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“Cornwall’s, Merry Christmas.”
“And a Merry Christmas to you, too, Andrew. It’s Camellia, darling. How are you and yours?”
“Camellia, what a surprise. We’re going very well, thank-you, and how are things at the Trevethlyn’s?”
“Just lovely, thanks.” There was a pause, “Andy, I was talking to Poppy last night and she told me that she and your dear Steven have never gotten past heavy petting. It seems that the farthest they’ve ever gone was a hand job or two. I thought you might want to know?”
“No! Oh dear, eighteen years old and they’re both still virgins? Good Lord, who’d have thought?”
“I know. Surprising, isn’t it? Whatever is wrong with the current generation, I sometimes wonder. Anyway, because she’s still a virgin I’m going to start her on pompoir exercises after the New Year so that by June she will be fully trained.”
“Are you? What an excellent idea. You know, Jane and I were wondering what to give the boy for graduation. A full course in tantric control might be just the ticket?”
“Really? Hmmm—Asphodel’s doesn’t usually accept clients as young as he is. The assumption is that young men will make their own arrangements but it does make a certain amount of sense. At least that way he won’t have to unlearn anything. And of course it would be all for Poppy’s benefit—eventually. I wonder about the ethics of it, though. I mean, should I be training my daughter’s fiancé?”
“For that matter, should I be sampling my future daughter-in-law? Presuming she and Steve continue to restrain themselves until they graduate Poppy will be a very expensive ‘date’ when June comes. I mean—a pompoir-trained virgin? Pricey!”
“You bet she will be and you can be sure I’m already thinking along those lines, my dear Andrew. Jane may have to put in some overtime to pay for your dalliance. Either that or you’re going to have to win a very big case.”
“That much? But you know, Jane might just do that since my birthday is June twentieth. Not that it would bother her to spend more time ‘at work’ whatever the reason. I’ll talk to her on both subjects, sweetheart. Have Axel kiss you for me and I’ll see you next Wednesday.”
“Smooches, Andy. Pinch Janey for me. Bye, now.”
Poppy Trevethlyn kicked off her galoshes and hung her coat in the mud room. Then she stomped into the kitchen, sat down at the breakfast bar and rolled her eyes in exasperation. “Boys!”
Camellia raised her head from the roast she was basting. “Mmm?”
“Mom, where is Asphodel’s?”
Her mother raised an eyebrow with a half smile. “Asphodel’s? It’s the sixth floor of the Hotel Gentian, right across the street from the capitol building.”
Poppy froze. She looked up at the ceiling and sighed. “Why do I just know I’m going to wish I hadn’t asked this? Mother, what is Asphodel’s?”
Camellia put down the basting brush and reached up into the cupboard. Her smile broadened as she took down two mugs, filled them with coffee, slid one across to her daughter and sat on the stool next to her.
“Asphodel’s is the oldest, most reputable and most expensive bordello in the state. Why do you ask?”
“I knew it, I just knew it,” Poppy muttered under her breath. Aloud she continued, “A bunch of Steve’s friends are talking about going to Asphodel’s after the grad prom.”
Camellia snorted. “In their dreams! I’ll bet they don’t even know where it is and even if they did they couldn’t get there. One must have a key to open the elevator on the sixth floor and the stairwell door only opens from the inside. Besides, none of them can possibly afford it. A trip to Asphodel’s costs a minimum of five hundred dollars and since I’m sure what they want is to get laid good and proper, it would be a thousand or more. Fat chance of that.”
Poppy spewed coffee all over the counter. “Mom! How do you know that?”
Her mother sipped the hot coffee and winked conspiratorially. “Because we own it, or should I say, your grandmother owns it.”
The girl was dumbfounded. After several tries she finally managed to squeak, “Grandma?”
“Mm-hm. And her mother before her and so on clear back to your thrice great-grandmother Asphodel, the one it’s named after. You see, dear, over a hundred years ago your thrice great-grandfather Alonzo died of pneumonia leaving Asphodel a widow with two small children. He’d been a successful merchant but had encored considerable debt in an attempt to expand his business. Asphodel was able to pay off all the indebtedness but had to sell off most of his holdings to do so. By the time she was free and clear all she owned was their home. Admittedly it was a large one but she didn’t have the money to pay for enough staff to run it.
