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School for Littles

By: Lucy Wild
Published By: Wild Romance Books
Copyright: © Copyright 2016 Lucy Wild
Forty-three Chapters / 62,000 Words
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An Age Play Trilogy
 

Laura

Rothsfield is out of control. 

When Lord Rothsfield receives an offer to turn his daughter from brat to respectable woman in just one week, he is certain the tutor will fail like all the others. But Edward Westall is no ordinary tutor. 

Once Laura is under the roof of her new guardian, the truth is revealed. He is going to mould her into the perfect little girl, introducing her to a world of spankings and diapers, pacifiers and breast milk, all carried out under his watchful gaze. 

The longer Laura stays, the more she realises her new tutor is starting to love her just as she learns to love the life of a little. All too soon her time with Westall is up and she must choose between going home to her family or remaining with her dominant master and becoming his permanent little plaything. 

 

Submit

 Finishing School like no other.

Annabelle Moncrieff has been enrolled at Coldwater Academy. Run by the cruel Lord Hawthorne, the school has unusual ways of teaching submission. Spankings, diapers, and pacifiers are just part of Hawthorne’s unique disciplinary methods and Annabelle is shocked to find out she must submit to them all. 

Her bottom reddened, her life changed, Annabelle is soon willing to do anything to please her master, even if it means becoming a little girl just for his pleasure. 

When the school is threatened from without, Annabelle is faced with a difficult decision. Either assist with closing the school and end the humiliating but scintillating delights she has learned to love, or join forces with her new master to save not just him but the one chance they have to reach their happy ever after. 

 

Naughty Little Secrets 

A man with no past, a woman with no future. When fate throws these two disparate souls together, the results are explosive. 

Selina Rutherford grew up thinking she was alone in the world. Unloved, unwanted, uncared for, just another orphan with no hope for the future. Stumbling accidentally on the reason her parents were killed, she vows one thing, track down the man responsible and make him pay for his crimes. 

George Lawson thought he’d left his criminal past behind him. Nobody at his school knows a thing about his past, all they know is that if you have a 

badly behaved daughter in need of an education, you send her to George. 

Selina finds herself trapped in a world of obsession and desire, spanking and submission. To solve the mystery of her past, she must do whatever it takes to remain in this very special school until the truth is revealed. What she doesn’t realise is that staying here means accepting a life of diapers, bedtime stories and over the knee discipline. 

All three stories contain age play, spanking, humiliation, power exchange and anal play.

 

SAMPLES

LAURA - CHAPTER ONE

“Father, I need a new horse.”

Laura was sitting alone in her bedroom, looking at herself in the dressing table mirror. Too angry a tone of voice, she thought, too strident. He would only grumble and shake his head. It was important to get the tone and facial expression just right. Even her father might blanche at the idea of two new horses in as many weeks.

“Father, I need a new horse.” That was better. Eyes wider, more innocent. Lip downturned, full of sorrow and regret that she was having to ask so soon after the last one had arrived. Perhaps making her lip tremble might clinch it.

“Father, I need a new horse.” Perfect. Time to try it out for real.

Ever since she was old enough to talk, Laura had been used to getting her own way. One of her earliest memories was seeing the guilt in his eyes when she had unwrapped her Christmas presents and promptly began screaming so loudly it made her eyes water.

“Where’s my pony?” she’d demanded between screams. “Where’s my pony?”

“Your mother thinks you’re a little too young,” Lord Wallace Rothsfield replied, tugging at his shirt collar as if it had grown suddenly tighter.

“Do not act as if this were my decision,” Lady Rothsfield replied before turning to Laura. “Your father thinks four year olds should not ride ponies. It could be dangerous.”

“Where’s my pony? I told Father Christmas to bring me a pony. You promised me he would. Where’s my pony?” She stamped her feet and sobbed her heart out, tugging at her hair until it came out in clumps.

