When Katy attends her first formal evening event since her arrival in Briarwood Magna, she’s hoping for much more than just champagne, canapés and routine social chitchat. Her village friends are all adventurous hedonists, who love to party hard and explore all manner of steamy scenarios, and she wants to get in on the action.
Consequently, she’s thrilled when her handsome friend Mitchell touches and teases her behind the concealing ornamental hedge, and then again, inside the manor house, when she succumbs to the Lord and Lady who are fond of dark games of transgressive pleasure amongst the priceless antiques.
Most of all, though, Katy wants to thank her girl crush Sybilla for the aphrodisiac perfume the beautiful herbalist concocted for her… but she gets a big surprise when she discovers just what the scent is that’s been attracting droves of randy admiring guests to her side throughout the party.
I was glad to be at the party. Maudsley Hall looked wonderful in the twilight. The air was warm, and the light was golden, and unsurprisingly, almost the entire population of Briarwood Magna was either in the house, or strolling in the gardens. There were drinks in abundance, and there was food around somewhere, and classical music was playing from a PA system. There was only one thing to spoil the rural idyll—and that was the irritating presence of droves of midges. Even this early, the village was already plagued with them. I could see them dancing in the air as I looked towards the garden, and every now and again, someone would slap at one impatiently when it landed.
Any minute now, I thought resignedly, looking down at my bare shoulders in my strappy, bra-topped ball gown. I was just a walking landing ground for the hungry little blighters; an open buffet for their little jaws to munch on.
‘Hello, sweetheart, I’ve been wondering when you’d get here,’ said a purring voice behind me, and I instantly forgot the airborne insects. I turned around to find a handsome, smiling face and proffered glass of wine.
‘Hello, Mitchell, how are you?’
Mitchell Mason was Briarwood Magna’s premier man of letters, a bestselling novelist who wrote carefully‑researched, critic-pleasing thrillers as well as deliciously filthy porno on the side.
‘Great. Wonderful. And all the better for seeing you.’ He paused, eyed me up and down. ‘Katy, darling, you look gorgeous tonight, quite edible. In fact, I’d like to eat you right this minute.’