She might have turned it into a boarding house. That would have been a proper thing for a widow of the time to do but instead she moved with the kiddies into a smaller house and turned hers into a house of assignation, that’s a place where people having affairs can meet discretely. All she had to do was make sure the sheets casino siteleri were cleaned after each couple left. It was quite profitable, given that legislators often had (and still have) mistresses in the capitol when they are far from home.”
“And later she turned it into a brothel? I’m shocked.”
“No, later she bought a small hotel and turned it into a brothel. She moved back into the house. Unlike many of her contemporaries she didn’t spend all the money she made on high living. Instead she bought property. When her daughter took over the business she bought railway stock and more income property. Her daughter bought oil and auto stock and even more property and so on. But the only business we ever actually run is Asphodel’s and each of them, or should I say of us, has learned the business from the mattress up.”
Poppy took a while to digest that. “Mother, I’m descended from six generations of . . .?”
“We like the word courtesan, darling. When a man is paying as much as we charge, it’s way beyond whoredom. And yes you are. That’s how I paid for college. That’s how we all pay for college. Sure, Mama could have afforded to send me but earning your way through school flat on your back has become traditional.”
“Does—does Daddy know?”
“Of course he does. We met there. I know you aren’t aware of this but your father swings both ways and as a poor boy on the make, working Asphodel’s was how he paid for college. He doesn’t now, of course, he’s too busy running the foundation. But once you children were old enough to spend the whole day in school I went back to work. I do the lunch shift because it is one of the busiest times of the day. There aren’t many jobs a woman can clear a couple of thousand dollars between eleven and one, you know.”
“Daddy. Swings. Both ways?”
“Yes. Of course now when he wants some cock he goes to his club where his like-minded friends all hang out. That’s his way of getting a little variety just as working at Mama’s place is mine. It obviously isn’t the money, Poppy, not after six generations of intelligent investment. I do it for fun and getting paid is part of the fun.”
Poppy sat on her bed, her head in her hands. It had been too much information. And she knew where it was leading. With six generations of ‘working women’ behind her there was no way she was going to avoid working her way through college flat on her back—or on her hands and knees or reverse cowgirl or any other of the many positions people had sex in. I’m a hereditary whore. She needed to talk to someone about it but who? Ordinarily she would call her patient, tolerant grandmother O’Malley but it was Grandma who was at the root of the problem. Maybe if she called Grandmother Trevethlyn? No, not Nona. She was so proud that her son had pulled himself up by the bootstraps that it would be just rotten to tell her what some of that had entailed. On the other hand her Aunt Cora, her father’s sister, had gone to college on a softball scholarship and was now a prominent attorney in the capitol. A much better choice. She popped open her cell phone.
“Well, hello Poppy. What can I do for you?”
“I need to talk to someone.”
“And your mother won’t do?”
“Talking to my mother is why I have to talk to someone, Auntie.”
“She wants me to start practicing exercises—to learn pompoir, Auntie.”
There was a chuckle on the other end of the conversation. “That’s a very good skill for a young woman and one that’s not easy to learn. I wish I had time to study it, myself, but I hear it takes about six months to develop the strength and coordination. Did she say why she wanted you to learn it?”
“Well—not exactly. But she told me some other things and I’m afraid I know where this is leading.”
Cora laughed out loud. “This is about the family firm, isn’t it?”
Poppy gasped in disbelief. “You know about it?”
“Honey, I’m a lobbyist. Everyone in state politics knows about Asphodel’s. Shoot, girl, I’ve been laid there myself a couple of times.”
The silence was long. “You got laid at Asphodel’s?”
“Sweetie, like I told you. I’m a lobbyist. And there are times when the chair of the Senate finance committee won’t be swayed by campaign contributions, good booze or just any pussy, she wants mine. If that’s what it takes to get a bill through I can muff dive with the best of them.”
“Wait, the Finance Chair is a lesbian? I thought she was all about pride in her family and shit like that.”
“She is. However, now and again she likes something a little different. I’m the different. It gives me an edge over male lobbyists and all’s fair in politics.”
Poppy thought about this for a while. “But you want to be in politics, Auntie. I don’t. I just want to go to college, get my credential and teach kindergarten. I don’t want anything to do with politics or with my grandmother’s business.”