They gave in of course, providing their daughter with a beautiful chestnut brown pony by the name of Winifred. She rode it twice.

From that experience young Laura learned two things. One, if you shouted and screamed for long enough, you would get whatever you wanted. Two, her parents would do anything to please her. She used that knowledge to her advantage throughout her childhood, ensuring that whatever desire or whim struck her, it would be met by her doting parents no matter what the cost.

Things continued in this fashion until she turned sixteen. Shortly after her birthday, her mother fell ill. Lady Rothsfield spent the last of her days in her sickbed listening to Laura complain about how unfair life was to her. “You’re only sick. I am traumatised. I shall soon have no mother and then where will I be?”

After Lady Rothsfield’s death, any reins holding her father in check vanished and it seemed to Laura as if he overcame his grief by lavishing increasingly elaborate and expensive gifts on her, his only child. It was not enough though and soon Laura began to demand her inheritance, a sum of money left specifically by her mother for her only, to be granted once certain conditions were met.

“It will come to you if you marry before your twenty-first birthday,” Laura’s father said after a tediously long meeting with the family solicitor finally concluded with the pair of them remaining in the study and the solicitor hastily beating a retreat.

“I was in the meeting, father,” she replied, scowling at the back of the solicitor as the butler escorted him to the door. “I still don’t see why I can’t have my money now.”

“It doesn’t work like that darling girl. He did explain it to us.”

“But she was your wife. Doesn’t that make it your money? You could just give it to me.”

“I wish I could,” he said, his face pleading with her not to start screaming. “I truly do but unfortunately the will was explicit on that point.”

“But why does she want me married off?”

“I think your mother worried that…” he paused, as if trying to find the right words, “that you might not find a husband who appreciates your unique qualities.”

“You hate me don’t you?”

“No of course not. I love you Laura.”

“Then why are you doing this to me?”

“It is not I my sweet, it is the wish of your mother that you marry. I do not care if you remain a spinster all your life.”

“Of course you do not care.” Her voice rose and the foot stamping began. “I want my money!”

“You must marry first.”

“Never! I shall never marry.”

In the end her father was the one to marry, or to remarry in sin as Laura put it. It was the eve of Laura’s eighteenth birthday. A ball was held in the largest room of the house, the cream of local society in attendance. He brought over a woman to where Laura was sitting looking bored. “Darling,” he began. “I would like to meet Maria Sanderson.”

Laura shrugged. “I care not for your friends, father. I am more concerned with my distinct lack of dancing partners.”

“I have wonderful news,” her father continued. “We are going to be married.”

Laura’s face turned purple. “Mother not yet cold and you set up happy families with some trollop?” She got to her feet and stamped her foot. “I hate her and I hate you!” She ran from the room, not stopping until she reached her bedroom where she slammed herself into a chair. Looking into her dressing table mirror she added, “I hate them both!”

Despite her best efforts the wedding did take place. They did not seem to care for the whispers and gossip regarding remarriage. She felt the shame even if they did not. She refused to attend, remaining in her room and sobbing into her pillow, resolutely furious despite the new horse her father had just bought her in an effort to mend the divide between them. The day after the wedding she heard the two of them downstairs and decided it was time to move the attention from that slut back to herself where it belonged.

“Father, I need a new horse,” she said into the mirror several times, ensuring the right tone of voice.

Opening the bedroom door, she walked downstairs, hearing them laughing and joking as if they did not even care about her dead mother or about her. How dare they?

“Father, I need a new horse,” she said as she walked into the dining room.

Maria turned to her. “Laura, come in and sit down. We need to speak to you.”

She stuck her tongue out at the whore before turning back to her father. “I need a new horse. Will you get me one?”

“What’s wrong with Lancelot?” Lord Rothsfield replied. “Is he sick?”

“I saw her pat him. I don’t want him anymore.”

Maria stood up. “Laura, I would like you to sit down so we can talk to you for a minute.”

