over her nose as she pushed the black velvet curtain aside at the last step. Lily of the Valley flooded her senses as her gaze took in the few, cloaked men who turned away as she stepped into the room.
Her pulse thumped a solid beat as she peered through the small spaces of her veil and found her bearings.
It was a notably large space with high ceilings. The lighting was subdued, making sultry shadowy corners behind the furnishings. Rich brown wallpaper covered the walls with a burgundy patina and the floor gleamed of polished wood. Plush red velvet couches with potted palms and a large Persian carpet filled the area in front of the counter. The whole impression was of an opulent bordello, one that was regularly cleaned and dusted.
She placed the handkerchief back in her coat; the faint scent of the perfume settling in her veil.
The air was better; it smelled of leathers and wood polish.
Thank heaven. A woman was behind the counter.
Miriam’s fingers tightened around her reticule and she tilted her chin up. She was here for a worthy cause.
The already dimly lit room took on foreboding shadows as her veil allowed only small glimpses of her environment as she navigated toward the counter. But there was no mistaking the type of goods sold in the shop.
The tables contained boxes filled with postcards of plump derrieres, breasts of all sizes and shapes, and their owners in every situation imaginable to the erotic and lurid mind. A rabbit warren of shelves and glass-fronted cabinets covered the space. They housed all manner of objects, belts, buckles, batons, and whips. Black in an array of all types of materials. The textures were all designed to be experienced on the skin, for both pleasure and pain. Large wood and stone members sanded down into a gleaming and insert-able shine.
With a different personal history, she might be shocked, even confounded by some of the items. Unfortunately she understood the use for which a good many of them were designed.