“That, young lady, is where you are dead wrong. Have you any idea how powerful your grandmother canlı casino is, politically? Remember last year when the majority and minority leaders where having a very personal spat over the budget? And it looked like it wouldn’t get passed for months, leaving the state treading water and the schools unfunded? And then suddenly all was love and kisses and the budget passed? Have you any idea why that happened?”
“Uh—yes, I remember and no, I don’t know what happened.”
“Your grandmother Azalea quietly called each of them and said that if the state shut down she’d close Asphodel’s until the budget was passed. And not only would she close up shop, she’d go on television and say why, naming names and giving dates.”
“But—but that’s blackmail.”
“No, Poppy, it’s politics. Now, I have a client on call waiting so I’m going to have to hang up. We can talk any time, dear. ‘Bye, Poppy.”
The following Wednesday Camellia closed the door to her room and pushed the “Do Not Disturb” switch. She turned languidly and slid the satin robe off her shoulders and raised her chin. She held the pose long enough to give her client a good look and dropped the robe over the back of a chair. She stepped forward and put her arms around his neck drawing him down for a long, deep, swallowing and probing kiss. When it was over she leaned back.
“Good morning, Mr. Cornwall.” She undid the watch chain from his vest and tucked it into the pocket next to the watch. What tales that time piece could tell! Cornwall men had been clients at Asphodel’s ever since it opened and that watch had been handed down from father to son for six generations. She patted it fondly and continued to undo the vest. Andrew reached into his coat pocket and handed her a fat envelope. She looked at the symbol on the front. It said today he wanted conversation and missionary sex and counted the bills inside. Everything was in order.
As she helped him out of his coat and undid his tie she looked up at him. “You know, Mr. Cornwall, I’ve been giving it some thought. I believe I will take personal charge of Steven’s training. There’s something so deliciously semi-incestuous about getting fucked by one’s future son-in-law that it is positively irresistible.”
“Now don’t get me started on thoughts like that,” Cornwall smiled as he ran his thumbs gently under her nipples. “You’ll have me wanting to put down a deposit on Poppy’s first trick, as right of first refusal to use the legal term for something technically illegal.”
Camellia’s nipples stood up straight and the tingle reached her pussy. She shuddered and licked her lips. “Wait a bit on that, sir. We don’t know that the kids will be able to resist each other for another six months. However, I will teach her how to give good head. That should keep Stevie satisfied for a while. And if it does, I’ll let you know in time. Mother and I have discussed this. Since Poppy’s just the prettiest little thing her well trained virginity will be priced at around forty thousand dollars. After all, she is the Asphodel-in-waiting.”
She moaned as he bent down and sucked one nipple while twisting the other. His style greatly resembled her husband Axel’s and she wondered if they had ever done each other. It seemed unlikely. There was never any subliminal heat between the men when the families got together and twenty years of sex work had made Camellia very good at detecting such things.
Andrew undid his trousers and dropped them to the Persian carpet along with his silk boxers. He lifted her easily off the floor and carried her over to the canopied and veiled four poster. He inspected the tethers that hung from the headboard but decided against them. Not that he couldn’t afford the extra charge but today he wanted talk with his nooky. He kicked his socks off and lay next to her.
Camellia rolled on top of him for another long, wet kiss. She reached down and began stroking his cock. “Some evening when the kids are out, the four of us ought to get together the way we did back in college, Mr. Cornwall. Jane and I could put on a show for you and Mr. Trevethlyn and then the two of you could have your way with us. It might keep your mind off Poppy’s pert little boobs and ass for a while.”
Cornwall held her close with one arm while the other clutched her butt. “Are you kidding? As much as Poppy resembles her mother all it will do is give me more incentive to pay that forty grand. I look at the pictures in the upstairs lobby and I’m amazed at how much the Asphodel women’s looks have carried down through the generations. You’re only one-sixty-fourth of the first one but the two of you could be sisters. And so could Poppy!”
Camellia ground her hips against him and reached up for the condom package on the night stand. Even with clients who were also old and trusted friends, house rules were house rules. She ripped it open and tucked the roll against her pursed lips. Leaning down she put it over the head of his cock and with an easy motion slid it all the way to the base. That kaçak casino was one trick Poppy was going to learn soon, she thought as she worked her throat muscles, squeezing and teasing him. She lifted her head and leaned back, spreading her thighs as she did, then moaned softly as he entered her. She sank her nails into his back and reveled in the warm weight pressing down on top of her, the turgid mass sliding in and out of her. “Ah, Mr. Cornwall, you are always such a good fit. Now, shut up, sir. Just fuck me. We can talk later. Oh, Poppy will just love this.”