Laura turned to her and smiled. “I don’t take orders from sluts.”

“Laura!” her father spluttered. “Do not speak to my wife like that.”

“Your wife? Your wife? Your wife is dead in case you forgotten. That harpy has come here to bewitch your mind and steal my inheritance.”

She spun on her heels and stormed from the room, pausing just outside. This was always the time when her father would follow her, beg her indulgence, permit her any desire, anything to regain her affection. This time he did not.

Frowning, she turned back and overheard the two of them talking quietly.

“Now will you listen to me?” Maria was asking. “This type of behaviour cannot be allowed to continue.”

“But she is just a child.”

“She is eighteen years old. That is old enough to have grown out of temper tantrums and hissy fits.”

“She is just boisterous my dear.”

“She is a brat. You refuse to allow me to discipline her so I see no other option.”

“But she has never been sent away before. What if she is scared?”

Laura froze in place, did they mean to send her away?

“It will do her good,” Maria said. “The gentleman in question is an expert so I am told. He is skilled in turning whining brats like her into decent upstanding citizens, an asset to your name, not a shame upon it.”

Lauren glared through the wall at her. What does she know about family? She is certainly not a part of this one.

Lord Rothsfield sighed. “You may be right. But what about the cost?”

“The cost is nothing compared to the amount you have lavished on her up until now. Do you not want her to find a husband?”

“She may find one without all this unpleasantness.”

“Come on Wallace. Who would want to take her on? This is the way forwards. Or perhaps you would be happy to put up with screaming and door slamming for the next forty years.”

Laura tiptoed away. She had heard enough. It did not matter how hard Maria tried to persuade him, she felt safe in the knowledge her father would never allow her to be sent away from home. He loved her too much.

SUBMIT – CHAPTER ONE

Lord Hawthorne has asked me to write down the story of how I came to Coldwater Academy, holding back only the names of those who are not yet willing to admit of their time spent in that illustrious finishing school. Despite the years since I last saw him, I still remember him with a fondness that not even my husband can draw from me. And would I even have a husband if it were not for Lord Hawthorne?

It was a dark and stormy day when he arrived unannounced at my home, suitcase brought in by his driver and set down beside him in the hall. I stood at the top of the stairs and watched as my stepfather strode towards him, hand outstretched. “I don’t believe I have had the pleasure…?” he began.

Lord Hawthorne did not respond, instead unbuttoning his coat and dropping it into my father’s hand. He turned to his driver and muttered something quietly to him, only turning back as the driver left through the open door.

I looked at him as he turned back towards my father. He was a broad shouldered mountain of a man, his expression haughty, impatient, as if at any moment he might explode in anger. His beard was black with hints of grey, a nasty scar above his left eye. His nose looked as if it had been broken more than once. He wore an expensive looking grey suit and he seemed to sneer at my guardian’s morning suit, as if comparing the cost in his mind and judging himself the victor of the sartorial encounter.

“Is there something I can help you with?” my guardian asked, looking down at the coat as if unsure what to do with it. “Only we are due at church in an hour.”

“You have a daughter,” the man boomed, the aggression in his voice barely held in check. “Is that correct?”

“You mean Annabelle?” My guardian sighed. “She is not my daughter but my ward. Is she in some kind of trouble?”

Lord Hawthorne walked past my guardian, glancing back over his shoulder. “Bring that and follow me.”

“Excuse me sir, I am not used to receiving orders.”

But Lord Hawthorne had already walked away. I watched him vanish into the study. My guardian looked up and down the hall, clearly attempting to decide what to do. “Oh dear, oh dear,” he said before picking up the suitcase with some effort and beginning to carry it through the hallway. I ran down the stairs quickly and followed him to the study, pressing myself against the wall to listen to their conversation.

“Come on,” Lord Hawthorne snapped. “Set it down on here.”

I heard a grunt from my guardian, then a thud as the suitcase landed on his desk. This was followed by the clicking of the case opening and then a rustle of papers. “Could I perhaps take my own chair?” my guardian asked.

“Sit there,” Lord Hawthorne said impatiently. “This will not take long. Read that.”

“What is this?”

“An enrolment form. Payment is expected in advance.”

“What?” Papers rustling and whispered words as father read the document in question. “This is absurd. A hundred pounds? You walk into my house uninvited, you sit in my chair in my study and you hand over this…whatever this is…and expect me to just hand over a substantial sum of money? Who the devil are you?”

“I am Lord James Hawthorne and that is a contract signed by Annabelle’s parents. You recognise their signatures I presume?”

“Of course I do,” my stepfather said, his voice rising. “But what on earth does this…this thing mean?”

“You really are an imbecile aren’t you?”

“If you think you can…”

“Silence. I have two more appointments this morning and I am already late thanks to the damned useless turnpike keepers around here.”

“Would you refrain from using such foul language sir?”

“They are damned useless and there is no other word to describe it. Now as for this,” -the papers rustled again- “I was given to understand you were a man of learning but clearly I was misinformed. Ten years ago I lent a sum of money to Nathaniel Moncrieff on the understanding that he would in return enrol his daughter in my establishment, the tuition fee becoming payable on her eighteenth birthday which was two weeks ago, was it not?”

“But why on earth would you want Annabelle so badly?”

“I do not care a deuce for her.”

“Oh I see. It is the hundred pounds which interests you. Well I do not have that kind of money just lying around.”

“You are a Lord of the Realm. A note of credit will be good enough for me.”

I heard a chair scrape and then my guardian appeared in the doorway looking flustered. He glanced at me and opened his mouth before closing it and turning away from me, walking quickly down the hall and leaving me alone. I heard a low chuckle within the study and something in that sound infuriated me. I walked in through the door and marched up to the desk, leaning across to see Lord Hawthorne placing his papers back into his case. “Good morning,” he smiled, his lips twisting upwards as he closed the case. “You must be Annabelle. How do you do?”

“Don’t ‘how do you do’ me,” I said, fighting to resist slapping him across the face. “How dare you speak to my guardian like that?”

“Did no one ever tell you it is rude to eavesdrop on a private conversation?” he replied, seemingly indifferent to the anger radiating towards him.

“Get out of our house!” I shouted. “You are not welcome here.”

“And you are in no position to be making demands. You will lower your voice and speak to me in a more civil tongue or by God, you’ll regret it.”

As he spoke, he placed both hands on the desk and leaned towards me, his voice like the growl of an angry dog.

“I will not sir!” I snapped back at him. “How dare you threaten me!”

He moved surprisingly quickly for his size, stepping around the desk and grabbing my wrist, twisting it painfully as he shoved me forwards, pushing me down until my chest was pressed against the desk. I could do nothing but scream in protest as his hand held the flat of my back in place. His other hand whipped down onto my buttocks, making me scream all the louder.

At that moment, my guardian appeared in the doorway. “What on earth is happening here?”

“Stand back sir,” Lord Hawthorne said in response. “This girl is receiving the discipline that appears to have been lacking for some time.”

“Apologise,” Lord Hawthorne said, ignoring my squirming limbs.

“Never,” I snapped back at him.

I yelped as he spanked my buttocks again, this time harder than before. “Apologise.”

“This is not right,” my guardian said, marching across and trying to pull me free. I looked over my shoulder to see Lord Hawthorne push him backwards with no effort at all.

“Apologise!” Lord Hawthorne snarled, his hand landing twice more in quick succession. My posterior stung as his hand rose above his head.

“All right, all right,” I gasped. “I apologise.”

“There,” he said, his voice returning to normal as he loosened his grip on me. “That wasn’t so hard now was it?”

I ran to my stepfather, tears already rolling down my cheeks. “Make him leave, please make him leave.”