Her mother’s Mercedes purred down the street with a very anxiety-ridden Poppy in the passenger seat. The trip down-town from their home in the suburbs could not take too long as far as she was concerned. Her mind drifted to last night’s conversation.
“Mom,” she had begun, “have you any idea what this will do to my life? If Steve ever finds out—worse yet, if his parents ever find out, I’ll be a pariah!”
Camellia smiled benignly. “Honey, Andrew Cornwall has been a client of mine for ten years and Jane occupies the room next to mine on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She’s one of Daddy’s favorites. We used to get together and swap informally before you kids came along and I’m thinking we should resume that. After all, what Andy pays me is just turned around and paid back to Jane. Why even bother with money?”
It had seemed to Poppy that it was at least five minutes before she could speak again. “Jane? Jane and Daddy? You and Andy? What? Is this entire town one huge orgy?”
That had made her mother guffaw. “No, it’s not and we’re not going to talk about this anymore tonight where your younger siblings can hear. However, tomorrow I’m taking you out of school and we’re going down town. It’s high time you toured Asphodel’s in person.”
Poppy tried to imagine what Asphodel’s could be like as Camellia’s car turned down the driveway and into the underground garage of the Hotel Gentian. That seemed perfectly normal but when she got to the end of aisle, instead of turning to go look for a place, Ms. Trevethlyn swiped a key card and a pair of large doors opened in front of them. A young man in a tuxedo opened the driver’s door with a bow and then dashed around to let Poppy out.
“Good Morning, Juan.” Camellia handed the valet her car keys.
“Buenos dias, Señora Trevethlyn. You are a little early today, no?”
“Yes, I am. But I’m not working today, Juan. I’d like you to meet my daughter Poppy. Poppy this is Juan Costada, the head valet.”
Juan bowed deeply and Poppy blushed. “Con mucho gusto,” he intoned.
“Uh, el gusto is mio,” Poppy replied properly, despite a terrible American accent. Still blushing she took her mother’s proffered arm. They walked to the elevator as Juan drove off to park the car.
When the doors opened, Poppy could see that there were only five buttons for the floors above but her mother nonchalantly took out a key and fitted it into the lock above the top button. The doors closed smoothly and the car zipped up to the sixth floor. There the doors opened again to reveal Azalea O’Malley, elegantly clad in a Chanel original suit.
“Darlings,” Grandmother exclaimed, “your timing is exquisite. The tea has been steeping just long enough. Come sit down.”
A boyish but well muscled young man poured their tea and faded into the background. Poppy looked at her grandmother. “Is that the bouncer?”
“Good heavens, no! Asphodel’ doesn’t need a bouncer. We do background checks on all prospective clients and if they have the slightest inclination to rowdy drunkenness they never get invited. All the lobbyists know that, as well, as does the entire legislature. And any new assemblyman or Senator with overly kinky taste? We know about it early and they get a quiet little note letting them know what the limits are here. We do have a dungeon in the subbasement below the parking lot but it hardly ever gets used. Once people find out how much that kind of play costs they make their own arrangements—elsewhere! No, dear, Clarence is the barman—usually.”
“I get it, Grandma. Clarence is the barman for all the straight clients but if a gay guy shows up . . .?”
“Indeed. Or if a lonely lady comes in. That does happen periodically.”
“Like Daddy was?” Poppy’s smile was overly bright.
“Yes, little smart alec, like your father was.” Azalea’s expression was serene but her voice had an edge.
Abashed, Poppy sipped her tea in silence while Camellia and Azalea discussed adult things like cash flow, depreciation on the hotel and health insurance for the workers. Eventually the pot was empty and Grandmother stood up . “Now darlings, Mr. McBride is due here in about ten minutes so I must get ready. Do enjoy the tour, Poppy, and pay attention.” She kissed her daughter and granddaughter on the cheek and breezed out of the room.
Poppy looked around. The lobby looked like a bar in the most expensive, tasteful restaurant in the city. No velvet flocked wall paper, no aspidistras in pots and none of the attractive ladies who floated in and out seemed to be dressed in the least bit provocatively. In a way, it was a bit disappointing. Still, her grandmother’s last comment required clarification.
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