“Do not worry,” my guardian replied. “I will never let him hurt you again.”

Lord Hawthorne chuckled once more, snatching the credit note from my father’s hand. “I am afraid,” he said as he folded it neatly, “that is now outside of your control. As for you Annabelle, I will give you until tomorrow morning to arrange your affairs and pack what things you wish to bring to Coldwater Academy.” He picked up his coat from the rack by the door and buttoned it quickly. “A carriage will be sent for you, be ready to leave promptly at eight. Until then, good day to you both.”

He nodded and left the study, leaving me trembling and crying in my guardian’s arms, the stinging sensation in my buttocks remaining until long after Lord Hawthorne had left. “I do not have to go with that villain do I?” I asked as the front door closed.

He looked down at me with sorrow in his eyes like I had never seen before. “I am afraid so,” he said quietly.

I did not sleep well that night. No amount of pleading or arguing had made any difference. The matter was settled. I was to leave at eight the next morning for Coldwater Academy, not to see my home again for heaven alone knew how long. I lay on my bed staring upwards in the darkness, waiting for a slumber that would not come. By the time the sun rose the next day I was exhausted, my nerves shot. I looked around at my belongings, the open case in the corner of the room glaring accusingly at me. What on earth should I take?

I had no clue of the location of Coldwater, nor the requirements. Would I need food? Clothing? Writing materials? I was still undecided when my stepfather called up at that it was a quarter to eight. Hurriedly, I packed a few items, closing my case as the bell rang. My heart froze. It was time to leave.

My guardian bid me farewell on the doorstep, the driver loading my case onto the roof of the carriage. Through the window I could see a woman of a similar age to myself. She was looking nervously out at me from underneath her bonnet but when I caught her eye, she immediately turned away. “Goodbye,” I said, giving my stepfather a final embrace.

“I will free you as soon as I am able,” he replied. “It is a simple matter of having Jeffries run his eye over that enrolment form. I am certain he will find a loophole somewhere.”

Jeffries was my father’s solicitor, a decent enough fellow but never one to rush anything. I knew I would likely be in for quite a wait before I was able to return home.

“Come on,” the driver said. “Time to move.”

“Farewell!” I cried as I climbed into the carriage and pulled the door closed. “Do not forget me.”

“I will not,” he cried back. “I swear.”

“On you go,” the driver called, spurring his pair of black horses away from the house. The wheels of the carriage began to turn as I slumped back against my seat and let out a long sigh of deep sorrow. I almost jumped when I felt a hand on my knee and I looked across to see the other woman attempting a smile, her face drained of all colour. “It will be all right,” she said in a quiet voice. “I am told Coldwater is not so bad once you are used to it.”

“You know of Coldwater?” I asked, taking her hand in my own. “Tell me what you know. How long do you remain there for? What kind of place is it? Will that scoundrel Hawthorne be there?”

“What little I know has come from my sister. She graduated last summer, coming home a completely different woman to the one who left. She would not tell me much but what I know I will gladly share.”

“You have my gratitude,” I replied. “Pray, do go on.”

“It is a finishing school of sorts. Young women from ages eighteen to twenty-one are enrolled for a single year’s training before being introduced to society on the security of a fee paid up front.”

“Training? What sort of training? I thought I was finished with schooling.”

“She would not say much beyond smiling and telling me I would come to love it there. But that was before I met Lord Hawthorne.”

“He came to your house also?”

“He arrived whilst I was walking in the grounds. Bade me to join him and my parents in the dining room. When I walked a touch too slow for his taste, he bent me over the very doorstep and spanked me in front of my parents.”

“He is a demon,” I growled. “I will have my revenge upon him for the humiliation he heaped upon me before my own stepfather.”

“Told them he had come for me as agreed, watched as I was made to sign his enrolment form, my parents’ signatures joining my own as my sister watched with a smile from the corner of the room. This morning the carriage arrived for me and here I am, awaiting my fate as are you.”

“You must know something more of the education we are to receive. Pray tell me any detail you can recall, no matter how small.”

“The only other thing I know is that there are presumably children somewhere who we are taught to nurse.”

“What makes you say that?”

“When my sister returned, she emptied her case and left the contents upon her bed. I caught sight of children’s frocks, dolls, dummies, nappies, and bottles amongst her things. I can think of no other reason for her being in possession of such objects.”

“This matter becomes clearer by the minute,” I said, glancing out of the window to see a farmer leading on a herd of sheep, the carriage slowing to weave through them. “He doubles his income in this manner.”

“What do you mean?” the other woman asked.

“Part of the academy acts as a preparatory school. He charges to take in infants, he charges to take in adults. I have no doubt he sets us to watch them without the need to pay nursing staff, increasing his profits by a substantial amount.

“What is your name?” the woman asked.

“Annabelle Moncrieff. And you?”

“Bess Foyle. You have quite the imagination there, Annabelle.”

“Mark my words, Bess, the day we arrive, he will have us toiling for our keep watching over snivelling brats.”

But as it turned out, I was as wrong as it is possible to be. For upon arrival at Coldwater Academy, it was soon apparent that it was not children waiting to be nursed and educated, but ourselves.

NAUGHTY LITTLE SECRETS - PROLOGUE

Selina Rutherford knocked on the office door and waited nervously for him to call her in. The brass sign caught her eye while she stood there, the sun streaming through the window bounced off it, the engraved letters seeming to glow with their own light.

Headmaster. No name, just Headmaster. It felt as odd being called to see a Headmaster as it did to even be in a school like this. Not just because she had lied to get in, pretending to be someone she was not. She looked down at her clothes, the true cause of her anxiety. No respectable twenty year old woman would wear a nappy and a short frock. Nor would they stand outside a Headmaster’s office with their hair in bunches, dummy in their mouth and doll in their hand. What did it say about her that she had accepted such humiliations as part of her new life?

The worst part of the whole bizarre situation she found herself in was the knowledge that when she was finally allowed into his office, she would be bent over his desk, her nappy would be pulled down and she would be soundly spanked. No, she thought, that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was knowing she had deliberately misbehaved in order to be called into the office to spend time with him.

“Enter,” a man’s voice boomed out from behind the door.

With a trembling hand, she pushed the door open, automatically sucking on the dummy as her anxiety continued to grow. Whenever she saw him, the same nervous tension took over. He might have found out the truth about who she really was. He might throw her out. Or worse, have her arrested. What would he do if he knew about the gun she kept hidden? Would she end up inside a gaol cell? Would the chance for revenge be snatched away from her?

“Selina,” the Headmaster said, standing up and glaring down at her, his eyes blazing. “Why am I not surprised?”

NAUGHTY LITTLE SECRETS – CHAPTER ONE

One month earlier

Selina could only judge the time from the church bells ringing in the distance. The clock that had once occupied the space above the mantelpiece had long since been pawned and she did not own a watch. Four, five, six chimes. Six o’clock. The rent man would be here at quarter past, that gave her fifteen minutes to write her suicide note.

She felt as if she should at least leave some kind of message. Attempt to put into words just why she was taking this step. What did she have left to live for anyway? Most of the things she owned had gone to the pawnshop. She had shivered on the straw mattress for the last week, the bedstead gone, the blankets gone, the candles sold last. She could live with the cold, the draughts through the cracked and broken window chilling her to the bone when she tried to sleep. She’d even gone hungry whilst trying to hold onto the candles. She hated the dark enough to cling onto them as long as she could but in the end even they’d gone to help pay for one more week’s rent.

That was three weeks ago. The rent man was a reasonable fellow but she’d had all the warnings she was going to get. Pay her arrears by dawn today or be thrown back onto the streets. She couldn’t face living on the streets again. Not after last time.

The only things left in the room besides herself were a scrap of paper, a pencil, and her suitcase. Through it all, she’d kept the suitcase and its contents. She could never sell the contents. Let him sell them. Once she was gone, she wouldn’t need them anymore. The memories they represented would die with her, the family line would die with her.

She wondered if she might go to hell. Killing yourself was a sin after all. But what choice did she have? Would hell be any worse than the life she’d had since the death of her parents? The pain, the cold, the hunger, constant companions for so long, she had forgotten what it meant to be happy. She could no more picture smiling than she could picture heaven and angels and the lightness of her Lord.

Placing the scrap of paper on top of the suitcase, she picked up the pencil stub and began to write, rough poorly formed letters that were all she’d had time to learn before her mother and father had been wrenched away from her. In the years since then, she’d been too busy trying to survive to spend time practising her alphabet.

I apologise for the mess. You may consider my remaining belongings payment for the arrears. As a eulogy for myself, I would like to take a moment of your time to explain the reasons for my decision. I once had a good life. I know you may not believe me but it is true. I came from a wealthy family but the wealth was tied up in an investment that failed. You may have read about it? The world I knew ended when my parents were killed and I was cast into a cruel world that I can no longer stand. I am tired, tired of fighting off the hunger pangs, of slaving as hard as I can in a sweatshop to make less in a week than my rent, no money for food or clothing of my own. I have spent too many years trying to survive and I can do it no longer. It is time for me to join my parents in the afterlife. My only wish is that I get to see them once more but on that I can but ask for our Lord’s forgiveness for the act I am about to carry out.

Selina.

She folded the paper and propped it up on the mantelpiece next to the pencil. Taking a last look out of the grimy window at the world beyond, she said a silent farewell to the city that would bury her before turning back to the suitcase. Kneeling before it, she pressed the clasps, the first time she had done so in many months. With a quick double click, they swung outwards and she was able to open the lid.

Inside was the few flashes of the life she had once known. There was a gown she remembered her mother wearing, a pair of shoes that had fitted her as an infant. Below that was a copy of Hamlet, her Father’s favourite work of fiction, with his annotations in the margins. A shirt that had smelt of him long ago, a pair of her mother’s stockings, a glass cat that once adorned the mantelpiece in their drawing room. Another dress, one that had been a birthday gift when she turned five. All neatly arranged in the case. Underneath all was a red box. Selina couldn’t bring herself to lift out the clothes, the heartache she knew so well was already overwhelming her just from glimpsing at them. She reached in and quickly brought out the box. As she did so, it slipped from her fingers, landing heavily on the bare floorboards by her knees. Work, she told her fingers. This is the last time. It may be cold and you may be numb and weak with hunger but you must work for a few more minutes. Then you can rest for as long as you like, for all time you can rest.

She lifted the lid of the box and there inside was her father’s revolver. It sat in a bed of purple velvet, six bullets lined up neatly in a row, each with its own indented hole in the fabric. She plucked out one of the bullets and held it between her fingers, examining it closely. Such a little thing and yet it could cause so much pain.

She turned it around in the light, looking at it from all angles. It is like a pill, she thought. A pill that will end all pain. She slid the bullet into the revolver and spun the barrel, lining it up ready for firing. This is it, she thought. Goodbye cruel world. May you and the indifferent masses be happy together without me.

Pressing the gun to her forehead, she happened to glance down at the box. It was a mere sweep of her eyes but it was enough to make her pause even as her finger twitched on the trigger. What was that sticking up at the edge of the velvet, poking upwards towards her? Curiosity got the better of her. She set the gun down, reaching into the box once more and catching the corner of a slip of paper. Teasing it between her fingers, she slid the paper out from its hiding place. It must have been jolted out of the bottom of the box when she dropped it.

The paper was blank but when she turned it over she saw a message written on the other side. She frowned as she read the neat flowing handwriting.

Your debt is paid when the trigger is pulled. J

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